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HCR Law Events

4 December 2020

BLS joined by former Attorney General to debate major national issues

Inez Brown will preside over Birmingham Law Society’s Big Debate on 11 December, featuring former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC, MP.

The virtual event, from 11am-noon, which HCR is sponsoring, will look at major national issues – from how the legal sector can help to drive recovery from the pandemic, to challenges to the rule of law and recent attacks on lawyers.

Sir Geoffrey will join fellow panel members:

  • Nick Green – Managing Partner of Squire Paton Boggs
  • Lisa Jordan – Regional Managing Partner of Irwin Mitche
  • Greg Lowson – Head of Office, Pinsent Masons
  • Tony McDaid – CEO, No5 Chambers
  • Joe Wilson – Chambers Director, St Phillips

They will consider how to maintain justice for all when Covid-19 restrictions affect every area of the country; they will also look at what the legal sector has learned since the first lockdown in March 2020 and discuss whether those lessons can help to drive recovery after Covid-19. The wider economic effects of the pandemic, especially upon those not covered by government support scheme, will also be considered.

Recent challenges to the rule of law

For the rule of law to be effective, there must be equality under the law, transparency of law, an independent judiciary and access to legal remedy.

The Prime Minister has described the provisions set out in clauses 42 to 47 of the UK Internal Market Bill as a safety net. However, it is argued that these clauses involve a deliberate breach of the UK’s international obligations by removing the entrenched legal protection that the UK promised to provide for certain rights in the Withdrawal Agreement, and adopting measures which could jeopardise the achievement of the objectives of that Agreement. Lord Tom Bingham made it clear that the rule of law requires compliance by the state with its obligations in international law as in national law. He said “a breach of the rule of international law is still a breach of the rule of law”.

The panel will consider:

  • Is the government ever above the law?
  • Do these clauses seriously damage the rule of law together with the UK’s international reputation as a nation that values and abides by the rule of law?
  • Does the UK Internal Market Bill challenge the rule of law?

Criticism of lawyers

In October, Home Secretary Priti Patel MP, made a speech at the virtual Conservative Party conference promising “the biggest overhaul of our asylum system in decades”. She said that next year she would bring in legislation to stop “endless legal claims” from people who are refused asylum.

She accused immigration lawyers of defending a system which they profit from and went on to say that “those defending the broken system – the traffickers, the do-gooders, the lefty lawyers, the Labour Party – they are defending the indefensible.”

The panel will discuss:

  • Does her speech undermine the legal system?
  • Has she put the lives and safety of lawyers at risk by these comments?
  • Is she seeking to demonise lawyers carrying out a vital public service?

You can book your place by emailing [email protected]

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About the Author
Inez M. Brown, Partner

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