Glasgow Caledonian University Law Journal for Law and the Common Good

The Journal consists of articles covering a broad range of legal areas. The aim is to create a diverse bank of legal research to demonstrate the work of our students in a way which simultaneously engages the university’s common good objectives. All eligible submissions are encouraged and appreciated, and special thanks is given for particularly impressive work.

Journal for Law and the Common Good

 

Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap is a problem within the majority of workplaces, and a remaining issue in the legal field. It is an issue which results in woman being disadvantaged based solely on their gender. It should be noted that this pay gap is extensive in its coverage, it is not based on solely annual incomes but also covers bonuses, which woman can receive much lower in comparison to men, this is exemplified in a report produced by the Law Society which provides that in 2020 the average gap between the value of men’s and women’s bonuses was 39.4%.1 As this has proven to be a significant issue affecting woman from being disadvantaged from annual pay all the way to bonuses being affected, there have been many proposals for change such as the Women in Law Pledge which was launched in 2019. This pledge supports woman receiving equality within the legal field and strives for change, including the gender pay gap and gender equality as a whole, which consists of 8 pledges which legal organisations can sign up to, one being “ensuring aspects of pay, reward and recognition of the senior leadership are linked to delivery against these gender equality targets as applicable”, legal organisations which sign up to these pledges, in turn ensure supporting woman in the profession and sets clear plans around reaching sufficient gender pay equality.2 Despite many actions to change this unjust pay gap, issues still remain within the legal profession.

 

Next 100 years and Gapsquare, a pay analytics company have provided new research about closing the gender pay gap in the legal profession, analysing hourly pay rates provided by law firms. They found that the legal sector has one of the largest gender pay gaps of any industry which is currently at 25.4%.3 This figure has remained pretty much the same since 2017 and women have represented more than half of all solicitors since this year also. This is concerning as additionally the majority of new entrants to the legal profession are in fact women, yet only a small proportion are making senior roles. It is clear that something needs to be done to tackle this issue as the survey found that 84% of women did not think they would see pay equality until the next generation or beyond. This is supplemented by Next 100 years and Gapsquares estimation that it will take 86 years to close the mean gender pay gap and 40.6 years to close the median. These figures show that the gender pay gap is real and seriously demotivating for women in law.

 

The current position with regards to the gender pay gap is still a big issue in our society. Studies suggest that there has been some improvement over the years in reducing the gap between the pay male and females receive, however this varies from year to year. Results from the office of national statistics show that the gender pay gap has reduced by a quarter on average between all employees in the last decade, however the results from 2022 show that among full-time employees there was an increase from 7.7% in 2021 to 8.3% in 2022.4 This proves that despite a steady decline, realistically there has not been a vast improvement to decrease this pay gap.

 

There are recommendations for reducing this gap which consist of women doing more negotiation in terms of their pay to achieve a higher salary however it is our opinion that this is placing the blame on women and using this as a reason to explain the gender pay gap. A more reasonable solution to the problem would be for managers and CEOs of these companies to recognise the seriousness of the issue and ensure that the gender pay gap is non-existent in their companies. If every workplace put an effort in to make a reduction to the pay gap it is likely the results of a reduction would be much more convincing of change taking place. This issue is one which has been around since the beginning of time and unfortunately does not show much proof of disappearing any time soon.

Written by Rebecca Kenney, Brooke Keane and Fiza Ali

British Sign Language, Ananda Bruce

At the start of the academic year 2021/22, the GCU Law Clinic volunteers started learning British Sign Language(BSL) to make our services more accessible.

Claire McFadzean, Academic Director of the Clinic, had always planned on volunteers being able to sign within the clinic. During the pandemic, the Law Clinic have moved their services online. The online BSL training course offered by British Sign meant our students could participate from home, making the Clinic more inclusive. Claire and the then student director Lucy Mackay, pushed for the volunteers to take advantage of this opportunity.

Learning BSL was not only fun and engaging but a great life skill to have. The videos were really easy to understand and follow and there were plenty of resources provided in the course. Students have started to create short videos signing a message about the clinic. Ananda, Taylor and Magda are some of the students who have completed the course and their videos are shown below.

We know we have a lot to learn and we are really keen to keep getting better. Everyone deserves access to justice, and we hope this project contributes to that.

LawScot COP26 Conference

On Friday 29th October the Law Society of Scotland COP26 Conference was held in the EICC. The event sought to cover the modern lawyer’s role in tackling the impact of climate change. A range of speakers were invited to attend. Included were former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates Roddy Dunlop QC and GCU’s own Dr. Angela O’Hagan.

 

In light of COP26 which is currently well underway in Glasgow (see GCU Law Clinic social media for more info), a sense of urgency could be felt. Law-making, legal interventions and litigation in the climate crisis were discussed at length. This demonstrated the breadth of influence lawyers have on environmental policy.

One session of particular interest to me was a discussion on how tackling climate change can be part of legal education. Incorporating discussion of the climate crisis into the legal curriculum could work to ensure the next generation of lawyers is better prepared for the climate emergency, embodying the theme of proactive change underlying the event.

It would be easy to be overwhelmed by the seriousness of the subject matter. For Glaswegians, the passion of demonstrators has been particularly visible over the last few weeks. The event didn’t shy away from the crisis, but did focus on what legal professionals can proactively do, which gave a hopeful note to proceedings. It was an honour to be invited (thanks Seonaid!). I very much look forward to continuing to focus on this important topic within the GCU Law Clinic, thinking about what lawyers and law students can do to tackle the crisis. I will look to my future legal career enlightened by the knowledge imparted by the inspiring individuals who took the time to share their ideas.

Emily Ward, Project Manager @GCULawClinic

Twitter @wxrec

Law Clinic: #PassTheBadge Campaign

 

The GCU Law Clinic is proud to be taking part in the Law Society of Scotland’s #PassTheBadge campaign. It’s important that we talk about mental health and promote wellbeing for law students and lawyers.

Our Management Team have put together some of our top tips that we have found helpful in looking after our wellbeing and mental health during what has been a really hard few months.

  1. Lockdown has had an impact on all of us and it’s been easy to feel overwhelmed by the news. Lots of us have taken up new and (old!) hobbies to channel our energy in positive ways: we’ve started playing the piano again; taken up sewing; worked on artistic projects; and lots of us have been baking.  It’s a good way to escape from our screens and take some time for ourselves.
  2. Exercise – especially walking – has been really good for our mental health over the last few months. Getting outside can give us the space we need to feel healthier and happier.
  3. Bringing the outside in also helps a few of us with our mental health. Looking after houseplants can be calming and can give you a sense of purpose while we’re all at home a lot more.
  4. Reading (for pleasure – not study!) can be another great distraction when you’re feeling anxious. It can help you break with the news cycle and divert your brain for a little while.
  5. We also find it useful to limit our use of social media – setting time limits on certain apps can help you step away from the screen and do something that makes you feel good.
  6. Making lists really helps with the feeling of being overwhelmed. It can help you feel more in control and help you set achievable goals.
  7. It’s also really important to take time to pause. Take time away from work or study and give yourself a break.  It’s important to make sure you plan some time for yourself every week.
  8. It is also really important to take some time to talk to your loved ones – check in with the people you care about and talk about how you are feeling.
  9. Mindfulness is a great way of taking stock of your current situation and helps you to live in the moment and not worry about things that may or may not happen in the future.
  10. If you need support – reach out to the University. You can find out about mental health and wellbeing services at GCU here https://www.gcu.ac.uk/student/support/wellbeing/

If you would like to learn more about the campaign check out these links: https://www.lawscot.org.uk/members/wellbeing/get-involved/pass-the-badge/ and https://vimeo.com/lawsocietyscotland.

Campaign for Complainer Anonymity

Would it surprise you to learn that complainers in sexual offence cases have no automatic right to anonymity in Scotland? This Campaign begins with a simple statement of fact. The idea that complainers “automatically have a right to anonymity under UK law” is often referred to in Scotland – but it has no foundation in Scots law.

We believe this situation is highly problematic. We believe something as important as complainer anonymity should not have to rely on journalists following professional codes of practice, or the general public’s self-restraint on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

In our experience, most people are shocked to discover that people in Scotland who allege they have been victims of sexual offences have no legal right to anonymity. While Scottish courts can make orders prohibiting the identification of complainers under section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, these orders are not automatic and are not sought in the overwhelming majority of cases. This leaves a critical gap in our law. Scottish complainers are exposed to an acute risk of being publicly identified in connection with the case, without any effective legal remedy.

We think this is a problem Holyrood can fix – and fix fairly easily.

As a result we are establishing the Campaign for Complainer Anonymity led by lecturers in law Dr. Andrew Tickell and Seonaid Stevenson-McCabe, working with our GCU law students.

We will engage with the wider public and complainers to look at what anonymity means to them – are Scots aware of the law as it stands? How does this impact on decision-making about disclosure? How should the law be reformed?

We will also work with students to put the Scottish experience in its wider legal context by looking at how other jurisdictions across the world handle the issue of restrictions of publicising the identity of complainers or publishing material likely to identify them. This will help us think critically about what any law reform efforts in Scotland could and should look like.

There are different models for how Scots Law can be changed, better to protect complainer anonymity and more clearly to set out the rights and responsibilities of people writing about these criminal cases. This campaign aims to identify and progress concrete legislative reforms which can be adopted by the Scottish Government and Parliament to update the law, better to reflect public understandings and attitudes towards this important issue.

We will soon be launching our dedicated Campaign website but, if you want further information about the Campaign in the meantime, please contact: Seonaid Stevenson-McCabe Seonaid.stevenson@gcu.ac.uk Dr. Andrew Tickell Andrew.Tickell@gcu.ac.uk

Professional Links Module – Work Experience Sought

 

 

 

 

 

At Glasgow Caledonian University we thrive on ideas and support innovation. We also value the importance of social responsibility. Students come to us from all backgrounds, for our knowledge and experience and to enhance their career and personal ambitions.  Our external partners come to us to find the latest research-led thinking and to access the talent of our students.

This year more than ever, we are reaching out to our external partners and beyond, to enable us to continue to offer our law students the best possible experience, despite these difficult and uncertain times.

As part of our LLB curriculum, we offer employability sessions within our modules. Professional Links is one such unique module. The module is designed to allow students to gain academic credit towards their degree based on practical experience.  The GCU LLB programme is highly committed to widening access to the Scottish legal profession, both in terms of studying and career progression and the need to find opportunities for our students has never been greater. There is real benefit to students being able to undertake a short placement in a law firm, shadow experienced solicitors and gaining first-hand experience of law at work. The majority of our students do not have family or personal connections within the legal sector.   At GCU we work tirelessly to bridge the gap and provide our students with work experience to help prepare them for life after university but, more importantly, to assist them with securing future training contracts.  Research has shown experiential learning to be a powerful tool, which complements the theory being studied. It also shows the benefit to host firms from gaining flexible, motivated and talented students.

If you are employed in the legal sector, whether a solicitor, Advocate or HR Manager, who is able to offer our students an appropriate short term placement, virtual or otherwise, we’d like to hear from you. Please contact Claire McFadzean, Academic Director of the Law Clinic and Module Leader on claire.mcfadzean@gcu.ac.uk by 30th September 2020. Claire will provide further details and discuss arrangements.

 

In these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to reach out and help.

 

 

 

 

‘Women in Law Wednesday’ Dr. Karla Perez Portilla

This week’s ‘Women in Law Wednesday’ is Dr. Karla Perez Portilla, who has been a lecturer here at GCU Law since October 2018. We were keen to talk to her not only because of how her career relates to law, but because of how her legal work intersects with social justice. In fact, we approached her for the project after she delivered an extremely interesting lecture on ‘Feminism and Jurisprudence’ to LLB3 last semester. Karla has given some brilliant and insightful answers about her career progression and what it means to be a woman in law.

Karla explains that her ‘career started in Mexico researching and teaching Constitutional Law, Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Law at the National Autonomous University of Mexico’. She has also ‘been a guest lecturer at the University of Strathclyde and Teaching Fellow at University College London, Faculty of Law’ which is where she completed her PhD. When asked about her career journey, Karla explained once she had graduated it was not easy to find a job in the UK. On top of this, she was also a new mum. She ‘therefore started volunteering, and little by little, I built my reputation in Glasgow, combining my academic experience with ‘hands-on’ work for the third sector’. Her work in the third sector consisted of prejudice reduction programmes, delivering training and implementing and evaluating interventions. She was a community practitioner which, she explains, ‘was a role that has enriched and informed my teaching methods and approaches’. She has brought this experience she speaks of into her role at GCU Law.

We asked Karla what she believes her greatest achievements were in her career journey so far. She explains that as she likes thinking and developing ideas and theories with practical application that a highlight in her career has been to have published two different single author books with renowned publishing house – one in English and one in Spanish. She explains, ‘it is unusual to publish a book based on an LLB dissertation in Mexico and having published a revised version of my PhD thesis with Routledge, is equally joyful.’ Further to this Karla explains that the revised version allowed her to ‘expand the linguistic extent of her contributions to legal knowledge’ and demonstrate her ‘commitment to social justice and academic rigour’.

There are various reasons, Karla says, for why these publications were a highlight in her career but she notes two specific reasons. Firstly, ‘the crave for and the difficulties in achieving recognition as a woman of colour’ and secondly because it has given her the opportunity to use her books ‘in academic settings and within the wider community in international and local conferences, specialised courses, training programmes, academic modules and diplomas both in Mexico and in the UK.’

In response to a question about gender balance in the LLB, Karla explains that there is not much difference between the students at GCU Law and the students where she completed her degree in Mexico, ‘there are still many women at the beginning of a law degree and very few making it to the top, in virtually all sectors.’ An interesting insight into the universality of the issue.

We next wanted to ask Karla about whether she has ever felt disadvantaged as a woman in law, ‘as a woman generally and as a woman from an ethnic minority background in the UK, I have always felt that I have to work harder, stay longer, excel, etc… I have felt this pressure both in Mexico and in the UK.’ On the other hand, she feels that ‘being a woman from an ethnic minority background with experience of migration has helped me make meaningful contributions to academia and in practice. Lived experience coupled with rigorous research and practical work allows us to provide valuable insights in order to bring about positive exchange.’ She finishes her answer with an interesting insight; ‘I think it is fair to say that, to a large extent, lived experience is a basic ingredient for bringing about social justice.’

Finally, as we ask all our interviewees, we asked Karla what being a woman in law meant to her:

‘It means the need to recognise that being a woman is a range of experiences shaped by skin colour, ethnic origin, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic background, religion, etc.

For me, being a woman in law means a desire and the possibility to make the understanding and use of such terms, one that actually includes the diversity, roles and identities of women. I believe that we have to make a conscious effort to identify, seek to portray and celebrate the experiences of those overlooked or marginalised. It would be useful to make the most of the concept of intersectionality, as coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, in order to include and make visible a range of real lived experiences, histories, challenges and achievements.’

We thank Karla for her valuable contribution to the project. We hope that her inspired words have provoked thought about how the law can be used for social justice.

By Lucy Mackay LLB3

New Terrorism Legislation

Following a recent terrorist attack on the 2 February which involved the automatic early release of a prisoner Sudesh Amman attacking innocent people on the streets of Streatham, new emergency legislation has been passed to prevent this happening again. Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans announced The Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill was passed by MPs. Amman had only been released around a week earlier after serving half of his sentence of three years and four months for terror offences. Boris Johnson declared that there will be “fundamental changes to the system for dealing with those convicted of terrorism offences”.

The previous system allowed for those found guilty of terror offences being free to go after serving half their sentence. The new law will ensure terrorists serve a minimum of two-thirds of their sentence before they will be considered for release. There has been criticism from inmate’s lawyers and some are preparing a legal challenge on the basis that when convicted inmates were told they would automatically be released half way and therefore have a ‘legitimate expectation’ of being released at this date. Ministers are confident the bill is legally sound and believe that they are altering sentences not completely changing them.

Since the passing of this legislation the independent Parole Board will only release an inmate if they are satisfied they no longer pose a threat. Upon their release they will be subject to the strictest possible conditions and ongoing monitoring. However, in the case of Sudesh Amman, if this legislation had been in place at the time it would have only made a difference of an extra six months in prison. Many argue that it only allows for a brief extension in protection. The success of passing The Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill will be evaluated over the upcoming year to asses if it is protecting the public further.

Carys McIntyre, GCU Law Clinic Volunteer

Women in Law Wednesday returns…

 

Helena Kennedy QC was born and grew up in the South side of Glasgow. She was, at first, going to study English at Glasgow University. However, she changed her mind and studied Law in London at the Council of Legal Education instead. It was this decision that lead to Helena becoming one of the most prominent and important female lawyers of our time.

Over a career spanning four decades, Helena has focused on ensuring those who are most vulnerable have a voice in our legal system. She is a member of the Doughty Street Chambers in London, and specialises in human rights law, civil liberties and constitutional issues. She has acted in a number of high-profile cases that includes – but is not limited to – the Brighton Bombing, the Guildford Four appeal and the bombing of the Israeli embassy. Her current work encompasses cases linked with the rise of terrorism.

In addition, Helena is a patron for numerous charities including Safe Hands (a charity dedicated to helping maternal and infant health in Ethiopia), sits as a Labour member in the House of Lords and served as a Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford from 2011 to 2018. This highlights that Helena is an incredible woman and lawyer, and her copious achievements should be admired by all law students and lawyers alike.

Moreover, Helena has written some of the most important books about women and the British Justice System. This is how I discovered Helena Kennedy. In 1993, Helena wrote a book entitled, “Eve was Framed: Women and British Justice.” This book provided a female perspective on how the law treated women. 25 years later, Helena wrote a second book on the same topic entitled, “Eve was Shamed: How British Justice is Failing Women.” I have read this book, and truly believe it is a must read for everybody. Helena manages to write openly and honestly about a difficult topic, providing a coherent argument throughout about the injustices women still face in the modern day. The book covers every topic, from the disparity of female judges at the top of the legal system to the difference in incarceration rates for men and women facing similar charges. She provides an interesting perspective on sexual abuse cases, condemning the decision not to remove victims’ sexual history from rape trials, and also examines the deep-rooted issues that led to events such as the Rotherham scandal, rather than singularly blaming it on the girls ‘lifestyle choices’. These sections make a particularly interesting read in light of the MeToo movement.

Helena spoke of her sadness at having to write a second book on this topic 25 years after her first, but it’s importance should not be undermined. Although this book provides an in-depth insight into the failings of the justice system for women, it highlights that work has been done since the original publication in 1993. Furthermore, it proves that with continuous work the justice system can work equally for men and women.

Shona Christie, LLB3, GCU Law Clinic Volunteer