Goldsmiths LLB students to study law of financial wrongdoing with barrister in leading Commercial Law chambers

Financial wrongdoing is one of the greatest challenges of our day. From localised bribery and corruption to international fraud, the unlawful extraction of money threatens global governance and business, and the welfare of the world’s poorest people. The law’s approach to fraud and corruption is therefore a topic of immense importance, and great interest.

Goldsmiths LLB Law students will have the opportunity to obtain specialist theoretical knowledge and engage with professional practice relating to fraud and corruption by attending the Fraud and Corruption branch of our Law & Policy Clinic. The Clinic will run parallel to the ‘Criminal Law: Theory and Practice’ module in Year 1.

In the Clinic, they will:

–      Learn about the legal tools available in domestic law to assist enforcement agencies in discovering and preventing fraud, and to help victims to recover misappropriated funds.

–      Consider the effectiveness of international law in dealing with cases of fraud and corruption.

–      Participate in seminars run by leading experts in the field.

–      Engage in a piece of supervised independent research work on domestic or international law, which may seek to contribute towards wider projects being conducted by the Clinic’s partners.

The Fraud and Corruption branch of the Law & Policy Clinic will be supervised by Mr Aaron Taylor, a barrister in practice at Fountain Court Chambers, London.

We are delighted to announce his appointment at Goldsmiths Law as an Associate Lecturer with a focus on the Law of Financial Wrongdoing. Aaron practices a broad range of commercial law, with a particular interest in the law relating to civil fraud, business crime, and bribery/corruption. He is also interested in financial wrongdoing as it relates to new technologies, such as blockchain contracts and cryptocurrencies, and in the law regulating the market in art and antiquities.

Aaron will contribute lectures to several undergraduate modules within Goldsmiths’ LLB programme relating, broadly, to the civil and criminal law of financial wrongdoing.

Aaron is taking up the position of Associate Lecturer in Law alongside his full-time practice as a barrister at Fountain Court Chambers, a long established and leading set of commercial barristers, based in the Temple, London, with new offices in Singapore’s financial district. Fountain Court has long been regarded as a premier set within the ‘magic circle’ of leading commercial sets of barristers in London. Its members have been involved in many of the most significant pieces of commercial litigation to come to trial over the past few decades, and it has a distinguished record of being involved in cases making new law, including many decisions of the House of Lords, Supreme Court, Privy Council, and Court of Appeal. Members of Chambers acting in six of the leading cases were identified by The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2019.

Aaron joins Goldsmiths Law having previously been a tutor in law at Trinity Hall and St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. He was educated at Bristol (BA History), Cambridge (BA Law) and Oxford (BCL), and has published articles across a range of private, public and criminal law topics in a number of leading academic journals.

We’re looking forward to Aaron making an outstanding contribution to the LLB Law and LLB Law with Criminal Justice and Human Rights degrees at Goldsmiths, and we’re delighted that he’s joined our dynamic Law team.

Preparing students for diverse career paths, inspiring them to pursue social justice (spotlight on Dr Dagmar Myslinska)

Dr Dagmar Myslinska has recently joined Goldsmiths Law. She will be convening the Contract Law module in Year 1, contributing policy research to our ‘Britain in Europe’ think tank, and taking the lead at the immigration law branch of our Law & Policy clinic. 

In this Q & A, she reflects on her educational background, rich teaching experience and legal professional expertise, and the exciting contributions she is looking forward to making to the LLB Law programme that aims to shape generations of lawyers ready for 21st century legal practice.

Where did you work/study before joining Goldsmiths?

I did my doctoral studies at the LSE. Before arriving at Goldsmiths, I had also taught at various undergraduate and postgraduate law and criminal justice programmes in the US and Japan, including at Columbia Law School.

What are your specialist areas in Law?

My research focuses on the intersection of law, migration, and equality. For better or worse, Brexit has provided an additional impetus to my work.

What is your role in Goldsmiths’ Law programme?

I’m the convenor for Contract Law. I will also be contributing policy research to the Britain in Europe think tank, based here at Goldsmiths Law, which focuses on legal and political implications of the UK’s evolving relationship with the EU. Moreover, I will be taking the lead on immigration-related projects for the Law and Policy Clinic. We will shortly be announcing some very exciting and timely clinic initiatives focusing on immigration policy.

What is your approach to teaching? What are your plans for Contract Law for the next academic year?

My approach to teaching is active and collaborative. I seek to make law come alive for my students, by engaging with its broader social, economic, and political contexts, and by connecting law to real events, real policy and ethical issues, and real people. Learning, of course, is much more than textbook-based. I hope to support my students so that they can learn from one another and from self-reflection as well. My foremost goals are to enable my students to think critically, never be afraid to question everything (including the foundations of laws, and my viewpoints!), and build various skills so that they become prepared for diverse career paths and inspired to pursue social justice.

In Contract Law, Dr Myslinska is planning to engage students in close analysis of illustrative case studies and experiential learning activities, including negotiating and drafting a house sale contract, and in skill-building for the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination.

In Contract Law, Dr Myslinska is planning to engage students in close analysis of illustrative case studies and experiential learning activities, including negotiating and drafting a house sale contract, and in skill-building for the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (Photo by from Pexels)

Contract law is in many ways very accessible to new law students. Many of its concepts are easy to relate to because all of us enter into contracts on a daily basis, without even realising that we are doing so. The year-long module will cover all aspects of contract law, including its economic and political foundations, how contracts are formed, how they are performed, and what happens when something goes wrong. The module will cover a variety of types of contracts, such as individual tenancy agreements, complex commercial finance agreements, verbal agreements, and smart contracts. To make the subject even more interesting, I plan to engage students in close analysis of illustrative case studies, in experiential activities (negotiating and drafting a house sale contract), and in skill-building for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination. Finally, to help students gain a broader perspective on British contract law and its theoretical underpinnings, I will also introduce some contrasting examples from laws of select foreign jurisdictions.

You have significant experience in teaching Law at US academic institutions. Are there particular elements of US legal education that you’re seeking to bring to Goldsmiths Law?

Dr Myslinska anticipates that Goldsmiths students will be very receptive to some hallmarks of teaching law at US institutions, such as active class participation.

Since law degrees are postgraduate professional degrees in the US, American law teaching has increasingly emphasised the importance of building legal skills from day 1. I anticipate that Goldsmiths students will be very receptive to some hallmarks of teaching law at US institutions, such as taking ownership of their learning and making it collaborative and interactive – for example, through experiential learning (such as debating, drafting, negotiating, mooting, client interviewing), and active class participation. I also like to emphasise the importance of solid analytical and communication skills, unbiased judgment, thorough preparation, thinking outside the box, and not forgetting the human element involved in every legal issue. I hope to instill in my students the importance of these elements, all necessary to good lawyering, rather than teaching legal doctrine only.

What are you looking forward to the most being at Goldsmiths?

The culture at Goldsmiths promotes creativity, free thinking, new ideas, and interdisciplinary socially-driven approaches.

I am excited about being surrounded by passionate and brilliant colleagues who excel as teachers and publicly-engaged researchers. The culture at Goldsmiths promotes creativity, free thinking, new ideas, and interdisciplinary socially-driven approaches, among both its students and faculty. It’s an inspiring, relatively small community where people are happy and supportive. I am looking forward to making Goldsmiths my home and learning a great deal from both my students and colleagues.

Moreover, as an inaugural lecturer in law, I feel extremely privileged to be able to help shape the direction of the law programme, thereby creating a framework for educating generations of creative, engaged, ethical lawyers.

European human rights law has not usurped the power of Parliament

Goldsmiths Law academics respond to Lord Sumption’s third Reith Lecture on ‘Human Rights and Wrongs’

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (credit: Council of Europe)

The BBC  invites each year a leading figure to deliver a series of lectures on the radio, to advance public debate about significant issues of contemporary interest. In his third lecture this year, former Supreme Court judge, Jonathan Sumption, argued that judges, especially those of the European Court of Human Rights, have usurped the power of Parliament by expanding the interpretation of human rights law.

The lecture caused a stir in the legal world, with some commentators endorsing its key message (to reduce the impact of European human rights and bring power back to Parliament), whereas others, human rights experts in particular, have quickly responded by highlighting the vital importance of human rights and impact that the case law of the European Court of Human Rights has had in the UK, for example in relation to freedom from discrimination or the right to privacy.

Goldsmiths Law experts have reacted to the lecture. Our Head of Law, Professor Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, has a published (with Prof Julian Petley) a long piece in Open Democracy, noting that Lord Sumption’s analysis offers a stark reminder of how deeply entrenched the anti-European human rights narrative is in the UK.

In a letter to the Times, Visiting Professor in Law, Kirsty Brimelow QC, explained that the provisions of the Human Rights Act ensure that parliament remains sovereign and the courts do not obtain extra powers.

Finally, Visiting Professor in Law, Adam Wagner, has written for the Prospect magazine, denouncing the misrepresentations and overblown criticisms of the European Court of Human Rights, and concluding that Brexit puts in serious risk the longevity of the operation of the European Convention on Human Rights in the UK.

The law programme at Goldsmiths offers a unique opportunity to develop expertise in issues relating to human rights, including by studying for the LLB Law with Criminal Justice and Human Rights.

Exciting new Goldsmiths Law academics announcements

We’re delighted to welcome new arrivals to our teaching team:

Dr Alex Dymock returns to Goldsmiths – where she was once a Master’s student – from Royal Holloway, University of London, as a criminal law specialist with research interests in sexuality, sexual ‘deviance’ and the history of drugs.

Dr Virginie Barral joins us from the University of Hertfordshire, where she was Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Research. Virginie is an experienced lecturer in international law and human rights, with a passion for environmental issues including sustainable development and climate justice.

Dagmar Myslinska’s teaching career has taken her from New York and Tokyo to Goldsmiths, via the London School of Economics. Previous work as a lawyer based in US law firms, including in relation to challenging anti-same sex marriage legislation in the United States, speaks to her interest in social justice, and she brings an interdisciplinary approach to her teaching that includes a deep interest in migratory, racial and post-colonial issues.

Adam Wagner is a leading barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, and the founder and Chair of the pioneering and multi-award-winning RightsInfo charity. He will be joining Goldsmiths Law as a Visiting Professor, bringing with him a wealth of experience and exciting opportunities that our students will benefit from as they seek to learn the skills demanded by a career in law.

Dr Dymock, Dr Barral and Ms Myslinska will be leading in the delivery of Year 1 modules in the LLB Law programme, including Criminal Law: Theory and Practice, Contract Law and Public Law and the Human Rights Act. Prof Wagner will be making contributions to the Public Law and Human Rights Act module in Year 1, alongside leading on a number of initiatives relating to human rights law and public education.

Dr Alex Dymock

Dr Alex Dymock’s expertise lies principally in sexuality and gender studies with a focus on criminal law and sexual ‘deviance’. Her work draws frequently on her interdisciplinary background and combines methods from both the humanities and social sciences.

Prior to joining Goldsmiths, Alex was a Lecturer in Criminology and Law at Royal Holloway, University of London. She completed her PhD at the School of Law, University of Reading in 2015 and before this undertook an MA in Gender and Culture at Goldsmiths, and a BA in English Language and Literature at the University of Leeds. She converted her first degree to law at the University of Westminster.

Currently, Alex is leading a project funded by a Wellcome Trust Seed Award with Dr Leah Moyle and Dr Ben Mechen, entitled Pharmacosexuality: the past, present and future of sex on drugs. The project investigates the historical and contemporary interaction between the pharmaceuticalisation of sexuality and recreational drug use in sexual contexts, and uses both archival and qualitative methods. More information about the project is available here and on Twitter: @pharmacosex.


Alex’s research interests centre on interdisciplinary sexuality and gender studies, particularly sexual ‘deviance’ and subcultures, pornography and the law, the history of sexuality, sexual medicine and psychiatry, and feminist and queer theory. She also has interests in the history of drugs, and the relationship between crime, criminal justice and visual culture.

Aside from Alex’s work on sex and drugs, other recent and current research projects include:

  • A book developed from her PhD thesis, which examines the interaction between the history of discourses of perversion and criminal law in England and Wales (under contract with Routledge).
  • The longstanding cultural, legal and social impacts of the Operation Spanner investigation.
  • A series of publications on ‘revenge pornography’, with recent work appearing in a 2018 issue of Legal Studies.


Alex is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and her teaching frequently employs critical and radical pedagogies. She also has an interest in experiential learning through assessment, and in 2018 was awarded a Royal Holloway College Teaching Excellence Prize with Commendation for her work in this area.

Public engagement

Alex’s research has been featured in a number of media outlets, such as BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour and the Guardian. She has given talks at venues such as the British Film Institute, Amnesty International, and the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.

Dr Virginie Barral

Dr Virginie Barral specialises in international law and holds a PhD from the European University Institute (Florence), and postgraduate degrees from University College London and Université Paris 2 Panthéon Assas.

Before joining Goldsmiths she was an Associate Professor and Associate Dean Research at Hertfordshire Law School. She has previously taught at Université Paris 5. Prior to this she has worked for the French Commission for Sustainable Development and as a legal expert in the Paris office of Eversheds LLP.

She is a member of the European Society of International Law, the Société Française pour le droit international and the Society of Legal Scholars, and is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Virginie has extensive experience teaching international law, human rights, EU Law, public law and international environmental law. Her teaching combines theoretical grounding with innovative teaching skills and she is keen on placing current legal questions within their wider political and social contexts. Virginie has been an invited Professor at Chuo University (Tokyo) and a research scholar at Michigan Law School.


Virginie has significant research expertise in international environmental law and is widely published in the field, with work in leading journals including a 2018 article at the International and Comparative Law Quarterly, where she explores how the right to water is consolidated in its procedural dimension, and a 2012 article in the European Journal on International Law, on sustainable development. Her 2015 monograph (Bruylant) explores the legal nature and implications of sustainable development in international law. Virginie is interested in issues of equity, sovereignty, natural resources, climate change and climate justice, and the relationship between culture and the environment. Her latest projects focus on environmental peacebuilding; climate justice, culture and human rights; and the role of community-based resource management.

Public engagement

Virginie regularly disseminates the results of her research at international conferences and colloquia. She did so most recently at the Sorbonne at a Conference opened by the COP21 president on the Global Pact for the Environment to be discussed by the UN General Assembly. In the last few years she has presented her work in e.g. Leiden, Tokyo, Kyoto, Geneva, the SLS, ESIL and the SFDI and in a symposium jointly organised by the French and Quebec Ministries for culture, on culture and sustainable development.

Dagmar Myslinska

Dagmar Myslinska has undertaken a fully-funded PhD at the Department of Law at the London School of Economics, under the supervision of Professor Nicola Lacey and Dr Coretta Phillips, which critically examines Poles’ experience of mobility and their positioning within EU and UK equality frameworks. Dagmar graduated from Yale University with a BA (cum laude) in Psychology and Film Studies, with distinctions in both majors. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Columbia University School of Law, where she was the Head Notes Editor for the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, and a recipient of the Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar award. She was admitted to the New York and New Jersey state bars in 2005.


Prior to joining Goldsmiths Law, Dagmar taught modules on commercial law, evidence law, and legal research and writing at the LSE. She has lectured at several undergraduate and postgraduate criminal justice and law programmes in the USA, including at Columbia Law School, State University of New York, and Fordham University, and has taught at a postgraduate law programme at Temple University in Tokyo. She has also supervised clinical students practicing immigration law, and overseen Juris Doctor and LLM students writing their dissertations.

In her teaching, Dagmar seeks to place law within its cultural, ethical, and socio-political contexts, often drawing on critical race theory and human rights perspectives. She also incorporates case studies from her own legal practice to provide experiential learning opportunities, while critically examining the foundations of laws. Her overarching teaching goals have been to guide students towards thinking creatively and critically, and to inspire them to pursue social justice.


Dagmar’s research expertise falls at the intersection of law, migration, and race studies. She has published on how contemporary migrants have been approached under various jurisdictions’ equality frameworks, including in the UK, EU, USA, and Japan. Her current research project looks at the evolution of EU citizens’ rights during the unique post-referendum, pre-Brexit socio-legal and political regime. She is also working on publishing her doctoral monograph.

Her research is interdisciplinary and draws heavily on sociology, politics, geography, and postcolonial studies. Her academic publications have featured on leading US journals such as Tulane Law Review and PACE Law Review and have also been featured on several blogs, including the Immigration Prof Blog, the Legal Theory Blog, Race Racism and the Law, The Book Forum, and the American Immigrant Policy Portal. Dagmar had been invited to present her scholarship at numerous international conferences, including in Australia, Canada, France, Mexico, Korea, the UK, and the USA.

Dagmar has served as a peer reviewer for the McGill Law Journal, and an assistant editor for the LSE Law, Society and Economy Working Paper Series. She is currently a manuscript peer referee for the University of Bologna Law Review.

Public Engagement

Before entering academia, Dagmar practiced commercial litigation and pro bono immigration law. She worked at the law firms of Debevoise & Plimpton, Boies, Schiller & Flexner, and Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York. She was involved in several high-profile cases, including representing institutional and individual investors in Madoff feeder funds, same-sex couples in a challenge to Proposition 8 in California, and Maurice Greenberg in his disputes with AIG. She also clerked for two federal judges in the USA, including in the Southern District of New York. Dagmar has volunteered extensively for immigrant and refugee charities and NGOs, including Human Rights First in New York. Her numerous open-access reference articles on US asylum law have been published online by Nolo Press.

She has been interviewed and quoted by various media outlets on migration issues. She has also presented continuing-education seminars to US attorneys.


Adam Wagner

Goldsmiths Law is delighted to announce the appointment of Adam Wagner as a Visiting Professor in Law with a focus on human rights law and public legal education. This appointment reflects our commitment to offering a distinctive and eclectic educational and research provision – particularly in the areas of human rights and social justice – and a vibrant, professionally relevant, LLB programme. It follows up on the appointment of other world leading experts in this area and brings with it the opportunity to foster further outstanding career skills development opportunities for our students.

Adam is a leading barrister at Doughty Street Chambers. He has appeared in path-breaking cases such as the successful Supreme Court challenge to the law of joint enterprise murder, as well as acting in five major public inquiries, including the Al-Sweady Inquiry into allegations of mistreatment and unlawful killing by the British military in Iraq. His body of case work is truly diverse, representing claimants on a range of issues as varied as the over-spending of the Leave campaign during the 2016 Referendum campaign, to claims of an unlawful arrest and search of a child with autism, to the unjustified detention by the Home Office of a man with severe mental health issues. He has recently been appointed to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s ‘A’ Panel of Counsel.

In addition to his busy legal practice, Adam is the founder and Chair of the pioneering and multi-award-winning RightsInfo charity, which has had great success in raising awareness of human rights in the UK, quickly becoming the go-to source on the internet for human rights awareness and engagement with topical human rights issues.

Adam is probably the best known lawyer in the UK for promoting human rights education through social and traditional media. He is well known on social media for his commentary on human rights law, with over 50,000 followers on Twitter and regular appearances on the TV and radio. He regularly writes on human rights issues in the national media. It is no surprise that in 2015, Adam won the Plain English Campaign’s Communicator award for his work on RightsInfo, the same year in which he was shortlisted for Human Rights Lawyer of the Year at the Liberty Awards.

Through lectures and other experiential learning activities, Adam will help to introduce students to the fundamental skills of the legal profession. There is also huge potential for talented Goldsmiths students to benefit from engagement with research opportunities, creative competitions, assisting with writing human rights news articles and overseeing Law Clinic activity.

Adam will carry out this role whilst continuing his legal practice at Doughty Street Chambers.


New book: excluding unlawfully obtained evidence to protect human rights

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.

The book is available by Hart Publishing and on Bloomsbury online collections, and you can read a more detailed description here.

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

In the United States, Dimitrios spoke at Loyola Law School’s Policing Los Angeles Forum, Stanford Law School, where the talk was hosted by Prof David Sklansky and was attended by many students in his constitutional criminal procedure class, and Berkeley Law School, where the event was sponsored by the Sho Sato Program in Japanese and US Law and the Centre for the Study of Law and Society.

A podcast from Prof Giannoulopoulos’ presentation at Loyola Law School is available here.

Lord Hughes: International human rights are fundamental to English criminal procedure, but not absolute

“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

Photo credit: Richard Gardner

A modern Law library for a modern Law programme

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.

Going digital

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.

Goldsmiths Law collaboration with pioneering ‘Forensic Architecture’ agency

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.






Law programme works closely with the Bar to improve access to information advice and guidance

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple

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
  • Urban Lawyers

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.

US policy on violent crimes a cautionary tale for the UK

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.

Many students from other Goldsmiths departments among the audience. Goldsmiths' Law concentrates heavily on interdisciplinary legal analysis.

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

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.