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The Open University Tom Bingham Memorial Essay Prize

Post date: 29 Sep 2015

Earlier this year, the Tom Bingham Memorial Essay Prize competition, a joint project from The Open University Law School and Open University Law Society, was launched.

Paul Catley, Head of the OU Law School, is pleased to announce this year’s winner is David Lilburn. David studied W301 with the OU Law School in 2014/15 and wins a £250 prize. Our two runners up, Keith Palling and Kirsty Paget, each win a £100 prize. The essay competition was kindly judged by Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights campaign group Liberty.

The competition was established in 2014, by OU alumna Amy Woolfson and former Head of the OU Law School, Geoff Peters.

Keith Palling, runner-up

Photo of Keith Palling“I started my LLB full-time in 2014 at the age of 71, after a career in IT with a multinational oil company and the NHS. I have a BSc in Engineering but Law has always interested me and I was impressed by the OU offerings. Having completed my first year, I can definitely say that although it was hard work, the quality of the material and the support and feedback from Tutors were excellent.

"I am retired and do voluntary work two days a week, but still found it possible to cope with two 60-credit modules in parallel. The cost is not negligible, especially if one doesn’t qualify for any financial support, but for those who doubt their ability to do an OU degree I say ‘go for it’.”

Kirsty Paget, runner-up

Photo of Kirsty Paget"I am thrilled to be chosen as a runner up for the Tom Bingham memorial essay competition as I didn't think I would have a chance, being a first year student with no previous experience of studying law. Working full time as a learning disability support worker whilst studying two modules full time has been challenging, so having my essay chosen for a prize has just added validation to all of the hard work over the last year. I have met amazing people such as my tutor Caroline Ingram, who has been incredibly supportive and made my first year of study less daunting, plus she has great book recommendations.  

"Returning to study as a mature student and working full time was overwhelming at first but I have found ways to manage, with my employer being flexible and it has been so enjoyable. This prize has given me a new level of enthusiasm for my second year and I'm looking forward to October to see what W202 and W203 will bring."

Photo of Rt Hon the Lord Bingham of CornhillRt Hon the Lord Bingham of Cornhill

The Rt Hon the Lord Bingham of Cornhill (1933-2010) was a British barrister and judge (pictured). He served as Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice and as Senior Lord of Appeal.  He had been described as ‘one of the world's most acute legal minds’. In 2011 his book The Rule of Law won the Orwell Prize for political writing.



The academic and student teams involved in the project are: 

  • Dr Neil Graffin, Lecturer in International Law; Dr Simon Lavis, Lecturer in Law; Jessica Giles FHEA, Lecturer in Law, OU Law School
  • Abigail Scott, Chair, OU Law Society

Further information about the 2016 essay competition will be announced in the New Year.