No right to enforce EU air pollution law: only a Crackerjack pencil

More fossil fuel power stations in the news (see my previous post), and more struggling with which bits of Euro environmental law ordinary people are allowed to enforce, and which bits are for the Commission.

Various NGOs challenged the grant of permits to 3 new power stations in the Netherlands, because the state was exceeding its emission limits for sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) and the grant of permits would simply add to these exceedences. The case was referred to the CJEU. The Advocate-General  thought that the exceedences were relevant to whether the permits should be granted – her opinion has been translated into virtually all Euro languages (including Maltese) but not English. Last week, the CJEU disagreed  - in English.

The problem arose because the EU made two directives which didn’t talk to each other.

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Twitter reveals, more privacy, drug courts – 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. Happy post Bank Holiday reading!

In the news:

Whilst the Neuberger Committee’s report is arguably the best place to kick-off any discussion on privacy, freedom of expression and Super-Injunctions, it is not, as Inforrm’s blog concludes, the “last word” on the matter. Indeed, this “overinflated topic” has been tackled with such gusto by the press and blogosphere that the High Court clearly gave a yellow card for “widespread disobedience“.

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The power of unelected judges – Part 2 of 2

Updated x 2 | Two court decisions have upset UK governments this week. One is being appealed in the normal way by the Secretary of State for Education, but the other may lead to a fundamental rethink of the Scottish justice system. As a Bank Holiday special, this post is split into 2 parts. Part 1 is here.

Meanwhile, north of the border in Scotland, a more significant constitutional storm may be brewing following Wednesday’s decision of the UK Supreme Court in Fraser v Her Majesty’s Advocate. Rosalind English has already posted on the ruling, which related to a Scottish murder appeal. As Rosalind said,

this was a Scottish criminal case and the Supreme Court would normally have had no business dealing with it … The Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction extends only to a consideration of a “devolution issue” , including whether an exercise of a function by a member of the Scottish Executive is incompatible with any of the Convention rights.

Parliament, through Schedule 6 to the Scotland Act 1998, has given the Supreme Court jurisdiction in relation to devolution issues arising in criminal proceedings. It has been suggested that this was to ensure that a consistent and coherent view upon them could be given across the UK.

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The power of unelected judges – Part 1 of 2

Two court decisions have upset UK governments this week. One is being appealed in the normal way by the Secretary of State for Education, but the other may lead to a fundamental rethink of the Scottish justice system. As a Bank Holiday special, this post is split into 2 parts.

Starting with the Sharon Shoesmith decision, which has been helpfully summarised by Obiter J. The Spectator reports that the Secretary of State for education Michael Gove intends to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. The reported grounds of that appeal, gleaned from “Whitehall sources”, are interesting. Although Gove “recognises that Balls blundered in the way he dismissed her“,

he also believes that there are important constitutional principles at sake in this case about how Ministers make important and urgent decisions and what the role of the courts is in challenging such decisions. Gove wants the Supreme Court to consider these issues because of the huge importance of judicial reviews, which are being used repeatedly by opponents of the government to try and stymie its agenda.


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Old laws v. new policies: Parliamentary privilege but not a footballer in sight

What happens when the government changes its mind about an existing law but new law has not yet been enacted?

Easy, really. You have to follow the old law, whatever the government may currently think about it. But it gets more complicated when the area of law, like planning, has a wide area of policy-making and policy-following built into it. So now we have old law, and new policy announced but no new law yet to underpin that policy other than in the broadest sense.

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Sharon Shoesmith wins her appeal – Obiter J

Shoesmith, R (on the application of) v OFSTED & Ors [2011] EWCA Civ 642 (27 May 2011) – Read judgment

In April 2005, Sharon Shoesmith was appointed as Director of Children’s Services at Haringey London Borough Council.  The appointment by a Council of such an officer is a statutory requirement – Children Act 2004 s.18.  “Baby P” – who was the subject of a Child Protection Plan put in place by Haringey Social Services – died on 3rd August 2007 aged 17 months.

Those directly responsible for his death were eventually all convicted under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 s.5.  Their trial, at the Old Bailey, ended on 11th November 2008.  To say the least, the trial was followed by a media hue and cry demanding that heads roll.

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Murder, miscarriage of justice and Scots judicial autonomy

Fraser v Her Majesty’s Advocate [2011] UKSC 24 (25 May 2011)  – Read judgment

The Supreme Court has had to consider (for the second time in a month) the ticklish question of what constitutes a “miscarriage of justice”.

The business is rendered more ticklish because this was a case being handled by the High Court of Justiciary, the court of last resort in all criminal matters in Scotland.

Our previous post questioned whether the finding of a miscarriage of justice entitled the individual, whose conviction is quashed, to compensation for the slur on their innocence. Here the Court scrutinises the actual diagnosis of a miscarriage of justice. They had to do so in this case because their jurisdiction depended on it. This needs some explaining.

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