Uber Loses Workers Rights Case  

 

   A case led by two Uber drivers and the App Drivers & Couriers Union has succeeded against Uber. The case was brought against the company for failing to compensate its workers under the Minimum Wage Act 1998 and provide paid holiday under the Employment Rights Act 1996. Uber contested that drivers are self-employed, and as such, their agreement does not entitle them to rights and protections afforded by both Acts. In a turn of events, the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that drivers are workers. It is sad to think that forcing a giant company to compensate its workers within the law is a huge win - although we should take nothing away from the claimants whose action will force Uber to change its relationship with its over 30,000 workers and pay them properly wages.

 

   The key issue was whether drivers perform services for Uber or, as suggested in the agreements between the company and drivers, directly for passengers with the 'platform' acting merely as a booking 'agent'. Uber argued that this decision should rely solely on written agreements, but this line did not persuade Lord Leggatt (who provided the court's judgment) of the argument. Lord Leggatt said that even if this were the correct way to decide the question, there were no written agreements between the drivers and Uber London. In these circumstances, the nature of the relationships is to be inferred from the conduct of the parties. The Supreme Court held that there was no factual basis to suggest that Uber acts as an agent when accepting private hire bookings for drivers, and therefore it is not acting solely as an agent for drivers. Uber's business model is more than just an app to provide a booking agent system, as the business could not operate in its current form without Uber entering into contracts with drivers under which they provide services to Uber.

 

   In a preceding key case Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher [2011] UKSC 41, prior authority was used in the case to demonstrate that despite the flexible nature of the work and written agreements arguing the contrary, ''valets'' in a car cleaning service contracted to a third party were indeed workers. This case gave the court authority to treat employment contracts differently from ordinary commercial agreements and look to the reality of the parties' relationship, including the ''relative bargaining power of the parties'' to observe the true nature of the agreement. Lord Leggatt also reminded us that the focus of the legislation mentioned above was to protect vulnerable workers, and so, the control of employers and dependence of workers ''give rise to a situation in which [employment] regulations cannot be safely left to contractual regulation''. He argued that contractual interpretation alone "would reinstate the mischief which the legislation was enacted to prevent" (an excellent quote for the updated editions of employment law textbooks).

 

   He went on to say that the law cannot give Uber power to regulate whether legislation designed to protect workers could apply to its drivers - and indeed, employment law has long been explicit in the matter that you cannot simply contract out your rights. Therefore, in determining whether a person is a worker, we must view the facts realistically and keep in mind the purpose of the legislation. The Court was clear in stating that flexible work is not incompatible with worker status. Lord Leggatt further highlighted reasons as to why the Employment Tribunal was corrected to rule the drivers as workers, with five main reasons to note:

 

  1. Uber fixes the remuneration paid to drivers without any say from the drivers. The notional freedom to charge a passenger less than the fare set by Uber would make no possible benefit to the drivers, and the delivery of the service is organized to prevent a driver from establishing a relationship with a passenger that may generate future custom for the driver personally.

  2. Uber dictates the contractual terms.

  3.  Once logged on, Uber constrains driver choice by creating information asymmetry and exercises tight algorithmic control (through ratings, cancellation, and penalties).

  4. Uber exercises a significant degree of control over which the drivers deliver their service.

  5. Uber strictly controls drivers' communications with passengers, preventing them from establishing any relationship extending beyond one individual drive.

 

Taken together, the setup denies any opportunity for entrepreneurship or individual business development.

 

   And so, after four and a half years, the Employment Tribunals' decision has been confirmed by the Supreme Court of the land that Uber drivers are workers and the case of Uber BV and others (Appellants) v Aslam and others (Respondents) [2021] UKSC 5 will go down in employment law history. As a result, we may see a big payout from Uber to its drivers following this case, which is to be determined in the coming months. It makes one wonder how those in the gig economy are being denied lawful payment or rights that are rightfully theirs but remain obfuscated by dodgy contracts. Thus, I leave you with one simple yet vital bit of advice. No matter whom you work for, what business owners say, snide remarks people make, as well as attacks are made by government ministers:

 

Join a Union.

By: Brendan Pridmore

 How Will the New Solicitors Exam Affect Law Students?  

 

   Representing a shift in attitudes towards a legal qualification, the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) will affect any law student hoping to become a solicitor. Instead of completing a Qualifying Law Degree (LLB) or a Law Conversion Course (GDL), the SQE requires the completion of two exams that tests a students’ legal knowledge and practical application of said knowledge, as well as two years of relevant work experience.

   The SQE represents a more practical approach to legal training and will allow students to gain on-the-job experience that is typically acquired during training contracts. Moreover, the SQE requires between £3500 and £4000 to complete, making it a cheaper option than the average £12000 to £17000 Legal Practice Course (LPC). In theory, this reduced price should increase access to the legal profession in an economic sense and subsequently increase the diversity of applicants. Relevant work experience can also be acquired at any point in the SQE and should enable students to gain experience on a more flexible and part-time basis.

 

 

   However, the SQE is not without flaws. Though it seems cheaper in comparison to traditional courses, this price only includes the two tests required and not any of the preparatory courses or tutoring needed to actually pass said tests. Some universities, such as the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Wolverhampton, plan to provide such tutoring, but costs have yet to be determined. Therefore, the practical costs of the SQE and the extent to which it will expand access to the legal profession remain unknown. Furthermore, qualifying work experience is still largely dependent on training contracts, volunteering, or participating in other legal therefore limiting the supposed practical flexibility of the SQE.

   Ultimately, it is impossible to fully understand the potential effects of the SQE, but this new course represents a different, more flexible approach to legal training. This approach may be reflected in the broader legal profession, and so it is essential for all law students, even those not planning to become solicitors, to be informed on this matter.

 

By: Isabella Hankin

Speaker: 

00:00 / 02:24
 

 The Future of Digital Learning After Covid  

 

   Education has always been a hotly debated topic in the UK, but the current pandemic has only intensified the conversation. A primary debate has recently revolved around digital learning and the importance of ensuring that students of all ages and income levels receive quality education and the support they need to use and access said education properly. Whenever in-person learning at all levels resumes in large numbers, consideration must be given to the forms of education students will receive. Both in-person and digital learning have their benefits and weaknesses, and both need to be fully considered in order to provide consistently high-quality education to all students.

 

   In-person learning does have its benefits. Firstly, students are in an environment that promotes learning as they can directly access needed materials and easily contact teachers or lecturers. Furthermore, higher education allows students to experience increased levels of independence and responsibility in a relatively safe environment, effectively promoting interpersonal development. Moreover, centralized learning sites also allow for extracurricular activities that may not continue as effectively online, such as many forms of sports and music.

However, in-person learning is not without fault. For some, the school may be a hostile learning environment due to social pressure, bullying and isolation. Class divides still apply, so students in private schools will receive a better quality of education than students in government-funded schools. Transport is also necessary for most forms of in-person learning, which again unduly targets low-income students. Moreover, there is far less flexibility when engaging with in-person learning. Most lessons or lectures before the pandemic were not recorded, effectively ensuring students with additional responsibilities or those with illnesses fell further behind.

 

   Digital learning carries its own pitfalls as well. A majority of students still face the same academic expectations as they would face when taking in-person lessons, easily leading to decreased motivation across many education levels. The National Foundation for Education Research found that a third of all secondary school students were not engaging with work, and many university students report feeling unsupported by their university departments. Moreover, even for those with a desk and a quiet space to learn, working exclusively in one room can easily become unengaging, and lead to notably decreased academic motivation. 

 

   Digital poverty has also been rightly identified as a central issue: students who do not have access to a quiet learning environment, a reliable wi-fi signal, or their own devices will be at an obvious disadvantage when compared to students who do have these things. Crucially, students experiencing digital poverty are likely to be experiencing economic poverty as the two are often entwined.

However, though it does not suit every student, the necessity of digital learning has certainly increased accessibility to education in some ways. Long-distance and disabled students have particularly been able to engage with their workload on their own terms, such flexibility has been absent from traditional forms of education. As the access to material is more convenient, students are not forced to purchase learning materials and no longer have to share study materials if they have already been made available online, as many now are. Finally, for higher education, online learning is generally more cost-effective. Traditionally, online courses such as those from the Open University vary in cost between £2064 and £6192 and are therefore cheaper and more accessible to lower-income students than the traditional £9250 university fees. If more universities run in-person and online courses alongside each other post-Covid higher education could become a lot more financially accessible to many.

 

   Ultimately, in-person and online learning both have some inherent challenges to students, and one form of education will not suit the needs of every student, nor should we expect it to. Instead, a theoretical post-Covid education should synthesize the best of in-person and online learning. This will ensure that students have proper access to materials and a flexible educational framework that accommodates both in-person and online learning equally.

 

By: Isabella Hankin

 

 Shamima Begum Loses Supreme Court Case  

 

   If you had ever wanted to enter into a pointless conversation with people who profess to know far more about a situation than they truly do in order to push any rhetoric aside from the political compass, try bringing up Shamima Begum’s court cases. Thankfully on Friday, the 26th of February, the Supreme Court seemed to have brought that conversation to a close after a unanimous ruling in overturning a decision by the Court of Appeal, ultimately favoring the Home Secretary. However, when examined, there are reasons for us not to be so quick to think that this case is simply one to forget.

 

   The lengthy judgment that dealt with three distinct appeals has expectedly come under criticism. There are concerns in particular of whether the decision gives too much support to the Executive, with one passage reading, “[The Court of Appeal] did not give the Home Secretary’s assessment the respect it should have received”. While the usage of such language may be quite unfortunate, one would surely think that it is not the Court’s duty to give “Respect” to an assessment by the Home Secretary, but to scrutinize and test the determinations of the Home Secretary and to protect the Human Rights of all citizens, especially where they may be as unpopular as Shamima Begum.

 

   Although it may not have been influential in any ruling of law in the case, there were also some strange features, such as the Supreme Court presenting Begum’s background from the Home Secretary’s perspective, in contrast to the Court of Appeal. As a matter of fact, they did not even mention that Begum was born in the UK, aside from bringing it up when discussing national security assessment. Some commentators such as David Allen Green have expressed regret at the decision, claiming that the Supreme Court’s decision is “defeatist” and overrules the Court of Appeals “impressive and elegant judgment” that had found “a compromise which balanced the rights of Begum and those of the executive”.

 

   Most concerning about this judgment is the prevalence of ‘national security’ to exempt one from prohibited interfering with rights, regardless of whether one thinks Begum should not have succeeded in her appeal or not. The Supreme Court’s unwillingness to allow courts to assess the Home Secretary’s assessments on the risk to national security forces us to ponder what rights we truly have and how safe those rights are if the judiciary cannot exercise scrutiny over assessing such risks - which if proposed must be stamped out as it consequently trumps the rights we have in a liberal democracy.

 

   It must be said that this unanimous judgment was complex; it dealt with technicalities in law that take judges' time to comprehend, understand and form a larger opinion around. The concerns I have mentioned above do not by any means invalidate any of the decisions made around those complex areas of law but are worrying at the very least. The Home Secretary should never be given the benefit of the doubt. The fact that they are endowed with such power and influence meant that they must be scrutinized anxiously and rigorously, and I have to ask whether that was truly done here.

 

   As human rights barrister Adam Wagner pointed out, “it may well be that Sajid Javid (Secretary of State at the time) had only security motives when stripping Begum of her citizenship. But consider for a moment, if he did not. What check and balance are in place to ensure she has a fair chance of revealing that?”. Regrettably, there is no answer to that question.

 

By: Brendan Pridmore

 

 Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and How it Affects us Today  

 

   There are many pieces of legislation that the UK requires to run on a day-by-day basis; some may be discreet, whilst others are more widely known. A piece of legislation that is rather discreet but vital in the UK is the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (The CCA). However, what is this piece of legislation, and why is it so important? The Act serves as a format by which the government can create emergency laws. These laws generally take the form of an order in council (legislation created by the PM and his ministers in the presence of the Queen). This has been extremely relevant in recent months, considering that the Act was used for Coronavirus rules and regulations to be put in place last year when the country went into lockdown for the first time. However, what does the Act truly mean, and why is it important? 

 

   The Act allows for last-minute, short-term law-making only when required and has a few key goals demonstrating this, mainly to create emergency laws and arrangements for local protection but, overall, to modernize old legislation. It was created as a response to the events of 9/11 and the tragedies that occurred due to terrorism, thus demonstrating that the Act is ideally used for short-term national incidents. Recently, the Act has been used during the current coronavirus pandemic to allow for short-term laws to be established without prior parliamentary approval. It allowed for the government to announce a national lockdown in March 2020, a response based on the quick spread of the disease when people knew very little about the risks it posed to the public.

 

   Based on the Act's part in response to COVID-19, it is vital in ensuring public safety in times of need. When a threat to society emerges, the Act is there to enable a legal route that is usually in the people's best interest. The pandemic has been tough with all the changing regulations and infringements on everyday life. However, measurements must be put in place as soon as possible to prevent situations that may threaten public order from getting any worse. This ultimately demonstrates how vital it is for the government to act quickly.

 

By: Jade Leanne Wadey

 

 Conflicting Human Rights and the Role of Domestic Courts  

 

   The European Convention of Human Rights guarantees specific rights and freedoms in certain countries. There are three types of human rights: absolute, qualified, and limited. Absolute rights such as the right to life cannot be limited at all, while limited rights such as the right to a fair trial can be departed from in times of national emergency and qualified rights such as the right to privacy can be restricted to protect other rights. While the Convention secures absolute rights in their entirety, the same cannot be said for qualified rights and that is because enforcement of the latter proved to be more difficult in cases where human rights conflict with each other. This is particularly evident in the UK where the existence of the Human Rights Act 1998, primary legislation meant to act as a national counterpoint toward the ECHR, pitting the various freedoms against each other.

 

   Such conflicts typically occur with regard to Article 10 of the HRA 1998 concerning the freedom of expression, mainly due to potential restrictions that can be applied to this freedom under Article 10(2) HRA 1998. These restrictions must be necessary for a democratic society and include upholding public policy or the interests of national security, preventing crime, maintaining the privacy of confidential information, and maintaining the impartiality of the judiciary. For example, in the case of Handyside v UK (1979), the seizure of a book under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 was justified due to protecting minors. Additionally, domestic courts analyses and balances such objective justifications against similar judgments from the European Court of Human Rights and provide a contextual lens through which domestic law is understood in both a national and broader context.

   Aside from ruling on legitimate justifications, domestic courts also have to consider the legality of restricting such freedoms. This principle was set out in R (BBC) v Secretary of State for Justice and R v Shayler: restrictions need to have a statutory based justification, as well as be sufficiently precise, accessible, and easy to understand so that any person who violated of such legislation would fully understand and foresee the consequences to their actions. The legal basis of measures is a broad area and notably overlaps with more typical judicial functions, such as interpreting legislation. The role of domestic courts in this regard is somewhat more established as a judicial duty compared to the other aspects of human rights law.

   Finally, UK courts can also declare measures incompatible should it be impossible for the latter to be read in a way that adheres to human rights requirements. This power is set out in Section 10 of the HRA 1998 and is arguably the most important and influential power domestic courts possess. While such power arguably challenges executive authority, courts nevertheless consistently prioritize human rights above national legislation, showing commitment to the fundamental principles of the ECHR. This commitment supports citizens who wish to challenge decisions that violate fundamental human rights and therefore are central to human rights being upheld. Other components of the executive powers should subsequently respect this commitment and power.

 

   Despite having to take European Court of Human Rights decisions into consideration, domestic UK courts apply their own tests and in order to properly balance fundamental rights, as demonstrated above. Their role in upholding and balancing individual and public interests is significant, and their ability to declare measures that do not allow for human rights protection incompatible is a powerful legislative tool against potential interference with such fundamental rights.

 

By: Isabella Hankin

 

 Why is Amazon so Anti-Union?  

 

   Despite being the most successful company under the richest man in the world, Amazon has had a history of poor working conditions and a strong anti-union attitude. Amazon's working practices have been the source of much legal and social controversy, particularly regarding the poor treatment of its workers. Recent strikes by Amazon workers rallying for adequate wages and sufficient breaks in return for their non-stop, ten-hour-a-day shift renews public interest toward the issue. Many believed the pandemic to be an essential contributing factor toward exposing long-standing issues within the company, as it exemplifies the growing global wealth divide. For instance, according to a study from Columbia University, Amazon has made a profit of $125 billion in 2021's first quarter alone, while the number of Americans in poverty has grown by at least 8 million.

 

   Amazon's strictly anti-union act poses a struggle for many activists. Recent attempts at organizing strikes have only led to the company doubling down on anti-union measures, including hiring anti-union consultants, creating anti-union ads in both the workplace and online, and even directly instructing workers to vote against the decision to unionize. Despite the strike being approved to be carried out through post-in ballots due to the pandemic, Amazon lawyers are currently appealing this decision. If successful, the company would restrict potential access to voting at large, indicating a lower percentage for union actions to succeed. Amazon has been successful with these attempts, as only 11% of Amazon workers belong to a union today, compared to the 35% in the 1950s, leaving future attempts at unionization to be determined.

 

   However, should union activists succeed in establishing official union action for a company like Amazon, it would set a valuable precedent for union action in America as a whole. For example, warehouse and transportation jobs with a strong union presence have 34% higher average pay than non-unionized jobs in the same area. Many struggling in those sectors would undoubtedly benefit from a similar pay rise. If a union can be formed for Amazon, chances of pay rises and better-regulated working conditions would form valuable incentives for workers across America to form unions of their own and further decrease the power of companies such as Amazon. Unions ultimately provide a safer working environment, better pay, as well as greater accountability for poor management practices - all things Amazon has side-lined for the sake of increased profit. Should this recent attempt at unionizing succeed despite Amazon's attempts to frustrate it, then Amazon workers could finally receive the working conditions and pay they deserve.

By: Isabella Hankin

Speaker: Mia Fowler

00:00 / 02:48
 

 Patel Aims to Restrict Protests with New Bill  

 

   The new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill in Parliament contains sections that seek to limit the right to protest. Section 59 seeks to create an offence ‘Intentionally or recklessly causing Public Nuisance’, an offence that seems utterly unneeded and redundant, right until one reads 59(2)(c), which further suggests that it will be an offence to cause serious annoyance or serious inconvenience. This expansion of police power will essentially allow the Home Secretary to decide what protests can be deemed acceptable. It is evident that protests are intended to be an inconvenience, and it is almost impossible not to cause serious annoyance during a protest, especially where such a protest is set around a contentious political issue.

 

   Section 59 is not the only concerning section. Section 55 amends Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1984 to allow conditions imposed on public assemblies if it causes someone ‘serious unease’. The vague and light terminology used in the legislation seems to be a continuation of the Conservative Government’s approach to civil liberties, spearheaded by Home Secretary Priti Patel and sponsored by Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland.

 

   Whilst the bill features some positive sections, such as reforms to ensure sports coaches who have sexual relationships with students under the age of 18 will be liable for sexual offence due to their position of trust, It also features bizarre reforms, such as increasing the maximum sentence for defacing a statue or memorial from 6 months to 10 years.

 

   This bill appears incredibly controversial and is bound to spark protests toward its passing through the second reading. Providing the Police with more powers will certainly be a questionable move on their part - especially with recent events at the vigil for Sarah Everard, which was toxic enough to cause Patel enough concern to make her seemingly avoid using the backing of police powers. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was not satisfied by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick’s explanation for the event and the Police’s refusal to help accommodate a safe vigil in the days leading up to it. Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey also joined calls for her resignation. It should also be noted that while Patel has backed away from the commissioner, it was her department that sent a barrister to the hearing between the Met Police and Reclaim These Streets, to argue that the court should be reluctant in granting declarations on future criminality of conduct (relating to whether vigil attendees would be arrested).

 

   Currently, the Home Office and the Tory Government intend to press on with the new bill, which will likely become a cause for future Human Rights litigation against the Police and UK Government and a key development for lawyers and law students.

By: Brendan Pridmore

 

 Law firm shorts - Linklaters: Who are they and what do they do?  

 

   Linklaters was founded in 1838 and is an international law firm in the magic circle in the UK, a group of elite firms considered to be at the top of the successful firms generally in London. Linklaters have many notorious clients, including Sainsbury's, Unilever, and Just Eat. The areas of law they cover include banking, healthcare, technology, industry, insurance, and many more. The firm is well known for its aims to achieve diversity through its contextualized recruitment and programs, including PRIME to find young achievers from non-represented backgrounds to train at their firm. Linklaters. They have 31 offices across 20 countries, with their most influential offices being in the UK, Hong Kong, and the USA, whilst hiring over 2900 individuals in all firms combined. The firm's main competitors are other magic circle firms, including Clifford Chance, Slaughter and May and Allen & Overy. 

 

   When applying to the firm, the application process heavily takes into consideration an individual’s extenuating circumstances. One thing that makes them stand out is the fact that they do not take work experience into consideration as they understand the complexities this can cause individuals when applying to the firm, especially in the context of COVID. Furthermore, the firm allows for individuals to fast-track some of the application processes if an individual has already had a successful application with the firm in the past. An example of this is the Making Links 2021 program which candidates from Pathfinder are able to fast-track.

By: Jade Leanne Wadey

Speaker: Lauren Hollingworth

00:00 / 01:46
 

 Should the government always follow the general will - A Covid-19 case study  

 

   Recently, thousands of citizens have shown up to anti-lockdown demonstrations in London. While objections to Covid-19 restrictions (i.e. lockdowns) are becoming more fervent than the pandemic itself; the Government remains unyielding towards general will. This article will be ascertaining whether the government should take general will into account. 

 

   General will is an emotive concept as it aims to attract more supporters within a short period. During the French Revolution, general will was developed from the working class’s dissent towards the elites. Likewise, such dissent is shown in the pandemic nowadays.  

 

   To halt the number of confirmed cases, the UK government has adopted unprecedented measures such as lockdowns and social distancing rules. These measures aim to lower interactions amongst citizens by restricting activities. Yet, as citizens are restricted from going out, their routines are highly affected. Covid-19 measures have particularly impacted the underprivileged class. Since most of their work is outdoors, lockdowns have restricted them from attending their workplace. Moreover, their works are highly repetitive and operose; thus, companies are replacing them with technologies, which has led to their unemployment.  

 

   As lockdowns continue to influence the public, sentiments towards the Government are growing. This shared dissent has thus assembled anti-government supporters. As such, general will is created. Nevertheless, in the face of such intensifying sentiments, should the Government follow their wills? Alison Young, a notable legal scholar who specialises in public and constitutional law, noted that general will would also focus on the homogenization of ideologies, which only inclines to one side of the spectrum while ignoring the others. Therefore, general will is not only emotionally driven, but it is also highly irrational. In the context of Covid-19, anti-lockdown supporters can only see their hardships whilst often neglecting the disastrous aftermath of the pandemic if it continues. From a utilitarian perspective, to achieve the greater good for the entire society, general will should not be blindly followed. 

 

   In contrast, the UK Government is more rational due to its systematic and compartmentalised build. For instance, the National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies (NRR) serves to identify the pandemic with science, not emotion. The UK Government has also drafted a detailed plan, namely the UK Pandemic Preparedness Strategy, to cope with Covid-19. 

 

   Although the Government is rational, its head decision-maker is irrational. Politicians who were involved in big decisions throughout the Covid crisis exposed how irrational Boris Johnson is in decision-making (BBC News). If Boris Johnson agreed to start combating the pandemic at an earlier stage, calamitous outbreaks may have been avoided. Yet he refused to do so simply because he could not foresee Covid’s impact on the UK. Therefore, even if the Government has a complete system to combat the virus, its Prime Minister has failed to utilise the resources well. 

 

   Another counterclaim as to the rationality of the government is made by Rousseau. He argued that governments always prevent direct expression of the people and hence ignore minority rights. As mentioned above, the Government does not give much consideration to the lives of the underprivileged people when implementing Covid measures. In fact, the Government adopted a more utilitarian approach, giving much concern toward the common good rather than a specific group of people. As the Government takes a more general approach in implementing policy, it will not be partial towards a particular class. Once again, it shows how rational the UK Government is in legislating Covid measures. 

 

   If the Government is more intellectual than the public, should it ignore general will?

 

   The answer is No. It is because they have to take every public opinion into account. Without consideration of public opinion, the Government would lose a major scrutiniser of their accountability. As such, the Government may use their power arbitrarily. This could be seen in the first phase of the pandemic, in which the majority of Covid-19 measures came into force either the same day or within a day of being introduced by the UK Government. Therefore, a government would turn into an irrational institution without public scrutiny. When facing an emergency, the Government should never neglect public opinions. As Shlomo Abramovich once said, ‘only in this sense can the institution be able to serve the public and act as the expert advisor to the people.’

By: Arlene Lam

 

 Covid-19 Passports: are they harmful?  

 

   Currently, people who have received a Covid-19 vaccination jab get a vaccination card. However, the government is looking at another way to help travellers navigate through travel restrictions as smoothly as possible, by releasing the digital green certificate. The digital green certificate is a Covid-19 health certificate that is being rolled out across Europe. It provides proof that an individual has been vaccinated, has a recent positive test, or has recovered from the disease.

 

   The primary aim of this certificate is to build a safe and secure way of showing Covid-19 information to different transport operators for international leisure travel. This certificate can be digital, as the name suggests, or on paper, and would include a QR code that contains all relevant information. In addition to a digital signature or seal to ensure that the certificate is authentic. 

 

   The UK government has announced that it is considering Covid-19 status certificates (‘Covid passports’). A review is taking place into whether Covid passports could help reopen the economy. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, previously said that people could be asked to provide a vaccine certificate for entry into pubs. Similar to the digital green certificate, this would demonstrate whether people have been vaccinated, have a recent negative test result, or have previously been infected. 

 

   The government has argued that these certificates could be the most feasible way for the country to return to normality, as they will help with reducing restrictions and improving safety. Despite this, many public officials have voiced concerns that these certificates could be divisive and discriminatory in nature. For example discrimination towards people with particular health issues, as many people will not get vaccinated for medical reasons. 

Researchers have also noted the inequalities in access to, and uptake of the vaccine. So far, fewer people from socioeconomically deprived areas and minority ethnic groups have been vaccinated – despite the virus disproportionately affecting these populations. Introducing Covid-status certificates at such a time could be further divisive, as many people in these groups are unlikely to have equal access to the vaccines. 

 

   There is also the issue of age discrimination, as the vaccine is currently being rolled out to cater to a specific age group. Younger people might not be able to access the vaccine for months, and there is little to no testing carried out within this age group. This would further make the use of Covid-status certificates in normal day-to-day life discriminatory in nature, as younger people would not be able to participate in local community life. 

 

   There have also been concerns that the use of Covid-status certificates is a likely breach of fundamental human rights. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today program, Baroness Chakrabarti stated: "It's one thing to have a passport to travel internationally, that is a privilege, even a luxury, but participation in local community life is a fundamental right.” Freedom of choice could also be compromised. Individuals must be able to choose whether or not they are vaccinated. A mandatory Covid-status certificates program would therefore restrict the rights of people who have refused a Covid-19 vaccine. 

 

   There are also concerns that passports would create a two-tier system in society, leaving some unable to return to normal life if they do not have a vaccine. Demanding a ‘Covid passport’ as proof of a jab or test to access jobs or services is dangerous, discriminatory, and counterproductive. It would also be the first policy in decades that could impose segregation throughout the population. There is also concern that it might take years for everyone to be vaccinated. Wealthier countries have better access to vaccines than less wealthy countries. A Covid-19 vaccine passport would deny unvaccinated foreigners entry into the UK, possibly leaving a large part of the world grounded. 

 

   Some MP’s and peers have signed a pledge saying that they oppose the divisive and discriminatory use of Covid status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses, or jobs. Liberal Democrats leader, Sir Ed Davey, expressed his concern that Covid-status certificates would be “taking Britain backward in its fight for freedom during this year of the pandemic”. Sir Graham Brady, who chairs the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, added "with high levels of vaccination protecting the vulnerable and making transmission less likely, we should aim to return to normal life, not to put permanent restrictions in place.”

 

Many legal and health experts have warned that these certificates could be seen as a form of paper immunity from the virus which seems to allow greater freedom to those who have recovered from the virus. They believe that this could, in turn, push people to try to catch the disease in the hopes of making themselves immune. The scientific grounding of Covid-status certificates has also been called into question, as it is still not clear whether people who recover from Covid-19 are protected from a second infection - and if so, for how long. Experts have argued that many trials could be identified regardless of the certificates being issued on paper or digitally. It is argued that inequitable access to the Covid-19 vaccine could incentivize people to falsify papers. The use of apps and other digital solutions combining health data and identification could exclude large numbers of people who do not own a smartphone, while also raising privacy concerns. 

 

   Others believe that Covid-status certificates could be a positive development. Vaccination certificates are already regulated by international law. This allows countries to require a traveller’s proof of vaccination for diseases such as yellow fever or polio as a condition of entry. This implies that  Covid-status passports or certificates for travelling would be implemented smoothly and pose little to no problems. The importance of Covid-status certificates has also been recognized by the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden. He argued that vaccine passports are a short-term tool to reopen theatres and sports stadiums. 

 

   In summary, regardless of the seemingly positive aims that Covid-status certificates have to offer, the government will likely face a lot of backlash with regards to these certificates being discriminatory by excluding certain age groups; people with certain health conditions; minority groups; and people from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. The concerns that these certificates would breach privacy regulations and that people may attempt to forge them should also be taken into consideration. MP’s also makes a valid point when it comes to the certificates being in breach of fundamental human rights by taking away freedom of choice. In this situation, the negatives seem to outweigh the positives when discussing the impact of Covid-status certificates on UK citizens and the economy.

By: Ruth Oyefeso

Speaker: Lauren Hollingworth

00:00 / 06:57
 

 Case backlog in the Criminal Justice System  

 

   There are currently over 50,000 cases awaiting trial in the Criminal Justice System, a backlog that has stretched the resources of the entire Criminal Justice System to breaking point. Although the shift to remote trials was quick, and the backlog has been reduced immensely since the start of the pandemic, much more needs to be done to allow the Criminal Justice System to function effectively.

 

   For example, the Government promised to open 60 new courtrooms by the end of March 2021; and create a ‘super court’ that exclusively deals with multi-jurisdictional and more complex issues. There has also been a widespread court rollout regarding digital rights, with approximately 20,000 hearings taking place remotely each week. Finally, subject to the unavailability of remote trials, 290 courtrooms are actively used for trials - which is substantially more than before the pandemic. Nevertheless, measures to address this backlog have been implemented to some success. 

 

   However, much more still needs to be done. The negative impact of digital trials on witnesses is quickly becoming apparent as a rising number of witnesses drop out of trial appearances. Currently, 44% of witnesses in cases of violent crimes, 42% of witnesses in cases of sexual crimes and an additional 25% of witnesses across all other types of crime have dropped out of their trial appearances. While more courts allow more cases to be heard per week, therefore addressing the most egregious elements of the backlog, this drop in witness appearances also needs to be considered.

 

   Certain proposed measures to increase witness testimony are currently being tested in the Criminal Justice System. Most notably the measure to increase the number of pre-recorded witness testimonies collected by the courts. While such pre-recorded testimonies were previously only available to exceptionally vulnerable witnesses pre-pandemic, suggestions to increase availability are being considered. Approval of this technique would allow over 10,000 additional witnesses to access this alternate method of testimony. Note that all proposals are dependent on the success of upcoming trials with said new method. Moreover, such success would increase witness testimony and subsequently trust in the Criminal Justice System, which is desperately needed. Additionally, there are also proposals for a similar system to be applied to victim and witness cross-examination, although as of now, such measures only apply to certain vulnerable witnesses.

 

   Ultimately, while the Government is addressing the current case backlog in the Criminal Justice System, more needs to be done in terms of increasing resources. Nevertheless, it is reassuring to know that measures are being put in place to better support witnesses in adapting to and effectively using the online trial system. While alternative testimony measures are useful, they cannot substitute the need for more courts and court resources in order to reduce case backlogs.

By: Isabella Hankin

Speaker: Lauren Hollingworth

00:00 / 03:11
 

 The Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA)- is it turning ex offenders back to crime?  

 

Some unintended consequences of the Proceeds of Crime Act

   Supposedly based on the draconian RICO laws of the United States, the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) has been much vaunted as a successful and effective tool in the war on drugs. Details of high-value confiscations appear regularly in headline news, but is this the whole truth? In this article, which is based upon real instances, I draw attention to the unnoticed and unintended consequences to the offender. Although this is not usually a sympathetic issue to raise, it has an important and often overlooked consequence on the justice system.

 

   Case One:

   JB was a mid-level member of a regional criminal organisation supplying class A & B drugs. Due to information supplied by the public, JB was apprehended in possession of a significant number of ecstasy tablets, the quantity was sufficient to gain him a 9-year jail sentence. During which, JB took advantage of the opportunity to acquire a tradesman qualification. JB was released early on parole partly because of overcrowding issues and his exemplary behaviour whilst behind bars. As part of his punishment, his house was confiscated and sold, but this did not greatly impact the value of the order made against him. In other words, upon his release, he still owed a substantial capital sum to the authorities.

   JB was unable to find employment because of his conviction in his chosen trade; the only job opportunities available to him were those paying minimum wage and with few prospects. The only advantage of such jobs was such a low income would not trigger a contribution to his confiscation order. Seeking to better himself JB decided to go into business on his own in the trade to which he had recently qualified. However, because of his conviction, no bank would entertain his application forcing him to rely on 3rd party assistance. Reduced initially to asking for cash payments in return for his services, JB was plagued by the temptation to keep his declared earnings below the trigger threshold which in itself involved committing further offences.

 

   Case Two:

   HW was a married man with a good history of employment in the building trade who also chose to engage in the supply of class A and B drugs as part of an organised syndicate. In the course of carrying out the illegal activity, he fell into debt with a larger group when a significant amount of products went missing. Soon after he was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to a significant term accompanied by an even more significant fine. As in case, one above, HW took the opportunity provided during his incarceration to gain additional qualifications with the intention of establishing himself in the legitimate world upon his release. His wife and children did not abandon him and accepted that he had made mistakes in life but was paying for them. Upon his release, he encountered similar difficulties to that of JB and had the additional difficulty of owing money to the superior syndicate mentioned previously. To satisfy the demands of his confiscation order and the more threatening demands from his former contacts, HW was left with only one course of action. With no support to rehabilitate nor any incentive from the justice system, he fell back into crime and now faces a possible life imprisonment sentence following rearrest.

 

   Case Three:

   JL was a self-employed specialist earning well above average wages. He had no criminal convictions, but the same could not be said of some of his contemporaries who were members of an organised crime syndicate. Although JL was happily married with children, a nice lifestyle, house, and car he was tempted to assist some of his contemporaries by setting up a bank account on their behalf. Inevitably, this account was misused and resulted in JL gaining a conviction and prison sentence for money laundering. Once again, part of the sentence involved the imposition of a financial order under the Proceeds of Crime Act, and the loss of the matrimonial home which although was proven to have been acquired by legitimate means, was nevertheless a legitimate target by the authorities. Once again upon release from prison, JL was unable to obtain employment, other than low-paid minimum wage jobs with no prospect of significant improvement. His marriage collapsed, now both he and his former partner face uncertain futures.

 

   Although in each of the above cases the participants’ action led to their imprisonment, in each case genuine attempts were made to legally restart life; only to find a rigid system with no provision for support or rehabilitation. This forced them into courses of action which were detrimental to both the individual concerned and the society which the POCA was supposed to provide protection and disincentive to offend. Whilst lip service is paid towards rehabilitation efforts within the prison system, the reality is that no allowance has been made for a real reintegration into a legitimate society after imprisonment. Rather, it’s virtually impossible to escape the financial orders imposed as part of the sentencing procedure. This leads to significant hardship at best for the offender, and at worst an understandable temptation to make one's living outside the rules of society.

By: Jennifer Lambden

Speaker: Lauren Hollingworth

00:00 / 05:34
 

 Holyrood Bills Referred to Supreme Court  

 

   The UK Government has referred two Scottish Bills, passed unanimously by the Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) last month, to the Supreme Court to either be upheld or referred back to Holyrood to be amended. This will be the second time that bills from Holyrood are referred to the Supreme Court via section 33 of the Scotland Act 1998. The Bills incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the European Charter of Local Self-Government. The former enhances legal protections for children by obliging public authorities to respect children’s rights and comply with UN requirements.

 

   The UK Government has previously objected to section 6 of the UNCRC, as it places an obligation on UK ministers to act in Scotland's policy areas. They have also objected to sections 19 to 21, which they argue limits the UK Parliament's absolute right to make laws for Scotland. The UK Government further objected to sections 4 and 5 of the European Charter Bill, which aims to protect the powers of local authorities, arguing that it constrains their power to make laws governing Scotland. The Bills will be unable to receive royal assent until the Court passes a decision.

 

   The move has been a controversial one, with both Scottish Labour and the SNP outraged by the decision of Westminster. This shall surely fuel the devolution debate in the upcoming Scottish elections, especially if the Supreme Court moves to strike down the Bills. 

By: Brendan Pridmore

Speaker: Lauren Hollingworth

00:00 / 01:41
 

 Protests and why they may be about to change for good  

 

   In light of Sarah Everend's death and the vigil that turned into a protest, the House of Commons released a bill called the Police and Crime Bill. What does this Bill do, and why has it been met with a large array of criticism from the public and MPs? 

 

   Recent protests named 'Kill the Bill' have highlighted discontent with this Bill aimed at increasing police controls for non-violent protests. The measures that will be granted to the police include the power to place, start, and end times for protests. The measures also include the ability to set noise limits, with no limit on how many protestors people are required in the first place for these rules to be applied.  This means that the police will essentially have unprecedented powers regarding the freedom to protest. This freedom would surely be infringed with the presence of these aforementioned rules.

 

   By definition, protests are disruptive in their nature as disruption causes people to consider a change. However, this Bill practically eliminates the ability to protest. The police would be able to stop any protest they deem to be too disruptive or 'loud', which includes singular individuals protesting. This inherently defeats the whole point of a protest and limits our freedom to protest about things we feel need to be voiced. Bristol saw a huge amount of people fighting against this by protesting, which led to a few arrests and injured police officers. 

 

   Violence is not right. Although peaceful protests can sometimes turn violent, this Bill is still a harsh form of retaliation against the minority of the protest who ruin it for the rest. Taking this as an opportunity to inherently stop people from protesting peacefully if deemed 'disruptive' is likely to cause anger and retaliation. such anger will most likely take the form of public anger and more protests taking a violent turn, especially towards the police. 

By: Jade Leanne Wadey

Speaker: Ma-Adjoa Akwah

00:00 / 02:05
 

 The Impact of Restorative Justice  

 

   Restorative justice is often utilised as a supplementary sanction toward traditional criminal sentencing. It focuses on restoring the victim and the offender’s social bonds with the public community. The process itself is decidedly informal as it allows parties to enter into dialogue concerning the offence and how it affected them directly. Third-party mediators also participate to ensure that both the victim and offender engage in the process without one abusing the other. Restorative justice is very much centred around the idea of rehabilitation and is adopted as an alternative to traditional criminal justice procedures in some areas, such as by the Maori.

   Some restorative justice practices have been implemented on a trial basis in the UK, the most famous of which was the Thames Valley police experiment led by Commissioner Charles Pollard. The area had adopted a restorative justice program and claimed that re-offending rates decreased from 30% to a mere 4%. This significant drop was quickly followed by a Ministry of Justice trial, which found a 14% drop in re-offending rates and an 85% satisfaction rate from victims who had taken part in the process. Eventually, this evidence suggests the effect restorative justice has on re-offending rates.

 

   However, more recent evidence from the Home Office suggests that restorative justice measures do not affect the re-offending rates on a larger scale. This mixed evidence may be one of the many reasons why restorative justice has not been adopted in a more widespread manner across the UK criminal justice system. Proponents of restorative justice argue in contrast that the relief and reparation that restorative justice allows are worthwhile goals regardless of the impact it has on re-offending rates. Potential lower costs are, therefore, an additional benefit of restorative justice, not the main purpose of the alternative system.

 

   Some aspects of restorative justice have been criticized. Restorative justice hinges upon both participants being willing and open with the other, and this may not be possible in all cases. For example, cases of domestic violence can create an atmosphere between the parties that is neither conducive to trust or honesty due to the perpetrator's actions. Furthermore, other crimes such as white-collar crimes seem unsuited to restorative justice as there often are many potential victims, some of whom may not even know that they are victims. Due to each victim-offender interaction's individual nature, the quality can also be inconsistent across restorative justice sessions. This may, in turn, lead to abuses of power, as there are no set limits to questioning by the victim like there are in the courts.

 

   Restorative justice is, therefore, a complex measure with mixed effectiveness. Nevertheless, it ultimately allows for a more practical approach to rehabilitation. The opportunity for both offender and victim to achieve some sort of reparation and closure is valuable and lacking in the current UK criminal justice system. As such, despite its flaws, restorative justice does have value as an additional and perhaps alternative method of rehabilitation.

By: Isabella Hankin

 

 Supreme Court Rules on Equal Pay Disputes in Asda Case  

 

   The Supreme Court has completed its ruling on the ongoing dispute of equal pay for Asda workers and has found itself in favour of the shop workers. This decision is in line with its preceding judgments - the original decision in 2016 passed by an employment tribunal as well as its subsequent decision in 2019 by the Court of Appeal. This judgment results in the probability of Asda having to pay workers up to £500 million in compensation.

 

   The shop workers argued that they were paid £1-3 an hour less than other workers, such as those working in depos. Interestingly,  shop workers affected are primarily female, as opposed to the predominantly male depo workers.  This ruling will therefore also affect the future of gender equality across many economic sectors, amongst others. The case will also have particularly significant implications for fellow workers in the retail sector. Employees have frequently raised equal pay as a recurring issue within other prominent supermarkets such as Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Tesco. These employees are likely to rely on the Supreme Court's ruling in ongoing and future equal pay disputes, and such disputes may even be resolved due to it. For example, supermarkets may be more willing to negotiate for equal pay to avoid the possibility of paying significant amounts of compensation.

 

   However, there are some aspects of the case that remain undecided. Most notably, issues on how ‘equal value’ of work is defined within the industry and how factors other than gender influence whether or not a particular role should be paid equally need to be discussed. These issues will be tackled in a future employment tribunal and not the Supreme Court, so equal pay is likely to remain a pertinent issue for the foreseeable future. As the principles of equal pay have been affirmed at the highest judicial level, the Supreme Court’s ruling remains highly significant despite the case’s lack of full resolution. Therefore, the Asda case is certainly noteworthy for current law students and is likely to remain relevant to the area of employment law for the foreseeable future.

By: Isabella Hankin

Speaker: Ma-Adjoa Akwah

00:00 / 02:31
 

 Coronavirus and the Disaster of Fixed Penalty Notices  

 

   The Joint Committee on Human Rights is a cross-party parliamentary group consisting of members from the House of Commons and the House of Lords. They have called for a review of all Covid-19 fines handed out during the pandemic, along with other reforms. This is a direct response to the report which the Joint Committee concluded earlier, stating that the Fixed Penalty Notices under the Coronavirus Act 2020 are unfair, confused, and discriminatory. Interestingly enough, over 85,000 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) have been given to members of the public since March 2020.

 

   It is estimated that around 1 in 4 FPNs under the act was charged, albeit incorrectly. These penalty notices can range from £200 to £10,000 - enough money to alter the lives of many, particularly as the UK economy has seen its worst decline to date since 1709. Failure to pay FPNs may result in prosecution and a criminal record.

 

   The Joint Committee has made the following recommendations:

  • A comprehensive review of all FPNs which have been issued.

  • A mechanism to challenge new FPNs.

  • That no criminal record should arise from Covid-19 FPNs.

  • An assessment of income when giving large fines.

 

   The Covid-19 regulations have changed 65 times so far since March 2020. So unsurprisingly the police have been unable to apply the law and its numerous revisions accurately, resulting in the high number of errors seen. The Joint Committee has warned that a failure to remedy the current situation could result in the UK Government being in breach of Article 7 of the European Convention of Human Rights (no punishment without law). As well as Article 8 (no unjustified interference with an individual’s right to privacy and family life).

 

   The usage of FPNs is understandable for speeding and other offences that can be clearly recorded and proved. However, when interpretation is required for the law, the conduct committed, and the exceptions, it is clear that Fixed Penalty Notices are an inadequate form of policing.

 

   Harriet Harman, Chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights concluded that “ we have an unfair system - with clear evidence that young people, those from ethnic minority backgrounds, and the most socially deprived are most at risk”. It is unclear what actions will be taken as a response to the report. Although with the cross-party configuration of the Joint Committee, one would imagine that the Government will be under pressure to adopt the recommendations swiftly.

By: Brendan Pridmore

Speaker: Lauren Hollingworth

00:00 / 02:46
 

 The new Domestic Abuse Act- is it enough? A personal perspective  

 

   At the age of 16, I married my then-boyfriend having known him for 2 years. I was a teenage mum and it was the natural progression of our relationship. He went on to abuse and torment me and our daughters for over 6 years. The abuse was physical, psychological, financial, and coercive.

Fast forward 30 years, I still remember every single day of the relationship, my daughters continue to suffer and are still receiving counselling in their mid 30’s. Both of my daughters are now married. They both had abusive first partners, but neither married their abuser for which I am eternally grateful. 

 

   The new Domestic Abuse Act which came into force on the 29th April 2021 incorporates all aspects of abuse, not just physical, and recognises coercive and controlling behaviour for what it is - abuse.

   Historically, an abuser could cross-examine his victim in court and this meant that they couldn’t escape even in a court of law. It was 'easier’ for victims to move away when children weren’t involved and hope that the abuser couldn’t find them. Unfortunately, when children are involved, they have been used as pawns by the abuser. Many abusers are so narcissistic that they truly care about no one but themselves. However, in the eyes of the law, as a parent they were given rights to see the children unless proven unfit. With the children having to testify in court and the abuser being able to cross-examine them, cases often fall apart as the children are torn. Children see what has happened to the abused parent, they understand that it is wrong and yet they are unable to articulate this, often due to fear and sometimes due to feeling disloyal as the abuser is still their parent. 

   I have a client whose long-term partner was abusive financially and with coercive behaviour. They had two daughters together who are now teenagers. My client left as she wanted to stop the abuse of her daughters. The father was allowed to cross-examine the daughters in court. The girls were so traumatised by the abuse that they had suffered, that they couldn’t speak. They merely nodded and agreed with what their father had said. It was the worst experience I had ever witnessed in court.

   One of the most important aspects of the new Domestic Abuse Bill 2021 is that it now prevents direct cross-examination by the abuser in court. This will make a huge difference to the victims of domestic abuse. It also gives the police more powers of protection, including Domestic Abuse Protection Notices with immediate protection from abusers. Courts will be able to hand out new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders which are aimed at preventing perpetrators from offending, by forcing them to change their behaviour.

   This is by no means just a problem for women: in 2019 of the 1,000,000 incidents registered, over a third of the incidents had male victims, suffering abuse from either their female or male partners. There is very little aimed at supporting men, however, this has started to change with a few organisations working to assist men in finding refuge and in taking action against their abusive partners.

Is this enough? We have moved further in the last two years than in the previous 28 years and we continue to move in the right direction. In an ideal world, there would be no domestic abuse nor indeed any abuse. However, while there are abusers we can try to protect the victims. Domestic abuse is one of the worst crimes as it is carried out by someone you trusted completely to keep you safe. Whether you are an adult or child victim, the memories remain with you for many years.

   I am now a Trustee of a Domestic Abuse Charity and I assist with helping to find safety for the victims. The strength of the victims never ceases to amaze me. Even when they are broken, they still have a piece of them left inside that is willing to fight. 

 

   We call them victims, however, they are undoubtedly survivors. 

By: Jennifer Lambden

 

 Law in space: what legal jurisdiction exists on other planets?  

 

   As recent developments regarding commercial space travel make the latter a more viable prospect than ever before, space may soon become a hotspot for international legal issues, such as the rights of workers and liability for injuries. Nevertheless, legal jurisdiction does exist in space, and while it cannot account for every issue, it does manage to lay down some valuable guidelines and fundamental principles that will impact the way people interact with interstellar bodies.

 

   Essentially, space is regulated by certain international treaties: the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Agreement, also known as the OST and the MA, respectively. Both treaties assert that outer space and other planets will be free to explore as long as said exploration benefits all countries. An example of beneficial exploration is the various space programs that have an advanced international understanding of astronomy. However, note that these explorations must also be peaceful and not disrupt the natural planetary environment; therefore, explicitly prohibiting the construction of military bases or weapons. Aside from various logistics issues, this is one of the primary reasons behind the prevalence of robots as the preferred method of interstellar exploration. Robots have reduced potential for human error and can be destroyed to ensure that planetary atmospheres remain unaltered; therefore, countries would remain in compliance with the OST.

 

   As Mars appears to be the most successful option for terraforming in our solar system, the importance of its legal status is likely to increase in the future. Currently, any private organisation wishing to perform any activities on Mars must be granted prior governmental authorisation. This ensures the supervision of said organisations and also adherence to the above tenants of peace, benefit, and non-disruption during their business. Furthermore, space law states that any individual, company or government cannot claim any celestial body. However, if a company sets up work on Mars, its workers will fall under the jurisdiction of whichever government granted the mission authorisation. Life as a worker on Mars would therefore be heavily influenced by the current political and legal climate of the supervising government, as well as the expectations of peace and protection of the environment outlined in the OST.

 

   Mining is also likely to be a pertinent issue for both companies and space law. As many rare, valuable and useful metals can be found on asteroids and other extraterrestrial bodies,  space mining is a highly attractive venture for individuals and companies alike. The OST also applies in this area, as it is explicitly outlined that any exploitation of celestial bodies must be for the benefit of all countries. Regardless of whether the exploitation is done by individuals or companies, it still seems unlikely that space mining will happen in the current legal climate.

 

   Ultimately, current space law does provide a solid foundation for humanity's current relationship with space. However, it is also clear that space law requires development at some point as the technology and capacity for space travel and space exploration increases. As we truly start the transition into living and working in space, the law will need to move with us to ensure that both humans and space itself remain as safe and protected as possible.

By: Isabella Hankin

 

 Law firm shorts - Clifford Chance: Who are they and what do they do?  

 

   Clifford Chance is a renowned magic circle law firm. The firm was established in 1987 after the merger of Coward Chance and Clifford-Turner. They have 34 offices in over 23 countries with 3,300 employees in total. Their main practise areas include banking and finance, corporate law, and capital markets. Measuring the firm using the number of lawyers it has and its revenue reveals that the firm is in the top ten of the largest firms in the world.  

 

   Clifford Chance’s most prominent clients include MASMOVIL (a fast-growing Spanish telecoms company), The Hut Group, and HSBC. One of their most significant ventures was advising on the creation of John Lewis. The firm took in £1.8 billion in revenue in 2020 with a £1.69 million profit per equity per partner, the highest of any firm in the magic circle. Their main competitors are Linklaters, Slaughter in May as well as Baker McKenzie.

 

   Aside from its impeccable practice, the firm also possesses notable recreational features, including its own swimming pool, theatre club, and art club available to its lawyers. Supposedly, there is also a bee farm with its own beekeeper on sight! Furthermore, the firm promotes healthy eating through the giving of free fruit on both Tuesdays and Thursdays.

By: Jade Leanne Wadey

 

 Can self-driving cars be held liable for road accidents?  

 

   Self-driving cars are a hotly debated topic in the legal, economic, and technology sectors. They have the potential to become the standard mode of transport, transforming the way people travel. Not only that, but they also represent how much technology has developed and has influenced modern life. Although the exact date varies due to technological advancements, current speculation places self-driving cars as part of the wider market by 2040, and in a commonplace setting by 2050. Nevertheless, the topic of safety issues remains a priority to motorists and subsequently, the developers of self-driving cars.

   Currently, self-driving cars are expected to reduce the number of road accidents. This stemmed from the belief that self-driving cars would always adhere to the correct speed limit and lane while also signaling correctly. Therefore decreasing the risks posed by drunk, tired, or speeding drivers. However, this issue is more complicated in practice. Despite the rapid development of artificial intelligence, it still encounters challenges when recognizing hazards in low-light conditions, or when such hazards are not part of their database. Such as a situation whereby a person walks their bicycle across a road. As self-driving cars are not infallible and will likely never be, there needs to be legislation addressing who will be liable for accidents occurring in self-driving cars.

   Nevertheless, frameworks do exist for dealing with liability for self-driving cars. In the UK, the 2018 British Automated and Electronic Vehicles Act set out the current base rules for road accidents in the following circumstances. The Act states that if the car is insured, the insurer will be liable, and if the car is not insured, the owner of the vehicle will be liable. The liability the driver possesses may vary depending on whether the self-driving car is owned or rented by the driver. This legislation heavily borrows from existing legislation concerning road accidents, which is unsurprising given that self-driving cars are still cars, despite their link to artificial intelligence. Other rulings, such as in the USA, have stated that if harm were caused due to a fault with the car itself, the manufacturer would be held liable instead. Alternatively, the driver could still be held liable in situations where they could have taken manual control to avert an accident but failed to do so.

 

   Hence, it is highly likely that in the event that a self-driving car hits someone, the ones held liable would be the manufacturer of the car, the insurer of the car, and possibly the driver depending on the circumstances. Liability for self-driving cars is therefore likely to be shared across multiple parties. It will subsequently create complex cases that will be vital in developing precedent for a rapidly growing area of law and technology in question.

By: Isabella Hankin

 

 Will anything change in Myanmar?  

 

   Myanmar has been in the news a lot recently for extremely unfortunate reasons. Mass protests have been occurring in the country ever since the military seized control at the beginning of February. This occurred after a party the military opposed, Ms. Suu Kyi’s NLD party, won by a landslide. Claims of widespread fraud arose, and since then, the military declared a year-long state of emergency, claiming that they were on the side of the people and wanted to move towards a ‘true and disciplined democracy’. However, this is clearly not the case considering the many protests featuring monks, government members, and regular citizens fighting against the coup. On the deadliest day of the protests, the 27th of March, over 100 people were shot and killed.

 

   Internationally, many countries have condemned the coup, with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, calling it a ‘reign of terror. The European Union, UK, and US have all responded with sanctions on military officials. However, China blocked a United Nations Security Council statement condemning the coup, albeit backing calls for Ms. Suu Kyi’s release and a return to democratic norms. 

 

   The big question to address is whether any of this will change? Currently, it seems that the protests will continue until the coup ends. On the 25th of April, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) faced criticism after the former party had struck a deal with the military coup’s leader, Min Aung Hlaing, in order to ensure that all parties ‘exercise restraint’. Protesters saw this as a ‘slap in the face’ considering that many had been harmed by the coup, even killed through the terrorization of the military who were meant to protect them. Supposedly, no representatives of the Myanmar people attended the meeting between ASEAN and Min Aung Hlaing, further emphasizing the fact that real victims of the coup have been ignored throughout the entire ordeal. Despite this, the agreement was established in hopes of stopping violence and aid acceptance, some things that will hopefully occur in order to give voice to those in Myanmar that remain unheard or silenced until now.

By: Jade Leanne Wadey

Speaker: Lauren Hollingworth

00:00 / 02:19
 

 The Destruction of British Heritage: We Missed the Point (in light of move to reinstall removed statues)  

 

   I had covered this topic before, but in light of reasonably recent police shootings of black people and the recent decision to replace statues pulled down during the protests stemming from the death of George Floyd in May of last year, I thought further consideration might be in order. Especially relevant is the unveiling of a statue of the late George Floyd on the 16fh of June just passed.

 

   During my previous examination of this, I made a point, admittedly towards the end of the article, that Edward Colston’s statue glorifies racism. I also pointed out that the pedestal denoting his works remains untouched, despite the depiction of the man himself being headfirst in a harbor. However, are changing inscriptions and re-erecting statues the right thing to do, as some have suggested? After all, if we qualify the message and remain wary of its negativity, then the fact that his statue was erected in 1895 to commemorate his philanthropy can still be respected whilst still educating people about the moral wrong committed.

 

   I have one or two thoughts on this issue: merely my own opinions, but I hope they might somewhat resonate with yours. As previously discussed: the most common function of statues, other than acting as a landmark, is to idolize individuals. This simple point is pointedly enough to negate the idea of re-erecting the statue publicly, in the same style as before. Regardless of what the inscription says, the very point of a monument like this is to celebrate those depicted. Moreover, its wording justifies the sacrifice of thousands of lives for philanthropy makes it even warier. In order to resurrect the statue, one needs to acknowledge first and foremost that the ends did not justify the means, and the act of re-erecting these types of statues compromises this very objective.

 

   Interesting enough, Bristolians (citizens of Bristol) are not pushing for the repositioning of the statue; they are not condemning people for not wanting to see it returned, even though they removed a local artist’s tribute to the BLM protestor, Jen Reid, from its place-publicly at least because there was no permission or commission to create the work in question. Bristol instead has kept the statue in its defaced and broken state. Not only that but the red and blue spray-paint still daubs its likeness. In this sense, they are not replacing history as many have promoted, but otherwise acknowledging and educating themselves on the matter in order to do better. In the words of Ray Barnett, head of collections and archives for Bristol City Council, the display of the statue is “about conservation, not a restoration.” Bristol has started a local consultation, arguing that the issues the statue represents are still prevalent and that they seek to know what future the locals would like to see for the statue in the future. According to the majority of Bristolians, a focused effort should be placed on the black population. After all, they were the ones who were so affected by it that it was pulled down in the first place.

 

   However, I have one final point to make. While Bristol is heading toward the right direction concerning decisions made on the statues, the fact that the statues existed in themselves speaks volumes on the historical marginalization that occurs daily. We previously learned about WW1 and WW2 extensively, which serve as a reminder of how humanity cannot see past religion and ethnicity and opt to act with barbarism towards its fellow man. Yet, history went straight over our heads with the conflict and trials in Vietnam. Time and time again, we were so blind to the institutional racism of a nation’s history that it took the unfortunate brutal murder of an unarmed petty criminal (a point which people fixate on far too much) in order to bring to our attention the number of figures whom we laud as inspiring in their stone and bronze visages every day.

 

   This is not good enough. The way to stop not only institutionalized racism but prevent instances like the death of George Floyd is to educate others better. Education is a system that can set the paths of those that choose it. As Nelson Mandela quotes, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Educating people means that while one teaches, the other listens and comprehends. The system can only change if people notice its flaws through learning and take steps toward changing it. And that time to change starts now.

By: Callum Penman

 

 Do family courts deal with allegations of domestic violence effectively? A glimpse into the four conjoined appeals of 2020  

 

   Throughout lockdown, rates for Domestic Violence (DV) offences across England and Wales have been reported by ONS to have soared 9% from the year prior and have even been coined a ‘shadow pandemic’ by the UN Women. However, even before the pandemic, DV was already rife; the abhorrent crime continues to pose its highest risk to survivors when attempting to escape. Statistics show that it takes a survivor, on average, 35 incidents of abuse before seeking help.

 

   Knowing how difficult it is for a person suffering abuse to leave, this begs the question as to whether family courts handle DV allegations effectively? Well, if the recent four conjoined appeals are anything to go by, the answer to that question would be a resounding no. There is still an awful lot for the courts to learn.

 

   These four appeals were brought together to be heard by the Court of Appeal (CoA), as they all dealt with the same issue. They were private law cases brought before the Family Court under the Children’s Act 1989 that concerned the welfare of the child where allegations of DV were made. Each of the appellants involved were mothers who sought to challenge the Circuit Judge’s decision, based on the belief that the judgment demonstrated a flawed approach toward DV. On the 30th of March 2021, the CoA handed down their judgement on the following cases.

 

   Re B – B:

   In this case, the appeal was against the consent order created by HHJ Scarratt for an unsupervised child’s contact with the father. The appellant contended that the judge’s judgement was wrong on two grounds:

  1. There were issues surrounding consent to the order being made.

  2. The judge failed to determine whether contact would place the mother and child at risk of unmanageable harm in line with the Practise Directions 12J (PD-12J).

 

   The CoA allowed the appeal based on the judge’s remarks that the “child to be taken into care and adopted” not only threatened life-long repercussions for the mother but also rendered the consent order a product of “procedural irregularity” as there could be no true consent found. The CoA, however, refused to deal with the issues surrounding PD-12J, as the judge’s ill-made comments already warranted an appeal.

 

   Re T: 

   Re T was an appeal made against an order created by HHJ Evans-Gordon. The trial judge found three allegations to be proven; the father slapped the mother, the father strangled the mother and threatened to kill her, and lastly, the father held a plastic bag around the mothers’ head. In each of these findings, the events were found to have been minimised by the judge as a “prank” or mere “anger” on the fathers’ behalf. This led the CoA to allow the appeal, as the judge failed to appreciate the seriousness of the mothers’ submissions and failed to make findings on the mother's submission of anal rape.

 

   Re H – N: 

   This case was one of two of the appeals involving HHJ Tolson QC, who had been criticised just last year by Ms Justice Russell for his partisan finding in JH v MF [2020] that a woman had not been raped as she could have “easily, physically, have made life harder” for her rapist. This judge’s damaging attitude towards DV was shown similarly in this case, in which he failed to make findings of DV despite the fathers’ admission of physical violence and the mothers “myriad of allegations” that included rape, coercive control, and an incident when the father “slapped her hard” whilst heavily pregnant. The judge was also questioned on his tone towards the case, as he was found to have raised the following question. 

 

   “Was this relationship characterised by the deeply-controlling father described by the mother, a relationship in which she was entirely blameless and under his spell? Or is the problem, in this case, the deeply-troubled mother with mental health difficulties unrelated to the father's behaviour and responsible herself, for the wild, unboundaried behaviour described by the father?”

 

   The CoA again ruled in favour of the appeal. 

 

   Re – H: 

   Re-H was the only case that failed an appeal. In this case, the mother appealed against HHJ Tolson QC’s judgement that her allegations brought forth were "not proven and did not happen." The appellant was consistent in stating she did not wish to stop the contact that had been established but wanted to challenge the judge’s approach to PD-12J. This included his failure to make findings of rape and his refusal to investigate allegations of financial and emotional abuse as they were ruled to have "no implications for the future child arrangements." As the outcome of the judgement was not the reason for the appeal, Re-H was dismissed.  

 

   Whilst the CoA, in their conclusion, did mention some concerning measures used by the Family Courts, such as the restrictive Scott Schedules. Overall, they deemed the main guidance in PD-12J fit for purpose, maintaining that the fundamental flaw laid with the courts' proper implementation of the measure. Nevertheless, why is PD-12J not being properly utilised? Well, if these linked cases are anything to go off (and also the Ministry of Justice's 2020 Harm Report), the damaging attitudes held by some judges in the Family Division seem to be at the root of it. As some judges systemically minimise or dismiss DV in favour of 'pro-contact' as opposed to 'safe-contact.'

 

   Therefore, it is with that notion that I begin to close this article. With 40% of child contact cases in Family Courts involving allegations of DV; it is vital that the magistrates and the judiciary reform the current court culture in order to afford DV cases the proper significance they deserve. Without such recognition, the Family Courts risk failing their obligation to place child welfare at the centre of their judgments. This in turn compromises the likelihood of survivors and their children getting the justice they deserve to live a life free from abuse.

By: Lauren Hollingworth

00:00 / 06:52

 Supreme Court to Rule on Uber Case  

 

   On the 19th of February, the UK Supreme Court will pass a ruling on the recent case of two Uber drivers in London. This case could have huge ramifications for millions of workers in the ‘gig economy'. Previously in 2016, a London employment tribunal ruled that workers were entitled to rights such as the minimum wage under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, as well as paid holiday and rest breaks under the Employment Rights Act 1996. Yet despite their contract with the company, Uber argued that its drivers are self-employed, meaning that they are not entitled to such minimal rights and protections.

 

   If Uber loses, ramifications of the case may be delayed following a potential hearing over the practical application of the decision. Nevertheless, other firms in the gig economy will be watching closely as they often use a similar business model that seldom takes advantage of such workers. However, this appeal, if unsuccessful like its predecessors, could be a massive win to Uber drivers - although, in reality, it is quite sad to consider the entitlement to minimum wage and statutory rights a win and not, at the very least, what we should expect for workers in the 21st century. However, if the appeal succeeds, thousands of drivers will be left with no real rights and statutory protections in their work.

 

   Surely if the appeal succeeds, Parliament will be left with no choice but to legislate on relationships between Uber and their drivers in order to provide them with equivalent rights to those in the statute. Although with that being said, I would not be too hopeful with the current governing party.

By: Brendan Pridmore

Speaker: Lauren Hollingworth

00:00 / 01:49
 

 Everstuck? The boat that just kept blocking - what it means for global trade 

 

   On the 23rd March 2021, what was already quite a battered trade industry became even more so when the 400-metre ship Evergiven blocked the Suez Canal for six days straight - blocking over 350 vessels from passing, until it was finally freed. So, what exactly is the issue with this? Surely, all is well now that the ship is freed? Well, I’m afraid the answer is not as simple as one might think.

 

   To answer that question, we first need to understand how the canal came about. The Suez Canal was constructed in the 1860s to bypass having to sail around Africa to trade with Asia. This cuts off over 5,000 miles (which was almost half of the length it usually took), so goods could be transported many months earlier. This was revolutionary, especially as it occurred during the height of the industrial revolution, meaning that the globalisation of technology could occur much sooner and faster. 

 

   With all this in mind let us get back to our question - why was it such a big deal? Modern-day shipping heavily relies on the Suez Canal. Ships are much faster now, carrying much more than they used to in the past and items range in price. The reliance on ships is mainly due to materials and products coming from China or going to the Asian region, with many of these goods being mainstream brands such as Apple or even car parts. The Evergiven prevented such ships from passing, costing what was estimated to be over £10 billion in trade a day. As many ships still had to pass even after the Evergiven was freed, a queue inevitably formed, meaning the effect of the ship being stuck could last weeks on end, maybe even months.

 

   Ships containing livestock may have suffered the most and had to be rescheduled as soon as possible to prevent animals from running out of food and maybe even dying. Since the Evergiven was freed, Egypt has sought reparations worth £1 billion from the company that runs the Evergiven. Moreover, Egypt’s first female Captain, 29-year-old Marwa Elselehdar, was falsely blamed for the incident despite being on another ship 200 miles away. 

By: Jade Leanne Wadey

 

 ​The Impact of COVID on Cybercrime  

 

   Cybercrime is one of the fastest-growing areas of crime due to the continuous development of technology which allows cybercriminals to often remain ahead of law enforcement agencies. The ongoing pandemic has provided new opportunities for bored cybercriminals and fraudsters to increase their criminal activities and capitalise on our increased reliance on technology.

 

   While COVID has supplied an opportunity for cybercriminals to enhance their activities, the pandemic has also been directly used in various malware and scam attempts. Interpol reported that there have been a significant number of cybercrime attacks related to COVID. For example, the number of risky URLs registered has increased by 788%, while two-thirds of countries surveyed have reported a significant increase in phishing and online scams since the start of the pandemic. These scams make up 59% of all cybercrime reported, while a further 14% of cybercrime is fake news related to the pandemic, and an additional 36% of ransomware has been reported. Therefore consumers should be vigilant when online and seek guidance on digital safety to reduce the chances of becoming a victim.

 

   Additionally, the pandemic has provided indirect opportunities for cybercriminals as well. Due to the substantial increase in viewership for many streaming services such as Disney Plus or Netflix, many fake websites for these services have also been reported. While they often contain some spelling or grammatical mistakes, these sites can (and do) look very convincing; offering the same subscription deals or free trials to entice consumers into providing their bank details. Other products such as cats, cars, and hot tubs have been the target of false advertising scams. In these cases victims pay for a product that doesn’t exist; hot tubs alone have resulted in a loss of more than £7 million. The influence which trends and public behaviour can have on scams such as these should not be underestimated.

 

   In the UK, the NHS has made an appealing target for fraudsters due to the ongoing vaccination programme. An increase of 10% of cyber-attacks on the institution has been reported in the first half of 2020 alone. Many frauds involve claims that victims are eligible for a vaccine which they can register for if they follow a link. If the victim does so, their passwords can be stolen or malware can be inflicted on their device, leaving them vulnerable to further cybercrime. Checking the URLs of these websites is a good way to identify if they are real as fake websites attempt to mimic official websites but will have some minor changes. For example, using ‘www.gov.uks’ instead of the official ‘www.gov.uk’.

 

   There are ways in which individuals can mitigate the possibility of becoming a victim of cybercrime. Maintaining secure passwords, using reputable high-security antivirus software on your devices, and maintaining a cautious approach to unverified links on emails or text messages will all guard against varieties of cybercrime. This rise of cybercrime makes it especially important to recognise the types of cybercrimes in order to avoid being caught out should you encounter them.

By: Isabella Hankin

 

 Mill and Fitzjames Stephens, Hart and Devlin; the Place of the Harm Principle 

 

   The Nineteenth Century

   The Harm Principle is derived from the work of J. S. Mill, who argued (1859) that criminalisation should be limited to preventing harm to others. In Mill’s own time, his vision was rebuked by J. F. Stephen’s ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’ (1873). Stephen proposed that courts penalise the “grosser forms of vice” despite such misfeasance causing no real tangible harm to others. Mill’s argument is well known and has a broad ambit, arguing inter alia that for moral orthodoxy to impose its will on the heterodox is an act of hubris and a misuse of the democratic process. The coercive instruments of the state should thus be limited to what threatens society by harming its members.

 

   Stephen proposed what has later been called (by H.L.A. Hart) the “extreme thesis” of the legal enforcement of morality (as opposed to Devlin’s “moderate thesis”; see post). However, it might be better characterised as the “axiomatic” or supposedly “self-evident thesis”; as Stephen puts it,

“[The law] ought to put a restraint on vice not to such an extent merely as
is necessary for definite self-protection but generally on the ground that
vice is a bad thing.” (p. 159)

 

   In terms of the content of Legal Moralism, this has helpfully been described as “positive morality” i.e. morality widely held amongst a society (Hart, 1982 ed.). As a matter of fact, Legal Moralism has historically always made references to moral sentiments supposedly widely held among the populace.

 

   The Twentieth Century

   The disagreement between Mill and Stephen framed the protracted debate between a liberal view of criminalisation, centred on the Harm Principle, and a view tending towards conservatism often referred to as ‘Legal Moralism’. In the latter camp, many formerly prestigious figures are now somewhat forgotten – most prominently, Lord Patrick Devlin. The latter camp, as well as featuring such eminent figures as H.L.A Hart and Joel Feinberg, have also been given something of an official stamp of approval. The use of Mill’s ideas by semi-official bodies such as the Wolfenden Committee (c. 1957, on prostitution and homosexuality) and Williams Committee (c. 1979, on obscenity and film censorship) has led to something of a ‘Harm Principle hegemony’. Few academics and public figures would now argue for an unreconstituted form of Legal Moralism (but see Duff (2014) 8 Crim Law and Philosophy 217). This is typified by Herring’s assertion that “there is widespread agreement that the harm principle is an excellent principle to have” (2020, 8).

 

   Given this dominance, it is worth briefly examining the arguments dismissed by posterity. Devlin’s ‘Enforcement of Morals’ (1958, 1965) was written in response to the aforementioned Wolfenden Committee’s 1957 Report, which advocated liberalising the laws surrounding prostitution and homosexuality (while evoking the work of Mill). In Devlin’s short piece he expounds on what might be called a ‘social degeneration’ theory of Legal Moralism. By drawing a parallel between homosexuality and treason, he states that even private acts which contravene the moral standards of a demotic ‘moral majority’ undermine the cohesiveness of society and are the first step on the road to anarchy.

 

   Despite this obviously offensive parallel and the alarmist rhetoric, there are some nuances to Devlin’s work that are often overlooked.

Firstly, the work does not stand as a simple rebuke to the Harm Principle, but instead expands it to a much broader and remote harm – the disintegration of society, which (leaving the former citizen naked to the depredations of others) Devlin contends we must protect against. However, despite this nuance, there is much to contest here; as Hart argued, the idea that violating the mores of the majority leads eventually to the disintegration of society is something which must be proved empirically, which Devlin does not do. Instead, Devlin merely asserts that “history shows” (1975 ed., 13) that this is the case, which veers into becoming, like Stephen’s work, something seemingly self-evident rather than based on fact. The elenchus between supporters of the Harm Principle and Legal Moralists is riddled with this issue. However, Hart’s assertion that morality is not a “seamless web” and that immoral acts causing harm and not causing harm can be easily separated is itself conjecture. “This is no more than an unproven assertion about human psychology and social bonding; and Devlin’s view is an unproven counter-assertion” (Harris, 141). For Devlin’s case, the lack of empirical foundation to this ‘disintegration thesis’ is arguably fatal to his entire edifice.

 

   Secondly, the enforcement of popular morality is not an overriding good but must be balanced against other social goods, such as a right to privacy and the “maximum individual freedom that is consistent with the integrity of society” (1975 ed., 16). Not every action judged to be an immoral popular sentiment is liable for criminal sanction, but only that which arouses “intolerance, indignation and disgust” (17). This is intended to be a high bar, but gauging the veracity of these extreme emotions becomes itself a problem.

Thirdly, contrary to the common charge that Legal Moralism leads to moral ossification, Devlin’s thesis does allow for change. “If morality is changed, the law can be changed” (13-14 n.1); hence Devlin’s sometimes forgotten letter to The Times (May 11, 1965), where he advocated implementing the changes the Wolfenden Committee had suggested regarding homosexuality. This points to his private view that, by 1965, the public mood had changed regarding homosexuality,  and it no longer aroused the necessary “intolerance, indignation and disgust” from the man on the Clapham Omnibus.

 

   Two Cases Against the Grain

   Devlin’s views are confined by many to the dustbin of history, not least because of some of the unsavoury language used in his essay and its tenuous empirical foundations; hence it seems that Mill, Hart, Feinberg and other defenders of the Harm Principle reign supreme. Yet, despite this seeming victory, there are at least two cases (dealt with here; see also McBride, describing the first) where the criminal law of England and Wales seem to violate the Harm Principle.

 

   In R v Brown, a group of male sadomasochists were found guilty of inflicting offences under the OAPA 1861 upon each other. This was despite them all enthusiastically consenting to the activities in question. This case is well known, as is the ratio from the House of Lords speeches which seem to support a level of Legal Moralism: “Pleasure derived from the infliction of pain is an evil thing” and “uncivilised” (Lord Templeman), and the acts were engendered by a “perverted and depraved sexual desire” (Lord Lowry). While later case law (including Emmett [1999]) applied the same approach to heterosexual couples, preventing the judgement from being a mere act of judicial homophobia, the ratio of the case survives to this day in English criminal law. The consent that the ‘victims’ gave was treated as worthless, and thus the objective ‘pain’ (which was to them subjective ‘pleasure’) was held criminalised despite, in the ‘victim’s’ mind, there being no harm. While this might on one reading seem to violate the Harm Principle, if ‘harms’ are read objectively (given that the actions caused demonstrable injury) then Brown is of no issue. However, this reading seems strained, given that it restricts the ‘victims’’ liberty to consent to ends they derive pleasure from.

 

   Secondly, there is the case of criminalisation of incest between adult relatives (SOA 2003, ss. 64-64), even where there is no risk of pregnancy. It is worth recalling the previous discussion of Devlin’s work. Most of the items from the panoply of ‘moral crimes’ identified by Devlin (7; “[homosexuality], suicide, attempted suicide… abortion” etc.) are no longer regarded with any “intolerance, indignation and disgust” by the vast majority of British citizens. The same might not be said for incest; it is widely loathed and engenders feelings of repulsion or nausea. As aforementioned, Devlin allowed for change within legal systems, allowing the decriminalisation of abortion, suicide and homosexuality – but still explaining the current criminalisation of incest between adult relatives (where there is no risk of pregnancy and deformity). The suggestion in Simester and Sullivan’s textbook on criminal law (at section 12.14) that “there are strong reasons to doubt the place of [offences criminalising incest] in contemporary English criminal law” is unlikely to find favour with many individuals outside of academia. It seems, in this case at least, that Devlin’s work is more appealing than an unthinking application of the Harm Principle.

By: John Riordan

Bibliography

Devlin, The Enforcement of Morals, 1970 ed.
Harris, Legal Philosophies, 2nd ed., 1997
Hart, Law, Liberty, Morality, 1982 ed.
Herring, Great Debates in Criminal Law, 2020 ed.
McBride, Introduction to Criminal Law, 2012 [online]
Mill, On Liberty, 1959
Sackar, Lord Devlin, 2020
Simester et al., Simester and Sullivan’s Criminal Law, 2019 ed.
Stephen, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, 187

00:00 / 08:55
 

 Brexit and Trade 

 

   Brexit has been at the forefront of the news catalogue for the past couple of years, and as such, it is essential to know what Brexit is. The word Brexit refers to the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union (EU) - combining the words 'Britain' and 'exit'. The UK held a referendum on 23rd June 2016, proposing whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the EU or leave. 51.89% voted to leave, and as a result, the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. 

 

   As the EU is the United Kingdom’s largest trade partner, with around half of the UK’s trade occurring within the former, it is essential to discuss how Brexit would affect trade going forward. One of the advantages of being an EU member state is the reduced trade costs between the UK and the EU. This makes goods and services cheaper for UK consumers and allows UK businesses more exports. Brexit, however, would cause lower trade between the UK and the EU due to higher tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade. In addition, the UK would benefit less from future market integration within the EU. 

 

   On 24 December 2020, negotiators for the EU and the UK made deals on their new relationship. One of the most important things to consider in this new relationship concerns the trade agreements. For this, they had set up the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which was applied provisionally from 1 January 2021 and came into force on 1 May 2021. 

 

   A decline in trade with the EU was expected following the Trade and Cooperation Agreement's application between the UK and the EU on 1 January 2021. Nevertheless, when the UK January trade figures were released in early March, almost unanimously, commentators were surprised by the extent of the decline. By February, it seems like they had recovered from the January 2021 slump, but trade was found to be significantly lower than that observed in the previous years. Nevertheless,  it is also important to note that COVID-19 and multiple lockdowns could affect these figures.

 

   The trade and corporation agreement sets out different arrangements in areas such as trade in goods and services, digital trade, intellectual property, public procurement, aviation and road transport, energy, fisheries, social security coordination, law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, thematic cooperation and participation in Union programmes, all of which are underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field and respect for fundamental rights. While it will not match the level of economic integration that existed whilst the UK was an EU Member State, the agreement goes beyond traditional free trade agreements and provides a solid basis for preserving the two parties' relationship. However, foreign policy, external security and defence cooperation are not covered by the agreement, as the UK did not want to discuss it. Therefore, there is no framework in place between the UK and the EU to coordinate joint responses to foreign policy challenges, i.e. the imposition of sanctions on third-country nationals or economies.

 

   The agreement also provides zero tariffs and zero quotas on all goods that comply with the appropriate rules of origin, with both parties deciding a level playing field when it came to maintaining environmental protection. 

 

   Both parties also agreed on joint management of fish stocks in EU and UK waters. As a result, the UK will be able to further develop British fishing activities, while the activities and livelihoods of European fishing communities will be safeguarded and their natural resources preserved.

The agreement provides for continued and sustainable air, road, rail and marine travel. It includes provisions to ensure that competition between EU and UK operators occurs on a level playing field so that passenger rights, workers' rights and transport safety are not undermined.

The agreement also enables the UK's continued participation in several flagship EU programmes for the period 2021-2027 (subject to a financial contribution by the UK to the EU budget). 

 

   Overall, the agreement is very practicable, and it does well in maintaining the friendly relationship between the UK and the EU. It will be interesting to see how this agreement will hold up a couple of years from now.

By: Ruth Oyefeso

 

 Closing a Sexual Abuse Gap. Late. But It’s Closed 

 

   The world of journalistic media can be bleak. Papers that rush off the shelves are invariably related to either news deemed 'essential' or news with an 'attractive storyline’. These articles are worded in such a way that condemns the actions involved, effectively making it eye-catching and enthralling for its readers. These stories lie on a spectrum, some are greatly exaggerated, while others are brutally honest and raw to a fault. Finally, we have those that intentionally do not see the light of day.

 

   In March 2021, a new piece of legislation was proposed entitled 'The Positions of Trust Law'. The objective of this is to punish members of the Catholic Church and other religions, as well as sports coaches for the systemic and appalling sexual abuse of children under their tutelage.

 

   Prior to this amendment, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 contained what campaigners from the NSPCC and multiple MPs referred to as a 'loophole' or a legal grey area. This loophole allowed those in positions of authority, such as coaches and priests, to abuse those under the age of 18 in their care. Though obviously not punishment-free, the lack of specificity of these authoritarian figures within the law meant they could incur lower sentences for having sexual contact with minors whilst performing their jobs. The new law against such conduct is a justifiable and arguably necessary standard that should have been imposed much earlier than it was for social workers and teachers.

 

   What makes this seemingly obvious step all the more significant is the road it has taken to get here. Dating back as early as the 11th century, reports of child sexual exploitation by priests range across the world. There were decades in between the occurrence, allegations, and surfacing of systematic cover-ups of abuse in the USA, England, Ireland, Australia, France, Germany, and at least 40 other locations in recent memory. Subsequent findings, highlighted in the mass media through films such as Spotlight (2015), show the regular reassignment and treatment of unreported perpetrators of abuse, going back to years ago. Unfortunately, despite widespread condemnation, there has been a lesser response to public findings of misconduct by the Church than there should have been. With some perpetrators resigning from significant posts yet still living in roles of authority. Alas, an appalling era of depravity is coming to a close.

 

   Over the years, I have read many stories surrounding sexual abuse and cover-ups, a few names that spring to mind are Cho Jae-Boem. A South Korean Figure Skating coach convicted of physical and sexual abuse Shim Suk-hee, an Olympic medalist. The Celtic Boys Club abuse had been systematic and ongoing for 50 years. Sarah Ehekircher, an Olympic Swimmer raped at the age of 17, emotionally abused and made pregnant twice, the latter by her coach. Larry Nassar, a sports doctor working in US Gymnastics was sentenced to between 40 and 175 years for abusing over 105 minors, evidence of which are all accounted for.

 

   The day this legislation passes will not only be the day where we get to celebrate a close to this horrid story. It is also the day by which we will remember those that came before, what they went through, and what they survived to be here. All in all, I will leave you all with this final thought. If we want this legislation to be the milestone that it could be; we need to stop and think about whether we are perpetuating situations whereby this legislation is necessary in any regard whatsoever. Common decency is the utmost basic standard and should not be one we strive for. We can do better, and in order not to be complicit in admission, we owe it to everyone to try.

By: Callum Penman

 

 Hotspot policing: does it work? 

 

    Hotspot policing refers to the belief that the majority of crime is centred around small groups of specific locations. National and local crime statistics are used to identify these areas, and strategies are developed to reduce the amount of crime there, such as an increased community policing presence. Another common factor is a zero-tolerance approach to even minor crimes, as hotspot policing is often entwined with the belief that tolerating even minor crimes, encourages more crime.

 

   While hotspot policing originated in 1980s America, this style of policing is still influential in the UK. This influence can be demonstrated through the prevalence of modern ‘crime maps’, which evaluate the distribution of criminal activity at local and national levels. Reliance on technology is a core component of hotspot policing, as the data from these ‘crime maps’ comes from official statistics agencies such as the National Office for Statistics. These agencies then pass this data to local police forces to build a more comprehensive picture of the distribution of crime. This use of official data is a strength of hotspot policing, as it allows the police to effectively allocate resources and tackle the most prevalent forms of crime in their local area.

 

   However, hotspot policing is flawed; it is very focused on ‘street crime’, to the detriment of other forms of crime. While this can be understood to a certain extent, as street crime is a very visible form of crime, it is by far not the only form of crime that the police can combat. White-collar crime and domestic violence are both examples of more private crimes that may be overlooked due to the approach taken by hotspot policing. Moreover, the emphasis placed on the use of official statistics and technology is a further weakness of hotspot policing. As algorithms are programmed by humans, they are often prone to bias and therefore cannot be trusted to create a wholly accurate picture of local and national crime distribution. Though this can be somewhat mitigated by multiple teams of independent analysts interpreting the data, bias will likely remain. In an area where the interpretation of data will have a substantial impact on the behaviour of police forces, bias should be guarded against. However, human rights groups such as Liberty, have previously raised concerns that the data sets used merely serve to reinforce existing biases shown by the police, such as harsher treatment towards BAME individuals. Consequently, more is needed to ensure that bias is lessened both in the initial interpretation of data by analysts, and the later interpretation of data by the police themselves.

 

   Therefore, while hotspot policing is a popular policing strategy in the UK, there is mixed evidence as to its effectiveness. It does allow for increased efficiency within the police force due to the use of data analysis, and also allows particular focus to be given towards tackling prevalent forms of crime in certain areas. However, it is simultaneously prone to confirming pre-existing police bias and is overly focused on ‘public’ or ‘street’ crimes. Hotspot policing is subsequently in need of a notable reform if it is to become a fairer and less biased form of policing in the UK.

By: Isabella Hankin

 

 Victim Suicides and the Criminal Law

 

 

    This piece will examine whether ‘victim suicides’ will break the chain of causation in English criminal law, relying on four cases’: Dhaliwal, Dear, the “Cowboy builders” case, and Wallace.

 

    Introduction

   In the daily business of the English criminal courts, ‘causation’ is virtually always a simple matter. If a defendant (D) stabs a victim (V) to death, the outcome is a fait accompli - an accomplished fact. One need not be Svengali to convince an earnest judge of D’s causative guilt (cf. Herring, 2020, 25). However, as often attributed to Kissinger, “academic [debates] are so vicious [or spirited, rather] because the stakes are so low” – thus, much academic literature on legal causation is devoted to events that rarely occur. However, in such rare cases where the court must decipher causation due to more exotic events occurring, said academic literature is of no small aid. “[C]ausation is heavily context-specific” and can adapt to abnormal events: so saith our apex court (Hughes). Thus the English criminal law is not idle in cases where the defendant, or the victim, or indeed fate itself, act in eccentric ways. But boundaries must be drawn, lest a lack of direction promotes ambiguousness in the law. Several cases from the last half-century (concluding, albeit inconclusively, in the case of Wallace) have dealt with the actions of the victim.

 

   It might be said that the law is broadly laissez-faire - laid back. The English criminal law “[…] generally assumes the existence of free will […] Thus [D] is not to be treated as causing [the victim, V] to act in a certain way if V makes a voluntary and informed decision to act…” (Kennedy). Every such decision will “set[-] a new ‘chain of causation’ going” (G. Williams, Finis for Novus Actus) and will constitute a novus actus interveniens [NAI] - new intervening act. This applies even in the case of violent offences, so long as D’s original act was not “still an operating cause and a substantial cause” (Smith [1959] and Cheshire) or a response a “reasonable man could be expected to foresee” (Richards). In Jordan, the former did not apply, and in Williams [1992], the latter did not apply – thus, the victims were the authors of their own demise. In sum: the outcomes of D’s act stay with him, like the blood on Lady Macbeth’s hands - unless something completely bonkers (like V, seemingly unprovoked, jumping out of a moving car in Williams) or beyond D or V’s control (like the radical medical incompetence in Jordan) happens. (Jordan may be a dubious case decided for politically sensitive reasons; see Ibbetson’s chapter in Landmark Cases in Criminal Law for context and criticism.)

 

   The Issue and the Cases

   What of the ‘reactive suicides’ of victims of violent offences? “Foreseeability” should be construed narrowly in cases of suicide, given that the word “insufferable” is (speaking with perhaps too much kaltblütig) inevitably rhetorical rather than literal. Further, suicide can seemingly only be intentional – it is impossible to concede off a literally involuntary suicide. In strict principle, then, ‘reactive suicides’ should always constitute a NAI and break the chain of causation – D will be exonerated of the outcome of his violent crime, should that outcome be ‘victim suicide’.  However, there are four cases that challenge that assertion and upset the above orthodoxy on causation; none of them are themselves impregnable.  

The first case which suggests that reactive suicide is not always a NAI is Dhaliwal. Here, a battered wife committed suicide after a long campaign of abuse by her husband. In the obiter of Sir Igor Judge at [8] (Criminal Appeal Report): “…unlawful violence on an individual with a fragile and vulnerable personality, which is proved to be the material cause of death (even if the result is suicide) would, at least arguably, be capable of amounting to manslaughter”. However, the conviction was ultimately quashed, and the foregoing comments remain but obiter.

 

   The second case is that of Dear, discussed in Professor Smith’s note ([1996] Crim. L.R. 595). Here, D had “slashed [V] repeatedly,” who died two days later. It was argued that “the chain of causation had been broken… because the deceased had committed suicide either by reopening his wounds or [by negligent lack of care for the wound – which would not be a NAI anyway per Blaue]”. The suicidal aggravation of the extant wounds was held not to be a NAI, but this was explained by the conduct of D being “an operative and significant contributor” to the death. In their article ‘Causing Euthanasia’, Simester and Sullivan champion the orthodox view expressed in Kennedy that virtually all voluntary acts constitute a NAI. When discussing Dear, they group it together with Smith and Blaue and allow the “operative and significant contributor” reasoning to consume all the explanatory bandwidth. On that view, Dear is not succoured to the view that reactive suicide is not always a NAI. This view is complicated, however, by Professor Smith’s own criticism of the decision in Dear: “If… the wounds were effectively healed when [V re-aggravated them], it is [debatable] that the wounds were an operating and substantial cause of death. Arguably, it was then the same as if he had cut his throat or blown his brains out…”, and the court de facto treated a reactive suicide per se as if it did not break the chain of causation. Dear is thus equivocal on whether suicide, sans “operation and substantiveness” and “foreseeability”, can be a NAI in English law, depending on whether you prefer Simester and Sullivan’s or Professor Smith’s explanation of the case.  

 

    The third case is the “Cowboy builders” case. It is mentioned in passing in Professor Smith’s note (supra): 

“It is interesting to note [a coroner holding] that “cowboy builders” had unlawfully killed an elderly man who hanged himself because of his distress at having been cheated by [them]”. 

 

   While Smith detects ‘but for’ causation, he queries whether “suicide was within the range of responses which might have been expected from a victim of such conduct”, suggesting that the coroner had erred. This case is more succor to the idea that reactive suicide is ‘not always an NAI’, is nonetheless a dubious decision.

 

    The final case is that of Wallace [2018], where it was held at [61] that “[V’s] death… [was not a] discrete [event] independent of the defendant’s conduct, nor [was it] voluntary if by this is meant they were the product of the sort of free and unfettered volution presupposed by the novus actus rule”. The ‘reactive euthanasia’ the case revolved around was thus not necessary to constitute an NAI.

The court in Wallace (at [86(3b)]) quite openly elides euthanasia and suicide. Thus, we can conclude that the court intended its discussion of causation to apply to reactive suicide. 

 

    Wallace was concerned the victim of an acid attack (which was perpetrated by a spurned former lover). D had reportedly said to V “If I can’t have you, no one else will”, before she threw the sulphuric acid on him. V was taken back to his native Belgium, where efforts to restore normal motor function proved impossible. He remained mostly paralysed and would have soon lost the ability even to speak. He requested euthanasia, which is legal in Belgium, which was administered in 2017 after rigorous examination and consultation. The emotive circumstances leave the court open to ‘hard cases making bad law’ – indeed, the decision has been criticised harshly in Simester and Sullivan’s aforementioned article.

For example, objections might be raised to the court’s elision of suicide and euthanasia when analysing causation. If the argument in Simester and Sullivan’s ‘Causing Euthanasia’ is to be accepted, a sharp distinction between the two must be observed:

“…[the victim] could not [kill himself]. […T]o die, he needed to be killed by someone else. That changes everything in causal terms, even if it changes nothing in terms of [D’s] moral responsibility for [his] death… He was killed by T[, the doctor, whose decision to carry out the euthanasia was a NAI].”

Simester and Sullivan’s argument might be challenged on several grounds. Firstly, if T1 had not performed the act, and neither T2, eventually Tn would have arrived and been willing to perform the euthanasia (which T1 was aware of). The unlikeliness of not being able to find a non-objecting doctor in all of Belgium reduces T, causally, to little more than a tool of V. Secondly, if we postulate that a hypothetical voice-operated euthanasia machine might have automated the role of the doctor, the distinction between reactive suicide and euthanasia becomes dependant on the nature of V’s handicap. 

 

Regardless of this academic criticism, and regardless of the unwillingness of the jury to convict D in the retrial (which is why the case was described ante as ‘inconclusively conclusive’ for now), Wallace remains standing. It is the clearest and most rigorous discussion of ‘victim suicides’ (or ‘voluntary termination of life’ more broadly conceived) by the apex court, and the ratio and obiter will inevitably percolate through the lower courts.

Again, “causation is heavily context-specific” (Hughes) and “causation is not a single, unvarying concept” (Kennedy). There thus exists room (regardless of stare decisis) for Wallace’s conclusion that ‘voluntary termination of life by V’ does not always break the chain of causation. If suicide can be equated with euthanasia, Wallace provides unequivocal and recent judicial authority for the assertion that D can be blamed, even convicted of a manslaughter charge, for V’s suicide. Wallace (bolstered by the obiter in Dhaliwal, Smith’s interpretation of Dear, and the “Cowboy builders” case) is for now dispositive.

By: John Riordan

00:00 / 11:02
 

 Women in Law

 

 

   Women have been breaking barriers since 570 BC, be it Cleopatra, Mirabai, Elizabeth I, Indira Gandhi, or Wangari Mathai. A well-known example is Sojourner Truth (1797), who campaigned for women’s rights. She gave a famous speech in 1851, “ain’t I a woman”, which explained how women were not unequal to men. So why has it taken so long for women to gain half the rights that men have enjoyed without ever fighting for them? Why did it take 100 years for women to get the right to vote, finally? Is this fight for equality over yet? The obvious answer is no. We are still not being paid equally. We are still not fairly represented. We are still not treated equally. Last year the first female Vice President was elected in the US elections, although this is a step in the right direction, we are still far from equality.

 

   In 1919, the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 finally allowed women to participate entirely in civil life. The act restricted discrimination based on sex and marriage. It allowed women for the first time ever to enter professions such as law and accountancy. It did not, however, remove the marriage bar.  This meant that women had to resign from employment, in occupations such as teaching and civil service, upon marriage. I cannot help but wonder as to why women have to fight to live their dreams?

 

   Let us talk about the legal industry. An industry widely dominated by men since time immemorial. But that does not mean that women did not lay their own foundation. Ruth Badger Ginsburg was the first Jewish woman to serve in the US Supreme Court - she was an advocate for gender equality and women’s rights. Brenda Hale was the first woman appointed into the Law Commission in 1984; the first woman to join the House of Lords as a Lord of Appeal in 2004; and the first female justice of the Supreme Court in 2009. It was only in 2019 that we celebrated ‘100 years of Women in Law.’ The option to study or not study, to work or not work. These choices which should be birthrights were not available to women. Thinking about it, this was not a very long time ago. So yes, we should celebrate, because 100 years ago women could not study or practice this profession. 

So, what does the legal industry look like today? Recent figures from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) show that 48% of lawyers in law firms are women. Considering we were not even allowed into the profession until 1919, this is a breakthrough. Imagine if we were given the same opportunities as men from the beginning; we would surely be on an equal footing. I would not be writing this article either. 

 

   Here comes the bad news. The SRA reported that the prospects of women becoming partners at law firms is still remarkably low as only 34% of legal partners were female in 2019. Although this is a 3% increase from 2014, more needs to be done. Further statistics show that 59% of barristers, 52% of solicitors, and 76% of chartered legal executives are women. However, women remain under-represented in the Courts Judiciary, particularly in senior roles. For example, statistics from 1st April 2021 show that only 34% of court judges are women. 

 

   Work needs to be seen in this area. In the legal industry the idea of a ‘glass ceiling’ is often debated because meritocracy is highly valued, or so they say. Even though many solicitors are women, the fact that they cannot make it to senior positions is unfair. These statistics support the ‘glass ceiling’ metaphor, which suggests an invisible barrier that prevents women from rising beyond a certain level in the hierarchy. 

 

   Bias exists all around us. We as humans will always prefer one thing over the other. Bias can either be unconscious or conscious. While unconscious bias is implicit, conscious bias is explicit. Unconscious biases are beliefs against certain groups based on stereotypes and are formed unconsciously. Although not intentional, these stereotypes prevent firms from recruiting the best talent. An example of a stereotype is ‘lawyers are argumentative.’ Although this may not be true, it has become a popular belief. For instance, if a conversation with my friends becomes an argument and I am winning, they will turn around and say, ‘you have chosen the right career path because lawyers are known to be good at arguing.’ A law firm might hire a man over a woman because the belief is that women are more emotional and sensitive and that this will negatively affect cases.  

On the 29th of May 1970, the Equal Pay Act 1970 was given the Royal Assent. Despite this, statistics show the mean pay gap for women is 16.9% lower than that of their male counterparts. That gap is significant. The burden of proof is on the employer, and they can argue that the difference in pay is due to a lack of skills! Do you see why we need to fight for our rights? 

 

   For women, the norm has been to cook, clean, and have children. Today women are breaking that norm and achieving success, but the opportunity to do this should have been available from birth. One hand, it is a victory because we have refused to follow a false norm and have chosen to have a life outside the three C’s. But on the other hand, I cannot help but wonder who came up with this absurd norm.

 

    The legal industry, I believe, is supposed to be driving this change. We are the legal industry! We should promote equality, eliminate discrimination, and discourage bias. 

 

    As much as I am grateful for this shift in ideology, I still know a lot needs to be done. We have a long way to go. I believe that changes will only be made if we push for them and rise above our potential in order to drive the change.

 

#breakthenorm

By: Kruti Vyas

00:00 / 06:18
 

 Topographical Signs – Undiscovered Economic Potential (With a focus specifically to the Caribbean/Trinidad and Tobago Region)

 

 

   In recent years, many people have been exploring intellectual property and its rights in recent years, but what exactly does intellectual property mean? The term ‘Intellectual Property Law’ (IPL) frequently summons pictures of a caped crusader charging forward, sword drawn within the protection of rights. Whether it be 1) Copyright, a property right subsisting in scholarly and aesthetic works that are unique intellectual manifestations. 2) Trademark, a check utilised in connection to merchandise for signifying an association between the merchandise and some individual having the correct way of utilising the stamp. Or 3) Licenses, the title allowed to ensure innovation. For many of us, IPL appears equipped towards exclusively shielding and protecting rights and titles, with slight accentuation on the commercial advantage obtained. However, regardless of the reality that commercial points of interest are obtained from the assurance of the over-recorded rights and titles. It is conceivable, by tapping into already investigated intellectual property regions, to produce unused trade models for clients and invigorate economic development.

 

   Such an undiscovered intellectual property opportunity is alluded to as 'Geographical Indications/Topographical Signs'. This term signifies a sign which: 

1) Recognises a good as starting within the domain of a nation, or a locale or region in that domain.