Twitter Trolls, Tribunal Online (Finally), Don’t go Home – The Human Rights Roundup
19 August 2013
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular menagerie of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd.
This week, judicial review continued to take a beating, the Home Office backed down over their ‘Go Home’ campaign and the legal implications behind the twitter threat debacle were considered. And, finally, the immigration and asylum tribunal launched a useful online search service.
In the News
Judicial Review attenuation
Judicial review, the means by which individuals and groups can challenge the decisions of public authorities in court, has come under a lot of scrutiny in recent months. The latest challenge to the process was Chris Grayling’s announcement to restrict the ‘sufficient interest’ test to one of a ‘direct link’ to what was being challenged. This week, Jamie Beagent of Leigh Day & Co analysed the impact of such an announcement,and discussed a number of changes that had already been introduced: reducing the time limits for bringing judicial review for certain cases; removing the right to a hearing in some cases; and, removing legal aid from significant areas of legal work. He also looked at future proposals, and concluded that these changes ‘are an ideological attack on the ability of citizens to hold our government to account which threaten lasting damage to the rule of law in this country’.
Judicial review was also been in the media this week due to the case of Ignaoua, R (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department. The case revolved around a new certification power under the Justice and Security Act 2013, which allowed the Home Secretary to terminate the applicant’s judicial review proceedings. The court was required to find whether the certificate had been lawfully made and was not an abuse of power. Cranston J acknowledged that there were ‘disturbing features’ in the statutory scheme, but as there was clear Parliamentary intention, the claimant failed. To see the UKHRB post on this, click here.
Over at the Public Law for Everyone Blog, Mark Elliot discussed how the most concerning feature of the decision was that ‘the High Court has upheld the lawfulness of an executive decision to, in effect, divert a judicial review claim into a statutory procedure the rule-of-law adequacy of which cannot yet be determined’. Richard A. Edwards at Eurorights also emphasised how concerning the mechanism was, giving the executive the power to determine a class of judicial review proceedings. He also considered a number of important findings, such as how under the 2013 Act the Home Secretary could ‘terminate qualifying judicial review applications no matter at what stage they might be’ and questioned the proportionality of the Act.
Finally, a decent search engine for Tribunal decisions
The headline speaks for itself. The MoJ has released two new beta services: Court and Tribunal Finder and Tribunal Decisions. The Tribunal decisions site only includes Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) for now but hopefully this will expand with time to other tribunals. Check them out and please comment so as to make the service better.
After vociferous complaints and a legal battle over the ‘Go Home’ advertisements, the Home Office backed down, in part, after Ministers were threatened with court action. The advertisements appeared on vans and warned illegal immigrants to go home. Clients of the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London argued that the wording breached the government’s duties on equality. The government agreed to have ‘due regard’ to its duties under the Equalities Act, ‘including the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment based on race and religion, as well as to foster good relation between people from different racial and religious groups’.
This week, David Banks looked at the legal implications behind the twitter threats frequenting the news. He firstly took issue with the term ‘troll’ because of the significant difference between ‘typical trolling and making a specific threat of sexual violence against an individual’. Secondly, he looked at the complications that arose when considering the criminal offence of these threats, as Twitter has such an amplification effect. He also wondered whether the suggested abuse button would be feasible with the large amount of tweets. He further discussed a preference for seeing how the current law dealt with the present situation, rather than instantly implementing new legislation
Thieves and Fraudsters
Professor Ashworth, a leading criminal lawyer, was in the news this week for saying that thieves and fraudsters ‘should not be jailed’ and that the priority with pure property crimes should be to ensure victims are adequately compensated for their losses and that ‘perpetrators make amends for the harm they cause’. He said that this could be achieved through fines and community sentences, which would ‘not require a total loss of liberty’.
In other news
- A controversial stop and frisk program conducted by the New York City Police department was deemed unconstitutional by a federal court (decision here). The program was criticised for its indirect racial profiling of blacks and latinos.
- The Health Select Committee published a report of its post-legislative scrutiny of the Mental Health Act 2007. Lucy Series wrote that ‘what the Committee had to say about the deprivation of liberty safeguards (DOLS) was striking’ – see also her post on UKHRB.
- Suesspicious Minds ran through the implications of the mooted proposals from Worcestershire to charge parents for voluntary foster care.
- Jack of Kent looked at Bradley Manning’s apology at the military tribunal. It seems that instead of denying all charges, Manning admitted the lesser charges, choosing to focus the defence on the more serious ones.
- Claire McGregor, ‘a highly rated practitioner with a burgeoning international environmental and public law practice’ joined 1 Crown Office Row from Garden Court Chambers. Her move will strengthe 1COR’s public law team, ‘in particular, its reputation and practice in claimant work in this field’.
- Rowena Moffatt looked at the judgment of R(Oao MM & Ors) v Secretary of State for the Home Department. The ruling focused on the lawfulness of the new maintenance requirements for family visa applications and gave guidance on the significance of British citizenship in proportionality under Article 8 ECHR.
- The case of R(AA) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  concerned the lawfulness of detaining a person believed to be an adult but later assessed to be a child. Anita Davies noted that the decision was ‘disquieting’.
- Frank Cranmer examined a recent judgment granting the Plantagenet Alliance (involving the ‘living, collateral descendants of King Richard III’) permission to bring judicial review proceedings against the Secretary of State for Justice and the University of Leicester.
In the Courts
- A NHS Trust v DE  EWHC 2562 (Fam) (16 August 2013)August 17, 2013
Court rules it is in best interests of severely mentally disabled man to have vasectomy
- Ignaoua, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2512 (Admin) (09 August 2013) August 11, 2013
Government termination of judicial review via certification under Justice and Security Act “troubling” but lawful, clear Parliamentary intention even though no new rules in force yet
- D, R (On the Application Of) v Worcestershire County Council  EWHC 2490 (Admin) (09 August 2013) August 11, 2013
Worcestershire funding cut for disabled adult community care was lawful, consultation and PSED exercise appropriate
- JM, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Justice  EWHC 2465 (Admin) (21 May 2013) August 7, 2013
Closure of Young Offenders Institute at Ashfied was lawful and did not breach Art 14 ECHR, rules High Court
- Nash, R (on the application of) v Barnet London Borough Council  EWCA Civ 1004 (02 August 2013) August 5, 2013
Judicial Review challenge to ‘EasyCouncil’ Barnet outsourcing fails as was brought too late
- Nicklinson & Anor, R (on the application of) v A Primary Care Trust  EWCA Civ 961 (31 July 2013) August 2, 2013
Court of Appeal refuses to develop defence in to murder for assisted suicide but does rule DPP prosecution guidance for assisters needs to be clearer
To add events to this list, email Adam Wagner. Please only send events which (i) have their own webpage which can be linked to, and (ii) are relevant to topics covered by the blog.
- EVENT: Inner Temple Lecture Series – Master Mahoney -The Relationship between the Strasboug Court and the National Courts
ECtHR Judge Paul Mahoney, Monday 7th October 2013, 6.30pm
30/10/2013 09:00 – 17:00; Venue: The Law Society, from £200
- Imposing strict conditions on release of terrorist offender did not breach Article 8 – August 15, 2013 by Rosalind English
- Mental health detention powers must be reviewed urgently, says Parliamentary Committee – August 14, 2013 by Lucy Series
- No obligation enforceable within the UK to oblige government to comply with Strasbourg – August 12, 2013 by Rosalind English
- European Commission fines and their compliance with Article 6 – August 12, 2013 by David Hart QC
- Judicial Review proceedings may be terminated by government – August 12, 2013 by Rosalind English