Weekly Notes: legal news from ICLR, 15 November 2021

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Environment

Phase-out of coal scuttled

The COP 26 global summit on climate change in Glasgow ended with some notable achievements and some notable disappointments. Among the latter category the downgrading of the commitment to “phase down” rather than (as originally drafted) “phase out” the use of coal — following a last-minute objection by India, supported by China. But there was agreement to speed up the end of fossil fuel subsidies, thereby marking a recognition of the link between fossil fuels and global warming.

Inquiries

Open justice

The House of Commons Justice Committee has been hearing oral evidence in its inquiry, Open justice: court reporting in the digital age. This short inquiry seeks to understand how digital technology has affected the way that the media and the public access and report on the courts. You can submit evidence until Monday 29 November 2021. (This seems to be an extension of the original deadline, under the terms of reference, at least for submissions via the online portal, which was 18 October.)

IPP Sentences

The same Justice Committee is also still hearing and calling for evidence in its inquiry into Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentences. But not for much longer. You can submit evidence until Monday 22 November 2021.

Post Office Horizon IT scandal

Two interesting developments. Nick Wallis, who is covering the current inquiry on his new blog, reports that (thanks to a Freedom of Information request) a briefing document given to Jo Swinson MP about Horizon when she took up her role as Postal Services minister in 2012 has come to light. The briefing referred to a “trickle” of cases in which convicted sub-postmasters complained of miscarriages of justice, but asserted that the system was “robust” and that “Both the NFSP and CWU have expressed full confidence in the system”. (The NFSP is the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters and the CWU is the Communication Workers Union.) Wallis says:

Judiciary

Discipline proposals

A consultation by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales on proposals about the judicial disciplinary system in England and Wales has been launched. It will be open until 7 February 2022.

  • Defining the purpose of the disciplinary system
  • Transferring responsibility for dealing with complaints about tribunal members from chamber presidents to the JCIO
  • Classifying different levels of misconduct
  • Improving the statutory process for investigating complaints, including proposals about the separate process for complaints involving magistrates
  • Providing the public with more information about disciplinary decisions
  • Promoting diversity amongst those who carry out statutory roles in the system.

Courts: Scotland

Debut livestream from Court of Session

Rather surprisingly for the first time later this month the Court of Session in Scotland will be live-streaming an appeal. It means that members of the public from across the globe will be able to tune in to watch the two-day hearing scheduled for 17 and 18 November.

Recent case comments on ICLR

Expert commentary from firms, chambers and legal bloggers recently indexed on ICLR.4 includes:

Other recent publications

The ‘c’ word — why ‘corruption’ is the accurate word for describing what the United Kingdom government is doing

David Allen Green on the Law and Policy Blog explains that the word “corruption” is more political than legal in meaning and is for that reason a better word to describe the scandals surrounding Boris Johnson’s government and the MPs in Parliament.

Natural justice in Parliament? A courageous proposal, Prime Minister

Staying with the PM and his code of conduct woes, on the UK Constitutional Law Assn Blog PhD candidate Tom Spencer discusses the idea of natural justice as the basis for reviewing procedures in the House of Commons, alongside his own thesis relating to the curiality of the High Court of Parliament of which he contends the Supreme Court of England and Wales is a part.

Secrets and spies

Joshua Rozenberg in the Law Society Gazette interviews Sir Brian Leveson, investigatory powers commissioner, and comments on how his calls for greater oversight of the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) have been rebuffed by the government.

The “Two Michaels” and Celil: Windows Into China’s Legal Gulag

Catherine Morris of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) writes on SLAW about Canadians who have been unjustly imprisoned in China after raising human rights issues and peacefully advocating the rights of Uyghur people. She says a commonly-laid criminal charge is “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a vague catch-all used to detain dissidents, journalists, human rights defenders, and lawyers. Another common charge is “inciting subversion of state power,” used to arbitrarily detain human rights defenders. These practices seriously violate China’s international law obligations, and the situation has worsened following the new security law and crackdown in Hong Kong.

Policy Exchange report linking drill music to violence ‘inaccurate’ and ‘misleading’

Udit Mahalingam on The Justice Gap reports on how “a coalition of academics and experts have denounced as ‘baseless’ a controversial Policy Exchange report [Knife Crime in the Capital, by Sophia Falkner] linking drill music with violent crime and the ‘legitimisation of gang culture’ in London.”

Dates and Deadlines

Annual Bar and Young Bar Conference 2021

17–19 Nov online, 20 Nov 2021 in person at The Grand Connaught Rooms, London

And finally…

Tweet of the week

is from Inner Temple Library, with a sartorial representation of the hierarchy of citation:

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The ICLR

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.