Chris Skinner Memorial Law Essay Competition 2017/18

Chris Skinner Memorial Law Essay Competition

Are you considering studying law at university? Or do you have a general interest in the English legal system? If so, then you might be interested in entering the nplaw Chris Skinner Law Essay Writing Competition.

This can help you to:

  • Develop your research skills
  • Practise your writing technique
  • Think about how the law affects people’s lives
  • Exercise your critical thinking skills

Chris Skinner was nplaw’s Practice Director and sadly died in February 2017. Chris lived and worked in Norfolk for most of his career and made an outstanding contribution to local communities as an exceptional lawyer. He was passionate about nurturing the legal talents of the next generation and keen on helping young people interested in the law into employment.

nplaw, the legal practice he helped to establish, has decided to establish a law essay writing competition in memory of Chris.

The Question

‘Should parents be allowed to take their children out of school for holidays during term time?’

Essays should be no more than 2000 words in length. Judges will be looking for essays which discuss all sides of the question and reach a logical conclusion.

The Prize

There is a £100 cash prize for the winner together with the opportunity to undertake a week of work experience at nplaw during the summer of 2018.

Although there can only be one winner, we will also award “highly commended” certificates to those whose entry is judged to be good.

Who can apply?

The competition is open to anyone living or studying in Norfolk who is currently in Year 12 or 13 (sixth form) or the college equivalent.

How do you apply?

You can apply by emailing your entry to fiona.anthony@norfolk.gov.uk. It must be accompanied by an entry form with all sections completed. It can be in Word or PDF format. You can only send one entry.

Dates

The closing date for the competition will be 9pm on 26th February 2018. The winner and those highly commended will be notified no later than 28th March 2018.

You might find the following case helpful when thinking about your arguments: Isle of Wight Council v Platt [2017] UKSC 28 (you can find more information about this case on the UK Supreme Court website but please do discuss your own thoughts about whether you think the court’s decision was the correct one and whether they should have taken any other arguments into account)

Mr Platt asked his daughter’s head teacher whether he could remove his daughter from school during term time for a holiday. The head teacher refused but Mr Platt went ahead and removed his daughter from school for seven days during April 2015. Mr Platt was fined but refused to pay and his case went to the Magistrates’ Court. The magistrates ruled that Mr Platt had no case to answer. Even after the week-long absence, his daughter’s attendance was still 90.3%.

Under s.444(1) of the Education Act 1996, a parent is guilty of an offence where their child fails to attend school regularly. The magistrates had held that 90.3% constituted ‘regular’ attendance.

When the case reached the Supreme Court, Lady Hale gave the only judgment and the other judges agreed. They confirmed that the word regular didn’t include certain instances which, following the literal meaning of the word, would be regular. For instance, attending school one day a week would be ‘regular’, but this would obviously contradict school rules which state attendance is required every day. Some earlier cases had held that ‘regularly’ was to be interpreted as ‘sufficiently frequently’. However the court decided that ‘regularly’ should be interpreted as being ‘in accordance with school rules’.

The Supreme Court requested that the case return to the magistrates’ court and Mr Platt was found guilty of failing to ensure that his child attended school regularly.

Good luck!

If you have any queries regarding this competition, please contact Fiona Anthony, Professional Support Lawyer, at fiona.anthony@norfolk.gov.uk.

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