Let me begin by thanking the 2016 Course Committee for organising such a wonderful conference and also to thank all delegates for being so open and welcoming to a newcomer.
Something that I quickly realised is that IALL is a real and welcoming community. I felt absolutely privileged to be welcomed into the fold of IALL, a community united by a love of legal research and professional curiosity.
Jeroen Vervliet, the President of IALL, has already written a comprehensive description of each of the sessions, so to avoid duplication, I’ll offer a more personal account of the Conference highlights.
Emeritus Professor Francis Reynolds opened the lectures with a discussion on “Diversities among common law nations”. This was a rollicking dash through the ways in which the common law has changed to fit the societies that received it from its original form in England. Rather than viewing these changes as a watering down of the common law system, Professor Reynolds embraced them as part of the ever adapting common law tradition. As an Australian, I was pleased to see the NSW Supreme Court Equity division noted. Professor Reynolds’ ideas on the importance of the English language in the development of the common law tradition were also very interesting.
Next, was a discussion on the history of law reporting by Emeritus Professor Sir John Baker. This was delivered with good humour, with much dubiousness displayed toward the sobriety of the very early law reporters. It reminded the audience how fortunate it is to have professional law reporters and the important role that they have played in the development of the common law tradition.
The prospect of Brexit loomed over the entire conference, colouring almost every talk in some way. Mr Menelaos Markakis and Emeritus Professor Mark Freedland gave us an insight into the legal issues that may arise around the mechanics of Brexit. It was very interesting and approachable, but most importantly, had the message that it’s probably inevitable and might be rather messy; but the best thing to do is simply find the best way forward.
Associate Professor Jeremias Prassl both enthralled and horrified the audience by pointing out the realities of the shockingly unregulated sharing economy that we now find ourselves a part of. It was a real insight into the way in which the sharing economy gets around regulation, usually to the detriment of workers.
Another sobering lecture was the one on the role of Human Rights in Reshaping Investor-State Arbitration delivered by Professor Susan Karamanian. It really highlighted the importance of maintaining human rights in the face of corporate interests.
Finally, it was an absolute pleasure to tour some of the most beautiful libraries I’d ever seen, connect with colleagues across the globe and share in the celebration of legal knowledge. The social events were simply magnificent. Dining in the spectacular hall at Balliol College was an absolute privilege that will stay with me for a long time.
I thank IALL for providing me with a scholarship that helped me attend the conference for the first time. It has certainly inspired me to become more involved with the work of IALL.