Since lockdown the courts (and legal representatives) have been striving to hold remote hearings where possible. This had led to a flurry of new guidance (see for example CPR section AA Guidance for Queen’s Bench Division Court Users) — and the ability to view bookshelves in the studies of judges and legal representatives.
This interesting case considers the fairness of proceeding with a clinical negligence claim remotely. In SC, an application was made to adjourn a clinical negligence trial on the basis that it would be impossible for a hearing to take place in court and a remote hearing would be unfair. Mr Justice Johnson dismissed the application, concluding that the hearing could proceed in court and, if a remote hearing was required, then it could proceed in a manner that would be fair.
XVW and YZA v Gravesend Grammar School for Girls and Adventure Lifesigns PLC  EWHC 575 (QB) – read judgment
In 2005 a group of schoolgirls were taken on a school trip to Belize. While working on a resort, three girls, aged between 15 and 17, were violently raped by the manager of the site.
The question before the High Court was this: were the school or travel company responsible for the actions of someone they had not employed, abroad, on a school expedition where decisions had to be made about unforeseen contingencies when the party had arrived at their destination?
The school had arranged an expedition through the travel company ‘ALS’. The twelve pupils were accompanied by a teacher and two experienced employees of the travel company. The group initially arrived in Mexico but could not proceed with the itinerary because of a hurricane. The teacher and travel guides, in looking for alternative itineraries, were recommended a project called Maya Walks, run by Jimmy Juan and his son Aaron. It was agreed that the group would help construct buildings at the farm resort owned by Jimmy and Aaron and in exchange they received free accommodation. Continue reading →
The European Court of Human Rights has dismissed an application brought against the police in Northern Ireland by a mother and her daughter who argued the police had failed to take sufficient action to protect them from loyalist riots on their route to primary school.
The court held that the police must be afforded a degree of discretion in taking operational decisions, and that in this case the police took all “reasonable steps” to protect the applicants.
In a potentially landmark case, the European Court has been asked to determine the extent to which a local authority is under a duty prevent a breach of a person’s rights under Articles 3 (against inhuman and degrading treatment) and 8 (home and family life) in a case where two people with learning difficulties were violently harassed and threatened by a group of teenage youths.
The case concerns vulnerable adults who rely on social services. X and Y, who are married, both have learning difficulties. Z is the mother of X, and acted as a carer and advocate for both X and Y. X and Y lived in Hounslow Borough with Y’s two young children. Three local authority departments were involved with X and Y’s family, providing for their housing needs and allocating social workers for both the adults and children. Over a period from August 1999 until November 2000, X and Y were continually harassed and threatened by a group of teenage youths, who used the flat as a general ‘doss house’, dumping stolen goods, having sex and staying overnight.
In a long-awaited decision on country guidance on Iraq, the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) has held that the degree of indiscriminate violence in Iraq is not so high that the appellants were entitled to subsidiary protection under Article 15(c) Qualification Directive.
However, the IAT indicated that, should the degree of violence become unacceptably high, Article 15(c) might be engaged. The Upper Tribunal also used the opportunity to provide general advice as to how to approach country guidance cases.
A Local Authority v Mrs A, by her Litigation Friend, the Official Solicitor, and Mr A  EWHC 1549 (Fam) – Read judgment
In the first case of its kind, the court was asked to consider whether a young married woman lacks capacity to decide whether to use contraception, and whether it would be in her interests to be required to receive it.
Mrs A was a 29-year-old woman who suffered from serious learning difficulties, which put her intellectual functioning at approximately 0.1% of adults her age. In 2004 she gave birth to a daughter, and in 2005 she had a son. Both children were removed from her at birth because she did not have the capacity to take care of them.
Shirin Jisha v The Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2043 (Admin) – Read judgment
When is a human rights claim a human rights claim in an immigration context? The High Court has recently considered this question in the case of a Bangladeshi citizen who had her visa cancelled when returning from a trip abroad.
This case related to the proper meaning of section 113(1) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. The Secretary of State had argued that the claimant’s claim was not a “human rights claim” because the claim was not made “at a place designated by the defendant” but served as part of her appeal to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal against the defendant’s refusal to grant her leave to enter. It was held that the claim was a “human rights claim” within the terms of section 113(1).
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