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As the 800th year anniversary of the Magna Carta approaches, the four surviving copies have been brought together in London. In 1215 it was designed as a peace treaty between King John and the rebels fighting against his arbitrary rule. It failed as a peace treaty but it ignited the bonfire of rights and freedoms which we enjoy today. It sparked the concepts of democracy, basic rights for individuals, and the rule of law. It signalled the end of the absolute power of the monarchy and feudal classes and made those in power accountable to their subjects. No longer could individuals be imprisoned at the monarch’s will. It gave individuals the right to a fair trial. No man could be stripped of his freedom “save by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land.”  This clause is still in force today and was enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights in 1953.

The Magna Carta made those in power accountable. It prevented the sovereign from extracting money from his subjects “save by the common counsel of our kingdom.” The UK parliament was first called 50 years later and has done far more to protect individual freedoms than just regulate taxation. The UK parliament has enacted legislation: empowering employees against employers, giving tenants redress against overbearing landlords, and ensuring everyone’s freedom of expression, religion, and family life.

The battle for individual’s rights is no longer against the monarchy. The fight rages on against government, local authorities, employers, insurers, and landlords. The 800 year old principle remains the same: that power cannot subvert justice.  The rule of law serves to protect individuals against injustice and to uphold their rights and freedoms.

Thompsons continually strive to use these rights and principles to stand up for individuals and to ensure that nobody can “sell, deny or delay justice”.

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