"Get new lawyers!"

Sampford, Charles (2003) "Get new lawyers!". Legal Ethics, 6(1), pp. 85-105.

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In James Rubin's account of the Kosovo war, he describes an exchange between Secretary Albright and Robin Cook (the British Foreign Secretary). Cook was explaining that it is difficult for Britain to commit to the war without UN Security Council approval because the legal advice he had received was that such action would be illegal under international law. Albright's response was, simply, "get new lawyers". Rubin "credits" Blair with a "push" that swung the British to "finally agree" that a UN Security Council resolution was "not legally required". Robin Cook later stated in Parliament and that the war was legal. Interestingly, Blair did not.

This article does not look at whether or not such an exchange took place; rather look at the ethical issues that such a situation would generate. The article suggests what the ethical obligations of the key legal players in such institutional dramas should be—including governments seeking advice, the lawyers giving it, the ministers reporting it and the opposition in Parliament. The article sets out the particular responsibilities of the lawyers and officials of a Westminster system. It also sets out some of the institutional mechanisms for making it more likely that those obligations are fulfilled—as always through the interaction of obligations by different players that make it more risky for any player to breach his or her ethical obligations. Analogous duties would be faced by the relevant actors in other systems.

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ID Code: 26437
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Ethics, Blair, Iraq, James Rubin, Robin Cook, Kosovo, UN Security Council , Westminster, Law, Justice, Public Ethics, Governance
ISSN: 1460-728X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2003 Hart Publishing
Deposited On: 22 Jul 2009 22:24
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:25

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