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Personal profile

Research Interests

Although he retired from full-time employment in the School of Law at Queen’s University on 30 September 2017, Emeritus Professor Brice Dickson still engages in legal research and commentary.  In January 2019 his monograph entitled The Irish Supreme Court: Historical and Comparative Perspectiveswas published by Oxford University Press. This is the most comprehensive study yet undertaken of the performance of Ireland’s top court since it was established in 1924. In June 2018 the third edition of Dickson’s textbook Law in Northern Irelandwas published by Hart Publishing. It updates the 2013 version and should be a welcome addition to the reading lists of all undergraduate law students in Northern Ireland. 

2018-19 also saw the publication of two book chapters. One, ‘The Constitutional Governance of Counter-Terrorism’ was published as Chapter 2 of Counter-terrorism, Constitutionalism and Miscarriages of Justice: A Festschrift for Professor Clive Walker(Hart Publishing) co-edited by Genevieve Lennon, Colin King and Carole McCartney. The other, ‘Apex Courts and the Development of the Common Law’ was published as Chapter 2 of Apex Courts and the Common Law (University of Toronto Press)edited by Paul Daly. 

Further works expected to appear in 2019 include a report on the United Kingdom for an edited collection on Constitutional Asymmetry and Multinationalismco-edited by Patricia Popelier and Maja Sahadžićto be published by Palgrave Macmillan; a chapter on ‘Common Law Constitutional Rights at the Devolved Level’ for a book on Common Law Constitutional Rightsco-edited by Mark Elliott and Kirsty Hughes for Hart Publishing; a chapter on ‘Devolution in Northern Ireland’ for the forthcoming 9thedition of The Changing Constitution(Oxford University Press) co-edited by Jeffrey Jowell and Colm O’Cinneide; and a journal article on the role played in the House of Lords by Lord Lowry of Crossgar, a former Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland. Future projects include a short book on a limited written Constitution for the United Kingdom commissioned by Manchester University Press, a scholarly evaluation of state-reporting mechanisms within the human rights monitoring conducted by the United Nations and the Council of Europe, and an article on the way in which the concept of fairness operates in English law. 

Prior to retirement Brice Dickson’s research focused on two overarching themes: the development of international human rights law and the application of human rights principles by national supreme courts. He is a specialist in the European Convention on Human Rights, on which he edited a book as far back as 1997: Human Rights and the European Convention, London: Sweet & Maxwell. His monograph entitled The European Convention on Human Rights and the Conflict in Northern Ireland(Oxford University Press, 2010) is the leading text on that topic. Following the lead of his then colleague, Professor Stephen Livingstone, he took a keen interest in the way in which the UK’s top court – the House of Lords – dealt with the human rights aspects of appeals relating to the troubles in Northern Ireland: see (2006) 69 Modern Law Review 383. He also explored the fate of House of Lords’ decisions when they were reviewed by the European Commission and Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg: see (2012) 128 Law Quarterly Review 354. 

In 2009, working with the late Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC and Professor Gavin Drewry, Dickson co-edited a commemorative volume analysing the output of the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords since its establishment by statute until its demise (The Judicial House of Lords 1876-2009, Oxford University Press). One reviewer said this book was ‘essential reading to those interested in judicial politics [and] in the evolution judicial institutions more generally’. Brice Dickson’s two chapters examine appeals taken by litigants in Northern Ireland to the House of Lords and the contribution made to the jurisprudence of the House by Lord Bingham of Cornhill, the son of an Ulsterman, who was the Senior Law Lord from 2000 to 2008. In 2013 Dickson published Human Rights and the United Kingdom Supreme Court(Oxford University Press), a detailed analysis of the way in which the UK’s top judges had approached human rights issues until that year. 

In 2007 Dickson edited a collection of essays comparing the creativity of supreme courts across nine different countries (Judicial Activism in Common Law Supreme Courts, Oxford University Press). His own essay evaluated the activism of the House of Lords between 1995 and 2007. A year earlier, in (2006) 26 Legal Studies 329, he examined whether human rights were safe in the hands of the House of Lords. He has also examined more generally the way in which appeals were processed by the House of Lords: see (2007) 123 Law Quarterly Review 571.

During his employment at Queen’s from 2005 to 2017 Brice Dickson spent time as a visiting research professor at Fordham University New York, the University of New South Wales and the University of Melbourne. He was Director of Research in Human Rights from 2008 to 2011 and Director of the School of Law’s Human Rights Centre during the same period. He still takes a keen interest in the work of the Human Rights Centre and also in the School’s Centre for European and Transnational Studies. He remains a Research Associate at the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s and is an emeritus fellow of the University’s Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Devlopment Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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