28 December 2013

Spirits and Legal Articulation


Vojtech Novotny discusses biology research in Notebooks From New Guinea: Reflections on Life, Nature, and Science From the Depths of The Rainforest. From his visit to the rainforest, Novotny compiled advice for other tourists. He warns against trips to the dangerous Karkar Island's volcano. The indigenous people also warn against travelling there but for different reasons. This post explores that difference and the use to which the synthesis between the perspectives may be put during a legal education.

25 December 2013

Three Observations From AA (Afghanistan)

In AA (Afghanistan) v SSHD, the Secretary of State refused a child from Afghanistan's asylum application (at [2]). She omitted, however, properly to engage with the relevant legal provisions, which impose a 'tracing duty' when dealing with 'unaccompanied asylum-seeking children' to facilitate their return to their families (at [3], [6]–[15]). To appeal, AA argued the SSHD's omission effectively rendered the refusal powerless. Underhill LJ carefully analysed the appellant's arguments, held the SSHD breached her duty, but ultimately dismissed AA's appeal. The case is interesting for three main reasons, examined below.

21 December 2013

'Under Erasure' Continued

This post briefly extends the discussion begun in an earlier post concerning 'under erasure' writing. In Doing What Comes Naturally, Stanley Fish discusses that phrase in relation to Austin, Derrida, and Heidegger. Fish's work is interesting but often open to criticism. This criticism may frame part of a methodology that students might use to construct essays and meanings.

12 December 2013

Three Writing Styles

This post explores how to help students use writing to develop intellectually. Writing forces articulation and clarification, but what is not always explained is just how students (or any writers) might achieve those loose goals. Writing is beneficial because it gives traction to thought-experiments, but this may be impeded if (student) writers frame their text with the 'wrong' considerations.

7 December 2013

Basic Induction: A Warning

This post offers a short warning against induction, a method in logic that is open to mistakes. Induction is used to devise general rules from specific events, and is criticised in a quote in my previous post.

4 December 2013

Brackets and Voice

Some authorities, and some opinionated people with pens or keyboards, advise against using brackets for parenthesis. There is no need to go so far. Bracketed comments are often useful. It may be counter productive to exclude this writing device to satisfy misplaced pedantry.

30 November 2013

'Academic', 'Practical', Moss v The Queen

It is surprising how many officials cause problems because they neglect simple legal requirements. Moss v The Queen [2013] UKPC 32 for example arose because a Commonwealth of the Bahamas' Court of Appeal and trial court decided not to hear part of the appellant's testimony. I use this as a catalyst to explore the way 'academic' is sometimes contrasted with 'practical'.

28 November 2013

Human Rights' Public Image

There is a problem with human rights law's representation in the media. 'Human right to make a killing: Damning dossier reveals taxpayers' bill for European court payouts to murderers, terrorists and traitors' and 'Human rights ‘farce’ let 300 criminals stay in UK' are examples of claims that human rights are used to compensate or protect criminals. Adam Wagner, in 'Too little too late as Daily Mail “corrects” bogus human rights splash', explains how human rights' compensation assertions are irreconcilable with the truth. The judiciary recognises the potential to abuse human rights protections. This post examines a judicial response to that abuse.

23 November 2013

22 November 2013

Four Fundamental Freedoms and the Human Rights Act 1998

Following my earlier introduction to Freedom of Expression law, this post considers the area in a little more technical detail, and with a broader perspective: the post examines differences between the other similar 'freedoms'--to privacy and family; of thought, conscience, and religion; and of assembly and association.

16 November 2013

Barratt & Ors v Treatt PLC: Analysis

This case analysis uses a recent case to outline some principles in contract law. In Barratt v Treatt the parties disputed the finalisation of a contract: the buyer claimed they had complied with everything necessary to complete a contract for shares; and the seller disputed this on two grounds. The case is about the construction of a contract.

13 November 2013

Some Thoughts On Reading

This post offers some thoughts about reading and what law students may do to make it easier. Think about the author's purpose before you read anything. Doing so will make it easier to find where, how, and if the author reaches any goals. The easier it is to find these three things, the easier it will be to understand the text. The more you understand, the easier it is to analyse, criticise, and synthesise.

9 November 2013

Ranking Children to Encourage Success

This post considers a recent article on theconversation.com about children's classroom ranks and later successes. I suggest a changed perspective may ensure these findings are used for the disadvantaged children's benefit. Just as John Perry shows in The Art of Procrastination, (institutional) flaws may be used to general advantage if recognised and accepted.

6 November 2013

Lady Hale in Aintree v James

In Aintree v James a man lay ill in hospital. He lacked capacity to make decisions. Others had to decide for him. The Court of Protection (CP) had to say whether choosing to withhold his future treatment would be lawful. Afterwards, the Court of Appeal (CA) checked the lower court's judgment. Eventually the Supreme Court (SC) scrutinised both these decisions. Lady Hale delivered that opinion. This post examines a few details in her discussion.

2 November 2013

Spiralling Procrastination

Today I deviate from my ordinary focus. I try, but doubt success, to emulate the tonal levity in the philosopher's work I consider here. John Perry's The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing is easy to read and well worth the little effort the short book demands. This post explores how Perry's thesis may help law students.

30 October 2013

Dworkin and Gul Continued

This post readdresses the problem alluded to in my conclusion in 'R v Gul and Dworkin's Model': I admitted to a difficulty in applying a short paragraph in Law's Empire to R v Gul [2013] UKSC 64. This post does not go into as much depth as the topic allows, because I aim to develop the material into a (peer-review-worthy) article; if I write everything here, I preclude that option. Therefore I give just enough information to dissolve the previous difficulty and show my thought-process. This is, then, almost a long abstract for a future enquiry.

26 October 2013

R v Gul and Dworkin's Model

Ronald Dworkin explains the legal process in Law's Empire. Students may benefit from reading this and other jurisprudence. This post attempts to explain how a short paragraph in Law's Empire may help students understand what happens in case law.

23 October 2013

Re C (A Child): Rearranging the Structure

Re C (A Child) involves J's future. J is a child, whose name is protected. The court had to determine whether J's grandparent should care for J or whether J should be adopted. The law recognises that to disrupt a family in this manner is distressing and it would be better if such decisions were unnecessary. When forced adoption is a possibility the court must follow strict guidelines before the order can be made. This analysis shows how the appeal court rearranged the lower court's judgment to show the proper guidelines were followed, but their following could have been explained better.

19 October 2013

R v Speed: Tactical Reasoning

This brief analysis considers R v Speed. Lord Justice Rix recognises the defence is tactical but ultimately dismisses the claim that the trial judge erred when directing the jury about evidence.

17 October 2013

No Mysteries, Please: Tell Readers Everything

In a post considering JBS Haldane, I observed that readers rarely guess what happens next. This may lend to the mystery genre's popularity. Mystery is difficult to get right--how much to tell, keep secret, and misinform about is a careful balance that may deflate expectations or cause too much frustration. Legal writing should be approached differently, and for that reason is equally difficult to get right. This short post discusses styles and practices that may make legal writing noteworthy.

12 October 2013

Alienation in Law School

This post begins with an exploration of law's alienating facets. I follow this with some words about Lord Thomas CJ's remarks in the revised Criminal Practice Directions 2013 (CPD).1 I use this analysis to qualify some observations in two of my other posts; one about legal peculiarities and one about analytical discrimination.

10 October 2013

Sartre's Words: A Difference between Law and Fiction

Words by JP Sartre, Irene Clephane translation (pp 158, Penguin Books in association with Hamish Hamilton 1974)

This brief post explores a single remark made by Jean-Paul Sartre in his autobiography. I use the remark to show how inadequacies in fiction may be adequate in law.

5 October 2013

Percy v DPP: Introducing Free Expression's Format

This post offers an analysis of Percy v DPP. My aim is to introduce the structure of ECHR Art 10 and the idea of appeals by way of case stated with an example.

3 October 2013

V v Judgments

This post explains the pronunciation and spelling of two legal peculiarities, 'v' and 'judgment'. A variation of the latter is noted. I conclude with some remarks about how oppressive these conventions can seem to law students.

28 September 2013

The 'R' in Case Names

In today's post I write about the 'R' in case names. This is one of many legal peculiarities that becomes familiar very quickly. It is important to understand these peculiarities because they are the basics in law.

26 September 2013

Words for Writing: Because

'Because' is an incredibly useful word.* Good writing is difficult without it. Fiction and poetry can get away with its absence but solid non-fiction--especially law--is almost impossible without this seven-letter word. This post explores how to introduce reasons with 'because' in your own work.

21 September 2013

R v Levkovic: Fish J's Satisfactory Reasons

This is a case analysis for R v Levkovic, posted with two aims. First, the case is an example of good legal argument and writing. I aim to draw attention to its best points. Second, the case is complicated. I aim to explain the case simply. Both these aims are attempted simultaneously through the analysis.

Be warned, this case's facts are contentious and upsetting.

18 September 2013

Lord Bingham on Statutory Interpretation

This post examines two points on statutory interpretation made by Lord Bingham, which may aid one's understanding of the process. These remarks are worth considering by students who must apply legislation. Lord Bingham indicates that to be creative is good. But one should not extend ideas beyond what is legally acceptable.

14 September 2013

Lord Hope on 'Writing Judgments'

This is a short post inspired by Lord Hope's 'Writing Judgments'. In his 2005 Judicial Studies Board Annual Lecture, Lord Hope examines judgment-writing's requirements, who is best at such writing, and some issues and praise to watch out for.

12 September 2013

Discriminate! Selecting Material for Analysis

This article delivers the promise in a recent post-map. I examine discrimination in its analytical sense and consider how law students may profit from it. Graham Ferris considers educational theory in relation to John Dewey, then remarks that discrimination precedes analysis.1 Karl Llewellyn considers discrimination in a similar sense as Ferris, but writes about it with different words.2

7 September 2013

Climbing the Mountain: How to Simplify Reading Goals

In a recent post, I considered an evolutionary biology metaphor's usefulness for learning law.1 In this post, I take that idea a step further, and show how climbing a mountain's slope is easier than scaling its cliffs. R (The Plantagenet Alliance Ltd) v SS for Justice and the University of Leicester is examined.

2 September 2013

Quartered Curricula: Themes for Pedagogy (book review)

The Process of Education by Jerome S Bruner (pp 97, Vintage 1960)

In light of my recent post-map this essay exposits Bruner's, The Process of Education.1 The book is a lucid account for a scholarly meeting in 1959 where scholars discussed teaching science's methods and content (vii). Though dated, four themes were derived and are still relevant to learning and curriculum design today.

31 August 2013

Evolutionary Perspectives

This post is a map for some intended posts. After reading Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion,1 a structure for my next few posts is clear. The relationships between his analogies and some legal ideas are listed below. These relationships inform the structure with which I will approach certain topics. To avoid solely writing an online calendar, I explore some details about the relationships.

27 August 2013

How to Arrange Digital Research

When you research a topic online, you will likely find and download many sources. Many of these will be rubbish.* I have a system for reminding me which sources I have determined are useless, and which I will reference in my writing, and/or read again. This post offers my solution, which is a little more complex than it needs to be--but I like it.

24 August 2013

How to Structure an Argument

This post explores the structure for a basic argument. I plan to build upon this post in more detail in the future. For now, it is useful for readers to have a copy of the basic framework many others and I use to construct arguments. (The examples in this post are not legal; I do not want to complicate this simple framework with legal analysis. This approach may make the post vague, but it seems pertinent to start as simple as possible.)

19 August 2013

Bennett v Southwell: Persuasive Structure and Word-Selection

Nothing legally extraordinary happens in Bennett v Southwell but it is an example of a good argument and technique. It shows how:
  1. Word-selection increases persuasiveness;
  2. The order in which those words are structured is important; and
  3. Neither (i) nor (ii) matter if the underlying logic is flawed.

15 August 2013

Swimmingly Obvious: Stanley Fish and Free Speech

Stanley Fish argues about free expression's latent impossibility;1 there are too many barriers to truly-free speech. Texas v Johnson concerns defining speech and recognising its legal limits once defined. Speech in any form requires interpretation--even the mundane--so what readers think writers mean is not necessarily what writers try to say.2 In this post I explore Fish's remarks on free speech. While I agree that free speech is factually restricted, I disagree with his path to that conclusion.

12 August 2013

What is Analysis?: an Answer, an Example, and Advice

Analysis is everywhere in university. Lecturers go on about it. Handbooks declare its need in uppercase. Guidance notes beg you not to forget it. And it often follows essay titles. Normally, this use is accompanied by the qualifier 'critically', but that is a topic for another post, while this one defines analysis, explains its importance, tries to show how analysis works with reference to case law, and shows how it might be used to improve your writing.

8 August 2013

Words for Writing: If

There are certain words that good essay writing cannot be without.* 'If' is one of them. This post explains why, and how to use 'if' to improve your essay writing. 'If' indicates possibilities. Readers enjoy possibilities; for example, it may be fiction's whole purpose--where readers escape into worlds nonexistent before some author asked, 'if this or that happens, what next?' Non-fiction readers are similar: they seek new possibilities at knowledge's edges; new interpretations to help understand what went before.

4 August 2013

Experience Analysis! (book review)

Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: Theory, Method and Research by Jonathan Smith, Paul Flowers, and Michael Larkin (pp 225, Sage 2009)

IPA is a research method in psychology. A subject is interviewed with probing questions. The method is referred to as a double hermeneutic because the subject's interpretation of his or her own experience is interpreted by the researcher. Themes emerge and are analysed in light of the subject's whole story, or other subjects' similar stories.

1 August 2013

How to Write a Law Essay: Planning Time: Practical Steps

This post is a twenty-five step guide to writing a law essay; the main theme is organisation. I offer a list, which students may use to plan their time. As with almost all the advice on this site (and elsewhere) there are other ways to structure your time or plan for essay writing. I will discuss as many of those other methods as I have time to do so in other posts. For now, I hope this one helps.

30 July 2013

How to Write for Others: JBS Haldane's Advice Applied to Law

J.B.S. Haldane contributed so many words to science popularisation one must wonder how he found time to do the actual science.1 His work is relevant to ‘those interested in (…) science education and science writing’.2 I am inclined to agree, and would extend his relevance to include education and academic writing more generally. This post examines Haldane’s tips for popular writing and applies them to learning law.

26 July 2013

Gone Public

Dear Reader,

My website is now online.

There is little substantive material in posts so far; they mainly concern writing on legal and contractual-esque obligations. However, I am working to update my individual pages to ensure some useful static content is available. I hope to add some links to the Link's page today.

23 July 2013

Future, Themes, and Content: My Aims for this Blog

This post outlines my aims for this website. I explain some preliminary views on pedagogy/andragogy. This exposes themes that I will return to in future posts. Those themes are written in the site-header's subtitle: it is prudent to clarify in fuller prose than my 'Dear Reader' text on the right how I have and will link so many disciplines together with rigour and sanity. It is hoped you will be convinced my aims are attainable.

20 July 2013

Privacy Policy

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A Promise to Readers: Disclose Dancing

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Disclaimer: A Short Post for a Tall Fence

This is a short disclaimer to ensure your reputation as well as mine.