Category Archives: School of Advanced Study

Media Freedom: ‘Without action the Commonwealth’s fine words will fail to impress.’

ICommonwealth flagn this guest post, journalist and Africa analyst Martin Plaut, calls on the Commonwealth to take a more robust view on new threats to journalistic independence. Do they challenge democracy and human rights as much as freedom of speech?

The Commonwealth has a problem: it has little credibility on the question of media freedom. Its members adopted a Human Rights Charter in March 2013 which stated plainly that: ‘We are committed to peaceful, open dialogue and the free flow of information, including through a free and responsible media, and to enhancing democratic traditions and strengthening democratic processes.’ Yet many of them have a less than savoury record in this area.

Out of 180 states assessed by Reporters Without Borders, Brunei is 155th, Singapore 154th and Swaziland 153rd. This is the summary of Brunei’s media offered by the BBC: ‘Brunei’s media are neither diverse nor free. The private press is either owned or controlled by the royal family, or exercises self-censorship on political and religious matters.’ Much the same could be said of Swaziland, while in Singapore the media is largely state-owned and journalists are restricted by rigorous defamation and contempt laws (The Guardian).

Where there has been dissent and opposition they have been suppressed. Consider the case of the Gambia, which left the Commonwealth in 2013. The newly installed President, Adama Barrow, has announced that it will return. In the upheaval and tension surrounding his election and the refusal of his processor, Yahya Jammeh, to accept the result, social media were disrupted. Twitter and WhatsApp, which had been used to organise resistance to President Jammeh’s rule, were unavailable, as the internet was cut. The return of social media was hailed as an indication that his 22 year rule was finally over.

Commonwealth journalists have now begun agitating for the organisation to take a more robust view. A Centre for Freedom of the Media has been established, led by William Horsley (another former BBC journalist). He welcomed the call by the new Commonwealth secretary-general, Patricia Scotland, for a ‘vibrant and responsible media’ and her claim that this is ‘vital to advancing our Commonwealth goals of democracy, development, rule of law and respect for diversity.’

But, as William Horsley points out, warm words are not enough. He called for action to support the declarations: ‘Journalists in the Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA), together with the Commonwealth Press Union Media Trust and some experienced lawyers and members of other professional groups associated with the Commonwealth, argue that it is high time for that to change. We are putting forward draft proposals for a Commonwealth Charter on the media and good governance, to be accompanied by effective mechanisms for assessing and helping to deliver remedies for serious and persistent violations.’

The media is a vital watchdog across the developing world. In many countries it is among the last effective forms of resistance to corruption and misrule. One only has to think of the role of the independent media in curbing the abuses of the Zuma government to see that this is the case. Yet they pay a high price for this work.

As William Horsley rightly observes: ‘The reality is that many journalists or bloggers have been attacked or even killed for their work in recent years in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Uganda, all Commonwealth states,’ (Time for a new Commonwealth initiative on media freedom).

It is time that these abuses end and that the perpetrators of these attacks are tried for their crimes. Without action the Commonwealth’s fine words will fail to impress.

This post first appeared on the School of Advanced Studies, Talking Humanities blog

Martin Plaut is a journalist and senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. 

He will be speaking at The Commonwealth and Challenges to Media Freedom conference (4–5 April at Senate House), organised by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

It’s the inaugural event of the School’s Centre of Commonwealth and Media Freedom, and will bring together leading Commonwealth journalists, academics, lawyers, magistrates, judges, policymakers and human rights practitioners. Advance registration is required. Tickets: standard (£40), concessions (£15).

Conference: The Commonwealth and Challenges to Media Freedom

Media freedom 250pxDate
4 Apr 2017, 10:00 to 5 Apr 2017, 18:00

Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR

Book Online: SAS Events Calendar

Description: Convenor: Sue Onslow, ICwS Senior Lecturer and Co-Investigator, The Oral History of the Commonwealth Project

This conference will draw together members of the Commonwealth Journalists Association, the Commonwealth Lawyers and Magistrates and Judges Association, as well as journalists and policy makers. The two day meeting will address government channels and information flows (looking at the examples of government interference and restrictions in Malaysia, South Africa, Botswana and Sri Lanka); media, elections and post-election contests (with East and Central African case studies of Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda); and the particular challenges facing journalists, bloggers and social media in low-intensity conflict zones (Kashmir, Pakistan and Bangladesh).  The Institute feels strongly there is no room for complacency in the UK in the post-Leveson environment, nor should the Indian government and society feel itself immune from regional manifestations of threats and personal violence. Therefore these aspects will also be included in the discussion.

Confirmed Speakers:

Kishali Pinto Jayawardena
Gwen Lister, Executive Chair: Namibia Media Trust (NMT)
Irene Ovonji Odida, Exec. Director, Uganda Assoc. of Women Lawyers
Dan Branch, University of Warwick
William Crawley, ICwS
Kiran Hassan, SOAS
Kayode Samuel
Nupur Basu

Kindly sponsored by SAS, the Commonwealth Press Union Media Trust, The Round Table and Asian Affairs

Registration Fee: Standard – £40, Concessions – £15

Further Information: Speaker BiosConference Outline

Information Law and Policy Centre appoints new director

n__ni_loideain new director of the Information Law and Policy CentreDr Nora Ni Loideain, a scholar in governance, human rights and technology, has been appointed director of the Information Law and Policy Centre (ILPC) at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), one of nine research institutes of the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Currently a postdoctoral research associate for the technology and democracy project at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), Dr Ni Loideain takes up her new role at IALS in May.

The Information Law and Policy Centre opened in 2015. Its mission is to extend the institute’s research into how law both restricts and enables the sharing and dissemination of different types of information and provide a physical and virtual meeting place for those active in the area.

Issues the Centre will look at include data access and ownership rights, privacy and confidentiality, the malicious use and misuse of data, freedom of information and legal publishing (both commercial and free-to-internet). It is also interested in trends in scholarly communication relating to legal studies.

Dr Ni Loideain was awarded her PhD in law from the University of Cambridge. Her doctoral research examined the impact of the ‘right to privacy’ on the EU Data Retention Directive which mandated the mass retention of EU citizens’ communications metadata for national security and law enforcement purposes.

Previously she clerked for the Irish Supreme Court and was a legal and policy officer for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions of Ireland. Her research interests and publications focus on governance, human rights and technology, particularly in the fields of digital privacy, data protection and state surveillance.

She is also an affiliated lecturer at the Cambridge Faculty of Law, a visiting lecturer for the LL.M. Privacy and Information Law module at King’s College London and a senior research fellow at the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Humanities.

‘The institute welcomes Dr Ni Loideain to contribute to this dynamic area of interdisciplinary research on information law and policy which affects everyone’s daily life,’ says Jules Winterton, director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.

‘Under Dr Ni Loideain’s leadership the Centre will provide a base for important and timely academic activity in this area, pursuing its own research and also aligning with the institute’s mission to promote and facilitate the research of others in the UK and beyond.’

Commenting on her new role, Dr Ni Loideain confirms she is ‘delighted to have been appointed as the director of the Information Law and Policy Centre. I look forward to continuing to contribute to the excellent work of the Centre and to carry on the successes of the previous director, Dr Judith Townend.’

Applications open…Senior Lecturer/Lecturer in Law & Director: Information Law and Policy Centre

As readers of this blog might already be aware our first Director, Dr Judith Townend, has moved on to a new post at the University of Sussex. This means the Information Law and Policy Centre is now looking for a new Director…

“The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies of the School of Advanced Study is now seeking a Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Law and Director: Information Law and Policy Centre.

“The role will be responsible for developing the research promotion and facilitation, teaching/training and public engagement for the Information Law & Policy Centre.

“This position is offered at 3 years in the first instance with the possibility of permanent extension after this period.”

For more information and details of how to apply visit the University of London’s vacancy page.

The close date for this role is at midnight on Sunday, 23 October 2016. 

Upcoming Event: Intellectual Property and the Politics of Knowledge

Kent Law School, with the support of the Information Law and Policy Centre (IALS, University of London)

  • Date: Friday, 20 May 2016, from 10:15 to 16:30
  • Location: Institute for Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), University of London
  • More information available at this link

Although the elusive character of intellectual property’s subject matter might have been a productive dilemma for the development of legal doctrine, the specific mutability of this form of property has also made it into a particularly contested and sensitive area, where different arguments about its legitimations collide. It is in this sense that intellectual property has been a canvas on which identities have been contested; economic and intellectual capital created and accumulated; as well as knowledges and identities wilfully delineated, transformed and managed as ‘assets.’ Intellectual property regimes do not only commoditise knowledge, but also transform the very processes by which it is generated, understood and valued.

The workshop brings together scholars from law, science studies, anthropology, philosophy and sociology to explore many questions concerning the role of intellectual property as a specific mode of governance of intangible knowledge at the present moment in time. Beyond understanding intellectual property as legal techniques of appropriation, the workshop will explore intellectual property and its broader contemporary political, social and cultural meanings: its relation to economic rationality; as a specific mode of governance of different epistemes; and as concrete practices of industrialisation and valorisation.


For further details, please contact:

Hyo Yoon Kang

Kent Law School, University of Kent


Jose Bellido

Kent Law School, University of Kent


Upcoming seminar, 8 March 2016, Senate House: Surveillance and Human Rights

This collaborative Seminar is organised by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, the Information Law and Policy Centre of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and the Human Rights Consortium of the School of Advanced Study. It forms part of a Seminar Series on ‘Surveillance and Human Rights’.

This lecture series highlights common themes facing Commonwealth governments: how to balance civil liberties with the proper scope of government surveillance. With the issue of surveillance and government accountability constantly in the news, the series will look at the interaction of the state’s responsibility for security, with the role of independent actors in a modern democracy. Where are the boundaries between ‘social responsibility’ and unwarranted self –censorship? What are the rights and responsibilities of the pillars of British democracy, and the importance of freedom of speech embedded in the press, or university debate? What are the legitimate activities of governments faced with the challenge of the explosion of social media and the internet as alternative means of information and communication, and the defence of democracy in a digital age? Who should remain exempt from surveillance? Is transparency both feasible and desirable? Is secrecy essential in the State’s requirement to protect the public from terrorist attack?  Or is surveillance and the accompanying raft of legislation and intrusion undermining individual human rights and values, to the point of oppression?


Kirsty Brimelow QC specialises in international human rights, criminal law, public international, constitutional and international criminal law. She is instructed in the most serious, complex and prominent cases nationally and internationally. Kirsty is an experienced trial barrister. She has defended defendants and acted for Claimants as a junior and then as Queen’s Counsel before the Criminal and Civil courts respectively, in England and Wales, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, Courts Marital and Courts of Appeal in the Caribbean, the Court of Appeal in the British Virgin Islands, the European Court of Human Rights and the High Court in Gibraltar. Kirsty frequently advises before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the ECOWAS court in Abuja Nigeria, the Court of Appeal of Nigeria, the Superior Tribunal of Santander Colombia, the Supreme Court and Constitutional Courts of Colombia and the UN judicial processes and International Criminal Court.

Silkie Carlo is a Policy Officer in Technology and Surveillance at Liberty. Since joining in November 2015, she has been focused on the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, contributing to Liberty’s expert legal, policy and technical analysis, and promoting surveillance powers that are human rights compliant. Before joining Liberty, Silkie provided technical training to journalists and lawyers at risk and worked for Edward Snowden’s official defence fund.


Dr Judith Townend is lecturer and director, Information Law and Policy Centre, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. In autumn 2015 the Information Law and Policy Centre hosted an ad hoc group of academics and practitioners that produced a working review of the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, looking at the legislative provenance of each clause. Judith has a particular interest in the transparency and accountability of surveillance powers and their effect on journalism and public communication.

The Humanity of Barristers: Stories from the Bar

LS1385_0008In this guest post Atalanta Goulandris, former barrister and PhD researcher at City University London,  reflects on the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies’ contribution to the Being Human festival: the ‘Humanity of Lawyers’, which focused on the work of the Bar…

There is a general lack of knowledge about the Bar, with misconceived notions of what barristers do, how they work and their professional interaction with the solicitor branch and the public. The ‘humanity’ of barristers is not something people generally think or talk about. This was, however, the starting point for the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies’ (IALS) contribution to the national Being Human festival in November 2015, which is led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

Whilst promoting the event – a follow up to last year’s ‘Humanity of Judging’ at the Supreme Court – it was striking how many chuckled (or guffawed) at the notion that barristers have humanity! Common portrayals of barristers, whether in the press or emanating from the Ministry of Justice, are of ‘fat cat lawyers’ or clever, slippery-tongued advocates, who are cool and detached. Aside from being simplistic and one dimensional, these characterisations ignore the complexity of barristers’ professional role, the ethics that underpin their thoughts and actions and the difficult real life situations in which they perform as professionals and as people.

Our venue was the Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court in London, places most members of the public would not usually visit – and therefore appropriate to this year’s festival theme,  ‘Hidden and Revealed’.  Although much of barristers’ work takes place in public courtrooms, much also remains hidden from view, with many working in the cloistered surroundings of the Inns of Court or in chambers across the provinces.

At our event on 19th November – deliberately pitched at a wide public audience – many remarked that they had never been inside the Temple, had no idea it was there and were astonished by the beauty of the buildings, the gardens and the interior of the magnificent Parliament chamber. If nothing else, the physical surroundings in which barristers work were revealed.

parliamentchamberOur five speakers, from academia and practice, approached the topic from different perspectives.

Dr Justine Rogers, joining us via a pre-recorded video from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, talked about her three months shadowing pupil (trainee) barristers as part of her PhD research, which took an anthropological approach in considering their professional identity formation.

LS1385_0010Dividing her time between commercial/chancery, criminal and family law chambers, she was struck by the intensity and the humanity of their professional lives. Citing examples, she charted the taxing emotional challenges pupils and barristers face on a daily basis, whether it was being humiliated by a judge for getting something wrong, being shouted and spat at by an upset and unhappy client in the cells underneath a criminal court or having to deploy strategic sympathy (sometimes real!) to a distressed client in order to provide support.

She witnessed pupils develop the ability to detach themselves from some of these challenges in order to be able to perform their role professionally and manage their fears to appear supremely confident, when very often they were not, having just started out in their careers. Of barristers more generally, she remarked that although they were aware that they were often disliked, they felt it was more important to get things right for the client than be popular. Justine found that the barristers she observed were generous with their time, witty and good company and although they downplayed their ethical role as fearless, independent and honest advocates, these aspects of their professional life were a source of great pride.

LS1385_0011Professor Andy Boon, of City University London spoke next and mindful of the lay audience, gave a brief historical overview of lawyers and the rule of law. Explaining the role lawyers played in developing the framework of rights under the rule of law, he then cited three aspects of a lawyer’s role: neutrality, partisanship and non-accountability. Focusing on two barristers at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, he illustrated how essential it was for them to not be morally judgmental about their clients, how they had to give every client their best shot and how they could not be accountable of the moral consequences of their representation, however controversial that might be.

Thomas Erskine (1750-1823) was accused of being ‘shameful’ by the Attorney General, for defending Thomas Paine in his trial for seditious libel. His response was both courageous and very human:

‘I will forever, at all hazards, assert the dignity, independence and integrity of  the English bar, without which impartial justice, the most valuable part of the English constitution, can have no existence. From the moment that any advocate can be permitted to say that he will or will not stand between the  Crown and the subject arraigned in the court where he daily sits to practice, from that moment the liberties of England are at an end.’ In Rt Hon. Lord Widgery, ‘The Compleat Advocate’ (1975) 43:6 Fordham Law Review

Andy’s second example was Henry Brougham (1778-1868) who defended Queen Caroline in 1820 in a trial brought by her husband, King George IV. Even faced with the likelihood of undermining the credibility of the monarch, he felt it was his duty to defend her, however dangerous that might be for him personally.

‘(a)n advocate, in the discharge of his duty, knows but one person in all the  world, and that person is his client. To save that client by all means, and expedients, and at all hazards and costs to other persons, and among them, to himself, is his first and only duty; and in performing his duty, he must not  regard the alarm, the torments, the destruction he may bring upon others. Separating the duty of a patriot from that of an advocate, he must go on reckless of consequences, though it should be his unhappy fate to involve his country in confusion.’ In Nightingale (ed) Trial of Queen Caroline (1821)

Both examples serve to illustrate the importance of the rule of law, and the courage, integrity and humanity of the advocates that defended it in the past and continue to do so in the face of continuous challenges.

LS1385_0018The audience then heard from the first of two barristers, Robin Howard, of 1 Gray’s Inn Square chambers. ‘Are we human? I hope we are. Do we not bleed?’ he opened, before describing the context in which most barristers work, namely of representing clients in extremis. Whether it concerned their liberty, livelihood, home, family, possessions or health, more often than not by the time clients meet their barrister they are in trouble and the stakes are high. For him it is a privilege to be called upon in these circumstances to use his strength, effort and skills in acting for them.

He agreed with Justine Rogers that some form of detachment or ‘carapace’ was necessary in order for him to carry out his work professionally. He also brought up the question that all barristers, whatever their practice, get asked: how can you defend someone you know is guilty? Robin’s answer was you never know the client is guilty, unless he/she tells you and that the barrister’s opinion of innocence or guilt is irrelevant, every client having the right to a fair hearing. For him the real pressure comes when defending someone he believes to be innocent and if he has failed to secure their acquittal, it is those cases that he remembers years later and feels bad about.

LS1385_0025Mavis Maclean, University of Oxford, spoke next about her ten years of research, observing barristers, solicitors and judges in the family courts. One study involved shadowing family law barristers. Having worked for the Lord Chancellor’s Department and its successor, the Ministry of Justice, Mavis was taken aback by the negative view most of the civil servants and politicians held about lawyers generally and with regard to family lawyers how they perceived them to be profiting from tax payers money (via legal aid, when it was available for private family law cases) by stirring things up between divorcing couples.

Her research did not support this view – rather, she found that all the legal professionals did everything they could to diffuse the tense situations in family law cases, focusing more on negotiation and sorting out housing and child issues in an attempt to avoid contested court hearings. She was impressed by the delicacy, tact, respect and grace with which barristers, often quite young, handled difficult cases and distressed clients.

She observed them spending many unpaid hours after a case was over, talking with clients and helping them find the courage and self-respect to carry on, when, for example, they had lost custody of their children. Her assessment of barristers could not have been further from the unpleasant, tough image portrayed by politicians, whom she mused were perhaps more concerned with their own career advancement when proposing clever and money saving reforms at the expense of the work family lawyers did.

LS1385_0031Public law and human rights barrister Caolifhionn Gallagher was the last speaker. She agreed that the public perception of barristers was mainly negative, with ‘money grabbing’ and ‘dishonest’ images prevailing, placing lawyers on a par with estate agents, bailiffs, politicians, used car salesman and traffic wardens, amongst others, as the most hated professions. She suggested that perhaps this was because many people only come into contact with lawyers at ‘the worst time of their lives’ and resent needing them or that many don’t really understand what lawyers do or appreciate the amount of hours of work that is involved for what might seem a fairly short hearing. She felt, nonetheless, that many had had positive personal experiences with their own particular lawyer, despite the ‘pale, stale, male’ stereotype so evident in images of barristers.

LS1385_0036Caolifhionn likened barristers to professional problem solvers, who acted as a conduit in explaining a client’s situation to the court. She remarked that having a young family of her own often drove her to work even harder for those that had lost a family member, her appreciation of their loss being even greater. Much of her work was out of the public eye, but was often the most rewarding. She described calling a duty judge on the phone late at night to seek remedies when a public body had failed in its duty to, for example, find shelter for a child who was homeless or reverse the unlawful separation of a mother and child.

She did not mind being ‘humiliated’ by a judge, as Justine Rogers described, as long as she had done her job properly and highlighted that the only thing that mattered to her was the clients and acting in their best interests. Although Caolifhionn agreed that some form of emotional detachment was necessary to do her job as well as she could, she also felt that this should not prevent barristers from identifying with causes and getting involved in wider campaigning. In her case she was involved in the Act for the Act campaign to promote accurate real life stories of people who have benefited from the Human Rights Act, a meaningful and valuable antidote to the many misconceptions surrounding it.

LS1385_0037A lively Q&A discussion followed, before more conversation over LS1385_0052drinks.

Those who were unable to make this event or would like to know more about the theme might like to pass by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies at 17 Russell Square where in the foyer there are two cabinet displays on our Humanity of Lawyers theme.

The display includes archival material from the Inner Temple Library, a selection of books written by practitioners and academics, with extensive captions, as well as a display of watercolours by artists Isobel Williams, who has painted court scenes from the Supreme Court and photographs, by Stephane Gripari, of the strike action in 2014, when thousands of barristers, together with other legal professionals refused to work, for the first time in their long history, because of the extensive legal aid cuts imposed on many areas of practice.

exhibitionwigThis small exhibition will be on display during the spring term.

Atalanta Goulandris chaired the Humanity of Lawyers event on 19 November 2015.

A note from organiser Judith Townend at the IALS: we owe a big thanks to numerous people for this event!

  • to the School of Advanced Study for funding this event through the Public Engagement Innovators’ fund
  • our student volunteers from the University of Sussex law school; photographer Lloyd Sturdy; Nimal Waragoda Vitharana and Muhibul Islam from the IALS for AV and library research support respectively
  • our hosts, the Inner Temple – in particular Alice Pearson, Magna Carta Project Manager, for facilitating the event, and Patrick Maddams, sub-treasurer of the Inner Temple, for welcoming us to the Temple on the evening
  • all the speakers and our chair and adviser Atalanta Goulandris, who provided us with invaluable guidance in putting together the programme and display.

Thank you all!

Some things old, some things new: A clause-by-clause review of the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill

ipbillSoon after the publication of the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill in November, a number of privacy, surveillance and freedom of expression specialist academics and practitioners gathered at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies to discuss the detail and the main issues.

Fairly quickly it was agreed that a clause-by-clause review of legislative sources would be a useful resource, to inform and complement wider commentary and committee submissions. Under Professor Lorna Woods’ stewardship, we carved up the Bill and compiling/reviewing/administrative roles between us.

Given the length of the main Bill document (299 pages) plus all the accompanying material and relevant legislation and reviews to consider, it was an ambitious task. But we have managed to (just) meet our pre-Christmas deadline and today have published a set of working documents that identify the provenance of as many as the clauses in the draft Investigatory Powers Bill as possible.

We have taken the view that the clauses can be ascribed to one of three groups:

  • The same as a pre-existing provision (or functionally equivalent);
  • Completely new; or
  • Amended/extended.

Where there are pre-existing sources, we have highlighted the relevant provision [see list]; for those that are completely new there are no such sources, but we have included references to the three reviews published in 2015: the Anderson Investigatory Powers Review; the ISC Privacy and Security report and the RUSI Independent Surveillance Review. As regards this latter aspect, only a brief sketch has been included; it is safe to say that there is more detail from the reports that could be pulled through were a more detailed analysis to be undertaken. The aim of this project was not however, to provide such an analysis but rather to provide a tool to assist others seeking to undertake such projects.

Although our primary objective related to the identification or relevant sources we have as part of the project flagged up the significance of the changes, as well as issues where we were not sure of the consequences of the drafting/changes identified. This we hope will give food for thought for others engaged in this area. While one of the stated aims of this legislative endeavour is to clarify the terms on which surveillance may take place, the resulting draft is still long and complex, with parts of the old, fragmented system for surveillance still remaining in place.

Follow the links below for a Part-by-Part review of drafting provenance. The chapters of some Parts have been split into different Google documents, which you can view and download. These working documents may be subject to change, following further assessment. Comments/suggestions to: 


Introduction of oversight
One of the important novelties of the draft IPB is the introduction of oversight mechanisms (via the Judicial Commissioner process: the ‘double lock’ mechanism, and the consolidation of various external review bodies into a new body, the IPC). While this is significant in terms accountability and control, there will be questions as to what the standards of judicial review actual are and whether ex post facto review is sufficient – questions that become increasingly important in the light of Grand Chamber judgments from both European courts regarding mass surveillance and technical bypassing of oversight procedures (eg. Schrems, Digital Rights Ireland, Zakharov). There are also questions about the independence of the IPC and the scope of his/her review functions, and regarding the operation of the new error reporting provisions.

Standardisation of warrant process
Looking at the warrant process, similar ideas can be seen reoccurring in respect of successive types of warrant – so length of warrants, process for renewal and cancellation. This is probably advantageous from the perspective of transparency and accessibility. Nonetheless, while the oversight was built on a common structure, there were small differences in the precise elaboration of that structure across the various parts of the draft IPB, for example the approach to material obtained under a cancelled warrant. In sum there is not just one, uniform system despite the strong similarity between the various parts of the bill. Further, the impact of the new structures in terms of comparison with what has gone before would vary depending on what went on before. So while it is no doubt a good thing that the bulk interception warrants are limited to 6 months, this means that some of the pre-existing warrants will be extended from the current 3 months.

Normalisation of techniques
This ‘standardisation’ process also means that things that seem to have been limited under RIPA to interception warrants have been applied across the whole range of warrants under IPB – a sort of normalisation of those techniques (e.g capability maintenance and national security notices). This takes place against a background in which there are new forms of warrant (or perhaps existing forms of warrant are recognised and put on a specific statutory footing).

Impact of definitions
The definitions are very important as they determine scope of application for particular provisions. The definitions have been changed, perhaps in response to technological and market developments. There are some questions as to the precise scope of some of these concepts (instances of difficult areas were given in the evidence to the Science and Technology Committee, for example). Because of their systemic effect, however, changes to definitions have far-reaching consequences for the meaning and consequently scope of various powers and indeed, some provisions which appear not to have changed in terms of the wording used, will have changed because of changes to the definitions of those words. Careful reading is required to understand the significance of this.

Not a totally consolidated system
The introduction to the bill emphasised that the aim of the bill is to consolidate the regime, so that provisions enabling surveillance are not scattered across a range of instruments, some of which were arguably not designed for that purpose, empowering a wide range of authorities to intrude. Certainly, the bill goes some way in this direction, enclosing some behaviours within a detailed oversight regime and foreclosing the use of some general powers. Nonetheless, key general powers remain – such as those in the Police Act and the Intelligence Services Act – although some attempt has been made to curtail their use in circumstances falling with the scope of this Bill.


This project was put together with the support of the Information Law and Policy Centre at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS). The team, led by Professor Lorna Woods, was: Andrew Cormack, Ray Corrigan, Julian Huppert, Nora Ní Loideain, Eleanor Mitchell, Marion Oswald, Javier Ruiz Diaz, Jessica Simor, Graham Smith, Judith Townend, Caroline Wilson Palow, and Ian Walden. A wider group of  specialist academics and practitioners have been involved in discussions over email and at two meetings held at the IALS in autumn 2015.

Further resources

Arts and Humanities Research Council (LAHP) studentships at the School of Advanced Study

A number of AHRC-funded studentships are available for postgraduate research students in Law at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. Please see the IALS website, and consult with the SAS Registry ( about the opportunities for research study before making your application, either for a place to study or for a studentship.

Before applying for an studentship, applicants wishing to study in the School of Advanced Study should make an application for a place to study here; and we recommend that students wishing to apply for a LAHP studentship should apply for their place before 15 January 2016. The LAHP studentship application deadline is then midnight (GMT) on 29 January 2016.

For full details of how to apply for a LAHP studentship, including eligibility requirements, see The LAHP application form will be available via the online portal on 1 December 2015. Further information is available on the AHRC website, or from

The School is part of the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP), which has up to 80 multi-institutional studentships per year available for postgraduate research students studying arts and humanities disciplines across King’s College London, School of Advanced Study or University College London. Awards commence October 2016 and cover tuition fees and an annual maintenance grant (stipend), for three years.

Information about research opportunities at the Information Law and Policy Centre can be found here.

Visiting fellowships at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Visiting fellowship scheme is open for applications, for the academic year 2016/17.  We welcome applicants in the field of information/communication law and policy. The deadline for applications is 31 January 2016. Further information at this link, or below.

For information about the visiting fellowship scheme please contact Eliza Boudier at For information about information law and policy research at the IALS, please contact Judith Townend at

About the scheme

The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies has over the years welcomed many established scholars, mostly from overseas, to work in its well stocked library. It aims to offer, without charge and without formality, the basic essentials of library research: access to an extensive comparative legal research collection and a private desk at which to read and study together with IALS support services.

Since 1990, the Institute has offered each year a number of Visiting Fellowships. These Fellowships are intended to create close working relationships with scholars from other institutions, from overseas or in the United Kingdom, who are undertaking work within fields covered by or adjacent to its own research programmes, and who would like to base themselves for a period at the Institute. The Fellowships are designed for those already established in their own fields of activity; they are not intended for the support of postgraduate degree work.

The Institute’s Visiting Fellowships are non-stipendiary but the holders will enjoy a variety of benefits in kind which will facilitate their work, along with close association with the relevant research and training activity being pursued at the Institute:

The benefits are as follows:

  • private office or carrel space within the Institute Library
  • borrowing rights in the Library
  • enjoyment (within pre-determined reasonable limits) of free telephone, fax, mail and photocopying facilities at the Institute, and of Library computing facilities
  • publication in Working Paper form of research undertaken while at the Institute
  • associate membership of the University of London Union, permitting full use of its sports and social facilities

The Institute and the Fellows will have a common expectation that the Fellows will play a part in the intellectual life of the Institute and will make such specific or general contributions in a particular area of research as may be agreed with the Director at the time of selection.

Visiting Fellows will be expected to stay for a period of at least three months, and up to a year if they wish. Applicants from non-EU countries may need to make a Tier 5 visa application. Visiting fellows needing to make a Tier 5 visa application will be assigned a Tier 5 Certificate of Sponsorship by the University of London. More information on this process is available from Eliza Boudier (

These Fellowships are designed for persons already established in their own areas of activity who are undertaking work within fields covered by or adjacent to the Institute’s own research programmes which are currently in the following areas:

  • legal practice and the legal profession
  • legal education (including legal skills)
  • comparative law
  • legislative studies and legislative drafting
  • European law
  • company and commercial law
  • access to legal information (law reporting, legislative drafting, legal databases, legal bibliography, management of legal information services)
  • Information/data law and policy

While these topics are preferred because work is already going on, the Institute is ready to receive other proposals from persons wishing to be considered as Fellows. Any such proposals should indicate the interest for the Institute of work in the proposed field.

These Fellowships are not confined to academic lawyers, but are equally open to scholars of other disciplines working in the relevant fields, and to practising lawyers or judges with scholarly projects to pursue.

Application details

Applications are accepted annually by 31st January. The application form should be sent to Eliza Boudier at

Applications are reviewed by the Institute’s Research Committee, which meets annually in March. Applicants will be informed shortly afterwards as to whether their applications has been successful.

Interdisciplinary fellowships

In addition to the Institute’s own schemes, additional Visiting Fellowships are also offered by the School of Advanced Study, of which the Institute is a member. These Fellowships are intended for scholars wishing to undertake inter-disciplinary research in the humanities and social sciences, especially across the fields of study of the School’s member institutes: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Institute of Classical Studies, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Institute of English Studies, Institute of Historical Research, Institute of Latin American Studies, Institute of Modern Languages Research, Institute of Philosophy, and the Warburg Institute.

Further particulars of these Fellowships can be found on the School’s web site at: