On Monday 13 March, I went along to the latest Castle Debate, held in conjunctionwith the Environmental Law Foundation: see here for more of the same, all free debates, and fascinating topics for anyone interested in environmental law and policy.
It, and Tom Brenan’s talk in particular, reminded me that, despite it being not long after my last Aarhus post (on private law proceedings, here), it was time to set out the latest rules governing judicial reviews, which came into operation on 28 February. The bone of contention, as ever, is the concept that challenging environmental decisions should not be prohibitively expensive.
Until last month, the rules were relatively simple, and were designed, for better or for worse, to minimise the amounts of arguments about costs in environmental challenges. If you were an individual, £5,000 capped the costs which you would have to pay the other side if you lost.
But Government had become obsessed that environmental challengers were somehow getting a free lunch, and the rules have now been spun into something so complicated that defendants who want to burn off claimants before the claim gets heard have been given a pretty broad licence to do so. For most individuals, committing yourself to paying £5,000 if you lose is a pretty sharp deterrent. But Government does not think so.
If, as a cause of the negligence of the Defendant, a Claimant is unable to have children of her own, should the cost of commercial surrogacy from California be recoverable in damages? This was the issue before the Court of Appeal recently in XX v Whittington Hospital NHS Trust  EWCA Civ 2832.
The Claimant (“Ms X”) was diagnosed as suffering from cervical cancer aged 29. The Defendant accepted that it had been negligent in failing to diagnose the Claimant much earlier, when she was aged 25. The Defendant had carried out defective smear tests and failed to diagnose the cancer from biopsies performed. As a result of the delay, Ms X required chemo-radiotherapy treatment, which in turn led to infertility, as well as other severe consequences (i.e. premature menopause, problems with bladder and bowels). Ms X had a strong desire to have a family and bring up four children.
Hard on the heels of the UN-ECE Aarhus Compliance Committee (see my previous post), Lord Justice Sullivan’s Working Party on Access to Environmental Justice has similarly condemned the current system under which judicial review claimants face an onerous costs burden when they advance claims which do not ultimately succeed.
The Working Party reported initially in May 2008 on access to justice in environmental cases, and was critical of the current costs regime. Its current focus is rather narrower that the recent conclusions of the Aarhus Compliance Committee, but potentially more effective thanks to that focus. It reviews the rather fuzzy case-law on Protective Costs Orders, fashioned by the judges to help Claimants against unlimited costs liabilities. The report can be read here.
G v E & Ors  EWHC 3385 (Fam) (21 December 2010) – Read judgment
Manchester City Council has been ordered to pay the full legal costs of a 20-year-old man with severe learning disabilities who was unlawfully removed from his long-term foster carer. The council demonstrated a “blatant disregard” for mental health law.
The case has wound an interesting route through the courts, with hearings in the Court of Protection, Court of Appeal, and also a successful application by the Press Association to reveal the identity of the offending local council in the interests of transparency. In August, Siobhain Butterworth wrote that the decision to name and shame the council was a “good” one which “marries the need for transparency in the treatment of vulnerable people with the right to a private life“.
Now, Mr Justice Baker has taken the unusual step of ordering that Manchester City Council pay all of E’s family’s legal costs. The general rule in the Court of Protection is that costs should not be awarded, but as the judge ruled it can be broken in certain circumstances:
Someone pointed out to me yesterday that our blog roll, that is our list of links to other sites, had disappeared. To my horror, they were right, and to my double horror, it turned out that the list of links was woefully inadequate.
So, the much-improved list is back, a bit lower down on the right. And below is a list with some short descriptions of the links. I have tried to limit the list to sites relevant to legal blogging and (to a lesser extent, because there are so many) human rights: for a much better roundup of the state of legal blogging in the UK, please read the almost impossibly comprehensive UK Blawg Roundup #6 by Brian Inkster.
Also, if you think you or someone else should be on this list, please let me know via the contact tab above. And the next #Lawblogs event is on 19 May at 6:30pm at the Law Society – details this week on how to reserve your place.
The Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger is either the busiest judge in England or relies heavily upon his assistant John Sorabji for his consistently thoughtful and excellent speeches. Either way, he has given another fascinating speech. Who are the masters now?
The question posed in the title is paraphrased from one asked in Parliament in 1946, which itself paraphrased Humpty Dumpty (see para 3). Neuberger used the second annual Lord Alexander of Weedon lecture (Lord Philips gave the first) to speak about the topical but, as I have posted, slippery issue of Parliamentary sovereignty. So, who is the master: the unelected judge or the elected politician?
Michalak v The General Medical Council & Ors  EWCA Civ 172: This important case deals with the remedies available to individuals who claim to have suffered from discrimination, victimization, harassment or detriment in the treatment they have received from a “qualifications body” under s.53 of the Equality Act 2010 viz. any authority or body which can confer a relevant qualification (e.g. the GMC, ACCA etc.). It also clarifies the understanding of the place of judicial review in the context of internal and statutory appeals in cases of alleged discrimination contrary to the Equality Act 2010.
Dr Eva Michalak’s name may sound familiar. She formerly worked as a consultant physician with an interest in kidney diseases at Pontefract General Infirmary. In 2011, in a widely publicised judgment she recovered record damages in respect of claims for sex and race discrimination and unfair dismissal against the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS trust and three senior staff members. The tribunal panel said that they were “positively outraged at the way this employer has behaved” and concluded the Polish-born doctor would never be able to carry out her work again. Continue reading →
R (QSA and others) v Secretary of State for the Home Dept and Secretary of State for Justice  EWHC 407 (Admin) – read judgment
The High Court ruled on 2nd March 2018 that three women forced into prostitution as teenagers will no longer have to disclose related convictions to potential employers.
The claimants challenged the criminal record disclosure scheme which required them to reveal details of multiple decades-old convictions for ‘loitering or soliciting’ for the purposes of prostitution.
The women had been groomed, coerced or forced into sex work, two of them when they were children. They were required to divulge their convictions under the regime of the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) governed by Part V of the Police Act 1997. DBS checks (previously CRB checks) are made when an applicant seeks certain paid or voluntary work involving children or vulnerable adults. While the claimants weren’t strictly barred from such jobs, they had to inform would-be employers of their historical convictions. They said this placed them at an unfair disadvantage, caused embarrassment and put them off applying in the first place. They argued that this interference with their private and working lives was unjustified by the scheme’s aims and unlawful. The Court agreed.
Retrospective legislation often gives rise to claims under Article 1 Protocol 1 of the Convention – you may have some legal advantage (whether it be property or a legal claim) which you then find yourselves losing as a result of the change of law. I have posted on some of these, the ban of the pub fag machine, or the change in the law that meant insurers had to pay compensation for pleural plaques caused by asbestos. These A1P1 cases are not easy to win, not least because the courts are wary in thwarting legislative changes via one of the less fundamental and most qualified rights in the Convention locker.
The Leeds Group case is a good example of this. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) changed the basis on which town and village greens could be registered. Put very shortly, you can register some land as a green if people had “indulged” in “lawful sports and pastimes” on the land for not less than 20 years, in the rather quaint and de haut en bas language of the drafter. The changes under CROW were quite subtle. You now have to show a “significant number” so indulging, but these people can come from “any neighbourhood within a locality”, rather than from a “locality” – a term on which previously masses of ink has been split and by which otherwise meritorious claims for greens disallowed. And the sports and pastimes now had to continue to the date of registration – you and your fellow Morris dancers could not just stop dancing or whatever once you had done your 20 years, if you wanted to register the greens.
On 8th February 2018, the Supreme Court held that the power to grant bail and impose bail conditions in respect of a person pending deportation ceases to be lawful if there is no legal basis for detaining that person. The power to impose bail conditions is inextricably linked to the power of detention. Once the Home Secretary ceases to have the power to detain a person under immigration law, she can’t then impose conditions on that person’s freedom through bail conditions.
The criminalisation of support for terrorist organisations has arisen in various domestic and international contexts recently, and it is likely that the issue will continue to attract controversy as states attempt to trace the boundaries of what can fairly be considered “support” for terrorism, and risk criminal legislation unjustifiably infringing on human rights.
The Human Rights in Ireland blog has posted the first in a series addressing the issue (update – the second post in the series is now available, see below). In the post, Dr. Cian Murphy suggests that “One of the most corrosive effects on political freedom during the “war on terrorism” has been that caused by material support legislation.” He goes on to refer to three recent decisions, including the 2008 Kadicase on EU implementation of UN sanctions against individuals linked to the Taleban, al-Qaeda and bin Laden (see ASIL case comment).
Sajid Javid’s reported objections to the Government’s pre-election proposals on countering extremist ideas uncover just how controversial the new laws will be. He had objected, it seems, to a mooted expansion of Ofcom’s powers to take pre-emptive action to prevent the broadcast of programmes with ‘extremist content’ before they are transmitted.
That specific proposal may no longer be part of the proposed laws, but Ofcom is likely to be given powers to move against broadcasters after transmission. And there will be plenty else to discuss when the legislation is likely announced in the Queen’s Speech next week.
The main points have already been revealed when last week the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary announced that new laws will be introduced ‘to make it much harder for people to promote dangerous extremist views in our communities.’ As always in counter-terrorism laws, the relationship between freedom and security will be brought into sharp focus when the proposals are debated. In this piece we set down some of the questions which we think warrant attention. Continue reading →
It emerged this week that Dominic Cummings drove 250 miles from London to Durham with his wife and child to be with his parents, while his wife was experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. In so doing, Mr Cummings appears to have flouted the government guidance of which he was one of the architects. Leading Tory MPs have called for the Prime Minister to sack Mr Cummings, but he has refused to do so, saying that Mr Cummings “followed the instincts of every father and parent”, and “has acted legally, responsibly, and with integrity”.
Apparently in response to the incident, a rogue Civil Service employee tweeted from the official Civil Service Twitter account “Arrogant and offensive. Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters?” The Tweet was swiftly deleted, and a Cabinet Office investigation is under way into how it was released.
The situation in Hong Kong has escalated again this week, as Beijing gears up to enact Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s ‘mini-constitution’ of 1997, and impose national security laws to prohibit “treason, secession, sedition [and] subversion”. Protesters have been out in force in defiance of coronavirus restrictions, and police have repeatedly made use of tear gas, pepper spray, and water cannons. Notably, protesters have started to call for full independence for Hong Kong, which has not previously been one of the pro-democracy movement’s official objectives.
Mustafa Kamal MUSTAFA (ABU HAMZA) (No. 1) v the United Kingdom – 31411/07  ECHR 211 (18 January 2011) – Read judgment
The European Court of Human Rights has rejected radical preacher Abu Hamza’s claim that his 2005-6 trial, at which he was convicted of soliciting to murder, inciting racial hatred and terrorism charges, was unfair. He claimed that a virulent media campaign against him and the events of 9/11 made it impossible for the jury to be impartial.
Abu Hamza has lived in the UK since 1979. from 1997-2003 was Imam at the Finsbury Park Mosque, London. Between 1996 and 2000 he delivered a number of sermons and speeches which later formed the basis for charges of soliciting to murder, using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to stir up racial hatred, possessing a document or recording with the same intent.
This post was written with the kind help of Jaime Lindsey
The Court of Appeal has held that a person who lacks mental capacity can be detained if the Court of Protection considers that it is in their best interests, without having to meet additional conditions under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
This case was a challenge to the decision of Jonathan Baker J in the Court of Protection and raises issues about the relationship between ECHR Article 5 (right to liberty and security) and the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA). It reinforces the point that it is for the Court to decide what is in an incapacitated patient’s best interests, and that Article 5 imposes no further requirements.
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