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more often than any other article anywhere on any of the many aspects of
the subject of civil justice, cited even more often I’m sure than the classic
note published by the University of Pennsylvania on “The Common Law
Origins of the Infield Fly Rule”.6 I should not joke. Jacob’s inherent jurisdiction
article was and is an unparalleled achievement in legal writing.
In B.C., we saw Jacob at his zenith. He was in his early seventies when
he visited but was full of energy and, as it turned out, had a great deal more
to do professionally when he returned home. We wondered whether the
program we proposed for him was too demanding, but he agreed to take on
whatever we could serve up. He was a good-natured fellow, incapable of
complaining, and he was resilient. He lived to age 92, having by then, for
over four decades, both steadfastly promoted radical procedural reform and
widely broadcast his thesis that civil justice—and more particularly, civil
procedure—was a subject worthy of intellectual inquiry.
Just a month after his visit to B.C., Sir Jack delivered the eighth Lord
Upjohn Lecture at the University of Nottingham, choosing as his topic “The
Reform of Civil Procedural Law”.7 Among many other responsibilities in his
years post-B.C., he served as general editor of the Civil Justice Quarterly and
director of London’s Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. He also coauthored
Pleadings: Principles and Practice.8
As a fitting tribute to his accomplishments, Jacob was invited to deliver
the Hamlyn Lectures in 1986. His lectures were published the following
year as The Fabric of English Civil Justice.9 In 1990 he was honoured by civil
proceduralists worldwide as the subject of a book entitled International Perspectives
on Civil Justice: Essays in Honour of Sir Jack I.H. Jacob Q.C.10 The
frontispiece of the Perspectives book is a photo of a smiling Jacob—a very
good likeness. The photo was taken in 1978, less than a year before his B.C.
visit, on the occasion of his having been granted an honorary LL.D. by the
University of Birmingham.
At the mock chambers hearing in the sterile hall of building No. 2 at UBC,
I played counsel for one of the parties. Peter Fraser was opposing counsel.
I was finishing a year at UBC as a visiting assistant professor, with a teaching
load of contracts, civil litigation and a seminar about the nature of the
judicial function. Peter, a practising lawyer, was also a long-serving member
of the Law Reform Commission of B.C. and an adjunct professor at UBC.
Fortunately, he was able to free himself from his other duties to help us
develop the facts to underpin the interlocutory application we had decided
to showcase (the subject of which, as they say, is now lost in the mists of
time), and to free himself for the hearing, just as he had been able to find
time generally to give us sage advice about what we should do with our
guest, Sir Jack.