The Weekly Round-up: Queen’s Speech, war trials in Ukraine, and pre-recorded cross-examinations

17 May 2022 by

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In the news:

The Queen’s Speech was delivered by Prince Charles on Tuesday, setting out the legislative agenda for the year to come. The controversial Bill of Rights was announced, which would overhaul the Human Rights Act with a vision to ‘restore the balance of power between the legislature and the courts.’ However, more than 50 groups including Amnesty, Liberty, and the British Institute for Human Rights have written to Boris Johnson warning of the ‘significant implications’ of repealing the Act. Other bills in the speech include: a Public Orders Bill (designed to target environmental protesters); a Brexit Freedoms Bill (ending the supremacy of EU law by making repeal easier); and a National Security Bill (tightening up official secrets law).

The first legal action against the UK-Rwanda asylum plan has been launched, based on an Iranian asylum seeker who claims he would face extreme hardship if sent to Rwanda. The challenge is that the scheme breaches international law, the UN refugee convention, and data protection laws. The legal action comes as the UN refugee agency expressed serious concerns that the policy will be taken up throughout Europe.

In other news:

  • Ukraine have commenced the first trial for war crimes committed during the Russian invasion. Vadim Shysimarin appeared in court accused of killing, on express orders, an unarmed 62-year-old civilian, according to prosecutors. Ukraine have now registered more than 11,200 crimes committed by Russian soldiers, and Unicef reported that at least 100 children were murdered in April alone.
  • A Ministry of Justice scheme, which allows victims of rape to be cross-examined outside of the courtroom, has been extended to a further 14 locations throughout the UK. The cross-examinations are recorded as close to the time of the offence as possible and then played during the trial. The procedure is now available at 26 Crown Courts.
  • Spain’s government have drafted legislation that would allow women over 16 to have abortions without needing permission from their parents, as well as introducing up to five days of menstrual leave once a month. The new laws are designed to eliminate the ‘taboo that exists around menstruation and the pain that some women suffer’.

In the courts:

  • On Friday, in E3 & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2022] EWHC 1133 (Admin), the High Court dismissed a judicial review claim which asked whether re-instating citizenship means a deprivation order should be treated as never having happened (claimants’ submission) or is prospective-only (defendant’s submission). In previous litigation the claimants successfully appealed a deprivation order to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (‘SIAC’), leading to the Secretary of State re-instating their citizenship. Mr Justice Jay found this was prospective-only for two reasons. First, the previous litigation related to the merits of the defendant’s actions, not whether it possessed legal flaws. Second, the appeal to the SIAC was against the decision rather than the order, leaving the order unaffected in terms of its legal propriety [at 82]. Neil Sheldon QC of 1 Crown Office Row acted successfully on behalf of the defendant.
  • Also on Friday, in Taggart v Royal College of Surgeons [2022] EWHC 1141 (Admin), the High Court dismissed a judicial review claim brought by a surgeon against a report of the Royal College of Surgeons. The case turned on whether the Invited Review Mechanism (‘IRM’), which the report formed a part of, was amenable to judicial review. Mrs Justice Hill favoured the defendant’s submissions, relying on R (Beer) v Hampshire Farmers Market Limited [2004] 1 WLR 233, that the body was not amenable to review since: (i) the source of the IRM’s function was contractual; and (ii) there was no public element, flavour or character which brought it into the purview of public law. Crucially, the IRM are an advisory body, whose recommendations do not lead to direct consequences. Jeremy Hyam QC and Natasha Barnes of 1 Crown Office Row acted on behalf of the claimant.

Elsewhere on UKHRB:

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