Friday, 20 July 2018

Brexit negotiations - Preparing for No Deal - Reaction to White Paper

19 July:

The EU Commission, in a Press Release 19 July,  has adopted a Communication outlining the ongoing work on the preparation for all outcomes of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union.  The Press Release states -

On 30 March 2019, the United Kingdom will leave the EU and become a third country. This will have repercussions for citizens, businesses and administrations in both the United Kingdom and the EU. These repercussions range from new controls at the EU's outer border with the UK, to the validity of UK-issued licences, certificates and authorisations and to different rules for data transfers.

Today's text calls on Member States and private parties to step up preparations and follows a request by the European Council (Article 50) last month to intensify preparedness at all levels and for all outcomes.

Preparing for the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU

The Commission has also issued Brexit Preparedness Notices addressing numerous sectors.

20 July:

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Brexit and Civil Aviation ~ Irish Taoiseach issues warning

Mr Leo Varadkar is the Taoiseach of Ireland.  Speaking after a cabinet meeting in Derrynane House, Co Kerry, Leo Varadkar claimed Ireland’s airspace may be out of bounds for UK jets if they go down the route of a hard Brexit and ban the EU from fishing in their waters - News Letter 18 July.  This statement was condemned as "shameful blackmail" by Mr David Bannerman MEP  (Conservative) but perhaps we should not be too quick to condemn.

We have been here before - Law and Lawyers January 2018 - What if no deal? EU Commission Notice - Air Transport and see the Air Transport Notice 11th December 2017.  The only sensible conclusion is that "no deal Brexit" poses a massive threat to civil aviation as made clear by the British Airline Pilots Association in October 2017.

See also  Brexit Preparedness Notices addressing numerous sectors including Air Transport and Aviation Safety.

See also Aviation Law Review September 2017 and Getting the Deal Through - Air Transport EU - October 2017

UK Government proposals:

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Two further Brexit-related Bills - Customs/Taxation - Trade

This post looks at two important Brexit-related Bills: the Taxation (Cross-Border) Trade Bill 2017-19 and the Trade Bill 2017-19.

Taxation (Cross-Border) Trade Bill:

Sometimes referred to as "the Customs Bill", the government's Taxation (Cross-Border) Trade Bill 2017-19 allows the creation of a functioning and independent customs, VAT and excise regime after Brexit.  It is a Bill to -

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Electoral Commission - Vote Leave and others

Vote Leave Limited was a designated lead campaigner in the 2016 EU Referendum campaign.

The Electoral Commission has published the conclusions of its investigation into Vote Leave’s EU referendum spending.  The Commission found significant evidence of undeclared joint working between the lead leave campaigner, Vote Leave, and the campaign group BeLeave.  The report (pdf) may be read via -

Monday, 16 July 2018

Brexit ~ MPs like rats in a sack ~ A further referendum?

Justine Greening MP - (Wikipedia) - has argued that a second referendum on EU membership is required in order to break the gridlock in Parliament - The Independent 16 July.  Greening, who held the Putney seat by 1554 votes in the 2017 election, branded Theresa May's Brexit plan the "worst of both worlds."

Let's see if Greening's idea is workable ....

Under the Article 50 Notification, the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 - only 257 days from now.

UK-EU Future Relationship - the UK Proposals July 2018 - Number (3)

This is the third and final post looking at the government's Policy White Paper - The future relationship between the UK and the EU.   Previous posts are 12 JulyInstitutional Arrangements and 14 July - Economic Partnership.   The White Paper Chapter 2 contains proposals relating to a post-Brexit Security Partnership and Chapter 3 is entitled - "Cross-cutting and other cooperation."

Saturday, 14 July 2018

UK-EU Future Relationship - the UK Proposals July 2018 - Number (2)

The Previous post 12 July considered the important Institutional Arrangements put forward by the UK in the government's Policy White Paper - The future relationship between the UK and the EU.  This post takes an overview of the proposals for an Economic partnership set out in Chapter 1. 

The long-awaited White Paper did not get off to an auspicious start in the House of Commons.  The debate on 12 July - see Hansard - was remarkable in that MPs had not been given copies of the Paper!

The White Paper is, in reality, the only proposal on the negotiating table and, as such, has to be examined seriously and not dismissed out of hand.

At the heart

Thursday, 12 July 2018

UK-EU Future Relationship - the UK Proposals July 2018 - Number (1)

The government has published its Policy White Paper - The future relationship between the UK and the EU.

Unless there is some major political development, Brexit takes place on 29 March 2019 and, at present, there is to be an implementation or transition period lasting until the end of 2020.

The paper is lengthy (104 pages) and lacks elegance.  "Cakeism" is a word used by some to describe the government's "cake and eat it" approach to Brexit and here we see a half-baked cake riddled with serious problems. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Brexit - post-Chequers

The stakes are high - the pace is fast - where are we with Brexit?

Friday 6 July - the Cabinet agreed a collective proposal for Brexit and there was a reassertion of the need for collective responsibility - Previous post 7 July.

On 8 July, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU (Mr David Davis MP) resigned from the government - see his letter of resignation and the Prime Minister's reply.  He has been replaced by Mr Dominic Raab MP and see his voting record.  The Foreign Secretary, Mr Boris Johnson MP, resigned on Monday 9 July - resignation letter and PM's reply.  He has been replaced by Mr Jeremy Hunt MP.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Brexit ~ Chequers talks 6 July ~ Cards on the table

Mr Donald Tusk - the President of the European Council - noted in his remarks at the end of the recent European Council meeting that - "On Brexit. The EU27 has taken note of what has been achieved so far. However, there is a great deal of work ahead, and the most difficult tasks are still unresolved. If we want to reach a deal in October we need quick progress. This is the last call to lay the cards on the table."

After an all day session at Chequers on Friday 6 July, the Cabinet agreed a "collective position" on the future relationship of the UK with the EU - BBC News 6 July.

A White Paper is to be published on 12 July.  Talks with the EU resume on Monday 16 July.

It is remarkable

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Tommy Robinson appeal ~ observations

Update 18 July - Mr Robinson' appeal was heard by the Lord Chief Justice (Lord Burnett) sitting with Mr Justice Turner and Mrs Justice McGowan.  In the event, the appeal seeks to have both the Canterbury and Leeds contempt findings quashed because of procedural errors.  The court reserved judgment and said it hoped to give its decision by the end of July.  A report on the day's proceedings is at The Independent 18 July.  The reporting restriction relating to trials at Leeds remains in force.

Update 12 July - The appeal by Tommy Robinson (Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon) will now be heard by the Court of Appeal next Wednesday, 18 July.  It appears that he is challenging his sentence (13 months in all) for contempt of court.  Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, will preside.


Mr Yaxley-Lennon - aka Tommy Robinson - remains in prison following his committal on 25th May for contempt of court - Previous post 1st June.  It was reported by supporters of Mr Robinson (HERE) that 10th July was set for an appeal against sentence to be heard but the date was cancelled because "the government's lawyers say they're not ready."  Unsurprisingly, that has been contrasted with the fact that Mr Robinson was arrested in Leeds and imprisoned within the space of around 5 hours.  I have not been able to find any official statement as to why the appeal date was cancelled.

The conduct:

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Out of the Shadows

The Law Society Gazette 2 July 2018 published an article by Rachel Rothwell - "Out of the Shadows."  The article notes the alarming number of recorded sexual offences against children under 16 - 43,522 offences in 2016-17 and goes on to consider a number of developments.  This post offers some additional material / links.

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is an area of abuse that

Sunday, 1 July 2018

European Council - June 2018

The European Council met in Brussels on Thursday / Friday 28 and 29 June.  This post looks primarily at the Brexit-related part of the council meeting.

Council Conclusions 28 June:

 The conclusions of 28 June are set out HERE under five principal headings: (I) Migration, (II) Security and Defence; (III) Jobs, growth and competitiveness, (IV) Innovation and Digital and (V) Other issues.  The main results are summarised HERE.  The Press Briefing may be viewed here.

On Monday 2nd July, the Prime Minister made a statement about the Council meeting - House of Commons Hansard 2nd July.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Grenfell Inquiry ~ Catching up

The fire:

On 14th June 2017 a fire ignited in 24-storey Grenfell Tower, Kensington, London.   Emergency services received the first report (999 call) of the fire at 00:54 BST.  The call related to a fire having broken out in Flat 16.   On receipt of the 999 call, fire engines were sent to the scene and the first arrived at 00:59 hrs.  During the earlier stage of the fire service response, the Incident Commander was Mr Michael Dowden.

The fire quickly spread through the building - see the images at BBC News 18 June 2018.   72 people died and many more were injured.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 ~ Overview

Royal Assent was given on 26th June and the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 is now on the statute book - Royal Assent is explained by Parliament HERE.

It is an Act to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and make other provision in connection with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.  Its progress through Parliament commenced on 13 July 2017 and is recorded HERE.  The Bill, as first introduced, is HERE.  The Act contains 25 sections and 9 Schedules.  This post is an overview of the Act.  Further articles and blogposts are inevitable and I will add links at the end of this post as and when they become available.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Geraldine Finucane's application for judicial review - Supreme Court

"The abiding impression of this period in Northern Ireland must be of an extremely dark and violent time in which a lawyer could so callously and tragically be murdered as a result of discharging his professional legal duties" - report by Sir Desmond de Silva QC December 2012.

On 26th and 27th June, the Supreme Court hears  Geraldine Finucane's application for Judicial Review.   The judgment under appeal is HERE.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Note on the Article 50 Challenge ~ High Court 12th June

Two years after the EU Referendum an interesting constitutional question lingers - How did the UK decide to leave the EU? 

Article 50.1 TEU  stipulates that - "Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements."  Then Art 50.2 - A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention.  Art 50 defines the leaving process in EU law and the structure is clear enough and logical - decision followed by notification of the decision.  Also, as far as the EU is concerned, how a Member State decides to leave is a matter for the "constitutional requirements" of that State.

It is not surprising

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Brexit - Two years on and the shambles continues

Two years after the EU referendum we continue to stumble onwards into the largely unknown world of post-Brexit.  Here is a woeful story of governmental incompetence.  The economic prognosis does not look good - see the analysis by the Centre for European Reform - What's the cost of Brexit so far?  - and the announcement by Airbus- and the views of BMW - BBC News 22nd June - and Siemens - Guardian 23rd June.  Complex issues regarding important sectors such as aviation remain to be solved and the almost intractable problem of the border between Ireland (in the EU) and Northern Ireland (out of the EU) has not yet achieved an agreed solution.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

EU (Withdrawal) Bill ~ update (2) - meaningful vote

Commons 20th June 2018
The previous post looked at the situation regarding the promised "meaningful vote" on either a Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the European Union as part of the Article 50 process or the failure to achieve such an agreement.  As part of the the "ping pong" process relating to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill the Lords amendments returned to the Commons on 20th June.

Few objective observers could conclude that the proceedings on 20th June were satisfactory.  They are described by Metro News 21st June - "UNWELL and heavily pregnant MPs had to endure three hours of parliamentary debate to save Theresa May’s Brexit Bill — in defiance of Commons convention.   A clearly ill Labour backbencher Naz Shah was helped into Westminster in a wheelchair clutching a sickbowl after spending the last three days in hospital.   Her party colleague, Laura Pidcock, who is heavily pregnant, was also there, as was Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson despite being past her due-date, and amid protests by other MPs."

But what happened regarding the Bill? 

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

EU (Withdrawal) Bill ~ update (1) - meaningful vote

The image shows the result of a House of Lords vote on 18th June 2018 on what can be called the "meaningful vote" amendment to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.  The vote took place during the "ping pong" process.

The government had said that Parliament would have a "meaningful vote" on whether to accept or reject any Withdrawal Agreement negotiated under the Article 50 process but, even in the slippery world of politics, there has perhaps never been as meaningless a phrase as "meaningful vote."  Just what did "meaningful" mean?   It appeared to mean a vote to either accept whatever was on offer or simply leave the EU without a deal.  Some in Parliament have tried to give the phrase a more definite meaning with a view to Parliament having a greater say in the event that there are serious problems in achieving a Withdrawal Agreement.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Reporting restrictions and the importance of open justice

Recently, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) was committed to prison for contempt of court in that he pleaded guilty to breaching a reporting restriction made in connection with a trial in the Crown Court sitting in Leeds.  The restriction was a "postponement order" made under Section 4(2) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981.  As defendants arrived for their trial, Mr Robinson broadcast via Facebook Live.  His broadcast lasted for over an hour.  This previous post looked at the basics of the law on contempt. 

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Upskirting ~ objection to a Private Members' Bill

The Voyeurism (Offences) Bill  is a Private Members' Bill aimed at the unpleasant and upsetting practice of "Upskirting" which typically involves offenders using a mobile phone to take a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks.

It appears from this announcement  that the bill is supported by the government but, on 15th June - (one of the Fridays set aside for Private Members' Bills) -it made no progress because it was blocked when Sir Christopher Chope MP (Conservative, Christchurch) objected - BBC News 15th June.  The Bill is now listed for 2nd Reading on 6th July.  

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

EU (Withdrawal) Bill - back to the Commons (2) - 12th and 13th June

On Tuesday 12th June and Wednesday 13th, the House of Commons considered House of Lords amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - the "ping pong" process.  The bill is intended to prepare domestic law for the UK's departure from the European Union - ("Brexit").   See previous post 12th June.

The list of amendments as put forward by the House of Lords is HERE.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

EU (Withdrawal) Bill - back to the Commons (1)

Under the terms of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the UK will leave the EU on 29th March 2019 - that is, two years after the Prime Minister exercised the power given to her by the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill returned to the House of Commons on Tuesday 12th June for consideration of amendments made to the bill during its time in the House of Lords - the "ping pong" process.  The bill is intended to prepare domestic law for the UK's departure from the European Union.  See Parliament 12th June - a useful link offering access to the entire progress of the bill.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Tommy Robinson protest highlights Judicial Independence

"The judiciary shall decide matters before them impartially, on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law, without any restrictions, improper influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interferences, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason."

The Judiciary of England and Wales has its own website.  It used to have .gov in the address (URL).  It is now

Although the change seems to be minor, it was made "to reflect the constitutionally independent position of the judiciary" and that is of massive importance to everyone. 

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Abortion and Northern Ireland ~ Supreme Court 7th June 2018

This morning the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the challenge from Northern Ireland to the law on abortion.  The proceedings were brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) which was created, and has the powers give to it by, the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (as amended).  The court held, by a majority of 4 to 3, that the NIHRC did not have the legal right (standing) under the 1998 Act to bring the proceedings.  For this reason the court could not give a legally binding ruling on the substantive questions of the incompatibility of abortion law in Northern Ireland.

Nevertheless, the court had heard argument relating to incompatibility with Convention Rights and the justices undertook a comprehensive examination of the subject and expressed opinion on it.  Technically the opinion is not binding - it is obiter dicta - but, on any view, it has to be taken immensely seriously by those with power to legislate on these matters.  The court's opinion was that:

By a majority of 5 to 2 - In cases of fatal foetal abnormality - the law was incompatible with Article 8

By a majority of 4 to 3 - the law was also incompatible with Article 8 in cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

A majority (4) would not have made a declaration that the law of Northern Ireland is incompatible with Article 3.  Two of the Justices would have made a declaration.  Lady Hale did not consider it necessary to decide this issue given her view on Article 8.

See the Court's Judgment and Summary.

For some discussion on this cse see Joshua Rozenberg at Law Society Gazette 18th June.

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

Hard on heels of the revised Counter-Terrorism strategy (CONTEST) - post of 5th June - comes the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2017-19.  First reading in the House of Commons was on 6th June.  It is a Bill to make provision in relation to terrorism; to make provision enabling persons at ports and borders to be questioned for national security and other related purposes; and for connected purposes.

Text of the Bill as introduced.    Policy BackgroundLegal Background - Fact sheets

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Breach of the Peace

Our earliest Anglo-Saxon laws had an -ill-defined notion of "the peace" which gradually extended to a general peace applicable to the whole land.  Underlying the idea of "the Peace" was the notion of calm and absence of wrongdoing.

The Justices of the Peace Act 1361 refers to "Keeping the Peace."  The Courts Act 2003 created a single "Commission of the Peace" for England and Wales.  Justices of the Peace (JP) are members of the community appointed to discharge the functions of the Magistrates' Courts and other duties given to them by law.  Those functions are also discharged by a cadre of professionally-qualified District Judges (Magistrates' Courts) and, occasionally, other judges.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

CONTEST - Counter-terrorism strategy 2018

Rt.Hon.Sajid David MP - Home Secretary
On 4th June, the Home Secretary announced a revised Counter-Terrorism Strategy - referred to as CONTEST.   The speech making the announcement is HERE.

The revised strategy replaces the previous CONTEST and supersedes the Prevent Strategy, both published in 2011.  It is an updated and strengthened strategy containing 4 strands - Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare. 

The strategy notes

Monday, 4 June 2018

Dispersal Orders ~ Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

Football Lads Alliance (FLA) was formed in 2017.  According to its website, FLA believes in making a safer environment and community for all of our children and grandchildren - In being inclusive and acceptable to all colours, creeds, faiths and religions - In holding our politicians accountable to bring about a change in anti-terrorist legislation in order to safeguard all communities now and in the future.  Marches have been held in London (October 2017) and Birmingham (March 2018).

A further event was held by FLA in Manchester on 19th May and a counter-demonstration, organised by "Stand Up to Racism" (SUTR), also took place and attracted a large body of people - Counterfire 22nd May.  SUTR comments - HERE - that FLA "claims to be against all extremism but in recent months it has had far right speakers on its platforms and promoted Islamophobic events such as an intimidating march by far right extremists against the East London mosque in Tower Hamlets."

Friday, 1 June 2018

Contempt of Court - Tommy Robinson

A common saying is "A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on."  This was illustrated recently by the Tommy Robinson case.  His case resulted in a vast amount of ill-informed comment and distortion of the truth which it is difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate.  Let's look at the situation.

Recently, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) was committed to prison for contempt of court and this resulted in enormous publicity for him personally and drew attention to the law of contempt.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Lord Reed ~ to succeed Lord Mance as Deputy President of the Supreme Court

Lord Reed will become Deputy President of the Supreme Court with effect from 6th June when Lord Mance, the existing Deputy, retires - No. 10 Downing Street 29th May and Supreme Court announcement.

Lord Reed became a Justice of The Supreme Court in February 2012.  After studying law at the universities of Edinburgh and Oxford, Lord Reed was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1983, where he undertook a wide range of civil work. He served as a senior judge in Scotland for 13 years, being appointed to the Outer House of the Court of Session in 1998 and promoted to the Inner House in January 2008. He has sat as an ad hoc judge of the European Court of Human Rights.  Lord Reed is one of the two Scottish Justices of The Supreme Court. 

Monday, 28 May 2018

Abortion ~ Referendum in Ireland ~ Northern Ireland

On 25th May 2018, a Referendum on the Regulation of the Termination of Pregnancy was held in Ireland - BBC News 27th May - The Guardian 26th May.

The referendum question was whether to accept an amendment to Article 40 of the Irish Constitution so that provision can be made in law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.  The Irish electorate voted by 1,429,981 votes to 723,632 in favour of amendment - i.e. 66.4% to 33.6% with a turnout of 64.13%.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Rendition ~ Will we ever know the full truth?

Earlier this month, the Attorney-General informed the House of Commons that litigation concerning alleged British involvement in extraordinary rendition had been finalised by agreement.  The claimants were Mr Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar.  The litigation was hard fought by the British government but, in early 2017,  the government lost its eventual appeal to the Supreme Court.  Even then, it took over a year – and with the help of mediation – to reach a finalisation of the litigation and that was without any admission of legal liability.  Mrs Belhaj was paid a sum of £500,000 and received an apology.  Mr Belhaj sought only an apology which he received.  This post looks at these lamentable events.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

GDPR comes on 25th May

GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 of the European Parliament and Council on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data.  The Regulation will be applicable as of May 25th, 2018 in all member states to harmonise data privacy laws across Europe.

The GDPR has direct effect across all EU member states and, as such, would apply in the UK without the need for additional legislation.   Nevertheless,

Monday, 21 May 2018

UK Supreme Court: Questions of Divorce and Civil Partnership

"Hypocrisy and lack of intellectual honesty which is so characteristic a feature of the current law ...." - Sir James Munby.

The appeal to the Supreme Court in Owens v Owens concerned a defended divorce petition.  See HERE for further details and links to video of the appeal hearings).

Defended divorce cases are nowadays relatively rare.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Contract ~ an interesting case

 English law of contract generally requires that the person seeking to enforce a contract has to have provided "consideration"  The requirement for consideration has been criticised but it remains a key element in the creation of most contracts.  The word "consideration" is a term of art and can be defined as - "An act or forbearance of one party, or the promise thereof, is the price for which the promise of the other is bought, and the promise thus given for value is enforceable" - Pollock on Contracts - approved by the House of Lords in - Dunlop v Selfridge [1915] AC 847. 

On 16th May the Supreme Court gave judgment in Rock Advertising Ltd v MWB Business Exchange Centres [2018] UKSC 24 - Lady Hale, Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs. Watch the court handing down judgment.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill passes the House of Lords

The Third Reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill took place on 16th May and the Bill, as amended, now returns to the House of Commons.

The Lords agreed further amendments, mostly of a technical nature, to the Bill.  One particularly notable amendment was to insert a new clause dealing with Maintenance of EU environmental principles and standards.  This will require the Secretary of State to take steps designed to ensure that the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU does not result in the removal or diminution of any rights, powers, liabilities, obligations, restrictions, remedies and procedures that contribute to the protection and improvement of the environment.  This amendment passed by 294 to 244.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Scotland refuses consent to EU (Withdrawal) Bill but Wales consents

On Tuesday 15th May, the Scottish Parliament refused (93 votes to 30) legislative consent to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill currently passing through the UK Parliament - Holyrood 15th May.  The Welsh Assembly gave its consent (46 votes to 9) - BBC 15th May.

The issue centres on how EU powers in devolved areas such as agriculture and fishing are repatriated to the UK.  The UK government has said the vast majority of such powers should go straight to the devolved institutions apart from some in 24 policy areas where they want to develop “common frameworks” across the UK.   The UK government has proposed that Westminster should temporarily have control over those 24 areas for a few years so that those frameworks can be developed.  The 24 areas include agriculture, fisheries, food labelling and public procurement.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Press regulation ~ Further inquiry?

Remember the Leveson Inquiry?  Its website was archived in 2014 - HERE.   The 4 Volume Report (29th November 2012) is HERE.

Eseentially, the Leveson Report recommended a system of self-regulation for the press underpinned by legislation.

The outcome of the events that followed was the creation - by Royal Charter - of the Press Recognition Panel (PRP) and the enactment of some sections in the Crime and Courts Act 2013 - notably section 40. Section 40 has not been brought into force.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Electoral Commission ~ Leave.EU Group Ltd

Leave.EU has been fined £70,000 by the Electoral Commission for breaches of electoral law during the 2016 EU referendum campaign.  The investigation concluded that Leave.EU incorrectly reported what it spent at the EU referendum. It exceeded its statutory spending limit (£700,000) and delivered incomplete and inaccurate spending and transaction returns.

Leave.EU is not a political party but it was a registered campaigner, though not the designated lead,  in the Referendum campaign.  The designated lead was Vote Leave.

The Commission found that:

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Lords amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill will soon complete its journey through the House of Lords.  At the time of writing there are 14 significant amendments and they have been tracked by the UCL Constitution Unit - see Numbers 16 to 29.  Another useful summary of the amendments may be also be read at Brexit Central.

For those who like statistics - see Government defeats in Lord since 1975.

From the outset, Brexit has been controversial (51.9% leave / 48.1% remain) and divisive (Scotland 62% remain, Northern Ireland 55.8% remain).  The House of Lords has a key role in the constitution - explained here (pdf) - but its very existence is likely to be called into question in some quarters - see discussion at The Week.  This is because the Lords have introduced what some politicians are portraying as anti-Brexit amendments.  An alternative view is that the Lords has now called upon the elected House to properly address certain vital issues involved in achieving Brexit.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Is Injustice piled upon injustice? New evidence cases and compensation.

Compensation (or the lack of it) for miscarriage of justice is again in the news.  Legal analysis begins with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Article 14(6)  which was made effective in English law by the Criminal Justice Act 1988 section 133 (as amended by the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 section 175 ).  The law gives a right to compensation for miscarriage of justice only in cases where a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that there has been a miscarriage of justice but even this compensation is very difficult to obtain.  This post looks at two such cases which are currently before the Supreme Court of the UK.

Victor Nealon served 17 years in prison for attempted rape.  He was released in 2014 after the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) quashed his conviction because fresh DNA evidence showed that someone else was the attacker.  (Judgment 28th March 2014).  Also, there were some serious questions about the identification evidence but the DNA evidence led the Court of Appeal to conclude that, although the prosecution case was not demolished (para 35), a jury might reasonably have reached a different verdict.

Sam Hallam was 17 at the time of his conviction for murder and was "detained at Her Majesty's pleasure".  He served 7 years and was released in 2012 when his conviction was quashed.  (Judgment 17th May 2012).   Identification evidence was at the heart of the case against Mr Hallam.  The appeal arose principally on the basis of fresh evidence - (see para 47).

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

EU Withdrawal Agreement ~ Parliament taking control

There has been much fuss and palaver over the House of Lords voting to amend the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.  The Lords are perfectly entitled to do so.  The House of Commons is also perfectly entitled to reverse any or all of the amendments.

Brief Background:

The UK will leave the European Union on 29th March 2019.  This is the effect of the notification given to the EU, in March 2017, under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Deciding not to sustain life - a note on the system in Texas, USA.

Cases such as Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans highlight to the general public the fact that, where caring parents and doctors disagree over appropriate treatment for a child, the judges of the Family Division of the High Court are the ones entrusted with making the decision about what is in the child's "best interests."   The "best interests" test has recently been described by the Supreme Court as the "gold standard" and the court commented that, in this type of case, the test "needs to apply to them without qualification."

These very difficult situations raise numerous legal and ethical questions.  This post takes a brief look at one alternative and controversial process for making such decisions although I do not advocate its adoption here.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Lay Magistrates at bay / The dire legal aid system

Cambridge Magistrates' Court
"Lay justice is a powerful expression of community participation in the regulation of society."

This week Criminal Law and Justice Weekly ceased publication.  For the last 182 years this "quiet" publication has recorded changes in the criminal justice arena.   It is noted for "quality" articles - e.g. Modern Slavery Act: Who bears the burden of proof? - and will be missed.

John Cooper QC commented about the closure by saying- "The final demise of CL and J is perhaps a salutary lesson for many of us. I will predict that in some years time, may be even sooner, practitioners will ask “why isn’t there a weekly publication devoted to crime and the criminal justice system?” And comparisons will be made with other legal disciplines who have their own titles. Well let me answer that question now, before you ask it...... “ you had one, and you lost it."

Interestingly, CL and J sprang from an earlier publication "Justice of the Peace." 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Alfie Evans ~ a profoundly sad and difficult situation

The courts are called upon to make difficult decisions touching on all aspects of our human existence but the most profoundly difficult decisions are in those tragic cases where a child is in hospital with an incurable condition. 

Alfie Evans was born on 9th May 2016 and is on venitlatory support at Alder Hey NHS Foundation Trust Hospital.  The Hospital Trust sought a declaration from the High Court that continuing the support was no longer in Alfie's best interests and that in the circumstances it is not lawful that such treatment continue.

Monday, 23 April 2018


In a House of Commons debate on the Immigration Bill held on 30th January 2014, Diane Abbott MP (Labour) said to the then Home Secretary (Theresa May MP):

" I accept the Home Secretary’s wish to clean up the system and discourage people from “playing” it - I deal with thousands of immigration cases every month - but has she given no thought to the effect that her measures that are designed to crack down on illegal immigrants could have on people who are British nationals, but appear as if they might be immigrants?"

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

In the face of Barbarism (2)

The previous post - In the face of Barbarism (1) - looked at the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the recent air strikes by the USA, UK and France.  The moral position is, to my mind, beyond doubt.  Action was needed to try to degrade the chemical weapon capability available to the Syrian government and, for the future, greater action is needed to resume the Geneva peace-process which was discontinued in December 2017.

The clarity of the moral position is not matched by international law.  The UN Charter requires collective action to deal with threats to peace rather than, as in the past, States deciding to "do their own thing" but a void exists in cases where a permanent member of the UN Security Council will not support proposed action.  Attempts to fill that void have led to States using alternative justifications for the use of force such as "humanitarian intervention."   This has been used by British governments on a number of occasions (e.g. Kosovo) but such alternative arguments are far from universally accepted.  This post looks at this further and then looks at the question of the role of Parliament regarding military action abroad by British Forces.