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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.

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Project News

EU Commission makes rule of law recommendations to Poland

Using its new Framework to Strengthen the Rule of Law for the first time, the European Commission issued on 27 July a number of recommendations to Poland concerning changes by Jarosław Kaczyńskito's Law and Justice party to the powers of the Constitutional Tribunal and implementation of Tribunal rulings . This is the second of three stages in the Commission’s Rule of Law Framework. The Framework is aimed at preventing systemic threats to the rule of law and preserving the values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). At the first stage, on June 1, the Commission adopted a rule of law opinion (full text available via the blog EU Analysis) to which Poland was given an opportunity to respond. When Poland failed to engage, the Commission progressed to stage two and issued the recommendations. Poland must notify the Commission that it is taking steps to implement the recommendations by 27 October 2016. If Poland takes steps to address the recommendations, the Commission will monitor implementation. If not, the EU may resort to its sanctioning powers under Article 7 TEU, but the threshold for using these powers is very high and they have not been used to date. Though the Rule of Law Framework is intended to complement Article 7, there is no clear indication as to whether Article 7 should be considered an unofficial fourth stage in the Framework. 
 
The Bingham Centre has engaged with these issues in a number of ways. It published a study on human rights and rule of law monitoring in the EU, intended to feed into the development of the EU Rule of Law Framework. Justine Stefanelli (Associate Senior Research Fellow in European Law) and Peter Oliver (External Fellow and Monckton Chambers) have written about the Council’s rule of law mechanism in light of the situation in Poland and Hungary. We have also jointly hosted a conference on the subject with Middlesex University, and continue to monitor developments.

Access to Justice for children - new report

The right of children to be involved in decisions affecting them is increasingly being recognised internationally. However, this right of active engagement still poses a challenge in many jurisdictions. A new Bingham Centre report, ‘Children and Access to Justice: National Practices, International Challenges’ has found broad evidence of state practice aimed at addressing this problem at its roots through dissemination of information on children’s rights and on the content of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to both children themselves and to adults, including parents, teachers and carers. Governments, however, often devote insufficient resources to providing such information, and this may affect more severely particularly disadvantaged groups of children, such as migrants and asylum seekers.  The study also found widespread recognition that children have special needs when they encounter the justice system, whether as offenders, witnesses or victims, and a very positive move towards using special arrangements aimed at ensuring children’s effect participation in the proceedings, though the scope and effectiveness of practices varies across countries.
 
The study was commissioned by the International Bar Association’s Access to Justice and Legal Aid Committee, with support from the Law Society of England and Wales and the German Federal Bar. The report will be previewed at the IBA Annual Conference in Washington DC on 22 September and published in October.

Recent Events

Human Rights and the Devolved Nations
Changes to the UK’s human rights law remain on the Government’s agenda, but such reforms would likely need the consent of the devolved legislatures by reason of constitutional convention. Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss said in August that the Government is committed to replacing the Human Rights Act (HRA) with a Bill of Rights, although Prime Minister Theresa May will not seek to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).  On 5 July, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Rule of Law met to discuss the rule of law questions that arise in the context of the HRA and ECHR in the Devolved Nations. The question was posed whether consent by the devolved legislatures should be required given the UK government’s mandate for HRA reform, although there were warnings of a constitutional crisis if such consent were not sought and obtained.  Further, if a Bill of Rights were to apply only in England this might pose particular difficulties for Wales if a single England and Wales jurisdiction remains in place.  Human rights are essential to the constitutional settlement of Northern Ireland under the Belfast-Good Friday Agreement, and the principle of consent of the governed in Northern Ireland is also critical to the constitution.  Professor McCrudden warned the meeting of the risk of collapsing the Belfast-Good Friday Agreement and the fragility of peace in Northern Ireland.

For more information, read the meeting report.  The Bingham Centre is grateful to the Legal Education Foundation for its grant that supports the Centre’s work as secretariat for the Parliamentary Group.

Bingham Centre news

The UN Convention Against Coruption (UNCAC) Coalition Coordination Committee (CCC) has approved The Bingham Centre's application to become an Ordinary member of the newly-registered Association: UNCAC Coalition
 

Rule of Law Training

The Bingham Centre short course: 10 October 2016
9.00 - 17.30 (BIICL)
On 10 October, the Bingham Centre launches its new, one-day course on the Rule of Law.  It will use case studies and interactive discussion to consider the importance of the rule of law and its links to the development agenda.

Please see the website for details on how to book a place.

Forthcoming Events

Rule of Law Challenges in Burundi - the inside view with Gervaise Rufyikiri

Monday 10 October 2016  18.00 - 19.30 (BIICL)
Dr. Gervais Rufyikiri is former 2nd Vice-President of Burundi (2010-2015) and former President of the Senate of Burundi (2005-2010).  This event will provide participants with insights on the practical challenges to the application of the rule of law in Burundi. 

Further information on how to book can be found here

Arbitration and the Rule of Law: Challenges, Changes and Contradictions
Wednesday 2 November 2016  18.00 - 20.00 (White & Case)
Sponsored by White & Case LLP 

To what extent and in what ways does arbitration raise challenges for building the rule of law?

Registration will open shortly

The Fundamental Rights of Companies: Have the European Courts Got it Right?
Wednesday 16 November 2016 18.00 - 20.00 (BIICL)
This event will explore the question of whether commercial entities should enjoy fundamental rights by way of reference to judgments delivered by the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the EU.

Further information on how to book can be found here

Protecting civil society in Europe:  Challenges and Opportunities for the Rule of Law
Tuesday, 22 November 2016 18.00 - 19.30 (BIICL)
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. This event will examine the problems and how they might be addressed. It will provide an opportunity to hear leading experts consider responses from the Council of Europe and European Union at a regional level; access to justice for civil society through the lens of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights; and examples of successful law reform strategies in European countries at a domestic level. 

Further information on how to book can be found here

The Rule of Law and Foreign Investment in China
Wednesday 30 November 2016  17.00 - 19.00 (Hogan Lovells)
Sponsored by Hogan Lovells LLP

      

 
This event will consider China's understanding of the rule of law and its impact on market governance.
 
Registration will open shortly


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Development Update

The Bingham Appeal continues to make good progress to ensure the sustainability of the Centre. However, we need to raise a further £2M by 2020 in order to respond to the growing demand for the Centre’s work.
 
We are extremely grateful to all our donors and would like to thank Hogan Lovells, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, and Ashurst for their recent pledges.
 
We are also delighted to announce that Diageo, HSBC and Vodafone have all recently pledged donations to the Bingham Appeal and, together with BP and Shell, are the founding members of our new corporates group which will be formally launched in December.  The Bingham Centre will work with this group to identify and, where possible, to address rule of law issues in the countries in which these companies operate.
 
Our development events include a dinner at held Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer on 26th April 2016 which was hosted by Senior Partner, Edward Braham, where key donors and prospects were introduced to the Centre’s Director, Professor Christina Murray.
 
The development team is constantly looking for new donors, volunteers and partners. If you would like to discuss this, please contact Sarah Taylor, Development Director, on 020 7862 5433 or email
s.taylor@biicl.org.

Contact Details

Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law
Charles Clore House
17 Russell Square
London WC1B 5JP

T:  020 7862 5151
E:  binghamcentre@biicl.org
www.binghamcentre.biicl.org/

  
 
Our next eBulletin will be published in Winter 2016