Friday, 24 November 2017

Investigatory Powers Tribunal - Judicial Review excluded

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) was created by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 Part IV - (RIPA).  The Tribunals' website states that it - " ... investigates and determines complaints which allege that public authorities or law enforcement agencies have unlawfully used covert techniques and infringed our right to privacy, as well as claims against the security and intelligence agencies for conduct which breaches a wider range of our human rights."  The law enforcement agencies referred to include the Security Services.  The Tribunal has helpfully provided links to the relevant legislation and Codes of Practice - HERE.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Misleading reporting - R v Douglas Addison

The BBC reported on the case of R v Douglas Addison heard at the Crown Court in Exeter - BBC News 21st November.  The report states:

"A husband has been found guilty of murdering his 88-year-old wife who was suffering with dementia.  Douglas Addison, 89, attacked Mary Addison with his walking stick and smothered her at their retirement bungalow in St Merryn, Cornwall, in February.  The former police officer, who also has dementia, was unable to cope with looking after his wife of 67 years.  He has been detained in a mental health facility.  Addison could not attend Exeter Crown Court or enter a plea due to his condition."

Mr Addison is NOT guilty of murder

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

International Court of Justice - UK loses seat

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations - UN Charter Chapter XIV.  The court operates according to its Statute and Judges serve for 9 year terms.  They may be re-elected by the United Nations. 

Judge Christopher Greenwood was elected to the court in November 2008 and was willing to be re-elected.  However, it became clear that he was not securing sufficient support within the UN General Assembly and his candidacy was withdrawn - The Guardian 20th November  and  BBC 21st November - How UK lost ICJ place to India

The result

Sunday, 19 November 2017

The "sealed" will of HRH The Duke of Windsor


Royal Wills have been in the legal news this week - In the matter of HRH The Duke of Windsor (deceased) [2017] EWHC 2887 (Fam) - or via Bailii.   First of all, some background.  

Sealing of wills:

The Senior Courts Act 1981 section 124 requires wills under the control of the High Court in the Principal Registry or any district probate registry to be deposited and preserved and, subject to the control of the High Court and to probate rules, to be open to inspection.  The Non-contentious Probate Rules 1987 Rule 58 (NCPR) provides that an original will shall not be open to inspection if, in the opinion of a registrar, such inspection would be undesirable or otherwise inappropriate.  The words in blue are not amplified in the Rules so the question is raised as to when it may be undesirable or inappropriate to permit inspection. Where inspection is considered to be "undesirable or inappropriate" the will is "sealed" and will only be available for inspection if the High Court permits.

As we know from many recent events,

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Dishonesty in Criminal Cases

Vicky Patterson worked as a cleaner for Simply Holidays, a company which owned property including two caravans at Beach Holiday Park, Kessingland, in Suffolk.  She was charged with two offences of theft of money paid to the company.  One offence was dated 4th March 2016 and the second dated 27th February 2017.  In both cases the amount in question was £140.  Magistrates at Great Yarmouth heard a submission of "no case to answer" and agreed that there was not a case to answer. The question for the High Court was whether the Magistrates were correct and it was held that they were not - CPS v Vicky Patterson [2017] EWHC 2820 (Admin) - Sir Brian Leveson P and Mrs Justice McGowan.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Grenfell Tower Inquiry - update

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry has published an update via the Inquiry website - HERE.  The update provides information about the progress of the Inquiry, community engagement activity, Core Participants, appointment of assessors to the Inquiry, Inquiry phases, evidence from resident, a procedural hearing to take place on 11 and 12 December 2017 and the venue in which the Inquiry intends to conduct its work

Three Assessors have been appointed - see the announcement and details of the appointees.  Assessors are appointed in accordance with the Inquiries Act 2005 section 11.  They are not part of the "Inquiry Panel" which is the Chairman alone (Sir Martin Moore-Bick).  The role of assessors includes:  taking part in Inquiry proceedings as requested by the Chairman;  providing suggested lines of questioning for witnesses to Counsel to the Inquiry; and providing assistance and advice on any other matter relevant to the Inquiry within their area of expertise.  Assessors do not give evidence to the Inquiry, nor are they asked questions or cross-examined at the Inquiry. 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Brexit Round 6 and promise of a EU (Withdrawal and Notification) Bill

The moment the 2 year period was triggered
Round 6 of the Brexit negotiations were held in Brussels on 9th and 10th November and concluded without any major breakthrough on either Citizens' rights, Northern Ireland or the Financial settlement.  The EU seeks agreement on those matters before it will discuss matters such as the future trading relationship.  The EU negotiators (Mr Michel Barnier et al) are bound by the Guidelines set by the European Council - (see post 1st May 2017).


End of round statements:

David Davis (Secretary of State for Exiting the EU)

Michel Barnier - Chief Negotiator

The "European Union Newsroom" is a useful site for information about Brexit

Statement to Parliament 13th November:


On 13th November, Mr Davis made a statement to the House of Commons - see Hansard 13th November.   See also Dept. for Exiting the EU announcement.  In his statement Mr Davis said:

Friday, 10 November 2017

Setting Brexit Day in stone? An unwise move. (Addendum 15th November)

Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill are both in the news again as serious doubts are developing about the economic wisdom of Brexit.

Article 50 Notice:

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, who was Britain’s permanent representative at the EU before becoming ambassador to the US,  drafted Article 50 TEU and has always been of the view that a notification under Article 50(2) may be unilaterally revoked by the State which gave the notice.  This point could easily have been dealt with when the Article was being drafted but, unfortunately, it was not.  Lord Kerr is now calling upon the government to publish any legal advice it has received from the Law Officers on this point - The Independent 10th November 2017.

The government

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Brexit: The non-existent impact assessments demanded by the Humble Address

On 1st November the House of Commons voted to present this Humble Address to HM The Queen:

"That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, That she will be graciously pleased to give directions that the list of sectors analysed under the instruction of Her Majesty's Ministers, and referred to in the Answer of 26 June 2017 to Question 239, be laid before this House and that the impact assessments arising from those analyses be provided to the Committee on Exiting the European Union." [My emphasis].

The address was the outcome of the 1st November debate entitled Exiting the EU: Sectoral Impact Assessments.  Here is the Hansard record of the debate.  The phrase "impact assessments" is used throughout the debate by many members.  Nevertheless,

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Voting for Prisoners - latest in the long-running saga



The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (David Lidington MP) was appointed after the June General Election (post 12th June).  One of the long-standing issues he inherited was that of whether prisoners (or some prisoners) should be allowed to vote.  The present ban is in the Representation of the People Act 1983 section 3 (as amended):

"A convicted person during the time that he is detained in a penal institution in pursuance of his sentence or unlawfully at large when he would otherwise be so detained is legally incapable of voting at any parliamentary or local government election."

So far

"Fat Rascal" - a Registered Trade Mark

199 Steps Whitby
FAT RASCALS have been made in North Yorkshire and other places for many decades.  They may not be the ideal food for those seeking to maintain a trim figure but they are a delight to have in a pleasant cafe along with coffee or tea.  The website Foods of England informs us that the name "Fat Rascals" has been in use at least since the 1855 "Glossary of Yorkshire Words and Phrases Collected in Whitby and the Neighbourhood."  The BBC offers us a recipe and says here that they may have been made since Elizabethan times.

Friday, 3 November 2017

"An Humble Address" to Her Majesty - 1st November 2017

On Wednesday 1st November, the House of Commons debated Exiting the EU: Sectoral Impact Assessments.  The Opposition Motion was worded in archaic terms:

"That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, That she will be graciously pleased to give directions that the list of sectors analysed under the instruction of Her Majesty's Ministers, and referred to in the Answer of 26 June 2017 to Question 239, be laid before this House and that the impact assessments arising from those analyses be provided to the Committee on Exiting the European Union."

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Roundup at Halloween 2017


Various stories at Halloween ... items in the news and on the blogs .....

Et Seq. is the blog of the Harvard Law School Library and they have offered this post about Halloween and the Law.  It's a great collection of links to other material including The Devil and Homer Simpson, the Salem Witch Trials and a discussion of whether the law in England requires sellers of houses to reveal the presence of ghosts!

There has been some speculation that the government may be about to move in the direction of allowing at least some prisoners to vote in elections - The Independent 29th October.  At the time of writing, nothing appears about it on the Ministry of Justice website.  The present ban is in the Representation of the People Act 1983 section 3.  Note also section 3A relating to offenders detained in mental hospitals.  See The Guardian 29th October.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

The Academic Freedom of our Universities

Academic Freedom - "Without such freedom there would have been no Shakespeare, no Goethe, no Newton, no Faraday, no Pasteur, and no Lister" - Albert Einstein - Royal Albert Hall 5th October 1933.

Mr Chris Heaton-Harris is Member of Parliament for Daventry.  In June 2017 he was appointed to the post of Vice-Chamberlain of Her Majesty's Household and he describes his duties in that role on his website as well as stating very clearly his position regarding Brexit:

"The EU Referendum still divides public opinion, with feelings on both sides of the argument still running high. However, the majority of people acknowledge that the public gave their opinion in a free and fair referendum and that the outcome should be upheld. Theresa May has been clear that “Brexit means Brexit”, and there is no doubt that we are going to make a success of it. There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to re-join it through the back door and no second referendum. Given both the high turnout of the referendum and our 2015 election manifesto to “respect the outcome” of it, in my mind the Government has a crystal clear mandate to implement the result of the referendum and reflect the will of the British people."

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Dishonesty ~ Important Supreme Court judgment

Updated 28th October ...

The Supreme Court has given unanimous judgment in Ivey v Genting Casinos (UK) Ltd [2017] UKSC 67 - Lord Neuberger, Lady Hale, Lord Kerr, Lord Hughes, Lord Thomas.  (Youtube 25/10/17).  On appeal from the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) judgment - Neutral Citation [2016] EWCA Civ 1093.


When Gambling at Crockfords on 20th and 21st August 2012 Mr Ivey won in the region of £7.7m but the casino refused to pay because the game had been compromised due to a practice known as "edge sorting."  Mr Ivey openly admitted to using the practice at the time though he did not consider that what he did amounted to cheating.  The High Court (Mitting J) disagreed with Mr Ivey and held that he had cheated.  This decision was upheld by a majority in the Court of Appeal and, given that the contract for betting contained an implied term that neither party would cheat, Crockfords did not have to pay.

Friday, 20 October 2017

More on the Revocability of the Article 50 notice


Notice is served - 29th March 2017
The previous post looked at "The Reckless Fantasy of Brexit" and the view put forward this week by Dr Phil Syrpis (Bristol University) that Brexit ought to be ended now - A call to stop Brexit - 18th October 2017.  Dr Syrpis wrote: "There are various ways in which Brexit might be stopped. Legal opinion suggests that Article 50 may be unilaterally revoked ....."

In this previous post  (23rd July) I attempted to collate at least some of the available legal views on the question of unilateral revocability.  Although that post was a mere 3 months ago it seemed, at the time, to be not much more than an interesting theoretical debate but, as the adverse impact of Brexit on the economy is becoming clearer, the question of unilateral revocability of the UK's Article 50 notification may turn out to be not so theoretical after all.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

The "Reckless Fantasy" of Brexit

Updated 20th October ...

Only the most naively optimistic would claim that Brexit is proceeding well.  Round 5 of the negotiations ended with what appears to be only minimal progress (previous post) and some politicians are now urging the Prime Minister to abandon the negotiations unless the European Council agrees to discuss the future trading relationship - BBC News 19th October.

It is entirely reasonable to conclude that, if Brexit comes about, the United Kingdom will be seriously damaged constitutionally and very much poorer economically.  The Brexit process should be stopped by Parliament - the UK's sovereign body - reversing the leave decision.  Such a decision would be in the best national interest and could, with the right leadership, lead to steps toward rebuilding the UK and establishing a 'deep and special relationship' with the EU but as a critical member rather than as an outsider peering, like the young boy pictured, into the shop window and hoping that we had access to the goods.

Monday, 16 October 2017

"Victoria" TV series ~ Daniel M'Naghten

Daniel M'Naghten
The second series of the television programme "Victoria" ended on Sunday 15th October.  (There is to be an extra episode at Christmas).  At times, the series touched upon some of the great issues of those days.

Victoria (1819-1901) was Queen from June 1837 until her death on 22nd January 1901.  The final episode of Series 2 touched upon the Parliamentary struggle for the repeal of the "Corn Laws" which prevented imports of grain and therefore had come to protect wealthy landowners.  A poem of the time summarised the situation: "Ye coop us up, and tax our bread, And wonder why we pine; But ye are fat, and round, and red, And fill'd with tax-bought wine."

The Corn Laws were repealed during the premiership of Robert Peel (1788-1850).  Peel's private secretary was the civil servant Edward Drummond (1792-1843).  Drummond was shot by Daniel M'Naghten (1813-1865) whose name still lives on in English criminal law due to the much-criticised M'Naghten Rules which set out the requirements to establish a defence of "insanity."  Drummond was actually shot from behind and he died of complications which arose following surgery to remove the "leaden bullet" fired from M'Naghten's gun.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Ian Stewart-Brady

" .....even in the sordid history of crimes against children the murders committed by Hindley jointly with Ian Brady, were uniquely evil" - Lord Steyn in R (Hindley) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2000] UKHL 21.


On 15th May, the "Moors Murderer" Ian Brady died - previous post 18th May 2017.  He was convicted at Chester Assizes in 1966 (Fenton Atkinson J and a jury) of the murders of John Kilbride (12), Lesley Ann Downey (10) and Edward Evans (17).   Myra Hindley, who died in 2002, was convicted of the murders of Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Brexit Notes - Round 5 and other items

Round 5 of the Brexit negotiations has concluded with statements by the EU Chief Negotiator (Michel Barnier) and the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU (David Davis).  Some British politicians will be most unhappy to have heard Mr Barnier state - " ... as things stand at present, I am not able to recommend to the European Council next week to open discussions on the future relationship."

Although the talks clearly made a certain amount of progress, the major sticking point appears to be the financial settlement which Mr Barnier said had not been discussed apart from some technical details.  He said, "We are, therefore, at a deadlock on this question. This is extremely worrying for European taxpayers and those who benefit from EU policies."