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These essays were presented originally as lectures at the official ceremonies which marked the opening of the new Law Building in the University of Toronto. The book is intended to be a sharing of the ideas of the eminent lecturers with the community at large as well as a reminder of what was a happy and significant event in the life of one university.
The theme running throughout the four essays is the phenomenon of law, like art, constantly racing to catch up with experience. Each author considers this phenomenon in the context of a problem on which he is a specialist. Cecil A. Wright opens the volume with a fresh and eloquent look at some basic questions in legal education: the place of the law school in the university, the lawyer's struggle with specifics under the shadow of general principles, the need for more understanding of the law in action, and the requirements of research in the social sciences. Principal J.A. Corry draws attention to the impress of social changes on traditional constitutional values and procedures in Canada, and he calls for more expert and secretarial assistance for the judiciary, a revamped committee system for the Commons, improvements in the quality of procedure and personnel of administrative boards and tribunals. He concludes with the remarks that the key to the future of public law is the durability of the temper that demands both substantive fair chances for all and procedural fair play for all.
The Chief Justice of the High Court for Ontario write son a subject of great contemporary interest: compensation for injuries sustained through the operation of motor vehicles on the highways. "When only a small fraction of the cases that have gone the whole process of being prepared and set down for trial and are on the list for trial, with the attendant cost to litigants, actually go on trial, the judicial process is being used for other than judicial purposes." Chief Justice McRuer demonstrates that in this area of law-applying the ordinary judicial procedure has become only an incident to the bargaining procedure. The volume closes with Lord Devlin's admirable analysis of the M'Naghten Rule on mental abnormality. He regards the object of the Rule as being to separate acquittal from an enlightened sentence. The Rule is considered in relations to the Rule of Law as well as to dangers and benefits of compulsory treatment. In opposing its alteration Lord Devlin concludes that "as a matter of theory, I think there is something logical -- it may be astringently logical, but it is logical -- in selecting as the test of responsibility to the law, reason and reason along."