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Sat, 13 May


Kellie Castle

Lorimer Society Annual Lectures 2023

This year's two lectures focus on Professor James Lorimer (1818-90). Emeritus Professor Ken Mackinnon on 'James Lorimer and the Scottish University Tradition'. Professor Gerry Simpson on 'James Lorimer: The Law of Nations Then and Now'.

Lorimer Society Annual Lectures 2023
Lorimer Society Annual Lectures 2023

Time & Location

13 May 2023, 10:00 – 14:30

Kellie Castle, Kellie Castle, Pittenweem, Anstruther KY10 2RE, UK

About the Event

We are delighted to be returning to Kellie Castle for our Annual Lectures this year.

Full Programme including lunch: £35pp

Lectures and morning coffee: £15pp


Please email to register for this event. Payment details will be sent by return.


10.00 Arrivals and welcome

10.15 Lecture – Ken Mackinnon

11.00 Morning coffee

11.30 Lecture – Gerry Simpson

12.15 Close of lectures

12.30 Lunch

Lecture 1: 'James Lorimer and the Scottish University Tradition' by Emeritus Professor Ken Mackinnon

James Allan Lorimer first came to public notice not as the Professor of Public Law, the Law of Nature and Nations at Edinburgh University, nor as a legal theorist, nor as a developer of modern International Law – nor even as the “saviour” of Kellie Castle, but rather as a leading combatant in the battle to save, instead, the soul of Scottish Education. That work on university reform establishes a pattern which, the talk will show, unites his teaching, his thinking about the nature of law, and his ideas for developing International Law.

Emeritus Professor Ken Mackinnon is a volunteer guide at Kellie Castle. Recently retired as Head of Law at Robert Gordon University, he previously taught law in the UK, and in New Zealand. He was also an adjudicator of accident compensation disputes in NZ. His research areas include legal theory, social security law, accident compensation, and professional ethics. His LLM degree at Aberdeen was by thesis on the subject of 'The Legal Theory of James Lorimer – the Jurisprudence of Common Sense'.

Lecture 2: 'James Lorimer: The Law of Nations Then and Now' by Professor Gerry Simpson

In Vienna, Freud is completing his medical degree just as James Lorimer, in Edinburgh, is polishing his Institutes of the Law of Nations. Is James Lorimer's Institutes a sort of unwritten, 'unwriteable' textbook for our own time - international law's unconscious speaking to us from the late 19th century? In this talk, very much tailored to a non-expert audience, Gerry Simpson will put Professor Lorimer's work into conversation with our current crises (in Iraq, in Ukraine and elsewhere).

Professor Gerry Simpson is a Chair in Public International Law at LSE. Previously he taught at the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University, having studied originally in Aberdeen. Gerry Simpson is widely published – he had a paper on James Lorimer accepted for publication in 2016 - James Lorimer and the character of sovereigns: the Institutes as 21st century treatise, in the European Journal of International Law, and his most recent book is The sentimental life of international Law: Literature, Language and Longing in Global Politics (Oxford, 2021).

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