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Denning Society

painted portrait of Lord Denning
Portrait of Alfred Thompson, Baron Denning (1899-1999)

Lord Denning (1899-1999) was probably the most famous member of Lincoln’s Inn during the twentieth century, a century his life almost exactly spanned. From relatively humble origins, he was called to the Bar in 1923 and rose to become a judge for thirty-eight years. He served in the High Court, the Court of Appeal, and the House of Lords, before returning to the Court of Appeal as Master of the Rolls, finally retiring at the age of 83. A firm believer in the education of youth, especially in his beloved legal profession, he inspired the foundation of the Denning Society shortly before his death, aged 100, in 1999.

At Lord Denning’s request, membership of the Society is restricted to members of Lincoln’s Inn who hold scholarships or bursaries. The Society seeks to perpetuate his memory, by providing a forum for its members to meet and mix with all age groups on three major occasions each year; a summer reception, an autumn lecture, and a dinner in January to celebrate Lord Denning’s birthday. A distinguished guest speaker is invited to the latter, to which members may bring guests.

Future Events

Please note that the Society does not publish a regular newsletter, rather details regarding the three annual events are circulated by email to members of the Society only about six weeks in advance.

Diary dates for 2024

  • AGM & Dinner: Tuesday 23 January 2024
  • Summer Drinks: Wednesday 10 July 2024
  • Annual Lecture: Wednesday 27 November 2024

Transcripts of Lectures

These are all available to download from this page. They include:

The Denning Society Lecture 2022

The Society’s Annual Lecture 2022 was held on Tuesday 22 November. The speaker was The Hon. Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, Judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland and former Advocate General of the European Court of Justice. His address was ‘Alfred Thomson Denning: A 20th Century English Legal Icon Re-Examined’.

The Denning Society Lecture 2021

The Society’s Annual Lecture 2021 was held on Tuesday 9 November. The speaker was the Rt Hon Lady Black of Derwent DBE. Her address was ‘Victorian Legal Dilemmas Lampooned by Gilbert and Sullivan – Would we fare any better today?’.


The Denning Society Lecture 2020

The Society’s Annual Lecture took place on Wednesday 25 November via Zoom. The Right Hon Lady Arden of Heswall DBE delivered a fascinating lecture on ‘All the law’s a stage! Shakespearean insights and their resonance today.’

The Denning Society Lecture 2019

The Society’s Annual Lecture took place on Monday 18 November in Lincoln’s Inn Old Hall. The Rt Hon Lord Sales delivered an engaging lecture on ‘In Defence of Legislative Intention’.

The Denning Society Lecture 2018

The Society’s Annual Lecture took place on Thursday 8 November in Lincoln’s Inn Old Hall. The Rt Hon Lord Briggs of Westbourne delivered an engaging lecture on ‘Equity in business’.

The Denning Society Lecture 2017

The Society’s Annual Lecture took place on Thursday 30 November in Lincoln’s Inn Old Hall. The Rt Hon Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury delivered an engaging lecture on ‘Judgment and Judgments: the art of forming and writing judicial decisions’.

The Denning Society Lecture 2016

The Society’s Annual Lecture took place on Monday 7 November in Lincoln’s Inn Old Hall. The Rt Hon Lord Hodge delivered an engaging lecture on ‘Upholding the rule of law: how we preserve judicial independence in the United Kingdom’.

The Denning Society Lecture 2015

The Society’s Annual Lecture took place on Wednesday 24 November in Lincoln’s Inn Great Hall. The Rt Hon Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe delivered an engaging  lecture on ‘Metaphor and Metaphysics in Company Law’.

The Denning Society Lecture 2014

The Society’s Annual Lecture took place on Thursday 13 November in Lincoln’s Inn Old Hall. The Rt Hon Lord Wilson of Culworth delivered an engaging and thought-provoking lecture on ‘Adoption: complexities beyond the law’.

The Denning Society Lecture 2013

The Society’s Annual Lecture took place on Tuesday 5 November in Lincoln’s Inn Old Hall and was delivered by The Rt Hon Lord Sumption on ‘The Disunited Kingdom: England and Scotland 1707-2013’.

The Denning Society Lecture 2012

The Annual Lecture 2012 was held on Wednesday 7 November in Lincoln’s Inn Old Hall. The lecture was by The Rt Hon Sir Stephen Sedley. His address was ‘New Corn from Old Fields: history, ministerial government, and the law’.

The Denning Society Lecture 2011

The Society’s Annual Lecture 2011 was held in the Old Hall on Tuesday 1 November. The speaker was Sir Christopher Greenwood, a Judge of the International Court of Justice since 2009 and formerly Professor of International Law at LSE. His address was ‘Litigation in International Relations: the changing face of courts in international society’.

We regret that there is no transcript available for this lecture.

The Denning Society Lecture 2010

The Society’s Annual Lecture 2010 was given by The Rt Hon Lord Scott of Foscote who spoke on the topic of ‘Reform of the House of Lords: what’s the use of an elected House?’

Denning Law Journal

Although there are no formal links between the Society and Journal, it may be of interest to members. The Denning Law Journal is a general, peer-refereed legal journal that publishes original articles that seek to promote the values cherished by Lord Denning:

  • Freedom of the individual
  • Independence from State intervention
  • Preservation of Human rights
  • Preserving the traditions of judicial independence, integrity and creativity
  • Global libertarianism

In addition to publishing articles, the journal and its website contain sections devoted to recent legislation and reports, to case analysis and book reviews.

Founded in 1985 and now published by the University of Buckingham Press The Denning Law Journal has an international editorial board.