Happy first birthday!

On 31st March a year ago our blog was launched and to celebrate our entry into a second glorious year we thought we’d take a look at what we’ve done that pleased you most.

As with all internet sites, there are no prizes for guessing why Should people with low IQs be banned from sex? comes out with almost the highest number of hits, and no doubt some of the visitors to that page would have gone away disappointed, but we promise it is a fine piece on a very interesting issue. And the high score achieved by our post Brititsh airways strike and human rights – the union strikes back has less to do with law than travellers’ anxieties about their scheduled flights.
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Expert witnesses no longer immune from being sued

Jones v Kaney – read judgment/press summary. The Supreme Court has ruled that the an expert giving advice in the course of litigation is no longer immune from being sued in negligence.

This case,  which had been granted a “leap-frog certificate” to go straight from the Divisional Court to the Supreme Court, overturns a long-established principle that expert witnesses should be protected from legal action on the basis of public policy.  The majority hold that the immunity from suit for breach of duty (whether in contract or in negligence)  contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights. The right to a fair trial under Article 6 impliedly entitles an individual, whose position in civil proceedings has been compromised by negligent advice, to take action against that expert to compensate for the damage caused.

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Purpose, policy and publication: Analysis of Lumba ruling

Lumba v Secretary of State for the Home Deparment – a case of driving government policy further underground?

We have already reported on this appeal by three foreign nationals who have served sentences of imprisonment in this country (“FNPs”). They were detained pursuant to Schedule 3 of the Immigration Act 1971 and their challenge to the legality of this detention was successful. But the appeal was secured by a majority of 3 with strong dissenting opinions which merit close consideration here.

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Open justice and crosses to bear – The Human Rights Roundup

It’s time for the human rights roundup, a regular bulletin of all the law we haven’t quite managed to feature in full blog posts. The full list of links, updated each day, can be found here.

In the news:

James Wilson, writing in the Halsbury’s Law Exchange blog, examines Lord Neuberger’s discussion relating to the form and content of legal judgments, delivered in the 2011 Judicial Studies Board Lecture “Open Justice Unbound. Whilst agreeing with many of the points Lord Neuberger made, Wilson highlights the difficulties in making judgments comprehensible to members of the public. Click here to see Adam Wagner’s post on ‘open justice’ and the accessibility of the law, a theme which is developed by Lucy Series in The Small Places blog.

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Squaring equality with religion – Aidan O’Neill QC

The relationship between the expression of religious beliefs and practice and equality law is a fraught one, and particular difficulty has been experienced in the matter of the application of the law outlawing discrimination.

Equality law, as currently interpreted, treats the six prohibited grounds of discrimination – age, disability, race, religion, sex (including transgender status) and sexual orientation – as being of equal weight and standing; there is no hierarchy among these grounds.
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Reform of Strasbourg Court: a modest proposal – Aidan O’Neill QC

The coalition Government has appointed an independent Commission to investigate the case for a UK Bill of Rights.  This Commission has also been tasked with providing advice to the Government on the possible reform of the European Court of Human Rights – as part of on the ongoing Interlaken process – ahead of and following the UK’s coming Chairmanship of the Council of Europe.

One does not have to be human rights sceptic to accept that there is an unequivocal case for further reform of the Strasbourg Court because, unless something is done, the current system for human rights protection at a European level is in danger of imminent collapse. Continue reading

Blow to Parliament Square protest camp

The Mayor of London v. Brian Haw & others [2011] EWHC 585 (QB) – read judgment.

The High Court has ruled that it would not be a breach of Articles 10 (freedom of expression) and 11 (freedom of assembly and association) to grant a possession order in respect of Parliament Square Gardens (“PSG”) and an injunction compelling protesters to dismantle and remove all tents and other structures erected on PSG. The potential effect of this might be to remove Brian Haw, the peace campaigner who has been protesting almost non-stop outside Parliament for the best part of a decade.

This is the latest in a long-running series of cases exploring the extent of the freedom to protest. We have analysed the previous court decisions about the Parliament Square protesters here and here. The issue of restrictions on freedom of assembly and freedom of expression has been a hot topic in recent months more generally, having also come up recently in the contexts of the student protests last year, political asylum seekers and hate speech.

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