To Marry and to Burn: Punishing domestic treachery in medieval England

By Gwen Seabourne, University of Bristol Law School

Photo credit: Photo by Zachary Kadolph on Unsplash

One of the less enthusiastic endorsements of marriage is to be found in the words of St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: ‘it is better to marry than to burn’. His point was that celibacy was the best way to live, but those too weak to resist the temptations of the flesh could take the second best option of monogamous marriage. Before the Protestant Reformation in England, there were those who followed what this passage portrayed as the higher path, dedicating themselves to a life of celibacy and the service of God in monasteries and convents, but for most people, the expectation was marriage. Marriage and fire were, however, not as distant, one from the other, as St Paul’s words would imply. (more…)

Resisting Rape as Revolutionary Praxis

by Yvette Russell*, The Law School, University of Bristol

In this seminar I argue for the need to think resistance to rape as part of a much broader feminist decolonial revolutionary praxis. I approach feminist anti-rape praxis in view of the consistent failure of criminal justice but also with an eye on the political present, which is characterised by profound inequality, state violence and repression, and the outright breakdown of many aspects of the social contract. To fully comprehend what the harm of sexual violence means and why it happens, we need to insist on a critical continuity between the diagnostic aspect of feminist philosophical scholarship on rape and a theoretically robust strategy for resistance.

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Modernising the Mental Health Act: Will more rights lead to less wrongs?

by Professor Judy Laing, University of Bristol Law School

The government published a White Paper in January 2021 outlining proposals to reform the Mental Health Act in England and Wales.  The government has consulted on these proposals and the consultation period closed a few weeks ago on 21st April 2021. We now await further announcements on the government’s plans following this consultation process. I am currently engaged in a parliamentary academic fellowship, working with Lizzie Parkin (a University of Bristol alumna) in the House of Commons Library Social Policy section. The Library offers an impartial research and information service for MPs and their staff. Part of my role involves working on research briefings to inform Members of Parliament on business in the House of Commons. Mental health law reform will no doubt be debated in parliament in the coming months and I have developed a detailed research briefing on the proposals in the White Paper to assist parliamentarians with that process. (more…)

Maintaining a Former Spouse: Villiers v Villiers and family law in England, Wales & Scotland

By the ‘Fair Shares’ Project Team: Emma Hitchings, Caroline Bryson, Gillian Douglas, Susan Purdon and Donna Crowe-Urbaniak

 

Fair Shares – Sorting out money and property on divorce is a new study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, which will explore the arrangements couples reach relating to their finances and property when they divorce. Using a large-scale survey and in-depth interviews, it will examine what arrangements they make, how they arrive at them and how well they think they have met their expectations. The aim is to provide hard data for law reformers seeking to update the law, and insights for judges, practitioners and divorcing couples themselves on ‘what works’ best. (more…)

Do multiple choice tests have a role to play in academic legal education?

by Imogen Moore (University of Bristol, Law School) and Lee Price (University of West of England)

Multiple choice tests (MCTs) can get a bit of a bad rap, sometimes seen as little more than quizzes to test basic knowledge, with no real place in a respectable law programme. But the acceleration of changes to teaching and assessment in response to the pandemic should prompt further consideration of the role of MCTs in academic legal education. And such consideration is particularly timely with MCTs now a key element of assessment for professional legal qualification under the recently approved new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). (more…)

“Tailoring” the Close Connection Test for Sexual Abuse Victims: Vicarious Liability in the Court of Appeal

by Paula Giliker, Professor of Comparative Law, University of Bristol Law School.

The doctrine of vicarious liability renders a defendant strictly liable for the torts of another (X) where:

  • Stage One: the defendant is in a relationship with X which makes it fair and just for the law to make the defendant pay for the tortious conduct of X; and
  • Stage Two: there is a close connection between this relationship and X’s wrongdoing.

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Why the proposed post-Brexit procurement reform may not achieve the transformation it intends

By Professor Albert Sanchez-Graells (University of Bristol Law School).

Until recently, public procurement law and practice have rarely been at the forefront of public and political debates. The UK government’s procurement reaction to the pandemic continues to generate scathing reports—such as the most recent one on PPE procurement by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee—and the emerging lessons show the need to strengthen this area of public governance. Against this background, it is timely to reflect on the government’s recent proposals to reform public procurement law in the Green Paper ‘Transforming Public Procurement’. (more…)

‘Abusers always work from home’

by Marilyn Howard, Honorary Research Associate with the University of Bristol Law School

Image credits: Wunderman Thompson for the National Centre for Domestic Abuse

This week the House of Commons considers amendments from the House of Lords to  the Domestic Abuse Bill 2019-2021. One amendment which was debated in the Lords, but not accepted, would have  required the new Domestic Abuse Commissioner to publish a report which investigates the impact of the Universal Credit single household payment on domestic abuse survivors, and to propose alternatives. (more…)

Waiting for the (free) bus to come

by Antonia Layard, Professor of Law, University of Bristol Law School

In Scotland, children and young people will have free bus travel in 2021. They join children and young people in London who also have free travel, seeing off an attempt to take the concession away through a feisty #don’tzapthezip campaign last year. Since 2008, older and disabled people have even greater concessions, able to catch a bus anywhere in England after 9.30am on weekdays as well as  all day at weekends and on bank holidays, receiving subsidised travel as part of the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS).

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Minority report(ing) on vaccinations: Who are the priorities and the dilemma of protection

By Ben Kassten, Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, Law School.

By Daniel Paquet

Against a backdrop of disproportionate morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, the need to prioritise and protect ethnic and religious minorities as part of the UK’s new vaccine programme has been the focus of recent media, public health and government attention. My question iswhois considered a ‘priority’ andhow can public health bodies engage productively and sensitively with ethnic and religious minorities.  (more…)