Category Archives: Law

The Panama Papers and Material Law.

Panama Canal Construction Historic Photo - Culebra Cut 1898

This photograph taken in 1898[1]  shows the physically demanding excavation works, needed to cut the artificial valley through the continental divide in Panama.

The work was done by men under inhospitable tropical conditions, with daily temperatures ranging from about 24 °C to 32 °C.  The French company, encouraged by the success of the Suez Canal, raised funds from many individual investors to build the Panama Canal. It started the works in about 1881 but the tropical jungle climate, wet seasons, landslides and floods, difficult terrain, an environment quite unlike the calm flat surroundings of the Suez Canal,  lead to increasing costs. In 1889  the company became bankrupt. 22,000 workers were estimated to have been killed during the abortive construction, 800,000 investors lost their money and the ensuing scandal became known as the “Panama Affair”.

However, unlike now, in 19th Century the financial managers and those with important and high-ranking social positions were not protected by their social status or the law but were in fact held accountable and punished by the law for the social consequences of the financial disaster.

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Filed under Asset protection, Law, Market, Rule of Law, Social Justice, The Guardian, Uncategorized

Human rights, the law, common sense and the question of freedom.

imagesOn Friday 3rd October the Conservatives published a paper ironically but presumably unintentionally, entitled ‘Protecting Human Rights in the UK’ [1]. The aim of the proposal set out in the paper is to restore “common sense” and to “put Britain first” in relation to the legal protection of human rights.

As we shall see, the somewhat ill thought out proposal, seemingly largely driven by fear of increasing popularity of the UKIP party, seeks to restore the UK Parliament to full vigour, protecting our UK laws and UK constitution from interference by the Strasbourg Court and dastardly European human rights law.

In the paper the Conservative Party sets out its plans for the next Parliament for human rights law in UK. They propose:-

  1. to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998[2],
  2. incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into primary legislation, and
  3. to pass a new British Bill of Rights to set out a “proper balance between rights and responsibilities”.

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Filed under Democracy, European Convention on Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights, Ghaidan v Gobin-Mendoza, Human Rights Act 1989, Law, Northampton, Parliamentary sovereignty, Protecting Human Rights in UK, Rule of Law, Uncategorized, Vinter and Others v United Kingdom

Aysha King – Medical Treatment and the notion of ‘neglect’.

????????????????????????On 3 September 2014 I was interviewed by Helen Blaby of BBC Radio Northampton [1] on the legal and social issues arising from the case of Aysha King.

The story, although not establishing any legal precedent in UK, raises a number of interesting legal and moral issues.

The primary point was whether the parents were entitled to remove their 5 year old son from the hospital care on the basis that the treatment they felt was appropriate for Aysha was not offered in UK by the National Health Service, (‘NHS’). Unfortunately, in absence of a Court order that specific medical treatment is provided and which can only be granted in judicial review proceedings, a doctor cannot be lawfully compelled by the parents to provide specific medical treatment at the behest of the parents.

It remains a matter of professional medial judgment as to what treatment is appropriate for a particular patient. However, the parents with parental responsibility powers are entitled to remove their child from the hospital in face of medical advice, similarly to any adult who can discharge themselves from hospital in face of contrary medical advice.

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Filed under Children Act 1989, Children and Young Persons Act 1933, European Convention on Human Rights, Law, Medical treatment, Northampton, Radio Prague, Uncategorized

Teaching Law Etymologically.

Northampton-University-Student-accomodation[1]On 22 May 2014 I gave a paper at the University of Northampton annual Teaching & Learning conference. The opportunity gave me a chance to reflect on why learning of law is generally perceived by students as dry, boring and tedious: a subject to be tolerated in the interests of future gains.

In the paper I tried to argue that critical approaches to teaching law can transform the experience of learning law making the possibilities of freedom, equality and justice a reality. The argument was that most law students perceive learning law as “hard and boring” but necessary as an instrument to a singular outcome – a well-paid career in law!

That is all fine, but the unintended consequence of this approach to law studies is that learning of law becomes commodified, measured by reference to the size of the ultimate financial return, and by reference to the coefficient [1] of delivery of teaching of law. Thus, teaching of law risks being reduced to the realisation of an economic equation. I contend that such a transactional relationship is not an interesting or intellectually useful experience for the student or the teacher of law. Continue reading

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Filed under Higher Education, Law, Teaching and learning, Uncategorized

On Blogs and Totalitarianism

Hyperspace_exitNot long ago I started this blog but with considerable trepidation. I wondered what I could write about and whether anything I write about would be of any possible interest to the general but random reader in hyperspace and worried about the time involved. However, rather to my surprise it has been an exciting experience.  In this post I will try to reflect on the experience, describe my first ever post and try to develop some fresh connections between notions of legal positivism, democracy, ideology and economic totalitarianism.

The inspiration for my first ever post came from reading Ana França’s article published in the New Statesman on 27 June 2013.[1]  She described the way that the democratically elected government in Hungary used its overwhelming majority in parliament to amend existing constitutional protection for basic rights and freedoms, such as for instance freedom of expression, quite against the interests of the citizens and ultimately the long-term national interest. Continue reading

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Filed under Democracy, Law, Uncategorized

Democracy and rule of law: The Hungarian goulash.

parliamentIn middle of Budapest, on the bank of the Danube facing Buda, stands Hungary’s Parliament.

It is a spectacular building, a stunning  political ‘cathedral’ of a building designed to honour the gods of democracy and late 19th Century Mittel-European culture and identity rising from the ashes of crumbling empires.

The presently rather strained and difficult relations Hungary is experiencing with the European Union (‘EU) follow significant constitutional changes introduced over the last two to three years which appear to effectively abolish the rule of law and democracy in Hungary. The episode also helps to illustrate the inherent weakness but also the strength of the dialectic in the idea of Europe, refreshing our appreciation of the ideas of rule of law, democracy and brute power politics. Continue reading

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Filed under Charter of Fundamental Rights, Democracy, European Parliament, Free Speech, Judicial independence, Law, Rule of Law, Uncategorized