Alta Fixsler was born with catastrophic brain injury. She now two years old, currently a patient at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Paediatric Intensive Care Unit on intensive life sustaining treatment. In this case the court was asked to decide whether it would be in Alta’s best interests for that life-sustaining treatment to be continued. The inevitable consequence of it being discontinued will be the death of Alta.
The parents are Chassidic Practising Jews and Israeli citizens. They emphasised the fact that being devout members of the Jewish faith meant that their faith was not simply a religion but also a way of life. Within this context, the parents took detailed rabbinical advice as to their religious duties and obligations in the context of Alta’s medical situation. They opposed the application brought by the NHS Trust and instead sought to take Alta to Israel for continued treatment and the exploration of long-term ventilation at home in Israel in due course or, if the court concluded that it is in Alta’s best interests for life sustaining treatment to be withdrawn, for that step to be taken in Israel.
A declaration pursuant to the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court that it is not in the best interests of Alta for life-sustaining medical treatment to be continued, and that is it in her best interests for a palliative care regime to be implemented;
A specific issue order under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 determining that life-sustaining medical treatment should cease to be provided and a palliative care regime implemented instead.
On 28th of April I wrote up a judgment by Weimar District Court Judge Dettmar against masks and social distancing in schools, and his subsequent handling by the police and District Prosecutor. Judge Dettmar’s decision of the 8th of April was overturned last week and the proceedings were discontinued.
The same court had produced a similar judgment ( 6 OWi 583 Js 200030/21) in a “Corona trial” on the 15th of March 2021 published on the 6th of May 2021. This was a ruling from a judge with a different jurisdiction in the same court. Judge Güricke, unlike Judge Dettmar, is not a family judge. Part of his jurisdiction concerns the validity of subordinate legislation, particularly ordinances banning certain behaviour, on pain of a fine or even a prison sentence. All administrative offences that are not traffic offences fall into this jurisdiction; and the Corona fine cases fall into the Special Administrative Offences division of which Judge Güricke is part. This, his latest judgment, examines in great depth what the government actually knew and should have known about the situation prevailing when the government decided on lockdown in March 2020.
It is well worth reading. Despite the fact that the German media has barely picked up on it, it is being commented upon and read in legal circles.
Judge Güricke’s ruling on the constitutional point is final. The public prosecutor’s office have not been able to appeal because the Thuringian Constitutional Court handed down a ruling on 1 March 2021 that all Thuringian Corona decrees, starting with the first one issued in March 2020 until the beginning of June 2020, were unlawful and null and void due to an error in formalities.
The claimant YZ had been acquitted on three counts raping his former wife but details concerning these matters remain on the Police National Computer (PNC). These proceedings concerned whether such retention was lawful.
The question at the heart of this application was whether onus was on the competent authority to justify its processing of the claimant’s dat was lawful and fair under the Data Protection Act 2018. The claimant’s argument was that the relevant guidance (issued pursuant to the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act) to the police was not compatible with this statutory requirement as it put the onus on an applicant for deletion to give reasons for that deletion [para 40].
Clare Ciborowska and Richard Ager join Rosalind English in the first of a series of discussions from the family law team at 1 Crown Office Row in Brighton, highlighting developments and analysing case law from the family courts.
In Episode 144 of Law Pod UK, we focus on the challenges presented to family court judges by the obligation to conduct full fact finding hearings where allegations of domestic abuse are raised. The details of this duty are to be found in Practice Direction 12J FPR2010, but the difficulties have yet to be played out in practice. There are problems with the overlap between criminal and family law, with the lack of legal aid for defendants, and, above all, the difficulties faced by judges tasked with the business of trying to run an in inquisitorial hearing whilst being as supportive as possible to litigants in person.
Clare and Richard talk about the various issues arising out of the practice direction and the case law that preceded and followed PDJ12. Here, as promised, are the citations and references touched upon in the podcast:
In October 2020 the App Drivers & Couriers Union (‘ADCU’) filed a legal challenge against Uber Technologies Inc. for the dismissal of drivers by an algorithm in the UK and Portugal. The District Court of Amsterdam heard claims by the ADCU on behalf of three drivers from the UK, and a fourth driver from Lisbon, Portugal, was represented by the International Alliance of App-based Transport Workers.
The claims were brought under Article 22 of the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) (‘GDPR’). The drivers’ complaints related to dismissals resulting from, among others, Uber systems’ detection of irregular trips associated with fraudulent activities in one case, and the installation and use of software with the intention and effect of manipulating the Uber’s Driver App in another case. The drivers were dismissed, given no further explanation, and denied the right to appeal. The Court was asked to determine to what extent the GDPR could protect individuals from unfair automated decision-making, specifically, individuals have the right to certain protections from automated decisions which create negative affects but are carried out without meaningful human intervention.
Episode 143 features Isabel McArdle and Sarabjit Singh QC of 1 Crown Office Row. Isabel practises in indirect tax, healthcare law, personal injury and public law. Sarabjit (“Sab”) specialises in tax, with a particular emphasis on all forms of indirect tax and the interface between tax and public law. They have both given seminars on the implications of Brexit for tax lawyers. In this episode, Rosalind English discusses with Sab and Isabel a number of laws containing Henry VIII powers, including the Childcare Act 2016, Section 8 of the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018, Section 31 of the EU Future Relationship Act 2020, the Coronavirus Act 2020 and Section 51 of the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Act 2018. Emma-Louise Fenelon did of course explore this subject in depth with the Public Law Project and Lord Anderson of Ipswich QC in Episode 129: Brexit and the Flaws of Delegated Legislation ; this episode takes this important subject further.
Henry VIII powers enable a minister to amend primary law by secondary legislation, effectively bypassing parliament. They also touch on the popularity of so-called “skeleton bills”. These bills are favoured by those in power because they have no policy in them so there’s nothing to scrutinise by both Houses of Parliament. And Henry VIII clauses are what feed these bills.
Following Brexit, everything from financial services, immigration from Europe, fisheries, agriculture – can all be achieved under Henry VIII in skeleton bills. The concern, from a constitutional perspective, is that there’s a lack of parliamentary scrutiny. They give huge power to ministers to amend and repeal Acts of Parliament.
We have to apologise for the building works sound effects in the background of this episode. We welcome our listeners to perceive them as an appropriate metaphor for the government hammering home their policies under these Henry VIII powers.
On 8 April 2021, the Weimar District Family Court ruled in Amtsgericht Weimar, Beschluss vom 08.04.2021, Az.: 9 F 148/21) that two Weimar schools were prohibited with immediate effect from requiring pupils to wear mouth-nose coverings of any kind (especially qualified masks such as FFP2 masks), to comply with AHA minimum distances and/or to take part in SARS-CoV-2 rapid tests. At the same time, the court ruled that classroom instruction must be maintained.
This is the first time that expert evidence has now been presented before a German court regarding the scientific reasonableness and necessity of the prescribed anti-Corona measures.The expert witnesses were the hygienist Prof. Dr. med Ines Kappstein, the psychologist Prof. Dr. Christof Kuhbandner and the biologist Prof. Dr. Ulrike Kämmerer were heard. 2020NewsDe has published a summary of the judgment, the salient parts of which are set out in full below (translation by DeepL).
The reason for highlighting this judgment in such detail is because of the consequences reported by the news website to the judge of his decision. According to 2020NewsDe, “the judge at the Weimar District Court, Christiaan Dettmar, had his house searched today [26 April 2021]. His office, private premises and car were searched. The judge’s mobile phone was confiscated by the police. The judge had made a sensational decision on 8 April 2021, which was very inconvenient for the government’s policy on the measures.” In a side note on the fringes of proceedings with other parties, continues 2020NewsDe, “the decision in question has been described as unlawful by the Weimar Administrative Court without comprehensible justification.”
A cautionary note: I have been informed by Holger Hestermeyer, Professor of International and EU Law at King’s Law School (@hhesterm), that cases quashing administrative acts (like the one at issue in the AG Weimar case) go to administrative courts in Germany. The case, says Professor Hestermeyer
had, indeed, been brought to the administrative court, but the court had not quashed the administrative act. The attorney then (according to Spiegel reports) was looking for plaintiffs to bring the case before this particular judge via telegram (competence is based on first letters of surnames, so the attorney was looking for plaintiffs with the right surname). The judge then assumed his competence (unprecedented), ruled not just for the plaintiffs but all kids at the school (peculiar), excluded an oral hearing (hmmm), rejected all mainstream scientific advise to base the judgment exclusively on the minority of experts rejecting all such measures (again hmmm) and excluded an appeal.
So there are important procedural problems with this judgment which must be borne in mind when reading my summary with excepts both from the original judgment and the report by 2020De below.
The court case was a child protection case under to § 1666 paragraph 1 and 4 of the German Civil Code (BGB), which a mother had initiated for her two sons, aged 14 and 8 respectively, at the local Family Court. She had argued that her children were being physically, psychologically and pedagogically damaged without any benefit for the children or third parties. At the same time, she claimed this constituted a violation of a range of rights of the children and their parents under the law, the German constitution (Grundgesetz or Basic Law) and international conventions.
Informed consent to medical treatment is at the heart of the vaccine debate. Consent is also at the centre of most of the cases that come before the Court of Protection. So now we have a very specific problem: what happens, if someone lacks capacity under the Mental Capacity Act, and their family for whatever reason objects to the Covid vaccine?
In the latest episode of Law Pod UK, Rosalind English talks to Amelia Walker of 1 Crown Office Row about three recent cases that came before the COP where the “protected person” (incapacitous under the Mental Capacity Act) was due to be vaccinated, but family members objected. Here are the citations to the cases discussed and the relevant statutes:
E (by her Accredited Legal Representative, Keith Clarke), Applicant v London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (Respondent) and W (2nd Respondent)  EWCOP 7
SD (Applicant) v Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (Respondent)  EWCOP 14
NHS Tameside & Glossop CCG v CR (by his litigation friend CW)  EWCOP 19
In her latest episode of 2903cb, Professor Catherine Barnard looks back on the past 100+ days since the UK withdrew from the EU. The dire forecasts of chaos at our borders have not been realised, and the doomsayers of Brexit have probably got it wrong. The Covid effect has obviously been dramatic. The economy is likely to bounce back post Covid, but we don’t know how the effects of Brexit will play out for the fishing industry, and other major areas of the UK economy. On the other hand the “vaccine wars” with the EU, and the relatively slow rollout of vaccinations in the bloc compared with Britain’s swift action in getting its population protected against Covid-19, have not reflected well on the EU.
Or, as Andrew Neil put it on the Spectator TV News Channel this week, “A Dripping Roast For Lawyers”. To be fair, Neil was referring to the patchwork of mandatory vaccines across the United States. But with the publication yesterday of the Government’s consultation paper on vaccine requirements for all staff deployed in a care home supporting at least one older adult over the age of 65, the debate raging about “vaccine passports” has a real target in its sights. Not only because the government has found some primary legislation that gives it the power to introduce mandatory vaccinations, but also because the proposals are not limited to employees.
According to the consultation paper (which will take five weeks to circulate, enough for more age groups to move into vaccine eligibility bands), the vaccine requirement will extend to visiting professionals, in particular
all staff employed directly by the care home provider, those employed by an agency, and volunteers deployed in the care home. It also includes those providing direct care and those undertaking ancillary roles such as cleaners and kitchen staff.
…[and could extend to] those who provide close personal care, such as health and care workers. It could also include hairdressers or visiting faith leaders. We are also carefully considering the situation of ‘essential care givers’ – those friends or family who have agreed with the care home that they will visit regularly and provide personal care
The policy proposals provide clear exemptions, but only on medical grounds. Vaccine refusal based on cultural or religious objections is not exempt. Pregnancy is at the moment included in the medical exemption but is under review.
In Episode 139 of Law Pod UK Alasdair Henderson of 1 Crown Office Row joins Rosalind English to discuss the recent ruling by the UK Supreme Court that drivers whose work is arranged through Uber’s smartphone app work for Uber under workers’ contracts and so qualify for the protections afforded by employment law, such as minimum wage and paid holiday leave. We also touch upon the challenges brought by the other ride hailing app Ola in the Dutch Courts with respect to automated profiling of drivers. See my post on one of those rulings; this was the first time that a court had found that workers were subject to decision making by AI systems.
The Supreme Court, it will be recalled, concluded that the Employment Tribunal had been entitled to find that the claimant drivers were “workers” who worked for Uber under “workers contracts” within the meaning of the statutory definition. The Court was unanimous in its decision that this was the only conclusion which the Tribunal could reasonably have reached.
As we all know, the acquisition of puppies during lockdown has gone through the roof with the inevitable sad consequences of remorse followed by neglect and even abandonment. Dog theft has spiralled as the market responds by escalating the price of pedigree puppies.
But this case involved a different issue that could have arisen at any time (and indeed the relevant transaction took place over a year before the pandemic hit). The facts can be summarised quite briefly.
On 21 June 2018 the claimant bought an Old English Sheepdog puppy for £1000 from a professional breeder, Ms Pendragon. Ms Coom subsequently discovered that her puppy suffered from two conditions, latent at birth but which manifested themselves within months: hip dysplasia and diabetes.
This case has a history: the long running trade mark dispute between Swatch and Apple about the marks ‘I-WATCH’ and ‘I-SWATCH’. I will go back to that in a moment. The dispute in question concerned trade mark applications designating the following signs, covering a wide range of goods including watches and consumer electronic products:
SWATCH ONE MORE THING ONE MORE THING
[Full disclosure: the author of this post was an undergraduate contemporary in the eighties with Iain Purvis QC, the presiding judge in this matter. I have chosen not mischievously to publish this report on 1 April.]
“One more thing” became something of a meme since The well-known Chairman and founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, would reach what would seem to be the end of his keynote address at an industry event chosen for an important announcement, turn as if to leave the stage, and then turn back with the words ‘but there’s one more thing’. In 1998 the first ‘one more thing’ was the return of Apple to profitability. In later years, the ‘one more thing’ would often be a new Apple product. The tradition appears to have lapsed on Steve Jobs’ death in 2011 but was revived by his successor Tim Cook in 2015 for the launch of the Apple Watch.
An Amsterdam Court has ordered Ola (a smartphone-hailing taxi organisation like Uber) to be more transparent about the data it uses as the basis for decisions on suspensions and wage penalties, in a ruling that breaks new ground on the rights of workers subject to algorithmic management.
James Farrarr and Yaseen Aslam, who won the landmark victory in the UK Supreme Court in February, led the action by a group of UK drivers and a Portuguese driver, who bought three separate cases against Ola and Uber seeking fuller access to their personal data.
The following is a summary of the case against Ola taxis. Anton Ekker (assisted by AI expert Jacob Turner, whom we interviewed on Law Pod UK here) represented the drivers. He said that this case was the first time, to his knowledge, that a court had found that workers were subject to automated decision-making (as defined in Article 22 of the GDPR) thus giving them the right to demand human intervention, express their point of view and appeal against the decision.
Ola is a company whose parent company is based in Bangalore, India. Ola Cabs is a digital platform that pairs passengers and cab drivers through an app. The claimants are employed as ‘private hire drivers’ (“drivers”) in the United Kingdom. They use the services of Ola through the Ola Driver App and the passengers they transport rely on the Ola Cabs App.
Proceedings are pending in several countries between companies offering services through a digital platform and drivers over whether an employment relationship exists.
By separate requests dated 23 June 2020, the first two claimants requested Ola to disclose their personal data processed by Ola and make it available in a CSV file. The third claimant made an access request on 5 August 2020. Ola provided the claimants with a number of digital files and copies of documents in response to these requests.
Ola has a “Privacy Statement” in which it has included general information about data processing.
All references in this judgment is to the AVG, which is Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (GDPR).
Sophie Basma (“Sophie”) is 10. She suffers from Type 3 Spinal Muscular Atrophy (“SMA”). SMA is a rare, genetic, neuromuscular disease which progressively leads to sufferers being unable to walk or sit unaided with devastating consequences on their quality of life. Sophie can no longer walk. There is medication for SMA sufferers which would have had the potential of helping Sophie regain her ability to work. But the NHS Trust had concluded that Sophie did not meet the eligibility criteria for this new medication, “Nusinersen”.
By her mother she challenged the decision by way of judicial review. The judge below found that the NHS Trust had lawfully reached the decision that they did. This was her appeal against that finding.
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.