Legal Pluralism and Public Law: uOttawa hosts a major international conference in 2024

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I’m Professor Jason Varuhas, director of the Public Law Conference series. The Public Law Conferences are a biannual series of major international conferences focused on common law jurisdictions. We are delighted that the next conference in the series will be held at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law in 2024.  

The conference will be held under the theme “Public Law: Rights, Duties, and Powers” which will invite consideration of a range of important and cutting-edge issues faced by common law jurisdictions. One of the great attractions of holding the conference in Canada is that it will serve to focus attention on and promote discussion of the intersection and interrelationship between different legal traditions including the common law, civilian and Indigenous legal traditions which are all part of the legal landscape in Canada. 

One of the features of the Public Law Conference is that it brings together not only academics and researchers in public law but also judges, lawyers, and individuals who are examining public law topics from a range of different perspectives. 

What’s so interesting about this conference is that high quality of the debate that takes place, it goes right down to basic principles sometimes so the discussions that we are able to have, both in the conference and outside of the conference are very nourishing. 

One of the defining features of the Public Law Series is that it has fostered a transnational community of public lawyers drawn from multiple countries across the common law world and it is that sense of community, collegiality and intellectual fellowship that one will find at the Ottawa conference, and which is much needed following on from the pandemic years. 

I think pluralism is one of the defining features of Canadian public law. Canada is pluralistic in the sense that we have both a legal, a written legal Constitution, but we also have these sort of older political rules that shape the way that governments act. I think this is a very good place to study pluralism and a very good topic. Canada’s law is built around a civil law tradition, a common law tradition, and an indigenous law tradition and if we have at the base of our law, our public law, this composite type of understanding it becomes very clear that we’re well placed to do comparative analysis and of course the next step is to look to other countries to see how they’re braiding in together all of the forms of law that are necessary to have effective and responsive public law. 

The University of Ottawa Faculty of Law has the largest complement of public law scholars in Canada. We are the world’s largest bilingual English and French University. We’re on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people and of course, are the seat of Canada’s national government, the capital, so we’re in close proximity to the Supreme Court of Canada, the federal courts, Parliament and many of the offices of the federal government. So, we’re in a unique position in Ottawa to discuss public law but especially pluralism in public law. 


The University of Ottawa will host the Public Law Conference 2024. This major event will bring together jurists from around the world under the theme Rights, Duties and Powers in Public Law. This major event is part of a series of international conferences on public law that bring together a diversity of participants from academia, legal practice and the judiciary.

This exceptional forum for common law jurists from across the globe offers discussions and exchanges on public law matters. The upcoming conference, taking place in Ottawa from July 3 to 5, 2024, will emphasize legal pluralism, drawing inspiration from the Canadian experience. Canada indeed navigates the coexistence of different legal traditions within a federal framework that allows for the expression of multiple approaches to public law. The conference will unfold just steps away from the country’s most significant institutions, including Parliament and the Supreme Court of Canada. Participants will have the opportunity to delve into the challenges and opportunities posed by legal pluralism, acquiring fresh perspectives in an ever-evolving world.

Participants will benefit from the quality debates and discussions on a range of issues, spanning from fundamental principles to current affairs, fostering intellectual curiosity and enhancing comprehension of the intricacies of public law. The enriching conversations extend beyond the conference halls, encompassing the event itself, with one of the most significant contributions being the development and maintenance of a transnational community of public law jurists.

Mark your calendars for the 2024 Public Law Conference, jointly presented by the University of Ottawa and the University of Melbourne, with the support of Hart Publishing Ltd.

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