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Legal Limits explores the uneasy relationship between law and literature.
A concern for the fate of the individual in society, an interest in the truth of any matter in contention, forms of narrative, matters of conscience – lawyers and writers share preoccupations of this kind but deal with them in different ways. The legal system looks for a just result by reference to evidence, objectivity and reason. Literary works resort to mood and speculation, but in doing so they can reveal important truths.
Nicholas Hasluck’s lengthy experience as a lawyer and novelist enable him to provide a clearer understanding of the relationship. His views will be of value to practising lawyers, especially advocates, for due process depends upon stories being told well.
The wide-ranging discussion in this book, embracing controversial topics such as preventive detention for sexual offenders, recent restrictions upon freedom of speech and the role of constitutional conventions in the Whitlam dismissal, concludes with a thoughtful Afterword by a leading constitutional lawyer, Peter Johnston. In revisiting Hasluck’s acclaimed novel The Bellarmine Jug, he shows that literary works can be used to cast light on the rule of law and the meaning of justice.