Law courses and the Faculty of Media & Communication

bu-logoAs the new faculty structure takes shape across BU, the discipline of Law will be integrated into the Faculty of Media & Communication, shifting its home from what used to be the Business School.

In a recent discussion to explain the process to Law students, Stephen Jukes, Dean of the Faculty of Media & Communication students said: “There are no plans to change any of the existing courses or jeopardise your study. Far from it, and to ensure that no boats are rocked, it has been agreed that students graduating this year will remain part of the Business School”.

Stephen continued to say: “The intention is to add to the richness of both Law and Media, drawing on Law’s international reputation for work in the areas of Human Rights and Intellectual Property. Human Rights fits extremely well with traditional Media subjects such as Journalism or Politics. Intellectual Property is absolutely crucial for anyone wanting to work in Media, managing for example sports rights, or working in the increasingly complex social media environment. At the same time, we very much want to boost Law’s national and international profile and invest in the discipline. We would love to bring Law and Media students together in joint projects where the various strands can come together – one idea is to set up a “moot court” and all suggestions are very welcome.”

As the discipline of Law embeds into the new Faculty, there may be development of new courses such as combined degree linking, for example, linking Law with Politics and History. But those plans are for the future and as Stephen puts it “please be reassured that no-one is going to mess with the degree course you are currently on!”.

Please read these helpful FAQs which may help to answer some of your questions, or contact:

Chloe Schendel-Wilson – SUBU President,

Ellie Mayo-Ward – SUBU Vice President for Education,

Sue Warnock – Law Framework Leader,

Sally Weston – Head of Law,

Post WWI – The rise and fall of international law

By Dr Melanie Klinkner, Senior Lecturer in Law.

World War I, though centred in Europe, was a global war initially involving the Allies on the one side, and the Central Powers on the other, but other countries were drawn into the conflict, turning it into the largest war in history. A staggering 9 million combatants were killed and this large cost of life galvanised many legal and political minds to try and avoid such future bloodshed by working towards peace and stability.

The Treaty of Versailles is perhaps best known for the demands placed on Germany to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions, and pay reparations to certain countries, but the Treaty has also great significance for international law. The League of Nations was established, as outlined in the Versailles Treaty of 1919, to steer away from the traditional power-distribution through injecting some more democratic and open elements. Its main goal was to maintain world peace and the idea goes back to 1795 and Immanuel Kant’s ‘Perpetual Peace: A philosophical sketch’. Kant’s notion of a peaceful world community did not lie in the creation of a global government, also rejected by the League of Nations, but in the hope that States would be free, respecting their citizens and welcoming foreign visitors as fellow rational beings.

One requirement in the Covenant of the League was that States, before resorting to war, had to exhaust judicial or political dispute settlement processes. In a further attempt to promote peace, the 1928 Pact of Paris, State parties forswore the resort to peace as means of national politics – though this initiative was hardly successful as ultimately evidenced by the Second World War. It is ironic that the 1919 Peace Treaty designed to end all wars led to a war which is unique so far in terms of non-combatant deaths – World War Two.

Noteworthy for international criminal law, the Treaty of Versailles also wanted the question examined whether war crimes trials for the defeated German Elite, including the Kaiser, were an option. The Commission on the Responsibilities of the Authors of War were divided on the issue. The majority recommended inter alia the establishment of a tribunal to prosecute suspected war criminals including the prosecution of defeated heads of state. Though an international Tribunal was not established, some German individuals accused of war crimes were tried in 1921 by the German authorities in the Leipzig War Crimes Trials.

But the inter-war period was fruitful in other ways through international legal innovations such as the creation of a World Court in 1922, optimistically called the Permanent Court of Justice. Whilst the Court did not have compulsory jurisdiction over all disputes, through deciding cases, a substantial body of international jurisprudence emerged. One such example considered to be an important foundation of international law is the Lotus Principle suggesting that States may act in any way they wish so long as they do not contravene an explicit prohibition.

Ambitious efforts were also made to codify international law. The prime example is the 1933 Montevideo Convention setting out the definition, rights and duties of statehood. Article 1 is best-known as it spells out the four criteria for statehood which remain relevant to this day.

The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.

Clearly some of the creations from this inter-war period had a short life, though many of the ideas and concepts have survived or been re-incarnated in the aftermath of the WWII. In fact, international lawyers became ‘heroic crusaders’ post 1945, building a new world; The United Nations replaced the League of Nations, the International Court of Justice the Permanent Court of Justice, and German and Japanese leaders faced trials for crimes under international law in Nuremberg and Tokyo.

No doubt, international law failed in avoiding carnage and maintaining world peace demonstrating its key weakness – the implementation of its norms is linked to political will.

Explainer: international law and flight MH17

By Melanie Klinkner, Senior Lecturer in Law

As the events surrounding the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine become clearer, more and more voices are claiming the plane may have been shot down by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko described the crash as an act of “terrorism”, while Vladimir Putin is reported to have said that “the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy”.

For her part, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton opined that the catastrophe could have grave consequences for Russia should it turn out that they were involved in supplying equipment used to attack the plane.

What now?

Legally speaking, we are still at an extremely early stage. Once it is established exactly how the plane was brought down, the next step will be to establish who bears responsibility for the crash, and how (and by whom) they will be punished.

States are obliged to punish those responsible. The first steps to investigate the causes and effects of the plane crash have been taken and Ukraine has asked the Netherlands for assistance in this task – but the possible responses using international legal structures are yet to be decided.

For his part, Ukraine’s prime minister suggested that the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, should look into the matter. However, it is in fact fairly unlikely that the ICC will get involved.

Bad timing

On April 17 2014, the Ukrainian government (which is signatory to the Rome Treaty but has not ratified it) lodged a declaration under Article 12(3) of the ICC’s statute, accepting the ICC’s jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed in its territory.

But that declaration specified only the time frame from November 21 2013 to February 22 2014, when Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted amid civil unrest. That means the plane crash would fall outside the declaration’s time frame. The terms could be revisited by the Ukrainian government, but extending the time frame would also leave the pro-Ukrainian side subject to scrutiny by the court for any crimes committed in the course of the deteriorating conflict.

Pro-Russian militants guard the wreckage of MH17.
EPA/Anastasia Vlasova

Meanwhile, under Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute, there is the possibility that the UN Security Council could refer the situation to the ICC Prosecutor – though Russia holds a vetoing power on the council, and would probably use it to block any such attempt.


We also have to remember that the crime of terrorism does not form part of the ICC’s jurisdiction, as the concept of “terrorism” is notoriously difficult to define.

Instead, the ICC’s core crimes are genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes (from 2017, this list will include the crime of aggression). To prove a crime against humanity, for example, the prosecution would have to prove that 1) the attack was aimed at any civilian population; 2) a state or organisational policy existed that led to the attack; 3) the specific attack formed part of a widespread and systematic attack; 4) a link between the accused and the attack exists; and 5) there was an awareness of the broader context of the attack.

While some commentators have suggested that the 9/11 plane crashes, for example, constituted a crime against humanity, if the shooting down of flight MH17 proved to be an accident rather than a policy, it would be very difficult indeed to prove the necessary elements of a crime against humanity.

If, however, a preliminary examination by the ICC suggested there were grounds to proceed and the neccessary admissibility and threshold criteria are met, it may still prove very difficult to apprehend the alleged perpetrators if they were to reside in Russia.

Veto trouble

Instead of ending up in front of the ICC, the MH17 disaster will probably become a question for the International Court of Justice, where disputes between states are considered. The court has previously considered rather similar cases: in 1988, for example, Iran brought a case against the US for the shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 – though eventually the case was withdrawn.

By the same token, Malaysia could be entitled to bring before the court any state directly responsible for the downing of flight MH17, or for supplying the equipment used to do so.

Another body which could take legal action, of course, is the UN Security Council, tasked as it is with maintaining peace and stability. It could establish an independent commission of enquiry, though any resolution on behalf of the Security Council might well be vetoed by Russia. The UN General Assembly could also produce a recommendation in form of a resolution, but they are non-binding.

Ultimately, what happens next will depend on how the major players behave – especially Russia – once the facts of the crash have been more fully established.

The Conversation

Melanie Klinkner does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Does war criminal Charles Taylor deserve the right to a family life?

By Melanie Klinkner, Senior Lecturer in Law

The Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and Independent newspapers have all run with the story that Charles Taylor is suing the British government over his right to a family life, bringing him rather more media hype than he deserved. The BBC took a more nuanced tack, running with the headline Ex-Liberia President Charles Taylor in bid to leave UK prison.

Taylor’s demands to leave the UK prison seem to revolve around the right to see his family and his safety in a British prison. Given the saga of his arrest and conviction, it is uncertain if they will be received with any sympathy.

During his term as President of Liberia, Taylor was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity as a result of his involvement in the Sierra Leone Civil War of 1991–2002. He was apprehended in 2006 by Nigerian authorities and appeared before the United Nation’s backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown, pleading not guilty to all charges.

As his presence in Freetown was considered a threat to peace and stability there, he was transferred to The Hague, where the trial was held by the Special Court for Sierra Leone using the courtroom facilities of the International Criminal Court and, later, of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Taylor’s trial before the Special Court for Sierra Leone opened in June 2007, and after some twists and turns, the court found him guilty on 11 counts: war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international law which included murder, forced labour, recruiting child soldiers and rape. He was convicted for both planning and aiding and abetting these crimes. In September 2013, the Appeals Chamber upheld both Taylor’s conviction and his 50-year sentence.

Pursuant to a request by the president of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, in October 2013 Taylor was transferred from The Hague to the UK to serve the remainder of his 50 year sentence at HM Prison Frankland, a category A men’s prison located in County Durham.

The UK’s acceptance of that request picks up the thread of a foreign policy that saw British forces intervene in Sierra Leone in 2000, and given the Blair government’s then-clear commitment to foreign policy “with an ethical dimension”, taking on the cost of Taylor’s imprisonment honours the full implications of that unusually successful foreign intervention.

But Taylor seems unhappy with the prison’s location and conditions, claiming that it infringes his right to a family life – and that his own life is under threat.

Speaking to the BBC, Taylor’s lawyer alleged that due to visa issues, his family could not visit him in prison, and that in any event the climate was too cold and the food too different for his family. (It should be noted that his family did visit him in The Hague, whose weather and food are of course rather more akin to the UK’s than to Liberia’s.) But conditions in the Scheveningen prison are reportedly less restrictive than those in the UK.

Notably, however, Taylor’s lawyer also explained to the BBC that he is not suing the British government, nor seeking damages from the UK. Instead, the solution proposed is that Taylor serve his prison sentence in Rwanda to be closer to his family. That, his lawyer pointed out, would be cheaper for the British taxpayer.

To international crim­inal lawyers, a request to serve a prison sentence in Rwanda must sound more than a little ironic. Not many years ago, both the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia were criticised for sending offenders to Western detention facilities that were “too comfortable”, as prison conditions in their home countries would be far harsher.

And quite why Taylor might think he would be safer in a Rwandan prison than in the UK is unclear. He is not being subjected to unusually harsh conditions by British standards. A Ministry of Justice spokesperson is reported to have said that Taylor “is being treated in accordance with the United Kingdom’s obligation and in the same way as any other prisoner in England and Wales”.

(That said, for its part, the Guardian pointed out that convicted war criminal Radislav Krstić, a Bosnian Serb who was serving a 35-year sentence in Wakefield prison for his involvement in the Srebrenica massacre, was stabbed in his cell by three Muslim inmates in 2010.)

The Foreign Office confirmed that “a motion has been filed with the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone”, requesting Taylor be transferred to a prison in Rwanda.

As the original post-war court is no longer operational, this Residual Court is responsible for supervising the enforcement of sentences and to guarantee the rights of those convicted. It will be interesting to see what it makes of President Taylor’s latest legal step.

The Conversation

Melanie Klinkner does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Thinking about a career in Law?

If you’re not sure what to do next and are thinking about converting your degree to Law then our Graduate Diploma in Law/Common Professional Examination (CPE) is the course for you!

The CPE is a Law conversion course that can be studied full-time over one year or part-time over two years. It enables graduates with a non-law degree to pass the “academic stage” of legal education.

Completion of this course would qualify you to go on to the Legal Practice Course (if you would like to be a solicitor) or the Bar Vocational Training Course (if you would like to be a barrister).

Regardless of the subject you’re currently studying, this Graduate Diploma enables you to obtain the same level of qualification in one year as Law students have after three or four years of study.

What’s more, as a BU graduate, you would be entitled to a 25% fee discount* plus there are other scholarships available.

The course starts in September.

Find out more about the course >>

If you haven’t already registered, why not attend the next Postgraduate Information Session on Wednesday 26 March, 4pm – 6pm, at the Executive Business Centre.

You’ll get the opportunity to meet the Course Leader and have an informal chat about the Graduate Diploma in Law conversion course.

Book your place now >>

*Terms and conditions apply.

BU’s Ken Brown speaks on changing age of jurors

Bournemouth University’s Lecturer in Law, Ken Brown, featured on BBC Radio Solent, talking about the UK government’s decision to increase the age that jurors can be called up from 70 to 75.

Ken gave his opinion on two occasions to BBC Radio Solent, saying, “When someone reaches 70 when and does not feel able to sit in a jury it would be possible for that person to opt out if someone does not feel as if they can do their job as a juror to the professional standard”

However would the age rise really be a good idea? Brown explained that older people have lots of experience in the profession and rich experience in what life is all about and that should be utilised.

He expresses how older people can still contribute to society, with Brown being 81 and still lecturing law at BU.

“The present eighty is the previous sixty and people at the age of sixty are still think of themselves in the forty bracket nowadays”, Brown added. “I don’t feel 81 years of age, I have wonderful students and they give an awful lot to me, they’re young, they’re vibrant and they have a future.”

Dean Eastmond

Dean is a student at Budmouth College in Weymouth, who is working at Bournemouth University in the Press and PR Department. He joined BU on a Sir Samuel Mico Scholarship, which provides 10 students from his college with essential work experience for four weeks over the summer.

Dr Max Lowenstein talks about high profile sentencing case on BBC Radio Solent

Dr Max Lowenstein, a Lecturer in Law at BU, was interviewed on BBC Radio Solent’s drivetime programme about high profile sentencing cases taking place that day.

Mick and Mairead Philpott had been sentenced for the manslaughter of their six children in a house fire, alongside friend Paul Mosley, earlier that day.

Mick Philpott received a life sentence, but could be released after 15 years, while Mairead and Mosley could be released after serving half of their 17 year prison term.

Presenter Steve Harris said that many listeners believed that it was not a long enough sentence but Dr Lowenstein explained that judge’s hands could sometimes be tied by the law in terms of the punishment they could hand out.

“What would be interesting is what sort of emotions the judge is picking up on and what sort of perspectives the judge is picking up on, because we have the offender, the victim and the public,” said Dr Lowenstein, who specialises in criminal law and sentencing.

“Within the remarks that the judge makes, they will be referring to different perspectives in order to justify the sentence.”

He added: “The range of sentencing [for manslaughter] is also extremely wide – manslaughter has a discretionary life sentence, as opposed to the mandatory life sentence for murder, and can range from conditional discharge to life in prison, which is a huge range for judicial discretion.

“In this particular case, the Philpott case, you can see that the judge has taken the highest possible sentence for manslaughter.”

You can hear the interview in full here.

Dr Howard Davis talks about Abu Qatada legal case on BBC Radio Solent

Dr Howard Davis, Reader in Law at BU, was interviewed on BBC Radio Solent about the government losing an appeal against a ruling preventing the deportation of preacher Abu Qatada.

Howard specialises in public law, and particularly the impact of the Human Rights Act on UK law, and told Drivetime presenter Steve Harris: “Home secretaries have the power to deport people if they think it is not in the public interest for those people to stay in the UK.

“In the good old days, the police would literally come along at 6am and whip you off and you’d be deported and there’d be very little you could do about it.”

But, he added, that there was now a special court commission to deal with cases and that:”It’s an absolute fundamental rule of human rights law that you cannot deport someone to a country where they would have a real risk of being tortured or a real risk that evidence obtained by torture would be used against them.”

He said that Britain’s hands were tied in the matter by a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights, but said that they could get around it if they had sufficient diplomatic assurances from Jordanian government about the treatment of Abu Qatada if he were deported there.

“What the recent case has been about is whether those assurances are sufficiently strong and robust, and whether they show that the other evidence that Jordan does engage in torture is not so strong.”

Howard said that the Home Secretary could now appeal to the Supreme Court, but is not likely to be successful because the actual point of law isn’t in dispute.

“What’s in dispute here is the credibility of these diplomatic assurances about the treatment of Abu Qatada and whether he’d get a fair trial.”

He added: “In the end, the legal process may come to a halt, and we must not forget that the ban on torture and the use of torture evidence in trials is probably the most fundamental rule of law that we have.”

You can listen to the full interview here

Master’s Law courses at BU in The i newspaper

Master’s Law courses offered by Bournemouth University were featured in an article in The i about career options opened up by doing postgraduate training in law.

The article, by Russ Thorne, argues that postgraduate training in law can provide students with many different opportunities.

While some students may pursue the Master’s to move into a legal career having done a different undergraduate degree, BU’s Sally Weston says that existing lawyers can also benefit.

Sally, who is head of the Law department, said that a Master of laws (LLM) course provides in-depth training.

“The LLM curriculum is designed to develop critical evaluation and analysis,” she says in the article, which appeared in a postgraduate study supplement.

She continues: “LLM students interpret the meaning of words and abstract concept skills which are useful for law and other careers that require analysis of complex qualitative data.”

You can read the full article here

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BU Law lecturer talks about 3D printing on BBC Radio 5 Live

Dr Dinusha Mendis, Senior lecturer in law and co-director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management (CIPPM) at BU, was on BBC Radio 5 Live, talking about the challenges which will be faced by intellectual property (IP) laws in the wake of 3D printing.

Dinusha, who has recently published a paper on the issue, was featured on the Outriders programme – which is dedicated to exploring the frontiers of the web.

She told presenter Jamillah Knowles: “In a nutshell, my paper looks at the intellectual property implications of 3D printing, and whether we can learn lessons from the past.

“When I refer to the past, I am referring to the lessons we have learned from file-sharing services, such as Napster and Pirate Bay, and the challenges to intellectual property law – in particular copyright law – and the response to those challenges by the entertainment industry.

She added: “This paper suggests that, rather than focus on stringent IP laws, the future lies in adopting new business models to adapt to this new technology.”

Dinusha said that, while printers capable of printing 3D shapes and models are currently quite expensive, prices are constantly coming down.

“Past experience has shown us that law is constantly playing a catch up game with technology,” she said.

“This has been evident in the manner that intellectual property law, and in particular, copyright law, has struggled to keep up with internet and online activities.

“The present IP law that we have in the UK was not designed to keep up with such technologies, and regulating 3D printing will be no different.”

“So, while 3D printing is set to open doors to new businesses, new jobs and new experiences for consumers, it is also going to create a lot of challenges for IP right-holders and manufacturers of industrial products.”

She added that while work has started on looking at laws in this area, “there is still a long way to go.”

You can listen to a podcast of the Outriders programme that Dr Dinusha Mendis appears on here.