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 .

 

Bristol Law School students come 2nd in the regional heat of the Client Interviewing Competition

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On Saturday 10th February, UWE Bristol hosted the regional heat 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. UWE Bristol welcomed 12 different Universities to the regional heat.

The Bristol Law School (BLS) team, consisting of Josie Hebestreit (LPC) and Adam Hobson (GDL) came 2nd in the competition. They will now take part in the National final which is being held in London in March. If the BLS team is successful at the nationals, they will go through to the international competition which is in Maastricht this year.

Senior Law Lecturers Suzaan Rowley and Victoria Latimer with the help of the UWE Law Society, offered training sessions to any BLS students who wanted to compete in the competition. Adam and Josie as UWE finalists went on to be coached by Suzaan and Victoria and were chosen to represent UWE at the regional competition. This was the first time UWE Bristol had entered a team into the competition.

Josie and Adam faced stiff competition from other universities including University of Bristol, University of Law and Cardiff University. The pair were placed 2nd after Oxford Brooks and will now join 9 other teams at the national competition.

Suzaan commented:

“We are delighted Adam and Josie got through to the nationals as the competition was very tough! Client interviewing is a key legal skill that all lawyers need to perfect so this competition will help them develop their interview technique further.”

Congratulations to Adam and Josie!

 

UWE Law students win big at two national mediation competitions

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Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) students, David Forster and Sara Harrison-Fisher, represented UWE Bristol at the Worshipful Company of Arbitrators Mediation Competition in London on 19-21 January, competing against teams from other Universities, trainee solicitors and pupils.

They walked away with prizes for the Best University Team and the Past Master Karl Davies Memorial Award which was awarded to the team with the Most Creative Solution.

Lucilla Macgregor who, along with her fellow BPTC tutor Sara Whiteley, mentored the pair in preparation for the competition said:

“David and Sara did extremely well in the face of stiff competition.  This is the second time in two years that UWE BPTC students have won a prize at this event, which gives them a fantastic opportunity to practice their advocacy and negotiation skills in front of accredited mediators”.

BPTC students and tutors

The following weekend saw Law undergraduates, Jade Trill, Callum Tucker, James Hathaway and Jack Kaczanowski, competing in the UK National Student Mediation Competition, held at ULaw in London.

The team won the awards for Best Mediation Team, Best Mediator (Jade) and Second Best Mediator (Callum), beating undergraduate and post-graduate teams from 16 universities around the UK.

Their coach, Rachel Wood, said:

“This is a fantastic achievement for the team, particularly as this is the first time we have entered the National Competition.  The students have studied mediation and practised their skills in our internal UWE Mediation Competition. It is wonderful to see their skills being recognised by professional mediators judging them in a national competition”.

UWE Bristol now expects to host the UK National Student Mediation Competition in January 2019.

Guest Talk – Professor Emily Reid: Securing the Future of the World Trade Organisation

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In November, Professor Emily Reid from Southampton Law School gave a guest talk entitled “Securing the Future of the World Trade Organisation“. Read the recap of the talk below:

For more than the last decade the WTO and ‘globalisation’ has been the subject of sporadic public protest, exemplified by events in Seattle in 1999. More recently, the last decade has seen in Europe a growing number of popular demonstrations against a range of trade and investment treaties such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and the EU. Frequently disquiet has focussed upon a perceived conflict between economic liberalisation or indeed globalisation itself and social or environmental values. Reference to these protests and public sentiment formed the backdrop to Professor Emily Reid’s guest talk at UWE on 1 November 2017. Prof Reid, an expert in international economic law and sustainable development, examined how the World Trade Organisation is defending and can defend such non-economic interests whilst still holding a liberal view of trade relations. Her passion for the subject is drawn from her previous work on how the European Union has managed to accommodate the protection of human rights and environment with economic liberalisation, and extrapolating from this the lessons which the global community might learn from that. (see E Reid, Balancing Human Rights, Environmental Protection and International Trade: Lessons from the EU Experience (Hart 2015))

Prof Reid began by noting the growing diversity of legal orders, pursuing a range of objectives, both economic and non-economic, highlighting that the interrelationship between social, environmental and trade elements is complex and evolving. Whilst these three elements can clash in particular instances, they are not inherently in conflict and in the longer term they are, indeed, mutually dependent, as is evident in the concept of sustainable development.

The broader question relates to the legitimacy of this economic organisation inasmuch as its policies and decisions have been the subject of criticism by some for failing to take sufficient account of human rights and environmental concerns. The fragmentation of international law with its variety of actors and self-contained regimes further complicates the task: who are the regulatory decision-makers? Wherefrom does their legitimacy stem? How are they accountable and to whom? These pressing concerns are no doubt difficult challenges for States operating in a new legal order, in which the role of the state is radically different to that under the ‘Westphalian’ order in which the WTO was created. How can the State in a Westphalian sense of the term deal with this multiplicity of actors? How can (local) democratic accountability be secured?

In addition, the international legal context has considerably evolved in the past decades as the WTO has had to engage with the emergence of new popular concerns, such as environmental protection, and their associated legal regimes. Indeed when the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was negotiated, the definition of ‘conservation of natural resources’ as an exception to the trade rules was understood in terms of mineral resources. The WTO has since, however, acknowledged that a modern understanding of the term was needed. Such recognition is crucial to the ongoing relevance and legitimacy of WTO law.

As global regulation is evolving and increasing, political and democratic demands are growing too. Contemporary political events (eg the vote for withdrawal of the UK from the European Union, the election of President Trump, the support for Le Pen in the French presidential elections) reflect a growing popular nationalism, and rejection of elements of globalisation: does this mark a transformative shift?

Prof Reid pointed out that the legal order that regulates economic relations is not only legally binding but also highly sophisticated in that it provides for binding dispute resolution. The pursuit of trade liberalisation requires a reduction of barriers to trade, yet national environmental regulation has the capacity to impede the application of WTO law, constituting as it can, a barrier to trade.

Thus Professor Reid identified the challenge for the WTO as being two fold – first, there is a challenge of legitimacy, and second, there is a need to re-establish and strengthen the balance between global economic integration and domestic regulatory autonomy. These carry implications for both the fact that the WTO addresses the balance between economic and non-economic interests and the manner in which it does so.

On the first, Prof Reid notes that it is significant that it is the WTO which is, by virtue of its dispute settlement mechanism, the sole adjudicator of the balance to be drawn between application of the WTO rules, and their relationship with national regulation. That the WTO, an economic organisation, is the organisation which determines the balance between trade liberalisation and national environmental regulation raises a number of legitimacy, and of accountability related questions. Prof Reid noted that there has been significant criticism regarding decisions made by economic bodies generally and the WTO more specifically, however she went on to note that on further investigation, some of this criticism is unfounded. The WTO Dispute Settlement Body has an obligation to apply the WTO rules, it has no jurisdiction to go beyond this, and would face questions of legitimacy were it to do so.

Prof Reid then turned her attention to examining how the WTO solves this conflict between on the one hand the rules of the WTO and its covered agreements, and on the other hand national environmental regulation. Has the WTO the competence to do so? If so, how has it taken on the challenge? After all, it is important that the WTO approaches the subject in such a manner that it meets the test of legitimacy as it otherwise opens itself up to further challenges.

In this light, Prof Reid argued that the WTO can indeed meet the challenge of legitimacy provided it (1) reinforces the non-discrimination paradigm (ie national treatment principle and most-favoured nation clause) and (2) re-examines the way in which it addresses the balance between economic and non-economic interests.

Prof Reid explained that initially the underlying objective of the WTO was to secure welfare gain for everyone. Later, imbued by a neo-liberal account, free trade became a goal in itself rather than a tool to reach other objectives. Illustrative of this development is Article 2.2 of the TBT agreement that provides that national regulatory measures must not only be non-discriminatory but also necessary. This is no doubt a manifestation of the neo-liberal thinking as both discriminatory and non-discriminatory regulatory measures must be justified. As a result the State is less free because it must prove that the measures (eg emission standards) are necessary as part of the test and this, of course, opens the door to greater and more in-depth reviews of national measures. Prof Reid thus argued that the non-discrimination paradigm must be reinforced.

Prof Reid then scrutinised the way the WTO dispute settlement mechanism can potentially encroach on how non-economic issues are viewed and addressed in international economic law. Whilst it might be contended that States had agreed to such legally binding mechanism on a voluntary basis they nonetheless did not expect such a curtailment of their freedom to act. This no doubt affects the legitimacy of the mechanism all the more as an increasing number of individuals deem the protection of the environment to be of utmost importance and feel that the WTO is impinging on such an important matter. That being said, Prof Reid stressed that the WTO dispute settlement mechanism has so far, notably due to its restricted mandate, adopted a conciliatory approach. The mechanism, when examining general exceptions to the non-discrimination principle, has adopted a broad interpretation of the terms so as to facilitate the use of these clauses to cover environmental issues. After carefully examining the test enshrined in Article XX GATT that relates to general exceptions, Prof Reid concluded that the mechanism does not question the level of protection offered by such measures, but whether the measure is the least restrictive in terms of trade. This enables the mechanism to keep an objective evaluation of the measure even though it does claim that it is engaging in a ‘weighing and balancing’ exercise. As a result of the mechanism refusing to examine the state’s level of protection (which is in fact consistent with the trade liberalisation paradigm) it avoids the legitimacy question.

In conclusion Prof Reid reiterated that the evolution of the international legal order poses a significant challenge to the WTO. She however maintained that the WTO has the capacity to address such challenges: it must reinforce the non-discrimination paradigm and continue to resist the movement towards a subjective evaluation of State measures

In the discussion that followed, participants asked questions about eg the consistency of the case-law of the dispute settlement mechanism, the interrelationship between WTO rules and regional agreements, how non-government organisations can influence WTO decisions, and the definition and application of the concept of ‘human health’ as found in Article XX GATT.