Shahid v The Scottish Ministers  ScotCS CSIH – 18 – read judgment
Solitary confinement of a dangerous prisoner in accordance with the prison rules was neither unlawful nor in breach of his Convention rights, the Scottish Court of Session has ruled.
The petitioner (as we shall call him to avoid confusion, rather than the more accurate “reclaimer”) was serving a life sentence for what the court described as a “brutal and sadistic” racially motivated murder of a 15 year old white boy in 2006. Apart from a short period during his trial he remained continuously segregated until 13 August 2010, when he was allowed once again to associate with other prisoners (“mainstream”). He claimed that his segregation was contrary to the Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules 2006 and, separately, contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides protection against torture and cruel and unusual punishments, and Article 8, which protects the right to private life. He sought declarations to that effect and £6,000 by way of damages. Continue reading
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd.
This week, a group of MPs investigating drones were advised that large amounts of GCHQ surveillance is likely to be illegal, and the Conservatives continued their push for a Bill of Rights. Meanwhile, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights argued that anti-Semitism is alive and well in Europe.
Two barristers have advised a Parliamentary committee that some mass surveillance allegedly undertaken by the UK’s security services is probably illegal. Jemima Stratford QC and Tim Johnston’s advice (PDF) was commissioned by the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones.
You may ask why an Parliamentary group on drones is getting involved in the GCHQ surveillance debate, itself kickstarted by the revelations by Edward Snowden (pictured). The slightly tangential answer is that the committee is concerned about the legality of data being passed to the United States for use in drone strikes.
Trafford v Blackpool Borough Council  EWHC 85 – read judgment
The High Court has held that a local authority had abused its powers by refusing to offer a solicitor a new lease of the claimant’s office premises.
The claimant solicitor was aggrieved by the fact that the stated reason for the defendant’s refusal was that her firm had brought claims against the Council on behalf of clients seeking compensation for injuries alleged to have been caused by the negligence of the Council, predominantly in highways “tripping” type claims.
HHJ Davies held that the Council had exercised its “wide discretion” under Section 123 of the Local Government Act 1912 for an improper purpose and was “fundamentally tainted by illegality” on that basis. The Council’s refusal was both Wednesbury unreasonable and procedurally unfair.
Public versus private
The interesting question central to this case was whether or not a public body, acting under statutory powers in deciding whether or not to renew or terminate a contract, was acting under public law duties, and therefore amenable to judicial review, or whether the relationship between the claimant and the defendant was one governed exclusively by private law, where judicial review has no part to play . Continue reading
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular bountiful burst of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Celia Rooney.
This week, the pragmatic, political and constitutional ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision in the HS2 case are up for debate. Meanwhile, the European Court considers whether the Charter of Rights applies in private disputes, while the domestic courts take on the tricky issue of the justiciability of US drones strikes in Pakistan. And the Court of Appeal rules on TfL’s bus advert ban.
An unashamed plug: A few tickets still left for this Thursday’s event featuring Adam Wagner amongst others – Human Rights Behind the Headlines.
Pike and Doyle v Indian Hotel Companies Ltd  EWHC 4096 (QB) – read judgment
Philip Havers QC and Peter Skelton of 1 Crown Office Row represented the claimants in this case. They have nothing to do with the writing of this post.
This sad case arose out of the 2006 terrorist attack on the Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, India. The claimants, who had spent 15 days backpacking around Goa, decided to treat themselves to one night of luxury at the hotel before they were due to fly home from Mumbai. Shortly after the attack began the claimants hid in their room, locked the door and turned off the lights. Some hours later they tried to escape through the window. Their room was on the third floor of the tower part of the hotel. They tied together sheets, curtains and towels to make a rope. They hung it outside their room and the first claimant went first. The “rope” came apart and he fell to the ground suffering serious spinal injuries which have left him paraplegic. The second claimant was rescued subsequently. She did not suffer physical injuries but claims for continuing psychiatric consequences. Continue reading
R (o.t.a HS2AA, Buckingham County Council and others) v. Secretary of State for Transport,  UKSC 3 – read judgments
So the challenge to the way in which the Government wished to push the HS2 project through Parliament has failed before the Supreme Court, though not without clarifying the way in which key EU environmental provisions are meant to work. And we will also see a further flexing of the Court’s muscles against a too straightforward reading of the supremacy of EU law when seen against our constitutional principles.
The objectors said the command paper which preceded the Parliamentary hybrid bill, in which the Government set out its proposals for HS2, fell within the scope of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive 2001/42/EC and that an SEA ought therefore to have been carried out. The directive applies to plans or programmes which set a “framework” (Art.3(2)(a)) for future decisions whether to grant development consent for projects, and it was said that the command paper set the framework for the decision whether to grant consent for HS2.
Secondly, the objectors said that the legislative procedure in Parliament does not meet the requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive 2011/92/EU. The EU Court of Justice has interpreted that directive as imposing a number of requirements, including that the legislature must have available to it the information required by the directive, and a requirement that national courts must be able to verify that the requirements of the directive have been satisfied, taking account of the entire legislative process, including the preparatory documents and the parliamentary debates. Continue reading
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular bustling bonanza of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd.
After a long wait, the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment on state immunity in civil proceedings in Jones and Others v UK. Meanwhile, an atheist has been granted asylum on religious grounds and the Supreme Court ruled that a child’s views are relevant to the evaluation of their habitual residence.
Jones and Others v. the United Kingdom (application nos. 34356/06 and 40528/06) – read judgement
The Strasbourg Court has ruled that the inability of four men to bring torture compensation claims against Saudi Arabia in UK courts did not breach the Convention. The Court held that a “grant of immunity to the state officials in the present case reflected generally recognised rules of public international law” and that there had been no violation of Article 6 (right of access to court).
The claimants argued that there there was emerging support for a special exception to this immunity in cases concerning civil claims for torture lodged against foreign State officials. But the Court took the view that the bulk of the authority was to the effect that the State’s right to immunity may not be circumvented by suing its servants or agents instead. The fact that conduct was unlawful or objectionable was not, of itself, a ground for refusing immunity. Continue reading
The President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has today issued important new guidance on “Transparency in the Family Courts: Publication of Judgments” [pdf] and “Transparency in the Court of Protection: Publication of Judgments” [pdf].
These two documents are intended “to bring about an immediate and significant change in practice in relation to the publication of judgments in family courts and the Court of Protection”.
Both documents say that:
In both courts there is a need for greater transparency in order to improve public understanding of the court process and confidence in the court system. At present too few judgments are made available to the public, which has a legitimate interest in being able to read what is being done by the judges in its name. The Guidance will have the effect of increasing the number of judgments available for publication (even if they will often need to be published in appropriately anonymised form . Continue reading
Belhaj and another v Straw and Others  EWHC 4111 (QB) 20 December 2013 – read judgment
Peter Skelton of 1 Crown Office Row acted for the defendants in this case. He has nothing to do with the writing of this post.
The High Court has struck out claims against British establishment defendants for “unlawful rendition”. The doctrine of immunity attaching to an act of state is total bar to that such claims and is not limited by the gravity of the alleged violation of rights.
The first claimant, an opponent of the Gaddafi regime, and his wife, the second claimant, had been apprehended in Bangkok in 2004 whilst trying to travel from Beijing to the UK to claim asylum. They were held in a detention centre in Kuala Lumpur for two weeks and whilst they were there the UK authorities, along with the US, the Malaysians and the Chinese, worked together to secure their extradition to Libya (this was a time when friendly relations were maintained between the UK and the Libyan government). After another journey to Bangkok, where they were detained in a US “black site”, they were flown to Tripoli and transported to Tajoura prison, a detention facility operated by the Libyan intelligence services. The second claimant was released later in 2004, but the first claimant was transferred to another prison and held until 2010. Continue reading
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular delectable dossier of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Celia Rooney.
This week, the International Criminal Court has received a dossier detailing the UK’s involvement in abuse in Iraq. Meanwhile, the House of Lords has put up a fight over the so-called ‘annoyance injunctions’, while the Government has sought to find a solution to the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling on whole life tariffs.
The glass foyer of the Palais de Droits de l’Homme in Strasbourg (pictured) is not to everyone’s taste. Some find it inspiring, others – often advocates appearing for the first time – are simply too nervous to notice. Typically, Rumpole on his triumphant visit takes a much more down-to-earth approach, comparing the building to the boiler of a ship.
Whatever one makes of it, the foyer of the Court is designed to remind visitors of two things: the Court’s accessibility and its openness. That is not always apparent from the Court’s procedures or from the language it sometimes uses to express itself, but it is beyond question that the Court is open to the different legal traditions of its member States. Most influential among those traditions must surely be the common law.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular wholesome takeaway of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd.
Welcome to 2014 and Santa has brought us the Defamation Act 2013, which aims to reduce the ‘chilling effect’ of previous libel laws . But as we enter 2014, not all is new. The Conservative Party continues to complain about European human rights. They seek to challenge the ECtHR ban on prison life sentences. How to deal with this? With hundreds of years of imprisonment instead. Meanwhile, today criminal lawyers will refuse to appear at court in order to protest against legal aid and criminal barrister fee cuts.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular fluttering confetti of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Celia Rooney.
This week, amidst the festive cheer, controversy over European human rights rages on, in relation to both the Charter and the Convention. In other news, the posthumous pardon of Alan Turing sparks debate over the use and abuse of the royal prerogative.