(From left to right: Mr Justice Mitting, Dr Fathi Tarada, Keren Bright (OU Law School), Catherine Flint and Mr Justice Turner.)
Open University (OU) law students Catherine Flint and Dr Fathi Tarada won the prestigious ICLR (The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales) National Mooting Tournament on Monday 29th April. The final, held in the hall of Gray’s Inn in London, one of the four Inns of Court, was against students from Leeds University Law School.
32 teams entered this tournament in the autumn of 2012 and The Open University Law School students progressed through four rounds to the final. Along the way they have beaten mooting teams from Coventry, Exeter and City universities.
Keren Bright, Law Programme Director, OU Law School said “OU Law students have only entered the ICLR national mooting tournament in the last four years. They have reached the final in three of those years and won twice. This is a truly exceptional achievement by truly exceptional students.”
The moot judges were Mr Justice Mitting and Mr Justice Turner, who are High Court Judges. Mr Justice Mitting commended both mooting teams for their ‘very high levels of advocacy’, but reserved the highest praise for OU senior counsel Catherine Flint, describing her advocacy as 'outstanding'. Catherine said “I never for one moment thought I would have made it through to the final of such a prestigious competition. And to actually win is amazing. To receive such words of praise from senior members of the judiciary has made me even more certain that a career at the Bar is what I want. It's been an incredible learning experience and a real team effort. Getting involved with The Open University Law Society and mooting has provided an excellent opportunity to meet and work with other students, and their support and encouragement has been invaluable.”
The case concerned acts of sadomasochism between a consenting husband and wife. Whilst sadomasochism in itself is not unlawful, there is a threshold between criminal and non-criminal activity. The Crown appealed the decision of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the husband could not consent to injuries that amounted to actual and grievous bodily harm; and that in a democratic society it is necessary to criminalise sadomasochistic practices for the protection of health and morals as permitted by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Catherine and Fathi, acting on behalf of The Crown in the moot court, submitted that there is an existing threshold between criminal and non-criminal activity and any attempt to redraw the boundaries of the criminal law elsewhere would create insuperable difficulties.
The subject matter of the case inevitably gave rise to flashes of humour. In her submissions Catherine made reference to 'many shades of grey' and Mr Justice Turner spoke of the '50 shades of Gray’s Inn'.
At the end of March, OU Law students Amy Woolfson and Marie Morton won the Welsh National Mooting Tournament.
Mooting involves a great deal of time spent in legal research, preparing skeleton arguments and legal submissions. OU finalist and junior counsel Dr Tarada said “I was making my entry to the Bar conditional on today. I received some excellent career advice from Justices Mitting and Turner after the moot, and they had some really kind words to say about my performance, which was very encouraging. In addition, many OU students gave their time freely to support Cat and myself in preparing our skeleton arguments and submissions, and we are indebted for their contributions. This exchange of ideas made our preparation for the moots so much more interesting and made me feel part of a community.”
A group of OU law students was invited to attend a Lincoln's Inn University information afternoon and dinner.
The event was held at the historic Great Hall in Lincoln's Inn on Thursday 21 March 2013. There was a series of talks by practising barristers about training and practice at the Bar, followed by a drinks reception and dinner.
The students were: Esther Sheppard; Amy Matthews; Amy Wolfson; Fiona McNaughton; Luci Cojocaru; Sam Callow (AKA Hawkins); William Knapman; Jason Smart; Joseph Galpin; Robert Greenaway.
They were accompanied by Keren Bright, OU Law Programme Director.
Open University Law students have won the 2013 Welsh National Mooting Competition. Mooting mimics the courtroom process, whereby two opposing teams argue points of law. The Welsh National Mooting Competition was held at Swansea University on Saturday 23rd March.
The winning Open University team was comprised of Amy Woolfson (senior counsel) and Marie Morton (junior counsel).
Amy Woolfson and Marie Morton fought off competition from four other Universities, including Cardiff and Glamorgan, to reach the final against Swansea University. The final was heard by His Honour John Diehl QC, a retired circuit judge and Recorder for Swansea (far left in the photograph). This is only the second time The Open University has entered this prestigious event and the first time it has won it. The event is sponsored by the legal publisher Lexis Nexis.
After the event Amy Woolfson said “I am so incredibly pleased to have been able to win this for The Open University. Many of the other teams had benefitted from formal advocacy coaching, whereas OU law students run their team through the student law association. I had never met my junior before, although we had talked on the phone many times. I was senior counsel for The Open University in last year’s competition where we missed out on the final by one point. So it was particularly satisfying to go back and win against last year’s victors on their own patch. We had a thankless case to argue in the final, but the judge praised us for our highly persuasive arguments.”
The Open University in Wales, as this year's winners, will host the Welsh National Mooting Competition in 2014.
The School of Law would like to offer congratulations to all the prize-winners for 2012.
The following students have been selected based on their outstanding performance whilst studying their respective modules/ qualifications. Read their comments and stories below:
Law student of the Year: John Bishop
It was such a lovely and unexpected surprise to hear that I was The Open University (OU) Law Student of the Year for 2012.
I first graduated from the University of Southampton with a degree in Chemistry more years ago than I care to remember. A long career in business often involved work with the company’s corporate lawyers, which sparked an interest in the law. I enjoyed a period of study at Harvard Business School.
My career was cut short after nearly 30 years by chronic back pain, but The Open University has provided a lifeline during the last 15 years. I have obtained OU degrees in Social Sciences with Politics, and Humanities with Classical Studies, before embarking on the hardest challenge of all, the OU Law Degree. I owe my success in the OU Law Degree to hard work and the high quality of the OU’s manuals and other learning materials, with the constant need to test understanding through eTMAs and activities.
W200: Daniel Stuart
I don’t know if you can say that I typify an OU student but like many there’s another dimension to me than just studying. I work full-time, am Chair of a Governing Body for a Primary School, have three children aged seven and under and have also been volunteering in a Prison, a packed life I’m sure you’ll agree. However I do think they all contribute to the study and there’s nothing like a deadline to focus the mind!
Some will say why put myself through all this, well I have different reasons for doing things, but for me the law degree is more about me proving to myself that I can do it.
I’ve always loved the idea of law and I have a little advantage because I’m a Civil Servant (I know, I know). That said it’s a limited advantage and I’m quickly learning that it will only get me so far. The EU Law was a particular challenge.
My top study tip is to keep copying out key points until you know it by heart!
W201: Stuart Hargreaves
About myself, well I'm 36, I work full time for a company called Wolseley UK who are the parent company of such outlets as Plumb Center. I work in their head office in Leamington Spa full time as the Facilities Team Leader for the site so it's very much an admin job leading a team to deliver Facilities services such as reception, post room, maintenance. I also have a large amount of Health and Safety responsibility for the site so compiling risk assessments is a routine task. Studying law has come in very handy with this. It's a very demanding job so study, which is equally demanding, is done at evenings and weekends.
I'm really passionate about law, I'm enjoying each module of the degree and whilst it's challenging I have very high standards that I want to try and reach. I really would advise anyone who is thinking about studying with the OU to get on and do it because the support from successive tutors has been great and as long as you put the hours and the dedication in it brings its rewards.
I'm a very sporty person (or try to be), I love racquet sports such as tennis and badminton and in the last couple of years have taken up hiking as I like to be outdoors. I climbed Ben Nevis about 18 months ago which is not something I'd recommend half way through a law module but it went ok! I also love film and TV and with friends have been running a group for fans of cult TV and film for the last decade where we meet up in a community hall and socialise, have showings etc. We staged four not for profit TV events in 2008 which whilst not really successful in terms of numbers attending would very much like to attempt one again at some stage.
Future plans, I want to obviously see the degree through to completion if successful. I want to use the experience and knowledge in law that I am gaining to good effect, if I'm in a position to help people in the future I would see that as success. There's a long way to go so I only look at the next module which for me is W300.
W222: Fernanda Ash
I started at The Open University in 2009, after leaving my Law school back in Brazil where I am originally from. As the legal system in Brazil is very different from the UK, I had to start a Law degree, once again, from scratch. A law degree is always a huge commitment, especially in a language that is not your mother tongue.
There have been ups and downs since I started; however I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge it has been to study law in the UK. Commercial law is my passion and I am really committed to pursuing a career in this area upon graduation.
I am about to start W301 and am looking forward to graduating later this year, and facing the next challenge - finding a training contract.
W300: Olivia Freeman
I chose to study with The Open University because distance learning suits my lifestyle, and I was able to transfer credit from previous study elsewhere which enabled me to start with the second year law modules.
Having supportive tutors throughout my OU studies has made a big difference. I really enjoyed W300 and plan to continue with W301 next, so as to complete the LLB, and hope to use it in a future career.
W301: Benjamin Williams
In a small, dimly lit room in the middle of Libya I barely noticed the gunfire and grenades dominating the night sky. My attention was focussed solely on whether or not the intermittent internet connection would last long enough for me to submit my TMA. Studying law with The Open University was certainly never dull.
Like many OU students I’ve rarely walked out of my front door in recent years without a book and pen strapped to my back. I’ve lost track of the random places I’ve studied – the Hebridean island of Tiree where I grew up; the streets of Glasgow where I’m based; the IDP camps in Libya where I spent two months working last year.
Following my early experiences as a development worker with various NGOs, I graduated with a BA in Community Development from Glasgow University, which I studied alongside an LLB with The Open University. I intend to use both for my current and future community work amongst young people and migrant communities.
Most of the next two years will be spent travelling between Glasgow and Birmingham for my Legal Practice Course (LPC) in the hope that legal aid traineeships still exist in 2015.
W822: Oscar Ruiz
I started to study with The Open University in 2004 while I was working full-time in an international law firm. That was a short introductory course in science and I loved it. It was little after completing that course, that I was successful in getting a new job where law and science where combined in almost every dossier. Even better, my new employer was enthusiastic about life-long learning and financially supported my further science studies with the OU until I completed my Diploma in Life Sciences. As many OU students working full-time know well, that was a very challenging but also very rewarding period. I can only thank my wife for all her patience during that period as I think without her support that achievement would not have been possible.
Two years ago I came back to Law studies in order to prepare an OU Post-graduate certificate in Human Rights and Development management and I have to say there was a lot of work to do (and two little children had also arrived in the meantime...) but I enjoyed every bit of it. My last module with the OU for that qualification was W822 (Business, human rights law and corporate social responsibility) which has been one of the most challenging and interesting courses I have followed with the OU. It was also a highly informative and eye-opening course about the impact of corporations in society and how, in a truly globalised world, we need to ensure that companies respect the essential human rights of citizens everywhere in the world no matter where they operate (be it in rich or poor countries).
When I recently learned that I was the top student for module W822 it only made the achievement of my post-graduate certificate an even sweeter moment and a nice way to put an end to my OU studies... at least for now. As many OU students know well, once you get infected by the virus of (flexible) learning it is difficult to escape from it for too long!
W100: Nick Elliott
Having previously studied Podiatry to degree level I have been working as a chef for the last eight years and continue to do so whilst studying with the OU. W100 was an excellent route back into higher education and I am looking forward to W200 and the other law modules.
The Faculty of Business and Law hosted a Student Awards lunch in July at the Milton Keynes campus. This was to congratulate and celebrate students who had excelled in their studies.
The Law School has been offering a prize for the Law Student of the year for three years and this time the winner was Neil Andrews.
Neil started his law degree in 2006 with W100 and he has now graduated with a first class LLB.
He accepted his prize and thanked everyone, especially his wife, for helping him to study for a law degree. At the age of 18 he had a place at university to study a law degree but decided to start work instead. So now over a quarter of century later he has fulfilled his ambition.
The students were given a tour of the campus and a lunch attended by Law School and College of Law staff and the Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law.
On 22 March six OU Law students visited Lincoln’s Inn where the experience they had seems to have had a lasting effect. Below is third year law student Navaid Syed’s account of the visit.
On a sunny Wednesday afternoon in London six OU students assembled in the hallowed grounds of the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn. Our host was Julian Webb, Senior Regional Manager for the OU who graciously escorted us into the Great Hall of Lincoln's Inn, the oldest of the Inns of Court, which has stood on the same site since 1422.
The OU is very keen to promote the prospects of its Law Students and in Lincoln's Inn it found a willing and very able partner. The combination was formidable and the students were treated as honoured guests.
The Great Hall, where we were to be hosted was magnificent. One full wall is taken up with a Fresco by Watts and this provided the backdrop for a series of fascinating speakers.
Joanna Robinson, Deputy Under Treasurer (Education) graciously welcomed us in the name of The Rt Hon Dame Janet Smith DBE, the Treasurer of the Inn.
Sarah Goudarzi of Lamb Buildings, who practices at the criminal Bar encouraged us to be tenacious and never, never give up if our dream, was to go to the Bar.
Mark Ockelton, Vice President, Upper Tribunal, Immigration & Asylum Chamber, regaled us with his adventures at the Chancery Bar before he finally settled as an Immigration judge. He reminded us how much both talent and luck, in that order, matter in a successful career at the Bar.
Margaret McGowan-Smyth, from the Home Office wisely shared the advantages of the Employed Bar: regular hours guaranteed pay and organised career progression. Whilst Puneet Rai from Thomas More Chamber enthused about the advantages of the self employed bar: variety of work, living on your talent and wits and the joy of adversarial advocacy.
Finally, George Payne, from the lectern amused us with his 'Ten Top tips' for prospective barristers.
My personal favourite was 'Talk to People' in other words, network, network, and network.
Being an OU student has many advantages, the depth of experience brought by fellow students, the practicality of the course materials and the quality of the tutors but sometimes not being on campus means OU students can feel a little isolated. Networking is an excellent way to bridge the gaps.
Join some of the excellent legal associations, as I have done such as ALBA, the Administrative Law Barristers Association or ELBA, the Employment Bar Association which offer serious educational opportunities. There are many networks to choose from. Never be too proud to ask for help or too humble to think you don't deserve a helping hand.
Dinner, after the speeches, was a sumptuous affair as one would expect from such an august institution as Lincoln's Inn. My table host, Winston Hunter QC was both gracious, witty and informative.
In summary, the evening was an excellent learning and networking opportunity. One of our speakers reminded us that a successful career at the Bar is made up of 20% talent; 60% very hard work and 20% luck but it is clear that by studying with OU the part luck plays is considerably diminished.
Many thanks go to the OU for organising our part for the evening especially to Keren Bright, Law Programme Director; Mandy Winter of the Law School and Julian Webb, Senior Regional Manager, Law School, Open University.
Joanna Robinson with Faye Appleton and Ed Payne of the Education Department from the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn are to be thanked for an excellent evening.
Left to right: Hephzibah Perry, Susan Beaurepaire, Gwyn Hopkins, and Julian Webb.
The Law School has decided to award prizes to the top student in all of our modules. Below are the students who are the happy recipients of the module prize and will be able to include this information on their CVs and refer to it in future interviews. Congratulations to all the prize-winners.
“I started studying with the OU about a year and a half ago when I signed up for Starting with Law (Y166) after a short hiatus in my education during which many of my peers left for university. Although nervous, I had a great experience thanks to the interesting course and the excellent support from my tutor. Consequently, I went on to do the W100 and now plan to continue with the other Law modules on offer. Studying with the OU has helped me to build up my confidence and I am looking forward to tackling my next course! “
I have chosen to study law with The Open University because the style of learning suits my lifestyle. I work at the European Medicines Agency in London as adviser on public procurement and I also have a young son so going to regular part-time degree courses would not be that easy. With the OU I can study when it suits me (even waiting for my son at his swimming or music lesson). It is hard work but greatly satisfying and I hope this will be a stepping stone in my career.
I am a Chemistry graduate from the University of Southampton. I worked in business for 30 years, before retiring due to ill-health. I took up study with the Open University and graduated in Social Science with Politics and then Humanities with Classical Studies. I hope to graduate with the Open University Law Degree in 2012.’
I am a 39 year old serving police officer, having served in Nottinghamshire for just short of 17 years before transferring to Cambridgeshire Constabulary 4 years ago.
I live with my partner Paul and our two boys, William 2yrs and Monty 15 months. I am currently expecting our third child who is due this easter!
I have been studying with The Open University for the past 6 years and have just been awarded my LLB, Qualifying Law degree. W222 was my final course and it has been fabulous for me to have ended on such a high.
Studying with the OU has been about the only constant thing for me in the last 6 years. I unfortunately suffered two close relative bereavements during the first two years of study. I also suffered a marriage break up, moved house and job, got a promotion, started a new relationship, and had two babies! I started my degree in a previous life with different priorities so I'm not sure what I shall do with it now! But with only 9 years left to complete of my Police service it may well give me options when I retire.
I consider myself a good advert for the old adage that anything is possible (if you put your mind to it)!!
I would happily recommend studying with The Open University. Thank you!
I come from the Hebridean island of Tiree and am currently based in Glasgow. I’ve just graduated from Glasgow University with a BA in Community Development, where I developed a particular interest in popular education. I decided to undertake an LLB simultaneously through The Open University as it quickly became apparent that the law was such a useful – yet often inaccessible – tool for communities. The Open University was the ideal way to study because the flexibility allowed me to combine these interests. In an effort to put what I have been learning into practice (and fund my studies), I’ve been working for a community project aimed at tackling racist hate crime among young people, whilst also gaining experience (in photocopying and tea-making) from a criminal defence law firm.
My hope is to specialise in criminal and immigration law, with a particular focus on working with young people and people seeking asylum. In doing so I am keen to explore ways in which popular education ideas can influence the way that the law is approached.
In my spare time I can be found roaming randomly on my bike, playing the Scottish pipes and chatting away in Gaelic (though generally not at the same time).
Since I came to the UK in 2000, I have had an ambition to become a lawyer. However, I was not sure whether I could do it, especially as English is not my first language. I decided to improve my English first, by doing a course at a college, and after five years I felt I was ready to start my Law degree. Due to my life commitments I could not study full-time at a traditional University. My college recommended me the OU. It was tough at first, but my marks were improving every year, and I grew in confidence. Getting distinction last year came as a surprise. This year, I was determined to repeat my last year's success.
I worked consistently hard throughout the year, spending more time than average on my studies and revising regularly. So I was very comfortable with the course material when I started my final revision. My tactics paid off. Also, to succeed at distance learning you need to be self-motivated, self-disciplined, determined and good at working independently, and all OU students have those important qualities.
I am currently volunteering as a generalist advisor at CAB and I am also trying to get a position at a law centre. I think that longer-term opportunities are particularly helpful in developing legal skills. I am also trying to secure a couple of shorter work placements at the public sector organisations, as my ambition is to work in government. I will be starting my LPC at the College of Law in September 2012. I am proud to be a OU graduate. Thank you all the tutors for your support. Thank you OU for this unforgettable experience.
The W822 module was my 9th and last postgraduate module with the OU. I obtained the MSc in Development Management in 2010 and during those studies I realised that I would like to take a deeper look at the relationship between human rights law and development. My first degree was in law and I worked in family law in the UK before moving to France, where I have lived for 25 years. I was also a family and welfare law counsellor in France for many years.
When I first saw the plans for W822 I knew this was for me so after a brief foray into systems thinking, I plunged back into development in May 2011. I was not disappointed; I found the course stimulating and rewarding, probably one of my most satisfying OU experiences along with the module on environmental responsibility (TD866). I feel that these two courses enabled me to have a more complete view of global development management, indeed I am not sure how we can really adequately study development without taking into account our social and environmental responsibility. I also enjoyed experiencing the discipline and method attached to studying law again after all these years. I would love to continue with the LLM when the new courses become available but as with all good things, I think there comes a moment when we have to move on. In any event I am very glad to have completed my OU studies on such a positive note!
A group of sixth year school pupils participated in a visit to the Scottish Parliament in December 2011 to complement their studies on An introduction to law in contemporary Scotland (W150). 21 students from as far afield as Orkney, Troon, Aberdeen and Glenrothes braved some difficult weather conditions to spend the day learning more about how the Parliament at Holyrood works. The group sat in on a meeting of the Justice Committee which was taking evidence on Lord Carloway's review of the Scottish criminal justice system and then, after a tour of the parliament building, they had the opportunity to put questions to the Convenor of the Justice Committee, Christine Grahame MSP.
The pupils are amongst 74 currently studying W150 with The OU through the Young Applicants in Schools Scheme (YASS). One of the students, Eleanor Clarke from St Matthew's Academy, Saltcoats, chose YASS as part of her S6 studies “to get me used to working by myself and as preparation for university level studies. Studying W150 has given me the peace of mind that Law is what I want to go on and study at University.”
All students on W150 are also offered the opportunity to visit sheriff courts with a tutor in Edinburgh and Glasgow as part of the course.
The moot between The Open University (Appellants) and Cambridge University (Respondents) was held last night at the College of Law’s Moorgate campus. The case was fiercely contended with each candidate putting in an excellent performance, however, the overall moot was won by The Open University – “by a hair’s breadth”, to quote the moot judge, Andrew Keogh (or “Lord Keogh” as he was, in character, on the night).
The case itself was one a piece with the appeal for the damage to the transport block being rejected, but the appeal against the death of Fireman Sam being allowed. The outcome was the result of several weeks preparation, dogged determination and several meetings to compare notes. We now look forward to the quarter finals as we move one step closer to repeating the success of last year’s win.
Pictured from left to right are team members Phil Zack, Gwyn Hopkins, Navaid Syed, moot judge Andrew Keogh, Peter Blackburn, Jez Hindmarsh, and Richard Bower.
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Congratulations to The Open University Mooting team who defeated Birkbeck College in the first round of the latest ICLR National Mooting Tournament. Continuing from the success of the OU Law student team who won the last mooting tournament earlier this year, OU Law Students Peter Blackburn and Roger Whitfield, acting as counsel, supported by fellow students Richard Bower, Jez Hindmarsh, Navaid Syed and coached by two of last year’s winning team members Gwyn Hopkins, and Phil Zack, successfully argued their case to the judge and cited their analysis of briefing notes, case research and team effort as the key to their success.
The OU Law School wishes them all the very best of luck in the next mooting round in which they will compete against Cambridge University over a case involving occupiers’ liability.
(Right to Left: Jez Hindmarsh, Peter Blackburn, Roger Whitfield, Gwyn Hopkins). Not included in the photograph but present at the moot itself and the all-day training session were Phil Zack, and Richard Bower.
The Faculty of Business and Law School Student Awards, which are held annually to celebrate the highest achieving students from the past academic year, took place in September at the University’s campus in Milton Keynes.
The Law School is proud to announce that our new winner of Law Student of the Year is Stephanie Stephenson. The school graduates approximately 250 law graduates per year and Stephanie attained the highest scores across all four compulsory law courses (W200, W201, W300, W301) that make up the law degree (LLB).
Stephanie is from Australia, but was living in the UK whilst studying her law degree. She is currently in Australia and looking for her first job in the legal profession down under.
The Law School wish her all the best in the future.
Open University law students Philip Zack and Damian Wynne have won the ICLR National Mooting Tournament held at Gray’s Inn in London.
Their opponents were a team from Exeter University, and the final, on Wednesday 30 March, was a re-match of the 2010 final when the OU were runners-up to the Exeter team.
Lord Justice Elias and Mr Justice Cranston judged the final, and had high praise for the advocacy skills of all four of the student mooters before them. They argued their cases well and remained impressively calm under the fire of constant interjections and questioning from the judges.
A moot is designed to resemble a case heard before a judge in court and was originally a teaching tool for apprentice barristers in the Inns of Court. The moot judges are looking for persuasive legal argument that is well presented and clearly structured.
The case before the moot court in the final concerned a disabled pensioner who brought an action in public nuisance against a property development company. Dust and noise pollution from the development of a block of flats had caused the pensioner to suffer from bronchitis and insomnia.
The Open University team won rounds against Wolverhampton University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Nottingham Law School and Durham University to reach the final, and congratulations go to all the members of the OU team - Philip Zack, Damian Wynne, Craig Breed, Naomi Cross and Gwyn Hopkins. The name of The Open University will join Oxford, Cambridge, Exeter and others on the Mooting Shield – which will remain with the Law School of The Open University for a year.
Pictured, from left to right, are Gwyn Hopkins, Damian Wynne, Director of the OU’s Law Programme Keren Bright, Law Society representative Andrew Dobson, Craig Breed, Philip Zack, Naomi Cross.
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