The Feminist Judgments Project is a unique, imaginative, collaboration in which a group of feminist academics, activists and legal practitioners are engaged in writing alternative feminist judgments in a series of significant cases in English law. Rather than simply critiquing existing judgments, the participants have embarked on a practical, ‘real world’ exercise of judgment-writing, subject to the various constraints that bind appellate judges. In this way, the project seeks to demonstrate in a sustained and disciplined way how, with a differently constituted judiciary, judgments could have been written and cases could have been decided differently.  A collection of more than 20 judgments will be published as a book titled Feminist Judgments: From Theory to Practice by Hart Publishing in September 2010.

Although the cases in which judgments are being rewritten all precede the establishment of the Supreme Court, they involve a number of notable recent House of Lords cases, including R v A [2001] UKHL 25 (the rape shield case) R (on the application of Begum) v Denbigh High School [2006] UKHL 15 (the jilbab case); YL v Birmingham City Council and Others [2007] UKHL 27 (whether private care homes are performing public functions for the purposes of the Human Rights Act); Royal Bank of Scotland v Etridge [2001] UKHL 44 (undue influence in relation to ‘surety wives’); Re G (Children) (Residence: Same Sex Partner) [2006] UKHL 43; and EM (Lebanon) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2008] UKHL 64 (a refugee case concerning the application of the ECHR).  In addition, there are imagined appeals to the House of Lords in the frozen embryos case, Evans v Amicus Healthcare Ltd [2004] EWCA Civ 727; and in an implied contracts case, Baird Textile Holdings v Marks & Spencer [2001] EWCA Civ 274. The Privy Council decision in Attorney-General for Jersey v Holley [2005] UKPC 23 (on the defence of provocation) is also included.

Many of these judgments offer dissents – or dissents on different grounds – to the majority decisions. But this is not always the case. In some instances, the feminist judge agrees with the result reached by the court, but does so for different reasons.  As well as presenting the alternative judgments, the book will also reflect on the theory and practice of ‘feminist’ judging.

Further information about the Feminist Judgments Project can be found on the project website.

Rosemary Hunter,
, is a Professor of Law at Kent Law School and one of the joint organisers of the Feminist Judgment Project.