Impact of Law School Research
Researchers in the Law School undertake a wide variety of research, much of which has produced a direct and tangible impact beyond the academy. This impact might be on court decisions, on public policy made by central and local government and international organisations, or on the activities of NGOs or charities. Listed below are some of our current impacts.
Professor Paul Almond's research on the policy and practice of health and safety regulation, as an area of legal control over corporate offending, has in recent years looked primarily at the social status and public profile of this area of law. The evidence gathered has had a significant impact on policy discussions in the area during a period of considerable change. His research into the significance and prevalence of 'regulatory myths' within the policy sphere was referenced in the DWP's Löfstedt Review of 2011, and he also fed empirical evidence about public attitudes towards workplace safety into the Cabinet Office's Young Review of 2010. He recently completed a project looking at The Changing Legitimacy of Health and Safety, 1960-2015, which was funded by IOSH. This has generated a wide range of recommendations which are being filtered through to practitioner audiences and policymakers via an ongoing programme of conference presentations, publications, and other engagement activities.
Professor Susan Breau has been asked by the Kurdish Institute in Brussels to prepare a research report on the existence of, and classification of, the armed conflict in the Middle East involving the Kurdish peoples. This conflict involves Kurdish peoples in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. She has made a presentation of her preliminary findings to the 12th Conference on the European Union, Turkey and the Kurds held at the European Parliament on the 26th and 27th of January 2016. Her final report will be presented to various international organisations for response including various senior officials in the United Nations and European Parliament. She will also be preparing an academic article for publication with her PhD student Max Brookman-Byrne on the various international law issues associated with this conflict.
Dr Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne's research in international humanitarian law has had an impact on law and policy in a number of varied ways. His work on detention in non-international armed conflict, for example, was cited by the Court of Appeal in England & Wales and has informed his engagement with organisations such as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which he has advised. Furthermore, his work on the use of armed drones in military operations has led to considerable engagement with international and civil society organisations. Within this field, he has advised the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions, co-written evidence on the subject for the UK's Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, and been appointed by the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association to a Task Force on armed drones.
Professor Chris Hilson's journal article 'Policies, the Non-Fetter Principle and The Principle of Substantive Legitimate Expectations: Between a Rock and a Hard Place?' (2006) 11 Judicial Review 289 was cited by the Supreme Court of Kenya in the case Communications Commission of Kenya & 5 others v Royal Media Services Limited & 5 others  eKLR. Another article, 'Rights and Principles in EU Law: A Distinction Without Foundation' (2008) 15 Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law 193 was cited by the UK Government in its pre-referendum review of EU competences (HM Government, 'Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union: Fundamental Rights' (2014)).
In 2014, he also acted as an expert witness for Friends of the Earth Scotland in a public local inquiry on unconventional gas in Airth. This involved drafting two written submissions (one on statutory climate duties and Scottish planning law and one on gaps in the Scottish environmental regulation of unconventional gas) and appearing in person at the inquiry. The planning inquiry decision was subsequently called in by Ministers and, on 28th January 2015, a moratorium on unconventional gas came into effect in Scotland, pending, inter alia, improvement to the planning guidance and environmental regulations.
Dr Beatrice Krebs's research on the doctrine of joint enterprise (also known as parasitic accessory liability or Chan Wing-Siu principle) has had an impact on the development of criminal law doctrine and practice in the area of accessorial liability. Her article 'Mens Rea in Joint Enterprise: a Role for Endorsement?' (2015) 74 Cambridge Law Journal 480-504 was cited to the Supreme Court and Privy Council during their joint hearing of R v Jogee  UKSC 8 and Ruddock v The Queen  UKPC 7 and was influential in the decision to abolish parasitic accessory liability in England and Wales. She was invited by Felicity Gerry QC, acting on behalf of the defendant Jogee, to attend the hearing as an academic advisor for the defence. Her work has also been cited in other jurisdictions which continue to recognise extended modes of liability similar to the English doctrine of joint enterprise. For example, her paper 'Joint Criminal Enterprise' (2010) 73 Modern Law Review 578-604 is discussed in some detail by the New South Wales Law Reform Commission in their 2010 report on 'Complicity'. More recently, her work on joint enterprise has been cited in submissions to the High Court of Australia in the cases of Wayne Douglas Smith v The Queen (Case No. A22/2015) and Tristan Kay Castle v The Queen (Case No. A24/2016). The 2016 exploratory study of 'Joint Enterprise: Righting a wrong turn?' by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, Birkbeck, University of London and the Prison Reform Trust refers to her work on joint enterprise and endorsement.
Professor Chris Newdick's research has developed an approach which enables NHS health authorities to explain and defend the difficult rationing decisions required of them - especially as public service budgets are constrained. He drafted the Thames Valley Ethical Framework for guiding these decisions and is a member of the NHS Priorities Committee that advises local NHS commissioners on achieving best value for the greatest number of patients in the NHS.
In August 2016, Professor Newdick was appointed by the Welsh Government to join a team making recommendations to NHS Wales on improving the system of individual funding requests from patients whose NHS treatment would not normally be funded.
The Japanese government's official justification for retaining the death penalty is that public support for the death penalty is so strong and entrenched in Japanese culture that abolition is not possible. Dr Mai Sato recently completed a 2-year project examining public attitudes towards - and justifications of - retention of the death penalty. Her work was funded by UK, German, Swiss and Norwegian foreign offices, the European Commission, and the Daiwa Foundation. Her report showed that contrary to the government's claim the Japanese public is more discerning in its attitude and is, in fact, largely ready for abolition of capital punishment. The accompanying documentary - The Wavering Public? The Death Penalty, Justice and Public Opinion - (available in Japanese with English subtitles) explored what the death penalty means to ordinary citizens living in a retentionist state - one in which much of the practice surrounding the death penalty remains secretive and discreet. Her work influenced the decision by the Japan Federation of Bar Association to submit a draft declaration to become an abolitionist organisation. The project has also led the Japanese government to release the government survey data. Her work was cited in The Telegraph, The Japan Times, and Asahi Shimbun. Her project has led to collaborations with NGOs and international organisations. She is currently working with the Death Penalty Project (a London based NGO) to carry out further empirical work in other retentionist countries, and is involved in consultancy work with the UN.
In 2014, Dr Charlotte Smith curated the summer exhibition at the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The exhibition - A Court at the Crossroads of Empire - was co-curated with Dr Nandini Chatterjee at the University of Exeter and drew upon the expertise of colleagues from across the UK and Israel, as well as on Charlotte's developing research on the transmission of the common law and the formation of what became the Worldwide Anglican Communion (see Smith, C. (2012) Bishop of Natal v Gladstone (1866). In: Mitchell, C. and Mitchell, P. (eds.) Landmark Cases Equity. Hart, pp. 305-328. ISBN 9781849461542). Using a series of case studies drawing upon the personal stories of litigants, the exhibition explored the role played by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) as an evolving hub of the British Empire - both shaping and shaped by a wide range of different cultures and communities - and how the judges serving on the JCPC applied the common law to both translate and mediate at the crossroads of Britain's colonial interests. The exhibition, which was visited by approximately 26,000 people, ran alongside a number of public events, including two public lectures, a workshop which brought together leading stakeholders, both researchers and archivists, to examine the archives of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and their use in future research, and a series of schools days led by Charlotte Smith.
Dr Mark Wilde's research has had an impact on an aspect of English common law which has been entrenched since 1895. In 2014 the Supreme Court cited Mark's research on the equitable discretion to award damages in lieu of an injunction in the context of claims in private nuisance (introduced by Lord Cairn's Act 1858): see Coventry v Lawrence  UKSC 13. Normally, a successful claimant in a nuisance action would be entitled to an injunction to prevent the continuance of the nuisance. However, if the court uses its discretion to award damages instead, the claimant must accept a once and for all financial settlement as compensation; this may mean that the nuisance continues. The courts have always been very reluctant to use the discretion because it could be unfair to the claimant and forcibly deprive him of his right to the undisturbed use and enjoyment of his property. For nearly 120 years the leading authority on the use of the discretion had been the Court of Appeal decision in Shelfer v City of London Electric Lighting Corporation (1895) 1 Ch 287. This established narrow criteria for using the discretion which have been even more narrowly construed in most subsequent judgments. Mark argued that the courts have applied the criteria in an overly restrictive manner. There are circumstances in which there may be sound public policy reasons for awarding damages instead of an injunction such as the loss of jobs etc arising from the closure of a plant. It has been very difficult to accommodate these public policy arguments within the scope of the criteria. Mark adopted a historical approach to show that it was never Parliament's (or Lord Cairn's) intention to prevent the courts from considering public interest issues when deciding whether to use the discretion. Moreover, the Shelfer criteria have served to fetter the courts' discretion in a manner which is antipathetic to the principles of equity.
The Coventry case concerned a private nuisance action brought by local residents against the proprietors of a motorcycle speedway stadium in respect of noise. The case is very important because it revisits many fundamental aspects of private nuisance which have not been considered by the House of Lords and the Supreme Court as its successor for many decades. One of the issues concerned the equitable discretion to award damages in lieu of an injunction. The Supreme Court stated that it was time to loosen the Shelfer criteria and that the courts should be freer to consider public interest considerations. Lord Carnwath cited Mark's paper in support of this proposition at  and .
It is too early to tell what the long term impact of loosening the Shelfer criteria will be; however, it will make it much easier for courts to balance the rights of the claimant against the interests of the defendant. A court will be able to acknowledge the wrong done to the claimant without causing untold economic damage to the defendant. As such it may have a significant role to play in terms of liability issues flowing from many of the key infrastructure projects which are currently underway.
Professor Aleardo Zanghellini's work has been cited by the Public Advocate of the Australian state of Victoria (a public body charged with protecting the interests of people with disabilities). The report recommends, among other things, that State policies and practices should not, where at all possible, sever the relationship between parents with disabilities and their children.
Dr Ziegler's research on displacement from conflict and non-refoulement obligations of states arising from Common Article 1 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions (book chapter) has been cited approvingly in the 2016 Commentary of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). He presented his research at the 'Refuge from Inhumanity' international conference (All Souls College, University of Oxford, February 2013), at PIL/IHL research seminars at the University of Bonn (podcast) and at IDC Herzliya (September and December 2014, respectively), and at a book launch at Chatham House (February 2015); his novel interpretation was advocated by Jean-Marie Henckaerts (an ICRC legal adviser and a drafter of the commentary) (January 2015).
Dr Ziegler's research on citizenship and voting rights in relation to the disenfranchisement of convicts has been cited in the House of Commons Standard Note on Prisoners' voting rights (2005 to May 2015). He has recently been asked to join a citizenship unit of New Europeans, an NGO working in concert with Parliamentarians, civil society, and business to give a voice to citizens of other EU states residing in the UK, and to UK citizens in other EU states. Through NE, Dr Ziegler is currently involved in advancing the EU Citizens Resident in the UK (Right to Stay) Bill. He has discussed his collaborative EUDO project (edited collection) concerning the franchise for the September 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum here. He is currently researching the ramifications of the franchise for the June 2016 EU referendum which he discusses here.
Dr Ziegler conducts ongoing research (see e.g. JIANL article) on the treatment of African asylum seekers in Israel. He has been interviewed by IBA news, NPR, and Al Jazeera, and his Hebrew language papers have been cited by NGOs and in Knesset (Israel's Parliament) reports. Dr Ziegler is a Country of Origin expert for Israel in the 'Rights in Exile' Programme of the International Refugee Rights Initiative. He has also appeared in a Knesset committee hearing on behalf of the Israel Democracy Institute, where he frequently publishes position papers (English) as part of the 'democratic principles' project. In December 2012, Dr Ziegler organised a roundtable at the IDI on Israel's immigration policies with Parliamentarians, civil society, residents of affected areas, lawyers, and academics (video).