Linklaters supports rule of law as Magna Carta copies reunited for first time

Linklaters is sponsoring a three-day event at the British Library that will see four original copies of Magna Carta brought together for the first time in history. 

The magic circle firm is the sole sponsor of the three-day exhibition, due to launch celebrations marking the document’s 800th anniversary in 2015. Linklaters had never worked with the British Library before now, however corporate partner Richard Godden, the main point of contact at Linklaters for this event, joined the eight-person advisory committee for the exhibition nine months ago.

Linklaters had approached the British Library after it started looking for a partner. It is not known if any other law firms had pitched for this sponsorship spot, however a spokesperson for the library said that other magic circle firms will be jointly supporting an exhibition following the unification later that year.

Godden, the only non-academic on the exhibition’s committee, told The Lawyer: “One of my passions is history as well as law. Abuse of power is not something that stopped in the 18th century [and] this is not just a historic issue. It is something of huge importance to general society as a whole and also to London as a place to do business.” 

Magna Carta, meaning Great Charter and agreed in 1215, remains a cornerstone of the British Constitution and its principles are echoed around the world. It established for the first time that the king was subject to the law, rather than above it. 

Godden said in a statement: “The legal, political and social impact of Magna Carta is unique. It is a foundation stone of the Rule of Law and its influence extends around the world.

“The arbitrary authority of the state is just as much a threat today as it was in the day of King John and the principles enshrined in Magna Carta remain essential not only in relation to personal liberty but to creating an environment in which business can prosper. We forget them at our peril.”

There are four surviving copies of the document – two which are held in the British Library, one at Lincoln Cathedral and another in Salisbury Cathedral. All three organisations will be working on the exhibition. 

The library said: “The many divergent uses that have been made of it [Magna Carta] since the Middle Ages have shaped its meaning in the modern era, and it has become a potent, international rallying cry against the arbitrary use of power.”

To see the medieval manuscripts visitors will be able to enter a ballot to win one of 1,215 free tickets.