Ex-Student Director: Evan Crainie

Where They’re At Now…

Ex-Student Director: Evan Crainie

Evan Crainie was one of the founding members of the GCU Law Clinic who started off as Assistant Office Manager in 2013. Over the year in this role, Evan worked closely with the other managers in the running of the Clinic. His role involved organising the volunteers, managing all documents for the Clinic and assisting with the initial stages of setting up the clinic as it had only just opened.

Evan Crainie, Student Director 2014/15

 

After his initial year, Evan then took up the post of Student Director. In this role, Evan was responsible for the drive to recruit more volunteers and get younger years involved in the Clinic to ensure that once he graduated, there were many students who could take on new management roles and perform at the same high standard. In recruiting more volunteers, the Clinic worked at a more efficient pace and could provide a better service for the clients.

 

Evan thoroughly enjoyed his time as Student Director and credits the experience gained as one of the reasons for securing his traineeship.

 

Evan is currently in his second year of his traineeship at Shepherd & Wedderburn LLP and is due to qualify as a solicitor in August 2018.

The Glasgow Legal Walk 2017

Another year, another 10K legal walk in honour of raising funds for the Access to Justice Foundation.

The annual 10K Legal Walk took place on Monday 9th October 2017 in order to raise money for free legal advice charities. These charities help those in society who do not qualify for legal aid and cannot afford a solicitor. The GCU Law Clinic understand the importance of this and we share this same goal of increasing access to justice.

Our volunteers ready to go!

A staggering 2/3 of the UK population do not know how to access legal advice and 13 million cannot afford it. Our aim is to widen access to legal services within the local community. Since cuts in both government funding and legal aid have forced many advice centres to close, we are working extra hard to raise funds to help bridge this gap.

Some of our volunteers and members of our management team headed down to Buchanan Street to represent the Law Clinic in the sponsored walk.

Fortunately a dry October evening!

Throughout the evening, we walked alongside other advocates of access to justice such as members of Legal Spark and The Law Society of Scotland. The 10K took us all around the city centre before finishing up where we started, where all participants were invited to go for well-earned snacks and drinks.

The GCU Law Clinic managed to raise £175 for the Access to Justice Foundation. The Legal Walk is always a great opportunity for our volunteers to connect with other people in the same field and learn more about their ways of increasing access to justice.

 

GCU Law Clinic Alumnus Lands Prestigious Traineeship

GCU LLB Law and Law Clinic Alumnus, Ian Laing, made his mark on the legal world when he landed an unprecedented traineeship at the WS Society.

Ian Laing was an honours law student here at GCU and in his 4th and final year, he earned the position of Student Director of the GCU Law Clinic 2015/16. During this whirlwind year, Ian had great success in the Law Clinic, forming an excellent team with great rapport. This was also the year the Law Clinic were finalists in the Scott + Co Scottish Legal Awards 2016, and the year that Ian and his fellow classmate, Ryan Bell, led the Law Clinic to victory in their first ever court appearance. Ian was also shortlisted for the GCU Student Associations ‘Student of the Year’ award, which is university wide.

Both the law department and Law Clinic here at GCU were sad to part with Ian upon his graduation as he went to embark upon obtaining a Diploma in Legal Practice. However, Ian has continued to support the GCU Law Clinic in a supervisory role as he remains a passionate advocate for increasing Access to Justice.

Ian Laing (right) being congratulated by CEO Robert Pirrie WS (left) on his first day as the first trainee solicitor (@thewssociety).

Following the successful completion of the diploma, Ian began his journey as trainee solicitor for the WS Society in September 2017.

The WS Society is the incorporated body of an exceptional brand of Scottish lawyers known as Writers to the Signet or “WS” with over 500 years of heritage – Ian being the first trainee ever to exist in these 500 years. Ian spoke of how he achieved such a unique opportunity, saying:

I would definitely say I am humbled by my Director, Anna Bennett WS, having enough faith in me that she would create the first traineeship in the 500+ year history of the WS Society for me. It is an exciting opportunity to train right in the heart of Scotland’s legal fraternity and for her to build in two secondments to the traineeship which are tailored to my interests – a litigation seat in Halliday Campbell WS and a sports law seat in Lombardi Associates are incredible. A tailor made traineeship is rare!”

Ian stated that, unlike a typical traineeship, there was no application process to land this role, as he already had a foot in the door. Ian initially secured a place on the WS Society summer internship programme in 2016, which he said he felt was due to the opportunities he had received as part of the GCU Law Clinic team.

Being able to say I had already acted for a client in court and been part of a student-led team ranked as finalists in the Scottish Legal Awards really helps you to stand out.”

As his time on this summer internship came to an end, Ian was then offered a legal assessment role within the team for the remainder of summer 2016 and subsequently part-time during his diploma year 2016/17.

Luckily for both Ian and the GCU Law Clinic, Ian’s director is supportive of his desire to retain involvement in the Law Clinic and has even extended an invitation to the Law Clinic to attend WS events throughout the year. The Law Clinic is grateful that it will have the continued support of such a successful alumnus and ambassador for his successors of the Law Clinic, and we look forward to see what the future holds for Ian.

 

SULCN Conference 2017

Registration is now open for the SULCN Conference 2017 which will take place at GCU on Wednesday 7 June 2017. All the info you need can be found via the SULCN 2017 tab at the top of this page and registration is via Eventbrite.

Free to attend though there is a £5 charge for lunch and refreshments,

We look forward to seeing you there!

Speed Networking Event 2017

After the success of the GCU Law Clinic’s first speed networking event in March 2016, we were pleased to welcome representatives from some of Scotland’s leading firms and organisations to GCU once again for a second speed networking evening with our LLB in April 2017. This evening was an excellent opportunity for our students to network with professionals from:

Our students and guests arriving and enjoying refreshments.

 

Anderson Strathern; Ashurst; Brodies; Beltrami & Co; BLM; BTO; Cloch Solicitors; Eden Scott Recruitment; Ellis Whittam; Hymans Robertson; Katani & Co; Kerr Brown; KPMG; Latta Law; Leslie Wolfson; Livingstone Brown; MacRoberts; Paul Hannah Solicitors; Peacock Johnston; Shepherd and Wedderburn; SYLA; Thompsons and Whyte & Mackay.

Many of the representatives of these organisations are GCU alumni and are now employers of GCU Law graduates. Our students were extremely grateful to all our guests who gave up their evening to speak about their careers in law and the many, various opportunities available to students studying law
There was a variety of guests differing in both the sectors they work in and the roles they perform. This unique opportunity to hear from experienced solicitors and trainees about their experiences in the profession, securing jobs within it and lessons they learned along the way was invaluable for all our students, particularly those about to embark upon the same journey. We were fortunate to have representatives from companies such as KPMG and Ashurst to give our students an insight into the varying career paths you can go down when equipped with a law degree.

Since it was very effective last year, the evening was once again styled as a ‘Speed Networking Evening’, using a speed dating format to ensure that all of our students had the chance to speak to each of the guests. Between 6pm and 8pm, a buzzer would ring after each 5-minute period, signalling to the students to move on to the next table. Both the guests and the students were impressed with the high turnout, and often they were so engaged in conversation that they would run over 5 minutes. Our students were extremely grateful to all the guests for giving up their time to come along, especially as many travelled in straight from work, some even coming from Edinburgh to attend our event to help inform and inspire the next generation of the legal profession in Scotland.

Being able to have this interaction in a one to one conversation was a fantastic opportunity for our students to allow them to gain information of specific interest to them. Our Academic Director of the Law Clinic, Claire McFadzean, was delighted by the turnout of employers, GCU graduates and students. “There is a real focus at GCU on the employability skills of our students. This is a key focus in the Law Clinic and on the modules ‘Skills for Legal Employment’ and ‘Professional Links’. It is vitally important in this competitive legal market that our students have well developed skills in client care, interviewing, negotiating and legal letter writing. This networking event has allowed our law students to discuss their skill set and experience with professionals in the industry and allowed them to leave with greater knowledge on how to best move forward in developing and improving their CV.”

 

Among the guests from the prestigious firms and organisations were a large number of GCU graduates whom we were delighted to welcome back. Seeing what they have gone on to achieve in their careers was fantastic for our current students to give them a real sense of what is possible for them. Their success speaks volumes about the LLB at GCU, as does the fact that these former students were willing to return and spend the evening giving back to the current law students. One of these graduates was Gregg Scott, the GCU Law Clinic’s first ever student director, who came as a representative of Ashurt and their new Legal Analyst role, an alternative to practicing in the legal profession. Another was last year’s student director, Ian Laing, who came as the ‘Emeritus Director’. At last year’s networking event, Ian said, “I would be keen to come back and take part in this event in future once I have begun my own career,” and we were very grateful that he did.
Our students found the evening both thought provoking and insightful having been able to make connections with people in a variety of different areas of law. Some students were offered summer internships on the night and a handful of other students were encouraged by some of the large commercial firms to send them their CV’s for consideration for summer placements, proving this annual event to be a very valuable and successful night for our students and their experience and progression in their legal careers.

We would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to all invited guests who attended what is now our annual GCU Law Clinic Speed Networking Evening. Thanks must also go to our students and lecturers who helped with the organisation of the evening and attended. We hope to see many of you again next year!

Libel: Monroe v Hopkins

Under Scots Law, an offending statement may not always be defamatory as it can fall within another category of hurtful words i.e. malicious falsehood or slander of title. To be defamatory a statement must be false and must lower the defamed in the estimation of right thinking members of society. A court will establish what that standard is today when considering the statement. Additionally, it is important to remember that to accuse someone of making defamatory comments may, of itself, be defamatory.

For an action to be raised the alleged defamatory statement must be communicated. The traditional forms of communication are publication in print or oral dissemination. However, nowadays the number of platforms on which communication can occur have increased. Online social platforms such as, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the numerous blogging platforms, have increased the modes of communication where a defamatory statement can occur.

February of this year provided us with a high-profile libel case initiated over words posted on online social platform, twitter.  Monroe v Hopkins provided us some valuable guidance on how to keep on the right side of the law when writing online. You might think that you have posted a light-hearted tweet or a funny response, but it may not come across as that to the receiver and you could be opening yourself up to potential law suits.

In this case the issues at trial were:

  1. Do tweets fall under the definition of defamation at common law?
  2. If so, have the tweets caused or are they likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant?

Hopkins sent a message accusing another of vandalism of a war memorial, but the tweet was directed to the wrong person. A simple case of mistaken identity which Hopkins attempted to rectify by deleting the tweet two hours after it was published. Mr Wilson, Hopkins lawyer, argued that: “The readership would have been limited because the tweet was a reply and deleted after two hours, and that readers would understand it was a case of mistaken identity” and “Ms Hopkins lawyers have argued that Ms Hopkins is well-known for being confrontational, outrageous and flippant and that therefore the allegations would have been taken with a pinch of salt”.

Therefore, although no official defence was lodged it was argued that the tweet did not constitute a defamatory statement.

In considering the case Warnby J provided:

“whilst the claimant may not have proved that her reputation suffered gravely, I am satisfied that she has established that the publications complained of caused serious harm to her reputation”.

“Which implies that this judgment could apply to twitter accounts smaller than Hopkins’.

This case provides us with valuable information that no matter how viewed your online platform is or how long the alleged defamatory statement is published, you can still be tried for defamation. If this case tells us anything; it that you should consider the way in which your online publications can be construed. Hopkins could easily have avoided this if she published an apology to Monroe. A simple request.

Full Monroe v Hopkins judgement can be viewed here: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/monroe-v-hopkins-2017-ewhc-433-qb-20170310.pdfhttps://www.google.co.uk/search?q=twitter+defamation&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwis5LyE7efSAhVrDcAKHbnzA_AQ_AUICSgC&biw=1600&bih=750#imgrc=zSPmTxaIvNOANM:

Changes to Succession

The latter end of 2016 witnessed changes to the laws of succession in Scotland. The Succession (Scotland) Act 1964 is now the Succession (Scotland) Act 2016, which came into force on the 1st November 2016.

This Act has introduced many significant changes to the laws of Scotland which will impact a deceased’s estate and those looking to claim from it. The main points being:

  • If a person dies without leaving a Will the Act abolishes the requirement of a Bond of Caution when the estate is considered as a “Small Estate”, less than £36,000.
  • If there is a mistake in the Will, which was not drafted by you, then there is a small window of time in which you can apply to the court and have the mistake rectified. The Act allows you to apply to the Court of Session or the Sheriff Court within six months to have the issue corrected.
  • If you draft a new Will to replace one already existing, but then revoke the new Will, your old Will would be revived and dictate the distribution of your estate.
  • If you die on or after the 1st November 2016, a former spouse or civil partner will no longer inherit under an existing Will, following a divorce. This also means that any special destinations will be revoked upon divorce. However, if you do wish for the provision to still stand then you must take specific steps to provide for this in your Will.
  • It is no longer the case that the younger is presumed to have survived the elder.
  • Trustees and executors are to be given some statutory protection if they have incorrectly distributed assets to the wrong beneficiary.

These changes have majorly amended an area of law which has been stagnant for fifty years to reflect the changes within society.

Unfair Arbitration Clause

Arbitration is a requirement which is commonly included with contracts. This means that whenever there is an issue with your contract, you have given-up your right to take the matter to court as you have agreed to arbitration, and as arbitration is legally binding a Sheriff or Judge would not entertain your claim.

This can cause problems where the cost of arbitration (which can be rather astronomical depending on which institute the clause requires) completely outweighs the cost being claimed under the contract. However, all is not lost- as there is a way to defeat an arbitration clause.

Section 10 of the Arbitration (Scotland) Act 2010 states that the court must cist those proceedings insofar as they concern the matter if:

  • An arbitration agreement provides that a dispute on the matter is to be resolved by arbitration (whether immediately or after the exhaustion of other dispute resolution procedures);
  • The applicant is party to the arbitration agreement (or is claiming through or under a party);
  • Notice of the application has been given to the other parties to the legal proceedings;
  • The applicant has not taken any steps in the legal proceedings to answer any substantive claim against him, nor otherwise acted since the legal proceedings were brought in a manner indicating a desire to have the dispute resolved by legal proceedings rather than arbitration; and
  • Nothing has caused the court to be satisfied that arbitration agreement concerned is void, inoperative or incapable of being performed.

As regards the last criterion, regard should be had to Section 89-91 of the Arbitration Act 1996. Although this is an English Act, these sections apply in Scotland also. They have two broad effects:

Section 89(1) which subjects consumer arbitration agreements to the Consumer Rights Act 2015; and

Section 91(1) which provides: “A term which constitutes an arbitration agreement is unfair…in so far as it relates to a claim for a pecuniary remedy which does not exceed the amount specified by order for the purposes of this section.”

Therefore, this states that an arbitration agreement will be automatically unfair, and thus not binding on the consumer, so far as it relates to a claim for a pecuniary remedy which does not exceed an amount specified by in the Unfair Arbitration Agreement (Specified Amounts) Order 1999, which is £5,0000.

However, if an agreement is not automatically unfair it may be adjudged under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, this statute refers to a situation where an arbitration clause is imposed on a consumer, and will not apply where the parties enter into a freestanding arbitration agreement, nor where the parties genuinely agree to insert an arbitration clause into the contract. If agreement led to the insertion then it will not be held unfair, per Rimer J in Bryen and Langley Ltd v Boston [2005] WWCA Civ 973. Yet, it can be argued to be unfair if, at the time of creating the contract, the clause was not brought to the consumer’s attention and implications explained, as per Ramsey J in Mylcrist Builders Ltd v Buck [2008] EWHC 2172.  This is to ensure that the consumer is not left at a disadvantage, with no legal remedy, due to the cost of arbitration being significantly higher than the cost of litigating.

Therefore, if you (or your client) are faced with an arbitration clause which is just not plausible in seeking a remedy then you may still have the option of court intervention in a situation where the arbitration clause would cost more than the cost incurred under your contract.

Support for Human Rights

Law students from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) are helping Glasgow school pupils to stand up for their human rights.human-rights-and-notice-to-quit

 Human Rights Day, (10th December 2016) commemorating the day in 1948 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The 2016 campaign urges the public to ‘stand up for someone’s rights’, a call being heeded by Bachelor of Laws (LLB) students through the GCU Law Clinic.

Since its launch in 2014, the Clinic has provided advice to a wide range of clients and taken to Glasgow city centre to offer its services.

Our Street Law programme runs interactive workshops with pupils, making them more aware of the laws that affect them in their daily lives. Six schools have taken part so far, with further sessions planned in the New Year.

“Human rights are a key theme for Street Law and always spark great discussions amongst the pupils,” explained fourth year LLB student Rachel Bond, the Law Clinic’s Student Director. “And the Human Rights Day campaign of standing up for someone’s rights is exactly what the GCU Law Clinic is about. We are proud to provide free and confidential advice to people who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for Legal Aid or afford professional legal advice.”

GCU Law lecturers are involved in a wide range of human rights-related research, including examining organ donation law and end of life choices as well as access for socially disadvantaged people to the European Court of Human Rights and legal remedies for the victims of historic sex abuse.

Law Lecturer Dr Andrew Tickell said: “Human rights now underpin a startling array of our legal scholarship and teaching. They are at the heart of our constitutional law, central to immigration, animate ongoing Scottish debates on land reform, and go to the core of the law of international development. For lawyers, human rights issues are everywhere.”

And human rights is also a major focus for public policy analysts at GCU who lead research into the impact of public spending cuts on women, disabled people and carers.

GCU delivers the MSc Citizenship and Human Rights, a popular part-time programme for professionals and volunteers in the third and public sectors.

Dr Angela O’Hagan, Lecturer in Social and Public Policy, said: “In Scotland just now we have opportunities to respond differently on issues of equality, care, migration, public services – issues that are central to the MSc in Citizenship and Human Rights and are shaped by what is going on across the world.  All of this reinforces the importance of human rights principles and the need to develop human rights based approaches to policy and services in Scotland.”

Mock Court Involvement

hc

The High Court held the mock trials.

From the 29th of November to the 1st of December, Glasgow was fortunate enough to host the mock court competition!  We at the Law Clinic were fortunate to be involved in lending our services to clerk for some current Sheriffs, in a welcome break from our typical studies.

Primary schools from Glasgow and the West descended on the Saltmarket as soon as regular court business had concluded in the matter of Talk ‘n’ Text v Telfor.  Donning homemade wigs and gowns (which frankly put the real ones to shame…), some of the legal professions future leading lights took their places in courtrooms, and set to work for their respective clients.

Leading evidence from their witnesses, the sides did battle over whether or not a contract was formed; with some interesting results – the same set of facts in separate courtrooms often produced different results!  This was only a testament to the ability of the pupils involved.  Clerking for Sheriff Miller, our Outreach Manager Rachel Campbell said:

“Some of the skill shown were extraordinary.  The productions were well organised and the lawyers questioned their witnesses with a clear plan and considerable confidence.  I only wish I was that good in primary school.”

Assistant Outreach Manager Ross Wilson, clerking for Sheriff Murphy QC, also added:

“I’ve been lucky enough to witness some of the top advocates in Scotland cross-examine witnesses, from Donald Findlay QC to Gordon Jackson QC.  The pupils would have given them a run for their money – I felt uncomfortable sitting outside the witness box.”

Also involved was our Senior Operations Manager David Scott, who commented:

“I only wish I had the confidence to stand up in the infamous North Courtroom of the High Court and lead evidence in front of a Sheriff at that age.  The pupils were a credit to themselves, their schools and their communities.  I hope to work with them someday, although certainly not in opposition.”

As a team, we had a great time assisting with the project.  It shows pupils from a very young age that courts aren’t just for criminals, but for everyone.  It also helped them too see that the courts aren’t so terrifying, the Sheriffs were kind and understanding, and this showed in the confidence displayed by the pupils.  As an aside, our volunteers benefitted from seeing behind the scenes of a court and to network with some of the most experienced jurists in the country.