No standard format attaches to the composition of judgments by judges working within the Common Law dispensation. Normally, of course, we get a recital of the facts of the individual controversy, a statement of applicable legal doctrine, an analysis of precedent and an adjudication. Increasingly, room has had to be found for the interpretation of statute law provisions, testimony to the exponential growth in contemporary society of public law.From time to time, however, members of the judiciary have found it useful to embellish their judgments by allusion to matters literary - quotations from the Bible or Shakespeare, for example. This is designed in almost all instances to sharpen the logic inherent in the judicial decision-making process. This book examines a host of 'fragments' thus judicially recalled - from a range of jurisdictions (mainly England and Ireland) - and sets out to explain just a little bit more about the legal contexts which provoked the employment of these fragments and about the fragments themselves.
W.N. Osborough, emeritus professor of Law, University College Dublin, is the author of Law and the emergence of modern Dublin (1996) and Studies in Irish legal history (1999). He has also edited several books in the Irish Legal History Series, including, most recently, Adventures of the law: proceedings of the 16th British Legal History Conference (2005).