Tuesday, 27 May 2014

May Update

Well with the exception of LSP1 and my Dissertation exam it's all over and what a ride. Having spent six years studying law with UoL it's as if there is hole that needs filling.

This blog has been a help in writing down my thoughts and feelings. I haven't really been in touch with it over the last year, partly as things have been hectic and partly because some interest may have waned in keeping it up to date. I intend to revamp the blog over the summer and provide some support links for new students.

It's interesting seeing new students join the Facebook groups, which have grown to a little over 5,000 on the Intermediate group and a little under 5,000 students on the Finals group. When I first set up the groups there were a handful of us, I didn't expect it to be as large as it has. I intend to stay on in the background of the admin role of the groups and see if any new keen students wish to help with running as they are a good support network.

I have two offers (Birmingham and Gloucestershire) to study International Criminal Law on a Taught Masters in September so I shall still be around. I may add some features to this blog to incorporate that too, but keep the main content UoL LLB based. I have also registered for a summer course for a foundational teaching qualification as I intend to start teaching law at some level next year, so would like to keep this blog running for anyone who needs support.

I'll be posting more on here through the summer and will update some new features. In the meantime I hope that your exams have gone well and best of luck for those who have exams left to do.


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Best Wishes

I haven't used this blog at all really for the last couple of months, been quite intense with work and study. I intend to revamp it after exams and hopefully provide support to new students, in the mean time I shall post something each week to bring things up to date.

Would just like to write this post to wish my best wishes to all my readers.


Friday, 1 November 2013

Court of Appeal now livestream

The Court of Appeal went live yesterday. There has been much controversy over the years of whether to allow cameras into courts, historically when news channels have reported on court cases any pictures of the proceedings have been drawn by artists.

I recall the time when Parliament allowed cameras to watch the proceedings, then with the new Supreme Court allowing cameras inside I guess it's only a matter of time before lower courts follow suit.

As Courts are public places it is only natural that cameras should be allowed in, but resistance has always been that the more infamous cases become show trials. The US model is often quoted as examples of how the justice system can be transformed into a show, the OJ Simpson trial comes to mind. There has also been criticism that news channels will only show edited highlights of a trial, meaning that other aspects of a case will not be covered.

In my opinion access to trials via a livestream are a good thing, I am not so sure about highlights though which are very much left in the hand of news editors and sometimes bias reporting.

The link can be accessed through the following BBC site ... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24756186

Monday, 21 October 2013

Private Tuition ... 10 questions to ask BEFORE handing money over

The University of London LLB International Program attracts many companies offering private tuition. Other than those official registered institutions the university itself neither endorses nor opposes any of these services.

My own view is that before handing money over they need to be checked out, questions need to be asked. Sometimes a quick google search will do the trick, other times don't be afraid to ask directly.

Getting a good private tutor can be worth their weight in gold, somebody who knows their topic, they may have written work published, maybe a book, or articles. For instance, I have recommended QEDlaw on this blog, their tutors can be checked out, many have written books that have been independently published. I and others have attended their revision seminars and can highly recommend their quality and relevance for exams. I personally have seen Norman Baird fight on students behalf, sometimes against the will of the University, publicly as well as privately.

Further the Cambridge Revision week, though expensive is conducted in the most professional regard to which a number of students can vouch for.

Sadly though, I have known students hand anything from a few hundred pound to over a £1000 to badly run sites.

As an admin of the Facebook groups I have had to remove a number of links who misrepresent themselves. Sometimes former students, or lecturers of jurisdictions other than English law have set up companies and made themselves look as if they are faculties of an education facility such as a university or college. I have nothing against former students or any lecturer offering themselves for private tuition, I tutor for GCSE and A'level students and clearly state I'm a final year student, what I am against are sites who misrepresent themselves, so they need checking out.

I have come across at least two instances where the lecturer refers to themselves as a Professor of an area of law, yet upon a 5 minute Google investigation can see that they are nothing of the sort. If anyone refers to themselves as a Professor, the first thing to ask is where they were Professors, if they are evasive or give out little in way of information then the warning signs are there. A quick look at their profile would suggest whether they have a Professorship with a university ... if they do not have a PhD how can they become a Professor, further a quick Google search will show published articles, I have never come across a genuine Professor without easy to find published articles or books. I have no doubt that these people have a limited understanding of the law and at the moment maybe more than yourself as an undergraduate student, but is it worth paying money out to these people if they have to represent themselves as something they are not?

In fact, i'd go as far as to say that a genuine Professor rarely calls themselves a Professor to students, there are genuine Professors on the Facebook groups who offer free advice just to see you do well, yet only to find out later of their Professorship with UoL.

In addition there have been instances where a site looks as if it's an institution or faculty department of a college or university, yet upon a quick Google search of for a private ltd company, their registration can be found. Ask yourself whether it's a new company? Find the address and do a Google street view of the office address. If at first appearance they look a genuine institution, but upon a short investigation are a private limited company with only an online presence, then ask yourself why this representation? One so called 'faculty of law' run by a 'Professor' that appeared on the groups was addressed to a small office in a block on the outskirts of London, yet upon first impressions you'd have thought they were a Faculty linked to a University.

To try to sort out those who are professional, to those who are not I have composed Ten questions to ask BEFORE paying money to any online tuition service ...

1) Do they come recommended by other students?
2) Do they have independently published books or articles?
3) If stating they are a Professor, where did they hold the Professorship? Or are they a self appointed Professor?
4) Can they be easily found via Google?
5) Can the company, faculty or institution be found as a registered company, if so how long have they been trading?
6) Can the lecturers be found via their LinkedIn profile page, if so what does it say? Are they former students? Or are they genuine lecturers of English Law?
7) Are they qualified to teach English law, or another jurisdiction?
8) Are you able to see a sample of their materials?
9) Are they easily available for free advice, or offer it willingly to assist?
10) Have they misrepresented themselves, either the individual or the institution concerned?

These are questions that need to be asked before handing any money over ... a good UoL tutor is something worth having and keeping, but make sure they are recommended and not fall into the pitfall to which I have seen happen, of handing money to someone who has misrepresented themselves ... ultimately your grade depends upon it.

Monday, 14 October 2013

QED Law Revision Weekends 2014

QED Law has published their timetable for revision lectures which are held at UCL. It maybe a little early to start thinking of revision but is good to pencil in those dates for those who have to travel. I have written here before of my experience with these lecture weekends, they are given by experienced lecturers and examiners, some of whom are the voices on the VLE. In my opinion they are on a par with the Cambridge week, I wrote an article two years ago entitled, 'Revision Courses ...Cambridge or QED?'

It's well worth taking a browse of the timetable, whether you are a student of the University of London, or other universities. The timetable can be found on the following link.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Parliament vote NO to military action in Syria

It was with great interest that I spent yesterday afternoon watching the Commons debate on military action in Syria. To my knowledge it is unprecedented for Parliament to be asked to authorise military action before any decision has been taken, as any student of Public Law student knows military action is decided by the Prime Minister under the Royal Prerogative. Ten years ago, Parliament voted in support of the Iraq war, however the decision had already been taken by the government and the support from Parliament could be said by some to be academic, however what we maybe witnessing is a slow change away from the Royal Prerogative of taking military action.

It has been horrifying to watch the scenes of the chemical attacks coming out of Syria, but is Western military intervention the answer when the Syrian opposition are also accused of heinous war crimes? Human Rights Watch in June reported that child soldiers were being used, Generals have been recorded eating the heart of a Syrian soldier, Priests and Bishops have had their heads cut off. Is it really the contention of the West that a military strike will bring stability to the area, even more so in the face of Russian and Chinese opposition.

Though the motion was changed at the last minute for approval of going to the UN and then only a second Parliamentary vote to action, which said by reporters due to Ed Milliband (leader of the Opposition) change of stance, Parliament debated the rights and wrongs of going to war.

By David Cameron setting out his case for military action in Syria, much of the debate could be used in the exam settings of Public Law, Public International Law and International Protection of Human Rights.

At the heart of the government's justification was a legal summary presented by the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve ...

'If action in the Security Council is blocked, the UK would still be permitted under international law to take exceptional measures in order to alleviate the scale of the overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe in Syria by deterring and disrupting the further use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. Such a legal basis is available, under the doctrine of humanitarian intervention, provided three conditions are met' ...(then goes onto discuss conditions and state they have been fulfilled)

International law does have a doctrine of humanitarian intervention, now called the 'responsibility to protect', but this must be done WITH Security Council backing. There is nothing in international law that permit a state or states to act outside of the Security Council on grounds of humanitarian intervention. Under the UN Charter Ch VII, the only justification for unilateral military action without a Security Council resolution is Art 51 on self defence, which doesn't apply here. The Attorney General's justification is that he is saying that the UK can act unilaterally outside of Ch VII powers, he is stating that this doctrine of humanitarian intervention exists within the realms of customary international law, outside of any UN basis, though he offers no justification as to why he thinks so. Interestingly the Government hasn't published the full legal opinion, just this summary.

The problem with humanitarian intervention outside of the UN is that any future conflicts could be justified on those grounds on a lower threshold, with political motivations. For instance if we were to go this route Iran could use a humanitarian legal justification against Israeli for use of phosphorus shells in Gaza, Argentina could use the same reasoning and attack the UK for human rights abuses in Northern Ireland, China could attack the US for human rights abuses in Guantanamo, where do you stop?

NATO's action in Kosovo has been quoted as a precedent for unilateral military action for humanitarian reasons, however this was widely condemned by the international community, so doubtful it has entered the realms of customary international law.

The government was defeated. Should the US decide to strike Syria, it will be without UK support. Ed Milliband sort assurances from David Cameron that the Royal Prerogative would not now be used, he gave those assurances and said that he has listened and respects the will of Parliament.

A great day for democracy and the rule of law.