JIS News

Inspiration stayed with him for some 30 years and last year it became reality when the Historic Foundations of Jamaican Law was published. The book, which has been described as a unique and fascinating study of the evolution of legal statutes in Jamaica, was written by Attorney Raphael Codlin, and had its United Kingdom launch at the Jamaican High Commission in London on Thursday, April 29.
Mr. Codlin told JIS News that the idea for the book dated back to the early 1970’s after he completed his legal studies in London. He trained at the Inn of Court School of Law on a government scholarship.
“When we arrived in London there were 12 of us and the course was for three years, but some of us decided that because it was too cold we completed the course in one year and seven months. On my way back to Jamaica I thought it would be good if a Jamaican were to write a law book. When I got home I spoke about it with my colleague, Beryl Ennis, who was another scholarship winner. However, we got involved in Jamaican life and the idea went to the back burner.”
The book remained an idea but resurfaced in 1978 when Mr. Codlin was assisting the late Ian Ramsay in the Green Bay case.
“We wanted to find out what was the history of indictments in Jamaica, and I looked around and did not see any legal history books in the library, all the books were written on English law. it occurred to me more forcefully that we needed to produce our own literature,” he noted.
Despite this, it was not until 1997 that the actual research work on the book started.
“In 1997 two young ladies came to the office for one job. I selected one and the other was quite downhearted so I asked her to go to the Institute of Jamaica and to look at all statutes passed years before, so I could start putting the book together.
Karen Scott was her name and she did a wonderful job and the desire to do the book was strengthened. The real writing started after 1999 when my daughter went to university and I did not have to take her to school anymore and I had spare time on my hands,” Mr. Codlin explained.
“The more I wrote, the more it became clear that I could write a book. I was able to do so because I was at my office by six every morning and I was ably assisted by my Clerk,” he said.
Mr. Codlin is proud of the result and of the response to the book. The book was first launched in Jamaica at the Norman Manley Law School last year.
Jamaican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Her Excellency Maxine Roberts who was guest speaker at the launch, said the book – Historical Foundations of Jamaican Law – served as an excellent background for the current debate on the Caribbean Court of Justice.
“As you all know, Jamaican Law is currently at a crossroads in its development. We, like many other countries in the region, are pondering one of the most significant evolutionary steps in our legal history – establishing our own final court of appeal – the Caribbean Court of Justice. This development has sparked vibrant debate across the region, and I think Mr. Codlin’s book provides an intriguing and richly detailed overview of the path we have travelled thus far,” she said.
High Commissioner Roberts said Mr Codlin had compiled possibly the most comprehensive single volume ever published on the law in Jamaica. She described the book as a fascinating study of the history and evolution of legal statutes in Jamaica and the internal and external factors that have shaped the course of Jamaican law over the years.
“In putting together this unique book, Mr. Codlin meticulously examined over 300 years of Jamaican legal history from the arrival of Cromwell’s Expeditionary Force in 1655 all the way to the start of the 21st Century. The Historical Foundation of Jamaican Law is a subject that should interest not only those involved in the study and practice of the law, but to everyone, for it affects us all,” she said.

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