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How to write a first class dissertation: Chapter 2: Developing the Debate

by WardBlawg on November 2, 2010

Develop that new debate and get creative

As noted in the previous post, one of the most important breakthroughs in writing your dissertation can come from spotting a gap where something has not yet been discussed. Once writing to fill that gap, it may be helpful to ask yourself what other angles there are to the debate. Or think about if the matter went to an official debate or, for law dissertations, to court. Think about creative arguments that an advocate might run and try to develop them yourself. Such development can lead to your getting a first rather than a 2:1.

3.4.3. Second Limb of Spiliada

Delay in the foreign forum is a fundamental consideration when determining the interests of justice at the second limb of the Spiliada test and may even be decisive if the anticipated delay is excessive. An example pertinent to justification under Article 6(1) is The Jalakrishna, where a delay of five years was anticipated if the case was tried in India, such that the claimant would be prejudiced given his need for financial assistance in light of his critical injuries in an accident. Thus, a stay was not granted, showing respect for both a potential delay itself and what was at stake for the claimant.

Notwithstanding, such cases are rare. For example, in Konamaneni v Rolls-Royce Industrial Power (India) Ltd, Collins J (as he then was) recognised that the Indian legal system had made attempts to reduce its backlog of cases, such that in the absence of sufficient evidence of an anticipated delay, it would indeed be a “substantial breach of comity to stigmatise the Indian legal system in that way,” somewhat reflecting the principle that the claimant must “take [the appropriate] forum as he finds it.”

Indeed, one of the major advantages of the forum non conveniens doctrine is that it offsets the judge’s tendency to grab as many cases as he can and it respects the valuable international private law principle of comity. As Lord Diplock stated in The Abidin Daver, “judicial chauvinism has been replaced by judicial comity.” However, the interests of States cannot always be reconciled with private party rights. When considering whether to stay proceedings, in light of Article 6, the interests of States should yield to the interests of private parties. Thus, if evidence is sufficient to show a real risk of a flagrant breach in the foreign forum, as was not presented in Gasser, a stay should not be permitted.

Again mirroring reasonable time justifications under Article 6, additional considerations of what is at stake in the litigation may arise and authorities may have to exercise exceptional diligence in the conduct of certain cases. An ECtHR case, X v France shows that where a person sought compensation following infection with the AIDS virus, what was at stake was of crucial importance in determining the reasonableness of the length of proceedings. What is at stake will be relevant and probably decisive following a stay of proceedings under forum non conveniens, as The Jalakrishna shows. Notably, in Owusu v Jackson, where forum non conveniens was not permitted, what was at stake for Owusu was significant as he was rendered tetraplegic through his accident.

It can therefore be seen that forum non conveniens takes a pragmatic approach to preventing foreseeable unreasonable delays under the second limb of Spiliada. Not only does this further justify operation of the doctrine under Article 6(1) through direct effect, it also greatly restricts, if not eliminates, the possibility of an indirect breach by the domestic court, given that the risk of a flagrant breach of the right to a fair trial is a fundamental factor of the interests of justice.

Notwithstanding, herein there are still concerns in light of Professor Fawcett’s suggestion that a hybrid human rights/international private law approach should be taken such that Article 6 concerns should be identified first, taking into account ECtHR jurisprudence, and thereafter it should be for the flexible second limb of Spiliada to apply to resolve these issues. Fawcett concedes that the same result will be achieved in most cases, yet suggests that there may be borderline cases where this solution would work better and human rights concerns will have been taken more seriously.

However, this need for procedural restructuring of judicial reasoning is arguably not wholly convincing, particularly given that the indirect effect doctrine under Soering requires a flagrant breach of Article 6, not merely a standard breach; it is therefore difficult to imagine the existence of any “borderline” cases as such. Moreover, in the cases of potential flagrant breaches, the interests of justice principle has been shown to be flexible enough to prevent stays which may breach Article 6 indirectly, regardless of the classification of the delay as a breach of human rights or otherwise. In this respect, it is arguable that the international private law case law could be adequately relied upon. Nevertheless, initial consideration of ECtHR jurisprudence may have more importance than in providing a mere procedurally attractive measure; it may guide and influence those who fail to see the pressing importance of human rights today and will at least effect compliance with the Section 2 of the HRA 1998 which demands that such jurisprudence be considered wherever Convention rights are in issue.

Endnotes

The Vishva Ajay [1989] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 558, p560; Chellaram v Chellaram [1985] 1 Ch 409, pp435-436; cf. The Nile Rhapsody [1992] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 399,pp413-414, where Hirst J gave “minimal weight to the delay factor” upon direction by the appellate courts.
[1983] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 628.
Hill: 2005, para.9.2.38.
[2002] 1 WLR 1269.
Ibid., at [177].
Connelly v RTZ Corpn plc [1998] AC 854, p872.
[1984] AC 398.
Ibid., p411.
A and others v Denmark [1996] ECHR 2, at [78].
[1992] ECHR 45.
[1983] 2 Lloyd’s Rep.628.
(n29).
Notwithstanding, the ECJ’s taking 2¾ years to produce its judgment did not go towards acknowledging the express request by the English Court of Appeal to provide reasonably quick compensation. Of course, time taken for a required preliminary reference from the ECJ is entirely justified under Article 6 (Pafitis v Greece (1999) 27 EHRR 566, at [95].)
Fawcett: 2007, pp36-37.
Such that length-of-proceedings cases (see supra pp.7-8) should be consulted in the context of unreasonable delay.
(n14).

WardBlawg

WardBlawg

Legal Blogger at WardBlawg
+Gavin Ward is the founder of WardBlawg, Director of YouBlawg Limited and Operations Director at Moore Legal Technology Limited, specialising in helping law firms, lawyers and businesses grow their businesses online and aiming to help get great legal content published and shared across the web. Gavin created this law blog or ‘blawg’ to aim to contribute useful updates, thoughts and advice to help law firms, businesses and the legal profession in the UK and across the world succeed both online and offline.
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