The text that follows is more or less that of the three lectures I gave in Oxford in October 1996. Lecture, if you say it in French, means 'reading', but actual lectures are meant to be heard, not read, and unfortunately what appeals to the ear may not gratify the eye. One reason is that the audience has to be rather cozened and cajoled, for it is not as easy to flounce out of an auditorium as to fling away a tedious book. Again, verba volant, scripta manent: any puzzling passage in a book may be easily reverted to, but the auditor has no replay button and needs a degree of repetition which the reader can be spared. Students complain when a lecture sounds like a book read out; the corollary is obvious enough.
The present text, accordingly, is not as dense and comprehensive as would rightly be expected in a trio of articles, and the reader may be put off by the levity of style which seemed acceptable to the audience. Some weight has been added by fairly extensive footnotes, and some length by offering in Appendices the text of four relatively inaccessible judicial decisions, one each from the English Court of Appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States, the Bundesgerichtshof, and the Cour de Cassation.
I am grateful to Chris Hare, Hein Kötz, Lipkin Gorman, Rusty Park, Peter Sullivan QC, and Georg Wolf for helping me to material I thought I needed; to Peter Birks for organising everything so well; to the Clarendon Press for sponsoring the lectures; and to the audience who kindly came and stayed.
Cambridge February 1997