Time to reflect
I’ve arrived in Krakow where I’m attending the UACES conference. I’m a regular attender at this conference having been chair of the Association from 2003–2006. My December 2016 knee replacement would have ordinarily kept me away in 2017, but to my astonishment I was invited by the Association to attend as their guest as they’ve nominated me to receive the lifetime achievement award this year. I’m daunted and humbled by this award, but inevitably it has got me thinking about a number of things.
One anecdote that has come back to my mind is this: I first studied EEC law as an undergraduate in Cambridge in 1981–1982 long before it was a compulsory subject for lawyers wanting to complete a qualifying law degree. I enjoyed it immensely, partly for the iconoclastic reconsideration of British constitutional orthodoxies that came from studying those Brexit bugbears — direct effect and supremacy. Admittedly I’d read some if JDB Mitchell’s work the previous year in Constitutional Law, but at that point it was treated as a wee bit mad. (Little did I realise that one day I would come to hold the very chair that Mitchell inaugurated — the Salvesen Chair of European Institutions).
But what excited me most — bizarrely — was the examination where I spotted an opportunity to argue that the Cassis de Dijon doctrine on mutual recognition and mandatory requirements could be applicable to combat the effects of barriers to freedom of establishment or freedom to provide services. It was that flexibility and scope for imaginative and teleological interpretation offered by an evolving legal order that contrasted so much with the rest of my legal studies.
The rest, as they say, is history.