It is almost that time of the year of for newly minted law graduates. There are days when I reflect on the growth of the rule of law in the international context and its importance for order and justice in the world. This included international trade law. But as we know the rule of law in this context remains vulnerable to local views and narrow national self-interest. When I was called to the bar (many years ago) the great criminal lawyer and fighter for civil rights. Author Maloney QC, quoted from the play about Sir Thomas More – A Man for All Seasons by Richard Bolt. When Sir Thomas is threatened by Richard Rich – a man seen as dangerous man, his family urges him to take whatever means necessary to dispose of him.
ROPER Arrest him.
MORE For what?
ALICE He’s dangerous!
ROPER For libel; he’s a spy.
ALICE He is! Arrest him!
MARGARET Father, that man’s bad.
MORE There is no law against that.
ALICE (Exasperated, pointing after RICH) While you talk, he’s gone!
MORE And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
ROPER So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
MORE Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
ROPER I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
MORE Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.