CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Law Faculty Visit to Barbados

Law faculty were visited at the University of West Indies in Barbados on trip number 3.

Notice the required dress for official meetings:

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It was, of course, an unexpectedly hot October day. Although I did see some people in ties and black suits.

I'm getting used to the bus ride now to Bridgetown now -- the whole island seems to be on a beat, every motorized vehicle, nodding, stopping, singing along, whilst scooping up and courteously (but swiftly) releasing passengers.

Managed to discuss Lord Hoffman's opinion in various intellectual property cases with UWI law faculty counterparts. We agree on issues, holdings, rationales, various minutiae of the cases.

And yet, being American, I have a problem calling a judge "Lord," since I'm used to hearing that term in a religious context. It seems to elevate a person above their mortal status, clay feet and all. Also, on the whole, I have less reverence for judicial authority than many of my British and Caribbean counterparts -- to draw a vast generalization. That may be due to the pragmatic streak in me.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., one of the archetypical legal realists, wrote: "The law is what the judges say it is: nothing more, nothing less." That was not to elevate judges above the rest of us mortals, but merely to deny the power of natural law and to elevate pragmatism: judges solve cases pragmatically, realistically, and whatever they come up with, becomes the law....until some clever legal argument wins the day and yesterday's precedent becomes the case distinguished (and possibly discarded today). So legal authority is constantly changing, and certitude difficult. The principle of stare decisis is often more observed in the breach, and while some judges are brilliant jurists, others just plain get it wrong. So I am less fond of quoting famous cases and more into policy arguments and rationale.

Be that as it may, certain underlying principles remain the same -- the Law crosses cultural as well as geographical borders.

So do the lovely sun and waves. Here's the view from the hotel, on the South coast of Barbados:

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Can't beat that. I'm going to go out on the board and contemplate the "inventive step."

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COMPLEMENTARY & ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE LAW BLOG

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