The Putney Debates 2019 - Session 1: What Is Judicial Independence and Why Is It Important?

The Putney Debates 2019 were held on 13-14 March at St Mary's Church, Putney, in association with the University of Oxford Law Faculty, to address the constitutional implications of the EU Referendum result for our judiciary.

Chaired by renowned legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg, the Debaters examine the impact of the ‘Enemies of the People’ controversy and threats to the independence of the judiciary posed by populist movements in the UK and further afield.

Justice Robert E Sharpe sets out the terms of the opening session, arguing that judicial review should not be seen as ‘politics by other means’.

Catherine Barnard, Cambridge Professor in EU Law and Senior Fellow in the ESRC’s UK in a Changing Europe project, explodes myths about the much-criticized European Court of Justice.

Linda Mulcahy, Director of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, asks the audience to re-evaluate how we frame the question of judicial independence, emphasizing the need for accountability and transparency to increase public confidence in the justice system.


Session I: What Is Judicial Independence and Why Is It Important? 

4.006.00pm, Wednesday 13th March


Chair: Joshua Rozenberg, renowned legal commentator


Robert J Sharpe, Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario

Catherine BarnardProfessor in European Union Law and Employment Law, Cambridge

Linda Mulcahy, Director, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Oxford

John W Adams, Adjunct Professor in Political Science, Rutgers University

Mark Knights, Professor of History, University of Warwick

Denis GalliganOxford Socio-Legal Professor and Putney Debates convenor



Professor Sir Richard Sorabji CBEphilosopher and historian of Ancient philosophy

John Howellfinancial market, regulatory, and risk analyst

Ivo Gruev, MSt, MJur (Oxon)Convenor, Oxford Transitional Justice Research