Pupil barrister strikes at legality of UK drone killings

9 December 2015

Budding barrister Emma Jane Fitzsimons has won £4,000 in a Bar Council essay competition by taking a swipe at the Government's deliberate killing of two British citizens in lethal drone strikes this summer.

Emma, a first six pupil at Garden Court, said:

"The lack of transparency and the limited public debate that followed these lethal strikes was disturbingly casual and wholly unsatisfactory from a rule of law perspective.

"Lethal drone strikes are shrouded in secrecy, even after they have occurred, which represents an erosion of due process guarantees.

"I am very grateful to the Bar Council Scholarship Trust for funding the essay competition, which will help to cover the cost of my studies and alleviate some financial stress during pupillage. The money will allow me to concentrate on the work at hand."

Fergus Randolph QC, Chairman of the Bar Council's Law Reform Committee, said:

"Emma's essay is a good example of why law reform is so vital.  It deals with a topical issue requiring legal clarification.  Much of the work of the Law Reform Committee is to ensure that Government proposals for changes in the law are fit for purpose.  This painstaking work is undertaken entirely pro bono by members of the Bar in order to preserve and enhance the rule of law."

Emma's entry, titled 'Rage against the machine: Post-strike scrutiny for targeted killings' can be read here.

The Law Reform Essay Competition is an annual event and is aimed at developing and fostering an interest in law reform in pupils, law students, CPE/GDL students, BPTC students and those aiming for a career at the Bar.  The competition is generously sponsored by the Bar Council Scholarship Trust and offers prizes of:

  • £4,000 for the winner
  • £2,500 for the runner up
  • £1,500 for the best CPE/GDL entry
  • £1,000 for the runner up CPE/GDL entry
  • 2 x £500 highly commended awards

Click here for the winning entries in the essay competition for previous years. 

Details of the 2016 competition will be available soon. If you have a specific query, please email LawReform@BarCouncil.org.uk.


Notes to Editors

1. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

2. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes: 

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services
  • Fair access to justice for all
  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and
  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board