Weekly Notes: legal news from ICLR, 8 June 2020

Honk for the NHS! [Photo by Brandon Montrone from Pexels]

Parliament

“Working virtually enhanced the ability of select committees to hold the government to account, as remote meetings were easier for MPs to attend during a recess and could reach a broader range of witnesses. MPs could ask questions of ministers, respond to ministerial statements, and debate and vote on legislation. Crucially, no MP was disadvantaged by participating remotely rather than in person.”

Courts

“16 more sites have been assessed as suitable to hold socially-distanced hearings. These are spread across the country and across all jurisdictions. Each building has been individually assessed and will strictly follow public health guidance to ensure the protection and safety of all court users.”

Wills

“There has been a lively debate over executing wills during the period of lockdown and social distancing, with the conventional wisdom being that the Wills Act 1837 does not allow someone to witness a will via video messaging, as a witness must be physically present.”

Land law

“The extension announced by the Housing Secretary today (5 June 2020) takes the moratorium on evictions to a total of 5 months to ensure that renters continue to have certainty and security.

Ministers are also working with the judiciary, legal representatives and the advice sector on arrangements, including new rules, which will mean that courts are better able to address the need for appropriate protection of all parties, including those shielding from coronavirus.”

“A working group on possession proceedings has been established by the Master of the Rolls to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place across the county courts when possession claims resume.

This is a blunt instrument to be sure, but the right thing to do.”

Human Rights

“The law enforcement response, widely covered by reporters on the ground and across social media, has deployed excessive and indiscriminate force against peaceful civilians as well as widespread attacks on journalists. … The US is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which guarantees rights to life, liberty and security of person, freedom from arbitrary detention, freedom of expression, and the right of peaceful assembly. All these rights are, of course, also protected by the US Constitution. … The ICCPR requires States to investigate alleged violations of these rights.”

Recent commentary

“A High Court judge in South Africa has just taken a stand on the ANC government’s reaction to the pandemic. He has ruled that some of the lockdown regulations do not satisfy the rationality test under public law, and that their encroachment and limitation on the freedoms set out in the South African Bill of Rights are not justified in a society based on ‘human dignity, equality and freedom as contemplated in Section 36 of the Constitution’.”

“indisputable that members of the public do stand to benefit from more sophisticated security systems. However, the benefit of increased security cannot be at the risk of violating the right to privacy and data protection principles.”

Dates and Deadlines

And finally…

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The ICLR

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.