Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law
In the News:
In the matter of the person previously known as Jon Venables, Application by Ralph Stephen Bulger and James Patrick Bulger: Sir James Munby, sitting in the High Court, rejected a legal challenge to release the new identity of one of James Bulger’s killers.
Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss issued an injunction in 2001 conferring lifelong anonymity on Bulger’s killers. A number of Bulger’s relatives subsequently issued an application seeking to vary the injunction, though Bulger’s mother was not a party to it.
The application was considered by Edis J earlier this year, who made an order that it be considered by the President of the Family Division at the first available opportunity. The application requested that the court “consider that over 17 years on and with serious offending the experiment of ‘anonymising’ Jon Venables has not worked”. The application was made in light of child sex offences committed by Venables since 2001.
However, the bundle prepared for the hearing by the applicants did not comply with the relevant Practice Direction’s mandatory requirements. In particular, the applicants did not outline how the injunction should be varied or discharged. Compliance, the court held, was important to achieve the aims of bringing down waiting times and delays in hearing cases. Sir James Munby expressed regret that the Practice Direction was still not being adhered to 18 years after it was first issued. Secondly, a witness statement did not comply with Family Procedure Rule 25.4(2). If the applicants wished to reply on expert evidence, they should have made an application to do so. The court recognised that the application had been prepared in haste but noted that deficiencies remained three months later.
In light of this, counsel for Mr Venables and the Attorney General were severely disadvantaged in their understanding of the case. An order was therefore made to remedy the deficiencies in the relatives’ application.
In Other News….
- The High Court rejected an application for judicial review from the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB). The Union wished to judicially review the Central Arbitration Committee’s decision that Deliveroo drivers should be classified as self-employed. The IWBG sought to represent riders in Camden, thereby obtaining benefits for them such as the minimum wage. The IWBG has since said it will apply again. Reuters reports here.
- Asda and Sainsbury’s announced plans to merge this week. Under the plans, the two brands are expected to retain separate identities. The move, which would give them control of 31.4% of the grocery market, is likely to be examined by the Competition and Markets Authority. MPs have written to the regulator asking for more information about its proposed investigation. The BBC reports here.
- A computer error means that letters inviting 450,000 women for breast cancer screening were not sent. The problem arose from an algorithm used to decide the order in which letters were sent. The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said that between 135 and 270 women may have had their lives shortened. Hunt also announced an independent inquiry. All women affected will be contacted. A helpline is also available. The BBC reports here.
In the Courts:
- Secretary of State for the Home Department v MA (Somalia): The Court of Appeal held that Article 3 need not be considered when determining whether a refugee’s status can be ended (called a ‘cession decision’). Rather, the test is whether the conditions which originally led to the respondent being recognised as a refugee still exist (in line with Article 1C(5) of the Refugee Convention). This concurs with the CJEU’s interpretation of the clause in Abdulla(Joined Cases C-175/08, C-176/08, C-178/08, C0179/08). The Court also held that Article 3 of the ECHR will not normally be violated by sending a refugee back to his/ her country of origin, even if there is a risk that his/ her living conditions will fall below humanitarian standards. In this case, the Secretary of State had decided the respondent would no longer be at real risk of persecution if he returned to Somalia. Accordingly, the respondent could no longer claim international protection because the circumstances which had led to him being recognised as a refugee no longer existed.
- The Government of India v Chawla: The High Court required an assurance from India before an extradition could be allowed. The High Court affirmed the presumption of good faith in extradition requests received from India. However, in light of a real risk of inhuman and degrading treatment (contrary to Article 3 ECHR) an assurance was required that the respondent would be held in conditions which were compliant with Article 3. Whilst a second assurance was provided, the District Judge could refuse to take account of it because it was provided too late. However, the judge should not have discharged the respondent without enabling the requesting state to provide assurances.
- Lauzika, R (On The Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department: The High Court held that part of the claimant’s period in detention was unlawful. A legal standard for immigration detentions is set by EU law, based on individualised proportionality and necessity. This test is outlined in Article 27.2 of the Citizens Directive. The Court also held that a public law error in a distinct decision can render a detention unlawful, but not as a matter of course. In this case, errors such as a breach of Article 27.2 resulted in unlawfulness. Unlawfulness also arose from a breach of Hardial Singh 3, because judicial review proceedings meant the claimant would not be removed within a reasonable time.
On the UKHRB
Shaheen Rahman QC explains the Divisional Court’s ruling that the Senior Coroner for Inner North London acted unlawfully in adopting a policy that resulted in Jewish and Muslim families facing delays in the burials of family members.
Lucy Eastwood has written an article on a landmark High Court judgement, in which an NHS trust successfully brought contempt proceedings against a disc jockey who grossly exaggerated the effect of his injuries.
- Time for a Time Limit? Immigration Detention and Human Rights: The Human Rights Lawyers’ Association, 24th May at Bindmans LLP. More information here.
- Women in Europe: Is Time Up?: City Law School, 17th May at City, University of London. More information here.
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