Law and History Review

Forum: From the Twelve Judges to the Court for Crown Cases Reserved

Informal Lawmaking in England by the Twelve Judges in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries

James Oldham c1

In 1848, Parliament created the Court for Crown Cases Reserved, in which all of the common law judges heard and decided questions reserved by trial judges in criminal cases. As Sir John Baker explains, this was “a court of record, which would now sit in public and give reasons for its decisions,” even though “the reservation of cases was still at the discretion of the trial judge and the court did not have the powers of the court en banc in civil cases.”

(Online publication February 14 2011)

James Oldham is St. Thomas More Professor of Law and Legal History at Georgetown Law School <>. He is the author of The Mansfield Manuscripts and the Growth of English Law in the Eighteenth Century, 2 vols. (1992) and English Common Law in the Age of Mansfield (2004), both titles in the Studies in Legal History series published by the University of North Carolina Press in association with the American Society for Legal History. He extends special thanks to John Langbein for his careful reading of this article, and for his many constructive suggestions.