Bristol Law School students come second in Client Interviewing Competition national finals

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On Saturday 10th March 2018, a team from UWE Bristol coached by Suzaan Rowley (solicitor, Legal Practice Course) and Victoria Latimer (barrister, Bar Professional Training Course) came 2nd in the national finals of the Client Interviewing Competition.

The Client Interviewing Competition is a competition for Law students, who in pairs interview and advise a client on an unknown legal problem.

This year 39 teams throughout the country entered the competition. In February, UWE Bristol welcomed 12 different Universities to the regional heat. UWE was one of the three teams who progressed from the South West, to participate in the final,  which was held at Greenwich University on Saturday 10th March.

The Bristol Law School (BLS) team, consisting of Josie Hebestreit (LPC) and Adam Hobson (GDL) performed brilliantly in the national finals. At the end of a hard fought competition they were placed second nationally, second only to Oxford Brookes and ahead of the University of Law (Moorgate), who were placed third.

The day consisted of conducting three different interviews with the marks from each interview being collated to award first, second and third place.

Josie and Adam were presented with the runner up trophy by Allan Murray-Jones, Chair of the Law Society Education and Training Committee.

To be placed second from 39 different universities is a brilliant achievement for Adam and Josie. Client interviewing is a skill that is incredibly important both to employers and clients.

The BLS team displayed superb communication skills, an ability to disseminate information quickly and great clarity when advising clients. Well done Adam and Josie!

We want your feedback on the new Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School building

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As part of an exciting new research project, the Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School are looking to gather opinions on their new building.

Opened in April 2017, Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School is a flagship space to attract international and home students, facilitate links with businesses, and provide collaborative spaces for staff to work together.

Stride Treglown (the building architects), ISG (building contractors) and Godfrey Syrett (furniture suppliers) and UWE Bristol Business School are collaborating on this research project to explore personal, emotional and sensory user experiences of the building through the use of social media and photography.

They want to hear from staff, students and visitors on how they have used the building.  Over the next year, they are asking everyone to take photos to show how they are using the building and how they feel about the building.

Participants can then post their pictures on Instagram using #myUWEBBSview or you can email your pictures and comments to myUWEBBSview@uwe.ac.uk

The research project is led by Harriet Shortt, Associate Professor in Organisation Studies at UWE Bristol.

Take a look at the project website for more details.

Panel Discussion with Christian Dadomo, Dr Clair Gammage and Dr Maria Garcia: Brexit and Trade Relations

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The talk was organised by the lecturers of the module ‘EU Law’ offered to Year 3 students and the International Law and Human Rights Unit of the Centre for Applied Legal Research.

Since the beginning of this academic year 2017/2018 third year students on the LLB degree have had the opportunity to listen to a number of internal and external speakers on the issue of Brexit. On 16 February 2018 the team teaching EU law convened a panel discussion on ‘Brexit and Trade Relations’ comprised of Christian Dadomo, Senior Lecturer at UWE, Dr Clair Gammage, Lecturer in Law at the University of Bristol, and Dr Maria Garcia, Senior Lecturer in International Political Economy at the University of Bath. Each of them shared his/her thoughts on the topic and the session was then run in a Question Time format as students had been asked to send questions in advance to the chair, Dr Noëlle Quénivet, Associate Professor in International Law.

Dr Garcia began the session by setting the scene of the Brexit campaign and Brexit in relation to trade. She pointed out that whilst contestation of trade was a global trend and protests and concerns had been voiced against eg genetically modified organisms, chlorinated chicken, the privatisation of the NHS no such discussion was held during the Brexit campaign. Brexit did not seem to be about contesting global trade and its effects but migration and ‘taking back control’. The fact that there was so little discussion on trade might be explained by the fact that trade negotiations could only be held once the UK had left the EU since the EU has exclusive competence in negotiating trade agreements. Also she explained that if references were made to trade during the campaign it was usually about agreements with other States rather than trade as such. As a matter of fact the best prediction about individuals voting leave/remain was not the trade issue but education, attitude towards migration, etc. In preparation to Brexit trade has been becoming increasingly important as Prime Minister Theresa May referred to it in her Lancaster and Florence speeches and Foreign Minister Boris Johnson talked about it to recently. This has no doubt shifted the debate. Still, no discussion is being had on the contestation of trade policies. Dr Garcia suggested this might be due to the fact that it is too early to do so in light of other significant and more urgent problems. It might also be the case that the government has no clear idea of the precise content of future trade agreements. Moreover the UK government appears to send mixed messages, asking for a seamless trade relationship and yet being unable to adopt a clear position on how to tackled the issue of the two land borders through which it will trade (between Ireland and Northern Ireland and between Gibraltar and Spain). The UK White Paper on Trade reflects an inclusive and pro-development approach to trade that will however be difficult to deliver. Indeed, it appears that at the moment the UK is training individuals on issues relating to financial services rather than goods that are key to trade agreements with development features. Further, if the aim of Brexit is to regain sovereignty why should the UK accept American standards as well as dispute settlement mechanisms enshrined in trade agreements? Dr Garcia explained that it appeared that the UK was in fact anchoring itself in a thinking that supported what Steven Gill has described as the constitutionalisation of a neo-liberal regime through trade agreements.

The next speaker, Christian Dadomo, shared his thoughts on what the deep and comprehensive trade agreement favoured by the UK government could look like. Mr Dadomo first explained that before even starting discussions on such an agreement the UK and the EU needed to negotiate and agree on a withdrawal agreement focusing on three priority issues: EU and UK citizens’ rights, a financial settlement and the situation in Northern Ireland. The result of these negotiations were presented in a joint report on 8 December 2017. Such agreement also needs to take into account the future framework arrangements. As Mr Dadomo observed a number of elements are known. First, all free trade agreements the EU has negotiated are different: there is no one, unique solution as it is important that such agreements fit the various interests of the parties. The UK claims that as a soon-to-be former Member State of the EU it already complies with EU law and thus it should not be difficult to agree on such a trade treaty. Any solution between the UK staying a party to the European Economic Area Agreement to the UK applying the World Trade Organisation rules is on the table. On one end of this continuum of solutions is a very close association with the EU. Yet, it is already known that as the UK wants free trade and control over immigration it has expressed its clear wish to leave the Customs Union and the Single Market. Yet, the EU has specified no cherry picking is possible. It is also known that the UK rejects the Norway model as it would mean paying to get access to the Single Market whilst having no say in the law-making process and being obliged to comply with all EU rules, including those on the free movement of persons. On the other end of this spectrum lies the application of WTO rules which is often viewed as the worst scenario possible as it involves the imposition of tariffs on trade and rules of country of origin. In between these two extreme options two types of agreements, modelled on either the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) or the EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, are available. Mr Dadomo contrasted the two agreements: whilst Ukraine accepts the acquis communautaire, Canada does not; whilst CETA is focused on trade (goods, intellectual property) the agreement with Ukraine also includes provisions relating to security, home affairs and justice. The key problem is that it is still unclear which kind of agreement the UK wishes to have with the EU apart from a ‘deep and comprehensive one’. The possibility of a ‘CETA +++’ has also been formulated. Mr Dadomo stressed that in any case the agreement will have to be bespoke but the possibility to customise some elements also means that conditions can be attached to them. The Swiss model that is highly bespoke is off the table as the EU does not wish further agreements of this type to be negotiated. Mr Dadomo finished his presentation by stating that until the UK clearly specifies what it wishes the agreement to contain it is difficult to provide a legal commentary, ascertaining whether the EU first can legally enter into such an agreement and second would be amenable to conclude such an agreement.

Dr Clair Gammage then turned her attention to the impact of Brexit on trade and human rights. She highlighted the complexity of the issue as it covers a variety of legal regimes and political opinions greatly differ on the subject-matter. First, she reminded the audience that the UK is still a member of the World Trade Organisation in its own right but that negotiations at the WTO are undertaken by the EU. Second, she pointed at the lack of understanding of how trade works on a multilateral level and that the lack of expertise in the UK relating to negotiating trade agreements. Indeed, tariffs (of eg agricultural products) are set by the EU in the WTO and these will need to be renegotiated by the UK. Tariff-free trade might be a solution. The UK has submitted a solution to the split between the EU and itself but other WTO members (eg the US) have already voiced their concerns or even opposition to the proposal. Unfortunately for the UK it is not allowed to discuss any trade agreements until it is outside the EU and this is not only due to the exclusive competence of the EU but such negotiations would also violate WTO rules. The WTO recognises two forms of free trade agreements: free trade areas and customs unions, both covering a wide range of treaties which means that the UK is likely to negotiate successful suitable trade agreements with third parties. The problem is time as such treaties take several years to be negotiated and concluded. Another problem faced by the UK relates to the existing free trade agreements between the EU and third parties. Dr Gammage shared her view that there is no automatic roll over for such treaties which means that they would need to be renegotiated. As for trade standards, she explained that the UK will be bound by WTO standards (including those relating to sanitary and phytosanitary regulations) and, should it wish to export its goods to the EU, such goods would need to comply with EU law. Dr Gammage then moved on to discussing the effects of Brexit on human rights, arguing that at first sight it appears that there is no erosion of rights. Yet, the situation relating to Northern Ireland that is regulated by the 1998 Peace Agreement is not entirely clear. Further and more generally, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union will not apply in the UK anymore. This needs to be given proper consideration as a number of rights enshrined in the Charter are not protected elsewhere (eg in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) and even though the government is committed to retaining EU law it should be borne in mind that such laws can be changed both by Ministers and Parliament and that devolved administrations might not be involved in such decisions. This will have considerable impact on economic rights but could, as Dr Gammage argued, be included in the withdrawal agreement. Moreover the right to equality does not exist as such in the UK as it is entirely based on EU law. Such a right, different from the prohibition of discrimination based on various factors, could be lost. As for the interrelationship between Brexit, trade and human rights Dr Gammage explained that changes in trade relations should be made with great care as a viable economy is of paramount importance. A further complication relates to accepting, even if reluctantly, trading standards in free trade agreements that might directly impact on the local population. For example, the issue of trade in agricultural products must be carefully thought through as the mass import of agricultural goods may lead to less employment which itself can bring salaries and wages down. Also the UK could be bound by trading standards that apply extra-territorially (eg EU animal welfare rules). Dr Gammage thus suggested it might be better to align UK standards on EU regulations for such matters. However, in the grand scheme, the UK will have to find funds to cover for the lost trade and subsidies to eg agriculture and such funds might in fact be divested from assistance to eg disabled and homeless persons. Dr Gammage concluded on the sad note that the UK will in the long term be vulnerable to internal and external troubles.

After the presentations questions from the floor focused on (1) the impact of Brexit on the 1998 Northern Ireland Peace Agreement, (2) the potential checks at the border between the EU and the UK, (3) the impact of Brexit on trade between the UK and South America as well as (3) the future shape of trade agreements between the UK and African States and the Commonwealth.

 

 

 

International Women’s Day at UWE Bristol

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Come help us celebrate the entrepreneurial, political, social and cultural achievements of women, and their acts of courage and determination in the pursuit of gender parity in their workplaces, communities and countries.

To mark the day, we have planned a series of events and workshops at UWE which are all free to attend and open to all.

Alongside the events there will be stalls set up through the Atrium showcasing the amazing work that women in our region produce.

There will be a charity raffle with prizes including a Spa day from The Gainsborough Bath Spa, two tickets to the Affordable Art Fair in London, a coaching session from Sequoia Bridge as well as many more. All proceeds from the raffle will go to Bristol charity one25 who reach out to women trapped in, or vulnerable to, street sex work, supporting them to break free and build new lives away from violence, poverty and addiction. Further information can be found here!

There will be a free lunch provided by Bini Fine Foods for all attendees.

In order to register for this event, please email: fbl.execsupport@uwe.ac.uk 

Agenda

Arrival & Refreshments

10.00 – 10.15

Welcome 6X269
10.15 – 10.45 Female entrepreneurs: Inspirational case studies 6X269
Refreshments
11.00 – 12.00 Panel discussion: ‘Barriers to and opportunities for enabling more successful women in business’

·         Professor Jane Roscoe (Chair) – Pro Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean, ACE

·         Kalpna Woolf – Award winning ex BBC Head. Author -Spice Yourself Slim

·         Sado Jirde – Director of Black South West Network (BSWN)

·         Vashti Seth – Success Redefined Coach

·         Professor Sue Durbin – Professor in Human Resource Management

6X269
LunchInternational Women’s Day Choir

Stalls ran by female entrepreneurs

Raffle announcement

Drop in sessions

Available between 12.00-14.00 Screening of Barefoot in BusinessThis is a film created by BAFTA award winning film maker Carol Cooke about female entrepreneurs in Uganda. 7X201
13.15- 14:15 CV Surgery

Careers Space X Block

13.15-14.15

Speed MentoringSpeed mentoring (with a focus on enterprise) TE Space

Workshops

14.20-15.00 Athena SWAN Workshop

The Role of Athena SWAN in engaging gender equality in UK university settings: Accreditation or lever of change?’

2X116

14.20-15.15 Creating and Telling your Leadership Story 3X105
15.20-15.50 Difficult Conversations‘Based on one of UWEs Learning and Development Centre courses, this will workshop will leave you with some tips on how to better handle difficult conversations.’

 

2X116

 

 

Student blog post: Common Reporting Standards – Criminal Information Nowhere to Hide?

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This post (edited for publication) is contributed to our blog as an excerpt from an LLM Dissertation by Yen Lai. Views expressed in this blog post are those of the author only who consents to the publication.

Our financial world today remains as a black hole whereby the illicit capital flow or unreported assets of financial criminals are utterly difficult to gauge on its extent, especially in the tax haven. The real magnitude of criminal use of tax haven is always uncertain, because of its bank secrecy facilitates criminal activities like tax evasion, money laundering and conceal the illicit money trail related to other white collar crimes.  The tax scandals such as Panama Paper and Paradise Paper could be tip of the iceberg. The aftermath revealed the inefficiency of authorities when tax information is needed to be “leaked” by financial firms because it is extremely hard to keep track on the money trail with intention to hide over the world.

Currently, the most extensive feature of the Common Reporting Standard by OECD consists of a model of Multilateral Competent Authorities Agreement that allows information to be exchange automatically after a jurisdiction signs into it. This Automatic Exchange of Information is particularly useful in transmitting information such as the money flow between jurisdictions, the changes of residence, the purchase or disposition of property, value-added tax refunded, etc.  This will provide timely information on non-compliance where tax has been evaded. However, there is a foreseeable problem of too much or too little information being exchanged between jurisdiction and how the investigators process and utilise the data will be highly concerned.

Firstly, the US as one of the major economy and ranked as second most secrecy jurisdiction, is not a signatory to CRS, but adopted own FATCA. There will be too many bilateral or multilateral Competent Authority Agreements (CAAs) become available to facilitate the automatic exchange of information within the CRS.  The matter of cost and efficiency arise with the problem of too much information.  Secondly, there is lack of provision to demand a jurisdiction to sign a CAA with another jurisdiction, even if the latter complies with confidentiality and data protection safeguards.  A secrecy jurisdiction can be a signatory to CRS, upholding its reputation, by choosing another secrecy jurisdictions or major financial centres to exchange information.  Thirdly, there is incompleteness in the non-reciprocity mechanism for developing countries as there is no provision of a timeframe on when a full reciprocity would be required.  Fourthly, it is a big obstacle to require a consensus from the jurisdictions that have signed the CRS before accepting a new jurisdiction.  It indicates a risk of secrecy jurisdiction acts on self-interest purpose.  Fifthly, non-reciprocity is offered to jurisdictions without an income tax, which means secrecy jurisdictions can send information but not receiving information from another jurisdiction.  This can promote the status quo and corruption of a secrecy jurisdiction because the prosecution of financial criminals will be hard without the information on its residents’ foreign income from another jurisdiction.

It is perceptible that CRS is a voluntary scheme that mainly depends on a jurisdiction to fulfil its commitment through their national legislation. The UK has passed numerous legislation in tackling tax evasion while complying the CRS. The problem with the UK legislation is that it is too hard to prosecute a company for the facilitation of tax evasion by their customers or suppliers.  Moreover, the Big Four accounting firms involved in numerous scandals outbreak show a growing consensus in facilitating the wrongdoing of their clients.  Hence, Criminal Finances Act 2017 has significant reform that introduces two offences to held account for ‘fail to prevent’ the facilitation of UK tax evasion and far-reaching to the evasion of foreign tax that was assisted by any firms incorporated in the UK; rather than trying to attribute the criminal acts in proving the “directing mind” of the firm.  The new offences come with greater powers for law enforcement to regulate the risk profile of financial sector and professional services firms in relation to tax evasion issues and their compliance programmes.  Other than that, the UK lawmakers passed several regulations in complying the CRS, such as extending the Data-gathering Powers Regulations 2016, International Tax Compliance Regulations 2015 and the Client Notification Regulations 2016.

In conclusion, CRS does not aim to change a secrecy jurisdiction’s fiscal policies but merely to eliminate the secrecy through exchange of information. Positive movement can be seen in the increasing number of jurisdictions that have signed up to the CRS, compliment by the progress in the law-making of each jurisdiction. CRS’s automatic exchange of information demonstrates a transparency improvement and certainly better than previous exchange information on request. Notably, the CRS will not be a succession until all jurisdictions implement it, as of the nature of tax evasion and facilitation of tax haven involve uncountable complexity network.

Bibliography

Primary source:

Statutes and statutory instruments:

Criminal Finances Act 2017, ss 45-46

Data-gathering Powers (Relevant Data) (Amendment) Regulations 2016, SI 2016/979

Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (2010) 26 USC § 6038D; 26 USC §§ 1471-1474

International Tax Compliance (Client Notification) Regulations 2016, SI 2016/899

International Tax Compliance Regulations 2015, SI 2015/878

Secondary source:

Reports:

European Parliament, ‘Organised Crime, Corruption, And Money Laundering: Recommendations on Action and Initiatives to Be Taken’ (CRIM Special Committee 2013)

Knobel A and Meinzer M, ‘Automatic Exchange Of Information: An Opportunity For Developing Countries To Tackle Tax Evasion And Corruption’ (Tax Justice Network 2014)

Knobel A and Meinzer M, ‘”The End Of Bank Secrecy”? Bridging The Gap To Effective Automatic Information Exchange’ (Tax Justice Network 2014)

OECD, ‘Standard For Automatic Exchange Of Financial Information In Tax Matters: Implementation Handbook’ (OECD Publishing 2017)

Mitchen A and Sikka P, ‘Tax Dodging Is Their Business’, The Pin-Stripe Mafia: How Accountancy Firms Destroy Societies (Association for Accountancy & Business Affairs 2011)

Teka R and Donaldson R, ‘Corporate Liability For Economic Crime: Submission From Transparency International UK’ (Transparency International UK 2017)

 

Journal articles:

Ambrosanio M and Caroppo M, ‘Eliminating Harmful Tax Practices In Tax Havens: Defensive Measures By Major EU Countries And Tax Haven Reforms’ (2004) 53 Canadian Tax Journal 685

LeVine R, Schumacher A and Zhou S, ‘FATCA And The Common Reporting Standard: A Comparison’ [2016] Journal of International Taxation

van Duyne P, ‘Money-Laundering: Pavlov’s Dog And Beyond’ (1998) 37 The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice 359

Websites:

Christensen J, ‘Panama: The Making Of A Tax Haven And Rogue State – Tax Justice Network’ (Tax Justice Network, 2016) <http://www.taxjustice.net/2016/03/30/panama-the-making-of-a-tax-haven-and-rogue-state/> accessed 4 September 2017

Fitzgibbon W, ‘EU Encouraged To Name European States In Tax Haven ‘Blacklist’ – ICIJ’ (ICIJ, 2017) <https://www.icij.org/investigations/paradise-papers/eu-encouraged-name-european-states-tax-haven-blacklist/> accessed 4 December 2017

Fowler N, ‘The OECD Information Exchange ‘Dating Game’ – Tax Justice Network’ (Tax Justice Network, 2016) <https://www.taxjustice.net/2016/10/25/oecd-information-exchange-dating-game/> accessed 1 November 2017

Martin N, ‘The Common Reporting Standard: Are You Ready?’ (PwC, 2016) <https://www.pwc.co.uk/who-we-are/regional-sites/london/insights/the-common-reporting-standard-are-you-ready.html> accessed 10 February 2018

 

 

Former Bristol Law Society President donates collection to UWE Bristol Law School

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John Lyes, a past president of Bristol Law Society, has donated his collection of books and materials on the history of the legal profession with especial focus on the legal profession of Bristol to UWE. Amongst the papers were a copy of John’s own history of the first two hundreds of Bristol Law Society, his monograph about the early history of the solicitors’ profession, and a pristine copy of the 1959 Solicitors Finals Exams.

Handing the papers over to Marcus Keppel-Palmer (Law), John said that he could not think of a better home for the collection given UWE’s history in the teaching of professional vocational courses.

John was in fact one of the very first graduates from UWE’s law programme. However, at the time this was the Bristol College of Commerce which taught the London External Law Degree at the time. After doing National Service, John worked at the Customs & Excise Department, before taking night school classes to study for a Law degree. One of the lecturers at the time was Alan Lamb, who offered John a position with his firm for John to do the necessary three year period of articles. John was in the very first intake to be paid – articled clerks had previously had to pay to do articles – and he was paid the princely sum of £4 a week.

John sat the Finals Exams in 1959, consisting then of 12 three hour papers taken over a week and a half, before qualifying as a solicitor in 1960. He then rose through the ranks of the firm that was Lawrence Tucketts, now a part of TLT, being the managing partner of the Kingswood Office. The office is now a Thai Restaurant. John was active in the Bristol Law Society, becoming President in 1980. One of his achievements during the year of office was to inaugurate the regular visits between the Bristol Law Society and the Bar of Bordeaux, the latter being twinned with Bristol. John recalls that the latter Bar was motivated in part by changes in French tax laws which meant that undrunk wine was to be taken into account for taxation, unless it was used for business purposes!

After retiring from practice, John pursued his passion for local history, enrolling at UWE and doing a MA in Local History at St Matthias, which led to him publishing monographs on the history of the local legal profession and also the history of Bristol Law Society. Most recently, to mark the hundred year anniversary of the Great War, John published a monograph, in conjunction with Bristol Law Society, on the Bristol Law Society during the First World War.

Bristol Law School and Stowe Family Law enter into collaborative relationship

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This week Bristol Law School announced that they will be entering into a collaborative relationship with Stowe Family Law (SFL).

SFL, joined the Bristol Legal Community on Monday 12 February by opening a new office on Queen Square.   The Bristol team will provide expert divorce and family legal advice within Bristol and the surrounding area. Bristol Law School’s focus is on delivery of practice through oriented teaching and learning, and this collaborative relationship with SFL will help further this focus.

In 2018 to start with, SFL will welcome a high-performing student from UWE on summer placement: UWE offers Family Law as an option at undergraduate level as well as an elective on their solicitor and barrister professional courses. Many of our graduates are heading into Family Law practice, and this collaboration with SFL is an excellent opportunity for both students and practitioners to connect.

The intention is incrementally to grow the relationship for the mutual benefit of UWE’s students and the firm, through working together on the delivery of pro bono activities, staff development and other input into the curriculum.

Among the planned activities planned for the future is the delivery by the firm of training around client interviewing skills in a Family Law setting. This could potentially support the existing Family Law pro bono work of the law school’s students in conjunction with the Personal Support Unit at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre.

Dagmar Steffens, Director of Law at UWE Bristol Law School, said:

“The school is delighted to welcome Stowe Family Law into the Bristol legal community. SFL is a well-established provider of high quality advice in Family Law matters. Our school has a particular strength in the arena of Family Law, covering a wide range of areas including leading research into Public Family Law, e.g. non-consensual state welfare interventions; high impact research into making Family proceedings more transparent to the local community; UG and PG options for our students to study Family Law in depth; and pro bono activity supporting litigants in person. Our students benefit enormously from the Law School’s very close ties with industry and practice. Our new collaboration with SFL will strengthen this in respect of Family Law, and give SFL access to the enormous talent on offer at UWE. We look forward to growing our relationship with the firm over the next couple of years with it becoming a close partner to our Law programmes.”

Jemma Slavin, Managing Partner of Stowe Family Law Bristol, said:

“We are very excited about opening in Bristol and developing ties with the local legal community.  We are keen to give something back to future generations of lawyers and it’s great to be doing that via collaboration with such a reputable academic institution as UWE.’

We will share more updates as this exciting relationship develops.

The new office address details:

Stowe Family Law LLP, Ground floor, Queen Square House, 18-21 Queen Square, Bristol BS1 4NH

 

 

 

Guest Talk – Dr Lorenzo Pasculli: The Impact of Brexit on Integrity and Corruption: Local and Global Challenges

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The talk was organised by the Commercial Law Unit and the International Law and Human Rights Unit on behalf of the Centre for Applied Legal Research.

On 14 February 2018 Dr Lorenzo Pasculli, Senior Lecturer in Law at Kingston University London challenged the audience to look at Brexit through the prism of corruption. No doubt this was an insightful and out of the ordinary guest talk for those who suffer from Brexit fatigue.

Dr Pasculli started by explaining that since Brexit or anything similar has never happened before it is difficult to find a theoretical framework to reveal what the consequences of Brexit will be on corruption. That being said, Dr Pasculli stressed that in his opinion Brexit has and will have an impact on integrity at a variety of levels as well as anti-corruption laws and policies.

In relation to integrity, the impact of Brexit can be felt in three areas: political, financial and commercial as well as systemic social. Dr Pasculli explained that the impact of Brexit on political integrity can be analysed at both macro- (ie public bodies, corporations and the media) and micro-level (ie individuals working in the public service) on the one hand and from an internal (ie British politics) and external (eg foreign affairs as well as other States) perspective. This risk factors relating to political integrity are chiefly due to the multiple and complex interests which create division as well as confusion and so mistrust that is amplified by what Dr Pasculli calls, ‘the wrong choice of decision-making device’ which was the referendum. At the internal micro-level there has always been a solid tradition of political integrity even when there were conflicts between personal views and the views of the party. The risk here is that if individuals externalise their dissent they might be reprimanded or marginalised for doing this (as it happened in some recent case). This might lead to the repression of pluralism and dissent. At the internal macro-level, the UK which is often viewed as the beacon of the rule of law is performing very poorly as politicians with undermined integrity did not explain the complexity of the issues and certain lobbying and media stained the Leave campaign of misinformation. Dr Pasculli pointed out that the lack of regulation of the British press exacerbated the influence of lobbies on certain press. The dearth of effective sanctions facilitates partisan press and political misinformation. Further the lack of mechanisms for politicians to step back, apologise for and correct the effect of misinformation on the general public (eg £350 million for the NHS campaign) undermines political integrity. Overall this atmosphere has led to (1) a phenomenon of deresponsabilisation; (2) reliance on emotions rather than reason and information when law and politics should be based on rationality, reasonableness and evidence; (3) general deterioration of political integrity and standing. The consequences of Brexit on external politics (outside the UK) should not be underestimated too. Discussions were had on possible emulations in the form of Grexit and Exitaly but they did not materialise. Most importantly Brexit has strengthened the global trends of populism and nationalism that clearly undermine political integrity as voters are given information that is not built and/or supported by evidence. Brexit, in other words, nurture the global trend of irrationality. After Dr Pasculli argued that this erosion of political integrity leads to ‘legalised forms of corruption’ (eg press being lobbied and lack of regulation of the press) he called for a widening of the definition of corruption in line with the anti-corruption convention. He highlighted the revolving door appointments as an example of lawful practice and stressed that research shows a disconnection between what people believe is unlawful and the actual regulation of particular activities. Dr Pasculli explained we should seize Brexit as an opportunity to raise awareness about these problems as well as ensure a better responsabilisation of certain politicians. Both internal and external pressure can be used to persuade the UK to adopt necessary regulatory measures.

Dr Pasculli then moved on to examine the impact of Brexit on financial and commercial corruption. Dr Pasculli started by explaining that the UK government has clearly explained that the UK will leave the single market even though the EU market is crucial. The conditions imposed by the European Union to the UK in relation to market access might be viewed by the general public as unreasonable and unfair. Such a perception could lead to a violation of legal rules, for there is a tendency to the rationalisation of corrupt practices when the law is seen as useless and/or unfair. This inevitably creates a subculture that encourages corruption more generally. Furthermore, Dr Pasculli observed that as the UK is looking to negotiate trade agreements with non-EU States it must be wary of such business opportunities. First a number of such countries do not comply with anti-money laundering and anti-corruption regulations. Second, companies might have to use corruption in order to pursue their business activities in corrupt-ridden countries. Looking at the countries mentioned by the UK government as potential business partners it is clear that the UK is looking at doing business in places that are high on the corruption index of Transparency International. In other words, British companies are going to move the trade to an environment which is more corrupt. As Dr Pasculli stressed, there is a need to raise awareness about this potential corruption threat. Nonetheless it might be possible to view these business opportunities in a positive light and argue that British companies could become exporters of good practices, strengthening the rule of law and global governance in these countries and more particularly in the Commonwealth.

In relation to systemic social integrity Dr Pasculli noted that the UK government is supporting high-skilled migration only. This, he believed, is extremely short-sighted. Research shows that corruption causes emigration, particularly of high-skilled migrants looking for opportunities in other countries as they are unable to move on in their home country. This however does not necessarily mean that high skilled migrants are immune to corruption. On the contrary studies demonstrate that immigration from corrupt countries boosts corruption in destination countries. As a result, Dr Pasculli suggested that to avoid the spread of corruption in the UK thorough background checks at the port of entry need to be carried out.

Is the UK continuing to be a global example in relation to anti-corruption practices? Dr Pasculli began by asserting that the UK has often been used as a model for anti-money laundering and anti-corruption measures and policies. The possibility of deregulation once outside the European Union might be viewed as a threat to the excellent contemporary regulation. Whilst some scholars argue that Brexit is a distraction from the anti-corruption agenda, Dr Pasculli contended that this is not necessarily the case. In fact in the past year a variety of institutions (eg the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre, the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision) have been set up and strategies (eg anti-corruption strategy) and laws (Criminal Finances Act 2017, implementation of the fourth money-laundering directive) drafted and adopted.

Brexit will also have an impact on UK financial sanctions which could potentially lead to an increase in corruption and money-laundering practices. Dr Pasculli first observed that financial sanctions are imposed on individuals in relation to their access to financial assets and services and are imposed with a view to pursue specific foreign and national security policies. Then Dr Pasculli noted that at the moment such sanctions can be imposed by the United Nations Security Council, the European Union (often in implementation of UN Security Council resolutions) and the UK Office of Financial Sanctions. After Brexit there will be no need for the UK to comply with the EU sanctions regime anymore. Dr Pasculli underlined that the new Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill 2017-2019 endows the executive with large powers for a broad range of purposes (eg fighting measures that challenge the rule of law). Further, it is flanked by weak individual safeguards such as ex post judicial review and no jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (which had in the Kadi case protected individuals’ human rights against the application of UN Security Council resolutions). Post-Brexit the UK will not be able to sit in EU meetings that relate to sanctions and as its strong voice on sanctions usually gathered support from other Member States it is argued that that without the UK taking part in such discussions divisions amongst EU member States might show more prominently. That being said if the UK imposes sanctions that are not aligned to other States it will feel the pressure of other States as well as companies that are trading in such States. This in turn might increase the potential for corruption.

Last but not least Dr Pasculli stressed that as the UK will be drafting a new raft of laws it must be careful that such laws are not providing opportunities for corruption and crime. Criminogenic lawmaking is indeed a potential risk post-Brexit with new schemes and laws being designed and individuals as well as companies finding ways to abuse or misuse such schemes (eg welfare benefit, taxes/fees/obligations, access to goods and services). Such potential for corruption is heightened if broad regulatory powers are given to authorities.

Looking forward Dr Pasculli shared with the audience his recommendations: (1) there must be some form of responsabilisation of politicians and companies, (2) education and ethicisation are key to maintaining integrity in public affairs, (3) ‘corruption proofing’ of legislation must become an established practice, (4) external controls must be increased.

 

Centre for Applied Legal Research to present at SLSA Conference 2018 

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The Annual Conference of the Socio-Legal Scholars Association is one of the high points of the legal academic calendar, and this year UWE’s Centre for Legal Research will be out in force showcasing current research at “the other place”. Bristol University is hosting the conference this year from March 27 – 29.

Emma Whewell is presenting a paper in the mental health stream entitled “Pre-proceedings and capacity: the impact of professional language and other barriers on parents with learning disabilities”. Emma has undertaken research into pre-proceedings protocols in Family Law, and this paper will showcase some of her research. Laura Walker has done research on resilience and mental health, but for the SLSA she is presenting a paper in the Law and Emotion stream entitled “The Role of Empathy in the Sentencing of Women in England and Wales”, one of several papers from the Centre for Legal Research that looks at criminal justice either directly or indirectly.

Ed Johnston will be presenting his paper entitled “The Defence Lawyer in the Modern Era and the Evolving Criminal Trial” reporting on his research in the criminal justice field. He is not the only UWE researcher presenting on criminal justice topics as Professor Phil Rumney is chairing two panels in the Sexual Offences stream and is presenting a paper with Duncan McPhee (Criminology) entitled “Exploring the Impact of Multiple Victim Vulnerabilities on Rape Investigations in England and Wales”. Tom Smith will be reporting on a pilot study undertaken at the Bristol Magistrates Courts looking at the lack of local newspaper reporting of the courts. Tom will be presenting with Marcus Keppel-Palmer and the partners from the Journalism Department, Sally Reardon and Phil Chamberlain. An early report was made to the Society of Editors and quoted by John Whittingdale MP.

Looking at criminal offences in the context of sports law is Matt Hall who is presenting a paper based around his PhD research into the offences around alcohol and drunkenness at football stadia. Matt will be arguing the case for liberalising the laws which apply only in the context of football and not other sports. Matt will also be co-presenting a second paper in the Sports law stream with Marcus Keppel-Palmer reporting on their content analysis of sports photographs in national newspapers in a paper entitled “The Connoted Message of Sports Photography in National Newspapers”. Marcus will have a busy conference as he is also presenting a paper in the Law and Music stream entitled “Law, Outlaw and Deviancy in Bro Country”.

The week before Easter also sees the Association of Law Teachers Conference, to be held at Keele University, and amongst UWE’s researchers presenting papers there are Kathy Brown, Rachel Wood and Thomas Webber.

PSU Murder Mystery Fundraising Event – March 21

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On March 21, a group of MA Event Management students are hosting a networking event with a twist. Join them for their Murder Mystery Networking Evening for anyone in the legal profession.

You will team up with to solve crime, whilst widening your connections in the legal field.

While benefiting from meeting and connecting with new individuals, all profit generated from the event will be provided the legal charity

Personal Support Unit (PSU). The PSU help individuals in the Bristol area who are facing legal processes alone by assisting them to represent themselves effectively in civil and family cases and tribunals. You can read more about their work here.

For just £12, you will receive admission to the Murder Mystery Networking Evening, along with a welcome drink and nibbles.

Come along to get to know new people whilst competing against your colleagues and friends to solve the murder the fastest – there is a prize for the quickest team!

Register here or find out more information here .