A new book by Goldsmiths’ Head of Law, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, explores the perennial controversy over the use of improperly obtained evidence in criminal trials. This is the first book to do so from a cross-cultural – comparative and international human rights – perspective.
The book compares and contrasts various procedural mechanisms, within Anglo-American and continental legal systems (with a focus on the United States, Greece, France and England and Wales), that may stop the jury, or the judge as a fact-finder, from accessing or using unlawfully obtained evidence – sometimes crucial, reliable evidence – when reaching a verdict or making a finding of guilt.
Analysis focuses on confessional evidence and evidence obtained by search and seizure, telephone interceptions and other means of electronic surveillance.
The book attempts to reinvigorate the idea of excluding evidence to protect constitutional or human rights (the rights thesis), arguing that there is significant scope for Anglo-American and Continental legal systems to place a renewed emphasis on it, particularly in relation to confessional evidence obtained in violation of custodial interrogation rights. This is because we can locate an emerging rapprochement, and unique potential for European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence to build consensus, in this respect.
In marked contrast, remaining divergence with regard to evidence obtained by privacy violations means there is little momentum to adopt a reinvigorated rights thesis more widely.
English law, in particular, offers a key illustration of discordance between privacy violations and violations of custodial interrogation rights. The discretionary powers that courts possess in relation to the latter often lead to exclusion. In contrast, the exclusion of evidence obtained in violation of the right to privacy is a rare occurrence in the related jurisprudence.
Book presentation at Berkeley Law School (10 April 2019), hosted by Prof Charles Weisselberg (first from left) and Prof Jonathan Simon (second from right)
Since publication of the book, Prof Giannoulopoulos has presented his research in this area to academic audiences in England (most recently at the Law School at the University of Exeter), Greece (at a major symposium of the Hellenic Criminal Bar Association) and in the United States, where the ‘exclusionary rule’ has been the source of one of the most enduring and controversial debates in American constitutional criminal procedure.
“Policing Los Angeles Forum” presentation, Loyola Law School (8 April 2019). From left to right: Prof Eric Miller, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, Prof Christopher Hawthorne
“The UK Supreme Court is entirely accustomed to analysing human rights (protected by the European Convention on Human Rights), but if you ask those daily tackling crime, the answer is they’re rarely necessary in the average criminal trial”, noted Lord Hughes of Ombersley, former Justice at the UK Supreme Court, opening up his keynote address in Goldsmiths Law’s annual criminal justice symposium at the British Academy (on 27 March 2019).
The reason is that these rights are “implicit in English criminal procedure”; “we had arrived at these rights long before the drafting of the European Convention on Human Rights” (ECHR), he explained, taking the examples of ‘habeas corpus’, which had been guaranteed for the best part of three centuries before finding its way into Article 5 of the ECHR, the ‘burden of proof’, which was in place hundreds of years before being incorporated into Article 6, or the prohibition of torture, which was inherent in the common law since the 17thcentury.
What is interesting is the discussion about the extent and scope of rights since their incorporation into the ECHR via the mechanics of “fairly energetic judicial glossing in Strasbourg”, Lord Hughes pointed out.
He invited English criminal lawyers, and the many scholars attending the symposium, to look at two features of this process of judicial creativity.
The first, most obvious, feature was the extent of it. “These fundamental rights have been expanded enormously”, noted Lord Hughes.
The second feature is the very interesting interaction between the common law and European civil law traditions, which does not have the starting point as the common law when it comes to interpreting the Convention.
We need to “remember that whilst the common law may be very longstanding, and we’re rightly proud of it, and it may be very widespread across the world, and we’re rightly proud of that as well, it is by no means a universal system”, said Lord Hughes.
In highlighting the idiosyncratic character of the European Court of Human Rights, the former Supreme Court Justice, whose illustrious career included the Vice-Presidency of the Criminal Division at the Court of Appeal, added:
“It also behoves us to remember the difference between running a very long-established legal system such as ours in which an enormous amount can be taken as read, and, on the other hand, running a transnational court such as the Strasbourg Court where the judges come from an enormous variety of cultures, from a huge range of personal career experience, where there is no single common language, where the range of systems under consideration is enormous”.
“The Strasbourg Court is having to cope with all the systems of former Eastern Europe as well as former Code Napoleon central Europe as well as the common law, and when we run into occasional elements of frustration, we ought to remember just how difficult it is to administer a transnational court of that kind”.
In discussing examples of “direct importation into the UK systems of fundamental rights as interpreted in Strasbourg”, Lord Hughes started with the “very well-known example of Cadder” (which led to the incorporation of the right to speak to a lawyer from the beginning of police interrogation in Scotland).
The reform was in reality “judicial legislation in Strasbourg based on the kind of review of national practice all around the Council of Europe which they’re in the habit of conducting; it’s one of the things they do extremely well, to produce a synthesis of practice around the member-states”.
One other way in which rights had been expanded was by attaching to an Article of the Convention an ancillary or secondary duty to investigate things that might involve a breach, said Lord Hughes.
The classic example was “Article 2 inquiries into deaths in state custody or state hands”. “Article 2 does not say anything at all about investigation, but it’s a perfectly rational extension on the basis that the primary right won’t be effective unless you also have a secondary right to investigation. But it is pure judicial legislation of the kind which – if it happened in relation to an English statute by an English court – would attract, rightly, some would say, a great deal of criticism”.
A similar duty to inquiry had been expanded to Article 3 of the Convention, as illustrated in the case of Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v DSD (the John Worboys case). “The effect of the expansion of Article 3 is that a victim of crime now has – as a result of DSD – a right of action against the police for breach of the secondary duty to investigate serious violence, and they will succeed if the police fall below reasonable standards”.
“It sounds perfectly straightforward, but entirely contrary to English tort law as it had stood until DSD; though police had public duties, they did not owe a duty of care to individual victims”, observed Lord Hughes.
He then asked:
“Does it matter that rights which are, as drafted, so expansively interpreted by judges – not by Parliaments, but by unelected judges, without any reference back to the States which originally agreed them?”
“Or maybe this is what states have voluntarily signed up to in accepting the Convention.”
In other words, Lord Hughes noted, these fundamental rights and their interpretation are a potent example of what is really a perennial problem faced by all legal systems, which is “how far should or can judges be creative in their interpretation of the Law or how far are they – like everybody else – bound by what it actually says; it’s a perpetual problem particularly faced by courts of final appeal but also, to some extent, by courts lower down”.
We could ask the same question by reference to other rights, for example Article 6 para 2 of the Convention, on the presumption of innocence or hearsay and the right to confrontation under Article 6.
It was equally important to observe, noted Lord Hughes, that although “a good deal of criminal procedure and evidence may fall to be reasoned according to fundamental rights, a larger part of English criminal procedure is entirely independent of fundamental rights”. Human rights are not “the prime source of our rules of fairness in the English criminal justice system; it’s actually the other way round … most of English criminal procedure was in place before these rights were derived from it very largely”.
“In fact, when the Convention was drafted, very largely by English lawyers, only some of the common law principles went into it. Others were deliberately left out, for example jury trial, the discretion not to prosecute (which would be quite incompatible with the Continental culture, where in many cases it is mandatory to prosecute), the cab-rank rule (the obligation of a barrister to accept any work in a field in which they practice, either acting for the defence or the prosecution), which wouldn’t work in Europe where you have division between public prosecutors and others, or the mandatory recording of police interviews.”
This line of thinking led Lord Hughes to a final conclusion:
While “these fundamental rights [ECHR rights] are very important – they’re often debated, they’re sometimes inspirational, they throw up the most fascinating meeting points of the common law and different legal cultures – they’re a long way from being the prime source of English criminal law and procedure.”
“They’re fundamental to us, in the sense that their ideas are embedded in our system, absolutes they’re not and we need to be careful about claiming that they’re absolutes.”
“The reality is that there is a huge scope for debate about their content and that debate has to be resolved by judges by exactly the same tensions that you meet domestically between the legitimate bounds of judicial creativity and the rule that judges – like anybody else – are bound by the law.”
“That’s a tension which has to be resolved here as it does everywhere else. They’re fundamental rights, they’re not absolute rights.”
LSE’s Prof Nicola Lacey chaired the keynote address.
Prof Nicola Lacey: Lord Hughes’ keynote raises some fascinating comparative and socio-legal questions about the impact of different legal cultures and different institutional structures in how courts work and how communication between systems works.
The symposium was coordinated by Goldsmiths’ Head of Law Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, and it was attended by major experts in criminal justice and human rights, from the UK and abroad.
from left to right: Prof Paul Roberts (Nottingham), Hannah Quirk (King’s), Richard Glover (Wolverhampton) and Prof Andrew Choo (City)
from left to right: Prof David Sklansky (Stanford), Yvonne Daly (DCU), Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos (Goldsmiths), Prof Sarah Summers (Zurich), Prof Theodore Konstantinides (Essex) and HH Judge Donald Cryan (Visiting Prof, Goldsmiths)
Abenaa Owusu-Bempah (LSE) with Prof Sarah Summers (Zurich)
The symposium followed up on Goldsmiths Law’s criminal justice lecture, which took place the day before and was delivered by Stanford Law School academic Prof David Sklanksy.
Goldsmiths’ Prof Giannoulopoulos with Lord Hughes. The Inner Temple’s academic fellowship scheme has brought Goldsmiths Law closer to the profession, including eminent representatives of the UK judiciary and Justices at the Supreme Court
The Department of Law at Goldsmiths places strong emphasis on the study of criminal justice and human rights. Students taking the LLB Law at Goldsmiths can choose to specialise in these subjects, by taking the synonymous pathway degree (LLB Law with Criminal Justice and Human Rights).
For information on the annual criminal justice symposium or the LLB Law and LLB Law with Criminal Justice and Human Rights degrees contact the Law department at Law@gold.ac.uk
Our library collection, like our LLB programme itself, is very forward-thinking. We do not duplicate old law libraries with shelf after shelf of collections of law reports, legislation and paper journals, all gathering dust through lack of use. For environmental reasons amongst others, we don’t want a hugely paper-based collection. So we have decided to go digital.
One of the major benefits of this is that students will be able to access core student textbooks digitally, at any time, and for as long as required. Students here will not be competing against each other for access to the same limited number of resources. They can access them online stress-free.
Law has always been ahead of the game when it comes to digital resources and so for many years libraries in law firms have been getting larger digitally, while getting smaller physically. Our collection very much mirrors that model. As a result, we have a very real-world collection, with a strong emphasis on digital resources.
Like most academic libraries we have subscriptions to Westlaw, Lexis Library, HeinOnline and Nexis.
But unlike most academic libraries we have also gone for a subscription to Practical Law – a service most law firms opt for. And now that Practical Law and Westlaw are partner databases, they integrate seamlessly.
We have also gone for large collections of eJournals and eBooks from major law publishers, eg over 1,500 OUP titles, over 3,000 CUP titles and all the newly published Hart eBooks.
We are also one of the first universities to buy access to Sweet & Maxwell’s set of student eTextbooks (all of which are fully integrated into Westlaw, with hyperlinks from the text directly into relevant cases and legislation).
Fully available collection
We have made sure that all the modules on the LLB have core student textbooks available digitally, so that there will be no waiting to access these textbooks and you can access them from anywhere in the world. We have paper copies of key student textbooks of course.
You can also access hard copies of the All England Law Reports. We are delighted to have this fundamental collection amongst physical resources in our library.
Preparation for the workplace
Sometimes digital collections can take a bit of know-how to be able to use them fully. Students will be given as much help and training as they need from Greg Bennett, the law librarian, who has worked at magic circle firm, Slaughter and May and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, amongst other places.
The teaching of these essential legal research skills is fully integrated in the 21st Century Legal Skills module in Year 1.
So by the end of their time at Goldsmiths, students will be fully prepared to use the kind of legal libraries that they will have in their careers ahead.
The main advantages of our new collection at Goldsmiths are that it is fully bespoke to the needs of the students, teaching them how to use the actual resources that they are likely to encounter in their careers.
At Goldsmiths, we like to do things differently, and our law library will be something we will be very proud of in that respect.
The LLB Law at Goldsmiths is innovative and cutting edge, preparing lawyers for a flexible 21stcentury workplace. As such, the programme places a strong emphasis on inter-disciplinary legal analysis and equipping students with skills that are applicable to the legal profession as traditionally conceived (see, for example, our recent announcement about integrating workshops and advice on the barrister profession by the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple) but also honing skills that will be central to future legal careers.
The latest illustration of this modern approach to legal studies is an emerging collaboration with Forensic Architecture, the pioneering research agency that undertakes advanced architectural and media research on behalf of international prosecutors, human rights organisations and environmental justice groups.
On 25 March 2019, Head of Goldsmiths Law, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, visited the award winning agency, where MA students in Research Architecture were presenting their ongoing forensic investigations, under the supervision of Dr Lorenzo Pezzani (who leads the MA Studio in Forensic Architecture) and in the presence of the director of the agency, Eyal Weizman.
The MA in Forensic Architecture examines how architecture can engage with questions of contemporary culture, politics, media, ecology and justice. Goldsmiths Law is very keen to collaborate with the MA in relation to research and teaching at the intersection of architecture and justice.
One of the students who presented their work at the workshop, Dimitra Andritsou, examines the politics of fire at play at Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesvos, one of the frontier ‘chokepoints’ of the European border regime.
Slide from Dimitra Andritsou’s research presentation on fires at the Moria refugee camp as a manifestation of abandonment from the part of the state (credit: Dimitra Andritsou)
‘From blazes of indignation to flaring humanitarian infrastructure, fire on the island emerges as a lurking, ubiquitous presence’, her research project argues.
Dimitra’s work interrogates fire’s ‘manifestation as an ambiguous force that highlights the precarious, differentiated regime of abandonment and care, and thus signals institutional failure at diverse, inter-scalar registers’.
The Moria refugee camp (copyright: Giorgos Moutafis/Reuters)
Entering in conversation with Prof Giannoulopoulos about varied levels of accountability, and opportunities for intervention, from the local to the national and then to the transnational, including from relevant EU institutions, Dimitra replied that there was ‘an urgent need to problematize and rethink how accountability may be addressed at diverse levels in such a conflictual field’.
Earlier on this academic year, Forensic Architecture’s deputy director, Christina Varvia, spoke at Goldsmiths Law’s symposium on Technology and Human Rights (November 2018).
Forensic Architecture’s deputy director, Christina Varvia, speaking at Goldsmiths Law’s symposium on technology and human rights
Forensic Architecture have won several awards for their bold and innovative work, and were nominated for the 2018 Turner Prize.
Our LLB Law programme at Goldsmiths is delighted to offer students a chance to access Inner Temple workshops on becoming a Barrister.
These workshops will be embedded in Goldsmiths’ ‘21stCentury Legal Skills’ course in Year 1. The workshops will include:
An introduction to the Bar, and the path to the barrister profession;
Support with applications that students will encounter during their journey to the Bar, applying for scholarships, and a particular focus on how to apply to the Inner Temple’s leading PASS programme.
Students will hear first-hand about the Inner Temple’s Pegasus Access and Support Scheme (PASS), which is designed to support aspiring barristers who have not yet started the BPTC. It was established by the Inner Temple and 62 different partner chambers across a range of practice areas. The aim of the programme is to improve access to the profession and to support high achieving students from under-represented backgrounds by providing the experiences they need to be able to thrive at the Bar.
PASS aims to do this by securing a mini-pupillage in chambers for each participant. PASS also supports participants by providing a focused professional and advocacy skills development programme.
The Inner Temple covers the associated travel and accommodation costs for PASS so that the participants can fully enjoy the mini-pupillage experience and the development programme. They’re looking for candidates who have attended a UK state school and who meet at least one of the following criteria:
Recipient of free schools meals
First in their family to attend university
Have parents (s) who received income support or they themselves are in receipt of income or housing benefits
School area: Preference is given to those students who have attended schools with a low attainment and progression to higher education rate
Preference for PASS is given to applicants who have participated in the following programmes:
Inner Temple schools project
Pathway to Law
Social Mobility Foundation programmes
Warwick Multicultural Scholars programme
Black Lawyers Directory Legal Launch Pad
Goldsmiths Law will raise awareness with collaborating schools about the Inner Temple schools project and Pathway to Law initiative.
The Inn encourages applications from mature applicants and applicants with disabilities, and Goldsmiths Law will bring the programme to their attention, and provide guidance and support where required.
The integration of these initiatives into the LLB Law programme is overseen by Goldsmiths’ Head of Law, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, who is an Associate Academic Fellow at the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple.
Goldsmiths Law’s annual criminal justice lecture, delivered by Stanford Law School renowned academic, Prof David Sklansky, draws attention to US criminal law’s obsession with violent crime and mass incarceration, and sends a warning note to the UK.
United States criminal justice policy took a calamitous wrong turn in the 90s. An oversimplified obsession with violent crime – typified by the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ laws and ideology – was the main engine of an unprecedented mass incarceration policy that had devastating consequences and ruined the lives of so many people in the country.
Students from other Goldsmiths departments among those attending the annual seminar. Goldsmiths Law concentrates heavily on interdisciplinary legal analysis.
This rise and rise of violent crime, as a gateway to mass incarceration of an unprecedented level in comparable legal systems, could not be understood outside the context of race.
Two of the central ideas that Stanford Law School’s Prof David Sklansky explored in his talk at Goldsmiths, on Tuesday, 26 March 2019, when delivering Goldsmiths Law’s inaugural annual criminal justice lecture.
Violence was given great significance in US substantive criminal law, he explained in more detail, though there did not seem to exist a rational basis – in the structure and grammar of criminal law – to distinguish violent from non-violent crime; rather criminal law’s fascination with, and emphasis on, violent crime had much to do with the fact that violent crime had been increasingly associated with black men, and with the impression that those committing violent crime were hardened incorrigible individuals.
From left to right: Prof Jackie Hodgson, Richard Glover and Hannah Quirk
Violence had little salience in criminal procedure, on the other hand. Police violent misconduct was therefore not being challenged in courts; where it was, judicial challenges nearly always failed. And institutional challenges did not even exist. Police in the United States were killing two or three times more people than in any comparable country, and yet the United States were not even formally keeping track of the number of deaths.
Similarly, the increase in the use of “stop and frisk” (stop and search) in the 90s or the militarisation of US police at the same time received very little attention from criminal procedure.
The story of violent crimes in the US was in reality a story about how criminal law thinks about violence, the central question that Prof Sklansly sought to address in his lecture at Goldsmiths, and a question that is at the epicentre of his next book.
To reduce mass incarceration in the US, punishment for violent crime needed to be reduced, he argued. Criminal law should think more deeply, in other words, about whether there was indeed rational justification for the disproportionate emphasis on violent crime (and excessive punishment for those committing violent crime).
The story of US policy on violent crimes was above all a cautionary tale for the UK, highlighted Prof Sklansky. The UK Government’s Serious Violence Strategy, published in April 2018, showed that UK criminal law was thinking differently about violence than its American counterpart. It did not demonise people. UK criminal law was not obsessed with violence…
Prof Sklansky was aware that the Serious Violence Strategy had been criticised in the UK. But it could be seen much more positively when compared with the US, concluded the Stanford Law School academic, who is a former prosecutor and a world renowned authority on criminal law, criminal evidence and procedure.
Prof Sklansky was warmly welcomed to Goldsmiths by Head of Law, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, who chaired the lecture.
Prof David Sklansky (on the right) with Goldsmiths Law Visiting Professor, HH Judge Donald Cryan.
The lecture was marking the Law programme’s emphasis on criminal justice and international human rights, noted Prof Giannoulopoulos, and it was most fitting that it would be delivered by a distinguished scholar with such deep knowledge in, and passion for, both.
The sold out lecture was attended by many Goldsmiths students, and eminent criminal law scholars from across the UK and Europe, including Zurich’s Prof Sarah Summers, the University of Nottingham’s Prof John Jackson and Prof Paul Roberts, Wolverhampton’s Richard Glover, DCU’s Yvonne Daly, Warwick’s Prof Jacqueline Hodgson, King’s’ Hannah Quirk, and Visiting Professor in Law at Goldsmiths, HH Judge Donald Cryan.
The lecture was a highly stimulating prelude to the annual criminal justice symposium that took place the following day at the British Academy (a story on that will appear in this blog shortly).
For more information on Goldsmiths Law’s emphasis on social justice issues, and research excellence in criminal law, criminal justice and human rights see here.
Our Head of Law, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, taught a greatly engaged group of Yr 11-13 students, about the European Convention on Human Rights and governmental threats to repeal the Human Rights Act.
Goldsmiths students taking the Human Rights Law module (with Goldsmiths’ Human Rights Clinic) in year 3 of the LLB Law programme have the opportunity to participate in the delivery of human rights workshops to schools across London.
Other activities offered to LLB Law students in this context include researching human rights jurisprudence, blogging, participation in research events and the production of short human rights videos.
Students accepted in the clinic will also have the unique opportunity to work alongside barristers or solicitors specialising in human rights adjudication. They will research relevant topics such as immigration, housing, data protection, and will advise clients, under supervision, on the human rights dimensions of their cases. Students will be introduced to general principles of clinical legal education and ethics, and related skills, such as client interviewing and legal drafting.
Moreover, students will participate in Human Rights mooting competitions such as ELSA’s annual European Court of Human Rights Mooting Competition.
Amidst the political drama coming from Westminster in recent weeks, the issue of citizens’ rights after Brexit now seems to have been nearly eclipsed from public debate. But it is precisely these citizens (EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU) who stand to be affected the most – their lives in some cases shattered – as a result of the political chaos Brexit has brought upon the UK.
Having been treated as simple “bargaining chips” in the Brexit negotiations for nearly two years, EU citizens in the UK and the British in the EU now seem to be completely forgotten, entirely ignored, as we approach the end of this tortuous process, with the potential loss of their rights in a “no deal” scenario being seen more or less as “collateral damage”; “No Deal – No problem” seems to be the approach taken by those wishing to take the UK in this direction, as illustrated by the synonymous hashtag on social media.
The supporters of the latest slogan – in this fight of slogans – cannot make a valid claim to giving much thought to the fate of the five million citizens caught in the Brexit conundrum.
On 12 February 2019, a Goldsmiths Law/Britain in Europe thinktank roundtable event, in partnership with the Brexit Brits Abroad project, took stock of defeats and victories in the continuing battle to safeguard citizens’ rights after Brexit, and looked into the difficult path ahead.
The event brought together academic experts from a range of disciplines, NGO experts, legal professionals and members of advocacy groups and civil rights organisations which have taken an active part in the debate on citizens’ rights after Brexit.
The event attracted interest from outside academia, with those attending including BBC World News Presenter, Kasia Madera, a researcher at the Department for Exiting the European Union and others.
Head of Goldsmiths Law, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, opened the event, providing a chronology of the legal and political fight over EU citizens’ rights, from the Government’s initial “bargaining chips” approach after the Referendum to finally enacting – a whole two years after the Referendum – the “Settled Status” legislation.
In his concluding observations, Prof Giannoulopoulos stressed how the human rights threats inherent in Brexit were particularly pertinent to EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU.
Dr Michaela Benson, Reader in Sociology, Goldsmiths University of London and Director of the Brexit Brits Abroadproject then followed, describing a damaging state of precariousness for UK citizens in the EU, taking examples of British citizens that engaged with her research as part of her research project.
“The lives of some British in the EU have been built around the freedom to move freely in the EU”, she added, a freedom that is by no means guaranteed after Brexit.
You can watch highlights from Prof Giannoulopoulos’ and Dr Benson’s in the following video.
Dr Marie Godin, a Research Fellow at the Institute for Research into Superdiversity at Birmingham University, highlighted the three choices that EU citizens seem to be left with after Brexit: a) settled status; (b) UK citizenship or (c) leave the country – and they’re facing difficult dilemmas regarding all of these.
Prof Brad Blitz, Director, British Academy Programme, Tackling Slavery, Human Trafficking and Child Labour in Modern Business; Professor of International Politics, Middlesex University, argued that the removal of EU citizenship as a result of Brexit could be deemed a violation of Art 8 ECHR, as he had argued in a recent ‘Open Democracy’ piece.
Tamara Flanagan OBE, Head of projects, New Europeans, elaborated on the wide range of New Europeans initiatives since before the Referendum, including working with the European Parliament, UK MEPs, academics and the London Assembly. She also thanked Universities for research in this area.
Prof Charlotte O’Brien, of the University of York, and director of the EU Rights Project, noted characteristically that “damage to EU citizens was inevitable” and that “the UK Government’s prior treatment of EU citizens”, for example in relation to benefit claims, “clearly showed the risks involved” for their protection in the future.
“Transition always causes rights to be left behind, and Brexit is the mother of all transitions”, she concluded.
Dr Adrienne Yong (City University) explained that “Settled status” was good”, but “only if you were the ‘perfect citizen’”, highlighting how the criminality threshold for deportation was being lowered, and EU citizens faced significant risks of deportation.
Prof Tamara Hervey, Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law at the University of Sheffield, spoke about “emergency” healthcare rights. These will not be lost even in “no deal” scenario, she explained, to the extent that these rights came from the domestic legislation of the EU27.
But she also pointed out that there was significant lack of awareness regarding healthcare rights after Brexit, and that it was therefore difficult to expect citizens to be able to exercise these rights.
On a sunny afternoon in February, a group of young A-level students participating in the Goldsmiths Progression Scheme enjoyed a visit to the London office of the distinguished global law firm, Winston & Strawn, with its magnificent views of central London. There they discussed what was motivating them to consider legal careers and heard from partners and associates about the varied paths they had taken from university to their current roles; from the more traditional path of ‘law degree to firm’, to detours via the world’s conflict zones as a lawyer in the British Army.
As varied as their career histories were, the lawyers of Winston & Strawn also talked about the differences between their roles even within the same firm, with white collar crime, corporate law, commercial disputes and even middle-eastern infrastructure development being among their specialist areas. This developed into a broader discussion about the many different types of legal practice that exist – from the high street to the ‘Magic Circle’, as well as how a law degree was good preparation for opportunities even outside of the legal profession, due in no small part to the many skills that the study of law develops.
The final part of session saw the students forming two teams to debate the controversial real-life case of Charlie Gard, a baby with a rare and degenerative genetic condition who had been the subject of a protracted legal dispute between the hospital that had advocated for withdrawing life-support, and his parents, who wanted to take him overseas for experimental treatment. This gave the students the opportunity to practice some of the skills employed in preparing to try an emotive case, as well as those used in the court room, such as the art of the opening and closing statement, argument and rebuttal.
As part of the emerging collaboration between Goldsmiths and Winston & Stawn, the visit exemplified the strong emphasis on commercial awareness and experiential learning opportunities that will define the LLB Law at Goldsmiths. Students on the LLB will benefit from close links between Goldsmiths and working professionals within the legal world, in ways that take them beyond the world of academia and the traditional classroom environment.
Goldsmiths Law and the Knowing Our Rights research project coordinated a roundtable event on the impact of the European Convention on Human Rights in the UK, on 22 January 2019, at the Royal Society of Arts. You can watch some of the highlights in this video.
The roundtable shed light on issues relating to the UK’s relationship with the ECHR, including:
– the effect of ECHR jurisprudence in the UK, such as in relation to balancing liberty with securitarian interests in the fight against terrorism, the right to vote, state surveillance, the right to private and family life of mothers in prison etc;
– how to fight against human rights sensationalism in the media;
– raising awareness about how human rights affect our lives;
– the link between Euroscepticism and the Conservative Government’s antipathy towards the Human Rights Act;
– where we are now with the Conservative Government’s plan to substitute a British Bill of Rights for the Human Rights Act, and how Brexit may have changed the dynamics.
The event provided another opportunity to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Royal Assent to the HRA, with a focus on the persons behind the HRA, those who helped bring it to life and determine its architecture (and on those who antagonise it too).
Speakers: Jonathan Cooper OBE, Doughty Street Chambers; Sanchita Hosali, Director, British Institute of Human Rights; Liora Lazarus, Associate Professor in Law, Faculty of Law, Oxford; Fellow, St Anne’s College, and Head of Research at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights; Nadia O’Mara, Policy and Campaigns Officer at Liberty; Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, Visiting Professor, Law, Goldsmiths, University of London; Maya Sikand, Head of the Human Rights Team, Garden Court Chambers; Adam Wagner, Doughty Street Chambers; founder of RightsInfo and UK Human Rights Blog; Ruvi Ziegler, Associate Professor of Law, University of Reading.
Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, Head of Law at Goldsmiths and director of the Knowing Our Rights project, chaired the event.
The event was supported by the Human Rights Lawyers’ Association.