skip to content
Tuesday, 10 May 2022

On Friday 6 May 2022, Professor David Feldman delivered the 2022 CPL Sir David Williams Lecture entitled "White water rafting: The UK's constitutions at a time of stress".

In this lecture, Professor David Feldman argues that "constitutional politics are loose on a rough sea, with little navigational help". He set out several factors contributing to these turbulent waters: challenges to the rule of law; persistent questions over the relationship between the Prime Minister and the Cabinet; and tensions in the Union regarding devolution. Whilst this may mean that the UK is facing a constitutional existential crisis, Professor Feldman stated that it is important to recognise that such crises are nothing new.

However, the particular danger of the current crisis was a lack of awareness and understanding of key constitutional principles that are needed both to constrain governmental actions and provide sufficient flexibility to weather the inevitable storms. If we are to navigate these white waters effectively, Professor Feldman argues that there is a need for consistency in our understanding of these constitutional principles in the Supreme Court, alongside knowledge and acceptance of these constitutional principles amongst MPs and Ministers. We can think of no-one better than Professor Feldman to provide this knowledge.

Professor David Feldman is Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of English Law, Emeritus Fellow of Downing College, and was appointed Queen's Counsel honoris causa in 2008 "for his work in public law fields, particularly civil liberties and human rights". In 2002, Professor Feldman was appointed as judge on the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina where he served until 2010, and was Vice-President of the court from 2006 to 2009.

The Sir David Williams Lecture is an annual address delivered by a guest lecturer in honour of Sir David Williams, Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of English Law and Emeritus Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, hosted by the Centre for Public Law (CPL).

More information about this lecture, including the transcript, other recorded formats and photographs from the event, is available from the Sir David Williams Lecture pages on the CPL website.


Sir David Williams Lecture 2022