Report on the 2020 Society of Legal Scholars’ Annual Conference

Members of the School of Law were out in force at the 2020 Society of Legal Scholars’ Annual Conference, which was hosted by the University of Exeter, and took place virtually in September. The work presented by our colleagues reflect the wide variety of impactful and important research that is being undertaken across the School.

Dr Charlotte Smith gave the key note speech for the Legal History subject section. Her paper was entitled ‘Legal Biography and Religion: Some Reflections’.

Professor Paul Almond presented a paper entitled ‘Smoked Kippers and Red Herrings: ‘Euromyths’ and the UK Regulatory Environment’.

Dr Rachel Horton presented her research on ‘Assisted Dying and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.’

Dr Ruvi Ziegler was the co-convenor for the Migration & Asylum subject section, and he gave a paper on the ‘Political rights of aliens’ in the Civil Liberties & Human Rights subject section.

Professor Gerard McMeel QC gave the keynote speech at the Contract, Commercial and Consumer Law subject section. His paper was entitled ‘An English Commercial Code’, and is based on his project to restate the key principles of English commercial law.

Finally, Dr Peter Coe, who is taking over the Convenorship of the Media & Communications Law subject section from this year, gave a paper in that stream entitled ‘The Internet, social media, citizen journalism and increased access to the public sphere: a new reality for free speech or just an illusion?

Listen to Ruvi Ziegler on CBC radio talking about his EU Passport project & the new Austrian citizenship law

Ruvi was interviewed on CBC radio’s ‘As It Happens’ programme about the new changes to Austrian law enabling applications for restoration of citizenship from victims of national socialism and their descendants.

See the article in the Observer, that also references our EU passport project.

The interview is available (by clicking on ‘listen to the full episode’) between minutes 26:20-33:20.

Reading School of Law and International Cyber Law Executive Course in Southeast Asia

The School of Law took its Executive Course in International Cyber Law to Southeast Asia from 19-26 August. The six-day virtual course, which is co-directed by Professor Mike Schmitt and sponsored by the governments of Australia, the Netherlands, and Singapore, is the online version of an in-resident program that the Law School hopes to begin offering again throughout the world next year.

The Executive Courses address issues ranging from the protection of human rights online to the prohibitions on intervention and the use of force in international relations. The course is of particular importance at the present time as it deals with cyber operations by states or non-state groups that conduct cyber operations related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as COVID-19 vaccine cyber espionage and cyber-attacks against the World Health Organization and other medical organizations and facilities.

The Executive Course is designed for government officials and sponsored by various nations. This iteration brought together officials with a cyber portfolio from Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It was sponsored by Australia, the Netherlands and Singapore.

Additionally, Professor Schmitt directed a one-day seminar on cyber law for Vietnamese officials on 27 August. Attended by 30 officials from throughout the government, the Netherlands and the European Union sponsored the event in collaboration with the Government of Vietnam.

The 2020 Stowe Family Law Prize Winner Announced

Congratulations to Sarah Yeo, the winner of the 2020 Stowe Family Law Prize. Sarah was the strongest performer in the final year Family Law module, demonstrating a high standard of work and commitment to her studies.

In recognition of Sarah’s outstanding performance, she has been offered work experience at the firm’s central Reading office. Stowe aims to give Sarah a taste of what it is like to work in a family law firm, what the work entails and to help her to expand her network.

Sarah commented:

“I am delighted to have been awarded the Stowe Family Law Prize. Studying the module gave me an appreciation of how family lawyers need to be both knowledgeable and sensitive in their work. I particularly enjoyed learning about divorce and the desperate need for reform in this area.

I think it is fantastic that Stowe Family Law offer this opportunity as it provides the chance for students to put into practice the theory that they have been learning. It is great to see such a highly regarded national firm taking an active interest in local graduates by taking steps to provide not only an excellent insight to life as a family lawyer, but also invaluable assistance in kick-starting their legal careers. Thank you once again for this prize.”

The School of Law is proud to be able to offer the Stowe Family Law Prize and are delighted with the support provided by the Reading team. Professor Thérèse Callus, module convenor for Family Law, said:

“Sarah achieved the highest mark in the Family Law module illustrating excellent understanding and application of the law, coupled with perceptive critical analysis. Sarah performed consistently well across all her modules and her research dissertation was also outstanding. I am delighted to nominate her for the SFL prize, which includes a work experience opportunity.

We are all too aware of the difficult situation which this year’s finalists found themselves and it is testament to the hard work and dedication that Sarah has showed throughout her studies that her performance was of such a high standard across the board.”

The Family Law Module provides students with a working knowledge of how private law relates to the family and to the breakdown of families. The content of the final year module includes critical engagement with family law policy trends and debates, coupled with the study of the relevant law on the creation and dissolution of formal (and informal) partnerships, domestic violence, financial provision and arrangements for children following family breakdown.

Stowe Family Law are specialists in assisting married and non-married cohabitants with their finances, property ownership and child arrangements during divorce and separation. For the last few decades, the firm has had its finger on the pulse of political & policy issues surrounding family law, including why the law seeks to regulate certain familial relationships and how it is done.

The Stowe Family Law and Reading University are happy to offer the same work experience prize again in this coming academic year.

Hon. Justice Dr. Nnamdi Dimgba appointed as a visiting Senior Research Fellow

The School of Law is delighted to announce that the Hon. Justice Dr. Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court of Nigeria has been appointed as a visiting Senior Research Fellow for a period of three years.

Dr Dimgba is an award-winning scholar, who has had an exciting career and a remarkable mix of experiences. He is recognised as Nigeria’s leading expert on Competition Law. Immediately prior to his appointment as a Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, he was the Chairman of the Competition Law Committee, Section on Business Law of the Nigerian Bar Association, and the Partner overseeing the Enterprise Practice Group of the leading Nigerian law firm of Olaniwun Ajayi LP. In 2019 he presided over the Competition Law panel at the Commercial Law Research Network Nigeria conference.

All of us at the School of Law look forward to working with Dr Dimgba during the term of his appointment.

‘Racism will not pass’… A new article by Dr Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne

Dr Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne has published a new article entitled “‘Racism will not pass’…” on the blog of the European Journal of International Law. The article critically discusses the recent debate that took place in the UN Human Rights Council in light of the police killing of George Floyd in May in the United States. In the article, Dr Hill-Cawthorne considers the manoeuvring by a number of states (particularly western states) that saw a watering down of the original draft resolution that had been presented by the Group of African States and that would have led to the creation of an International Commission of Inquiry into racist police violence in the US.

Dr Marie Aronsson-Storrier awarded a research contract with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency

Dr Marie Aronsson-Storrier has been awarded a research contract with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency to conduct a gap analysis of Sweden’s national work according to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The results will form a key basis for the development of a National DRR Strategy for Sweden, and the final report will also be important for other national governments who are taking steps to develop their national DRR strategies and associated activities.

‘An International Attribution Mechanism for Hostile Cyber Operations’ by Professor Mike Schmitt (co-author)

Professor Mike Schmitt’s co-authored article with Professor Yuval Shany of Hebrew University entitled ‘An International Attribution Mechanism for Hostile Cyber Operations’; has been published by International Law Studies. The article is the result of an international research project organised by the Federmann Cyber Security Research Center at Hebrew University to consider the feasibility of establishing an international attribution mechanism for hostile cyber operations, as well as the usefulness of such a body. Mike and Yuval observe that, at present, states wielding significant cyber capability have little interest in creating such a mechanism. These states appear to be of the view that they can generate sufficient accountability and deterrence based on their independent technological capacity, access to expertise and to offensive (active defense) cyber tools, political clout, security alliances, and other policy tools, such as sanctions. However, countries with limited technological capacity and less ability to mobilize international support for collective attribution are more amenable to the prospect. To date, proposals to establish an international attribution mechanism have not acquired momentum. However, the article suggests that progress remains possible by focusing on the three logical constituencies for such a body—States with limited technological, intelligence, and diplomatic capacity; States interested in generating broad collective attribution of attacks perpetrated against them; and international and regional organizations operating a cyber-related sanctions regime. Such a focus, combined with greater granularity, would significantly improve the prospects for the establishment of an international attribution mechanism and its eventual utilization by the international community.