was a prison on the south bank of the River Thames
, now part of London
. From at least 1329 until it closed in 1842, it housed men under court martial
for crimes at sea, including "unnatural crimes"
, political figures and intellectuals accused of sedition
or other inappropriate behaviour, and—most famously—London's debtors, the length of their stay determined largely by the whim of their creditors. Run privately for profit, as were all prisons in England until the 19th century, the Marshalsea looked like an Oxbridge
college and functioned largely as an extortion
racket. For prisoners who could afford the fees, it came with access to a bar, shop, and restaurant, and the crucial privilege of being allowed to leave the prison during the day, which meant debtors could earn money to pay off their creditors. Everyone else was crammed into one of nine small rooms with dozens of others, possibly for decades for the most modest of debts, which increased as unpaid prison fees accumulated. The prison became known around the world during the 19th century through the writings of the English novelist Charles Dickens
, whose father was sent there in 1824 for a debt of £40 and 10 shillings. Much of it was demolished in the 1870s, though some of its buildings were used into the 20th century. (more...
Hubert Walter (circa 1160 – 1205) was an influential royal adviser in the late 12th and early 13th centuries in the positions of chief justiciar of England, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor. As chancellor (1199–1205), Walter began the keeping of the Charter Roll, a record of all charters issued by the chancery. Walter was not noted for his holiness in life or learning, but historians have judged him one of the most outstanding government ministers in English history. Walter owed his early advancement to his uncle Ranulf de Glanvill, who helped him become a clerk of the Exchequer. Walter was elected Bishop of Salisbury shortly after the accession of King Henry's son Richard I to the throne of England. He accompanied King Richard on the Third Crusade, and was involved in raising Richard's ransom after the king was captured in Germany. As a reward for his faithful service, Walter was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1193. He also served as Richard's justiciar until 1198, and set up a system which was the precursor for the modern justices of the peace, based on selecting four knights in each hundred to administer justice. (more...)
Pepper (Inspector of Taxes) v Hart (decided in 1992) is a landmark decision of the House of Lords on the use of legislative history in statutory interpretation. It established the principle that when primary legislation is ambiguous, the court may sometimes refer to statements made in the House of Commons or House of Lords in an attempt to interpret it. Lord Mackay, dissenting, argued that Hansard should not be considered admissible evidence due to the time and expense involved in a lawyer having to look up every debate and discussion on a particular statute when giving legal advice or preparing a case. The decision met a mixed reception. While the judiciary were cautiously accepting, legal academics argued that it violated rules of evidence, damaged the separation of powers between the executive and Parliament and caused additional expense in cases. There have been several subsequent judicial decisions that limit the precedent, preventing the use of Hansard as a source of law, in criminal law cases or to overrule precedent set prior to Pepper except in exceptional circumstances. (more...)