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Coke's Institutes of the Law

Sir Edward Coke is most remembered for his forceful championship of the supremacy of the common law. He defended the common law against the prerogative power of the crown and the encroachments of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. In 1628 he published the first of four volumes of Institutes, which delineated some of the basic rights of an individual in a stable legal order. The last three volumes, which included an analysis of the Magna Carta, were so incendiary that they were suppressed by King Charles I for almost a decade after Coke's death. These books, as well as his case reports, were accepted as first principles of law.

The Coke's Institutes of the Law are a series of short studies evaluating the United States legal system.

The Locke Institute gratefully acknowledges financial support from Robert Elgin, Sunmark Foundation, Carthage Foundation, J.P. Humphreys Foundation, Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Chase Foundation of Virginia and anonymous donors. Without this support the Coke's Institutes Series would not be possible.


The first series will focus on tort law:

The Classical Law of Tort

  • Sir Edward Coke
  • Industrialization
  • Jurisprudence in the Nineteenth Century
  • Causation
  • Extent of duty of Care
  • Limitations

Alternative Rules for Determining Tort Law Liability

  • Sir Edward Coke
  • Negligence
  • Strict Liability
  • Contributory Negligence
  • Last Clear Chance
  • Proximate Cause
  • Comparative Negligence

The Learned Hand Rule

Erosion of the Traditional Law of Tort

Role Played by Judges

Role Played by Jurors

Role Played by Expert Witnesses

Relevance of the English Loser-Pays Rule

Product Liability Law

Medical Malpractice Law

Route to Tort Law Reform