Thursday 31 October 2019

Grenfell Tower Inquiry ~ Phase 1 report

The fire and the building:

In the early hours of Wednesday 14 June 2017 a fire broke out in the kitchen of Flat 16 Grenfell Tower, a high-rise residential building in North Kensington, West London. Grenfell Tower was owned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) and managed by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (the TMO).


Tuesday 29 October 2019

Brexit ~ Flextension ~ General Election

Updated 30 October, 31 October and 2 November

On Monday 28 October, following discussions among the EU27, a "flextension" was granted to the UK's EU membership.  The EU Council decision is shown below - see Updates.  The Prime Minister sent a letter accepting the extension as he was required to do by the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 2) Act 2019 s.3.

It is reported - e.g. at - EU agrees to January 31 Brexit extension - that the extension will last until 31 January 2020 but membership could end 1 December 2019 or 1 January 2020 if the UK comes to be in a position to ratify the withdrawal agreement - (previous post).  Also, the extension is conditional

Saturday 26 October 2019

Brief roundup ~ not Brexit

Aberfan Rescuers

Brexit dominates the news but here are some other news items.

Manchester Arena:

The Home Secretary announced the establishment of an inquiry, under the Inquiries Act 2005, to investigate deaths arising from the attack at Manchester Arena on 22 May 2017 - Parliament announcement.

The Inquiry will be chaired by retired High Court Judge - Sir John Saunders.

Sir John had already been nominated by the Lord Chief Justice to lead the investigation and inquests into the deaths at Manchester Arena - Manchester Arena Inquests - but the inquests will be adjourned once the inquiry is established.

Sir John has

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Withdrawal Agreement Bill in Limbo

On Tuesday 22 October, in the House of Commons, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill passed its Second Reading by 329 to 299.

The Second Reading vote was immediately followed by a Programme Motion vote. This went against the government's proposed, and far too short, timetable for consideration of the Bill during its committee stage. The vote was 308 in favour of the programme motion to 322 against.

The Prime Minister responded

Sunday 20 October 2019

Three letters ~ Brexit extension in the balance

Following the events in Parliament on Saturday 19 October, three letters were sent to the European Council President - BBC News 20 October.  One is the letter mandated by the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 2) Act 2019 and is NOT signed by the Prime Minister.  A second letter, which is signed by the Prime Minister, explains that the Prime Minister does not actually want a delay beyond 31 October.  The third letter is from Sir Tim Barrow, the UK's Permanent Representative at the EU and informs the EU Council President that there is an attached letter sent as required by the terms of the 2019 Act.

It is not known exactly

Saturday 19 October 2019

Brexit - House of Commons Saturday 19 October 2019

People's Vote March 191019
On 19 October 2019, the House of Commons held its first Saturday sitting since 1982 (Falklands crisis). The purpose was to debate the new agreement reached with the European Union on Thursday 17 October and it was hoped by government that the House would vote in favour of the agreement - previous post 17 October.

The agreement had met with favourable reception from the Governor of the Bank of England (BBC News 19 October 2019).  The Director of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), who repeatedly warned of the risks associated

Thursday 17 October 2019

EU ~ Negotiator Level agreement ~ NOT the done deal by a long way

Negotiations end with agreement:

On 17 October 2019, the European Commission published details of the outcome of talks at negotiator level aimed at reaching a Withdrawal Agreement under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union - see "Negotiating documents on Article 50 negotiations with the UK"

UK government - New Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and Political Declaration and note the 3 documents - Revised Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement, Revised Political Declaration, and Unilateral Declaration on Consent.

EU Commission Press Release 17 October 2019 - "The European Commission has today recommended the European Council (Article 50) to endorse the agreement reached at negotiator level on the Withdrawal Agreement, including a revised Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland, and approve a revised Political Declaration on the framework of the future EU-UK relationship. The Commission also recommends that the European Parliament give its consent to this agreement. This follows a series of intensive negotiations between the European Commission and UK negotiators over the past few days."

Later on 17 October,

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Extinction rebellion protests - a Section 14 Order

Updated 7 November 2019

Global climate change is an issue to be taken seriously. I readily admit to having been among the sceptics until I came across the serious and well-presented examination of the subject on the NASA website - Global Climate Change - Vital signs for our planet - where it is stated that scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.  It is claimed that - "The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia."

Extinction Rebellion

Saturday 12 October 2019

Solving controversial problems - the judicial and the political roles - two eminent views

Jonathan Sumption, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, delivered the 2019 Reith Lectures - earlier post of 25 June and see BBC's annual Reith Lectures

Lord Sumption followed up the lectures by publishing a very readable book - Trials of the State: Law and the Decline of Politics.

The book is based on the lectures, with additions and modifications provoked by the discussions which followed, and some expansion of points that could not be accommodated within the half-hour broadcast slots.

The subtitle of the book

Friday 11 October 2019

Sovereignty and Accountability - fundamental principles - a note

The recent Supreme Court decision in Miller v Prime Minister [2019] UKSC 41 (the prorogation case) invoked what the judgment refers to (para 41) as - "Two fundamental principles of our constitutional law .." First, the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty. Secondly, Parliamentary accountability.

The judgment of the majority in Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the EU [2017] UKSC 5 noted at para 40 that - "Unlike most countries, the United Kingdom

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Parliament - Judicial Independence - Prorogation

Judiciary- Independence:
On 8 October the House of Commons held a short debate on Judicial Independence - Hansard 8 October - Judiciary: Independence. Robert Neill MP asked the Lord Chancellor (Robert Buckland MP)

"Consistent with the Lord Chancellor’s speech at the opening of legal year, will he confirm that there is no place for political involvement in the appointment of judges and no question but that the rulings of the courts must be observed by all?"

Mr Buckland replied -

Monday 7 October 2019

Brexit and civil aviation ~ a note

Back in July 2018 this blog took a look at the possible impact of Brexit on the civil aviation sector. This post notes some developments which should, at least in the short term, minimise disruption to civil aviation in the event that Brexit takes place without an Article 50 withdrawal agreement.

This sector operates within a complex system of international regulation including regulation by European agencies such as the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) created by the EU in 2002.

EU Regulation 2019/502:

The UK government has

Thursday 3 October 2019

In brief - proposal for new Ireland protocol - Prorogation

Updated 8 October

The British government has put a proposal to the EU Commission for a new protocol for Ireland / Northern Ireland - see UK Government Policy Paper 2 October 2019 where the letter from the Prime Minister to the President of the EU Commission can be seen as well as an Explanatory Note on the proposals.  A "legal text" has been sent to the Article 50 Taskforce.

The Prime Minister's statement in the House of Commons 3 October 2019. The Prime Minister said

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Brexit ~ Further court actions in Scotland

Court of Session
Updated 9 October

In early September it was announced that proceedings had been commenced in Scotland's Court of Session by petitioners Joanna Cherry QC MP, Jolyon Maugham QC and businessman Dale Vince (a millionaire businessman and political donor who founded the renewable electricity company Ecotricity) - The Guardian 12 September 2019.  The petitioners are asking the court to apply the Scots Law concept of "nobile officium" so as to enable the court to sign a letter to European leaders requesting a Brexit extension in the event Mr Johnson refuses to do so.

The nobile officium