Latest on the Lockdown Challenge in the UK courts

9 June 2020 by

Update on 19 June: here are the government’s summary grounds of defence in which the government says that they did not order the schools to close; it was only a “request” (clause 73)

On 26 May, judicial review proceedings were launched in the High Court which not only challenged the lawfulness of the Lockdown Regulations as having been made “ultra vires” under the 1984 Public Health Act, but also claimed that they are disproportionate to the threat posed by Covid-19. Philip Havers QC of 1 Crown Office Row is acting for the claimant: see my post on the launch proceedings here.

This latest communication from the claimant has challenged the legality of the latest lockdown regulations, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020, enforceable from Monday 8 June. (NB whilst there might be changes afoot in respect of people travelling from and within the EU, the current position remains as set out in the regulations which took force this week). The claimant observes that from many weeks of data collected since it first affected the UK, that Covid-19 overwhelmingly affects primarily the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, not the “vast majority of the working population.”

Young people and children are scarcely affected at all. Indeed, as of the latest available figures published by NHS England, we note that out of a population of 56 million people in England alone, since the outbreak started, Covid-19 has been cited on the death certificates of just 279 people who died in hospital in England under the age of 60 with no pre-existing health condition. *

Against this background, last month’s decision by the Government to impose what appeared to be, in the claimant’s words, “a somewhat half-baked new ‘quarantine scheme'” for people entering the UK from abroad is another body blow to the UK’s economy. Rumours that this was in the offing first emerged in the second week of May when airlines warned of the “devastating” consequences such a scheme might have.

This “one size fits all” approach, says the claimant, is another example of a disproportionate piece of legislation going much further than necessary to achieve its aim – and causing “huge and unnecessary damage in the process.”

He points out that more than half of these regulations explain who is exempted from complying as opposed to those who will have to comply with them. Exempted persons include lorry drivers, fruit pickers, airline crews and seamen.

Because there are no stipulations as to how they proceed to their homes, the regulations have the effect that someone who is infectious is still allowed to mix on public transport in confined spaces with hundreds of people, for hours if travelling from an airport or seaport.

They can use elevators, go to shops, travel via public transport to obtain supplies, touch surfaces, cough, breath and do all the things that are known to spread the virus.

And what happens when these exempted travellers arrive at their homes? The Travel regulations stipulate that they should self isolate for 14 days. How is this to be enforced?

A source quoted in the Guardian said of the chances of being caught “you would have to be unlucky and stupid” [to be caught disobeying these regulations].

The imposition of this 14 day self-isolation requirement on UK citizens returning from abroad or non UK citizens travelling to the UK will have a “devastating effect” on the aviation and travel industries, already in meltdown by the Lockdown Regulations since March. Very few people in this country, say the claimants, apart perhaps from the very wealthy and those who no longer have to work, are going to book any kind of holiday abroad if on their return they are compelled to take an extra 14 unpaid days off work.

Much as we are rejoicing in our quiet skies and imagining a more responsible future where meetings can be held online rather than by unnecessary return flights to Berlin, New York etc., there is a heavy price to be paid for the “huge fall” in foreign tourists and business people who would normally fill up our hotels, restaurants and principal tourist attractions.

The claimant argues – and I will leave our readers to the details of the claim in the letter itself – that the Travel Regulations are outside the powers granted by the 1984 Public Health Act. That they are also disproportionate and irrational (the unreasonable part of all this being that we impose belated controls over travel now when other European countries introduced these controls back in March, at the hight of infection rates, whilst the arrivals boards at UK airports were alight with flights arriving from all over the world.)

Just one post script regarding the claimants’ request for what’s going on with SAGE. On 29 May, a few days after the launch of this challenge, the Government belatedly published the minutes of 34 such meetings of SAGE.

As regards the “scientific advice”, we cannot see any reference to such scientific advice in any of the most recent minutes of SAGE that have been published so far following our client’s judicial review proceedings. This is in spite of the fact that the proposal to impose a quarantine law was first mooted as far back as 9 May. SAGE does not once mention in any of the May minutes so far published, the need for a new quarantine procedure for incoming international arrivals.

One more quote from the letter, and then I really must let you get on with reading it.

Why, when the Government tells us it has massively ramped up its testing capacity, has no attempt been made to use the testing of incoming travellers for Covid-19 as an alternative or mitigating element to its
travel restrictions? It may not be practicable for there to be testing of all incoming travellers at the point of entry. But there is not even an attempt to offer testing to those who ask for it, as an alternative to selfisolation.
If – as is the case anyway under the Travel Regulations – people who might have Covid-19 are allowed into the country, then why can they not take a test which, if negative, could enable them to be released early from such quarantine or avoid it altogether?
Unless and until the Government can convincingly answer these questions, and address the other factors we have mentioned, there would appear to be very strong grounds for a legal challenge to the Travel Regulations on the grounds of irrationality.

There are other grounds of challenge, which are equally interesting. The claimant asks for a response to these and the forgoing questions by 5pm on Friday 5 June 2020. A reminder: the government had until Friday week (12 June) to respond to the first letter before action.

* [The latest news from the WHO suggests that asymptomatic spread of coronavirus appears to be “very rare” (Monday 8th June]. See also the latest CNN report here.

6 comments


  1. LIJEH A. PEREZ FLS ACMI says:

    Best of luck! There’s another important Judicial Review going on right now! Lijeh Perez (Fellow of the Lunar Society in England) is taking the PM and SoS for Healthcare to court over changes to the mental health act which could allow 1 person to detain any person with a mental health condition! Tahir Ali MP (Birmingham) is supporting the case!

  2. farfrae says:

    Can I just leave a point relating to ‘cross border’ lockdown that no one seems to have considered. Perhaps someone with a legal mind could comment (I have no legal training or knowledge).

    I live in Wales were the ‘lockdown’ regulations have become ever more restrictive. The last update to the regulations limited us to having to remain local (which guidance deems to be 5 miles). My son lives in England and would like to visit me. The Police in Wales have been stopping cars from England and turning them back.

    However, the legislation, here, restricting travel etc. is The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020

    Section 1 (2) says “These Regulations apply in relation to Wales”

    Section 8 (1) restricts travel ” During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse.”

    Thus, I would contend, that anyone visiting Wales from England cannot have their travel restricted as they do not live in Wales for this section to apply. i.e. The Act does not restrict travel per se, it just restricts people leaving the ‘place where they are living’. If the do not have a home here in Wales it cannot not therefore apply.

    Perhaps someone could have a think about this and cross border enforcement in general? I’d be interested in some views.

  3. Nigel Landithy says:

    The Lockdown itself not the virus is causing the job losses, additional deaths and damage to our economy. Sweden, South Korea and other countries who did not Lockdown fared no worse and often better regarding infection rates of what is now clearly not the apocalyptic killer virus as wrongly and forseeably originally forecast. This suggests that the lockdown that has caused such huge damage to the economy along with additional deaths may never have been necessary. Search also: “Simon Dolan, Lockdown Judicial Review” and consider giving support there too.

  4. Teresa Evans says:

    Your welcome Rosalind. I am reliably informed that the case is ongoing.

  5. Teresa Evans says:

    Why is no mention made to the judicial case re English Democrats and Robin Tilbrook – v – The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State Health and Social Care which argue about the unlawfulness of the lockdown? https://robintilbrook.blogspot.com/2020/04/

    1. Rosalind English says:

      Thank you Terasa for drawing my attention to this. I’m not aware of it having advanced beyond the letter before claim and the government’s rejection of the allegations on the 14th of May?

Comments are closed.

Welcome to the UKHRB


This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.

Subscribe

Categories


Tags


Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption AI air pollution air travel ALBA Allergy Al Qaeda Amnesty International animal rights Animals anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 article 263 TFEU Artificial Intelligence Asbestos Assange assisted suicide asylum asylum seekers Australia autism badgers benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery British Waterways Board Catholic Church Catholicism Chagos Islanders Charter of Fundamental Rights child protection Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners civil partnerships climate change clinical negligence closed material procedure Coercion Commission on a Bill of Rights common law communications competition confidentiality consent conservation constitution contact order contact tracing contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus costs costs budgets Court of Protection crime criminal law Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation DEFRA deportation deprivation of liberty derogations Detention Dignitas diplomacy disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Environment Equality Act Equality Act 2010 Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Facebook Family Fatal Accidents Fertility FGM Finance foreign criminals foreign office foreign policy France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage gay rights Gaza Gender genetics Germany Google Grenfell Gun Control Health HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Human Rights Watch Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests insurance international law internet inuit Iran Iraq Ireland islam Israel Italy IVF ivory ban Japan joint enterprise judaism judicial review Judicial Review reform Julian Assange jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid legal aid cuts Leveson Inquiry lgbtq liability Libel Liberty Libya lisbon treaty Lithuania local authorities marriage Media and Censorship mental capacity Mental Capacity Act Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery morocco murder music Muslim nationality national security naturism neuroscience NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges Obituary parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury physician assisted death Piracy Plagiarism planning planning system Poland Police Politics Pope press prison Prisoners prisoner votes Prisons privacy Professional Discipline Property proportionality Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries quarantine Radicalisation rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia saudi arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice Secret trials sexual offence Sikhism Smoking social media social workers South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing starvation statelessness stem cells stop and search Strasbourg super injunctions Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax technology Terrorism tort Torture travel treason treaty accession trial by jury TTIP Turkey Twitter UK Ukraine universal credit universal jurisdiction unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wildlife wind farms WomenInLaw Worboys wrongful birth YearInReview Zimbabwe

Disclaimer


This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.

%d bloggers like this: