English Legal Systems

| February 12, 2014

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Semester 1 2013-14
On 15 April 1989, 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium during the 1989 FA Cup semi-final. The original inquest reached a conclusion of accidental death. This verdict was quashed in December 2012 when it became apparent that the police charged with investigating the disaster had failed to take into account and disclose all of the evidence. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has since launched a criminal investigation into police actions both during and following the disaster and a fresh inquest into the deaths of the victims will begin on March 31st 2014.
The legal framework underpinning the Hillsborough inquests illustrates the interplay between international human rights provisions, domestic legislation and the core, yet complex principle of access to justice.
Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) states that everyone’s right to life must be protected by law. This provision has been interpreted expansively by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR): first it imposes an obligation on states to put in place a framework of laws that protect the right to life and enable the proper investigation of deaths; in addition, it imposes a procedural obligation on states to carry out effective and independent public investigation into deaths where there are grounds for suspecting that the right to life has been violated and that an agent of the state might be implicated.
With this in mind, you are asked to address the following (though not necessarily in this order):
• Provide a brief explanation of the circumstances surrounding the Hillsborough disaster and the specific legal and procedural issues behind the current criminal investigation and forthcoming fresh inquest. This should merely provide the context for the remainder of your discussion and should not exceed 200 words.
• Given that the Hillsborough disaster occurred prior to the Human Rights Act 1998 giving effect to the ECHR, identify the legal routes through which the UK authorities can be obliged to comply with Article 2;
• Identify which domestic legislation, in addition to the Human Rights Act 1998, relates to the Hillsborough inquest. Students should be aware that different legislative instruments may have governed this issue over the 24 years since the disaster occurred. With that in mind, students are required to set out clearly the aspects of each instrument of relevance at different stages of the Hilllsborough case and to explain the relationship between those different instruments;
• Identify at least one domestic case and one ECtHR case that support the use of Article 2 ECHR in the context of inquests into deaths at the hands of the state.
In addressing the above issues, you are expected to reflect critically on how the relevant law can be used to facilitate access to justice for the Hillsborough victims’ families. You should seek to draw on relevant academic commentary to assist you in this regard.
Coursework Notes, 2013/14
1. This coursework must be submitted as a single word document, one paper copy and submitted into the Student Experience Office, Eleanor Rathbone Building and submitted electronically via Vital by Thursday 9th January by 4 pm.
2. The coursework questions will constitute 70% of the module mark. The coursework question has a word limit of 2,000 words. PLEASE NOTE THAT SUBMISSIONS EXCEEDING THE WORD LIMIT WILL BE PENALISED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ASSESSMENT CODE OF PRACTICE. Footnotes count towards the word limit, but the bibliography does not.
3. Submissions must be typed/word processed and students are responsible for ensuring that they have complied with the requirements laid down in the University Assessment Code of Practice.
4. You are advised to retain a copy of your work.
5. The coursework must be your own work. Do not copy other people’s work
Any quotations must be acknowledged in the text or footnotes or in a bibliography. Plagiarism and collusion are serious breaches of the examination regulations which will be penalised in accordance with the Assessment Code of Practice.
6. Please pay attention to the structure of your work. Write clearly and simply and spell correctly. You should ensure that cases and journal articles are given a proper citation. Please adhere to the Law School Legal Citation Guide for guidance on referencing conventions.
7. At the end of your coursework you must provide a full bibliography.
8. NB YOU are responsible for ensuring that the coursework is submitted on time. Late submissions will incur penalties as set out in the Assessment Code of Practice. Extensions are granted only in exceptional circumstances.
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