Weekly Notes: legal news from ICLR — 1 July 2019

Photo by Bùi Huy from Pexels

Family law

Marriage law under review

The Law Commission has begun reviewing the laws around how and where people can marry in England and Wales, having agreed the Terms of Reference for the project with the Government. According to a government announcement,

  • consider where a wedding should be able to take place
  • consider how to remove unnecessary red tape which can hamper choice and increase the cost of wedding venues
  • aim to ensure that the law works for all couples and all faiths, including those who are not as well served by the current buildings-based system
  • seek to make the law more simple and certain, so that it is clear whether a couple’s marriage is legally valid

Judiciary

No further appeal in pensions discrimination case

The UK Supreme Court has refused the Ministry of Justice permission to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision that it discriminated against judges on the grounds of age, race and equal pay in relation to changes to their pension. Solicitors Leigh Day, acting for around 230 judges forced to leave the Judicial Pension Scheme, reported that

Law reform

Non-consensual images and offensive communications

Other targets for review by the Law Commission announced recently include the making and sharing of non-consensual sexual images — what is commonly known as “revenge porn” — and the criminal law which governs abusive and offensive communication online.

Media law

‘Unmasked’ report

In a 65-page report entitled Unmasked: Andrew Norfolk, The Times newspaper and anti-Muslim reporting — a case to answer, Brian Cathcart and Paddy French develop in some detail their contention that three major pieces of investigative journalism by The Times’s reporter Andrew Norfolk contained fundamental inaccuracies, in particular about Muslims or their involvement in the matter being reported, and that this raises “serious questions about Norfolk’s impartiality and motivation and suggest that he has, knowingly or unknowingly, breached standards of conduct and ethics that we believe responsible journalists would observe”.

  • Christian child forced into Muslim foster care’ (28/8/17),
  • Security stepped up after scathing report led to death threats’ (25/7/18),
  • Jailed rapist given chance to see his victim’s child’ (27/11/18).

Terrorism

Inquest into London Bridge attacks

Last week Judge Mark Lucraft QC delivered his conclusions in the inquests into the eight deaths resulting from an attack on 3 June 2017 by three men in a rented white van, who ploughed into pedestrians on London Bridge before jumping out near the busy restaurants and bars of Borough Market and stabbing victims with knives, before being shot dead by armed police. (See Weekly Notes, 5 June 2017)

Legal professions

Bar strike averted — for now

Members of the Criminal Bar Association have voted by a majority of 60.72% to suspend the action (or inaction) due to start today (see Weekly Notes, 10 June 2019) following an offer of better payment for criminal cases from the Ministry of Justice. The terms of the offer on which they were voting are set out in the CBA’s Monday Message for 24 June 2019. In essence, the MOJ has offered to review and find more money for Advocates’ Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS) defence work by November, and to increase fees for prosecution work from September. If the MOJ fails to keep its side of the bargain, there will be a resumption of action in November.

Commentary catch-up

Rights Info

Human Rights Head To Head: Boris Johnson Or Jeremy Hunt? examines which of the rival candidates for leader of the Conservative Party has the better record on human rights. (Hint, neither’s is great.)

Russell Webster

Pre-court diversion for adults on a report by the Centre for Justice Innovation (CJI) on a swift and meaningful response to low-level offending. See also his recent series of posts on redesigning probation.

House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee

Human rights protection at risk after Brexit warns Committee in a
letter dated 26 June 2019 from the sub-committee’s chair to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, David Gauke.

BBC i-player

Who Should Get to Stay in the UK? is a series of 3 programmes following the stories of immigrants desperate to stay in the UK and the lawyers tasked with helping them. It features, among others, Free Movement’s Colin Yeo. It was reviewed in The Guardian.

Free Movement

Women trafficked into prostitution are “wealthy” and don’t need asylum, Home Office claims — disturbing new post by CJ McKinney on how Official government guidance claims that victims of human trafficking get rich from being sexually exploited in the UK and can be refused asylum”.

Dates and Deadlines

Inns of Court summer parties

Middle Temple: garden party, 2 July 2019: tickets

And finally…

Tweet of the Week

is from Sheldon Gilbert inviting captions to the following judicial image:

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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.