Open and Shut Cases

Lee, Simon (2020). Open and Shut Cases. In: Claydon, Lisa; Derry, Caroline and Ajevski, Marjan eds. Law in Motion: 50 years of Legal Change. Milton Keynes: The Open University Law School, pp. 2–15.



Around the time of the birth of the Open University, Mr Justice Megarry set out a fundamental lesson on open-mindedness: "As everybody who has anything to do with the law well knows, the path of the law is strewn with examples of open and shut cases which, somehow, were not ... ' John v Rees [1970] Ch 345, 402. This essay takes ten examples rarely explored in law schools to encourage reflection on how to keep an open mind, rather than succumb to prejudice in pre-judging people, cases or issues. 'The path of the law' was the title of a famous lecture by the great American judge, Oliver Wendell Holmes, which ends, as does this essay, by affirming such an unusual collection of stories: 'The remoter and more general aspects of the law are those which give it universal interest. It is through them that you not only become a great master in your calling, but connect your subject with the universe and catch an echo of the infinite, a glimpse of its unfathomable process, a hint of the universal law.'

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