Yes, Boris IS breaching the Rule of Law. Here’s why.

Yes, Boris IS breaching the Rule of Law.  Here’s why.


Published last month in The Spectator by James Harper, Executive Sponsor, Rule of Law and CSR, LexisNexis UK

In an article published on 10 September (‘No, Boris isn’t breaching the Rule of Law.  Here’s why’), David Wolfson QC argued that the government’s actions around the Internal Markets Bill do not breach the Rule of Law. 

Sadly, while I wish this were true, I do not concur.  From the moment Brandon Lewis stood in Parliament and openly admitted the government’s plans breached international law, albeit in a “limited and specific” manner (and there can be no question that this was in error), the government has been acting in a way which does not accord with the philosophy embodied by the expression “Rule of Law”. 

At its heart, the Rule of Law is the concept that all are equal under the law – in other words, the law applies to everyone in the same way no matter who you are.  The origins of this principle date back far into history – around 1760BC to be specific and the Code of Hammurabi, one of the first examples of the codification of law, applying to the acts of the ruler as well as the people.

There are other elements to the Rule of Law (and you can read our definition here) but, for these purposes, the key point is that the government cannot place itself above the law that applies to everyone else.  To be fair, Mr Wolfson and I seem to be ad idem on this, and on the point “upholding the rule of law is a fundamental prin

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About the author:

Director, Customer Success and Engagement

Exec Sponsor, Rule of Law and CSR

James works for LexisNexis, a leading global provider of legal, regulatory and business information, technology and analytics, and is based in their London office.  He joined LN in 2012 as its UK General Counsel and was promoted to its board 2 years later.  In 2015, James also took on responsibility for leading the UK Rule of Law and CSR programmes.  He is currently on secondment in a business role, as the Director of Customer Success and Engagement.  

In addition to his duties as UK General Counsel, James also led the legal function for LexisNexis South Africa and for regulatory media organisation MLex after its acquisition in 2015.

In line with a personal passion for access to justice, James leads LexisNexis’s work in the UK on advancing the Rule of Law, with a focus on supporting digitisation in the free legal advice community.  He also heads up the UK CSR programme, encouraging employee volunteering and giving, making a positive impact on society and the communities around us.

In his current role, James runs a team of c.40 individuals that sit at the front-line of our business, ensuring customers get the most value from our products and future customers can make informed and objective decisions when moving to services and tools within our product portfolio.

James began his career in private practice (at SJ Berwin), specialising in contracts, IP, IT, outsourcing and other commercial matters, before moving in-house to investment bank Barclays Capital in 2010. 

Away from the office, James is a Trustee for the London Legal Support Trust, an Officer of the International Bar Association, and an FA Level 1 Football Coach.