Last month 1 Crown Office Row hosted a fascinating panel debate on the Court of Protection and the incredibly difficult issues surrounding assisted dying. The panel included Philip Havers QC, the philosopher A.C. Grayling and Leigh Day & Co.’s human rights partner Richard Stein. You can now view the video here or below. Also see here for Rosalind English’s report of the event.
What: Dignity, Death and Deprivation of Liberty: Human Rights in the Court of Protection
When: 6pm on Wednesday 10th October 2012
You are invited to join 1 Crown Office Row for an event to mark the 5th Anniversary of the Court of Protection. This Seminar will focus on current key topics in the Court of Protection being debated by two teams of Counsel from 1 Crown Office Row before an interventionist Panel comprising Philip Havers QC, Professor Anthony Grayling and Richard Stein, solicitor at Leigh Day & Co solicitors.
There are still a few places remaining to attend this event. If you are currently a legal practitioner and would like to attend please contact Charlotte Barrow, Marketing Executive at One Crown Office Row on firstname.lastname@example.org stating your name and organisation. Places will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
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.
This is an expanded version of a comment made on Adam Wagner’s post: Should more trials be held in secret?
Our recent post highlights the Government’s consultation on the Justice and Security Green Paper. Having been involved as a Special Advocate in many hearings involving closed material, I am troubled about these proposals, as well as the lack of public debate that they have generated.
The main proposals in the Green Paper are based on the highly debatable assumption that existing closed material procedures (CMPs as per the acronym adopted) have been shown to operate fairly and effectively. CMPs, were first introduced in 1997 and have escalated in their application since then. At §2.3 of the Green Paper it is stated that:
The contexts in which CMPs are already used have proved that they are capable of delivering procedural fairness. The effectiveness of the Special Advocate system is central to this … .
McCaughey & Anor, Re Application for Judicial Review  UKSC 20 (18 May 2011)- Read judgment
The Supreme Court has followed the European Court of Human Rights in ruling that an inquest into the death of two people killed before the introduction of the Human Rights Act is still bound by the rules laid down by that Act. In so doing, it preferred a “poorly reasoned and unstable decision” of the Strasbourg Court to a clearly drafted Act of Parliament and a recent decision of the House of Lords. How did this happen, should it have done so – and does it really matter?
The case concerned an appeal to the Supreme Court against a decision from the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal on which we have previously blogged at length. The appellants were the families of two men killed by the British Army during an attack on a police station in Northern Ireland in 1990. Allegations were made that a “shoot to kill policy” was being operated by the security forces.
TTM (By his Litigation Friend TM) v London Borough of Hackney, East London NHS Foundation Trust; Secretary of State for Health – Read judgment
The Court of Appeal has ruled that the local authority, but not the detaining hospital, was liable to pay compensation to a person who had been unlawfully detained under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983. The case provides important guidance on the liability of mental health and medical professionals in the difficult area of detaining patients, as well as the ability to recover damages where a claimant is unlawfully detained.
The Court held that the patient’s detention had been unlawful from the start when the approved mental health professional ['AMHP'] erred in whether the patient’s relative objected to admission. The local authority responsible for the AMHP could not rely on the Section 139(1)of the Mental Health Act 1983 ['the Act'] statutory protection from civil liability, which had to be read down by virtue of Section 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998 to give effect to the patient’s right to liberty under Article 5 of the ECHR.
November saw the publication of the report of the Redfern Inquiry into human tissue analysis in UK nuclear facilities (read the report, here).
The inquiry was the latest in a number of investigations looking at the post mortem removal, retention and disposal of human body parts by medical and other bodies, and the extent to which the families of the deceased knew of and consented to such practices. The Inquiry chairman, Michael Redfern QC, also chaired the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital (Alder Hay) Inquiry.
Updated | JXF (a child) v York Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust  EWHC 2800 (QB) – Read judgment
Mr Justice Tugendhat has held that the High Court should withhold the identity of a child claimant when approving the settlement of a clinical negligence case. The decision represents a restatement of the orthodox principle that cases should be heard in public and reported without restrictions, and that anonymity orders should only be granted after careful scrutiny.
His reason for coming to this particular decision was that revealing the name of the claimant would “make him vulnerable to losing the [settlement] money to fortune hunters or thieves.”
R (Booker) v NHS Oldham and Direct Line Insurance PLC  EWHC 2593 (Admin)- read judgment
The High Court has held that where a claimant agrees a damages settlement that includes an indemnity to fund private nursing care should existing NHS provision be withdrawn, it was unlawful for a primary care trust to cease its funding of the claimant’s care on the basis that her needs would be met through the settlement.
The claimant, B, was a tetraplegic who had sustained her injuries in a road traffic accident. She had received care from the defendant NHS trust (“the Trust”) over a number of years, and there was no dispute that her medical needs made her eligible for future care. In October 2009, B’s personal injury case was settled on the basis of both a lump sum and periodical payments, the latter due to commence from 15 December 2011. In respect of the period between the settlement date and the first periodical payment, a series of “safety net undertakings” were given by both sides in the litigation, and by DLI, the insurer of the injury claim defendant. These were to the effect that B would use her best endeavours to maintain the NHS funded care that she was receiving, but, should it nonetheless be withdrawn, DLI would indemnify B against the cost of providing replacement care. In June 2010, the Trust informed B that it intended to withdraw its provision of care from her with effect from the autumn, on the basis that B had elected to receive private care and hence no longer required NHS services. B sought judicial review of this decision.
Updated | R (McDonald) v Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea,  EWCA Civ 1109 – read judgment
The Court of Appeal has held that a local authority was entitled to reduce the care package provided to one of its resident following a re-assessment of her needs, even though this had the effect of forcing her, against her wishes, to use incontinence pads and/or absorbent sheets at night.
In doing so, the authority did not breach Article 8 ECHR (right to privacy and family life), or the relevant disability discrimination legislation. The judgment suggests that the courts will only intervene in disputes about the level of care being provided by local authorities in limited circumstances, something that may be significant in an environment of public spending cuts.
R v M(L) and others  EWCA Crim 2327;  WLR(D) 266 – Read judgment
The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) has provided further guidance to prosecutors on whether or not they should bring charges against victims of human trafficking who go on to commit crimes. In the same judgment, the Court considered the extent of the obligation on the police to refer such victims to specialist agencies.
The state has a number of duties to victims of human trafficking deriving from the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (CETS No 197).
R (British Gurkha Welfare Society and ors) v Ministry of Defence  EWCA Civ 1098 – read judgment
The Court of Appeal has rejected a fresh attempt, based on Article 14 of the European Convention on Human rights (anti-discrimination), to obtain equal pension rights for Gurkhas who served in the British Army before 1997.
The long-running campaign for Gurkha rights has been highly publicised and successful, but it has not ensured equality of treatment in respect of pensions. The MoD continues to calculate accrued pension rights at a lower rates for Gurkhas than for other soldiers in respect of service performed before 1997, the date on which the majority of Gurkhas ceased to be based in Hong Kong and were instead moved to the UK.
British Broadcasting Corporation v Harpercollins Publishers Ltd & Anor  EWHC 2424 (Ch) – Read judgment
As has been widely reported, the BBC has failed in its attempts to obtain an injunction preventing the driver Ben Collins from revealing in an autobiography that he was The Stig in Top Gear. On 4 October 2010 Mr Justice Morgan handed down his reasoned judgment in the case, which has been summarised on the Inforrm blog.
The judgment itself contains few surprises. Morgan J held that Collins himself was not a party to any contracts with the BBC, the contracts in question having been agreed between the Corporation and a company established to service Collins’ business interests (para.20). It followed that the BBC had no claim in contract law against him personally for an alleged breach of a confidentiality clause. However, Collins was still bound by an equitable duty of confidentiality that prevented him from revealing The Stig’s identity (para. 20). Morgan J considered that this duty would still have applied at the date of the trial if this information had continued to be confidential (para. 50). However, as a result of numerous press reports (para. 52):
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, has stated his support for a reform of the law of homicide that would see the introduction of different degrees of murder in this country.
Such a proposal was one of the principal recommendations contained in the Law Commission’s 2006 Report on Murder, Manslaughter and Infanticide (Law Com No 304). Mr Starmer’s predecessor, Sir Ken MacDonald, and the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Lord Blair, have also stated their support for the changes.
Case law -
- Claims against the police still difficult, and no help from human rights law May 17, 2010 (reprinted via the Guardian Legal Network here)
- The British Airways strike and the human right to free assembly May 18, 2010 (reprinted via the Guardian Legal Network here)
- Terror suspects cannot be deported to Pakistan in case of ill-treatment May 19, 2010
- Rules on intercept evidence not breach of human rights, say European Court May 20, 2010
- Mentally disabled prisoner discriminated against by authorities May 20, 2010
- Terror case reopens debate on repeal of Human Rights Act [updated] May 19, 2010
- GMC to announce policy of striking off doctors who prolong the lives of terminally ill patients against their wishes May 20, 2010
- Electoral commission report opens door for barred voter claims May 21, 2010
- Coalition agreement calls for Human Rights Act Plus, but will it last? May 21, 2010