Weekly Notes: legal news from ICLR — 15 May 2017

Election [f]law

Tory election expenses: it’s all right, the CPS won’t charge

“Under the Representation of the People Act, every candidate and agent must sign a declaration on the expenses return that to the best of their knowledge and belief it is a complete and correct return as required by law. It is an offence to knowingly make a false declaration. In order to bring a charge, it must be proved that a suspect knew the return was inaccurate and acted dishonestly in signing the declaration. Although there is evidence to suggest the returns may have been inaccurate, there is insufficient evidence to prove to the criminal standard that any candidate or agent was dishonest.

“The Act also makes it a technical offence for an election agent to fail to deliver a true return. By omitting any ‘Battle Bus’ costs, the returns may have been inaccurate. However, it is clear agents were told by Conservative Party headquarters that the costs were part of the national campaign and it would not be possible to prove any agent acted knowingly or dishonestly. Therefore we have concluded it is not in the public interest to charge anyone referred to us with this offence.

Gig economy

a service that connects, by means of mobile telephone software, potential passengers with drivers offering individual urban transport on demand, where the provider of the service exerts control over the key conditions governing the supply of transport made within that context, in particular the price, does not constitute an information society service

Legal services

Indeed, why SHOULD we be expected to offer our services for nothing at all? When I had my car serviced a couple of days ago, I didn’t dream of asking the garage if they wouldn’t mind awfully doing it for nothing as it was a bit pricey and I had some other bills to pay.

At the criminal Bar we have had nothing but cuts to our fees in the last decade. The payments made to us for cases are now at around 30% less than people were getting paid for the same work 20 years ago — possibly even less than that.

We were told at the start of the meeting that the civil servants wanted to hear our views on the practicalities of this proposed scheme and that the scheme was definitely “not a done deal”. I know many of you cynics will immediately equate that phrase with the phrase “oh yes it is” especially when uttered by an MoJ employee.

Although we had been invited to consider “the opportunities” as well as “the challenges” of early and late court sittings, during the presentation the officials from HMCTS did not put forward a single suggested benefit to anyone from such a scheme. The reasons for that are also obvious. There aren’t any. Having asked for our views, over the course of the next 55 minutes or so the civil servants were bombarded with all the many good reasons this scheme not only won’t work but should never have been thought up in the first place.

Law (and injustice) from around the world

America

“The independence of the FBI director is meant to ensure that the president does not operate above the law. For President Trump to fire the man responsible for investigating his own campaign’s ties to the Russians imperils that fundamental principle.

“Regardless of how one judges the performance of James Comey in either the Hillary Clinton or Russia investigations, President Trump’s dismissal of a sitting FBI director raises serious alarm bells for our system of checks and balances.

Canada

Russia

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