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Goldsmiths Law Visiting Professor is The Times Lawyer of the Week for defending landmark case on right to protest

Goldsmiths Law Visiting Professor Kirsty Brimelow QC won national and international acclaim this week for her exceptional defence of the right to protest in the “fracking three” case. Kirsty will be speaking at the next Law information evening at Goldsmiths on 14 November. You can reserve your place here.

Kirsty Brimelow QC, who was recently appointed a Visiting Professor in our Law programme at Goldsmiths, is the UK’s “lawyer of the week” according to The Times (October 25).

Kirsty represented three anti-fracking activists in the Court of Appeal, the first environmental protesters to be imprisoned for protest activities since 1932. She was successful in demonstrating to the Court of Appeal that the sentences imposed were  “manifestly excessive”.

Kirsty relied on jurisprudence that “rights worth having are unruly things”, and that “demonstrations and protests are liable to be a nuisance, they are liable to be tiresome, or they are likely to be perceived as such by people who are out of sympathy for them”, as mentioned in a press released by Doughty Street chambers. The press release added that this case “re-establishes that police and courts must treat peaceful protestors with sensitivity and proportion as protest is a requirement of any civilised democracy”. Kirsty is the head of Doughty Street’s International Human Rights Team, and the Chairwoman of the UK’s Bar Human Rights Committee.

In an interview with the Guardian, Kirsty said: “what the judge has done is [that he has] imprisoned these people for their views and for a peaceful protest and what’s happened as a result is that there has been a chilling effect on protest, and this is something that has not occurred for many, many years.”

In an interview with RT’s “Going Underground” programme (video below, starting at 20:05), Kirsty explained how the right to protest was underpinned by the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, and how international human rights jurisprudence had been of assistance in the case. She has also highlighted that the purpose of the public nuisance offence, upon which the conviction of the defendants in this case had been based, had long gone, and reform was urgently required. She pointed to a Law Commission 2015 report in this regard.

The Law Commission report had recommended that:

  • Public nuisance was made a statutory offence. It should cover any conduct which endangers the life, health, property or comfort of a section of the public. Or obstructs them in the exercise of their rights.
  • The new public nuisance offence would require that the defendant either intended or was reckless in the act.

Kirsty’s pioneering human rights work echoes the values, and ambition, of the LLB (Law)  programme at Goldsmiths, which places strong emphasis on social engagement and social justice, and Law as ‘a force for good and change’ as well as a harmonic integration of legal theory and legal practice.

Analysis on challenges to judicial independence published in Inner Temple Yearbook

Inner Temple YearbookJudicial independence is under threat globally. Current attacks on the judiciary in the United States, for instance, are unprecedented and concerning. Or we may look at anti-terrorism measures and challenging political climates in France and the United Kingdom or Greece respectively, and we can see how they have diminished the traditional hallmarks of a strong and independent judiciary.

The need for external scrutiny therefore often becomes a priority, in cases where checks and balances in domestic law may have failed to provide protection. Poland offers a key illustration.

While all this is happening, the landscape in which judges operate is undergoing significant transformation. In recent years, judges have become less insulated from political life, as can be seen from frequent appearances before parliamentary committees. An increasingly entrenched populism, the rise of fake news and the increased role of technology in legal practice are all likewise influencing how the judiciary operates, and what pressures are exercised upon its independence.

Inner Temple Yearbook

Or we might look into ‘hidden aspects’ of judicial independence, such as the impact of budgetary control on the effective exercise of judicial functions, or how judicial self-control can play an important role in the exercise of an independent judiciary.

These are some of the key themes that have emerged from a recent British Academy conference on Challenges to judicial independence, co-convened by Goldsmiths’ Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos and Swansea’s Dr Yvonne McDermott Rees.

A first reflection on these themes, co-authored by Prof Giannoulopoulos and Dr McDermott Rees, has appeared in the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple’s prestigious Yearbook, which can be accessed here.

A video with part of the proceedings can be viewed here.


Law Information Evening with Kirsty Brimelow QC

Kirsty Brimelow QC

Our next Law Information Evening features internationally-renowned human rights barrister and Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee, Kirsty Brimelow QC, who is one of a host of illustrious Visiting Professors contributing to the LLB Law programme at Goldsmiths.

Kirsty at the Nigerian Bar Association Conference on Rule of Law and National Security (August 2018)

Kirsty at the Nigerian Bar Association Conference on Rule of Law and National Security (August 2018)

At the event prospective students will have the opportunity to learn about Kirsty’s experience spanning some of the most challenging human rights issues across the globe, including the prosecution of ISIS, mass trials and sentencing in Egypt, mediation in Columbia and the rule of law in Mexico and Turkey.

Join us on Wednesday 14 November to engage with human rights issues with one of the UK’s leading barristers, find out more about studying law and get advice on applying and future careers.

Book your place here.

Leading legal experts appointed Visiting Professors at Goldsmiths Law

Visiting professors: Judge Donald Cryan, Kirsty Brimelow QC, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC and Martha Spurrier

Visiting professors: Judge Donald Cryan, Kirsty Brimelow QC, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC and Martha Spurrier

Some of the UK’s foremost experts on international law and human rights law have joined the Law programme at Goldsmiths, the College announced this week.

As reported in The Times (The Brief) on October 8th, Goldsmiths’ LLB degree programme “will feature some big names in human rights practice. On the Goldsmiths roster as visiting profs will be Martha Spurrier, executive director of the campaign group Liberty; Kirsty Brimelow, QC, chairwoman of the Bar human rights committee and a tenant at Doughty Street Chambers in London; Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC, who was part of the team that prosecuted Slobodan Milosevic at the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; and Donald Cryan, a family law judge and former treasurer at the Inner Temple”.

Find more information here about our high profile appointments.

The profiles of our visiting professors can be viewed here.

The new degree was also mentioned in (after another news story about our LLB degree appeared there in September). Legal Cheek did an exclusive story when Goldsmiths announced it would incorporate the new solicitors qualifying system in the LLB Law programme.

New BiE members: drawing on inter-disciplinary collaborations to interpret Brexit’s effect

From politics to international trade to the economy and fundamental human rights, Brexit has the potential to unsettle existing convention and practice, and generates significant risks and opportunities, for people and institutions with wide-ranging, often conflicting, interests. We will not be able to understand, let alone negotiate, these all-important transformations, unless we give ourselves the required methodological tools. Seeing Brexit through uniquely the lens of a particular discipline risks creating a myopic view, both as to the individuals or institutions affected and the type of solution we can propose; interdisciplinary collaborations can help mitigate this risk.

BiE thinktankThe Britain in Europe (BiE) thinktank, conscious of the above, brings together Law academics and academic scholars from other disciplines, barristers, solicitors, judges, politicians, members of international human rights organisations and other third sector experts from across Britain and Europe, to provide novel solutions to Brexit’s fast-emerging complexity.

The thinktank is now delighted to welcome on board its dynamic group of experts two Goldsmiths academics whose work is at the forefront of current debates on Europe and the UK, Dr Michaela Benson, from Sociology, and Dr Will Davies, from Politics and International Relations.

Dr Michaela BensonDr Michaela Benson is a Reader in Sociology and the research lead for a UK in a Changing Europe funded research project, BrExpats: freedom of movement, citizenship and Brexit in the lives of Britons resident in the EU-27. Michaela is internationally renowned for her work in the field of migration, and has conducted in-depth empirical research on British citizens living in France, and North Americans settled in Panama. She has extensively published on what migration means for identity, citizenship and belonging.

Since the EU referendum, Michaela has been closely examining what Brexit variously means for British citizens living across the EU-27, communicating through written commentary and the project podcast. She has provided written evidence for the House of Lords EU Justice subcommittee, and co-authored the report Next Steps: implementing a Brexit deal for UK citizens living in the EU27.

Dr Will DaviesDr Will Davies is a Reader in Political Economy, and works on history of economics, neoliberalism and the present crisis of expertise. His first book The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty & the Logic of Competition looked at how regulators and policy-makers in Brussels and Washington DC applied ideals of competition, derived from the University of Chicago law and economics tradition. His most recent book is Nervous States: How feeling took over the woNervous Statesrld, which looks at the roots of the current populist reaction against technocrats, as manifest in Brexit. His writing has appeared in London Review of Books, The Guardian and The New York Times amongst others

We are delighted that Michaela and Will are joining our network of Law academics, legal practitioners, MEPs and third sector experts in the ‘Britain in Europe’ thinktank, and that we are developing an increasing capacity to rely on cross-disciplinary work – on Law, Sociology and Political Economy among other BiE disciplinary expertise – in our effort to help engineer a constructive future relationship for the UK and the EU.