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.

 

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.”

SULCN Summer Workshop

SULCNOn Wednesday 8th June we welcomed the Scottish Universities Law Clinic Network to GCU for the 2016 SULCN Summer Workshop. As well as advisors from the Law Clinic at GCU there were representatives from the Aberdeen Law Project, The Free Legal Advice Centre at Edinburgh University, The Edinburgh Napier University Law Clinic, Robert Gordon University Law Clinic and the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic. We were also joined by Arlene McDaid, the founder of the Scottish Chapter of the Legal Hackers movement and Kapil Summan of Scottish Legal News.

Attendees had the choice of two workshops to choose from to start the afternoon, one run by Donald Nicholson OBE and the second by Rob Marrs, Head of Education at the Law Society of Scotland.

Donald Nicholson

Donald Nicholson

Donald discussed his soon to be published paper, ‘”Our Roots Began in (South) Africa”: Modelling Law Clinics to Maximise Social Justice Ends’. Many aspects of Law Clinics were discussed during the session such as the need for balancing the social justice aims of clinics with the educational focus on the participation of the student volunteers. Those in Donald’s session were split in to groups and asked to design their ideal Law Clinic and design a pitch to secure funding for this. It had participants debating whether there should be a focus on one aspect of pro bono work or whether a balancing act should be struck between multiple aspects and which was the best approach for maximising community impact. The impact clinics can have was also considered through both remedial and educational approaches. The remedial work done by Law Clinics after something has happened to a client is vitally important but just as important is the educational work done to make people more aware of the law, how it works and what their rights are. One of the best ways this can be done is through Street Law.

Rob Marrs

Rob Marrs

Street Law was the focus of the session delivered by Rob Marrs. Rob took the participants through one of the highly interactive sessions used in schools around the world based on the case of Michael Morton, a man sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife. Rob went through the evidence used in the case piece by piece, at each stage asking the participants whether that piece made them think guilty or not guilty before revealing the fascinating true story. The session, like all good street law lessons, makes the students really think about the law and improve their understanding of it’s principals and values while also encouraging the development of other skills such as critical thinking and forming logical, well presented arguments.

The workshops were followed by a plenary session at which general SULCN business was discussed and this page will be updated with the minutes of that meeting when they become available. The SULCN meeting began with the election of Malcolm Combe to the newly created post of Chairperson and this was confirmed unanimously. Malcolm has been a driving force behind SULCN since it’s inception and this is now being officially recognised. After a recap of Donald’s session for those who had been in Rob’s and vice verse future SULCN activity was discussed. The next event will be in September with the date and venue to be confirmed shortly and it was decided that GCU will host the 2017 SULCN Conference next June. This will be an excellent opportunity for us to showcase our new campus and welcome Scotland’s other law schools and members of the legal profession to GCU to discuss how Access to Justice can be achieved through pro bono services. GCU, whose motto is, ‘for the common good’ is an ideal venue for such a conference.

Our new Chair, Malcolm Combe

Our new Chair, Malcolm Combe

Finally, we heard from Arlene McDaid who has helped to organise an upcoming Legal Hackathon event in Glasgow, info for which can be found here. This event combines people from the legal sector with developers in order to come up with innovative ideas which can be used to make legal services easier to access for those who need to.

Our thanks go to everyone who attended, particularly Donald and Rob for their excellent workshops which have given the participants lots of fresh ideas for how to improve upon the already excellent work done by the organisations in SULCN.

We are already looking forward to hosting next years SULCN Conference but the following info should keep Access to Justice fans going until the next SULCN gathering.

Donald’s paper has now been published and is available from the International Journal of Clinical Legal Education.

Orla Drummond and Gráinne McKeever of the Ulster University Law Clinic published a paper entitled Access to Justice through University Law Clinics in October last year which is available here.

And finally, our new chair, Malcolm, has complied a Storify of the SULCN 2016 Summer Workshop.

The minutes from the SULCN meeting held at the end of the workshop can be downloaded here – SULCN Minutes – 8th June 2016