The Law of Studying: Location! Location! Location!

Sharn Kaur Gill, Hertfordshire Law School Student

 

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With the annual flood of coursework and exams looming nearer, we’ve all desperately googled “how to stop procrastinating” and then drag ourselves begrudgingly off to the LRC with hopes a study environment will force focus. It would seem that becoming accustomed to a designated study area would be the best way to learn – WRONG! According to the New York Times, studies show that finding novel places to grind help benefit memory recall and increase your overall grades.

So, if you’re anything like me, you’re now stressing about finding fantastic new places to study. Well, have no fear I’ve done the research for you and come up with the top 5 places on De Havilland Campus to get some serious reviewing done.

#1. Silent Study Rooms in the LRC

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This is one by far the most obvious study space. Not only does that library make you feel like you have to study it also provides all you with infinite resources just steps away, so you can power through any assignment.  I find the best places for me to focus are the silent study rooms on the 1st floor; these rooms have card access entry, which minimizes that amount of traffic moving around you. They also feature individual study carrels as well as individual study rooms so you can really get into the zone. They also have a wall of windows that look out into a courtyard, which is great to help keep from going stir crazy. This is a great location if you’re looking for little or no distractions.

 

#2. Law Court Building Meeting Rooms

 

These rooms are almost always free and a great place to get some collaborative studying happening. They feature power sources and doors which close to block out any distractions. The rooms vary in size, allowing any number of people to study together. They’re excellent for group presentations or just a central location for a study group between classes. They’re significantly less intimidating than the silent study rooms on the LRC but still feature a quiet, contained environment to maximize revision.

 

#3. Empty Classrooms

 

If you can manage to find an open, empty classroom, you’ve hit the jackpot! There’s so much room for activities! Classrooms provide another great space for study groups or even just change of pace for the LRC. The familiarity of the room may make it easier to recall the information from lectures you forgot to pay attention to. This is a great place to study but be aware: you may get kicked out by security.

#4. Above the Weston Auditorium

Although it is a slightly more unconventional study space, the couches and tables are extremely comfortable and the distractions are minimal. A great spot for listening to lectures or reviewing your notes, whether alone or with a mate. Its location makes it easy to get to between classes and the more casual environment is guaranteed to reduce the stress and pressure of studying.

 

#5. Café Moot

Another great location if you are not easily distracted by your environment. The tables are abundant and the large windows make for great people watching (on your study breaks of course). The café also features a wide array of Starbucks drinks to keep you caffeinate enough to power through last-minute coursework or late study sessions. This is also a good place to get in a short study session between classes without the pressure of finding the perfect place in the LRC, eating lunch and making it your next lesson all in an hour.

 

If none of these are tickling your fancy, here are a few honorable mentions:

Café Study

Café Study is located on the ground floor of the LRC and provides a more casual study space with couches and chairs – did I mention that they have food! An ideal location if, like me, you must snack while you study. This space is great for group meetings and again study groups as well as individual study. If you can handle the hustle and bustle of a café without becoming overly distracted than this is the place for you.

 

Club De Havilland

If you’ve given up all hope, I recommend drowning your sorrows at Club De Havilland. (P.S. Also a great location for a lunch beer between study sessions)

 

Happy Studying! And may the odds be forever in your favor!

 

 

 

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5 Summer Reads for a Law Student

Sharn Gill

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

 

To Kill A Mockingbird is one of those novels often read in secondary school but not truly absorbed. Lee transports her readers to the Depression-era American South and follows the trail of Tom Robinson. The novel compels its reader and forces one to take a critical look at the difference between what is just, and what is fair.

 

  1. Madame Prosecutor by Carla Del Ponte

 

Carla Del Ponte was the UN chief prosecute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.  Madame Prosecutor takes you behind the scenes and into the brilliant mind of Carla as she navigates the law in order to bring justice to those wronged by genocide and crimes against humanity.

 

  1. How to Argue and Win Every Time: At Home, At Work, In Court, Everywhere, Everyday by Gerry Spence

 

Everyone can agree that some of the best lawyers are those that can argue their point in an indisputable manner. This engaging and informative ‘self-help’ book should be highlighted and marked up by all aspiring lawyers; Spence provides guidelines for communication and the key to formulating a winning argument both in and out of the court room.

 

  1. Letters to a Law Student: A Guide to Studying Law at University by Nicholas McBride

 

This book takes a look behind the curtain of law school in the UK and is an invaluable guide to studying law. Its full of tips and tricks for finals, writing legal essays and just dealing with the ups and downs that come with university. Nicholas has developed a book that really is useful before, during and years after attending law school.

 

  1. Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman

 

This blog style novel is a brutal insight into the highest echelons of corporate law. Anonymous Lawyer encompasses the wicked stereotypes of lawyers and serves them in a comical satire of the workplace. A light easy read guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.

Review of Research Seminar on Post-Mortem Privacy by Edina Harbinja

Jordan Grice, 1st year LLB student, Hertfordshire Law School

The seminar on post-mortem privacy, which I am certain students were not originally intended to attend, was the first research seminar I attended. I came by the pamphlet quite by chance and took a photo of every page as I wanted to widen my knowledge and broaden my horizons, legally speaking. I encourage each and every student to learn everything they can, for as long as they can, from everyone they can.

The seminar hosted Dr. Edina Harbinja and was chaired by Dr. Virginie Barral.  Her presentation concerned intellectual property and privacy– her passion and speciality – and how an individual’s privacy is retained, or not and if so how/why – after death.

She spoke at length on the topic as it is a very new area of law – it is really our generation who is so immersed into the world of social media and online presence although we are far too young to begin thinking about what we wish to occur after death.  Yet, in my view, we must all do this!  Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.  Well, actually, tomorrow is guaranteed, what is not guaranteed is whether or not you will be present to enjoy it.

It really got me thinking as, before now, I have never given much thought to my intellectual property, data protection and what I want to happen to it after death.  This seminar also introduced me to the concept of intellectual property and how it extends and goes beyond patents and products.  We invest our hearts and minds into our online portals and, once we are gone, what will be left of them?  Our photos, posts, rants, likes, shares – what will happen to them once we are no longer around to make them?  Is cyberspace endless or will there eventually be some sort of cyber Dawn of the Dead one day?

I confess, the only thing I have seen in relation to such affairs is the horror film, Unfriended, where Facebook will, allegedly, suspend and/or remove the account of a deceased individual if proof can be provided that they are indeed deceased.

One thing that Dr. Harbinja found in her research is that indeed not many people have thought about it as it truly is, in legal terms, cutting edge and brand new.  Additionally, she found that there is a Californian  Bill making its way through Congress which has quoted her and a colleague of hers. This has allowed her to demonstrate “impact” with her research. It is true that there is relatively little lying around out there as the law hasn’t caught up yet.

The only thing I have heard in the media is the case of a man, German I believe, who was fatally trapped in a collapsed building and, on this one-off occasion, his final text message of “give my assets to my kids” (paraphrased) was accepted as a last will and testament, that is to say, an express desire of his wishes.

This seminar, as with others, has been slightly difficult for me to access as I, a first-year law undergraduate, am not yet affiliated with this legal research and methodology.

 

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 and the issue of consent: the unresolved problem

 

Muki Gorar, Lecturer in Law at the University of Hertfordshire 

  • Under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, the issue of ‘consent’ has been problematic when dealing with fertilisation issues in England and Wales.
  • Although there was an attempt to amend the law in 2008, the issue has not been resolved
  • Case law illustrates the need for a change.

Introduction

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (HFEA) 2008 received Royal Assent on 13 November 2008. Technology in the field of human reproduction had advanced so far that the previous HFEA 1990 was struggling to cope with these changes. The 2008 Act attempted to update the law to ensure that it was fit for purpose in the 21st century and amended certain provisions of the 1990 Act. However, the issue of consent under Schedule 3 and 4 of the 1990 Act remained unchanged.

Current Law

Within the current Act, for gametes to be lawfully retrieved, stored and used there is a need for an effective consent. Schedule 3 requires consent for the use or storage of gametes to be in writing. The same Schedule further clarifies this by stating that: ‘In this Schedule “effective consent” means a consent under this Schedule which has not been withdrawn.’

Schedule 3 (8)  of the HFEA 1990 deals with the consent to use or store gametes. Under Schedule 3 (8)(1) ‘A person’s gametes must not be kept in storage unless there is an effective consent by that person to their storage and they are stored in accordance with the consent.’ Furthermore, Schedule 3 (2) (a) requires such consent to specify the maximum period of storage (if less than the statutory storage period).

The same Schedule also clarifies further the procedure for giving consent. Under Schedule 3 Paragraph 3 (1), before a person gives consent, (a) that person must be given proper counselling about the implications of taking the proposed steps, and (b) must be provided with such relevant information as is proper.

Although the above provisions of Schedule 3 may sound straightforward, they are difficult to strictly comply in a real-life situation. Thus, the following recently decided case will illustrate the complexity of the issue.

Recent Case of Samantha Jefferies

Central to the recently decided case of Samantha Jefferies (Jefferies v BMI Healthcare Ltd and Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, [2016] EWHC 2493 (Fam)), was the issue of ‘consent’. Mr. and Mrs. Jefferies decided to receive in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in order to have children. For that purpose, embryos were created from the claimant’s eggs and her husband’s sperm while the couple were undergoing IVF treatment. As required by the HFEA 1990, both the husband and wife consented to the storage of the created embryos. The consent form (MT) was signed by the husband in which he consented to the embryos being stored for a 10 year storage period. At some point thereafter, the form was amended to specify a two-year storage period, which was to reflect the clinic’s policy of offering two years of free storage facilities funded by the NHS. However, the amendment was neither signed nor initialled by Mr. Jefferies. In 2014, just before the couple were to undergo a cycle of IVF treatment using the embryos, the husband died unexpectedly. The IVF clinic indicated that, in accordance with the amendment to the husband’s consent form (with reference to the clinic’s two years free storage offer), the embryos could not be stored beyond August 2015.

 

When the case was brought to court the claimant, Mrs. Jefferies, submitted that the amendment of the original storage agreement was invalid because it had not been signed or initialled by her husband as required by Schedule 3 Paragraph 1(1) of the Act. As a result of these circumstances, the original consent for the 10-year storage period remained valid. The claimant sought a declaration that three embryos being frozen on 11 August 2013 could lawfully be stored for 10 years from the date of their freezing (until 2023).

Sir Munby presiding in the High Court, granted the declaration. Sir Munby’s decision as explained under s 24 -29 of his judgment was based on the following main points. Firstly, the requirement in Schedule 3 Paragraph 1(1), that a consent or any variation or withdrawal of consent having to be signed by the relevant person, did not require a full signature. Thus, either a signature or putting an initial on the amendment would be sufficient. However, Mr. Jefferies had done neither. Therefore, this was sufficient to invalidate the amendment. Furthermore, even if he had intentionally amended the form to reduce the period of his consent to two years, the amendment would be invalid in the absence of his signature or initials. On this ground alone, the claimant was entitled to the declaration that she was seeking to obtain. Secondly, regardless of whether or not Mr. Jefferies signed the amendment (reducing the storage from 10 years to two years), the requirements under Schedule 3 Paragraph 3 (1) (b) were not met. The amendment required that a ‘suitable opportunity to receive proper counselling about the implications’ of signing the amendment had to be complied with. The judge concluded that there was no evidence that Mr. Jefferies had been given any counselling regarding the implications of the amendment (Official Transcript, s 30-33).

Mr. Jefferies provided a written consent. However, his written consent for the storage of their remaining embryos had since expired. The couple signed the forms in July 2013 and had two unsuccessful cycles of IVF treatment. The facts illustrate the clear intention of the couple to have a child together. The court considered the fact that the couple twice signed a form called  ‘Consent for the Cryopreservation and Storage of Embryos (SDFC9)’. This form stated, “…embryos…be preserved…and stored for a period of not more than ten (10) years from the date of fertilisation. Although the fact that uncertainty around the words ‘not more than ten years” is mentioned. The form SDFC9, not being a consent form, was raised for the court to consider in their decision. The court, instead of just focusing on regulations in only one particular form (MT), looked at the whole documentation to identify the real intention of the deceased. As a result. the court came to the conclusion that the form (MT) was amended to reflect the clinic’s free storage offer and not as a result of a change of heart on Mr. Jefferies’ part.

Issues associated with human fertilisation and reproduction are complex and very sensitive. As can be seen from the above-mentioned case, procedural requirements coupled with practical considerations about storage issues can result in creating difficulties in establishing a party’s real consent. Obviously, these issues are more complex especially when one of the parties is deceased. Perhaps it is time to simplify the paperwork by underlining the fact that consent for usage of gametes should prevail over any other conflicting issues such as storage duration. Clearly, related issues such as free funding facilities for a shorter period of storage will influence the decision of couples when agreeing on storage terms. However, this should not undermine the deceased’s consent to allow his partner to use the gametes.

The decision in Mrs. Jefferies’ case is promising. However, the most practical way of dealing with this issue is in simplifying the rules, instead of dealing with the issue on a case by case basis. Otherwise, courts will be busy again trying to determine the issue of consent.

 

EU Nationals, Brexit, and the Law

Elise Tai, 3rd Year Law Student, Hertfordshire Law School

Jurisdiction over EU nationals in the UK by the European Court of Justice will end after a two-year transition period following Brexit. Reports have suggested that a meeting of senior ministers chaired by Theresa May on 20th November 2017 had left the door open for some continuing involvement of the Luxembourg court after Brexit. The claim that this meeting, which implied that the prime minister had been given the green light to make a higher offer to Brussels on the “divorce bill” the UK will pay to settle its liabilities on quitting the EU, has not been verified.

Brandon Lewis, an immigration minister, proposed that May was preparing to make concessions to the EU’s demand for European Court of Justice (ECJ) oversight of citizens’ rights when he told MPs that the matter was “part of the negotiations”.

May’s official spokesman denied these claims, stating that the government expected the ECJ’s role to be unchanged during an “implementation period” of around two years following the official Brexit date in March 2019, but that “post that period, the jurisdiction of the ECJ will come to an end.

It is expected that May would soon indicate to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, that she is ready to consider a settlement in the region of £38bn, well short of the £53bn being sought by Brussels. However, she is not thought likely to name a precise figure which Britain is prepared to pay until she has a clear idea of what kind of trade deal is available with the remaining EU, with Downing Street insisting that “nothing’s agreed until everything’s agreed”. May’s spokesman would say only that “specific figures or scenarios are all subject to negotiation”.

The issue of jurisdiction over EU nationals ties in with Lord Thomas’ view that there is a greater need for clarity in UK law development. As the Press Association reports, Lord Thomas, a former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, told the Lords EU Justice Subcommittee that data law is one area where a possible difficulty could be faced.

Arguing that “the law in Europe is not standing still, it is moving at a huge pace”, his lordship put forward that “the [EU withdrawal] bill is clear about freezing the law, but it is not at all clear about how you keep it up-to-date”. He also highlighted that a second problem was that of the extent to which the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom may be asked to depart and develop slightly different jurisprudence to the CJEU (Court of Justice of the European Union), questioning the impact that this departure would have on people’s willingness to use English law if it doesn’t follow the large regime. Lord Thomas expressed that there was a lack of “real exploration” of these matters and that little thought has been given in regard to the “development of the law for the future”.

The role of the courts in regard to the jurisdiction of EU nationals appears to be a major consideration for all parties involved, as it is the people that make a country. As such, greater consideration ought to be directed towards the development of the law, (for example, the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill), in light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.