Bars to the Bar: Diversity in the Legal Profession Before the Canadian Supreme Court – Michael Rhimes

On 15thJune 2018 the Canadian Supreme Court handed down two interesting and closely related judgments involving Trinity Western University: Law Society of British Columbia v Trinity Western University and Brayden Volkenant2018 SCC 32 and Trinity Western University and Brayden Volkenant v Law Society of Upper Canada 2018 SCC 32

Trinity Western University (TWU) is a Christian University – indeed, in its own words, it is “a distinctly Christian university” (here, page 2). It takes “the Bible as the divinely inspired, authoritative guide for personal and community life” (here, page 1) and seeks“to develop godly Christian leaders”.

Prospective TWU students must sign a ‘Community Covenant’. That Covenant requires them to commit to “reserve sexual expressions of intimacy for marriage” and abstain from“sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman” (here, page 3). This rule applies both on and off campus(the Abstinence Rule, see paras [1] and [319]).

The Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) refused to approve TWU’s faculty of Law because of the Abstinence Rule (I will call this the Decision). The question before the Supreme Court of Canada was whether this was lawful. The issue in Law Society of Upper Canada dealt with a similar decision of the Law Society of another province(Ontario)to approve the TWU law school.   Continue reading

Slamming the door on system failure in medical negligence inquests – Jeremy Hyam QC

R (Parkinson) v. HM Senior Coroner for Kent and Others – read judgment
If anyone had the lingering hope that the door to argue “system failure” in any but the most exceptional case of medical negligence remained ajar after the decision of the Grand Chamber in Lopes de Sousa, then the recent Divisional Court decision in Parkinson  shows the door has been well and truly slammed shut.
Background facts
On 9th January 2011 Mrs Kathleen Parkinson died at the A & E Department of Darent Valley Hospital. She was aged 91 and dying. She had been taken to hospital by her son. On arrival in A & E she was assessed by a nurse and then by a Dr Hijazi. Dr Hijazi formed the view that she was dying, that there was no useful treatment that could be given her, and that as she was in the last moments of life, doing anything would not have been beneficial to her.  Her son who, wanted her to be treated, became aggressive and eventually attempted to perform mouth to mouth resuscitation although advised against this by A and E staff. Mrs Parkinson deteriorated rapidly and died soon after arriving.
An inquest was convened and although Article 2 was kept under review throughout the inquest, the Coroner determined that it was not an Article 2 inquest.  He rejected the submission that he ought to enter a verdict of gross negligence manslaughter and found that Mrs Parkinson died of natural causes and that any additional treatment that could have been provided to her in the short time she was at the Darent Valley Hospital would have been ineffective given the advanced stage of dying she was in. He refused the request to provide a report on the prevention of future deaths under paragraph 7, Schedule 5 of the Coroners’ Justice Act 2009.

Continue reading

Supreme Court rules on true employment status of a contractor in Pimlico Plumbers case

Pimlico Plumbers Ltd & Anor v Smith [2018] UKSC 29 – read judgment

The Supreme Court has unanimously dismissed Pimlico Plumbers Ltd’s appeal and upheld the Employment Tribunal’s ruling that the Respondent – Mr Smith – a plumbing and heating engineer had been:

(a) a “worker” within the meaning of section 230(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996;

(b) a “worker” within the meaning of regulation 2(1) of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833)

(c) in Pimlico’s “employment” within the meaning of section 83(2)(a) of the Equality Act.

Questions concerning the true employment status of individuals who are presented to the paying customer as being an integral part of the business in question are increasingly common. Despite being presented to the end customer as such, the purported legal reality is that the individual is self-employed for both tax and employment law purposes. This is partly what is described by such arrangements being part of the so-called “gig economy”. Continue reading

Home Office to pay damages for detention of immigrant claimant

R (on the application of Jollah) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWCA Civ 1260 – read judgment

The Court of Appeal has upheld an award of damages for false imprisonment in the context of immigration detention.  The Court found that an unlawful curfew which required residence at a specific address between specific hours each day and which was backed by the threat of criminal sanctions and electronic tagging gave rise to the tort of false imprisonment.

Background law and facts

The claimant was released from prison in 2013 and then detained in an immigration centre.  He was then released on bail which came with restrictions on where he could live.  When the bail period ended, the secretary of state tried to maintain these residence restrictions.  She purported to use her powers under the Immigration Act 1971 Schedule 3 Paragraph 2(5) to impose a curfew on the claimant which required him to stay at his home address between 11pm and 7am every day.  The claimant was fitted with an electronic tag and told that he would face a fine or imprisonment if a court found that he did not comply with the terms of the curfew.  This curfew was in place for two and a half years, from February 2014 until July 2016. Continue reading

Inquiries and Inquests seminar highlights now available on Law Pod UK

In Episode 35 Matthew Hill discusses the lessons and warnings from the Bloody Sunday inquiry and the Hillsborough inquest in a talk recorded at One Crown Office Row’s 2018 seminar.

In Episode 36 , drawn from the same seminar, Emma-Louise Fenelon discusses the challenges around secrecy, anonymity and public information in major inquests and inquiries

In Episode 37  Gideon Barth considers when public inquiries are established or inquests reopened.

 

Law Pod UK is available for free download from iTunes, The Podcast App, Overcast, Audioboom and a number of other podcast platforms. Please rate and review us to help LawPodUK continue to grow. 

Supreme Court rules on challenge to abortion ban in Northern Ireland

supreme courtIn the matter of an application by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) [2018] UKSC 27

On 7th June 2018, the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the case of regarding the controversial issue of the legal framework regulating abortion in Northern Ireland.

The judgment could not have come at a more heated moment in the debate between pro-choice and pro-life campaigners in Northern Ireland. Only two days earlier, MPs at Westminster debated potential decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland through repeal of sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. Considering the recent result in the Irish referendum on abortion, where the abortion ban was overturned by a clear majority, the issue of abortion is prominent in our political conversation.

In a lengthy judgment, the court dismissed the appeal by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), on the basis that, in the view of the 4-3 majority, it did not have standing to bring the proceedings.

Nevertheless, the justices went on to express the views that they would have come to in the event that the NIHRC had been found to have standing, with a differently constituted 4-3 majority considering that the general prohibition on abortion was incompatible with the right to private and family life under Article 8 ECHR.

 

The Background

The Offences Against the Persons Act and the Criminal Justice Act (NI 1945) criminalise abortion in Northern Ireland. In conjunction, these Acts (of the UK and Northern Irish legislatures respectively) imposes an obligation upon a pregnant woman that, unless there is a risk to her life or of serious long-term or permanent injury to her physical or mental health, she must carry the pregnancy to term.

These proceedings were brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (“NIHRC”) challenging the compatibility of the law in the following respect:

The prohibition of abortion in cases of

  • Serious malformation of the foetus;
  • Pregnancy as a result of rape; and/or
  • Pregnancy as a result of incest

was argued to be incompatible with

  • Article 3 (the prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment);
  • Article 8 (the right of everyone to respect for their private and family life); and/or
  • Article 14 (the prohibition of discrimination)

In the High Court, it was held that the law was incompatible with Article 8 insofar as it criminalised abortion in the the following circumscribed cases:

  • Fatal foetal abnormality
  • Rape up to the date when the foetus is capable of being born alive
  • Incest up to the date when the foetus is capable of being born alive

The Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland, however, concluded that the general prohibition on abortion gave rise to no incompatibility with any of the articles of the ECHR.

The NIHRC appealed to the Supreme Court in London.

Continue reading

New Podcast: Will AI outwit our laws?

In Episode 34 of Law Pod UK, Rosalind English talks to Professor Karen Yeung of Birmingham University about questions of civil liability of algorithm-run systems, the difficulties of regulating something we cannot truly predict, and the so-called “alignment problem” – how to align the utility function of intelligent machines with the values of the human race, which are very difficult to define.

Professor Yeung is Interdisciplinary Fellow in both the Law and Computer Science Schools at Birmingham, and recently gave evidence before the House of Lords Select Committee on AI. We posted on the report ‘AI in the UK: ready, willing and able?’ in April.

Law Pod UK is available for free download from iTunes, Overcast and Audioboom.