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Chambers has extensive experience of advising foreign governments on issues of democratic governance, spanning constitution-making and institution building, electoral systems and standards in public life.

Past work conducted by our members has included the provision of advice to parliamentarians on constitutional options for transition countries, as well as citizen consultation and awareness raising programmes. Senior members also routinely provide advice on the UK’s relationship with the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.

 Case Studies:

Support to constitutional options for Libya

In 2012 a number of Blackstone members were engaged, through the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, to prepare a manual of training materials for a Lawyers for Justice-run campaign called Destoori ('My Constitution’) for use in country-wide discussions introducing the public to constitutional options. Destoori aims to educate Libyan citizens on the constitution-making process, to engage public opinion, and to create a sense of ownership of the constitution amongst the Libyan people.

The campaign’s Rehlat Watan constitutional bus tour engaged with thousands of people across Libya on a wide range of issues such as civil and political rights including minority rights, women's rights, torture, and impunity. Blackstone’s members supported this ambitious project by developing materials — surveys, interview guides and guidance to facilitate interactive activities or ‘games’ addressing constitutional issues — and training the local lawyers and social activists who went on to consult with over 3000 Libyans across 37 communities. Key findings and a series of recommendations — dealing with forms of government, sources of law, military and security device powers, and a bill of rights — were captured in a report and presented to the Constitutional Drafting Assembly.

(Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC, Naina Patel, Paul Luckhurst and Jessica Boyd, through the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law)

 Support to constitutional options for Myanmar

Blackstone members delivered — through the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and at the request of Myanmar’s parliamentary committee on the rule of law — a project which sought to set out the options for implementing international standards on constitutionalism, democracy and the rule of law, to enable the country’s parliamentarians to choose the most appropriate manner of implementation for the national context.

Activities included the production of a manual setting out possible areas of constitutional reform and a public awareness raising campaign conducted across eight provinces, and culminated in a symposium held in Naypyitaw in January 2015 — at which six international experts and one Burmese lawyer held seminars with a total of 48 MPs to discuss proposed constitutional amendments. These addressed options for both the content and process of constitutional amendment, with the latter including the safeguarding of the rule of law in public administration, executive powers, federalism the role of the military in transitions. Additionally, members gave evidence to the International Development Committee of the UK House of Commons, with the Committee citing this evidence in subsequent recommendations on constitutional reform and engagement with the Myanmar parliament (Ninth Report of 2013-14, Democracy and Development in Burma (HC 821).

(Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC and Naina Patel, in their respective former roles as Director and Director of Education and Training at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law)

Projects:

Design of citizenship education and rule of law curriculum

Development of a citizenship teaching project, now being delivered in schools, including case study resources to engage students on topical, curriculum-relevant issues pertaining to democracy, justice and rights. Areas addressed include immigration, cultural and religious diversity, equality before the law, criminal justice, abuse of power and human rights. (Naina Patel, in her former role as Director of Education and Training at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law)

Design of training course on UK constitution and the rule of law

Development of course for delivery to parliamentarians exploring options for constitutional design, in terms of both content and related institutional structures, and measuring these against each of the eight Bingham principles (including accessibility and predictability of the law, resolution of questions of right and liability by its application rather than the exercise of discretion, equal application of the law, access to dispute resolution mechanisms and protection of human rights) (Naina Patel, in her former role as Director of Education and Training at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law)

Cases:

R (O) v Department for International Development [2014] EWHC 2371 (Admin)

Challenge to DFID’s process of assessing the Government of Ethiopia’s compliance with its Partnership Principles (in particular its commitment to respecting human rights and other international obligations) for the purposes of making continued aid disbursements to the country. (James Eadie QC, Naina Patel and Emily Neill)

R (Chief Justice of the Cayman Islands) v Governor of the Cayman Islands and Judicial and Legal Services Commission [2012] UKPC 39

Challenge to the constitutionality of various provisions of the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009 relating to judicial independence pursuant to section 4 of the Judicial Committee Act 1833. (Lord Pannick QC, Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC and Naina Patel)

John Hewitt v Tara Rivers [2013]

Challenge to the validity of the election of Tara Rivers, the Cayman Islands Minister of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs. The leading case on electoral challenges in the British Overseas Territories. (Tom Cleaver)

R (Hoffmann) v the Commissioner of Inquiry and the Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands [2012] UKPC 17

Vires and fairness challenge to the conduct of the Commission of Inquiry into corruption in the government and legislature of the Islands. (Lord Pannick QC, Javan Herberg QC and Naina Patel)

Leggatt and Cullen Tribunals [2009 and 2008]

Major public inquiries into alleged judicial misconduct in the Cayman Islands (“the Leggatt Tribunal”) in 2009 and Gibraltar (“the Cullen Tribunal”) in 2008. (Tim Otty QC)

Clerks

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