The English legal code -1769 – the “Demon of Chicane[ry]” !

The “Demon of Chicane” by Jeremy Bentham


Jeremy Bentham was an English philosopher, jurist, and social reformer. He is regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism, born in February, 1748.

Bentham became deeply frustrated with the complexity of the English legal code, and in 1769 (when He was called to the Bar, but He never practiced law) and became deeply frustrated with the complexity (and probably the corruption) of the Code which seemed, to Him, to intentionally cause suffering. To the People of the time, it was so complicated they could not defend themselves – causing them to loose cases they should win – on technicalities.
Sound Familiar?


One quote of Benham: “Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government. “ cite Benham
So even back then – 200+ years ago – we find a good man pointing out that the powerful monied classes was “tilting” the playing field so much that the normal citizen, resident, or “peasant” (as they were called back them) could not defeat them even if all the facts and evidence were on their side. In other words, they could lose all even when they were right.


He was a contemporary of John Locke, who said:

The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom. {emphasis added} Cite: Locke