Govia GTR Railway Ltd v. ASLEF  EWCA Civ 1309, 20 December 2016 – read judgment
As all domestic readers know, there is a long running industrial dispute between Southern Rail and ASLEF, the train drivers’ union. The issue : DOOP – Driver Only Operated Passenger – Trains. The company says they are perfectly safe, have been used extensively, and there will be no job losses. It claims over 600,000 journeys are being affected per day. The union strongly disputes that the new system of door closing is as safe as the old for passengers, and says that the new system is very stressful for drivers.
Under domestic law, there appears to be no doubt that the strike action is lawful. In the time-honoured phrase, it is in furtherance and contemplation of a trade dispute, and the company accepted that a proper and lawful strike ballot was held – with a 75% turnout of members of whom 90% favoured the strike.
But the company argued that strike action was in breach of EU law, and hence it was entitled to an interlocutory injunction preventing the strike pending trial.
Angela Patrick of Doughty Street Chambers provides an initial reaction on the implications of the decisions in Tele Sverige/Watson for domestic surveillance and the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.
In an early holiday delivery, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) handed down its judgment in the joined cases of Tele Sverige/Watson & Ors (C-203/15/C-698/15), this morning.
Hotly anticipated by surveillance and privacy lawyers, these cases consider the legality of data retention laws in Europe, following the decision in Digital Rights Ireland that the Data Retention Directive was unlawful. Broadly, the CJEU confirms that EU law precludes national legislation that prescribes the general and indiscriminate retention of data. The Court concludes that the emergency data retention legislation passed in a few days in 2014 – the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 – is unlawful. That legislation is, of course, due to lapse at the end of December 2016 in any event.
This morning’s decision comes just too late to have influenced the passage into law of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (“IPA”) – the new domestic bible on bulk surveillance, interception, communications data retention and acquisition and equipment interference – which received Royal Assent in early December. However, what the CJEU has to say about surveillance and privacy may determine whether the IPA – also known by some as the Snoopers Charter – has a long or a short shelf-life.
The powers in IPA are built on the same model as its predecessor and provides for broad powers of data retention with limited provision for safeguards of the kind that the Court considered crucial. Significant parts of that newly minted legislation lay open to challenge. Continue reading
Siddiqui v University of Oxford  EWHC 3150 (5 December 2016) – read judgment
This case raises the interesting question of whether a disappointed graduate may call upon the courts to redress a grievance concerning the grade he was given for his degree; not just what his ground of claim should be, but whether this is the kind of grievance which should be navigated through the courts at all. There are some matters which are arguably non-justiciable matters of academic judgment.
The facts of the case may be summarised briefly. The claimant is a former history student at Brasenose College, Oxford. The defendants are, or the defendant is, collectively, the Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford. The defendant is referred to throughout as the University.
The claimant sat his final examinations in June 2000 and obtained an Upper Second Class Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in history. His claim against the University was for damages for negligent teaching leading, he alleges, to him failing to get a higher 2:1 or a first class degree which, he said, he would otherwise have achieved.
The University applied to strike out the claim and/or for summary judgment on the ground that it was hopelessly bad on the merits and also plainly time barred. Continue reading
The Investigatory Powers Act 2016
The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 is set to become law in the United Kingdom following its passing of the third stage of legislative scrutiny earlier this month. The Act seeks to consolidate and amend the legislative framework which governs the use of investigatory powers, including the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). It is expected to receive royal assent by the end of 2016.