UWE Elderlaw Pro Bono Team Making A Difference

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One strand of the Pro Bono offering from the Bristol Law School is the Elderlaw team of students, who are focussed on matters relating to Wills, Probate and Powers of Attorney.

This year has seen the team participating in “Make A Will Week”, an annual initiative run by the Law Society.

The Elderlaw team of 8 students ran a Wills service from the Citizens Advice Bureau in Fairfax Street in Bristol City Centre, as well as at Paul’s Place Charity in Coalpit Heath.

Students met clients, took instructions, drafted Wills and finalised the arrangements and paper work.

Student lead, Brooke Lewis said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference to people and also to put into practice our knowledge”.

In addition to making Wills, the team has also assisted clients of Paul’s Place in making Lasting Powers of Attorney, which can include provision for relatives to make decisions about care home issues. This has followed on from previous sessions run at the Disability Charity’s premises in Coalpit Heath, where the team put on a Q and A session about making a Will.

As well as this client facing activity, the Elderlaw team has produced a series of leaflets, podcasts and posters about matters surrounding Wills and Probate, launched a website and run a blog.

Marcus Keppel-Palmer (Director of Pro Bono) said:

 “I am very proud of the hard work of these students, and am most impressed by the professional way they have dealt with difficult topics with the clients. So many people want to have help from the team that we will be running another session at the CAB in the autumn”.

Law students present their research report to a local support service for survivors of rape & sexual abuse

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On Wednesday 25 April, there was a Centre for Applied Legal Research Forum event that featured a talk by Rowan Miller who is Director of Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS).

As part of the event, Rowan was presented with a student authored research report that answered a series of questions posed by SARSAS staff and volunteers.

The 26 page report is the culmination of detailed research and writing by law and joint honours degree students who have studied on the LLB’s  Sexual Offences and Offending module.  This is a voluntary project and is not a formal part of the module. It is supervised by Ed Johnston and Phil Rumney.

Four of the authors, Ben Howells, Xavier Stride, Angharad Griffiths and Ellen Rye met with Rowan who expressed her appreciation for the detailed work involved in the writing of the report.

The other student authors of the report are: Leah Blackman, Kathy Boyle, Jessica Cambridge, Rebecca Davies, Carole Orchard, Ryan Small and Thomas Watts. All the authors are LLB students, or those pursuing joint honours degrees with law.

Head of Law Steve Dinning comments on the opening of the new Bristol Business School

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The Bristol Law School and Bristol Business School have just completed their move into the new Bristol Business School building. Below Steve Dinning, Head of Law at UWE Bristol, comments on the move:

After several years of planning and hard work, we have finally moved into the new Bristol Business School, a state of the art building that houses UWE’s Bristol Law School and Bristol Business School.

As Head of Law at UWE, I’m excited for the learning experiences we can provide to our students now we are in the building, from practice led learning in our fully functioning Law courts to enabling student led learning with the help of several social and quiet learning spaces.

We are committed to offering our students a wide variety of extra-curricular activities such as the opportunity to get involved in one or more of our award winning pro-bono projects. Our successful pro-bono clinic is housed in the new building bringing together students, our trained staff and local supporting firms and other organisations.

This really is an exciting time for us and I hope many of you will be able to visit the new building and experience what we have to offer first hand.

LPC students present their Pro Bono work at the inaugural UWE Student Conference

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On April 10th, UWE Bristol hosted their inaugural Student Conference which provided students from across all years of study and disciplines the opportunity to present their research to their peers and UWE staff.

LPC students Chloe Frost, Didem Kekilli, Laura Ramos Montanez and Mun Too were among some of the many students that presented their work at the conference.

Their eye catching poster, which they had designed themselves, showcased the pro bono legal advice they have been providing to a local community interest group which is acquiring use of the former Eastville Library in Bristol through a Community Asset Transfer from the local council.

SC Poster Final

The students, supervised by Samantha Cornock and Diana Johnson, have been able to draw upon skills and knowledge they have acquired on the LPC to provide advice to the community interest group.

The students commented that taking part in the pro bono project has strengthened their CV’s and impressed potential employers at interviews.

More information on the Eastville Library Project can be found here.

Workshop on ‘Brexit: Between Reality and Fiction’, 29 March 2017

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Prior to the Distinguished Professorial Address by Professor Michael Dougan on 29 March 2017 the International Law and Human Rights Unit organised a workshop to discuss the legal implications of Brexit not on the United Kingdom as it is so often discussed in the news but on the European Union. The workshop focused on three themes: EU citizenship, the new EU external borders and mixed agreements and gathered academics from Birmingham City University, the University of Bristol, the University of Warwick, the University of the West of England and, of course, the University of Liverpool represented by Professor Dougan as guest discussant. Four academics agreed to present short papers with a view to kickstarting a debate on each topic.

Citizenship Templates Post-Brexit

Professor Dora (Theodora) Kostakopoulou (University of Warwick) shared her thoughts on possible citizenship templates post-Brexit. According to her, Brexit opened the way for the ‘restoration’ of British sovereignty and, if an EEA model (or an EEA-like model) were not chosen following the activation of Article 50 TEU, EU citizens settled in the UK would be requested to apply for either UK nationality or permanent leave to remain. The same applies to UK nationals residing in other Member States who will lose their EU citizenship status.

Prof Kostakopoulou pointed out that the conceptual differences between national and EU citizenships are immense. EU citizenship is essentially based on the concept of mobility and the principle of non-discrimination as well as a set of rights, all of them allowing EU citizens to be part of the fabric of the society of the host Member State. Unexpectedly, 3.9 million EU citizens have been transformed into ‘guests’ or ‘foreigners’ in communities they call ‘their own’. She examined three alternative solutions to respond to the current situation in which EU citizens find themselves:

– naturalisation: although naturalisation in the state of residence might be seen to furnish a secure and fully recognised status for EU citizens, Prof Kostakopoulou argued that it is not an adequate policy option. In particular, the problems highlighted with this solution were that it would require EU citizens to comply with certain requirements (not always the case); it would maintain a logic of nationalism and thereby deny pluri-identities all the more as in some instances dual nationality was not legally feasible;

– semi-automatic registration: here whilst certain requirements are to be fulfilled too, this solution seems more flexible. Yet again, the question raises as to why a state-centric logic is used to address the problem. In fact, it would go against the concept of EU citizenship as the rights of EU citizens are derived from EU law, not national law;

– special EU protective status: Prof Kostakopoulou suggested that it would be possible to grant EU citizens special rights under UK law particularly in relation to residence, work and family reunification. This would however only be applicable to those already living in the UK. Prof Kostakopoulou highlighted the fact that under former UK nationality laws it was possible for individuals to be granted a ‘protected persons’ status. Whilst this proposal is based on an old colonial model, it nevertheless shows that solutions can be invented and that it was in the past possible to complement one’s nationality with an additional status. Further, as EU citizenship is conceived as a fundamental status one would expect it to be retained after Brexit and not to disappear overnight. The EU principle of effectiveness could also be used to show the direct bond between the EU citizen and the EU, not warranting the intermediary of the State. Maybe the revival of an old UK Statute could be a solution to ascertain the legal situation of EU citizens in the UK and ensure that their rights are guaranteed. This would however not be applicable to British nationals who would lose their EU citizenship and concomitant rights. On the basis that it was now time to think creatively, Prof Kostakopoulou contended that her solution was historically grounded, normatively justified and feasible.

After Brexit: The Common Fisheries Policy

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The workshop then moved on to examine the Common Fisheries Policy post-Brexit. Dr Jill Wakefield (University of Warwick) took us back in time, a couple of years after the Second World War when the United Kingdom had no fishing policy and was getting into trouble with neighbouring States as illustrated by incidents that led to a judgment by the International Court of Justice and the ‘cod war’. As the UK entered into the then European Economic Community this lack of clear fishing policy and problems with the neighbours disappeared. Indeed, becoming a member of the EEC meant for the UK that the fishing policies were then regulated at EEC level. Dr Wakefield reminded the participants that because the UK had not previously solidly asserted its fishery policy and especially maritime boundaries for this very purpose and because the EEC fishery policy is based on historic entitlements, the UK lost out but it was the price to pay to enter the EEC.

Dr Wakefield then explained the key principles of the Common Fisheries Policy. The latest regulation’s objectives (Regulation 1380/2013) are that fishing and aquaculture activities be environmentally sustainable and managed in such a way that they achieve the objectives of economic, social and employment benefits as well as contribute to the availability of food supplies. Another key principle is that all activities must apply the precautionary approach that is also enshrined in international law.

After highlighting some of the negative aspects of the Common Fisheries Policy, which have led the EU to view marine fishing as a declining industry and to exclude it from the EU’s Blue Growth Agenda, Dr Wakefield explained that Brexit might be a catalyst for positive changes in the UK. First, the combination of the principle of free movement of services and the Common Fisheries Policy means that large fishing fleets that are active in UK waters predominantly belong to non-British companies. Brexit might force the UK to invest heavily in the fishery industry. Second, coastal communities do not necessarily benefit from the resources within their waters. Again, Brexit could give such communities an opportunity to claim back the benefits of the content of their waters since the UK would have exclusive rights over its territorial waters (12 nautical miles from the coastline).

However in legal terms, Dr Wakefield stressed that disentangling the UK from the Common Fisheries Policy would be a difficult task all the more as the UK would need to enter into the relevant treaties (to which the EU is a party), eg the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, in its own name. For example, fishing in high seas is regulated by the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission. The UK would then need to apply as a new member and negotiate a share of the catches. However, if it would be considered a continuing member it would need to negotiate its share with the EU first. Other relevant agreements to which the UK is a party as a member of the EU are the Fishing Partnership Agreements between the EU and third countries. In exchange of EU financial and technical support States allow EU member States to catch their surplus of fish. Again, the UK’s position in relation to such a right to fish in other States’ waters would need to be renegotiated. Furthermore the UK will need to craft its own fishery policy. It has so far not given much thought to it despite the gigantic task it is going to be.

The idea of disentangling the UK from the treaties it has entered with third countries either as such or as a member of the European Union was the focus of the two next presentations.

The EU Mixed Agreements and External Relations: The Legal Questions Post-Brexit?

Dr Scarlett McArdle (Birmingham City University) considered the nature of mixed agreements and what arguments exist about their status post-Brexit. She began by highlighting the fact that the EU had become a significant global actor over the past two decades and that, as a result, it had considerably developed in its capacity to act at the international level. To illustrate her point, Dr McArdle stated that there are currently over 1100 registered agreements that the EU has concluded and that such agreements cover a substantial range of areas, such as the Common Commercial Policy (CCP), development, humanitarian aid and the Common Foreign and Security Policy. While the CCP is in the area of exclusive competence, where the EU is able to conclude what are termed ‘exclusive’ agreements, the vast majority of areas are not and fall into the difficult area of mixity. Dr McArdle pointed out that often it is difficult to pinpoint the line between EU and national competences and thus mixed agreements are a preferred solution. For example the pre-accession agreement with Turkey is a mixed agreement. Dr McArdle argued that there were chiefly two reasons for opting for mixed agreements: 1) the division of competences is unclear and 2) the EU lacks competences and thus Member States must become parties too. As summarised by Dr McArdle, this is done for legal and political reasons and sometimes purely for convenience.

Following Brexit, the question arises as to what impact the UK leaving will have upon all these agreements. While there has been some debate of the consequences for the UK’s international obligations, Dr McArdle argued that there needed to be further consideration of the consequences for the agreements and for the EU as a global actor. What Brexit meant for the applicability and application of these agreements as such and for other contracting parties was too often neglected in the current discourse. In relation to exclusive agreements, the prevailing view is that the EU will simply need to notify of its reduction in membership but that there will not be substantial impact upon the EU. When considering the mixed agreements that arise in other areas of competence, with the EU concluding a treaty alongside its member states, the situation, as Dr McArdle explained, was arguably more complex and the results arguably uncertain. One proposition that has been suggested was of a rollover of such agreements but this does not appear to be legally feasible. Another suggestion would be to examine each agreement one by one and disentangle EU and national, ie UK, competences with a view to determining the rights and obligations of each party to the agreement.

Preserving the UK’s Relationship with the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Countries: The Legal Implications of Brexit

One example of such agreements illustrating the complexity of disentangling the UK from its rights and obligations as a member State of the European Union is the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. Dr Clair Gammage (University of Bristol) highlighted the challenges facing the UK in preserving its ‘special’ relationship with the ACP countries on leaving the EU. The protracted negotiating process of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the EU and ACP States has illustrated the complex nature of North-South free trade agreements (FTAs), particularly where the parties want to secure liberalisation on new generation issues. Dr Gammage suggested that while the ACP markets remain of importance to the UK’s future growth and prosperity, there are fears that Brexit will radically transform the relationship. According to her, it is expected that the UK will no longer be a party to the EPAs once the withdrawal process is complete, and Brexit will signal a new era in trade and development cooperation between the UK and the ACP. This argument is situated within the broader complexities of Brexit at the constitutional and EU levels, and touches upon the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s status in the WTO once the Article 50 TFEU process begins.

Dr Gammage offered a construction of the UK’s Brexit strategy by critically analysing the UK’s priority areas in its FTA negotiations as an EU Member State. She drew upon insights from the trade negotiations of the EPAs with the ACP States with a view to assessing the priority industries, sectors, and interests for the UK as it leaves the EU. While there are strong material interests for retaining the relationship with the ACP States, she proposed that there are non-material interests of significant magnitude that will shape the UK’s external relations law once Article 50 TFEU is triggered and the Brexit process formally begins. She then argued that the UK’s external relations law is likely to mirror the approach of the EU and, with reference to the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) she showed that there has been a shift toward ‘development friendly’ trade in mixed agreements, with the common commercial policy set out in Article 207 TFEU read in light of development cooperation commitments under Article 209 TFEU. As a significant contributor to the European Development Fund (EDF), and with recent changes in the provision of overseas development assistance by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the negotiation of North-South trade and development cooperation FTAs is likely to raise a myriad of legal and political issues. Dr Gammage asked for example to what extent will the most favoured nation (MFN) clause in the EPAs limit the negotiation space of ACP countries in concluding future trade agreements with the UK? Will the UK seek to negotiate new FTAs with the existing EPA groups, or forge its own relationships with individual ACP States? How, and to what extent, do the existing EPAs dictate the trade strategy of the UK vis-à-vis the ACP States? Will the ACP countries continue to be offered duty-free-quota-free entry into the UK market under its own Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) or Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme?

With only one comprehensive EPA in force in the Caribbean region (CARIFORUM EPA) and one trade in goods EPA finalised in the southern African region (SADC EPA) the EPAs have failed to materialise in accordance with the EU’s original ambitions. As trade and development cooperation agreements, the EPAs symbolise the changing face of North-South FTAs. Dr Gammage stressed that the significance of the EPA experience cannot be understated. In her opinion, the UK must articulate its external relations law in a manner that reinforces its position in the multilateral trading system while preserving its historical ties with the ACP States. Brexit will also require the UK to be responsive to the needs of the ACP. For some ACP States, integration into new generation issues may be favourable and we can learn a great deal about the UK’s position in relation to investment, procurement, competition, and services, from its role in the negotiation of the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Article XXIV WTO-FTAs are likely to become the dominant vehicle through which the UK integrates into the global economy as a sovereign State for the first time in decades. Understanding the legal challenges facing the UK in preserving its ‘special’ relationship with the ACP will enable trade negotiators to secure the ‘best Brexit’.

The participants to the workshop agreed that the UK and the EU were in front of an immense task, that of disentangling more than 40 years of UK’s membership in the European Union. The legal ramifications of Brexit are often underestimated because of a lack of awareness of the complexity of the task. Whilst the consequences on the UK legal and constitutional order tend to be extensively covered in legal and political circles much less is said about the impact of Brexit on the European Union and third countries that have entered into agreements with the EU.

UWE Bristol Law School Staff Take Part in Workshop on ‘Bristol in Flux: Suspended Citizenship’ at University of Bristol on 3 April 2017

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By Christian Dadomo and Noëlle Quénivet

In a cosmopolitan city like Bristol Brexit is bound to have a considerable impact on the local population and businesses. To gauge the effects of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union the Law School of the Bristol University organised on 3 April 2017 a Workshop entitled ‘Bristol in Flux: Suspended Citizenship’. It was not an easy task bearing in mind the high level of uncertainty linked to Brexit and consequently its effect on Bristol communities and UK residents of all nationalities in general. As the workshop gathered a wide range of academics (from the University of Bristol, the University of Exeter and the University of the West of England) as well as representatives of the local communities (eg Bristol Somali Forum, Bristol Refugee Rights), national movements (eg The3Million, One Day Without Us), trade unions (eg UCU, TUC, Workforce & OD North Bristol NHS Trust) and charities (eg Citizens Advice Bureau) it enabled knowledge exchange across sectoral, organisational and professional boundaries.

Christian Dadomo and Dr Noëlle Quénivet from the Bristol Law School, UWE took part in this engaging Workshop. From an academic perspective, the multidisciplinary and practice-based approach was enriching allowing legal scholars to answer questions on the nitty-gritty of the law whilst those working in these local organisations and charities were providing insightful examples of the early effects of Brexit on Bristol communities.

The workshop began with a scoping exercise aimed at identifying first, the Bristol communities as well as individuals more likely to be affected by Brexit and second, the main concerns formulated by these groups. From the initial discussions five themes emerged: (1) the identification of those who are left out of the discussions or maybe too relaxed about Brexit; (2) the possible use of equality and anti-discrimination laws to ensure fair treatment of EU citizens; (3) the precarious situation of temporary workers; (4) the situation of long-term residents in the UK; and (5) the process and practicalities linked to the granting of permanent residency in the UK. As all these issues are complex and interrelated it was decided that rather than each group of participants working on a specific issue and thus potentially failing to address concomitant problems each group would attempt to offer a comprehensive overview of the key issues.

It was in all groups difficult to pinpoint those who were ‘too relaxed’ about Brexit, mainly because of the diversity of such a group. There were for example EU citizens who were unaware of the fact that the legality of their residence and work rights in the UK were related to their EU citizenship. Other EU citizens seem to rely (too much) on the power of their employers, often big companies such as Airbus, to lobby the government for a special status. Yet, as pointed out in the group, classic political pressure via lobbying does not work on a government whose mantra is ‘Brexit is Brexit’ and does not appear to be willing to listen to other voices and make concessions. Further, some EU citizens appear to believe that they are entitled to some rights that they in fact do not have by virtue of EU citizenship and thus have a heightened expectations of the protection they are afforded. With Brexit they might be even more taken aback by the loss of their rights and what they consider to be their rights. In some groups the discussion focused on the EU citizens who had been left out, almost disfranchised from the Brexit debate. Among these were third country nationals with ties with current or prior EU citizens (eg a Pakistani with a French national), asylum-seekers whose situation was regulated by the Common European Asylum System, etc.

Once the UK withdraws from the European Union EU citizens will lose their right to reside and work in the UK which they had obtained via EU treaty law as well as EU directives. The rights of EU citizens, whose citizenship is based on the idea of equality of treatment, might be able to use domestic equality and anti-discrimination legislation such as the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that they are not treated unfairly. Whilst such legislation might be the product of a variety of EU directives it should not be forgotten that it is also transposing an obligation from human rights law (and notably the European Convention on Human Rights) to prohibit discrimination on a number of grounds. It was thus deemed to be firmly anchored on the domestic level though it was pointed out that the promised Great Repeal Act and the government’s loathing of the European Convention on Human Rights might give the UK an opportunity to repeal the Equality Act and related legislation. It would thus be judicious to campaign for keeping the Equality Act. Despite the existence of the Equality Act and the concomitant legal remedies often discrimination is difficult to prove in court proceedings. Everyday discrimination can take the form of failing to secure a rental contract, to access health care services, to receive welfare benefits or to open a bank account. It would be problematic for an individual to point out that for example his/her inability to open a bank account was due to the fact he/she was an EU citizen rather than his/her inability to show all required documents. To avoid such everyday discrimination from happening in the first place it was agreed that two courses of action needed to be taken. First, better training of those working in a frontline public or private service was required. Often, such individuals take a very strict approach to the law in order to be on the safe side. Indeed, they are themselves worried about the consequences of breaching the law (eg disciplinary and sometimes criminal proceedings against for instance landlords can be mounted against such individuals). In other instances they are simply unaware that EU citizens are entitled to such benefits. Second, the quality and accessibility of legal advice as well as support needs to be increased. This would give EU citizens the opportunity to understand the consequences of Brexit on their personal and professional lives and, after being offered a range of options, enable them to make an informed choice on how to react to Brexit. Sadly, funding for legal services, be they in the form of advice, support or aid, is being cut down for budgetary reasons. Another point raised was that there was a risk of distinguishing and thus discriminating against specific categories of EU citizens based on eg the length of residence, their status as economically/non-economically active status, etc. Moreover, Brexit is likely to create two categories of EU citizens: those who arrived prior to the withdrawal of the UK from the EU and those who arrived after. Relatedly, as it is expected that immigration rules for EU citizens be aligned to those that apply to non-EU citizens at the moment (eg Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 migrants), there would be discrimination between those in so-called high-powered jobs and others.

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This prompted a debate on issues that affect long-term residents. The debate centred upon two themes: first, the conditions for obtaining a UK status and second, the processes and practicalities of transforming their EU into a UK status. At the moment permanent residency can be obtained by fulfilling a number of requirements. As such requirements tend to be easily met by those in employment for five years the question as to on whom the burden of proof laid or should be laid (ie the employer, the EU citizen or the government) was examined. It was suggested that maybe HMRC records could be accessed by the Home Office to establish that such economically active EU citizens fulfilled the requirements. Another proposal was that employers of EU citizens send, of course with the consent of the employee, employment records to the Home Office. That being said, these requirements are nearly impossible to meet for eg economically inactive EU citizens without private health insurance, individuals who had recent breaks in their careers, EU citizens married to or in an unmarried relationship with British nationals, pensioners, long-term disabled persons, individuals in care homes, etc. There is no doubt that the current conditions for obtaining permanent residency discriminate against those who are self-employed, students, individuals who have been volunteering, individuals who have been in and out of jobs, etc. More generally and covering all EU citizens, the question was raised as to whether the Brexit talks could lead to an agreement on an automatic transformation into permanent residency for any EU citizen in the UK for more than five years. Also the model of sanctuary cities as adopted in the US was suggested as a way to protect long-term residents. On a more prosaic side it was agreed that the application form for permanent residency needed to be simplified and more aligned to similar application forms in other EU States (eg Germany) and that a passport return office should be created in Bristol to facilitate the application process.

The situation of temporary workers was also the focus of some insightful discussions within the groups, mainly because at the moment their fate was very much viewed from an employer’s perspective. Seasonal workers (such as fruit pickers), care workers, contractors, etc are seen as a temporary though necessary workforce without which many sectors of the UK economy could not run effectively and at such a low cost. How they view their own circumstances is often obliterated from the debate on their status. In this light two points were highlighted. First, such individuals having skills and knowledge that can be used and deployed in other States might simply not be much affected by Brexit, for they would go and work elsewhere. Second, whilst the current government has stated that it would ensure continued protection of workers’ rights (see White Paper on Brexit, page 31) doubts were expressed about the fate of seasonal workers whose rights might be slashed after Brexit. Their current status is to say the least precarious and their working conditions poor. —-

Having outlined the most challenging issues of the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union for EU citizens the workshop then focused on how these challenges could be met and how it was possible to support EU citizens at this early stage of the negotiations. The aim of the session was to formulate policy recommendations and action points, with a particular view to shaping future action and potential co-produced research projects. Four groups were created to examine (1) the possibility to create an ‘Employment Charter for Bristol – A Brexit Initiative’, (2) ways to improve community engagement, (3) what could be done in the immediate future, and (4) how communication could be improved. All of them concluded with the formulation of practical initiatives aimed at raising greater awareness amongst Bristol communities about the consequences of Brexit.

Christian Dadomo and Noëlle Quénivet were in Group 4 which examined how it was possible to enhance communication not only between organisations working to support EU citizens in the UK but also between such organisations and EU citizens. Besides EU citizens, the target audience would encompass businesses, universities, local authorities, politicians as well as other key stakeholders. It was agreed that any communication should be based on two principles. First, communication needs to be synergetic in the sense that it required to be well coordinated and take into account positions and actions adopted by other organisations not only in the Bristol area but also nationwide. Second, the principle of transparency must undergird any action: information must be promptly exchanged; it must be easily accessible; exchanges of communication between the authorities and those representing EU citizens must be visible and transparent, etc. The proposed tools used to this effect were the organisation of workshops, the creation of leaflets, the better use of (social) media, etc. Also, with a view to reaching out to the local communities, talks in cafés, community centres, schools, churches, should be organised. What should be communicated to these groups and individuals was the focus of an intense debate in the workshop. Whilst all participants subscribed to the idea of sharing information, organising common activities, instituting a central mechanism to gather information (eg networks), providing information on the current (legal) situation, etc it was unclear what the substance of some of these activities would be. Indeed, in such uncertain times, could we give clear answers to questions raised by EU citizens? Would we be able to shape the public opinion with a view to ensuring that it will support the rights of EU citizens to stay and work in the UK post-Brexit? The group nonetheless came to the agreement that organising a citizen movement, a network ready to take action was likely to be the best course of action in the given circumstances. With the Brexit negotiations starting soon, such a movement could then be quickly deployed.

At the end of the workshop, all participants pledged to undertake at least one action to facilitate the translation of our discussions into tangible changes. Christian and Noëlle agreed to write a blog post on Long-Term Residence and Citizenship as well as to enquire about how awareness about the European Union and Brexit could be raised in schools, notably via the outreach programme of UWE BoxEd.

Christian Dadomo and Noëlle Quénivet have also been invited to participate in another workshop held by the University of Bristol on ‘Projecting Bristol and Britain to a Post-Brexit World’ on 27 April 2017.

The policy recommendations formulated in these workshops will be presented and further discussed at the conference ‘Bristol in Flux – A City Responds to Brexit’ that will take place on 23 May at the @Bristol Science Centre.

Ed Johnston and Tom Smith get article posted in Justice Gap – “A question of balance: pre-recorded cross-examination of rape complainants and fair trial rights”.

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Senior Lecturer in Law, Ed Johnston and Associate Lecturer, Tom Smith have recently had an article published in Justice Gap entitled “A question of balance: pre-recorded cross-examination of rape complainants and fair trial rights”.

The article discussions the questions raised on fair trial rights by those accused.

The full article can be read on the Justice Gap website.

 

 

 

Student blog: Chris Recker Guest Lecture

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Guest blog by third year Law student Bronia Richards 

Chris Recker of Trowers & Hamlins provided a guest lecture on the extent of commercial fraud in the UK and the realities of commercial law in practice.

Highlighting the importance of tackling fraud across the board, from low-level fraud right through to corporate level fraud, Chris emphasised the extensive damage that fraud can cause to people’s lives. Chris gave an example of an experience he had met in practice, what is known as “Man in the Middle Fraud”, a crime that so many of us could face on a daily basis without anyone realising it.  The “Man in the Middle Fraud” begins life in an establishment such as a coffee shop, or a bar where there is free Wi-Fi. The fraudster will pose as the establishment’s Wi-Fi, from which the unsuspecting victim will log into. At this point, the fraudster is able to impose and watch the victims network, and see everything that he is doing. Logging into accounts with confidential passwords, inputting card details, addresses, emails, the fraudster gains access to an abundance of confidential information. The damage and loss to the victim that can then be caused is catastrophic.

Chris also provided an insight into the life of a commercial lawyer in practice. Drawing on his own experiences from his undergraduate studies at UWE to life as a trainee solicitor, Chris detailed the true realities and challenges he faced of in the “real world” in building his legal career.

Chris also detailed the types of work and the broad range of cases covered as a commercial lawyer. Whilst highly demanding, Chris explained that life as a commercial lawyer was never boring and incredibly rewarding. With work ranging from investigations of fraud allegations, to documentation reviews and injunctive relief, life as a commercial lawyer always provides new challenges.

Student guest blog: Terry Greenhow Guest Talk on Fraud

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Guest blog by third year Law student Bronia Richards 

Terry Greenhow, formerly a DS from Avon and Somerset Economic Crime Team, recently provided a guest lecture to third year commercial law students on his experiences with fraud.

Fraud on average costs the UK economy £193bn per year, equating to more than £6000 lost per second and £3900 lost per adult.[1] With the UK’s weak fraud policy and the government’s seemingly blasé view toward fraud, it is hardly surprising that the public’s perception of is hugely negative.

Fraud is not a victimless crime, and the impact of fraud within our communities can have severe consequences. The 2008-2009 global financial crisis and the role fraud had to play is an example of what can happen if it is not taken seriously.[2]

However, despite the devastating impacts fraud can have, the crime remains a low priority amongst the political classes in the UK.[3]

Terry provided an insight into the true extent of fraud within our communities, highlighting the importance of tackling such a financial crime at all professional levels. Giving just a few examples of fraudulent activities we face on a daily basis, such as identity fraud and charity collection fraud, Terry took the threats posed from a macro level to a micro level.

Terry also provided an insight into his views on the relevant fraud authorities, in particular the Serious Fraud Office. Terry made it clear that he felt the Serious Fraud Office failed to utilise their prosecuting powers effectively, and that a lot more could be done in the fight against fraud in the UK.

[1] ‘Annual Fraud Indicator 2016’ (port.ac.uk, May2016) <http://www.port.ac.uk/media/contacts-and-departments/icjs/ccfs/Annual-Fraud-Indicator-2016.pdf>  accessed 9th March 2017
[2] Mark Button, ‘Fraud, Corruption and the financial crisis.’ (2011) 39(3) International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice 137
[3] Mark Button, ‘Fraud, Corruption and the financial crisis.’ (2011) 39(3) International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice 137

The Distinguished Professorial Address: Professor Michael Dougan – “The UK Outwith the EU and the EU Without the UK”, March 29

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The Bristol Law School would like to invite you to Professor Michael Dougan’s Distinguished Professorial Address at UWE Bristol on Wednesday 29 March from 17:30.

Register here.

Micheal Dougan Head of Law and Professor of European Law, University of Liverpool. He specialises in EU Law, particularly EU constitutional and institutional law, legal relations between the EU and its Member States, the law of the Single Market and free movement of persons / EU welfare law. Michael is Joint Editor of Common Market Law Review – the world’s leading scientific journal for European legal research.

Abstract: 

Since the June referendum, political and public attention has focused on the UK’s forthcoming negotiations with the EU about withdrawal and the framework of future relations in fields such as trade and security.

Those negotiations certainly raise all sorts of novel and sensitive legal issues, to say nothing of their political salience and controversy. But of at least equal interest are two further questions. What will it mean to “de-Europeanise” the UK legal system through and following the process of withdrawal? And how might the UK’s departure impact upon the EU’s own constitutional order?

The event is free to attend but you need to register a place via Eventbrite.