Friday, 27 March 2020

Coronavirus Act 2020 - Overview


On 25 March 2020 the Coronavirus Bill received Royal Assent and became the Coronavirus Act 2020. It is a highly complex and multifaceted Act of 102 sections and 29 Schedules which passed all its parliamentary stages in just 4 days.

Details relating to the Bill as it passed through Parliament are available at Bill documents - Coronavirus Act 2020.  The government issued Explanatory Notes when the Bill was introduced into the House of Commons and also when the Bill went to the House of Lords.

Aims:

The Act has 3 main aims

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Overview ~ The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020

Lockdown - before - after

This post considers the latest Health Protection regulations made for England. (Separate Regulations will apply in other parts of the UK).The letter of the law is in the Regulations BUT we can all do much more to fight the virus. Please do not take risks with the health of yourself, your loved ones, and others in the community.

The Regulations:

The government has used powers under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 (the 1984 Act) to make The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020

Without any doubt, these Regulations are the most draconian restrictions imposed by a democratically elected government in the long history of our nation, including during the two world wars of the 20th century.  The Regulations are detailed and, in places, complex. This post offers an overview.

The making of the Regulations was foreshadowed by

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Coronavirus - business contracts

Theatres etc closed
Thousands of businesses enter into contracts on a daily basis. The complexity of such contracts varies enormously.

They can be straightforward deals for A to supply B with goods or a service for which B will pay the agreed price.  Such contracts may be no more than a verbal agreement that A will supply B and that B will pay. Other contracts may arise under a set of standard terms - often set out in a standard form.

Of course, many business contracts are complex and involve huge sums of money and the parties, often with the help of lawyers, will have a written contract attempting to address numerous possibilities including events beyond the control of the parties to the contract.

Government:

On Monday 16 March, the government

Monday, 16 March 2020

Coronavirus and the value of human rights

I will do whatever it takes to save them – and I mean whatever it takes" - Jack Bauer

The talk is of greater Emergency Powers being granted to government to enable it to cope with the Coronavirus pandemic.

Let's make no mistake about the dangers of this virus. It is extremely serious and many deaths have already resulted from infection. There are no easy answers.

The instinct is therefore to say - Let the government have all the powers it says that it requires.

There may also be the idea

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Lockerbie case referred to Scotland's High Court of Justiciary

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the case of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi to the High Court of Justiciary - see News Release 11 March 2020 Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi Referral and The Lockerbie Case blog.  Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi died in 2012 but was the man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie Bombing.

The SCCRC believes that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred in Mr Megrahi’s case by reason of two out of 6 grounds considered by the Commission

Friday, 6 March 2020

A Sentencing Code

There is no doubt that, in some instances, sentencing is a difficult matter and the complexity is increased by the accumulation of statutory provisions.  The Law Commission has commented - "The current law of sentencing is inefficient and lacks transparency. The law is incredibly complex and difficult to understand even for experienced judges and lawyers."  For example, consider the complexities of "extended sentences" which arose in in the Usman Khan case - previous post 2 December 2019.  Simplification of sentencing is therefore to be welcomed.

The Law Commission's Sentencing Code Project aims to create a single statute which contains all of the law on sentencing procedure - Law Commission November 2018

The government is taking a Bill through Parliament to prepare the ground for the subsequent enactment of such a Code.

The single "Sentencing Code” will have a "clear and logical structure" making the law "more accessible for the public, the judiciary and practitioners."

The Code will be

House of Lords Constitution Committee 4 March 2020

On Wednesday 4 March, the House of Lords Constitution Committee held its annual evidence session with the President and Deputy President of the Supreme Court.

The session may be viewed at Parliament Parliament.tv

A summary of the session is at Law Society Gazette 4 March 2020 - Lord Reed denies judicial over-reach

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Julian Assange extradition hearing - 24 to 27 February


Crown Court - Woolwich
Background:

On 11 April 2019, Mr Julian Assange (founder of Wikileaks) was arrested for failure to surrender to bail - previous post 15 April 2019.  The arrest took place at the Ecuadorean Embassy where Assange had been for 7 years. The arrest was for failure to surrender to bail contrary to the Bail Act 1976 s6(1).

Shortly after the Bail Act arrest he was also arrested

Friday, 28 February 2020

EU and UK - Future Relationship negotiations

Latest update - 17 March 2020

The future relationship between the UK and the EU is under negotiation.  Here are links to various websites and materials:

European Council 25 February - Negotiating Guidelines approved

UK Government 27 February - Our approach to the future relationship with the EU

Hansard 27 February - Statement in the House of Commons

Agreements and Political Declaration:

Thursday, 27 February 2020

London (Heathrow) Airport - Runway 3

View from Heathrow Control Tower
"We have not decided, and could not decide, that there will be no third runway at Heathrow" - Court of Appeal

"The statutory regime for the formulation of a national policy statement, which Parliament put in place in the Planning Act, was not fully complied with."

London (Heathrow) Airport:

In 2018, London (Heathrow) Airport was ranked 7th busiest in the world in terms of passenger numbers. Facts and figures about this two runway airport are

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

News Roundup - 25 February


Updated 27 February

Terrorism:

The Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill passed all its House of Lords stages on Monday 24 February. The debates may be read via Hansard.

The Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law published a number of reports about the Bill. Their "Rule of Law Analysis" is of particular interest

House of Lords Constitution Committee 3rd Report of Session 2019-21.

House of Lords reform:

Lords reform is back

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Suella Braverman MP - Attorney General

"Parliament’s legitimacy is unrivalled and the reason why we must take back control, not just from the EU, but from the judiciary" - Suella Braverman 27 January 2020

The Prime Minister rehsuffled Ministerial appointments on Thursday 13 February. The Attorney General - Geoffrey Cox QC MP - left the government and was replaced by Suella Braverman MP.

Her appointment was far from welcome in some quarters. Secret Barrister tweeted - "If this rumour is true, it is up there with Truss as the greatest subservience-to-talent ratio in legal history." 

Let's take a closer look ...

Secretary of State for Justice / Lord Chancellor:

At this point, a brief digression is required

Friday, 14 February 2020

Cummings "furious" that the court prevented deportations

Simler LJ
Mr Dominic Cummings is a political strategist and chief special adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. His degree of "backstage" influence appears to be considerable.

It is reported that Cummings is "furious" that the Court of Appeal issued an order to prevent a deportation flight taking place - ITV News 11 February 2020. The article further reports that Cummings described the Court of Appeal's order is “a perfect symbol of the British state’s dysfunction.” He added that there must be “urgent action on the farce that judicial review has become.”

I have commented previously about the obvious risks

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill

Updated 19 February

The Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill is now before Parliament.  The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that terrorist offenders are not automatically released before the end of their custodial term without agreement of the Parole Board.  

The provisions in the Bill change the release point for offenders who have committed a relevant terrorism offence and refer those offenders to the Parole Board at the two-thirds point of the sentence. The changes will apply

Saturday, 1 February 2020

10 years

14 January 2020 marked the 10th anniversary of this blog. 

With Brexit achieved on 31 January, the government will now engage in trade and other negotiations with the EU. Those are beyond the scope of this blog and will, I am sure, be covered adequately elsewhere - e.g. EU Law Analysis (Professor Steve Peers), Brexit Blog (Monckton Chambers), UK Trade Policy Observatory (University of Sussex), and The UK in a Changing Europe. Also, Department for International Trade.

Apart from the impact of Brexit, many other issues face the new government - see House of Commons Library Insights for the new Parliament.

Of particular concern

Reflections on Exit Day

After a membership lasting 47 years 30 days and 23 hours, the UK left the European Union at 2300 hrs GMT on 31 January 2020 - BBC News, The Telegraph, The Guardian.  It is well over three years since the 2016 referendum and it is not entirely clear that Brexit continues to be the wish of a majority of people in the UK - BBC 31 January - but the "first past the post" 2019 General Election resulted in a government with a strong majority and elected on a manifesto to "Get Brexit Done." The impact of first past the post on the election outcome is discussed at The Guardian 18 December 2019.

The Withdrawal Agreement is in place for the remainder of the year 2020. This will either smooth the way to a future negotiated relationship with the EU or, alternatively, present a no-deal (or minimal deal) situation from 2021.

Leaving the EU is a break from a body with a membership of 27 States and with a population of around 513 million people.  On 2018 figures, the EU has a gross domestic product (GDP) exceeding $18,000 billion and numerous

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Brexit ~ Signed and sealed

On Wednesday 29 January 2020, Sir Tim Barrow, the United Kingdom's Permanent Representative to the European Union presented to the European Council the Instrument of Ratification for the Withdrawal Agreement. This was the final step by which the UK indicated consent to be bound by the Agreement which is a treaty in international law.

The European Parliament gave its approval to the Withdrawal Agreement - 621 votes in favour, 49 against, 13 abstentions - Brexit deal approved by the European Parliament.


The European Council decided

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Longer time in custody for some prisoners

From 1 April 2020, a two-thirds rule will apply to certain prisoners - Government 22 January 2020 - Serious violent and sexual offenders to spend longer in prison

Orders have been approved by both Houses of Parliament to alter the law about the release of certain prisoners and to require them to serve longer in prison. The Orders are silent about rehabilitation of prisoners and the work to be done with them whilst they are serving their sentences.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

67 Years since Derek Bentley's execution

28 January 1953 - Wandsworth
" ... In our judgment the summing up in this case was such as to deny the appellant that fair trial which is the birthright of every British citizen' - R v Derek William Bentley (deceased) [1998] EWCA Crim 2516 - (Lord Bingham LCJ, Kennedy LJ and Collins J).

67 years ago today, at Wandsworth Prison, Derek Bentley was hanged for the murder, on 2 November 1952, of Police Constable Sidney Miles. My post of 26 January 2013 looked at the case and the posthumous appeal (quashing Bentley's conviction).

The morbid website

Friday, 24 January 2020

Brexit - the final throes

With just over a week remaining of the UK's EU membership, the Brexit process is entering its final throes. Brexit will have been achieved but little else given that the future (post-2020) relationship of the UK with the EU has yet to be negotiated.

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 has been enacted. Royal Assent was given on 23 January. The Act gives legal effect to the Withdrawal Agreement within the domestic legal systems of the UK.  The Withdrawal Agreement itself has been signed.

The UK leaves the EU by operation