Mansfield, Atkin, Weinstein: Three Responsive Judges at the Nexus of Law, Politics, and Economy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines a judge’s role and function in responding to those unique, but not uncommon, cases which attract public attention to civil litigation normally considered to be of a “private” nature. It suggests that in such situations judges have an additional responsibility and opportunity to be responsive. The chapter surveys leading cases of responsive judging to draw out commonalities and lessons for the future. Three remarkable judges and their responsive decisions are discussed: Somerset’s Case (Somerset v Stewart) before Chief Justice Mansfield, Donoghue v Stevenson as considered by Lord Atkin, and the Agent Orange litigation dealt with by the American Judge Jack Weinstein. A theme is developed from these cases which may be stated as the judge’s overriding concern for doing justice in a way which will resonate with the public while at the same time respecting law and the legal system. Judges who navigate the nexus between law and justice while in the public eye use their legal skills, social knowledge, and human responsiveness to do justice to those who appear before them. Judges in an era of increasing openness of courts and pervasive social media may find valuable guidance in these iconic cases. By way of conclusion some thoughts are offered concerning responsive judging focusing on a judge’s responsibility to secure as substantively just a result as possible, within the limits of the law, which is not limited to providing the appearance of justice through procedural propriety.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIus Gentium
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameIus Gentium
ISSN (Electronic)2214-9902


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