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How Not To Change Patriarch: A Comment on Dean v Burne

  • Julian Rivers (a1)

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When Theseus returned from Crete, his ship was long preserved in Athens. Over time, individual planks rotted and were replaced, until eventually all the planks had been renewed. Was the Athenian ship still the original one of Theseus? The problem that vexed Greek philosophers can be made more acute if one imagines that the rotten planks had been preserved, restored and eventually reconstructed into another ship. Which is now Theseus' ship? This was the problem facing Blackburne J in the High Court in the case of Dean v Burne. In effect, he decided that the ship of new planks is still the original one.

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2 [2009] EWHC 1250 (Ch), 5 June 2009.

3 General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland v Lord Overtoun, Macalister v Young (1904) 7 F (HL) 1, [1904] AC 515. See the discussion in this journal by Cranmer, Frank, ‘Christian doctrine and judicial review: the Free Church case revisited’ (2002) 6 Ecc LJ 318.

4 Varsani v Jesani [1999] Ch. 219; [1998] 3 All ER 273, CA.

1 I am grateful to Dr Peter Petkoff for his comments; the views expressed remain my own.

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