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Some featured events are listed below. For a full listing of CPL events in 2014 please refer to the events calendar.

The Fourteenth Sir David Williams Lecture: 'Not in the Public Interest' Professor Conor Gearty

Conor Gearty 'Not in the Public Interest?'On Friday 21st February 2014, Professor Conor Gearty of LSE and Matrix Chambers, delivered the 2014 Sir David Williams Lecture entitled "Not in the Public Interest", at the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge.

Separate pages containing photographs, video, and audio recordings of the lecture are available here.


CPL Conference: 'Dicey’s Lost Lectures on Comparative Constitutionalism'

On Friday 16th May 2014 the CPL hosted a conference, sponsored by Oxford University Press.

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Public Law Seminars (Faculty Members and Visitors, Ph.D students and LLM Public Law students only)

Thursday 30 January: Alysia Blackham (University of Cambridge) - 'Securing accountability of members of Parliament for misconduct: a comparative perspective'

Recent times have seen serious allegations of misconduct made against members of Parliament in common law jurisdictions. This has led to calls for more effective parliamentary and independent mechanisms to address allegations of misbehaviour. Drawing on comparative perspectives from the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and Australia, this paper considers the means by which Parliaments can deal with members’ misconduct. This paper draws on material recently published in the Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal (Blackham and Williams, 2013).

Thursday 12 February: Hanna Wilberg (University of Auckland) - 'Any Room for Deference on Relevance Grounds?'

Should courts in judicial review ever pull back from simply substituting their view as to what considerations are relevant and what purposes are proper for the exercise of the statutory power under review? How should these grounds of review be conceptualized? English courts treat these grounds as involving questions of law, and they do not defer on questions of law. Canadian courts, on the other hand, do defer on questions of law – but paradoxically, they have been slow to do so on relevance and purpose grounds. My paper explores whether there is any rhyme or reason to all this.

Thursday 27 February: David Feldman (University of Cambridge) - ''Error of law' and the effects of flawed administrative decisions'

The common assumptions that all public law errors are errors of law and that all errors of law make resulting decisions invalid are inconsistent with authority. As a result, there is a need to analyse carefully the principles guiding judicial decisions as to the legal status and effects of flawed administrative decision. My paper will explain the first of these claims, and seek to develop a realistic picture of factors affecting the effectiveness of flawed decisions.

Thursday 13 March: Cora Chan (University of Hong Kong) - 'Securing accountability of members of Parliament for misconduct: a comparative perspective'

Hong Kong’s post-handover constitution stipulates a preliminary reference procedure that was modelled upon article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (ex Art.234 EC, Art.177 EEC). This paper explores the possibility and limits of transposing article 267 principles to Hong Kong for resolving key issues that courts in Hong Kong face in implementing the reference procedure.

Thursday 29 May: Professor Myles V Lynk (Peter Kiewit Foundation Professor of Law at Arizona State University) - 'Judicial Review and Statutory Interpretation in the Supreme Court of the United States: Current Issues'

Professor Lynk is the Peter Kiewit Foundation Professor of Law at Arizona State University where he teaches Administrative Law (along with civil procedure and legal ethics). Professor Lynk has a distinguished career in several aspects of American government including service in the White House as Assistant Director on the White House Domestic Policy Staff 1979-80, on the legal staff of the Special Counsel to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct of the U.S. House of Representatives, investigating allegations of improper conduct involving Congressmen. In practice he has advised on many governance and regulatory issues. He has been appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to two terms on the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules of the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Thursday 23 October: John Bell (University of Cambridge) - 'The Accountability of Judges'

The paper offers a framework for understanding how judges are accountable for their decisions and so are perceived as legitimate. The paradigm of accountability is linked to trust based on the performance of a public service. Unlike the statements such as the European Judges Charter (1997) and the views of some judges, we need to look beyond giving reasons for specific decisions or outcomes as the primary mechanism for accountability, particularly outside the common law systems, even though that reason giving is important. The first part of the paper tries to articulate an appropriate conception of accountability for the judicial role. The second part then examines the mechanisms which make the institution of judging appear legitimate such that individual decisions are received out of a background of broad trust and confidence that judges are serving the interest of justice and providing a service in the interests of the public.

Thursday 13 November: Emma Lees (University of Cambridge) - 'The Role of the Judiciary in Environmental Decision-Making'

Examination of the judicial approach to questions of interpretation in environmental regulation reveals the complexity of judicial review in a context of scientific uncertainty. In particular, the distinction between questions of fact and law influences the balance of power between regulator and courts. This presentation will argue that it appears that the judiciary has abandoned responsibility relating to interpretation of environmental law, and this poses significant problems for the operation of judicial review.

Thursday 4 December: Kirsty Hughes (University of Cambridge) - 'The Normative Content of Human Rights - The Right to Privacy'

My forthcoming book examines the content of the right to privacy contained in Article 8 ECHR. The book draws together privacy theory and the jurisprudence to examine the development and limits of the right. Underpinning that analysis is the argument that there should be some normative content to the right; that there should be some notion of what a right to privacy entails, when it is engaged, and what is lost when it is infringed. In this research seminar I will examine the ways in which the right is addressed by courts, the reasons behind limited engagement with the normative content, and the consequences of this for the development of the right.