Media By: Rosalind English


Newspaper prevented from publishing information about former loyalist murder suspect

18 October 2010 by

An injunction sought against the publication of certain information has been granted by the High Court in Northern Ireland under Article 2 (the right to life). The claimant also invoked the Prevention of Harassment (NI) Order and sought damages for misuse of private information. The Article 8 claim was only partially successful and the harassment claim was dismissed.

The claimant, who had been accused and subsequently cleared of murdering a journalist working for the defendant newspaper sought to prevent the publication of details relating to his address, his partner, his wedding plans and other personal  information and photographs.  The judge held that the publication of this information, in the light of threats from loyalist paramilitaries and dissident republican paramilitaries, would result in a “real and immediate risk” to the claimant’s life.

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Legal professional privilege not available for communications with accountants

15 October 2010 by

Communications from an accountant giving legal advice do not attract legal professional privilege. The rule is only  available if the advice is sought from a lawyer.

Notices  under the Taxes Management Act 1970 (“Section 20 notices”) were served on the appellant company by the Revenue with a view to investigating a commercially marketed tax avoidance scheme. The appellant asserted that the notices required production of documents by which they sought or received legal advice on tax matters, in some cases from counsel and foreign lawyers, and in others from accountants.

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Full body scanners now compulsory for Manchester air passengers

14 October 2010 by

Full body scanners are to become the only security option for people flying out of Manchester Airport, the BBC reports today. The excessive amount of coverage given to the disapproval expressed by civil liberties groups has now been counterbalanced by passengers’ attitudes, since it appears that people actually prefer the scanners to the full body pat down, and have been voting with their feet.

According to Manchester Airport, 95% of travellers prefer the scanners and queuing times have been radically reduced. It takes  2 minutes to undergo a pat down, but a mere 27 seconds to pass through a scanner.
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Sovereignty clause? Not so fast…

8 October 2010 by

In his speech to the Conservative party conference, The foreign secretary William Hague has outlined the government’s plans for securing the sovereignty of parliament against the pressure of the European Union. He said:

A sovereignty clause on EU law will place on the statute book this eternal truth: what a sovereign parliament can do, a sovereign parliament can also undo … this clause will enshrine this key principle in the law of the land.

One commentator notes: “Tories plan fresh attacks on human and workers’ rights”. Another that there would be “subtle legal perils”.

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Press restrained in alleged blackmail sex case

5 October 2010 by

DFT v TFD [2010] EWHC 2335 (QB) (27 September 2010) – Read the judgment

Updated | In a recent restraint of publication case, the High Court has assessed the conflicting requirements of open justice and freedom of speech versus the privacy interests of the applicant.

The High Court was asked to consider continuing restraint of publication of what was said to be private and confidential information. The applicant alleged that the respondent had been blackmailing or attempting to blackmail him, and had threatened to make public private and confidential information concerning a sexual relationship between them unless she was paid very substantial sums. The applicant not only sought continuation of the injunction restraining publication but a prohibition on publishing the fact of the order as well, to avoid “jigsaw” identification of the applicant by the media.

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Roma: Commission shies away from full discrimination action against France

30 September 2010 by

We reported earlier on the threat by EC Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding to institute infringement proceedings against France in respect of its expulsion of Roma and the dismantling of their encampments. It seems now that the Commission itself may not have the stomach for an action expressly based on the ban on discrimination in the EC Treaty and the Free Movement Directive.

As the Darren O’Donavan reports in Human Rights in Ireland,

The Commission decided to threaten a less controversial legal action against France for not having correctly transposed the Free Movement Directive into national legislation.

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UK discriminated by making same-sex relationship mum pay more child maintenance

30 September 2010 by

J M v. The United Kingdom – 37060/06 [2010] ECHR 1361 – Read judgment

The European Court of Rights has declared that rules on child maintenance prior to introduction of the Civil Partnership Act discriminated against those in same-sex relationships.

The events happened nearly a decade ago and the law in relation to same-sex couples has greatly altered since, so it will be of limited relevance to those paying child benefit now. Of more interest is the reasoning of the majority in deciding the case under the right to peaceful enjoyment of property rather than the right to family life.

The case summary is based on the Court’s press release, and is followed by my comment.

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Warning: Wild Lawyers at Large

28 September 2010 by

A group of lawyers, academics and campaigners has been deciding how to shake up our legal landscape to make the future safer for our environment.

Sixty years of human rights and it feels like they’ve been with us for ever.  Two hundred and nine years since the founding fathers’ Bill of Rights came into effect in the United States; two hundred and eleven since the French National Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of man. Now, there are more humans to seek out and flourish those rights than was ever imaginable in those brave new worlds.

In Paul Simon’s words, there are

Too many people on the bus from the airport

Too many holes in the crust of the earth

The planet groans

Every time it registers another birth

People’s rights and aspirations, as set out in these pioneering aristocratic instruments, may have reached the end of their useful life.

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Eviction of council tenants was breach of human rights

23 September 2010 by

Updated x 2 | Kay and Others v United Kingdom (European Court of Human Rights, 21st September) – Read judgment

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the UK violated the human rights of short-term tenants of council property whose leases had been terminated. The decision will not, however, prove much help to evicted tenants in similar situations in the future, although it should encourage courts to take their personal circumstances into account when deciding if they should be evicted.

The applicants were occupiers of housing units owned by Lambeth borough council under leases which had been provided  by a charitable housing trust. Lambeth brought possession proceedings after the leases were terminated in 1999. The applicants complained that these proceedings breached their right to respect for private and home life under Article 8 (the right to a family life). They were unsuccessful before the domestic courts but the Strasbourg Court found a violation of Article 8, insofar as the applicants had been prevented from raising it as a defence.

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France expulsion of Roma: the EU law perspective

16 September 2010 by

In  the ongoing row over France’s repatriation of Roma nationals there has been little debate over precisely what power the EU Commission has to initiate legal action against the French government.

Viviane Reding, the EU Justice Commissioner, is widely reported to have declared that France faces possible infringement proceedings and a fine from the European Court of Justice in respect of its dismantling of Roma camps and repatriation of up to a thousand Bulgarian and Romanian Roma citizens since last month. It is suggested that the French government is guilty of applying the 2004 Directive of Free Movement of Persons in a “discriminatory” fashion, offending not only directive’s own provisions, but the European Treaty’s principle of non discrimination (Article 19) and also, possibly, the ban on collective expulsion of aliens under Protocol 4 Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” restriction on gays in US military is ruled unconstitutional

10 September 2010 by

A district court in California has ruled that the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is unconstitutional, and has awarded the plaintiffs a permanent injunction barring further enforcement of the statute embodying the policy. Read judgment.

The Times reports today that  Judge Virginia Philips found that the policy  violated the plaintiffs’ rights to substantive due process guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and their rights of freedom of speech, association, and to petition the government, guaranteed by the First Amendment. 
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No right to gist of case before Special Immigration Appeals Commission

4 August 2010 by

W(Algeria) and 7 Others v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] EWCA Civ 898 (Jacob LJ, Sullivan LJ and Sir David Keene) 29 July 2010 – read judgment

Article 6 of the Convention did not require an “irreducible minimum of information” that had to be provided to appellants in proceedings before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission about the risk they posed to national security.

In their appeal against decisions of the respondent secretary of state to deport them on grounds of national security (upheld by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC)) the appellants all claimed that they would be at risk of ill-treatment if they were deported. They had obtained relevant information which had been provided on the understanding that it could only be made available if there were clear guarantees that it would not become known to their national government.

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Judicial review as to the need for a single inquiry into Iraqi torture allegations to go ahead, says High Court

19 July 2010 by

Ali Zaki Mousa and others v Secretary of State for Defence and Legal Services Commission 16 July 2010 – Read judgment

Permission has been given to around 100 Iraqi applicants to bring proceedings to compel the Secretary of State to hold a single public inquiry to investigate breaches of Article 3 in relation to each of the claimants with respect to their treatment whilst in detention in Iraq

The claimant was representative of a group of Iraqis numbering about 100 who either have brought, or wish to bring, judicial review proceedings against the Secretary of State for Defence alleging that they were ill-treated in detention in Iraq at various times between 2003 and 2008 by members of the British Armed forces in breach of Article 3. It is possible that up to 100 other Iraqis may wish to join the group in the future.

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Delay in providing for special educational needs does not breach Convention right to education says Supreme Court

16 July 2010 by

A (Appellant) v Essex County Council & National Autistic Society (Intervener) [2010] UKSC 33

Supreme Court (Lord Phillips, Lady Hale, Lord Brown, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke) July 14 2010

The right to education under Article 2 Protocol 1 of the Convention was not breached by the delay in catering for the special educational needs of a child. Convention rights must be intepreted pragmatically;  it is not right to equate a failure to provide the educational facilities required by domestic law with a denial of access to education.

This was an appeal against a decision ([2008] EWCA Civ 364, [2008] H.R.L.R. 31) upholding the dismissal by summary judgment of the appellant’s claim that the respondent local authority had breached his right to education under A1P1.

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Boost for economic and social rights after landmark Court of Appeal ruling [updated]

13 July 2010 by

R (on the application of S) (Claimant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Defendant) & (1) Amnesty International & AIRE Centre (2) United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (Interveners) (2010) – Read judgment

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (“the Charter”)  could be directly relied on in the UK in a decision on the removal of an Afghan asylum seeker to Greece.

This Charter combines the rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and Freedoms 1950 (“ECHR”) with the fundamental social rights set forth in the European Social Charter and in the Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Employees. The decision could see the introduction of “social and economic” rights into the UK for the first time, but it could also place an unmanageable burden on member states to comply with the wide-ranging charter.

A reference to the European Court of Justice will now be made in respect of the application of the Charter in the context of return of asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin Regulation. The Regulation is the cornerstone of EU refugee law, establishing a system of determining responsibility for examining asylum claims and ensuring that each claim is examined by one Member State rather than allowing multiple applications for asylum submitted by the same person in several Member States with the sole aim of extending their stay in the EU.

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