Two new podcasts on Law Pod UK

The second in Professor Catherine Barnard’s series on the legal milestones of the Brexit process is now up on iTunes and Audioboom. And today we have posted Isabel McArdle talking to Rosalind English about the Supreme Court ruling on police liability in Robinson v West Yorkshire Police. All episodes are freely available for download to your devices.

“Genetic affinity” an actionable head of damage against IVF clinic

ABC v Thomson Medical Pte Ltd and others, Singapore Civil Court of Appeal  [2017] SGCA 20 – read judgment

It is a trite reflection that law should change with the times but every so often we see the hair-pin bends in law’s pursuit of modern technology.  This case from Singapore about reproductive rights and negligence in an IVF clinic is just such an example. As the judge said at the outset, the need for the law to adjust itself to the changing circumstances of life is clearest  in the area of medical science,

where scientific advancement has made it possible for us to do things today which would previously have been unimaginable a few decades ago. This has brought untold prosperity to many, and hope to those who previously had none; but it has also given us greater capacity for harm.

Background facts

The Appellant, a Chinese Singaporean, and her husband, a German of Caucasian descent, sought to conceive a child through in-vitro fertilisation . The Appellant underwent IVF treatment and delivered a daughter, referred  to in the judgment as “Baby P”. After the birth of Baby P, it was discovered that a serious mistake had been made: the Appellant’s ovum had been fertilised using sperm from an unknown Indian third party instead of sperm from the Appellant’s husband. It turned out that the clinic had processed two semen specimens inside one laminar hood at the same time and failed  to discard the disposable pipettes that had been used after each step of the IVF process.  This had resulted in a baby being born on 1 October 2010, whose DNA did not match her father’s. Continue reading

Instagramming your claim form: valid service?

In order to set a claim under way in the civil courts, it is necessary to serve the claim form on the party named as defendant.  The service rules were good fodder for the likes of Dickens or Trollope as they set their tipstaffs in pursuit of the hapless seeking to escape the Marshalsea or similar; things became rather more mundane when society became too populous for personal service.

Continue reading

Water into gas should not go

Southern Gas Networks Plc v Thames Water Utilities Ltd 
[2018] EWCA Civ 33, 25 January 2018 – read judgment

When the supply of gas to your house fails, you are entitled to compensation from the gas undertaker for the inconvenience. If that failure has been caused by another utility’s burst water main, the gas undertaker may seek to recoup its expenses for repair to its own infrastructure and the compensation it has had to pay out to consumers. A simple enough picture.

But behind this straightforward seeming network of liabilities is a labyrinth of common law and statutory relationships whose exploration is not for the faint hearted.  As society’s dependence on the provision of energy, water and sewage services grew, during the Industrial Revolution and beyond, parliament had to think of ways to level the playing field between these increasingly centralised powers. This is not a trend that will go away, as the gas, electricity and fibre optic cables become ever more essential to the way we live our lives. Continue reading

Life sustaining treatment – whose decision?

Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust v Thomas and others [2018] EWHC 127 (Fam) – read judgment

Updated: The Court of Appeal has now ruled that doctors at King’s College hospital, London, could remove Isaiah from the ventilator that has kept him alive since he was deprived of oxygen at birth and sustained catastrophic brain injury. The judges also refused the parents permission to appeal against this ruling. McFarlane LJ said

This case is not about the parents or their hopes. It is and must firmly be about Isaiah and his best interests.

Parental love is to be cherished by society, particularly when a child is sick. But the “flattering voice of hope” is not always in best interests of the object of that love.  So concluded MacDonald J in a recent ruling which has attracted considerable media attention. The judge concluded that it was not in the 11- month old boy’s best interests for life-sustaining treatment to be continued. He was satisfied on the evidence of the court, he said, that the boy, Isaiah, had

 no prospect of recovery or improvement given the severe nature of the cerebral atrophy in his brain

and that he would remain “ventilator dependent and without meaningful awareness of his surroundings”

Perhaps with the Charlie Gard publicity in mind, MacDonald J was careful to emphasise the weight of the medical evidence as against the parents’ assessment of the boy’s condition. The publicity sparked by this case has led to visits to the child by other medical professionals. There are some forceful concluding remarks in this judgement about the inappropriate nature of these possible “clandestine examinations”. These are now a matter for the police.

The judge also rejected the argument that the court should hear evidence from “foreign” experts on the approach from which other cultures might approach this question in terms of its ethics and outcome.  There was a “world of difference” between medical expertise from abroad and a foreign “expert” who simply takes the view that the medical or ethical approach to these issues in this jurisdiction differs from that in their own practice.

It would be extremely unfortunate if the standard response to applications of this nature was to become one of scouring the world for medical experts who simply take the view that the medical, moral or ethical approach to these issues in their jurisdiction, or in their own practice is preferable to the medical, moral or ethical approach in this jurisdiction.

Continue reading

Deportation of foreign criminals: out of country appeals still lawful

Nixon & Anor, R (On the Application of) Secretary of State for the Home Office [2018] EWCA Civ 3, 17 January 2018 – read judgment

The Court of Appeal has refused a judicial review application and permission to appeal in two cases where the applicants were required to pursue their challenges to deportation “out of country” rather than in the UK.  Where the Secretary of State has rejected a human rights claim, and deportation is considered in the public good – because the deportee is a foreign criminal – there has been debate about the effectiveness of an out-of-country appeal .


The facts of this case are similar to the case of R (Kiarie) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; R (Byndloss) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] EWCA Civ 1020. In each case, the appellant was threatened with deportation as a result of offending, but he contended that deportation would be in breach of his right to private and/or family life under article 8 of the ECHR. We posted on Kiarie and Byndloss here.  The Court of Appeal held in that case that the Secretary of State could properly proceed on the basis that an out-of-county appeal would meet the procedural requirements of article 8 in the generality of deportation cases, because such an appeal met the essential requirements of effectiveness and fairness.   The Supreme Court reversed  the ruling on the specific facts of the case before them. But their conclusion – that in the cases of Kiarie and Byndloss, the out-of-country appeal procedures were inadequate – does not affect all cases thus certified. All questions of adequacy of evidence and video links have to be considered on a case by case basis, taking into account the efforts made by the individual applicant to advance their case. Not all decisions depriving people of the right of appeal from the UK will be unlawful; it depends on the facts.  Continue reading

Legal Milestones on the route to Brexit: Catherine Barnard

In the cooperative spirit of podcasting, Professor Catherine Barnard of Cambridge University has kindly agreed to allow Law Pod UK to repost the enlightening podcasts from her series 2903CB, charting the transitional stages that need to be negotiated as we progress towards 29 March 2019, when the UK will be no longer part of the EU (CB being Catherine Barnard). Here’s the first one: UK Law Pod No 21: Outlining the legal milestones to Brexit, also available as part of the UK Law Pod series on iTunes.

We hope to continue to rebroadcast her series, along with our own output of interviews and seminars from 1 Crown Office Row on all manner of subjects.