Lord Kerr Essay Competition 2022 Winners!

“Is eco-anxiety capable of amounting to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, within the meaning of Article 3 ECHR?”


Lord Brian Francis Kerr, Baron Kerr of Tonaghmore, PC, was a Northern Irish barrister and a senior judge who was Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland and then a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. At the time of his retirement, he was the longest-serving Supreme Court Justice and the last original member of the Court. Lord Kerr was an energetic courtroom interrogator who became an ardent defender of individual citizens’ human rights. He was a progressive figure whose rulings advanced the rights of women and children and resolved controversies from the Troubles. He was most proud of the court’s 2018 ruling that eventually led to the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland. With other justices, he concluded that the Northern Ireland assembly’s law on abortion was incompatible with human rights. Following his passing, the Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) received a gift donation from his son, Patrick Kerr to create an opportunity that celebrates the formidable legal career that Lord Kerr had through his influential judicial understanding of human rights and the law. From this gift, the HRLA and the Young Lawyers’ Committee (YLC) have created an essay competition that focuses on a contemporary human rights issue.

We are holding an event on Monday 5th September to celebrate our winners, for further details and to join us click here.


The HRLA Young Lawyers Committee is very pleased to share the winners of the inaugural Lord Kerr Essay Competition.

The first prize goes to Cidalia Lewis-Lettington. Cidalia is a final year Common Law LLB
with French Language student at the University of Glasgow and has just completed a year of study at SciencesPo Paris. She is half-Burundian, half-Scottish and was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. Her interests lie in international human rights law, and her personal background and upbringing has motivated her to focus within this field particularly on developing African legal infrastructure and realising pan-African potential. Alongside her studies, she volunteers for SolidariTee- a youth-led charity raising funds to give grants to NGOs that provide legal aid to asylum-seekers and refugees. She also works with Protimos, an NGO which uses the law to promote economic growth and sustainable development across Africa.

Cidalia’s essay has been published on the UK Supreme Court’s blog which you can access here.  


Our runners up in the 2022 Lord Kerr Essay Competition are Martyna Hanak and Jonathan Rutherford.

Martyna Hanak

Martyna is a recent law graduate of the University of Aberdeen. The interplay between human rights and environmental law is her main area of interest. Recently, she led a research project on the children’s right to a healthy environment for the Aberdeen division of Lawyers Without Borders. She is also involved with a youth-led think-tank, Institute for a Greater Europe, where she chairs the Sustainability Bureau. In her free time, she likes to engage in climate volunteering, she also dabbles in journalism.

Read Martyna’s essay here



Jonathan Rutherford

Jonathan studied Law and French at the University of Bristol, which included a year studying French law at the Université de Bordeaux. Jonathan is presently the Parliamentary Researcher to Matt Western MP, Shadow Minister for Universities. In this role, he has generally supported the development of the Labour Party’s higher education policy and contributed to the legislative process by preparing opposition speeches and amendments to, among other bills, the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill. Jonathan is interested in employment law, comparative private law, and environmental law. His interest in international environmental protection stems from his undergraduate dissertation, which focused on how the relationship between trade, health, and development status could be balanced within the WTO’s SPS Agreement. He hopes to pursue his academic interests through further graduate study and research
in the future.

Read Jonathan’s essay here


Should you require any of the above essays in an alternative format (e.g. large print), please submit your request by email from younglawyers.hrla@gmail.com