Legal Research Group

What is the Legal Research Group?

A Legal Research Group (LRG) is a group of law students and young lawyers carrying out research on a specified topic of law with the aim to make their conclusions publicly accessible. Legal research was one of the main aims of ELSA during our early years. In the 1980s, when ELSA was created as a platform for European cooperation between law students, sharing experience and knowledge was the main purpose of our organisation. In the 1990s, our predecessors made huge strides and built a strong association with a special focus on international exchange. In the 2000s, young students from Western to Eastern Europe were facing immense changes in their legal systems. Our members were part of such giant legal developments such as the EU expansion and the implementation of EU Law. To illustrate, the outcome of the ELSA PINIL (Project on International Criminal Court National Implementation Legislation) has been the largest international criminal law research in Europe. In fact, the final country reports have been used as a basis for establishing new legislation in many European countries.

Legal Research Group on Freedom of Expression – Protection of Journalistic Sources

The topic of new LRG is Protection of Journalistic Sources.There have been a large number of cases in which public authorities in Europe have forced, or attempted to force, journalists to disclose their sources. The European Court of Human Rights has reiterated that Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights safeguards not only the substance and contents of information and ideas, but also the means of transmitting it. The press has been accorded the broadest scope of protection in the Court’s case law, including with regard to confidentiality of journalistic sources.

Protection of journalistic sources is one of the basic conditions for press freedom. … Without such protection, sources may be deterred from assisting the press in informing the public on matters of public interest. As a result the vital public-watchdog role of the press may be undermined, and the ability of the press to provide accurate and reliable information be adversely affected. … [A]n order of source disclosure … cannot be compatible with Article 10 of the Convention unless it is justified by an overriding requirement in the public interest.

(Goodwin v. the United Kingdom, judgment of 27 March 1996, § 39).

The Council of Europe has found that violations are more frequent in member states without clear legislation. Moreover, in cases of investigative journalism, the protection of sources is of even greater importance. To shed light on this issue, ELSA has partnered with the Media and Internet Division of the Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law in the Council of Europe to understand how journalistic sources are being protected in each Member-State.

Contact National Coordinator Kaleb Honer with any queries.