Media By: Rosalind English


AI – a tool for the law, or its digital master?

18 November 2019 by

AI - Henry Brooke Lecture

In the latest Henry Brooke Lecture (12th November, hosted by BAILII and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer), Supreme Court Justice Lord Sales warned that the growing role of algorithms and artificial intelligence in decision making poses significant legal problems.

He cited as an example a recent case in Singapore. The judge had to decide on mistake in contract – except that the two contracting parties were both algorithms. In that instance the judge was able to identify the human agents behind the programmes, but that will soon not be the case.


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Proposed ban on ivory is lawful – including antiques

12 November 2019 by


R (on the application of) Friends of Antique Cultural Treasures Ltd v Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – read judgment

“We believe that the legal market presents opportunities for criminals to launder recently poached ivory as old ivory products.” (Defra’s statement in consultation in introducing the Ivory Bill)

The Ivory Act 2018, which received Royal Assent in December 2018, proposes to prohibit ivory dealing with very limited exceptions. This includes antique items made with ivory. According to the Government, the Act contains “one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales”. No date has yet been fixed for it to become law.

The purpose of the Act is to enhance the protection of African and Asian elephants in the face of ongoing threats to their survival. It does so by prohibiting the sale, as opposed to the retention, of all ivory (that is, anything made out of or containing ivory), subject to a very limited and tightly defined exemptions. These prohibitions are backed by criminal and civil sanctions.

The claimant company represented UK dealers in antique worked ivory such as Chinese fans, walking canes with sculpted ivory tops and furniture with ivory inlay. The appeal of these items is not confined to Sinologist antiquarians. Netsuke, smaller carved ornaments worn as part of Japanese traditional dress, are an example. Even for the non connoisseur, Edmund de Waal’s novel The Hare with the Amber Eyes is a celebration of the significance and aura that these ornaments bestow on their owners, not just for the carving, but for the material of which they are made. Religious, hierarchical, magical, and even medicinal.


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Equality, reconciliation and instability: the challenges before the South African Constitutional Court

5 November 2019 by

On Wednesday last week I had the great pleasure of speaking to a fellow South African, which we post in this week’s episode of Law Pod UK. I promise there are no references to rugby in the entirety of the interview. How could we have predicted anything anyway?

Kate O’Regan is the Director of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at Oxford University. She is also a former judge of the South African Constitutional Court (1994 – 2009). One fellow judge has said that she is “one of the finest minds ever appointed as a judge in South Africa”.

Our discussion ranges over a multitude of topics, such as the difficulty of reconciling customary law practices with the rights of women under the Bill of Rights, and the problem of enforcing the rule of law in the townships and on public transport in a country where most people are dependent on the state owned Metrorail to get to their place of work.


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Pet Shock Collar Ban (Part 2)

2 November 2019 by

Back in 2010 Catriona Murdoch wrote about the High Court’s decision that a Welsh ban on the use of collars designed to administer electric shocks to cats and dogs did not breach Article 1 of the First Protocol of the ECHR or impinge upon the free movement of goods protected under European Union Law. I followed with a comment on the status of animal welfare in EU law here.

Any pet owner living near a busy road or with less than adequate fencing will be aware of the availability of an electronic containment system which prevents animals escaping by administering a shock via a collar, a system to which they become conditioned by the warning of a radio signal as they approach the boundary. Hand-held e-collar devices are different in that the shock can be administered anywhere and at any time at the whim of the animal’s owner.


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Interested in this online course?

21 October 2019 by

Cambridge University Institute of Continuing Education

Law in a changing genetic landscape (25 February – 12 April 2020)

Law creates artificial relationships between non-related people and entities. It even gives person-hood to non-biological beings such as companies and partnerships (although not yet to non-human species). Genetics describe the underlying relationship of all biological beings. For centuries, law and genetic science developed in parallel with very little overlap. But as genetic discoveries ride the crest of the technological revolution, law finds itself on the back foot. Legal instruments, such as property law and the law of obligations between non-related individuals were crafted in feudal times with the aim of protecting property beyond the death of the owner. With genetic discoveries, we face a myriad of questions, from ownership of gene editing techniques to the dangers of discrimination based on genetic predisposition for disease.

Read full course description here

Related posts:

Law Pod UK Ep. 96: What is a ‘mother’ in law?

7 October 2019 by

Charlotte Gilmartin of 1 Crown Office row, currently doing a Pegasus internship in Strasbourg, posted about the case of  TT, R(on the application of) v The Registrar General for England and Wales [2019] EWHC 2384 (Fam) last week.

Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953

In Episode 96 of Law Pod UK she discusses the case with Rosalind English. As promised, the statutory regime and relevant international law instruments are set out below.

Registration of Births and Deaths Regulations 1987 

Gender Recognition Act 2004

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Acts 1990 and 2008

The European Convention on Human Rights Article 14 and Article 8


Law Pod UK is available on 
SpotifyiTunes, AudioboomPodbeaniHeartRadio PublicDeezer or wherever you listen to our podcasts. Please remember to rate and review us if you like what you hear. 

 

Browser Generated Information: “loss of control” entitles search engine users to compensation

4 October 2019 by

Richard Lloyd v. Google LLC [2019] EWCA Civ 1599

The Court of Appeal has ruled that a claimant can recover damages for loss of control of their data under section 13 of Data Protection Act 1998 without proving pecuniary loss or distress. The first instance judge, Warby J, had dismissed Mr Lloyd’s application for permission to serve Google outside the jurisdiction in the USA, so preventing the claim getting under way.

The following paragraphs are based on the Court of Appeal’s own summary of the judgment.

The central question was whether the claimant, Mr Richard Lloyd, who is a champion of consumer protection, should be permitted to bring a representative action against Google LLC, the defendant, a corporation based in Delaware in the USA. Mr Lloyd made the claim on behalf of a class of more than 4 million Apple iPhone users. He alleged that Google secretly tracked some of their internet activity, for commercial purposes, between 9th August 2011 and 15th February 2012.


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The line between legitimate protest and anti-social behaviour

30 August 2019 by

Public order cases involving protests have always sparked controversy, with the collision between the state’s responsibility to ensure the smooth running of civil society and the individual citizen’s right to draw attention to what they regard as a pressing moral concern.

The optics on this are tricky. Protesters giving up their time and energy to raise attention; police moving them on. Which do we support, freedom of physical movement or free expression of thoughts?

There is a welter of debate and criminal legislation behind public protest action and this or that provision that authorises arrest. With the recent case of Dulgheriu & otrs v Ealing Council [2019] EWCA Civ 1490, I want to focus attention on what exactly triggers a prohibition of public protest under Section 59 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act of 2014. This provision allows councils to local authorities to issue a “Public Service Protection Order (“PSPO”) to prohibit public protests if they are satisfied that these are “detrimental” to the quality of life of “those in the locality”. Anyone who fails to comply with the requirements of a PSPO or to violate any prohibition contained in the order is liable to a fine of £1000.

The Court of Appeal dismissed a challenge to one of these PSPOs prohibiting anti-abortion protests in the immediate vicinity of Marie Stopes’ UK West London Centre. The Court concluded that the judge below had been correct to find that the pro-life activists’ activities had a detrimental effect within the meaning of s.59 of the 2014 Act. The Article 8 rights of the women wanting to access the clinic’s abortion procedures had been engaged and outweighed the pro-life activists’ rights under Articles 9, 10 and 11.


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Airspace in a crowded sky

27 August 2019 by

Lasham Gliding Society Ltd, R (on the application of) v. the Civil Aviation Authority and TAG Farnborough Airport Limited read judgment

The Claimant, the Lasham Gliding Society, challenged a decision by the Civil Aviation Authority, the statutory regulator of UK airspace, to permit the introduction of air traffic controls in airspace around Farnborough Airport, which is presently largely uncontrolled. Lasham Gliding Society (“LGS”) is one of the largest gliding clubs in the world. Its concern was that one of the effects of the CAA’s decision would be to increase the risk of a mid-air collision between its gliders and those aircraft which divert away from any newly controlled airspace around Farnborough Airport into the adjacent uncontrolled zone over Lasham where its gliders fly.

To put it in more detail, LGS argued that as a result of the CAA’s decision, light powered aircraft would be unable to enter their proposed controlled airspace which would compress them into the limited channel of non-controlled airspace near Lasham, thus creating “bottlenecks” that would increase the risk of mid-air collisions (referred to in the judgment as the “Lasham bottleneck” or “Lasham Gap”

LGS challenged the CAA’s decision on the basis that the CAA had misconstrued the Transport Act 2000; was in breach of its duties under the Act and had acted irrationally. The relevant provision is Section 70 which provides, broadly, that “the CAA must exercise its air navigation functions so as to maintain a high standard of safety in the provision of air traffic services, and that duty is to have priority over [the CAA’s obligation to secure the most efficient and expeditious flow of aircraft, to satisfy the requirements of owners of all classes of aircraft and to take account of environmental objectives, national security interests, etc.].”


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Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?

22 August 2019 by

The Finns are, or so it appears from a recent referral to the European Court of Justice: Case C‑674/17.

Man up, Finns! That is the AG’s advice. The Habitats Directive allows of no derogation from the protection of species obligation that does not come up with a satisfactory alternative. Furthermore it must be shown that any derogation does not worsen the conservation status of that species.

Whatever the CJEU decides, the opinion of AG Saugmandsgaard Øe makes for fascinating reading, going to the heart of the conservation problem. As human populations spread, how to secure the preservation of wild species, particularly carnivores?


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Rejected consumer goods – are they “waste”?

4 August 2019 by

As invidual consumers we are constantly exhorted to separate the goods and substances we want to get rid of into “rubbish” destined for landfill or items for recycling. Clearly we have to pay attention to this to avoid material going into landfill that could be recycled or turned into energy, but not only that; we need to be aware of the cost of goods being manufactured that never see the light of day at all, because by virtue of being mixed by less pristine goods, they count as waste, with all the consequences that entails.

In a recent ruling the CJEU considered the question of retail goods that have been returned by consumers or become redundant in the seller’s product range: Openbaar Ministerie v Tronex BV C-624/17.

The case should raise alarm bells. When we return an item against a refund of the purchase price we do not think we are discarding it. The CJEU ruling turned on the application of Article 3(1) of the Waste Directive 2008/98/EC, which provides that

‘“waste” means any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard’.

Individual consumers are clearly not liable under waste legislation for returning goods. But the concept of waste forms the basis of a criminal penalty for possession in EU member states.  So once those items reach the retailer the situation changes, because it may or may not become “waste” in their hands.


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Orthodox housing association can cater only to strictly orthodox

30 June 2019 by

Z & A v another, R (on the application of) v London Borough of Hackney and Agudas Israel Housing Association Ltd [2019] EWCA Civ 1099

The Agudas Israel Housing Association (“AIHA”) owns and allocates social housing exclusively to members of the Orthodox Jewish community.  In these proceedings it was argued that Z, a single mother with four children, had suffered unlawful discrimination when Hackney council had failed to put her name forward for suitable housing. This was because of AIHA’s practice of only letting its properties to members of the Orthodox Jewish community. Although the nominal respondent in these proceedings was Hackney LBC this was only because in practice Hackney nominates properties owned by the AIHA. Primarily the challenge was to AIHA’s allocation policy.

It was common ground that AIHA’s arrangements constituted direct discrimination on grounds of religion. The question was whether this discrimination was lawful. The Divisional court held that it was, being a proportionate means of compensating a disadvantaged community (at [2019] EWHC 139 (Admin)).


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M4 Newport relief road scrapped: environment v economics

24 June 2019 by

Listen to Alaisdair Henderson on Episode 85 of Law Pod UK

Plans to build a fourteen mile, six lane motorway through the Gwent Levels south of Newport to relieve congestion on the M4 have been scrapped by the Welsh government. The announcement by first minister Mark Drakeford was welcomed by environmentalists, local residents and small businesses who opposed the scheme at last year’s public inquiry. Alasdair Henderson, Dominic Ruck Keene and Hannah Noyce from 1 Crown Office Row with other barristers from Guildhall Chambers (Brendon Moorhouse) and Garden Court (Irena Sabic and Grace Brown) represented Gwent Wildlife Trust and an umbrella of other environmental objectors in the proceedings which lasted from February 2017 to September 2018. All these barristers acted for free. Environmental NGOs such as the Environmental Law Foundation, should be particularly pleased by Drakeford’s acknowledgement the campaigners’ efforts:


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The Reith Lectures: Human Rights v Democracy

4 June 2019 by

Or “Human Rights and Wrongs”, as Jonathan Sumption’s third lecture is called, in his series on Law’s Expanding Empire, delivered in Edinburgh and broadcast on Radio 4 and BBC World Service.

Human rights are where law and politics meet. It can be an unfriendly meeting…”

Following these strong words, Lord Sumption briskly debunks the ideas of “natural” or “inalienable” human rights, in favour since Blackstone’s time. In principle, there is nothing so fundamental about certain rights that they cannot be overturned by democratic election. The idea of these inalienable human rights was perfectly straightforward in a world where rights were part of God’s law, or in communist societies where these rights were ordained by the ruling party. But in a secular democracy, Sumption asks, what is it that makes rights legitimate? Of course there are rights without which a community cannot function, like the right to be free of force, and the right to participate in fair and regular elections. Any further rights should be conferred by collective choice, and not because because they are thought to be inherent in our humanity, or derived from some higher law. Instead of the mystics and the totalitarians, he invites us instead to consider the 18th century enlightenment philosopher David Hume.

He rejected the whole concept of natural law … You cannot derive moral principles from abstract reasoning or empirical observation. They derive their legitimacy from collective moral sentiment.

Rights [continues Sumption] do not exist in a vacuum, They are the creation of law, which is a product of social organisation, and which is therefore necessarily a product of political choice.


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Enforceable ethics in the age of gene enhancement

4 June 2019 by

The entanglement of law and ethics is always perilous when it involves the threat of prohibition. When Shenzhen scientists announced two years ago that they had edited the genes of twin human babies whilst still in vitro, voices of disapproval reverberated around the globe. Whilst it seems that gene modification of potential human life fills us with fear and loathing nothing has stood in the way of the race to refine this technology. Efforts to predict and restrict genetic engineering seem quaint and outmoded, from the UNESCO 1997 Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, to the Council of Europe’s Convention in the same year to restrict the modification of the genome to therapeutic purposes only. These agreements, as well as the 2015 call by UNESCO for a moratorium on germline modification, are well past their sell by dates.


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