'Knowledge is GREAT' Lecture: Shakespeare and the Law

Monday 04 April 2016 -
18:00 to 19:30
In Partnership with Singapore Management University and the University of Warwick. Supported by Clifford Chance

British Council 'Knowledge is GREAT' Lecture


Henry IV Part 2, Common Law, and the English Utopia

By Professor Paul Raffield, Professor of Law

About the lecture

 “…more of (Shakespeare’s) lines are devoted to discussing law than any other profession. (Some think his knowledge of the law was so detailed that the “real” Shakespeare must have been a lawyer.)”  Why lawyers love Shakespeare, The Economist, 8 January 2016

How much did Shakespeare know, technically, of the law?  Was the evolution of early modern legal history captured accurately in Shakespeare’s plays?

One of the many facets of Shakespeare’s great diptych of the English State, The History of Henry the Fourth and The Second Part of Henry the Fourth, is a mimetic reflection on both the role of law in English society and the immemorial custom of England’s legal institution. 

In the course of the lecture, Professor Paul Raffield will analyse the important role played by common lawyers in shaping the development of the unwritten constitution with reference to two characters in Henry IV, Part 2: the Lord Chief Justice and Justice Shallow.  For this reason, while agreeing with the great classical and literary scholar E.M.W. Tillyard that for purposes of extrapolating a unified theme the two parts are better addressed as a single play, Paul places almost exclusive emphasis on Henry IV, Part Two, and in particular on those scenes in which Justice Shallow and the Lord Chief Justice appear. 

He will consider the influence of several judges of the early modern period (the most significant of whom in this context is the Lancastrian Chief Justice, Sir John Fortescue) over the depiction of these two characters, both of whom constitute multifaceted representations of common lawyers.

Familiarity with Henry IV, Part 2 is not required to understand Paul’s lecture, which will conclude with a panel featuring well-known Director, Dr Lee Chee Keng, and SMU’s Academic Director and former Principal of Raffles Institute, Dr Lim Lai Cheng, and an open discussion from the floor. 


Professor Paul Raffield is Professor of Law at the University of Warwick, where he teaches Tort Law, Origins of English Law, and Shakespeare and the Law.

After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Law, Paul went to drama school and subsequently worked for twenty-five years as an actor, prior to his appointment at Warwick.

While an actor, Paul studied for a PhD at Birkbeck Law School. He has subsequently published extensively in the fields of Law and Literature and Legal History. In 2007, he co-organised an international conference at Warwick on Shakespeare and the Law, which attracted leading Shakespearean and legal scholars. The papers were published in an edited collection: Paul Raffield and Gary Watt (eds.), Shakespeare and the Law (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2008).


Dr Lee Chee Keng brings with him over two decades of experience across diverse types of translations, both from English into Chinese as well as Chinese into English. He also translates from Japanese into Chinese. He is a writer and academic who works in both Chinese and English. He lectures on drama pedagogy and Chinese language learning in early childhood at the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language, and also serves as Assistant Director and Chinese Translation Editor of A│S│I│A (Asian Shakespeare Intercultural Archive). Dr Lee Chee Keng serves as Assistant Director and Chinese Translation Editor of A│S│I│A (Asian Shakespeare Intercultural Archive), an online education and research archive for Asian Shakespeare performances.

Dr Lim Lai Cheng is Academic Director, Office of the Provost and Fellow of the School of Social Sciences at Singapore Management University. She is specially tasked to look into SMU’s SkillsFuture agenda, continuing education and  technology-related innovation in teaching and learning. She has extensive experience in the Singapore Education System: as teacher, head of department, deputy principal and principal of three schools before her current appointment, and from her key roles in corporate communications and curriculum planning and policy development at the Education Ministry’s headquarters.

Dr Lim is a Director of the Principals’ Academy, Inc. (Singapore). She holds a BA (Hons) and MA from Cambridge University, a Masters in Education from the Nanyang Technological University in Language Education and a Doctorate in Education from the University of London. Her topic of study was technological integration in education.

Dr Lim is advisor to the African Leadership Academy in South Africa, the LEAF Foundation in Slovakia and an education foundation in Moscow. She was conferred the Chevalier Dans L’ Ordre Des Palmes Academiques by the French Education Minister in 2012 for her key role in advancing educational collaboration and initiatives between France and Singapore.


Dr Kirpal Singh is an eminently recognized creativity guru whose only major headache has been timing: being a futurist his ideas have often met with resistance only to fructify in different avatars years later! Not afraid to voice strong viewpoints Dr singh has been invited to speak at some of the most important global platforms dealing with the future and creativity. He is an internationally renowned author and has given Talks and conducted seminars and workshops at some of the world’s top universities including MIT, Yale, NYU, Columbia, Georgetown, Cambridge. Currently Dr Singh is Director of the Wee Kim Wee Centre at the Singapore Management University where he also teaches. His latest book is NAKED APE. NAKED BOSS. BERNARD HARRISON.

Time   : 6:00 pm – 7.30 pm, 4 April 2016  Registration starts at 5.15 pm 

Venue: Mochtar Riady Auditorium, Singapore Management University

Level 5, SMU Administration Building, 81 Victoria Street

Singapore 188065                   


To sign up for this free event, kindly Register HERE