Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Covid ~ announcement of an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005

On 12 May 2021, the Prime Minister announced in a House of Commons statement that there is to be an inquiry relating to the Coronavirus Pandemic - Hansard 12 May 2021.

After referring to the tragic loss of life due to coronavrius (including over 127,000 deaths in the UK), the PM said - "... , the state has an obligation to examine its actions as rigorously and as candidly as possible and to learn every lesson for the future, which is why I have always said that, when the time is right, there should be a full and independent inquiry. I can confirm today that the Government will establish an independent public inquiry on a statutory basis, with full powers under the Inquiries Act 2005, including the ability to compel the production of all relevant materials and take oral evidence in public under oath."

In response to

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Queen's Speech 11 May 2021

HM The Queen has delivered the Queen's Speech at the State Opening of the new Parliamentary Session.

The text of the speech is HERE and Background Briefing Notes issued by the government.

BBC News 11 May 2021 - Queen's Speech 2021: Key points at-a-glance

The Guardian 11 May 2021 - What made it into the Queen's speech, and what was left out


Monday, 10 May 2021

Scottish Parliament Election 6 May 2021 ~ Scottish Independence Referendum

The Scottish Parliamentary election was held on 6 May. The Parliament comprises 73 constituency seats and 56 regional list seats – (previous post 29 March). The Scottish National Party (SNP) won 64 of those seats and is therefore just one seat short of an overall majority. The Conservative Party won 31 seats, Labour 22, Greens 8 and Liberal Democrats 4.  The new Alba Party under the leadership of former First Minister Alex Salmond failed to secure a seat.

One way of reading the result is

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Removal of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) - who pays?

The Grenfell Tower Fire Inquiry issued its Phase 1 report in October 2019 and confirmed what was perhaps obvious - "The principal reason why the flames spread so rapidly up, down and around the building was the presence of the aluminium composite material (ACM) rainscreen panels with polyethylene cores, which acted as a source of fuel." - (see Executive Summary of Phase 1 report at para 2.13).

Further, at para 33.6, the Executive summary noted that - "It is clear that the use of combustible materials in the external wall of Grenfell Tower, principally

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Parliament prorogued until 11 May 2021


Parliament is now prorogued until the State Opening on 11 May 2021. The prorogation marked the end of the 2019-21 Session - UK Parliament's working year comes to a close:2019-21 session ends.

The State Opening of Parliament will take place on Tuesday 11 May.

The State Opening of Parliament marks the formal start of the parliamentary year and the Queen's Speech sets out the government's agenda for the coming session, outlining proposed policies and legislation.

16 Bills received Royal Assent -

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) ratified by EU

The European Union (EU) Parliament has approved the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) of December 2020. The agreement has been applied provisionally since the end of the Brexit transition period. 

The EU Parliament notes in a Statement of Wednesday 28 April 2021 - "The consent decision was adopted by 660 votes for, five against and 32 abstentions, while the accompanying resolution, setting out Parliament’s evaluation of and expectations from the deal, passed by 578 votes, with 51 against and 68 abstentions. The vote took place on Tuesday (27 April), with results announced on Wednesday (28 April).

On 24 December 2020, EU and UK negotiators had agreed on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement establishing the terms for future EU-UK cooperation. ..."

An

Friday, 23 April 2021

Prosecutions brought by the Post Office ~ Shameful prosecution practice

The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) Holroyde LJ, Mr Justice Picken and Mrs Justice Farbey has handed down judgment in a reference by the Criminal Cases Review Commission - R v Hamilton and others v Post Office Ltd [2021] EWCA Crime 577.  A summary of the judgment is available.

The court heard the appeals of 42 former sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses (SPMs) who, between 2003 and 2013, were convicted of crimes of dishonesty. Their employers - Post Office Ltd - was also the prosecutor. This is an example of a private prosecution but, in this instance, brought by a public body. (The current ownership of Post Office Ltd is explained in this UK government document).

All

Thursday, 15 April 2021

On borders ~ a divided UK

"The course of the English-Welsh border in front of The Bridge Inn has changed little since it was first defined by an Anglo-Saxon king in the eighth century" -  How the pandemic resurrected ancient border - Atlas Obscura 2 April 2021.

Borders have been problematic throughout human history.

In Public International Law, the State is defined by three constituent elements: a population, a territory and a governmental organisation.  A territory obviously implies the existence of borders.

Borders between States are

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Sturgeon claims that UK government's reference to Supreme Court is "morally repugnant"

The Guardian 12 April - "Nicola Sturgeon (First Minister Scotland) has condemned the UK government’s decision to refer two bills passed by Holyrood unanimously to the supreme court as “morally repugnant” amid an outcry from MSPs." - The Guardian - Nicola Sturgeon blasts decision to refer Holyrood Bills to Supreme Court.

Does this claim withstand scrutiny? Here, I respectfully argue that it does not.  It is a technical question of legal competence.

What is Scotland wishing to do?

The Scottish Parliament is seeking to incorporate into Scots Law (a) the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and (b) the Council of Europe's European Charter of Local Self-Government

The UNCRC has bound

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Coronavirus Restrictions England ~ Changes from 12 April 2021

In accordance with the government's Roadmap out of Lockdown, the law on coronavirus restrictions changes from Monday 12 April 2021.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 - SI 2021/364 ("Steps Regulations") - are amended to move England from the Step 1 area to the Step 2 area, so that the restrictions set out in Schedule 2 to the Steps Regulations apply in England.

The amending legislation was made by the Secretary of State for Health (Mr Matt Hancock) on Friday 9 April - The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps and Local Authority Enforcement Powers) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 - (SI: 2021/455).

Links:

Previous post - Coronavirus Restrictions England ~ Changes from 29 March 2021

Law and Lawyers - Coronavirus Log Part 7

Monday 5 April, the government confirmed that coronavirus restrictions would change from 12 April - Government announcement

Cabinet Office - Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do

Monday, 5 April 2021

Police order religious service to disperse on Good Friday


2nd April 2021 was Good Friday: one of the Holiest days in the Christian calendar when the faith commemorates the death of Christ.

In a video published by The Express, a Police Officer can be heard addressing the congregation at Christ the King Polish Roman Catholic Church, Balham, South London. The officer said - "This gathering is unfortunately unlawful under the coronavirus regulations we have currently. You are not allowed to meet inside with this many people under law." The officer asks people to return home and points out the possibility of fixed penalty notices (£200) for failure to comply.

Regulations:

The relevant Regulations

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Clapham Common 13 March 2021 ~ Report on policing


On 14 and 15 March 2021 respectively, the Home Secretary and the Mayor of London separately commissioned HMICFRS to inspect how the Metropolitan Police Service handled the policing of the vigil in memory of Sarah Everard. The vigil was held at Clapham Common on Saturday 13 March 2021.

A report has been published in response to both commissions. The report is published online - HERE

There is also a Press Release - Metropolitan Police acted appropriately at the Sarah Everard vigil

Notes: 

1) At the time of this event

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid


The government has commenced an Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid - Ministry of Justice

Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid - Terms of Reference (PDF, 220KB, 9 pages)

The Review has launched a Call for Evidence, opening on from 29 March 2021 and closing on 07 May 2021. Sir Christopher Bellamy QC, Chair of the Review, is inviting interested parties at the heart of the Criminal Legal Aid System to submit evidence on how the system as a whole can be improved and placed on a sustainable footing for the future.

Who qualifies for legal aid in criminal cases is set out by Ministry of Justice - HERE.

Cases in Magistrates' Courts are subject to both an Interests of Justice test AND a means test. 

Cases in the Crown Court are subject to a means test. Even the individual who is acquitted may end up having to pay for defence costs. This "innocence tax" is particularly iniquitous.


Monday, 29 March 2021

Scottish Parliamentary Election 6 May 2021

Scotland is gearing up for the Scottish Parliamentary election on 6 May 2021 - (BBC News 25 March 2021). 

The likelihood is that the Scottish National Party (SNP) will secure a majority of the seats in the parliament which will then press harder with demands for another Scottish independence referendum. 

There is nothing in law to require the UK government to agree to such a referendum but, politically, such demands are likely to be difficult for the UK government to sweep aside or ignore.

Scottish Parliamentary

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Shrewsbury Pickets ~ 1970s convictions unsafe

 

A previous post - 10 December 2015 - looked at the on-going campaign to get the convictions of the "Shrewsbury Pickets" quashed. 

The building strike 1972:

In 1972, there was a national strike by the building workers’ trade unions which lasted from late June to mid-September. The strike concerned the long hours and low pay of craftsmen and labourers.  The building industry was one where employment was precarious due to the "lump system" by which workers were employed on a job-by-job basis giving them little or no long term security.

Unions organised

Monday, 22 March 2021

Coronavirus Restrictions ~ The law changes from 29 March 2021.

From 29 March 2021 forget about tiers and think of steps ! 

From that date every area of England (including the territorial waters adjacent to England and the airspace above England) will be in"the Step 1 Area". A  new and complex set of  Regulations will apply within that Area.

From dates yet to be confirmed, areas of England (yet to be specified) will move into "the Step 2 Area". Similarly, from a further date (yet to be confirmed), areas of England will move into "the Step 3 Area".

It does

Independent Review of Administrative Law (IRAL) ~ Report and government response published

The Independent Review of Administrative Law (IRAL) (previous post) was "established following the Government’s manifesto commitment to guarantee that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays."  Terms of Reference 

The IRAL ran a Call for Evidence from 7 September to 26 October 2020 - Independent Review of Administrative Law - Call for Evidence (PDF, 678KB, 12 pages). Links to the various submissions are available via Ministry of Justice - Judicial Review: Proposals for Reform.

The IRAL report

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill ~ Adult Cautions


The law has available to it a number of ways of dealing with offenders which fall short of prosecution in the courts. Cautions are one of the alternatives. 

Part 6 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill contains detailed clauses which amount to major amendments to the law about cautions for ADULTS.  

The various factsheets which accompany the Bill say very little about this significant reform and it is probable that this aspect of the Bill may receive less parliamentary attention than its importance actually merits.

According to

Friday, 19 March 2021

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill ~ Sentencing


The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will make important changes to the Sentencing Code (previous post) which came into force as recently as 1 December 2020.

The Sentencing Code is actually Parts 2 to 13 of the Sentencing Act 2020.  See also Sentencing Council - Sentencing Code.

This post is an overview of (a) amendments to the Sexual Offences Act 2003, (b) Clauses 100-105 which deal with the minimum term in murder and other serious cases and (c) the post notes the bill's provisions for early release of some categories of offenders.

The provisions are