Richard Oerton was born in Devon in 1936. He was admitted
as a Solicitor in 1959 and got married in the same year. He
worked in private practice, then in legal publishing. After that
he spent 13 years at the Law Commission, where he wrote
discussion papers, consultation papers and reports dealing
with law reform and was concerned in the drafting of
legislation. He spent a short while in the Treasury Solicitor's
Department before moving back into private practice and
ending as consultant with a firm of Solicitors and
Parliamentary Agents in Westminster.
He has long been interested in penal reform and was once Book Review Editor of
the Howard Journal (the journal of the Howard League for Penal Reform). He has
written or edited a few legal textbooks, written two other books (Who is the
Criminal? and A Lament for the Law Commission) and contributed a large number of
articles and letters to legal and other journals and newspapers.
He has two surviving children (his son died in 2005) and five grandchildren. He’s now
retired, a widower, and living in Somerset, where he has turned his attention to a
subject which has preoccupied him on and off since the age of fourteen: free will and
The Nonsense of Free Will was the first result. He said that producing it had by turns
amused, depressed, frustrated and exhauted him - and it wasn't even a very long book.
The second result is The Cruelty of Free Will and that isn't a very long book either, but
he says his feelings were much the same.