WG Hart Workshop On ‘Jurisdiction and the Criminal Law’ Successfully Delivered Remotely

The WG Hart Workshop has been an important part of the annual calendar of events at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies since its launch in 1981. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Institute was forced to postpone the planned 2020 Workshop on New Perspectives on Jurisdiction and the Criminal Law. As a result of the continuing restrictions within the UK and internationally, it was not possible to hold the Workshop at Charles Clore House, so the decision was taken to host the Workshop remotely over three days, from 26th to 28th April 2021. 

The Academic Directors of the Workshop, Professor Lindsay Farmer (University of Glasgow), Dr Micheál Ó Floinn (University of Glasgow), Professor Julia Hörnle (Queen Mary University of London), and Professor David Ormerod QC (University College London) assembled an outstanding programme of more than fifty nationally and internationally recognised speakers presenting in both plenary and parallel sessions throughout the Workshop. A total of 267 delegates registered for the Workshop, undoubtedly making this the most well attended remote event hosted by the Institute since the pandemic. It also ensured that this was the largest Hart Workshop in the history of the event. 

The Workshop this year was specifically designed to accommodate the remote format. Speakers were strongly encouraged to upload materials in advance, including not only draft papers and powerpoint slides, but also video presentations. This ensured that more online time could be spent in debate and discussion. Remote social events were also included on the programme, in order to try to replicate informal exchanges. 

The Institute is grateful to Lord Lloyd-Jones, Chair of the IALS Advisory Council, for opening the event. His reflection that jurisdiction and the criminal law is a rich field, offering far greater challenges than ever before, was evidenced by the range of papers presented over the three days. As Professor Ormerod summarised in the closing session, the subject matter is of fundamental importance to our understanding of both procedural and substantive criminal law and criminal justice. The Workshop also underscored its importance for a range of institutions, including domestic courts, legislatures, international courts, the United Nations, the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union. 

The papers also demonstrated a wide range of sources from which insights were drawn. In terms of legal fields, this included civil law, human rights, international law, ecclesiastical law, maritime law, immigration and refugee law, banking law and data protection. Speakers ranged widely, drawing upon history, economics, technology, philosophy and cartography. Finally, throughout the Workshop, a core issue has been to explore the ways in which to guarantee protections and access to justice. Without question, this year’s WG Hart Workshop will serve as a catalyst for future engagement and scholarship. 

Finally, in terms of output, the Academic Directors have confirmed that they have secured agreement from Hart Publishing for an edited collection which will feature a selection of papers presented at the Workshop. No doubt this will serve as a lasting legacy of what undoubtedly was a memorable and unique WG Hart Workshop.