Entry 9

Criminal Law was back on the agenda today, and it tied in Tort Law quite well as the main topic of the lecture was omission and commission regarding the duty of care. With this in mind, I am not going to bore you with more details about the duty to care, and it’s Friday night. The main difference is the cases explored and the criminal law going through the various exceptions of when there is an omission, much faster.

While I was due to have a contract tutorial, it was postponed until further notice, and that just leaves us with the tutorial in public law which I shall flesh out. This week we had a kind introductory look into the constitution ideas and what determines them. We didn’t go through a point that is made in political theory about the social contract. The gist of the social contract is the normative rules of a society that members of the community endorse. The conventional view of the social contract (though it can be traced further back) is one of consent. This is leaving the State of Nature (associated with Hobbes in Western Philosophy), and in part of moving from the chaos (Hobbesian), we consent to the joining the rules of the polity. This view is also discussed by Locke and Rousseau and is the mainstream view in political theory until Kant (and more recently Rawls) brought some validity to contractualist view. In class, we only glossed over the consent view as being the prevailing view; which it is not. The Rawlsian view is currently very popular with his theory of justice being derived from the veil of ignorance in the original position. The contractualist view is the idea of using thought experiments and practical reasoning to form an agreement via deliberation. While this sounds really similar to consent, there is a big difference, which is regarding duties. If one consent (and essentially forced to obey) it creates a duty, the contractualist viewpoint of the agreement does not create a duty allowing for more alterations.

We also talked about electing judges, like some US states (and I think Bolivia citation needed). Just to some up the conclusion: no, don’t elect judges. Keep them above politics to help ensure an independent judiciary within democratic societies. (this is not saying that the appointed system is perfect).

 

Otherwise, have a good weekend. And thanks for the continuous support.

Entry 8

Today was land law lecture day. Well I two land law lectures, so I am running with it. The first thing you need to know about land law is that it is anal. What I mean by this, is while land law is common law (make no exception to it), it relies on statute law (apparently). The reason why the relationship with statue is essential to making land law anal, is simply that land law doesn’t give a hoot to what is just. If you have your contract forfeited in a mortgage on day one and have no clause in the contract to only forfeit if you default on your terms of repayment. Then tough luck. You may be able to go through other legal options, but not land law. As I said before, it’s anal. For me, I prefer this to a degree. I can be pedantic (not just because it rhymes with my name) and entirely facetious when arguing about…well almost anything. It comes naturally to me. The only possible issue ahead is that terms in land law are for land law only. This could cause some confusion in the future.

Today we focused on proprietary rights with land and going through the different types of possessions of land. The one type of right that stood out to me was options right. Options are giving the person a right to purchase at a pre-agreed price in the future, regardless of the market rate. The reason that this stood out to me is that I have seen this before at home (dining table chat between my parents) and in the office. Options are used in the futures markets (and in other financial markets) and are a financial tool used to guarantee a win essentially (they have a high cost, so not available to most people). If you think the market is going one way up, you go long on the asset and then place a put option at the price you are willing to leave the market at. If the price goes beyond that, don’t use the option and sell higher. Market collapses, and you messed up, use your option to make money still (or reduce losses). The real question is who on earth is going to give you an option? In financial markets, there are loads of firms (depending on jurisdiction), but why would you do it with land? In the UK at least, prices are tending to go up. The only reason I could imagine it in was during a sale of a large piece of land where the seller would have an option to buy back at a particular rate, but honestly, I would be wary of such an offer. If the option is not worth it, they won’t use, so the result is that the piece of land was not worth it, and if it is good then you will get stuffed (or the holder of the option is an idiot). So if you are more of a risk taker, try and pay a higher rate and secure your future.

Take an example from football, Dani Carvajal moving from Real Madrid to Bayern Leverkusen in 2012 for roughly 5M Euros, and then being sold back a season later for 6.5M Euros. You might say Leverkusen did well, 1.5M profit, but if you look at his market value of 10M at the time and it is one year into a five-year contract. Could have done a lot better. So if you can afford to purchase a call or put option, you should be making bank.

Entry 7

Today kicked off with a lecture in Equity and Trusts and a little pop quiz that had totally skipped my mind, surprising I knew more than I thought but should be better prepared for next week. Afterwards, we look at two of the three certainties. Intention & Subject Matter (with Objects being the third).  When it comes to intention, I put on my philosophers’ hat, due to our analysis of what do these words mean. Essentially, it was analytic philosophy-lite. To explain let’s look at mandatory obligation, which says that in the event of death it must be explicit that the person wants a trust to be formed, not precatory words (words of desires and prayer). The use of the word trust is not helpful, as I could say: “I trust that X does give an annual allowance to Y”. Trust here is a hope, not an obligation. And if you want an obligation, then be clear. The takeaway point is when writing your will don’t use sweet words and frivolous language. Be blunt. You are dead. Think of it as giving people more time to mourn over you, rather than fight over your possessions. Be self-centred, even in death. Otherwise, it’s up to the interpretation of what is your intentions (hence analytic-lite ). We then looked at the Subject Matter. The reduction is this: is it clear what we are talking about. What do certain words mean if I say: “ The majority should go to A and the rest B”,  is it 50.1% or 99.9%? The rule is from Hancock and Watson which further points towards being clear. We then went over segregation of tangible property and intangible property. I also wish to take a quick note that when it involves financial problems, commercial law has been presented to take precedence over equity. Why? I think we can take a hint from public law. If parliament is sovereign, then those who pay for parliament probably matter more than what is just (in the eyes of parliament).

Then I was back to Tort law. We continued with a duty to care, but with a distinctive look at how this affects public authorities. While the content of the lecturer was engaging, it did bring out some of my greatest fear learning law. Going through case by case, by case, by case. We are looking at the progression of law and each step in its evolution. I’m not saying that this is futile, or wrong, it makes perfect logical sense. However, coming from a social science background, we could just say the final (or current) outcome and have a footnote concerning someone else going through the hassle of proving the evolution of the idea. Looks as though I have some adapting to do. Regarding the content, of public authorities. Courts don’t want you to sue them or place duties onto them because then it takes away money from the authority to do its job. E.g. if you sue the police and say they were negligent, you receive damages, those damages could have been used to prevent another crime. So if you want to take the police or another public body to court, the best bet is the human rights act by the looks of it. Though I wouldn’t take legal advice from the internet.

Entry 6

Today marked the beginning of tutorials for me. Today’s class was in Equity, like the lecture, it was more of an introductory class, and thus we didn’t actually discuss anything of importance or of much interest. It was the first time that our group, at City you’re in the same group for the tutorials for the whole year. So we started with a simple going around the class and introducing ourselves and then asking a question about equity or providing an observation from our readings and then relating this to some of the preset questions in the tutorial guidelines. When called upon, I naturally introduced myself (without the tagline: Don’t Panic, It’s Hanik)  and then presented an observation about one of the possible remedies in equity: an injunction. I suggested that injunctions don’t make sense as a solution anymore, from my limited understanding as they are easy to usurp in today’s information age. I gave the example of celebrities using injunctions in the press to stop court dealings being published in England and Wales, but if I (as a bystander) know there was an injunction, the first thing I would do is go on twitter and see who it was. I then pointed out from reading Private Eye, that the remedy is not readily accessible to the general public (due to the costs). Thus with it not working that well and not available to all, it doesn’t fit into the notion of equity, which is fairness (yes I understand equity isn’t about the Chancery’s opinion anymore, but more on precedent now). The tutor took the point that injunctions can go beyond the borders, but that is a slow development, but happening phenomena. However, he became a bit focused on that costs side of using equity and said that was part of the realities of life, which while true; was not the focus of my question which was on injunctions alone. I guess I need to be clearer when asking questions in class.

Also, I had another lecture on the public law where we looked at the judicial review and the how this fits into the concept of parliamentary sovereignty. If parliament is sovereign, and its power is absolute, then what room is there for interpretation? This was represented to us with a poorly written hypothetical Act, and our client was trying to get around the law (without breaking it). What to do? So, we found the simplest solution and then went through the possible ways that a judge will use to decide what to do: to interpret or not to interpret. The orthodoxy is to not interpret, as then the courts are then legislating, not parliament. Thus is parliament is no longer the most powerful. The opposite view is that the courts do not create, but merely try and understand what Parliament meant and enforce that. This could be solved by Parliament created clearer laws, thus no issue. Where do I lie on the scale? I currently believe that it should be a strict reading of the statuary law as possible. To elaborate on “possible”: even if the absurd occurs, allow it. Only stop it if it infringes on the rights of others. Then put it on hold and then ask for Parliament to come back to you. Doesn’t seem that revolutionary, but sometimes it doesn’t have to be. Liked sliced bread, is the best thing since bread itself. Small change, big consequence.*

*the last two sentences are an inside joke.

P.S. I didn’t forget to upload yesterday. I just have Mondays off and have yet to come up with filler. Any ideas welcomed.

Entry 5

Today was the first day of Criminal law, the one that we (or at least I) first associated with the law. I am going to give some Kudos to my old housemate Nathan for pointing out the amount of Latin and saying the same thing as my lecturer, just two years prior. Lawyers like Latin [to help justify the fees]. Actus Reus and Mens Rea were brought up several times in today’s lecture. Today’s lecture was more of a general overview of the course, and we didn’t really get into any substantive topics, but I’ll quickly mention a thought on autonomous that I spoke to my old lecturer Tom Cornford about. The question is, are we really independent? We can not control our thoughts, they happen to manifest themselves in our own minds. I have yet to say to myself, thought and then bam! New thought. Maybe I’m missing out on something. The reason I bring up this idea is the notion of involuntary manslaughter. As we are never in full control, can we ever be said to be in control of our own actions? Dr Cornford answered my question succinctly: Try and be smart in court and the judge will probably be harsher towards you. The answer to my question is quite obvious then; it might not be full autonomy, but this does not mean that we are totally incapacitated to make decisions to some degree.

I also had my second lecture in public law. Today we focused on parliamentary sovereignty (in the British sense). It was engaging to see the view of what I have always considered a political concept from a legal perspective. Going through the Diceyan orthodoxy for me was what I was taught in political science. Parliament is sovereign. Nothing is above it. But why? There is nothing to cement this (though there is a case from 1707, the act of the Union), essentially in legal terms parliament is sovereign because it is. Yes, a tautology, but there is no legal source of power. We could change that through a revolution, but as there is no legal basis, we cannot change it through legal means. This may make you think, what can parliament not do? Essentially, it can do whatever it wants. In class, we were asked can parliament bind itself? Well, the lasting Diceyian view is no. This troubles me as the house can say that I am slave, vote for it and pass by a majority of 1. And thus I am a slave.  Some fundamental rights should be away from the political whim of parliament, let alone how do we deal with it having power. While I am sure that any government will not do such a thing if it has no intention to use its power this way, then why give it the authority in the first place? Maybe it’s time for a political revolution on rights?

Entry 4

It started off with the public law a lecture where we had an excellent introduction into constitutions and what the purpose of constitutions are for regarding a democratic society. Perfect for me, as I have not only I just completed my master’s in Democracy and Comparative Politics but spent my time in a module called Democracy and Constitutional Design. While I could have joined in the conversation, I decided to listen to what others had to say as I have already spent an enormous amount of time discussing this issue. Heck, I still use the definition of democracy that I produced for Anthony King in my first year at Essex. So, while I don’t consider myself an authoritative person on the subject, I do believe that I am well versed on the topic. And honestly, I’ll have to bring up some of my distress of people introducing normative values into the definition of democracy during the tutorial. Such as, Democracy is only associated with a good thing or even on the opposite spectrum where someone said that it was okay for a society to agree that giving up on fundamental rights by referendum was fine. It’s more nuanced than that! To quickly illustrate the point, I struggle to believe that in a society full of free people, that they would agree to allow a person to sell themselves into slavery forever. While I would love to continue this point, I have a self-restricted word limit, and we can continue this in the comments.

I then had my second lecture on European law, and I must say it’s growing on me (subject wise). Today was about the importance of the Treatises, the procedure one must follow and just to make sure: the Treaties are bloody important. While I had never heard of any this before, I was quite familiar with the concept thanks to Model UN and having many discussions (read told) about the Rules and procedures when it comes not to just speaking, but also formatting documentation in the UN. For the EU, it’s not the same. However, the concepts are the same. With my background in British politics, the sending of EU law to national parliaments has already been covered, and I knew about the issues regarding the number of readings and the creation legislation from class and even Hardtalk interviews. But just remember, the EU Treaties are crucial in deciding how things work and pan out. Essentially, it’s a fleshing out of game theory when deciding what procedural route to choose.

Finally, I had my class on tort law, and there are a lot of cases to know. Today we began looking a the duty to care and how it came about. This is probably the hardest thing I had relating to anything I had done previously. What I found most interesting from the lecture was the concept of assumed responsibility can cause you to be liable for harm. To me, this seems a bit bizarre, do I not get off if I am trying to be a good Samaritan?The reason I bring this up is that there is mention of the neighbour method in lecture, which is from Christianity (as in love thy neighbour), but this seems to contradict this. Also, that it’s hard for me to get why omission is considered okay if the case of Christianity comes in, as from the Confession (Confiteor ) during mass. Why only the one part?

Alright, I’ve blown my word limit by quite a bit, so that’s it, but feel free to ask for further clarifications as there was much to say, with very little space.

Entry 3

Today I was introduced to equity law. Unfortunately, I also had to read some Hegel today. Once again philosophy had some relevance today. While we did not explore the Hegelian concept of equity in detail (and thank god we didn’t), it was part of the quick rundown of the history and formation of equity in the UK and how it exists in a country governed by Common Law.

The surprising thing is I learned is the actual amount of flexibility given to the judges to make decisions based on oughts and not what has been prescribed by Law. While I was not unaware about the flexibility, I was not aware of the depth. On a personal level, this resonated with me as we talked about the necessity of trying to achieve just results (and the Chancery gets this from its religious background). As a strong supporter of individual rights, equity makes sense; as Rights are about oughts.* While we did not go into what is just and had to accept that it is dependent on the Chancellor (person in charge of the Chancery). I hope that this will help me understand how the judge’s decision is made better. The other main thing I noticed from the tone of the lecturer that there was some concern with the notion of deciding what is right and then working out a path to the conclusion. To me it just seems like a form of backwards induction to get to an optimal outcome, nothing really to be worried or concerned about, just reminded me of the extended game is in game theory.

The next lecture I had was tort law. Now for those unaware, tort is French in the wrong (which I presume is from the Normans). The lecture itself was more an overview of the year ahead and what to expect. What was most striking to me was the notion that tort is used for compensation and that if one were to take the police to court and not ask for compensation (or say that using the payment for an altruistic purpose such as charity), then the courts would not hear the case and send you to the police complaints department. While I can understand why this makes sense, does it help provide justice (which I have been informed is part of tort law)? I would say no, however, is this necessarily a bad thing? If one is just looking for an acknowledgement of a wrongdoing, then going to the courts just seems like a waste of time. Moving along to one final point, which is about defamation being part of tort law. Luckily for me, I am a subscriber to Private Eye whose editor, Ian Hislop, is apparently the most sued man in the UK and the Eye regularly talks about the issue of the magazine and in its podcast. See page 94.

*(I know Human Rights law is not the same as equity before you start typing out any comments)

Entry 2

The second day was more of a normal day (if there is such a thing) for me. While the first lecture, Introduction to the Law, was meant as an overview for the course ahead and was exactly that. Regarding content, nothing stood out as: WOW! Rather it was short and to the point and thus quite enthralling in a way not…not usual. The fact that the lecture was not simple, but rather enjoyable to listen to.

 

The two main points that I took from the talk where the defining characteristics of Common Law, in which the courts are considered a source of law. The other was Legal Realism (and in the case of the lecture American Realism), where the discussion was about the courts not following the formulaic procedure, but rather there is a need for the courts to interpret due to the law contain ambiguous terms in the way law is written. Also, the need for the judge to interpret the law for social needs as the law has been placed in their care and thus have some form of duty to protect society.

 

The second lecture was about European Law. Now before I get any messages about Brexit and why do you need to know European Law now? It’s kind of obvious, but since European Law is the law of the land (I’m sorry if this is breaking news to you, even since Article 50 had been submitted). And to get onto the next set of exams, you need to know the laws of the land to practice law in the land. So you need to know European Law, it is not my place to give a damn about why, because honestly; nobody cares about my thoughts on the matter.

 

The lecture itself was quite frankly excellent. While it was just the first lecture, I was thinking about different modules I had taken over the last year (cough British Politics and Democratic Institution’s cough) and how relatable the base knowledge required for the lecture was well within my grasp. I had already covered this or I had a relatable case where I could compare it to European Institutions. Heck even my knowledge of the United Nations from MUN was paying off when briefly going over international law. The best way to describe what I had been doing before was more of a macro* outlook of the world around me and the effects it had, while this class felt more like the beginning of a micro* perspective. Personally, this seems great; as having training in one is not necessarily bad or useless. But, rather as alluded yesterday, it provides more of a complete view in the way government functions.

 

*As in macro and micro economics. It’s an analogy.

Entry 1

 

Today it kicked off, the start of my Year in Law. Officially at least. It feels like being thrown in the deep end now, with the colossal amount of information being thrown at us everything seems quite daunting. While I have no plan or care to run you through my day, bear in mind that this week is about the introductory lectures. Hence with my insufficient law knowledge and less material to work with than expected, this week the post will probably remain quite curt. *

Contract Law is incredibly bizarre for me right now. Let’s forget the content for a moment, it’s the fact that the lectures will be online from now on. I’m not going to go through the pros and cons of this. I have always attended lectures with a physical person talking to/at me and then scribbling down notes.

To the content, there was not much to work on. However, there was a moment where things did click. The big picture wasn’t that unfamiliar. During my time at Essex, in my final year, I took a module called Philosophy and Law (yeah I know, what could it be about?). And essentially, it was an examination of markets and transactions in markets. While I did not have to learn a single legal case study, it did provide some legal knowledge. While it was not explicitly said in the course (or I have just forgotten and cannot find it my notes), is that what we looked at during some lectures and weeks were essentially contracts.

Though is a problem, what I learned in Philosophy regarding content and what we tackled is completely different to what is expected (or seems to be expected….early days). While this is not a major issue, as I am aware of this potential problem. It will probably mean that I will have to curb my philosophical enthusiasm (in an academic sense) and focus on what is required of me. While it seems bleedin’ obvious, it became even more so when during the lecture when the issues of minor legal relevance were being listed. In my head, I was going: “Yeah, I’ve done something like that before” or “That’s not a bad question”. While outside the legal framework the issues being raised are interesting to me, if I’m not on the money, I could easily slip into old habits. This does provide a huge positive (if I do end up completing and passing the course), is that I will be a really well-rounded thinker.

*(I know that this is a bit confusing, I just said there was loads of information, but that is relating to the course as a whole and the department: not the modules. Though I have been forewarned about the breathtaking pace of the course)

 

 

Day 0

This is the same as the Why? page.

This blog is a personal review of the next year of my life. Having decided that after my Master’s I will head into a career path that I have shown little to no interest prior. So why the change of mind? Definitely not the money, lawyers don’t get paid frankly enough. No, it is more to do with my life goal of being Prime Minister. While I don’t tend to tell people straight away, I almost certainly say that I wish to get into politics later on in life (as well as ambitions for a PhD, though that’s on the back burner right now).

Look, I am not an idiot (most of the time); I know that you don’t need any formal qualifications to become the PM. However, I am a firm believer in technocrats and that even just being a Minister of Parliament, that being able to write, read and analyse legislation is vital to good governance. As if you cannot fully comprehend the laws being placed on how they affect society, how can you govern effectively? While a law degree is neither necessary nor sufficient for this requirement, I hardly believe that it will be a hindrance to my goal.

Beyond politics (if that’s possible), I have always had an interest in rights and looking at rights in history effectively decide what one can do outside the state of nature (yes, I’m bringing in some political theory)(also, if it hasn’t been painfully obvious by now, I write with lots of deviations off topic and tend to ramble on in the brackets).

While I don’t believe in a dystopia such as 1984 happening anytime soon, nor I am a Huxilian (Huxley-ist?) where I shall be popping soma tablets to help deal with the lack of rights. What is more worrying is the ability to use one’s rights is being made harder for those who are worse off (*this is a perception, not a factual backed statement (though its lack of factual basis does not mean that it is necessarily wrong… I digress)).

The fear is that tools that are used to subjugate democracy are being removed and society shifting towards a Victorian-like society where there is stranglehold of power with the few to exploit the masses. If I were to believe that a more Singaporean type of government and society is forming, I would not be concerned. Rather, I would be elated. The fact is that Singapore is an authoritarian dream. Educated population, free press (though even I would have a look again at the defamation laws), ideal for business and great weather (the sun makes everything better). Only real issue is consociationalism… guess nothing is perfect…

That’s probably enough rambling for now. Time to head off to the library and start the preliminary reading which includes some introduction reading and of course Cicero.