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More AMs are needed to hold the Welsh Government to account and deliver for the people of Wales a report led by a University expert concludes.

Professor Laura McAllister from the University’s Wales Governance Centre Chaired an independent group of electoral and parliamentary experts to examine and recommend changes that will help create a parliament that works for Wales.

Effective representation

“Our recommendations are designed to ensure that the Assembly has the number of Members it needs to effectively represent the people and communities it serves, hold the Welsh Government to account, and be a parliament that truly works for Wales now and in the future,” according to Professor McAllister.

“In 1999, Assembly Members had very little scope to affect the daily lives of people in Wales. Today, they are responsible for a budget of £15bn, they make the law in Wales in a host of important areas such as health and education, and they can change the taxes we pay.

“Today’s institution still has only 60 Members and, with its increasing powers to affect people’s lives, it lacks the capacity it needs.

“This matters. The Assembly and its Members have a real, direct and positive impact on the lives of every one of us in Wales. Calling for more politicians is unpopular; but we have to report as we see the evidence.

“The Panel believes that, as its powers increase, the Assembly cannot continue as it is without risking its ability to deliver effectively for the people of Wales. There is a compelling case for an increase in size to at least 80, and ideally closer to 90 Members...”

The Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform’s report recommends that the Assembly needs between 20 and 30 additional Members elected through a more proportional electoral system with accountability to electors and diversity at its heart.

It also recommends lowering the minimum voting age for National Assembly elections to include sixteen and seventeen year olds.

“Underpowered and overstretched”

Elin Jones AM, Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales, said: “In 2015, the previous Assembly Commission concluded that with only 60 Members, the National Assembly is underpowered and overstretched.

“They were far from the first to do so. For over a decade, independent commissions tasked with looking at the capacity of the Assembly have reached the same conclusion. This lack of capacity will not be resolved without bold action, and we cannot afford to ignore it any longer.

“This report presents considered, independent analysis of the evidence and possible solutions to create a more sustainable parliament that serves the people of Wales well into the future.

“I am thankful to the Panel members for their time, to Professor McAllister for her leadership, and to the Panel for delivering such a rigorous, evidence based contribution to democracy in Wales.

“The Assembly Commission will consider the proposals in detail over the coming months and engage with people across the country and the political spectrum.

“I hope we can find a broad consensus for change and deliver a stronger, more inclusive and forward-looking legislature that works for Wales for many years to come.”

Students from the School of Law and Politics' innovative module 'Devolution in Practice' recently visited the Senedd in Cardiff Bay for a special seminar session.

During the visit, students took part in a seminar with Cardiff alumnus, Adam Price AM. Adam Price was elected to the House of Commons in 2001 and spent two terms as a high profile backbench MP. He stepped down in 2010 to undertake research as a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and was elected to the National Assembly for Wales in 2016.

Dr Einion Dafydd, module convenor, interviewed Adam Price about the differences between politics in the House of Commons and the National Assembly for Wales, on the experience of challenging Tony Blair and Gordon Brown during Prime Minister’s Questions, and on the role and purpose of First Minister’s Questions in the National Assembly for Wales.

Following the seminar, students attended First Minister's Questions, which serves as the highlight of the Assembly's week. This is the full plenary session during which opposition party leaders and backbench Assembly Members are able to question the First Minister.

'Devolution in Practice: Welsh Law & Politics Work Placement' is an optional module available to Law, Politics and International Relations students in their third year.

Five fourth year law students have secured highly sought after training contracts at leading law firms after completing work placements organised by the School of Law and Politics.

LLB students Anu Manda, Harry Sawyer, Megan Walton and Kieron Wilcox have been offered training contracts with top 100 UK law firm Hugh James Solicitors while Emilie Archer has been offered a contract with Blake Morgan whose legal teams cover South England and Wales. All students will begin their training contracts after graduating from the School of Law and Politics on condition of their degree results.

The five students were part of the first cohort of students to be given the opportunity to undertake the LLB Law with a Professional Placement Year module, which was launched in September 2016.

The students undertaking the module all spent the third year of their degree programme on placement with Hugh James, working as paralegals. They gained valuable, practical experience of case management, legal research and legal writing in addition to generic employability skills such as time management, communication, team working and commercial awareness.

Currently, all students intending to qualify as solicitors are required to undertake training contracts after completing their academic studies and the LPC. However, students who study Law in Cardiff have the opportunity to obtain essential vocational experience before leaving University, equipping them with skills many of their peers are yet to develop. Cardiff also offers the LPC which means that students can complete both their academic and professional training at the University.

Law lecturer and module leader, Hannah Marchant said, “Obtaining a training contract is notoriously difficult and we are delighted that five of our placement students have secured offers. We consider the placement module to be a fantastic opportunity for students to obtain a significant period of hands-on experience of legal practice and to thereby enhance their employability.”

Kieron Wilcox echoed his lecturer by saying, “The placement year offered me an invaluable insight into law and gave me a true sense of what a career in law would be like."

"Having a career opportunity in place going into my final year of university really takes the pressure off. It has also given me a sense of motivation, it feels as though all the hard work I have put into my studies has been worthwhile."

"This is the first step in what I hope to be a successful career at a renowned law firm in a fantastic city. As the first cohort to take part in this scheme, the support from the School was fantastic and ensured that I was able to truly get the most out of the experience.”

Human Resources Director, Di Brooks of Hugh James Solicitors said, “We are delighted the programme has been such a success for all parties involved. For the students it has been an excellent chance to gain hands on experience whilst having the opportunity to show us they have what it takes to build a long and successful career in the law.”

“For us it has been brilliant to be able to start working with such bright students at the earliest opportunity in their professional development. It has been fantastic to collaborate with Cardiff University on such an innovative venture. We look forward to welcoming Anu, Harry, Megan and Keiron back to the firm once their studies are complete.”

Cardiff University’s School of Law and Politics has achieved the highest aggregated pass rate in the central examinations for the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) according to a recent report by the Central Examinations Board (CEB).

The CEB’s latest report said that the School of Law and Politics achieved the highest aggregated pass rate, amongst all the institutions in the UK teaching the BPTC, for the three national examinations in Criminal, Civil Procedure and in Ethics for the year 2016/17.

BPTC students at Cardiff receive an education which provides them with the best possible preparation for the national knowledge examinations. The School has been teaching would-be barristers since 1997. The course requires students to demonstrate the high standard of knowledge the public demands and to be able to show they have the necessary skills to provide an effective professional service. Students are drawn from England and Wales, and from common law jurisdictions across the world, with many going on to practise in England and Wales or abroad.

Students are taught by experienced legal practitioners who deliver their teaching in a way that enables students to improve and to make the best of their education.

Head of the Centre for Professional Legal Studies Jayne Woodward said, “The results are testament to the talents of our students and the skill and dedication of our excellent BPTC teaching team.”

Course Leader Jetsun Lebasci said, “This excellent performance is the result of a combination of hardworking students and the work done by our highly committed teaching team. We give students the support and rigorous teaching they need to perform at their best.”

To find out more, please read the full CEB Report.

A Cardiff University political expert who is at the forefront of research and commentary in Wales has been recognised for his contribution to helping the public understand politics.

Professor Roger Scully of the University’s Wales Governance Centre, has been named Political Communicator of the Year by the Political Studies Association (PSA).

An expert in political representation in Britain and the European Union, Professor Scully is a frequent media commentator and works closely with YouGov and ITV-Cymru Wales to produce and report on the Welsh Political Barometer – the only regular opinion poll carried out in Wales.

Professor Scully was presented with the award at the Political Studies Association’s Annual Award ceremony in London on December 5th 2017. He is the first person based at a Welsh university ever to win a PSA award.

The Award jury commended Professor Scully for: “The authoritative and tangible contribution he has made researching and commenting upon Welsh politics as well as astutely conveying wider political issues and enhancing the public understanding of politics via the media”.

Professor Scully added: “I feel deeply honoured to have been given this award. Winning the Political Communicator of the Year award is not only a huge professional honour but a personal one.

“In these increasingly turbulent times in British and global politics, I believe that it is vitally important for academic experts to involve themselves in public debate. We have a responsibility to communicate our knowledge as effectively as possible to as wide a range of people as possible.

“I try to speak about often complex political developments and policy issues in a way which makes them easier for the ordinary person to understand. After all, politics is not just the concern of professional politicians, journalists and academics like me. It affects every aspect of all of our lives. Politics is everyone’s business – and it is an important part of my job to help people understand that.”

The Political Studies Association Awards recognise politicians, academics, journalists, policy makers and artists for their contribution to the practice and study of politics during the past 12 months.

Winners were chosen by a panel of expert judges from a shortlist of nominations by members of the Political Studies Association.

The Political Studies Association exists to develop and promote the study of politics. Founded in 1950, we are the leading association in our field in the United Kingdom, with an international membership including academics in political science and current affairs, theorists and practitioners, policy-makers, researchers and students in higher education.

Two Law academics were invited to discuss the human rights of disabled people in the UK at an all-party parliamentary group this November.

Dr Emily Kakoullis and Dr Lucy Series were invited to present at the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Disability which took place on 22 November at Westminster. The cross-party group consists of Members of Parliament (MPs) and Peers from the House of Lords, and focuses on issues that affect all disabled people. It is a large and active group founded in 1969, which provides a valuable opportunity for MPs and Peers to engage with individuals and disability organisations outside Parliament who share an interest in disability related issues.

Dr Kakoullis and Dr Series presented on the background and aims of the United Nations (UN) Universal Periodic Review (UPR); the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Committee’s Confidential Inquiry and Concluding Observations; the current impact and future options for the CRPD in the UK; and on the possible effects on disabled people of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Dr Kakoullis and Dr Series made five recommendations:

  1. The UK and the regional governments undertake a comprehensive cross-cutting legislative and policy review against the CRPD’s provisions, and that disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) should be closely involved and participate in this review.
  2. The UK and devolved governments should refresh their disability strategies in line with the cross-cutting legislative and policy review and the CRPD Committee’s recommendations.
  3. The UK and its regional governments should commit to a freestanding and justiciable right and cross-cutting policies to implement the right to independent living and being included in the community contained in the CRPD.
  4. The full incorporation of the CRPD into domestic law would be ideal; as an alternative, we recommend that the Equality Act 2010 should be amended to introduce a requirement for public bodies to have ‘due regard’ to the CRPD.
  5. A cumulative impact assessment should be conducted on the impact of welfare reforms, and an equality impact assessment about the impact of the proposed and contingency plans for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union on disabled people.

Academics from the Centre for Law and Religion attended a meeting as part of the Christian Law Panel of Experts this November.

Professor Norman Doe, Professor Mark Hill QC, and Frank Cranmer of the Centre for Law and Religion at the School of Law and Politics attended the event which took place in Geneva on 23 – 24 November and included a meeting with the Director of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Faith and Order Commission, Revd Dr Odair Pedroso Mateus.

The Christian Law Panel of Experts was established in 2013 and consists of jurists and theologians from the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, Presbyterian and Baptist traditions worldwide. The Panel had submitted its legal reflections on the WCC Commission Paper, The Church: Towards a Common Vision, (2013), and in Rome 2016 finalised its statement of Principles of Christian Law (published by Cambridge University Press in The Ecclesiastical Law Journal (2017) 138-155), the first ecumenical exercise of its type.

Principles of Christian Law was received with thanks by Dr Mateus, who outlined the history of the ecumenical movement leading to Common Vision (2013), the aborted WCC discussion of church law in the 1970s, and how debate on Christian law would represent a new development for WCC practice in so far as its traditional focus has been on theological dialogue, not law. He also recognised the potential unifying force of law as ‘an element of the true church’.

Dr Ani Ghazaryan Drissi of the Commission Secretariat added that the Panel of Experts’ response to Common Vision was seen thus far within the Commission process as ‘unique’, ‘profound’, a ‘valuable approach’, and an ‘alternative path’. The Panel’s work will be further considered at meetings in January 2018, June 2018, and by the full Commission in 2019.

Dr Mateus suggested that there is also scope for debate about the role of law in other areas currently of concern to the Commission, namely projects on: the pilgrimage of justice and peace; moral discernment; and new or non-historical (mega) churches.  Dr Mateus proposed an ‘informal but substantial consultative partnership’ between the Panel of Experts and the Faith and Order Commission to carry forward this ongoing project.

The Panel warmly welcomed this proposal, and it was agreed that the position be formalized by an exchange of letters.  The Panel has since 2013 been road-testing the thesis proposed in Norman Doe's book, Christian Law: Contemporary Principles (Cambridge University Press) - the principles agreed by the Panel were originally drafted for it by Doe.

Professor Daniel Wincott, School of Law and Politics, has been appointed to the role of Leadership Coordinator, Governance and Brexit Research, for 25 Brexit priority grants recently commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

These grants fund research projects focusing on the progress and consequences of the UK leaving the European Union. He will help to maximise the impact of these investments and convey the research to policymakers, civil servants, parliamentarians, as well as the general public.

He will also play a key role in the intellectual development of the wider research portfolio in this area, as well as scope and co-ordinate activity for the forthcoming Governance after Brexit programme.

The projects, ranging from nine to 18 months are funded as part of the ESRC’s The UK in a Changing Europe initiative, which provides an authoritative source for independent research on UK-EU relations.

Professor Wincott said: "I am delighted to be taking up the position of Leadership Coordinator, Governance and Brexit Research. I look forward to working with the 25 Brexit priority grant projects to maximise the collective value and impact of their invaluable analyses. These projects enhance the research foundations for the UK in a Changing Europe initiative. I will work closely with Director Anand Menon, and newly appointed Deputy Director Simon Usherwood, to build on this initiative and further enhance its work.

"However our negotiations to leave the EU unfold, Brexit processes will have a profound impact on the UK and how we are all governed. The ESRC's upcoming Governance after Brexit programme will address the challenges and opportunities created as our relationship with the EU changes. It provides an exciting opportunity for fundamental social science research to engage public debate and help inform decision makers in this new context. I feel privileged to have been chosen to design and lead this major new ESRC programme."

A team of Law students from a variety of programmes across the School recently competed in this year’s BPP Advocate of the Year (AOTY) competition.

Ieuan Callaghan (Graduate Diploma in Law), Eleanor Parsons (2nd year LLB Law & Criminology), Phyllida Spackman (GDL) and Philip Sayce (GDL) were selected to represent the School at the competition and were supported and advised by Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) lecturer, William Seagrim.

On 11-12 November, the event took place in five locations across the UK and the four students from Cardiff competed in Bristol.

The AOTY competition is a national mock trial contest which is open to all students who are yet to commence a BPTC (or LPC). The competition offers a unique chance to develop ‘real world’ legal skills in lifelike cases in a competitive arena.

The event offers competitors the opportunity to compete over one weekend as part of a team but ultimately as individual competitors in a series of four mini legal trials in an event which involves many of the best law schools in England and Wales and over 80 budding barristers / lawyers.

Each student conducted each aspect of a trial over the course of the weekend and demonstrated their range of skills in client conferencing, examination in chief (questioning their own witness), cross-examination (questioning the other side's witness) and an oral submission to a court.

The Cardiff team performed brilliantly, coming first in the Bristol heat and third overall out of 22 teams that competed nationally.

William Seagrim who supported the team said, “I would like to congratulate each member of the Cardiff team for this great achievement.  This is an excellent opportunity for students to gain experience of what it is like to be involved in a trial and I urge all students to take part if they can in future. A special mention must go to Ieuan Callaghan who came fourth nationally behind the three joint winners after losing out by a single point. All of the team were excellent and I was proud to have supported them in the run up and during the competition.”

Professor in International Relations, Christian Bueger was the only European academic to participate at a recent naval symposium which took place in Goa.

The Goa Maritime Conclave on 1-2 November was the first regional naval symposium of the Indian Navy.

The forum saw participation from over 40 countries, including the Indian Minister of Defence and several chiefs of naval staff from Indian Ocean countries.

The 100 participants discussed the future of the regional maritime security architecture in the Indian Ocean and India’s role within it. Professor Bueger presented “Knowing the Sea: Enhancing shared maritime domain awareness” which drew on his research on maritime security and in particular the first results of his British Academy funded project Safe Seas.

Professor Bueger commented on the event: “High level forums such as the Goa Enclave are important cornerstones to develop a much needed regional security architecture in the Indian Ocean. They are also an important opportunity to present our research results to a wider audience. Within the project Safes Seas we analyse how maritime security can be organised efficiently on national and regional levels. I am glad that our first results could influence the debate on the future Indian Ocean maritime security architecture.”