Entry 29

Another Friday entry written on the phone. Sorry for the spelling and grammar mistakes. (Hopefully I will not make this a habit. I dearly miss sleep)

Today I had just Criminal Law, with a lecture in the morning and then a tutorial in the afternoon.

In today’s lecture we continued with our look into Homicide, particularly in the sense of manslaughter. The actus reas is the same in murder, so what we explored is the difference in mens rea.
From a consequentialist view (totally not discussed this in class, nor in the same way) there is no difference between the two. However the Law takes more of a deontological view, in that the intentions do natter. However looking through the case law with Woollins and statutes regarding loss of control, this is not always the case. From Woollins, there was too large of scope to determine if the case was murder and in the areas regarding strict liability there seems to be a disregard for the mens rea in order to stop love (or in the words of the professor: luuuv) crimes being justified (such as infidelity causing loss of control). So the law seems to differ here and places normative values (nod to public law (total in joke) ) into the legal system, which I would argue should be left to the jury. Not the judge or parliamentarians to decide.

The tutorial is pretty much a continuation of the lecture, but we were given some feedback on the coursework we handed in. Apparently we were quite impressive, but I’ll wait and see when I get back my paper.

Also, almost done with my public law essay. So at least there’s that. However this weekend is all about the North London Derby!

Entry 11

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 The most interesting thing regarding this part of the law is the fact that cases are dated (not that they are out of date, but just…old) and this due to no one litigating these issues anymore.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…

Entry 10

Today I had my first tutorial in Tort law. As I have already noted about my lecture, there is a massive focus on the number of cases I need to know. While I was able to complete the ominous amount of reading, alas I had not prepared the adequate level of detail (well there wasn’t a standard set for the class or me, but I could do more to participate better in class).  The problem I found, was that my style of learning is not suited for talking in a law tutorial class. I usually do all my readings and make minimal notes and aim for zero (no, not because I am lazy) and then try and answer the questions to the best of ability the next day with no help. Then I go to class, with my answer, jot down what others say and see if this matches up with my notes (or fill in the blanks). Thus today I was unable to remember the details of my final case and while I was able to put in the answer for my notes, if I were to be called upon in class my answer would only ensure the sounds crickets. Know you may think, Hanik, where has this habit helped you in any situation? I’ll tell you. Philosophy (and sometimes Politics) where I can use my own intuitions and logic to deduce answers and reasoning. Then when I cannot, I go back write up some more notes and finally when exam season rolls around, I write proper notes based on what I was missing. The problem is that there are way too many cases for me to remember, so it looks as though I will have to adopt a new method. So sorry to my course mates, for not being useful in class.

 

Then I had my fourth public law lecture. And it was as usual quite enjoyable. I was not able to sit back and just act as though I knew everything. We had a quick look at the old South African constitutional crisis to see the importance of protecting entrenched clauses in the constitution. Before moving onto the powers of Parliament and seeing if Parliament could change the law retrospectively (the answer is yes it can, FYI) and what examples there are. So we looked at what Parliament did over in the post-war era to protect itself from the damages entailed during the war. It led to the question, should we be concerned about our actions now, if they are to be deemed illegally prosecutable in the future. And how would you do so? How could I plan to act, if I do not know what I was legally allowed to do so? In the US, this is not an issue, as the Constitution settles the matter (you can’t), but in the UK, we do not have a codified Constitution. What the effects on Common Law, which is set on precedent? I would like to be able to answer the questions, but we didn’t finish the planned lecture and will go onto to it next time. So while I wait, what are your thoughts?

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 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 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)