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Law and Policy Clinics launch for spring term (as part of ‘Beyond the Classroom’)

This week we are launching two Law and Policy Clinics in Counter Terrorism and Human Rights and Immigration. Over 60 students from Law and other departments in the School of Culture and Society have signed up to them.

Our Counter Terrorism and Human Rights Clinic is led by the legendary Clive Stafford Smith and will look at key themes in the setting of real life cases and the opportunity to get practical experience in the issues surrounding human rights and the ‘War on Terror’.

The Immigration Law Clinic is led by our wonderful Marta Minetti and will explore key current immigration themes, seeking to situate them within the government’s overarching “hostile environment” approach.

The clinics take place in the Spring Term via five two hour in-person sessions, and independent small group and individual student, Clinic-supervised, work.

Clinics are part of the ‘Beyond the Classroom’ initiative developed by Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, Associate Head of School, and supported by the Head of School, Prof Adam Dinham.

The initiative brings students from different parts of the School of Culture & Society together, exposing them to unique experiential learning opportunities and study trips, to enhance cross-disciplinary skills, strengthen student community and expand the students’ career horizons.

Immersing students in legal and cultural London (autumn 23 version)

Study trips to legal London are central to the Goldsmiths Law experience. Autumn 2023 saw Law students from all years of study go into legal institutions, museums and archives for important experiential learning.

Immigration Law students in Year 2 visited the Migration Museum in London along with their lecturer Dr. Marta Minetti. This is a particularly special visit for us because of our close ties with the local community in Lewisham, and visiting the museum provided an important opportunity to understand the law in its socio-political and local context.

The Human Rights Law and Clinic visited the Queer Museum with their lecturer Dr. Aristi Volou, where they learnt about the relationship between the Law and Queer Rights. Critical and intersectional analyses of the law are important to us at Goldsmiths Law, and we make sure that our students hear about these themes not only from our lecturers, but also through immersive learning experiences such as this museum visit.

 

Year 3 dissertation students had a chance to visit the LSE Reading Rooms in November 2023, where they learnt about doing deep-dive primary research in archives from one of the library’s curators. They had a chance to examine a selection of original archival material from the Women’s Library and Hall Carpenter Collection, which included documents on women’s suffrage, regulation of sex work/prostitution, trafficking, equal pay, LGBT rights.

The third week of November saw Year 2 Tort Law students visit the Royal Observatory at Greenwich with their lecturer, Dr. Jinal Dadiya. Students had a chance to learn about the history of time and length measurement, as relevant to legal adjudication and consumer protection. The lecture ended with a brief discussion on the relationship between commercial clarity and judicial fairness.

As part of the Beyond the Classroom initiative, which brings Law students in contact with other students and faculty in our Social Sciences and Media departments, and exposes them to a wealth of opportunities in London, we have, since the beginning of term, been to the National Theatre, an architectural awards evening at the Royal Academy of Arts, a book talk on big tech firms’ intrusion upon our freedom to think, a visit to the House of Commons and a lunchtime event with the NGO Airwars where we discussed civilian casualties in Palestine, Israel and Ukraine.

Sophia, a Year 1 student at Goldsmiths, said about the programme: “One of the things that really drew me to Goldsmiths was its hands-on, immersive learning experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom. The Beyond the Classroom initiative has far exceeded my expectations, enabling me to meet fascinating people from throughout the University and scaffolding me with the acute understanding of greater societal issues and the necessary tools to contribute both directly and indirectly to positive change through a Law degree”.

Head of Department visits Berkeley Law

With the comparative criminal justice class, discussing how ECHR jurisprudence can be a driving force for legal reform.

With Prof Charles Weisselberg, on a visit to the Robbins Collection, which hosts over 300 manuscripts, of the civil law and religious traditions, dating back to the 12th century.

Head of Goldsmiths Law, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, was invited to visit the world-leading Berkeley Law School in October 2023. He taught the comparative law postgraduate class, supported Berkeley’s Human Rights Clinic and delivered a research paper on ‘The assault of the British government on the European Court of Human Rights’.

Prof Giannoulopoulos’ work raises awareness on how the Conservative government has continued to undermine the historically strong relationship that the UK enjoys with the Court, to satisfy the right wing audience in the party. Talking about his experiences with the pedagogy at Berkeley, Dimitrios says that he “found great inspiration in them, about continuing to actively engage students in class, bringing film, literature and popular culture into the lectures and the importance of integrating theory and legal practice; all these are elements that we are already enthusiastically embedding into our teaching at Goldsmiths Law”.

Observing Berkeley’s Prof Andrea Roth, teaching Criminal Evidence.

Year 3 student launches Commercial Awareness Study Group

Study group

copyright: pixabay

Our Year 3 student, Dara Antova, writes about her motivation in launching a Commercial Awareness Study Group (all students watch out for the invites to forthcoming sessions):

The decision to initiate the ‘Commercial Awareness Study Group’ came from recognising the many challenges that exist in navigating the Training Contract route and/or legal work experience applications.

The primary goal was to create an opportunity to work with fellow students and applicants, to enhance our skills for discussion on news topics, case studies, and other interview-based scenarios in the legal industry—a skill crucial yet challenging to refine.

Our first session, conducted in collaboration with the Law librarian, Lauren Cummings, was nothing short of brilliant. Focusing on legal market analysis of news stories, the session proved to be highly interactive. Each attendee actively participated, sharing and discussing their analysis. The relaxed environment allowed for open conversations, providing us with the opportunity to learn more about the attendees’ aspirations while creating a space to share concerns and discover common ground. Beyond the professional development aspect, these study groups will act as a support system, fostering a sense of understanding among participants.

The positive reception of the first session has left fellow students and myself eagerly anticipating the next one, and I will be excited to continue facilitating a space where students can both enhance their commercial awareness skills and find valuable support in their legal journey.

Goldsmiths Law ranked 1st in the UK for student satisfaction

 

We are now officially the number 1 ranked Law School in the UK for learning and teaching and the student experience. This is according to The Complete University Guide Law League Table 2024, which ranked our Law Department as number 1 in the UK for student satisfaction.

Published since 2007, The Complete University Guide rates 130 academic institutions in the UK, on account of a range of quality metrics, and is one of the key league tables published annually in the UK.

Our number 1 ranking in the Complete University Guide follows on our outstanding performance in the National Student Survey 2022, where our Law Department was ranked number 1 in the UK for its intellectually stimulating curriculum and programme, and we were rated the best Law department in London for the quality of our teaching. We were, more specifically, ranked the No. 1 Law department in the UK for the organisation and management of our LLB degree (with a 94 per cent satisfaction rate), and the (joint) top Law School in the UK for our ‘intellectually stimulating’ course (with 100 per cent satisfaction rate); we were also rated (joint) No. 4 in the UK, best Law School in London and best Law School in the South of England, for the quality of teaching in our LLB more broadly.

Such UK-leading ratings are hallmarks of an emerging reputation for national teaching excellence, and demonstrate the positive qualitative impact that the pedagogic approach that we have founded our LLB Law programmes upon are having on our student community.

 

Goldsmiths Law Summer School in Athens: “An Experience Beyond Words”

Goldsmiths students and staff in the Hellenic Parliament

Legal cosmopolitanism is a core value underlying the Goldsmiths Law curriculum, and in keeping with this approach to academic learning, we organised for 19 Goldsmiths students, including 5 students from our Journalism, Media, Politics, Sociology and Anthropology departments, as well as 8 students from Greek Universities we’re collaborating with, to attend our annual Summer School in Athens this June, on Human Rights, Law, and Policy: Britain, Greece and the EU. All 19 Goldsmiths students were supported by generous student scholarships by the Department of Law; widening access and participation for all is a key priority for our Department.

The programme, spread across a week, was a mix of experiential learning opportunities, taught academic sessions, cultural visits and student-centred socials. Students had the chance to learn contextually from diplomats, UN experts, Law academics, law enforcement officials, sociologists, economists, environmental law experts and other subject specialists. The summer school faculty brought together experts from Greek Universities and organisations as well as Goldsmiths Law academics.

Besides the academic element, students came together and created unique memories in more relaxed settings; the trip to the Athenian riviera and beach were important highlights, and so were dinners at local tavernas, fish restaurants, and cooling down from the Athenian heat with iced cappuccino coffee! There was sport and other games on the beach, and bowling, past midnight, on the final evening out!

Engaged Learning in Context

Goldsmiths students had the opportunity to attend academic sessions and seminars at leading Athenian universities, including the prestigious Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, the Harokopio University, Athens University of Economics and Business, and the Athens Conservatoire. Experts on important areas of Greek public law and human rights discussed a range of important issues, such as the refugee crisis, developments in constitutional, human rights and EU law, law and technology, and economic policy. Instructors included a retired female Greek police general, Zacharoula Tsirigoti, who oversaw the refugee crisis in the Greek-Turkish border in 2015, as well as leading UK and Greek academics.

Research roundtable at Panteion University

Research roundtable at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences

The keynote address was delivered by Ms. Jessica Simor KC, a Visiting Professor in our Law Department, and leading human rights barrister at Matrix Chambers, who has recently led on the major KlimaSeniorinnen v Switzerland case at the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg. Jessica spoke about the ground-breaking development of using human rights law to address climate change, and delivered a practical workshop to participants, about how to prepare a major case at the European Court of Human Rights.

Students’ understanding of refugee law and policy gained further perspective during a visit to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Students engaged in theoretical discussion and practical exercises.

Visit to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Another highlight of the trip was a discussion on the political role played by Greek Tragedies at the Theatre of Dionysus – the location at which they would have first been performed. Goldsmiths’ Dr Natalie Katsou, an expert on ancient Greek tragedies, introduced students to the theatre’s architecture and use in ancient times, before exploring the idea of ‘refuge’ in ancient Greek theatre in another workshop.

The programme, which began with a visit to the Greek Ambassador in London, HE Yannis Tsaousis, came to an official close at the British Council in Athens, where the British Ambassador to Greece, HE Matthew Lodge, awarded students their summer school certificates and spoke to them about the importance of British-Greek ties and UK’s commitment to Human Rights. He highlighted the significance of Goldsmiths Law’s summer school as an outstanding illustration of invaluable bilateral internationalisation efforts in the post Brexit era, and a gateway to the development of more comprehensive student exchange schemes in the future, in which area Goldsmiths Law could be seen as a pioneer.

Closing ceremony

To prove this point, the Head of Goldsmiths Law, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, and the Vice Rector of the Athens University of Economics and Business, Prof Vasilios Papadakis, announced to the Ambassador the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, in the context of the Athens summer school. The MoU marks the beginning of ambitious work to set up student exchange programmes which will allow Goldsmiths students to study in Greece a range of modules on Law, Economics, Business and Management, as part of their three year LLB, and Greek students from the Athens University of Economics and Business to study for the LLM and other postgraduate qualifications at Goldsmiths.

The British Ambassador, HE Matthew Lodge, congratulating Goldsmiths’ Prof Giannoulopoulos and AUEB’s Prof Papadakis for the signing of the MoU between the two Universities

Exploring Greek Landmarks from a Legal Lens 

Journalism student, Rebekah, citing Pericles in "Pnyka"

Journalism student, Rebekah, and Goldsmiths Law’s, Dr Jinal Dadiya, citing Pericles in “Pnyka”

Goldsmiths Law is all about experiential learning, and this time, our adventures moved from legal London to Legal Athens (and legal historical Athens!). Particularly moving was a group reading of Pericles’ funeral oration at Pnyka, the birthplace of democratic assemblies. Trips to the Archaeological Museum and the Acropolis Museum were marked by insightful observations on classical Greece as well as on legal and policy issues surrounding the return of the Elgin Marbles. Students also received a guided tour of the Hellenic Parliament, and in one of its chambers, similarities and differences between the Greek parliament and the Westminster model were explored.

The trip was about lessons and learning as much as it was about friendship and fun. Students from different cohorts and departments had a chance to bond, laugh, and think together in more informal environments with their instructors. Student satisfaction with the experience is best summed up by the words of Sociology and Politics student, Samara, who writes,

“This Summer School was an experience beyond words. As a Sociology & Politics student the invitation was kindly extended to allow me more opportunities in a field of interest, which I am very grateful for. There were many academic highlights, including learning about the migration crisis in Greece and how this corresponds with policy in the UK, as well as the Greek economic crisis and how this has effected the country to this day (at the Athens University of Economics and Business). Being able to develop my political stance on migration and economic issues from a law perspective was invaluable. All lectures and group activities were gracefully hosted by staff at the partnering universities or visiting professors, providing us all with thought provoking sessions and extra resources to pursue the field further. Furthermore, the trip came with the benefit of the enriching culture and landmarks that makes Athens the city that it is. The historic architecture and perfect preservation of what was once ancient Greece only added to the amazing experience, it’s completely incomparable to seeing the same artefacts in the British History Museum.”

Discussing constitutional law practice In the secondary chamber in the Hellenic Parliament

Discussing constitutional law practice In the secondary chamber in the Hellenic Parliament

Law student, Zara Sadiq, added:

Overall, my summer school experience in Athens was truly amazing. The combination of historical landmarks, delectable food, and warm hospitality made it a trip to remember. I highly recommend going on the summer school for anyone seeking a blend of cultural immersion and educational opportunities, and special thanks to the Law Department for such an incredible opportunity”.

Big thanks to Zara and Samara from our part. This means a lot!

Head of Goldsmiths Law, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, who devised and led on the delivery of the summer school for the second year in a row, with the crucial support of the Study in Greece organisation, finally noted:

The list of educational, cultural and social activities that we have undertaken, within just a week in Athens, in itself speaks volumes about the added academic, professional and emotional benefits that our students will have acquired there. It still fails to tell the full story of the unique memories that we have all brought back with us to London. Our Law programme goes much further than transmit technical knowledge, legal or otherwise, to students. It immerses them in cultural and professional experiences, and formal institutional settings, and seeks to provide constant inspiration to them, through the people and settings and experiences it introduces them, to aim high and achieve their dreams, in life.

We look forward to many of our prospective students coming with us to Athens next year!

Goldsmiths Law funds 12 summer internships with leading human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith OBE – students will work on capital cases, torture and rendition

We are thrilled to announce the first of many annual summer internship programmes with Goldsmiths Distinguished Visiting Professor Clive Stafford Smith OBE.

The Department of Law will provide 12 x £500 scholarships to support the scheme.

We are grateful to Prof Stafford-Smith for volunteering his time and expertise with the aim of offering the unique opportunity to our students to work on a range of live projects relating to counter-terrorism and human rights.

We are very pleased with the diversity of the group of students who have successfully applied – ten of the twelve are BAME, and seven women. We also opened the process up to various other departments, reflecting Goldsmiths’ commitment to interdepartmental coordination. Two undergraduates are from the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies and one student is doing an MS in Filmmaking.

Clive’s ten-week internship includes students from Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, Canterbury, Leicester, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Queens College, so our students will work with their peers from other universities, some doing linguistics, some studying sociology. In addition, the Goldsmiths students with work alongside Clive’s apprentices from last year who are spending the summer in Alabama and Texas – the hope being that some of our cohort will follow in their footsteps to work on the ground in the US next summer.

The students will begin with a two-day introduction in Bristol on June 19-20, where Clive will run them through the various projects they will work on. For example, all the students will assemble a Case Theory Memo for a death penalty case where it seems likely that an innocent prisoner was executed, based on a review of the entire record that Clive has already laboriously assembled from several states. This means they will get to see an entire capital case from start to finish. It will ultimately lead to a film or a podcast, but only after a second year where – as with three of last year’s cases from Texas, and two from Alabama – students do the follow-up factual investigation.

Teenager Clinton Young is on death row

The students will also take part in factual and legal research for two clients still facing execution, and on June 19th, they will be able to speak directly to one (Clinton Young) to hear what it meant for a teenager to be sent to death row.

When it comes to the Guantánamo Bay clients, the advocacy is very broad. Several students have already volunteered to help Ahmed Rabbani (ISN 1461) with his Guantánamo Cook Book (and two of the 2022 students will be demonstrating some of Ahmed’s recipes at the introduction session). They will also be seeking to replicate Ahmed’s recent Karachi art show for Yemeni prisoner Khalid Qassim (ISN 242), another talented artist. And they will work on seeking compensation for the oldest Guantánamo prisoner, Saifullah Paracha (ISN 1094), an innocent Pakistani businessman who was kidnapped from Thailand.

Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui

They will also hear from Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui, the sister of Pakistani Dr. Aafia Siddiqui who is the only woman to suffer the US rendition-to-torture programme in the wake of 9/11. Clive recently took on her case, and several students have already indicated their interest in helping secure her justice – she was originally sold to the US for a $55,000 bounty, and abducted with  her three children from Karachi in 2003. Her youngest (Suleiman, an infant, right) was killed; her daughter Maryam (3) was forcibly fostered into an American family for 5 years; and her son Ahmed (5) was similarly held for half a decade. Aafia herself was taken to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan where she was subjected to torture. She is now facing 86 years in a federal prison in Texas.

A major academic project that will run through the summer, called Louisiana v. London, looks at the flaws in the contemporary UK legal system as they are reflected by the American Revolutionaries’ complaints in the US constitution and Bill of Rights. Some students will also work on ‘Constitutions’ for schools and universities that can help illuminate the benefits from a written structure.

Building on the recent ‘Generation on Trial’ project held at Goldsmiths, where Sir Nick Clegg was tried before a panel of Lewisham secondary students for the ‘crime’ of tripling student fees, the summer internship will help with the development of other ‘trials’ involving contemporary issues such as climate change, asylum seekers, and the monarchy.

Generation on Trial project: the trial of Sir Nick Clegg

Over the summer our students will have the opportunity to write, or make short social media films, on a range of legal and social science issues.

On each Tuesday of the ten-week programme, the students will assemble virtually or in person for an interactive lecture by Clive, or one of his guests, on a wide range of legal, advocacy and moral issues. If they wish, the students will also work one-on-one with Clive to identify their particular talents and passion, with a view to constructing as rewarding a career as he has had.

We hope that at the end of the summer the students will return to Goldsmiths fired up with knowledge and inspiration to continue their individual paths towards a life that is aimed at improving the lives of those around them.

Refugee Law Clinic gets “Best Contribution by Law School” award (LawWorks & Attorney General Awards)

As a founding member of the University of London’s Refugee Law Clinic, we are thrilled to announce that the Clinic was recently awarded Best Contribution by a Law School in the LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards.

Goldsmiths Law sends 6 of its students to the Clinic every year. The students are selected through a competitive application process. Students spend a whole year with the Clinic (working part time, from home and in person). They are supervised there by the Clinic’s staff as well as by volunteer lawyers from Magic Circle law firm Clifford Chance LLP and internationally leading corporate law firm Macfarlanes LLP. As the Clinic is open to all University of London students, our students work alongside students from other leading UoL institutions: LSE, UCL, City, QMU, Birkbeck, King’s, Royal Holloway, London Business School and SOAS.

Lily, one of our third year LLB students, who participated in the Clinic’s activities this year, was amongst the students selected by the Clinic to attend the Law Works and Attorney General Awards ceremony. The ceremony took place at the House of Commons on Thursday 27th April and was supported by the Attorney General, the Rt Hon. Victoria Prentis KC MP. The Refugee Law Clinic was one of six shortlisted organisations competing for the award.

This is what Lily said about her her experience of volunteering at the clinic, and Awards night:

I feel very fortunate as the clinic kindly selected myself and one other lovely volunteer to join them at the ceremony in the House of Commons, and there were also many other worthy clinics which had travelled from all around the country, so it was extra special that we went home with something! You can see some coverage of it here.

My experience of volunteering at the UoL Refugee Law Clinic has not only allowed me to develop a strong understanding of refugee and immigration law – which is invaluable given the turbulent legal climate we currently find ourselves in – but it has also been a genuinely enjoyable and rewarding experience. Having such a collaborative environment and being able to work alongside highly experienced solicitors with such passion really transfers onto you, it really is a privilege to be able to learn from their expertise. Finally, I feel grateful to be able to interact directly with clients, particularly being able to meet face-to-face (especially after the last two years during the pandemic) is incredibly insightful, and it seems all too rare to have the chance to listen to their stories while not even having graduated from university yet.

I am currently working on my third case at the clinic, and each time there has been a huge amount of trust instilled between us and the client, allowing us not to merely ‘take over’ clients’ cases, but to work together in order to get them the fairest outcome. I have no doubt that this experience will be invaluable for my future role as a solicitor, and I am grateful both to Goldsmiths and Dr Dagmar Myslinska who recommended me for the role, and to the clinic for allowing me to contribute to championing social justice and human rights.

In terms of the ceremony itself, I am just beyond proud of the Clinic for winning the ‘best contribution by a law school’ as awarded by LawWorks. It is vital work being carried out at a time perhaps that asylum seekers are more under threat than ever. I feel lucky to have been able to contribute to this in some small way and I am sure this is the first of many well deserved awards for their work in assisting those who need it the most.

The Head of the Department, Professor Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, added:

“We are very proud of the time that our students volunteer, and the invaluable contribution they are making, annually, to this critically important Clinic. We were with the Refugee Law Clinic at the very beginning of its journey, and I personally feel very privileged that we were given the opportunity to support it and help build it from scratch. We fully embed it in our LLB and LLM programmes at Goldsmiths, and look forward to continuing to see the fruits of its vital work for years to come”.

 

 

 

Goldsmiths Law students at the European Court of Human Rights

Goldsmiths Law students at the European Court of Human Rights

In another impressive first for the Law Department, 22 students from across Year 1 to 3 of the LLB Law programme (and pathways) attended a Grand Chamber hearing at the European Court of Human Rights and met with the UK Judge at the Court, Judge Tim Eicke KC.

The trip provided students with unique insights of the work of the European Court of Human Rights including careers at the Court and Council of Europe, and led to thought provoking conversations on the right to strike, Judge Sofra O’Leary, the first female President in the history of the Court but also  the politicisation of the work of the Court, particularly in the UK, where the government has introduced legislation to reform the Human Rights Act and alter the relationship with the European Court of Human Rights.

Inkeri, a Year 3 LLB student, who started her course in September 2020, when Universities were battling with the effects of Covid, remarked:

It was incredible that Goldsmiths and the Law Department were able to give this opportunity to so many students. We missed a whole year of teaching in person, which took away many chances to get to know our peers and to fully engage with learning. The trip was not only a great learning opportunity and experience but an amazing chance in getting to know other year threes better, as well as year 2 and year 1 students. Of course, being able to go see a case at the European Court of Human Rights was the highlight of the trip. I really enjoyed observing how each party argued their case and how the judges analysed and asked relevant questions. It was intellectually stimulating and helped in many ways to put into practice what I have learnt during the past three years.

Led by the Head of the Law Department, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, and the department’s Legal Practice and Law Clinics Administrator, Christine Copping, the group made an early start, boarding one of the first Eurostars of the day to make the long, but fun, journey to Strasbourg, via Paris. Before long, students from different year groups were making new acquaintances; they were teasing each other over card games and music preferences and other non-University matters before we reached Paris, – a key ambition of our winter/spring trip abroad and Athens summer school is to bring students closer together, and this trip was getting very successful at that, very early on.

It was incredible that Goldsmiths and the law department were able to give this opportunity to so many students. We missed a whole year of teaching in person, which took away many chances to get to know our peers and to fully engage with learning. The trip was not only a great learning opportunity and experience but an amazing chance in getting to know other year threes better, as well as year 2 and year 1 students – Inkeri, Year 3 LLB student

The second leg of the long journey saw us board a high speed train (TGV) in Paris, and, at speeds reaching approximately 350 km/hour, we arrived in Strasbourg with only half an hour before we were to meet with the UK Judge at the Court, Judge Tim Eicke. Before we realised it, we were crossing the doors of the European Court of Human Rights, just as preparations in the main courtroom were being finalised for the Grand Chamber hearing the following morning. Judge Eicke welcomed us to the Court with a big smile, then quickly took us into the main courtroom! We looked in awe, thinking “that’s where it all happens”, this is the Court that decides human rights matters affecting more than 800 million people in Europe!

Outside the European Court of Human Rights

Outside the European Court of Human Rights

Before we could take it all in, Judge Eicke took us to the Court’s press room, for a workshop. He addressed the operation of the Court, and key concepts such as the “margin of appreciation” and “European consensus”, before reflecting on questions from our students, such as on the career pathway that took him to Strasbourg or on how the British Bill of Rights might affect the operation of the ECHR in the UK.

The one hour workshop finished with Professor Giannoulopoulos giving to Judge Eicke a copy of his recent book (with Prof Yvonne McDermott), on Judicial Independence Under Threat, as a token of our appreciation for Judge Eicke’s extremely kind reception at the Court, on the eve of a Grand Chamber hearing he would be sitting in not least. We are hugely grateful to him and his team for the way in which they welcomed us to the Court.

Day 1 came to an end with a wonderful 3-course dinner, at a traditional Alsatian restaurant. Students were then able to explore picturesque “Strasbourg by night”. The cathedral is perhaps one of the most impressive in Europe.

Another very early start was scheduled for the following day: breakfast at 7 a.m., and the group would be on its way to the Court before 07.45. The students’ organisation was put to the test, and they were all impeccable. By 08.30 a.m. we were entering the Court again, this time amongst dozens of other visitors, including the legal teams leading in the case and court officials.

More than just an academic programme…

The case was Humpert and Others v. Germany. The applicants Karin Humpert, Kerstin Wienrank, Eberhard Grabs and Monika Dahl, are German nationals, teachers who are employed by different Bundesländer as civil servants. In 2009 and 2010, respectively, they did not turn up to work for between one hour and three days, demanding an improvement in learning and working conditions. They were subsequently subjected to disciplinary sanctions for having been on strike. The applicants challenged the decisions against them in different administrative courts and the Federal Constitutional Court, to no avail. The Federal Constitutional Court held in particular that the Basic Law banned civil servants from going on strike, which it considered compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights and the European Court’s case-law. The applicants complained under Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) and under Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights that the ban on teachers – with civil-servant status – striking was not prescribed by law, was disproportionate and, in comparison with teachers employed on a contractual basis, discriminatory.

‘Without the right to strike, collective bargaining would be reduced to collective begging.  The two remain inseparable’, commented Loretta, another Year 3 student, after the hearing.

The legal team for the respondent country, Germany, in the case of Humpert and others v Germany (with Armand, Lily, Hamidha, Megan, Alex, Menelaos, Loretta, other Goldsmiths Law students and Prof Giannoulopoulos in the audience in the background)

It was a very academically intense day and a half for all since departing from London, so the rest of the stay in Strasbourg was officially deemed “free time”. The students were delighted. They split in small groups, to explore the old town, in the sunshine – we were very lucky with the weather.

During the long trip back you could easily tell some great friendships were already being formed… Back to London a few hours later, at St Pancras station, Prof Giannoulopoulos asked everyone to gather one last time: it had been such a privilege that we were able to visit the leading human rights court in Europe, he told the students, and they had all, once again, made everyone at Goldsmiths very proud, with their professionalism and politeness and empathy with each other, and with their academic effort… A shower of messages on the WhatsApp group we were using for communication followed: “I had so much fun. This is definitely a trip I will always remember”, texted Jess. “It was an honour to be part of this”, added Anja. “Thanks for inspiring us as always”, Scarlett said, joining the conversation (and she has only been with us for a few months, as a Year 1 student). “It’s one for the books for me”, pointed our Armand, simply and powerfully. “It was an amazing experience”, echoed Angelene. “It is very rare to be able to go on a trip which is equally as insightful as it is fun… we’re more grateful for it than you know”, commented Lily, and it sounded like the perfect concluding line…

After the Grand Chamber hearing, as we are leaving the courtroom at the European Court of human Rights.

The trip was supported by major scholarships paid by the Department of Law, and the School of Culture & Society, which took away 75% of the cost of the journey for all 22 students.

The Department of Law, and School of Culture & Society, are committed to widening access to these unique opportunities. The Law Department aims to host a winter/spring visit to international courts on an annual basis. Coupled with its annual summer school in Athens, these are initiatives that offer students unique access into legal cosmopolitanism, while building outstanding community and memories that we hope will last our graduates a lifetime.

We would like to express our sincere thanks to Ms Isabella Pilavachi-Jolly, from the Visitors’ Unit/Unité des visites at the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights, and Mr Andrew Cutting, spokesperson at the Council of Europe, for their invaluable support with this trip. The trip would have not been possible without their support. 

Immersive legal education meets technology and art

Salvador Dalí exhibition

Salvador Dalí predicted a future where machines would be able to think for themselves.

The Art Law module has gone from strength to strength again this academic year, providing a unique illustration of our Department’s highly distinctive, innovative teaching practice, with a strong emphasis on cross-disciplinarity and immersive legal education.

Led by Dr Plamen Dinev, whose research expertise spans a broad range of specialist areas, including intellectual property, technology (particularly 3D printing) and arts, the module brings together Goldsmiths Law faculty and a range of external partners and contributors.

Lecture at Mishcon de Reya

Mishcon de Reya are co-teaching our Art Law module, with one of the lectures taking place in their 21st century boutique law firm offices.

Part lecture, part exhibition.

We are especially thankful to Mishcon de Reya, a globally leading law firm specialising in the interconnections between law, technology and the arts, for co-teaching the module from their London office. The Art Law class visited Mishcon’s offices, for a two-hour lecture on the Art Market (and how Law regulates it), which was preceded by observation and discussion around the art collection that Mishcon house in their offices. The collection featured a range of powerful images taken by American photojournalist Eve Arnold – the first woman to join Magnum Photos – known for documenting Malcolm X and the Black Power movement in the United States.

A mini lecture from within the Parthenon marbles gallery at the British Museum. Prof Giannoulopoulos addresses their cultural and historic significance for Greece.

Earlier in the term, the Art Law students had a class in the British Museum, from within the Parthenon marbles gallery, with the conversation revolving around Greece’s claim for the repatriation of the marbles and their return to the Acropolis museum in Athens; Ioannis Andritsopoulos, the UK correspondent of Greece’s leading daily “Ta Nea”, whose investigative journalism has brought to the surface Boris Johnson’s Oxford Union speech which was making a passionate case for repatriation, and who has more recently revealed that the British museum is in ‘preliminary’ talks with Greece around finding a formula for the return of the marbles, spoke to the students about his work in this area. In the conversation that followed, this time at the Royal Society of Arts, where the group moved after the visit to the British Museum, the students drew on colonialist critiques and ideas of cultural heritage to show, predominantly, feelings of empathy with the claim for the return of the marbles. They also partook in a debating exercise where they had to argue for and against repatriation.

Goldsmiths Law students at the Royal Society of Arts, after their visit to the British Museum, debating ‘for” and “against” the repatriation of the Parthenon marbles.

In the penultimate week of term, the Art Law class was in central London again, this time visiting the wonderful Courtauld gallery, in the morning, where they were given a tour of works of Van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Cézanne, Manet, before visiting the Morgan Stanley exhibition on Peter Doig, one of the most celebrated and important painters working today, whose work has been heavily influenced from these major impressionist and post-impressionist artists housed in the Courtauld. Tanya Harris, from the Courtauld, contextualised the paintings for the students, confronting them with questions surrounding gender-equality, class division, and racial justice. Jonathan Bridges, formerly at Goldsmiths, and now at the Courtauld, had made the visit possible for our students.

Discussing Édouard Manet’s “A Bar at the Folies Bergère”

“Part of the exhibition and tour allowed us to see how Peter Doig ‘takes inspiration from art, music, poetry and film’, and how ‘his paintings are often rooted in the experience of places and people, or spring from a photograph or a captivating image in a book’”, noted Professor Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, the Head of the Department, who helped introduce, with Dr Dinev, some of the key external activities in the Art Law curriculum, and who attended the visit. “Our approach to deconstructing Law at Goldsmiths is equally multi-dimensional and immersive”, Dimitrios highlighted for the attention of some of the students attending, calling upon them to “use art, music, film, poetry”, and to “interact with places and people”, in their effort to analyse the Law.

He also added: “The world-renowned comparative law scholar, Prof Mireille Delmas-Marty, first of the Sorbonne and then of the Collège de France, would always bring poetry into her lectures, to depict complex movements, transitions, transformations, divergence and rapprochement, in Law and society. I have more recently seen our Visiting Professor, Leslie Thomas KC, do the same thing, with great impact, in his anti-racist criminal law lectures, at Gresham College and Goldsmiths, and in all the other places where audiences were fortunate enough to see how deeply Law can be enriched in this way, and that breaking long-standing cultural barriers may require the emotional power that one can find in poetry, literature and music (much more than in black letter law).

Students using VR technology

Students exploring Dali with the help of VR technology

After the visit to the Courtauld, the students engaged with a highly immersive visit to the Dali: Cybernetics – The Immersive Experience. Using state-of-the-art audiovisual media, the exhibition exposed our students to surrealist Salvador Dalí, whose dreamlike works have had a profound influence on such modern artists as Jeff Koons and Goldsmiths graduate Damien Hirst. The installation included an interactive virtual reality journey into Dalí’s most iconic paintings, featuring oneiric scenes inspired by the work of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.

“From Dalí to DALLE-E 2 – as part of modules such as Art Law and AI Law, our students have had the opportunity to place the law within its socio-economic context and explore the legal implications of artificial intelligence, VR, and other cutting-edge technologies currently shaping the modern art world”, commented Dr Plamen Dinev, module convenor for Art Law.