Let’s apply some hard history to the 13th century charter governing the obligations flowing between King John and his barons, or at least read the thing (translation here). So says Lord Sumption in a fascinating address to Friends of the British Library on 9 March.
All sides jockey for position at the Magna Carta shrine, but its significance is entirely due to the myth-making tendencies of the seventeenth century politician and judge Edward Coke. Since he plucked the charter quite clean of its historical context, the claims made in its name are extraordinary and downright self-serving:
In his column in the Daily Telegraph, Peter Oborne recently described the European Convention on Human Rights as a “document which entrenches the principles of Magna Carta in international law.” Others have come forward to suggest that the partial abrogation in 2014 of a legal aid system which was first created in 1949 was contrary to Magna Carta. Recently, a Global Law Summit in London, which was essentially an international marketing opportunity for British lawyers, described itself on its website as “grounding the legacy and values of Magna Carta in a firmly 21st Century context.
Sumption is not against liberty of the subject, nor motherhood and apple pie, nor even international marketing opportunities for lawyers, but he does have a problem with “the distortion of history to serve an essentially modern political agenda.” Continue reading
Montgomery v. Lanarkshire Health Board  UKSC 11, 11 March 2015 – read judgments here
James Badenoch QC of 1COR was for the mother in this case. He played no part in the writing of this post.
An important new decision from a 7-Justice Supreme Court on informed consent in medical cases.
In the mid-1980s a majority of the House of Lords in Sidaway decided that it was on the whole a matter for doctors to decide how much to tell patients about the risks of treatment, and that therefore you could not sue your doctor in negligence for failing to inform you of a risk if other reasonable doctors would not have informed you of the risk. Thus the principle that the standard of medical care is to be determined by medical evidence (which all lawyers will know as the Bolam principle) was extended to the quality of information to be provided to a patient about a given treatment.
The Supreme Court, reversing the judgments at first instance and on appeal, has now unequivocally said that Sidaway should not be followed.
Singh and Khalid v SSHD  EWCA Civ 74 – read judgment
These two appeals concern the assessment of article 8 ECHR claims in immigration cases. It is an important addition to the current cases on which rules apply to applications for leave to enter or remain made before the new Immigration Rules came into force on 9 July 2012. In Singh and Khalid, the Court of Appeal clarified the answer to this question and resolved the conflicting Court of Appeal authority in Edgehill v SSHD  EWCA Civ 402 and Haleemudeen v SSHD  EWCA Civ 558.
The new Immigration Rules
The role of article 8 in immigration cases has caused controversy over the years.
The government has therefore decided to set out how the balancing exercise should be carried out by introducing HC194. Two main additions were made through the new Rules. The first was that paragraph 276ADE was added to the existing Part 7. This provision increased the long-term residence requirement from 14 to 20 years. The second was that Appendix FM was added to Part 8 of the Rules. It dealt with circumstances in which family members would be granted leave to enter or remain. Continue reading
Patricia Davies (by her mother and litigation friend Zelda Davies) v Chief Constable of Merseyside  EWCA Civ 114 – read judgment
The Court of Appeal has considered the compatibility with Article 8 ECHR of the police’s removal of a 14 year old girl’s clothing after she had been arrested and taken to a police station.
The background facts were that the claimant was arrested outside a kebab shop in Argyle Street, Birkenhead. Her behaviour was uncontrolled and aggressive and she was handcuffed and taken to Wirral police station. The custody officer ordered that her clothing should be removed because she was a suicide risk. She was taken to a room by three female officers who removed her clothing and dressed her in a safety gown. She was then placed in a cell in which she could be observed by means of internal CCTV. Continue reading
Photo credit: The Guardian
A number of campaigning groups were recently informed by the Metropolitan Police that Scotland Yard would no longer provide traffic management at their planned demonstrations. Instead, these groups would be required to devise their own road closure plans and to pay a private security firm to carry out the task.
One of the groups, the organisers of the Million Women Rise rally, estimated that this would cost them around £10,000. The groups refused, arguing that this would amount to a breach of their right to protest.
The Met ultimately backed down – but what if it hadn’t? What is the legal position?
John Catt. Photo credit: The Guardian
R (Catt) and R (T) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  UKSC 9
A majority of the Supreme Court has held that the retention by police of information on the Domestic Extremism Database about a 91 year-old activist’s presence at political protests was (1) in accordance with the law and (2) a proportionate interference with his right to a private life under Article 8(1) of the ECHR.
However, Lord Toulson’s dissent noted that the information was retained for many years after Mr Catt had attended these mainstream political events, and the police had concluded that he was not known to have acted violently. Accordingly, he thought its retention was unnecessary and disproportionate.
After a brief hiatus, the Human Rights Round-up is back. Our new team of expert summarisers – Hannah Lynes, Alex Wessely and Laura Profumo – is installed and ready to administer your regular dose of UK human rights news.
This week, Hannah reports on the Global Law Summit, access to justice, and what’s happening in the courts.
In the News
‘If you wrap yourself in the Magna Carta…you are inevitably going to look ridiculous if you then throw cold water on an important part of its legacy.’ Lord Pannick QC was not alone last week (23-28th February) in suggesting that there was some irony in Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling evoking the spirit of the Magna Carta at his launch of the three-day Global Law Summit.