The Weekly Round-up: Gaza reprieve, Covid-19 Inquiry continues, and oil-spill litigation in the Niger Delta

27 November 2023 by

In the news 

Fighting in Gaza paused this weekend, as Hamas and Israel agreed to a temporary, four-day reprieve. Twenty-six hostages have been released by Hamas and 39 Palestinian detainees held in pre-trial detention have been allowed to return to the West Bank. Under the terms of the agreement negotiated by Qatar, a total of 50 Israeli hostages and 150 Palestinian detainees are meant to be exchanged between the parties. The temporary pause in fighting has also allowed much-needed humanitarian assistance and fuel to reach the Gaza strip. 

The Covid-19 Inquiry heard evidence this week from Sir Patrick Vallance (former Government Chief Scientific Adviser), Professor Sir Chris Whitty (Chief Medical Officer for England) and Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam (former Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England). In his statement, Sir Patrick Vallance said the Government’s scientific advisers were not consulted on Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme and ‘didn’t see it before it was announced.’ This undermines written comments made by Rishi Sunak to the Inquiry, where he said that no one raised concerns with him about the policy. Meanwhile, Sir Chris Whitty said in March 2020, ministers mistakenly understood ‘herd immunity’ to be a government policy objective, and he tried to stop the idea from being discussed publicly because herd immunity would have been ‘inconceivable.’ The inquiry will hear further evidence this coming week. 

Meanwhile, Ian Fry, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, has recently condemned the jail sentences for two Just Stop Oil protesters who scaled a bridge on the Dartford Crossing last October. The activists were given two and three year prison sentences for causing a public nuisance, and were refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court on the basis that their sentences met the ‘legitimate aim’ of deterring others from similar offending. Ian Fry raised concerns about the length of the activist’s sentences, and the political flow-on effect the sentences could have on activists expressing concerns about the environmental crisis ‘and the impacts of climate change on human rights and on future generations’. Fry said the new Public Order Act was a ‘direct attack on the right to the freedom of peaceful assembly.’ There has not been any response from the Government. 

In other news 

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said this week that some companies are not giving users ‘fair choice’ about the use of cookies. Cookies are small files that store on your computer and collect analytical data about website usage. They are often used to personalise ads based on a user’s browsing history. The law regulating the use of cookies (the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations) will be altered by the proposed Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, which is due its third reading in the House of Commons on 29 November 2023. Under the proposed reforms, some information – for improving website service or security – will be collected without consent, resulting in fewer ‘pop-ups’ requesting the user consent to cookies. The ICO has not yet named the companies it thinks are falling short of current guidance, but will provide an update in January.

Meanwhile, the National Women’s Prisons Health and Social Care Review was published this week. Established in 2021, the Review is intended to improve health and social care outcomes for women in prison and upon their release. Conducting a review of the 12 women’s prisons in England, the Review found healthcare across women’s prisons to be ‘inconsistent’ and not always ‘gender specific’ or sensitive to women with protected characteristics. It suggests ‘fabric improvements’ across the women’s estate should be made. 

Finally, the independent review into Lancashire Police’s handling of Nicola Bulley’s death was also released this week. Bulley went missing in January, and was found three weeks after her disappearance in the River Wyre. Amongst other findings, the report says Lancashire Police should have been better prepared to communicate sensitive medical information about Bulley in a more ‘carefully constructed manner’. 

In the Courts 

The “Bille and Ogale Group Litigation”. Mrs Justice May handed down the latest judgement in the ongoing litigation between communities and individuals of the Niger Delta, and the oil giant, Shell. The case concerns oil contamination affecting two regions of the Niger Delta – the Bille and Ogale regions. In her judgement, Mrs Justice May held the claimants could bring new causes of action under the African Charter and Nigerian Constitution, which recognise ‘as a fundamental right the right to a clean and healthy environment’. There is no limitation period for human rights claims brought under the Nigerian Constitutional framework.  Mrs Justice May also refused the Defendant’s application to strike out the claims. The case continues. 

In Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (“IWGB”) v Central Arbitration Committee (“CAC”) and another [2023] UKSC 43 the Supreme Court held that Deliveroo drivers are not in an employed relationship for the purposes of Article 11 ECHR (freedom of assembly and association). The case concerned Deliveroo riders in London who became members of the IWGB and sought formal recognition of the Union by Deliveroo for collective bargaining on behalf of Deliveroo drivers in Camden and Kentish Town. The Supreme Court stated that the right to form a trade union arises in the context of an employment relationship. Applying this to the facts of the case, the CAC rightly found there was no employment relationship between Deliveroo and its riders, as the riders can appoint a substitute to take their job, can work or not as convenient to them, and are not prevented from working for Deliveroo’s competitors. Thus, in this case, the riders are unable to rely on the trade union rights conferred by Article 11. The appeal was dismissed. 

Doctor’s suspension after questioning the severity of Covid 19 did not breach his Article 10 rights

20 November 2023 by

This was an appeal by a doctor against a decision of the medical practitioners’ tribunal that he was guilty of misconduct. He also appealed against the tribunal’s decision to suspend his registration for six months.

Factual and legal background

The appellant (“A”) is a colorectal and breast surgeon who has been registered since 1990, having qualified in Pakistan. He had been working as a locum consultant surgeon at the North Manchester Hospital NHS Trust between April and October 2020. This was during the Covid-19 Pandemic and included the early stages of lockdown imposed by the Government. A appeared on a number of YouTube videos voicing his doubts about the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. The gravamen of the allegations agains him was that he had used his position as a doctor to promote his opinions and that his actions were “contrary to widely accepted medical opinion” and had undermined public confidence in the medical profession.

This is what he is said to have alleged on the You Tube platform:

a. the Sars-CoV-2 virus and/or Covid-19 disease do not exist or words to that effect;
b. the Covid 19 pandemic was a conspiracy brought by the United Kingdom, Israel and America or words to that effect;
c. the Covid-19 pandemic was a multibillion scam which was being manipulated for the benefit of:
i. Bill Gates;
ii. pharmaceutical companies;
iii. the John Hopkins Medical Institute of Massachusetts;
iv. the World Health Organisation,
or words to that effect;
d. the Covid-19 pandemic was being used to impose a new world order or words to that effect;
e. the Sars-CoV-2 virus was made as part of a wider global conspiracy or words to that effect.

a. undermined public health, and/or;
b. were contrary to widely accepted medical opinion, and/or;
c. undermined public confidence in the medical profession.

When criticised about these activities, A undertook to remove the videos, but failed to do so.

Importantly, the GMC and the Tribunal considered that A’s opinions on mask wearing and the discharge of elderly patients from hospital might have been controversial, but that they remained within the domain of freedom of expression for doctors as well as the wider public. (My italics. The jury is still out on mask wearing, and the doctor in this case was rightly free to opine on their efficacy).

The problem was his pronouncements on social media that the virus was a hoax and did not exist, and his promotion of conspiracy theories suggesting that vaccines were in development for the deliberate harm or manipulation of the public

The GMC considered that A was guilty of misconduct and demonstrated impairment of his fitness to practise. It referred to the GMC’s “Good Medical Practice” and its guidance on “Doctors’ use of social media” and concluded that immediate suspension of D’s registration was appropriate.

Before the Tribunal, the GMC argued that A had used his position as a doctor in the UK to promote his opinions.

The gravity of the impact of the coronavirus and Covid-19 on public health was being explained on a daily basis to the public and disseminated to medical professionals. The general public was required to comply with the restrictions and the messages were provided to set out the rationale for the restrictions and the reasons compliance was required. …In the Tribunal’s view they ran counter to the public health messages being disseminated at the time.”

…”In the Tribunal’s view, and in the context of the status of the pandemic at the time, hearing such opinions expressed by an NHS consultant surgeon would, on the balance of probabilities, have the effect of undermining public health. One of the key government messages at the time was that compliance with restrictions [were] required to ‘Protect the NHS’.

The Tribunal considered that an NHS consultant asserting as fact such statements of the kind as set out above undermined important public health messages.

A submitted that (1) the tribunal’s decisions did not meet the Article 10 tests of necessity or proportionality; (2) the GMC’s guidance did not meet the Article 10(2) “prescribed by law” condition; (3) suspension was disproportionate and inappropriate, particularly given the 18-month period of successive interim suspension orders.

Appeal to the High Court

The grounds of appeal focussed primarily on whether the Tribunal’s decisions were consistent with A’s article 10 rights. Ground 1 was that the conclusions on misconduct and impairment were contrary to article 10(1) because they give rise to an interference with article 10 rights that was not “prescribed by law” that, for that reason alone, did not meet the requirements laid down within article 10(2) and is unlawful.

Ground 2 was that, in any event, the conclusions on misconduct and impairment were a disproportionate interference with A’s rights under article 10(1). Grounds 3 and 4 were aspects of Ground 2. The former was that the Tribunal was wrong to conclude that expressing views “outside widely accepted medical opinion” either amounted to misconduct or was capable of providing justification for interference with A’s right to freedom of expression. The latter was that there was no evidence to support a conclusion that what A said damaged the reputation of the medical profession. This too, it was submitted, goes to whether the conclusions of misconduct, impairment, and the penalty imposed could be proportionate interferences with A’s Convention rights. Ground 5 was that the decisions to impose a final order for suspension and to make an immediate order suspending Mr Adil pending any appeal were disproportionate in that each failed to give sufficient weight to mitigating or compensating circumstances.


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Unanimous Supreme Court: Rwanda removals are unlawful

15 November 2023 by

R ((AAA) Syria and Ors) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] UKSC 42

The Government’s flagship policy of removing individual asylum seekers to Rwanda for their claims to be decided under the Rwandan asylum system that was announced on 14th April 2022 has been found to be unlawful by a unanimous Supreme Court.

The Claimants were 10 individual asylum-seekers who entered the UK irregularly in small boats, together with one charity, Asylum Aid. There were also several interveners to the case, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (whose counsel team was led by Angus McCullough KC of 1 Crown Office Row). The Home Secretary (whose counsel included Neil Sheldon KC and Natasha Barnes of 1 Crown Office Row) was the Defendant.

In December 2022, the Divisional Court (Lewis LJ and Swift J) dismissed the general challenge to the policy, as discussed here. But in June, the Court of Appeal, by a 2-1 majority (Sir Geoffrey Vos MR and Underhill LJ) found that the policy was unlawful, as discussed here.

The Supreme Court (Lord Reed P, Lord Hodge DP, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs and Lord Sales), in a judgment jointly authored by Lord Reed and Lord Lloyd-Jones, has now held unanimously that the policy is unlawful on the basis that there are substantial grounds for believing that asylum seekers would face a real risk of ill-treatment by reason of refoulement (forcible return) to their country of origin if they are removed to Rwanda.


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The Weekly Round-up: Israel-Palestine war crimes, Assisted-dying, and SLAPPs

6 November 2023 by

In the news

As Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza begins, commentators and key global organisations are assessing whether international law is being broken by either side in the conflict. The UN said as early as 10th October that both Hamas and the Israeli military may have committed war crimes and that it is gathering evidence for potential prosecutions. Hamas’ terrorist attack of 7th October, which killed hundreds of noncombatants and abducted others for use as human shields and hostages, has already been labelled a crime under international humanitarian law. Meanwhile, Israel’s siege of Gaza, which includes shutting down food, water and electricity supplies and preventing humanitarian relief, may constitute the crime of collective punishment, according to the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Karim Khan, the British barrister who currently acts as the ICC prosecutor, has said the ICC will pursue investigations into the 7th October attack as well as Israel’s activities in Gaza and the West Bank.

Donald Trump’s sons have taken the stand in their father’s fraud trial in New York. This case concerns the Trump family’s property business, and the prosecution hold that members of the family including Eric and Donald Trump Jr falsely inflated its finances and falsified records. Both sons of the property magnate denied wrongdoing and instead suggested an accountancy firm were to blame, with Trump Jr remarking in testimony that ‘I leave it to my accountants.’ Eric Trump was confronted with email evidence that, despite his assertions, he was in fact closely involved with the construction of the company’s financial statements. The prosecution are seeking a fine of $250m and a ban on Donald Trump and his adult sons doing business in the state.

The Isle of Man Parliament has progressed an assisted-dying legalisation bill. The private members bill was brought by Alex Allinson MHK (Member of the House of Keys), who labelled the proposal a move towards “compassion, choice, and autonomy,” while other MHKs spoke against the bill on the grounds that safeguards against coercion would be difficult to put in place. The bill has it that those eligible would have to conform to several criteria: terminally-ill, over the age of 18, resident on the Isle of Man for at least 12 months, and to have the legal capacity of make the decision and a “clear and settled intention to end their life.” Rob Callister MHK raised the concern that the island become a “death tourism” hotspot, should the bill be passed with its current residency minimum. The campaign group Dignity in Dying has called for the central government in Westminster to follow suit, the Royal College of Surgeons having recently withdrawn its opposition to the proposal.

In other news

The chair of the Bar Council has proposed a solution to the over-use of Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP). SLAPPs typically involve a powerful individual or organisation targeting financially-weaker journalists or publishers with the threat of bringing onerous legal actions. They have been the subject of much public criticism lately, and are described as undermining the democratic principles of free speech and the rule of law. Nick Vineall KC has suggested that those who cynically pursue claims in order to shut down legitimate criticism and public debate should be liable in damages for acting contrary to the public interest. “The public interest is damaged by not having access to information which should never have been restrained, while the reputation of the claimant is unjustifiably protected for a period because something which ought to have been said about them is not said for a period of time, and sometimes of course forever.” Speaking at the IBA conference in Paris, Vineall made a comparison to the practice of applicants for injunctions accepting an undertaking to pay damages in case their claim turns out to be unjustified and the injunction causes harm to the defendant. Listen to our interview with Greg Callus on the subject of SLAPPs on Law Pod UK here.

A leading thinktank has warned that Britain’s public services are stuck in a “doom loop” of recurrent crises as a result of government’s short-term planning. The Institute for Government said that, due to prioritising short-term goals over long-term solutions, underfunding public services, and reversing policy decisions within short periods of time, the British state is underperforming across a range of public services and organisations. “The result is crumbling schools, NHS computers that don’t turn on, and not enough prison cells to house prisoners.” The report cites the crown court backlog, standing in June at a record high of 64,709 cases, and concludes the prison system is “at bursting point” due to over-crowding and under-staffing.

The Scottish government has released a legislative proposal that would give ministers the power to assess and ‘remediate’ (repair or remove) buildings with unsafe cladding without owners’ consent and to evacuate the occupants of unsafe buildings. The Housing (Cladding Remediation) Bill creates a new offence for obstructing or failing to assist with assessment, and introduces the concept of a Scottish ‘responsible developers’ scheme, which would encourage developers to fund remediation work.

In the courts

In Scottish Association of Landlords v Lord Advocate [2023] CSOH 76, the Scottish Court of Session determined that the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022 did not disproportionately interfere with article 1 of the ECHR protocol 1, which states that ‘every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions.’ The court held that the Scottish government’s assessment of proportionality, in bringing a bill that caps rent and places a moratorium on evictions in private residential tenancies, did not proceed manifestly without reasonable foundation.

The Special Advocate – Not Waving but Drowning

30 October 2023 by

The unfairness of secret hearings is being aggravated by sustained neglect of the special advocate system.  In this piece I explain why I have regretfully concluded that I cannot accept any new appointments as a special advocate until the Government provides proper support for that system.

25 June 2023 was the tenth anniversary of section 6 of the Justice and Security Act 2013 (the JSA) coming into force.  It was an anniversary that, as far as I know, passed unremarked.  Nevertheless it was a remarkable anniversary – though not a cause for celebration.  This is because it marked 5 years since the date that Parliament had required a review of the controversial procedures under the Act, involving secret closed hearings – and yet the Government’s response to the recommendations from that review was still awaited.  Even now, no Government response has been forthcoming, nearly a year after the long-delayed report was published, despite the urgency attached to some of the recommendations.

What are these secret procedures?


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Hamas-supporting organisation loses rights claim in Strasbourg

26 October 2023 by

Internationale Humanitäre Hilfsorganisation v Germany (Application no. 11214/19), 10 October 2023

A German group that raises funds for the terrorist organisation Hamas has lost its claim under Article 11 (right to free association) in the European Court of Human Rights. Joshua Rozenberg’s report on the decision is here. The summary below is based on the Court’s judgment.

Background Facts


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Israel-Palestine Conflict, Surveillance of Teachers, and Pollution in Italy: the Weekly Round-Up

25 October 2023 by

In the news

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has continued to escalate, with some 1,400 Israelis and over 5,000 Palestinians dead, over 15,000 people injured, and over 600,000 people displaced. No end to the conflict, nor a ceasefire, is in sight. Aid entering Gaza remains far below the level required for the population size, and one-third of Gazan hospitals and nearly two-thirds of primary health care clinics have had to shut due to damage or lack of fuel. International law is being disregarded, both in the atrocious attacks by Hamas on October 7 and the subsequent retaliation by Israel, leading a group of prominent Jewish lawyers to pen an open letter in the FT (paywall) calling for restraint and an adherence to the rule of law. However, “proportionality” as a rule of international law in warfare has to be closely scrutinised when it comes to self defence. See Joshua Rozenberg’s extract from the speech given in the House of Lords by  Guglielmo Verdirame, a professor of international law at the King’s College London department of war studies. The law of armed conflict is a detailed and difficult area, and has not been properly attended to by media reports following the Hamas/Israel situation. Veridrame said, regarding proportionality,

“Israel has described its war aims as the destruction of Hamas’s capability. From a legal perspective, these war aims are consistent with proportionality in the law of self-defence, given what Hamas says and does and what Hamas has done and continues to do.”

The Home Secretary has met with the Met Commissioner after the Met chose not to intervene when protestors at a pro-Palestine rally chanted “jihad”.  The Met said “jihad” had numerous meanings and it believed, after consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), that no offence had been committed. No. 10 has pushed back at suggestions that more police powers are needed, citing existing powers as adequate. The Immigration Minister, however, told ITV that “Chanting ‘Jihad’ on the streets of London is completely reprehensible … It is inciting terrorist violence”. The Merriam-Webster definition of “jihad” can be found here.

Greta Thunberg has been charged with a public order offence after she was arrested while taking part in a protest against a conference in London described as “the Oscars of oil”. According to the Met, she was charged with “failing to comply with a condition imposed under section 14 of the Public Order Act”. Police had demanded protesters move from the road on to the pavement. She was one of 29 arrested during a protest trying to stop delegates entering the Energy Intelligence Forum at the InterContinental London Park Lane in Mayfair.


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The Weekly Round-up: Rwanda hearing, planning law reforms, mercy killing reforms for prosecution decisions

9 October 2023 by

In the news

The government’s Rwanda deportation scheme begins its battle in the Supreme Court today. Arguing the case for the appellants are In June, the Court of Appeal ruled the policy unlawful because of ‘deficiencies’ in Rwanda’s asylum-processing system. That court found that sending asylum-seekers to Rwanda entailed a ‘real risk’ of applicants being returned to their home countries, meaning the UK would break its commitment to not putting people at risk of torture under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Angus McCullough KC of 1 Crown Office Row is representing the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in this appeal. On the respondent (government) side, both of 1 Crown Office Row, are Neil Sheldon KC and Natasha Barnes (instructed by the Government Legal Department).

If the Supreme Court overturns this judgment, the Home Office will be able to schedule flights to Rwanda with just 12 days’ notice, unless the European Court intervenes again. The Illegal Migration Act, however, gives the Home Secretary a new power to ignore an interim order from the European Court.

At the Labour party conference, shadow ministers have announced that a Labour government would bring in significant reforms to the planning system. Keir Starmer has pledged to build 1.5m homes in the first five years of his government, introducing reforms such as increased powers of local authorities to hold property firms to account. Rachel Reeves has promised to speed up the planning process for infrastructure building.

The CPS has provided prosecutors with new guidance for ‘mercy killings.’ The term has not been defined by statute or common law and is not currently a defence to murder, but the guidance sets out the factors to consider when determining whether bringing a charge would be in public interest. These include whether the victim was under 18 years old, whether the suspect was motivated wholly by compassion, and whether the victim had clearly communicated their wish to die. The update is unlikely to radically alter the prosecution’s approach to such cases, but it articulates more clearly the reasons for and against bringing a charge where the public interest is in question.


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The Weekly Round-up: Gaming the asylum system, contempt warnings, and a European climate change case

4 October 2023 by

In the news

The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has been in the news for claiming that asylum seekers “purport” to be gay to “game the system” and receive preferential treatment in asylum applications. In a speech in Washington DC on Tuesday, the Home Secretary said that discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender is not sufficient to qualify for international refugee protection. Braverman’s comments have been heavily criticised, and approximately twelve Conservative MPs complained to the Chief Whip this week, saying the Home Secretary’s remarks were offensive, divisive, and inaccurate. According to the BBC, sexual orientation only formed the basis of 1.5% of asylum claims made in the UK last year. Equally, many continue to face persecution as a result of their sexuality; consensual same-sex acts are illegal in a number of countries and, in some cases, are punishable by death

Meanwhile, the Attorney General issued a notice to the media this week, warning editors not to put themselves at risk of being in contempt of court by ‘publishing any material’ which might ‘prejudice any potential criminal investigation’ into the allegations against Russel Brand. Editors, publishers, and social media users were advised to comply with obligations under the Contempt of Court Act 1981. Commentators have criticised the Attorney General’s warning for possibly misapplying the law on contempt; publishers can be found unintentionally to be in contempt of court, but only where there are active criminal proceedings (which there are not in Brand’s case). Alternatively, the Attorney General might have been warning against falling foul of the old common law rules on contempt, where no active case is required. Regardless, many have questioned whether reporting by the media – who in this instance were responsible for breaking the allegations against Brand and prompting a criminal investigation – would make any future trial unfair. 


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Targets for reduction in sewage outflow not unlawful, says High Court

28 September 2023 by

The King (on the application of Wildfish Conservation v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency (Defendant) and the Water Services Regulation Authority (Interested Parties) [2023] EWHC 2285 (Admin)

In 2022, there were over three hundred thousand incidents of overflow into coastal waters, freshwater rivers and estuaries from sewerage works in the UK, following heavy rainfall. The most common cause of the overflows studied was rainwater entering sewers with insufficient capacity.

These proceedings were brought in regard to the publication of a Plan regarding setting out specific targets for water companies, regulators and the Government “to work towards the long-term ambition of eliminating harm from storm overflows”. These targets are compliance with existing statutory obligations, including conditions in permits issued by the Environment Agency.

The Plan sets three targets: that water and sewerage companies will by 2050 only be allowed to discharge from a storm overflow where there would be no local adverse ecological effect; the second target is to protect public health in designated bathing waters: water and sewerage companies must by 2035 significantly reduce harmful pathogens from overflows either by carrying out disinfection or by reducing the frequency of discharges; the third, a backstop target for 2050, which operates in addition to the first two targets: by 2050 storm overflows will not be permitted to discharge above an average of 10 heavy rainfall events a year.

The Marine Conservation Society, an oyster growing company and an individual representing the public interest also challenged the legality of the Plan. The Environment Agency and Ofwat were interested parties.

Factual Background

In 2020 the sewerage network was under pressure from a growing population, increased run-off from urbanisation and heavy rainfall. It was acknowledged that the cause of overflow was the lack of capacity in the current sewer network and that had to be tackled. The government and Ofwat recognised that that water infrastructure had not kept pace with developmental growth over decades.

In the face of this, officials and ministers started formulating policy targets which would require improvements going beyond those which could satisfy a cost-benefit test(the so-called and therefore be required under regs.4 and 5 of the 1994 Regulations (BTKNEEC: see below.)

The new statutory plan that the Secretary of State had to produce was seen as a means to set specific, time-bound objectives which would drive widespread change on storm overflows across the country. But officials advised that the target should seek to reduce discharges significantly rather than eliminate them altogether, because of the costs involved and the small level of additional benefit generated.


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Best of Law Pod 2023 so far

19 September 2023 by

In Episode 189 presenters Rosalind English and Lucy McCann reprise some of the leading episodes of Law Pod UK this year, ranging from the potential impact of AI on the legal professions, to the problem of Deprivation of Liberty Orders for children in the UK, given the severe lack of regulated accommodation available for the family courts to identify.

For a reminder and a refresher of the wide spectrum of subjects we cover on this series, dive in, learn and enjoy.

The Weekly Round-up: Terrorist convict escapes Wandsworth, lawsuit against Google and German Court questions conditions in UK prisons

11 September 2023 by

In the news

Questions have been raised over the state of the British prisons system after the escape of Daniel Khalife. The 21 year-old former soldier who had been convicted for terrorist offences escaped from Wandsworth prison by hiding under a food delivery lorry, reportedly, but was later recaptured by police on a Chiswick towpath. Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has signalled that investigations are being made into the prison’s conditions. Inquiries may be made into the reason for Khalife being held in Wandsworth, a category B-security prison, rather than the high-security prison Belmarsh, where serious terrorist suspects are ordinarily kept. The incident has been used by some to demonstrate that the system has now reached breaking point, with overcrowding and understaffing enabling such incidents.

Google is facing a multi-billion pound lawsuit brought on behalf of UK consumers on claims that its search-engine stifled competition, causing prices to rise. The claim is that Google restricted competition by raising the prices for advertisers, making use of its market dominance. These costs are ultimately passed onto the consumers and are estimated at £7.3bn, at least £100 per member of the 65-million-person class of UK users over the age of 16. Google has commented that it will “vigorously dispute” this “speculative and opportunistic” suit.

In other news


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The Weekly Round-up: Sentencing Hearings, the Letby Inquiry, and Equal Pay Legislation

8 September 2023 by

In the news 

This week, the Ministry of Justice has proposed new laws which would allow judges to force defendants to attend sentencing hearings. Judges can already issue an order requiring a defendant to attend court, and failing to comply can result in a prosecution under the Contempt of Court Act. The Ministry of Justice says, however, that these powers are rarely used by judges. The proposed reforms will allow custody officers to use “reasonable force” to make defendants appear in court. The reforms would also allow judges to extend a defendant’s sentence by two years if they refuse to comply. The new measures were prompted by a number of defendants convicted of murder refusing to attend sentencing hearings, including Lucy Letby who was given a life sentence for the murder of 7 babies and attempted murder of 6 others. While the victims’ families have welcomed the reforms, others have expressed concern that the policy will overburden the court system and place prison staff in unnecessarily dangerous situations. 


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Law Pod UK Ep.188: Vulnerable witnesses: Communication in the Family Courts

30 August 2023 by

Listen to Family law expert Richard Ager talk to Melissa Patidar about her intermediary service company, Comunicourt, which provides communication support between lawyers and witnesses in remote and face to face hearings in family court proceedings. They discuss parties with vulnerabilities, qualifications and role of an intermediary, and how lawyers should aim to work with them.

Law Pod UK is available on Spotify, Apple PodcastsAudioboomPlayer FMListenNotesPodbeaniHeartRadio PublicDeezer or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Please remember to rate and review us if you like what you hear.

Seventeen years: what does Andrew Malkinson’s wrongful conviction say about the appeals process?

29 August 2023 by

Missing evidence

Earlier this month, the Court of Appeal overturned Andrew Malkinson’s conviction for rape and related assault offences, for which he had spent 17 years in prison. An appeal in 2006 upheld the verdict and applications to the Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC) in 2012 and 2020 were denied. Finally, a third application last year convinced the CCRC to order fresh DNA analysis. It was this evidence as well as treatment of some previously undisclosed information to do with Malkinson’s witness identification which secured his release.


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Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice administrative court adoption ALBA Allison Bailey Al Qaeda animal rights anonymity Appeals Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 7 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 Artificial Intelligence Asbestos assisted suicide asylum Australia autism benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery Catholicism Chagos Islanders charities Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners climate change clinical negligence Coercion common law confidentiality consent conservation constitution contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus Coroners costs court of appeal Court of Protection covid crime Cybersecurity Damages Dartmoor data protection death penalty defamation deportation deprivation of liberty Detention diplomatic immunity disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of candour duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Employment Law Employment Tribunal enforcement Environment Equality Act Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Family Fertility FGM Finance football foreign criminals foreign office France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage Gaza gender genetics Germany gmc Google government Grenfell Health healthcare high court HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests international law internet Inuit Iran Iraq Ireland Islam Israel Italy IVF Jalla v Shell Japan Japanese Knotweed Judaism judicial review jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Land Reform Law Pod UK legal aid legal ethics legality Leveson Inquiry LGBTQ Rights liability Libel Liberty Libya Lithuania local authorities marriage Maya Forstater mental capacity Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery monitoring murder music Muslim nationality national security NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges nuisance Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal Parole patents Pensions Personal Injury Piracy Plagiarism planning Poland Police Politics pollution press Prisoners Prisons privacy Private Property Professional Discipline Property proportionality Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries public law Regulatory Proceedings rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo Right to assembly right to die right to family life Right to Privacy Right to Roam right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia Saudi Arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice sexual offence sexual orientation Sikhism Smoking social media Social Work South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing statelessness Statutory Interpretation stop and search Strasbourg Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax technology Terrorism tort Torture travel treaty TTIP Turkey UK Ukraine UK Supreme Court unduly harsh united nations unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks Wild Camping wind farms WomenInLaw YearInReview Zimbabwe

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Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice administrative court adoption ALBA Allison Bailey Al Qaeda animal rights anonymity Appeals Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 7 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 Artificial Intelligence Asbestos assisted suicide asylum Australia autism benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery Catholicism Chagos Islanders charities Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners climate change clinical negligence Coercion common law confidentiality consent conservation constitution contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus Coroners costs court of appeal Court of Protection covid crime Cybersecurity Damages Dartmoor data protection death penalty defamation deportation deprivation of liberty Detention diplomatic immunity disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of candour duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Employment Law Employment Tribunal enforcement Environment Equality Act Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Family Fertility FGM Finance football foreign criminals foreign office France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage Gaza gender genetics Germany gmc Google government Grenfell Health healthcare high court HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests international law internet Inuit Iran Iraq Ireland Islam Israel Italy IVF Jalla v Shell Japan Japanese Knotweed Judaism judicial review jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Land Reform Law Pod UK legal aid legal ethics legality Leveson Inquiry LGBTQ Rights liability Libel Liberty Libya Lithuania local authorities marriage Maya Forstater mental capacity Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery monitoring murder music Muslim nationality national security NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges nuisance Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal Parole patents Pensions Personal Injury Piracy Plagiarism planning Poland Police Politics pollution press Prisoners Prisons privacy Private Property Professional Discipline Property proportionality Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries public law Regulatory Proceedings rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo Right to assembly right to die right to family life Right to Privacy Right to Roam right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia Saudi Arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice sexual offence sexual orientation Sikhism Smoking social media Social Work South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing statelessness Statutory Interpretation stop and search Strasbourg Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax technology Terrorism tort Torture travel treaty TTIP Turkey UK Ukraine UK Supreme Court unduly harsh united nations unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks Wild Camping wind farms WomenInLaw YearInReview Zimbabwe
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