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.