Published on March 10, 2014
Balancing Conflicting Interests Within The Law https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIFSQQd 2t1k
What Would You do? Imagine you are Peter Hain or Tony Blair and you want to reach an agreement that will hopefully bring peace in Northern Ireland. One of the concessions you have been asked to make is the release of 400 IRA prisoners and to grant them amnesty in an attempt to win support for the Good Friday Agreement from the warring Republican and Loyalist factions. Do you; A) Release them and acknowledge that it is probably in the greater good as it will hopefully bring a peace deal closer to fruition B) Refuse. These men are terrorists and so much face the consequences of their crimes. Not to mention that releasing these men would be viewed as an insult by the families of the victims.
What Exactly Is Balancing Conflicting Interests? Balancing Conflicting Interests (BCI) is essentially the idea that everybody in society, including institutions such as corporations or governments, have rights/interests which occasionally compete with one another. When these interests conflict, the Law must rule in favour of one party’s interests over another party’s interests. The debate surrounding this topic is how should the Law effectively balance these conflicting interests? Should the Law rule authoritatively that one party’s interests be subordinated to others? Or should the Law try to balance them equally and attempt to reach a compromise?
Aims and Objectives Of My Project In my essay I analysed the theories of the famous legal mind: Roscoe Pound. Pound’s theory regarding balancing conflicting interests was that Individual and Social interests should never compete with one another as social interests will always triumph over individual interests due to natural biases in the legal system. The aim of my project was to examine this view and see if it has any validity; and if so, then is it still relevant in modern society?
Planning My first action was to gain an understanding of the concept of balancing conflicting interests. Since I have never studied the topic before, it was completely knew to me. As a result, the first stage of my plan was to read up on the subject. Secondly, I did some research and note taking on different legal perspectives. This included Karl Marx as well as Roscoe Pound to enhance my view on the topic as a whole. I also knew that my essay would largely comprise of key cases that would act as the core of argument and from which my essay would be built around.
Research After I had done my planning and gotten a firm understanding of the concept of the subject, my next step was to conduct research into whether Pound’s view was actually valid. This largely comprised of finding examples of legal cases that either supported his view or discredited it. For this, my main source used was Law For AQA by Catherine Elliot and Francis Quinn as it contained ample cases that were massively helpful and relevant to my project. For my final paragraph on Human Rights and focusing solely on contemporary examples within the past 30 years I scoured the internet finding the most recent examples as not enough useful literature yet exists about balancing conflicting interests in a Human Rights context in the past 30 years!
Research Findings… During my research, I noticed a general trend that cases were often being won by individuals and not by social interests when they conflicted with one another. As a result of this, I came to the conclusion that Pound’s view is not valid as there is a magnitude of cases that discredit his thinking. I noted that Pound tended to be wrong more so in the field of Human Rights than in any other aspect of Law I looked at. I concluded in my essay that this is arguably due to the increasing emphasis on the rights of individuals and the cultural shift in Western society that celebrated individualism that occurred post WW2.
Positives and Areas of Strength During My Project I believe that a definite key strength of my project was my research. Once I located relevant sources it was easy to extract the information and apply it to my essay in a critical and interesting way. Furthermore, my project was planned and managed effectively. I made sure to keep updated with my Supervisor to make sure that the project remained on track and that I was making good progress. In particular I believe the strongest feature of my project was my paragraph concerning Human Rights in the modern age, as it required a good amount of research to find relevant cases as not all of the information is readily available. For example the information relating to Guantanamo Bay.
What could be improved… One of the challenges of my project was my initial trouble in finding sources. Due to the nature of my project title being a very specific question it was difficult to find sufficient information to begin formulating my essay at first. However this was overcome with the help of my Supervisor who got me started with key books and material that gave me the starting momentum I needed to continue my own research. Also, at the very beginning of my project I had problems with my original hypothesis which concentrated balancing interests in relation to counter terrorism. I decided to scrap this hypothesis and create a new one that covered a broader area of Law as balancing interests in relation soley to counter terrorism was too narrow of a topic for a 5,000 word essay.
What Have I Gained From EPQ? I have seriously developed my research skills which I believe will only benefit me positively, especially since I plan to go to University to study Law later this year. I have also gained a stronger academic insight into how the Law operates and I have expanded upon my knowledge of the British and International legal systems. I believe the project has overall been a huge success and has begun to prepare me for essay writing/research in a University environment.
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