Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Welcome to:

Celebrating success and gaining from the experience

Wednesday 19th May

L.R.S. has just organised a lunch time event to celebrate the success of our colleagues who have passed their vivas this year. Unfortunately some of them won’t be around but we will still cherish their achievements.

In this gathering Research students and all those interested were given the opportunity to learn from our two successful members: Sarah Vigers and Elizabeth Shaw who have happily shared their experience with us.

With our best Regards,
[L.R.S. Team]

Legal Research Society School of Law
University of Aberdeen Taylor Building Aberdeen AB24 3UB Scotland

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Head of State: Legal Debat About The UK's Election. Legal Research Society. 22 April 2010

Head of State: Legal Discussion About The UK Election. Legal Research Society. 22 April 2010

There is a general feeling that the recent debate in Britain between the main party leaders was rather staid compared to the more theatrical style of the U.S Presidential debate on which it was modelled. Perhaps the British electorate would prefer the plain-spoken, tell-it-like-it-is politics of Chris Rock's prescient spoof of the U.S Presidential election. "Head of State" starts Chris Rock as an unlikely democratic for the presidency of the United State, who goes on to win over the electorate by shunning the political point-scoring and spin employed by other candidates and speaking forthrightly about issues that really concern people. Could such a tactic work for the political underdog in Britain.

The screening of this sassy political satire was followed by a discussion of the recent and the forthcoming political debate in Britain, as well as the General Election that will follow them. in particular we intended to discuss the implications of this on the British Constitutional Law and the increased impetus for reforming our electoral system. Does the increasing influence of the Liberal Democrats herald the end of our first-pass-the-post voting system? We have the debates, would we go so far as to import a written constitution as the Liberal Democrats would like?

After watching this film an open debate began amongst the audience. Questions were raised and answered in a friendly manner. Among the most interesting questions were:

UK has borrowed the presidential debate style from US could Britain borrow more? for example, could UK accept a non-white person as a prime-minster?

An economic student from Ghana commented: if we can't see black people on top of any council in UK, how can we see a prime-minster here. He questioned whether there was any top official who is not white in UK?

Another question was: Can an independent person (not belonging to any of the main parties in UK) become a candidate for the position of prime-minster?

Ahmad, an Iranian Lawyer and a PhD student at the Law school in Aberdeen, pointed out that the last election debate we had in Iran was even more open. A student from China asked:is Iran a democratic country? Ahmad, answered, yes, but in its own way. We do not have the American system. He proceeded, corruption in Iran may be found like in many other countries but we must not exaggerate the situation.

A question followed on the same theme: how can it be democratic in the USA when you have only two candidates from the whole US running for election?

Is UK a democratic country when only the elite can be candidates in election? can we have a non-white candidate in UK?

These questions among many others were discussed in this illuminating session. Please feel free to add a comment.

Best Regards,

L.R.S. Team

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Welcome to L.R.S.

Justice Greanwood the International Court
of Justice judge is third from the left
The Legal Research Society is active at home and abroad. Six of its members travelled to The Hague last summer to visit some of the top international judicial bodies. The study trip included visits to the Peace Palace which houses the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), to the Organisation of the Prevention of Chemical Weapons as well as to The Hague Conference on Private International Law and to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The group met Justice Greenwood, judge on the ICJ, as well as Xavier-Jean Mohamed Keïta, head of the Office of Public Counsel for the Defence at the International Criminal Court. They also had a stopover at Leiden University to speak to peer researchers there. After returning to Aberdeen, they reported back to their colleagues in a feedback meeting at the Law School. The LRS thanks all who helped make this event possible.
In 2008/09 the Society has furthermore been organising various activities ranging from relaxed tea sessions to an Essay Competition, round table discussions and movie screenings. This year too LRS promises more and even better events building on what its team has achieved and learned last year. You can find out more about LRS by emailing .

Monday, February 22, 2010

Murder isn't always a crime? [Double Jeopardy]

L.R.S has organised

A Movie Night (Double Jeopardy)

Followed by Legal Discussion on

Wednesday 17th February 2010

“Double Jeopardy”, starring Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive and No Country for Old Men) and Ashley Judd (Where the Heart is and High Crimes) is a tense and slick American thriller. The plot centres around a fundamental legal doctrine within the American legal system, namely the constitutional protection against double jeopardy (being tried for the same crime twice) afforded by the fifth amendment. It is highly doubtful, however, that the drafters of the American Constitution had in mind the creative use of double jeopardy employed by the film’s protagonist to exploit the fact that she had previously been acquitted of the murder of her husband to do just that without the prospect of going to prison.

Although the film is set in America, double jeopardy exists in other legal systems influenced by the common law, including Scotland where there was a recent review of the legal doctrine carried out by the Scottish Law Commission following a reference by the Scottish Government after the World’s End murder trial. Therefore, the film was followed by a discussion of the somewhat equivocal and rather criticised Scottish Law Commission report which was published in December last year.

Discussion Followed the Movie Screening

The movie has indeed sparked so many ideas and triggered the opinion of the audience who have argued for different (some time contradicting) perspectives.

First of all, the majority thought that it is very difficult to accept that such a hypothetical case, as in the movie, could happen in reality. This is because, they argued, the difference in time of when the first crime and the last happened is a sufficient factor to open a new trial for the considered new case.

There was some discussion of the Scottish Law Commission’s Report, which recommended a partial reform of the law of Double Jeopardy following the World’s End case.

Afterwards some argued that we should reopen a trial if more evidence became available regardless of the double jeopardy principle. Whereas, some stood up for the principle and argued that regardless of the reason, a trial should not be reopened and the tried person should never live in that pain of being reminded of being accused of the crime in spite of technology advances that could provide us with new evidence e.g. DNA evidence.

I argued that the question we should ask is: what do we intend by having a criminal law applied. Is our intention to try to punish every criminal or is it the personal and general deterrence that we are after?

Loraine, from Germany, answered that in the past ten years the attitude have been quite punitive and not rehabilitative in Germany. In fact it has been quite clear that we are dealing with criminals on the bases of them and us.

A participant from the sociology school argued that this attitude is real not only in Germany but even in the United States where she was residing before. Especially when minorities and different races are concerned, she said, you see the ‘system’ dealing with the accused as the ‘other’ who should be remanded in custody regardless of what motivations there were from the criminal act if it was ever committed by the same person.

George, an International Relations student have argued that insecurity is what behind all this miss. If we feel confident we will never commit crime and we will never hurt the accused rather we will be trying to help criminals to get over it.

This was only a brief summary for the discussion and if you require any further assistance with the topic please feel free to contact us and we shall try our best to help.

Khaled Bashir

Friday, January 29, 2010

L.R.S organised a Movie night (Shooting Dogs) followed by a Legal iscussion on Thursday 28th January.

According to Wikipedia: Shooting Dogs, released in the United States as Beyond the Gates, is a 2005 film, directed by Michael Caton-Jones and starring John Hurt, Hugh Dancy and Claire-Hope Ashitey. It is based on the experiences of BBC news producer David Belton, who worked in Rwanda during the Rwandan Genocide. Belton is the film's co-writer and one of its producers.
The setting of the film is the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO) in Kigali, Rwanda in 1994, during the Rwandan Genocide. Hurt plays a Catholic priest (loosely based on Vjekoslav Ćurić[1]) and Dancy an English teacher, both Westerners, who are caught up in the events of the genocide.
Unlike Hotel Rwanda, which was filmed in South Africa using South African actors, the film was shot in the original location of the scenes it portrays. Also, many survivors of the massacre were employed as part of the production crew and minor acting roles.
The film's title refers to the actions of UN soldiers in shooting at the stray dogs that scavenged the bodies of dead. Since the UN soldiers were not allowed to shoot at the Hutu extremists that had caused the deaths in the first place, the shooting of dogs is symbolic of the madness of the situation that the film attempts to capture.

The main points discussed in this session were how can humanity avoid fallen into tragedies like the Rwandan one in 1994? How can we make sure that states will only use force in a humanitarian intervention without being motivated by other unclean hidden agenda?

Furthermore, some argued that it is most worrying to stand still while tragedies like this happen in different parts of the world. In the same time we do not want to provide greedy powerful nations the legal tool to utilise in their new colonisation plans or to serve their own interests while intervening in other states’ domestic affairs, a member of the audience pointed.

For more information about the concept of humanitarian intervention you can contact us by email or just add your request as a comment below.