The Weekly Round-up: strike action, modern slavery, and electronic tagging
17 October 2022
In the news
The Home Office has reclassified modern slavery as an “illegal immigration and asylum issue”. While it used to appear on the official list of ministerial responsibilities for the safeguarding minister, it is now listed at the bottom of the “illegal immigration and asylum” brief of immigration minister Tom Pursglove. According to official statistics, more than a quarter of all people identified as potential modern slavery victims are British, and 97% of all modern slavery referrals concluded in the first half of 2022 were confirmed as genuine by the authorities.
On 10 October, criminal barristers voted to end their strike over pay. 57% voted in a ballot to accept the package offered by Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis: an immediate 15% rise in fees for government-funded defence work, which will also apply to 60,000 cases in the backlog, and additional payments for a range of court preparation work. Crown courts have begun hearing cases as normal again, but it is not clear how quickly the backlog will be reduced.
In other news
- A primary school has become among the first to take advantage of the Government’s change to The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 earlier this year, which allows them to hire agency workers to replace striking staff. In September, UNISON issued proceedings in the High Court to challenge the government’s decision. Ten trade unions, coordinated by the Trades Union Congress, are taking separate legal action against the decision.
- The Independent Review of the Culture of the Royal College of Nursing into the Royal College of Nursing, led by Bruce Carr KC, has exposed bullying, misogyny and a sexual culture where women are at risk of “alcohol and power-related exploitation”. The report states that the RCN’s senior leadership has been “riddled with division, dysfunction and distrust” and condemns the male-dominated governing body, known as council, as “not fit for purpose”. Pat Cullen, general secretary and chief executive of the trade union and professional body, has apologised and warned that “no individual is beyond reproach” and that people implicated in the report could “face internal and regulatory consequences”.
- An asylum seeker electronically tagged by the government after being selected for removal to Rwanda is launching a legal challenge. He said that after being tortured and trafficked in Sudan and Libya he has been treated “like an animal” in the UK. His legal representatives are applying for a judicial review of the Home Office’s “electronic monitoring expansion pilot”, which applies tags normally used for foreign offenders to asylum seekers crossing the English Channel in small boats.
- The Metropolitan Police has been forced to apologise and pay £6,000 to the family of a mixed-race boy who was unlawfully searched and handcuffed. The boy was 13 at the time of the incident in September 2018. He was grabbed, pushed and handcuffed by two white male officers. He and his friend were only released after 10 minutes. The officers’ claim that neither boy had been “detained or searched” was later disproven.
In the courts
In Re G (Court of Protection: Injunction)  EWCA Civ 1312, the Court of Appeal considered the legal test to be applied by the Court of Protection when considering an injunction. The Court concluded that the Court of Protection does have power to grant injunctions under s.16(5) of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, both in the case where a deputy has been appointed and in the case where the Court has made an order taking a decision for a person. Such an injunction can only be granted when it is just and convenient to do so. This requirement is satisfied where there is an interest which merits protection and a legal or equitable principle which justifies exercising the power to order the defendant to do or not do something (in line with the majority judgment in Convoy Collateral Ltd v Broad Idea International Ltd  UKPC 24). In Re G, those requirements were satisfied because G’s interest was an interest that merits protection, and the Court held that the principle that the Court may make ancillary orders to prevent its orders being frustrated is ample justification for the grant of injunctive relief if the facts merit it. The Court found that this is likely to be the case wherever an injunction is granted to prevent the Court’s decision under s.16(2)(a) from being frustrated or undermined.