Saturday, 15 May 2021

Coronavirus Restrictions in England ~ Changes from 17 May 2021

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 - SI 2021/364 ("Steps Regulations") - have been amended to move England from the Step 2 area to the Step 3 area, so that the restrictions set out in Schedule 3 to the Steps Regulations apply in England.

The amendment was achieved by The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps and Other Provisions) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 - (SI: 2021/585).

Certain other legislation has been amended in addition to amendment of the Steps Regulations.

The Cabinet Office has published a useful summary of the changes - Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do

 

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Covid ~ announcement of an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005

An inquiry:

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

From 17 May 2021 the law has changed - see this post.

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

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

Monday, 22 February 2021

R (Good Law Project and others) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care [2021] EWHC 346 (Admin)

The government and coronavirus:

The actions of the UK government in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic may, one day, be the subject of some form of inquiry and the Prime Minister is on parliamentary record to that effect - Hansard 15 July 2020.  In answer to a question from Sir Edward Davey MP (Kingston and Surbiton), Mr Johnson said - " ... but of course we will seek to learn the lessons of the pandemic in the future, and certainly we will have an independent inquiry into what happened."

That answer left open

UK Supreme Court - Uber BV and others v Aslam and others [2021] UKSC 5

The Queen's Speech in December 2019 envisaged an Employment Bill aimed at protecting and enhancing wokers' rights as the UK left the EU. The Bill would also build on existing employment law with measures to protect those in low-paid work and the gig economy - a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs. 14 months after the 2019 general election. the promised Bill has yet to presented by the government to Parliament.

A Dutch Company - Uber BV - owns the technology

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Colin Norris ~ CCRC refers case to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)

Colin Norris Conviction:

On 3 March 2008 in the Crown Court at Newcastle upon Tyne, after a trial lasting five months before Griffith Williams J and a jury, Colin Norris was convicted of the murder of four elderly hospital patients and the attempted murder of another in the space of 6 months in two hospitals in Leeds in 2002. 

Norris worked as a nurse on orthopaedic wards at hospitals in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Many of the patients were elderly females, who had been admitted for surgery to deal with bones that had been broken following an accident. The most common injuries seen on those wards were hip fractures.  

The prosecution case at the trial was

Coronavirus Log - Part 7 - from 13 February 2021


This post is a continuation of the Coronavirus Log.  See Coronavirus Log Part 1 - (December 2019 to 28 April 2020) - Part 2 (29 April 2020 to 24 May 2020) - Part 3 (25 May to 21 June 2020) - Part 4 (22 June to 26 July 2020) - Part 5 (27 July to 1 November - Part 6 (2 November 2020 to 13 February 2021)

Position at 13 February 2021:

The national "lockdown" imposed on 6 January 2021 continues.

As at 13 February

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Hotel Quarantine ~ concerns : Guidance issued 11 February : Law issued 12 February

On 8 June 2020 quarantine requirements were introduced for arrivals in England - previous posts 5 June 2020.  Other parts of the United Kingdom followed suit with similar requirements.

Since June 2020, a number of changes have taken place to the regulations applicable to quarantine. The details of the changes are not considered further in this post which concentrates on the government's plans to introduce mandatory quarantine in hotels. The Health Secretary (Matt Hancock MP) announced to Parliament that this will take effect from 0400 am on 15 February 2021 and see, for example, The Guardian 9 February - Covid travel rule-breakers could face 10-year jail terms, says Hancock.

Mr Hancock said that the new system was for England but

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

EU law and Domestic law: the on-going relationship (4) - Future relationship

This is the fourth post in a series considering how, post-Brexit, EU law continues to have influence in the legal systems of the UK. The series is an overview of this complex relationship.

In December 2020, after difficult negotiations, the EU and the UK finalised the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), the  Security Procedures for Exchanging and Protecting Classified Information Agreement (SOIA) and the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA). 

The European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 enables particular provisions in these Agreements to have effect in domestic law. This Act was enacted in one day (30 December 2020) and an earlier blogpost looked at the Bill as introduced to Parliament.

The Act's short title is abbreviated to EU(FR)A.

Monday, 1 February 2021

EU law and Domestic law: the on-going relationship (3) - Relevant Separation Agreement law

 

This post continues the overview as to how EU law continues to have influence in the UK's domestic legal systems. 

An earlier post 28 January  set the general scene and the post on 30 January looked at Retained EU Law.

A further category - provided for by the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 - is Relevant Separation Agreement Law.

The Withdrawal Act does much of its work by inserting additional sections into the European Union (Withdrawal) 2018 Act (link is to the latest available version).

Definition of Relevant Separation Agreement Law:

The term Relevant Separation Agreement Law is defined in the 2018 Act section 7C(3) - In this Act “relevant separation agreement law” means -

Saturday, 30 January 2021

EU law and Domestic law: the on-going relationship (2) - Retained EU Law

The first post in this series (28 January) set the scene for an overview of the routes - (or some of the routes) - via which EU law will continue to have influence within the UK's legal systems.

Just as EU law flowed into UK legal systems because of the "conduits" created by the European Communities Act 1972, EU continues to have influence because of a number of Acts of Parliament. The Acts have created new conduits!

The Acts and the Agreements:  

Thursday, 28 January 2021

EU law and Domestic law: the on-going relationship (1)

The separation of the UK from the EU has resulted in a complex relationship between UK domestic law and EU law. It is rather like the mixing of colours on a watercolourist's palette: intricate and difficult to analyse but nonetheless crucial.

 This post sets the scene for an overview, over three subsequent posts, of the situation.

Brief history:

On 1 January 1973, the United Kingdom

Thursday, 14 January 2021

(1) The blog is 11 - (2) Some reflections of a retired Justice of the Peace

Eleven years old:

Today (14 January) is the 11th anniversary of the first post on this blog. Many topics have been covered in that time and I am grateful for the support of numerous readers of the blog. 

For the future I have decided that my posts will be less frequent but please return occasionally and have a look at what I have posted. (Some of the more recent posts will be updated as necessary since they refer to on-going issues).

My post today is written by a guest - a former Justice of the Peace who gave some 20 years service to the magistracy at a busy provincial inner-city court. It is an interesting look at the period from about 1991 to 2012.

Some reflections of a retired JP

I felt a mixture

Sunday, 10 January 2021

The end game of a divisive Presidency

Donald J Trump was born in New York on 14 June 1946. His father (Fred Trump) had built a real estate business from which Donald Trump undoubtedly benefited financially - New York Times 2 October 2018. In 1971, aged 25, he became President of the business (Wikipedia). 

Trump entered the presidential race in 2000 but withdrew.  He did not run in 2004, 2008 or 2012. The election of 2016 saw him win the Electoral College 304 Votes to Hilary Clinton's 227. Although he lost the popular vote (Clinton 65,853,625 - Trump 62,985,106) he thereby won the Presidency and was the first billionaire to become President. (A more detailed resume of Trump's business and political career is at Britannica).

The frequently controversial and turbulent history

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Coronavirus ~ STAY AT HOME


After months of struggle to contain the virus, the daily data continues to make for unhappy reading -  Government data.  It is reported that up to 5 January 2021 there had been 76,305 (within 28 days of first positive test) due to Covid-19. There were 60,916 new positive tests reported on 5 January 2021. The position across EU member States is reported by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control - HERE.

On Monday 4 January, the government decided that a further "lockdown" was required for England. For the government's reasoning see the Prime Minister's Statement on Coronavirus 4 January 2021 and 5 January 2021.

Revised legislation therefore applies from 6 January 2021. This legislation strengthens Tier 4 and applies the amended Tier 4 to the whole of England.