Author Archives: lawbod

Oxford Open Doors, 8-10 September 2023

The Bodleian Law Library is participating in this year’s Oxford “Open Doors” weekend on Friday and Saturday, 8-9 September 2023.  (The Open Doors events continue on Sunday, though the Law Library is not participating on that day.)  The purpose of the weekend is to enable a wider public to see interesting and important buildings, including many that are not normally open to visitors, and to learn about the activities that take place within them.

Most readers of this blog will be aware that we are one of the largest law libraries in the United Kingdom, but some may not realize that the St. Cross Building, completed in 1964, is a landmark in the development of modern architecture in Oxford.  It was designed by Leslie Martin and Colin St. John Wilson, two of the leading architects of the time, and is now listed at Grade II*.  We hope to show the building as a work of architecture and as a functioning library, with the hope that visitors will be able to see the relationship between these two aspects.

Visitors to the Law Library will be taken on tours on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.  The tours are currently fully booked, but it is still possible to put one’s name on the waiting list.  And, of course, several other parts of the Bodleian are also open, as are a number of college libraries, and the Open Doors website includes a wide range of places throughout Oxford that can be visited.

Oxford Open Doors is organised by Oxford Preservation Trust in partnership with the University of Oxford.  It is part of an England-wide celebration of architecture and culture known as Heritage Open Days which began in 1994 as England’s contribution to European Heritage Days which began several years earlier.  There is a separate event in London, chiefly on the following weekend, known as Open House.

Event listings can be found on the websites of the organizations mentioned:
The A to Z of the Bodleian Libraries  –
Oxford Open Doors  –
Heritage Open Days  –
London Open House  –


Happy and glorious (and, we hope, not frustrated)

By Ronald Richenburg

As the first coronation in almost 70 years draws near, thoughts of history, tradition, ceremony, national pride, and contract law will fill many minds (the last of these perhaps to a slightly lesser degree than the others!).  At least since 2003, the various paperback editions of Treitel on Contract have used interesting paintings from museum collections as cover images.  In the current edition (15th ed. by Edwin Peel, 2020) the painting shows the coronation of Edward VII on 9 August 1902.  The precise date is of significance because the coronation was originally scheduled for 26 June but postponed to 9 August after the King came down with appendicitis.

John Henry Francis Bacon (1865-1914), "The Homage-Giving, Westminster Abbey, 9th August1902", painted 1903. Copyright National Portrait Gallery, London. (Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0) (Used on the cover of "Treitel on Contract", 15th ed., 2020)

John Henry Francis Bacon (1865-1914), “The Homage-Giving, Westmister Abbey, 9th August 1902”, painted 1903, Copyright National Portrait Gallery, London (Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) (Used on the cover of “Treitel on Contract”, 15th ed., 2020)

This created an array of problems that few people would previously have thought about.  Many manufacturers of memorabilia simply kept the original date, and this is what one generally sees on coronation mugs and other commemorative items in antiques shops.  But the problems were greater for individuals who had paid large sums of money for the use of rooms overlooking the route of the coronation procession in order to see the procession on 26 June.  Litigation naturally resulted.  There was also at least one case involving a different type of event that was intended to take place on that day.  These have come to be known as the coronation cases and they are an essential part of any discussion of frustration of contract.

Until the middle of the 19th century, contractual obligations were absolute and failure to carry them out made a party to a contract liable in damages even if fulfilling the terms of the contract had become impossible.  In 1863, in the case of Taylor v. Caldwell, 3 B. & S. 826, 122 E.R. 309, involving a music hall that had been hired for concerts to be given on certain days, it was held that both parties to the contract of hire were excused from their obligations after the music hall burned down prior to the dates of the concerts because there was an implied condition in the contract that the music hall would continue to exist.  This was the beginning of the doctrine of frustration.

The next major development came with the coronation cases.  The most frequently cited of these is probably Krell v. Henry, [1903] 2 K.B. 740, where a contract to use a room overlooking the route of the coronation procession was at issue.  It was held that frustration can be found to exist not only when performance becomes physically impossible (as in Taylor v. Caldwell), but also when an underlying condition that is essential to the performance of the contract ceases to exist.  In this case, the occurrence if the coronation procession was regarded by both parties as the foundation of the contract.

Other coronation cases and later cases reached what might be regarded as varying results.  So, for example, the fact that one purpose of a contract was frustrated would not release the parties from their obligations if other purposes still persisted.  And the courts certainly did not want to treat a change in the economic climate as frustration, as this would permit a person who had made what simply turned out to be a bad bargain escape liability.  Some uncertainties about liability were resolved by the Law Reform (Frustrated Contracts) Act 1943, but this was by no means a comprehensive solution.

In very recent years, the question of whether the outbreak of Covid can be regarded as a frustrating event has been of great interest and has been discussed on the websites of many law firms, often in the context of the general principles of the doctrine of frustration.

We will now see whether a coronation in 2023 gives rise to problems as interesting and as unexpected as those that arose in 1902.

A Statute Worth 90 Cheers

By Ronald Richenburg

Today, Saturday, 11 December 2021, is an important anniversary that no longer receives the commemoration that it deserves, being the 90th anniversary of the Statute of Westminster 1931. [1]  This was an act of the United Kingdom Parliament in which, most importantly, it was explicitly stated that no future act would extend or be deemed to extend to any of what were then known as the British dominions other than at the request and with the consent of the dominion in question.  Most of the limitations on the legislative powers of the dominions themselves were also removed.

It was only by a long and complicated process of evolution that the dominions became fully independent states, and one of the most important landmarks in that process was the passage of the Statute of Westminster.  Yet it seems that outside the field of constitutional law the statute is little known today, even in the former dominions where it is of particular importance.  On the 75th anniversary of the statute, in 2006, the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail published on its opinion pages an article with the title “A statute worth 75 cheers”, stating “It is a national disgrace that . . . [the anniversary] will pass with only perfunctory official notice and nothing in the way of celebration.” [2]  And my New Zealand colleagues tell me that they have no recollection of ever learning about the statute in the New Zealand schools.

One reason for the lack of knowledge of the Statute of Westminster may be that the evolutionary process of which it was part was so complicated.  In Canada the main national holiday is Canada Day, 1 July, commemorating the coming into force of the British North America Act 1867, [3] which created the Canadian confederation as “one Dominion under the name of Canada”.  (The act is now known in Canada as the Constitution Act 1867.)  But the creation of this new entity (albeit consisting originally of just four provinces) can be seen as a national birthday and is perhaps easier to understand and to remember than the gradual evolution of full national sovereignty with concomitant international recognition.

After 1867 Canada began to assert itself more firmly in international affairs and, most significantly, played a major role in World War I.  It was chiefly this that enabled Canada to be a separate signatory to the Treaty of Versailles and to be accepted as a full member of the League of Nations.

A similar process occurred in the other self-governing nations of the British Empire, and the Empire itself was increasingly referred to as the British Commonwealth. [4]  By 1931 the nations seen as essentially self-governing were Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland (not yet part of Canada), the Irish Free State (i.e. before becoming the Republic of Ireland), and South Africa.  Beginning in 1907 they came to be described as “self-governing dominions” and later simply “dominions”.  But the word “dominion” was never defined with any precision, and, as described by Peter Oliver, “Without a more precise definition . . . , politicians could simply point to examples of nations that had acquired the status.” [5]

After 1907 a number of imperial conferences were held, in which representatives of the United Kingdom and the various dominions came together to discuss matters of mutual concern.  At the 1926 Imperial Conference the Proceedings [6] included reports of different committees, one of which was the Inter-Imperial Relations Committee chaired by the Earl of Balfour (Arthur Balfour).  The report of this committee contained what has come to be known as the Balfour Declaration of 1926, [7] which, in reference to the dominions, stated:

They are autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegience to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. [8]

What is particularly interesting is that the declaration did not create any new status (and the committee had no authority to do so) but, rather, seemed to be describing a state of affairs that already existed.  This view is supported by the Statute of Westminster itself, the preamble of which specificlly refers to the declarations and resolutions of the Imperial Conferences of 1926 and 1930 and states that

. . . it is in accord with the established constitutional position that no law hereafter made by the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall extend to any of the said Dominions as part of the law of that Dominion otherwise than at the request and with the consent of that Dominion.

But even if the principles of the Balfour Declaration can be seen as constitutional conventions, they would have been unenforcible in the courts, and the Statute of Westminster goes on to state that

. . . it is necessary for the ratifying, confirming and establishing of certain of the said declarations and resolutions of the said Conferences that a law be made and enacted in due form by authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

In addition to ending the authority of the United Kingdom Parliament to pass legislation extending to the dominions other than at their request and with their consent, [9]  the Statute of Westminster also removed most of the restraints on the legislative authority of the dominions.  In particular, the dominion parliaments were freed from the restrictions of the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865, [10] thus enabling them to pass legislation that was inconsistent with United Kingdom law, and they were also specifically authorised to legislate with extraterritorial effect.

What is also interesting is that certain provisions of United Kingdom law were specifically excluded from the general provisions of the Statute of Westminster.  However, this was due not to any reluctance of the United Kingdom Parliament to relinquish control but, rather, to internal considerations within the dominions themselves.  So, for example, the British North America Acts 1867 to 1930, which were the basis of the Canadian constitution, were protected in this way.  This was chiefly because of fear in Canada that the powers of the provinces might be eroded if the federal parliament could, in effect, amend the constitution.  It was not until 1982 that sufficient agreement on an amending procedure was reached, and accordingly the United Kingdom Parliament passed the Canada Act 1982, [11] giving Canada all remaining constitutional and legislative powers.  Similar considerations existed in relation to Australia, and it was only in 1986 that the United Kingdom relinquished all remaining constitutional and legislative powers. [12]

A countervailing consideration was that in some dominions there were substantial numbers of people who did not want to weaken links to the United Kingdom.  Therefore, in s. 10 of the Statute of Westminster it is specifically stated that the key sections of the Act would not extend to Australia, New Zealand, or Newfoundland until those sections (or any of them) were adopted by the parliament of the particular dominion.  This turned out to be of no consequence in Newfoundland as, after a financial crisis in 1934, it relinquished its independent status and became a province of Canada in 1949.  Australia adopted the key sections of the Act in 1942 with retroactive effect to 3 September 1939 (the date of British and Australian entry into World War II), [13] and (as stated above) gained full control over its constitution in 1986.  New Zealand adopted the relevant parts of the Act in 1947 [14] and assumed full control over its constitution in 1986. [15]

The above is a very brief and incomplete summary of a very complicated history.  There are different opinions about when the dominions should be considered to have become independent states, and it is difficult to ascribe a precise date, but the enactment of the Statute of Westminster was clearly one of the key events. [16]  So, to the 75 cheers offered by The Globe and Mail in 2006, we can certainly add 15 more today.


[1]  Statute of Westminster 1931, 22 Geo.5, c. 4.

[2]  Globe and Mail, 11 December 2006,  (Author not given.  Unclear whether the article is an editorial or an “op-ed” piece.)  (Last accessed 8 December 2021 when freely available, but one week later apparently inaccessible without a password.)

[3]  British North America Act 1867, 30 & 31 Vict., c. 3.

[4]  For a discussion of the increasing use of the name “Commonwealth”, see H. Duncan Hall, “The genesis of the Balfour Declaration of 1926”, Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics (1962), Vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 169-193.

[5]  Peter C. Oliver, “Dominion status: history, framework and context”, International Journal of Constitutional Law (2019), Vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 1173-1191.  See in particular p. 1175.

[6]  Imperial Conference 1926, Summary of Proceedings, Cmd. 2768.  HMSO, 1926.

[7]  This should not be confused with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which stated the British government’s commitment to support the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

[8]  Imperial Conference 1926, p. 14.

[9]  Many books on constitutional law, in discussing parliamentary sovereignty (or supremacy) have suggested that this provision is contrary to the doctrine that no parliament can bind its successor, but most of them also state that such a consideration would arise solely in theory and not in practical reality.

[10]  Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865, 28 & 29 Vict., c. 63.

[11]  Canada Act 1982, 1982 c. 11.  The relevant part of the act is known in Canada as the Constitution Act 1982 but is still cited with reference to the U.K. act.

[12]  Australia Act 1986, 1986 c. 2.  A corresponding (and nearly identical) act, also called the Australia Act 1986 was passed by the Australian Parliament (Act no. 142 of 1985) and took effect on the same day as its U.K. counterpart.

[13]  Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942, Act no. 56 of 1942 [Australia].

[14]  Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1947, Public Act no. 38 of 1947 [New Zealand].

[15]  Constitution Act 1986, Public Act no. 114 of 1986 [New Zealand].  (U.K. legislation was not required for this act to be passed.)

[16]  For a discussion of the time frame in which the dominions attained statehood, see William C. Gilmore, “The acquisition of dominion statehood reconsidered”, Virginia Journal of International Law (1982), Vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 481-517.

Black History Month

Browse the following links to discover how the University of Oxford, the University’s Faculty of Law, legal institutions, the Inns of Court and law societies are marking Black History Month this year. Explore the range of events (many online) listed by the University, Black History Month and Blacknet, several of which celebrate Black excellence in the legal profession. You will also find links to articles and reports addressing equality and diversity in the legal profession and the Bar, as well as societies and groups for Black lawyers.

1. University of Oxford
2. Legal Institutions
3. Inns of Court
4. Events related to law within wider organisations
5. Societies/Groups for Black lawyers

1. University of Oxford:

2. Legal Institutions

  • The Law Society:
    • Black History Month: a collaborative perspective – “We asked members of the profession to tell us what Black History Month means to them and what it represents.”
    • Ethnic Minority Lawyers – “We provide an opportunity for solicitors from black and minority ethnic backgrounds and their allies to have their voice for heard, allowing us to represent you effectively”.
    • Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division – “The Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division (EMLD) supports and promotes solicitors and their allies through the provision of career-enhancing events, information and networking opportunities.”
  • Women in the Law UK:
    • Sally Penni, founder of Women in the Law UK, hosts the podcast ‘Talking Law’ – speaking to leading lawyers about their experiences.

3. The Inns of Court

  • The Inner Temple:
    • Black History Month 2020: The Inner Temple asked members and students how the Inn can “do better” in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and as a result are taking actions to develop their inclusivity. “For Black History Month this year, we will be running a social media campaign to highlight black members of the Inn, past and present, who have shaped our justice system and blazed a trail for barristers of the future. Our Library are running a social media campaign to highlight the appalling incidence of deaths in custody of black people in this country.”

4. Events related to law within wider organisations:

5. Societies and groups for Black lawyers 1:

  • Black Solicitors Network :
    • “The Black Solicitors Network (BSN) was formed in 1995 to promote the interests of black solicitors, provide professional support and share information, inform and influence D&I best practice and participate in consultations initiated by The Law Society, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Government and other regulatory bodies in relation to matters which affect black and minority ethnic solicitors.
    • A not-for-profit company, the Black Solicitors Network aims to be the primary voice of black solicitors in England and Wales.”
  • Learning for Lawyers Redefined
    • “REDEFINED – Learning for Lawyers is an alternative learning platform for aspiring lawyers from underrepresented backgrounds.
    • “We deliver a range of webinars & masterclasses facilitated by experienced practitioners, trainee lawyers & other professionals.”
  • BME Legal
    • “Founded in Hull, 2015, by Adeola Fadipe. The not-for-profit group is committed to supporting under-represented groups gain access to support and opportunities that will enable them to obtain pupillage at the Bar of England and Wales.”
  • Black Women in Law
    • “This group is to connect black women in the legal profession: barristers, judges, solicitors, paralegals and law students. This is an opportunity for us to support black women in their legal careers and to provide guidance to those who are looking to begin a legal career.”
  • Urban Lawyers
    • “Urban Lawyers is a charity founded by Tunde Okewale MBE, Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers. The charity is managed by a team of dedicated volunteers, some of who are practising Barristers and Solicitors.”
    • Urban Lawyers host promotional legal careers events for students, deliver a variety of workshops including career development, research young people’s attitudes to the criminal justice system, and offer a ‘law in action’ curriculum available to be taught in universities as well as schools.
  • African Women Lawyers’ Association
    • “The African Women Lawyers’ Association (AWLA) exists to help women of African and Caribbean descent who want to enter the legal profession and who want to progress their careers. We aim to provide support, advice, mentoring, training and networking opportunities for all of our members.
    • Our mission is to transform the careers and lives of African women lawyers around the world. We also seek to leave our members feeling refreshed, empowered and optimistic about their lives, their futures and their legal careers.”
  • Bridging the Bar
    • Our Mission: “At Bridging the Bar we believe that for any organisation to reach its full potential, it must reflect the diverse society that we live in. Whilst we recognise that a lot of good work has been done to create greater opportunities at the Bar, there is still a need to incentivise – and support – the organisations, and individuals doing this important work in isolation and the students from non-traditional backgrounds aspiring to a career at the Bar.”
  • BME at the Bar
    • “In 2018, a group of Black barristers practicing in the East Midlands met to seek to increase the number of Black practitioners within our profession.”

1. Some of these groups were found through the article Black Lawyers on Working in the UK’s Criminal Justice System.

Edible Dormice, Christmas and the Law

Picture 1

The fat (or edible) dormouse (glis glis) might seem a surprising choice of Christmas animal: after all, it would usually be safely asleep from September until May, but it is an animal with a strong Oxford connection, thanks to the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865). This was published some years before the glis glis was introduced to south-east England in 1902, since when it has spread, and there have been sightings near Oxford. I shall now argue the case for a link between glis glis, Christmas and the law.

Picture 2

There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talking over its head. ‘Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse,’ thought Alice; ‘only, as it’s asleep, I suppose it doesn’t mind.’…

… This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear: she got up in great disgust, and walked off; the Dormouse fell asleep instantly, and neither of the others took the least notice of her going, though she looked back once or twice, half hoping that they would call after her: the last time she saw them, they were trying to put the Dormouse into the teapot.

The dormouse in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is stuffed into teapot, which may have been similar to a dolium or ‘dormouse jar’, a special pot that the Etruscans and Romans used to fatten them up for the table. You can see one in the Ashmolean Museum’s exhibition Last Supper in Pompeii. For the Romans, edible dormice were a delicious treat, surely suitable for the midwinter Feast of Saturnalia and therefore eligible to join the list of unfortunate edible Christmas animals, such as turkeys and geese.  Petronius writes of sprinkling them with honey and poppy seeds, while Apicius describes stuffing them with forcemeat and nuts before roasting or boiling them.*

Lewis Carroll’s dormouse lived in more fortunate times than his Roman antecedents, but not as fortunate as the modern glis glis which is a protected species under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.

I didn’t find a dolium (dormouse-jar) in the Ashmolean shop, or even a toy dormouse, but they do sell finger mice, seen here with the statute that protects the glis glis.  I rest my case.

Picture 3

* For more information on dormice in Roman times, see Kim Beerden, “Roman Dolia and the Fattening of Dormice.” (2012) 105 The Classical World 227 accessed 18 December 2019
Image and quoted text credits: Picture 1: (Photograph: Peter Dean.  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0; Picture 2 with text: Text: Project Gutenberg’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll accessed 18 December 2019. Image: New York Public Library Digital Collections accessed 18 December 2019; Picture 3: Margaret Watson

Posted by the Academic Services Librarian

Electronic Legal Deposit and the UK Web Archive

It’s week 6 of Getting to Know the Law Bod and this week we are looking at both Electronic Legal Deposit and the UK Web Archive.  A brief introduction can be found below but come and check out our display when you are next in the Library, it is just outside the Photocopying Room on the main level.


Electronic Legal Deposit


Legal Deposit, which has existed in English law since 1662, ensures that the published output of the UK and Ireland is collected, preserved and made available within the six Legal Deposit Libraries for present and future generations. Did you know that new regulations came into force on the 6 April 2013 to extend Legal Deposit to materials published electronically and on the internet?  Print publications for legal deposit can be books, journals, sheet music, maps, plans, charts or tables. Electronic Legal Deposit also covers material published digitally such as e-books, e-journals, websites and blogs. Without the legislation the Legal Deposit Libraries would not be able to collect and give access to this important body of e only material. This is especially important as many academic publishers are publishing only in eformat.


The six Legal Deposit Libraries in the UK work together to archive and provide seamless access to electronic Legal Deposit material, with a growing collection of more than 5 million eBooks and eJournal articles. Material received electronically from publishers is saved in perpetuity by the Legal Deposit Libraries and due the legislation can only be accessed on library premises.


UK Web Archive

UK Web Archive  is where researchers can access archived websites blogs etc. Researchers can use this site to discover old or obsolete versions of UK websites, search the text of the websites and browse websites curated on different topics and themes. You can also nominate a website to be archived even your own!

For comprehensive information on how to access and use electronic Legal Deposit at the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford please see our online guide Electronic Legal Deposit for Readers and Reading Room Staff.

Scotland Yard v Mr X

Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service (Or Met), the territorial police force responsible for policing most of London OR a game where players must try and catch a criminal stalking the streets of London by ‘landing’ on them.

Scotland Yard Board Game by ivva reproduced under Creative Commons Licence

The game revolves around most of the players trying to travel around London using taxis, buses and underground tickets and trying to land on the same ‘space’ as the player who has been designated ‘the criminal’ or ‘Mr X’.  Catch is that the Mr X only has to show where he/she is every 5th go.  Players also have a limited number of ‘tickets’ for each method of transport whereas the criminal has their own tickets as well as any used by other players (crime definitely paying in this instance).

It all makes for quite an exciting (or stressful) game and it would be quite easy to link the game to wealth of criminal law resources we have.  However this Christmas blog shies away from the obvious and so we are going to look at taxis or more specifically Uber (which may or may not be considered a taxi).

One of the methods of transport in the game and in real life you need to be a bit more careful with (fewer tickets/more expensive) are taxis.  One may even be tempted to give Uber a call to save money.  However not everyone is happy with Uber, since its introduction in the UK there have been a number of legal challenges on various issues.

  1. In October 2015 TfL brought a case in the High Court, Transport for London v Uber London Ltd [2015] EWHC 2918 (Admin); [2016] RTR 12. The case related to the way in which Uber calculates the fares (drivers use an app) after looking at it, the court ruled that the app is legal.
  2.  In October 2016, in the case of Aslam v Uber BV  [2016] UKET 2202551/2015; [2017] IRLR 4, the Central London Employment Tribunal ruled that Uber drivers are “workers” rather than being self-employed. This means that they would be entitled to the minimum wage, paid holiday, sick leave etc. On appeal in November 2017, the Employment Appeal Tribunal  (UKEAT/0056/17/DA) upheld the ruling but Uber indicated that it would appeal again so watch this space as it will have legal implications on other similar employers.  If you are interested in looking for Employment Tribunal cases then you can look at a number of the subscription databases however cases BAILII (British and Irish Legal Information Institute) have selected Employment Tribunals for more recent years and Employment Appeal Tribunals.
  3. Grey Ball by Kristin Kokkersvold reproduced under Creative Commons Licence.

    Not so much a legal challenge as such but in September 2017 Transport for London announced that it would not be renewing the licence of Uber’s local service provider ULL(Uber London Ltd). TfL was concerned over a number of issues but an interesting element, according to the media, was the use of software called Greyball, I will leave it up to the reader to investigate the story behind the software but needless to say it could possibly allow users to evade the law and fly under the radar which brings us neatly back round to the game of Scotland Yard. Uber indicated that it would appeal against the decision.




For those interested, the licencing and regulation of private hire vehicles and operators and drivers within the City of London is governed by the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998.  Transport for London is the licensing authority (under the act) and they have the power to prescribe further requirements through regulations (s.32).  An abstract of current legal requirements for drivers and operators can be found on TfL’s website but as the documents suggest you need to look at the legislation itself for the law.  The best place to look for legislation is one of the major UK databases (Westlaw or Lexis Library) as it will have the legislation as amended and as up to date as it can be.

It’s only make believe

'Conway Twitty' by Bradford Timeline used under Creative Commons Licence.

‘Conway Twitty’ by Bradford Timeline used under Creative Commons Licence.

This somewhat melancholy and mournful tune by Conway Twitty, was the 1958 Christmas number one.  Conway Twitty, (having changed his name and chosen two seemingly random towns as names), was an American singer and this was his first big hit.  The song was actually written whilst Conway was in Ontario, apparently he had become convinced that this is where success could be found.  However despite this song reaching number 1 in 22 countries , it didn’t immediately bring forth great riches.  Indeed, subsequently Conway resurfaced as a Country & Western singer and then after a few further false starts made his money creating the theme park ‘Twitty City’ in Nashville. (A marvellous example of assonance and consonance!)

But what of the 1958 Christmas Number 1? Here’s a brief extract:

My hopes, my dreams come true, my life I’d give for you,

My heart, a wedding ring, my all, my everything.

My heart I can’t control, you rule my very soul,

My only prayer will be someday you’ll care for me

But it’s o-only make believe.

The theme  of ‘unrequited love’ dominates the lyrics – perhaps not overly ‘Christmassy’ – but a theme nonetheless!  Perhaps I can explore this theme further in the newspapers – those sources that bring a whole new meaning to ‘it’s only make believe’!

Newspapers are of course a valuable source of information and we subscribe to many newspaper databases.  [It’s worth noting here for any Westlaw aficionados, that we don’t subscribe to ‘news’ content on Westlaw, so therefore the ‘news’ tab is defunct.  However you could still search some UK newspapers via the current awareness tab, you would however largely receive just an abstract, so to read the actual article you would then need to try a specialist newspaper database.  There is a ‘UK newspapers’ searchable group on Lexis going back to 1982, however the coverage obviously varies according to the publication.]

So, perhaps the best place to start, might be to look at OxLip+ via SOLO.  Here you can narrow your search down to newspapers, by clicking on the ‘subject tab’.  By doing this, you will retrieve 67 hits, clicking on the ‘i’ will furnish you with a little more information on the holdings and currency of each database.  The big two are Nexis and Factiva, the latter with a bias towards business information.

Firstly looking at Nexis, I can narrow down my search to a group of newspapers e.g UK national newspapers, or alternatively I can just search for and pick one source.  Being that us emotionally stunted British are possibly incapable of discussing my song’s theme of ‘unrequited love’,  I think I’ll start with The New York Times.  Search in the source box and click on the ‘I’ for currency information.  By typing in my search ‘unrequited love’ and asking it to appear in the headline produces three results. nexis new york times serach strategy

Immediately the one that grabs my eye is the third hit: ‘Pain of Unrequited Love Afflicts the Rejecter, Too.’  Whilst Conway’s song is all about the emotional state of the would-be lover, he never once considers the anguish felt by the rejecter – surely a huge oversight!  

The article discusses a study by Dr Baumeister and Sara Wotman that explores the impact on the ‘pursued’ rather than the pursuer’.  The findings of this research are published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  A quick check on Solo and immediately I am taken to the online version of this journal via a database called Ovidsp – (sometimes we are allowed to use databases that are not strictly ‘law’!) For more information on this database do have a look at our Medical Law LibGuide.  By searching on the author’s surname, in this case ‘Baumeister’, I can see the report approximately half-way down the subsequent results list: Unrequited Love: On Heartbreak, Anger, Guilt, Scriptlessness, and Humiliation.  Indeed Dr. Baumeister concludes:

To refuse love, even unwanted love, seems to violate some deeply rooted and widespread human tendencies. Although many would consider it an enviable position to be in to have others offering love, in fact it turns out to be a difficult and upsetting position. ”  Baumeister, Roy, Wotman, Sara, Stillwell, Arlene ‘Unrequited Love: On Heartbreak, Anger, Guilt, Scriptlessness, and Humiliation’ (1993) Vol 64 (3) J Pers Soc Psychol 377, 394

But how has the path of true love (or not true love) changed over time?  Perhaps I can track the theme of unrequited love across one of our databases of historical newspapers.  Two immediately spring to mind – The Times Digital Archive and ProQuest Historical Newspapers.  Looking at the latter first, I can see a list of historical newspapers databases that it holds here.  I’ve selected The Guardian and Observer and used the advanced search option, so that I can search for my terms in the title of the article.

Here you’ll read many cases of tragic endings from the 1920’s when love remained unrequited.  They are quite fascinating if only for the enigmatic language used; for example we have the student infatuated ‘with a lady of irreproachable character’ and the youth ‘enamoured with a  maid on the farm’.

But what of Conway himself, was he writing from personal experience?  Perhaps we can glean more information on Conway by  searching for his obituary on the The Times Digital archive. (Keep it light they said – sorry!). times digital archive

This database can be found via Oxlip+, or you could simply search for it in SOLO. By keyword searching ‘Conway Twitty’ I quickly find his obituary.  The motivation for his song is not clear, but it is perhaps fair to surmise that having being married 3 times, Conway’s love was requited sometimes!

Perhaps we can leave Conway now with the oft quoted words of Lord Tennyson from his poem “In Memoriam A.H.H.” :

‘Tis better to have loved and lost

Than never to have loved at all’

By Nicola Patrick, Research Support Librarian

Hello, Goodbye

Beatles album cover by Mark Sardella used under the Creative Commons Licence

Beatles album cover by Mark Sardella used under the Creative Commons Licence


Who can forget the 1967 classic ‘Hello, Goodbye’ by the Beatles? Perhaps not the most diverse set of lyrics of any Christmas number 1, indeed here is a short sample;

“You say goodbye and I say hello

Hello hello

I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello

Hello hello

I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello”

Apparently the song is largely a result of a conversation between Alistair Taylor and Paul McCartney that went something like this:

Taylor: How do you write a song?

'Piano' by Ali Moradi used under the Creative Commons Licence.

‘Piano’ by Ali Moradi used under the Creative Commons Licence.

McCartney: I’ll show you [reaches for harmonium]. Now you hit a note on the keyboard and I’ll do the same and you shout out the opposite to every word I say…’Black’

Taylor: White

McCartney: Yes

Taylor: No

McCartney: Hello

Taylor: Goodbye

Bingo! And there you have the Christmas number one. Admittedly this may be a slight over-simplification on my part, but I suspect it’s not a million miles away from the truth!

But what if I, now I’m feeling empowered by these lyrics, wish to use them in my next ‘jingle’? I need to be aware that I will probably be breaching copyright law.  In the UK, copyright works fall into at least one of 8 categories.  See the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.  So in this case the lyrics are protected as a ‘literary’ work not a ‘musical work’.  The ‘music’ obviously being protected as a ‘musical work’.  But what is ‘music’ I hear you ask, is it simply the notes on the page? One possible answer can be found in the judgment of Mummery LJ in the case Sawkins v Hyperion Records Ltd [2005] EWCA Civ 565, [2005] 1 W.L.R. 3281 9 [53]

53 In the absence of a special statutory definition of music, ordinary usage assists: as indicated in the dictionaries, the essence of music is combining sounds for listening to. Music is not the same as mere noise. The sound of music is intended to produce effects of some kind on the listener’s emotions and intellect. The sounds may be produced by an organised performance on instruments played from a musical score, though that is not essential for the existence of the music or of copyright in it. Music must be distinguished from the fact and form of its fixation as a record of a musical composition. The score is the traditional and convenient form of fixation of the music and conforms to the requirement that a copyright work must be recorded in some material form. But the fixation in the written score or on a record is not in itself the music in which copyright subsists. There is no reason why, for example, a recording of a person’s spontaneous singing, whistling or humming or improvisations of sounds by a group of people with or without musical instruments should not be regarded as “music” for copyright purposes.

So the lines can be a little blurred in terms of what category a work will fall into. ‘Blurred Lines’ have also been a problem for Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and Clifford Harris, Jr. – remember this case: Williams v Bridgeport Music Inc unreported 14 July 2015 (D (US)). This concerned whether Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke, songwriters of “Blurred Lines”, copied the late Marvin Gaye’s

'Marvin Gaye' by Cliff used under Creative Commons Licence

‘Marvin Gaye’ by Cliff used under Creative Commons Licence

“Got to Give It Up”, and should pay compensation. To read the case go to Westlaw International (which also has a new look, having spent a period of time looking somewhat ‘pasty’).  There are many articles discussing the IP implications of this case, perhaps a good starting point would be to look on the Legal Journals Index on Westlaw.


Having whetted my appetite with discussions of copyright and music, perhaps I could turn to the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN) for further enlightenment.


This in itself enables a ‘hello’ moment- as you will immediately notice that the SSRN has undergone a desperately needed facelift. This is a result of Elsevier purchasing the SSRN back in May of this year, see for press comment.   The website has a new look which makes it feel less cumbersome and as a result it is easier to navigate.  Significantly it has also resulted in the availability of full text searching.  It is not at the level of sophistication of a regular law database, however we anticipate there will be more changes shortly.  The long-term plans for the SSRN are explained here:

Now following my earlier newly acquired interest of ‘copyright in musical scores’, I can search the SSRN using either the quick search or the advanced search option.  Out of simple curiousity I could just search for the Sawkins case and see if this is discussed.  As luck would have it I receive three useful looking hits for me to peruse. ssrn-hits

Alternatively I may want a closer look at what subject matter journals there are for copyright and this I can see by drilling down through the Legal Scholarship Network, then ‘subject matter ejournals’ and finally ‘intellectual property law ejournals’.

Perhaps this is a good time to remind you that research students at the Law Faculty may subscribe to the Social Science Research Network subject matter ejournals. Essentially this is an email notification of the most recently posted papers on SSRN on a particular subject.  To subscribe please email me on and I will add you to our list of subscribers. You will then receive an email directly from the SSRN with further instructions.

So hopefully a positive ‘hello’ to a new look SSRN and not a ‘goodbye’ to free downloads of papers.

Before I say ‘goodbye’ to the subject of intellectual property, it is probably worth reminding you that there is a LibGuide on intellectual property found here and this will discuss the specific IP database ‘Darts-IP’ in more detail.

And what tenuous link can I make to the line:

 ‘Why why why why why why do you say goodbye goodbye, oh no?

Perhaps it was a reference to us saying goodbye to the EU?

The Law Faculty obviously has its own research site and blog, but are you aware of the information on our new database – PLC? (It was even worthy of its own blog post not so long ago.)

Entitled ‘Brexit – the legal implications’ this section of the database includes articles, blogs and a very useful ‘tracker’. Here, as a snapshot, I can see all government and parliamentary developments relating to Brexit.

So many ‘hellos and goodbyes’ in 2016…

And lets it leave with the Beatles for the last word:

‘hela heba helloa, cha cha cha’

In fact, let’s not,  Merry Xmas!

Nicola Patrick, Research Support Librarian

'Baubles' by Cam Miller used under the Creative Commons Licence

‘Baubles’ by Cam Miller used under the Creative Commons Licence