The Putney Debates 2019 - Session 2: Is Judicial Independence Under Attack? If So, How — and Why?

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.

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.

In this session, Ezeqiuel Gonzalez Ocantos, Oxford Professor in Politics, expressed an optimistic vision that progressive judgments by international courts such as the ECJ have the power to embolden national courts to expand human rights; Joshua Rozenberg follows up with insights from his interview with President of the UK Supreme Court Lady Hale, who told him that the Lord Chancellor could have done more to support the judges following the 'Enemies of the People' controversy, and that the damage may be long-term: 


The 'Enemies of the People' controversy has deterred good people from joining the judiciary. If you can't persuade good people to become judges, then rule of law is in peril


In addressing these issues, the speakers draw on a variety of case studies across Europe and beyond where the courts are under attack, and consider whether there are common causes, or whether each case is different: a product of its history and circumstances.


Session II: Is Judicial Independence Under Attack? If So, How - and Why?

1.303.30pm, Thursday 14th March


Chair: Denis GalliganOxford Socio-Legal Professor and Putney Debates convenor


Ezequiel Gonzalez OcantosAssociate Professor in Politics & International Relations, Oxford

Joshua Rozenberg, renowned legal commentator

Katarína ŠipulováSenior Researcher, Judicial Studies Institute, Masaryk University, Brno

Bogdan IancuAssociate Professor, University of Bucharest

Daniel Smilov, Political Scientist, and Programme Director at the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia

Amir Paz-FuchsSenior Lecturer in Law, University of Sussex



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

Nick Friedman, Biegun Warburg Junior Research Fellow in Law, Oxford

Frank VibertSenior Visiting Fellow, London School of Economics, formerly UN and World Bank