The Great Debate UK

Success against the statistical likelihood of failure



Sandra Giannone Ezell is Managing Partner of Bowman and Brooke LLP’s Richmond, Virginia, office and a trial lawyer. The opinions expressed are her own.Thomson Reuters is hosting a live blog on March 8, 2011 to mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

I was honoured to be asked to share my voice in this forum on this auspicious day that celebrates the International Day of the Woman.  I can be found most days, growing my trial practice, running my office, delivering speeches, making it rain and blogging on

By night, I am a mother to four, a wife and, life permitting, an intermittent sports fan.  I thought about what I could possibly add to this that would stand out in celebration of the distance that women have travelled to actually attain success in the legal profession, or any profession, in the last 50 years.

I started out in my profession more than 20 years ago and at that time, in my law school class, as in most law school classes, then and now, the distribution of women to men was even, if not slightly more women.  At every single mile marker along the way, however, that ratio has shifted.  And while the actual numbers have changed the more than two decades that I have been doing this, the trends have not.

English divorce law is recipe for financial strife


–The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own–

It’s hard to feel sympathy when millionaires divorce. But after some mega-payouts in recent English court cases, a review of the law is welcome. While marriage isn’t a business transaction, the wealthy in particular could benefit from being able to agree legally enforceable pre-nuptial agreements.

from FaithWorld:

Strong support to outlaw face veils as France prepares to vote ban

France's plan to ban full face veils, which comes up for a vote in the National Assembly on Tuesday, enjoys 82% popular support in the country, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. Its neighbours also approve -- 71% of those polled in Germany, 62% in Britain and 59% in Spain agreed that there should be laws prohibiting the Muslim veils known as niqabs and burqas in public. burqa 1(Photo: French woman fined for wearing a niqab while driving outside court in Nantes June 28, 2010/Stephane Mahe)

The poll, conducted from April 7 to May 8, did not range further afield, but reports from other countries show support there as well. The lower house of the Belgian parliament has voted for a ban, which should be approved by the Senate after the summer. In the Netherlands, several bills to ban full veils in certain sectors such as schools and public service are in preparation. Switzerland's justice minister has suggested the cantons there should pass partial bans but make exceptions for visiting Muslim tourists (the wives of rich sheikhs visiting their bankers in Zurich or Geneva?)

Intelligence cooperation: time to ask the hard questions



- Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher for Human Rights Watch, has worked extensively on counterterrorism issues. The opinions expressed are her own. -

Torture is prohibited under international law, at anytime and anywhere. No exceptions are allowed. Yet the UK, France and Germany are engaged in ongoing counterterrorism cooperation with foreign intelligence services in countries that routinely use torture.

Coalition government alarms British Muslims

-Javaid Rehman is a professor of law at Brunel University. The opinions expressed are his own.-

For British Muslims, the new coalition government of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats represents an alliance of strange and awkward bedfellows.

Are publication bans outdated in the Internet era?


IMG01299-20100115-2004The debate over freedom of expression and the impact of social networking on democratic rights in the courts is in focus in Canada after a Facebook group became the centre of controversy when it may have violated a publication ban.

The group, which has more than 7,000 members, was set up to commemorate the murder of a 2-year-old boy in Oshawa, Ontario.

Should assisted suicide be legalised in Britain?


suicideI hope I die before I get old… Talkin’ bout my Generation,” The Who


Euthanasia used to be an issue just for the terminally ill, but as the British population ages, more people want the option to have an assisted suicide.


In Britain, where nearly 20 percent of the population is over 65, assisted suicide is illegal. However, this month the government is to clarify the law to state the grounds for which a person can be prosecuted for helping someone to die.

from FaithWorld:

Has U.S. abortion language created climate of violence?

The murder of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller has been condemned by prominent groups and activists on both sides of this divisive and emotive issue.


But the language used by some opponents of abortion rights who reviled Tiller for his work providing late-term abortions remained very strong.

from FaithWorld:

GUESTVIEW: Canada and the niqab: How to go public in the public square

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors' alone. Sarah Sayeed is Program Associate and Matthew Weiner is Program Director at the Interfaith Center of New York.

By Sarah Sayeed and Matthew Weiner

A Canadian judge recently ruled that a Toronto Muslim woman must take off her face veil while giving testimony in a sexual assault trial. This tension between public space and private religion comes up repeatedly in western urban centers where Muslim women increasingly occupy the pubic square.  This time it happened in Toronto, but the issue arises regularly in western countries in the schools, workplaces and courtrooms that Muslims increasingly share with the majority population. At stake is whether a Muslim woman's choice to dress in accordance with her religious beliefs infringes upon "our way of life."