High Court allows UK government to continue exporting arms to Saudi Arabia

Campaign against Arms Trade, R(on the application of) v The Secretary of State for International Trade [2017] EWHC 1754 (Admin) – read judgment

Angus McCullough QC acted as Special Advocate supporting the Claimant in this case. He is not associated with the writing of this post.

A challenge to the legality of UK’s sale of arms to Saudi Arabia has failed. The claim sprang from the conflict in Yemen and the border areas of Saudi Arabia. It focussed on airstrikes conducted by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia in support of the legitimate government of Yemen against the Shia-led Houthi rebellion.  UK arms export policy states that the government must deny licenses for sale of arms to regimes if there is a ‘clear risk’ that the arms ‘might’ be used in ‘a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law. This in turn is based on the EU Common Position 2008/944/CFSP on arms export control, which explicitly rules out the authorising of arms licences by Member States in these “clear risk” circumstances.

The claimant argued that the body of evidence available in the public domain not only suggested but dictated the conclusion that such a clear risk exists. It was therefore no longer lawful to license the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia.

The High Court dismissed their claim. The CAAT intends to appeal this decision. Continue reading

Implementation of ECHR judgments – have we reached a crisis point?- Lucy Moxham

In recent years direct challenges to the authority of the Court within a handful of member states have also become more explicit and vocal” and “the Convention system crumbles when one member state, and then the next, and then the next, cherry pick which judgments to implement.

So said Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, last year. This raises the question of whether the Convention system is facing an implementation crisis and what more might be done by the Committee of Ministers, the regional body responsible for supervising the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

Last month, the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and Leicester Law School convened a public event that asked an expert panel to consider these issues. Speakers included Merris Amos (Queen Mary University London); Dr Ed Bates (Leicester Law School); Eleanor Hourigan (Deputy Permanent Representative, UK Delegation to the Council of Europe); Nuala Mole (The AIRE Centre); and Prof Philip Leach (EHRAC, Middlesex University London and the European Implementation Network). Murray Hunt (Legal Adviser to the UK Joint Committee on Human Rights and incoming Director of the Bingham Centre) chaired the event.

While a detailed summary of the presentations is available on the Bingham Centre website, this post highlights some of the headline points from the conversation. Continue reading

Whose womb is it anyway? NI Court shrinks from abortion law reform

The Attorney General for Northern Ireland and the Department of Justice (appellants) v The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (respondent)  [2017] NICA 42 (29 June 2017) – read judgment

Although the accompanying image is not in any way intended to suggest that Northern Ireland’s law on abortion parallels the situation obtaining in Margaret Atwood’s fictional Gilead, the failure of the legislature and the courts to overhaul the criminal law to allow women access to termination is a bleak reflection of the times.  The hopes that were raised by high court rulings from 2015 and 2016 that existing abortion laws breached a woman’s right to a private life under Article 8 have now been dashed.

Let me start with a much quoted proposition derived from Strasbourg law.

when a woman is pregnant her private life becomes closely connected with the developing foetus and her right to respect for her private life must be weighed against other competing rights and freedoms, including those of the unborn child.

Really? Does that mean a woman loses her autonomy, the minute she conceives? Does she become public property, subject to the morals and wishes of the majority? Apparently so, particularly when one reads the opinion of Weatherup LJ:

the restriction on termination of pregnancies pursues the legitimate aim of the protection of morals reflecting the views of the majority of the members of the last [Northern Ireland] Assembly on the protection of the unborn child.

Continue reading

1COR Launches New Podcast Series – Law Pod UK

1 Crown Office Row have launched a new regular podcast, Law Pod UK, with presenter Rosalind English, to discuss developments across all aspects of civil and public law in the UK.

It comes from the creators of the UK Human Rights Blog and is produced by the barristers at 1 Crown Office Row. Post production by Whistledown Studios.

Episode 5: Further ruling on NI abortion rights, Charlie Gard, and transgender in Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community (6 July 2017).

 Sarah Jane Ewart and Rosalind English discuss the latest developments in access to abortion for Northern Irish women, the lessons to be learned from the Charlie Gard case, and the difficult decision that the courts had to reach when considering the best interests of children in an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish family, where the father had left the community as a transgender person.

 Episode 4: Supreme Court rules on NI abortion case (19 June 2017)

 Rosalind English discusses the recent Supreme Court judgement on the case of women from Northern Ireland who seek abortions on the NHS in England.

 Episode 3: Negligence Ruling in Meningitis case (28 May 2017)

 David Hart QC and Rosalind English discuss the implications of a recent negligence case involving a young doctor’s failure to diagnose a child with meningitis.

Episode 2: Female terror plot trial, legal aid for unaccompanied minors, Value For Justice & post-Brexit legal landscape (18 May 2017).

Sarah Jane Ewart and Rosalind English discuss the prospect of the first all female terror plot trial, legal aid for unaccompanied minors in immigration cases, the Bar Council’s manifesto “The Value of Justice”, the law post-Brexit, and shift sleeping and the minimum wage

Episode 1: Election pledges on human rights, citizenship for third country EU nationals, CAGE case latest (26 May 2017).

Poppy Rimington-Pounder and Rosalind English discuss party election pledges and the Human Rights Act, the Muslim advocacy group CAGE’s forthcoming legal battle, a freedom of conscience ruling for members of the armed forces in the Bahamas, and citizenship rights for the children of third country nationals in Europe.

You can subscribe to Law Pod UK via Audioboom here. They will shortly be available for subscription and download from iTunes.

Please get in touch if you would like to collaborate on any future episodes.

 

 

The Round-Up – free abortions, no adoption for Sikh couple, and school uniform headscarves

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Women from Northern Ireland who travel to the UK seeking abortions will now be able to access the procedure without charge on the NHS. See the Supreme Court decision on this, posted by Rosalind English, which brought the whole matter to light. You can hear a discussion of the various issues in this case on our new podcast series.

The government changed its policy on the matter amid fears that Conservative MPs were planning on supporting an amendment to the Queen’s speech, put forward by Labour MP Stella Creasy, to provide Northern Irish women with access to free abortions in England; with the new Conservative government’s much reduced majority, Prime Minister Theresa May could not afford to risk a rebellion from her own MPs.

Continue reading

Information law: when something is “on” an environmental measure

Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy v. Information Commissioner and Henney [2017] EWCA Civ 844 , 29 June 2017 – read judgment

As many will know, there are two different systems of freedom of information, the first and better known, the Freedom for Information Act 2000, and the second, the Environmental Information Regulations 2009. From the perspective of the inquirer (Mr Henney, here), the EIRs are the more favourable, and it was the differences between the systems which gave rise to this long-running dispute to do with energy Smart Meters.

The appeal went in favour of Mr Henney, and the Information Commissioner who had ruled in his favour. But the ultimate case is not resolved, as I shall explain.
Continue reading

The role of employee legitimate expectations in unfair dismissal claims – Lauren Godfrey

A recent EAT ruling JP Morgan v Ktorza continues a line of decisions which limit the role of employee expectations in the determination of unfair dismissals claims further curtailing the extent to which employees can rely on public law notions or human rights principles to challenge their dismissals.

In this case HHJ Richardson re-affirmed the correct approach to dismissal claims: (1) it is the employer’s view objectively judged which falls to be considered not the expectations of the employee; (2) the Employment Tribunal is not to substitute its own view; and (3) the s 98(1)-(2) of the Employment Rights Act 1996, gateway of ‘conduct’ as the reason for a dismissal should not be conflated with the band of reasonable responses test under s 98(4).

Background facts and law

Mr Ktorza was a highly paid sales executive in the trading arm of JP Morgan Securities Plc before his dismissal after an incident of alleged misconduct triggering an earlier (unrelated) final written warning. The more recent incident which resulted in JP Morgan deciding to dismiss Mr Ktorza was a practice known as ‘short-filling’ in respect of trades; a practice which carried financial and regulatory risk for JP Morgan. Continue reading