Students get a taste of Law Commission at Keele University

Students from Newcastle Under-Lyme College have completed a three-month long Model Law Commission pilot in collaboration with Keele University’s School of Law and the widening participation initiative Higher Horizons+.

The project provided an opportunity for five A Level Law students to mirror the work of the Law Commission - an independent body set up to reform the law - by focusing on a specific area of legislation, analysing current law and its implications, and using this to make recommendations for future practice.

The project is the first of its kind outside of London and has therefore been a unique opportunity for local students who are interested in pursuing a career in law to put their theory into practice. The project included contact with law professionals, including a representative from the Department of Health who gave them an insight into the work of the Law Commission and key considerations for the process.

Mark Stokes, Lecturer in Law at Newcastle-under-Lyme College commented:

"The students found the freedom to research and discuss complex areas of law a challenging and rewarding experience. The Law Commission has allowed them to see the depth needed to study at degree level, and has given them the opportunity to develop their own understanding without boundaries. They are more confident in questioning other areas of law at a level above what is currently expected of them, which is helping to develop the higher-order thinking skills needed to be more successful in their A-level programme."

The focus for the 2018 project was the Mental Health Act 1983. This legislation governs the treatment of people with mental health conditions and contains a great deal of powerful clauses that allow, for example, detention and treatment of people with mental health conditions without consent.

The students spent time learning about current law, debating reforms and building a consultation questionnaire which could be used to research their proposals and gauge the public’s view.

Michael Fay, Lecturer in Law at Keele University explained:

"The Model Law Commission is a unique way to enable students to get involved in the lawmaking process and to help develop their skills. It offers an opportunity to sample university study and to meet lecturers, current law students and legal professionals, providing real insight into law as a subject and as a career. It can be really informative and empowering for students who are preparing to make those life changing decisions about their future."

The project came to a close on Friday 4th May, with a celebratory event at Keele Hall, which was attended by the students, their Law lecturer and representatives from Keele University.