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Neil MacCormick: Law, Philosophy and Politics

Neil MacCormick
Neil MacCormick

The late Professor Sir Neil MacCormick (1941-2009) was one of the twentieth century's most renowned jurists, called by many 'the greatest Scottish National Party intellectual'.

 1941-59: Born into a Political Family

Neil MacCormick was born in Glasgow on 27 May 1941, to John MacCormick and Margaret Miller


John MacCormick leaves the Scottish National Party (SNP)


Family moves into 2 Park Quadrant in Glasgow Park


John MacCormick's Scottish Convention holds a National Assembly in March 1947, Glasgow – resolution demanding home rule passed


John MacCormick contests election to Westminster in Paisley


John MacCormick's Scottish Covenant Campaign – signatures begin to be signed in October 1949 two million collected

Blueprint for Scotland published by the Covenant Association, 1951


John MacCormick elected Rector of Glasgow University for three years (1950-53)

Stone of Destiny stolen (negotiations continue through to 1951), with John MacCormick's involvement


John MacCormick challenges Queen Elizabeth II styling herself as such in Scotland: MacCormick v Lord Advocate


The Flag in the Wind by John MacCormick published


Scottish Provisional Constituent Assembly established, under the direction of Roland E Muirhead, to draft a Constitution for an Independent Scotland (finishes in 1964)


John MacCormick contests final Westminster election (as Liberal candidate; beats off Tam Dalyell for second place)


 1959-65: University Politics

Neil MacCormick completes MA Honours in Philosophy and Literature, Glasgow University


Neil MacCormick serves as editor of the Glasgow University Guardian (March 1960 to January 1961) and as editor of the Glasgow University Students' Handbook

Neil MacCormick becomes Secretary of the Nationalists (Student Political Club) at Glasgow University


  • 'The Corporate Clique', Glasgow University Guardian
  • 'Last Will and Testament', Glasgow University Guardian

John MacCormick dies, 13 October 1961 

Neil MacCormick serves as PM in Secretary's Debate, Glasgow University Union (on 'Scottish National Government in Power'), 3 November 1961 

Neil MacCormick serves as President of the Scottish Nationalist Association at the University of Glasgow 


Neil MacCormick serves as Clerk of the House for Union Debates, University of Glasgow

Neil MacCormick named 'Best Individual Speaker' at the Scottish Final of the Observe Mace Debating Competition (Donald Dewar's team won overall), 7 December 1962


Neil MacCormick completes BA in Jurisprudence, Oxford University (as a Snell Exhibitioner) 

Neil MacCormick comes second (behind Donald Dewar) in the National Final of the Observe Mace Debating Competition


  • 'Debate Retrospect: A Cursory Summary of the Year's Debating', Guardian Glasgow University Newspaper 
  • 'Glasgow Style and Oxford Manners', The Glasgow Herald 

Neil MacCormick serves as the President of the Oxford Union Society


 1965-72: Scholarly Beginnings - Dundee and Oxford

Neil MacCormick begins two-year Lectureship in Jurisprudence at the University of St Andrews (Queen's College, Dundee)


MacCormick at Balliol College, Oxford, 1965


  • 'Can Stare Decisis be Abolished?'

Neil MacCormick begins five-year term as Felix Frankfurter Memorial Fellow and Tutor in Jurisprudence at Balliol College, Oxford

Winnie Ewing wins Hamilton seat for SNP in by-election

Neil MacCormick joins the Scottish National Party


  • 'Seabathing, Sunbathing and Sea Coal'
  • 'The Misrepresentation Act, 1967'

Neil MacCormick begins 4-year term as CUF Lecturer, Oxford

October 1968, Continental Shelf (Jurisdictional) Order


Neil MacCormick serves as Proctor of Oxford University, 1970-71


  • The Scottish Debate, ed.
  • 'Independence and Constitutional Change'
  • 'Delegated Legislation and Civil Liberty
  • 'Ius Quaesitum Tertio: Stair v. Dunedin'
  1972-79: First Forays into Scottish Politics - Edinburgh in the 1970s

Neil MacCormick appointed to Regius Chair of Public Law, and the Law of Nature and Nations, University of Edinburgh


  • 'Voluntary Obligations and Normative Powers'

Neil MacCormick delivers Inaugural Lecture, 'Law as Institutional Fact'

The UK enters the European Community

The (Kilbrandon) Royal Commission on the Constitution, reports on 31 October 1973


  • 'Legal Obligation and the Imperative Fallacy'
  • 'Justice According to Rawls'

1974 Westminster election, SNP gains seven MPs, including Iain MacCormick for Argyll (28 February) and then again on 10 October (gains four more)


  • 'Law as Institutional Fact'
  • 'Principles of Law'
  • 'The Rise of Scottish Nationalism: A Case of Too Little Too Late?'
  • 'A Filial Look at Home Rule's Founding Father'

Neil MacCormick adopted as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Edinburgh North, at the Adoption Meeting of the SNP, 12 December 1975

UK Referendum on EEC entry won


  • Independence and Federalism After the Referendum, presented to the Andrew Fletcher Society in June 1975
  • 'We Need a New Politics'

Neil MacCormick participates in a series of meetings of the SNP Constitution Committee and authors 'Draft Articles for a Scottish Constitution', November and December 1976


  • Lawyers in their Social Setting, ed.
  • 'Accountability, Professionalism and the Scottish Judiciary'
  • 'Justice: An Un-Original Position'
  • 'Children's Rights: A Test Case for Theories of Right'
  • 'Formal Justice and the Form of Legal Arguments'
  • 'The Mandate Question'
  • 'Two-Stranded Support for Legislative Devolution'

Neil MacCormick participates in the 43rd Annual National Conference of the SNP, Dundee, 26-28 May 1977 in Dundee, which includes the passing of 'SNP's Draft Articles for a Scottish Constitution – Statement of Principles'

Neil MacCormick authors 'Statement of Evidence by the SNP' to the Select Committee of the House of Lords on A Bill of Rights, 2 August 1977

Neil MacCormick participates in the SNP Committee on the Structure of Central Government, and drafts related SNP policy, September-October 1977

Scotland Bill introduced, November 1977


  • Civil Liberties and the Law, presented at Heriot-Watt University on 25 October 1977
  • 'Rights in Legislation'
  • 'Challenging Sociological Definitions'

Neil MacCormick elected Member of the National Council of the SNP, 1978-84

Neil MacCormick elected Member of the National Executive Committee of the SNP, 1978-1981

Scotland Bill receives Royal Assent, 23 July 1978

SNP Policy on the Structure of Government in Scotland – adopted at the Annual Conference 1978


  • Legal Reasoning and Legal Theory
  • 'The Obligation of Reparation'
  • 'The Motivation of Judgement in the Common Law'
  • 'Privacy and Obscenity'
  • 'Does the United Kingdom have a Constitution? Reflections on MacCormick v. Lord Advocate'
  • 'Dworkin as Pre-Benthamite'

MacCormick campaigning for 'Yes' in the 1979 referendum

Neil MacCormick contests election to Westminster for SNP in Edinburgh North – Neil MacCormick comes fourth, Alex Fletcher (Conservative) wins

Referendum on the Scotland Bill held on 1 March 1979. 1,230,937 voted in favour of an Assembly, a majority in excess of 77,000, but this represented only 39.2 per cent of the electorate; the Act was repealed by Order on 26 July 1979

Margaret Thatcher elected as PM (1979-1990)

Neil MacCormick becomes Member of the National Committee for Electoral Reform (UK)

31 May – 79 Group formed, with the aim of redefining the SNP as a socialist republican party

Winifred Ewing becomes MEP for Highlands and Islands, 7 June 1979

Gordon Wilson becomes SNP leader, 15 September 1979


  • 'Constitutional Points'
  • 'Nation and Nationalism'
  • 'Constitution'
  • 'Law, Obligation and Consent: Reflections on Stair and Locke'
 1979-89: Scottish Nationalism in the Thatcher Years

400 people gather at Edinburgh District Trades Council to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Referendum, 1 March 1980

The Campaign for a Scottish Assembly is formed

Jim Sillars, former Labour MP, joins SNP


  • 'The Coherence of a Case and the Reasonableness of Doubt'

Campaign for a Scottish Assembly holds a National Convention in Edinburgh to discuss proposals for an Assembly


  • H.L.A. Hart
  • 'Stair as Analytical Jurist'
  • 'The Artificial Reason and Judgement of Law'
  • 'Adam Smith on Law'
  • 'Natural Law Reconsidered'
  • 'Law, Morality and Positivism'
  • 'The Limits of Reason: A Reply to Dr. Knud Haakonssen'
  • 'The Rational Discipline of Law'
  • 'A Political Frontier of Jurisprudence: John Chipman Gray on the State'

Neil MacCormick participates in the 48th Annual National Conference of the SNP, 3-5 June 1982 in Ayr, which includes vote to disband 79 Group


  • Legal Right and Social Democracy: Essays in Legal and Political Philosophy
  • 'Law and Enlightenment'
  • 'On Analytical Jurisprudence'
  • 'Coercion and Law'
  • 'Legal Reasoning and Practical Reason'
  • 'Rights, Claims and Remedies'
  • 'Legal Right and Social Democracy'
  • 'The Polity and Values: The Question of Moral Disestablishment'

Neil MacCormick contests election to Westminster for SNP in Edinburgh Pentlands

Neil MacCormick serves as President of the Society of Public Teachers of Law in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 1983-84


  • 'Contemporary Legal Philosophy: the Rediscovery of Practical Reason'
  • 'Jurisprudence and the Constitution'
  • 'Legal Decisions and their Consequences: from Dewey to Dworkin'
  • 'What is Wrong with Deceit?'

Neil MacCormick elected Member of the National Council of the SNP

Neil MacCormick delivers 'The Democratic Intellect and the Law', as the Presidential Address to the Society of Public Teachers of Law, 19 September 1984


  • 'The Idea of Liberty: Some Reflections on Lorimer's Institutes'
  • 'On Reasonableness'
  • 'Coherence in Legal Justification'
  • 'Der Rechtsstaat und die Rule of Law'
  • 'Analytical Jurisprudence and the Possibility of Legal Knowledge'

Neil MacCormick elected Member of the National Council of the SNP

Neil MacCormick elected Member of the Broadcasting Council for Scotland, 1985-88


  • 'The Limits of Rationality in Legal Reasoning'
  • 'The Idea of a Free Government'
  • 'The Democratic Intellect and the Law'
  • 'A Moralistic Case for A-Moralistic Law?'

Neil MacCormick elected Fellow of the British Academy

Neil MacCormick elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Neil MacCormick elected Member of the National Council of the SNP


  • An Institutional Theory of Law: New Approaches to Legal Positivism, with O Weinberger
  • The Legal Mind: Essays for Tony Honoré, with P Birks (eds.)
  • 'Speech Acts, Legal Institutions and Real Laws', with Z. Bańkowski
  • 'The Interest of the State and the Rule of Law'
  • 'Theory in the Law Curriculum', with W Twining
  • 'Spontaneous Order and the Rule of Law: Some Problems'

Neil MacCormick contests election to Westminster for SNP in Edinburgh Pentlands (three SNP MPs elected: Andrew Welsh, Alex Salmond and Margaret Ewing) 11 June 1987


  • 'Universalisation and Induction in Law'
  • 'Smashing the Two-Way Mirror'
  • 'Why Cases have Rationes and What These Are'

6 July 1988 – Campaign for a Scottish Assembly publishes A Claim of Right (Neil MacCormick is signatory)

Neil MacCormick delivers 'Constitutionalism and Democracy', as the 3rd Lecture at the SNP Annual National Conference, Inverness, 17 September 1988 (Donaldson Lecturer)

Jim Sillars wins Glasgow Govan in by-election, 10 November 1988


  • Constitutionalism and Democracy, presented as the 3rd Lecture at the SNP Annual National Conference, Inverness
  • 'Persons as Institutional Facts'
  • 'On the Interpretation and Understanding of Case Law'
  • 'The Determinacy of Selves'
  • 'Institutions, Arrangements and Practical Reason'
  • 'How the Tories Raised the Stakes', The Scotsman
SNP Annual Conference, 1988

SNP decides to leave Scottish Constitutional Convention, 27 January 1989

Neil MacCormick presents 'Constitutionalism and Constitutions', 25 February 1989

Inaugural Meeting of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, 30 March 1989

UK Government levies a new Community Charge, or Poll Tax, on Scotland (1 year ahead of England & Wales), 1 April 1989

Neil MacCormick presents lecture, 'Is Nationalism Philosophically Credible?', 4 May 1989

Neil MacCormick presents lecture, 'The Claim of Right', 10 July 1989


  • Enlightenment, Rights and Revolution: Essays in Legal and Social Philosophy, with Z Bańkowski (eds.)
  • 'Some Principles of Statutory Interpretation', with Z Bańkowski
  • 'Unrepentant Gradualism'
  • 'Constitutionalism and Constitutions'
  • 'Discretion and Rights'
  • 'The Ethics of Legalism'
  • Translator, with R Alder, of R Alexy, A Theory of Legal Argumentation
 1989-98: Looking to Europe

Neil MacCormick serves as a member of the SNP Constitutional Review Committee and authors related policy, October-December

Towards Scotland's Parliament – the Convention's first report launched at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 30 March 1990

Annual National Conference of the SNP (Alex Salmond elected as Leader), 19-22 September 1990


  • 'Universalisation and Induction in Law'
  • 'General Legal Concepts'
  • 'Reconstruction after Deconstruction: A Response to CLS'
  • 'Of Self-Determination and Other Things'

Neil MacCormick elected Member of the National Council of the SNP, 1991-93

Neil MacCormick participates in SNP Constitutional Policy Meetings, and drafts related policy, February-June

SNP Special National Conference, 23 March (focus was on SNP policy of 'Independence in Europe')

Factortame (1991) C-221/89 – 25 July 1991


  • Interpreting Statutes: A Comparative Study, with RS Summers (eds.)
  • Controversies About Law's Ontology, with P Amselek (eds.)
  • 'Statutory Interpretation in the United Kingdom', with Z Bańkowski
  • 'Interpretation and Justification', with RS Summers
  • 'On "Open Texture" in Law'
  • 'An Idea for a Scottish Constitution'
  • 'Moral Disestablishment and Rational Discourse'
  • 'Is Nationalism Philosophically Credible?'
  • 'Donoghue v. Stevenson and Legal Reasoning'
  • 'Citizens' Legal Reasoning and its Importance for Jurisprudence'

MacCormick campaigning with Alex Salmond in 1991

Neil MacCormick serves as SNP Scottish Cabinet Member for Home Affairs

Neil MacCormick becomes President of the Argyll and Bute Constituency Association

Maastricht Treaty signed, 7 February 1992

Neil MacCormick contests election to Westminster for SNP in Argyll and Bute, 9 April 1992

Neil MacCormick delivers Chorley Lecture at LSE, 'Beyond the Sovereign State', 3 June 1992


  • Legal Reasoning, Volumes I and II, with A Aarnio (eds.)
  • 'Republicanism and Enlightenment Thought: Observations from Scotland'
  • 'Natural Law and the Separation of Law and Morals'
  • 'Further Thoughts on Institutional Facts'
  • 'Legal Deduction, Legal Predicates and Expert Systems'
  • 'Time to Tear Ourselves Away', The Scotsman

Scottish Constitutional Convention establishes a Constitutional Commission

Maastricht Treaty comes into force, 1 November 1993


  • 'Beyond the Sovereign State'
  • 'Argumentation and Interpretation in Law'
  • 'HLA Hart: In Memoriam'

Neil MacCormick elected Member of the Sutherland Committee on Grounds for Appeal in Scotland, 1994-96

Allan Macartney elected as MEP, 9 June 1994


  • Legal Reasoning and Legal Theory, 2nd ed.
  • Prescriptive Formality and Normative Rationality in Modern Legal Systems, with W Krawietz and GH von Wright (eds.)
  • 'Four Quadrants of Jurisprudence'
  • 'What Place for Nationalism in the Modern World?'
  • 'Constitutionalism, Democracy and Welfare'
  • 'Legal Reasoning and the Institutional Theory of Law'
  • 'The Concept of Law and the Concept of Law'
  • 'Sovereignty, Democracy and Subsidiarity'
  • 'On Justification and Interpretation'
  • 'John Smith: An Appreciation'
  • 'Rights of a Sovereign Nation'

Stone of Destiny returns to Edinburgh

Neil MacCormick serves as a member of the SNP Transition to Independence Working Group, 7 October 1995

The Scottish Constitutional Convention publishes Scotland's Parliament, Scotland's Right (St Andrew's Day, 30 November 1995)


  • 'Defeasibility in Law and Logic'
  • 'Time, Narratives and Law'
  • 'Sovereignty: Myth and Reality'
  • 'The Maastricht-Urteil: Sovereignty Now'
  • 'The Relative Heteronomy of Law'
  • 'Argumentation and Interpretation in Law'


  • 'What Place for Nationalism in the Modern World?'
  • 'The Concept of Law and the Concept of Law'
  • 'Law and Philosophy: The Rediscovery of Practical Reason'
  • 'Liberalism, Nationalism and the Post-Sovereign State'
  • 'Institutional Normative Order: A Conception of Law'

SNP publishes Citizens not Subjects

SNP publishes The Parliament and Constitution of an Independent Scotland

Neil MacCormick contests election to Westminster for SNP in Argyll and Bute

Scotland's Parliament, presented by the Secretary of State for Scotland (Dewar) in July 1997

Successful Referendum on Home Rule, 11 September 1997


  • Interpreting Precedents: A Comparative Study, with R.S. Summers (eds.)
  • Constructing Legal Systems: 'European Union' in Legal Theory, ed.
  • 'Democracy, Subsidiarity and Citizenship in the "European Commonwealth"'
  • 'Precedent in the United Kingdom', with Z. Bańkowski and G. Marshall
  • 'The Ideal and the Actual of Law and Society'
  • 'Universal and Particular: The Problem with Precedent'
  • 'On Institutional Normative Order: An Idea About Law'
  • 'Sovereignty, Democracy and Subsidiarity'
  • 'Law as Institutional Normative Order'
  • 'Speaking Volumes: J.M. MacCormick's The Flag in the Wind', The Times Higher Education Supplement
  • 'Scottish National Party'

Dr Robert McIntyre dies, 2 February 1998

The Scotland Act 1998, passed 17 November 1998


  • Laws, Institutions and Facts, with H de Jong (eds.)
  • 'Sovereignty or Subsidiarity? Some Comments on Scottish Devolution'
  • 'Sovereign States and Vengeful Victims: The Problem of the Right to Punish', with D Garland
  • 'The English Constitution, the British State, and the Scottish Anomaly'
  • 'The Dialectic of Might and Right: Legal Positivisms and Constitutional Change'
  • 'Norms, Institutions and Institutional Facts'
  • 'After Sovereignty: Understanding Constitutional Change'
  • 'Precedent as a Source of Law'
  • 'The Significance of Precedent'
  • 'Reasonableness and Objectivity'
  • 'The Scottish Parliament as Law-Maker: Laws for an Information Age?'
  • 'A Parliament Once Again?', Times Literary Supplement
  • 'Risking Constitutional Collision in Europe?'
  • 'Jurisprudence, Democracy, and the Death of the Weimar Republic'
  • 'Independence has to be Transformed from Abstract Ideal to Concrete Proposal', The Herald
  • 'Obituary: Allan Macartney', The Independent
Video, audio and more from 1989-98: Looking to Europe
 1999-2004: An Advocate for Scotland in Europe

Neil MacCormick participates in peaceful demonstration at the Faslane Nuclear Submarine Base on the Clyde

Neil MacCormick delivers an address at the 71st Anniversary of the SNP, 16 January 1999

Scottish Parliament elections, 7 May 1999

Scottish Parliament convened, 12 May 1999

Neil MacCormick becomes Vice-President of the SNP, 1999-2004

Neil MacCormick elected Member of the European Parliament, 1999-2004; represents SNP within the Group of the Greens and European Free Alliance, 10 June 1999

Official opening of the Scottish Parliament (Neil MacCormick in the procession), 1 July 1999

Neil MacCormick delivers 'Beyond Devolution', at the Hume Debate, Edinburgh Book Festival, 27 August 1999

Neil MacCormick delivers 'Stands Scotland Where She Did? New Unions for Old in these Islands', as the 6th John Maurice Kelly Memorial Lecture, 21 October 1999

Neil MacCormick speaks at National Press Club on Scottish Independence, 15 November 1999 (as part of a tour with Alex Salmond) 

Neil MacCormick delivers 'The Memory of St Andrew and Scotland Yet' to St Andrew's Society Dinner; 30 November 1999


  • Questioning Sovereignty: Law, State and Nation in the European Commonwealth
  • Laws, Facts and Values, ed.
  • 'My Philosophy of Law'
  • 'Nation and Nationalism'
  • 'Does a Nation Need a State? Reflections on Liberal Nationalism'
  • 'Rhetoric and the Rule of Law'
  • 'Can Judges Make Mistakes?'
  • 'Powers and Power-Conferring Norms'
  • 'Decentralisation, Devolution and Confederal Independence'
  • 'Institutions and Laws Again'
  • 'Democracy and Subsidiarity'
MacCormick with Flora MacCormick and the team at the European Parliament

Neil MacCormick elected as Ombudsman of the Green/European Free Alliance Group in the EP; Vice-President of the Special Committee on Echelon; and Vice-President of the 'Intergroup on Stateless Nations'

Neil MacCormick delivers Lecture at UCL on 'Is There a Constitutional Path to Independence?', 7 February 2000

Neil MacCormick delivers lecture on 'Scottish Judicial Independence' in Basque Country, 10-11 February 2000

Neil MacCormick delivers lecture 'The Scottish Character of Human Rights', the European Court of Human Rights, 17 February 2000

Neil MacCormick joins European Parliamentary delegation to Spanish Constitutional Court on their constitutional provisions concerning autonomy for internal regions and nationalities, Madrid, July 2000

Alex Salmond steps down as SNP Leader and John Swinney becomes SNP leader, September 2000

Donald Dewar dies, 11 October 2000


  • Stands Scotland Where She Did? New Unions for Old in these Islands, presented as the 6th John Maurice Kelly Memorial Lecture, 21 October 1999
  • 'Legality Without Legalism', with Z Bańkowski
  • 'Ethical Positivism and the Practical Force of Legal Rules'
  • 'Wrongs and Duties'
  • 'Devolved Lands: 1. "Independence in Europe": A Liberal Road for the Scottish National Party'
  • 'Is There a Constitutional Path to Scottish Independence?'
  • 'Problems of Democracy and Subsidiarity'

MacCormick winning the Euro MP of the Year Award

Neil MacCormick knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours in recognition of services to scholarship in law

Neil MacCormick voted Scottish Euro MP of the Year at the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards

Neil MacCormick addresses the Scottish Parliament, 16 September 2001 

Neil MacCormick gives oral evidence to Select Committee on European Union at House of Commons, 16 October 2001

Neil MacCormick gives oral evidence to Scottish Parliament European Committee, 30 October 2001


  • A Special Conception of Juvenile Justice: Kilbrandon's Legacy, presented as the 5th Kilbrandon Child Care Lecture, University of Glasgow, 1 November 2001
  • 'Integration and Integrity in the Legal Reasoning of the European Court of Justice', with J Bengotxea and L Moral Soriano
  • 'On the Very Idea of a European Constitution: Jurisprudential Reflections from the European Parliament'
  • 'A Comment on the Governance Paper'
  • 'Inserting Safeguards in European Arrest Warrants', The Scotsman

Neil MacCormick becomes member of the Convention on the Future of Europe from 2002–03

Neil MacCormick voted Scottish Euro MP of the Year at the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards

Neil MacCormick gives Oral Evidence to Select Committee on European Scrutiny at House of Commons, 26 February 2002

A Constitution for a Free Scotland, published by the SNP in September 2002

Neil MacCormick presents at and participates in Scottish Parliamentary Convention on the Future of Europe, Edinburgh, 16 September

Neil MacCormick delivers 'Europe's Future, Scotland's Future: Reflections from and On the Convention on the Future of Europe', on St Andrew's Day 2002, Scotland House, Brussels


  • 'Being Scottish'
  • 'On the Very Idea of Intellectual Property: An Essay according to the Institutionalist Theory of Law'
  • Scotland in the European Parliament: A View of Scotland's Potential in Europe, film presented with I Hudghton
  • Why a European Parliament: A Guide to European Decision-Making, film presented with I Hudghton
MacCormick at the Launch of the Convention on the Future of Europe

Margaret Miller dies

Neil MacCormick voted Scottish Euro MP of the Year at the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards

Neil MacCormick participates in public meeting at Stirling University, with George Reid, on the democratic reconstruction of Iraq, May 2003

Neil MacCormick participates as the Chair of the SNP European Policy Review Group, June-July 2003

Neil MacCormick participates in SNP National Assembly Debate on the Draft European Constitution, Cumbernauld New Town Hall, 5 July 2003

Alex Salmond elected SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon elected deputy, 3 September 2003


  • The New European Constitution: Legal and Philosophical Perspective, Leon Petrazycki Lecture, Warsaw
  • 'Republicanism, Fletcher and Ferguson'
  • 'How to Have a Healthy Constitution? Reviewing Allott's Health of Nations'
  • 'Fishing Industry will be Key Election Issue', The Scotsman
  • 'SNP Not Behind the New EU Draft', The Scotsman
  • 'Open-Door Approach', The Scotsman
  • 'A Strengthened Definition of Subsidiarity', The Scotsman
  • 'Extension of Powers is Implicit in Scotland Act', The Scotsman
  • 'Europe…The Devil will be in the Detail', The Scotsman
  • 'First Step on the Road to Ruin for Scotland', Scotland on Sunday (Supplement)
  • 'Europe's Beleaguered Nations', The Scotsman

Neil MacCormick receives the Royal Society of Edinburgh's Royal Gold Medal for Outstanding Achievement

Neil MacCormick renews Leverhulme Research Fellowship on 'Law, State and Practical Reason'

Neil MacCormick gives evidence to Inquiry into the Future of the Scottish Fishing Industry, Royal Society of Edinburgh report, March 2004

Neil MacCormick delivers talk to Scotland Europa on the role of Scottish MEPs, 24 March 2004

Neil MacCormick participates in debate organised by English-Speaking Union Scotland on Europe, 8 June 2004

Holyrood opened officially by the Queen, 9 October 2004

Neil MacCormick delivers Keynote at the Network of Regional Parliamentary European Committees (NORPEC), Edinburgh, 26 November 2004

Neil MacCormick gives oral evidence to Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee, 6 December 2004 on 'Promoting Scotland Worldwide'


  • A Union of Its Own Kind? Reflections on the European Convention and the Proposed Constitution of the European Union
  • 'Questioning Post-Sovereignty'
  • 'The European Constitutional Convention and the Stateless Nations'
  • 'Doubts about the "Supreme Court" and Reflections on MacCormick v. Lord Advocate'
 2005-09: Elder Statesman, Death and Legacy

Neil MacCormick participates in a debate on 'The Changing Face of British Democracy', Festival of Politics, Edinburgh, 24-26 August 2005

Neil MacCormick delivers talk 'On Parliamentary Immunity in the European Parliament', at a Public Hearing by the Committee on Legal Affairs, 29 November 2005


  • Rhetoric and the Rule of Law
  • Who's Afraid of a European Constitution?
  • 'New Unions for Old'
  • 'Legislative Deliberation: Notes from the European Parliament'
  • 'The Sovereignty Issue in the EU Constitution'
  • 'The European Constitutional Process: A Theoretical View'
  • 'Adam Ferguson: How Civil will Future Society Be?'
  • 'The Health of Nations and the Health of Europe'


  • The European Union and the Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth, presented as the 2006 Hume Lecture on 1 March 2006
  • 'Founding Principles', The Scotsman

Calman Commission (set up by the UK Government) first report: The Future of Scottish Devolution Within the Union: A First Report [PDF 373KB]

The Scottish National Party wins the largest number of seats in the Scottish Parliament elections and forms a minority government, 3 May 2007

Neil MacCormick appointed as a Special Advisor on Europe to the newly elected SNP-led Scottish Government

The Scottish Government launches its 'National Conversation' on Scotland's constitutional future: Choosing Scotland's Future: A National Conversation: Independence and Responsibility in the Modern World, 14 August 2007 

Neil MacCormick receives life-time achievement award in the Law Awards Scotland

Title of national administration is changed to Scottish Government from Scottish Executive, 3 September 2007

Neil MacCormick prepares an Opinion concerning Competence over Fisheries in the proposed Reform Treaty of the European Union


  • Institutions of Law: An Essay in Legal Theory
  • 'Why Law Makes No Claims'
  • 'Legal Philosophy: 5 Questions'
  • 'Judicial Independence: Who Cares?'
  • 'On Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations'
  • 'SNP Minority', The Scotsman
Neil MacCormick with Institutions of Law, 2007
Neil MacCormick with Institutions of Law, 2007

Neil MacCormick delivers final lecture as Regius Professor, entitled 'Just Law' [MP3], 28 January

Neil MacCormick retires from Regius Chair, 1 February

Neil MacCormick is diagnosed with cancer

Neil MacCormick participates in debate on the State of the Union, 14 May


  • Practical Reason in Law and Morality
  • HLA Hart, 2nd ed.
  • 'Promises', interview

Neil MacCormick dies in Edinburgh, 5 April

Neil MacCormick's Funeral at Greyfriars Kirk, 17 April

Calman's final report: Serving Scotland Better: Scotland and the United Kingdom in the 21st Century [PDF 2,684KB], June 2009

The Scottish Government publishes its White Paper: Your Scotland, Your Voice: A National Conversation, November 2009


  • 'Stair and the Natural Law Tradition: Still Relevant?'

The Scottish Government publishes its first consultation on a Bill to pave the way for a referendum on independence: Scotland's Future: Draft Referendum (Scotland) Bill Consultation Paper, February 2010


  • 'Sovereignty and After'

The Scotland Act 2012, which implements the recommendations of the Calman Commission, receives Royal Assent


SNP publishes Scotland's Future: from the Referendum to Independence and a Written Constitution, 5 February 2013


Referendum on the Independence of Scotland, 18 September 2014



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