|Here is our latest eBulletin to update you on the Centre’s recent news and activities. You can expect to hear from us at least four times a year.
You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter or subscribe to notifications for our full range of events and see our eBulletin from September 2016
Article 50 and Brexit
Brexit: Triggering Article 50
The High Court’s judgment in R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union  EWHC 2768 (Admin) that the Government must obtain the consent of parliament before it can trigger Article 50 and initiate the formal withdrawal process ignited an array of responses—positive and negative. The Bingham Centre and its staff have contributed to the discussion.
In the aftermath of the Daily Mail’s headline attack on the High Court judges in the case, the Bingham Centre issued a statement on the rule of law, and invited Lord Chancellor Liz Truss to deliver a public lecture, hosted by the Centre, on the subject ‘What is the rule of law? What does it require?’ The importance of giving substance to a concept that is often misunderstood and portrayed as amorphous is vital in times of uncertainty and turmoil. Though the Lord Chancellor has not taken up our invitation, the Bingham Centre remains willing to host this important discussion.
The Supreme Court heard the arguments on appeal in Miller in the week commencing 5 December. Judgment is expected in the new year.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Rule of Law held a meeting on 24 October to discuss the rule of law concerns raised by Brexit. Discussion focused on the need for legal certainty as a central element of the rule of law, the threat that Brexit poses to rights in the UK, and the complex issues that may arise in relation to devolved competences. The meeting report is available here
In advance of the Supreme Court hearing, the APPG on the Rule of Law convened a meeting in Parliament in conjunction with The UK Constitutional Law Association for MPs and Peers to discuss the decisions of the lower courts, the arguments in the Supreme Court and possible legislative options if the Supreme Court upholds the High Court’s decision in Miller. The meeting report is available here.
The Bingham Centre would like to acknowledge the support of The Legal Education Foundation (LEF) which funds the APPG secretariat.
Bingham Centre news
Departure of the Bingham Centre Director
Professor Christina Murray has announced, to her great regret, she will be leaving the Bingham Centre in early 2017 for personal reasons which necessitate her spending more time in South Africa.
Information about the vacancy can be found on our website.
We are delighted to announce that BT and Unilever have joined BP, Shell, Diageo, HSBC and Vodafone to become founding members of the Centre’s new Business Network. The Network will be formally launched on January 18 2017 at an event at Inner Temple with the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. The Network is working with the Centre to identify and, where possible, to address rule of law issues in the countries where these companies operate. We hope that other companies will support this important initiative, enabling the Centre to have a positive impact on the operation of free markets and the stability of commercial arrangements. If your company would like to get involved, please contact Sarah Taylor.
In the Media
The Centre’s Deputy Director and Senior Research Fellow, Lawrence McNamara, wrote a comment for The Times on press freedom and the Lord Chancellor’s obligation under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 to “respect the rule of law” and “defend the independence of the judiciary” (see the Comment at the bottom of The Brief). While acknowledging the value of press freedom, Lawrence argued that it is the Lord Chancellor’s duty to address press criticism which undermines the rule of law and independence of the judiciary, and at a stage early enough to prevent public mistrust in the judiciary and the courts.
Michael Olatokun, Research Fellow in Citizenship Education and the Rule of Law, wrote a piece in The Huffington Post outlining the strengths of the High Court’s judgment and its political effects, and urging readers to keep the rule of law at the centre of Brexit and contribute to educating people on the meaning of the rule of law to foster respect for the principle in the UK.
New Research Fellow
Our marvellous project co-ordinator Xiao Hui has moved on from the Bingham Centre, and we are excited to announce a new member of staff. Michael Abiodun Olatokun is the new Research Fellow for Citizenship Education. He has worked on national education projects, most recently leading voter registration efforts ahead of the EU referendum, helping young people to take part in, and understand politics. You can find more about him on our website
We are creating a new resource pack called International Law and Human Rights. This provides immersive activities to enable students to develop in four key areas; creative thinking, participation skills, reflective learning and independent enquiry, which will all be enhanced through the new materials. Students will be asked to give their views on matters at the heart of international affairs. Looking at international conflict, humanitarian intervention and the role of organisations such as the UN will help students to grasp complex issues and understand the importance of the rule of law worldwide. If you have any questions regarding the project or would like to speak to us about an upcoming event/training session, please contact Michael Olatokun
Oversight of the Rule of Law in the European Union: Opportunities and Challenges
Monday January 16 2017 16.00 - 19.00, BIICL.
Co-organised with The University of Groningan
This event will examine rule of law oversight in the EU and the role of various EU institutions, including the Commission's new Rule of Law Framework and the Council's new Rule of Law Dialogue. Country experts will assess developments in Hungary and Poland. Further information on how to book can be found here
Bingham Centre Short Course
The rule of law is central to the work of all who engage with law, legal policy and the justice system, whether in the UK or beyond. In delivering its new one-day course in October, ‘Introduction to the Rule of Law’, the Bingham Centre team worked with a group of 25 participants from a wide range of professional backgrounds and workplaces to explain and explore how the rule of law can be used as practical tool in addressing legal, policy and commercial issues. Throughout the day we considered case studies and examples from the work done by the Centre’s staff – including on anti-corruption, torture and transfer of detainees, the Sustainable Development Goals, and transitional justice – we examined how rule of law standards, such as the Venice Commission's Rule of Law Checklist, can function as a touchstone and resource for people working in a number of fields.
With feedback from participants being that sessions were ‘excellent’, ‘engaging, ‘thought-provoking’ and ‘brought to life the difficult questions that must be grappled with when seeking to practically engage Rule of Law principles’, the course is set to run again in 2017.
Rule of Law Challenges in Burundi - the inside view with Gervais Rufyikiri
On October 10, the Bingham Centre hosted Mr. Gervais Rufyikiri, 2nd former Vice-President and former President of the Senate of Burundi, together with Dr. Phil Clark (SOAS) to discuss corruption and rule of law challenges in Burundi. The presentation was based on Mr. Rufyikiri’s paper on grand corruption in Burundi (available here).
The Resilient Constitution? - Constitutionalism and the Political Crisis in Brazil
On 25 October, the Bingham Centre (through the Global Rule of Law Exchange) co-organised an event with King’s College London on the ‘Resilient Constitution – constitutionalism and political crisis in Brazil’. Prof. Oscar Vilhena Viera from FGV São Paulo School of Law presented a paper on the institutional processes of implementation of the 1998 Brazilian Constitution, which he views as resilient to stresses and strains. Prof. Tim Power (Oxford) and Christina Murray (Director, Bingham Centre) commented on the presentation.
Arbitration and the Rule of Law: Challenges, Changes and Contradictions
The Fundamental Rights of Companies: Have the European Courts Got it Right?
Wednesday 2 November 2016
Lord Chief Justice Thomas spoke at the Bailii Lecture 2016 about arbitration and the rule of law challenges it poses. Leading the debate was Justice DY Chandrachud (Supreme Court of India), who argued that arbitration is central to the rule of law internationally because of its capacity to increase legal certainty and predictability. Julian DM Lew QC (20 Essex Street) focused on the issue of public interest concerns, questioning whether transparency should be more urgently preserved in cases where the government is a party and the dispute involves public interest issues. Dr Emilia Onyema (SOAS) turned to arbitration in Africa, and highlighted the need to increase the skills and participation of local arbitrators. Finally, Dipen Sabharwal (White & Case) suggested that, though the rule of law challenges posed by arbitration deserve to be addressed, the negative perception of those outside of the arbitration system is not necessarily in line with that of the arbitration community. The Bingham Centre is grateful to White & Case for hosting and supporting of this event.
Wednesday 16 November 2016
Should companies enjoy fundamental rights? Though this question has not been addressed in such detail by most European scholars as it has been across the Atlantic, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) have each assigned companies such protection in certain cases. The Bingham Centre gathered a number of experts to explore the position of the European courts. Peter Oliver (Monckton Chambers, External Fellow at the Bingham Centre and formerly of the Commission’s Legal Service) argued that there should be a rebuttable presumption that companies have the right to property and access to justice. Dr Liza Lovdahl Gormsen (Director of the BIICL Competition Law Forum) focused on fair trial rights before the European Commission in competition proceedings, discussed the scope of judicial review of Commission infringement decisions and argued that CJEU has been weak in its review under Article 6 ECHR. Paul Mahoney (former UK Judge at the ECtHR) suggested that the wholesale transport of individuals’ defence rights to companies is not the way forward and that wider human rights interests—particularly those impacted by a company’s economic behaviour—should inform the scope of any right given to companies. Finally, Sir Nicholas Forwood (White & Case in Brussels and former Judge at the EU General Court) argued that though companies are indeed different from individuals, there is room for a solution that takes into account the privileged nature of companies and the potential impact of their behaviour on the economy.
Protecting civil society in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities for the Rule of Law
Tuesday 22 November 2016
Civil society is increasingly marginalised by governments around the world. This is profoundly troubling as civil society plays a critical role in promoting the rule of law and human rights, and in holding governments to account. Katerina Hadzi-Miceva Evans (The European Center for Not-for-Profit Law) began by looking at the range of restrictions facing civil society in Europe. Richard Clayton QC (Venice Commission) and Professor Philip Leach (The European Human Rights Advocacy Centre) then examined the Council of Europe’s response, focusing respectively on the work of the Venice Commission and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. Finally, Kersty McCourt (Open Society Justice Initiative) considered the European Union’s internal and external policies to protect civil society rights. We are grateful to Adrian Di Giovanni (International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and International Visiting Fellow, Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law) for chairing this event. For further information, see the speakers’ papers here
For further information about the Bingham Centre International Visiting Fellows please see our website. Applications must be submitted no later than 31 January 2017.
The Rule of Law and Foreign Investment in China
Wednesday 30 November 2016
This event discussed issues including recent legal and legislative development in China and international trade agreements with China, against a backdrop of human rights, the rule of law, and international politics. It was chaired by Kathryn Rand (Great Britain-China Centre) and the speakers were Professor Shaun Breslin (University of Warwick), Gordon Nardell QC, (20 Essex Street), Dr Eva Pils, (King's College London and External Fellow of The Bingham Centre) and Cecilia Xu (9 Stone Buildings). Markus Burgstaller of Hogan Lovells hosted. The Bingham Centre is grateful to Hogan & Lovells for hosting and supporting this event.
The Rule of Law Conference, Costa Rica
Monday 7 December 2016
This conference was organised by the Rule of Law Alliance and sponsored by Munoz Global amongst others. The Bingham Centre, a partner of the Rule of Law Alliance, was represented by Dr Jean-Pierre Gauci and Jessica Walsh. The discussions focused on the importance of the rule of law in achieving access to justice, promoting equality and transparency in all public and private institutions with the aim of achieving greater sustainability. In part, the Bingham Centre was involved in providing an introduction to the Rule of Law for media personnel, presenting the Bingham Centre's research on judicial independence in Latin America and running a discussion on the viability of a 'judge over your shoulder' tool for Costa Rica.