2022 LLM Dissertation Award Winner

The annual prize for the best dissertation by a student on the LLM in Human Rights Law has this year been awarded to Katy Nisbet. 

Katy’s dissertation, entitled ‘Judging by Nudging: To what extent can judicial activism provide an effective remedy in social rights adjudication in Scotland?’, was supervised by Professor Alan Miller. 

Commenting on receiving the award, Katy said: 

I am delighted to be awarded the Balfour + Manson LLM Human Rights Dissertation prize.  My intention when I embarked on my research was to contribute to the conversation in Scotland surrounding the incorporation of UN Human Rights treaties into domestic law, and I hope I have done so!  

As a former solicitor practicing in civil litigation, I focused my research on access to effective judicial remedy in the field of socio-economic rights. While this should be a last resort in any effective human rights framework, it is integral to it. My dissertation ‘Judging by Nudging: To what extent can judicial activism provide an effective remedy in social rights adjudication in Scotland?’ looked at the role of the judiciary in ensuring access to justice for all. It is often posited that ‘judicial activism’ should be avoided in a properly functioning democracy. Through comparative analysis, however, my paper asserted that far from being a negative judicial approach, when used appropriately, it can assist access to effective remedy in socio-economic rights cases without compromising fundamental constitutional doctrines. 

While my conclusions may seem radical to some, the fundamental issue of access to justice, and enforcement of socio-economic rights is a very real issue in Scotland today. I now work as Legal Policy Manager with Clan Childlaw - Scotland's law centre for children and young people. We exist to protect and strengthen children’s rights and improve their lives. With the imminent incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots Law I am actively considering what litigation strategies we can deploy to ensure that the rights contained within that convention have a real positive impact on the lives of children and young people in Scotland today.  

The Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law warmly congratulates Katy on this achievement and gives thanks to our generous sponsor, Balfour + Manson. 

Katy’s prize follows eight previous awards: 

Vicki Pirie (2021) ‘Human Trafficking and the Hostile Environment: Can the UK meet its obligations towards survivors of trafficking while pursuing current immigration policies?’; and

Helen Schwittay (2021), ‘How relevant does the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women remain to addressing gender-based violence against women and girls in Scotland?’ 

Éabha Sweeney (2020), ‘The Distance Between the Gutter and the Stars: Can Human Rights Address the Everyday Crisis of Poverty Amongst Plenty?’ 

Rachel Hill (2019) ‘Gender Identity, Healthcare and Human Rights: Is a Change in the Law Necessary to Protect Intersex Children in the UK from Genital Normalising Surgeries?’ 

Conor Hill (2018) ‘The Use of ‘Alternative’ Justice Mechanisms to Secure Women’s Rights in Post-Conflict Societies: Lessons from Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia’) 

Douglas Jack (2017) ‘Would the incorporation of socio-economic rights into the Human Rights Act increase its popularity with the public?’ 

Juliet Harris (2016) ‘The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in Scots Law: A case for incorporation' 

Gemma McArthur (2015) 'Has International Human Rights Law Made Room for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Rights within the United Nations Framework and System?’ 

Peter Reid (2014) ‘A safeguard or a Barrier to Justice? The Abolition of Corroboration and the Implications of a Human Rights Based Approach to Scottish Criminal Justice'.