By: Adam Wagner


Announcing the UK Human Rights Blog Case Table

13 June 2011 by

Today marks the launch of the UK Human Rights Blog Case Table. It includes links to all of the cases featured on the blog since October 2010, as well as many more we haven’t had the chance to cover.

The table, which can be found here, was created and is maintained by Hannah Manson, a law student and committee member of the Human Rights Lawyers Association. We are extremely grateful for the work she has put in to this. The table will be updated regularly; for a list of new human rights cases updated daily, click here.

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Who should appoint our top judges?

6 June 2011 by

Updated | Recently, I have become a collector of visceral reactions by politicians to judgments. The Prime Minister David Cameron is leading the field, having been “uneasy“, “appalled” and even feeling “physically sick” over recent rulings. And this week the Scottish First Minister has appointed a panel of experts to see whether the UK’s Supreme Court’s “aggressive” interference with Scottish law can be stopped. But where is this criticism leading?

Leaving aside the political posturing and blame-shifting which unhelpfully characterises this debate, one interesting question which has emerged has been whether the current system of Supreme Court judicial appointments is fit for purpose.

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Blogging (and maybe tweeting) should be part of Continuing Professional Development

3 June 2011 by

Updated x 2 | Yesterday’s article by Alex Aldridge on Guardian.co.uk – Why barristers balk at the ‘box-ticking’ of continuing professional development – has sparked a furious (well, furious-ish) debate in the comments section and Twitter over whether legal blogging and tweeting should be included in barristers’ compulsory Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours. 

My view is that legal blogging, and possibly even legal tweeting, should be included in CPD, and currently the former almost certainly is. But this is set to change if the Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) new proposals are accepted, cutting blogging out of CPD completely. This is a bad idea, for reasons I will explain.

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Effective “amnesty” in UK asylum system, says report

2 June 2011 by

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee has today published a report, The work of the UK Border Agency (November 2010–March 2011), which accuses the UKBA of effectively creating an amnesty for hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers whose cases have been delayed for years.

The report is not particularly easy to find online – it should be available on the Home Affairs Committee website, but isn’t for some reason. You can download a PDF here, see the previous reports here or read on this page via Scribd.

As has been picked up in media reports, the report concludes that the UKBA’s success in clearing a backlog of around 400,000 to 450,000 unresolved asylum cases has been achieved

through increasing resort to grants of permission to stay… or the parking of cases in a controlled archive, signifying that the applicant cannot be found and the Agency has no idea whether or not the applicant remains in the UK, legally or otherwise.

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New anti-terrorism bill published

1 June 2011 by

Updated | As a follow-up to Isabel McArdle’s post on an unsuccessful challenge to a control order, a quick note to say that the long-heralded Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill was published last week. 

The purpose of the bill, first previewed in January by the Counter-terroism review (see my post), is to abolish control orders and make provision for the imposition of terrorism prevention and investigation measures (so-called “TPIMs”). For more information on the human rights controversies surrounding control orders, see my post: Control orders: what are they are why do they matter?

Some useful links for more information on the bill:

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The power of unelected judges – Part 2 of 2

30 May 2011 by

Updated x 2 | Two court decisions have upset UK governments this week. One is being appealed in the normal way by the Secretary of State for Education, but the other may lead to a fundamental rethink of the Scottish justice system. As a Bank Holiday special, this post is split into 2 parts. Part 1 is here.

Meanwhile, north of the border in Scotland, a more significant constitutional storm may be brewing following Wednesday’s decision of the UK Supreme Court in Fraser v Her Majesty’s Advocate. Rosalind English has already posted on the ruling, which related to a Scottish murder appeal. As Rosalind said,

this was a Scottish criminal case and the Supreme Court would normally have had no business dealing with it … The Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction extends only to a consideration of a “devolution issue” , including whether an exercise of a function by a member of the Scottish Executive is incompatible with any of the Convention rights.

Parliament, through Schedule 6 to the Scotland Act 1998, has given the Supreme Court jurisdiction in relation to devolution issues arising in criminal proceedings. It has been suggested that this was to ensure that a consistent and coherent view upon them could be given across the UK.

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The power of unelected judges – Part 1 of 2

30 May 2011 by

Two court decisions have upset UK governments this week. One is being appealed in the normal way by the Secretary of State for Education, but the other may lead to a fundamental rethink of the Scottish justice system. As a Bank Holiday special, this post is split into 2 parts.

Starting with the Sharon Shoesmith decision, which has been helpfully summarised by Obiter J. The Spectator reports that the Secretary of State for education Michael Gove intends to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. The reported grounds of that appeal, gleaned from “Whitehall sources”, are interesting. Although Gove “recognises that Balls blundered in the way he dismissed her“,

he also believes that there are important constitutional principles at sake in this case about how Ministers make important and urgent decisions and what the role of the courts is in challenging such decisions. Gove wants the Supreme Court to consider these issues because of the huge importance of judicial reviews, which are being used repeatedly by opponents of the government to try and stymie its agenda.



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Let’s talk about sex

26 May 2011 by

In 1991 US band Salt-n-Pepa reached number 2 in the UK charts with Let’s Talk About Sex. It is difficult to imagine now, 20 years on, why such an inoffensive and gently educational song generated huge controversy.

That difficulty highlights how much less prudish we are about sex now than we were then. Salt-n-Pepa talked about sex on the “radio and video shows“. Now the song would include Twitter, YouTube and Facebook too. In the post-internet age, sex is everywhere. So why are judges and politicians still making decisions about whose sex the public can or cannot talk about?

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Murder, toil and trouble – three new Supreme Court judgments

25 May 2011 by

The Supreme Court has delivered three judgments this morning, all of which are of interest from a human rights perspective. We will cover them in more detail soon, but for now, a brief summary. 

First, murder. In 2003 Nat Fraser was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to 25 years in prison. In Fraser (Appellant) v Her Majesty’s Advocate (Respondent) [2011] UKSC 24, the court unanimously decided to quash his conviction send back to a Scottish appeal court the question of whether a new prosecution should be brought.

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Police may have duty to inform victims of phone hacking

25 May 2011 by

Bryant & Ors, R (on the application of) v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2011] EWHC 1314 (Admin) (23 May 2011) – Read judgment

The police may have a duty under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to privacy) to inform members of the public that their phone calls have been intercepted. 

This was only a judicial review permission hearing, which means that the full “substantive” judicial review will still have to be argued at a later date. In short, the case is the latest in the long-running News of the World phone hacking affair (see this post and this one on Inforrm’s Blog for the latest developments).

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Must lawyers blog and tweet?

24 May 2011 by

Lots of lawyers are blogging and tweeting. Should they be?

I spoke last Thursday at the second #lawblogs event, kindly hosted in the grand (not to mention establishment) surrounding of The Law Society. The event was attended by around 75 people, most of whom had a passion for legal blogging and tweeting. You can read the Twitter feed of the event here, or reviews by James Wilson, Mike Scutt, James Dean of The Times (paywall) and The Guardian’s Siobhain Butterworth .

One issue which I tried to explore was the professional ethics of lawyers blogging and tweeting. There are a number of questions which lawyers could, and probably should, ask themselves before making their social media debut . Is it right for lawyers to comment publicly on the law? What about on their own cases? And might there be a positive ethical duty to explain the law to the general public?

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MP has “revealed” footballer’s name, but is it safe to repeat it?

23 May 2011 by

John Hemming MP has somewhat predictably “revealed” the name of a footballer who has been trying to keep his alleged affair with a reality TV contestant private, and breached the traditional “sub judice” rule in the process. Does this mean that the privacy injunction in question is now effectively defunct?

Hemming made his move just hours after Mr Justice Eady in the High Court maintained the injunction against an application by News Group International, despite the fact that many users of Twitter have apparently revealed his name. Eady took a principled stance:

Should the court buckle every time one of its orders meets widespread disobedience or defiance? In a democratic society, if a law is deemed to be unenforceable or unpopular, it is for the legislature to make such changes as it decides are appropriate.

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Should journalists attend court?.. Part 2

22 May 2011 by

I asked in a recent post whether journalists need to attend court hearings to report accurately. The post arose from judgment in a family court case involving a mother’s abuse of her baby. The judge took the unusual step of criticising the Sunday Telegraph’s Christopher Booker’s reporting, which he called “unbalanced, inaccurate and just plain wrong“. That criticism was then supported by the most senior family judge in a different judgment.

Christopher Booker has now responded to my post, although somewhat obliquely. He writes:

I was again attacked last week by a prominent legal blogger, for reporting on cases where the system appears to be going tragically wrong, without having sat for days in court to hear “both sides of the story”.

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Turns out there weren’t that many super-injunctions after all

20 May 2011 by

Lord Neuberger has published his long-awaited report on super-injunctions. His committee was set up in April 2010 in order to “examine the issues around the use of injunctions which bind the press and so-called ‘super-injunctions“.

In summary, the report emphasises the principles of open justice and the right to freedom of speech, and that courts should “ensure that any derogation from open justice is the minimum necessary to secure the proper administration of justice”. It recommends that Civil Procedure Rule 39.2 (concerning public hearings) should be amended to make reference to the strict necessity test.

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How Supreme Court Live works

18 May 2011 by

This week the Sky News website began broadcasting UK Supreme Court hearings live. I have been talking up this idea for a while, and in my view the new service marks an important moment for access to justice.

In its first few days, Supreme Court Live has been showing an insurance case which has been, shall we say, a little difficult to follow (of course it would have been much more difficult to follow but for the excellent advocacy on display…) But the service works well and the footage is of high quality by current standards.

Whilst watching the case my mind wandered to the nuts and bolts of the arrangement between Sky and the court, and whether there are plans to expand the service in the future. I asked the Supreme Court, and this is what they said.

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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 Coroners 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
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