Thursday, 26 August 2010
An August Miscellany of Law
1. There is the woman dealt with by Blackpool Magistrates court - (a District Judge took the case) - for urinating on the town's war memorial and peforming a "sex act". She was charged with outraging public decency and received a suspended prison sentence of 12 week with a drug rehabilitation requirement - compensation of £50 to a police officer and costs of £200. Daily Mail 26th August. Will she manage to adhere to the order? We'll see but she has been given a chance whether she deserved it or not.
2. There is the woman who was seen to put a cat into a wheelie bin. This story is well covered by the Jack of Kent blog. It is disturbing that West Midlands Police appear to have said that no crime was committed when it might be an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 s.4. It seems that the woman is receiving police protection. Just why someone would do this is a mystery but there has been considerable over-reaction in some quarters to it. Daily Mail 26th August 2010. It is reported that the RSPCA is conducting an investigation.
3. Then there is the juror who went on Facebook and commented about a case which she had been involved in. Daily Mail 26th August 2010. It appears that she was given a good talking to by the judge. She claimed that she did not know that her action was wrong despite the fact the jurors are always informed that they must not discuss the case with others. This behaviour lets the jury system down badly.
4. The Independent 26th August took a look at the issue of reforming the libel laws. Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC has decided to allow the Ministry of Justice to bring forward reform proposals rather than press ahead with his Defamation Bill at the present time. There are several recent instances where the libel laws are having a severe chilling effect on free speech and reform appears to be necessary to achieve a better balance.
5. The government's budget is also being questioned on the basis that there was no "equality impact assessment". Daily Mail 26th August. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is taking a considerable interest in this matter and it is reported that a judicial review is being considered. There is concern that the budget affects some people in a disproportionate and adverse way. See the comment on the Commission's website.
6. Mr Justice Collins - sitting in the High Court - has said that the Legal Services Commission's tendering process on welfare law was "uttrely absurd and irrational". Bizarrely, the tender process seemed to favour those law firms who got more cases appealed and worked against firms who managed to avoid appeals. Good legal practice is to avoid appeals wherever possible. See Law Society Gazette 26th August.
Whilst the Senior Courts of England and Wales are taking a break prior to the Michaelmas Law Term, there certainly seems to be plenty brewing elsewhere !
"Miscellany at Law" is the title of entertaining books by the late judge Sir Robert Megarry (1910-2006).