Author Archives: kathryntyne

Morecambe & Wise 1971

In 1971 André Previn was three years into his tenure as the principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. He was booked to appear on the Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show, but two weeks before his mother fell ill and he flew to New York. Eric Morecambe was so concerned that he couldn’t make rehearsals that he considered pulling the sketch, and perhaps he was right, for it is said Previn learned his lines on the flight home on the day of the recording.

So, you ask, how are you going to squidge anything about the law into that? Well, let’s start with the name. Eric calls André Previn “Andrew Preview”, which was such a hit that Previn says he cannot walk through London without someone shouting out to Mr Preview, and London taxi drivers routinely refer to him by that name. Previn’s recording for the BBC Radio 3 programme ‘Composer of the Week’ was entitled ‘Guest Star: Andrew Preview”. Does the BBC own the name, since they commissioned and broadcast the programme? Or does the estate of Eric Morecambe? Or the writer, Eddie Braben? Or Previn himself, since he has become identified by it?

Speaking of the writing: Eddie Braben is credited with seeing the potential in Eric and Ernie, and making their natural music-hall repartee work on the television, but can he take the credit for writing the Andrew Preview sketch? It turns out that was an adaptation of an earlier sketch written for the second series of ‘Two Of A Kind’ broadcast in 1963, written by Sid Green and Dick Hills, plus some of the remarks were off the cuff, spur of the moment additions by both Previn and Morecambe.

The premise of the skit is that Previn has been booked to conduct world famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin, but when he gets to the set he is surprised to discover that Menuhin has been cancelled and he is expected to conduct Eric Morecambe in a performance of Grieg’s Piano Concerto. Now, obviously Eric is not a concert pianist, that’s the joke. Only a very small part is played, and certainly not as the composer intended when he wrote it in 1868. Who does the new arrangement belong to? Was it written down or ad-libbed? Can it be said to be Grieg’s work at all? If not, then whose?

The final rights we have to consider are in the performance and broadcast. Who owns those and what rights do they have? There was a full orchestra: do they hold any sway? What kind of contracts would need to be in place to ensure that the BBC can continue to show the clip year after year? Assuming there is money to be made from resale, perhaps to overseas television companies, comedy clips programmes on other channels, streaming services and the like, for how many years does this continue? Is there copyright in television? How long does it last for? Do any of the people involved get a cut?

Did you expect so many legal questions? Perhaps not, and I have very few answers, so you’ll be glad to know that the Bodleian Law Library is a fount of legal knowledge. You might start with an overview, perhaps Intellectual property at KN111.BAI 2018 and Moral rights at KN113.DAV 2016. You can log on to a library computer to read the Research handbook on intellectual property and creative industriesThe work and play of the mind in the information age : whose property? and an Introduction to media distribution : film, television, and new media (these are electronic legal deposit books, so you will need to be on a library computer). While you’re here, browse the shelves around KN111 to KN113, where you’ll find other useful books such as Performers’ Rights at KN112.9.P5.ARN 2015, Concepts of music and copyright : how music perceives itself and how copyright perceives music at KN112.5.RAH 2015, and Copyright law for writers, editors and publishers at KN112.DAV 2011.

Phew! Who knew Morecambe and Wise was so complicated? Perhaps it would be quicker to learn Greig’s Piano Concerto…


photo of type 23 frigate HMS Richmond (top) conducts a Replenishment at Sea (RAS) with RFA Black RoverThis Christmas, perhaps you’re hoping to find a battleship in your stocking. Perhaps you’re thinking you might just sail out into open water and randomly fire to see if you can hit a neighbour’s ship. It would be foolhardy to take such a journey only to begin the New Year in a holding cell, so the Bodleian Law Library is here to help you embark upon your explosive hobby within the law.

There are a variety of issues to consider, including, but not limited to, the legality of owning a battleship with active weapons, the sailing of such a ship in coastal and open waters, the firing of the weapons and the blowing up of another ship. On the final point you ought to find out whether random firing is an accident during testing or a deliberate attack: if photo of the USS Alabamayou’re firing blind, is blowing up your neighbour’s ship foreseeable? Is it an act of war, or piracy, or negligence? Who decides and what might the penalty be?

You can in fact buy surplus battleships on a fairly regular basis, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence advertises its wares online (last year you could treat yourself to an aircraft carrier), or if they’ve run out you could try your luck in the United States. If you simply can’t make your mind up, Jane’s Fighting Ships profiles thousands of options from the past, present and future. There’s bound to be something to fit your specifications. The question of weaponry is a sticky one though. In the US you can legally own a grenade launcher or a cannon, but in the UK you’ll need to join the Navy to get access to something likely to trouble a ship, a time consuming and restrictive process.

photo of the interior view of the international court of justiceA comprehensive legal framework was drawn up and agreed in 1982, in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Disputes on the interpretation and application of the Convention are adjudicated by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, but blowing up things that belong to neighbouring states generally comes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. We have several relevant libguides relating to international law that will give you a head start, but if you don’t want to read online, we have lots of resources you can browse in the of HMS Lancaster dressed for Christmas

You can find the international law of the sea at Internat 630 and the international law relating to war and armed conflict at Internat 750, both on the top floor of the library. If you come out of the lift on floor 3, head forwards about 20 metres then look to your right you will find the Internat section. United Nations materials are located on the ground floor in Official Papers. To find them, come out of the lift on floor 0, head forwards until you reach the blue chair, turn left, walk forwards about 10 metres and turn left again. Most official papers are shelved in grey boxes and are difficult to browse, so it’s a good idea to start your research with our UN libguide.

Happy Christmas, and happy sailing!

Can We Fix It?


In the library KN84.1.JOY 2015

In Bobsville, the answer is always a resounding “Yes We Can!” In England it’s possible to make a living as a builder through networking, working with personal contacts on existing construction sites, without any set qualifications or skills at all, but it’s hard and dangerous work so builders do have to be physically fit and willing to listen and learn. They work up ladders and on scaffolding, so it isn’t the best career option for people who experience vertigo.  For those who find themselves at the helm of a complex operation like Bob’s, there are many more legal aspects to consider.

Hot off the press!

New book coming soon!

Bob the Builder does much more than build, he runs the business, so he’ll have registered it, plus he has employees and vehicles, so it’s a legal requirement to have employer’s liability insurance and commercial motor insurance. He’s smart, so he’ll have insured his property (those vehicles and tools don’t come cheap) and himself against liability and injury. The Association of British Insurers could have pointed him in the right direction. He will have made sure that his vehicles and machinery are well maintained and that his employees have adequate training, as directed by The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.


In the library KN84.1.POL 2015

Bob has to make sure that his work complies with regulations. The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 set out the general health and safety requirements for the industry. In addition, certain types of work require inspection and approval, or to be carried out by a member of a ‘competent person scheme‘, to comply with The Building Regulations 2010. Work on gas appliances (for example fitting a cooker or heater) can only be done by people on the Gas Safe Register. This replaced CORGI in 2009, following the Health and Safety Executive’s 2006 Review of Domestic Gas Safety which raised significant concerns about the risk to public health.

So, Can We Fix It? Well, That Depends…!

Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)

A pre WW2 milkman makes his deliveries to No.10 Downing Street from his horse drawn milk cart. Posted on Flickr by Leonard Bentley.Ernie, before his unfortunate demise due to being hit in the eye by a stale pork pie thrown by his love rival Ted the baker, was noted for the speed of his milk cart. He and his horse Trigger “galloped into market street” which sounds rather dangerous, especially if it was contemporary, for at the time he reached Christmas Number One in 1971, a horse and cart would be competing with pedestrians and motor vehicles. Nowadays there is a code of practice for horse drawn vehicles, you can find the library catalogue record for it here or it can be read online here. It is not compulsory, but it contains a driving assessment and carriage safety checklist which can be taken into account should the driver apply to the local authority for a licence to carry passengers.

However, so far as we are aware, Ernie only carried groceries: the lyrics refer to milk of various types and a strawberry-flavoured yogurt. It also seems unlikely that he was operating in 1971 as electric milk floats have been in existence since the 1930s and would have been ubiquitous well before the 1970s. The Transport Museum, Wythall believes it has the finest collection of restored battery electric vehicles in the world and provides some examples you can look at here (click on the magnifying glasses for photographs). Keith Roberts was an employee of Morrison-Electricar and his book on the history of electric vehicles is available at the British Library here, or you can read an overview here.

Associated Dairies truck [delivery man with horse and wagon]. Posted to Flickr by City of Vancouver Archives.If we assume that Ernie and Trigger were delivering the milk before electric milk floats, we should look prior to 1930. If you’d like to know more about Ernie’s working life in general, you can read about the sale of milk in a history book called “Retail Trading in Britain 1850-1950” by James B Jefferys. The SOLO library catalogue record can be found here and it is archived online here. For the rules on carthorses galloping in the streets of British towns we turn to the Highway Act 1835. You can read that online here. Believe it or not, a tiny part (section 72, preventing riding on footpaths), is still in force. There are various offences that are punishable by fines, but none appear to be speeding. Provided Ernie and Trigger were in control, not causing damage or obstruction, it would appear they could be as fast as they liked.

In contrast, the Locomotive Act 1865 (the Red Flag Act), which you can read about here, was created so as to ensure that steam vehicles didn’t frighten the horses. Any self-propelled vehicle had to have a man walk at least 60 yards in front holding a red flag and was limited to 4 miles per hour in the countryside and 2 miles per hour in the towns. That would surely be no match for Trigger!

Valentines at the Old Bailey

 License Attribution Noncommercial No Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Swiv

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913, also known as Old Bailey Online, is a fascinating free resource offering insight into the lives of ordinary people through 197745 reports of criminal proceedings heard in London’s central criminal court. It contains some terrifying and heart rending stories, however since it’s the time of year for romance, “Valentine” was typed into the search box. 623 results were listed, too many to go into in detail, so as a taster here are the first ten:

First was Valentine Williams who in 1685 was found not guilty of stealing money due to lack of evidence.

The next, Valentine Crosbey, was a victim. His feather-filled coach seat was stolen in 1686 by two men who were found with their spoils drunk in a field, one wearing the fabric from another man’s coach seat as a waistcoat. One of the men was sentenced to branding: “to be burnt in the hand”.

Valentine Acton ran a pub in Castle Baynard, one of the wards of the City of London, and in 1688 a silver mug went missing. The last man in the room when the mug disappeared was tried, but acquitted as there was no proof.

The next five results belong to Valentine Cogswell, albeit spelt in a variety of ways. He was part of a group charged for coining offences in 1688. Thomas and Stephen Bayley had already been sent to Newgate prison for clipping and they testified that they had seen John Collet and Cogswell making counterfeit money at the press. Cogswell argued that the Bayleys had been pardoned twice before and were trying to save their skin, but he was convicted of High Treason and sentenced to death.

NPG 366; King James II by Unknown artist

King James II by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, circa 1690, NPG 366

Fortunately for him, it would appear that almost everyone in Newgate on the day he was sentenced, the 10th October 1688, was pardoned by the King,  so he got away with his life and a lecture:  “AFter His Majesties Most Gracious PARDON was Read, the Court advised all those who were Pardoned, to consider how exceeding Merciful and Gracious His Majesty had shewed himself unto them; even to Save them Alive, and take them as it were out of the Jaws of a deserved Death; wishing every one of them to take good heed for the future how they spend their Precious Time; and bid them beware of falling into any the like Errors again: And urged them all to let the King’s Clemency Influence them to live and lead a better Life than ever they had don before, &c.” A further search online turns up this letter held by the Bodleian, suggesting Mr Cogswell was himself no stranger to the King’s pardon.

The last two results relate to Valentine Knight. In 1690 he was seen jumping out of a bedroom window and throwing a nappy towards three people. He received the King’s pardon on this occasion. In 1691 he was less fortunate; he was caught red handed going out of another man’s house with a coat, silk hood and scarf. This time he was ordered to be whipped.

If you are interested in library collections of Old Bailey cases, the Bodleian Law Library has a collection of Minutes of Evidence from the Central Criminal Court in print dating between 1835 and 1913, also available digitally, click this link for details, as well as 38 reels of microfilm showing The Old Bailey proceedings 1714-1834 which you can find out about here.

The Coventry Carol

The lilting lament of The Coventry Carol is not especially festive, being as it is a mother’s song to her doomed infant as she waits for Herod’s soldiers to visit and murder him, however it is a haunting, beautiful tune with extraordinary history. If you’d like to know more about that, you can compare audio and read about it here, but we shall move on to a legal connection.

When we think of Coventry, most of us have heard the tale of Lady Godiva and Peeping Tom, and in modern times, the city is perhaps best known for the fate of its cathedral, destroyed by bombs in 1940 and its modern replacement consecrated in 1962, however there are many more facets to the town’s history. A timeline can be found in The History of Coventry by Benjamin Poole (Coventry, 1852). You can order the book in print to a reading room using your reader’s ticket from here or download a copy for free by right clicking and saving this link to your computer. Lesser known, is that on two occasions, in 1404 and 1459, Coventry was the  seat of Parliament: see page 152 of Poole (213 of the pdf) for the section of the timeline mentioning both.

NPG 4980(9); King Henry IV by Unknown artist

King Henry IV by Unknown artist
NPG 4980(9)

Parliaments of the time were commonly differentiated by nicknames and these could be quite dramatic. The 1404 Coventry Parliament, held in the 6th year of Henry IV’s reign, has been variously referred to as Parliament Indoctorum, the Unlearned Parliament, the Lack-Learning Parliament, the Ignorant Parliament, the Lawless Parliament and the Parliament of Dunces, whilst the 1459 Coventry Parliament, held in the 38th year of Henry VI’s reign, was also known as Parliamentum Diabolicum, the Diabolical Parliament and the Parliament of Devils!

Tomlin’s Law Dictionary (4th Edition, 1835) available in print in the library at KL40 TOM 1835 or free digitally by right clicking and saving this link to your computer, gives a little more information: see page 300 of the pdf. Also of interest is Life in an old English town, a history of Coventry by Mary Dormer Harris (London, 1898) which can be ordered to a reading room using your reader’s ticket here: see page 137 for her explanation of the naming of the 1404 “Unlearned Parliament” and 168 for the history surrounding the 1459 “Diabolical Parliament”.

In 1404 England was in the midst of the 100 Years War with France, in Wales Owain Glyn Dwr was leading a revolt against the English in collaboration with the French, and vital trading routes through Prussia were threatened by trade embargoes preventing the export of goods from the Baltic to England and prohibiting the English cloth trade. Henry IV was desperate to raise money and wished to make use of some of the assets of the Church, which was popularly viewed as rich and degenerate. Even so, his intentions may not have stood up under close inspection of those well versed in the law, and so he instructed the sheriffs to prevent the return of lawyers as members of Parliament. Coventry was a long way from the law courts in Westminster, which was undoubtedly helpful to his cause. More about the economic and political state of the country can be found in The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485 by E.F. Jacob, available in the library at Legal Hist O98f.

Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York

Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York

NPG D23777; Queen Margaret of Anjou by Schenecker, published by  Edward Harding, after  Sylvester Harding

Queen Margaret of Anjou by Schenecker, published by Edward Harding, after Sylvester Harding
NPG D23777

In 1459 England was again in the midst of war, this time between the houses of Lancaster and York, both of whom were direct descendants of Edward III. Henry VI was suffering from bouts of mental illness and Richard, Duke of York, took the opportunity to further his own dynastic ambitions. Margaret of Anjou, Henry’s wife, was Richard’s sworn enemy, wanting the throne for her own son. She moved the Royal Court to Coventry, where in 1456 the Mayor and councillors swore allegiance to the Lancastrian cause. The two sides fought for many years. In 1459, after winning the battle of Blore Heath, the Yorkists regrouped in Ludlow and advanced towards Worcester. At Ludford Bridge they encountered a larger force headed by Henry VI in person. Henry granted a pardon to Andrew Trollope, who defected along with many Yorkist troops. The following morning the rest of the Yorkists fled. A Parliament was swiftly summoned to Coventry, to which none of the Yorkists were invited. According to Dormer Harris, 23 of their number were attainted in order to divest them of their land and power.

NPG 2457; King Henry VI by Unknown artist

King Henry VI by Unknown artist
NPG 2457

This action was almost immediately undone. The first Act in the Statutes at Large for the 39th year of Henry VI’s reign (1460) is: “The parliament holden at Coventry, 20 die Novembris, Anno 37 HEN. VI. repealed, and all acts, statutes, &c. made by authority of the same, reversed.” The wording is stern, giving a summary of the history and strong opinions. Interestingly it appears not to blame the King himself for the vengeful legislation, but “divers seditious and evil disposed persons, having no regard to the dread of God, nor to the damage of the prosperous estate of our said sovereign lord the King, nor his realm, sinisterly and importunely did labour to the said King to summon a parliament to be holden at his city of Coventry…” It goes on to explain that the “said seditious persons” have long held malice towards these “faithful liege people” and coveted their lands and possessions.  It mentions that of those attending the Coventry parliament, “a great part of the knights for divers counties of this realm and many burgesses and citizens for divers boroughs and cities in the same appearing, were named, returned, and accepted, some of them without due and free election, some of them without any election, against the course of the King’s laws and the liberties of the commons of this realm…” In case there’s any doubting its intent, the final paragraph of the Act demands “That the said parliament holden at the said city of Coventry be void, and holden for no parliament. And, That all acts, statutes and ordinances, by the authority of the same made, be reversed, adnulled, undone, repealed, revoked, voided, and of no force or effect.” You can read it for yourself in the library at Cw UK 8 (formerly Cw UK 20 P595), volume 3 pages 334-5, or on pages 353-4 of the pdf obtained by right clicking on this link  and saving it to your computer.

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We are currently experiencing some technical problems with the email address so if you need to contact us please email an individual staff member (you can find out who does what at and look up our email addresses at or reach us by telephone on +44 (0)1865 271462. We apologise for the inconvenience and hope to have the email address working as normal very shortly.

Welcome to newcomers!

Photo of welcome mat by Lynn Kelley Author

Photo by Some rights reserved

It’s the long vacation here in Oxford and we’re gearing up to welcome new students.

Here are some links to information about the city and University that we hope you’ll find useful:

You can find our library website here

You can find our building (housing the law faculty and the library) by looking here

You can find out about your course of study here

You can find your college website here

You can find out about the Oxford University Student Union here

You can find the Oxford Union (quite different to the Student Union) here

You can find information about food, housing and what’s on in the city here

You can find out about the live music scene here

You can find the “Oxford Student” newspaper here and the “Cherwell” newspaper here

You can ask questions in an unaffiliated student forum here

We look forward to meeting you in the autumn!

Local history: Sir William Blackstone

Sir William Blackstone  by Unknown artist oil on canvas, circa 1755

Sir William Blackstone by Unknown artist oil on canvas, circa 1755; NPG 388

William Blackstone (1723-1780) studied at Oxford, joining Pembroke College at the age of 15, eventually holding high office at All Souls (where his statue now sits in his Judge’s robes in The Codrington Library) and taking the first Chair of Vinerian Professor of English Law. He held many other distinguished legal and administrative positions during his life including Member of Parliament. If  you’d like to find out more, William Blackstone : law and letters in the eighteenth century by Prest is available both in print at KB15.ENG.BLA 2008 or online if you have a University of Oxford Single Sign On.

Blackstone’s most famous work is his Commentaries on the Laws of England. The Bodleian Law Library has a facsimile of the first edition of those four volumes published in 1765-1769  in the library at  KL11.BLA 1979; it’s a staple on the reading list of first year undergraduates studying English legal history. It is also available online  if you’re a current member of the University. There are many other editions and versions available, as well as plenty of other people commenting on the Commentaries! You can hunt them out using the library catalogue, SOLO.

Blackstone, his wife Sarah and their nine children lived in Castle Priory, a house that was built for them in Wallingford. The house is listed by English Heritage . There’s a nice photo of the house and lawns on the Wallingford History Gateway website. Today the internet provides a bird’s eye view but a sign on the gatepost says it’s private, so that’s probably as close as you’re going to get. You can still get closer to William Blackstone though; he’s buried in the family vault under St Peter’s Church nearby. The church is very distinctive and can be seen from the bridge across the Thames; there are pictures of it and the tombstone on the website of The Churches Conservation Trust.