Monthly Archives: October 2015

Being Human: The humanity of lawyers – 19 November 2015

As a follow on to last year’s successful ‘Humanity of Judging‘ event at the Supreme Court, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies is pleased to announce its ‘Humanity of Lawyers‘ event, as part of the second Being Human festival,  the national festival of the humanities.

It focuses on the work of barristers and is kindly being hosted by Inner Temple and with the support of the School of Advanced Study Public Engagement Innovators’ fund. Additionally, we will have mini-display of materials in the lobby at the IALS (17 Russell Square) from mid-November until the end of December.

The full details for the event at Inner Temple are below. It is free to attend, but booking is required. We have just released some more tickets but we do expect this event to book up. Please cancel your ticket on Eventbrite if you find you can’t attend after all, so we can release it to someone else.

The humanity of lawyers

Thursday 19 November | 18:00–20:00

Parliament Chamber at Inner Temple,
Inner Temple,
EC4Y 7HL

Book now

Barristers carry out much of their work in public courtrooms, clearly identifiable in wig and gown, yet much of their professional lives and culture remain hidden from public view. This event seeks to explore how barristers perform their role.  How do they manage their own personal beliefs and emotions? What ethical considerations guide them? How do they balance their own humanity with the complexity of their task in representing others?

Through an evening discussion in the Parliament Chamber at Inner Temple, a public audience will be given an insight into barristers’ professional lives and an opportunity to engage with practitioners and scholars who study them.

Joining us for this discussion:

  • Mavis Maclean CBE, Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford and Honorary Bencher of Middle Temple
  • Professor Andy Boon, professor in law at City Law School, City University London
  • Caoilfhionn Gallagher, barrister, Doughty Street Chambers
  • Martin Forde QC, barrister, One Crown Office Row

Chair: Atalanta Goulandris, PhD researcher, Department of Sociology, City University London

Additionally, the evening will feature a special video contribution from Dr Justine Rogers, lecturer at the University of New South Wales, Australia, whose research considers lawyers’ identities and wellbeing, legal ethics and ethical decision-making, and the changes to the legal professions. The discussion is followed by a wine reception.

A small exhibition of library materials in the lobby of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies will complement this event.

Free Admission | Booking required
Part of the School of Advanced Study’s ‘Hidden and Revealed’ series of events

‘Prevent’ duty for universities now in force: one-day event on 27 October will discuss implications of Counter-Terrorism & Security Act 2015

New legal duties on universities to address risks of radicalisation came into force on 18th September, after the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act received Royal Assent in February 2015.

The legislation, which aims to combat the underlying ideologies which support and sanction terrorism, has placed new statutory obligations on a range of authorities and institutions – including universities across the UK. The debate on how to roll out and implement the government’s guidelines to prevent students from being drawn into terrorism within universities has been fraught with controversy and delays.

How can universities implement their new obligations while maintaining their traditions of academic freedom? How will students be encouraged to explore new ideas and express their developing beliefs if these could be open to misinterpretation or monitoring? How will university staff – from lecturers to senior managers to IT staff – need to work together to implement their new duties? 

A one-day conference on 27th October hosted by the School of Advanced Study (at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies) explores both the ideas underpinning the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, the debates surrounding academic freedom and freedom of expression, and the practical questions which universities will need to address in the light of their duty to prevent radicalisation.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Rt. Hon. Dr Vince Cable, former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (keynote address)
  • Professor Anthony Glees, professor of politics and director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, University of Buckingham
  • Dr Nadya Ali, Teaching Fellow in International Relations & Politics, University of Reading and  co-convenor of the British International Studies Association (BISA) Critical Studies on Terrorism working group (CST)
  • Professor Ian Cram, professor of comparative constitutional law, University of Leeds, and author of Terror and the War on Dissent – Freedom of Expression in the Age of Al-Qaeda
  • Dr Rizwaan Sabir, Lecturer in Criminology, Liverpool John Moores University Liverpool and specialist in UK counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, political Islam and terrorism
  • Dr Eric Metcalfe, barrister at Monckton Chambers, general editor of Sweet & Maxwell’s Human Rights Law Reports and former director of human rights policy at JUSTICE

Places are FREE (including lunch and refreshments) but you will need to register here.

Further resources on Prevent

Resources on developing procedures and policies are available from Jisc, Universities UK, the Education and Training Foundation, OFSTED and others. Jisc is offering on-line Workshops to Raise Awareness of Prevent.

Lorna Woods: Safe Harbour – Key Aspects of the ECJ Ruling

On Tuesday (6 October) the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) declared that the Safe Harbour agreement that allows the movement of digital data between the EU and the US was invalid. The case was brought by Max Schrems, an Austrian student and privacy campaigner who, in the wake of the Snowden revelations of mass surveillance, challenged the way in which technology companies such as Facebook transferred data to the US. In this guest post, which originally appeared on the LSE Media Policy Project blog, Professor Lorna Woods of the University of Essex explains some key aspects of the judgment.

This case arises from a challenge to the transfer of personal data from the EU (via Ireland) to the United States, which relied on a Commission Decision 2000/520 stating that the Safe Harbour system in place in the United States was ‘adequate’ as permitted by Article 25 Data Protection Directive. While the national case challenged this assessment, the view of the Irish data protection authority (DPA) was that it had no freedom to make any other decision – despite the fact that the Irish authorities and courts were of the view the system did not meet the standards of the Irish constitution – because the European Commission decision was binding on them. The question of the validity and status of the Decision were referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ).

The Advocate General, a senior ECJ official who advises on cases, took the view that the Commission’s decision could not limit the powers of DPAs granted under the directive and that the US system was inadequate, particularly as regards the safeguards against mass surveillance (a more detailed review of the AG’s Opinion can be found here). The ECJ has now ruled, following very swiftly on from the Opinion. The headline: the Commission’s decision is invalid. There is more to the judgment than this.

Powers of DPAs and Competence

The ECJ emphasised that the Commission cannot limit the powers granted by the Data Protection Directive, but at the same time Commission decisions are binding and benefit from a presumption of legality. Nonetheless, especially given the importance of the rights, individuals should have the right to be able to complain and ask a DPA to investigate. DPAs remain responsible for oversight of data processing on their territory, which includes the transfer of personal data outside the EU. The ECJ resolves this conundrum by distinguishing between the right and power of investigation and challenge to Commission decisions, and the declaration of such decisions’ invalidity. While the former remains with DPAs, the latter – following longstanding jurisprudence, remains with the ECJ.

Validity of Decision 2000/520

The ECJ noted that there is no definition of what is required by way of protection for the purposes of Article 25 of the Data Protection Directive. According to the ECJ, there were two aspects to be derived from the text of Article 25. There is the requirement that protection be ‘adequate’ in Article 25(1) and the fact that Article 25(6) refers to the fact that protection must be ensured. The ECJ agreed with the Advocate General that this Article is ‘intended to ensure that the high level of that protection continues where personal data is transferred to a third country’ (para [72], citing the Advocate’s General’s Opinion para [139]), which seems higher than ‘adequate’ might at first suggest. That requirement does not however mean that protection in third (non-EU) countries must be identical but rather that it is equivalent (para 73]) and effective (para [74]). This implies an on-going assessment of the rules and their operation in practice, where the Commission has very limited room for discretion.

The Court concluded that the Decision was unsound. It did so on the basis that mass surveillance is unacceptable, that there was no legal redress and that the decision did not look at the effectiveness of enforcement. It steered clear of determining whether the self-certification system itself could ever be fit for purpose, basing its reasoning on only elements of the Commission’s decision (but which were so linked with the rest that their demise meant the entire decision fell).

Implications

This is a judgment with very far reaching implications, not just for governments but for companies the business model of which is based on data flows. It reiterates the significance of data protection as a human right, and underlines that protection must be at a high level. In this, the ECJ is building a consistent line of case law – and case law that deals not just with mass surveillance (Digital Rights Ireland) but activities by companies (Google Spain) and private individuals (Rynes).

At a practical level, what happens today with the Decision declared invalid? Going forward, will there be more challenges looking not just at mass surveillance but at big data businesses self-certifying? What will happen to uniformity in the EU? Different Member States may well take different views. This should also be understood against the Weltimmo judgment of last week, according to which more than one Member State could have the competence to regulate a multinational business (irrespective of where that business has its registered office in the EU). Finally, what does this mean for the negotiation of the Data Protection Regulation? The political institutions had agreed that the Regulation would not offer lower protection than the Data Protection Directive, but now we might have to examine this directive more closely.