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.


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.


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

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