Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Legal News Roundup - Tuesday 16th November

Guantanamo Bay - the government has been keen to settle the litigation brought by a number of men who allege that British government agencies were involved in their "extraordinary rendition" and alleged torture.  Immensely costly litigation has been on-going for a considerable time with the government seeking "closed court hearings" and the use of "special advocates" in order to prevent material getting into the public domain.  The Court of Appeal (Civil Division) rejected those procedures - see Al Rawi and others v Securuty Service and others [2010] EWCA Civ 482 on appeal from a judgment of Silber J - see [2009] EWHC 2959 (QB).  It now appears that an out of court settlement -said to amount to millions of pounds - has been reached.

This settlement is bound to be highly controversial and, of course, occurs at a time when most things related to the law are coming under severe financial pressure.  Whatever the degree of suspicion about governmental involvement in these matters, the allegations have not been formally proved.  Also, it is clear that the government does not wish material to be adduced in open court hearings which, so it is claimed, would harm the workings of the intelligence community.  Settlement of the claims will also allow the Inquiry - (under the chairmanship of Sir Peter Gibson) - announced earlier this year to commence its work - see here.

See also UK Human Rights blog (16th November) re the Al Rawi litigation.

Amnesty International Report -  Amnesty has issued a report which criticises European institutions for failing to hold countries such as the UK to account for alleged involvement in rendition and secret detention - see "Open Secret: Mounting evidence of Europe's complicity in rendition and secret detention."

Legal Aid - the Ministry of Justice has issued two consultations.  One is on reform to Legal Aid: the other relates to the Jackson Review of costs in civil litigation.  See Ministry of Justice.  This is a big topic which will require further analysis.  See also the excellent comments on the CharonQC blog - "Justice bloodied and probably bowed."   For an early view of the detail, please see "Of Interest to Lawyers."  A further and interesting view is that of the UK Human Rights Blog - "Do we spend more on legal aid than other countries." and "Legal Aid cuts, the aftermath."
Further views on the Solicitors Journal 15th November.
Stop and Search powers - The Guardian reports controversy over guidance relating to the issue of "race" and whether it may be used as a basis for stopping and searching a person - see The Guardian 15th November.

Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill - writing in The Times 15th November 2010, Lord Lipsey (a Labour peer and former member of the Jenkins Commission on electoral reform) criticises this Bill which, he argues, will alter the shape of our democracy for ever.  He does not deny the need for some reforms but sees the Bill as an entirely "partisan" manipulation of Britain's voting system.  For more information see Law and Lawyers.  He was particularly scathing about the fact that constituency boundaries will end up ignoring traditional boundaries with, for example, some constituencies crossing county boundaries.  "The natural links that make British constituencies a jewel in our constitutional arrangements will be torn asunder."  He also makes the point that it would be preferable for changes with constitutional significance to be weighed by an impartial commission first.

Addendum 16th November: Whilst the government is planning to cut legal aid here at home, it appear that there is some money to spend on a tribunal in Lebanon - see Foreign Office.   William Hague is reported as to the Lebanese Prime Minister: "... the UK is committed to supporting the search for justice within Lebanon."

No comments:

Post a Comment