Entry 18

Looks who’s back after reading week! So for the first time in my entire academic career, I actually used my reading week for academic reading. Don’t worry I also had some downtime by going to see some family and reading the first book of Dust by Philip Pullman. Hope you all had a lovely week, but I know deep down that you were missing my writing.
Back to the academics.
So today started off with a tutorial in Tort Law. Where we just explored the questions set out prior. While it was there was nothing wrong with the class itself, I have noticed my inability to use authorities in my own answers. This is to say that I am still struggling to note down where I have gotten my answers from an who said what. So even if I noted down a case and gone through the decisions in an appeal court, then I have not said what Judge said what. While this isn’t disastrous for me at the moment, it will start to catch up if I don’t change this. My plan to combat this was a trip to the stationary store and buying some proper note cards which I shall start using for cases. The idea is to write down less irrelevant information and try to get more focus what is happening in each case. (Also should make this nightly job simpler)

Then I had a Public Law lecture. I usually have loads to write about public law, but today, this won’t be able to happen just due to the sheer amount of information that was covered in today’s class. We explored the history prerogative power, the use of the power, what happens when it conflicts with statutory authority and how governments have tried to use the Royal Prerogative to circumvent statutory power (and failed). I am sure that by the end of the year I will hear the following phrase over a million times; “Why? Parliament is Sovereign!” It’s basically the crux of any argument of why the government of the day does anything. Not a bad thing or something that doesn’t make sense, but it is getting a tad repetitive now. The only thing to note of any concern is the lack of judicial review to prerogative powers (at least before GCHQ). While it has been updated to work in hand with the nature of the power, it doesn’t seem to go far enough (if I am talking from a lawyers point of view). However, if I were a politician, I would think that things have swung in the wrong direction. If we (the ruling party) had been elected, there should be a minimal amount of barriers to stop us doing what we were put into office for by the people. All in all, considering that there have only been four cases (or we were told that and I have yet to do my readings) on the issue since 1688, it’s been a pretty good run.

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 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.