Hertford College and University of Oxford. I would like to acknowledge the generous support of the Leverhulme Trust in the writing of this article. I am grateful to Elias LJ for chairing the lecture in such a generous spirit. I am also grateful to the organizers of the Current Legal Problems lecture series for the invitation, and to the editors and anonymous reviewers for helpful criticisms. It was a great honour to be invited. I am also grateful to Hugh Collins, Anne Davies, Keith Ewing, Mark Freedland, and Jeremias Prassl, for discussing the themes in this lecture, and for ongoing friendship, collaboration and support. I am also grateful to Rachel Hunter for excellent research assistance. All errors are attributable to me alone.
Remarkably, the interaction between common law and statute has not attracted the scholarly attention it deserves, given that it is such a basic component of legal reasoning in common law systems. This is especially true in the law of employment, where the interaction between common law and statute is a pervasive feature of modern employment law. In recent years, scholars have started to rise to the challenge of developing principles to regulate this interaction, and this article provides a contribution to those debates. It builds upon Lord Hoffmann’s controversial judgment in Johnson v Unisys to identify three modes of interaction: statute as pre-emptive of common law development; statute as an analogical stimulus of common law development; and common law fundamental rights. By connecting this analysis to background principles of legislative supremacy and fundamental rights, it argues that Johnson v Unisys provides an attractive constitutional vision of the relationship between Parliament and the courts.