How to Teach Complex Case Law – Keynote Address

Professor Duncan French, Head of School, was recently invited as a keynote speaker to the Australasian Law Teachers Association annual conference held in the University of South Australia, Adelaide.

On a panel discussing the recent South China Sea Award between the Philippines and China, Professor French considered the pedagogical issues surrounding the teaching of complex cases. Using the trope of Pride and Prejudice’s “Universal Truth”, Professor French unpacked the idea that it is a “truth universally acknowledged that academics with limited time in a lecture do summarise unduly complex case law”.

Whilst recognising the constraints of time, Professor French argued that it behoves us as academics to ensure our students don’t treat our case summaries as the totality of what is important about a case. Speaking to an audience of lecturers across specialisms, and not just international law, he asked them to reflect on their own “favourite” cases and how they teach them.

Professor French also took the University’s public international law class during his visit.

Professor French found time to attend his first Ozzie Rules footie game – the local team Adelaide Crows won 104-45 against the Western Bulldogs!

Lincoln Academic discussing Global Environmental Law

Professor Duncan French, Head of Law School and Co-Director of Lincoln Centre for Environmental Law & Justice, has recently been involved in a number of international projects discussing contemporary issues of environmental law.

Professor French has recently been appointed to a United Nations technical advisory group to advise UN Environment (UNEP) and the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) on environmental crime. The group met recently in Turin to consider a draft UN report and will be attending an intergovernmental meeting of 84 states in September to discuss the issue further.

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Professor French also provided the keynote address on environmental caselaw at a workshop of experts at McGill University, Montreal. He has also contributed to a major new book on sustainable development jurisprudence in international courts and tribunals, recently published by Routledge.

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Time & Climate Change – Recent Presentation

Professor Duncan French, Head of School and Co-Director of the Lincoln Centre of Environmental Law and Justice, recently gave the keynote paper at the Tarragona International Environmental Law Colloquium workshop on “Longing for Justice in a Climate-Changed World”.

Professor French gave a paper on the relevance of the temporal dimension in climate change law. He argued that despite being critical on many aspects of international environmental law, lawyers often simply accepted the “actuality” of time, without subjecting it analysis and insight. He pointed to the use of time and time periods in the 1992 Climate Change Convention, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris Agreement.

He concluded that “we fail to recognise the elasticity and political nature of time. How we decide to describe climate change, how we assess it and measure its likely effects and by what duration we decide to tackle it – or adapt to its consequences – all contain temporal aspects, none of which are preordained. They are innately political questions…and we shouldn’t simply accept what legal texts say simply because they refer to matters that seem to be objective and beyond the law”.

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Lincoln Professor talking Sustainable Development in South Africa

Professor Duncan French, Head of Lincoln Law School and Professor of International Law, has recently attended the third meeting of the Rule of Law and Sustainable Development seminar organised by the Regional African Law and Human Security Programme (RALHUS).

Professor French presented a paper on contemporary case-law on sustainable development, including both international jurisprudence and domestic decisions. He reflected on the significant developments in the case-law, in the field of domestic courts holding States to account on the issue of climate change and, internationally, in developments on the legal principle of due diligence.

Nevertheless, Professor French cautioned against a wholesale endorsement of recent case-law, noting the recent decision of the International Court in the joined cases of Costa Rica v Nicaragua / Nicaragua v Costa Rica (2015) and creeping legal formalism. Thus he left the workshop with a question; are we seeing a maturity in the environmental jurisprudence or is there risk of sterility in the guise of meeting specified procedural steps?

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Lincoln Law School in Bergen, Norway

Professor Duncan French and Dr Nathan Cooper recently visited Norway to discuss with the University of Bergen, one of the School’s new partners under the ERASMUS scheme. Taking part in their international day, they discussed future collaborations and met potential students.

Whilst in Bergen, Duncan and Nathan also gave a research seminar at the world-renown Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP) on the Sustainable Development Goals, the relevance of law and the overarching need for solidarity. Their work falls part of the wider research interests of the Lincoln Centre for Environmental Law and Justice.

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