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

Monday, 15 March 2021

Protest and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (2) ~ Public Order


This is the second of my posts looking at how the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will alter the law relating to protests.

The bill contains considerable extensions to police powers and marks an increasingly authoritarian stance by government toward protest.

The following is an overview of the key provisions affecting public order. A previous post looked at how the Bill will alter the law on Public Nuisance - here.

Criminal Damage to Memorials:

The offence of criminal damage is defined by the Criminal Damage Act 1971

The Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 Schedule 2 deals

Protest and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (1) ~ Public Nuisance


A previous post sets out links to the Parliament - the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

The Bill covers numerous areas of law and its Second Reading debate will take place in the House of Commons on Monday 15 and Tuesday 16 March 2021. This is the first of two posts looking at Part 3 of the Bill - Public Order.

Taken as a whole, the reforms in Part 3 will make further and considerable inroads into the ability of the citizen to protest without actually breaking the law in some way.

Parliament - the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

General:

Part 3 comprises Clauses 54 to 60.

Friday, 12 March 2021

Security Service ~ agents who participate in criminality

In March 2011, the Security Service (MI5) issue a document entitled "Guidelines on the Use of Agents who participate in criminality - Official Guidance."  The document was reviewed but not changed in January 2014.  In March 2018, the Prime Minister (Theresa May MP) acknowledged the existence of the policy.

Privacy International and others challenged this policy in an action before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT).  The claimants submitted that the policy was unlawful, both as a matter of domestic public law and also as contrary to Convention Rights (set out in Schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998). In December 2019 the Tribunal gave judgment dismissing the claim

The claimants appealed to the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) which gave judgment on 9 March 2021 - Privacy International and others v Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and others [2021] EWCA Civ 330 (Davis, Haddon-Cave, Dingemans LJJ). Central to the appeal were the provisions of the Security Service Act 1989 ("the 1989 Act"). 

The appeal

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Coronavirus Restrictions England ~ Changes from 8 March 2021

On 22 February the Prime Minister announced a "roadmap" to easing restrictions imposed due to coronavirus - see Statement to House of Commons and Government Roadmap.  11 days later, on 5 March 2021, the government made amendments to the statutory instruments imposing the restrictions. The amendments take effect from 8 March 2021.

The latest amendments are in The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place and Restrictions: All Tiers) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 - (SI: 2021/247). 

It is explained that

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Shamima Begum loses in the Supreme Court

R (Shamima Begum) v Secretary of State for the Home Department - [2021] UKSC 7 - (26 February 2021). 

National security - constitutional arrangements:

The judgment of the Supreme Court in Shamima Begum's case reminds us (again) of the fact that national security within the UK is very much entrusted to the executive - see the court's judgment at para 56 where Lord Reed cites the speech of Lord Hoffmann in Secretary of State for the Home Department v Rehman [2001] UKHL 47 at para 50.

Lord Hoffmann said - "Under the  constitution of the United Kingdom and most other countries, decisions as to whether something is or is not in the interests of national security are not a matter for judicial discretion. They are entrusted to the executive." 

Within government,

Friday, 26 February 2021

Shamima Begum's appeal to UKSC dismissed


The Supreme Court of the UK has handed down judgment in the Shamima Begum case - see judgment dated 26 February 2021 - [2021] UKSC 7. - Lord Reed PSC, Lord Hodge DPSC, Lady Black, Lord Lloyd-Jones and Lord Sales. The judgment is unanimous.

The Supreme Court's webpage about the case is HERE and a Press Summary is available.

Earlier court decisions:

The main SIAC