Was Russia’s Attack on the Maternity Hospital in Mariupol a Violation of International Humanitarian Law?

This post is part of a short series of blog posts exploring the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine against the background rules of international law. The posts are based on presentations given at an event on the subject on 7 March that was organised by the University of Bristol Law School’s Centre for International Law.

In this first blog post of the series, Professor Noëlle Quénivet from the University of the West of England introduces us to the question of the compatibility of Russia’s invasion with international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict).

by Noëlle Quénivet, Professor in International Law, University of West of England

In the last few weeks, the press has reported numerous instances of attacks by Russian forces on cities, hospitals, airports, nuclear power plants, places of worships, etc. The list is very long. But are all these attacks automatically unlawful, as often claimed in press reports? After explaining the legal framework to determine the lawfulness of these attacks, this post, using the example of the attack on hospitals, and more specifically the maternity hospital in Mariupol, illustrates how the targeting rules apply and argues that, even in the case of an attack against medical facilities, the answer is not always a straight: ‘it is unlawful’. (more…)

Apparent authority: what is the English law position on reliance?

by Mark Campbell, Senior Lecturer, Law School

Within English private law (and indeed other common law systems) many legal tests adopt a reasonableness standard. Various aspects of negligence liability are assessed in that way. The same is true in the law of contract: consider, for example, contractual formation and remoteness of damage.

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Eating Difficulties and the Law: A new book chapter co-authored by a Law School academic and an alumnus

by Judy Laing & Rachel Jenkins

Over the last 20-30 years, the prevalence of eating difficulties has increased to become a widespread experience across the UK and worldwide. Worryingly, levels have risen significantly since the COVID pandemic began in 2020, particularly in children and young people.  The Parliamentary Health and Social Care Committee recently examined children and young person’s mental health in England and commented that: (more…)

Tackling Terrorism in Britain: What are the Threats, Responses, and Challenges Twenty Years After 9/11?

by Steven Greer, Professor of Human Rights, University of Bristol Law School

Introduction

Twenty years ago the world witnessed the horrific events of 9/11. A great deal has happened on the counterterrorist front since. For one thing, the term ‘war on terror’, which never had any official traction in the UK anyway, has all but disappeared from the serious debate. Nevertheless, the threat of terrorism, and the struggle against it, persist around the globe. The UK is no stranger to either, at home or abroad. In fact, taking various forms and manifesting in several phases, the British experience has spanned at least a century and a half rather than simply the past two decades. Today, three distinct types of domestic terrorism – dissident Irish republican, far right, and particularly jihadi – predominate. A suite of counterterrorist laws and policies has been deployed to address the challenges they present.  (more…)

Can artificial intelligence bring corruption in public procurement to an end?

By Professor Albert Sanchez-Graells, Professor of Economic Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Global Law and Innovation (University of Bristol Law School)

Preventing, detecting, and sanctioning corruption in public procurement is one of the main goals of all systems of regulation applicable to the expenditure of public funds via contract (see eg Williams-Elegbe, 2012). Despite constant and regularly renewed efforts to fight procurement corruption at an international (such as the UN Convention against Corruption, or the 2016 OECD’s Preventing Corruption in Public Procurement report) and domestic level (see eg the UK’s 2020 ‘Local government procurement: fraud and corruption risk review’), corruption remains a pervasive problem in any given jurisdiction. Of course, there are different forms and degrees of corruption infiltration in different procurement systems but – if any evidence was needed that no system is corruption-free – pandemic-related procurement served as a clear reminder that this is the case (see eg Transparency International, 2021; as well as Good Law Project v Cabinet Office [2021] EWHC 1569 (TCC)). It should then not be surprising that the possibility that artificial intelligence (AI) could ‘change the rules of the game’ (eg Santiso, 2019) and bring procurement corruption to an end is receiving significant attention. In a recent paper*, I critically assess the contribution that AI can make to anti-corruption efforts in the public procurement context and find that, while it could make a positive incremental contribution, it will not transform this area of regulation and, in any case, AI’s potential is significantly constrained by existing data architectures and due process requirements.  (more…)

Study Skills Series: Formative Assessment

by Robert Craig, University of Bristol Law School

[The introduction to the series can be found here]

This post is written as if addressed to a student who is about to attempt a formative in my subject which is constitutional law.

Writing legal essays is probably the most important key skill you need to master. Try to structure your answer in a logical manner. Human beings like stories and those of us who mark your formatives and summatives are, contrary to certain vicious rumours put about by second year law students, definitely human. One helpful idea is to imagine you are writing to a senior professor in another subject (e.g., the Head of Bristol Law School, Ken Oliphant, who for some weird reason is not a public lawyer. He is, sadly, a tort lawyer – such a waste of a fine brain). (more…)

Smart doorbells: Can you use them without infringing a neighbour’s privacy?

by Andrew Charlesworth, Professor of Law, Innovation and Society, University of Bristol

Trusted Reviews

As any local solicitor can tell you, some of the most bitter legal disputes originate from disagreements between neighbours. Whether it’s property boundaries, loud music or parking spaces, what might initially be minor irritations can gradually lead to a full-blown court battle. A relatively recent development in neighbour conflicts are clashes centred on home surveillance products, such as CCTV cameras and smart doorbells. These technologies, which may capture footage beyond the householder’s property, can pit householders against neighbours who feel their homes and private lives are being unfairly spied upon. (more…)

Study Skills Series: Taking part in classes

by Robert Craig, University of Bristol Law School

[The introduction to the series can be found here]

In classes, it might be thought to be better to choose your own moment to contribute rather than perhaps be randomly asked a direct question that you were not expecting by the tutor in the class. They will be trying to involve you in order to encourage you to make the best use of classes, which are designed to help you develop and test your ideas and reactions to the material by discussing them with your tutor and peers. But, to repeat, it is far better for you to pick a good moment to contribute something, even if it is just a question. (more…)

What Are Law Schools For?

by Foluke Adebisi, University of Bristol Law School

I wrote an article as part of a special issue that reflects on the state of the traditional law school and legal education. The full text is open access and can be accessed here or through your local library or other institutional channels. The purpose of the article was to think through the role of law schools in local and global society, especially in teaching the world to our students, especially if we want to engage with the possibility of changing the world. (more…)

Study Skill Series: Proactive Learning

by Robert Craig, University of Bristol Law School

[The introduction to the series can be found here]

Law is a subject where there is usually a strong correlation between effort and progress. Experience with generations of law students suggests that it is a bad idea to “leave things until later” in your class preparation because it is much harder to come back to things, from scratch, when they are not fresh in your mind. Also, the volume of material can quickly add up. Little and often is better and, incidentally, pacing yourself well over time also helps you to learn and remember the content far more easily – not to mention that the discipline of training your mind to keep plugging away regularly is a useful, and marketable, life skill. You will be justified in giving yourself a little pat on the back when you get to the revision period if you are actually revising rather than “catching up”. (more…)