Centre for Legal Research

CALR Forum: Brexit, Article 50 TEU and the British Constitution 

Posted by Phil Rumney | 1 comment

Brexit: A word that one cannot escape reading newspapers, watching the TV or listening to the radio. It is literally everywhere. Yet, what it means in legal terms is often misunderstood and its repercussions on the legal, and notably constitutional, framework in the United Kingdom overseen. Therefore, on 22 February 2017 the Centre for Applied Legal Research organised its first Forum of the academic year 2016/2017 on the subject. Three staff members of the Bristol Law School, Christian Dadomo, Martina Gillen and Noëlle Quénivet, shared their views about Brexit, Article 50 TEU and the British Constitution, whilst offering an international, European and national legal perspective on the Brexit debate. 

By way of introduction Noëlle Quénivet explained the legal bases of the European Union, ie treaties, stressing the concept of State sovereignty and the importance of understanding that both the ratification of and the withdrawal from a treaty are to be viewed as acts of sovereignty. She then explained that it was the Treaty of Lisbon that for the first time proscribed a withdrawal procedure in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Noëlle Quénivet described the process from the notification of withdrawal to the ratification of the withdrawal agreement by the UK, highlighting the various stages at which the European institutions are and will be involved and underlining the difference between the legal requirements in national and European Union law. Reference was also made to the potential content of a withdrawal agreement (eg budgetary matters, institutional issues, the situation of non-UK EU citizens in the UK and of UK nationals in EU States, etc). 

Following on the idea of sovereignty that has so much been reiterated in the campaign leading to the referendum, Christian Dadomo delved into the multitude of types of sovereignty: parliamentary sovereignty, popular sovereignty and external or otherwise known as State sovereignty. After stressing that parliamentary sovereignty should be better understood as the primacy of Parliament in respect of statutes he showed the interaction and tensions between parliamentary and popular sovereignty, especially in light of the Brexit referendum. Furthermore, the relationship between the devolved authorities and the central government will be affected, as some of them after voting to remain in the EU would like a space at the negotiations table but have been denied so legally (with the Miller judgment before the UK Supreme Court) and politically. Christian Dadomo concluded by stating that Brexit will undoubtedly shake the constitutional legal edifice of the UK. 

Martina Gillen opined that Brexit will have serious repercussions on the UK Constitution and more specifically on the relationship between Westminster and the devolved regions. As she explained Northern Ireland is a case-example of how poorly thought the referendum was. Brexit will affect both the relationship between Northern Ireland and Westminster as well as between Northern Ireland and Eire and has already had the effect of reigniting nationalist Irish feelings, especially in regions that voted to remain in the EU. She then examined in details the McCord decision before the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland, highlighting that the ruling was not a surprise as the claimants had not asked the right 

question (they asked whether Northern Ireland as a devolved authority could take part in the Brexit negotiations) and should have focused on the fact that persons born in Northern Ireland can take either British or Irish nationality and that Brexit would in fact deny equality of treatment for those who choose Irish nationality. 

The CALR Forum was attended by over 20 students and staff members from the UWE Bristol Law School. After each presentation questions were taken from the floor and a lively and insightful debate often beyond the narrower scope of the speakers’ presentation ensued. There were thus discussions on the withdrawal from the European Economic Area Agreement, the impact of the Dublin regulation on EU border States, the nature (and fate) of EU law in English law, the potential continued jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union, etc. The next CALR Forum which will be held on Wednesday 1 March, 14:00-16:00 in Room 2B065. Noëlle Quénivet will be presenting a paper on the prosecution of child soldiers for war crimes that has recently been accepted for publication in the European Journal of International Law. Dr Alison Bisset, Associate Professor at the School of Law of the University of Reading, will respond to the paper.

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Amendment of the Criminal Procedure Rules 

Posted by Lauren Rees | 0 comments

Professor Ed Cape and Dr Tom Smith recently saw their research achieve significant impact, namely contributing to the amendment of the Criminal Procedure Rules (CrimPR).

In 2014/2015, Ed and Tom undertook research into the practice of pre-trial detention (PTD) in England and Wales. This important area – which deals with bail and detention in custody prior to trial or conviction - was part of a 10 country, EU-funded study led by NGO Fair Trials International. The objective of the project was to assess the practice of PTD across the EU, find examples of good and bad practice, and make policy recommendations to EU and domestic institutions. Ed and Tom conducted a desk-based review of PTD practice and procedure, surveyed criminal defence practitioners, observed PTD hearings, reviewed prosecution case files, and interviewed judges, magistrates and prosecutors. The findings of the research were published on the UWE research repository in early 2016 and incorporated into FTI’s regional report, which was presented to the European Parliament in May 2016.

One of the significant findings of the research was that courts, on average, took very little time to consider these vital decisions about the liberty of unconvicted individuals – particularly at an early stage where evidence and disclosure might be incomplete. Additionally, the research also suggested that adequate time may not be available for the defence to consider information supplied to it about the prosecution case prior to a PTD hearing. As such, the final research report recommended that the CrimPR be amended to compel courts to ensure adequate time is given to making decisions regarding PTD and that more be done to allow the defence to fully consider relevant materials prior to hearings.

In March 2016, the CrimPR Committee were sent the report and responded positively to its findings and expressed interest in incorporating its recommendations into the Rules. Over the course of the last year, Ed and Tom have been engaged with the Committee, including through submission of a position paper, attendance at a Committee meeting, and ongoing dialogue and consultation with the Secretariat. In February 2017, the Committee amended Parts 8 (Initial Details of the Prosecution Case) and 14 (Bail and Custody Time Limits) of the CrimPR to:

“impose on the court a duty to ensure that if information about the prosecution case is supplied later than usually is required then the defendant, and any defence representative, is allowed sufficient time to consider it; (ii) explicitly to require that information provided for the court in bail proceedings must be provided for the defendant, too; and (iii) to require the court itself in bail proceedings to take sufficient time to consider the parties’ representations and reach its decision.”

In their guidance for the amended rules, the Committee acknowledged the contribution of the Ed and Tom’s report (alongside the input of other interested people). This is successful outcome demonstrates the practical impact research can have, particularly through constructive dialogue with policymakers.


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Understanding Sexual Violence and Abuse: Causes, Consequences and Prevention, 9 March 2017 

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This is the fourth Understanding Sexual Violence and Abuse event as part of an open discussion about sexual violence, exploitation and abuse, along with the various ways of responding to these problems. This event will feature short talks given by experts, with an extended period for questions and discussion.

The event is intended to promote dialogue and understanding on topics of importance to the community. Anyone is welcome to attend - from those working in the area, to those with no prior knowledge who are simply interested in the topics under discussion and want to know more.


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The Centre for Applied Legal Research 2017 Annual Lecture: Tunde Okewale MBE 'Nobody Rises to Low Expectations'  

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Out next Centre for Applied Legal Research is taking place this Thursday (9 February).

This event is a dialogue, which explores the soft bigotry of low expectations in the following ways:
Its definition and applicability in modern society.
The impact it has in relation to gender and ethnicity.
How it has played a role in disaffected communities.

About the Speaker

Tunde Okewale MBE (Doughty Street Chambers) is the recipient of numerous awards for his contribution to social justice and inclusion. In 2016 Tunde was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list. He was named Diversity Champion at the UK Diversity Legal Awards in 2014.

Tunde is the founder of Urban Lawyers, a charitable initiative designed to educate, engage and stimulate discussion amongst young people in relation to law. The organisation provides information to disaffected young people and communities, as well as providing information and opportunities about how to secure work and/or experience in the legal profession.

Tunde grew up in a council estate in Hackney, East London. Tunde is the eldest of four children and was the first person in his family to attend university and obtain a degree. He is passionately committed to promoting diversity and widening participation within the professions. Alongside the accolades for his charitable work, Tunde has attracted considerable interest from the media for his unique style.

He has been the feature of GQ articles and is considered to be the most followed barrister on Instagram. Having been called to the Bar in 2009 he has established a practice in General Crime, Serious Crime and Extradition. He also specialises in Sports Law and is a Registered Lawyer under The FA Football Agents Regulations.

Tunde was involved in the Griffiths Trust 'Hush The Guns' Project in Kingston Jamaica in 2009, and was also commissioned by the Jamaican and Canadian Government to facilitate workshops for disaffected youths.

For full information and how to register, please use our webpage: http://info.uwe.ac.uk/events/event.aspx?id=20606

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Dr Mary Young helps uncover tax avoiders behind Easton housing development 

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Dr Mary Young recently advised investigative journalists from the Bristol Cable of an aggressive tax avoidance technique used by a Bristol property firm. ‘REVCAP, the financiers behind the controversial development of the Greenbank Chocolate Factory in Bristol, are connected to entities in low tax jurisdictions such as Jersey, the Isle of Man and the Cayman Islands’, says Adam Cantwell-Corn from the Bristol Cable. Since the article was published, on 30 November at a planning hearing, Bristol Council voted to defer="defer" the decision on the housing development – mainly due to the concerns the Dr Young and the Cable raised.
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