A number of other newsworthy legal stories were in the media this week. There was a verdict in the Mark Saunders Inquest – see The Independent 8th October 2010. There was NOT a finding of unlawful killing by the Police. However, both the jury and the Coroner were critical of aspects of the Police’s conduct – see Telegraph 8th October.
The Foreign Secretary addressed the Conservative Party Conference and promised the faithful a “sovereignty clause” in a Bill to be presented in the autumn. He said that EU Directives would take effect in the UK only by the will of Parliament which could be withdrawn. The idea has already been criticised as Monkeying with Sovereignty (article by barrister Carl Gardner) and as “Hague’s great ‘nonsense’ on Sovereignty” (Charon QC blog). With respect to those learned writers, I tend to agree. The principle (in EU law) of the Supremacy of EU Law is well-established by decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU (formerly called - the ECJ). In fact it was established before the U.K. acceded to the "communities" in 1973. The matter came to a head in the massively costly Factortame Cases when, by the Merchant Shipping Act 1988, the U.K. tried to exclude Spanish Fishermen from certain waters. [As far as I could tell, neither side seemed to see the utter folly of over-fishing the sea! ]. Despite the EU doctrine, it remains the case that Sovereignty for the United Kingdom continues to rest with the "Queen in Parliament" and, in English legal theory, they can make or unmake any law they wish. They could take us out of the EU and it is a legal fact that EU law making only has effect in the U.K. because the Q in P willed it to be so - European Communities Act 1972. We will await Hague's attempt to "square this circle" with interest. (For more on the Supremacy of EU law see Lawobserver).
The other address to the Conservative Conference was by Kenneth Clarke who, according to Joshua Rozenberg writing in The Guardian, revealed what cuts mean for the courts – “It’s not just using lawyers that Ministers want to discourage, it’s using the courts themselves”. An emerging and recurrent theme on this blog is that “access to justice” is severely threatened.
For an enjoyable read and some “light relief” see “London Counsel” on The Baby Barista Blog.