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Incoming Law School PhD candidate cited by UK Supreme Court

Press release issued: 24 June 2019

Incoming Law School PhD student Robert Craig, who will be joining the Law School in September 2019, was recently cited in a Supreme Court decision on a major constitutional law case. This is his second Supreme Court cite as a PhD student.

Robert Craig, who will be transferring from the University of Durham and joining the University of Bristol Law School in September 2019, was cited in R (Privacy International ) v Investigatory Powers Tribunal in May 2019. The IPT is the judicial body which deals with claims made against the Intelligence Services.

The case is one of a series of major constitutional law cases that have been handed down by the Supreme Court in recent years; a famous example is the Miller case that dealt with the Article 50 notification, in which Robert was also cited.

In the recent case, Privacy International had brought an action claiming that a strong ‘ouster clause’ should not be effective. An ouster clause is where Parliament tries to stop the judiciary from supervising other bodies, such as the ITP, by removing the courts’ jurisdiction to hear legal claims against the other body in question. The Supreme Court overruled the Court of Appeal by 4-3 to hold that the clause should not be effective to exclude judicial review of the IPT.

The majority, led by Lord Carnwath, quoted the core argument in Robert’s article (Public Law, 2018) which suggested that there was an ‘important difference between control of administrative action and of functions of lower courts or tribunals.’

Lord Carnwath also quoted with approval the claim that there is a ‘conceptually different question’ raised when dealing with ‘ouster clauses protecting the exercise of judicial functions’ and said that this may mean that a ‘different constitutional analysis may be required.'

Robert was also cited by one of the Barristers in the case during the hearing stage. Dinah Rose QC said: “Not all of the commentary is of the same quality. The best summary of the debate in the academy can be found in two articles published in Public Law [by] Dr Tom Hickman …[and] Robert Craig.”

Robert said: “I am delighted that Lord Carnwath cited one of the core arguments from my article with approval in considering a very complicated area of law. I am also grateful to Dinah Rose QC who cited the article in her written submissions to the Supreme Court.

I am looking forward to joining Bristol Law School this Autumn to complete my PhD with Professor Gavin Phillipson and I hope to have many productive conversations about the tumultuous contemporary events that are affecting the traditional UK constitution.”

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