The solar power subsidies case : when can you judicially review a proposal?

R (on the application of (1) Homesun Holdings (2) Solar Century Holdings (3) Friends of the Earth) v Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change 

Admin. Ct, Mitting J, 21 December 2011, extempore judgment, so no transcript available

This successful challenge to a proposal to modify subsidies for solar power arose out of the decision by the climate change Department to amend the rules under which the subsidies were to be payable. The essential questions were whether DECC could do this whilst a statutory consultation period was running, and further whether judicial review lay against a proposal to change the system, as distinct from a challenge to the change itself.

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Dr Naik, hate speech and the principle of expectation

The Queen on the application of Naik v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWCA Civ 1546 – read judgment

The Court of Appeal has confirmed that the exclusion of an Indian Muslim public speaker  from the United Kingdom after making statements which breached the Home Office’s “unacceptable behaviours policy” was lawful,  and that any interference with his rights was justified.

We posted previously on the original exclusion of Dr Naik from the United Kingdom, and reported on his subsequent address by sattelite link to the Oxford Union.

The appellant had regularly visited the UK since 1990 on public lecture tours. In 2008 he was granted a five-year multiple entry visitor visa. In 2010, two days before he was due to arrive in the UK on a lecture tour, the secretary of state excluded him and revoked his visa. She considered that he had made a number of statements which were supportive of terrorists, such as Osama Bin Laden, and breached the “unacceptable behaviours policy” for exclusion from the UK.

The decision was based on the fact that several of his statements fell within the Home Office’s “Unacceptable Behaviour Policy”, an indicative guide to types of behaviour which would normally result in grounds for exclusion, and that his presence would not be conducive to the public good.The Administrative Court dismissed Dr Naik’s application for judicial review of this decision, holding that the Secretary of State’s responsibility for the protection of national security is a central constitutional role, and encompasses a duty owed to the public at large. It could not be overridden by reference to any representation or practice relating to an individual entrant. Continue reading

The ECJ on Aslyum, Greece; the UK Protocol on the EU Charter – Dr Cian Murphy

Last Wednesday, the European Court of Justice issued a flurry of judgments just before the Christmas break. Indeed, there were so many interesting and important decisions amongst the twenty or so handed down that seems foolish to consider any of them the ‘most important’. Nonetheless the judgment in NS and Others v SSHD (C-411/10) must be a contender for the title.

The case concerns an asylum seeker in Britain who first entered the EU through Greece. The Dublin Regulation, which governs this aspect of EU asylum law, would ordinarily dictate that the applicant should be sent to Greece to have his asylum claim considered there. However, Mr Saeedi challenged his transfer to Greece, claiming that his human rights would be infringed by such a transfer as Greece would be unable to process his application. NS was joined with an Irish case, ME & Others v Refugee Applications Commissioner & MEJLR (C-493/10), which raised similar questions for EU law.

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UK’s EU failure on air pollution: who enforces?

R (CLIENTEARTH) v SECRETARY OF STATE FOR ENVIRONMENT FOOD &  RURAL AFFAIRS (2011), QBD (Admin) Mitting J, 13 December 2011, extempore so transcript not available.

For some time now, the United Kingdom has known that it is in trouble under EU legislation, Directive 2008/50, limiting the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the air we breathe. The date for meeting these levels was 1 January 2010. ClientEarth, an environmental NGO, brought proceedings to enforce this obligation. They failed, despite an admitted breach by the UK. Why?

ClientEarth  sought a declaration and mandatory orders against the Government for failing to comply with the levels set out in Article 13 of the Directive. Only 3 out of 43 areas and conglomerates in the UK met that target. Under Article 22, it was possible to extend the time for compliance with the limits by a maximum of five years. Recital nine to the 2008 Directive stated that where the objectives were not met, Member States were required to take steps to ensure compliance. In particular Articles 22 and 23 said that where an extension to the compliance time was sought, a Member State should publish an air quality plan indicating how compliance with the limits would be reached.

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Terrorist asset-freezing: an intrusion too far – Dr Cian Murphy

Freezing

One could be forgiven, amidst the furore over the European Court of Human Rights’ Al-Khawaja judgment last Thursday, for missing the first report of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation on the operation of the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc Act 2010. The Report runs to over 100 pages and is the most comprehensive account of UK terrorist asset freezing in print.

It is the third report of the current Independent Reviewer, David Anderson Q.C., since he took up the post in February. Asset freezing is something of a speciality of his, as he has appeared in litigation in both EU and UK courts on the matter. It is therefore unsurprising that the Report exhibits the same attention to detail that made the Anderson’s previous two efforts essential reading.

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Human rights not a cash milchcow for groundless claims

We posted previously on  Grant and Gleaves v MOD , giving a summary of the claims and the circumstances of the claimants. This case is interesting chiefly in the judge’s approach to the interpretative obligation of UK Courts under Section 2 of the Human Rights Act, which enjoins them to “take account” of Strasbourg rulings. Mr Justice Hickinbottom made it very clear at the outset that he did not consider this to be a command to follow slavishly every decision made by the European Court of Human Rights to the letter:

in considering an issue involving a Convention right, Section 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires a domestic court to “take account of” the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (“the Strasbourg court”). On its face, that does not bind a domestic court to follow Strasbourg cases: it is simply an obligation to take them into account, so far as they are relevant.

That does not stop him from considering carefully all the Strasbourg jurisprudence canvassed before him. In general, however, most of the cases were ultimately unfavourable to the litigants in this case. Continue reading

No human right to an hour’s minimum in the open air for “lifer” – Court of Appeal

Malcolm v Secretary of State for Justice [2011] EWCA Civ 1538 - Read Judgment

The Court of Appeal has decided that a failure to provide a life sentence prisoner with a minimum of one hour in the open air each day did not constitute a breach of his human rights under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (“ECHR”).

Oliver Sanders of 1 Crown Office Row represented the Secretary of State in this case. He is not the author of this post.

Between 26 April and 2 October 2007, a period of 159 days, Mr Leslie Malcolm was detained in the Segregation Unit at HMP Frankland. During that time, he was provided with an average of 30 minutes in the open air each day. However, paragraph 2(ii) of Prison Service Order 4275 (“PSO 4275″), which contained policy guidance for prison officers operating under the Prison Rules 1999, stated that he should have had the opportunity to have at least one hour each day in the open air.

When Mr Malcolm first brought his claim, he complained that not only had his human rights under the ECHR been infringed, but also that the prison officers at HMP Frankland were liable for misfeasance in a public office. Both aspects of the claim were rejected by Sweeney J at first instance, and it was only the human rights question that was considered on appeal.

The judgment of Richards LJ, in leading a unanimous Court of Appeal, is an elucidating one insofar as it breaks down and draws attention to the various questions which need to be addressed when a human rights claim under Article 8 is brought. Continue reading