The Weekly Round-up: Legal advice sanctions, cannabis under consideration, and evacuation biometrics
10 October 2022
In the news
Law firms in the UK will be banned from providing ‘transactional legal advisory services’ to Russians, as part of an effort to increase sanctions. The decision came after Putin’s announcement of the illegal annexation of 4 Ukrainian regions. The UK Government had previously banned services exported to Russia back in May (including accountancy, management consultancy, and PR), but legal services were deliberately excluded from this. The justification for that exclusion was the Rule of Law principle that everyone has a right to access legal representation. In order to maintain this principle as far as possible, the ban on legal advice has been limited to commercial and transactional services with a vision to impede Russian business’s ability to operate internationally.
The Home Secretary is considering upgrading cannabis to a class A drug for fears it has become a ‘gateway’ to more harmful substances. This change would mean the maximum sentence for possession would increase to 7 years, and the maximum sentence for supply would increase to life. While at present there are no plans underway for the reclassification, Braverman is reviewing the evidence available before making a final decision.
In other news
- The former Liberian rebel commander, Kunti Kamara, will go on trial in Paris for war crimes committed during the civil war. It will be the first trial in France of a non-Rwandan accused of wartime atrocities following the establishment of the special crimes against humanity tribunal in 2012. Kamara was head of the militia unit in Liberia and is accused of reducing the population to victims of slavery and torture.
- Jade McCrossen-Nethercott is suing the CPS after it admitted her rape case was dropped because of claims she had a sleep condition called ‘sexsomnia’. Her case was dropped days before the accused was due to stand trial because 2 sleep experts said it was possible that she had performed sexual acts in her sleep with the appearance of being awake and consenting. The CPS have concluded that the case should have gone to trial, and that the expert opinions should have been challenged in court.
In the courts
- In KA v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2473 (Admin), the High Court ruled that the requirement for Afghan families joining British family members in the UK to take biometric tests was unlawful. The claimants were an Afghan mother and her 5 children who could not find anywhere in Afghanistan to obtain the mandatory tests, and therefore were refused entry. It was submitted that the biometrics requirement represented a significant interference with their Article 8 rights. The court held that those in the claimants’ position should be entitled to apply to have the biometrics deferred or waived, as doing so would allow for a merits-based determination. There was no reason, for instance, why they could not fulfil the biometrics requirement after arriving in the UK.
Elsewhere on the UKHRB
- On Law Pod UK, Rosalind English talks to former Supreme Court Judge, Lord Sumption about the Online Safety Bill.
- Rosalind English discusses the AG’s referral to the Court of Appeal regarding the Colston 4.