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Arbitration, the settling of disputes by one or more party-appointed referees, continued to be a common experience in nineteenth-century England, even in a period of rapid change in the demography society and economy. This talk will describe the multifarious disputes to which arbitration was applied, ranging from bankruptcy and land disputes, to divorce settlements, labour disputes and international relations. It will also chart the ways in which arbitration was changed, both in its relationship with the courts and via its inclusion in legislation relating to other aspects of governance, like the compulsory purchase of land and regulation of the railway industry. As a voluntary process it was also profoundly affected by the parties who turned to arbitration and the uses they made of it.
To help navigate this complex landscape, the individual experiences of parties, arbitrators and reformers are highlighted, showing how class, gender and region all affected attitudes to arbitration and its operation. These biographies encompass lawyers, such as the enthusiastic Lord Brougham LC and the reluctant Lord Campbell LC, who provides the quote for the title. However, the diversity of disputes demands a wider cast of characters. There are also industrialist-politicians like AJ Mundella, engineers like Robert Stephenson, businessman and polymath, Leone Levi and campaigner for women’s rights, Caroline Norton.

Dr Boorman has been conducting legal history research into little-examined areas of the history of arbitration, a subject of considerable modern importance and one upon which comparatively little is known of its historical development.

This lecture will have significant national and international interest.  Due to the contemporary importance of arbitration in London, Dr Boorman’s work is likely to have an impact beyond the academy.  His research is inter-disciplinary in nature and appeals to historians and lawyers.  This lecture is of importance to the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies and builds upon a symposium held at IALS in 2022.

Speaker: Dr Francis Calvert Boorman

Dr Boorman is an associate research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, currently researching the history of arbitration and mediation in nineteenth-century England with Dr Rhianon Markless. A monograph, English Arbitration in the Nineteenth Century, is due for publication in April 2024. Previous publications include the co-authored monograph English Arbitration and Mediation in the Long Eighteenth Century and an article, ‘Theatrical Arbitration in Georgian England’ in the Journal of Legal History. Other research interests include local history and particularly the history of London.

Chair: Professor Catharine MacMillan, King’s College London, IALS Senior Associate Research Fellow.

The event will be followed by a drinks reception.

All welcome- this event is free to attend but booking is required.