Brexit and the UK Judiciary: Boon or Curse?

To be held virtually: Friday, 27 November 2020, School of Law, University of Sheffield

Morning Session (1130-13:00): The Role of the Courts

This session would explore some of the main Brexit cases that have taken place (Miller I & II, Scottish Continuity Bill, Wightman, etc.), but from different perspectives and at multiple levels: domestic (High Court & UK Supreme Court), domestic-devolved (Scotland), and supra-national (EU). In particular it will discuss how the judiciary has handled its role throughout the Brexit process, including scrutiny of its strengths, weaknesses, powers and limits. Discussion may include, but is not limited to: justiciability; the scope and extent of judicial review; the role of the courts in UK constitutional law; the courts and parliamentary sovereignty; the powers and limits of the royal prerogative; and the role of EU courts in post-Brexit Britain. Given the current government’s pledge to reform judicial review, this session could also touch on these proposals.

Panel: Paul Craig (Oxford), Aileen McHarg (Durham), Alison Young (Cambridge)

Chair: Brian Christopher Jones

Break: 1300-1400

Afternoon Session (1400-1530): Court Criticism, Democracy and the Rule of Law

This session would critically examine, from an interdisciplinary perspective, the wider impact on the judiciary that Brexit has brought about. From the “Enemies of the People” headline to the bombshell prorogation case, the judiciary has encountered a wide variety of criticism throughout the Brexit process. This session would consider the tensions between democracy and the rule of law, and how these have played out within the context of Brexit and the UK constitution. Topics may include, but are not limited to: judicial accountability; judicial independence in the 21st century; why and how judicial criticism comes about; when court criticism violates the rule of law; the legitimacy of ministerial criticism; and court criticism and the press.

Panel: Jack Simson Caird (UK Parliament), Irini Katsirea (Sheffield), Chris Hanratty (Royal Holloway)

Chair: Bojan Bugaric

Please register your interest to access the event. The link to join the event will be included in your confirmation email.

Rise of the Robots: Challenging automated decision-making in government

Public Law Project invites you to an intensive set of workshops on how to challenge algorithms and automated decision-making in government, presented by leading lawyers and academics.

The training will be held virtually on the mornings of 17 to 19 November 2020. To attend the training, please book a place here. Ticket prices are:

Ticket prices are:

* Standard: £100 + VAT

* Discounted: £75 + VAT (for NGOs/charities, advisers, and lawyers within 5 years of PQE)

* Student: £10 + VAT

There is also a limited run of subsidised tickets at £30 for organisations with limited training budget. Please email Amélie Godfrey at for further information.

This programme is presented with the support of The Legal Education Foundation and 11KBW, and in collaboration with Open Rights Group.

Please find the full programme here.

Tuesday 17 November

9:45-9:50: Introduction – Jo Hickman, Public Law Project

9:50-11:15: Opening talk: A crash course on automated systems

Professor Reuben Binns, Oxford University

Cédric Lombion, Open Knowledge Foundation

11:30-12:45: Administrative law and automated systems

Aidan Wills, Matrix Chambers

Dr Jennifer Cobbe, Cambridge University

Wednesday 18 November

9:30-10:45: Data protection law and automated systems

Ravi Naik, AWO

Christopher Knight, 11KBW

Professor Lilian Edwards, Newcastle University

11:00-12:15: Human rights, equality law and automated systems

Dee Masters, Cloisters Chambers

Professor Lorna McGregor, University of Essex

Thursday 19 November

9:30-11:30: Lessons from litigation: Looking at key cases in public law and technology and what lessons can be drawn from that into future cases.

Chair: Sara Lomri, Public Law Project

Chai Patel, JCWI (the Home Office visa streaming algorithm case)

Carla Clarke, CPAG (challenges to automation at the Department for Work and Pensions)

Megan Goulding, Liberty (the Bridges facial recognition case)

Professor Tijmen Wismen, Vrije Universiteit (the SyRI risk algorithm case)

12:00-13:00: Case study

Delegates will have the opportunity to work through a hypothetical case study of automated decision-making, drawing on the material covered during the programme to identify grounds of challenge and case strategies. The case study will be supervised by lawyers and researchers from PLP and Open Rights Group.

13:30-14:00: Closing conversation: Frontiers in algorithmic government

Professor Michele Gilman, University of Baltimore and Swee Leng Harris, Luminate