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The University of Southampton
Southampton Law School

Lord Neuberger visits Southampton Law School

Published: 2 February 2017
Lord Neuberger and VC
Lord Neuberger with Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Christopher Snowden

On Monday 30th January the University was privileged to be joined by Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court. Following an invitation by the Debating Union, The Law School and the Student Law Society joined to organise this event.

A welcome tea was held in the Hartley Suite and attended by Law staff and members of the Debating Union and Law Society. We were grateful to be joined by President & Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, Vice President of Research & Enterprise Professor Mark Spearing and Dean of the Faculty of Business, Law and Art Professor Paul Whittaker.

Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, faced questions from members of Southampton Law School before a packed lecture hall. The session began with a welcome from the Head of School, Professor Brenda Hannigan, in which she invited the audience to draw lessons from Lord Neuberger’s insights that would assist them in development of their own careers. For the first half of the evening Lord Neuberger discussed cases on which he had delivered judgment, the focus being on cases which students in the Law School were studying; even with that restriction the main problem was to make a selection from his wide ranging contributions to jurisprudence. Lord Neuberger spoke first about the assisted dying case, Nicklinson, which would form the focus of the legal reasoning course for first years. He then turned to the Miller case on whether the government could use the Royal prerogative to trigger article 50 and so exit the European Union; students were fortunate indeed to hear his remarks less than a week after the Supreme Court judgment was handed down. Lord Neuberger then spoke to second year students about the judgment he had given, jointly with Lady Hale he was keen to stress, in McDonald on the availability of human rights defences to a repossession against an assured shorthold tenant, a case that raised much wider issues about the impact of human rights in civil cases. Discussion then turned to the difficult balance between securing certainty and correcting decisions that were not operating satisfactorily, the particular focus being the area of illegality and the case of Patel v Mirza.

Questions were then taken from six students (Arun Aggarwal, Chelsea Rose, Rosemary Beedham, Christelle Li San Cheung, Ritesh Kausik and Hadeeka Taj) as well as two members of the teaching staff. The replies touched on many areas in which Lord Neuberger has been keen to exercise his influence, notably improving the diversity of the Supreme Court, but also the challenges to privacy posed by technological advances and the concern to preserve London’s position as a dispute resolution centre of choice. The questions also provoked many insights into the judicial process and the rewards and demands of life at the Bar.

Lord Neuberger was thanked by Benedict Tangney, representing the school’s Law Society, for what had been an inspiring evening.

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