Weekly Notes: legal news from ICLR, 4 March 2024

This week’s roundup of legal news includes police, immigration, courts, human rights and civil litigation. Plus recent case law and commentary.

11 min readMar 4, 2024
Protest in London following murder of Sarah Everard (Shutterstock)


Angiolini Inquiry Part 1

The first report of the inquiry chaired by Lady Elish Angiolini LT DBE KC into the vetting, employment and previous offending of the former Metropolitan Police Service officer Wayne Couzens, before his brutal rape and murder of Sarah Everard, has been published. The report looks back many years before the crimes for which Couzens is now serving a whole-life sentence, and considers a broad range of information to establish an overall timeline through to the days and hours before he carried out the most heinous of crimes.

“I hope that those in authority in every police force read this Report and feel galvanised to continue, and to accelerate, the work required to identify individuals who should not be part of any police force or in a position of public authority. This should help to secure the transformation of those organisations to ensure that no one feels comfortable expressing misogynistic, sexist or racist views while holding an office intended to protect those most vulnerable in society.”

Lady Angiolini will go on in part 2 of her inquiry to consider the recruitment and vetting of police officers, culture and standards in policing, and measures to help prevent sexually motivated violence against women in public spaces. It will also now consider the crimes and career of another former Metropolitan Police Service officer, David Carrick, who last month was convicted of 49 crimes, including rape.

The fundamental problem identified in this report is that predatory sex offenders were not properly investigated by the police for offences such as indecent exposure, from which they often go on to commit more serious and potentially fatal offences.

“Indecent exposure, particularly where the perpetrator is masturbating, is a serious sexual crime and may indicate a potential trajectory towards even more serious sexual and violent offending.”

In Couzens’ case, the history of his offending went back more than 20 years but those who reported his offending were not taken sufficiently seriously by the police.

The report makes recommendations about what needs to change to ensure that masturbatory indecent exposure is treated as the serious crime it is and that victims are taken seriously. It encourages victims of indecent exposure to report their experiences to the police and for the police to respond with professionalism.


Criminalising children

A report by the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford and Border Criminologies, “No Such Thing as Justice Here”, shows how people arriving on small boats are being imprisoned for their ‘illegal arrival’. Among those prosecuted are people seeking asylum, victims of trafficking and torture, and children with ongoing age disputes.

The research involved observations of over 100 court hearings; interviews with people directly affected by the law, and with lawyers; analysis of FOI response data and of recent case law.

The criminalisation of people arriving in small boats for “illegal arrival” or for “facilitating arrival” follows the creation of those new offences under the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, as part of the wider government agenda to “stop the boats”. In its first year of operation, 240 people arriving on small boats were charged with illegal arrival. The vast majority are young men travelling to seek asylum and safety in the UK. The offence of facilitating arrival was generally charged against those alleged to be steering the boats in question, eg by having their hand on the tiller, for whatever reason. Some 49 people have been so charged. The report describes the ensuing court hearings, sentencing and other consequences of this criminalisation process. The report concludes that the new offences

“achieve nothing but human misery. Instead of discouraging people from moving, border policies such as these force people into more dangerous and precarious situations, increasing the likelihood of death at the border.”

Read the full report here, and the summary here.

Rwanda scheme costs

The National Audit Office (NAO) has published a report of its Investigation into the costs of the UK-Rwanda Partnership. The partnership falls under the government’s third country asylum processing policy, which is a process whereby individuals identified as being in the UK illegally, or seeking asylum after arriving illegally, are relocated to a safe third country.

This report sets out the direct financial consequences of the Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda. It does not assess whether the scheme provides value for money, as this is dependent on whether the partnership actually deters individuals from making illegal journeys to claim asylum in the UK, which can’t be assessed till it becomes operational. But the sums involved seem quite extravagant.

Commenting on the report, the Electronic Immigration Network pointed out:

“No asylum seekers have yet been sent to Rwanda. The Supreme Court ruled in December that relocating asylum seekers to Rwanda would not be lawful due to the risk of refoulement, but the Government has since signed a new treaty and introduced new legislation which it believes will make relocations to Rwanda lawful.

As widely reported by news media, the NAO’s analysis shows that the Rwanda scheme could cost well in excess of £500 million. The Independent reported that the total cost would be £576.8 million if 300 asylum seekers were sent to Rwanda, though the Guardian calculated a slight lower figure of £541 million for 300 asylum seekers.”


Uncommon platform

The HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) Reform programme has been chugging away since 2016 and was originally meant to take about four years, but it’s now taken twice that time and is still going. It was an extremely ambitious programme, basically to digitise the entire justice system, hitherto largely paper based, and given the chequered history of big government IT projects we should be grateful it hasn’t mired itself in Horizon-like horrors. Indeed, parts of it are undoubtedly working well as planned, but there have also been hiccups and, necessarily, adjustments both in time and scope.

The latest blog post from Nick Goodwin, chief executive of HMCTS, says “significant progress” has been made since 2016, but:

“To ease the pressure on the business and to ensure continued success, we are extending the overall programme to March 2025. And to ensure the stability we need, we’ll no longer deliver some parts of it as we had planned.”

One of them is the Common Platform, supposed to provide a seamless online filing system for all criminal courts. After initially going live in 2020, this has been the focus of many complaints by users. Members of the PCS Union were so concerned by the problems that they took industrial action. A year ago a critical report by the National Audit Office commented:

“Of most concern is the case management system for criminal courts, Common Platform. While the system has undoubtedly improved since its initial rollout, remaining technical issues are creating inefficiencies and introducing risk to courts and the wider system. HMCTS must ensure that it works with users to address these issues.”

This was echoed by the HC Public Accounts Committee later in the year, who found that HMCTS’s failure to engage sufficiently with staff and stakeholders throughout the common platform rollout had “increased the burden on courts and staff already under significant pressure”: see Progress on the courts and tribunals reform programme (HC 1002).

It now appears from Goodwin’s blog that it will not be fully implemented and the old system will continue to be used alongside:

“We will focus on fixing and enhancing the existing system, improving stability and the experience of those who use it. We’ll not proceed with all aspects of the two releases known as ‘releases 2 and 3’ but will continue with some standalone elements which have already been built, specifically the introduction of digital cracked and ineffective trial forms and the functionality to allow judges to validate sentences. We’ll retain the Crown Court Digital Case System (known as DCS), identifying ways we can enhance it in future, while making sure it works effectively alongside Common Platform.”

Meanwhile the rushed earlier closure of old court buildings, in part to pay for all this development, may have resulted in some seller’s remorse, given the tidal wave of case backlogs (already growing before the covid lockdowns made things worse) and as a result they have had to further extend the use of Nightingale courts. New courts are planned, but it will take years before they are ready. For example, the City of London’s combined civil, magistrates’ and Crown courtrooms project may be “well underway”, as Goodwin boasts, but it’s still just a massive building site. By the time it’s opened, the Common Platform may be finished too.


Litigation funding

The government has promised to restore the access to litigation funding that was effectively cut off by the decision of the Supreme Court in the Paccar case (R (PACCAR Inc) v Competition Appeal Tribunal [2023] UKSC 28; [2023] 1 WLR 2594), highlighting the dependence on such funding of the claimants in the Bates litigation who successfully sued the Post Office (as pointed out by Alan Bates himself in an article in the Financial Times: Why I wouldn’t beat the Post Office today.)

The government is presenting this as a “New law to make justice more accessible for innocent people wronged by powerful companies” but, as the reference to the Bates litigation makes clear, it’s more a question of clarifying the original legislative intention behind litigation funding, viz that it would enable people who couldn’t otherwise afford to sue rich and powerful defendants to do so.

To keep everyone happy, the government has also billed this as yet another “change to further bolster UK’s thriving £34 billion legal services sector”. (They could do that by increasing legal aid, of course, but this looks more commercial.)

According to its the announcement, the government is also

“considering options for a wider review of the sector and how third-party litigation funding is carried out. This could consider whether there is a need for increased regulation or safeguards for people bringing claims to court, particularly given the growth of the litigation funding sector over the past decade.”

Human rights

Freedom of expression: street preaching

In A heckler’s veto on Christian street preaching in the UK, a recent guest post on the Law & Religion UK blog, Kelly-Ann Cannon, Senior Lecturer in Law at Northampton University, looks at some recent cases on street preaching. Organisations such as Christian Concern and the Christian Institute have claimed that Christians are being marginalised, limiting their manifestation of religion.

There is a risk of the police interpreting provisions designed to prevent public disorder in an intolerant or illiberal way. (It probably does not help that much of the current public discourse about religion and culture is swamped by allegations of anti-Semitism and Islamic extremism fuelled by protests over the war in Gaza, while Christian proselytisation has most recently been linked to accusations of bogus conversion of asylum seekers attempting to dodge the system.)

Dates and Deadlines

Lecture: ‘Art Not Evidence’

University of Sussex — 7th March 2024

‘Art Not Evidence’ — the arguments for limiting the use of rap music as evidence in criminal trials. Keir Monteith KC, in the annual Crime Research Centre lecture at the University of Sussex, will review the increased criminalisation of rap music, including the use of lyrics and music videos as evidence against young people accused of crime. Keir will provide contemporary examples of how prosecutors, supported by judges, have suggested that Black children could be gang members because of: the music they listen to; their presence in a rap video or even by possessing a rap video.

Lecture will be held at the Moot Room, Freeman Centre, University of Sussex Falmer campus, BN1 9QE. Booking details here.

Webinar: Starting pupillage

Online — 12 March, 18:00–19:30
Free webinar for pupil barristers at any stage of pupillage. Get support, advice and guidance on how to prepare for life at the Bar. It will cover topics from preparing for court to looking after your wellbeing, managing your finances, and more.

Book via Bar Council

Recent case summaries from ICLR

A selection of recently published WLR Daily case summaries from ICLR.4:

COMPANY — Unfair prejudice — Conduct of affairs: Zedra Trust Co (Jersey) Ltd v THG plc, 23 Feb 2024 [2024] EWCA Civ 158; [2024] WLR(D) 84, CA

EXECUTION — Third party debt proceedings — Final order: Chedington Events Ltd v Brake, 22 Feb 2024 [2024] EWHC 384 (Ch); [2024] WLR(D) 88, Ch D

IMMIGRATION — Deportation — Foreign criminal: Johnson (Audi) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, 29 Feb 2024 [2024] EWCA Civ 182; [2024] WLR(D) 93, CA

LANDLORD AND TENANT — Right to manage — Premises: Eveline Road RTM Co Ltd v Assethold Ltd, 04 Mar 2024 [2024] EWCA Civ 187; [2024] WLR(D) 94, CA

MINES — Coal — Operating licence: R (Coal Action Network) v Welsh Ministers, 23 Feb 2024 [2024] EWCA Civ 168; [2024] WLR(D) 92, CA

NATIONALITY — British nationality — Deprivation: Begum v Secretary of State for the Home Department, 23 Feb 2024 [2024] EWCA Civ 152; [2024] WLR(D) 86, CA

PLANNING — Development — Development plan document: R (Rights Community Action Ltd) v Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 20 Feb 2024 [2024] EWHC 359 (Admin); [2024] WLR(D) 81, KBD

REVENUE — Value added tax — Exemptions: Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust v Revenue and Customs Comrs, 27 Feb 2024 [2024] EWCA Civ 177; [2024] WLR(D) 87, CA

SOCIAL SECURITY — Universal credit — Backdating: Miah v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 01 Mar 2024 [2024] EWCA Civ 186; [2024] WLR(D) 91, CA

WILL — Validity — Undue influence: Rea v Rea, 23 Feb 2024 [2024] EWCA Civ 169; [2024] WLR(D) 89, CA

Recent case comments on ICLR

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

A Lawyer Writes: Holed below the water-line: Judge disapplies Northern Ireland troubles legislation: Dillon & Ors, Re application for judicial review [2024] NIKB 11, KBD (NI)

Legal Futures: High Court removes arbitrator who pre-judged expert evidence: H1 & Anor v W & Ors [2024] EWHC 382 (Comm), KBD

Local Government Lawyer: High Court judge provides guidance on applications for psychological assessments in care proceedings: West Northamptonshire Council v The Mother (Psychological Assessments) [2024] EWHC 395 (Fam), Fam D

Legal Futures: Judge says he was misled by “fabricated” £74m arbitration ruling: Contax Partners Inc BVI v Kuwait Finance House (KFH-Kuwait)[2024] EWHC 436 (Comm), KBD

A Lawyer Writes: Prisoner releases blocked: R (Brown, Robert) v Secretary of State for Justice [2024] EWHC 429 (Admin), KBD

Inforrm’s Blog: Brianna Ghey’s Murder: Unpacking Transphobia, Offender Anonymity, and the Impact of Sentencing Remarks: R v Jenkinson (Scarlett) and Ratcliffe (Eddie), Sentencing remarks, Crown Ct

Nearly Legal: Wrong in principle: Morgan v Business Mortgage Finance 5 plc [2024] EWHC 309 (KB), KBD

Free Movement: Court of Appeal rejects Shamima Begum’s appeal against the deprivation of her British citizenship: Begum v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2024] EWCA Civ 152; [2024] WLR(D) 86, CA

Inforrm’s Blog: Claimants granted access to Leveson documents in Mail hacking claim: Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon v Associated Newspapers Ltd [2023] EWHC 2789 (KB); [2023] WLR(D) 474, KBD

Local Government Lawyer: High Court authorises deprivation of liberty of seven-year-old child in registered children’s home: In re U (A Child) [2024] EWHC 228 (Fam), Fam D

Free Movement: Court of Appeal allows Iranian asylum appeal against “difficult to understand” First-tier Tribunal decision: FA (Iran) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2024] EWCA Civ 149, CA

And finally…

Tweet of the week

in which a King’s Counsel highlights a King’s claim on behalf of a Duke who was formerly a Prince against a department of His Majesty’s Government.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading and thanks for all your tweets, toots, posts and threads. We’re linked in if you are. Keep watching.

This post was written by Paul Magrath, Head of Product Development and Online Content. It does not necessarily represent the opinions of ICLR as an organisation.




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.