It is a great privilege to have been asked to deliver this year’s Conkerton Memorial Lecture. Although I never had the privilege of knowing John and Mary Conkerton personally, many have told me of their exceptional contribution as educators of successive generations of students of law. In addition, I am delivering this lecture in this great city with its rich history in so many different spheres, social, economic and cultural, and in this most magnificent Town Hall.
This year is a significant one those of us with more than a passing interest in the operation of the civil justice system. Just over a week ago Sir Rupert Jackson, the architect of the Jackson reforms, retired from the Court of Appeal. Since 2008, when he was first appointed by Sir Anthony Clarke MR to carry out a fundamental review of the costs of civil justice, Sir Rupert has been indefatigable. Everyone who supports effective access to our courts – as the Conkertons did throughout their careers as law lecturers –owes him a great debt. He will be sorely missed.