Edward John Eyre and the Conflict of Laws

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7 Citations (Scopus)


In 1865 Edward John Eyre, the Governor of Jamaica, in the course of suppressing a revolt, caused a leading activist to be tried and executed under martial law. Over the next three years, a group of leading politicians and thinkers in England attempted to have Evre prosecuted for murder When the criminal process failed, they attempted to have him sued for trespass and false imprisonment. Though this case, Phillips v Eyre, was mainly concerned with constitutional issues, Willes J laid down a rule for choice of law in tort which endured for nearly a century before it was finally superseded. In this article, the author illuminates the case by reference to its background. The author speculates on why the decision, which initially occasioned little notice, became the subject of academic and judicial controversy many years afterwards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)822-860
JournalMelbourne University Law Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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