Monthly Archives: January 2011

Putting the Equality Duty into Practice: SPLG event of interest to UKCLG members

Friday 4th February 2011 at 5.00pm

University of Strathclyde, Graham Hills Building, Room 514, 5th Floor, 40 George Street, Glasgow, G1 1BA

The Equality Act 2010 creates a new public sector equality duty, replacing the separate duties on public bodies relating to race, disability and sex equality, and also covering age, sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment more fully. The Scottish Government is currently consulting on the specific duties which might be placed on relevant Scottish public authorities to assist in making the new general duty effective. The SPLG is delighted to be holding its winter event, in partnership with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, on this key developing area of law which is bound to have profound legal implications on the formulation and implementation of policy by Scottish public authorities for years to come.

We are very fortunate in having secured a very distinguished chair and panel of speakers for our event. Catherine Dyer, Crown Agent and Chief Executive of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service will chair the event while our speakers include Lynn Welsh from the EHRC, Yvonne Strachan, Head of the Scottish Government Equality Unit and Karon Monaghan QC, of Matrix Chambers.
Tea and Coffee will be available from 4.30pm and the seminar will be followed by a drinks reception from 7.00pm. This event is free and will count towards CPD. To register for this event, or for further information, please contact Karen Brough at Karen.brough@shepwedd.co.uk. If you have any access, communication or other needs please let Karen know.
The organisers wish to acknowledge the generous support for this event from the University of Strathclyde.

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Human rights – Reconciling Strasbourg and Supreme Court


The Scottish Public Law Group in partnership with the Faculty of Advocates would like to draw the following event on 18th March 2011 to the attention of members of the UK Constitutional Law Group.

Human rights – Reconciling Strasbourg and Supreme Court
Strasbourg and UK human rights law do not always have an easy relationship. Judges in the European Court of Human Rights and the UK courts at times differ on the content of human rights, which can present challenges for Scots lawyers. The SPLG are delighted to have assembled an illustrious panel to speak about the interrelationship of Strasbourg and UK human rights law. Sir Nicolas Bratza, the UK judge to the European Court of Human Rights, will speak from a Strasbourg perspective, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry from a Supreme Court perspective, and Lord Reed from the perspective of the Scottish courts. The event will be chaired by the Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini, and is sponsored by the Faculty of Advocates.

The event will take place in the Laigh Hall, Faculty of Advocates, Parliament House, Edinburgh on Friday 18th March with coffee from 4.30pm, talks and a question and answer session from 5 to 7pm, and drinks from 7pm to 7.30pm. Early booking is advisable as places are limited. This event will count towards CPD. To register for this event, or for further information, please contact Karen Brough at Karen.brough@shepwedd.co.uk. The organisers wish to acknowledge the generous support for this event from the Faculty of Advocates.

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Judicial Independence & Accountability: A View from the Supreme Court

UK CLG members Robert Hazell and Kate Malleson would like to draw this event to members’ attention.

Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers (President of the UK Supreme Court)
Date: Tuesday 8 February, 5.45 for a 6.00pm start
Venue: Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, Wilkins Building, UCL

Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, President of the Supreme Court, will discuss the twin issues of Judicial Independence and Accountability with particular reference to his own experience in the first years of the new Court. The independence of the staff and budget of the Supreme Court have been in focus recently as the government seeks to reduce the cost of court administration, and a number of court-related administrative bodies look set to be abolished or modified by the Public Bodies Bill in its current form. The new Court has placed a great deal of importance on its relationship with the public and the media, creating summaries of decided and forthcoming cases for its website and emphasising education and public access to its work.

Lord Phillips is the first President of the Supreme Court, and was previously the Lord Chief Justice.

Further information on the Judicial Independence Project is available on the project page http://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/research/judicial-independence

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Peter Leyland reports on the VIII World Congress of the IACL

‘Constitutions and Principles’ provided the theme of this Congress held in Mexico City between 6-10 December 2010. This event held every 3-4 years has become a landmark occasion for constitutional lawyers with over 700 participants from more than 70 different countries. For anyone attending the scale of the event and its international character is immediately apparent. This gathering provides a unique opportunity to meet colleagues from every continent. The official languages are English and French but for this congress many papers were also delivered in Spanish. The neoclassical Mining Palace in the heart of Mexico City was the imposing venue. An official welcome was extended to participants at the opening session from host Hector Fix-Ferraro of UNAM and the retiring IACL President, Didier Maus.

The plenary sessions were entitled: Philosophical perspectives on principles in Constitutional law with speakers: Michel Troper, Ulrich Preuss, Bruce Ackerman, Samantha Besson; Constitutional law and the generation and use of principles with Michel Rosenfeld, Diago Vlades, Yu Xingshong, Armin von Bogdady; Principles: universal and particular? with Ayelet Shachar, Sandra Liebenberg, Jiunn-rong Yeh, Mark Tushnet, Cesar Landa; Constitutional principles and the judge, with Jose Ramon Cossio, Jutta Limbach, Babacar Kante, Guy Canivet, Susan Kiefel.

It was no surprise that a high proportion of the 18 workshops concentrated on developing discussion of constitutional principles: ‘Is Federalism a Constitutional Principle?’, ‘Proportionality as a Principle’, ‘Media and Constitutional Principles’, ‘The principle of separation of powers reviewed’, ‘The impact of international law on constitutional principles’ and ‘Constitutional Principles and democratic transition’. At the same time other workshops such as: ‘The rule of law in the age of terrorism’, ‘Religion and the State’, ‘Indivisibility of Human Rights’ and ‘Multiculturalism and indigenous people’s rights’ provided scope for debate around contemporary constitutional issues. By way of contrast there was an opportunity to reflect on the methodology of comparative constitution law in the workshop entitled: ‘How comparative is comparative constitutional law?’ In addition, a distinctive Latin American flavour to the proceedings was present with a workshop entitled: ‘New trends in Latin American Constitutional Law’.

In a brief report it is not possible to even attempt to summarise the academic content, however a reference to a sample of the papers presented at one workshop conveys the truly international character of this conference. In Foreign law: jurisprudence cross fertilization chaired by Tania Groppi and Marie-Claire Ponthoreau which set out among other things to test the thesis of transjudicial dialogue and convergence of the common law and civil law traditions. The papers selected included: ‘Using of foreign constitutional precedents by the Russian Constitutional Court’ (Russia), ‘Enigmatic Attitudes of the Supreme Court of Japan towards Foreign Precedents: Refusal at the Front Door and Admission at the Back Door’ (Japan), ‘Use of foreign constitutional precedents in Mexico’ (Mexico), ‘The use of foreign law in Constitutional Cases in India and Singapore: Empirical Trends and Theoretical Concerns’ (India), The Portuguese Constitutional Court and judicial dialogue’ (Portugal). All papers which were submitted to workshops and accepted can be found on the conference website http://www.juridicas.unam.mx/wccl/.

Of course, it is a particular challenge for chairs of workshops at an event of this magnitude to lend some sort of coherence to sessions with many diverse contributions and with presenters ranging from experienced academics and practitioners to relatively untested Phd students. The policy adopted for presenting papers varied from workshop to workshop. Some however appeared to have been swamped with papers and a number of contributors were disappointed to have only 5 minutes or so to summarise their papers.

For many participants the work done on the fringes of the conference is of no less importance than the formal sessions. In particular this event provides an important opportunity for the regional research groups to meet and for a meeting of the constitutional law journals network. Many significant collaborative publications have resulted from such meetings.

A number of publishers had kiosks at the Mining Palace including OUP and Hart Publishing. Hart Publishing also organised a successful presentation by Richard Hart, Cheryl Saunders, Andrew Harding and Peter Leyland followed by a reception to mark the publication of eight volumes in the series ‘Constitutional Systems of the World’ (UK, USA, Vietnam, South Africa, Germany, Japan, Finland, Australia). A sell out of books brought to Mexico together with a considerable order for more books was testimony to the popularity of this series.

The conference also provided a taste of Mexican culture. The national museum of art opposite the mining palace was the splendid location for the welcoming cocktail party. The gala dinner hosted by Mr Alonso Lujambio, Minister of Education, was held in the palace housing the Ministry of Education which provided guests with the opportunity to view the magnificent mural paintings of Diego Rivera before they sat down to eat. There were also tours available to the archeological site at Teotihuacan and the famous museum of antropology.

Council Meeting of the International Association of Constitutional Law

The IACL Council comprising representatives of all national organisations (Peter Leyland and Sabine Michalowski representing CLG UK) is responsible for ratifying the recommendations of the IACL Executive Committee, including those relating to the composition of the executive committee itself, and it is also responsible for approving the reports of the secretariat. Where possible meetings are conducted so as achieve consensus but the meeting on the 8 December 2010 began in contentious fashion. A number of members strongly objected to the revised agenda of the meeting proposed by the chair, outgoing President Didier Maus. It was pointed out that the order and procedure put before the meeting departed from previous practice and involved adopting a method for selecting vice-presidents that were at variance with the articles of association of the organisation. After some debate the chair’s proposal was finally dropped reflecting the feeling of the meeting. The chair tried unsuccessfully to raise this issue again later in the meeting.

The formal business of the meeting then moved on to consider and then approve the reports from the outgoing president, the secretariat and the audit commission (treasurer). The accounts demonstrated that the organisation is solvent and that this is assisted by its limited overheads with only two officials. One issue which had presented problems concerned technical difficulties transferring funds from Euro accounts to South Africa where the two members of the secretariat are based. Making sure that subscriptions are up-to-date was recognised as another important issue. A detailed breakdown was provided by the treasurer. The meeting went on to consider and approve proposed changes to IACL statutes. The new Executive Committee was also approved by the meeting which now includes the CLG nominee Andrew Le Sueur as the UK representative on this committee. Martin Scheinin, the new President of the organisation, took the chair towards the end of the meeting. Finally, Oslo was confirmed as the venue for the next congress which will be held in the summer of 2014.

Peter Leyland

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