Approximately a third of public sector spending goes to procure third-party goods, services, and works. Procurement rules and policies seek to ensure that contract awards are free from corruption, conflicts of interest or anticompetitive practices, and that these vast sums of public funds generate value for money and support social, environmental, and innovative practices. There is always room for improvement, though. The adoption of digital technologies is seen as a strategic catalyst for procurement reform, to increase the effectiveness of procurement regulation. Digitalisation could reduce the administrative burden through automation, generate data insights to inform policies and boost efficiency in public spending, and serve as a living lab for GovTech experimentation.
However, the transformative potential presumed in digital technologies generates hype and excessive expectations on the true size and nature of the achievable improvements. It also tends to overshadow the required groundwork and preparatory investment. New digital governance risks and requirements are not always recognised or understood. The growing public sector digital capability gap raises further obstacles. Heightened expectations and a minimisation of the challenges can get on the way of successful reform. In ongoing research funded by the British Academy, I apply an innovative technology-centred methodology to assess the governance opportunities and challenges for procurement digitalisation. This blog post provides a summary of the main findings so far. I will also be discussing them with a stellar panel on 15 December 2022 (details and registration). (more…)
The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill (“the Bill”) is likely to have the reverse effect to what it aims to achieve: economic growth and business certainty (Explanatory Notes to the Bill) through clarification/simplification of UK law post-Brexit. There is lack of clarity, requiring lawyers and business advisers to search through layers of material to establish which “retained laws” are being targeted, the Retained EU Law Dashboard is not easy to navigate and nor does its list of relevant legislative instruments correspond to other official publications such as that of the House of Commons Library Briefing Paper, Legislating for Brexit: Statutory Instruments Implementing EU Law. Moreover, the sunsetting deadlines for the targeted retained laws are likely to force the relevant departments to experience the dilemma of causing laws to expire without consulting the public fully, applying full Parliamentary scrutiny, or restating retained laws with inadequate resources to make such restatements sufficiently effective (Travers Smith: The Retained EU Law Bill: another Brexit cliff edge looms? October 2022). The resulting uncertainty that businesses will endure from this Bill and the regulatory gaps, at least in the short term, leave one wondering as to the value of the rush to legislate in this way. This blog focuses on the company law impacts as an example of the complexities and problems likely to arise, not just in the company law arena but in other important areas the development of which has been influenced significantly by European legislation, such as environment law. (more…)
A woman held at the Manston holding facility in Kent is taking legal action against Home Secretary Suella Braverman. The asylum seeker claims that she was held unlawfully in “egregiously defective conditions” at the centre. Her case is supported by the organisation Detention Action, and another case is being put forward by the charity Bail for Immigration Detainees. Braverman has denied ignoring legal advice about conditions at the centre, which is meant for a maximum of 1,600 people but was holding more than 4,000 and has had outbreaks of norovirus, scabies and diphtheria. Braverman has been accused of not making alternative arrangements, such as hotel bookings, to accommodate the additional people. The Manston facility has become a flashpoint for criticism of the government’s current and past policies, and treatment of asylum seekers. But the situation at Manston is not just dismal, it is a violation of legal requirements in international law, domestic law and the government’s own policies. (more…)
Following the Brexit referendum, most environmental law scholars became preoccupied that domestic environmental standards may decrease, both substantively and procedurally. After all, the majority of domestic environmental law derives from EU law and the EU institutions have played a seminal role in enforcing environmental law.
Years later, the preoccupation has not faded away.
There have been numerous developments in the field. I do not intend to provide a comprehensive review here but to focus on one area of environmental law that is attracting much attention lately. No, it is not climate change. It is nature. (more…)
Introduction: The competing camps on alleged sexual offences
Our existing contemporary moment can be characterised in terms of an increasingly divided society along strict adversarial lines. Whether it be the recent public conversations about Brexit, COVID vaccinations, climate change or mere routine day-to-day political debates, there seems little or no place for balance, nuance, nor objectivity. Indeed, in whatever debate one cares to consider, the choice presented to us seems to be to simply pick a side where: ‘you are either with us or against us’; ‘in or out’; ‘one of us or one of them’; ‘a friend or an enemy’. (more…)
On 14 April 2022, the UK and the Rwandan governments signed an MoU outlining plans for transferring asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda. The MoU has been subject to much criticism from academics, NGOs and the UNHCR. Criticism has focussed, first, on the attempts by the UK to divest itself of responsibility for asylum seekers. Second, it has highlighted the potential for further abuses of refugee and human rights law to occur against transferred individuals in Rwanda. The MoU is the latest in a range of mechanisms whereby States in the Global North attempt to externalise their borders and shift responsibility for refugees onto Global South states. (more…)
In June this year, there was a revolution in the English court system. Under the Small Claims Paper Determination Pilot, some claimants seeking £1,000 or less lost the right to an oral hearing of their case. In pilot areas, only small claims involving a ‘significant factual dispute’ or ‘complex’ issues will be allowed their day in open court. If you are bringing a claim in the pilot area for something like a parking ticket, or flight delay compensation, or have another kind of low-value dispute with another person or company, you will not be able to have your argument presented in person. Regardless of your wishes, you will have to write your argument down and the judge will decide without anyone there.
“Treat someone as they are and they will remain as they are. Treat someone as they can and should be and they will become as they can and should be.”
― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The question of how to achieve good outcomes from online classrooms is a problem that has recently faced teachers and lecturers in all disciplines and at all educational levels. In this blog post, I reflect on the experience of leading online classes in a number of different contexts during the course of the global pandemic. I argue that good online classrooms do not emerge from nowhere, instead good online classrooms are created through strong expectations. (more…)
The explosion in social media platforms and their ever-increasing role in our lives since the mid-2000s has forced us to consider deep and important questions about how we interact, how we talk to each other and communicate in the 21st century. There are a litany of charges levelled against social media platforms, including the incitement of hatred and violence (there are credible claims that Facebook enabled a genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.); encouraging polarization and echo chambers; harvesting our data in pursuit of surveillance capitalism and promoting false and harmful lifestyles. Discord, Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok. All of them have come under justified fire. (more…)