From fraud and corporal punishment to asylum seekers and no-fault divorce: Bar Council rewards the brightest new ideas for law reform

Pupil barrister Ian McDonald has been announced as the winner of the first prize of £4,000 in the 2017 Law Reform Essay Competition. His essay, entitled “One rule for all: An end to the Abouloff double standard on fraud and foreign judgments” was praised by Fergus Randolph QC, Chair of the Bar Council’s Law Reform Committee, who said:

“The Committee was delighted by the overwhelming response to the essay competition with nearly 90 entries submitted.  All were of a high standard and the winners are to be congratulated.  The overall winner – Ian McDonald – has shown himself to be an outstanding legal talent and I look forward to following his progress at the Bar.

“This competition aims to help students and young barristers at the start of their careers, who are often burdened with substantial debts by the time they leave university.  The Law Reform Committee and the Bar Council more widely is committed to helping young entrants to the profession.”

Ian McDonald, upon collecting his award at the Bar Council’s 15th Annual Law Reform Lecture on 15 December, said:

“In light of our forthcoming EU departure, some recalibration of English private international law – so heavily influenced by European regulation – is inevitable. What better opportunity to reconsider our common law rules, and ensure that they too are fit for purpose in a post-Brexit world?

“One area in which they are not is the defences to recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments – the fraud defence, in particular. Given the possibility that rulings from the Courts of some European partners might again be subject to such principles, it is time for refurbishment. My paper proposes a blueprint.

“I am delighted to be this year’s winner, and grateful to the Bar Council Scholarship Trust for sponsoring the competition. The money will inevitably go towards repaying the costs of my legal education, but, fittingly, there is also a new book on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments that I have my eye on.”

The essay competition runners-up also received their prizes from the speaker at this year’s Law Reform Lecture, Baron Koen Lenaerts, President of the European Court of Justice. Runners-up were:

  • Second prize: Mark Ong – Connecting mental disorders to physical ones: an autonomy-centric reform of nonconsensual treatment under S63 of the Mental Health Act 1983
  • Best GDL entry: Clarissa Wigoder – Spare the rod: Why the law on corporal punishment needs to be reformed
  • Runner-up GDL entry: Daniel Fox – ‘I hate being idle’: Asylum seekers and the right to work
  • Highly commended: Katherine Wright  When Clinical Becomes Criminal: Reforming Medical Manslaughter
  • Highly commended: Sophie Smith-Holland – “It’s not you…and it’s not me, either”: The case for no-fault divorce in England and Wales

The Law Reform Essay Competition is an annual event and is aimed at developing and fostering an interest in law reform in pupils, law students, CPE/GDL students, BPTC students and those aiming for a career at the Bar.  The competition is generously sponsored by the Bar Council Scholarship Trust and offers prizes of:

  • £4,000 for the winner
  • £2,500 for the runner up
  • £1,500 for the best CPE/GDL entry
  • £1,000 for the runner up CPE/GDL entry
  • 2 x £500 highly commended awards

Details of the 2018 competition will be available soon. If you have a specific query, please email LawReform@BarCouncil.org.uk.

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