Monday, 1 June 2020

Amended "lockdown" Regulations ~ in force 1 June 2020


'Lockdown' - Bournemouth 31 May
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Regulations) 2020 - (the "lockdown" Regulations) - have been amended for the third time. The latest amendment is in force from 1 June 2020.

The amended Regulations reflect the government's view that it is safe to ease the restrictions further. This view is not universally held - for example, see BBC News 30 May and Financial Times 30 May 2020. Concern also exists because of the numbers of people who went to beaches and beauty spots - (see picture of Bournemouth beach).

The lockdown Regulations are different across the four nations of the UK. Links to the legislation are set out at the end of this post.

Under the amended English Regulations, the "emergency period" is still in force. There is an entirely  new Regulation 6 (Restrictions on Movement) and Regulation 7 (Restrictions on Gatherings). Schedule 2 (Businesses subject to Restrictions or Closure) is amended.

Throughout the pandemic the government has issued guidance on COVID-19. The guidance is updated as the government considers necessary and it is advisable to check for the updates.

NHS Information and advice about coronavirus is available at NHS.UK/Coronavirus

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Legal challenge to the "lockdown" regulations

Businessman Mr Simon Dolan has issued proceedings for a judicial review of the "lockdown" regulations in England. Separate regulations apply to Wales, Scotland and to Northern Ireland - (previous post for links).

Details of the review may be seen at Crowdjustice

The claimant argues that - the Regulations are "... of the most far reaching kind and impact directly on every person resident in England.  They impose extraordinary restrictions that are subject to minimal Parliamentary scrutiny and it is of the highest public interest that the Court is able to determine whether they were imposed lawfully ..."

The government argues that the Regulations

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

A look at the Cummings story - 2

Barnard Castle
Post updated 28 May 2020

This previous post looked at the Dominic Cummings situation on the basis of what was in the public domain on the morning of 25 May.  The post looked at the law and the guidance as they stood in late March and early April when Mr Cummings, together with his wife and son, travelled from their London home to his father's farm in County Durham.

The question in law was whether, at the time he left the London home, Mr Cummings had a reasonable excuse to do so.

The guidance required people to stay at home if anyone in the household had symptoms of coronavirus but, if living with children, the guidance added that they had to do their best to follow the guidance.

Statement 25 May:

On the afternoon of 25 May, at the request of the Prime Minister, Mr Cummings

Monday, 25 May 2020

A look at the Cummings story - 1

Dominic Cummings is described by Wikipedia as a British political strategist who was appointed a senior adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July 2019.

From 2007 to 2014, he was a Special Adviser to Michael Gove MP including the time that Gove served as Secretary of State for Education.

From 2015 to 2016, Cummings was Director of

Coronavirus Log Part 3 - (from 25 May)

This post is a continuation of the Coronavirus Log.  See Coronavirus Log Part 1 - (December 2019 to 28 April 2020) and Part 2 (29 April 2020 to 24 May 2020).

No 10 Downing Street data for 24 May showed 36,793 deaths from coronavirus confiemd with a positive test. The data slide notes - "Weekly registered deaths from the Office for National Statistics include cases where COVID-19 is mentioned on the death certificate but was not confirmed with a test. On 8th May, ONS reported 41,020 cumulative registered deaths from COVID-19. This was 9,779 more than the DHSC figure for the same date."

Saturday, 23 May 2020

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 was not used. Why?

Some States have provisions in their national law for declaring emergencies. See, for example, the Declaration by the President Trump of the USA of 13 March 2020.  Such declarations of emergency can trigger special powers such as powers to maintain public order and safety, to requisition and take possession of property, limit traffic and transport, place restrictions on financial transactions etc. The exact impact of such declarations of emergency varies from nation to nation.  The UK relies on existing legal powers (mostly in legislation) but will, if necessary, enact specific legislation to cope with a serious event. The UK's Civil Contingencies Act 2004 is a major piece of legislation designed for emergency events but has not been used in the coronavirus pandemic. 

Civil Contingencies Act:

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 Part 2 - (CCA) - confers

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Lord Sumption ~ the lockdown should be "entirely voluntary"

The NHS belongs to the people. It is there to improve our health and wellbeing, supporting us to keep mentally and physically well, to get better when we are ill and, when we cannot fully recover, to stay as well as we can to the end of our lives - NHS Constitution for England

The Sunday Times 17 May 2020 (£) published an article by Lord Sumption - a former Justice of the UK Supreme Court with the heading "Set us free from lockdown, ministers, and stop covering your backs."  He also gave a TV Interview - HERE - in which he advocated that the lockdown should become entirely voluntary. "It is up to us, not the State, to decide what risks we are going to take with our own bodies."

Lord Sumption's view:

Sumption states that - "The lockdown was originally

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Coronavirus: concern as restrictions partially eased in England

"Lockdown" changes:

Most European nations are relaxing coronavirus restrictions - e.g. Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal.  The exact situation varies from country to country and the success at containing the virus has varied immensely across Europe and beyond - e.g. Australia, New Zealand.

In the UK, the number of deaths from coronavirus continues to be high.  The No 10 Downing Street briefing for Friday 15 May reported total deaths at 33,998 confirmed with a positive test. The figures for Saturday 9 May stood at 31,241 - a rise of 626 in 24 hours.
 
Whatever the position in other

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Further amendments to the "Lockdown" Regulations for England

NOTE: From 1 June 2020 further amendments have been made. This post is retained for historical purposes.

12th May - The The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 - SI 2020/350- have been amended for the second time.

The first amendment - (discussed in this previous post) - was The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 - SI 2020/447 - and came into force on 22 April 2020.

The second amendment is the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 - SI 2020/500 - and came into force on 13 May 2020

The emergency procedure

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Coronavirus ~ international lessons?

China:

The People's Republic of China (PRC) is a nation of some 1.4 billion people. Governed by a communist regime, it has enormous economic and military strength and is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. As noted by Chatham House (October 2019) the People’s Republic of China represents, for the UK, a mutually beneficial source of economic and trade potential in a post-Brexit world. London and Beijing already have a well-established relationship in areas such as finance, telecommunications and higher education. In January 2020, the British government controversially awarded Huawei a limited stake in the UK's 5G development but, in the light of coronavirus, the government has drawn up plans to reduce the Chinese company’s involvement to zero by 2023 - The Guardian 22 May.

Coronavirus - uncertainty regarding its origin:

In late 2019, coronavirus

Friday, 1 May 2020

Gordon Park (deceased) v R - The Lady in the Lake case

Coniston Water
The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) - Dame Victoria Sharp P, Sweeney and May JJ - has given a detailed and lengthy judgment in the Gordon Park (Lady in the Lake) case - Gordon Park (Deceased) v R [2020] EWCA Crim 589. The case was discussed in this previous post 27 October 2018.

Basic background:

As reported by The Guardian 1 May 2020, Carol Park, a teacher, went missing in Leece, near Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, in July 1976, and Park claimed she had gone to live with another man. Amateur divers found her body in Coniston Water in 1997.


Gordon Park was arrested and charged with her murder, and spent two weeks in prison on remand, but the case against him was dropped in 1998 on the grounds there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

Detectives later uncovered fresh forensic and geological evidence said to link him to the crime and he was found guilty at Manchester crown court in 2005. 

The court of appeal dismissed

Thursday, 30 April 2020

PPE ~ Chief Coroner's Guidance No.37


In this previous post (Friday 24 April) it was noted that the Coronavirus Act 2020 s. 30 enabled Coroners to hold inquests without a jury in cases where the Coroner has reason to suspect that the death was caused by COVID-19.

In practice, inquests will not be required for the majority of deaths arising from COVID-19. The situations in which a Coroner must be informed of a death are set out in The Notification of Deaths Regulations 2019 and Regulation 3(1)(a)(ix) requires a medical practitioner to notify the Coroner where the practitioner suspects that the death was due to an an injury or disease attributable to any employment held during the person’s lifetime.

It follows that

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Coronavirus Log Part 2 - (from 29 April)


This post is a continuation of the Coronavirus Log.  See Coronavirus Log Part 1 - (December 2019 to 28 April 2020).


29 April - Worldometers - Coronanvirus - UK - reported that UK deaths had reached 21,678 (not including care homes and in the community)

ONS information up to 17 April -  Up to 17 April, there were 19,112 deaths registered in England and Wales involving COVID-19 (11,405 men and 7,707 women). The majority of deaths involving COVID-19 have been among people aged 65 years and over (16,690 out of 19,112), with 41% (6,899) of these occurring in the over-85 age group.

High Consequence Infectious Diseases:

On 22 October 2018 the UK government published

Friday, 24 April 2020

The impact of coronavirus on courts and legal matters

Supreme Court:

In July 2019 it was announced by the Prime Minister's Office that Lord Reed would take up the position of President on 11 January 2020. Thereafter, Lord Justice Hamblen, Lord Justice Leggatt and Professor Andrew Burrows would join the Supreme Court as justices on 13 January, 21 April and 2 June 2020 respectively. The swearing in of Lord Justice Leggatt duly took place on 21 April 2020 but, because of coronavirus, the ceremony was held in the court's library.

Arrangements for the continuation of the court's business were announced on 30 March.

Judiciary and courts:

A library worth of guidance for

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Very important - Coronavirus "Lockdown" regulations amended from 11 am

UPDATE 13 May - additional Regulations came into force on 13 May. This post is retained on the blog as part of the history.

Amendment to Regulations:

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 - (discussed in this previous post) - have been amended by The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020

The amendments apply from 1100 hrs on 22 April and apply to England. The following is from the Explanatory Memorandum:


The instrument makes a number of changes to the Restrictions Regulations to clarify and better enable the public health measures in those Regulations to

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Foreign Affairs Committee ~ 21 April 2020

The provision of equipment to personnel involved in the treatment of coronavirus patients has become a key issue in the government's response to the pandemic. Equipment (e.g. ventilators) is required for the treatment of patients in Intensive Care Units. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is needed for medical staff and others involved in the care of patients.

The European Commission has published information about procurement of  Personal protective equipment – masks, gloves, goggles, face-shields, and overalls – as well as medical ventilators and testing kits

Parliament - Joint Human Rights Committee 20 April 2020

Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights met during the afternoon of Monday 20 April. The session took place "online" and the key witness was Mr Robert Buckland MP - Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.

The session -lasting about 3 hours - may be viewed at Parliamentlive.tv or, for a limited period, at BBC iPlayer.

The impact of coronavirus on the prison population (BBC News) and also on  jury trial in the Crown Court were discussed (Law Society Gazette) as well as civil liberty issues

Friday, 17 April 2020

Policing during the Coronavirus pandemic

In common with many nations, the UK is currently enduring a "lockdown" imposed by law on businesses, the freedom of movement of individuals, and "gatherings"  in a public place of more than two people. The relevant law is in The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 - (considered in this previous post).

On Thursday 16 April the government announced that the "lockdown" due to the coronavirus pandemic would continue for at least a further three weeks - The Guardian 16 April.  The announcement was made by Rt. Hon. Dominic Raab*

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Handling of coronavirus ~ "high hurdles" to legal actions

On 23 March, Scottish Legal News (SLN) published an item  with the headline - Legal action against UK government over handling of coronavirus pandemic faces 'high hurdles'

The same article was reported by Irish Legal News.

The article states - "The UK government’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic should be investigated after the emergency has abated but any legal action brought against it will face “high hurdles”, lawyers have told Scottish Legal News.

Boris Johnson’s government is widely believed

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Coronavirus Log Part 1 (December 2019 to 28 April 2020).


December 2019:

On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan City, China. A novel coronavirus was identified as the cause by Chinese authorities on 7 January 2020 and was temporarily named “2019-nCoV”.

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

See WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

There are questions about

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

A "virtual" court

Coronavirus has had an enormous impact on the delivery of justice all across the UK and further afield. It has been possible for some court hearings to be carried out using technology such as ZOOM.

Barristers at 9 St John Street, Manchester have produced a a short film demonstrating the use of remote technology to undertake a mock fast track road traffic liability trial.

"The film has been produced using Zoom but the same exercise was also conducted using Microsoft Teams, which was considered to be just as effective. Both facilitate the screen sharing of documents, such as the trial bundle, and enable the parties to assist the Court with online tools such as Google Earth.

This mock trial is short as it is intended to be illustrative only, but

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

A "virtual" Parliament

In Bobb v Manning [2006] UKPC 22, Lord Bingham said that "the conduct of government by a Prime Minister and Cabinet collectively responsible and accountable to Parliament lies at the heart of Westminster democracy."  Parliamentary accountability requires the executive to report, explain and defend its actions and protects citizens from the arbitrary exercise of executive power.

Currently Parliament is in recess until 21 April. It is not shutdown.  Prior to the recess Parliament continued sitting long enough

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Coronavirus Act 2020 ~ police power ~ potentially infectious persons

Addition: 3 April 2020 - College of Policing Guidance on the Coronavirus Act 2020

Powers relating to potentially infectious persons.

Coronavirus Act 2020 Schedule 21. Part 1 of the Schedule is headed "Overview and Interpretation". Part 2 provides for "Powers relating to potentially infectious persons in England."  Parts 3, 4 and 5 provide similar powers for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland respectively.

The Schedule gives powers to public health officers, constables and immigration officers. The powers are exercisable in respect of  persons who are “potentially infectious.”

This post is a brief look at the police powers to direct or remove persons to a place suitable for screening and assessment - Part 2 paragraph 7 of the Schedule.

Preliminary:

Part 1 of the Schedule defines various terms used in the Schedule including a definition of who is considered to be "potentially infectious." "Public Health Officer" is defined in paragraph 3(2).

Paragraph 2 of the Schedule states

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Coronavirus ~ Guidance, Law, Policing, Lord Sumption

Prime Minister 23 March:

On Monday 23 March, the Prime Minister in his broadcast to the nation spoke of the need to "halt the growth of this virus" and pointed out that "if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it - meaning more people are likely to die, not just from Coronavirus but from other illnesses as well."

Mr Johnson then went on to "give the British people a very simple instruction" to stay at home. He amplified this "instruction" and then indicated that the Police were to be given powers of enforcement.

The law:

The powers arrived

Friday, 27 March 2020

Coronavirus Act 2020 - Overview


Addition: 3 April 2020 - College of Policing Guidance on the Coronavirus Act 2020

On 25 March 2020 the Coronavirus Bill received Royal Assent and became the Coronavirus Act 2020. It is a highly complex and multifaceted Act of 102 sections and 29 Schedules which passed all its parliamentary stages in just 4 days.

Details relating to the Bill as it passed through Parliament are available at Bill documents - Coronavirus Act 2020.  The government issued Explanatory Notes when the Bill was introduced into the House of Commons and also when the Bill went to the House of Lords.

Aims:

The Act has 3 main aims

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Overview ~ The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020

Lockdown - before - after
*** UPDATE 22 APRIL - the Regulations discussed in this post were amended from 1100 hrs on 22 April.  See this latest post for details. the amending legislation is The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020

Original post:

This post considers the latest Health Protection regulations made for England. (Separate Regulations will apply in other parts of the UK).The letter of the law is in the Regulations BUT we can all do much more to fight the virus. Please do not take risks with the health of yourself, your loved ones, and others in the community.

Please see the Links at the end of this blogpost for updates and further discussion.

The Regulations:

The government has used powers under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 (the 1984 Act) to make The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020

Without any doubt, these Regulations are the most draconian restrictions imposed by a democratically elected government in the long history of our nation, including during the two world wars of the 20th century. They entail closure of businesses, restrictions on movement, and restrictions on gatherings of people.  The Regulations are detailed and, in places, complex.

The making of the Regulations was foreshadowed by

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Coronavirus - business contracts

Theatres etc closed
Thousands of businesses enter into contracts on a daily basis. The complexity of such contracts varies enormously.

They can be straightforward deals for A to supply B with goods or a service for which B will pay the agreed price.  Such contracts may be no more than a verbal agreement that A will supply B and that B will pay. Other contracts may arise under a set of standard terms - often set out in a standard form.

Of course, many business contracts are complex and involve huge sums of money and the parties, often with the help of lawyers, will have a written contract attempting to address numerous possibilities including events beyond the control of the parties to the contract.

Government:

On Monday 16 March, the government

Monday, 16 March 2020

Coronavirus and the value of human rights

I will do whatever it takes to save them – and I mean whatever it takes" - Jack Bauer

The talk is of greater Emergency Powers being granted to government to enable it to cope with the Coronavirus pandemic.

Let's make no mistake about the dangers of this virus. It is extremely serious and many deaths have already resulted from infection. There are no easy answers.

The instinct is therefore to say - Let the government have all the powers it says that it requires.

There may also be the idea

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Lockerbie case referred to Scotland's High Court of Justiciary

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the case of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi to the High Court of Justiciary - see News Release 11 March 2020 Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi Referral and The Lockerbie Case blog.  Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi died in 2012 but was the man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie Bombing.

The SCCRC believes that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred in Mr Megrahi’s case by reason of two out of 6 grounds considered by the Commission

Friday, 6 March 2020

A Sentencing Code

There is no doubt that, in some instances, sentencing is a difficult matter and the complexity is increased by the accumulation of statutory provisions.  The Law Commission has commented - "The current law of sentencing is inefficient and lacks transparency. The law is incredibly complex and difficult to understand even for experienced judges and lawyers."  For example, consider the complexities of "extended sentences" which arose in in the Usman Khan case - previous post 2 December 2019.  Simplification of sentencing is therefore to be welcomed.

The Law Commission's Sentencing Code Project aims to create a single statute which contains all of the law on sentencing procedure - Law Commission November 2018

The government is taking a Bill through Parliament to prepare the ground for the subsequent enactment of such a Code.

The single "Sentencing Code” will have a "clear and logical structure" making the law "more accessible for the public, the judiciary and practitioners."

The Code will be

House of Lords Constitution Committee 4 March 2020

On Wednesday 4 March, the House of Lords Constitution Committee held its annual evidence session with the President and Deputy President of the Supreme Court.

The session may be viewed at Parliament Parliament.tv

A summary of the session is at Law Society Gazette 4 March 2020 - Lord Reed denies judicial over-reach

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Julian Assange extradition hearing - 24 to 27 February


Crown Court - Woolwich
Background:

On 11 April 2019, Mr Julian Assange (founder of Wikileaks) was arrested for failure to surrender to bail - previous post 15 April 2019.  The arrest took place at the Ecuadorean Embassy where Assange had been for 7 years. The arrest was for failure to surrender to bail contrary to the Bail Act 1976 s6(1).

Shortly after the Bail Act arrest he was also arrested

Friday, 28 February 2020

EU and UK - Future Relationship negotiations

Second round of talks - April 2020:

1 May 2020 - The Guardian reported about the on-going negotiations and see New European 30 April regarding EU preparations for "no deal" at the end of 2020.

25 April - The Guardian 24 April reported that M Barnier suggested that the UK is running down the clock in talks over the future trade and security relationship with the EU. A further report in The Guardian noted that Barnier’s opposite number, David Frost, opened the first plenary session by “reiterating the government wish not to extend the transition period and that the job could be done by the end of the year." Some observers said the UK government’s position that an extension is not necessary was astonishing given the depth of the coronavirus crisis.

Further information of "Forging a new partnership" is available at the EU Commission website

European Commission Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier held a closing press conference on Friday, 24 April. Watch the press conference. Read the introductory remarks of Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier.

18 April - UK government continuing to refuse to extend the transition period - Brexit blog (Professor Chris Grey)

14 April - Financial Times - Brexit negotiators try to pick up pieces as talks resume

First round of talks:

7 April 2020 - House of Commons Library - What is happening in the UK-EU future relationship negotiations? 

18 March - EU Commission - Draft text of the Agreement on the New Partnership with the UK

UK Government 27 February - Our approach to the future relationship with the EU

Hansard 27 February - Statement in the House of Commons

European Council 25 February - Negotiating Guidelines approved

EU Commission - UK Taskforce 

Agreements and Political Declaration:

Thursday, 27 February 2020

London (Heathrow) Airport - Runway 3

View from Heathrow Control Tower
"We have not decided, and could not decide, that there will be no third runway at Heathrow" - Court of Appeal

"The statutory regime for the formulation of a national policy statement, which Parliament put in place in the Planning Act, was not fully complied with."

London (Heathrow) Airport:

In 2018, London (Heathrow) Airport was ranked 7th busiest in the world in terms of passenger numbers. Facts and figures about this two runway airport are

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

News Roundup - 25 February


Updated 27 February

Terrorism:

The Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill passed all its House of Lords stages on Monday 24 February. The debates may be read via Hansard.

The Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law published a number of reports about the Bill. Their "Rule of Law Analysis" is of particular interest

House of Lords Constitution Committee 3rd Report of Session 2019-21.

House of Lords reform:

Lords reform is back

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Suella Braverman MP - Attorney General

"Parliament’s legitimacy is unrivalled and the reason why we must take back control, not just from the EU, but from the judiciary" - Suella Braverman 27 January 2020

The Prime Minister rehsuffled Ministerial appointments on Thursday 13 February. The Attorney General - Geoffrey Cox QC MP - left the government and was replaced by Suella Braverman MP.

Her appointment was far from welcome in some quarters. Secret Barrister tweeted - "If this rumour is true, it is up there with Truss as the greatest subservience-to-talent ratio in legal history." 

Let's take a closer look ...

Secretary of State for Justice / Lord Chancellor:

At this point, a brief digression is required

Friday, 14 February 2020

Cummings "furious" that the court prevented deportations

Simler LJ
Mr Dominic Cummings is a political strategist and chief special adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. His degree of "backstage" influence appears to be considerable.

It is reported that Cummings is "furious" that the Court of Appeal issued an order to prevent a deportation flight taking place - ITV News 11 February 2020. The article further reports that Cummings described the Court of Appeal's order is “a perfect symbol of the British state’s dysfunction.” He added that there must be “urgent action on the farce that judicial review has become.”

I have commented previously about the obvious risks

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill

Updated 19 February

The Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill is now before Parliament.  The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that terrorist offenders are not automatically released before the end of their custodial term without agreement of the Parole Board.  

The provisions in the Bill change the release point for offenders who have committed a relevant terrorism offence and refer those offenders to the Parole Board at the two-thirds point of the sentence. The changes will apply

Saturday, 1 February 2020

10 years

14 January 2020 marked the 10th anniversary of this blog. 

With Brexit achieved on 31 January, the government will now engage in trade and other negotiations with the EU. Those are beyond the scope of this blog and will, I am sure, be covered adequately elsewhere - e.g. EU Law Analysis (Professor Steve Peers), Brexit Blog (Monckton Chambers), UK Trade Policy Observatory (University of Sussex), and The UK in a Changing Europe. Also, Department for International Trade.

Apart from the impact of Brexit, many other issues face the new government - see House of Commons Library Insights for the new Parliament.

Of particular concern

Reflections on Exit Day

After a membership lasting 47 years 30 days and 23 hours, the UK left the European Union at 2300 hrs GMT on 31 January 2020 - BBC News, The Telegraph, The Guardian.  It is well over three years since the 2016 referendum and it is not entirely clear that Brexit continues to be the wish of a majority of people in the UK - BBC 31 January - but the "first past the post" 2019 General Election resulted in a government with a strong majority and elected on a manifesto to "Get Brexit Done." The impact of first past the post on the election outcome is discussed at The Guardian 18 December 2019.

The Withdrawal Agreement is in place for the remainder of the year 2020. This will either smooth the way to a future negotiated relationship with the EU or, alternatively, present a no-deal (or minimal deal) situation from 2021.

Leaving the EU is a break from a body with a membership of 27 States and with a population of around 513 million people.  On 2018 figures, the EU has a gross domestic product (GDP) exceeding $18,000 billion and numerous

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Brexit ~ Signed and sealed

On Wednesday 29 January 2020, Sir Tim Barrow, the United Kingdom's Permanent Representative to the European Union presented to the European Council the Instrument of Ratification for the Withdrawal Agreement. This was the final step by which the UK indicated consent to be bound by the Agreement which is a treaty in international law.

The European Parliament gave its approval to the Withdrawal Agreement - 621 votes in favour, 49 against, 13 abstentions - Brexit deal approved by the European Parliament.


The European Council decided

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Longer time in custody for some prisoners

From 1 April 2020, a two-thirds rule will apply to certain prisoners - Government 22 January 2020 - Serious violent and sexual offenders to spend longer in prison

Orders have been approved by both Houses of Parliament to alter the law about the release of certain prisoners and to require them to serve longer in prison. The Orders are silent about rehabilitation of prisoners and the work to be done with them whilst they are serving their sentences.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

67 Years since Derek Bentley's execution

28 January 1953 - Wandsworth
" ... In our judgment the summing up in this case was such as to deny the appellant that fair trial which is the birthright of every British citizen' - R v Derek William Bentley (deceased) [1998] EWCA Crim 2516 - (Lord Bingham LCJ, Kennedy LJ and Collins J).

67 years ago today, at Wandsworth Prison, Derek Bentley was hanged for the murder, on 2 November 1952, of Police Constable Sidney Miles. My post of 26 January 2013 looked at the case and the posthumous appeal (quashing Bentley's conviction).

The morbid website

Friday, 24 January 2020

Brexit - the final throes

With just over a week remaining of the UK's EU membership, the Brexit process is entering its final throes. Brexit will have been achieved but little else given that the future (post-2020) relationship of the UK with the EU has yet to be negotiated.

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 has been enacted. Royal Assent was given on 23 January. The Act gives legal effect to the Withdrawal Agreement within the domestic legal systems of the UK.  The Withdrawal Agreement itself has been signed.

The UK leaves the EU by operation

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

EU Withdrawal Bill ~ Legislative consent refused

National Assembly for Wales
The Scotland Act 1998 section 28(7) confirms that the Parliament of the United Kingdom retains power to make laws for Scotland. There is similar provision in the Government of Wales Act 2006 s.107(5) and in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 section 5(6)

An important constitutional question is when will Westminster exercise its power to legislate in relation to areas of devolved powers.

This question has assumed importance

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Scotland - a note on Johnson's rejection of Sturgeon's request


Scottish Parliament
Brexit, unwanted by Scotland, is one reason why the Scottish National Party (SNP) is riding high in terms of election results regardless of consideration of their actual track-record in government.  In the 2019 general election, the party obtained 48 of the 59 Scottish seats at Westminster and currently appears to be on course for an outright win in the Scottish Parliamentary election to be held in 2021.

Scotland’s First Minister

Monday, 13 January 2020

Northern Ireland January 2020

On Saturday 11 January, the Northern Ireland Assembly met at Stormont, Belfast. Apart from a brief (48 minutes) plenary sitting on 21 October 2019 (Video), the Assembly had not sat since 13 March 2017.

The Assembly was created by the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Elections were held on 25 June 1998 and the Assembly first sat on 1 July 1998 but existed in "shadow" form until 2 December 1999 when full powers were devolved. Since then the Assembly has operated intermittently and has been suspended on five occasions - (for details see Wikipedia).

The 2017 breakdown

Friday, 10 January 2020

Brexit ~ Events week beginning 6 January

The House of Commons returned after the Christmas / New Year recess and dealt with the Committee and Third Stages of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - (see previous post).

Attempts to amend the Bill failed - see Parliament 7 January - Brexit Bill enters Committee Stage.  On 9 January, the unamended Bill passed its Third Reading (330 votes to 231) and will next be considered by the House of Lords - see Parliament - Lords debates the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) BillConsideration of  amendments is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 22 January. Royal Assent will follow and the way will then be clear for the UK government to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement. The European Parliament is scheduled to deal with ratification on 29 January. Once the Agreement is ratified by both the UK and the EU it will become a treaty binding in international law.

The House of Lords EU Select Committee

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Queen's Speech ~ Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission

It is to be hoped that we are not about to witness the "topping out" ceremony in the construction of the elective dictatorship .....

The Queen's Speech included creation of a "Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission" (CDRC). Work will also be taken forward to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.  The Speech may be read via the No 10 Downing Street website and is accompanied by Briefing Notes (151 pages pdf). Both proposals were included in the Conservative Party's general election manifesto (previous post).  Unlike the proposal

Thursday, 2 January 2020

2020 - Criminal Justice - a Royal Commission?

The first nation to mark the New Year was the Republic of Kiribati located in the Pacific Ocean. The last place, also in the Pacific Ocean, was American Samoa.  The International Date Line divides the two places. 2020 will be the year of transition from full UK membership of the EU to whatever new arrangements are put in place for 2021 onwards.  Parliament will be a busy place as the government's programme, set out in the Queen's Speech, is rolled out.

The Speech may be read via the No 10 Downing Street website and is accompanied by Briefing Notes (151 pages pdf). This post looks briefly at the immediate task facing Parliament in January and then considers the proposal in the Queen's Speech to set up a Royal Commission related to criminal justice.

Parliament resumes sitting