A new chapter in the academic study of canon law in Britain

New developments in the academic study of Canon Law are summarized in this article by The Revd Russell Dewhurst

Canon law was studied at Oxford and Cambridge since at least the thirteenth century[1] until Henry VIII closed the canon law faculties in 1535. The study of civil (Roman) law continued at these universities after the reformation, however, and provided an initial training for those lawyers who would go on to specialize in canon and ecclesiastical law. By the sixteenth century, the society of Doctors’ Commons had been formed as a college for practitioners of ecclesiastical, admiralty, and related fields of law. After mid-nineteenth century changes to the matrimonial and probate jurisdictions, the society ceased to meet from 1865, and common lawyers began to practise in ecclesiastical law, but there was little opportunity for the formal academic study of the discipline. All this changed in the later part of the 20th century thanks to two new initiatives: firstly, the formation of the Ecclesiastical Law Society; and secondly, the establishment of an LLM degree in Canon Law at Cardiff University Law School by Professor Norman Doe.

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