Analysis: Occupy London loses final eviction court challenge

The Mayor Commonality and Citizens of London – v – Samede, Barda, Ashman, Randle-Jolliffe, Moore and Persons Unknown [2012] EWCA Civ 160 – Read judgment

Members of the Occupy London Movement who have been occupying an area close to St Paul’s Cathedral have had their applications for  permission to appeal the decision of the lower court to evict them refused by the Court of Appeal.  The judgment of Mr Justice Lindbolm was deemed ‘very full and careful’by the Master of the Rolls.  Shortly after midnight yesterday police began evicting occupants at the site.

In January we reported on the High Court battle between the City of London and the Occupy London Movement who had been occupying an area close to St Paul’s Cathedral. Mr Justice Lindbolm’s well-reasoned decision to grant possession, interlocutory and declaratory relief to the Mayor Commonality and Citizens of London meant that the Occupy Movement were to be evicted.

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My witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry – Part 1/2

Not me giving evidence

Last month I was asked to provide a witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry into Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press. Yesterday it was “read into evidence”, which means I can now publish it. You can download the entire statement here, and I have reproduced (what I think are) the interesting bits below and in a follow-up post. The questions in bold are those asked by the Inquiry in their request. I have not been asked to give oral evidence.

The extent to which you consider what ethics can and should play a role in the blogosphere, and what you consider ‘ethics’ to mean in this context.

The definition of “blogging” is now extremely wide, so much so that the term “blog” has become in essence meaningless.

A blog can be a “web log” within the original meaning of the word, that is a “personal journey published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete entries (“posts”)” (Wikipedia), but it can also be a news and comment website such as UKHRB, a photo-sharing website, a website promoting a business – practically any website can call itself a blog. Mainstream newspapers now produce “blogs” online and as such the boundary between traditional journalism and blogging has also become unclear.

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Judge releases court papers in hacking cases

Application by Guardian & Various Claimants v. NGN & Mulcaire- read judgment

A high court judge has allowed the media unrestricted access to documents submitted to the court for use in litigation by victims of phone hacking who have now reached settlements with News Group Newspapers (NGN).

Full disclosure of this material was resisted by the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire on the grounds that it would create a “substantial risk” that the course of justice in the criminal proceedings he faces will be seriously impeded or prejudiced. The Telegraph and other papers have now published passages of the documents which were previously censored following this order from Vos J, the judge who has presided over more than 50 hacking claims against NGN.

Mulcaire was jailed in 2007 together with Clive Goodman, the News of the World’s then royal editor, after police found they had hacked phones belonging to members of the Royal household. The Telegraph reports that a section of the documents released in these proceedings that had been previously redacted

alleges that from 1998, when Mulcaire first started working with the News of the World, he “entered into a conspiracy with senior executives of [NGN] including Clive Goodman and Journalists A,B,C,D and E whereby he would, on their behalf, obtain information about individuals of interest to [NGN] journalists and use electronic intelligence and eavesdropping in order to obtain this information. Continue reading

Draft declaration on British ECHR reform plans leaked – Antoine Buyse

Updated | The French translation of the draft of the so-called ‘Brighton Declaration’ (the seaside city where state parties to the ECHR will meet in April to discuss reforms of the Court and the Convention) has been leaked after the UK government refused to circulate the text publicly.

Last week, the draft was presented to the Ministers’ deputies of the Council of Europe. Amongst other, the draft suggests to include the principle of subsidiarity and the margin of appreciation explicitly in the Convention text – I am not sure what that would change to current practice, unless it becomes mandatory for the Court to give a margin of appreciation.

Also, the time to lodge complaints after all domestic remedies have been exhausted would possible be reduced from the current six months to two, three or four months. One of the most controversial aspects is that the Court would be barred from considering cases “identical in substance to a claim that has been considered by a national court”, according to BBC reporting, “”unless the national court “clearly erred” in its interpretation, or raises a serious question affecting the interpretation of the Convention” according to the Open Society Institute. This would carry in it the danger of almost completely taking away any substantive role for the European Court of Human Rights.

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The democratic legitimacy of human rights

Why should we bother with the European Convention on Human Rights? Many of those that would never contemplate leaving the ECHR still question whether we should abide by controversial decisions such as those on prisoners’ voting rights or deportation. UCL’s Professor Richard Bellamy attempted to answer this question at the Statute Law Society’s talk on Monday evening. He said that the UK should abide by the ECHR, which gains its legitimacy by being the best way for democratic states regulate their relationships and protect their citizens’ rights.

The talk was entitled ‘The Democratic Legitimacy of International Human Rights Conventions’ (IHRCs). Although perhaps not in such terms, this is a topic that exercises many every week: from those questioning who exactly decides which human rights are the ones that count, to those asking why ‘unelected judges’ in Europe can tell a democracy how to govern itself. Professor Bellamy started by noting that mature democracies are generally less keen on IHRCs; at the post-war inception of the ECHR, he said it was Germany and Italy showing most enthusiasm. Even now, many ‘democratising’ countries show less opposition to Europe’s human rights structures.

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Boat owners, bullying and the British Waterways Board

Moore v British Waterways Board [2012] EWHC 182 (Ch) – read judgment

From time to time, the courts are called upon to explain who holds the power to order people about, and why they have it. In Roger Deakin’s classic celebration of swimming the wild waterways of Britain, his one grouse is against the officiousness and overweening behaviour of the government bodies in charge of this country’s network of streams and rivers.  If Deakin had been alive today he would have applauded the dedication of Mr Moore, a scholarly litigant in person whose challenge to the British Waterways Board elicited from Hildyard J this massively detailed and scrupulous analysis of the source of the BWB’s powers.

The appropriately-named Mr Moore’s primary claim was that the BWB simply lacked the power to issue notices of intended removal of his boats moored on the Grand Union Canal. His argument, that BWB’s actions were unlawful and unenforceable,  required not only a ” trawl through numerous statutes affecting the GUC since the Act which authorised the construction of the canal, the Grand Junction Canal Act 1793″ , but a deep consideration of all the ancient pre-existing water rights that may or may not have been extinguished by that and later acts of parliament. Continue reading

Legal claims can now be served via Facebook, rules High Court

Social networking sites may now be used to serve claims where there are difficulties in locating one of the parties.  

In a commercial case involving claims against a broker for overcharging commission, the claimants were not sure of the broker’s last known address. They served a claim at this address but also sought permission from Teare J to serve via the broker’s Facebook address, after providing evidence of the account being updated. The judge extended the time for the defendant to respond to the claim because of uncertainty as to how frequently he checks his Facebook account.

The Telegraph reports that Facebook “is routinely used to serve claims in Australia and New Zealand, and has been used a handful of times in Britain.”

In 2009 Lewison J allowed an injunction to be served via Twitter in a case where the defendant was only known by his Twitter-handle and could not easily be identified another way. But this is the first time that a claim (as distinct from an order) has been permitted at such a high level to be served in this way.

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