By: Adam Wagner


Time, time, time, look what’s become of me

2 May 2012 by

In law, time can be everything. Every lawyer will have experienced waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat at the realisation that a time limit has been missed. Courts often have the discretion to extend litigation time limits, such as under rule 3.1 of the Civil Procedure Rules, but simple mistakes by lawyers rarely generate sympathy from judges. Even scarier, judges sometimes do not even have the power to extend time at all, however unfair the circumstances. The idea is to encourage certainty and predictability in the legal system.

The lesson of principle is that lawyers should never take risks on time limits. The practical reality is that this is a very easy to say  in retrospect. And so we reach the difficult case of Abu Qatada, in which 5 European Court of Human Rights judges are to decide next Wednesday 9 May whether an appeal by the preacher  will be heard in full by the court’s Grand Chamber. Whoever you think was right, Abu Qatada’s lawyers or Home Secretary Theresa May, this controversy has demonstrated that rules designed to provide certainty can have exactly the opposite effect in practice.

Continue reading →

Places left for our million hit seminar – Wednesday 25 April

18 April 2012 by

In its short two-year life, the UK Human Rights Blog has forged a prominent role at the forefront of comment and opinion on all aspects of Human Rights law, and as I blogged recently, we have now surpassed 1,000,000 hits. 

To celebrate this success we are holding a seminar on the evening of Wednesday 25 April 2012. I will be analysing the impact of the Brighton Conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights and there will be presentations from other 1 Crown Office Row barristers providing an update on Immigration Law and assessing whether the Strasbourg Courts have gone too far in relation to Article 8.

CPD has been applied for and debate, drinks and snacks will of course follow.

There are still a few places remaining to attend this event.  If you are currently practising within the field of human rights law and would like to attend please contact Charlotte Barrow, Marketing Executive at 1 Crown Office Row  on charlotte.barrow@1cor.com stating your name and organisation. Places will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Things to put in your Brighton Conference rucksack

18 April 2012 by

As the last hurrah of its Chairmanship of the Council of Europe, beginning today the United Kingdom is hosting the High Level Conference on the Future of the European Court of Human Rights in Brighton. As delegates settle into their Eurostar seats on the way over, here are a few useful tips:

1. If you have forgotten sun cream, don’t worry! The weather forecast is terrible.

2. All of the important documents are on the Conference website, including the Conference Programme and the declarations from the last two such conferences: Izmir (2011) and Interlaken (2010). There is also a CoE press release. In case you need to refresh yourself on the CoE itself, the BBC has this useful profile.

3. The most important document is the draft Declaration which you are being asked to approve. The document has been the subject of frantic negotiations and you will no doubt receive an up to date version.  In the meantime, here is a slightly out-of-date version which even has useful track changes to show what has changed since the UK’s first draft. The somewhat ugly buzz-word for the Conference will be subsidiarity.

Continue reading →

BBC interview with terror suspect Barbar Ahmad

6 April 2012 by

I highly recommend Dominic Casciani’s excellent BBC Newsnight piece on Barbar Ahmad, which is currently available on iPlayer (UK only).

Ahmad’s case cuts across a number of different rights controversies. The BBC challenged the Ministry of Justice’s initial refusal to allow an interview with the terrorist suspect, who is currently held at a maximum security jail, and won – see our post. Ahmad is also currently the longest serving prisoner who has not been charged with a criminal offence; he has been detained for nearly 8 years.

Continue reading →

Happy 2nd birthday… and thanks a million

5 April 2012 by

The UK Human Rights Blog launched on 30 March 2010 with a total of 2 readers and a budget of £200. Two years later, despite the budget remaining consistent, the Blog has just surpassed 1,000,000 individual page views and has over 10,000 subscribers over email, Twitter and Facebook. I would like to take a moment to reflect on this success.

As you can probably guess, we are (and I am) thrilled at the response to UKHRB. When we launched, our aim was to provide a new voice in the always colourful but often shrill arena of human rights commentary. We felt that there was a gap in the market (as it were – the blog has been and remains free to access) for a non-ideological legal human rights update service which would be accessible to the lawyers and lay persons alike.

Continue reading →

Should gay marriage be legalised?

15 March 2012 by

The Government has begun its consultation on whether the ban on marriage between people of the same sex should be removed. As suggested by the consultation’s title – Equal civil marriage consultation – the Government is only proposing to remove the ban on civil gay marriage.

The consultation document makes clear that it is “limited to consideration of civil marriage and makes no proposals to change the way that religious marriages are solemnised“. In other words, religious institutions will not be forced to allow same-sex marriages on their premises. And moreover, perhaps in order to dodge some of the controversy which has erupted in recent weeks, there are no plans to allow same-sex marriage to take place on religious premises at all. So even religious denominations which support same-sex marriage in principle will not be allowed to conduct the ceremonies on religious premises.

Continue reading →

I can’t say anything because you’ve brought up… the Holocaust

12 March 2012 by

As a sequel to this morning’s post on Michael Pinto-Duschinsky’s resignation from the Commission on a Bill of Rights, a comment on his Daily Mail article: I escaped the Nazis – so spare me these sneers about tyranny.

Pinto-Duschinsky explains that because he and his family escaped the Nazis, he has a special perspective on human rights:

I know what the abuse of human rights really means. It is certainly not the kind of nonsense we hear so much about today – parents smacking children, the eviction of travellers from illegal encampments or the deportation of foreign criminals in breach of their supposed ‘right to a family life’.

Continue reading →

And then there were seven: Pinto-Duschinsky quitting Bill of Rights Commission

12 March 2012 by

Updated | Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky has told the BBC’s Sunday Politics that he is resigning from the Commission on a Bill of Rights, effectively citing artistic differences. The seven other commissioners apparently wrote to the Justice Secretary stating Pinto-Duschinsky was “significantly impeding [the Commission’s] progress”. He has also written an article in the Daily Mail explaining why he quit (see my other post responding to that).

I argued last week that the Commission should open up more, but leaked internal emails were not exactly what I had in mind.

The resignation is hardly a surprise. Pinto-Duschinsky’s relationship with the other Commissioners has been rocky from the start, and he has been unabashed about complaining publicly when he has felt his views were being ignored. When the Commission published its initial consultation document he instantly told the Daily Mail that he ”strongly regret[ed] the terms in which it has been presented.” He was concerned that the document ignored the extent to which the European Convention had undermined Parliamentary Sovereignty. However strong Pinto-Duschinsky’s views, this public airing of Commission laundry must have made very difficult to hold reasoned debates behind closed doors.

Continue reading →

Major UK Human Rights Review launched

5 March 2012 by

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, a statutory body which monitors UK human rights and equalities protections, has today published a major review of human rights protections in the UK. It provides a timely reminder of the enormous amount of work which public authorities have had to put in since the Human Rights Act came into law to ensure that their everyday activities comply with protections granted by the European Convention on Human Rights.

I took part in a very interesting panel discussion at today’s launch event – the video can be seen here. The review is worth reading. It provides a thorough examination of the effect of the Human Rights Act 1998, 12 years after it came into law. This is timely, given that the operation of the HRA is currently being reviewed by the Commission on a Bill of Rights. It is helpful to have a detailed and thoughtful review to contrast with the often shrill media reporting of the “hated” (The Sun’s preferred prefix) Human Rights Act.

Links to the report’s various sections are below the page break.

Continue reading →

The Commission on a Bill of Rights should open up

5 March 2012 by

1689 and all that

Things have been quiet recently on the Commission for a Bill of Rights front, with media attention focussed on the upcoming Brighton Conference on European Court of Human Rights reform and the growing controversy over the Justice and Security Green Paper. But this important Commission only has 10 months left to publish its report, and it should be courting public attention, not avoiding it.

There has been limited action on the Commission’s website, with publication of relatively illuminating minutes from the 15 November and 14 December meetings. The website has also published a list of all responses to the recent consultation. Apparently there were over 900 responses to the somewhat scanty discussion paper which was published last year.

Two suggestions. First, in my view, all of the responses should be published on the Commission’s website, not just a list of the respondees. I asked the Commission by email they would be doing so, and they responded:

Continue reading →

Justice wide shut

1 March 2012 by

Yesterday I spoke at Justice Wide Open, an excellent conference organised by Judith Townend. I mounted my usual open justice hobby horses (to coin a topical phrase) on how to make the justice system more accessible to the public, including a moan about human rights reporting. Someone told me during the break that according to her research, when newspapers put a positive slant on a human rights story, they tend to use the code word “civil liberties”. And, as if to prove the point, on the very same morning the Daily Mail put its considerable weight behind a crucial but until now sub-public-radar “civil liberties” and open justice issue, the Justice and Security Green Paper.

As readers of this blog will be aware, the Government proposes in the Green Paper to introduce “closed material procedures” into civil proceedings. For an explanation of why this amounts to “a departure from the foundational principle of natural justice“, look no further than the Special Advocates’ response to the consultation and my co-editor Angus McCullough QC’s post, A Special Advocate’s comment. But although the proposals have been getting lawyers and The Guardian hot and bothered, the sound of tumbleweed has been the loudest response. Until now, that is.

Continue reading →

Legal aid: Government backs down on clinical negligence and domestic violence

1 March 2012 by

The Ministry of Justice has proposed two important amendments to the Legal Aid, Punishment of Offenders and Sentencing Bill.

As has been predicted for a number of months, the proposals will bring a limited number of clinical negligence claims and claims arising as a result of domestic violence back within the scope of legal aid. The clinical negligence exception only relates to claims arising whilst a person was still in their mother’s womb, or 8 weeks after their birth. If the baby is born before 37 weeks gestation, the legal aid clock will begin to tick from the date they would have been 37 weeks gestation. The victim must also be “severely disabled” as a result.

As to domestic violence, the amendments are to provide legal aid for civil claims where:

Continue reading →

My witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry – Part 2/2

1 March 2012 by

Not me giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry

Last month I was asked to provide a witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry into Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press. You can download the entire statement here, The questions in bold are those asked by the Inquiry in their request – read part 1 here.

On similar topics, I also recommend the statements of Francis FitzGibbon QC and David Allen Green.

(10) Does/Can blogging act as a check on bad journalism?

Yes. The primary reason UKHRB was set up was to act as a corrective to bad journalism about human rights, and in under two years it has become a trusted source of information for journalists, politicians, those in government and members of the public.

UKHRB operates alongside a number of other excellent legal blogs, run by lawyers, students and enthusiasts for free, which provide a similar service in respect of other areas of law. I would highlight, for example[2]:

Continue reading →

My witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry – Part 1/2

29 February 2012 by

Not me giving evidence

Last month I was asked to provide a witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry into Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press. Yesterday it was “read into evidence”, which means I can now publish it. You can download the entire statement here, and I have reproduced (what I think are) the interesting bits below and in a follow-up post. The questions in bold are those asked by the Inquiry in their request. I have not been asked to give oral evidence.

The extent to which you consider what ethics can and should play a role in the blogosphere, and what you consider ‘ethics’ to mean in this context.

The definition of “blogging” is now extremely wide, so much so that the term “blog” has become in essence meaningless.

A blog can be a “web log” within the original meaning of the word, that is a “personal journey published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete entries (“posts”)” (Wikipedia), but it can also be a news and comment website such as UKHRB, a photo-sharing website, a website promoting a business – practically any website can call itself a blog. Mainstream newspapers now produce “blogs” online and as such the boundary between traditional journalism and blogging has also become unclear.

Continue reading →

Michael Gove’s full letter on homophobic teaching materials in schools

22 February 2012 by

The Trade Union Congress have sent me the full letter (download here) which Education Secretary Michael Gove sent to its leader Brendan Barber in relation to a complaint about seemingly homophobic booklets distributed to Roman Catholic schools in Lancashire. The letter which Mr Barber sent to Mr Gove is here.

I complained in this post that the excerpt of the response published by The Observer appeared to misunderstand the provisions of the Equality Act which apply to schools. I also said that the quote in the article could have been out of context. In short, it was. Here is the full paragraph, which presents a much fairer representation of the law:

Continue reading →

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


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.

Tags


Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption ALBA Al Qaeda animal rights 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 Artificial Intelligence Asbestos assisted suicide asylum Australia autism benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery Catholicism Chagos Islanders 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 costs Court of Protection crime Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation deportation deprivation of liberty Detention disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment 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 foreign criminals foreign office France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage Gaza genetics Germany Google Grenfell Health 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 Japan Judaism judicial review jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid Leveson Inquiry LGBTQ Rights liability Libel Liberty Libya Lithuania local authorities marriage mental capacity Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery music Muslim nationality national security NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury Piracy Plagiarism planning Poland Police Politics pollution press Prisoners Prisons privacy Professional Discipline Property proportionality Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries 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 sexual offence Sikhism Smoking social media South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing statelessness stop and search Strasbourg Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax technology Terrorism tort Torture travel treaty TTIP Turkey UK Ukraine USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wind farms WomenInLaw YearInReview Zimbabwe
%d bloggers like this: