Talk with Lord Dyson

On Thursday 11th October, the Law Society was delighted to welcome The Right Honourable Lord Dyson, one of the UK’s most distinguished judges. He served as Justice of the UK Supreme Court from 2010-12 and Master of the Rolls and Head of the Civil Justice System, the second-most senior judge in England and Wales, from 2012-16.

We were lucky enough to be joined by students from schools across Cheltenham and Gloucester, including Chosen Hill School, Cheltenham College, Sir Thomas Rich's, The Crypt School, Cleeve School, All Saints Academy, St Peter's RC High School, Balcarras School and Pate's Grammar School.

Before an excellent turnout of students, Lord Dyson commenced his talk by detailing his passage into the bar and the judiciary. Drawing on first-hand experience, he explained some of the most pressing issues in our society. Many of his cases were of the highest constitutional importance and are frequently used as precedents.

Stimulating high levels of audience participation and debate, Lord Dyson made us question the legal issues in cases such as the deportation of Abu Qatada. This was especially interesting as he a Supreme Court Justice who originally ruled on the case.

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In light of the recent developments in no-fault divorce, Lord Dyson also asked us to query our own beliefs on how assets should be apportioned and whether it should form any part of the consideration that one party is more to blame than another.

Similarly, he sparked lively debate when he introduced the recent case involving Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland, making parallels with a previous case that he had ruled on in which a gay couple had been refused a room in a B&B. Both cases raised questions about the reach of the ECHR and the Human Rights Act 1998 and pose difficult and controversial questions of moral judgement. Other issues discussed included the implications of the legalisation of assisted suicide and the accountability and liability of schools in light of sexual abuse or assault allegations.

Moreover, Lord Dyson put up a firm argument, when faced with many questions from the audience, concerning the recent Brett Kavanaugh Case and the politicisation of the US judiciary in contrast to the neutrality of the UK judiciary, as well as arguing strongly in favour of our uncodified constitution.

Our thanks to Lord Dyson for an insightful and enjoyable evening.

Laura (SFC2)

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