Lockdown, Law & the Whirligig of Jurisprudence: The Return of a Realist

Dennis, David and Lee, Simon (2020). Lockdown, Law & the Whirligig of Jurisprudence: The Return of a Realist. 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. 195–209.

URL: http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/50YearsOfLaw/?p=210


This chapter seeks to apply the lessons which can be learned from Karl Llewellyn's jurisprudence to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has had a widespread effect on populations not only in the UK and the European Union but worldwide. It considers some of the jurisprudential aspects which arise from the attempts to deal with the medical and public health crisis through the use of legal regulations in the UK context. The questions to which the use of legal regulations give rise are many and wide in nature. They extend in scope to matters beyond what might be regarded as the notion of the strictly 'legal' in its narrower sense. This chapter argues that these jurisprudential aspects can most usefully be analysed through adopting the framework of Llewellyn's 'law-jobs' theory, and as part of that theory, the single institution of what he described as 'law-government'. The statement in The Bramble Bush that 'What ... officials do about disputes ... is the law itself' has an important bearing on both. The continuing relevance and importance of the 'law-jobs' theory and the 'law-government' institution, we argue, deserve a resurgence in interest in the far-reaching scope and applicability of Llewellyn's jurisprudence and a greater recognition of its significance than is commonly displayed today.

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