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.
The coalition government has much to answer for since 2010. Yet what seems to escape almost all notice is their relentless attacks on the very fabric of British democracy.
The conventional guarantee against totalitarianism in any democratic society is the Rule of Law, separation of powers, and public access to legitimate scrutiny of executive action. This was arguably a well-founded existence in Britain, until recently.
Legal Aid Cuts
It is widely known that the Tories have persistently imposed significant legal aid cuts in an effort to reform public spending.
What does this mean? In short, the most vulnerable in society are no longer able to afford legal representation in almost half as many trials as before 2011.
In Family litigation for example, where legal aid has been completely removed, parties now often represent themselves. This has led to cases taking much longer as there is understandably a lack of procedural experience, qualifications, and other necessary skills. Ironically, this means that any money saved by legal aid cuts is likely lost to the cost of consequently prolonged trials.
Also, the subsequent loss of "equality of arms" in criminal cases will undoubtedly lead to an increase in miscarriages of justice (thereby further litigation costs in appeals), less trust in our legal system (thereby further public spending on indirectly subsidising legal-help charities which will necessarily pop up), and an infraction of the fundamental right to a fair trial (prepare a hefty fine from the Strasbourg Court).
Less of us are aware of the "Secret Courts" Bill passed by the government in 2013.
In effect, this allows a party to be disregarded from their own trial in certain instances. For example, a defendant, claimant, or appellant would be disallowed access to evidence used against them by the government (under the auspices of "national security"). Any legal representation would also be restricted in relation to said evidence. In fact, you would not be able to challenge any detail of this evidence. In your absence, a "special advocate" appointed by the government will represent you behind closed doors, with no instructions.
Laura tried to renew her passport this year. She is 18, a part time worker, a first year student, was born in Britain and has had a passport since she was five. Her renewal was rejected as the Passport Office told her she's not British.
Michael is 3. His passport application was rejected as despite having a British father he was born overseas. His parents are now stranded, they can't leave their son so they can't come home.
Since April 2013 there has been no legal aid for children in the immigration system. So neither Laura or Michael has the resources to question what the state is doing to them. Their ability to check the decision is right is blocked.
Stories like these inspired City student Grace Loncraine to decide the time was right to discuss the cuts to legal aid in a debate at City Law School on 19th November 2014. Opening the debate on what the legal profession's response should be to the impact of cuts on access to representation, chair Professor Andy Boon reminded the audience of the history of the legal aid system. Introduced in 1949, 50% of the population were eligible to help with legal representation funded through collective national insurance.
By 2008 20% were eligible, and certain issues such as personal injury were cut out. In 2014 the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act reduced that further. Boon referred the audience to an outline of the cuts in Emma Howard's article for The Guardian.
Following a film from the Justice Alliance, panelist Solange Valdez, supervising solicitor at Ealing Law Centre, where she specialises in immigration, opened the conversation. She told stories of cases she has seen in her work at Ealing Law Centre, including Laura and Michael above. Her ire was evident, and her bafflement at the arguments pitted against legal aid for children in legal aid cases clearly astonish her everyday.
She's been told that social workers can assist that children can easily represent themselves, and that law centres will help. But no argument has been followed with resources, either in terms of the expertise or finances needed for any of these ideas to work. She challenged lawyers and students alike to do what is expected of those with cases to bring, to find their way around the UK Border Agency's website, ask a simple question and see if there's an answer that can be found easily.
Francis FitzGibbon QC, a criminal silk, with extensive experience in homicide, fraud, historic sex abuse and drug cases spoke next, opening with a quote from Dr EJ Cohen;
"[T]he State is responsible for the law. That law again is made for the protection of all citizens, poor and rich alike. It is therefore the duty of the State to make its machinery work alike, for the rich and the poor.”
[Dr E. J. Cohn, Legal Aid for the Poor, 1941]
He set that in contrast to Ken Clarke's statement as the Legal Aid, Sentencing, and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) was going through Parliament, who claimed that legal aid has made the poor "extremely litigious", as if accessing legal remedies is a hobby rather than Cohen's analysis as the responsibility of the State to allow the law to function at all. FitzGibbon assessed the language of cuts as a cloak hiding an ideological aim to remove access to the law from those who are not wealthy. "The sums at stake are minuscule" he said, "the harm and cost of failure is out of all proportion". His example of what he called "rank stupidity" in the Government's actions was Crown Court cafés closures. Closed to save money on jury's lunches, jury members now have to go outside for more expensive food which takes more time, meaning the burden of cost is shifted to keeping court rooms running and empty waiting for the jury to return.
Law students often seek out activities such as mooting or debating, as both of these bring out in students qualities they will need in their future careers. You can develop skills such as clear, fluent and on-spot thinking and presentation of ideas, public speaking, team building, confident demeanour and leadership skills, to name a few.
What many people either don’t know about, or underestimate, are the Model United Nations (MUNs). MUNs are simulations of the proceedings of the real United Nations committees, which are concerned with diverse global problems, ranging from military and security issues, human rights, economics and finance, to committees concerned with bioethics or outer space usage. Students have the opportunity to either act as delegates, representing the position of countries assigned to them, or as chairs/presidents of the committees, leading the debate.
There are so many great aspects of joining the MUN community. First and foremost, you get to learn and research global issues in a fun and exciting way. But you also get to network with people, who share similar interests and share your experience.
Most have amazing socials where you can do so, which are usually either a dinner with a theme, or visiting local bars and clubs, but the point is to give you the opportunity to socialise with other attendants.
Also, you can travel around to see new places! Most Model UN are international, and many arrange for discounts at hotels, or even flight discounts, as WORLDMUN has arranged this year, so it would be more affordable for everyone. However, I will always emphasise what a great learning experience it is. MUNs gave me the confidence to pursue a law career and can be a very valuable experience when you are applying to university, internships or a job. They usually portray you as a strong, communicative and committed person.
In most university level MUNs, you will have beginner and advanced committees. However, you can choose any, depends on your level of confidence. Usually beginner level committees are less strict with the rules and the quorum, the chairs tend to be friendlier and the committees can be a lot of fun, which always depends upon the delegates. Advanced committee, such as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) can be a bit stressful, if it’s your first time, but if you do your research and study the rules, it can be even more fun.
Thursday 18th December 2014 will be a big day for City's 800 postgraduate law students - sign up for the 48 remaining places in the Senior Moot kicks off at 1pm.
The Senior Moot was launched last year, and is generously sponsored by Savills, one of the world's largest real estate firms. Unique to this year's competition is that 14 'Prestige Places' have been created - allowing those experienced and successful mooters to apply for one of these reserved places.
Very well done to all those securing a Prestige Place - the process was very competitive indeed. The chosen students represent outstanding talent and there will be one seeded into every Round One match. Collectively the Prestige Places show winners of major international and national competitions. Many are multiple championship winners. They include international moot problem setters and coaches of elite teams. There is an immense spread of achievement and a terrific fund of experience across England, Wales, Scotland, various European countries, East Asia and the United States.
Chloe Bell, Daniel Black, Iwona Boesche, Mathias Cheung, Jodie Drummond, Harihara Gomathinayagam, David Green, Martin Horne, Thomas Jones, Zachary Kell, Michael Levenstein, James Mallon, Guy Oliff-Cooper, Richard Wayman.
So delighted are we with the anticipated quality of this year’s competition that a decision has been taken to enhance the prizes. Accordingly, the new prize fund this year is £3,000 to be divided £1,650 for the winner, £750 for the runner-up and £300 for each of the other two finalists.
The finals will be held on 7 May at the London West End headquarters of Savills. The distinguished Finals Judges are Professor Jeremy Horder of the London School of Economics and Professor Peter Hungerford-Welch of The City Law School. This should bring back fond memories: 32 years ago they were the winning moot team for the national Observer Trophy.
GELLB, GDL, LPC and BPTC students - get ready for 1pm tomorrow. Sign up via the Senior Moot module on Moodle - places are likely to go very quickly.
Read more about The Senior Moot on CityNews.
If you fancy a break from your core texts over Christmas don't forget about the Innovation Centre library's fiction collection.
Held in the academic corner next to the main desk you'll find books with links to London and some with legal connections; there's crime, thrillers, fantasy, war, romance, classics - some funny, some tragic but lots of great stories.
Here's ten to wet your appetite:
Iain Banks - The Crow Road
Dalton Trumbo - Johnny got his Gun
David Guterson - Snow Falling on Cedars
Pat Barker - Regeneration Trilogy
John Lanchester - Capital
Neil Gaiman - Neverwhere
Jonathan Franzen - The Corrections
Caitlin Moran - How to Build a Girl
Donna Tartt - Secret History
Edgar Allan Poe - Selected Tales
I chose the collection - so really hope everyone can find something that allows them to get a bit of a break from study!
Keep Calm Talk Law are putting on an event at City on Wednesday 10th December for all those interested in legal journalism. Here's what they say about it:
Online publication has proved to be a useful tool over recent years boosting the profile of both solicitors and barristers, which in turn has led to significant business development for those individuals.
Recognising this and doing something about it at an early stage demonstrates the elusive commercial awareness in a unique way that few aspiring lawyers recognise.
However, typically, it is difficult for a junior lawyer to enter the world of online publishing, with many of the leading blogs and freely accessible journals being run by specific law firms or Chambers, which for self-evident reasons, do not allow guest contributions.
Keep Calm Talk Law’s senior management presents a workshop on how to get yourself started in legal journalism as an aspiring lawyer, along with best practices and tips on how to approach online publication.
Further, the workshop will cover the ‘due diligence’ steps both aspiring and practising lawyers should take before publishing online. Whilst the internet provides a fantastic platform for self-promotion, it should be treated with care and respect.
With business development being an ever more significant consideration for progression and standing within law firms and chambers alike, this is an opportunity that should not be ignored.
This event is being held at City Law School, and is therefore free for all students.
18:30 - 19:30 Wednesday 10th December 2014
Room 04AB, City Law School
Online sign up is required.
The dress code is business casual.
Dr John Stanton graduated from his LLB at the University of Surrey in 2007. In November 2010 he was awarded a doctorate by Kingston University for his work 'Democracy in sustainable development: Accountability and participation in Britain's local communities'.
Appointed Lecturer in Law at Kingston University in September 2010, John joined The City Law School in September 2012 where he teaches Constitutional and Administrative Law on both the LLB and Graduate Entry LLB, and Public Law on the GDL.
What drew you into public law?
From the second year of my undergraduatedegree I knew I wanted to be an academic rather than practice as a solicitor or barrister. Though I spent the summers (during my LLB) at a solicitors’ firm, I quickly realised that studying the law and continuing to learn about it, is where my fascination lies. I love the pursuit of scholarship that can come through working as an academic as well as the various discussions and debates.
I did my undergraduate dissertation on the Jackson Case  UKHL 56 in 2006 – 2007, considering the implications of the House of Lords’ judgment on orthodox parliamentary sovereignty. There was so much academic debate to consider that it made writing easierand more fun. And that also drew me into constitutional and administrative law. I enjoy Public Law because there's rarely a ‘right’ answer to the issues and discussions, especially in our system which is so different and complex to other countries’ systems. I don't know if there are wrong answers either… misunderstandings, perhaps!
What do you think is next for the area?
We are in a time of constitutional change - all the various issues are fascinating. We've currently got the first peace time coalition government since the 30s, for instance. The next general election will be pivotal, and I think we'll see an increase in turnout in 2015 as the way the whole system works seems to be changing. In years to come, there's the possibility of EU referendums, a new Bill of Rights, talk about leaving the Council of Europe. We're potentially in the midst of clear constitutional evolution.
Lots of high level international politics to look forward to then. You recently published a book, tell us about that.
My book was my PhD thesis and came from a studentship, supported and funded by the EC1 New Deal for Communities government regeneration programme. My area of specialism is localism, and the book really looked at what happened in local communities under New Labour policy, assessing their changed approach to how communities and citizens can plan their own development and play a part in improving local areas.
Democracy in the form of the involvement of local people is fundamental to sustainable development, making sure that activities and changes meet the needs of people today without jeopardising people’s future needs.
Does it work?
It does, the changes I studied are the community just next to this university ‘EC1’. One of the projects was called Help on your Doorstep and involved people calling on their fellow residents to ask what they wanted. That meant that the people whose ideas created what you see around here, are not only people who are usually active volunteers in their local community, but a much wider group of people. So it can work, but there are problems which we see time and again in local governmental reform. It can be summed up by saying that there's a reluctance at the centre to ‘let go’, meaning local people aren't empowered properly, they have the power of ideas but not power over the money or resources.
The Intelligent Aid competition launched by Clifford Chance offers law and non-law students from all universities the chance to win a place on the firm’s vacation scheme, by submitting a 500 word essay on an issue that is relevant in the legal sector today.
The overall winner also receives £5,000 towards their university fees, and the group of winners will have the chance to donate £1,000 to a charity that is on the firm’s selected list. This year’s topic concerns the rule of law and as to whether it is essential in ensuring an economy’s success. Having loved studying constitutional and administrative law last year, I thought that this competition was the perfect opportunity for me! I am also very attracted to the idea of being assessed purely on your intellectual curiosity, your ability to think critically, creatively and “outside” the box.
The workshop at City University London (30th October 2014) was led by Natasha Moore, also with help from the campaign manager of ‘MyKindaCrowd’ Toby Horner, and a specialist from the Graduate Recruitment Team at Clifford Chance, Katy Beresford. The first task involved getting into groups to discuss and feedback on the key points regarding a definition that we were given on the rule of law. It was interesting to hear how the various explanations differed from group to group. We went on to pick out three main definitions, these included the principle reflecting one of governance, avoidance from arbitrariness and one based strongly on international human rights norms and standards. Next, we explored the relationship between the rule of law and the economy further and considered various answers to the following questions:
- Does the rule of law encourage investors to invest in a country?
- Is the rule of law only established once a country is economically successful?
- What happens when the rule of law breaks down?
Natasha suggested a potential structure which we could use for our essays. This included analysing historical examples such as Ancient Rome, growth economies such as China and emerging economies such as Indonesia. During discussions such as this, I realised the importance in being commercially aware and developing your own perspectives on issues currently affecting the wider world. Some of us were able to share our views on Mexico’s struggle in establishing in the rule of law as recently featured in the FT.