Today I had an exciting day with a double set of lectures followed by another representative meeting.
Before going into my lectures, there has been some change from my work as a course rep already. One major, being a change to timetabling for one group due to having too many hours in a row, which is against University policy. The downside for them though is that their class has been moved to Friday afternoon and they now have a few tutorials in a row. Not ideal, but’s only until the end of the term, but it is nice to see change quite rapidly. The other is having a more extended break between our two lectures today.
Today in Equity and Trust we focused on the beneficiary principle and within it the simple issue of Non-Charitable Purpose Trusts (NCPTs) which are essentially what it says on the tin (trusts that provide no public good). The problem resulting from them is the fact they can go on forever. Hence there are rules in the common law that limit their time span… Actually, I’m noting going to delve into how they are formed and all the issues revolving around them. I want to talk about the exemption of pets from the rule. So pets are allowed to be NCPTs mainly because someone generally has to look after the animal and we were given examples of these multi-millionaire animals. While the notion is ridiculous, it’s not unheard of for this happen. In the UK there is an issue with enforcement of how the money is spent, as the animal is unable to go to court and take legal action against the trustee. So the trustees could abuse their position. In this example, you also have the notion that next of kin could be wanting to harm the animal or try point out flaws in the trust, as they would be the beneficiaries of a resulting trust. However, I think that there a further question that could be raised. Can next of kin be a trustee? Well, yes (or I have really have messed up my basic understanding of how trusts work). So as there is apparently less tax involved in this method of trusts, could this not be used as a tax loophole? I’m going to have to get back to you and ask my lecturer.
In Tort Law we focused on Liability for Psychiatric Harm/Illness. As usual with Tort lectures, we spent most of the time cases. However, there has been continual, but gradual, change in the way that approaches this. This week I relied more on the lecture handout and making adjustments to that, rather than writing more on my A4 sheet. I found it more useful in paying attention, but due to the lack of workspace, it’s harder to have everything in front of you and still have a good writing area. The handou is in a book format and due to the size of the note cards, they do not line up well. I’ll probably adjust again next week.
Welcome back, a new week but same old me.
Today started with a tutorial in Equity and Trusts, and we looked at the issue of formalities. I cannot reiterate how mind-bending this topic is sometimes. Thankfully this is the hardest part of the course, and it comes in early in the course. The rest of the class and myself are finding the topic a bit difficult to grapple with, and this was not helped by having an online lecture for this topic, but c’est la vie. Thankfully the tutorial was useful as we did go through the issues of formalities step by step and having done the work beforehand for the worked example it was easier to go through. Though if you were to peek at my notes, the most likely response would be: is that even English? A friend asked for them to take them to her class and after 2 seconds she said: “It’s okay Hanik.” The key to formalities (or what it seems to be, is the understanding the difference between equitable and legal ownership as well as knowing what type of trust it is. The reason there is confusion (or at least in the cases we are analysing) is that our appellants are trying to avoid tax. This results in them avoiding doing the simplest thing, which is to put it writing with unambiguous language.
This was followed by a lecture in Public Law. We began by continuing on what we started last week: The Scope of Judicial Review. The case of GCHQ shows us the change in trend from looking at whether a law should be under judicial review not if it were statute or prerogative law, but to justiciable or non-justiciable. This seems to leave issues that are not part of the judicial review to matters that are regarded as political in nature in general. The best example of this (which is the topic of next weeks class) is the Miller case (though that is also about the need for parliamentary review over prerogative power). Even with this change, we saw the “finding” of prerogative powers in the courts of keeping the peace and how this relates to the usage of prerogative powers when there is a potential clash with the statute.
We then moved onto a whirlwind tour of the jurisprudence of the ECJ. I say whirlwind as our lecturer said that we have already covered most of this in our EU law lectures. And he wasn’t joking as we went through 42 slides in about 40 minutes. There was far more information on it.
I had to miss my land law tutorial (don’t worry I’m going to office hours for it) to go the first Staff-Student Liason Meeting. So now, I’m going to type up my notes and send a very Hanik email for the official unofficial minutes.
Big news for me personally today (still relating to the GDL), I was made a course representative: with no election. This meant that I have continued my streak of entering positions of authority with no backing of my fellow students. Whose said that democracy was alive and well with students?
To more academic issues, today a doubleheader of Equity and Trusts followed up by a Tort Law, which resulted in four hours of lectures in a row. This was followed by a career fair in law.
Today’s lecture in equity and trusts was nothing special, and we went over the terms of a will and what types of trusts are formed depending on the language that is used and how this effect claims for the will. The most interesting thing regarding this part of the law is the fact that cases are dated (not that they are out of date, but just…old) and this due to no one litigating these issues anymore. Ambiguity is good for lawyers, to allow them to manoeuvre within the law, but is it the best thing if we are not clear on what specific tests (how do we identify what type of trust) mean? I’m not sure if it does. I can see the arguments for, but does this ambiguity make it better for the everyday person? No, especially according to rational choice theory. How can one make optimal decisions, if one does not know the outcome of the decisions? The problem is, no one will litigate on the vague tests, as there is very little to gain. Maybe time for statute?
Tort, as last time is just case after case. After case. I guess, what is most remarkable so far from tort is the concept of reasonable person and more unclear terms; such as what is the magnitude of risk? These are terms that can easily be interpreted in various ways, and while I understand that precedent is vital here (hence the bucket loads of cases), but the philosopher within me asks the question: who sets a precedent? Looking at what Denning said about the importance of cricket in some of the cases (quite rightly in my opinion), it lacks objectivity. I am not sure why, but this does irk me for some reason. I’ll hopefully be able to come back to this and fully explain why I feel this way. The only other thing to note from tort law is the poorly written statute that is written. I cannot believe that some of the best-educated people in the country come up with drivel that I am sure could be done better b myself. And I’ll admit at this stage, I would terrible at writing statute. Maybe there is hope for me to go into politics eventually…