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).
In the latest Episode of Law Pod UK Rosalind English talks to Robert Kellar QC of 1 Crown Office row about the proposed reforms to the regulation of doctors, nurses, opticians, chiropractors and a range of other professionals in the world of healthcare. It’s particularly important to allow regulators to react to unexpected challenges, as we’ve found since the recent Covid-19 emergency.
As Robert explains, the proposals directed at overhauling the system of professional healthcare regulation aim to introduce greater consistency across the regulatory bodies (we have an impressive nine organisations at the moment). Whether this and other proposals to increase the autonomy of these bodies will increase public safety whilst still respecting practitioners’ rights remains to be seen.
Here are the links to the Government White Paper and the Consultation Paper discussed in Episode 151:
In Episode 150 Rosalind English talks to Professor Ryan Abbott about the recent ruling in the Court of Appeal on whether an invention made by Artificial Intelligence without a traditional human inventor is entitled to a patent. The Court (with one of the judges dissenting) said no.
Ryan Abbott is the author of The Reasonable Robot: Artificial Intelligence and the Law published last year and he has published widely on issues associated with law and technology, health law, and intellectual property in leading legal, medical, and scientific books and journals. He is also a licensed physician, attorney, and acupuncturist in the United States, as well as a solicitor advocate in England and Wales.
He is also architect of this important test case. We discuss the obstacles faced by the inventor of an AI set out in the Patents Act 1977 and speculate whether there needs to be a root and branch review of patent eligibility, given that so many inventions are produced by AI across the world.
And you will notice a few changes: different signature tune, different voiceover: our very own head of Chambers, Richard Booth QC. Also welcome to our new producer Philip at lawpodcasts.co.uk, who’s done a great job taking over the task of delivering this podcast from Simon Jarvis of Whistledown.
We have a terrific line up of guests following Angus for the Autumn.
The ability to make interim care orders under s.38 Children Act 1989 is one of the family court’s most significant powers. With newborn babies, prompt action is not only desirable, it’s essential. But not so easy to achieve in practice, as you will hear from our lively and comprehensive conversation.
This episode will be the last before we take our August break, but plans for Law Pod UK from September are already being hatched so remember to tune in!
The Covid pandemic has brought the mental health of those within the legal profession into sharp relief. For some people, the past 18 months will have been the first time they have discussed their mental health with clients, colleagues, and supervisors.
To celebrate reaching 500,000 listens on the podcast, I wanted to do something a little different. In this episode I speak to Rachel Francis and Joanna Fleck, two extraordinary women, about their new book: Vicarious Trauma in the Legal Profession: a practical guide to trauma, burnout and collective care, which comes highly recommended to anyone dealing with trauma in their work.
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC has described the book as “a wake-up call about what is happening to law and access to justice – but it is also a clarion as to what is happening to lawyers.”
The book is published by Legal Action Group and is available to buy here (from Lag) and here (from Waterstones).
If you are interested in bulk buys of the book, please contact Esther Pilger at EPilger@lag.org.uk
All of the cases discussed during this episode are covered in the most recent issue of the QMLR, available here. We highly recommend the new QMLR website to our listeners, who we hope will find the archive of previous articles and the search function (making it possible to search by keyword, category and author) enormously helpful.
In Episode 145, Emma-Louise Fenelon speaks to Bill Browder, co-founder of Hermitage Capital, author of best-selling book Red Notice and justice activist. The episode focuses on Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in pre-trial detention in Russia after uncovering and exposing a tax fraud of $230m and Bill Browder’s campaign to bring those responsible to justice. The campaign culminated with the Magnitsky Act, which was passed by the United States Congress in 2012, and later became the Global Magnitsky Act. Similar legislation has been introduced by Canada, Lithuania, Estonia and the United Kingdom.
Episode 143 features Isabel McArdle and Sarabjit Singh QC of 1 Crown Office Row. Isabel practises in indirect tax, healthcare law, personal injury and public law. Sarabjit (“Sab”) specialises in tax, with a particular emphasis on all forms of indirect tax and the interface between tax and public law. They have both given seminars on the implications of Brexit for tax lawyers. In this episode, Rosalind English discusses with Sab and Isabel a number of laws containing Henry VIII powers, including the Childcare Act 2016, Section 8 of the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018, Section 31 of the EU Future Relationship Act 2020, the Coronavirus Act 2020 and Section 51 of the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Act 2018. Emma-Louise Fenelon did of course explore this subject in depth with the Public Law Project and Lord Anderson of Ipswich QC in Episode 129: Brexit and the Flaws of Delegated Legislation ; this episode takes this important subject further.
Henry VIII powers enable a minister to amend primary law by secondary legislation, effectively bypassing parliament. They also touch on the popularity of so-called “skeleton bills”. These bills are favoured by those in power because they have no policy in them so there’s nothing to scrutinise by both Houses of Parliament. And Henry VIII clauses are what feed these bills.
Following Brexit, everything from financial services, immigration from Europe, fisheries, agriculture – can all be achieved under Henry VIII in skeleton bills. The concern, from a constitutional perspective, is that there’s a lack of parliamentary scrutiny. They give huge power to ministers to amend and repeal Acts of Parliament.
We have to apologise for the building works sound effects in the background of this episode. We welcome our listeners to perceive them as an appropriate metaphor for the government hammering home their policies under these Henry VIII powers.
Informed consent to medical treatment is at the heart of the vaccine debate. Consent is also at the centre of most of the cases that come before the Court of Protection. So now we have a very specific problem: what happens, if someone lacks capacity under the Mental Capacity Act, and their family for whatever reason objects to the Covid vaccine?
In the latest episode of Law Pod UK, Rosalind English talks to Amelia Walker of 1 Crown Office Row about three recent cases that came before the COP where the “protected person” (incapacitous under the Mental Capacity Act) was due to be vaccinated, but family members objected. Here are the citations to the cases discussed and the relevant statutes:
E (by her Accredited Legal Representative, Keith Clarke), Applicant v London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (Respondent) and W (2nd Respondent)  EWCOP 7
SD (Applicant) v Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (Respondent)  EWCOP 14
NHS Tameside & Glossop CCG v CR (by his litigation friend CW)  EWCOP 19
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