On Wednesday 18th February, Lincoln's Inn hosted the Crowther Shield advocacy competition. This is an advocacy competition like no other. BPTC students from across the country were invited to present a plea in mitigation following the conviction of their client and given just five minutes to persuade the court to pass a lenient sentence.
The defendants on trial were historical or fictitious characters, convicted of the crimes of their past. Students faced the challenge of defending: Goldilocks, King Herod, The Grinch, and Peter Rabbit, among others.
The competition was judged by Lincoln's Inn barristers, and attended by honorary guest Mrs Crowther. The standard was incredibly high, calling for creativity and top notch advocacy from each and every competitor. This year's winner was City Law School student Jodie Drummond. She successfully mitigated on behalf of Guy Fawkes, which was no easy feat given the nature and severity of his crimes. All competitors spoke of how challenging it had been, but how entertaining it was on the night.
On Saturday, 21 February 2015, Lincoln's Inn hosted the Final Round of the national Inter-BPTC Moot Competition, pitting Bar students from across the country against each other in a series of knock-out rounds in which competitors were required to take alternating sides of the same problem. Competitors were selected on the basis of a preliminary moot competition held late last year, in which the highest scorers represented their schools. The case in question was heard before the Court of Appeal and involved what remedies should follow from a commercial contractual dispute--namely, should a party who deliberately breaches his obligations to make a larger profit with a third party be liable to disgorge his ill-gotten profits to an aggrieved claimant?
Each round was decided by judges and barrister members of the Inn, and each student team represented their respective BPTC provider. City Law School, represented by Michael Levenstein and Jodie Drummond, successfully appealed that a claimant should be able to recover both the cost of reinstatement and/or account of profits where a deliberate breach in a construction contract occurred by a specialist renovator. In so doing, they defeated the Respondent ably represented by Cardiff Law School, to make their mark--literally--on this year's IPMC Shield.
The City Law School Networking Reception 3rd March 18:00-20:00
Where? Law Common Room, Innovation Building
Register for and attend this event to meet with The City Law School Alumni who have embarked on successful careers in law or outside the legal sector.
This event aims to help you:
- Make more informed career choices
- Get top tips from your predecessors
- Build career and skills development plans
- Develop your networking skills.
Part 1: Networking bingo game
Students will be encouraged to make their way around the room, speak to as many alumni as possible and complete their bingo cards by finding alumni who relate to the bullet points on the cards.
Part 2: Drinks and networking reception
Your opportunity to ask questions and network! Light refreshments will be provided.
Book online for your place at this exciting event.
LPC Law talk for BPTC & LPC students 17th March 18:30-20:00
Where? Lecture Theatre, Atkin Building
LPC Law are pleased to be conducting a talk for BPTC & LPC students. The talk will be attended by one of the LPC Law Advocates and a HR professional. The Advocate will talk about the role, their experiences at court and working with LPC Law. The HR member will talk about the recruitment procedure and how to apply for advocacy positions commencing in 2015 (with a view to commencing work after graduation).
LPC Law specialises in the provision of advocacy services. To maintain LPC Law's high standards of advocacy we are looking to recruit BPTC and LPC graduates to work as Advocates attending hearings in the County Courts on behalf of our clients.
To register your attendance, please log into City CareersHub (when prompted, use your City username and password).
How to complete your Gateway/ Pupillage Application forms 18th March 18:00-20:00
Where? Student Common Room, Atkin Building
Barristers from Pupillage Committees at a wide range of sets talk to students about completing their Applications for Pupillage Open to all - including prospective students.
Drinks and nibbles to follow in the student common room.
Event open everyone (including prospective students) but pre-booking is necessary. Book your tickets!
The history and impact of the cuts
Cuts to legal aid have obstructed access to justice with our government showing complete disregard for such fundamental rights by enacting the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, thereby impeding the availability of quality legal advice and representation for all in civil and criminal proceedings (1).
Legal aid funding in family, debt, education, employment, housing, immigration and welfare benefits cases has been vastly reduced and in some areas almost entirely removed (2). The legal aid cuts have exacerbated the effects of other public service cutbacks such as the benefits cap, cuts to disability allowance and the bedroom tax, as many people are unable to mount effective legal challenges to government decisions regarding these cuts without financial assistance.
The recent Public Accounts Committee report demonstrated the Ministry of Justice’s failure to collect sufficient evidence prior to pushing through cuts indiscriminately (3). In criminal law, legal aid fees have been slashed by 8.75% for solicitors and there are plans to bring in further cuts for both sides of the profession (4).
How can students fight to save legal aid and access to justice?
As students we can make our voices heard and spread the message about the devastating effects of the legal aid cuts by signing an open letter to Grayling, calling on him to repeal LASPO and introduce a meaningful consultation process to protect our justice system - Sign the letter now!.
The Government is staging a Global Law Summit (GLS) from 23rd – 25th February 2015 to coincide with the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. It is being hypocritically presented as a celebration of founding principles and the rule of law, while the Government simultaneously dilutes state accountability and denies legal aid to those who need it most. The Justice Alliance has planned protests to challenge this farce. A three-day march will commence from Runnymede, the site of the signing of Magna Carta, on Saturday 21st February, culminating in a protest at Old Palace Yard (near the GLS venue) at 1pm on Monday 23rd February with speakers including actress Maxine Peake. You can join in at any stage of the march over the weekend, and come along to the rally. Full details of the event are available via the Justice Alliance website.
There will also be a student contingent at the demonstration at Old Palace Yard on 23rd February, meeting outside Westminster Abbey at 12:30pm. We urge you to join the student movement to challenge the government’s hypocrisy and demand an end to attacks on our justice system. Details of the contingent will be posted on Facebook.
(1) Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO).
(2) Low Commission Report, Legal Action Group.
(3) Public Accounts Committee Report on Young Legal Aid Lawyers website.
(4) "Legal aid contracts for on-call criminal solicitors to be slashed by two-thirds”, The Guardian, (27th November 2014).
Are we … prepared to contemplate the gradual emergence of a court [the ECHR] with the equivalent jurisdiction throughout Europe of that enjoyed by the Supreme Court in the United States of America?
Lord Judge, ‘Constitutional Change: Unfinished Business’, 4th December 2013
In the May 2015 General Election, the way forward for Human Rights is a key differentiator between the major parties' manifestos. Most notably, the Conservative Party wish to scrap the Human Rights Act 1998 and leave the European Convention on Human Rights, in favour of a 'homegrown' Bill of Rights.
What should the future be for the European Court of Human Rights?
Do we want a powerful European Court with power equivalent to that enjoyed by the US Supreme Court?
Our panellists come together to discuss this burning issue.
The panel for the evening includes:
Adam Wagner (1 Crown Office Row, UK Human Rights Blog)
Angela Patrick (Director of Human Rights Policy, JUSTICE)
Kirsty Brimelow QC (Doughty Street Chambers)
Jon Holbrook (Barrister & Writer)
Date/Time: 18:00-19:30, 4 March 2015
Venue: Atkin Building Lecture Theatre, City Law School - Gray's Inn.
Please direct any enquiries to the Keep Calm and Talk Law events team.
Sign Up required
There is a social scandal emerging from the doctrine of freedom of movement. Workers are encouraged to move across the EU to meet the needs of employers at the lowest end of the market. They are subsidised by welfare programmes that claim to promote work but really promote low pay. Such were the sentiments expressed by some of the panel by the end of a discussion on Benefits and EU law held under the aegis of the Jean Monnet Chair in EU Law at City University.
The conversation, part of a series run by the University, was intended as an interactive debate on a topical issue in EU law, specifically benefits. The panel was chaired by Panos Koutrakos, Professor of EU Law and Jean Monnet Chair in EU Law at City University. He was joined by Professor Damian Chalmers, London School of Economics, Jacqueline Minor, Head of EU Commission Representation in UK, Professor Niamh Nic Shuibhne, University of Edinburgh, and Professor Philippa Watson, City Law School and Essex Court Chambers.
The scope of discussion was enormous, from the philosophical level questions of: “What is EU citizenship?” and “Where are the edges of the doctrine of freedom of movement?” to detail, such as “how could the UK stop remittances of child benefit from EU parents working in the UK to their children living in another member state?” At the centre of it all was the recent ruling of the European Court of Justice (CJEU) in Case C 333/13 Elisabeta Dano, Florin Dano v Jobcenter Leipzig.
But first, Ni Shuibne outlined the basic principles.
Benefits are an area that is not harmonised, nation states have the ability to manage their own systems as long as they don't conflict with freedom of movement. For the purposes of claiming benefits in a host member states, EU citizens are split in to three categories: economically active people who have the same rights as any other citizen working in that country; those who are not economically active but seeking work who cannot receive benefits for three months after arrival and then should have access to those specific benefits that facilitate access to work; and those who are not economically active nor seeking work.
This final group only have the right to reside in another EU country after three months if they have sufficient means and sickness insurance not to become a burden on the host state. After five years uninterrupted residency everyone can claim a permanent right to residency. So there is a gap for those people between 3 months and five years. The question of what responsibilities host member states have to such people during that gap has been unclear. There was no obligation to provide assistance, but neither could the need for assistance be an automatic grounds for removing a citizen.
The City Law School is pleased to confirm the names of those proceeding to Round Two of the Senior Moot later in the year. The sixteen semi-finalists are headed into a tough battle to survive into the Finals in May.
The spectator winning the celebratory bottle of champagne was Jessica Gray, the prize being randomly allocated from amongst the visitors.
Thank you to all the Senior Moot participants and followers for their support and interest!
“If you don’t make it entertaining no one will listen,” said American musical theatre lyricist Fred Ebb. It is advice that is arguably useful not just for writers crafting a script for an audience, but also for lawyers preparing a case to present to a jury.
Last week I attended a special event for members of the legal community at The Garrick Theatre. After a performance of the hit musical The Scottsboro Boys, there was a private reception to celebrate the show and its legal links. Attending the event were director Susan Stroman, producers, the cast and notable lawyers.
The Scottsboro Boys, co-created by acclaimed songwriting team John Kandor and Fred Ebb – they also did Chicago and Cabaret – tells the true tale of a famous miscarriage of justice. And it triumphantly achieves the double whammy of being both entertaining and making people listen.
The case of the Scottsboro Boys was pivotal in creating social and legal change in the American South. In 1931 one day in Scottsboro Alabama, nine black male teenagers, who had been travelling on a freight train, were forced to disembark by the local law enforcement. They were later (falsely) accused of raping two white women, given a joke of a trial, convicted by an all-white jury and sentenced to death. So started their very long fight for freedom and justice. They waited years on death row, never far from the threat of the electric chair. Their case resulted in trial after trial, changes in Alabama state law, and support from a burgeoning American civil rights movement and the Communist party; the latter funding a New York lawyer to represent the Scottsboro Nine.
The musical starts in a very high-energy, jolly manner, luring you in. The performers, dancing, singing and smiling, assemble into a semi-circle. And then they announce that they are performing a minstrel show.
The minstrel show format often feels very wrong to watch. Which, perversely, is very right. You are reminded of the wrongness of the story – a tale of teenagers cruelly mistreated and racially discriminated - by the physical act of these young black men performing as minstrels under the command of a middle-aged white man.
Over the weekend of Friday 16 January to Sunday 18 January 2015, a City Law School team comprising Emma Park, Douglas James and myself kick-started the term by taking part in the Worshipful Company of Arbitrators Arbitration Weekend 2015, which was held in the office of Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP just by the Thames. Competition was fierce, with teams drawn from all over the profession including University of Law, Atkin Chambers and Linklaters, just to name a few.
The Arbitration Competition was judged by an illustrious Arbitral Tribunal: Dr Robert Gaitskell QC, Carol Mulcahy from BLP, and Paul Rose from the Worshipful Company. Our team sat through the entire arbitration proceedings, and on top of the valuable experience we gained, we were rewarded with the BLP Best Law School Team Prize, and I was offered an individual internship with BLP this summer. I was further named by the Tribunal for Special Mentions together with three other participants who were trainees/pupils – we were dubbed the ‘client’s dream team’!
The case in this year’s Competition, based on a real-life ICC arbitration, was a complex contractual dispute between a vendor German company specialising in deep-sea diving equipment and a purchaser company in the fictional nation of Danubia. The purchaser refused to pay the price of the equipment supplied, alleging that the contract was varied without its express consent, and there was a counterclaim for loss caused by defect and delay in delivery.
The Competition began on Friday with a showdown between Atkin Chambers and Keating Chambers in an Emergency Arbitration before Nicholas Fletcher QC, and carried on for a further two days, with different teams participating in different stages and roles throughout. Our team represented the Respondent purchaser in an application for strike out, an examination-in-chief, the closing submissions on the law, and a final reply on costs after the Arbitral Award was delivered. After the weekend, we all acquired a firm grasp of the flexibility of the procedures, the application of the law to the facts, and the importance of persuasion and advocacy.
I would highly recommend this Competition to future students, as it is an immensely fruitful experience for any law student, giving us an insight into the practicalities of commercial law, in world increasingly resorting to alternative dispute resolution such as arbitration and mediation. Although, as Professor John Uff QC (Master of the Company) rightly remarked, it requires a lot of stamina to concentrate for over seven hours each day on every bit of evidence presented, this is the perfect training for any and every aspiring advocate.
We would like to say a special word of thanks to Emily for recommending this Competition to us and for liaising throughout – this would not have been possible without the Law School’s support! We would also like to express our gratitude to the Worshipful Company, especially the organising committee chaired by Michael Cover, for making this an outstanding experience for students and young practitioners alike.
- First prize is £4000!
- All four finalists will receive assessed mini-pupillages at 2TG.
- There is no cap on the number of entrants from any one university...so all of you can give it a go.