Pro bono works

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In a series of blog posts Associate Head of Pro Bono, Marcus Keppel-Palmer will be sharing with us why Pro Bono at UWE Bristol works. In this first post Marcus shares research shared at the UWE Learning & Teaching Conference about the similarities between Law students and Journalism students:

Pro Bono gives students an opportunity to develop their professional identity as lawyers, allowing them to develop skills, confidence, ethics and professionalism outside the classroom.  I explored this at the UWE Learning & Teaching Conference jointly with Sally Reardon (UWE Journalism), who also found that journalists form their professional identity away from the gaze and strictures of assessment.

Students come to University with pre-formed views as to what Journalism and Lawyering is, views that are mainly formed by media images, often casting these characters as the hero of the story. Typical depictions of lawyers and lawyering can be found in To Kill A Mockingbird, The Rainmaker, and other John Grisham stories, whilst crusading journalists are depicted in films such as All The Presidents Men and The Post.

However, when they start to study, students are shocked that the reality of study is at odds with these romanticised images. Sally and I argued that students needed to see these professions in the round, creating an individual professional identity, and through that a coherent learning community. Professional Identity is the more than simply ethics and professionalism; it is the way a lawyer understands his or her role relative to all of the stakeholders in the legal system, including clients, courts, opposing parties and counsel, the firm and the legal system or society as a whole. Journalists of course play a valuable role within the courts too, but of course have a wider set of stakeholders and wider social impact to engage with.

In order to develop professional identity, students need opportunities to experience the complex interlay of professional behaviours, skills, ethics, and the relationships, whilst using their doctrinal knowledge. For law students and journalists that often requires participation in extra-curricular activities. Sally spoke about the Global News Relay, an annual event whereby UWE journalists collaborate with students from other countries around the world to compile a snapshot news programme across time zones and continents in one day. I spoke of the professional identity law students forge through participation in various strands of pro bono, such as the welfare benefits advice service, the Business Advice Clinic, and the Bristol Music Advice Service.

To find out more about the pro bono offering at UWE Bristol please see here.

Visiting Scholar Dr Philippe Karpe at the Bristol Law School

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Written by Dr Noelle Quenivet

Between 10 February and 10 March 2018 the Centre for Applied Legal Research hosted Dr Philippe Karpe as Visiting Scholar. Dr Philippe Karpe is a senior legal researcher and international expert working for CIRAD, a French agricultural research and international cooperation state organization working for the sustainable development of tropical and Mediterranean regions. Worldwide there are 850 CIRAD researchers assigned in 40 countries involved in an array of projects. Dr Karpe is currently posted in Nairobi, Kenya.

Invited by the International Law and Human Rights Unit and the Environmental Law Research Unit it was a pleasure to have Dr Karpe with us as he took part in a wide range of teaching and scholarly activities offered by the Bristol Law School whilst also pursuing his own research on indigenous people and the management of natural resources. By education Dr Karpe is a public international lawyer who studied at the universities of Nancy, Paris 10 and Strasbourg in France and holds a ‘habilitation à la direction de recherche’ (Accreditation to supervise research,) a French post-doctoral degree allowing him to supervise PhD students. Besides supervising PhD candidates at CIRAD he also teaches at the universities of Strasbourg (France) and Hokkaido (Japan). The bulk of his work however consists in planning and running projects with and for international organisations (eg United Nations Development Programme-UNDP, World Bank), NGOs (eg Rainforest Foundation Norway, Organisation des Nations Autochtones de Guyane-ONAG) and other stakeholders applying his expertise on governance and rule of law, including indigenous peoples’ rights (general and particular rights, especially land rights, forest’s and carbon’s rights, forest users’ rights, women’s rights), socio-environmental safeguards, sustainable forest management, rural and forest land tenure (including for the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance on Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security-VGGT), participative management of lands (including the use of artificial intelligence), participative mapping, institutional arrangements and stakeholder commitments (civil society, forest communities, etc.).

Dr Karpe led workshops on three modules (‘Natural Resources’, ‘Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility’ and ‘European Environmental Law and Policy’) offered on our LLM programmes. In each of these modules he shared with the students his extensive knowledge and practical expertise in the relevant fields. In particular he brought law to life by using concrete legal problems he had been confronted with in his own field work. For example in the module ‘Natural Resources’ led by Prof Jona Razzaque Dr Karpe produced real forest legal texts that were enacted by regional, national and local public authorities. The students could thus see how forests are protected (or not). This undoubtedly allowed the students to understand better the practical applicability and application of the law as well as its (sometimes unintended) consequences on local populations. In the module ‘Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility’ the students were asked to engage in a discussion on ethical aspects of activities carried out by multinational enterprises using real contracts that were agreed upon between indigenous people and organisations. Passionate discussions in this workshop run by Dr Karpe and Dr Sabine Hassler on for example the protection of traditional knowledge in India and the protection of the intellectual property rights of the indigenous peoples ensued. This inquisitive and practice-oriented type of engaging with the students was again displayed in the workshop on the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the module ‘European Environmental Law and Policy’. Together with the module leader, Christian Dadomo, Dr Karpe challenged the students to analyse the current CAP reform and its interface with the environment and, more largely, the future shape of the society. He notably discussed with the students the negative and positive connections between agriculture, the society and the environment (eg pollution, deforestation, drying up of rivers, etc) and how the reform of the CAP deals with these issues. Dr Karpe’s visit to UWE was no doubt an asset to further nurture our practice-led and student-centred teaching culture on the LLM programme at UWE.

Throughout his stay at UWE Dr Karpe also took the opportunity to attend a number of external engagement events organised by the units of the CALR such as the Brexit and Corruption talk by Dr Lorenzo Pasculli and the Brexit and Trade Relations panel discussion. As a scholar working often far away from European legal issues he particularly enjoyed this insight into one of the most commonly debated issue in the UK: the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. In this context, he sincerely enjoyed the great variety and quality of the different UWE’s opportunities to develop and enrich the knowledge on many scientific and political vital present concerns.

Dr Karpe had the opportunity to deepen his present academic research especially on Harmony with Nature, the Commons, the indigenous peoples and the farmers by collecting many references and academic articles on the UWE’s virtual library and by daily discussions with colleagues on a variety of topics, some of them relating to research methods and methodology (eg epistemology, social-legal studies and critical legal studies). Furthermore his stay at UWE gave him the opportunity to consider some new academic concerns such as conflict, war and the humanitarian legal framework.

On two occasions Dr Karpe presented his work to UWE staff and students. At a first event he shared with us his practice-based research and at a second reflected upon his work as a lawyer in the field. A roundtable on ‘The Future of the Commons’ was organised on 28 February 2018 to discuss the definition of the concept of the ‘Commons’ and develop the ‘Commons Thinking’. Dr Karpe’s intervention focused on his own experience of the commons in the African context. For example he was once confronted with what appeared to be an odd situation in a village. The local population did not seem to be related or linked, the concept of society did not seem to apply either and it appeared that each person was working for him/herself. A positive, classic lawyer would have undoubtedly failed to realise that there was something beyond that and that in fact these individuals were connected by a common, shared ‘space’. Dr Karpe then questioned whether the concept of the commons was an answer to this practical/technical problem which could be turned into a political concern. He posited that current values do not conform to aspirations of justice and that contemporary laws do not help support, protect and promote the life of individuals who live in such a situation. Yet, as a lawyer, his job is to establish justice between people and to find solutions to concrete technical as well as political problems. Thus in his view the concept of the Commons appear to be the most suitable tool. However, when trying to write the law of the Commons the lawyer faces the harsh reality of having to acknowledge that law simply is not the most appropriate tool. For example, law is usually split in different areas such as contract law, family law, property law, etc and yet the Commons transcend these separations. Also the Commons are a ‘space for development’ as they create opportunities for changes and evolution. This all makes it difficult to freeze the Commons into law. Dr Karpe then argued that for him it was crucial that human rights be at the centre of all these activities. Law should be created around human rights. He also challenged the vertical relationship of law whereby constitutional law sits at the top of the hierarchy of any national legal system. Whilst he admitted that this might sound revolutionary as lawyers struggle to understand law in anything but hierarchical terms and categories he emphasised that only a horizontal understanding of the law could avoid corrupting the Commons. As he explained his support for the Commons he however warned that the concept of the Commons might in specific contexts be used as a new form of colonialism enabling State and organisations, for example to deny rights to indigenous people on the basis that under the principle of non-discrimination and shared access to resources no special rights should be given to them.

Last but certainly not least Dr Karpe gave a talk entitled ‘Has the Wandering Lawyer Reached his Destination? – The Adventures of a Lawyer Working in the Field’ which gave him the opportunity to reflect on his work. It was an enlightening talk as Dr Karpe shared with us over 25 years of research in Cameroon, the Central Republic of Africa, Madagascar, Democratic Republic in Congo, Gabon, etc. He kicked off this presentation by asking ‘What am I? What is my purpose as a lawyer?’. Looking at the type of jobs he usually carries out he acknowledged that his work tends to touch upon a range of topics (eg weddings, contracts, etc) though it does focus on forestry. Yet, as a human being he questions what his real role is. For him, he should be promoting justice and more specifically social justice. As a result he does not question the abstract internal coherence of the texts, the content of texts or their effectiveness and efficiency as such. Rather, these are only steps in this research work. The basic research question is ‘under which conditions may the lawyer contribute to improving the living conditions of the local population?’. The objective is thus to understand how law can contribute to improving the living conditions and ensure the protection of a certain idea of a community of life. For this, four assumptions – in the meantime, he challenged them –  must be made: 1) laws and rules may contribute to social change and lawyers are thus useful; 2) laws and rules have a political function; 3) there is a community of life and 4) the function of laws and rules is to guarantee social peace. Likewise Dr Karpe conceded that there were a number of challenges: 1) working with disadvantageous groups such as indigenous people, rural women, etc; 2) the status of users’ rights in developing countries and 3) the status of peasants. All these challenges relate to various aspects of vulnerability and deprivation of rights. With this in mind the lawyer must think about how he can have a positive impact on society. In Dr Karpe’s eyes the most suitable way to understand societies and to then be in a position to support them is to conduct extensive research in the field. For example this means using involved, immersed and applied research techniques so that a concrete and continuous contact with the relevant people can be established. Closer to the problem one can feel it. Dr Karpe also stressed that the nature of the field obliges all actors to adopt an interdisciplinary approach and so he works with economists, anthropologists, biologists, pharmacologists, etc, bearing in mind that each person brings his/her own views and perceptions of the situation and that all these views as well as methodologies need to be integrated into one’s work. Does that mean that the lawyer disappears? As Dr Karpe stressed he remains a positive lawyer (one that is trying to find the best solution to a problem that affects people), a humanist (there is no doubt a need for empathy and humility in these circumstances) and a ‘questionnaire’ (a person who asks questions) and thus a ‘wandering lawyer’. In his opinion this ‘wandering lawyer’ has a fundamental political and moral obligation to remember, think, defend and realise the key destiny of a lawyer: social justice. As a result he/she must revise his/her vision of the law, its essence, substance and form. Four main research themes derive from this stance towards law and the role of the lawyer: 1) the commons, the harmony between nature, humanity and values (justice); 2) the nature and the content of the law (juridicity); 3) the tools for implementing the law and 4) the methodologies of knowledge of law. Dr Karpe presented some of the results of his reflection, explaining that the law should not be in the form of specific provisions, that the new ‘Common Law’ should correspond to a right of communion, a transcendental right and that the new Common Law must correspond to an idea, that of a community of life. Under the Common Law individuals enjoy the same rights and there is no hierarchy of rights. That being established, Dr Karpe questioned the way law is created, articulating the idea that law is often crafted by a certain type of persons for a certain type of person and for a specific objective and that consequently law may not be really that ‘common’ in fact.

As Dr Karpe left UWE he had made contact with many colleagues in the Bristol Law School and hoped to be able to involve these colleagues in his work. He proposed to establish an opened think-thank on the Commons, the Wandering Lawyer, Law and the Juridicity, named: “the Rainbow Team”. Discussions were also had about future collaboration notably in the form of common projects relating to the protection of the environment, biodiversity and conflict. It was with regret that we had to let Dr Karpe go back to his work as it was such a pleasure to talk to him on a variety of topics.

Guest Lecture: Dr Jane Rooney: Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights in Armed Conflict

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By Noelle Quenivet

On 14 March 2018 the Centre for Applied Legal Research welcomed Dr Jane Rooney, Lecturer at the University of Bristol, to present a paper on ‘Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights in Armed Conflict’. Dr Rooney began by explaining that she was challenging the commonly held view that human rights law and the European Convention on Human Rights more particularly subject States to a higher threshold than international humanitarian law.

To support her key argument Dr Rooney took the example of internal disturbances that are not covered by international humanitarian law as they do not reach the required levels of violence and organisation of non-State actors. In such instances Article 2 ECHR becomes of paramount importance. Under this provision force may not be used unless absolutely necessary and so the European Court of Human Rights will examine whether force has been used in a proportionate manner as well as how the operation was planned and controlled. As she explained, Article 2 ECHR contains two types of positive obligations (substantive and procedural) and negative obligations. With regard to negative obligations, Dr Rooney observed that they are never looked at in an extra-territorial context. She added that even in an internal context they are only examined in cases relating to terrorism, high levels of violence and internal disturbances but not armed conflicts. As a result a human rights paradigm is applied because the situation at hands is not one that falls within the remit of international humanitarian law. A law-enforcement perspective is thereby espoused.

Dr Rooney focused her attention on three cases against Russia: Isayeva (2005), Finogenov et al (2011) and Tagayeva et al (2017) as they provided good examples of high levels of violence yet not necessarily falling within the scope of international humanitarian law. The first case relates to the bombardment of civilians leaving the siege of Grozny, the second examines the hostage crisis in a Moscow theatre and the third looks at the hostage take-over of school in Beslan.

In McCann et al the European Court of Human Rights scrutinised the planning of the operation as and applied an honest belief test to establish whether the principle of proportionality had been complied with. Yet, in Armani da Silva (2016) the Court applied a subjective test of proportionality. Dr Rooney argued that it seemed that increasingly the European Court of Human Rights was adopting a rather deferential attitude towards the State. For example in Finogenov it used the margin of appreciation doctrine to allow the State a certain degree of discretion. Usually, the Court sets out the test and applies it. Another exampled used by Dr Rooney was the use of poisonous gas. In Finogenov the Court deemed it proportionate whereas under international humanitarian law such weapons (ie riot control agents) are banned. Dr Rooney pinpointed that whilst political considerations were embodied in international humanitarian law this was not the case of human rights law. Was it however possible that the Court was building political considerations into its jurisprudence?

In an armed conflict paradigm, force will be used and individuals will be killed but the principles of distinction, discrimination and proportionality will set the limits to the use of force. In other words the use of force is intimately related to the designation of people in an armed conflict.  The reason for this is that international humanitarian aims to protect those who are not taking part in hostilities. The principle of proportionality under this legal regime allows for incidental loss of civilian life but only on the basis that it is proportionate to the military advantage. Thus international humanitarian law is more permissive in relation to the lethal use of force.
In Tagayeva the Court appeared to use international humanitarian law to decide on the legality of the attack carried out by the Russian forces with a view to freeing the hostages in the school. After all it did refer to Article 51(4) of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions and Articles 1 and 2 of the Protocol III to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Incendiary Weapons) in describing the relevant legal framework. However, it turns out that although the Court mentioned international humanitarian law it did not use it. In fact the Court examined whether the basic principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials had been complied with. Here the Court examined whether a legal framework was in place on the national level, concluding that it had failed to set the key principles of the use of force as required by the Convention. In fact the Court seemed to focus its attention on the negative obligation of Article 2 ECHR, investigating the planning and control as well as the investigation after the attack. It observed that Russia had failed to take precautionary measures although it was aware that the individuals had travelled to North Ossetia, similar attacks had been carried out and no warning was issued to the school administration. As for the investigation since no inventory of the weapons used was made, the evidence was disposed of summarily, etc it failed to comply with the principles of Article 2 ECHR. Interestingly, as the Court concentrates on issues prior and after the attack it seems that it is using these tools to deter States from using force, stressing the importance of working on prevention and investigation and the need for States to put in place appropriate measures to avoid the recurrence of such unlawful uses of force.

The European Court of Human Rights defers to the state on proportionality of use of force on the grounds that the judiciary is not equipped with the expertise or democratic legitimacy for making such a decision that is vital to national security. An evaluation of the jurisprudence indicates that adopting a human rights/law enforcement paradigm can result in a more permissive regime of use of force than under the armed conflict paradigm.  International humanitarian law should serve as a point of reference for the European Court of Human Rights in ‘internal’ disturbances, especially where the alternative is a more permissive regime of use of force on the part of the state; where politics dictates the characterisation of the violence as a domestic disturbance rather than an armed conflict; as well as its characterisation as internal or transboundary. Dr Rooney concluded by stating that there needs to be further assessment of the cross-section between counter-terrorism and armed conflict regimes in order to clarify our expectations of state behaviour in these difficult circumstances.

Community Asset Transfers: Legal and Practical Issues seminar

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On 19th April Bristol Law School co-hosted a seminar with The Old Library, Eastville on the legal and practical issues surrounding Community Asset Transfers (‘CAT’).

Bristol Law School pro bono students, Alice Gibson and Lauren Johnson, gave an excellent presentation focusing on the legal issues of community asset transfer.

Debbora Hall from The Old Library focused on her practical experiences of going through the CAT process.

This was followed by a busy question and answer session with the audience.

The seminar was held at the former library on Muller Road, Bristol (now known as The Old Library) and it is amazing to see and hear how much the team of volunteers has achieved there in making this building a bright and vibrant space for the local community.

Due to the popularity of the event we are hoping to run another CAT seminar soon.

Environmental Law Student Conference 2018

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Elena Blanco, Associate Professor and Acting Head of the Environmental Law Research Unit hosted this year’s event at UWE on 14 March. Now in its fourth year, the Environmental Law Student Conference provides students with an opportunity to present on topics featured in their studies of environmental law, globalisation and natural resources law. Students of Environmental Law from our undergraduate (LLB) and postgraduate courses (LLM and PhD) were joined by students from the Universities of Cardiff and Swansea. The conference also provides the opportunity to network, socialise and share ideas with students from different law schools in the region.

The organising student committee at UWE was integrated by Cleverline Brown (PhD student); Siti Binti  Rosli (LLM) and Saluuga Hassan (LLB 3rd year). The students selected the different panels: on Human Rights and the Environment; Climate Change and Trade, Technology and the Future of Environmental Challenges. A variety of students from UWE and Cardiff University participated by giving excellent, provocative and confident presentations and engaging on an open and lively discussion with the audience. Students from Swansea chaired panels and contributed to the discussion.

The day was inspiring and engaging with a wide range of topics featured in the presentations including, pollution caused by business activities, environmental pollution, access to water in Israeli occupied Palestinian territories, the need for supranational governance on Climate Change and, the legal implications of  alternatives on environmental discourses. From the practical and topical to the conceptual our students showed a keen interest on environmental and sustainability matters as well as in being ‘part of the solution’ to environmental challenges from a variety of political and conceptual points of view.

This year a prize was offered to the best presentation by the United Kingdom Environmental Law Association (UKELA), Wales Working Party. The presentations are to be judged by members of UKELA WWP who are legal professionals from Cardiff-based chambers and law firms. The winner will be granted a year’s free membership of this organisation!

The twenty four participants found the event extremely valuable, well organised and run, fun, fluid and well spaced out with a great balance of time to share views and informal discussion and some more formal presentations.

Individuals commented (on the feedback sheets returned to the organisers) on how much they enjoyed the opportunity to present in public beyond the classroom and beyond their own university but among such a friendly and welcoming like-minded group of people.

Thomas Neill, a final year LLB student at Swansea University, said: “I found the conference really enjoyable, there were a high quality and varied set of presentations which lead to some really interesting debates. It was also good to be able to network with students from other law schools and hear their thoughts on the issues facing environmental law and enforcement. I found it refreshing to have a wider discussion on environmental law rather than focusing on the issues relevant to my own course.”

Tobechukwu Kanayo Okonkwo, another final year LLB student who attended, said: “My time at the Environmental Conference was an enlightening experience. It allowed me to meet like-minded people and open my mind to different perspectives concerning the environment.”

Our talented students found the experience extremely valuable and offered them the opportunity to gain invaluable skills and to showcase their fantastic work further

Workshop ‘The Future of the Commons’ with Keynote Speaker David Bollier

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Photo by Liam Pozz 

On 28 February 2018 while Dr Philippe Karpe, Visiting Scholar of the Environmental Law Research Unit (ELRU) and International Law and Human Rights Research Unit (ILHRU), stayed at UWE Elena Blanco chaired and organised a roundtable on ‘The Future of the Commons’ as one of the events during his month long stay.

Philippe Karpe’s work for CIRAD in Kenya on natural resource management and his scholarship had touched and explored this alternative, sustainable discourse of ‘The commons’ not just as a natural resource management tool but, more importantly, as a challenge to traditional law practice and a re-framing of law as an instrument of social and environmental justice.

We were extremely fortunate to have David Bollier, the main authority in ‘The Commons’ scholarship and practice, to accept our invitation and join us via (green) Video Conferencing to share his latest work on the understanding of ‘value’ and its influence and articulation in policy. David has inspired a large number of researchers and activists through with his best known work ‘Thinking Like a Commoner’ and, after his keynote, he engaged in a lively discussion with invited participants and discussants.

With a topic as poignant as this paradigmatic ‘Commons Thinking’ we decided that this first roundtable (we would like more events like this to follow) would be critical and conceptual while a later event (which will be organised by the ELRU in June) will engage with practical perspectives and activism. Hence, the invited discussants to this event were critical thinkers and theorists like Dr Sam Adelman (Associate Professor at the School of Law of the University of Warwick), Dr Vito de Lucia (Researcher at the KG Jebsen Centre for the Law of the Sea, UiT Arctic University of Norway) and Professor Anna Grear (Professor at the School of Politics and Law of the University of Cardiff) to join Dr Philippe Karpe and his very interesting practical and theoretical insights into the potential of ‘commons thinking’. The audience included members of the ILHRU, the ELRU, FET and the Bristol Business School, including our doctoral students.

The workshop began with David Bollier’s keynote speech. He pointed out that that there are a multitude of ways to approach the concept of the common. Whilst many politicians and individuals working on issues relating to economics and property rights focus on the resources aspect of the commons it should in fact be viewed as a social system with a community of values, rules and practices relating to resources. Traditionally, natural resources such as fisheries, farmland and wild game have never been considered as significant for economic purposes because there is no direct cash attached to it. Anthropologists appear to be the ones most able to understand the concept as they view the commons as a food system in a community, be it in an urban or agricultural setting. Indeed the commons can be seen as a new movement enabling ordinary people to use and more importantly share and manage resources (eg community garden, public common partnership, wifi nets, etc). Often, the key features of these communities are open design and sharing.

David Bollier stressed that there is a burgeoning world of very diverse commons initiatives, all based on shared benefit, fairness, equality and inclusive participation which are the core elements of the commons. The idea is that individuals negotiate, collaborate and come to an agreeable conclusion. As a result the commons create social bonds, a social movement that exists outside of the State and politics. However, because it is non-conventional it is often viewed as irrelevant. Yet, this discourse and vehicle of expression can be used to counterbalance the politics of market. It is a new vision and paradigm of politics and governance as it is a politics of belonging. The commons are a different philosophy of human aspiration and existence, away from the capital market and liberalisation philosophies and values. In this view radical individualism is destroying social bonds.

That being said, the commons is not only a critique that challenges the systemic limitations of the neoliberal economics and political culture but also an inspiring platform for reform. A long history of the commons allows for the concept to be anchored in political and legal tradition. As the concept of the commons allows for transnational collaboration it reimagines the State and law more generally. It opens up spaces that are contextual. Moving forward, David Bollier suggested that the next step should be to bring together small initiatives with a view to develop horizontal relationships between the movements. This would allow the organisation of politics beyond political parties as well as be the opportunity to create a theory of values that focuses on non-monetarised elements. David Bollier concluded his keynote speech by sounding a note of caution: by ushering the commons into mainstream it should not lose its true meaning.

Several important insights arose from the event including many critical ‘cautions’ such as the danger of top-down (even if green) approaches, the need for participatory structures, the importance of formulating alternatives to development and the importance of escaping the ‘value trap’ that dominates all aspects of our lives at the moment.

The idea of ‘Legal Hacks’ was discussed at the end of the event and put forward by David as a way of transitioning to a sustainability informed, participatory approach to social, economic and environmental approaches. He also linked his work to that of his good friend George Monbiot who as a public figure regularly formulates alternatives to mainstream destructive economic approaches.

We think we speak for others when we say we left the event inspired, hopeful and determined to take this thinking and scholarship further. Elena Blanco was able to bring some of the insights of the day to the ‘Repair Acts Network’ event which took place in 13 March (see separate post).

If anyone is interested in participating in a ‘local-global’ commons inspired multidisciplinary project, please get in touch with Elena Blanco at Elena.Blanco@uwe.ac.uk .

Elena Blanco (Associate Professor on International Economic Law, Acting Head ELRU) and Noelle Quenivet (Associate Professor in International Law, Head ILHRU)

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.

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.