Saturday, 20 April 2019

Abduction of the Shrigley Heiress ~ R v Edward Gibbon Wakefield and others 1827

Wakefield Trial 1827
Deceit and Abduction:

William Turner's family arrived in Blackburn at the beginning of the 19th century and they built a prosperous calico printing mill.  William was the youngest of four sons of the family and was destined to become High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1826 and Member of Parliament for Blackburn from 1832 to 1841.   He acquired the Shrigley Estate near Macclesfield and, in 1825, built the present Shrigley Hall - now a country hotel and spa.  Turner's two daughters were Ellen (born 1811) and Mary Jennett (born 1812 - died in 1817).  Ellen was therefore heiress to Turner's considerable wealth.

Edward Gibbon Wakefield, the son of a farmer and land agent, was born in 1796 in London.  In 1814, aged 18, he entered the diplomatic service and travelled extensively in Europe.   Within two years, he had fallen in love and eloped with Eliza Pattle, a 16-year old heiress and ward of chancery -(see here for wardship today).

Thursday, 18 April 2019

European Parliament Elections - May 2019

The United Kingdom will, almost certainly*, take part in elections to the European Parliament which will be held over 23-26 May 2019.

The European Parliament is directly elected and comprises 751 Members (MEP) who serve for a 5 year term.  The UK has a total of 73 MEP.

Elections in the UK will take place over 12 REGIONS: 9 English regions plus Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  The number of MEP per Region are:

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Legal Aid in the Headlines

"The legal aid system needs to be made fairer in terms of how it funds those who require it.  It's fundamentally flawed."

The law empowers the State to do many draconian things.  We can be imprisoned if convicted of criminal offences or even for non-payment of Council Tax.  Children can be removed from the family by way of care proceedings if the family court finds that they are suffering or are likely to suffer "significant harm" - Children Act 1989 s.31.  UK citizenship may be removed from individuals in certain situations - e.g. the Shamima Begum "Jihadi Bride" case.  Coroners investigate unexplained deaths including those which may have resulted from the conduct of agencies of the State itself.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Assange ~ Arrest and possible extradition to USA


Wikileaks was founded in 2006 by Mr Julian Assange (born 3 July 1971).  It is an international publishing organisation which came to prominence in 2010 when it published a series of "leaks" provided by Chelsea Manning.  The publications included the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010) and the Iraq war logs (October 2010). 

In November 2010, a Swedish prosecutor issued a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for Mr Assange alleging that he had committed sexual assaults and rape.  He denied the allegations, and said that they were just a pretext for him to be extradited from Sweden to the United States because of his role in publishing secret American documents.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Brexit extension - Withdrawal Act 2019 - Exit Day

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019  (the EUWA 2019) received Royal Assent on Monday 8 April.  For the Bill leading to this Act see previous post 3 April.

Section 1(1) of the Act required - a Minister of the Crown to move a motion in the House of Commons in the form set out in subsection (2).  The motion had to be moved on the day on which the Act received Royal Assent or on the day after that day.

The required form of the motion was –

Friday, 5 April 2019

Article 50 Extension to 30 June requested

The Prime Minister, in a letter to the President of the European Council (Mr Donald Tusk), has requested an extension of EU (and Euratom) membership to 30 June 2019.  Article 50(3) permits requests for extension but, for it to take effect, the European Council has to agree unanimously.

A special meeting of the Council had already been scheduled for 10 April.

The letter also states that the UK government

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Queen's Consent

This previous post  tracked the European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill which, on 3 April 2019, passed through all of its stages in the House of Commons.  For the Bill and other associated documents see Bills before Parliament 

The proceedings in the House of Commons raised an interesting point which is considered in this post.

Power to request extension:

The Bill requires, as a matter of law, the Prime Minister to move a motion asking the House of Commons to agree to the seeking of an Article 50 extension to a date to be specified in the motion.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Legal controversies arising with Brexit

The United Kingdom's uncodified constitution is capable of producing interesting and potentially difficult legal controversies.

A prime example was the Miller / Dos Santos litigation concerning whether the Prime Minister could, using prerogative power, give the notification under Article 50 TEU to the European Union that the UK had decided to leave.  A majority of the Supreme Court held that an Act of Parliament was required to authorise ministers to give Notice of the decision of the UK to withdraw from the European Union.

Legal power to request extension:

European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill ~ Notes

With updates - (at the end of the post)

The House of Commons will today (3 April) debate a "Business of the House Motion" which, if successful, will permit the European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill - (the bill) - to go through all of its House of Commons stages very quickly - by 10pm today.

The Bill is aimed at  requiring, as a matter of law, the Prime Minister to bring a motion to the House of Commons seeking an extension of Article 50 to a date to be specified in the motion.  It would be possible for the Commons to reject the motion.  If the House approved the motion then the PM would be legally required to request an extension to the specified date.

Prime Minister ~ Statement on Brexit 2 April 2019

After a seven hour session of the Cabinet held on 2 April 2019, the Prime Minister made a statement about Brexit - see No. 10 Downing Street - Statement on Brexit.

The PM remained of the view that leaving with a deal was the best solution and a further extension of Article 50 was therefore needed - "one that is as short as possible and which ends when we pass a deal."   The PM recognised that

Sunday, 31 March 2019

The week ahead ~ Further indicative votes

1st April - 2230 hrs.  Updated with results

On Friday 29 March the House of Commons rejected (344 to 286) the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement, the Joint Instrument and the Unilateral Declaration - (the documents are available HERE).  Under the EU Council Decision of 22 March this rejection has the effect of making Exit Day 12 April but it is open to the UK to seek a way forward.  A further extension of time may therefore arise.

On Wednesday 27 March the House rejected eight indicative vote proposals - previous post 27 March.  Only two of those "came close" to acceptance - a Customs Union (proposed by Kenneth Clarke QC MP but rejected 272 to 264) and a "Confirmatory Public Vote" (rejected 295 to 268).

The coming week

Friday, 29 March 2019

29 March 2019 - the Withdrawal Agreement returns

1500 hrs - Updated with result

29 March 2019 is set to be another momentous day in the House of Commons as the government seeks approval from MPs for the Withdrawal Agreement.

Two years ago, on 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom served notice, under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), that it had decided to leave the European Union (EU) - Article 50 Notice: The end of the beginning (29 March 2017).

Article 50 extended:

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Parliament 27 March 2019

Exit Day:

Exit Day is now 22 May at 11 pm if the House of Commons accepts the withdrawal agreement by 29 March.  Otherwise it is 12 April at 11 pm.

On 27 March 2019, Parliament approved the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (Exit Day) (Amendment) Regulations 2019.    These amend the definition of Exit Day in section 20 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.  The outcome is that Exit Day for domestic legal purposes is now the same as that fixed in EU Law by the European Council Decision (EU) 2019/476 of 22 March 2019.

The House of Commons debate resulted with a vote of 441 to 105 in favour of affirming the regulations.  The House of Lords debate concluded with the Regulations being affirmed.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Brexit ~ Indicative Votes 27 March

Updated 28 March with voting results

The UK is now set to leave the EU either on 12 April or 22 May depending on whether the House of Commons rejects or accepts the Withdrawal Agreement.  The House has already rejected the Withdrawal Agreement on two occasions (15 January and 11 March) but it might return for a third time if the Prime Minister thinks it will now be supported.  It is reported that some MPs will vote for the deal  (£) provided that the Prime Minister sets a timetable for her own departure from office!

Rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

House of Commons Monday 25 March 2019

Prime Minister's Statement:

The Prime Minister made a Statement on European Council to the House of Commons and also see Hansard for the debate which immediately followed the statement.

Key points in the Statement -

1.  Council endorsed the legal Instrument relating to the Withdrawal Agreement and the Joint Statement supplementing the Political Declaration.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Brexit ~ Statutory Instruments

A brief note on Statutory Instruments (SI) being churned out in connection with Brexit.

When the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill first saw light of day it was immediately open to the criticism that it contained a far too extensive set of powers to make delegated legislation - previous posts 6 September 2017 and 29 September 2017.

A particular concern was that Ministers could effectively change policy by using these powers and, according to a post by Alexandra Sinclair and Joe Tomlinson published by the UK Constitutional Law Association blog, this concern appears to be manifesting itself.  The authors

Friday, 22 March 2019

EU Council and what might come next

Post updated 23 March

Art 50 - EU Council conclusions:

On 21 March, the European Council responded to the Prime Minister's request (previous post) for an extension, until 30 June, of Article 50.

The Council conclusion was to agree an extension until 22 May 2019 provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons by 29 March at the latest.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Brexit ~ Article 50 Extension requested

Updated 21 March

With just 9 days left to "Exit Day" (29 March), the Prime Minister has sent a letter to the President of the EU Council requesting an extension of Article 50 up to 30 June 2019 - a date which will avoid the UK having to participate in elections to the European Parliament.  The elections take place in May.

The letter has been published on the No. 10 Downing Street website and is reproduced below.

A key sentence in the letter reads:  'I also intend to bring forward further domestic proposals that confirm my previous commitments to protect our internal market, given the concerns expressed about the backstop.'   Those proposals have yet to be announced.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Brexit: "Meaningful Votes" - Extension of Article 50

Only 10 days are left until "Exit Day" - 29 March 2019 (at 11pm).

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 section 13(1) states unequivocally that the Withdrawal Agreement may be ratified only if certain requirements are met.   Section 13 includes a requirement that the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship have been approved by a resolution of the House of Commons on a motion moved by a Minister of the Crown. 

MV1 and MV2:

On 15 January, the government failed to obtain the approval of the House of Commons to the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and Political Declaration (PD).  This came to be referred to as Meaningful Vote 1 or MV1.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Brexit Votes 12-14 March

' ... Europe's politicians gaze open mouthed at the maelstrom of division and chaos currently whirling through the House of Commons ... two weeks before the official Brexit day - Parliament appears to be in meltdown with no unifying solution in sight' - BBC News 15 March

After a difficult three days in the House of Commons the Brexit position may be summarised as:
  • Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration rejected by the Commons - previous post
  • Exiting the EU without a deal in place also rejected - previous post
  • An extension to Article 50 to be requested whether or not the House of Commons approves the negotiated withdrawal agreement by 20 March.  If it is approved by 20 March then the requested extension would be until 30 June to enable the passing of necessary EU exit legislation.  If it is NOT approved by 20 March then a clear purpose for requesting an extension will be required and any extension beyond 30 June would require the United Kingdom to hold European Parliament elections in May 2019 - see Hansard 14 March UK's withdrawal from the EU and BBC How MPs voted.