Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Joint UK EU Report (4) - Euratom and Other points

On Friday 8th December, there was acceptance by the EU that "sufficient progress" had been made to allow talks to proceed further - Joint report from the negotiators of the EU and the UK government on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU.  This post is the fourth and final post taking an overview of the Joint Report.

Agreement or understanding was reached on some other points as set out in paras 87 to 95.

The Joint UK-EU Report (3) - The money !

On Friday 8th December, there was acceptance by the EU that "sufficient progress" had been made to allow talks to proceed further - Joint report from the negotiators of the EU and the UK government on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU.  This post looks at the Report in relation to the Financial Settlement.  It is covered in some detail in paras. 57 to 86 but a great deal remains to be worked out as negotiations proceed.

A methodology, with four parts, has been agreed for the financial settlement. 

Saturday, 9 December 2017

The Joint UK-EU Report (2) - Ireland and Northern Ireland

On Friday 8th December, there was acceptance by the EU that "sufficient progress" had been made to allow talks to proceed further - Joint report from the negotiators of the EU and the UK government on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU.  This post looks at the Report in relation to Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Background:

It was obvious even before the 2016 Referendum that the island of Ireland would present particular difficulties with Brexit which will result in a land border between a European Union Member State (the Republic of Ireland) and part of the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland).  Very few people ever truly wanted a "hard border" between the two along with all the necessary customs checks.

In her Lancaster House Speech (January 2017), Theresa May stated the wish to retain the "Common Travel Area":

The Joint UK-EU Report (1) - Those vital Citizens' Rights

On Friday 8th December, after what had clearly been difficult negotiations, there was acceptance by the EU that "sufficient progress" had been made to allow talks to proceed further - Joint report from the negotiators of the EU and the UK government on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU.

The EU Commission does not have the final say on whether negotiations can proceed further.  That decision will be taken at the European Council meeting on 14th/15th December though it is generally thought that the Council will endorse the Joint Report.
This post looks at (A) the nature of the Joint Report; (B) Transition and (C) the Citizens' rights part of the Joint Report.

A REPORT and not a Withdrawal Agreement:

Friday, 8 December 2017

EU Negotiations ~ more information

As covered in the immediately preceding post, the European Commission has given its view that "sufficient progress" has been made in Phase 1 of the Brexit negotiations.  The agreement came following an intense few days of negotiations.  See Joint Report.

See also statement 8th December by Michel Barnier

The following material is also of importance:

Prime Minister's commitments to Northern Ireland

Example case studies: EU citizens' rights in the UK

Status of EU citizens in the UK: what you need to know

Statement 8th December by Donald Tusk (European Council President) on Draft Guidelines for Phase 2

"Sufficient progress" achieved with EU

Breakfast in Brussels
Updated 9th December - reaction in the media

It was announced this morning that the European Commission is of the opinion that "sufficient progress" has been over Citizens' rights, Northern Ireland and the financial settlement to permit talks to move forward.

See the European Commission Press Release

For the detail - Joint report from the negotiators of the EU and the UK government on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU

The Commission's Press Release states:

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Brexit ~ David Davis at Exiting EU Committee // Lords report on what if no deal.

One year ago today, the House of Commons held a debate entitled "The Government's Plan for Brexit."    The debate ended with a House of Commons Resolution -

Resolutions of House of Commons:

"That this House recognises that leaving the EU is the defining issue facing the UK; notes the resolution on parliamentary scrutiny of the UK leaving the EU agreed by the House on 12 October 2016; recognises that it is Parliament’s responsibility to properly scrutinise the Government while respecting the decision of the British people to leave the European Union; confirms that there should be no disclosure of material that could be reasonably judged to damage the UK in any negotiations to depart from the European Union after Article 50 has been triggered; and calls on the Prime Minister to commit to publishing the Government’s plan for leaving the EU before Article 50 is invoked, consistently with the principles agreed without division by this House on 12 October; recognises that this House should respect the wishes of the United Kingdom as expressed in the referendum on 23 June; and further calls on the Government to invoke Article 50 by 31 March 2017."

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Monday 4th December - Brexit chaos

Updated

Monday 4th December looked like a day of chaos with the UK-EU Brexit negotiations.  The UK Prime Minister (Theresa May) was in Brussels for a meeting with the European Commission President (Mr Jean-Claude Juncker) and she hoped for an agreement which would avoid a "hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.   As the day progressed, news began to emerge that a formula had been found by which the UK would maintain "regulatory convergence" between Northern Ireland and the Republic and thus avoid the hard border that would be unacceptable to Dublin.  (The precise nature of this convergence was not spelled out).

An obvious problem

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Mr Damian Green's Office Computer

Updated 20.50 hrs - Statement by HM Inspector of Constabulary

The Rt. Hon. Damian Green MP is First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office in the present UK government.  His Wikipedia entry records - "Green entered Parliament in the 1997 election by winning the seat of Ashford in Kent.  He served in several shadow ministerial positions, including Transport Secretary and Immigration Minister.  Green came to national prominence in November 2008 after being arrested and having his parliamentary office raided by police, although no case was brought.  He was the Minister of State for Police and Criminal Justice until 14 July 2014. He was appointed as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions by Prime Minister Theresa May in July 2016. Following the June 2017 general election, he was appointed First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office.

The Guardian 1st December 2017 reports

Friday, 1 December 2017

Financial settlement with EU - a note

December is with us and Brexit continues to dominate the headlines.  Here is a brief note on the vexed question of the financial settlement over which the EU and UK negotiators have been locking horns.

As far as I can see, the only publicly available details of any Financial Settlement arising on Brexit are those published by the EU earlier this year (12th June) - European Commission Position Paper which this blog took a brief look at HERE.

"The British have never wanted to turn the Union into a military power."

Two recent speeches by Michel Barnier (EU Chief Brexit Negotiator) are of interest: one is a speech is on the Future of the EU and the other on Security and Defence. This post is an overview of the speeches.

20th November:

First, on 20th November, Mr Barnier spoke to the Centre for European Reform (CER) on the Future of the EU which, as things stand, will not include the UK after 29th March 2019.  Mr Barnier made some key points in this speech:

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Making a valid will - possibility of changes to the law ?

On 28th November, an interesting thread appeared on Twitter concerning WILLS.  The "tweeter" was barrister Barbara Rich (@BarbaraRich_law) who practices in the field of trusts, inheritance and the Court of Protection.

English Law is strict about the formalities normally required for an individual to make a valid will and these are set out in the Wills Act 1837 section 9.   In particular, the will is only valid if it is in writing, and signed by the testator, or by some other person in his presence and by his direction.  It must appear that the testator intended by his signature to give effect to the will and the signature has to have been made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time.  Each witness must attest and sign the will.

The insistence

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Brexit material and Parliament ~ Contempt?

There is some talk that the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU (Mr David Davis MP) might be in contempt of Parliament for failing to comply with the Humble Address of 1st November.

The Address stated: "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).

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."

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Brexit - Theresa May's statement to Parliament 9th October

Brexit negotiations are entering the 5th Round and, on 9th October, the Prime Minister made this statement to the House of Commons - see Hansard 9th October.

Mrs May emphasised that the government wishes to secure "a new, deep and special partnership with the European Union which spans both a new economic relationship and a new security relationship" but the UK will not be part of the EU single market or customs union. Also, the idea is rejected of "something based on European Economic Area membership."   Instead, the UK is seeking "a unique and ambitious economic partnership" which will "reflect our unprecedented position of starting with the same rules and regulations."  The UK will maintain its "unequivocal commitment to free trade and high standards."

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Suicide Act 1961 ~ Mr Noel Conway

Mr Noel Conway is 67 years old and suffers from Motor Neurone Disease (MND) which he described as "a relentless and merciless process of progressive deterioration."   When the time is appropriate, he wishes to have assistance to end his life but assisting suicide is a criminal offence in England and Wales - (Suicide Act 1961 section 2).  In the High Court he argued that section 2 of the Suicide Act is incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and he asked the court to make a declaration of incompatibility as permitted by section 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998. The court held that section 2 is compatible with the Article 8 rights of Mr Conway and declined to make the declaration.

The Queen (Noel Douglas Conway) v Secretary of State for Justice and others [2017] EWHC 2447 (Admin) - Sales LJ, Whipple and Garnham JJ.  The judgment is also available in pdf format via the Judiciary website.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Judiciary ~ Swearing in ceremonies

Sir Ian Burnett LCJ
The new Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales - Sir Ian Burnett - has been sworn in today (2nd October) - see the Judiciary announcement and the short video statement made by Sir Ian. The Lord Chief Justice holds the office of President of the Courts of England and Wales and is Head of the Judiciary of England and Wales - Constitutional Reform Act 2005 section 7.   Sir Ian is also Head of Criminal Justice but it is permissible for the him to appoint another to that position - CRA 2005 section 8.  (Note 18th October - The new LCJ has appointed Sir Brian Leveson as Head of Criminal Justice - HERE).

Sir Ian is the 19th Lord Chief Justice since the major court reforms of 1875 and he is the 12th since the end of World War 2.  He is the youngest appointee since Lord Parker of Waddington who was appointed in 1958 at the age of 58.

Note 12th October - It has been announced that Sir Ian Burnett will receive a life peerage - Downing Street Press release

Change also took place at the Supreme Court .....

Friday, 29 September 2017

EU (Withdrawal) Bill - Delegated powers - Important House of Lords report



Previous posts have noted concerns in Parliament about the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.  See 12th September - Deep concerns as EU (Withdrawal) Bill passes second reading in House of Commons;  7th September - House of Lords Constitution Committee - Interim report on EU (Withdrawal) Bill; and 6th September - Massive powers for Ministers under the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

Numerous amendments put forward:

As at 14th September, the list of proposed amendments to the Withdrawal Bill extends to 74 pages!  See Notices of Amendments.

Delegated powers report:

An important further report contains trenchant criticism of the Bill.  It has been issued by the 

Brexit Negotiations Round 4

Following on from the Prime Minister's speech in Florence, Round 4 of Brexit negotiations have concluded.  The Secretary of State's close of talks statement is HERE and the EU Negotiator's (Michel Barnier) statement is HERE.  The Prime Minister's speech was said by Mr Barnier to have "created a new dynamic in our negotiations."  Talks will resume on 9th October.

In his Round 4 closing statement, Mr Davis referred to publication of an updated table showing many areas of agreement.  For this see Department for Exiting the EU - Joint Technical Note

The Florence Speech was notable

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

R v Lavinia Woodward

Addendum 28th September + Addendum 29th September

TOFF JUSTICE is how The Sun newspaper described the sentencing of Lavinia Woodward who, in December 2016, had used a bread knife to wound her boyfriend- The Sun 26th September.  The report is riddled with comments implying that the Judge - His Honour Judge Pringle QC - was far too lenient on Miss Woodward.  She was "spared jail" and she "tearfully mouthed “thank you” to Judge Ian Pringle as he let her off with a suspended sentence - then walked out of court with a huge smile."  The Sun points out that - " ...  the judge’s leniency infuriated justice campaigners, who said offenders from less privileged backgrounds were regularly locked up for similar attacks."  The newspaper also offers three examples of women who had committed similar offences but they are "not posh" and so were jailed.  Those included the case of Angela Stead - 2 years for slicing her victim's artery causing severe blood loss.

Once charged with the offence,

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

"Double the powers of Magistrates" - said LCJ.


Magistrates' Courts should have their power of imprisonment doubled.  This view was put forward by the Lord Chief Justice (Lord Thomas) when opening a new Magistrates Association National Office at St. George Wharf (Vauxhall).  If adopted, the Magistrates' Court would be able to impose a sentence of up to 12 months imprisonment for a single imprisonable offence instead of the current maximum of 6 months.  Around 10,000 additional cases per year would remain with the magistrates  rather than being sent to the Crown Court.  The financial saving would be considerable because, at around £900 per day, Magistrates' Courts are a cheaper form of justice than trial on indictment in the Crown Court - (about £3400 per day).

Monday, 25 September 2017

Prison Reform Trust - Prison: The Facts 2017



On 22nd September 2017, the prison population of England and Wales was 86,200 against an operational capacity of 87,387 - Ministry of Justice Weekly - Prison population figures.

The Prison Reform Trust has published a briefing - Prison: The facts.  The briefing (16 pages pdf) is well worth reading in full.

England and Wales has the highest imprisonment rate in western Europe. In 2016, nearly 68,000 individuals were sent to prison and the majority of those (71%) were sentenced for non-violent offences.  Sentences of 6 months or less accounted for almost half that figure.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Retiring LCJ to review Welsh justice system and policing


On 7th September, the retiring Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, issued his final annual report HERE and, on 14th September, he gave evidence to the House of Commons Justice Committee.   His appearance before the committee may be viewed HERE and a transcript is available.

I believe that Lord Thomas is the first Lord Chief Justice to have been born in Wales since Alfred Lawrence (Lord Trevethin) who served as LCJ briefly from 1921-22.  Interestingly, Lord Trevethin's third son was Geoffrey Lawrence who presided at the Nuremberg Trials.

The Welsh Government

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

R v Charlie Alliston

Charlie Alliston - now aged 20 - has been sentenced to 18 months detention in a Young Offenders Institution for an offence contrary to the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 section 35.

On 12th February 2016, Mr Alliston was cycling at approximately 18 mph down Old Street (London).  As he approached the junction with Charlotte Road the traffic lights were at green in his favour.  Mrs Kim Briggs was trying to cross Old Street.  Mr Alliston ran into her causing injuries which proved to be fatal.  It appears from the sentencing remarks of Her Honour Judge Wendy Joseph QC that Mr Alliston saw Mrs Briggs, swerved, slowed to 10-14 mph and was shouting to Mrs Briggs - "Get out of the fucking way."

Friday, 15 September 2017

Grenfell Tower Inquiry underway but criticisms persist

Formal opening:

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry formally opened on Thursday 14th September and the Chairman (Sir Martin Moore-Bick) made his opening statement which may be read HERE or viewed via Youtube.

List of Issues - NOT exhaustive:

The Inquiry has published a List of Issues but the list is NOT exhaustive - it is described as a Guide to the issues on which the Inquiry's investigations will focus.

Terms of Reference:

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Under attack - the Conservative - DUP "confidence and supply" deal

Updated 29th October

Following the General Election 2017 and the weakening of the Conservative Party's position in the House of Commons, a "confidence and supply" deal was arranged between the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland - Telegraph 26th June.

The agreement is available HERE and it is notable that the DUP agreed to support the Conservative government on

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Deep concerns as EU (Withdrawal) Bill passes Second Reading in House of Commons

For all the sound and fury, the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill survived its Second Reading in the House of Commons by 326 votes to 290 - (majority 36).  The debate and the voting may be seen at Hansard Online - European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Day 2 .  Day 1 of the Second Reading was on Thursday 7th September - Hansard.   The House of Commons debate highlighted serious concerns about the Bill including the way in which Parliament is in danger of becoming akin to a rubber stamp for Ministers.

Deep concerns remain:

Thursday, 7 September 2017

House of Lords Constitution Committee - Interim report on EU Withdrawal Bill

The House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution has issued an Interim Report on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - 3rd report Session 2017-19.  The five Chapters in the report an Introduction, EU Law and Exit Day, Delegated powers, Court of Justice of the EU and Devolution.

The report identifies three broad constitutional themes - the relationship between Parliament and the Executive; the rule of law and legal certainty and, thirdly, the stability of the UK's territorial constitution.

The Bill gives the executive

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Massive powers for Ministers under the EU (Withdrawal) Bill

I recall a thinly attended "Constitutional Law" lecture held on a chilly winter's day almost 50 years ago.  The lecturer, a pleasant and elderly gentleman, turned to "Delegated Legislation."  Here was a topic guaranteed to make even the brightest of young eyes glaze over or, as some did, skip the lecture and head for the bar!

The little we needed to learn about Delegated Legislation in order to pass the subsequent constitutional law examination could have been written easily on a single side of Foolscap Folio paper and copied using a Gestetner machine.  Acts of Parliament quite often granted powers to Ministers to legislate.  These "delegated powers" left it to Ministers to do lots of seemingly harmless things such as to decide when sections of the Act came into force and fill in the extensive detail needed to implement the Act.  Occasionally,

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Grenfell Tower ~ Panel and Assessors

The Grenfell Tower Fire Inquiry Chairman wrote to the Prime Minister on 10th August regarding the Inquiry Terms of Reference.  His letter referred to appointment of assessors - (Letter to PM).  Sir Martin wrote - " ... I think is is likely that I shall wish to appoint a diverse group of people whose experience extends to the occupation and management of social housing and the administration of local government more generally, as well as to matters of a more scientific nature.  At a later stage I may also wish to appoint others to assist on particular aspects of the investigation."

The Inquiries Act 2005: