A Note From the SLS 2016 Conference at Oxford.
Every student of law will know about the ‘sources of law’: statues, judicial reasoning, European legislation and cases. They will be familiar with the cannons of statutory interpretation, the so called Literal, Golden and Mischief rules, purposive and contextual interpretation.
All students will have studied how under our constitutional settlement, the judges interpret and apply statutes such as to articulate the will of the democratically legitimated Parliament, (the supreme law making body), how the judges attempt to discern the will of Parliament reconciling that with their judicial obligation to serve justice and the principles of legality.
It is apparent that modern law-making in common law jurisdictions comes from a constant recurring argument and debate between Parliament, the judges and legal academics. In this spirit of a debate the conference offered a distinguished panel vividly embodying the dynamic of the ‘law making’ conversation. On the panel chaired by Lady Justice Arden the speakers were Lord Justice Sales, Professor John Bell from Cambridge and Daniel Greenberg a former Parliamentary Counsel.
Filed under Carl Schmitt, Contextual Interpretation, Democracy, Giorgio Agamben State of Exception, Hansard, Legal interpretation, Parliamentary sovereignty, Pepper v Hart, Rule of Law, Society of Legal Scholars, Statutory interpretation, Uncategorized
UK Human Rights Blog
As the world’s press and public stand vigil in support of Charlie Hebdo and the families of the victims of Wednesday’s attack, we wake this morning to reports that our security services are under pressure and seeking new powers. The spectre of the Communications Data Bill is again evoked. These reports mirror renewed commitments yesterday to new counter-terrorism measures for the EU and in France.
This blog has already covered the reaction to the shootings in Paris in some detail. The spectrum of reaction has been about both defiance and fear. The need for effective counter-terrorism measures to protect us all, yet which recognise and preserve our commitment to the protection of fundamental rights is given a human face as people take to the streets to affirm a commitment to protect the right of us all to speak our mind, to ridicule and to lampoon, to offend and…
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WordPress.com, the blogging software we use to make the blog, prepared a 2014 annual report. Here is a link to a copy of the review.
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Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.
Click here to see the complete report.
The use of the word ‘holiday’ in any work related electronic communication appears to have become taboo. Why might this have occurred?
From our reading of Freud we know that a taboo signifies something sacred and yet at the same time something dangerous’ and ‘uncanny’ – reflecting the exhilaration, giddiness of speed of fairground circularity – the childish joy in the visceral irrational but inevitable motion of the wheel.
In Totem and Taboo Freud wrote that “For us the meaning of taboo branches off into two opposite directions. On the one hand it means to us sacred, consecrated: but on the other hand it means, uncanny, dangerous, forbidden, and unclean. The opposite for taboo is designated in Polynesian by the word noa and signifies something ordinary and generally accessible. Thus something like the concept of reserve inheres in taboo; taboo expresses itself essentially in prohibitions and restrictions. Our combination of ‘holy dread’ would often express the meaning of taboo.” .
On Friday 3rd October the Conservatives published a paper ironically but presumably unintentionally, entitled ‘Protecting Human Rights in the UK’ . 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:-
- to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998,
- incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into primary legislation, and
- to pass a new British Bill of Rights to set out a “proper balance between rights and responsibilities”.
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
On 3 September 2014 I was interviewed by Helen Blaby of BBC Radio Northampton  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.
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  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
On 7 May 2014 The Northampton Chronicle & Echo reported that: “The University of Northampton has unveiled plans to dispense with the traditional three-month student summer holiday and move towards a “52-week, 24 hour” campus arrangement.”
The newspaper reports a rather fascinating but potentially disruptive and revolutionary notion . If on the one hand the report of the alleged proposal is factually accurate, in Kuhnian terms the proposal would amount to as yet undiscovered ‘paradigm to shift’ and one unsustainable by any credible evidence, quite consistent with Kuhnian theory.
If, on the other hand, the Northampton Chronicle is reporting an ideological (im)position seeking to articulate an expression of bare power, that is quite a different matter. As we know, statements of belief, especially those ‘religiously’ held as matters of fundamentalist principle, are not by definition capable of rational critique or analysis. Such statements owe their existence and justification to the potentiality and the politico-juridical actuality of pure violence. Continue reading