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.