Media By: Rosalind English


Law Pod UK new episode: Are our legal tools fit for AI?

4 March 2019 by

In Episode 71 author and barrister Jacob Turner talks to Rosalind English about a world in which algorithms handle all the transactions. His book Robot Rules explains why AI is a unique legal phenomenon, and how we might address the legal and ethical problems it could cause. He argues that AI is unlike any other previous technology, capable of legal agency and holding legal personality. His book goes deep into the questions of liability for the actions and decisions of advanced algorithmic intelligence. As one review comments, Robot Rules incorporates “clear explanations of complex topics”, and will appeal “to a multi-disciplinary audience, from those with an interest in law, politics and philosophy, to computer programming, engineering and neuroscience.”

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

Mental capacity for social media and the internet: another Court of Protection case

28 February 2019 by

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Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

Re: A (Capacity: Social Media and Internet Use: Best Interests) [2019] EWCOP 2

The patient in these proceedings was a woman in her thirties (“B”). She suffers a learning disability and epilepsy and has considerable social care needs. She currently lives at home where she spends much of her time watching television.  She struggles to manage her personal care and hygiene, and, in the judge’s words, she is “grossly overweight.”

She is prone to confrontational behaviour when challenged, and can be physically aggressive. She is assessed as requiring support to maintain her safety when communicating with others; when she receives information which she does not want to hear, she often becomes dismissive, verbally aggressive and refuses to engage.

This hearing concerned her capacity to litigate in these proceedings, to manage her property, to decide where she resides and her package of care, and to decide with whom she has contact. The main focus of the judgment was on the question that arose in the “A” case , as to the capacity of the patient to use the internet and communicate by social media. Closely related to this was the issue of her capacity to consent to sexual relations.
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Mental capacity for handling the internet: Court of Protection

27 February 2019 by

A (Capacity: Social Media and Internet Use: Best Interests)  [2019] EWCOP 2

In this case Cobb J was asked to make declarations under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 regarding a learning disabled man’s capacity to use the internet and social media. (NB on 21 February judgment was also handed down in a similar case on which we will post shortly: B (Capacity: Social Media: Care and Contact) [2019] EWCOP 3.

The rapid development of the internet and proliferation of social media networks over recent years have fundamentally reshaped the way we engage with each other. We spend more time on our digital electronic devices than we do interacting with other humans and naturally this has brought huge benefits in terms of entertainment, communication and gathering information. The social media ‘apps’ available for instant messaging and networking are mostly easy and free to use, amongst them chiefly Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Facetime, Skype, Instagram, and Twitter. For people with disabilities the internet and associated social media networks are particularly important:


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Physician assisted dying: latest developments

26 February 2019 by

Update:

On 20 March Dignity in Dying released a report exposing the fact that those behind the legal challenge to the RCP (detailed below) have a long history of campaigning for pro-life causes and connections to American pro-life lobbyists, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

DID’s report has been covered by the British Medical Journal and Politics Home so far.  You can read the full report here, and their press release here.

In January we published episode 63 of Law Pod UK featuring Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying. DID campaigns for a change in the law to allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs for terminally ill people to hasten their own death in specific situations. Sarah referred in that interview to a poll that was about to be conducted of the members of the Royal College of Physicians, who have hitherto opposed assisted dying. The members are being asked whether they individually support a legal change to permit assisted dying, and what they think the RCP’s position should be. The RCP has said that it will move to a neutral position unless at least 60% of votes in a poll being sent out in the first week of February are either in favour of or opposed to a change in the law. The results will be announced in March but the poll has had a bumpy ride, including a threat of judicial review by one of its members for conducting the exercise as a “sham poll with a rigged outcome.” The Christian charity Duty of Care has called for signatures from doctors and medical students to a petition objecting to the poll.

While that has been going on, DID has supported the family of a man suffering from motor neurone disease. On 7 February Geoff Whaley travelled to Dignitas in Switzerland to end his life.

Before he died, Mr Whaley wrote an open letter all MPs to impress upon them the need for a change in the law after his wife was reported to the police, in an anonymous phone call, as a person potentially assisting someone to end their life. The Whaley’s MP Cheryl Gillan raised the family’s story in the Commons during Business of the House.

Geoff [and his wife] had to suffer the added mental anguish of facing a criminal investigation at a time when the family, and most of all Geoff, wanted to prepare his goodbyes and fulfil his last wish in peace. May I ask the Leader of the House if we can have a debate in Government time so that we can re-examine this area of law, particularly in the light of this amazing man’s efforts to give terminally ill people a choice over the way they leave this world, and to afford protection to their loved ones?


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Does someone who assists with journey to Dignitas risk losing benefit of deceased’s estate?

26 February 2019 by

Ninan v Findlay and others [2019] EWHC 297 (Ch), 21 February 2019

The claimant, Mrs Ninian, is the sole beneficiary of the residue of the estate of her late husband Mr Ninian under his will. Mr Ninian, who suffered from a progressive incurable disease, died on 16 November 2017 with the assistance of Dignitas in Switzerland. Mrs Ninian was with him throughout the trip to Switzerland, his assessment by representatives of Dignitas and the occasion of his suicide.

Shortly before the trip to Dignitas, Mrs Ninian applied for relief against forfeiture under section 2 of the Forfeiture Act 1982 on the basis that steps taken by her may have amounted to encouraging or assisting her husband to commit suicide which brought in play the forfeiture rule.


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Court authorises experimental treatment for CJD patient

25 February 2019 by

University College London Hospital and others v KG (by his litigation friend the Official Solicitor) [2018] EWCOP 29

This case concerned a man, KG, who suffered from the human prion disease CJD. As was explained in the judgment, prion diseases are invariably fatal, neurodegenerative conditions.

They are involve the build-up in the brain and some other organs of a rogue form of a naturally-occurring protein known as the prion protein. The rogue protein results from a change in shape of the normal prion protein. Once formed in the body, these rogue proteins (or prions) recruit and convert more of the normal prion protein into the abnormal form, setting off a kind of chain reaction which leads to a progressive accumulation of the rogue protein.


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Law Pod UK New Episode

18 February 2019 by

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From the popular four part episodes out of 1 Crown Office Row’s seminar ‘Erasure, Remediation and Rights of Appeal in Disciplinary Proceedings’, we bring you Episode 67 with Matthew Barnes, who asks the question in his talk about remediation – Can you teach an old dog new tricks?


Law Pod UK is available, ad-free on AudioboomiTunesSpotifyPodbean or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Please remember to rate and review us if you like what you hear.  

Animal transport: where are we now with EU law?

18 February 2019 by

MAS Group Holdings Ltd and others, R (on the application of) v Barco De Vapor B.V. and others [2019] EWHC 158 (Admin), 4 February 2019

As a matter of policy, the UK government is committed to improving the welfare of all animals, or so we are given to understand. In this little-covered ruling, we see that the responsible authorities are trying to do what they can to alleviate the suffering of farm animals enduring transport for slaughter:

[The government] would prefer to see animals slaughtered as near as possible to their point of production and thus trade in meat is preferable to a trade based on the transport of live animals. Whilst it recognises the United Kingdom’s responsibilities whilst remaining a member of the EU, it will be looking to take early steps to control the export of live animals for slaughter as the UK moves towards a new relationship with Europe.

Livestock transport has been a controversial subject in the UK for many years. Efforts by public authorities to reduce or mitigate the movement or export of live animals have hitherto foundered on the rocks of free movement of goods (see my post on TFEU Article 35). Despite the ethical controversy, the current position is that long distance transport of nonhuman animals for slaughter is lawful (Barco de Vapor BV v Thanet District Council [2015] Bus LR 593.)  


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New Law Pod UK Episode: Informed Consent

4 February 2019 by

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Following our popular interview with James Badenoch QC on the “doctor knows best” rule of evidence in medical negligence cases, we bring you John Whitting QC, healthcare law specialist at 1 Crown Office Row (@JohnWhittingQC). In Episode 64 of Law Pod UK, John talks to Rosalind English about the realities of clinical encounters and considers to what extent patients are willing, or in some circumstances even able – to take on board multiple options for their treatment.


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Doctor’s right to be forgotten

27 January 2019 by

ECLI:NL:RBAMS: 2018:8606, Rechtbank Amsterdam, C/13/636885 / HA RK 17-301 – read judgment

An Amsterdam court has ruled that Google should bring down an unofficial “blacklist” of doctors maintained by a discussion group on the internet. This is said to be the first right to be forgotten case involving medical negligence by a doctor.

The judgment – available only in Dutch and heavily redacted – was handed down in July last year. But publication was delayed due to disputes over whether publication would compromise the anonymity not only of the claimant but of the other fifteen doctors on the blacklist. The claimant’s lawyer, reported in The Guardian, predicted that Google will “have to bring down thousands of pages” as a result of this ruling:

There is a medical disciplinary panel but Google has been the judge until now.

Background facts

The claimant was a surgeon who had been suspended by a disciplinary panel because of her postoperative care of a patient. This was changed to a conditional suspension after she appealed and she was allowed to continue practising.


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Latest Law Pod UK with Guy Mansfield QC

21 January 2019 by

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The latest episode of Law Pod UK features Guy Mansfield QC, who acted for the government in the Mau Mau action against the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In this group litigation over 40,000 Kenyans alleged abuse during the Kenyan Emergency of the 1950s and early 1960s. The various test cases led to a High Court judgments last year dismissing the claims for being out of time under the Limitation Act 1980. See Jo Moore’s post for the case citations referred to in the podcast, and also the more recent decision in Kimathi & Others [November 2018]

Other limitation cases referred to in the podcast are KR v Bryn Alyn [2003] A v Hoare [2008]  and Jones & Ors v DECC [2012].

Law Pod UK is available for free on Audioboom, iTunes, Spotify, PodBean or wherever you listen to your podcasts.



Damages for wrongful life refused

10 January 2019 by

ARB v IVF Hammersmith & Another [2018] Civ 2803 (17 December 2018) – read judgment

Legal policy in the UK has traditionally prohibited the granting of damages for the wrongful conception or birth of a child in cases of negligence. In this case the Court of Appeal has confirmed that this bar is equally applicable to a wrongful birth arising from a breach of contract.

The facts of the case are set out in my podcast on the first instance decision (Episode 12 of Law Pod UK). Briefly, an IVF clinic had implanted the claimant father’s gametes into his former partner without his consent. This occurred after the couple had sought fertility treatment at the clinic resulting in the birth of a son some years previously. Following standard practice, the clinic froze five embryos made with their gametes. Subsequently, the couple separated. Some time after this separation the mother, R, attended the clinic without ARB and informed the staff that they had decided to have another child. The form requiring consent from ARB for thawing and implanting the embyro was signed by R, and the clinic failed to notice the forgery. R went on to give birth to a healthy daughter, E, who is now the sibling of ARB’s son. There is a Family Court order confirming parental responsibility and shared residence in respect of both children.
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Doctor knows best: Expert evidence in medical cases

7 January 2019 by

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“No negligence where the doctors disagree” – used to be the approach of the courts to expert evidence in medical cases. That deference has eroded in recent years.

Rosalind English talks to James Badenoch QC, who acted for the claimant Montgomery in the most recent Supreme Court case on informed consent in medical cases.

Law Pod UK will be following up the debate on Bolam expert evidence in future episodes.

Law Pod UK is available for free and without ads on AudioboomiTunesPodBean, The Podcast App or wherever you get your podcasts.

New podcast: starvation as a war weapon

10 December 2018 by


In the latest episode of Law Pod UK Rosalind English talks to Catriona Murdoch of 1 Crown Office Row about  Global Rights Compliance, an organisation offering a unique approach to atrocity crimes and other violations of international law.  The Hague-based GRC works in partnership with The World Peace Foundation (‘WPF’) to combine expertise on conflict and food insecurity. Together they are identifying how international law may be used to advance the prevention, prohibition and accountability for mass starvation.

Law Pod UK is available for free and without ads on AudioboomiTunes, PodBean,The Podcast App or wherever you get your podcasts.

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