The Policing Authority: Altering the Landscape of Police Oversight

Dr Vicky Conway is a Lecturer-in-Law in Dublin City University and a member of the Policing Authority. Whilst studying in University College Cork, she co-founded the Cork Online Law Review and was Co-Editor-in-Chief of the 1st Edition.

Dear Editor,

The very same month that the first edition of this Law Review was launched, the then government passed a motion to establish the Morris Tribunal to investigate serious allegations of police malpractice and corruption in the Donegal region. What flowed from that decision irrevocably altered the national discourse on policing. The scale of criticism contained in the reports of the Tribunal was unprecedented, the scale of reform subsequently implemented was substantial. No more could the reality of police misconduct in Ireland be ignored and no more could the need for more independent oversight be denied. Now, as the fifteenth edition of the Cork Online Law Review is launched, the landscape of police oversight is once again being altered.

Perhaps the most immediate focus of reform following the publication of the first report of the Morris Tribunal was enhancing garda accountability. This was achieved primarily through the establishment, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC). GSOC, the body which handles complaints received from the public, replaced the Garda Síochána Complaints Board. Unlike its predecessor, which made recommendations based on investigations conducted by gardaí, it was given the power to conduct independent investigations. And while GSOC has itself been subject to some critique the significance of that departure should not be underestimated.

The 2005 Act also established the Garda Inspectorate, created for a very separate function, to conduct independent investigations into Garda practice and procedure and make recommendations. It has to date produced twelve reports, including examinations on the investigation of serious crimes and the fixed charge penalty notice system. These have at times made for difficult reading but these are supplying us with the information and evaluation that is essential in order to identify where changes need to be made and where energy and resources need to be targeted.

In more recent years, it was recognised that while these reforms could provide redress when wrong was done and assist in improving garda practice, they never could address the fact that in Ireland there was an unusually high level of political control over policing. A number of scandals which resulted in the Minister for Justice, the Garda Commissioner and the Secretary General of the Depart of Justice all resigning their posts contributed to a recognition that policing in Ireland should be depoliticised.

On 1 January 2016, the Policing Authority came into existence. It is provided for by the Garda Síochána (Policing Authority and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015. In effect, the Act transfers a range of functions previously performed by the Minister for Justice to the Authority. These include:

  • Ensuring that the resources available to the Garda Síochána are used so as to achieve and maintain the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness;
  • Nominating persons for appointment by the Government to the posts of Garda Commissioner and Deputy Garda Commissioner, following a selection process undertaken by the Public Appointments Service;
  • Appointing persons to the ranks of Garda Superintendent, Chief Superintendent and Assistant Commissioner; and removing them for stated reasons relating to policing services;
  • Setting priorities and performance targets for An Garda Síochána, approving the annual policing plans and the 3 year Garda Strategy statement;
  • Establishing a Garda Code of Ethics; and
  • Reviewing:
    • The adequacy of the corporate governance arrangements and structures within the Garda Síochána;
    • The arrangements for the recruitment, training and development of Garda members and civilian staff;
    • The adequacy of the mechanisms in place within the Garda Síochána for the measurement of performance and accountability of Garda members and civilian staff.

In addition, the Authority will hold at least four public meetings a year with the Garda Commissioner in public in relation to these functions. The work of the Authority is restricted to policing services, thereby excluding matters concerning state security. The Authority has a chair, Josephine Feehily, and eight ordinary members who were appointed by the government following a recruitment process by the Public Appointments Service. Five of the nine members are female, and, in accordance with the Act, they bring experience of policing services, human rights, public sector administration, board management and working with community groups.

Having lived through all the reforms of the last two decades, and perhaps been dismayed at the continued allegations of police misconduct, it would be easy not to appreciate the significance of what has occurred. As the Act was being debated and passed I was critical that, under the legislation, the government retains a great deal of power over policing. The Act may not have gone as far as myself and other commentators may have liked, but significant powers have been transferred to this independent body, powers which have the potential to shape policing in ways which previous reforms could not. It will take time for the changes to bed in, to be tweaked toward more successful operation and for cultures to adapt. These latest reforms will pose challenges for politicians, government departments, the Garda Síochána and the representative associations. All will have to adjust to and accept that policing in Ireland is now governed differently. And the Authority will have to operate in an open, principled way which earns the trust and confidence of all concerned. It is an enormous challenge, but given the potential it has to contribute to better policing in Ireland, it is a challenge which must be undertaken.

Dr Vicky Conway

Lecturer-in-Law, Dublin City University

Member of Policing Authority

Co-Founder, Cork Online Law Review

March 15, 2016

On Foreign Agents & Undesirable Organizations: Regulation of Foreign Capital in Russian Civil Society

Nicholas Liddane graduated from University College Cork with a BCL (Hons) in 2012 and University College Dublin with a LLM (Commercial Law) in 2013. During his time in UCC, he was Editor-in-Chief of the 11th Edition of the Cork Online Law Review. Currently, he is a trainee solicitor with Arthur Cox in Dublin. A fully referenced version of the letter is available here.

Dear Editor,

Pre-revolutionary Russia had a rich philanthropic tradition and blossoming civil society. It was the progeny of both imperial policy, beginning with the empire-building Peter I at the turn of the 17th century, and the long-standing Russian Orthodox tradition that contributed to this. Civil society was one of the numerous victims of the 1917 October Revolution, bricked up as antecedent to the ideology of the new Marxist-Leninist state, not to be exhumed again for 70 years. Retrospectively, pre-revolutionary Russian civil society served as a magnifying glass, not just as to how Russian society viewed itself and the poor, but more pertinently, how it also viewed the West and its relationship with it. Today, nearly a century on, the relationship between Russian civil society and the Russian state apparatus is again reflective of the relationship between Russia and the West. Unfortunately, the current fractious state of geopolitical relations is reflected acutely in the state of Russian civil society. Rather than drinking deep and passively observing Western civil society practices, allowing a domestic civil society to mature in the process, legislative policy has universally condemned foreign non-commercial organisations (NCOs). As a result, any modicum of foreign funding is now regarded as insidious manipulation and unwarranted interference in Russian society. This letter will firstly briefly outline the legislative measures regulating NCOs in receipt of foreign funding, and will continue to address the recently proposed draft amendment definition of ‘political activity’. It will be shown that the legislative framework, compounded by this proposed definition, is unwarrantedly vague and creates the risk of arbitrary application. In so doing, the Russian legislature has overstepped its mandate of legitimate regulation, and in the process missed an opportunity to effectively and productively audit the inflow of foreign capital into Russian civil society.

A number of restrictive legislative acts have been promulgated over the past number of years, the most relevant of these for the purposes of Russian civil society being the Federal Law Introducing Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation Regarding the Regulation of Activities of Non-commercial Organizations Performing the Function of Foreign Agents (Foreign Agent law), which became law on 21 November 2012. This law obliges NCOs, prior to the receipt of any foreign funding, to register in the registry of NCOs, if they intend to engage in or conduct political activities. NCOs which find themselves on the registry are referred to as ‘NCOs carrying on functions of a foreign agent’. This registry is maintained by the Ministry of Justice. A raft of further legislative amendments and acts affecting NCOs were promulgated subsequently, but the most notable are the Federal Law on Measures of Influence of Persons Relating to Violation of Basic Human Rights and Freedoms of Citizens of the Russian Federation in 2012, the Federal Law on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation, which affects foreign and international NGOs and their partners in Russia (the Law on Undesirable Organizations) in 2014, and Federal Law on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation also in 2014. The proliferation of these laws has been so rapid, and their locations in varying legislative sources so disparate, that it is difficult to list all of the ways in which they practically affect NCOs. Notwithstanding this, it can be stated with certainty that an NCO in receipt of any foreign funding is to be added to the ‘Foreign Agent’ registry, and that should an organisation be deemed ‘undesirable’ in the eyes of the Prosecutor General as a threat to national security, individuals participating in said organisation can be held liable to administrative and criminal penalties. However, the effect of addition to this registry was somewhat softened by the Federal Law of 8 March 2015, which delineated the procedure for removal from the list. Such steps include (i) not being in receipt of foreign funding or conducting political activities within 12 months prior to the application for removal; (ii) lack of foreign funding for 3 years in the case of an unplanned audit or inspection; and/or (iii) liquidation of the NCO.

Nevertheless, the crux of the legislation was the engagement of NCOs in ‘political activity’, a term which remained undefined up until January 2016. On 21 January 2016, the Russian Ministry of Justice posted a draft amendment to the NCO law, with a definition of ‘political activity’. While the list of specific activities vary, they satisfy the definition if they are carried out

in the area of state-building and of the basics of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, federal governance of the Russian Federation, ensuring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, ensuring lawfulness, law order, state and public security, national defence, foreign policy, the socio-economic and national development of the Russian Federation, the functioning of the political system, bodies of state power and of local governance, legal regulation of the rights and freedoms of a person and citizen, with the purpose to influence the development and implementation of state policy, and the establishment of state bodies, local governance bodies, their decisions, and actions.

Foreign NGOs and recipients of foreign funding are labelled ‘foreign agents’ (innostranye agenti), and are obliged to register as such publically, and mention same on all of their documentation and correspondence. ‘Foreign agent’ has distinctly negative connotations emanating from the Soviet era, when the term was commensurate to ‘traitor’ or ‘spy’. An action against the Foreign Agents law which forwarded this argument was rejected by the Russian Constitutional Court in April 2014.

‘Political activity’ is crucial in defining whether an NCO qualifies as a ‘foreign agent’. The draft definition, however, is vague in the extreme, encapsulating any activity which can be categorised as ‘state building’. The vagueness of the definition, compounded by the negative connotations associated with being branded a ‘foreign agent’, will more than likely render it more difficult for NCOs to conduct work in Russia, and easier for the authorities to obstruct them. Furthermore, such a hostile working environment for NCOs invites a notable level of risk for the recipients of foreign funding.

Regulation and oversight of civil society’s receipt of foreign capital is not a crime. On the contrary, such financial regulation and oversight, if carefully drafted and applied, can beneficially serve financial accounting and due diligence standards. It falls into broader debates about the legitimate extent of host country policy priorities, and the thornier and more divisive questions of national sovereignty. Further, it must be noted that overt Western funding of civil society, democratic movements, and grassroots political organisations over the years leading up to the promulgation of this legislation did also unnecessarily invite some of this hostility, as well as determined State policy. However, it is submitted that the Russian legislative regime has overstepped the mark. The vagueness and negative connotations the legislation imposes on civil society merely lends itself to a stifling of legitimate activities and freedom of speech, rather than legitimately regulating civil society’s receipt of funding and day-to-day activities. If it is accepted that one of the functions of Russian civil society from an outside perspective is as a vignette which reflects Russia’s attitude towards and relationship with the West, then it bodes ill that the vice-grip is being gradually tightened on its civil society. An opportunity to effectively regulate civil society has been missed, but not permanently, it is hoped.

Is mise le meas,

Nicholas Liddane

March 14, 2016

Statutory Reform of Journalistic Privilege

Denis Flynn is a final year LLB student at Trinity College Dublin. He spent the 2013/14 academic year on exchange at Emory University, School of Law, in Atlanta. A fully referenced version of the letter is available here.


Dear Editor,

With the recent revelation that GSOC has been monitoring journalists’ telephones to uncover information in respect of their sources, it seems timely to examine the state of the protection of journalistic sources under Irish law. The law offers privilege to many different types of relationships such as that of the lawyer and his client, the doctor and his patient and the priest and the penitent. Another form of privilege in existence protects the relationship between the journalist and his source. The so-called ‘journalistic privilege’ is the entitlement of a journalist not to reveal the identity of a confidential source in court or to be compelled to give evidence which may result in the source’s identity being revealed.  The law suffers from a lack of clarity in Ireland at present and it is the contention of the author that this should be resolved by statute.

Almost every constitutional democracy enshrines freedom of the press in their constitutions. In Ireland, this is replicated by Article 40.6.1o.i of Bunreacht na hÉireann. However, this is not an absolute right and is subject to keeping within the common good and laws such as defamation. A free press is a press which is not influenced by the government or public authorities and is not subject to punishment or recrimination for publication of factual events or non-defamatory opinions. The press is regarded as a watchdog of democracy. They have a duty to inform the public on all matters of public interest. In turn, the public has a right to receive such information. Dr Yutaka Arai writes:

The press and investigative journalism guarantee the healthy operation of democracy, exposing policy actions or omissions of government to public scrutiny, and facilitating the citizens’ participation in the decision-making process.

In Goodwin v United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights stated: ‘[p]rotection of journalistic sources is one of the basic conditions for press freedom’. This author contends that this analysis is correct. If press freedom necessarily involves the freedom to publish without recrimination, it would be illogical to fail to vindicate the journalist’s right to protect his source’s identity. The reasons for this are twofold. First, the source may be subject to punishment or recrimination for revealing the information involved. This would be contrary to the principle that the press is free from interference from authority. Secondly, a journalist would lose his credibility with current or prospective sources if he was forced to reveal his source in a judicial setting. Other sources would be less inclined to reveal corrupt or immoral practices to journalists if their confidentiality could not be ensured. Furthermore, it would be paradoxical for courts to punish behaviour that reveals illegal, immoral or corrupt practice.

Traditionally, the Irish courts did not recognise the concept of journalistic privilege arising from the protection of freedom of expression in the Constitution. In Re O’Kelly, Walsh J held: ‘[j]ournalists or reporters are not any more constitutionally or legally immune than other citizens from disclosing information received in confidence…’

However, with the advent of the European Convention of Human Rights into Irish law, protection of the right is now obligatory for Ireland. This is based on Article 10 ECHR and can be seen clearly in the Goodwin v UK case. However, the Supreme Court decision in Mahon Tribunal v Keena has thrown the right into confusion. While Keena confirms that there is a privilege that journalists can avail of in Ireland, it is unclear how much protection it affords to journalists as the right must be analysed on the basis of a proportionality test weighing the competing interests involved.

The Report of the Constitution Review Group recommended that the Article 40.6.1o be replaced by a text similar to Article 10 ECHR because it would be a more powerful tool for the media. The report stated:

No private medium of expression can be compelled to express particular opinions or even a representative range of opinions without infringing the right to free speech. It would seem that constitutional provision could scarcely go further in promoting responsible freedom of expression than Article 40.6.1o.i will, when amended on the model of Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, as recommended by the Review Group.

It is contended that the most effective way to protect the right in Ireland is to incorporate it into statute. This would have the effect of spelling out in a clear manner when, and to what extent, the law will protect a journalist from revealing his or her source.

It is of course important to limit this privilege to journalists. Twenty years ago, it would not have been difficult to identify who a journalist was. Presumably, it would be anyone who works for a media organisation with allowances being made for freelancers. However, with the advent of new media and forums whereby it has become more difficult to identify journalists, the issue of journalistic privilege becomes an issue in determining who is afforded protection. It is the view of the author that the law should recognise some new forms of media as being capable of attaching protection, taking into account a range of factors including the reliability of the author and the motive for publication. This would give protection to certain blog posters, online newspapers like and even Twitter account holders who post content of public importance.

The most important question, however, is whether the privilege should be an absolute or a qualified right in the form of a balancing of competing interests test. It is argued that a compromise test should be adopted where there is a presumption towards absolute privilege whereby in compelling or unprecedented circumstances which make it essential to know the identity of the source, the journalist should be compelled to reveal his source. Such circumstances could include where there is a life in peril or the welfare of vulnerable people is under threat or in the interests of national security. As guidance for establishing a balancing test, we should turn to the following four criteria set out by Wigmore:

  • The communications must originate in a confidence that they will not be disclosed.
  • This element of confidentiality must be essential to the full and satisfactory maintenance of the relation between the parties.
  • The relationship must be one which in the opinion of the public ought to be sedulously fostered.
  • The injury that would insure to the relation by the disclosure of the communications must be greater than the benefit thereby gained for the correct disposal of the litigation.

It is submitted that an edited version of this formulation should be enacted in statute in order to give effect and certainty to this privilege. Regarding the fourth condition, it is suggested that it should be edited to read: ‘the interests served by protecting the communications from disclosure will outweigh the interest in getting at the truth in the absence of compelling and extraordinary circumstances.’ Such circumstances should be expressly provided for in the legislation and include instances where there is a life in peril and where there are threats to national security. The purpose of this would be to make the law relating to protection of journalists’ sources very clear and to ensure that journalists are fully aware of their rights. This would ensure greater realisation of the freedom of the press.

Is mise le meas,

Denis Flynn


March 4, 2016

Paradiso and Campanelli v Italy: Surrogacy and the Best Interests of the Child

Giulia Dondoli is a PhD candidate at Te Piringa – Faculty of Law in the University of Waikato, in New Zealand. Her research focuses on transnational advocacy theories related to LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) rights. A fully referenced version of the letter is available here.

Dear Editor,

In January 2015, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) handed down judgment in Paradiso and Campanelli v Italy. The claim was submitted in the name of a married couple and their child who was born in Moscow as the result of a gestational surrogacy agreement and identified by the Russian authorities as being their child. The applicants alleged an Article 8 ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights) violation because the Italian authorities refused to recognise the parental relationship legally established abroad, and removed the child from the couple’s household.

The analysis sheds light on the surrogacy issues among Council of Europe (CoE) Member States in highlighting that two principles are at stake: the best interests of the child and the margin of appreciation doctrine. It is the purpose of this letter to examine how these principles were considered in Paradiso and Campanelli.

Harris defined assisted reproductive technologies and in vitro fertilisation as follows:

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) generally refers to a category of fertility treatments in which eggs are surgically removed from a woman’s ovaries, fertilized with sperm in a laboratory by means of in vitro fertilization (IVF), and then placed in the uterus of the woman who provided the eggs or in the uterus of another woman.

Furthermore, the ECtHR’s press release on Paradiso and Campanelli v Italy defined gestational surrogacy arrangements as occurring when a woman bears a child for a couple whom subsequently have  parental responsibility of the new-born. Such couples are referred to as the ‘intended parents’, while the gestational mother is called the ‘carrier’. Two types of gestational surrogacy arrangements are addressed in this letter. First, when the child results from the insemination of the male gametes of the intended father with the female gametes of a donor and implanted in the carrier, the male is both the genetic and the intended father. Second, when the child’s conception results from the donation of both male and female gametes and subsequently implanted in the gestational mother, neither of the intended parents are genetically related to the new-born.

Kilkelly noted that children’s rights are ‘essentially absent’ in the ECHR, as the text provides limited expressed references to children’s rights. However, in studying the ECtHR decisions on child protection from punishment and abuse, she concluded that the ECtHR uses a child centric-approach. Although not always expressly, the ECtHR refers to principles set forth in the Convention on Rights of the Child (CRC), which all CoE Member States are signatory to. Moreover, Hodson explained that the protection of children’s rights is fundamental at European level as all CoE member states agree on the pivotal principle that ‘in every decision relating to children, protecting the best interests of the child is a primary consideration’. However, the author notes that whilst the heterosexual nuclear family as the only valid form of family is being slowly replaced by the concept of the de facto family, children raised in de facto families may be precluded from living with their parents or limited in their enjoyment of private and family life. These limitations are not coherent with the principle of the best interests of the child. Similarly, this letter shows that the ECtHR prefers bionormative family frames, with consequent limitations of the best interests of children born from surrogacy agreements.

On the other hand, the doctrine of margin of appreciation is based on the assumption that national governments are better placed to decide upon conflicts between individual rights and public interests, and is defined as the ‘room of manoeuvre’ that the ECtHR is willing to concede to national authorities. However, this doctrine has been deemed to have a disproportionate application, to promote the development of double standards, and to be applied unnecessarily. This letters argues that, in the Paradiso and Campanelli case, the principle of the best interest of the child is partially limited by the doctrine of the margin of appreciation.

The former European High Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, explained that the ECtHR ‘has not identified a positive obligation for states to ensure a right to assisted reproduction’. For consistent jurisprudence, Article 8 ECHR does not guarantee the right to form a family through assisted reproductive treatments or through adoption.  CoE Member States have a wide margin of appreciation regarding surrogacy, and there is no European consensus on this matter. Before the Paradiso and Campanelli case, the ECtHR considered surrogacy on two occasions; Mennesson v France and Labassee v France.

In both cases, the couples went to the United States for gestational surrogacy agreements. As a consequence of surrogacy, twins were born in the Mennesson family, and a baby girl in the Labassee family. The twins are genetically related to Mr Mennesson, and the baby girl is genetically related to Mr Labassee. When both families returned to France, they asked that the French authorities recognise the parental relationships legally established in the United States. They were denied such recognition as gestational surrogacy agreements are prohibited in France. Nonetheless, the children were not removed from the couples’ households.

In both cases unanimously, the ECtHR denied violation of Article 8 ECHR in respect of the parents because the lack of recognition of the parental relationships had not prevented the parents from living with their children. However, the ECtHR noted that the French refusal to recognise the parental relationships established abroad ‘undermined the children’s identity within the French society’. Considering the principle that the best interests of the child must prevail, the ECtHR found France in breach of the right to the protection of privacy and family life of the children. In other words, not recognising the parental relationship between the children and their biological fathers, France ‘had overstepped the permissible margin of appreciation’. A different approach was taken in the Paradiso and Campanelli case.

In the Paradiso and Campanelli case, the applicants claimed that Italy has violated their rights in not recognising the birth certificate of their child born in Russia with a gestational surrogacy with both sperm and eggs donation. The applicants noted that the donation of gametes and embryos is legal in Russia and, therefore, the Italian authorities should have recognised the parental relationship legally established abroad (as prescribed in Article 33 of Law 218/95). Italy considered the birth certificate to be a false document as it indicated that Paradiso and Campanelli were the parents of the child. Additionally, Italy highlighted that there is no European consensus on regard of gestational surrogacy.

The ECtHR discussed three aspects. First, regarding the refusal of the Italian state to recognise the parental relationship established abroad, the ECtHR accepted that the use of male gametes from a donor instead of Campanelli’s gametes was a mistake of the Russian clinic, and that the couple believed in good faith that the child was biologically related to the intended father. However, the ECtHR concluded with a convoluted double negation in saying that ‘the national judges did not take an unreasonable decision’. Puppinck and De La Hougue argue that this sentence means that the ECtHR accepted the decision of the Italian authorities not to recognise the birth certificate issued abroad because of the lack of a biological relationship between the child and the intended parents.

Second, on the removal of the child from the de facto family to a foster family, the ECtHR looked at the concept of necessity in relation to the best interests of the child. Indeed, the removal of the minor from the family, even the de facto family, is an extreme measure. The ECtHR considered that the interest of the state to preserve the public order is not a sufficient reason to justify the removal of the child from Paradiso and Campanelli’s custody. A dissent was issued arguing that, because the Juvenile Tribunal of Campobasso deemed that the child was not living in an adequate familial environment under the parameters of the international adoption law, the situation was delicate and had a certain degree of urgency. Therefore, the dissenting judges found there was no reason to overcome the decision of Italian authorities.

Finally, the ECtHR noted that the child had only obtained a new birth certificate in April 2013 and did not have an official identity for more than two years with consequences on a number of administrative issues. The ECtHR noted that the child should not be disadvantaged by the fact that he was born from a surrogate mother. Puppinck and de La Hougue viewed the judgment as being ‘benevolent but impossible’ because the Russian clinic had eradicated the child ‘from his roots, from his biological filiation’ and sold to an aging couple.

A violation of Article 8 ECHR was found and Italy was condemned to pay €30,000 of material and immaterial damages. However, because the child has developed a familial relationship with the foster family, the decision cannot be interpreted as creating an obligation to return the child to the applicants. It is argued that in accepting the Italian authorities’ decision to not recognise the Russian birth certificate the ECtHR indirectly expressed an opinion on surrogacy, taking no consideration of the best interests of the child.

Paradiso and Campanelli shows that surrogacy cases raise contrasting interests. On one hand, there is the right of the couple to have their status of parents legally established abroad recognised in their home country. On the other hand, there is the interest of the government to protect public order.  When private and public interests are competing, the ECtHR may allow a margin of appreciation to the government. In addition, when cases involve children, their best interests must be a pivotal consideration in the decision making. The Paradiso and Campanelli decision can be broken down into two parts to clarify how these interests have interacted.

The ECtHR answered two questions: whether the removal of the child from the couple’s custody was justifiable and whether the Italian non-recognition of the parental relationship established abroad breached the ECHR. As regards the first question the ECtHR answered no and did not extend a margin of appreciation to the Italian government, instead taking the best interests of the child into consideration. The answer to the second question was a timid yes. With a convoluted double negation, the ECtHR accepted the decision of the Italian authorities not to recognise the birth certificate issued abroad. This allowed a margin of appreciation to the government which does not consider the best interests of the child.

The French cases and the Italian case have different outcomes, which derive from the factual differences of the cases. France was not allowed any margin of appreciation for not recognising the parental relationship legally established abroad and the best interests of the child principle prevailed because the children were genetically related to the intended fathers. On the other hand, in the Italian case, the margin of appreciation prevailed over the best interests of the child principle, because the child born in Russia was not genetically related to Mr Campanelli. Although the ECtHR is slowly recognising forms of de facto families, it still prefers a bionormative frame. Arguably, in future cases regarding surrogacy agreements, CoE Member States can persist in not providing a legal identity to a child, if the child is not genetically related to the intended parents. This lack of legal recognition is in breach of the best interests of the child.

To conclude, without a clear statement from the ECtHR that CoE Member States should recognise parental relationships legally established abroad, situations as the one of Paradiso and Campanelli will occur again, to the inevitable detriment of the best interests of the children born from gestational surrogacy, especially those not genetically related to the intended parents. It is hoped that further jurisprudence will provide greater clarity.

Is mise le meas,

Giulia Dondoli

February 22, 2016

The Role of the ECtHR Regarding Crimes Committed by UN Peacekeepers

Jan Kralik is a PhD researcher at the Charles University in Prague and is currently working in the International Law Department at the Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic. Previously, he studied European and International Law at the University of Matej Bel in Banska Bystrica. He completed his second master’s degree in International Law and the International Organizations at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in the Netherlands. A fully referenced version of the letter is available here.

Dear Editor,

During the past few years a series of egregious acts of sexual violence were committed in States and territories wherein the United Nations deployed its peacekeeping operations. These acts were perpetrated inter alia by military members of national peacekeeping contingents (MMsNCs) whilst assigned to a UN peacekeeping unit.

With regard to crimes committed by persons involved in these operations, the UN adopted a dual approach distinguishing between its staff and MMsNCs. Whilst the former have the status of officials under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations (the Convention), the latter is governed by the status of forces agreements (SOFAs) and the Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs).

The main difference between these intricate systems of norms is the extent of granted jurisdictional immunity and the possibility to waive the immunity. The Convention provides that officials are immune from legal process in respect of words spoken or written and all acts performed by them in their official capacity. The Secretary-General has the right and duty to waive the immunity of any official after particular circumstances are met.

Under the SOFAs, the MMsNCs are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the troop-contributing country. That is, the respective participating States have jurisdiction over acts of MMsNCs committed in both public and private capacity. Unlike the immunities of the UN officials involved in the peacekeeping operation, the exclusive jurisdiction of the respective participating State is not subject to the waiver of the Secretary-General or any other respective UN body.

Therefore, it depends on the will of the respective States whether MMsNCs are prosecuted for the crimes committed during their assignment to an operation. Numerous revelations show that States are reluctant to take action and that, if action is taken, the accused tends to be convicted of crimes of a lesser charge. Unsurprisingly, the UN tries to ensure that the States take action against the perpetrators. This intention may be seen in the amended Model MOU, which stipulates that the respective States assure the UN that they shall exercise such jurisdiction.

Yet recent incidents show that amendments of relevant UN documents do not compel respective States to take the necessary steps to adequately punish MMsNCs of serious crimes committed whilst deployed on a UN mission. The reluctance of respective States to agree on a more imperative and categorical wording of Model MOU’s provisions indirectly supports this position. Balancing the sovereignty of States and the bringing of perpetrators of serious crimes to justice cannot be achieved without overcoming the current status quo secured by the provisions of SOFAs and MOUs.

It must now be considered whether the possibility of legal redress before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) with regard to acts committed by the MMsNCs who are nationals of State Parties to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) whilst they are assigned to the UN mission exists. It will be assumed that, as stipulated in Article 35 ECHR, all domestic remedies are exhausted before sending an appeal to Strasbourg. This letter will focus on other requirements that must be met regarding the particularities of the crime in question and the special nature of the relationship between the UN and MMsNCs.

Several questions need to be addressed. First, it must be determined to which entity the conduct of MMsNCs may be attributed, taking into consideration the specificity of the relationship between the UN and MMsNCs. Indeed, the UN does not possess full command but rather operational authority and control as MMsNCs remain in national service while deployed to the mission. It could be said that the attribution of conduct problem is analogous to the relationship between the Dutch peacekeepers and the UN in an infamous incident in Srebrenica. In this case, the peacekeepers were accused of failure to protect around 300 Bosnian Muslims who were trying to escape from Serbs. The Dutch Supreme Court held that the acts of Dutch peacekeepers were attributable to the Dutch government which had effective control over the peacekeepers.

The ECtHR reached the same conclusion regarding the attribution of conduct in Al-Jedda v UK wherein it held that the acts of UK troops in Iraq were attributable to the UK rather than the UN and that the UN had neither effective control nor ultimate authority over the acts and omissions of UK troops. The ECtHR also referred to Article 7 of the Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations (DARIO) which stipulates that the conduct of an organ of a State placed at the disposal of an international organisation should be attributable under international law to that organisation if the organisation exercises effective control over that conduct. It also acknowledged that the conduct may be attributed either to the UN, respective State or both entities.

Thus, the conduct of peacekeepers may, under certain circumstances, be attributed to the respective States. This does not necessarily mean, however, that the States have effective control over their troops whilst they are committing crimes of sexual violence during their assignment. The responsibility of States may perhaps be established implicitly as it could be claimed that the UN had neither effective control nor ultimate authority over the acts of the troops. Hence, it should be States who have had effective control and, therefore, bear responsibility.

To avoid future confusion, it would be more appropriate if a judicial body dealing with cases involving crimes of MMsNCs would address clearly and explicitly when exactly and under which circumstances an entity has effective control over the troops. Nevertheless, due to the specific nature of an operation, attribution of conduct should be based on ‘a factual criterion’, as stipulated in the commentary to the DARIO.

Assuming that troop-contributing countries have exclusive jurisdiction over their troops, a failure to adequately investigate potential crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice would mean that these States do not comply with their obligations arising from international human rights instruments. Thus, the responsibility of a State may arise through a failure to protect human rights. If we accept this premise, we need to ascertain whether States have obligations to make inquiries in alleged cases where the acts were committed outside of their territory.

This would mean that States, by ratifying the ECHR, accept that the obligations flowing thereof apply extraterritorially. The current approach held by the ECtHR is opposite to the regional context and espace juridique model in the Banković case which defined a rather more restrictive view regarding extraterritorial application of the ECHR.

In Al-Skeini, the Court shifted its view and stated ‘whenever the State, through its agents, exercises control and authority over an individual, and thus jurisdiction, the State is under an obligation … to secure to that individual the rights and freedoms under [the ECHR] that are relevant to the individual’s situation.’ In essence, the Court acknowledged that the State’s jurisdiction, as stipulated in Article 1 ECHR, may be extended to the other States or territories. What is imperative is the control and authority over an individual.

Under these circumstances, a victim’s position regarding a State and its agents is more obvious and complaint to the ECtHR seems plausible. However, to accept this statement, questions concerning the legal basis of such a complaint must be answered. Since sexual violence is not explicitly regulated in any provision of the ECHR, it needs to be determined under which article a victim could submit a complaint to the ECtHR.

Taking into account existing jurisprudence, it could be observed that, in certain circumstances, sexual violence may satisfy the minimum threshold of Article 3 ECHR, by amounting to torture. In particular, the recent Zontul v Greece case is worth highlighting as the ECtHR held that the rape of a detainee by a state actor is equal to torture, thereby constituting a violation of Article 3 ECHR.

However, we need to distinguish between sexual violence perpetrated by the peacekeepers assigned to a UN mission and the rape of a detained person by State actors, because the sexual violence by peacekeepers is not necessarily perpetrated on detainees in enclosed spaces. Furthermore, there is a clear difference between rape and sexual violence as the latter is of a broader nature, ie not every act of sexual violence per se would in fact constitute rape. Therefore, it should be noted that the severity of harm criterion for torture may in some cases not be established.

Given the position of MMsNCs it would be very harsh for a victim if a complaint would be rejected on a basis that the act has not reached the minimum threshold of Article 3 ECHR owing to the fact that the violence has not occurred in detention. Moreover, it should be taken into consideration that the MMsNCs are often sent to places where it is not difficult to arbitrarily abuse their powers whilst taking advantage of the vulnerability of a victim.

Nevertheless, the view of ECtHR remains unclear. In the opinion of the author, it should not be decisive whether the act was perpetrated on a person in detention. By the same token, given the specific nature of sexual violence crimes, significance should also be attached to the dire consequences that such crimes could have on mental health of a victim.

Development of jurisprudence of this area is vital. The UN cannot afford to leave the perpetrators of such serious crimes unpunished or to leave these perpetrators to the exclusive jurisdiction of their respective State. In relation to the ECtHR, it can be concluded that the most crucial factor is to determine whether the violence reaches the threshold of Article 3 of the ECHR. Even if the ECtHR does decide to award compensation to the victim, the judgment needs to be implemented in the respective State. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that some States are reluctant to do so. That is, however, another issue.

Is mise le meas,

Jan Kralik

February 11, 2016

The Mobilisation of Banking Law

Caroline Bergin-Cross is a PhD candidate at University College Dublin and the author of ‘Electronic Fund Transfers in the Republic of Ireland’, published in 2015 by Lonsdale Law Publishing. She is a Barrister-at-Law and holds LLM (Comm) and BCL degrees. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the University College Dublin Law Review. A fully referenced version of the letter is available here.

Dear Editor,

The spread of mobile phones across the developing world is one of the most remarkable technology stories of the past decade. Consumer adoption of smart phones is growing internationally at a phenomenal rate. Smart phones present significant m-commerce opportunities for all organisations, however, such potential has yet to be realised. To realise such potential there must be engagement with mobile service providers in order to make m-payments secure, private, reliable and easy to effect. The first part of this letter will illustrate what an m-payment is. Part two shall look at the growth of mobile banking, taking into account the implications of same, especially in respect of regulation and privacy. Finally, this letter will discuss the future development of m-payments.


A mobile payment (m-payment) may be defined, for our purposes, as any payment where a mobile device is used to initiate, authorise and confirm an exchange of financial value in return for goods and services. M-payments are a natural evolution of e-payment schemes that facilitate m-commerce. Mobile devices may include mobile phones, wireless tablets and any other device that connect to mobile telecommunication networks and make it possible for payments to be made. The realisation of m-payments will make possible new and unforeseen ways of convenience and commerce.

There is no universal form of m-payments; rather, purposes and structures vary from country to country. The systems offer a variety of financial functions, including micropayments to merchants, bill-payments to utilities, person-to-person transfers between individuals, and long-distance remittances. Currently, different institutional and business models deliver these systems. Some are offered entirely by banks, others entirely by telecommunications providers, whilst others involve a partnership between a bank and a telecommunications provider.

Mobile phone operators have identified m-payments as a potential service to offer their customers, which will increase loyalty, and generate fees and messaging charges. Financial institutions see m-payments as a form of ‘branchless banking’. Government regulators see a similar appeal but are presently working out the legal implications of the technologies, particularly concerning security and taxation.


M-payments may broadly be classified as a ‘contactless’ or ‘remote’ payment. In a mobile ‘contactless payments’, the payer and payee and the mobile telecommunications device are in the same location and communicate directly with each other using contactless radio technologies, such as near field communications, which use Bluetooth or infra to transfer data. For mobile ‘remote payments’, the transaction is conducted over telecommunication networks such as the internet, and can be conducted irrespective of the location of the payer and their mobile telecommunications device. Creating ease, convenience and trust for end-customers is regarded as critical for the further development of m-payments.


In m-commerce, it is often required that personal data, as well as financial data, be exchanged among the transacting parties to facilitate the purchase. This sharing of personal data imposes a risk in the case of data misuse. Even if consumers’ personal data is used correctly, consumers inevitably have to forfeit parts of their privacy when interacting with businesses online. Consequently, trust in the vendor is essential for the necessary disclosure of personal information.


The benefits of m-commerce will not be realised until the tangible benefits outweigh the intrusion and privacy concerns of consumers. While m-commerce can provide significant benefits and efficiencies for consumers, the potential risks have to be evaluated and appropriate data protection and privacy safeguards must be established, monitored, and reviewed, to lower this risk and significantly reduce any fears that consumers may harbour. Authentication, confidentiality, data integrity and non-repudiation are key issues cited by consumers.

Consumers’ perceptions of the security and privacy controls employed by smart phone service providers are a critical element of their willingness to make m-payments. Such controls should be specified in legislation and governments should adopt legislation which stipulates the standards of service, thereby setting the legal rights of m-commerce consumers. To ensure the robustness of this legislation and governance, an independent objective third party regulatory authority should be established to ensure service providers are fulfilling their obligations under the m-commerce legislation. Furthermore, this will improve consumer confidence that regulatory bodies have sufficient powers to take actions against mobile service providers who do not adhere to such frameworks. Such legislation will help build consumer trust in m-payments and rebut concerns that their personal data can be violated or captured during transmission or by hacking databases and spoofing identities.



For widespread use and customer acceptance of m-payment services, both perceived and technical levels of security should be high. For customers, privacy should not be compromised and there should be no possibility of financial losses. For businesses, customer authentication is important. As per the general framework of any secure messaging system, confidentiality, integrity, non-repudiation and authentication should be guaranteed by m-payment service providers.


M-payments lack cohesive technology standards. Consolidation of standards in the m-commerce arena is critical and will enable producers and consumers to make investments that produce value. The lack of standards gives rise to many local and fragmented versions of m-payments offered by different stakeholders. Standards need to address security and privacy concerns of consumers as well as interoperability between various stakeholders. Standards formation is a process of negotiation between various stakeholders, more like political negotiations than technical discussions. There is currently no consensus in respect of m-payment standards setting. Certain start-up companies have proposed standards and they hope to make these de facto by being the first movers with strategic advantage and early market selection. The battle over standards occurs both at the firm level and at the inter-consortia level.

Regulatory Issues

Although m-payments may allow parties to make economic exchanges, it is not a form of recognised legal tender. That is, it lacks the status of other payment instruments such as cash, which is a medium of exchange that is authorised, adopted and guaranteed by the government. To overcome this problem, legislation that will make m-payments legal tender must be enacted.


The European Payments Council (EPC) published the latest version of its white paper on m-payments in October 2012. This paper incorporated submissions from 17 parties representing various stakeholders in the m-payments ecosystem. On 29 June 2015, the ERPB, chaired by the ECB, considered the future of person-to-person m-payments and the recommendations of the White Paper. The members of the ERPB subsequently agreed to endorse the vision of allowing any person initiate a pan-European person-to-person m-payment safely and securely, using a simple method with information the counterparty is prepared to share in order to make a payment. In particular, payment service providers offering person-to-person m-payment services should make use of existing infrastructure as far as possible. Moreover, a harmonised process should be created, allowing person-to-person m-payment data to be exchanged between local solutions across borders. It is most unfortunate that the EPC has taken a deferential approach and has decided against introducing regulations or directives to harmonise m-payments across the EU.


Apple Pay is simple to use and works with the cards already owned on devices used every day. As your card details are never shared when you use Apple Pay, and are not stored on your device at all, using Apple Pay on your iPhone, Apple watch, or iPad is the safer and more private way to pay. However, customers need to use a bank card from one of Apple Pay’s partners.

If the customer has a credit or debit card registered with their Apple ID, they can add it to Apple Pay directly. If not, or the customer wishes to add a new card, Apple encrypts the whole process, wrapping up the card details in a unique identifier before handing it over to their card operator.

Assuming the customer is credit-worthy, the operator sends back an authorisation key that is stored in the Secure Element in the iOS device or watch. Secure Element is an industry standard chip and the customer is not relying on Apple alone to maintain the technology. As each one is unique to the device in which it resides, it reliably ties the device to the customer’s account. That way, the card processor knows exactly whose account to debit without passing their details over the network again or handing them to the retailer itself.

Apple Pay has proven to be an extremely safe and secure form of m-payment. To use the payment the customer inputs a six digit passcode rather than four, and payments can only be authorised from iOS devices with near field communication and the device-unique Secure Element chip built in.


Many challenges must be overcome for m-payments to be widely accepted as a mode of payment. Businesses, merchants and consumers have to come forward and make value-producing investments. A regulatory framework and widely accepted standards will be the pillars on which m-payment applications will be built in order to have a robust system which consumers have confidence in.

Consumers’ fears over their data and privacy appear to presently outweigh consumers’ perceived benefits of m-commerce. Consumers’ unwillingness to make m-payments is the greatest barrier to future growth of m-commerce.

Apple Pay has shown that a convenient, secure and reliable m-payment system can be established, however, the deferential approach by the EPC to setting standards and regulations for m-payments is unfortunate. Without a standardisation of m-payments, customers’ unwillingness to use m-payments will continue.

Is mise le meas,

Caroline Bergin-Cross BL

January 29, 2016

The Rule of Law in Europe.

Emily Hancox is a PhD researcher at the University of Edinburgh working on the interplay between norms in the EU legal order and the implications of this for the scope of application of European law. Alongside her PhD, Emily Co-Convenes the Europa Research Group, sits on the Steering Committee of the Edinburgh Europa Institute and is Managing Editor of the University of Edinburgh Legal Studies Research Paper Series. She also teaches Public and EU Law. Prior to moving to Edinburgh, Emily worked as a lecturer at the University of Oxford and was a Legal Trainee at the Office of the European Ombudsman in Brussels. A fully referenced version of the letter is available here.

Dear Editor,

While there are many urgent and troubling issues one might choose to write about regarding European public law at present, I write to you today with a fairly modest plea. My plea is aimed at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and implores its members to better respect the rule of law in their decision-making.

It is perhaps always dangerous to invoke such a contested concept as the rule of law in an argument. However, the Member States themselves, as drafters of the Treaties, made clear the commitment of the EU towards the rule of law. Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) states:

The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.

A number of meanings can be (and have been) attributed to the rule of law, ranging from a formalistic conception to requiring a full-blown commitment to human rights. At its most basic, perhaps, the rule of law might be regarded as a requirement of consistency that contrasts with arbitrary exercises of discretion. When directed towards the judiciary, the rule of law as consistency requires a coherent line of jurisprudence with some degree of predictability. Respect for the rule of law does not imply that it is illegitimate for judges to overrule earlier decisions.  However, in such cases, judges ought to justify and explain the shift.

In the context of the EU the need to respect the rule of law takes on a new dimension. The decisions of the ECJ are binding across all twenty-eight Member States where it is the obligation of national judges and law-makers to interpret and apply those decisions. While, strictly speaking, the ECJ is not bound to follow its earlier decisions, its position within the EU legal order provides a strong argument why the ECJ should aim for consistency.

The ECJ has only very rarely expressly departed from its earlier decisions and the cases in which it has done so are ‘as few as they are celebrated’ (in the words of Advocate General La Pergola). Such cases where the ECJ explicitly overruled its earlier decisions include Roquette Frères (overturning Hoechst), Keck, and Metock (overturning Akrich). More frequently, the ECJ implicitly departs from earlier judgments such as from its decision in Cinéthèque to ERT and Familiapress. It is this latter instance that I want to pick up on and raise in the light of two recent cases regarding access to social benefits for EU citizenship: Dano and Alimanovic.

In Dano the ECJ appears to depart its rulings in Martínez Sala and Trojani, namely that migrant EU citizens, lawfully resident according to national law (but not EU law), are entitled to equal access to any social benefits regulated by EU law. The ECJ focused on the primary rights of Ms Martínez Sala and Mr Trojani to move and reside (Article 21 TFEU) and to non-discrimination on grounds of national (Article 18 TFEU). Ms Martínez Sala, as a Union citizen lawfully residing in the territory of another Member State, fell within the personal scope of the Treaty (para 61) and was thus able to claim equal access to social benefits. Similarly, in Trojani, the ECJ held that while Member States ‘can make residence of an EU citizen conditional on his having sufficient resources, that does not mean that such a person cannot, during his lawful residence in the host Member State, benefit from the fundamental principle of equal treatment’ (para 40).

In Dano, however, the ECJ chose not to focus on the position of Ms Dano as an EU citizen lawfully resident in a host Member State. Instead, the ECJ focused its attention on whether Ms Dano had a right of residence under EU law (specifically Directive 2004/38, the Citizens’ Rights Directive). Ms Dano did not have a right of residence under Citizens’ Rights Direct as she lacked sufficient resources (para 81) which meant she could not claim equal treatment with regard to social assistance (para 82). The case clearly departs from the ECJ’s earlier decisions, yet does not expressly say so or provide reasons as to why it is doing so. It might be that the entry into force of the Citizenship Directive signalled the need for a change, but the ECJ does not even go so far as to state this.

In Alimanovic, the ECJ again implicitly overruled its 2009 decision in Vatsouras. Article 24(2) of the Citizens’ Rights Directive permits Member States to derogate from the right to equal treatment as regards jobseekers. In Vatsouras, the ECJ held, notwithstanding Article 24(2), that a jobseeker still falls within the scope of Article 45 TFEU on free movement of workers.  A jobseeker could therefore still benefit from the right to equal treatment in Article 45 TFEU (para 36) as regards ‘a benefit of a financial nature intended to facilitate access to employment in the labour market of a Member State’ (para 37). The ECJ did accept, however, that a Member State could choose to grant such an allowance only  after it has been possible to establish a real link between the job-seeker and the labour market of that State (para 38). In Alimanovic, however, the ECJ did not refer to Article 45 TFEU.  Instead the ECJ narrows, almost to the point of extinction, this aspect of its decision in Vatsouras, holding simply that social assistance to jobseekers may be withheld under Article 24(2) of the Citizens’ Directive (paras 57-58).

In both Dano and Alimanovic therefore, the ECJ implicitly overrules several earlier cases on the rights of EU citizens. Without explicitly declaring this, the ECJ leaves in doubt the status of the earlier decisions, complicating the position of national judges who have to make their way through the ECJ’s case law. What is more, when the subject matter concerns the rights of EU citizens, a decision to limit these rights warrants justification. In the absence of explanation, the ECJ leaves itself open to criticism for acting arbitrarily or political expediency. I therefore end, as I began, with a plea for greater respect for the rule of law in Europe.

Is mise le meas,

Emily Hancox

November 23, 2015

Article 41.2: Not Quite the Ireland We Dreamed Of

Gary Moloney is a graduate of UCC’s BCL (Law and Irish) programme and is currently pursuing an LLM in International Human Rights and Public Policy. He was a member of UCC’s triumphant Jessup Moot Court team in 2014/15. A former Vice Auditor of the UCC Law Society, he currently tutors first and second year law students in Dlí Bunreachtúil (Constitutional Law). A fully referenced version of the letter is available here..

A chara,

It is, in my view, quite timely that the Fifteenth Annual UCC Law Conference looks to tackle one of the key elephants of Irish constitutional law; Article 41.2, which ostensibly assigns women a domestic role within the home. For many the observer, this provision, along with Article 40.3.3o, is emblematic of Ireland’s poor record when it comes to matters of gender equality.

Article 41.2.1o holds that the common good benefits from the work of women within the home. As a result, Article 41.2.2o states that women should not be obliged by economic necessity to work outside of the home causing neglect of their duties in the home. It is unquestionably a product of De Valera’s Ireland; a country of ‘happy maidens’, ‘cosy homesteads’ and ‘frugal comfort’. While we have made great strides in recent times with respect to marriage equality and gender recognition, there is still much work to be done. We continually fail over half of our population through discriminatory treatment, preventing Ireland from being a truly equal society in fact and in law.

In Sinnott v Minister for Education, Denham J, as she then was, stated that:

Article 41.2 does not assign women to a domestic role. Article 41.2 recognises the significant role played by wives and mothers in the home. This recognition and acknowledgement does not exclude women and mothers from other roles and activities. It is a recognition of the work performed by women in the home.

With great respect to the Chief Justice, even if that was the intent of Article 41.2, its inclusion sends a negative normative message. It does nothing in practice to empower women, but rather highlights an outdated traditional role which it presupposes women should be inclined to fulfil. Even though the learned Chief Justice argues that ‘[t]his special recognition is of the 21st century and belongs to the whole of society’, it is hard to reconcile that with the discrimination faced by women within Irish society in pay, bodily autonomy and job opportunities. It perpetuates the myth of complimentary gender roles, with the mother seen as the natural caregiver. It actively disregards the rising number of stay-at-home fathers and thereby entrenches traditional gender roles within Irish constitutional discourse.

The Chief Justice’s comments might also be more palatable were this recognition to lead to implementation of oft-forgotten economic and social rights, but this would not appear to be the case.  In L v L, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that a housewife who worked exclusively in the home was entitled to an equitable interest in that house, holding that a married woman had to make a financial contribution in the form of actual income for such an interest to be created. Despite recognising that these equitable principles contradicted 41.2, the Supreme Court said they did not have the jurisdiction to engage in the transfer of property within a family. Finlay CJ found this to be the case despite also acknowledging the inconsistency in disadvantaging women who took up their ‘preferred constitutional activity’. Furthermore, in Sinnott, Keane CJ, held that while Kathy Sinnott’s contributions as a primary caregiver to her autistic son were worthy of ‘respect, admiration and compassion’, they were not grounds for damages with respect to the State’s breach of her son’s education rights. So if Article 41.2 doesn’t seem to confer any positive rights on women then what is its purpose? If its role is merely normative in nature then is it one that needs revisiting?

The Report of the Constitutional Review Group (CRG) suggested that a gender neutral version would alleviate some of the concerns raised. Such an amendment would be commendable, also adding some much needed recognition and protection for single parent families. On the recognition of the work of fathers as carers and the duties they hold with respect to care, Murray J in DT v CT  held that Article 41.2 as part of a contemporary document could be interpreted  so as  to include fathers within its remit. Thus, the 10th Progress Report of the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution noted that a gender neutral version could arguably be unnecessary. Nevertheless the report provided for a gender neutral alternative, albeit one not as open to including single parent families as that found in the Report of the CRG. Were we to agree with the All-Party Oireachtas Committee’s initial conclusion, an amendment to that effect would still be preferable and would go a long way to addressing core issues. As Professor Mullally has noted in her submission to the Constitutional Convention, ‘domestic care has often remained invisible with little official recognition of its significance to the everyday functioning of society’.

Article 41.2, in its current form, is a patriarchal antiquity which negatively impacts the whole of Irish society by entrenching traditional gender norms which we as a nation should strive to rise above. Its retention is potentially inconsistent with Ireland’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) given its sexist connotations with regards to gender stereotyping. The Ireland of 1937 may have been satisfied with dancing at the cross-roads, but it is clear that the Ireland of 2015 can no longer dance around its treatment of women within Bunreacht na hÉireann.

Mise le meas,

Gary Moloney

November 3, 2015

What does the refugee crisis mean for the future of the CEAS?

Jeff Walsh is currently completing an M.Litt. in international refugee law in Trinity College Dublin. In the past, he has worked for UNHCR Ireland and the Irish Refugee Council and was the Thomas Addis Emmet Fellow for International Public Interest Law in 2010. He is currently the Vice-Chairperson of the Irish Society of International Law. In this letter he considers the impact of the refugee crisis on the future of the Common European Asylum System. A fully referenced version of the letter is available here.

Dear Editor,

One can hope that the recent wave of asylum seekers and refugees arriving in Europe from the Middle East and Afghanistan will have a positive impact on the operation and direction of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) going forward. The current crisis has provided the EU with various challenges. It has raised questions regarding the potential use of temporary protection and further questions regarding the Dublin system, as well as forcing Member States to tackle the issue of burden sharing and relocation on a scale not seen heretofore.

The Dublin system operates under the ‘Dublin III Regulation’. It allows for a determination to be made regarding the Member State responsible for determining a particular asylum claim – thus attempting to eliminate secondary movements of asylum seekers across the EU.

In recent years, the Dublin system has been subjected to operational restrictions from both the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Court of the European Union (CJEU). In MSS v Greece & Belgium, the ECtHR held that there were ‘systemic deficiencies’ in the Greek system and, as such, the transfer of asylum seekers amounted to a violation of Articles 3 (right to freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment) and 13 (right to an effective remedy). Shortly afterwards, in NS and ME v United Kingdom and Ireland, the CJEU upheld the ‘systemic deficiencies’ threshold and stated that the transfer of asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin system breached Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU in that it amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment. In a departure from requiring ‘systemic deficiencies’, the ECtHR held in Tarakhel v Switzerland that individual circumstances must be taken into account, meaning that systemic deficiencies are no longer the sole deciding factor in suspending transfers.

While the Dublin III Regulation forms part of the CEAS legislative package, major NGOs, such as the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) have stated that ‘the Dublin system fails to ensure that refugees are protected, and wrongly assumes that there are equal standards of protection across Europe.’ Furthermore, ECRE calls for the Dublin Regulation to be abolished and replaced with a ‘more humane and equitable system’.

What effect has the refugee crisis had on the operation of the Dublin system? The crisis has created difficulties for the implementation of FRONTEX, the fingerprint system, important to the operation of the Dublin system, whereby each asylum seeker has their fingerprints taken as part of the registration process when they apply for asylum. The crisis has also highlighted further problems with reception conditions, as highlighted in judgments such as those mentioned above. Recently, questions have been asked of the Hungarian system, leading the German Administrative Court of Dusseldorf to suspend transfers of asylum seekers to Hungary and the Swiss Council for Refugees to call for transfers to Hungary to be similarly suspended. Earlier this month, the Belgian Council of Aliens Law Litigation also suspended transfers of single women asylum seekers to Italy.

It is clear that it will not be possible to return all asylum seekers to the Member States where they first entered the EU, particularly Greece, Hungary and Italy, both in law and in practice. What this means for the Dublin system is unclear. The move towards greater burden sharing through relocation agreements could see the introduction of a more equitable system, as called for by ECRE.

In the face of large increases in the numbers entering Europe to seek asylum, the EU has, so far, opted not to invoke the Temporary Protection Directive, the first asylum-related directive to be enacted under the CEAS in response to the influx of asylum seekers from the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. There have been calls to invoke the Temporary Protection Directive as a means of coping with the sharp increase in asylum seekers. However, such a move would mean the EU – and refugees – would have to grapple with yet another status, ancillary to refugee status, most likely leading to differences in treatment, in terms of legal entitlements and protections afforded to those in need of international protection. Instead the EU has taken the preferable option of burden sharing and relocation. This route still provides for recognition under the CEAS legislation. Two agreements, reached in September, provide for the distribution of asylum seekers across EU Member States, known as ‘relocation’. In order to be considered under this agreement, the asylum seeker’s nationality must have a recognition rate of 75% or greater in international protection (both refugee status and subsidiary protection) – based on Eurostat figures, this includes Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqis. While these agreements go some way towards easing the pressure on Italy and Greece as frontline states – the second agreement purports to take 43% of the Greece and Italy’s asylum seekers that arrived during the period of July and August – a sizeable number of asylum seekers in Hungary are not being included due to Hungary’s unwillingness to be seen as a frontline state. The agreements are temporary for now, operating within a framework of two years; however, there is a proposal for a more permanent arrangement. This could mean that the Temporary Protection Directive might never be invoked.

In conclusion, it is hoped that some positives can come from the current refugee crisis. There is now the potential for increased integration in terms of asylum procedures across the EU as a result of the refugee crisis. The flow of asylum seekers arriving in Europe, traversing states such as Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria in order to gain access to Germany, Sweden and Finland has had clear impacts on existing structures, most notably the ability of Member States to partake in the Dublin system. While there are undoubtedly economic considerations in choosing a destination, and indeed it is the right of asylum seekers to choose where to apply for asylum, variations in recognition rates across the Union cannot be ignored. While, practically speaking, new measures to increase harmonisation of asylum procedures can be expected in the coming years, finding agreement at an EU level will be difficult. The recent agreements on burden sharing have served to highlight numerous differences on the issue between Member States. The CEAS will, as it has done, slowly move forward. Whether it can bring all Member States along is another question.

Is mise le meas,

Jeff Walsh

October 28, 2015

Floating Charges and Priority Debtors after JD Brian

Sarah Slevin is currently a trainee solicitor with Ronan Daly Jermyn, Ireland’s biggest regional law firm. Previously, she studied Law and Irish at undergraduate level in University College Cork and continued to complete an LLM in Business Law for which she was awarded the E-Law Summer Institute Bursary for Postgraduate Study. Her thesis was entitled ‘Personal Guarantees of Commercial Loans: An Analysis of the Legal Protection Afforded to Guarantors in Ireland’. In this letter, she considers the recent Irish Supreme Court decision of In the Matter of JD Brian. A fully referenced version of the letter is available here.

A Chara,

On 9 July 2015, Laffoy J gave judgment on behalf of a three-judge Supreme Court in the case of In the Matter of JD Brian Limited (in Liquidation) t/a East Coast Print and Publicity [2015] IESC 62 (JD Brian). In finding that a valid notice of crystallisation had been delivered by Bank of Ireland over the floating charge at issue, and thus overturning the 2011 decision of the High Court, the floating charge was deemed by the Court to be a fixed charge which took precedence over priority debtors, including the Revenue Commissioners.

The delivery of this judgment brings to an end a legal and judicial interregnum in which the priority status of crystallised floating charges in the context of a winding up remained unclear. However, the comments of Laffoy J, particularly in light of the relative silence of the Companies Act 2014 (the 2014 Act), demonstrate a clear dissatisfaction with the current position of the law. It can be argued that, although the interpretation of the law as it stands may be correct, we are now left in a position that is at odds with modern legal and economic trends.

Finlay Geoghegan J, in the High Court, reasoned that a correct construction of section 285(7) of the Companies Act 1963 (the 1963 Act) gave preferential debts priority over the claim of the bank, irrespective of any crystallisation that may have occurred prior to winding up. In doing so, she refused to follow contrary lines of authority from the UK, such as Re Griffin Hotel [1941] Ch 129 and Re Brightlife [1987] Ch 200. In a supplementary judgment on the outstanding issue of the effect of crystallisation, it was determined that a proper interpretation of the provisions of the debenture document in question, the floating charge could not be said to have been converted into a fixed charge.

The Supreme Court, in contrast, held that the relevant clauses of the debenture displayed an intention on the part of each party, upon crystallisation, to restrict the ability of the company to use the property and assets concerned. A clause under which the company covenanted to carry on the business in a proper and efficient manner did not conflict with established law on crystallisation. On the second matter, that of the effect of section 285(7) of the 1963 Act, Laffoy J expressed the view that to interpret the provision as entitling preferential creditors to priority over a floating charge which validly crystallised prior to winding up would be to rewrite the section itself, as it was clear that the operative time for assessing priority was the time of winding up; any finding to the contrary would, in her opinion, conflict with the will of the Oireachtas.

It should be noted that although this decision follows the previously rejected line of authority in the UK, the position in that jurisdiction has since been legislatively reversed; in particular the Insolvency Act 1986 ensured that crystallised floating charges do not get priority over preferential creditors. This was followed by the Enterprise Act 2002, which abolished the right of the crown as a preferential creditor generally. This reversal follows recommendations regarding the abolition of priority debtors dating back to the opinion of the Cork Committee in 1982.

Despite the clarity with which Laffoy J articulated the operation of the law, the learned judge also highlighted the dissatisfactory result which derived from this interpretation of section 285(7). She highlights the potential of this decision to allow for the creation of a false form of crystallisation, which would secure priority for the debts whilst still allowing the debtor to trade in its assets. As well as this, the judgment draws attention to a lack of transparency arising from the absence of a need to register floating charges which have crystallised, transparency being a crucial principle underpinning the operation of company charges and insolvency law generally.

The enactment of the 2014 Act provided the legislature with an opportunity to resolve this issue by more clearly enunciating the rules regarding the status of floating charges post-crystallisation, particularly as against priority debtors. It also provided the chance to review the necessity of statutorily-protected priority debtors in the first place, given the abolition in England of crown preference (as discussed above). Consideration should have been given to the view, more prevalent in modern times, that offering priority to certain debtors does not accord with the desire to equitably distribute funds on a winding up, or with the need to protect smaller creditors who may suffer more during these events.

However, section 621(7) of the 2014 Act repeats the wording of its predecessor in its entirety. Whilst this may appear to offer little insight into the current thinking of the Oireachtas on this matter, G Brian Hutchinson believes that, rather being an indication of a lack of consideration of the matter, this verbatim repetition could represent a conscious decision to prioritise the effective operation of floating charges over any other policy.

Whilst this may be the case, the concerns of Laffoy J regarding the current legal position remain outstanding and need to be addressed. It may be appropriate, in light of this decision, the changed approach in England, and the recent overhaul of company law generally, to review not only the expression of the current principle in section 621(7), which is patently dissatisfactory, but also the reasoning behind the existence of such priority debtors at all. Although Laffoy J’s legal interpretation of section 285(7) in this case may be correct, it is up to the legislature to decide if it gives the most desirable outcome.

Is mise le meas,

Sarah Slevin

September 28, 2015

Gibraltar: An Unlikely Football Nation

Ciarán Crowley is a graduate of University College Cork (Bachelor of International Law) and Oxford University (Bachelor of Civil Law) and is currently teaching English law in Université Lille II, in France. In his letter he discusses the increased activity of the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the status of Gibraltar as a football nation. To access the full referenced version of this letter please click here.

Dear Editor,

Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane’s men faced Gibraltar in the first home game of their UEFA European 2016 qualifying campaign on the 11th of October last year, Ireland running out easy victors in a 7-0 victory. The game was noteworthy only in that it represented Gibraltar’s only second competitive international football match since it was accepted by UEFA as a full member in May 2013, following a successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The original decision, Arbitration CAS 2002/O/410: The Gibraltar Football Association (GFA)/Union des Associations Européennes de Football (UEFA), was handed down  by CAS on the 7th of October 2003.

It will not have gone unnoticed amongst football fans how busy CAS has been recently. The Court refused to accept Legia Warsaw’s appeal to be reinstated into the UEFA Champions League qualifiers, following the playing of an ineligible player by the Polish club in a match against Celtic. Further, only last week CAS partially upheld the four-month suspension of Luis Suarez from all football-related following the much-publicised biting incident involving Suarez with Giorgio Chellini at this summer’s World Cup. The Court softened the sanction somewhat to allow Suarez train with his new Barcelona team-mates. It is hoped that the busy Court will now be able to draw its breath.

CAS’s decision to grant membership to tiny Gibraltar, a territory of less than 30,000 people and an area encompassing a mere 2.3 square miles, was not greeted with glee on all fronts. Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory which remains under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the UK. This arrangement, tracing its provenance back to the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, is fiercely contested by Spain who lodged opposition to the Gibraltar FA’s initial request for UEFA membership in 1999. Spain had – not unjustifiable fears – that the Catalan and Basque regions might also apply for UEFA membership. This fear has, however, arguably been quelled since the resounding achievements of Spanish football in club and international competitions since then.

CAS in its judgment made an imaginative distinction between the idea of a ‘nation’ or ‘country’ in the sports law environment (Lex Sportiva) and ‘its common political meaning,’ giving the examples of Scotland, Wales and the Faroe Islands which do not enjoy independent statehood either, but do of course have international football teams.

Whilst the new version of Article 5 of the UEFA Statutes, introduced in July 2001, declared that UEFA membership is restricted to football associations in countries which are recognised as independent States by the UN, CAS held the rule was inapplicable as the Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) had made an application for UEFA membership before the new version of Article 5 was introduce. Such serendipitous timing would prove crucial for Gibraltar.

Under the old rule, membership of UEFA was dependent on a national football association being ‘responsible for the organisation and implementation of football-related matters in their particular territory’. Thus, as the GFA was founded in 1895, making it one of the oldest football associations in the world, CAS held that the GFA ‘indisputably exercised sole responsibility’ for organising football on the territory. It is this change in rule that has since prevented disputed territories like Kosovo applying for UEFA membership.

In the run-up to the UEFA qualifiers, before Ireland’s facile victory over Gibraltar (and subsequently Poland’s, by the very same score line) more idealistic Irish football fans had good reason to have been intrigued about the competitiveness of the Gibraltar team, and to ask inquisitively about how Gibraltar would have fared along the same lines as other ‘water-carriers’ in UEFA international qualifying competitions such as Lichtenstein, San Marino and Andorra. Danny Higginbotham, formerly of Manchester United, has been the most famous player to have played for Gibraltar, qualifying to play under the ‘granny rule’. However, Higginbotham has now retired after 3 caps in friendly matches and the highest-profile squad member for the first qualifying match against Poland was Scott Wiseman of English League One side, Preston North End. The majority of the remaining squad were plying their trade in the domestic Gibraltar league with some players playing abroad in the lower leagues of Israel, England and Wales. Lincoln Red Imps have dominated club football in Gibraltar winning twelve consecutive league titles and recently represented the country in the first round of the UEFA Champions League Qualifiers, going out 6-3 against Faroe Islanders, Havnar Bóltfelag. The cynics have been proven correct, it seems.

Indeed, it is easy to be cynical about a team playing international football with a smaller population to pick from than Dundalk or Swords. However, when such a team upsets a greater power in the game it is undeniable that great joy is brought to neutral supporters around the globe; Italy losing to North Korea in the 1966 World Cup and Denmark beating Germany in Euro 1992, are but two examples.

And neither is the Irish national team immune to such ignominious results, eerily enough in European qualifiers themselves. Ireland’s draw away against Lichtenstein in 1995 in a European qualifier ultimately prevented the team from qualifying for the final tournament. English fans may think of San Marino scoring against them after 8 seconds in 1993, or more recently drawing lesser-known nations such as Costa Rica. Germany, recently crowned World Cup Winners also played Gibraltar on the 14th of November, and only won by a (relatively) modest four goals.

Law and football are becoming more and more acquainted with each other, particularly in CAS as we have seen. The number of legal disputes in football will only increase as the game continues to spread economically, socially and culturally around the globe. While, legal scholars will continue to bicker about the finer points of jurisdiction of international states, the international sports law system, lex sportiva, as well as the increasing influence of CAS, football fans will look on in nervous interest too as the fate of errant and misbehaving players are decided by the court. The nervous ride will only continue for O’Neill’s boys as they navigate a group with not only the minnows Gibraltar, but the world champions, an emergent Scotland and an increasingly impressive Poland.

Is mise le meas,

Ciarán Crowley

March 31, 2015

Freedom of Expression: At Gunpoint?

Orla Kelleher is a UCC Law and French student. She completed her third year at Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense in 2013/2014. She is currently living and working in Paris before returning to UCC in September 2015 to complete her final year of undergraduate studies. In her letter she explores the topicality of freedom of expression in the French Constitutional context. To access a fully referenced copy of this letter please click here.

Dear Editor,

‘Freedom of expression (…) is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom.’ Given the media’s instrumental role in freedom of expression, namely acting as ‘the eyes and the ears of the public’, the notion of freedom of the press has naturally become associated with the idea of freedom of expression.

Questions abound in France of late about the scope of freedom of expression and the press. On the same day the French satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, famous for its insolent, garish and incendiary caricatures, sold out an initial run of five million copies of its latest ‘survival’ issue – featuring a cover that boldly lampooned the prophet Muhammad – the notorious French comedian Dieudonné was arrested and charged with incitement of terrorism by suggesting on Facebook that he sympathised with one of the gunmen involved in the brutal terrorist attacks in Paris.

Firstly, this letter will briefly sketch a picture of current law pertaining to freedom of expression and the press in France. In turn, it will consider whether the different treatment accorded to Charlie Hebdo and Dieudonné can be considered sound and well founded or simply reveals the existence of insidious hypocrisy and double standards at the heart of the Fifth Republic.

Freedom of expression was fervently affirmed in France as an inalienable right by the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen 1789, which in the wake of the Ancient Regime, describes the right as ‘one of the most precious rights of man.’ Taking its inspiration from Article 11, one of the foundational legal statements on freedom of the press and freedom of expression in France, is the Law on the Freedom of the Press of 29 July 1881, which liberalised publishing and defined the freedoms and responsibilities imposed on the media in France. Article 1 asserts, ‘Printing and publication are free.’ The Press Law of 1881 is however strongly curbed by a myriad of exceptions including: the Pleven Act of 1972, which prohibits incitement to hatred, discrimination, slander and racial insults; the controversial Gayssot Act of 1990 prohibits any racist, anti-Semitic, or xenophobic discourse or activities, including Holocaust denial; and the Law of 30th December 2004, which prohibits the use of freedom of expression to incite hatred against people because of their gender, sexual orientation, or disability. Yet, one must equally bear in mind, that one of the founding principles of the Republic is secularism; France abrogated its laws criminalising blasphemy shortly after the French Revolution in 1791. Thus, these laws work to allow for religions and their creeds to be ridiculed but condemn incitement to hatred towards a follower of a religion.

In its abstract form, France has eagerly claimed to venerate the principle of freedom of expression and the press. It is only when such freedoms come into conflict with other fundamental or constitutionally guaranteed rights or interests that these rights and this aforementioned enthusiasm to vindicate them, appears to dwindle. As EM Forster neatly put it: ‘[W]e are willing enough to praise freedom when she is safely tucked away in the past and cannot be a nuisance. In the present, amidst dangers whose outcome we cannot foresee, we get nervous about her, and admit censorship.’ Indeed, France’s laws curtailing hate speech are considered to be some of the toughest in the EU. The numbers of legal actions for hate speech have multiplied following these aforementioned amendments to the Press Law of 1881. It is advanced here that despite its landmark sanctification of the right in the wake of the French Revolution, in modern times, the ambits of freedom of expression in practice are, in fact, notably circumscribed.

This restrictive approach to freedom of expression is well illustrated by the decision of the Conseil dEtat in January 2014 to uphold the cancellation of the controversial comedian Dieudonné’s stand-up performance, because of the show’s potential to infringe upon human dignity through his notoriously anti-Semitic jokes and gestures. Freedom of expression ostensibly operates under a repressive regime in France. In other words, while discourse that breaches of the law can be sanctioned; discourse itself cannot be prohibited before it has even taken place. It is worth noting that Dieudonné’s shows do not advertise themselves as anti-Semitic, and as such, banning them before they even take place exemplifies the strikingly restrictive position taken on freedom of expression in France.

Naturally the glaring discrepancy between the treatment of Charlie Hebdo and Dieudonné, particularly against a backdrop of a French government and nation touting the Republic’s valorisation of the right to freedom of expression, further calls into question the complex relationship between the hallowed right of freedom of expression and humour in France. Interestingly, French jurisprudence does seem to recognise that the notion of freedom of expression includes a right to excessiveness, outrageousness and parody when it has a humorous purpose. In 1992, the Grand Instance Court of Paris affirmed this, stating that freedom of expression does allow us to alter and exaggerate the traits and personality of the person we are depicting; freedom of expression encompasses a right to be disrespectful and insolent. Further illustrating the existence of such a right is the ‘casse-toi, pov con scandal.  Here, the former President Sarkozy, was re-greeted with the words of his infamous foul-mouthed outburst on a placard displayed at an anti-Sarkozy demonstration, which resulted in the protestor’s arrest for causing offence to the presidential function and of the Republic. However, in 2013, France was criticised by the European Court of Human Rights who considered that the sanction imposed on the protestor was disproportionate and detrimental to freedom of expression, advancing such a sanction has a dissuasive effect on satire, which can contribute to the discussion on questions of public interest. In 2007, Charlie Hebdo, whose cartoons belong to a particular genre of humour known as ‘la gouaille parisienne that is deliberately galling and irreverent, defended itself and won its court case for its republication of caricatures ridiculing the prophet Muhammad, as he laments fundamentalist violence (these cartoons were also purportedly a trigger for the shootings at the satirical magazine’s offices on 7th January 2015). Here, the Grand Instance Court of Paris reasoned that despite the shocking, even offensive character of the caricatures, unlike a publication on public billboard that is almost unavoidable, no one is obliged to buy or even read the weekly satirical magazine. It held that limits on freedom of expression had not been surpassed because it aimed its ridicule at Islam in general, without deliberate intention to directly and gratuitously offend the Islamic community.

The immediate response in France to the recent massacre has been a crackdown on hate speech and anti-Semitism, with mounting arrests for comments both spoken and written on social media that appear to glorify terrorism. Among those detained was the highly contentious comedian, Dieudonné, who will shortly be tried under anti-terrorism laws, originally found in the Press Law 1881 and moved into the criminal code in November 2014, for his alleged sympathising with terrorism on social media. These laws allow for harsher, fast-track punishments including a €100,000 fine and 7 years imprisonment when the incitement to terrorism takes place on the internet. Despite the comedian’s claims that he was merely trying to make people laugh, his Facebook comment at issue, described by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazneuve as both lacking respect and desiring to stir up hatred, potentially goes far beyond the aforementioned right to excessiveness for the purposes of humour and may well result in a conviction under these notably stringent laws.

However, this knee-jerk response resulting in a string of arrests in France on the ‘vague’ charge of condoning terrorism, continues to spark a furore with certain human rights NGOs, including Amnesty International. Dalhuisen advanced that the French authorities must be careful not to infringe upon the right of freedom of expression themselves. It is argued that ambiguous and loosely defined offences such as ‘defence of terrorism’ overly circumscribe expression by potentially criminalising discourse, which, while offensive to some, lacks intention to incite violence or discrimination.

In conclusion, the different treatment of the incendiary caricatures of Charlie Hebdo and Dieudonné’s terrorism condoning remarks might well be explicable by reference: socially, to the tangible fear among the French citizenry in the aftermath of three days of terror in the French capital; and legally, to the complex collection of laws regulating freedom of expression in France, which clearly recognise the particular place for its centuries’ old Gallic tradition of satire but strictly censure speech which could be perceived as defending terrorism. Nevertheless, it is submitted here that, such laws marred by arguably ‘selective restrictions and ambiguities’, including an ominously low threshold of expression that may incur liability even in the absence of intention, ought to be lambasted, or at the very least challenged for potentially over-circumscribing expression and for what, by some, might brand political favouritism. The way in which French authorities act in the turbulent aftermath of the horrific killings will be the litmus test for its actual commitment to vindicating the supposedly sanctified right to freedom of expression, as they engage in the perennial balancing act of competing human rights. ‘Freedom of expression does not have favourites’ and measured response to curtailing speech is indispensable to the preservation of the venerated right of freedom of expression, the ‘lifeblood’ of democracy.

 Is mise le meas,

Orla Kelleher

March 26, 2015

Social Media in the Workplace – Are We CluedIn?

This article was co-authored by Rebecca and Ruth Keating, both Law graduates from Trinity College Dublin. Rebecca is currently an associate at Dropbox and Ruth is an associate at Ci. In this letter they discuss social media’s impact on employment relationships. To access a fully referenced copy of this letter please click here.

Dear Editor,

Social media platforms have revolutionised interaction. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook have changed the face of both personal and business relationships. This poses huge issues for employers and employees in terms of evolving concerns. It is a developing area which involves the integration of both old ideas and the new, inviting the creation of new norms and standards. In an era of smart phones and social media, the issue of productivity in the workplace may at first appear to be the most apparent problem. However, the rise of social media raises issues at every stage of the employment relationship. This letter will first consider the impact that social media will have on the employment relationship itself, focusing on the particular example of disciplinary proceedings. Finally, the impact of social media on the conclusion of employment will be highlighted.

The advantages of social media can be a double edged sword. An employee may communicate with customers and clients through social media with ease but may also create negative attention for the company on a scale previously unimaginable. This represents a new dilemma of how an employer will deal with misconduct by an employee.

In respect of misconduct, the net of responsibility has been cast further. The Trade Union Congress famously referred to Facebook as ‘3.5 million HR accidents waiting to happen.’ In April 2009 two workers for the pizza chain Dominos uploaded a video of themselves clothed in their work uniforms mishandling food. The video received close to one million hits. Although Dominos acted quickly, by the time the video had been removed it had been shared so extensively that it was virtually impossible to eradicate its existence from the internet. This resulted in significant reputational damage for the company. In this respect, given the number of viewers of the video and consequently the level of reputational damage, the use of disciplinary action and dismissal was justified. However, not all cases will be as clear cut for all employers. The use of social media offers concrete proof of misconduct, but equally any response must be proportionate. A noteworthy example of this is the UK decision of Taylor v Somerfield. Here the low level of YouTube hits for the video meant that the company’s reputation was not damaged. Therefore, the usual rules regarding proportionality were applicable. It is important to note that the employer can determine the ramifications of an abuse of social media. The creation of a clear social media policy will firmly ground an employee’s responsibilities in respect of social media usage. In Mehigan v Dyflin Publications an employee was dismissed for disseminating pornographic images through his work email. In the hearing, the employee had been found to be unfairly dismissed as there was no clear breach of the Company policy.

The creation of a social media policy is central in practice. In order to adequately accommodate for this, employers should regularly update this policy to keep up with the rapidly developing area of social media.

The ownership of company contacts is a developing area of interest. The reality is that employees not only amass these contacts on networks such as Linkedin, but often do so at the request of their employers. In the absence of Irish legislative guidance on the matter, any gap must be filled in by analysing the contract between the parties and common law principles. In this regard developments on this topic in the UK and US are noteworthy.

The leading case in the UK is that of Hays Specialist Recruitment (Holdings) Limited v Ions. The Court held that an employee who records client contact details with the intention to utilise them in future competing business would be potentially in breach of their employment obligations. It serves to highlight the developing tension in client management and the personal employer/employee relationship. In this regard the case of Eagle v Edcomm is of interest. In Edcomm Dr. Eagle as CEO set up a Linkedin account, with the assistance and encouragement of Edcomm. Following her termination her Linkedin account was taken over by the new CEO, and all her contacts were subsumed into that of companies in this way. The court held in Dr. Eagle’s favour and pointed out that Edcomm did not have a policy in place determining who owned the accounts. However, it was noted that any such instance must balance the privacy of the individual against the need of the employer to protect their interests.

It is submitted that this will become a very important area in future employment law disputes. What is crucial is that employer’s offer clear and unambiguous guidance as to who owns LinkedIn contacts.

The overriding advice to employers is to implement a social media policy and to ensure that employees are both aware of the policy and understand its affects. The greatest impact of the rise of social media exists in its ability to transport information quickly and easily. It is these two aspects which represent the most concern for employers. While many may fear the new rise of the ‘digital water cooler’ the real challenges to the world of employment are in the effects it will have on the traditional conflicts across all stages of the employment relationship.

Le meas,

Rebecca and Ruth Keating

March 25, 2015

Who is the mother? A discussion on the desperate call for surrogacy legislation in Ireland

Dear Reader,

This letter was due to be published on 20th January 2015. However, due to unforeseen technical difficulties COLR were unable to publish the letter at that time. In the meantime the Government has agreed to prepare new laws to regulate surrogacy and the broader area of assisted human reproduction and associated research, and bring to an end the legal uncertainty in which these services currently operate including the areas of surrogacy and stem cell research.

Annie Nevala is a final year BCL (International) Student at University College Cork. In this letter, she explores the recent developments in the Supreme Court in area of assisted reproduction in Ireland. To access the fully referenced copy of this please click here

Kate Murphy


Who is the mother?
A discussion on the desperate call for surrogacy legislation in Ireland

 Dear Editor,

Despite the increased awareness of the use of surrogacy internationally and domestically, the concept currently remains entirely unregulated in Ireland. No form of assisted human reproduction is presently recognised in the Irish Statue Books, although reform in the area of donor-conception is on the way.

This has created a framework where the courts increasingly find themselves teasing out the complexities of new reproductive technologies without any legislative guidance. The recent Supreme Court decision of MR and DR v An t-Ard-Chláraitheoir [2014] IESC 60 (MR) is a clear example of the current legal lacuna surrounding surrogacy in Ireland and demonstrates the desperate need for statutory direction on the issue.

In a six to one majority the State won its appeal against the landmark High Court ruling that the genetic mother of twins born to a surrogate mother was entitled to be registered as their legal mother on their birth-certificates. The case centred on twins born through the use of genetic material from their parents to a surrogate who was the sister of the genetic mother.

Issues arose when the Registrar of Births registered the genetic father as the legal father but refused to register the genetic mother as the legal mother on the basis of the maxim mater semper certa est – the mother is always certain. This age-old Roman law principle dates back to the pre-IVF era where it was presumed that the mother who gave birth to her child was both the legal and the genetic mother. The genetic parents successfully challenged this position in the High Court, where Justice Abbott ruled that the genetic mother was also the twin’s legal mother.

On appeal to the Supreme Court Chief Justice Denham noted that following in the slip stream of modern medical developments in assisted human reproduction, other States have passed legislation to govern and regulate the area but that no such statutory development has yet occurred in Ireland.

Since Ireland has failed to address issues arising from surrogacy the Chief Justice allowed the appeal and quashed the orders of the High Court. The core issue of the case was the registration of a ‘mother’ under the Civil Registration Act 2004 and whether the genetic or the surrogate mother should be named as the legal mother on the twin’s birth-certificate.

The Chief Justice noted that there is no definition of a ‘mother’ in the Irish Constitution. The only two references afforded to the ‘mother’ fall within Article 40.3.3° and Article 41.2.2° which deals with the right to life of the unborn child and the protection of mothers in the home.

Despite the fact that Chief Justice Denham refused to recognise that mater semper certa est is or have ever been part of Irish common law, the Chief Justice indicated that the current legal lacuna surrounding surrogacy gave her no other choice but to allow the appeal. She stated that the issues raised in the case are important, complex and social, which are matters of public policy for the Oireachtas and that the current lacuna in the law should be addressed in legislation and not by the Court.

In separate judgments, Justice Murray, Justice Hardiman, Justice O’Donnell, Justice McKechnie and Justice MacMenamim agreed that the appeal should be allowed while Justice Clarke dissented.

In a country where unmarried fathers have no automatic guardianship rights to their children and where genetic mothers cannot be registered as their child’s legal mother unless physically giving birth to her child (or adopting her genetic child) – one may wonder what will come next. It took the Oireachtas over 20 years to pass legislation to address the legal developments that followed on from the X-case in 1992. It was only in light of the events that followed on from the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012 that the Irish lawmakers finally got down to action in putting a legislative framework in place.

Surrogacy is not a new phenomenon. IVF-treatment has helped thousands of couples across the globe that cannot reproduce children on their own since the mid 1980’s. The mother in MR was facing a potential childless life, was it not for the option of surrogacy. The State’s failure to recognise the reality of modern-day families and provide equal legal rights to genetic mothers as to genetic fathers creates a serious question of whether the State is properly vindicating the rights of the genetic mother.

As a response to MR, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar issued a press release stating that legislation on assisted human reproduction, surrogacy and gamete donation was long overdue in Ireland. Minister Varadkar claimed that he intended to bring a memorandum for an Assisted Reproduction Bill to Government by the end of 2014, which would be likely to deal with the issue of legal parentage, surrogacy, egg and sperm donation, and other related issues.

Surrogacy was initially included in the extensive Children and Family Relationships Bill 2014, which was introduced in late January 2014. However, due to the pending Supreme Court decision of MR, Frances Fitzgerald (Minister for Justice and Equality) removed surrogacy altogether from the Bill in September 2014.

Ms Fitzgerald felt that there were critical issues that needed to be resolved and that more policy work and consultation was required on the issue. Although surrogacy was removed from the 2014 Bill, assisted human reproduction remained.

Even though the 2014 Bill is welcomed in terms of acknowledging assisted human reproduction, surrogacy has remained in a legal limbo. In a state where lawmakers traditionally have adopted a reactive approach to legal developments, one may only hope that the strong comments from Chief Justice Denham in MR will give the legislature the push it needs to put surrogacy down in writing.

As for the statements made by Mr Varadkar, these have remained merely promises so far. Ireland is still waiting on further legislative developments regarding a potential Assisted Reproduction Bill. It is however hoped that the legislative changes necessary will occur without needless delay.

Is mise le meas,

Annie Nevala

March 23, 2015