Uk Supreme Court Blog Essay

Feeling like a winner?

There are lots of opportunities to try out your writing expertise throughout the year...sometimes for money (oh and prestige and worldwide fame of course...).

Times Law Award

The biggest of these is The Times Law Award; an annual award of £3500 for a 1000 word essay on a given topic.

Details of the 2015 competition are available via both The Times and One Essex Court.

2014 saw first and third place taken by current City students, with second awarded to a BPTC alumnus. George White (1st) and Lara Hassell (3rd) are both BPTC students (Lara completed the GDL last year) and James Beeton (2nd), a BPTC alumnus. The 2014 essay question was Morality versus legality: when is war justified?. All winning essays can be found online, and the news story on the City website.

In 2013 City GDL students secured first and second place in the competition. Andrew Lomas won overall, with Lara Hassell taking second prize with their essays on Privacy and the press: Is state regulation in the public interest? A detailed account of Andrew and Lara's success can be found via the City website.

in 2012 both first and second prizes, as well as two runners-up prizes were won by lawyers with links to City. The title of the essay was as topical as ever: Cameras in court: justice's loss or gain? First prize was taken by James Potts, City GDL and BPTC alumni and now pupil barrister at 4-5 Grays Inn Square. Read James' essay. Second prize was taken by Thomas Coates, then a City GDL student. Read Thomas's essay.

In 2011 first prize was won by Anthony Pavlovich, from City's Graduate Diploma in Law course. Anthony addressed the question Justice under the axe: can the Government's cuts be fair?

In 2010 first prize was won by a City GDL student, Anita Davies, (who went on to take the BPTC with us). Anita addressed the question: Supreme Court UK: radical change or business as usual? This very prestigious award usually has a judging panel of gravitas; this one included Jack Straw; Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the President of the Supreme Court; Lord Grabiner; James Harding, Editor of The Times and David Cavender, QC, of One Essex Court.

Anita's winning essay, described by Jack Straw as "an engaging, erudite piece of prose". can be seen on the One Essex Court website.

In 2006, Amy Rogers, another City GDL student won the award with her essay on Terrorism v human rights: Where do you draw the line?,Sarah Love (City GDL), won joint first prize in 2005 with The shape of things to come? Will Clementi be good for consumers but bad for lawyers?, James Brilliant (City BVC) won it in 2004 with Constitutional reform: will the justice system benefit?Mathew Guillick (City GDL) in 2002 with International terrorists: what role should the law play? and finally in 2001, Jonathan Davey(City GDL) with Ethical dilemmas who should decide - lawyers, scientists or God?. Not a bad record eh?

All previous prize winners (including runner-ups) of The Times Award can be found on the One Essex Court site, who the awards are held in association with.

The Graham Turnbull Memorial International Human Rights Essay Competition

An annual competition named after Graham Turnbull, an English solicitor who did much to promote respect for human rights. Graham was killed in 1997, working as a human rights monitor on the United Nations Human Rights Mission in Rwanda.

Open to law students, trainee solicitors, pupil barristers and all solicitors/barristers within 3 years of admission/call.

The competition asks for essays of no more than 2000 words in length and awards the winner of this prestigious award £500 from the Graham Turnbull Memorial Fund.

The winner for 2013 was Niall Coghlan, a GDL student from City, and you can view his essay along with those of other shortlisted candidates (including runner-up and fellow City alumnus Jennifer Blair) via the Law Society website Entries from earlier years can also be found via the website.

The deadline for this year's competition is 13th February 2015, with entrants asked to tackle the following question:

"The roots of many of our basic rights go back to the Magna Carta whose 800th Anniversary is being celebrated in 2015. Given this important legacy, to what extent would proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights impact on the protection of human rights in the UK and around the world?"

Bar Council Law Reform Essay

Sponsored by the Bar Council Scholarship Trust, this competition is open to students and pupils and requires entrants to write a piece of less than 3000 words proposing the case for a law reform which is desirable, practical and useful. Top prize is £4000 which could come in very handy for funding some part of your legal education.

City GDL students have won in previous years: Daisy Ricketts (2011) and Calum Docherty (2010) were both successful. Calum proposed the reform of copyright law in Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Reforming Fair Dealing in English Copyright Law and Daisy with Strengthening the Rule of Law: Reforming the Scope on Parliamentary Privilege. In 2012 City student Mek Mesfin was runner-up in the CPE category and in 2013 Ross Beaton, a City GDL alumni won the overall prize. You can see all previous winners and read their essays via the Bar Council website.

Phoebe Whitlock won in the GDL category for 2016's competition with an entry entitled Rivalling Silicon Valley: The case for the reform of Software Patents. Take a look at the CityNews story about this. For the 2017 competition, GDL student Clarissa Wigoder won first prize with her essay Spare the rod: Why the law on corporal punishment needs to be reformed, and Daniel Fox was named runner-up with his piece: I hate being idle: Asylum seekers and the right to work.

Take a look at their entries (and all other winners) via the Bar Council website.

Lord Rodger Essay Prize

This annual essay prize is sponsored by OUP in association with the Statute Law Society. The competition is open to all undergraduates or those holding an undergraduate degree for less than 5 years.

Essays should cover one or more of the following topics:

- the legislative process - the use of legislation as an instrument of public policy - the drafting of legislation - the interpretation of legislation

Word count is between 5000-8000 words, and there's a prize of £1000 on offer. There is also the possibility of the winning essay being published in the Statute Law Review. Deadline for the competition is usually mid-September - find out more via the Statute Law Society website.

Please note - this competition didn't run in 2014 or 2015. We shall see if it re-emerges!

Access to Justice Foundation Student Competition

The Foundation and LawWorks run this annual competition, calling for students to write articles between 750-1000 words. Winners will receive the Student Prize and have their piece published in the New Law Journal.

The competition deadline is generally in February time. Students were asked to answer the following question for last year's competition: An understanding of the importance of pro bono and access to justice is a crucial part of any law student's education. How can this be improved?

The competition is open to both undergraduate and postgraduate law students, including LPC, BPTC and CILEx students. We'll update this once this year's competition is released but you can see last year's information via the Foundation website.

UK Supreme Court Blog Essay Competition

Launched by the UK Supreme Court Blog, in conjunction with the UK Supreme Court and the Guardian, this essay competition asked students to write essays of 1000 words in a blog-style from a choice of two topics. The 2013 competition asked students:

'Judging the constitution: what role should the UKSC play in determining the constitutional law of the UK?' or 'Rogue justice:do we need more or fewer dissenting voices in the UKSC?'

Winners got the chance to see their essay on the UKSC Blog and on the Guardian website. This was in addition to a week's work experience at Olswang LLP, an iPad mini and £250 cash. Not bad eh?

In 2013 this competition was won by City GDL student Daniel Isenberg. It did not run in 2014.

JLD Essay Competition

Open to its members, the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society, have an annual competition for those registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority. This includes LPC students and those qualified and working as paralegals.

Those wishing to enter the 2017 competition should write no more than 2000 words on the following question:

Where is the line between legitimate accountability and calling judges ‘enemies of the people’?

Deadline is 30th November 2017.

For inspiration you might like to look at the winners/runners-up for last year, where entrants had to tackle the following question:

How do you think Brexit will affect junior lawyers?

2015 winners (and their essays) are available via the JLD website.Entrants addressed the following question:

Should there ever be a case for absolute anonymity in legal proceedings, and if so, why and for whom?

Overall winner for 2015 was Anna Dannreuther, trainee solicitor and City GDL alumni. Well done Anna!

UKELA Andrew Lees Prize

Named for a former Friends of the Earth Campaign Director (Andrew Lees, a leading environmental campaigner who died unexpectedly in 1994) this prize has been going many years. You can view previous winners on the site and the winner normally receives support for travel and attendance at the UKELA annual conference as well as see your work published in their members' journal.

The deadline for submissions is usually around early April of each year.

Find out more about the competition and associated rules on the UKELA website.

  • Update* 2016 question been released: The Paris Climate Agreement is based on what countries say they will do, and not on what they must do, to avoid catastrophic climate change. It is too little, too late?

Deadline = 11 April 2016

Find out more via the website or flyer.

Five Stone Buildings Essay Competition

The Pupillage Committee of the Chambers of Henry Harrod, 5 Stone Buildings run an annual essay competition, with students asked to write up to 1500 words on a chosen topic. It didn't run last year but the 2013-14 question was as follows:

To what extent is the lack of certainty as to the remedy that will be granted in a successful proprietary estoppel claim problematic in principles and in practice?

There is usually £500 up for grabs for the winner, along with the invitation to undertake a mini pupillage at the chambers.

Generally the question appears in January, with the deadline in late April.

See the rules and more information from the last time this competition ran at the website of 5SB. Let's see what happens this year!

ARDL Marion Simmons QC Essay Competition

Annual essay competition from the Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers. Students (undergraduates and postgraduates, trainee solicitors and pupil barristers) are asked to write no more than 3000 words on a topic. The 2014/15 title is as follows:

Has the regulation of professionals encroached too far into private life?

First prize winner takes home £2000, second prize winner £1000 and third prize £500.

Find full details of how to enter via the ADRL website.

CEPLER Student Essay Competition

The Centre for Professional Legal Education and Research at Birmingham Law School (CEPLER) launched its national law student essay writing competition in 2014. The winner (City GDL student Chris Richards) received an iPad mini and the opportunity to have their essay published on the CEPLER website as a CEPLER Working Paper. He had just 1500 words to tackle the following title: “In an age of austerity, access to justice is a luxury", and received comments like this from the judges:

"Chris' submission was a beautifully written, well-argued and original essay which all three of us chose as the best in a competitive field". (The Chief Executive of Birmingham Citizen's Advice Bureau Service)

In 2015 students were asked to tackle the following question:

"A 'brexit' would be a serious threat to London as the centre of globalised legal services. Discuss" Deadline was 19th November 2015. The winning entry can be seen via the CEPLER website.

More info and the competition rules can be found via the CEPLER website.

Want inspiration?Read Chris's winning entry via the University of Birmingham's ePapers repository.

FIDE Essay Prize

The UK Association for European Law also run an essay competition, with the winner securing a bursary to attend the biennial FIDE CONGRESS Conference, which usually takes place in May.

Last year students were asked to write no more than 2000 words (including footnotes) on the following:

Does recent case law suggest that the Court of Justice has lost its way on the issue of EU citizens' rights?

Submissions are judged by a panel from the UKAEL committee, who will award the winner registration at the conference in addition to £600 towards accommodation and travel. The winner of this prize in 2014 was Niall Coghlan, BPTC student at City, you can read his essay via the UKAEL website. Niall has had a great year for developing his European Law expertise - he was also part of the team that won the European Human Rights Moot in Strasbourg.

Commonwealth Law Student Essay Competition

This annual competition is open to all students registered on an undergraduate degree course.

The organisers the Commonwealth Legal Education Organisation (CLEO) are asking for 2500 words maximum on the following:

Can the Commonwealth (Latimer House) Principles on Three Branches of Government 2003 serve as an effective framework for safeguarding democracy and the rule of law in Commonwealth Countries?

Find out more and access the rules online.

Future Legal Mind Award

Launched in 2014 by the National Accident Helpline in association with Lawyer2b magazine, this competition offers £5000 towards future studies to one undergraduate and one postgraduate law student. In addition there's a work experience placement at the London or Manchester office of solicitor firm Colemans-CTTS.

Entrants need to submit an essay of up to 1000 words - the winning essays will be published in full on the Lawyer2B website.

Find out more via the National Accident Helpline website. Worth registering on the website in order to be alerted of the essay titles, once launched in early November 2015.

The 2015 winner in the postgraduate category was Lukas Hamilton-Eddy (City GDL student); by registering with Lawyer2b you can read his winning essay.

The 2016 prize was again won by a City GDL student, Tom Phillips. He wowed judges with his essay on the future of legal services for firms and consumers. You can read Tom's essay by registering with Lawyer2B via their website. Another City student, Pavlos Artemios Xagoraris also made the finalists stage. Pavlos is in the first year of his Graduate Entry LLB.

Property Bar Association Essay Competition

This competition was launched in November 2015 and asks students each year to write a 1000-word essay, with the winner taking home £1000, a copy of Megarry & Wade AND their essay published in the Estates Gazette. Watch this space (or that of the Property Bar Association...)

The question for 2017-18: 'Has leasehold has its day?' (deadline 5th January 2018 at 6pm).

Legal Cheek Journal Prize

For 2017 the focus of this competition is Cyber Crime. Legal Cheek suggest this could be through examining a story in the news, by considering key legislation — such as the Serious Crime Act 2015 — and/or exploring case law governing this area. Other related angles are also welcome. Entries can be about cyber crime anywhere in the world, and any relevant law which is applicable.

Entrants have been asked to write no more than 1000 words on the topic, with a return transatlantic flight on offer for the winner! The sponsor is BARBRI International.

Deadline 1st May 2017 - find rules and submission details via Legal Cheek.

ELSA Amicus Essay Prize

This competition asks entrants to address the following question in no more than 1500 words: “Using the landmark judgment of Soering v UK as a starting point, critically analyse the position of the European Court of Human Rights in cases concerning extradition of individuals facing death penalty in states which are not members of the Convention”

Amicus ALJ, with assistance from ELSA UK and ELSA Ireland, will compile a shortlist of essays on the recommendation of the Panel. This shortlist will be sent for consideration by the final judge and Amicus ALJ Trustee, Mark George QC, who will declare the winning essay and the runner-up essay.

First prize is a Work Experience Placement in Amicus ALJ’s London office, duration and date to be decided between both parties. Additionally, the winning essay shall be featured in the upcoming edition of the Student Comparative and European Law Review (SCELR). The author of the runner-up essay will be awarded a prize of £150 worth of OUP books or a Law Trove module, at their discretion, courtesy of Oxford University Press. Both entrants will be awarded complimentary membership of their respective ELSA national group for the upcoming term.

Find full details of the competition via the SCELR website but any questions should be directed to info@scelr.com. Deadline 7th Dec 2017.

SCL Student Essay Prize

The Society for Computers and Law annual essay competition asks entrants to write a maximum of 2000 words in order to be in with a chance of winning a free place at the annual SCL Conference, publication of your essay in the SCL Computers and Law magazine and £250.

The 2018 competition asks students to address the following question:

“Are state legislation and case law, or Internet Service Provider action, more important to the enforcement of rules on Internet users? Discuss with respect to key internet platforms’ Terms of Service and privacy policies.”

Find all the information you need to enter (instructions/rules) via the SCL website but deadline is 5pm on the 1st June 2018.

Steven Sieff, consultant in the tax team at CMS, offers a preview of the decision awaited in Project Blue Limited v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs

After initially being heard by the First-tier Tribunal in 2013 and most recently by the Court of Appeal in 2016, the Project Blue SDLT case finally reached the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom on 28 February 2018. The case has attracted attention on its journey through the courts for a number of reasons.

First, the amount of tax at stake is massive, especially in SDLT terms. The question of exactly how much is one of the disputed issues in the case, but it could be as much as £50,000,000 SDLT. £50,000,000 is a lot of money by anyone’s standards but in SDLT terms it is simply enormous. We understand that a number of other cases may be waiting for the outcome of Project Blue so the amounts of tax resting on the outcome could be substantially higher.

Secondly, the parties and plot of land are high profile. The site of the former Chelsea Barracks in London being sold by the Ministry of Defence to the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar with the involvement of a Quatari bank. So big money and big players.

Finally, the case centres on the effectiveness of an SDLT avoidance scheme involving Sharia financing which was widely touted as being effective to save SDLT at the time. The legislation has changed since the scheme was effected but the case still has the potential to shed some light on the court’s attitude to existing SDLT anti-avoidance legislation (Finance Act 2003, s 75A) which has barely been tested to date. HMRC consider s75A to be a vitally important piece of their armoury against SDLT tax avoidance so any comments on the legislation by the UK Supreme Court will be closely scrutinised.

The Court of Appeal decision

The Court of Appeal held that the scheme as effected by the parties did NOT work. Using reasoning drawn from a previous case on the SDLT subsale provisions (HMRC v DV3 RS LP [2013] EWCA Civ 907), the court determined that the presence of the subsale meant that the SDLT exemption for Sharia transactions could not apply. Many questioned the interpretation of the legislation in DV3 and specifically the explanation of whether the intermediate purchaser acquired a chargeable interest for SDLT. DV3 was a decision by the Court of Appeal so the Supreme Court has the opportunity to ‘correct’ it, but having refused permission to appeal in that case for the lack of “an arguable point of law of general public importance” it seems unlikely that the court will change that view now or that counsel for HMRC (the same counsel who represented HMRC in DV3) would argue it differently this time.

On the face of it, a conclusion that the scheme did not work appears to constitute a victory for HMRC and in other circumstances it might have done. Unfortunately for HMRC, in this case they had surprisingly accepted that the scheme WAS effective and had closed their enquiry into the taxpayer’s return relating to the claiming of the SDLT relief. That precluded them from recovering the tax which the court determined would have been due. It also meant that their perceived ‘nuclear’ weapon, the Finance Act 2003, s 75A SDLT anti-avoidance legislation, was not available because there was no working scheme to attack. Notwithstanding the decision that s75A was not relevant to this case, the Court of Appeal still went on to make some interesting obiter dicta comments on how those provisions might have been applied to the facts of this case.

What to look out for in the forthcoming UK Supreme Court judgment?

HMRC are appealing on three grounds. First, there is the question of whether the taxpayer should actually have been allowed to argue as it did regarding the workings of the scheme in the Court of Appeal. This is likely to be a procedural argument specific to the facts and the filings made in this case. As such it may be of less general interest than the substantive arguments which would follow, but that is not to decry its importance. It would not be the first time a high profile case has come down to a point of procedure.

The second question appealed is the identity of the ‘vendor’ for the purposes of the SDLT exemption on Sharia financing. It matters to HMRC because the Court of Appeal decided that the exemption can only apply if the financing bank purchases the chargeable interest from their client (Project Blue Limited in this case), and not from the original vendor (the Ministry of Defence). If HMRC can establish that the vendor was Project Blue Limited then the exemption would apply and then potentially Finance Act 2003, s 75A would be brought into action. So we have the odd situation of HMRC arguing that a tax planning scheme IS technically effective to save tax in order that they can use anti-avoidance legislation to defeat it! In Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group plc v Customs and Excise Commissioners [2001] EWCA Civ 1476 we had Lord Justice Sedley describing the world of VAT as “a kind of fiscal theme park in which factual and legal realities are suspended or inverted”. In this case we had an extensive discussion in the Court of Appeal on the differences between the “SDLT world” and the “non-SDLT world”. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that tax law has become increasingly divorced from reality.

Last but by no means least comes HMRC’s smoking gun. Does Finance Act 2003, s 75A apply and if so how much should be taxed? This question has some relevance to almost every example of SDLT planning which involves multiple steps. And it may clarify whether HMRC have any discretion in applying Finance Act 2003, s 75A or whether they are obliged to do so even for transactions with no avoidance motive. Even if the UK Supreme Court only makes obiter dicta comments on this issue, they will be keenly followed by tax advisers.

 

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