Sunday, 31 October 2010

Watteau v Fenwick [1893] 1 Q.B. 346; a case subject to vast criticism

The case of Watteau v Fenwick has been criticized because it was decided that an undisclosed principal could be held liable for an act of the agent, which had been expressly forbidden. Some claim that the case was decided upon apparent authority, yet it is doubted whether this contention is valid because the principal was not known.[1] An agency by ratification, which allows a known principal to ratify a contract and be bound by it, could not be inferred because Humble did not contract as an agent.[2] Therefore, Wills J decided that   

           “Once it has been established that the defendant was the real principal, the ordinary doctrine as to principal and agent applies – that the principal is liable for all the acts of the agent which are within the authority usually confided to an agent of that character, notwithstanding limitations, as between the principal and the agent, put upon that authority. It is said that it is only so where there has been a holding out of authority…But I do not think so. Otherwise in every case of undisclosed principal, or at least in every case where the fact of there being a principal was undisclosed, the secret limitation of authority would prevail and defeat the action of the person dealing with the agent and then discovering that he was an agent and had a principal”. 

In my opinion, the decision was correct because a different outcome could result to undisclosed principals being able to hire insolvent agents to make contracts for them, and then allege that the contracts were unauthorized while sharing the money with the agent in secret.

Further Reading:
Dobson, P. & Stokes, R. (2008) ‘Commercial Law’ (7th Edn) Thomson Sweet & Maxwell.

Brown, I. (2001) ‘Commercial Law’ Butterworths Lexis Nexis

Bradgate, R. (2000) ‘Commercial Law’ (3rd Edn) London: LexisNexis Butterworths.

Bradgate, R & White, F. (2005) ‘Commercial Law’ Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[1] Goodhart and Hamson (1931) Cambridge Law Journal 320  
[2] Kevin M Rogers(1985 ) ‘A Case harshly treated? Watteau v Fenwick re-evaluated’ Cambridge Law Journal 363  found at:

"Dumping" in International Trade

A very interesting topic of international trade is the ‘dumping’ of products. When I first heard of it my mind went to products being dumped in other countries. However, after research I found out that, dumping in International trade is when one country exports a significant amount of goods to another country at prices much lower than in the domestic market. In other words, they charge more in their countries than they do to export countries. This does not seem to be a fair competition. Such issues are often referred to the WTO. 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. They aim to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business.  Moreover, the WTO agreement does not pass judgement. Its focus is on how governments can or cannot react to dumping — it disciplines anti-dumping actions, and it is often called the “Anti-dumping Agreement”. 

At the meeting of the Committee on Anti-Dumping Practices on 26-27 October 2010, 32 WTO members reported taking anti-dumping actions during the first half of the year (the European Union counting as one).  A number of these actions were questioned during the meeting, and the members concerned were urged to follow WTO rules. Read more here.

A recent case which, inter alia, concerns dumping of products is the one between USA and China. There are claims that US steel had been dumped onto the Chinese market and is subsidized. Read the full story here.

 Further Reading:

Friday, 29 October 2010

Right to privacy

As provided by the Human Rights Act 1998, everyone has a right to privacy. Privacy can adopt many meanings. For some people privacy is to ensure that their personal belongings are not being trespassed. For other people, privacy means that their personal information (marital status, occupation, name, address, sexual orientation, medical information etc) is kept confidential. Other privacy forms include: internet privacy, non public exposure of image or video without consent etc. According to Samuel D Warrent and Louis D Brandeis, privacy is the "right to be let alone".

As privacy is a very serious matter and the government acknowledges this, a series of laws came into force in order to protect citizens’ right to privacy. 

Some of them include:
Ø  Article 8-the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence
Ø  Confidential information
Ø  Data Protection

(For a further explanation on each of the above can be found directly from the website retrieved).

However, while legislators claim that citizens’ right to privacy is well protected under the umbrella of laws, at the same time there is evidence which suggests that our privacy is being invaded on a daily basis. Inspired from the sources provided at the end of the text, I would like to raise some everyday issues regarding our privacy and its limits. 

It is my understanding that nowadays we can only find privacy in our house. It is my observation, that from the moment we walk from our doorstep, we are exposed to CCTV which monitors our every movement. I was reading a survey in a website which, inter alia, stated that UK citizens are captured by CCTV on average over 300 times a day.

Moreover, I noticed that while walking on the street people will often go to other people and ask for their name, address, credit card details. Often these details are given to private companies who use them for their own purposes. Lately, I was reading on the newspapers that some companies were found to share people’s private information with other private organisations. If someone starts a research for privacy, he will find out that some organisations aim to gain easy access on our personal details. Many ways are used in order to succeed this. Some of them are mentioned above and other cannot be mentioned in this short text. Therefore, I conclude that for some our private information is valuable. 

Internet is the best place for these organisations to retrieve all the information they need. Some argue that the internet access of every citizen is monitored. Big internet companies make sure our information is invaded. Many people are fighting to protect their personal details while other people provide an easy access to their. As regards to the latter, Jeffrey Rosen said in one of his videos that people often do not want to share their personal information with their families, friends, colleagues etc. However, they create online profiles in social networks and expose their everyday life in them. 

What I suggest is that laws do not seem to fully protect someone’s right to privacy. I believe that our privacy should be the focus for the next relevant legislation that will come into force. 


Further reading:

Monday, 25 October 2010

Is fairtrade fair?

There are approximately 20 initiatives, who claim that their objective is to support ‘a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers’.[1]
Four of the main initiatives are the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO)[2], the Fairtrade Labelling Organisations Internationally (FLO)[3], the Network of European Worldshops (NEW)[4] and the European Fair Trade Association (EFTA)[5].

The concept of fair-trade seemed to be an effective response to the problems faced by farmers and workers. However, this approach has generated various criticisms. Some claim that FLO rules promote part time working instead of full time. In other words, that the farmers are getting cheaper labour while the workers are getting no access to benefits (normally given to full time workers).[6] Moreover, there are allegations which refer to ignorance regarding the fair-trade premium from the part of producers and workers.[7] There is evidence that premium does not reach farmers and workers as it should.[8] What is more, fair-trade initiatives have been accused of not promoting technological development.[9] Meanwhile, Flo refuses accusations by stating that they comply with ISO 65 requirements[10] and also that they are educating producers of their rights[11]. In the meantime, some farmers in China instead of taking their premium (i.e. a percentage of the product’s price being given back to the producer to be used for education, healthcare, community development) they received thermos, laundry baskets and cylinders.[12] Furthermore, some critics support the view that fair-trade is trying to create ‘guilty conscience’[13] to consumers in order to create ‘moral monopoly’[14]. Quality issues are also at stake with Hal Weitzman suggesting that insiders report that non certified coffee is reaching consumers as fair-trade.[15]

It is concluded, that fair-trade is a very good concept which lacks in its practical application. Hopefully, these insufficiencies are reversible and the organisations will improve them in years to come.

[1] World Fair Trade Organisation, ‘What is fair-trade?’  <> accessed 16 October 2010
[2] World Fair Trade Organisation,  < > accessed 16 October 2010
[3]  Labelling Organisations Internationally , < > accessed 16 October 2010
[4]Network of European Worldshops, <> accessed 24 October 2010
[5] European Fair Trade Association, < > accessed 24 October 2010
[6] D Henderson, ‘Fair Trade is Counterproductive and Unfair’ (2008) Economic Affairs 62-64 ,cited in A M Smith, Evaluating the criticisms of fair trade, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2009, p.30
[7] P Bahra, ‘Tea workers still waiting to reap Fairtrade benefits;  Premium paid for ethical goods may not be passed on, reports Parminder Bahra’ [2009] London Times accessed 17 October 2010
[8] ‘Voting with your trolley’, Economist 7/12/06, cited in M Sidwell, Unfair Trade, London: Adam Smith Institute, 2008 <> accessed 18 October 2010
[9] M Sidwell, Unfair Trade (Adam Smith Institute, London 2008) <> accessed 18 October 2010; B O’Neill, ‘How fair is Fairtrade?’  <> accessed 17 October 2010 
[10] Flo-Cert, ‘ISO 65 Accreditation’ < > accessed 19 October 2010
[11] N 7
[12] ibid
[13] Fairtrade Foundation, ‘British sense of fair play helps workers in the developing world’
[14] K Deconinck, ‘Free marketeers attack Fairtrade principle’ (London 16 March 2004) <> accessed 16 October
[15] Fair Deal Trading, ‘About us’ < > accessed 16 October 2010

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Citizens and their rights; the demystification of laws


I was surfing the internet when I found an interesting footage. It was about a photographer who was holding a professional camera and was taking pictures of the House of Parliament; which is said to be a tourist spot. It was then when a police officer turned up and asked the photographer what he was doing there, in the course of a stop & account. The police officer alleged the section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 in order to carry out the questioning. The photographer’s ignorance of his rights, led to his personal details being recorded by the police officer. What was upsetting for the photographer was the fact that his information will be kept in the police data for a period of time (usually no more that a year). According to police this is for the citizen’s protection as well as the police officer’s.  

By viewing this footage, I was impressed by the fact that most citizens are aware of their obligations but have no idea of their rights. I would say that most citizens ignore the laws governing their every day life. Besides, one can say that police officers are misunderstood in the eyes of citizens. Having said that, people seem to be afraid of police while in my opinion the purpose of police’ existence is to make sure that the law is conducted in a proper way and also protect the citizens’ rights. 

Inspired from this footage I intent to discuss some of the rights and obligations of citizens. It is essential to explain that the rights and obligations of citizens are covered by a wide range of legislation, which is impossible to be mentioned in this passage. For that reason I will stick to the laws which surround the footage in question. 

Before I continue,  I will provide some explanations.

The Role of the  Police in Society

In 1829 Sir Richard Mayne wrote: "The primary object of an efficient police is the prevention of crime: the next that of detection and punishment of offenders if crime is committed. To these ends all the efforts of police must be directed. The protection of life and property, the preservation of public tranquillity, and the absence of crime, will alone prove whether those efforts have been successful and whether the objects for which the police were appointed have been attained." Therefore, it is my understanding that Police’ primary role is to prevent crimes, hence protecting citizens from possible dangers. In addition, Police’ another function is to protect the citizens as well as their property. 

However, it is admissible that in order for police to succeed in its aims, the cooperation of the public is substantial; by this I do not mean that citizens have to be afraid of police or that police should have excessive control over people. Furthermore, the state has equipped police with a number of legislations in order to deal with the everyday matters. In my opinion, legislation can also be seen as a balance between the rights of both police and the public. Therefore, this balance protects the citizen’s rights while at the same time police take its steps to prevent crimes. 

Rights and obligations of citizens

The rights and obligations of citizens are defined by legislations. As a general rule, citizens have to act in accordance to legislations in order to avoid breaking the law. However, as long as citizens do not break the law, they are free to do as they wish, without the interference of the state or its authorities (i.e. police). Hence, it is essential for people to know when their obligations end and when their rights start; and the opposite.

To begin with, citizens should know that police can ask questions but the general public are not necessarily required to answer them. The case of Rice v Connelly [1966] supports this rule. Therefore, it is clear now that the photographer had no obligation at all to provide the police officer with an answer, regarding what he was doing. 

Moreover, police can act with the authority given to them by Section 44 of Terrorism Act 2000; which allows the police to stop and search anyone they want, without the need for suspicion, in a designated area.  
However, Chief Constable Andy Trotter, says that "Everyone... has a right to take photographs and film in public places. Taking photographs... is not normally cause for suspicion and there are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place."  Therefore, as taking pictures in a public place is not a crime, a photographer cannot be regarded to be a terrorist.  He added that, "Photographers should be left alone to get on with what they are doing. If an officer is suspicious of them for some reason they can just go up to them and have a chat with them – use old-fashioned policing skills to be frank – rather than using these powers, which we don't want to over-use at all." (Full text can be accessed from here).

At this point I find it necessary to add that a similar case was taken to the European Court of Human Rights where section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 was ruled to be illegal. (See the full story here).
I am very curious to see whether any reforms will follow after this ruling. 

At this stage, I would like to refer to the differences between a stop and search under Terrorism Act and Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). 
Section 1 of PACE provides that Police can stop and search any person for stolen or prohibited articles. However, there is a restriction to this as Section 1(3) clearly states that police must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that they will find stolen or prohibited articles, in order to conduct such a search.
Meanwhile, reasonable grounds cannot be personal factors such as race, sex or previous convictions (Code of Practice A 2.2-2.11). Reasonable grounds should be objective factors which are explicable to a third party (case which supports this: O’Hara v CC RUC) and may include things like, suspects behaviour coupled with accurate and current intelligence or information (Code of Practice A 2.9). Therefore, it is clear that police did not have any reasonable grounds in order to justify a stop and search to a photographer.


To sum up, I believe that section 44 of Terrorism Act 2000 needs reform as it violates fundamental human rights. In my opinion, a possible reform could be to restrict the power of police to stop and search tactlessly by adding the requirement of reasonable grounds. In this way, the Act will be in compliance to the Human Rights and also will help to avoid incidents like the one I mentioned earlier. In my view, PACE harmonizes the protection of citizen’s rights with the police efforts to maintain the order.   
Please note that the above discussion is only an observation from my perspective.  

P.s You can also see a similar footage here.

Stamatia Kondyli

Saturday, 16 October 2010

A welcome post!

This blog will focus on International Trade law as well as on General law matters. From time to time I will critically discuss on various interesting topics. Hopefully you will find my blog’s content useful. Please do not hesitate to comment and share your opinions with me.  Contrary, I would appreciate your participation to my attempt.

Stamatia Kondyli