Headline- Round Up: Sir Cliff Richard’s case against the BBC reaches the High Court

Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law

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Credit: The Guardian

In the News:

The legal battle between Sir Cliff Richard and the BBC has begun in the High Court.

In August 2014, police raided Sir Cliff’s home based on an allegation of historic child sexual abuse. The BBC broadcast live footage of the raid filmed from a helicopter. The singer was interviewed under caution, but never charged.

Sir Cliff alleges that the BBC’s coverage of the police raid on his home was a serious invasion of his right to privacy, for which there was no lawful justification. He also alleges breaches of his data protection rights. The singer seeks substantial general damages, plus £278,000 for legal costs, over £108,000 for PR fees which he spent in order to rebuild his reputation, and an undisclosed sum relating to the cancellation of his autobiography’s publication. He began giving evidence on the first day of the hearing. Continue reading

Igniting the Green Revolution: some brain storming from environmental lawyers

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Image Credit: Tobias Schreiner, PIEL UK

On Friday 6th April, Public Interest Environmental Law (PIEL) UK hosted their 12th annual conference. The student-led association, which was founded in 2007, is inspired by the US conference of the same name which has attracted ever-growing numbers of delegates since it began in 1983.

This year’s conference boasted three panels packed with academics and practitioners, and a keynote address from Richard Macrory CBE. In light of the movement’s snowballing strength, it seemed apposite that this year’s conference be themed ‘Environmental Litigation: Has the Green Revolution Reached the Courts?’

In fact, speakers ranged beyond this brief, partly due to recognising that it would take the coalescence of strategic litigation with procedural reform and public interest to truly ignite the ‘green revolution.’

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Salvation outside the church? CJEU rules on religious discrimination in employment — Dr Ronan McCrea

CJEU

The Court of Justice of the European Union has issued its first major ruling on the reconciliation of the autonomy rights of religious organisations with the right of employees (or potential employees) of such organisations to be free of discrimination.


Background


In 2012 Vera Egenberger applied for a fixed term post advertised by the Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung, which is a body associated with the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (a German Protestant church). The post advertised sought a person who could prepare a report on Germany’s compliance with the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Ms. Egenberger had significant experience in this area and applied for the post. However, there was a problem. Ms. Egenberger is a person who does not have a religious faith and the relevant advert included the following statement:


‘We require membership of a Protestant church, or of a church which is a member of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen in Deutschland (Cooperative of Christian Churches in Germany), and identification with the welfare mission. Please state your membership in your curriculum vitae.’



Ms. Egenberger was not called for interview. She took a case in the German courts alleging discrimination on grounds of religion.


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When does rehabilitation create a ‘right to be forgotten’?

google magnifying glass.pngIn NT1 and NT2 v Google LLC, Mr Justice Warby considered whether Google should be required to ‘de-list’ links in its search results to articles about the spent historic convictions of two businessmen under what is commonly called the ‘right to be forgotten’. He held it was in the case of one claimant, but not the other.

The claimants argued that the Google search results conveyed inaccurate information about their offending. Further, they sought orders requiring details about their offending and their convictions and sentences to be removed from Google Search results, on the basis that such information was out of date; irrelevant; of no public interest; and/or otherwise an illegitimate interference with their rights. They also sought compensation for Google in continuing to return search results disclosing such details, after the claimants’ complaints were made. Google resisted both claims, maintaining that the inclusion of such details in its search results was legitimate.

Mr Justice Warby summarised the issues as “the first question is whether the record needs correcting; the second question is whether the data protection or privacy rights of these claimants extend to having shameful episodes in their personal history eliminated from Google Search; thirdly, there is the question of whether damages should be paid.”

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Can we build AI that doesn’t turn on us? Is it already too late?

A report from the UK House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence has made a number of recommendations for the UK’s approach to the rise of algorithms. The report ‘AI in the UK: ready, willing and able?’ suggests the creation of a cross-sector AI Code to help mitigate the risks of AI outstripping human intelligence.

The main recommendation in the report is that  autonomous power to hurt, destroy or deceive human beings should never be vested in artificial intelligence. The committee calls for the Law Commission to clarify existing liability law and considers whether it will be sufficient when AI systems malfunction or cause harm to users. The authors predict a situation where it is possible to foresee a scenario where AI systems may

malfunction, underperform or otherwise make erroneous decisions which cause harm. In particular, this might happen when an algorithm learns and evolves of its own accord.

The authors of the report confess that it was “not clear” to them or their witnesses whether “new mechanisms for legal liability and redress in such situations are required, or whether existing mechanisms are sufficient”.  Their proposals, for securing some sort of prospective safety, echo Isaac Asimov’s three laws for robotics.

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

But these elaborations of principle may turn out to be merely semantic.  The safety regime is not just a question of a few governments  and tech companies agreeing on various principles. This is a global problem – and indeed even if Google were to get together with all the other giants in this field, Alibaba, Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Tencent, it may not be able to anticipate the consequences of building machines that can self-improve.  Continue reading

The Round-Up: The Right to Be Forgotten

The judge rejected a similar claim brought by a second businessman.

Image Credit: Guardian.

NT 1 & NT 2 v Google LLC: A businessman has succeeded in a landmark ‘right to be forgotten’ action against Google, resulting in an order for the de-listing of search results relating to his spent conviction. Warby J heard the cases of two anonymous businessmen (NT1 and NT2), both with spent convictions, and upheld the latter’s claim. Each made further claims of misuse of private information: again, NT2’s claim was found to succeed.

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Round Up- Do trained lawyers have a human right to represent themselves in court?

Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law

The High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court are not sitting at present (Easter Term will begin on Tuesday 10th April). Accordingly, this week’s Round Up focuses largely on the ECHR.

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Credit: The Guardian

Correia De Matos v. Portugal

This week, the ECHR held that requiring defendants to have legal representation does not violate Article 6. The vote was split by nine votes to eight.

The applicant, a lawyer by training, alleged a violation of Article 6 s.3(c) of the Convention. This was on the basis of a decision by Portuguese domestic courts which (i) refused him leave to conduct his own defence in criminal proceedings against him, and (ii) required that he be represented by a lawyer. Continue reading