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The Institute's Annual Lecture 2017 was delivered to over 200 staff, students, and outside visitors on 6 February by Eleanor Sharpston QC, who has been Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg since 2006.

The IEL Annual Lecture 2017: Professor Martin Trybus, AG Eleanor Sharpston, Professor Anthony Arnull, Dr Julian Lonbay

Pictured: Professor Martin Trybus, AG Eleanor Sharpston, Professor Anthony Arnull, Dr Julian Lonbay

Born in 1955 and spending a large part of her childhood in Brazil, Eleanor Sharpston studied economics, languages and law at King’s College, Cambridge, was university teaching and research assistant at Corpus Christi College, Oxford; called to the Bar (Middle Temple); Barrister; and référendaire (judicial assistant) in the Chambers of Advocate General, subsequently Judge, Sir Gordon Slynn. She was also Lecturer in EC and Comparative Law (Director of European Legal Studies) at University College London, Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, and subsequently Affiliated Lecturer, at the University of Cambridge; Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge and later Emeritus Fellow, and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Legal Studies of the University of Cambridge. Eleanor Sharpston is Queen’s Counsel; Bencher of Middle Temple; Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford; and holds honorary doctoral degrees from Glasgow, Nottingham Trent and Stockholm.

History has attributed to Eleanor Sharpston not only the role of the last British Advocate General but also that of the first female Advocate General from these shores. She completes – at least for some time – a list of distinguished Advocates General hailing from England and the English legal system: J. P. Warner, Lord Gordon Slynn, Sir Francis Jacobs and finally Eleanor Sharpston. It is remarkable that English lawyers have so excelled in a position based on a distinctively French model. Their contribution to the development of EU law cannot be overestimated. This considerable contribution and their English mark on EU law will last, unaffected by the expected exit of the United Kingdom from the EU.

In her lecture, Eleanor Sharpston provided insights into the work of an Advocate General. The lecture also illuminated the perspective, interests and priorities of the other 27 Member States in the imminent Brexit negotiations, a perspective often neglected or misrepresented in the discussion in the United Kingdom. Moreover, the lecture reflected on the realities to replace the current EU membership with an EU/UK trade deal – and to replace the current trade deals of the EU with third countries.