UCL Laws News
Judge Spielmann, Judicial Visitor at the UCL Faculty of Laws and the UCL Institute for Human Rights, has been elected President of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
A judge at the Court since 2004, Section President since 2011, and elected Vice-President in July 2012, Judge Spielmann succeeds Sir Nicholas Bratza whose mandate will come to an end in October 2012.
Discussing the appointment, Co-Directors of the UCL Institute for Human Rights, George Letsas and Virginia Mantouvalou said:
“Judge Spielmann is an outstanding judge, whose judicial and extra-judicial writings have been pivotal to the continuous development of the case law of the Court. His election to President is fantastic news for human rights advocates in Europe. It is also great news for our Faculty with which he has strong links”
Judge Spielmann has written the preface of George Letsas’s book, A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights (2009, Oxford University Press). He has also judged theannual UCL Human Rights Moot Competition in Strasbourg since 2008. In 2012, Judge Spielmann co-edited the book The European Convention on Human Rights: A Living and Dynamic Instrument, with contributions by Virginia Mantouvalou and George Letsas. The book was launched at UCL in February 2011.
The Hungarian government should respect the ruling of the Constitutional Court and repeal controversial new legislation lowering the mandatory age of retirement for judges to 62, according to a new report co-authored by UCL law lecturer, Dr Ronan McCrea.
The report, Courting Controversy: the Impact of the Recent Reforms on the Independence of the Judiciary and the Rule of Law in Hungary, undertaken by the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), outlines a number of recommendations in the wake of controversiallegislative reforms, including a new Constitution, which came into force at the beginning of 2012.
Containing the findings of the IBAHRI fact-finding delegation which visited Hungary inMarch of this year, the report acknowledges that although the rationale behind the attempts to make the judicial system faster and more deficient are to be welcomed, several key legislative aspects pose a severe threat to judicial independence.
Speaking of the provision regarding mandatory retirement age, Sternford Moyo, Co-Chair of the IBAHRI, said:
"Aside from violating EU non-discrimination law, the retroactive effect of the law clearly undermines judicial security of tenure, and deprives the Hungarian judiciary of the accumulated experience of its most senior judges. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute calls on the Hungarian Government to repeal the offending legislative provisions and to provide effective remedies for those judges who have been forced to retire."
Other recommendations suggested by the report include:
- The Government of Hungary consider establishing a panel to review the new Constitution to assess how it is operating in practice and to suggest amendments. Such a panel should include membership from across the political spectrum;
- The Government of Hungary cease the practice of overturning Constitutional Court judgments with which it disagrees. A constitutional review panel should consider the issue of restrictions on the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court. Furthermore, the Government should provide for the possibility of legal aid for admissible constitutional challenges and review the constitutional amendments that restrict locus standi and the ability of individuals to vindicate their constitutional rights in court; and
- The Government of Hungary refrain from using non-standard parliamentary procedures in order to legislate in areas affecting fundamental aspects of public life and, in general, should seek to engage with opposition groups and civil society on a more frequent and systematic basis.
In the case of the four British Christians claiming violation of their right to manifest religious faith, The European Court of Human Rights must consider the implication of discriminatory acts beyond deprivation of service, according to UCL law lecturer, Dr Ronan McCrea.
The case, which will centre around the applicant’s claim that UK law inadequately protects their rights under articles 9 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, has prompted widespread debate on the issue of conscience exemptions from anti-discrimination legislature.
Arguing against the assertion that the debate should centre on the adequate provision of services, Dr McCrea said:
"To do so misses a fundamental aspect of anti-discrimination laws. The wrong done by signs in 1960s boarding houses that said ‘No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs’ went well beyond the denial of accommodation. Discriminatory acts have a moral significance beyond the deprivation of the relevant service. No one would say that Rosa Parks had suffered no relevant harm if there had been available to her in Montgomery,Alabama, a second bus company which had no discriminatory seating arrangements, even if that second company’s buses were more comfortable and frequent."
Dr McCrea also cautioned that any exemptions granted by the court could not be “selectively conferred” only on those whose beliefs fell nominally within the mainstream, before adding:
"It would be a remarkable abandonment of their established caselaw if the Court of Human Rights were to decide that the Convention on Human Rights mandated an approach that precluded national governments from taking account of the very serious moral harm done by discriminatory acts beyond deprivation of a particular service in legislating in the area of anti-discrimination."
The involvement of lawyers in the banking and hacking scandals illustrates a wider need for better regulation of professional ethics, according to a new report led by Professor Richard Moorhead, Director of the Centre for Ethics and Law at UCL.
The report, Designing Ethics Indicators for Legal Services Provision, which follows a period of increased market liberalisation and key legislative changes, outlines a series of tools designed to assist in monitoring the likelihood of individuals complying with core ethical obligations over time.
Part of ongoing research in to the impact of the Legal Services Act (2007), the report has been welcomed by Chief Executive of the Legal Services Board, Chris Kenny as a “thorough and imaginative report – a sound basis not just for further debate but for solid action to pursue the issues it raises"
Professor Moorhead, said:
"There is a growing recognition amongst professional regulators and sophisticated legalservice suppliers that properly managing the ethics of their service goes beyond providing codes of conduct and policing complaints.
"That has law not been untouched by the financial and hacking scandals is a reminder of the central public interest in ethical lawyering. Our market for legal services is world leading in many respects, not least market liberalisation.
"We can and should also evolve cutting edge approaches to professional ethics. This report shows that better tools can be developed to understand and promote the ethicality of practice."
The claim follows news that Apple are acting rapidly to ensure the banning of eight Samsung smartphones on the back on the billion dollar plus fine handed to its rival for copyright infringement.
The move, which has been seen by many as an attempt to capitalise on legal momentum in order to obtain a substantial business benefit, will first need to be assessed by Judge Lucy Koh against four different criteria.
Ilanah Simon Fhima, co-director of UCL’s Institute of Brand and Innovation Law, suggests that the case is the latest in a long line of complex litigation that may ultimately have ramifications for future innovation:
"The fact that Apple is now trying to convince Judge Lucy Koh to enjoin eight of Samsung's models in the US in addition to having been awarded $1.05bn last week is indicative of the complexity of this type of litigation.
A UK finding had ruled that Samsung’s machines aren’t as “cool” as Apple’s and did not infringe Apple’s design rights. In the US case however it was ruled that Samsung had infringed Apple’s design patents for its iPhone and had copied aspects of their functionality, including the method of zooming in on text through finger taps.
This case highlights the very different nature of IP litigation across the globe and raises a number of important questions, not least about how the jury managed to complete the highly complicated damages calculation in only two and a half days.
More broadly, it is important to consider what effects these rulings will have on encouraging (or inhibiting) innovation."
The Sun newspaper’s decision to break rank and become the first UK media outlet to publish naked photographs of Prince Harry has been branded ‘unsurprising’ by leading expert in media law, Eric Barendt.
The publication, described by the paper as an “editorial choice made in the face of clear public interest”, has prompted widespread debate about the powers of the Press Complaints Commission, the long-term impact of the Leveson Enquiry and the role played by domestic law in the internet age.
Responding to the publication, Eric Barendt, Emeritus Professor of Media Law at UCL, cast doubt on the veracity of the public interest argument and claimed the case raised important questions surrounding personal privacy:
“I am not at all surprised that the Sun decided to defy the Palace, and risk a possible rebuke from the PCC, by publishing the Prince Harry photos. However, its public interest argument is extraordinarily thin – much thinner than the argument which lost in the Max Mosley case. But once the photos had appeared world wide on the internet and yesterday in an Irish paper available in the UK, it could argue that the Prince’s privacy, like his clothes, had been discarded – the photos were in the public domain.
The whole tawdry affair shows how difficult, perhaps impossible it is, effectively to protect personal privacy in the age of the Internet and global publication – It will be interesting to see how much the Sun circulation went up today.”
The press complaints commission have yet to comment on the case, referring only to generic procedure in the wake of any complaints it may receive.
Dr Nigel Balmer, UCL Laws Reader in Law and Social Statistics, was interviewed on US National Public Radio (NPR) and in the Telegraph explaining how his detailed analysis of host national medal success in the Olympic Games since World War II strongly predicted Team GB’s success at London 2012. The research revealed that host countries win three times more medals in home Olympics, and home advantage was greatest in subjectively judged sports like boxing and gymnastics. The research also revealed that host nations continue to enjoy increased medal success in the following Olympics, so Team GB can expect the success to continue in Rio 2016.
The Centre for Law, Economics and Society at UCL Laws (CLES) has launched its new website. This includes information on the exciting research initiatives undertaken by the Centre, the people involved in them and information on the Centres' forthcoming and past events.
UCL Law's Douglas Guilfoyle contributed to an on-line discussion of best practice in academic writing on the Guardian's higher education network blog on Friday 28 July. Topics included the art of good writing, whether academic writing really has to be dull and stilted, and whether academics can ever be irreverent, accessible or bloggers without losing professional credibility.
John Tasioulas, Quain Professor of Jurisprudence at UCL, was one of seven philosophers to give evidence on 16 July to the Leveson inquiry on media ethics. He was interviewed as part of a panel, together with Prof. Susan Mendus (York) and Prof. Jennifer Hornsby (Birkbeck), that addressed a variety of topics including rights and duties, the relations between free speech and freedom of the press, and issues of privacy..
Dean of UCL Laws, Professor Dame Hazel Genn, recently visited Singapore and Malaysia on a trip organised by the University of London, International Programmes. Dean Genn was invited by the Chief Justice of Malaysia to attend the 46th Malaysian Council of Judges Conference 2012 held on 8-12 July in Kota Bharu. She gave a lecture on The First Five Years of the New English Judicial Appointments system. The Chief Justice of Malaysia, Tan Sri Arifin Bin Zakaria, is a UCL Laws alumnus (LLM 1979).
Pictured right: Dean Genn with The Rt Hon Tun Arifin bin Zakaria (Dato' Lela Negara), Chief Justice Of The Federal Court of Malaysia; The Rt Hon Tan Sri Md Raus bin Sharif, President of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia; The Hon Tan Sri Abdull Hamid Bin Embong, Federal Court of Malaysia Judge.
The conference was attended by some 150 senior Malaysian judges, including all members of the Federal Court and Court of Appeal. The Dean was guest of honour at its dinner, where all guests wore traditional clothing and watched a splendid performance of local singing and dancing. The Dean was invited to join the performers on stage and test her dance skills.
Dean Genn also gave lectures in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore on mediation developments in England. While in Singapore, she met distinguished UCL alumni who are members of the senior Singapore judiciary: Appeal Court Justice Chao Hick Tim (LLB 1965) and Justice Belinda Ang (LLM 1978), Chair of the Singapore Mediation Council. Justice Ang and members of the Council entertained the Dean with lunch at the Singapore Supreme Court to discuss mediation developments and practice in Singapore.
UCL Laws continues to foster ties and exchange international legal expertise with its prestigious Alumni, in jurisdictions in Asia and worldwide.
Dr Arad Reisberg has been awarded a UCL International Teaching Excellence Bursary (on 6 July). The bursary will be spent as part of Dr Reisberg’s visit to the U.S between August-December 2012. Dr Reisberg has been appointed a Visiting Professor of Law for the Fall Term 2012 at Brooklyn Law School. He will be teaching an advanced course in corporate law in which he will be piloting and experimenting in innovative assessments and running a couple of weeks of workshops/clinics geared towards exploring new techniques and technologies to enhance student engagement and provide more support and feedback on performance. While in the US, Dr Reisberg has also been invited to provide guest seminars at Fordham Law School (as part of the Comparative Corporate Governance Distinguished Lecture Series co-sponsored by the Corporate Law Center and the Office of International and Non-J.D. Programs), Columbia University and at Penn Law School (Institute for Law and Economics).
Avoidable and preventable death and disease are among the major challenges facing the world today. UCL is in an excellent position to help overcome the barriers to global health through legal frameworks, medical and other solutions. The Law and Global Health colloquium on 2-3 July 2012 brought together some of the worlds’ leading multidisciplinary experts to explore the problems and innovative solutions to global health. The Current Legal Issues series was started by Prof Michael Freeman (pictured left) and has been held at UCL since 1996.
Global Health in its broadest sense connotes well-being in a state of justice. Reducing injustice and enhancing global health is a matter of practical action, and the use and construction of law is central to this process. In a public lecture held on 2 July, as part of the Law and Global Health colloquium, Prof. James Orbinski (University of Toronto, right) drew on his twenty five years of international experience to argue that global health law is most effective when it has a plural grounding in pragmatism, the high ideals of humanity, human rights and the pursuit of the public good.
After a six-year gestation period, the Final Report for the Transnational Insolvency Project, jointly undertaken by the American Law Institute and the International Insolvency Institute, has been successfully presented to separate meetings of the two organisations. Initiated in February 2006, the project’s aim was to formulate globally-applicable principles and guidelines for the conduct of international insolvency cases. The Joint Reporters for the project, Professors Ian Fletcher (UCL) and Bob Wessels (Leiden University) were assisted by international experts from more than 30 countries across five continents.Their Report contains 37 Global Principles for Cooperation in Global Insolvency Cases and 18 Global Guidelines for Court-to-Court Communications in International Insolvency Cases, in each case accompanied by detailed commentary.
First presented to the membership of the ALI at its 89th Annual Meeting in May in Washington DC, the Report was subsequently adopted by the International Insolvency Institute at its 12th Annual Congress in Paris in June 2012. The next phase of the project will involve the publication and dissemination of the Principles and Guidelines to all relevant actors and agents engaged in international insolvency matters, notably judges and practitioners.
UCL’s Bentham Project has received a grant of $538,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, for a project entitled The Consolidated Bentham Papers Repository (CBPR). This funding is effective from October 2012 for a period of two years. It will continue the success of the award-winning crowdsourced manuscript transcription project, Transcribe Bentham, which is digitising and making available UCL’s vast Bentham Papers collection, which runs to some 60,000 manuscript folios (c. 30 million words).
Transcribe Bentham is a collaboration between the Bentham Project, various UCL departments, and volunteer transcribers worldwide. Under this new funding, a new partner will be added to the group: the British Library. In the CBPR, much of the remainder of the UCL Bentham Papers will be digitised, along with the entirety of the British Library’s own Bentham collection, which runs to 12,500 folios (c. 6 million words). The material will reunite the collection (digitally) for the first time since Bentham’s death in 1832.
- Transcribe Bentham Transcription Desk
- UCL Library’s digital Bentham Papers repository
- UCL Bentham Project
The First Secretary for Education at the Indian High Commission at London, Mr T. V. Vasudevan, was guest of honour at an afternoon tea on 28 June hosted by the Dean of UCL Laws, Prof Dame Hazel Genn QC. The event was held to celebrate the academic achievements of Indian postgraduate students at the Faculty of Laws. Mr Vasudevan was delighted to meet current UCL students and keen to learn from their experience of studying in London. Prof. Dame Hazel paid a warm tribute to the distinguished contribution Indian alumni have made to the Faculty since Mahatma Gandhi read law at UCL in 1888.
The fourth annual IBIL Sir Hugh Laddie Lecture, held this year on 27 June 2012, saw speaker Chief Judge Randall Rader, US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, providing key insights into the increasing forces for international harmonisation of intellectual property (and particularly patent) law. The recent American Invents Act, whereby the USA moved away from the “first to invent” system to a “first to file but with a grace period” system, is likely to provide a huge further impetus towards harmonisation across the world, Judge Rader argued. The event was introduced by Dean of Laws, Professor Dame Hazel Genn and UCL President and Provost, Professor Malcom Grant. The lecture was chaired by The Rt Hon Professor Sir Robin Jacob, holder of the Sir Hugh Laddie Chair of Intellectual Property Law at UCL.
The Summer Drinks Reception is a highlight in the Bentham Assocation events calendar and is generously hosted by SJ Berwin on their lovely roof terrace overlooking the Thames. This year's event was as sociable as ever, with a great turnout of approx. 75 people comprising a mix of UCL Alumni, Faculty members including Professor Michael Freeman (who had taught many of these former students years ago), SJ Berwin staff and recent Laws graduates. It was a chatty, convivial evening. All income from the reception has gone to the UCL Laws Student Hardship Fund, which helps those students most in need. Special thanks to Hilton Mervis of SJ Berwin for his ongoing support in hosting this always enjoyable networking event on behalf of the Faculty.
Ben Milligan, who recently joined UCL's Centre for Law and the Environment, has been awarded a Fellowship with the AXA Research Fund. The Fellowship is for 2 years (commencing in 2013) to conduct Post-Doctoral research into 'Binding blue carbon: developing global legal and policy responses to an emerging risk of climate change'. The research funding is for €120,000 over two years. There are only 30 such awards, awarded to European citizens or researchers hosted by a European institution
The term ‘blue carbon’ refers to carbon stored, sequestered and released from the ocean’s vegetated habitats, including mangroves, tidal marshes, and sea-grass beds. Recent scientific studies have drawn attention to the critical role played by these ecosystems in regulating climate change. Ben's research will: (1) map the extent to which blue carbon management activities are consistent with, or already enabled by, international legal and institutional governance frameworks of relevance to nature-based climate change mitigation; and (2) develop detailed recommendations for enabling blue carbon management activities at a national level through progressive development and implementation of these international frameworks.
A day before delivering the 2012 Sir Hugh Laddie lecture, Randall Rader, Chief Judge, US Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuits (pictured left), met with The Rt Hon Professor Sir Robin Jacob for an informal Institute of Brand and Innovation Law (IBIL) event attended by some 80 young IP professionals. The two 'conversationalists', both Appeal Judges, spoke on a range of IP topics including jury trial equivalents, damages calculations, when injunctions should be held, and the future of intellectual property law. It was a chance for the audience to access two authoritative IP experts, spanning the US and UK jurisdictions, in a rare and freewheeling discussion.
The church's failure to distinguish between social, religious and legal institutions of marriage "confuses the issues", said barrister and UCL Laws Lecturer Dr Ronan McCrea. In a legal opinion written for the National Secular Society he argues that the Church of England's response to the Government's consultation on same sex marriage is legally flawed. Read: Guardian and Telegraph articles.
Professor Cheryl Thomas of UCL Laws has been inaugurated as the first ever Professor of Judicial Studies in the UK at a UCL Judicial Institute event on 20 June 2012. Her Inaugural Lecture, entitled ‘Purple Haze: The Danger of Being in the Dark about Judges’ was a lively, topical and highly-engaging event, attended by a large number of members of the judiciary. It was chaired by The Rt Hon Lady Justice Hallett and introduced by co-director of the Judicial Institute and Dean of UCL Laws, Professor Dame Hazel Genn.
The central question posed by Professor Thomas was: Why in the 21st century is there such a lack of understanding and scholarly research in this country about one of the key institutions of the state – the judiciary? Recent work with juries has dispelled the myth that the law prevents research with and about juries. Professor Cheryl Thomas argued that a similar myth exists about researching the professional judiciary and judicial system, and that this lack of study is unnecessary, unacceptable and even dangerous. She stated that the lack of Judicial Studies in the UK means our understanding of the judiciary is both theoretically and empirically weak. This in mind, Professor Thomas’s lecture laid out a blueprint for Judicial Studies in the UK and explored what contribution it can make to coherent debate and policy development in such key areas as constitutional reform, the justice system and judicial appointments. The lecture raised many important issues and dispelled common myths. It also generated a lively discussion on Twitter during the lecture via Professor Richard Moorhead (@RichardMoorhead). It was followed by an elegant drinks reception held in the iconic Portico on UCL’s main quad.
UCL Laws students are partnering with The Justice Gap and Hackney Community Law Centre on a major new public legal education project aimed at explaining legal rights to young people in Hackney. Overseen by Jacqueline Kinghan, Director of Clinical Legal Education, UCL students will research and write the content of the 'Mind the Justice Gap' guide, informed by a series of events in Hackney schools and colleges. The aim of the project is to explain to young people key concepts about the law, as well as demystifying the law and encouraging an understanding that the law is not simply something that young people come into conflict with but can have a positive contribution in their lives. The project has been established by Jon Robins at the Justice Gap and is supported by Lord Bach, former justice secretary, leading barrister Michael Mansfield QC and UCL's new Chair in Law and Professional Ethics, Prof Richard Moorhead.
Dr. Ronan McCrea of UCL Laws has published an article in the 22 June edition of The Irish Times arguing that the measures needed to save the Euro will require changes to how referendums are used to amend the Irish Constitution.
On 14 and 15 June, UCL Laws hosted the prestigious 4th international Symposium of the Adolf A. Berle, Jr. Center on Corporations, Law & Society, titled 'The Future of Financial / Securities Markets'.
The Center, based at the Seattle University School of Law, was established in 2009 in honour of former Columbia Law Professor Adolf A. Berle, Jr. (1895-1971), and is warmly supported by members of the Berle family. Berle is one of the most famous intellectual figures in US legal history. He was a prominent US statesman and member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's influential "Brain Trust", whose thinking inspired many New Deal reforms of the 1930s. Berle is arguably most famous for having co-authored (with Harvard economist Gardiner Means) the classic work The Modern Corporation and Private Property, which has strongly influenced teaching and scholarship on Anglo-American corporate law since its initial publication in 1932.
The UCL event, which was the first Berle Center symposium to be held outside of the United States, was co-organised by Dr Marc Moore (UCL Laws) and the Berle Center's Director, Professor Charles O' Kelley of the Seattle University School of Law. The symposium was supported by the Berle Center in conjunction with the UCL Centre for Commercial Law and UCL Faculty of Laws. A collection of published papers from the Symposium will be published in the fall 2012 edition of the Seattle University Law Review.
UCL LLM students on the LARCS (Legal Action and Research for Communities and Sustainability) course have showcased the advice work they undertook this academic year for a range of NGOs and community groups. Subjects researched by the students included the transfer of land assets from local authorities to communities, the compliance of planning law in Scotland with the Aarhus Convention, the right to food and the ability of local groups to sell food grown on allotments, and the environmental health and safety rights of workers.
The course, run in partnership with Maria Adebowale (Director, Capacity Global) gives students the opportunity to learn about legal advice work in the NGO sector and produce work with a practical application. This year the students' advice work will form the basis of a series of guides for community groups which will be published (and available online). This work also contributes to the students' LLM degrees.
The presentation evening also gave UCL students the opportunity to meet representatives from NGOs working on environmental and social issues and to discuss internship opportunities. Representatives from ClientEarth, Just Space, Building Partnerships for Development and Sanitation, Extreme Citizen Science and Communities Matter participated in the presentation evening.
On 12 June 2012, Professor Charles Mitchell gave a lecture to the Property Bar Association at Gray's Inn, London. Professor Mitchell's lecture, which was chaired by Mr Justice Morgan, and attended by fifty members of the PBA, was entitled 'Subrogation: A User's Guide'. Professor Mitchell is the co-author, with Dr Stephen Watterson, of the leading text on this topic, Subrogation: Law and Practice (OUP, 2007).
This UCL Institute for Human Rights Symposium on 29 May, introduced by IHR co-director Saladin Meckled-Garcia and chaired by Philippe Sands QC, addressed the ethical challenges presented by philanthropy towards human rights organisations, both academic and non-academic. Panellists Sigrid Rausing (Rausing Trust), Dr George Letsas (IHR co-director, UCL Laws), Anthony Tomei (Director, Nuffield Foundation), and Professor Jonathan Wolff (UCL Philosophy) addressed recent charges that this kind of philanthropic giving distorts national politics, academic priorities and undermines the will of Parliament.
Against the background of the Woolf report, the panel considered the ethics of philanthropic giving and how this form of funding might be treated so as to avoid accusations of bias, ‘opinion buying’, and research agenda setting by donors.
Colm O’Cinneide has been awarded £86,163 from the Nuffield Foundation as principal investigator in a research project to study the integration of equality and human rights institutions in the EU. The title of the project is ‘ Bridging the divide - Matters to be taken into account in relation to the integration of national equality bodies and human rights institutions in the European Union’. It will involve a comparative study of the regulatory, legal and political issues involved in the merger of institutions charged with promoting respect for human rights and non-discrimination into single integrated bodies such as the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Colm’s co-investigator on this project will be Neil Crowther, former Director of Human Rights at the EHRC and now an independent consultant.
On 8 June, Dr Antonios Tzanakopoulos of UCL Laws was invited to speak in a panel discussion on the Voice of Russia, the Russian Government Radio World Service in English. The programme entitled 'Economic Sanctions: Diplomatic Tool or Blunt Stick' explored the effectiveness of various options, in light of further proposed economic sanctions in Syria.
Charles Mitchell Convenes Symposium on the American Law Institute’s Restatement Third: Restitution and Unjust Enrichment
On 25 and 26 May, Professor Charles Mitchell (UCL) and William Swadling (Oxford) convened a symposium at Brasenose College, Oxford on the American Law Institute’s Restatement Third: Restitution and Unjust Enrichment (2011). The symposium was attended by the Reporter for the Restatement, Professor Andrew Kull (Boston), and papers were given by a group of international experts in the field: Professor Andrew Burrows (Oxford), Professor Gerhard Dannemann (Humboldt), Dr James Goudkamp (Oxford), Dr Birke Häcker (Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance), Professor Lusina Ho (Hong Kong), Nicholas McBride (Cambridge), Ben McFarlane (Oxford), the Hon Professor Keith Mason AC QC (New South Wales), Professor Charles Mitchell (UCL), Professor Jacques du Plessis (Stellenbosch), Professor Steve Smith (McGill), William Swadling (Oxford) and Frederick Wilmot-Smith (Oxford). Professor Mitchell and Dr Goudkamp jointly presented a paper on ‘Denials and Defences in the Law of Unjust Enrichment’. The symposium papers will be published as a book next spring by Hart Publishing.
Dr. Ioannis Lianos, Director of the Centre for Law, Economics and Society at UCL Laws and a Director at the Institute of Global Law and Mr Martin Adams, a UCL alumnus and associate at international law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP in New York, were invited to speak at the 2nd St Petersburg International Legal Forum, held under the auspices of the Russian Presidency at the State Hermitage in St Petersburg on May 16-19 2012. The forum was opened by Russian Prime Minister D. Medvedev and included as main speakers, among others, the Lord Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, US Attorney General, Eric Holder, and the Minister of Justice of the People's Republic of China, Wu Aiying.
Dr. Lianos contributed to the plenary session of the forum on the "Implementation of the Open Government Initiatives in the Legal System" discussing the European OpenGov experience. Other panellists in this session included the Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation and the Assistant Attorney General of the US Department of Justice. Mr Adams and Dr Lianos also contributed as speakers to the session on "Social Networks and Mobile Applications: Challenges and Opportunities for Legal Regulation", a forward looking discussion of the important challenges faced by a number of jurisdictions worldwide in the regulation of social media platforms (with regard to privacy, antitrust and network neutrality issues) but also of the important transformation of social relations that the emergence of these new technologies entails.
Dr Nicola Countouris of UCL Laws comments on labour regulation in the UK compared to other countries in the EU.
Professor Catherine Redgwell of UCL Laws has been awarded £143,708 as co-investigator in a £1.3m two year research project on Climate Geoengineering Governance (CGG) funded by the ESRC and AHRC.
The CGG project will be led from the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, University of Oxford, and will also involve the Institute for Science and Ethics at Oxford together with the Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Sussex and UCL Faculty of Laws. Work is grouped around three sets of understandings required to inform decisions on geoengineering governance: framings of geoengineering; dilemmas of control of geoengineering technologies; and choosing governance and regulatory requirements. The project builds on the “Oxford Principles on Geoengineering Governance” (2009) which were endorsed by the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology report on The Regulation of Geoengineering (House of Commons 2010) and also by the UK Government in its Response to the Select Committee report. Professors Redgwell (UCL Laws), Rayner and Savulescu (Oxford) were amongst the co-authors of the Principles and are leading researchers on this CGG project.
In a recent article in BBC News magazine, Professor Mel Slater (UCL Computer Science), Professor Patrick Haggard (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience) and Ray Purdy (UCL Laws) talk about beaming, and the ethical and legal issues raised by the technology.
On 25-26 April, a group of over 20 students and Faculty members attended the fourth annual UCL Laws Research study retreat at Cumberland Lodge, Great Park, Windsor. The aim of the retreat is to foster the Faculty's research community by offering students the time and space to think about their research projects together, receiving peer feedback in an informal and supportive setting. The Cumberland Lodge retreat is open to all research students at UCL Laws, with priority given to those who are in the first year of their PhD programme. This year's Cumberland Lodge event was organised by members of the Research Studies Team. Participating students provided valuable input on the conference agenda and related activities. During the retreat, students held an 'ideas fair', a writing clinic, and a reading workshop, commenting upon short presentations from their peers as to current research in progress. Participants also had time to enjoy walks in the park and some extra-curricular activities.
Douglas Gulifoyle has been awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Research Fellowship for the 2012-13 academic year for his proposal entitled 'Governing the Oceans: The Law of the Sea and Contemporary Challenges'. These fellowships support "outstanding individual researchers and outstanding communicators who will promote public engagement and understanding of the humanities and social sciences."
Douglas's project will examine the emergence of new mechanisms of international cooperation and governance dealing with novel maritime security threats or challenges across a range of case studies. Such threats often involve a combination of weak states and asymmetrical non-state actors (i.e. organised groups able to cause great harm with limited resources). For example: illegal fishing thrives through states which do not regulate their vessels; piracy thrives in disordered Somalia; irregular migration by sea is exacerbated by state failure and porous borders. The overall argument will suggest that the key problem is not the law, but the weak ability of many States to exert their jurisdiction and the nature of new threats posed by non-State actors (especially transnational organised crime). The project will also explore whether the fragmented regime of international governance institutions dealing with the maritime domain may actually facilitate experimentation and adaptive responses to novel challenges.
Part of Douglas's public communication strategy for the project is to create a series of YouTube ‘screencasts’ (where a speech track is laid over slides, diagrams and images) to create an accessible introduction to both basic concepts in the law of the sea and case studies in specialist problems in maritime security.
Three UCL LLM students recently travelled to Miami Law School to present their Projects of Worth as part of the Law Without Walls programme. Having attended online digital classes over the course of the term with students from law schools including Harvard, Fordham, Stanford, St Gallen, Sydney and New York they worked collaboratively to investigate assigned topics at the cutting edge of developments in law and legal education. These included the disaggregation of legal services, global access to justice, law school debt and publicly-held law firms. A UCL student, Iqra Musaddaq, was on the winning team. Together with students from Stanford and Miami, Iqra designed an innovative online forum for people working in the fight against human trafficking to connect, collaborate and share information and expertise.
On 19 April the sixth Insolvency Research Conference, organised annually by the UK Insolvency Service, was held at Bentham House by invitation of the UCL Institute for Bankruptcy, Restructuring and Insolvency Law (BRIL). The conference, attended by more than 50 academics, practitioners and members of the Insolvency Service, was focused on the international and comparative aspects of insolvency. Professor Ian Fletcher delivered a paper entitled “Shaping Rules of Cooperation in International Insolvency”, in which he explored some of the challenges and outcomes of a six-year research project on transnational insolvency, undertaken on behalf of the American Law Institute and the International Insolvency Institute. Papers were also contributed by Zinian Zhang (Durham), Kristin van Zwieten (Cambridge), Michael Schillig (KCL) and Robin Parsons (Sidley Austin LLP). The concluding panel session provided an opportunity to demonstrate the excellent facilities of the Denys Holland Lecture Theatre, with one of the panellists participating by live video link from the US.
The Arts and Humanities Research Council has recently assessed the major three-year research project awarded to UCL Laws between 2005 and 2008 on the use of satellite technology as a compliance tool for environmental enforcement, and given it its highest rating of Outstanding. The project was directed in Laws by Professor Richard Macrory, with Ray Purdy, Senior Research Fellow, as the lead researcher.
The project, with collaboration from the Dept of Geography, explored the potential and significance of employing satellite monitoring data as a compliance tool, in the context of current step changes in resolution capabilities, geographical coverage, and costs of the technology. The AHRC Assessment commented that the research was clearly valuable, with high impact, and was very complimentary about the degree of "very significant" collaborations and interaction, both formal and informal, that had been carried out during the research. It concluded that the project was "excellent value for money".
John Tasioulas, Quain Professor of Jurisprudence at UCL, delivered the annual Natural Law Lecture on 3 April for Notre Dame Law School’s Natural Law Institute. The lecture was entitled ‘Human Rights, Legitimacy, and International Law’. Professor Tasioulas argued for a conception of human rights as strongly continuous with natural rights in their nature and grounding. Whilst recognising the significance of human rights in assessments of political legitimacy – or the moral bindingness of political institutions, including legal systems – he rejected the idea that human rights are essentially to be characterised by reference to their role in such assessments. Finally, he addressed the legitimacy of international law and explored the ways in which it is constrained by considerations of pluralism, freedom and exceptionalism. A version of the lecture is forthcoming in the American Journal of Jurisprudence, published by the Natural Law Institute.
The Natural Law Institute of Notre Dame Law School was established in 1947. Recent Natural Law lecturers include the legal philosophers John Gardner (Oxford) and Jeremy Waldron (NYU/Oxford) and the theologian Oliver O’Donovan (Edinburgh).
The Hargreaves Review bemoaned the prevalence of lobbynomics and the tendency of policy-driven evidence-making, instead of evidence-driven policy-making. When politicians talk about being leaders, what does it mean to lead when policy is not based on evidence? Who is leading who?
At a lively UCL Institute for Brand and Innovation Law (IBIL) Brands Seminar held on 3 April, William F Patry, Chief Copyright Counsel, Google Inc. discussed the issues and the current state of play on copyright with The Rt Hon Prof Sir Robin Jacob of UCL Laws, who chaired the event. A copyright lawyer for 30 years, Bill Patry previously served as copyright counsel to the US House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary and as a Policy Planning Advisor to the Register of Copyrights. He is also a prolific writer on copyright. He offered his frank and far-reaching expertise on US and international copyright issues to the UCL audience in attendance.
Professor Richard Moorhead, a highly-respected voice in legal education and legal aid, has been appointed as the first Chair in Law and Professional Ethics at University College London. As holder of the Chair, he will take on the Directorship of UCL’s Centre for Ethics and Law, based at UCL Laws. In his new role, Professor Moorhead will advance the strengths and raise the profile of UCL as a world-leading centre of research excellence in law and professional ethics.
The Centre for Ethics and Law fosters intellectual leadership and knowledge-sharing between industry, academics, practitioners, policy-makers and the professions. It recognises that business and the professions are going through profound periods of commercial change. Ethical and reputational concerns are at the heart of many of these changes. Professor Moorhead said: "There has never been a better time to be focusing on ethics. Ethical crises are everywhere. Businesses, professions and the media are discovering that reputational risk damages bottom lines in the short term and legitimacy in the long term. All are struggling with greater accountability and diminished trust. At the same time, technology and the power of markets are challenging conventional modes of regulation. The language of compliance is being exchanged with the language of proper justice, but it remains to be seen if this shift delivers more justice."
The 'Save our Harbour' campaign, undertaken by UCL Laws alumnus Winston Ka-Sun Chu (LLB 1960), spanned the decade of the historic transfer of Hong Kong from British colonial rule to Chinese rule. The campaign saved the city's world famous Victoria Harbour from destruction through a massive reclamation programme proposed by the Government. At an inspiring event on 27 March, Winston Chu discussed the role of the people and the rule of law in his successful campaign to protect the environment and change government policy. His talk was opened with a warm welcome from the Dean of Laws, Professor Dame Hazel Genn DBE QC and UCL's President and Provost, Professor Malcolm Grant. Faculty members and Laws alumni were out in force, including Emeritus Professors Bin Cheng and Val Korah, who taught Winston Chu while he was a student in the Faculty years ago.
Winston Ka Sun Chu has been a solicitor in Hong Kong since 1964. He served as a member of the Town Planning Board between 1988 to 1996 and later as a member of the Metro Planning Committee and the Lands and Buildings Advisory Committee. He founded the Society for Protection of the Harbour in 1995 and served as its Chairman until 2011. He was directly involved in the enactment of the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance and the two recent judicial reviews concerning harbour reclamation. Winston Chu has been an Honorary Lecturer in the Faculty of Laws, University of Hong Kong since 1984 and a Visiting Professor of Planning Law at UCL Laws and the Bartlett School of the Built Environment since 1995. In 2004 he was voted Legal Personality of the Year by the Asian Legal Business Awards.
Jennifer Lim, a final year undergraduate at UCL, was recently accepted into the International Court of Justice's nine-month traineeship programme. She is one of 10 trainees selected by the Court through a highly competitive process, from a pool of applicants from top American law schools. In 2010, Ms. Lim transferred to Columbia Law School as part of the UCL-Columbia LLB/JD programme. While at UCL, Ms. Lim was a member of the UCL Jessup team that won the UK National Mooting Championship in 2010. She has continued to participate in the Jessup Moot Court competition at Columbia, winning the Stephen M. Schwebel Best Oralist Award in 2011, and has focused her course work on international arbitration and public international law.
Joanne Scott, Professor of European Law at UCL, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland's National Academy of Arts and Sciences. The RSE was instituted by Royal Charter in 1783 for the Advancement of Learning and Useful Knowledge. This is taken to embrace all fields of scholarship and learning. The primary qualifications for election to Fellowship of the Society are excellence and eminence in the context of its role as Scotland’s national academy.
Dr. Ioannis Lianos of UCL Laws spoke on 20 March at a session organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Constitution at the House of Lords on the legal implications of deeper integration in the Euro zone, following the recent signing of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union. The two other contributors were David Rennie (Political editor, The Economist) and Mats Persson (Director, Open Europe) who focused on the political dimension of this new framework of economic governance in the Euro zone. Dr Lianos' contribution examined the legality from the point of EU law of this International agreement between the Euro zone Member States and nine other EU Member States not participating in the Euro (with the exception of Britain and the Czech republic) and the possibilities that this opens for further economic integration in Europe. He also commented on Britain's role in this process and more generally on the implications of deeper integration of the Eurozone for the future of the European project and Britain’s position in it.
Philip Pettit, the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University, delivered the inaugural Quain Lecture in Jurisprudence at UCL on 20 March. His lecture, entitled ‘Legitimacy and Justice’, explored the distinction between these two values and argued that the significance of legitimacy has been overlooked in recent political philosophy. Whereas justice is concerned with the moral acceptability of the rules that make up the social order, legitimacy is concerned with the moral acceptability of the coercive imposition of such an order. In his lecture, Professor Pettit drew on a republican conception of liberty to argue that the legitimacy of the state can be sustained in terms of the value of freedom itself, with the result that the coercive imposition of a social order need not involve any sacrifice in the freedom of its citizens.
The Rt Hon Lady Justice Hallett DBE, Bentham Association President 2012, delivered a timely Address entitled 'Independence Under Threat?' to UCL Laws alumni at the 64th annual Bentham Association Dinner held on 14 March. The event was hosted by Bentham Association Chairman, Edwin Glasgow QC, CBE and enjoyed by some 140 alumni guests. After the main lecture, Laws alumni in attendance were treated to a gala dinner, where they networked with new and old friends alike.
The Rt Hon Professor Sir Robin Jacob, Sir Hugh Laddie Chair of Intellectual Property Law and Co-Director of the Institute of Brand and Innovation Law at UCL, received an 'Outstanding Achievement in IP' Award at the Managing Intellectual Property Awards in London on 15 March. The seventh annual event recognises outstanding achievements in IP practice during the past year in over 50 categories, covering markets from the United Kingdom to Argentina to Vietnam. Sir Robin received one of two awards given on the night for outstanding individual achievement.
Dean of UCL Laws, Professor Dame Hazel Genn DBE QC, and Professor Philippe Sands QC have been named amongst the UK's most influential lawyers in the The Times Law 100 List 2012. They were joined on this year's list by Lady Justice Hallett, 2012 Bentham Association President at UCL Laws, and Distinguished Judicial Visitors to the Faculty The Right Honourable Lord Justice Carnwath and The Right Honourable the Lord Dyson. Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC, former Dean of UCL Laws, was also recognised.
LLM Students at UCL and other universities held a highly successful one-day conference on 16 March at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies entitled ‘Alternative Environmental Government’. Key speakers at the 2012 PIEL Conference included Nicholas de Sadeleer from Université Catholique de Louvain, Emma Dickson from Blackstone Chambers, Paul Horsman from Greenpeace and Polly Higgins, barrister. The day was rounded off with a debate on the need for a new International Court of the Environment chaired by Stephen Hockman QC.
Public Interest Environmental Law (PIEL) is now in its sixth year and completely student run. The Conference has built up a strong reputation for excellence in bringing legal practitioners, academics and related professionals together with students to discuss and debate pertinent issues relating to environmental law.
The Faculty's Student Prizewinners Ceremony is one of the highlights of the academic year, when we gather to celebrate student achievement. Our prizes and scholarships are awarded to students who have achieved top marks in their examinations at UCL or whose academic distinction is such that a scholarship has been awarded to provide the opportunity to study here. This year's sparkling ceremony was held on 7 March 2012, with many talented students, proud families, Faculty staff and friends in attendance.
To be awarded a Faculty prize or scholarship is to be given significant recognition as truly outstanding amongst one's student peers. Many congratulations to all of this year's hard working prize winners. Sincere thanks also our many sponsors, old and new, whose ongoing and generous support allows us to encourage and recognise student potential, and reward student excellence.
Dr Antonios Tzanakopoulos, Lecturer at UCL Laws, has been invited to participate in workshops at the Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations in New York. The workshops are part of an Australian Research Council sponsored Linkage Project entitled “Strengthening the Rule of Law through the UN Security Council”, which is a collaboration between the Australian Government’s Australian Civil-Military Centre (formerly the Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence) and the Australian National University’s Centre for International Governance and Justice.
UCL Laws students Flo Jones and Katy Matthews have won the prize for best undergraduate team at the national finals of the Client Interviewing Competition for England and Wales 2012. The finals were held at the University of Sussex on 3 March and featured nine teams (pared down from 26 in the two regional finals). Teams were comprised of undergraduate law students, GDL students or students on professional training courses. The Competition assesses crucial interviewing and counselling skills needed within the legal profession. Congratulations to Katy and Flo on winning the undergraduate trophy.
Dawn Oliver, Emeritus Professor of Constitutional Law and Principal Research Associate at UCL Laws, has been appointed Honorary Silk (Queen's Counsel honoris causa). Honorary Silk is awarded to those who have made a major contribution to the law of England and Wales outside practice in the courts, and recipients are appointed through nominations received from the legal sector and general public. Traditionally, honorary silk has been awarded to distinguished legal academics and to some lawyers in public service for achievements beyond their normal responsibilities. Only a very small number are awarded each year.
The Faculty would also like to congratulate Laws alumnus Suzanne Ornsby (LLB 1985) who has been appointed Queen's Counsel (QC). The rank of Queen's Counsel is awarded to barristers and solicitors who have demonstrated particular skill and expertise in the conduct of advocacy. It has been awarded in various forms for some 400 years. Since 2005, an independent Selection Panel has made recommendations to the Lord Chancellor, using a new system of assessment based on competencies and rigorous analysis of evidence.
In addition, UCL Laws would like to congratulate James Laddie (son of the late Sir Hugh Laddie) and Stephen Grosz, friends of the Faculty, both of whom have been named QCs. The Silk Ceremony will be held on Friday 30 March 2012.
The UCL Laws Annual Barristers' Cocktail Party took place on 22 February 2012 and was attended by seniors judges and barristers from leading sets of Chambers in London. Over 100 students were in attendance to meet barristers in an informal setting and find out more about a career at the Bar. It provided an excellent opportunity for students to learn what a career at the Bar entails and how to enhance their prospects of success. The students and Faculty also used the occasion to express gratitude to those barristers and judges who so graciously give up their time to support mooting and other student activities at UCL Laws.
UCL Laws lecturer Dr. Ronan McCrea has been appointed to a fact-finding mission of the International Bar Association charged with investigating the compliance of the new Hungarian constitution with the rule of law. He joins a mission made up of a former judge of the Court of Justice of the European Union and a former judge of the European Court of Human Rights as well as a member of the South African Law Commission. The mission will be travelling to Hungary in late March with politicians, members of the judiciary and the diplomatic corps in addition to NGO's and civil society organisations before drawing up its report.
UCL Laws is pleased to announce that it is now able to offer careers guidance within the Faculty exclusively tailored for LLB and LLM students. The sessions with the Faculty’s own Careers Consultant, Stephen Gurman, are designed to make careers guidance easily accessible to students. Stephen was previously in private practice at a large international firm of solicitors. The one to one sessions available are:
- Short Guidance – a chance to talk about your career options and to ask for help with preparing CVs and application forms. Students can attend as many of these sessions as they like. Sign–up sheets will be posted each morning outside G32.
- Practice Interviews – for when you have an interview and would like to practice and receive feedback on your performance. The practice interview will be tailored to the types of questions the employer you have the real interview with would typically ask.
- Longer Career Discussions – available by referral for those who have attended a Short Guidance session and would benefit from a more in-depth discussion.
For full details of the sessions and to find out how to sign up, please see the noticeboards in the Cissy Chu Common Room.
International law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has entered into a partnership with UCL Laws to provide two scholarships per year for law students from socially and economically less privileged backgrounds. As well as providing financial support, the scheme will see Freshfields offer successful candidates eight weeks paid work experience per academic year and the guarantee of a training contract interview, which, if successful, will see the students benefit from a grant covering the full cost of law school. The scheme’s key features include:
- eligible candidates will be students from socially and economically less privileged backgrounds, for example those who would be first generation graduates;
- the promise of academic achievement and the potential to succeed as a City lawyer will be the key criterion: the interview process will take into account the social circumstances of the candidates;
- successful candidates will receive a £10,000 bursary from Freshfields to cover their maintenance expenses and will also be eligible to participate in UCL’s bursary scheme to provide additional support of up to £3,500, making it one of the most generous scholarships available at UCL
Dame Hazel Genn, Dean of Laws at UCL, said: "The UCL Laws Faculty is thrilled to be working with Freshfields to offer this opportunity to outstanding students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. It is a significant contribution to the objective of improving social mobility." The scholarship will commence in the 2012 academic year. More details will be released at a later date.
What amounts to a trade mark infringement on the Internet is a matter of vital commercial importance. Both the question of whether there is an infringement and who should be liable are subjects of wide debate and argument. These questions are increasingly coming before the courts on both sides of the Atlantic. Is a common approach possible or necessary?
At an incisive event hosted by UCL’s Institute of Brand and Innovation Law on 15 February, Professor Barton Beebe (NYU) and Alexander von Muhlendahl (Bardehle Pagenberg, former Vice-President of OHIM) discussed the current state of trade mark law in the US and Europe, and where it may be heading. The comparative simplicity of the US approach compared with the complexity and uncertainty of the European position was made apparent for all. The event was chaired by The Hon Mr Justice Arnold who has given some of the key judgments in this area. Both speakers have kindly agreed to provide versions of their papers for publication on the IBIL website.
On 9 February, Professor Paul Mitchell delivered his inaugural lecture at UCL on the subject of 'Patterns of Legal Change'. He argued that study of the processes of legal change has been neglected, and left to legal historians, when in fact understanding how and why law changes is necessary and important for everyone who works in law. He particularly emphasised the importance of looking beyond formal legal materials such as law reports and texts of statutes, so as to identify the underlying causes of change.
On 8 February, the 2012 UCL Bindmans Debate discussed a number of timely issues surrounding self or statutory regulation of the press. How might the current system be reformed? Should regulation be scrapped altogether or is full statutory regulation the answer? Panellists Tessa Jowell, Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood; Martin Moore, Director, Media Standards Trust; Max Mosley, Former President, Formula 1 and Gill Phillips, Director of Editorial Legal Services at The Guardian discussed the pros and cons. This lively debate was chaired by Hugh Tomlinson QC, Matrix Chambers.
Spying on Europe’s farms with satellites and drones is becoming more common, according to a recent article by BBC News. "Europe's farms cost taxpayers billions of euros in subsidies each year, and EU agricultural inspectors are turning to technology to improve their patchy record on preventing fraud and waste." Ray Purdy, a senior researcher at UCL Laws specialising in satellite monitoring, was interviewed by the BBC on the legality of this activity and the response from farmers to similar surveillance in the UK and Australia. He said there have been few prosecutions in the UK to date based on satellite evidence.
The Court of Justice of the European Union recently published its decision in Brüstle v Greenpeace, declaring that a process which involves removal of a stem cell from a human embryo at the blastocyst stage, entailing the destruction of that embryo, cannot be patented. There is a widespread view that the Court's decision provides a significant bar to patentability in this area.
A multidisciplinary event on 1 February, hosted jointly by UCL’s Institute of Brand and Innovation Law (IBIL) and the UCL Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, explored the legal limits of this decision. Dr Justin Turner QC, 3 New Square Chambers, Professor Pete Coffey, UCL Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine and Professor Jo Wolff, UCL Department of Philosophy examined the practical and ethical implications of this ruling. The event was chaired by The Rt Hon Professor Sir Robin Jacob, Sir Hugh Laddie Chair of Intellectual Property Law and Co-Director of IBIL at UCL’s Faculty of Laws.
On 16 January, Dean of UCL Laws, Professor Dame Hazel Genn, visited the University of Namibia (UNAM) and met with representatives from the University's Law Faculty and its Faculty of Medicine. She was treated to a warm welcome by faculty members and staff, and their discussions about the potential for UNAM law students to study at UCL and the development of supportive links between UCL and the University of Namibia were very positive. After meetings and lunch, Dean Genn then met with Her Excellency, the British High Commissioner in Namibia. It is hoped that this visit will help to foster relations between UCL and University of Namibia.
Professor Hiroshi Oda of UCL Laws has received the Order of Friendship, conferred on him personally by Russia’s President Medvedev. The award marks Prof Oda’s contribution to Russian law, and in particular his book on Russian Commercial Law. The ceremony was conducted under the auspices of Russia’s Supreme Commercial Court as part of their 20th anniversary, and was attended by almost one thousand judges and lawyers from around the world.
Dr Ioannis Lianos has been appointed a visiting professor at the University of Chile, Faculty of Law, in Santiago. The University of Chile is one of the major research universities in South America. Dr Lianos, Director of UCL's Centre for Law, Economics and Society, will engage in a close collaboration for funding applications with the RegCom, the Centre for competition and regulation at the University of Chile, in particular for activities in South America.
Flo Jones and Katy Matthews place second in the Regional Finals of the national Client Interviewing Competition
The winning team in the UCL Macfarlanes Client Interviewing Competition, Flo Jones and Katy Matthews, came second in the Regional Finals of the national Client Interviewing Competition. Vying against students from universities and vocational educational providers across the country, the team have secured a place in the National Finals to be held in March 2012.
A growing backlash can now be detected against the apparently ever-expanding scope of human rights guarantees. Politicians attack courts for stretching the meaning of rights too far, while political philosophers regularly express concerns about the "inflation" of the concept of rights. Underlying this discussion is the existence of two divergent accounts of rights. The "minimalist" account sees human rights as focused on protecting what Isaiah Berlin described as "negative liberty", and is sceptical of attempts to stretch rights to encompass socio-economic claims and other "positive" entitlements. The "maximalist" account embraces the ever-expanding scope of rights discourse and is confident of the capacity of human rights law and practice to protect vital human interests.
In a UCL Lunch Hour Lecture delivered on 26 January, Colm O'Cinneide of UCL Laws provided an insightful account of these timely issues. He stated that there are reasons to tread cautiously when it comes to expanding the scope of human rights claims: however, the minimalist account ultimately cannot give a coherent justification of the limits it wants to maintain.
"Ireland may still have to hold a referendum on Europe's new fiscal treaty even if the government decides next month that it does not need a popular vote to sign up to the pact," according to a recent article by Reuters. Laws Lecturer Ronan McCrea was interviewed for the piece on how EU law, the Euro and the Irish constitution apply to this important decision.
Ronan Mcrea was also interviewed by European news magazine Der Spiegel, where he responded to doubts over the status of the proposed EU Fiscal Treaty in national law.
John Tasioulas, Quain Professor of Jurisprudence, delivered his inaugural lecture on 19 January to a capacity audience at UCL. In attendance were some of the world's leading legal and moral philosophers, including Emeritus Quain Professor Ronald Dworkin. The lecture was chaired by Baroness Onora O'Neill, former President of the British Academy and introduced by UCL Provost Malcolm Grant and Dean of UCL Laws, Dame Professor Hazel Genn.
Professor Tasioulas' lecture, entitled 'Towards a Philosophy of Human Rights', advanced a doubly pluralistic conception of human rights according to which they are broadly equivalent to the traditional idea of natural rights. On the one hand, there is a plurality of values that ground human rights; in particular, these values include the full range of human interests, not just our basic needs or our interest in freedom. On the other hand, human rights perform a plurality of political functions, such as acting as benchmarks of governmental legitimacy or triggers for international intervention. However, it is a mistake to characterize the essential nature of human rights by reference to any of these functions. Professor Tasioulas concluded by arguing that our commitment to human rights must be grounded in what we take to be wider truths about morality, human nature and human flourishing, and that attempts to give human rights a basis independent of truth, in the hope of avoiding 'ethnocentrism', were misguided.
After the jailing of juror Theodora Dallas for contempt of court, UCL Laws Professor Cheryl Thomas comments that a quarter of jurors in high profile court cases have seen something about the defendant on the internet during the trial.
Listen to Radio 4's World at One 23 Jan (from 18mins 27s)
Douglas Guilfoyle, Senior Lecturer at UCL Laws, was interviewed by Radio 4's Saturday PM programme about options for the Royal Navy, after news that they had captured 13 suspected Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. The interview can be heard again on the Saturday PM website (26 minutes in). Douglas was also quoted in the related BBC news article online.
Joanne Scott, Professor of European Law at UCL, has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship for 24 months, effective 1 September 2012. These awards enable well-established and distinguished researchers in the disciplines of the Humanities and Social Sciences to devote themselves to a single research project of outstanding originality and significance, capable of completion within two or three years; and are particularly aimed at those who are or have been prevented by routine duties from completing a programme of original research. The Leverhulme Trust will fund a replacement lecturer at UCL Laws for the term of Professor Scott's research. Her project details are as follows:
The Global Reach of EU Climate Change Law: A Game-Changing Strategy?
The European Union (EU) has placed itself at the heart of the drive to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. It not only pursues this aim internally but also externally through the ‘global reach’ of its climate change law. It is this extra-territorial ambition of EU law that forms the heart of this research. Joanne Scott argues that the EU is pursuing an innovative strategy that she calls ‘contingent unilateralism’. Her project assesses the legality, equity and effectiveness of this strategy and argues that a new mode of global leadership is emerging that challenges both unilateralist and multilateralist interpretations of global governance.
January 11 2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees at the US detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. In a recent article for Vanity Fair, entitled 'Guantánamo: An Oral History', co-author and UCL Laws Professor Philippe Sands QC captures the experiences of a range of people associated with Guantánamo, including lawyers, soldiers, diplomats and former detainees. Most interviews for the piece were conducted from 2009–11, although several were conducted earlier by Philippe Sands in the course of the research for his book Torture Team.
UCL Bite-Sized Lecture: 'Little Dorrit or the Artful Dodger? Telling Tales while writing Bankruptcy Law'
On 16 December 2011, Joseph Spooner (PhD Candidate and Teaching Fellow, Faculty of Laws) delivered a presentation entitled 'Little Dorrit or the Artful Dodger? Telling Tales while writing Bankruptcy Laws' as part of the UCL Bite-Sized Lunchtime Lectures series. Joseph’s research involves comparative analysis of national personal bankruptcy laws within the European Union, and his talk explored differences in national laws by identifying the contrasting dominant constructions of the character of “the debtor” that underpin bankruptcy legislation in a selection of European countries.
Antonios Tzanakopoulos, Lecturer at UCL Laws, has been awarded the Georges Tenekides prize for the best doctoral thesis 2009-10 by the Hellenic Society of International Law and International Relations. The award is for the PhD thesis on which his OUP monograph Disobeying the Security Council: Countermeasures against Wrongful Sanctions (Oxford Monographs in International Law, OUP, 2011) is based. The prize comes with a € 1,000 grant. The Prize Committee was unanimous in its decision.
As stated (in a translation from Greek): "The Society has established a prize for the best doctoral thesis in international law and international relations in honour of Georges Tenékidès, a Greek international lawyer of great repute. The competition is open to all Greek men and women who have submitted a doctoral thesis during the competition period. The prize is awarded every two years at the Society's annual conference. Past recipients of the prize include Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos, currently Judge at the European Court of Human Rights."
The annual Macfarlanes student Client Interviewing Competition at UCL was won by Flo Jones and Katy Matthews in a very close final round against Sebastian Ion and Angus Nunn. The final was judged by representatives from the competition’s sponsor, Macfarlanes, John Hornby, the firm’s partner responsible for graduate recruitment and Helen Edwards, a UCL Laws alumna. The student winners will represent UCL in the national client interviewing competition and have the opportunity to attend an assessment day for a summer vacation scheme at Macfarlanes.
Lord Irvine of Lairg, Lord Chancellor from 1997-2003 and architect of the Human Rights Act (HRA), headlined a sold-out event at UCL's Cruciform LectureTheatre on 14 December. The event was chaired and co-hosted by Professor Dame Hazel Genn DBE QC, Dean of UCL Laws and Co-Director of the UCL Judicial Institute, and Professor Sir Jeffery Jowell KCMG QC, Director for the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law. Some 350 guests attended the lecture.
In his talk, entitled 'A British Interpretation of Convention Rights', Lord Irvine spoke publicly for the first time on his intent in creating Section 2 of the HRA, and its subsequent interpretation. As reported by the Guardian: "Irvine argued that Section 2, which governs the prominence given to Strasbourg jurisprudence, has been misinterpreted and therefore human rights case law has developed on a false premise. He added that 'the domestic courts have strayed considerably from giving effect to parliament's intention'. The system of binding precedent, where lower courts follow the decisions of those above them, has led to judges mistakenly thinking they are 'effectively subordinate' to the Strasbourg court."
Laws Lecturer Dr Ronan McCrea has written an article in The Irish Times, 15 December edition. He argues that a referendum on the budgetary agreement by EU leaders may not be necessary under the Irish constitution and criticises referendums as a means of political decision-making.
Important reforms of the healthcare sector in the United States and the UK, in particular the way each jurisdiction deals with anti-competitive behaviour, have been the focus of a seminar organised by the Centre for Law, Economics and Society (CLES) at UCL on 6 December, chaired by Dr Ioannis Lianos, director of the Centre.
The Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the US Department of Justice, Professor Fiona Scott Morton, discussed the enforcement of competition law in the (mostly private) US healthcare sector. Much healthcare provision in the US is accomplished through networks of providers such as physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, and dentists, which may raise competition concerns. Catherine Davies, director of the UK Co-operation and Competition Panel, discussed recent regulatory reforms of the (mixed economy) system of healthcare in the UK. Professor Pierre Regibeau, CRA and Imperial College, commented on the competition economics aspects of contracts that reference rivals. A major conference on this issue is planned to take place after the enactment of the Health and Social Care Bill in 2012.
Centre for Law, Economics and Society Holds Brands, Competition and IP Law Conference
The Centre for Law, Economics and Society (CLES) at UCL organised a conference on 'Brands: Competition and IP Law', in collaboration with IBIL at UCL and Loyola University of Chicago's Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies. The event was held on 2 December at UCL Laws. The aim of this conference, attended by more than 180 delegates from industry, the public sector, law firms and economic consultancies, was to reflect on the legal and economic understanding of brands by explaining what brands are and how they function, how trademark and competition law integrate brands in their framework, if this is satisfactory, as well as the role brands play in business competition.
The conference also delved into specific issues raised by branding in 21st-century business competition, such as the challenges raised by online business and the increasing role of private labels in distribution. The Centre will co-organise a follow-up conference on the emergent field of brand law (as a unifying theme for both trademark law, unfair competition and antitrust/merger law) at Chicago in October 2012. A volume presenting the main lessons/conclusions from both conferences and providing a comparative (EU and US law) perspective will appear in 2013.
- Dr. Ioannis Lianos (conference organiser)
When European Citizens Complain: The European Network of Ombudsmen and Accountability Networks
Organised jointly by UCL Laws (Professor Richard Rawlings) and the LSE Law Department (Professor Carol Harlow), and held on 25 November, this workshop was a truly pioneering one. Set against the backdrop of multiple developments in multi-level administrative action beyond the State, the workshop thus opened up both academic and practitioner perspectives on the growth of networks that hold decision-makers to account in the context of EU governance.
Focusing in particular on the role and contribution of the European Network of Ombudsmen, the workshop featured contributions from the European Ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, and the UK Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman, Ann Abraham. Professor Rawlings, who introduced proceedings, highlighted the special value of the workshop in bringing together national and EU colleagues from a variety of disciplines.
Ioannis Lianos, Director of the Centre for Law, Economics & Society at UCL Laws, has been appointed a Fellow at the Centre for Law and Economics at the Australian National University (ANU). The Centre for Law and Economics at ANU is the only Centre for Law and Economics in Australia and is funded by the Australian federal government. The UCL Centre for Law, Economics & Society will engage in a close collaboration for funding applications with the CLE at ANU, in particular for activities in South East Asia and Oceania.
Conor v Angiotech was a real case in which the House of Lords reversed concurrent findings of obviousness by the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The House of Lords agreed with the Dutch court which had decided the parallel case in Holland. A sold out UCL Laws event on 23 November revisited this important patent law case and related arguments.
The event took the form of a moot between Lord Hoffmann (l) and the Rt. Hon. Professor Sir Robin Jacob of UCL Laws (r), who raised fundamental questions about the law of obviousness. A neutral introduction to the problem was followed by legal argument from the two 'counsel' (who themselves had given the lead judgments in the Court of Appeal and House of Lords respectively). The 'Judge', Justice Rothstein of the Canadian Supreme Court (pictured centre), flew in to London especially for the event, and acted as an 'international' arbitrator. Members of the audience were invited to join the debate, as well as the equally lively drinks reception afterwards.
This year's Mishcon Lecture 2011 'British Foreign Policy in a Changing World' was delivered by Lord Malloch Brown, Chairman, EMEA & Global Affairs, FTI Consulting Inc. Lord Malloch-Brown served as a Minister in Gordon Brown’s cabinet, where he had particular responsibility for strengthening relationships with Africa and Asia. The Prime Minister appointed him envoy in preparation for the London G-20 Summit. In addition, Lord Malloch-Brown served as Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the UN under Kofi Annan and, for six years prior, as Administrator of the UN Development Programme. Before that he was a Vice-President at the World Bank. The event, held on 22 November, was chaired by Joshua Rozenberg of Radio 4's Law in Action and introduced by Dean of UCL Laws, Professor Dame Hazel Genn.
The Mishcon Lectures were established at UCL in 1990, in honour of Lord Mishcon, to mark his 75th birthday. They recognise his achievements and service in the fields of law, education, religion, government and politics. The eclectic nature of the lectures reflect UCL's wish to encompass as wide a spectrum of social, economic, moral, legal and political issues as possible, reflecting Lord Mishcon's career and interests.
On 23 November, UCL's Centre for Law and the Environment and UCL Public Policy held an event exploring the governance of the technologies in moving to a low carbon economy. Chiara Armeni and Maria Lee from the Faculty of Laws spoke at the event, chaired by Yvonne Rydin (UCL Bartlett and Environment Institute), along with UCL colleagues Simon Lock (Science and Technology Studies) and Tadj Oreszczyn (Energy Institute).
Technological innovation is expected to play a significant role in moving to a low carbon economy. Alongside the technological and scientific challenges, this presents considerable challenges of governance. The speakers and audience explored the complex governance challenges associated with capturing the carbon savings potential of technological innovation, as well as the ways in which publics might engage with climate change technologies. Any technology is embedded in its social context, and the public in their diverse roles (as citizens, consumers, members of communities) play unavoidable and important roles in the adoption, proliferation and impact of climate change technologies.
The event was supported by UCL Grand Challenges.
IBIL/Marques Event: Questions for Trade Mark Judges
On 16 November, UCL IBIL, together with MARQUES, the Association of European Trade Mark Owners, hosted ‘Questions for the Trade Mark Judges’. The event provided an opportunity for stakeholders to quiz those who make the decisions which affect them and their clients. Topics included how to simplify the trade mark system, whether registries should be bound by their own decisions, whether Advocate Generals add anything of value to CJEU decisions and whether trade mark law needs a parody defence.
In the hot seat were representatives from the major trade mark decision makers in the UK and Europe, namely, the Hon. Mr Justice Arnold (High Court), Gordon Humphreys, (member of 2nd, 3rd and 5th Boards of Appeal, OHIM), Amanda Michaels (Appointed Person) and Allan James (Senior Hearing Officer and Head of Trade Mark Tribunal, UK IPO). The Rt. Hon. Professor Sir Robin Jacob (former Court of Appeal Judge and Hugh Laddie Professor of Intellectual Property) took the role of chair cum agent provocateur.
On 18 November, the UCL Judicial Institute (JI) held a morning seminar to mark the second anniversary of the establishment of the United Kingdom Supreme Court and to launch the UCL JI UK Supreme Court Project. The event was attended by 10 current and former Justices of the UK Supreme Court, the Master of the Rolls, the President of Tribunals, judges of the Court of Appeal, Scottish Court of Session, Irish Supreme Court and French Constitutional Court, along with a invitation-only audience of leading counsel, academics, policy-makers and officials of the UKSC.
The UCL JI Co-Director and Dean of UCL Laws, Professor Dame Hazel Genn, chaired the seminar’s two panel discussions, and UCL JI Co-Director, Professor Cheryl Thomas, presented the first analysis to emerge from the new UCL JI UKSC Project on the work of the Court. The first panel discussion addressed the Internal Workings of the Court and included Permissions to Appeal, Panel Size and Composition, and Judgments of the Court. Expert commentary was provided by Justices of the UK Supreme Court, Lord Dyson, Lady Hale and Lord Mance, along with Lord Neuberger, Master of the Rolls, and Olivier Dutheillet de Lamothe, former justice of the French Constitutional Court.
The second panel discussion addressed External Relations between the UK Supreme Court and other courts in both the UK and Europe, and relations between the Court and government. Expert commentary in this session was provided by Lord Phillips, President of the UK Supreme Court; Lord Justice Carnwath, President of Tribuanls; Lord Hodge, Scottish Court of Session; Mrs Justice Fidelma Macken, Irish Supreme Court; former Attorney General, Baroness Scotland; and Shadow Spokesperson for Justice, Lord Bach.
On 15 November, the UCL Centre for Ethics & Law held its third annual lecture “Tweeting to Topple Tyranny: Social Media and Corporate Social Responsibility.” The lecture was presented by Professor Erika George (S. J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah) together with Dr Nina Seppala of UCL and chaired by the Dean of UCL Laws, Professor Dame Hazel Genn.
Reflecting the Centre’s multi-disciplinary approach, the lecture attracted a large audience from academia, industry and practice, leading to a lively debate on the issues raised. Professor George discussed the question of whether the special relationship that we all have with social media gave rise to particular obligations regarding social responsibility (arguing that it did). Dr Seppala also considered the role of social media in democracy and considered both the political role of corporations operating social media sites and their responsibility for content posted on such sites.
Ioannis Lianos of UCL Laws has been awarded the Gutenberg Research Chair at the Ecole National d'Administration (ENA), the elite public policy and administration school of the French Republic. Gutenberg Chairs are programmes organised by the local authorities of the French “Alsace” region on the suggestion of the Cercle Gutenberg. The duration of the Chair is approximately one year and its recipients receive the following: a) The Gutenberg Prize, worth 10,000 euros, given personally; and b) specific financial help of 50,000 euros attributed to the host institution and reserved entirely for the execution of their research project. The ENA and the French government have also made a financial contribution to this project.
Dr Lianos’s research will focus on the analysis of national experiences of EU countries, looking at their various Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIAs). Its objective will be to understand the wider political context that might influence impact assessment methodology and its implementation. A second angle will explore the impact of RIAs in the decision-making process. A third angle will look at the implementation of impact assessments at the local level and, in particular, their role in the devolution or decentralisation process in select EU Member States.
The research will be completed in the next 18 months at the ENA and University College London.
Children's Rights: Progress and Perspectives
More has been written about children, childhood and children’s rights in the last 20 years than in the rest of history. There are more university courses focusing on children now than ever before. The International Journal of Children’s Rights has been a major player in all this. This volume has been compiled not only to commemorate the journal’s work, but also the 20th anniversary of the Convention coming into operation, and of the first World Summit on Children. This collection contains 20 essays on a range of children's rights issues, including theory, principles, problem areas and history. As well as editing the full volume, Professor Michael Freeman of UCL Laws has also contributed an article.
This new book by Ilanah Simon Fhima is the only comparison of EU and US protection against trade mark dilution. It provides a complete overview of the dilution action, enabling readers to better protect trade marks against dilution or to combat dilution claims. By examining the justifications offered for dilution, the book places the dilution action in the wider context of the trade mark system, allowing readers to understand the issues behind the law and to consider whether the law appropriately meets these justifications. It considers the fundamental questions raised about trade marks, including whether the main aim of trade marks is to protect the public from being confused, or the investment of trade mark owners in building up their reputations. The book also considers how well the EU and the US take these questions into account in balancing the interests of trade mark owners, their competitors and the public through the dilution action.
On 7 November, UCL's Carbon Capture Legal Programme (CCLP) released a series of case study reports analysing the implementation of the EU’s “Directive on the Geological Storage of CO2” in six selected European countries, which provides a legal framework for carrying out carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Europe.
The objective of the reports was to understand the rationale behind each country’s choices in implementing specific aspects of the Directive into their national laws. The CCLP commissioned environmental law experts in the various countries to write the reports. The UK report was authored by UCL Laws Research Associate, Chiara Armeni.
To launch the reports, the CCLP held a one-day conference where the authors of the case studies presented their findings for the first time. The event attracted key CCS stakeholders from industry, government and research organisations as well as a number of environmental law academics from across Europe.
Dr Arad Reisberg contributes to Westminster launch of the report Transforming Capitalism from Within
Dr Arad Reisberg of UCL Laws was invited to participate in and made contributions to the Palace of Westminster launch of the report Transforming Capitalism from Within (Rushworth & Schluter, 2011) held on 3 November 2011.
The event was sponsored by the Rt Hon. Stephen Timms MP and Jeremy Lefroy MP. This was in recognition of Dr Reisberg's help and support producing Transforming Capitalism from Within. University College London is also mentioned in the report foreword. Since 2007 Dr Reisberg has been acting as an Academic Advisor to a major Research Project entitled ‘The Relational Company: Exploring a New Business Vehicle as An Alternative Company Structure’, also commissioned by the Relationships Foundation.
On 1 November, the 17th volume of the UCL Jurisprudence Review was launched with a debate on 'The Normative Value of Free Speech and Privacy'. At the beginning of the session the annual UCL Jurisprudence Review 2011 Writing Prize for the best essay published in the Review was awarded to student Mark Rowlands. Dean of UCL Laws, Professor Dame Hazel Genn, noted the Review’s proud and enduring legacy of scholarship and its significant contribution to legal philosophy. A number of speakers were then invited to approach the topic of free speech and privacy.
The event’s chair, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury (Master of the Rolls) appreciated that “the carriers of a right to free speech hold duties as well.” Professor Eric Barendt (UCL Laws) opened the debate by pointing out that “the concept of privacy in Britain is so uncertain that we do not even know how to pronounce it.” Professor Leslie Green (University of Oxford) noted that “duties fall not only to speakers but also to listeners.” A more practical approach was presented by Charlotte Harris (Mishcon de Reya), who argued that “tabloids need us to have a private life since their existence and commercial value depends on it.” The Rt Hon Sir Stephen Sedley delivered the final presentation, in which he focused on the current level of protection of the right to privacy and concluded that “the Courts need to consider the effects on someone’s life when his private life is published through a tabloid.”
The law gives the courts very broad discretion to determine ‘fair’ property and financial awards when couples divorce. While that discretion is exercised in all cases, it has been shaped by principles developed in the so-called ‘big money’ cases decided in the Appeal Courts since 2000, which have led to increased awards to homemaker wives. Many are unhappy with this turn of events and have said that London has now become the 'divorce capital of the world'.
In a UCL Lunch Hour Lecture given to a public audience on 1 November, Professor Diduck discussed these ‘big money' divorce cases and the payouts involved, speaking to matters of fairness, gender and judicial discretion. She argued that if London’s status as 'divorce capital' was about implementing an ideal of fairness and gender equality in divorce settlement, then that is no bad thing.
November 2nd is the 21st anniversary of the Vermont Environmental Court, the only such specialist court in the United States. Thus, the timing was right for a UCL seminar the previous night organised by the UK Environmental Law Association and the Centre for Law and the Environment where Judge Merideth Wright, the first judge at the Vermont court, gave an account of its workings to an audience of British lawyers and Faculty LLM students.
The UCL event was chaired by Lord Justice Carnwath, Senior President of Tribunals in this country. Judge Wright's talk was especially timely because a specialist environmental tribunal is now in the process of being established in England and Wales. Its initial jurisdiction will be to hear appeals against new forms of civil penalties being introduced into environmental law, but its functions may well extend in future to cover other areas of environmental regulation such as appeals against refusal of a waste management licences.
Judge Wright's presentation was followed by a panel discussion involving Mr Justice Keith Lindblom; Nick Warren, President General Regulatory Chamber and Professor Richard Macrory QC of UCL, author of a recent report on strengthening the new environmental tribunal. It became clear during the seminar that, despite the very different legal systems, there were extremely valuable lessons to be learnt from the Vermont experience at a critical time in thinking about new UK institutional arrangements for handling environmental law.