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Law and the power of the people header

Law and the power of the people

The power of the people

Regulation is a necessary and vital part of society. But with every new discovery, technology and innovation, it’s crucial that it evolves – often it is people who drive the change, like these key moments when people fought to reshape the laws that define our everyday lives:

The Magna Carta - 1215 AD

The Magna Carta

The Magna Carta was written to make peace between King John and some rebel barons. The first ‘law of the land’ – giving ‘people’ power over the king – ended illegal imprisonment (keeping the barons out of jail) and gave everyone access to a fair trial. It was the catalyst for modern legal structures (and regulations).

Clean Air Act - 1956 AD

Clean Air Act

During the early 20th Century, the pollution from London’s heavy industry led to numerous dense fogs, nicknamed ‘pea soups’. When, in December 1952, the ‘Great Smog’ killed 12,000 people, the public and backbench MPs pressured the government – who continued to downplay the issue to protect the economy – into creating an Act with far-reaching powers to reduce air pollution.

National Traffic & Motor Vehicle Safety Act - 1966 AD

National Traffic & Motor Vehicle Safety Act

In 1965, Lawyer Ralph Nader criticized the car industry’s safety measures in his book ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’. Traffic fatalities, which reached 50,894 in 1966, were the main cause of death for under 44s – and he demanded government force through safety legislation. President Lyndon Johnson’s Act began a regulatory journey that, by 2014, saw fatalities drop to 32,695 a year.

Land Rights for Indigenous Australians - 1992 AD

Land Rights for Indigenous Australians

For two centuries, the British and then white Australians operated under a fallacy, that somehow Aboriginal people did not exist or have land rights before the first settlers arrived in 1788 . Eddie Mabo became an activist for black rights, mobilising his community to make sure Aboriginal children had their own schools. After a 10 year battle, the people were heard and the Aboriginal people were granted the land rights they so rightly deserved.

Same-Sex Marriage in Ecuador - 2019 AD

Same-Sex Marriage in Ecuador

Tired of being denied marriage equality, it took an army of people and many years to achieve justice for Ecuador. In 2013 LGTB rights groups launched the campaign Matrimonio Civil Igualitario. Activist Pamela Troya and her partner launched a marriage petition in the same year, and an additional couple, supported with a convoy of supporters, marched through the city to the Civil Registry. Years of hard-fought campaigning later, same sex marriage was officially legalized in 2019.

Magna carta book page Magna carta writing Boat painting Church King John and rebel barons Crown
London taxi Green air particles Water droplets London fog Traffic pollution London bridge traffic
Steering wheel drive Traffic intersections Traffic lights Car driving Traffic Legislative statue
School room Australian bush Australian coast Aboriginal men Sydney landscape Female protester
Celebrating couple Cayambe volcano Pride flag Pride hand sketch Traditional housing Ecuador landscape


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