Peter Oliver

Document Type



This Article was presented and is written in honour of Professor Richard Kay, and in great admiration for the body of work that he has so impressively produced over his career. That body of work displays great breadth and depth, and it travels through time to make sure that we do not forget the ideas and legacy of constitutional writers who came before us.

I present here another life that in my view illustrates many of these same themes. It is a life that was cut short in active service in World War II at the young age of 34, at the outset of a career that had already displayed a brilliant command of constitutional law and theory.

This Article and the presentation which preceded it take their inspiration from one of Richard Kay’s more recent articles, a piece of legal intellectual history, in which he explores the influence of H.W.R. Wade’s famous 1955 Cambridge Law Journal article, The Basis of Legal Sovereignty.

My own Article discusses the life, work, and legacy of R.T.E. Latham. I have written before on Latham’s life and work. In this Article, I focus on his legacy, a topic that I unfortunately gave short shrift to in my earlier study.

To my mind, this legacy includes a highly impressive list of insights, some of which I have discussed here. Despite their “brilliance,” to use the noun (or the adjective “brilliant”) most favoured by later readers of Latham, I cannot help but feel that, with a few nudges provided by later theoretical inquiry, Latham’s original set of assumptions could have been taken creatively and helpfully further. I set out a few suggestions here.