Annual Lectures

Our Annual Lecture was inaugurated in 1965, when Jack Halliday, Professor of Conveyancing in the University of Glasgow, delivered an address entitled A Lawyer Looks at Stair.

A lecture has been delivered every year since then, as the focal point of our annual meeting. Lecturers have included, and continue to include, lawyers and legal historians of distinction from Europe and the United States as well as from Scotland and England, and many of their lecture texts have been published.

All of our lectures to date are listed below:


  • Sir Walter Scott: Law and Imagination
  • The Honorable Lord Stewart
  • YouTube:


  • Birds of a Feather Flock Together? A Comparison of the Legal Order in the Norwegian and Scottish Realm in the 13th Century.
  • Professor Jørn Sunde, University of Bergen
  • Stair Society Podcast:


  • The Kings of Scots v The Earls of Douglas 1406-1455: a Game of Thrones?
  • Professor Hector MacQueen, Professor of Private Law, University of Edinburgh
  • Stair Society Podcast:


  • Who is in control? Historical perspectives on the role of the judge and the parties in civil litigation
  • Prof dr CH (Remco) van Rhee, Professor of European Legal History and Comparative Civil Procedure at Maastricht University
  • Stair Society Podcast:


  • Reforming Legal Education in Edinburgh: Roman Law, 1792-1800
  • Professor John W. Cairns, Professor of Civil Law, University of Edinburgh


  • Anglo-Scottish Relations, 1290-1513, and the Beginnings of International Law
  • Lord Sumption, Justice of the UK Supreme Court
  • Stair Society Podcast:


  • England and the German Hanse: The Long Endgame (1474-1604)
  • Professor Alain Wijffels, Professor at Leuven, Kortrijk, Louvain-la-Neuve, Lille, and Leiden Universities
  • Stair Society Podcast: Published as 'Legal authorities as instruments of conflict management: the long endgame of Anglo-Hanseatic relations (1474–1603)' in M. Godfrey (ed), Law and Authority in British Legal History (CUP 2016)


  • Life on the Law Lords' Corridor: The Last 40 Years
  • Lord Hope of Craighead, formerly Lord President, Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and Deputy President of the UK Supreme Court
  • Stair Society Podcast:; Stair Society, Miscellany VII (vol 62) 411-426


  • Letters from Inveraray: The correspondence between the 8th Duke of Argyll and the 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava (with particular reference to the Irish Land Question)
  • Professor Norma Dawson, Professor of Law, Queen's University Belfast
  • Stair Society, Miscellany VII (vol 62) 359-380; Open Access:


  • Law at the Edge: Legal Encounters on a Maritime Periphery
  • Professor Nial Osborough, Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence and Legal History at University College Dublin
  • Stair Society, Miscellany VII (vol 62) 381-409


  • Four Models of Union
  • Dr John Ford, Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
  • Juridical Review (2011) 45-76; Stair Society, Miscellany VII (vol 62) 179-215


  • Reshaping Private Law in Victorian Britain: The View from Westminster
  • Professor Michael Lobban, Professor of Legal History, Queen Mary, University of London School of Law
  • Stair Society, Miscellany VII (vol 62) 337-358; Open Access:


  • The Dissolution of the Anglo-American Legal Tradition
  • Professor John H Langbein, Sterling Professor of Law and Legal History, Yale Law School


  • Stair and the Natural Law Tradition: Still Relevant?
  • Professor Sir Neil MacCormick, Regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations, University of Edinburgh
  • Stair Society, Miscellany VI (vol 54) 1-10


  • Law, Morality and Sir George MacKenzie
  • Professor Olivia Robinson, Professor Emeritus of Roman Law, University of Glasgow
  • Stair Society, Miscellany VI (vol 54) 11-27


  • The Influence of Mixed Legal Systems on the English Common Law
  • Professor David Ibbetson, Regius Professor of Civil Law, University of Cambridge
  • Published as 'Common Law Evolution: The Influence of Mixed Legal Systems' in Stair Society, Miscellany VI (vol 54) 267-282


  • Scots Law in the New World: Its Place in the Formative Era of American Law
  • Professor Richard Helmholz, Ruth Wyatt Rosenson Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School
  • Stair Society, Miscellany V (vol 52) 169-187


  • The Post-Union Court of Exchequer: The History of that Court from 1707 to 1856, when its Functions were transferred to the Court of Session
  • Dr Athol Murray, former Keeper of the Records of Scotland
  • Stair Society, Miscellany V (vol 52) 103-131


  • 'Double Cross': An Account of a Research Project Involving a Comparison between Scots and South African Private Law
  • Professor Reinhard Zimmermann, Director, Max-Planck Institute for Foreign Private Law and International Law, Hamburg
  • Published as 'Introduction', R Zimmerman, D Visser and K Reid (eds), Mixed Legal Systems in Comparative Perspective: Property and Obligations in Scotland and South America (Oxford University Press 2004)


  • Transformations of Law: J.1.2., Stair and Mackenzie
  • Professor Alan Watson, University of Georgia, USA
  • Stair Society Miscellany IV (vol 49) 243-254


  • The Court of Session as a Jus Commune Court
  • Professor Gero Dolezalek, Professor of Private Law, Roman Law and the History of Church Law, University of Leipzig
  • Stair Society Miscellany IV (vol 49) 51-84


  • The Civil Law of Scotland
  • Professor W M Gordon, former Literary Director of the Society
  • Edinburgh Law Review vol 5 (2) 130-144


  • The Trial of Captain Thomas Green for Piracy in 1705
  • Sheriff J Irvine Smith, Vice President of the Society


  • Scots Law: Mixed from the Very Beginning? A Tale of Two Receptions
  • W D H Sellar, former Literary Director of the Society
  • Edinburgh Law Review vol 4 (1) 3-18


  • The Criminal Law in the Age of Mackenzie: The Question of Judicial Torture
  • Professor Brian Levack, Professor of History at the University of Texas, Austin, Texas
  • Stair Society Miscellany IV (vol 49) 185-198


  • The Origins and Development of the Teaching of Law in the Scottish Universities from the 13th to 16th Centuries, Including References to Their Training Abroad and the Texts in Use
  • Dr John Durkan, Department of Scottish History, University of Glasgow


  • As Others Saw Them: An Address on the Work Carried Out in the Late 19th century and early 20th century by German Scholars in Examining the Civil and Criminal Procedures in Britain which were used as Models in the Development of Their Own System
  • The Rt Hon Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord Advocate, later Lord President and Lord of Appeal in Ordinary


  • What are the Public Records of Scotland?
  • Patrick Cadell, Keeper of the Records of Scotland


  • The Evolution of Parliament House
  • The Hon Lord Cullen, Senator of the College of Justice, later Lord President


  • The Spiritual Jurisdiction 1560 - 1564
  • Sheriff David B Smith
  • Records of the Scottish Church History Society, xxv (1993) 1-18


  • The Nature of the Crown in Scotland before 1707
  • Dr William Ferguson
  • Stair Society, Miscellany III (vol 39) 1-26


  • Benjamin Franklin in Scotland
  • The Hon Lord Mackenzie Stuart, Judge of the European Court of Justice
  • Denning Law Review 6 (1991) 119-129


  • Why Change the Law?
  • The Hon Lord Maxwell, Senator of the College of Justice and Chairman of the Scottish Law Commission


  • Aspects of Scottish Legal Research in the Archives of the Roman Rota and the Roman Penitentiary
  • James J Robertson, MA, LLB, FSA Scot, Faculty of Law, University of Dundee
  • Renaissance Studies, ii (1988) 339-346


  • Who Compiled the Register of Brieves?
  • Professor A A M Duncan


  • The House of Lords as Court of Last Resort for the United Kingdom
  • The Rt Hon Lord Fraser of Tullybelton, Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
  • 1986 SLT (News) 33-37


  • A Brief Address on the subject of Lord Stair
  • The Rt Hon Lord Avonside, Senator of the College of Justice


  • Regiam Majestatem amongst Medieval Law Books
  • Professor Alan Harding
  • Juridical Review 29 n s (1984) 97-111


  • The Parliament of Scotland, a Postscript to an Auld Sang
  • Dr John Imrie, Keeper of the Records of Scotland and Chairman of the Society


  • British Law: a Jacobean Phantasma
  • Professor Sir T B Smith
  • 1982 SLT (News) 157-164


  • Registration: The last 100 Years and More
  • David Williamson, Keeper of the Registers of Scotland


  • The Lord Advocate and the French Spy
  • The Hon Lord Mackenzie Stuart, Judge of the European Court of Justice


  • Entails and Perpetuities
  • Professor A W B Simpson, University of Kent
  • Juridical Review, 24 n s (1979) 1-20


  • Adam Smith on Law and Society
  • Professor Peter Stein, Regius Professor of Civil Law and Fellow of Queen's College, Cambridge


  • Experiences of a Mixed Legal Society: the American South West
  • Professor Joe McKnight, Professor of Law at the Southern Methodist University and Director of the Family Law Review Project for Texas
  • Juridical Review 22 n s (1977) 177-193


  • Recollections of 50 Years of Parliament House
  • Dame Margaret Kidd QC


  • One Lawyer to Another: F W Maitland and George Neilson of Glasgow
  • Professor E L G Stones, University of Glasgow


  • The Background to a Lord of Session
  • Sir James Ferguson of Kilkerran, Bart, read by Dr John Imrie, Chairman of Council, following Sir James's death a week prior to the meeting


  • The End of Assythment
  • The Hon Lord Hunter, Senator of the College of Justice


  • The Scottish Legal System in relation to Scottish Political Conditions and Aspirations
  • R G Cant, Reader in Scottish History, University of St Andrews


  • Some Rambles in the Foothills of Scots Law, with Random Glances towards the South
  • Sir Robert Megarry, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, later Vice-Chancellor


  • From the Allod to the Feu
  • Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, Lord Lyon King of Arms


  • The Tribunal of the Sacred Roman Rota: Ancient and Modern
  • Most Rev James D Scanlan, Archbishop of Glasgow


  • The Scottish Judiciary during the First Half of the Twentieth Century
  • The Hon Lord Walker, Senator of the College of Justice
  • 1968 SLT (News) 91-2


  • Judges and Judiciaries
  • Professor G W S Barrow, Professor of Mediaeval History, University of Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Juridical Review, 16 n s (1971); Kingdom of the Scots (1973) 83-138


  • A Lawyer looks at Stair
  • Professor J M Halliday, Professor of Conveyancing, University of Glasgow
  • 1966 SLT (News) 1-5