Human rights roundup: Sovereignty clause, forced marriage, more Stig

8 October 2010 by



Ain't no sovereignty clause


Some of this week’s human rights news, in bite-size form. The full list of our external links can be found on the right sidebar or here.

Speeches: “The English Law of Privacy: An Evolving Human Right” – Lord Walker – UKSC blog: Supreme Court Justice Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe gave a speech to Anglo-Australasian Lawyers Society on the subject of privacy.  The lecture contains an interesting overview of the current law of privacy, particularly in relation to the media.

Kenneth Clarke reveals what cuts will mean for the courts – Joshua Rozenberg: The Ministry of Justice has to make £2bn cuts from its £9bn budget (see our post on where the cuts are likely to come from). According the justice ministers’ Tory conference speech, legal aid is in line for a “total review” – no surprises there – and that popular panacea, alternative dispute resolution, will be encouraged and court discouraged. Rozenberg concludes: “Things are not going to get better and nobody should pretend otherwise. All we can hope for is the best publicly funded legal system that we can afford.” Difficult times ahead for access to justice.

Equalities watchdog publishes guide to complying with duties when making cuts – Local Government Lawyer: The guidance is here. According to LGL, ” It warned that the duties “should remain a top priority, even in times of economic difficulty”, adding that failure to meet the relevant duties may result in authorities being exposed to costly, time-consuming and reputation-damaging legal challenges”. The Fawcett Society is currently seeking to judicially review the government’s emergency budget as it believes the government failed to assess, as it is obligated under equalities law, whether the budget would increase or reduce inequality between men and women. I discussed the issues surrounding human rights in the age of austerity yesterday in this post.

Special advocates should not be used in international forced marriage cases – New High Court judgment: In Chief Constable & Anor v YK & Ors, the High Court has ruled that special advocates (lawyers instructed to handle security-sensitive evidence in special private hearings) should almost never be used in proceedings to protect a person from a forced marriage (see Paras 88 to 93). This reinforces the general rule – as set out by the Court of Appeal recently (see our post) – that evidence should not be kept secret in civil proceedings. Update: Isabel McArdle’s case summary is here.

William Hague promises UK sovereignty law – BBC News: The Foreign Secretary has pledged to make good a pre-election promise: “A sovereignty clause on EU law will place on the statute book this eternal truth: what a sovereign parliament can do, a sovereign parliament can also undo.” The speech can be read here. Carl Gardner wrote yesterday on that “This legislation would be a pointless exercise at best, monkeying around with the essentials of the constitution for no better reason than political symbolism, yet also involving subtle legal perils.” We will be posting on this shortly. In the meantime, what better reason to recall Groucho and Chico Marx’s “the ain’t no sanity clause”  scene from A Night at the Opera (hat tip commenter Ivanpope) …

Opinion: “The emerging media Article 10 right to receive information from public authorities” – Antony White QC : An interesting discussion from Inforrm’s blog on whether a right to receive information, which is expressly provided for in Article 10 ECHR but has generally been ignored by the courts, is emerging. I have posted on this previously – see here, or here for all of our posts on freedom of information.

Case Law: BBC v HarperCollins and others – The Stig case – Inforrm’s Blog: This case has been widely commented on due to its subject matter, but has at its heart some interesting legal questions regarding freedom of speech and contractual rights. See Matt Hill’s post, and the comment section.

And don’t forget our posts, including two from new authors…

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