Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Judicial Review Flowchart

Faced with a problem question in a law exam about whether Judicial Review can be used? This flowchart suggests a logical approach to structuring your answer.

(click on the image for a full sized version)

Monday, 23 May 2016

Revision - Enforcing Rights arising in EU Law

Another "golden oldie" video - which will be relevant if you have exams coming up involving EU Law (such as the Open University's W200 course)

I also have a flow diagram which sets out the steps to answer any problem based upon the issue of whether a right can be enforced? and if so how? (A very frequent exam question in almost all EU Law courses)

(click on image for full size version)

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Revision for Constitutional Law - Dicey on Parliamentary Sovereignty

A couple of years ago (doesn't it show!) I recorded three short videos on the subject of Dicey and his explanation of Parliamentary Sovereignty (or 'supremacy').

If you are revising for an exam in which Parliamentary Sovereignty may make an appearance (such as the Open University's W200 or W201 courses - or Constitutional Law at degree level) - these videos may assist your revision.

Please use - or share this post with people who might find it useful. It is also of course relevant to the debate around the EU Referendum.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Queen's Speech

The Queen's Speech has been delivered. It's significance is that a new Session has begun. Unless a General Election intervenes, (and after the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011, that is very unlikely) the session will last until May next year.

Once sessions were almost watertight, only in a very few circumstances would a bill remain alive after the session ended. Now there are a number of "carry over" bills - which survive from the 2015-16 Session and will continue in the new session. Soon "Sessional Returns" will be produced, which give valuable data about the work (and effectiveness) of the last session. Academics studying Parliament (myself included) find these a valuable tool - they can be accessed here.

The other significance is that the Government (the 'Executive' part of government) has put forward its legislative agenda. Over the next few days some of those promised bills will be introduced and published. Some will be held back until later in the session. There is no requirement for the government to deliver its planned agenda - circumstances may change - less time might be available than planned for, and new legislation may be introduced to respond to events which occur.

To read about the Government's plans you can visit https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/queens-speech-2016  - and of course the newspapers and the broadcasting organisations have analysis and comment on their online sites.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

W200 Revision Outline

For any students of the Open University's W200 "Understanding Law" course - I have recorded my presentation setting out the key topics in the course - and highlighting those areas which merit especial attention.

The two keys to revision are

* Connecting                               and
* Condensing

These slides give an overview of the course - so note how the different elements of the course fit into a structure - essentially
- English Legal System
- Constitutional Law
- Human Rights
- Criminal Law
- Obligations (sometimes referred to as the two related subjects of 'Contract' & 'Tort'
- EU Law - the structure of the institutions and EU Legal System (Institutions; Court Actions; Enforcing Rights in EU Law)
- EU Law on Free Movement of Goods & Persons; Competition Law; Social Policy

make the connections. Spider grams (MindMaps) can help here.

For the bullet points in the slides - can you briefly state the key information - in a condensed form - for example - what are
* Dicey's three points on Parliamentary Sovereignty (Supremacy)
* the requirements for a right arising in EU Law to have - direct effect; indirect effect; state liability
* what are the key elements in justifying national rules which might appear to hinder the free movements?

(double click if you can't see the full slide)

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Getting Revision Focused

A starting point in revision is to identify the key topics that need to be covered. 

For W200 Students (or students of English legal System and EU Law)

Below is a MindMap illustrating the key parts of the W200 Understanding Law course. Unit 8, on Scottish Law is not examinable - so I haven't incorporated it.

Once you can visualise the structure of the course - the next task is to draw out the key issues within each major subject. The way that the manuals are structured helps you do that. 

For Example - Units One and Two make up "Introduction to Law
1 Introduction and what is law
2 Terminology and sources of Law

Each unit is subdivided - Unit One -
A General Introduction to the course - no need to revise this
B What is Law?
C The Functions of Law

Note the key themes and further divisions - B1, B2, B3.....
You might want to draw your own MindMap for each Subject and/or Unit.
Briefly summarise the key points as you revise - this involves condensing the information.

(click on the mindmap for the full version)

For W201 Students (or students of UK Constitutional Law; Human Rights & Criminal Law)

Below is a MindMap illustrating the key parts of the W201 The Individual & the State course. 
Once you can visualise the structure of the course - the next task is to draw out the key issues within each major subject. The way that the manuals are structured helps you do that. 

For Example - Units One to Five cover "Constitutional Law"

1 Fundamental Values, constitutions and core constitutional principles
2 The sources of the UK Constitution
3&4 Parliamentary supremacy
5 The institutions of State in the UK

Each unit is subdivided - Unit One -
A Identifying fundamental values
B Constitutions: purpose and classification
C Core constitutional principles (1) Parliamentary supremacy (2) Responsible government
D Core constitutional principles (1) The Rule of Law (2) The Separation of Powers
Note the key themes and further divisions - B1, B2, B3.....

(click on the mindmap for the full version)

Tuesday, 10 May 2016


It's that time of year again. I have OU students on the W200 (Understanding Law) and W201 (Law: The Individual & the State). Washminster has, in the past, been a useful resource for those studying at University or for A-Levels in the subjects of Law and Politics. It is my intention to produce posts which may be of especial use to such students.

The subjects I will be focusing on include
# Principles of effective revision
# English Legal System
# UK Constitutional Law
# European Union Law
# Human Rights (with an emphasis on the European Convention on Human Rights)
# Principles of Obligations (Contract and Tort)
# Criminal Law

- but fear not, these subjects are not dry academic subjects. They will be at the forefront of debate across the world. In the UK, there will be a referendum on Britain remaining in the EU. Soon afterwards Michael Gove is expected to announce proposals for the replacement of the Human Rights Act (which gives effect to the ECHR in the UK - allowing its provisions to be raised and applied in English courts [Note - the OU courses concerned deal with English Law - although there is a unit on Scottish Law which is non-examinable]. The proper use of 'constitutions' lies at the heart of current debate in the USA - and concerns about respect for human rights is increasing across the world. So there will be in these posts, something for everyone. There's no need to switch just because you aren't facing an exam!

If you do have family; friends; neighbours or students who might value Washminster as an additional revision tool - please share this post (or our address - http://washminster.blogspot.co.uk/) with them.

Monday, 9 May 2016

A British Bill of Rights?

Will the Human Rights Act be repealed - and a "British Bill of Rights" be introduced to replace it? Many Conservatives are critical of the European Convention on Human Rights (despite the considerable British input into this groundbreaking convention).

It is expected that Michael Gove will introduce his proposals after the EU Referendum has taken place. 

Today the House of Lords EU Justice subcommittee has published a report followed an inquiry it has undertaken. For a number of reasons it is critical of the whole idea.

The report says -

"Doubts about the wisdom of introducing a British Bill of Rights grew with each evidence session we held. Many witnesses thought the current Human Rights Act incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into national law in a peculiarly British way, and doubted more needed to be done to put human rights in a national context. Many thought that any restriction of the existing scope of rights under the Human Rights Act would lead to greater reliance on the EU Charter in national courts—a perverse consequence of a Bill of Rights that is intended to stamp national identity on human rights, particularly in view of the greater enforcement powers of the EU Charter. Many of our witnesses were deeply concerned about the effect of departing from the rights provided for in the Convention on the UK’s international standing, particularly among EU Member States, and on the UK’s ability to participate effectively in EU policies on fighting international crime.
We also heard a range of views on whether the Court of Justice of the European Union could be accused of extending the scope of EU law over national law through its judgments on the EU Charter. The weight of expert evidence was clear, and did not support such a conclusion.
The evidence we received from the devolved nations showed strong opposition to a British Bill of Rights and a belief that the repeal of the Human Rights Act would require the consent of the devolved legislatures before a Bill of Rights could come into force. Without this the Government might be left with an English Bill of Rights. The importance of the role of the Human Rights Act in Northern Ireland’s peace process was brought home to us in evidence we received from both north and south of the border.
Taken individually, the views expressed by witnesses to this inquiry raise serious questions over the feasibility and value of a British Bill of Rights of the sort described by the Secretary of State; taken together, they make a forceful case for the Government to think again before continuing with this policy."

Sunday, 8 May 2016

C-SPAN at the weekends

C-SPAN is great for live coverage of proceedings in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. But I also enjoy (perhaps more than the live feed from the Capitol) listening at the weekend. I saw 'listening' because on a Sunday morning nothing beats lying in bed, with the headphones in (my wife isn't a C-SPAN listener by choice), listening to one of their history or book programmes. This morning I enjoyed "Unrest and Reform in the Gilded Age".

There is an app (which I have on both my iPhone and iPad) called "C-SPAN Radio". Despite its name - the app allows you to listen to the live audio feeds from C-SPAN Radio: C-SPAN 1: C-SPAN 2: and C-SPAN 3. You can also look at the day's schedules. You can also chose podcasts of programmes already aired.

I'm writing this sitting in the sunshine in by back garden. C-SPAN Radio is broadcasting C-SPAN2 Book TV until noon (Schedules are available only for the US time zones - but adding 5 is well within my skills set). Washingto Journal will be broadcast for 3 hours, and at 5.00pm (UK) the various Sunday TV programmes ("Meet the Press", "Fox News Sunday", "State of the Union", and "Face the Nation") will be broadcast.

But I enjoy the Panel discussions and Book discussions on C-SPAN2   and history programming on C-SPAN3.

There are a couple of websites which tell you more (and feature previous broadcasts)

Book TV

American History TV

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Donald Trump

Well Senator Ted Cruz has suspended his campaign. (and as I was writing this The Hill reported that John Kasich was cancelling a DC area event - leading to speculation that he might do the same) It seems that Donald Trump marches on towards inevitable  selection as the candidate for the Republican Party. A number of people have expressed concern about that - from those within the Republican Party; to American citizens; and to those watching from abroad.

What are your views? I'd be interested in receiving reasoned arguments from "Washminster" readers. I'm happy to publish all views (as long as no abuse is involved).

If you think Mr Trump would be worth supporting, if he is indeed he is the Republican candidate - then set down down your reasons. Why would he be the best person for the job? and you if can't go that far, how would you address the concerns that some people have expressed.

If you would be opposed to his becoming President Trump, then again - set out your reasons and concerns. Is your opposition based on favouring a different ideology (are you a natural Democrat supporter), or are your reasons deeper.

Do either respond on the comment link on this website - or send me an email (jdavidmorgan@googlemail.com)