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Masks, Mingling and Magic: Gibberish Law in the Age of Covid

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Ian Ward



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021, The Author(s). The experience of Covid-19 has taught us many things, not least the consequence of what John Milton termed ‘gibberish law’. Law drafted amidst the ‘throng and noises of irrational men’. The closer purpose of this article is the attempt to regulate ‘gatherings’ during the coronavirus pandemic, including the re-invention of a bespoke crime of ‘mingling’. A jurisprudential curiosity which, it will be suggested, is symptomatic of a broader malaise. An assault on the integrity of the rule of law which is only too familiar; much, it might be said, like the arrival of a pandemic. The first part of the article will revisit three particular gatherings, in part to debunk the myth of the unprecedented. But also to introduce some themes, literal and figurative, of masking and muddle. The conjuring of what Shakespeare called ‘rough magic’. The second part of the article will then take a closer look at the jurisprudential consequence of this conjuration. The final part will venture some larger concerns, about the crisis of parliamentary democracy in the ‘age of Covid’.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ward I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Liverpool Law Review

Year: 2022

Volume: 43

Pages: 57-76

Print publication date: 01/04/2022

Online publication date: 26/10/2021

Acceptance date: 08/10/2021

Date deposited: 10/11/2021

ISSN (print): 0144-932X

ISSN (electronic): 1572-8625

Publisher: Springer Nature


DOI: 10.1007/s10991-021-09288-x


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