TBS v Metropolitan Police Commissioner  EWHC 3094 – read judgment
The High Court has refused an application to strike out a claim in negligence and misfeasance in public office taken by someone born as a result of a liaison between an activist in the animal liberation movement and a man who subsequently turned out to be an undercover police officer.
Although this is not a full trial of the merits, the ruling from Nicol J triangulates on very interesting questions relating to “wrongful life” claims, legal duties owed by people in public office, and the predictability of harm as well as the identity of potential victims. It also touches on the character of psychiatric harm, and how difficult it is to identify the point at which it can legitimately be said to arise. Whatever the results of the ultimate litigation, the arguments here raise sharp questions of public policy as to who, and what, should be compensated from the public purse. There is also a deep philosophical question underlying the whole argument which is known as the “non-identity problem”. Can you harm somebody by bringing them into existence? Continue reading
Belhaj and Boudchar v. Director of Public Prosecutions (Foreign Secretary intervening)  EWHC 3056 (Admin) – read judgment here.
The Justice and Security Act 2013 introduced the idea of Closed Material Proceedings (CMP) to civil litigation in a significant way for the first time. This is a procedure (which had previously only used in a small number of specialist tribunals) whereby all or part of a claim can be heard in closed proceedings in order for the court to consider material which, if disclosed publicly, would risk harming national security. These hearings exclude even the claimant, who is represented instead by a Special Advocate who takes instructions and then is unable to speak to his or her client again once they have seen the sensitive material.
This system is obviously far from ideal. Indeed it is a major deviation from the usual (and very important) principle that justice must not only be done, but be seen to be done. It was introduced because the alternative in some cases involving national security matters was no justice at all. But it must be used sparingly. In particular, the 2013 Act allows its use only in civil litigation and not in “proceedings in a criminal cause or matter” (section 6(11)). The question that the Divisional Court had to consider in this case is how wide that exception for criminal matters should be.
On 5th December 2017, an event exploring the current political situation in Cambodia was held at Chatham House. The discussion was led by Sam Rainsy, a key member of Cambodia’s recently dissolved opposition party, the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP). The discussion touched on a plethora of issues relevant to politics and human rights in Cambodia, ranging from the impact on Cambodia of China’s dam-building project to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
This article will provide a brief history of Cambodia before reviewing four topics which were considered at the event: (1) the influence of China; (2) the power of the army; (3) sanctions and aid; and (4) the 2018 election.
Fishermen & Friends of the Sea v. The Minister of Planning, Housing and the Environment (Trinidad and Tobago)  UKPC 37, 27 November 2017 – read judgment
A vignette of where
(1) Trinidad and Tobago is,
(2) the EU/UK is,
(3) where Michael Gove may wish us to be post-Brexit,
on the Polluter Pays Principle (PPP), a key environmental principle.
As we shall see, in legal terms, the expansiveness of (1) and (2) contrasts with the potential parsimony of (3).
Now (3) may be better than nothing, as per the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, i.e, no enforceable environmental principles at all. But that does not mean we should not aspire for more. After all, as we shall see, the PPP is hardly a racy new entrant into environmental law.
On 29th November 2017, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague delivered its judgment on six appeals by Croatian officials and military officers against their convictions for their actions during the Bosnian War of 1992-95.
These crimes, which included grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity, arose out of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at creating a Croatian entity in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, known as the ‘Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia’. This was backed by the government of Franjo Tuđman, President of Croatia at the time.
Following the decision, Slobodan Praljak, one of the appellants, shouted out that he rejected the verdict and drank a vial of poison, dying later that day.
Ratko Mladić was one of the most notorious figures of the war in Bosnia.
He was Commander of the Main Staff of the Bosnian Serb Army between 1992 and 1995. He was indicted in 1996, arrested in 2011 and tried between 2012 and 2016.
Last week the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia delivered its judgement. Mladic was found guilty of genocide in Srebrenica, crimes against humanity for ethnic cleansing of Bosnian towns and the siege of Sarajevo, and war crimes for the hostage taking of UN staff to stop NATO intervention.