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19 July 2018

LLB student wins Human Rights Oratory Competition

The Dickson Poon School of Law is delighted to announce that on 29-30 June 2018, Christopher Banks (3rd year Politics, Philosophy & Law LLB student) won the FBE International Young Lawyers' Human Rights Oratory Competition.

Christopher Banks (fourth, right on the back row)
Christopher Banks (fourth, right on the back row)

The competition took place in Poznan, Poland and was attended by students and early career lawyers from around Europe. Christopher was able to enter the competition due to the generous donations of the School's 

The first part of the competition involved selecting one Article from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to talk about in a ten minute speech. Christopher selected Article 4 on slavery, stating that he "felt that it was an issue largely neglected by contemporary debates on human rights. It was fascinating to hear the ways in which other competitors had approached the topic. One competitor for instance contended that the right to asylum was being abused by those travelling as part of the refugee crisis for economic reasons.”

Competitors were able to explore Poznan and enjoy the local cuisine before announcements were made on who had progressed to the second and final stage of the competition. The evening was taken up by dinner, where competitors had an opportunity to have conversations with one another and the judges who were from various countries across Europe. Christopher said, “Hearing about the differences between legal systems across Europe was very interesting. Most memorable was hearing the opinions of the Polish lawyers on the changes to the Polish judiciary that were happening at that moment.”

The next morning was taken up by the final round of the competition. Here competitors were given one hour to prepare a speech for a debate on the topic, 'Is the Declaration of Human Rights still alive?' This was a flexible topic open to interpretation, which led to a stimulating debate. Christopher was awarded first place and part of the prize for winning was an invitation to the FBE Congress in Warsaw in September. Christopher is also looking to take up the opportunity to participate in the FBE human rights commission.

Reflecting on his experience, Christopher added: “My primary motivation in applying for the competition in the first place was the fact that I very much see my future in law on an international scale. The competition itself was very enjoyable, however in many ways my favourite part of the experience was meeting other lawyers and law students from other European countries. Hearing quite how different their experience of practice was from mine was fascinating and has encouraged me to find out more about the issues facing lawyers in other jurisdictions. It should perhaps not have been a surprise to me that the account of life as a lawyer in Vojvodina was very different from that in Madrid, however these first-hand accounts provided valuable insights. They further reinforced my intention to seek a  secondment abroad during my training contract, most likely to another European city. Studying law in the UK often allows us to forget that we have a very niche way of doing things over here. The other competitors were keen to hear about why the UK insists on a distinction between solicitors and barristers and stunned that we still like to wear 18th century male wigs in our courts! Aside from these benefits, I have certainly gained valuable contacts from across Europe with whom I will keep in touch.” 

To read more on the competition, click here.

If you are interested in making a financial donation to the university, please contact our fundraising team.