Obituary: Lord Lloyd of Hampstead

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The Independent Online
Dennis Lloyd, lawyer, born 22 October 1915, called to the Bar 1936, Reader in English Law University College London 1947-56, Quain Professor of Jurisprudence London University 1956-82, Dean of Faculty of Laws 1962-64, Member Law Reform Committee 1961-82, created 1965 Baron Lloyd of Hampstead, Chairman Governors National Film School 1970-88, Honorary President 1988-92, Chairman British Film Institute 1973-76, QC 1975, married 1940 Ruth Tulla (two daughters), died 31 December 1992.

JURIST, lawyer, politician, law reformer, devotee of the British film industry and much else besides, Lord Lloyd of Hampstead will be remembered by different people for different aspects of his life. In an age of increasing specialism he belonged to a dying breed of polymaths: a man of culture and erudition, at home in different disciplines, at ease with different worlds. And yet he was essentially a private person, a family man, a loving husband for 52 years and a father of two daughters of whom he was proud.

It may be that Dennis Lloyd would wish to be remembered for his personal qualities, his humanity and sensitivity, his empathy with the problems of others. But it is as a scholar that most will remember him.

His studies took him to University College London (UCL) and on from there to Cambridge. It was for his early writings on unincorporated associations (even today an underdeveloped subject), rent control and on public policy that Cambridge awarded him an LL D in 1956. He had been at the Bar before the war and although, after distinguished war service including acting as liaison officer with the Free French Forces in Syria and Lebanon, he had returned to a busy common law practice, George Keeton, then head of the law department at University College London, had had the foresight to offer him a readership in 1947. His academic interests and scholarly abilities were clearly displayed in Unincorporated Associations (1938), for which he was awarded the Yorke Prize. His work on rent control saw him produce a book which went through two editions and enabled him to become one of the architects of the Rent Act of 1965. His study of Public Policy: a comparative study of English and French law (1953) remains a model of how comparative law should be undertaken.

In all this work there was emerging a view of law. Lloyd was to come to call it the 'idea' of law. As found in these disparate studies and in his very successful Pelican The Idea of Law (1964), his idea of law is functionalist and consensus-based. He had a vision of law as competent to solve any problem, whether it concerned the right to work (the subject of his inaugural lecture), homosexual behaviour or the control of outer space. He believed that the idea of law which would prevail 'will be one which emphasises not so much the self-contained character of law, but rather its function as an instrument of social cohesion and social progress'.

Coming from that Pantheon of positivism (UCL), it is easy to see the positivism within much of Lloyd's work. Yet in The Idea of Law and elsewhere the influence of 20th-century American legal thought is clear. For Lloyd, law was not so much 'logic' as 'experience'. He was no formalist and he readily appreciated the social, economic and political context of law. In The Idea of Law the influences of Llewellyn's functionalism and Roscoe Pound's jural postulates and his view of law as 'social engineering' are manifest. He insisted that 'the idea of law must not confine itself to grappling with the technical problem of giving effect to human values through legal machinery'. Ultimately, the idea of law that we find in Lloyd's jurisprudence is a vision consonant with Lloyd the man: a liberal in the best sense of that tradition, a believer in the importance of rights, in the value of the rule of law: as he himself puts it (also in The Idea of Law) in the value of law as the 'essential guarantee for all those freedoms which are looked upon as vital to the good life in a social democracy'. He saw law as a building-block of civilisation.

As important to generations of students has been his encyclopaedic Introduction to Jurisprudence (1959). Lloyd was working on the sixth edition when he died. It was through this book that law students in much of the English- speaking world came to read Kelsen, Olivecrona, Savigny, Geny, Pashukanis, giants of continental juristic thought otherwise largely inaccessible. The recipe of wise text and suitably chosen extract remains a model guide to the study of legal thought. To the text he brought his own philosophical training, his culture and his erudition. The Introduction has its detractors but it remains the standard student text on the subject.

Throughout his life he grappled with the problems of modernity and the conflicts of contemporary civilisation. He was interested in the place of the individual within collectivist states, in the power of the press, in the role of the judiciary, in industrial relations; in harnessing the social sciences to law to create a better society. He wrote about all these subjects, and in law reform bodies and in the Lords (he was created a life peer in 1965) played an active part in engineering change. He worked energetically to create a national film school and served the film industry in a number of capacities. He remained active until his death: indeed, he was being instructed (together with Ruth, his wife) in Modern Greek only days before he entered hospital. He will be affectionately remembered by a wide cricle of friends, acquaintances and generations of students.

(Photograph omitted)