The Empire's Sentinels: The Privy Council's Quest to Balance Idealism and Pragmatism
This article is a study of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council’s quest to balance Western ideals and pragmatic diplomacy. It surveys some critiques and praises of the Judicial Committee coming from Canada, Australia and India, in order to delineate the attitudes, strategies and beliefs adopted by the Law Lords when they sat on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council during its most influential period, that is to say, from its creation in 1833 until the decline of the British Empire in the 1950s. The text is divided into four sections. The first section analyses Lord Haldane’s insightful assessment of the role of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council within the Empire, and of the way the Lords perceived or should have perceived themselves when sitting on the Privy Council. The three following sections consists of external critiques of the Board’s interventions in three dependencies: one colony whose Constitution was drafted and negotiated by the overseas subjects and granted almost full independence (Australia), one colony whose Constitution was drafted in London and was not ratified by the overseas subjects (Canada), and one colony that did not have its own Constitution and whose foreign subjects did not initially partake in the legal system (India). The distinctive characteristics of each dependency will allow for a multi-levelled critique of the Lords’ conception of their institutional role, hopes and efforts.