MacCormick Lecture Series at Old College

MacCormick Lectures 2014

n his series of MacCormick Lectures, Professor Wolfgang Ernst (University of Zurich) will discuss the legal history of voting. Whenever members of an association, shareholders of a corporation, or councillors convene, they follow procedures which culminate in the casting of votes. Voting procedures, which have attracted the interest of game theorists, have to be followed because (and as far as) they are law. Lying behind them, however, there is a distinct legal history.

Professor Ernst will address issues such as:

  • What constitutes a majority?
  • When is unanimity necessary?
  • Is there a right to abstain?
  • How is a tied vote overcome?
  • How are amendments and bundles of motions dealt with?
  • Do judges vote?

He will explore these issues from a legal historian’s perspective, drawing on material from the Roman Senate, the Roman municipal curia, Church Councils, modern Parliaments and collegiate courts.

About Professor Ernst

After studies at Frankfurt am Main and Bonn, Professor Ernst took his doctorate at the latter University in 1981. In 1982, he gained the degree of LLM from Yale. After taking his State Exams, Professor Ernst was an assistant at the University of Bonn from 1986-1990, acquiring his Habilitation in 1989. From 1990 to 2000, he was Professor Ordinarius of Roman and Private Law at the University of Tubingen, also serving there as Dean and Associate Dean. From 2000-2004, he was Professor Ordinarius for Private Law, and Director of the Institute for Roman Law, Bonn. Since 2004, he has been Professor Ordinarius for Roman Law and Private Law at the University of Zürich. In 2002-3, he was Arthur Goodhart Professor in Legal Science, Cambridge University, and Fellow of Magdalene College. He has also been a Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Herbert Smith Visitor at Cambridge University.

His publications are many and varied, ranging over Roman law, legal history, property, and obligations. In all of this he has had a particular interest in the legal history of money.

Professor Ernst is well-known in Edinburgh, having delivered the Peter Chiene Lecture in Legal History in 2003, and having attended and contributed to the seminar 'from casus to regula' in 2008, and a chapter to the book that resulted from it in 2010. As all of this might suggest, he is recognized as one of Europe’s leading scholars of legal history and Roman law.

About the 2014 MacCormick Lecture Series

The MacCormick Lectures will run for three consecutive evenings (Monday 2nd, Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th June) from 6pm onwards in Lecture Theatre 175, Old College, Edinburgh, EH8 9YL.

A wine reception will follow each lecture in the adjacent Lormier Room. All are welcome.

"The Ayes have it" - The Legal History of Public Choice (Day 1)
5:30pm -7 pm


"The Ayes have it" - The Legal History of Public Choice (Day 2)
5:30pm -7 pm

"The Ayes have it" - The Legal History of Public Choice (Day 3)
5:30pm -7 pm

05 June
MacCormick Lecture Series Concluding Round Table Discussion
Lorimer Room

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