Ashes and Sparks: Essays on Law and Justice by Stephen Sedley - review by Marcel Berlins

Marcel Berlins

Words From the Bench

Ashes and Sparks: Essays on Law and Justice


Cambridge University Press 446pp £19.99 order from our bookshop

There is something about the law that renders the vast majority of its practitioners, be they judges or lawyers, incapable of writing about their world in language understandable by those not of the profession. It’s not so much the vocabulary of the law that mystifies, though that is a factor, but a way of employing words and constructing sentences which the lay reader finds somewhere between stilted and impenetrable.

It should be said immediately that Stephen Sedley is an exception. He is witty, stylish, comprehensible and entertaining; he has an intellectual hinterland possessed by few of his judicial colleagues, and a political background – he was once an active Marxist – shared by none of them. There

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