Lord Denning, most celebrated of all twentieth-century jurists, declared: “Magna Carta is the greatest constitutional document of all times. The foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”
Article 29 is the most important clause of this treasured document, for it is the basis of due process as we understand it today:
No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be dispossessed of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.
The few copies of the document that survive from the thirteenth century are mostly housed in our cathedrals, tended like the relics that were removed at the Reformation. One is on display in the Australian Parliament in Canberra. Another hangs next to the Declaration of Independence in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
Here, in short, is the Anglosphere’s unifying text.
What a shame that Judith Collins, NZ’s Minister of Justice is so disrespectful of this historic document that she would hasten to introduce so many laws that defy our traditional right to due process. Generally she is a reasonably good politician compared to most, and I hope it is just oversight, and if she takes the time to visit the page where most of the above text is sourced from, she might think again next time she feels the need to draft legislation that imposes penalties upon citizens before they have been tried and convicted.