The Law Commission has recently brought out its consultation paper on these new forms of assets, and how they might be aligned with the ancient law on property. In Episode 171 of Law Pod UK Rosalind English talks to Robert Kellar KC about the challenges this novel arrangement of ownership presents to English property law. What do we mean, exactly, when we talk about the idea of digital assets?
We’re all very used to the idea of electronic money: for decades, money has been represented electronically on in our bank accounts. But the the Law Commission’s paper deals with quite different issues, when it comes to digital assets.
The consultation paper is at pains to stress that property law must encompass these new forms of ownership. As Robert points out in this episode, property rights are useful because they can be enforced against the whole world, whereas other legal rights can be enforced only against someone who has assumed a relevant duty in contract or tort.
Furthermore, the concept of property is widely used in statutes and case law, assuming a central role in proceedings concerning bankruptcy or insolvency, tortious or criminal interference with property, and death and succession.
The Law Commission’s conclusion thus far is that digital assets should be treated as a new category of property.
Listen to the episode and follow @LawPod_UK on Twitter if you have any feedback, ideas and comments for the team.
The Online Safety Bill is currently making its way through the House of Commons, having reached the report stage in July. The bill’s concept of “legal but harmful” is controversial, and has attracted criticism from high places, not least of all former Supreme Court judge Jonathan Sumption. Lord Sumption joins Rosalind English in this episode to discuss the problems involved in defining this kind of harm and the concepts of “misinformation and disinformation” in the Bill.
Lord Sumption worries about the “sheer randomness” of the process for identifying legal but harmful material, and points out that the internet is absolutely vast; the “scale and speed at which material is added to it every moment of our lives is breathtaking”. The only way, he says, that this can be controlled is by the use of algorithms. But they are incapable of detecting nuance or irony. They are blunt instruments. When you are applying this kind of technique to material at this scale, you are bound to get a very large number of false positives.
“So you will lose an enormous amount of perfectly acceptable material, material that is not only legal but not harmful”.
This year Law Pod UK celebrates its fifth birthday. In 2017 we were amongst the very first to roll out a specialised series of podcasts about the law in the United Kingdom. And after a brief hiatus we’re back with a bang, with two new presenters and a number of exciting upcoming guests.
Jim has extensive experience across clinical negligence, inquests and inquiries, personal injury, human rights, tax and employment and discrimination.
He is a member of the Attorney General’s Panel of Counsel (‘B’ Panel) and has particular experience of prison law and employment claims, acting on both sides.
In this episode he talks to Clare Ciborowska and Richard Ager at the Brighton Annexe of 1 Crown Office Row about how the family court deals with allegations of ‘alienating behaviour’ by one parent against another. They examine in particular the part psychologists play in that process.
Waiting in the wings is our second new presenter, Lucy McCann. You will be meeting her shortly. Lucy has recently joined Chambers after a stellar pre-pupillage career, including editing the OUP’s practitioner text, Judicial Review: Principles and Procedure and lecturing in public law at City Law School.
Back to Law Pod UK: we now have a strong following amongst lawyers, law students and those interested in legal issues. We recently surpassed 645,000 listens and have hosted guests including Nazir Afzal OBE, Bill Browder, Gráinne de Búrca, Lord Anderson of Ipswich KC, Harriet Wistrich and Joshua Rozenberg, and panels involving Lord Justice Singh and Sir Steven Sedley.
“Every day in the UK lives are suddenly, brutally, wickedly taken away. Victims are shot or stabbed. Less often they are strangled or suffocated or beaten to death. Rarely they are poisoned, pushed off high buildings, drowned or set alight. Then there are the many who are killed by dangerous drivers, or corporate gross negligence. There are a lot of ways you can kill someone. I know because I’ve seen some of them at close quarters”
These are the words of Her Honour Wendy Joseph QC in the preface to her book Unlawful Killings: Life, Love and Murder: Trials at the Old Bailey”. Until recently Wendy was a judge at the Old Bailey, trying mainly allegations of murder and other homicides. She practised as a barrister for thirty two years, then sat as a full-time judge until she retired earlier this year. Because she no longer sits as a judge she was able to publish this fascinating book which has been described in reviews as describes the book as a “novel”. And indeed it is, a series of interlinked dramatic human stories leading to a close. She writes with great clarity about the technical processes of the law, and the implications of these for the people before her in Court.
In Episode 166 Rosalind English talks to Wendy Joseph about the human stories that are played out in the Old Bailey.
Voting for the Northern Ireland Assembly took place on Thursday 5 May. This year, for the first time, Sinn Fein looks set to win a majority of the seats. Whether the Democratic Unionist Party agrees to the power sharing arrangement where it is relegated to second place remains to be seen. What continues to be hotly debated is the Northern Ireland Protocol, put in place to avoid a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and Ireland which of course is still part of the EU single market.
But the Protocol isn’t only about trade. Under Article 2 the UK government has made an important commitment regarding the rights of Northern Ireland’s citizens to equality, non-discrimination, transparency and a range of other rights protected under European Union law. Article of the 2 Protocol is a very new provision, applying the acquis communitaire of the CJEU to Northern Ireland, even though NI is part of post Brexit EU.
In our latest episode Rosalind English meets UKHRB Northern Ireland correspondent Anurag Deb in Belfast two days after the elections to discuss what this EU rights provision means for the citizens of Northern Ireland.
In Episode 162 Clare Ciborowska and Richard Ager, both family law experts from the Brighton Annexe of 1 Crown Row, talk about the difficult subject of reproductive coercion where such allegations arise in child contact cases. Fact finding hearings, Scott schedules, safeguarding enquiries and risk assessments are proceedings about children’s interests: how is the court to assess and weigh allegations of reproductive coercion and control, where the victims of such abuse are reluctant to repeat the trauma by reliving the details.
Episode 161: Just days before Russia resigned from the Council of Europe, the Centre of European Law at King’s College London held a rapid reaction seminar considering what role can EU law play in the current conflict in Ukraine. The distinguished panel, chaired by King’s College Reader in Law Oana Stefan, included Professor Takis Tridimas, Professor of European Law at KCL, Roman Petrov, Head of the International and European Law Department at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla, and others. We are very grateful to King’s College for allowing Law Pod UK to summarise the main points made by the experts and raise the question: does EU law present any potential way of this quagmire?
The Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London, is recognised as one of the best law schools in the world. It recently launched its MSc Law and Professional Practice.
Barely two weeks after Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, the Economic Crime Bill was rushed through the House of Commons. This one of the measures this country has taken to cleanse itself of “dirty money” from Russia and other countries by setting up a register of overseas entities and their beneficial owners and requiring overseas entities who own land to disclose their identities. In Episode 160 Rosalind English talks to Oliver Bullough, a journalist who has lived and worked throughout the former Soviet Union. His latest book, Butler to the World, makes a forceful point about how Britain has become a servant to all comers as long as they pay enough. Not just the banks and estate agents; lawyers are complicit too, in his view:
We have essentially given their oligarchs a back door to a fair dispute resolution process that they can deprive their fellow citizens of
Will these new legislative measures work? Only if our enforcement agencies are properly resourced, says Bullough. Just four “unexplained wealth orders” have been made since they were introduced by the Teresa May government in 2018. Perhaps it takes a crisis like the current one to give this legislation some force.
With clips from Sir Stephen’s presentation of his talk, we consider the contradictions in the law which still renders assisted dying a criminal offence, but allowed Coronavirus restrictions to be lifted to enable people to travel to end their lives at Dignitas in Switzerland; the stressful possibility faced by relatives returning from Switzerland that they are at risk of being prosecuted under the 1961 Suicide Act, and the constant buck-passing of reforms to this Act between the courts and Parliament.
As Sir Stephen commented in his talk, the “historical anathema”, of punishing either unsuccessful suicides or their families, lives on in the undifferentiated crime of assisting a person to commit suicide.
The present-day offence fails – signally – to differentiate between the intervener who, out of self-interest or perversion, helps to ensure that a suicide attempt succeeds, and the individual who, out of compassion, gives a rational fellow being the help he or she needs to end a life that has become medically unbearable.
For those of you who have listened to this episode, here is another reflection from Sir Stepen, on the obligation on family members returning from Switzerland, to protect themselves from prosecution under the Suicide Act by reporting themselves to the police.
On self-incrimination, I think there’s possibly more to be said. The senior police officer or crown prosecutor whose desk the case reaches may be personally (even doctrinally) hostile and decide – armed now with a full ‘confession’ given in the hope of clemency under the DPP’s policy – to prosecute. In that event there is no defence of compassion; the jury may have to convict. I find this a terrifying scenario.
In our latest episode I and co-presenter Emma-Louise Fenelon have selected and put together some of our favourite snippets from the past year. This episode ranges from Artificial Intelligence, the government’s abandon with Henry VIII powers, to vicarious trauma in lawyers dealing with traumatic casework and the Henrietta Lacks claim against a pharmaceutical company for profiting from her cell lines in 1951.
This selection is by no means comprehensive and we’ve had to leave many deserving episodes out in the interests of brevity. For those wanting to keep abreast of their CPD requirements or just after a good informative listen, go back to some of our episodes on Medical and Inquest Law, Loss of Chance in clinical negligence, and “Historical” Crimes: Ireland’s unmarried mothers and their children.
We have been building on our impressive audience figures around the world, with listeners in over twenty countries including the United States, New Zealand, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan. In the summer of 2021 we passed the half a million listeners mark.
As we settle into the new year we have plenty of interesting names and topics in the pipeline for you. Law Pod UK is one of the longest running legal podcasts from barristers’ chambers in the UK and we have commanded sufficient authority and respect to gain access to big names, such as the founder of the Magnitsky Act, Bill Browder, and former chief prosecutor for England and Wales Nazir Afzal OBE.
In this week’s episode of Law Pod UK Rosalind English reports from the UK Bar Council’s 19th Annual Law Reform Lecture, exploring the role of law reform in the context of climate change. You will hear excerpts from the speeches given by Inger Andersen, Under-Secretary-General of the UN and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, and Lord Carnwath of Notting Hill, a former UK Supreme Court judge.
Milieudefensie et al. v. Royal Dutch Shell plc (26 May 20212. This ongoing claim is based on the Urgenda decision, which found that the Dutch government’s inadequate action on climate change violated a duty of care to its citizens).
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