This week’s roundup of legal news and commentary includes war crimes, election claims, and a decline in standards of public conduct, among other gloomy matters. But there’s some good news as well, and a lovely autumnal image from a barrister’s run.

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Photo taken near Richmond Park, London, by Max Schofield


Standards in public life

During a week in which the conduct of government has come under more than usually harsh scrutiny, Lord Evans, Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, gave the Hugh Kay Lecture at the Institute of Business Ethics. …

This week’s roundup of legal news and commentary includes a last attempt to construct a trade link with Brussels, what has and hasn’t been happening in our courts, and a new law that won’t change anything.

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The Atomium in Brussels: Photo by Raul Escorihuela on Unsplash


Deal or no deal?

With superSPAD Cummings finally going, and hints of a reshuffle not just among the admin staff, media sources and string-pullers behind the scenes at No 10 but in the Cabinet as well, we enter the final furlong (or 201.168 metres) of the negotiations for a trade deal with the EU before the end of the transition period. David Frost remains the shuttle at our end of the loom, but the tapestry could still unravel unless the last few threads are finally tied up. According to The Brussels Times:

“The United Kingdom must retain control of its laws, trade and water after its withdrawal from the European Union and will not budge on these issues, London’s Chief Negotiator, David Frost, warned on Sunday ahead of a new cycle of talks in Brussels on the future relationship with the EU.” …

This week’s roundup of legal news and commentary includes an American election, an English lockdown, and what’s been happening to courts, judges, litigants and lawyers in the meantime.

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Election fever goes viral

Last week, as a second national lockdown took effect in England, many of those confined to working or staying at home spent the time watching and waiting for results from the US Presidential Election. There was widespread coverage and discussion online, some of it moderate, some moderated, much of it hyperbolic. On his Twitter feed the incumbent President Trump claimed victory before any announcement had been made, and then complained that announcements of his defeat had been made prematurely: he has vowed to continue his fight for re-election via challenges in the courts. …

This week’s roundup of legal news and commentary includes a further lockdown, yet more confusing regulations, courtly compliance or its lack, Brexit, equality or its lack, and someone now in the Depps of disgrace. But first, a moment of calm…

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Lockdown (No 2)

After Tiers (for Fears), a Circuit Breaker, a Firebreak and other euphemistic rebrandings, the government has finally and belatedly buckled to the scientific pressure and decided to impose a second national lockdown to cope with the rising rates of Covid-19 infection, hospitalisation and death. The announcement came appropriately enough on Hallowe’en, and it will be debated and approved in Parliament before being implemented on Thursday. …

This week’s roundup of legal news and comment includes sentencing reform, media regulation, hungry children and untaxed taxis.

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The Royal Courts of Justice, by Louise McCullough, reproduced with permission and thanks.


Sentencing Code

The Sentencing Act 2020 (not yet published) received its Royal Assent on 22 October. Its purpose is primarily to introduce a Sentencing Code, as recommended by the Law Commission. To this end, pre-consolidation amendments were made to legislation to streamline the law in the area being consolidated, via the Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Act 2020, which was given Royal Assent on 8 June. …

This week’s roundup of legal news and comment focuses on some new laws that legalise the breaking of laws, the historic role of magistrates, the state of family justice and some recent publications.

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UK Internal Markets Bill

A critical Report by the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution has been published in advance of the second reading of the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill in the House of Lords on 19 October. The report says the Bill’s “rule of law implications have received considerable attention” but points out that “the impact of the Bill on devolution is at least as significant and, outside the devolved nations, has been much less discussed”. It explains that:

“The Bill adopts an unnecessarily heavy-handed approach to reconciling the demands of free trade within the UK and the need to respect the role and responsibilities of devolved institutions. It provides the UK Government with powers that could allow it to alter the competences of the devolved administrations in significant ways. As such, it risks de-stabilising this integral part of the UK’s constitutional arrangements — at a time when it has never been more important for central and devolved governments to work together effectively.” …

This week’s roundup of legal news and commentary includes the new hostile environment for asylum seekers (and their activist lawyers); a belated undertaking to capture court user data, and a stairway to final appellate court heaven (denied), plus some recent publications of interest.

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Hostile Environment (for lawyers)

At the end of last month the government published its Response to the Windrush Lessons Learned Review: A Comprehensive Improvement Plan (CP 293). This Command Paper was presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Priti Patel, who wrote in the introduction of how the Windrush Scandal had “exposed institutional failings at the heart of the Home Office” in dealing with the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation. “My ambition is to build a fairer, more compassionate, Home Office”, says Patel.

The report by senior police inspector Wendy Williams, published in March 2020, contained 30 recommendations calling for root and branch reform at the Home Office. In June his year Patel said in an Oral Statement to the House of Commons that she would accept the report’s recommendations in full and that a compensation scheme had been set up for victims. (For some this will have come too late, having already been deported or, worse still, died.) …

Every year ICLR holds an office bake sale and sends a team on the LLST Legal Walk to help raise funds for legal aid and advice. This year, we were forced to walk (or bake) in socially distanced isolation, but we went ahead anyway.

The latest walk took place on Monday 5 October. This post shares the account and images of two of our walkers. You can still give via the ICLR’s donations page.

Georgina Orde (reporter, Court of Appeal, Criminal Division):

Following the 10,000 Steps for Justice event in June, I resumed my fundraising activities for the London Legal Support Trust at the weekend, baking about 20 cheese scones (2 x 10) which I am eating my way through (fast).

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On Monday, after a wet start, I ventured out when the sun came out, thinking it might be my only opportunity to avoid the rain. …

Welcome back to our weekly roundup of legal news and commentary, as we begin the Michaelmas Term with a catchup of what’s been happening over the long vacation, including coping with coronavirus in the courts, legislating for Brexit, rule-of-lawyer-bashing, and so on.

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Temple Church (via Shutterstock)

The rule of law

The Lord Chancellor‘s prayer

“As a new legal year begins, my mind turns to the enduring success of our legal system over the centuries, with judicial independence and the Rule of Law at its heart.

When I took my oath of office in both English and Welsh, I swore to uphold and respect these principles. Principles which act as guardians of fairness in our society. In many ways, my role is right at the frontline, where the law meets policy and policy meets the law. There will be tensions at times, which can be frankly, difficult to resolve. …

As the summer vacation beckons, this term’s final roundup of legal news and commentary includes national (in)security, deprivation of citizenship, a semi-centenary of law centres, and what’s been happening in the courts. But first, a message from our CEO.

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ICLR news

A message from the CEO

“We are approaching the end of what must be the strangest and most challenging term ever seen at ICLR. But as an organisation we have risen to the challenge and have continued to operate as close to normal as possible. Judging by the many messages of support from the judiciary, our customers, and Council Members at this year’s AGM, our efforts have been much appreciated. I thank you again for all your hard work during this difficult time.” (Message from Kevin Laws CEO to ICLR staff.)

We would echo that sentiment and express our thanks to all those in the profession that we serve, as well as the wider public for whose benefit, in our support for legal education and the administration of justice, we exist. …



The ICLR publishes The Law Reports, The Weekly Law Reports and other specialist titles. Set up by members of the judiciary and legal profession in 1865.

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