Procedural reform in the nineteenth century British Empire: the failure of Barron Field in Gibraltar

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Comparative Legal History, 2019, 7 (2), pp. 130 - 156
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© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. In 1831 Barron Field, first judge of the new Supreme Court of Gibraltar, drafted rules for his new court. Field was one of a cohort of colonial judges in this period who were encouraged by the Colonial Office to undertake significant reforms to civil procedure. In the main, this produced innovation, leading to reforms not yet possible in England. Field’s reforms were judged an exception. He was the only judge in this period whose reforms were not accepted by the Colonial Office. However, his failure gives insight into the kinds of improvements that the Colonial Office hoped to achieve, and hence into the project of nineteenth-century procedural reform more broadly. Moreover, tracing the filiations of Field’s reforms potentially enables us to follow the movement of procedural forms between colonies administering civil law and common law, providing a means though which to bring reforms in these systems into a single field.
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