IMO it’s unwise - it sets an unhappy precedent - for a state to ban vaccine exports where contracts have been entered into. But I think there are dangers (as in other contexts critics of “judicial activism” are eager to point out) in extending the “rule of law” concept too far.
@SBarrettBar seems to regard any state interference with pre-existing contracts as a breach of the rule of law. But if that’s right, then eg legislating to increase tenants’ or employees’ rights, or banning exports of arms or cultural heritage is a breach of the rule of law.
Conceptually it’s better, I think, to regard such interference as an interference with property rights - in ECHR terms, an interference that engages Article 1 of Protocol 1.
Such interference must be based on law and must be justified - and in many cases requires compensation: but the possibility certainly exists, in a democratic society.
Indeed, Steven obliquely refers to A1P1 - and its analogue in the Charter - when he refers to the need for the EU to comply with its own laws. One can see issues there, and they can be tested in court.
But, in general, this sort of issue is best thought of as a human rights, rather than a rule of law question. Which is why there is a good business case (as well as a good moral and political case) for robust human rights protection.
(NB that arbitrary seizure of property or interference with contract - interference on an executive whim - certainly does raise rule of law issues: though A1P1 would also apply there. But interference with existing contracts isn’t necessarily arbitrary.)
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More from @GeorgePeretzQC

24 Mar
The current PM’s identification of capitalism with greed - shades of Gordon Gecko - is quite interesting.
Most political defenders of a market economy or capitalism - from Smith/Hayek to Thatcher - shy well away from that identification: indeed, they reject it.
That’s not just because greed is an unattractive characteristic. More profoundly, it’s because a market economy depends on respect for rules, trust, and responsibility: all of which are undermined by greed.
Read 6 tweets
23 Mar
I’m not convinced that the Chinese government has yet quite got the hang of soft power.
If I were the Chinese government, looking to persuade people that its policies are not genocidal, I might hesitate here. Is “we’re just doing what you did” really the message you want to be sending out?
Read 5 tweets
22 Mar
As this keeps getting quote tweeted at me, perhaps worth noting that in my view it’s answered by @LawDavF here.
In short (as far as the UK is concerned - I’m not looking at the US position) the “one rule for us, another for you” criticism at the end of the thread isn’t warranted by the points made.
The UK has not behaved inconsistently with the principle that pharma co.s should be permitted to comply with binding contracts. In essence, the U.K. got better contracts (which, as the thread points out, is a function of earlier, strategic, and heavy investment).
Read 6 tweets
19 Mar
“Wasted costs orders” are not, as appears to have been spun to @MrHarryCole, a whizzo new idea: they have existed for years. See these slides (found after 10 seconds on Google, so no excuse for any competent journalist not to spot this) for details.…
As to the “good faith agreement”, that whizzo idea has also been thought of. See .2 here (from the Bar Code of Conduct). As any barrister would have told @MrHarryCole, had he asked.
There may possibly be something new here: but the job of a journalist (as opposed to a PR agent) is to pin down those spinning this sort of thing out until they explain what is actually new.
Read 7 tweets
19 Mar
I agree: I rather liked the fact that (compared to e.g. the US) you tended not to see the UK flag much, either on display in everyday life or behind politicians. That sentiment is nothing to do with (lack of) patriotism: it's a dislike of performative patriotism.
King Lear's daughters come to mind: the ones who most loudly proclaim their emotions on demand are not necessarily those who genuinely have the emotion.
See also "Sense and Sensibility", passim.
Read 6 tweets
18 Mar
Not at all. It’s the deal that Theresa May said that no British Prime Minister could accept.
It is also - at the risk of repetition - the deal that was described, in the Conservative manifesto that @danielmgmoylan urged us all to vote for, as a “great new deal” that “takes the whole country out of the EU as one United Kingdom”.
I have tried hard to find in the Conservative manifesto the description of the deal as one that “Mr Johnson could not effectively renegotiate because [of] a crazed Parliament.” @danielmgmoylan will doubtless tell us where that description is to be found.
Read 4 tweets

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