Nov 03

Brexit: Legal challenge …


There has been some concern that the government are seeking to leave the EU using Royal Prerogative and without passing an Act of Parliament to trigger Article 50 of The Treaty of the European Union.  Indeed, lawyers at Mishcon de Reya claim the Government cannot trigger Article 50 without an act of Parliament. There has been conjecture that the Prime Minister, Theresa May, could seek to use Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50 – which will effectively undermine/remove powers granted by an Act of Parliament (i.e. The European Communities Act 1972). See also the view of former Attorney General Dominic Grieve.

The Brexit legal challenge – which seeks to prevent the Prime Minister using Royal Prerogative to invoke Article 50 – must surely be constitutionally correct.  Indeed, this view was confirmed in the resulting legal challenge when the High Court ruled that the Prime Minister cannot use Royal Prerogative powers to invoke Article 50. The is clearly a humiliating defeat for Prime Minister. Read the High Court Case Note.

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Oct 28

Two drivers win landmark tribunal case

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 22:  An Uber driver poses for a photograph in an Uber t-shirt and holding a smart phone displaying the Uber app after delivering petitions to the Transport for London headquarters on December 22, 2015 in London, England. The Uber drivers formally handed in the petition, signed by over 205,000 people, to oppose proposals such as introducing minimum 5 minute waiting times.  (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Two drivers have won a landmark employment case that could have significant implications for private hire firms and even delivery firms. See also Barrister: Daniel Barnett’s Employment Law Bulletin.

The UBER private hire company insists that its 40,000 drivers are “partners”. A London Employment Tribunal has ruled that two of its drivers are employees and therefore entitled to sick pay, a guaranteed minimum wage, holiday pay and breaks.  The private hire company have indicated that they will be appealing the ET ruling. They also say that the ruling only affects “two people”. While that may be their current argument, it is clear that  the ruling sets a precedent that (without a successful appeal) opens the door for all remaining UBER drivers to claim that they have similar employment rights. This case could also open the driver’s door for many men and women who drive for parcel and delivery firms

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Oct 24

Ashers Bakery lose the ‘Gay Cake’ case …


BREAKING NEWS. Ashers Bakery found to be liable for discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. They have been ordered to pay £500 in damages plus legal costs. Read: the judgement of the courtAppeal also fails.

Listen to Barrister Daniel Barnett’s ‘LBC Legal Hour’ case explanation. 

A leading Human Rights QC has warned that there could be an avalanche of cases if Ashers Bakery lose their case. The case, between Ashers Baking Co and the Northern Ireland Equality Commission involves the bakers being taken to court for refusing to bake a cake with a slogan supporting gay-marriage. The Christian owned bakers, on religious grounds, refusing to decorate the pro-gay marriage cake.

Read the legal opinion of Aidan O’Neill QC which points out, by way of example, that in the following situations a service provider could be liable if they refuse to comply with a customers order request. So liable would be:

  • A Muslim printer refusing a contract requiring the printing of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
  • An atheist web designer refusing to design a website presenting as scientific fact the claim that God made the world in six days.
  • A T-shirt company owned by lesbians declining to print T-shirts with a message describing gay marriage as an “abomination”.

See a video that explains the issues.

It is being argued that there needs to be a freedom of conscience defence – so that businesses like Ashers Bakery can decline orders which undermine their religious principles. If the court can find no such defence, they could (hopefully) impose a nominal compensation of !p with no costs, so as to discourage any subsequent politically motivated/vexatious claims. Over 200 attend the court to support Ashers Bakery.

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Sep 29

Conviction: Murder at the Station.

programThe BBC have been showing an excellent documentary entitled ‘Conviction: Murder at the Station‘.

The two-part documentary involves a team of legal experts examining the police evidence against convicted murderer Roger Kearney. The documentary looks at the criminal appeal process and considers a variety of issues, such as blood spatter, missing forensic evidence, CCTV coverage etc. Well worth a BBC iPlayer viewing. 

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Sep 06

Police to use Spit Hoods?

spithoodThe Metropolitan Police Force have been considering establishing a trial of the use of Spit Hoods. The reason given is that some people who are being arrested spit or bite police officers and placing a Spit Hood would help prevent such action.

Logically, very few people would invite the imposition of a Spit Hood by the police. It follows, therefore, that considerable force would need to be used by the police to get a person they are arresting to wear the hood. Obviously, this raises human rights concerns

Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty, has described: “A spit hood is a primitive, cruel and degrading tool that inspires fear and anguish,”

Read More »

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Sep 06

What is “scuttlebutt”?

VazAccording to a newspaper press report, solicitors acting for Keith Vaz MP have written to Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen accusing him of “maliciously spreading false and highly defamatory scuttlebutt” about Mr Vaz.

Many of us will be confused about the word “scuttlebutt” and wonder what on earth that word means. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary a simple definition of “scuttlebutt” means: “talk or stories about someone that may not be true”.

See also Keith Vaz quits as Home Affairs Committee Chairman.

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Sep 01

Sexting …

sexting‘Sexting has become “normal” but can leave youngsters vulnerable to exploitation or blackmail.’  See Sky News report.

Advice: “It is crucial that posters understand that every internet site and social networking site is monitored by an administrator.”  They, in turn, can be expected to pass information onto the police.

 A leading children’s charity says police figures show under-18s are being criminalised for sharing nude photographs of themselves. Across all age groups, the number of such offences has more than doubled in two years – soaring from 4,530 in 2013 to 10,818 in 2015.

The Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, s.33 makes disclosure of private sexual photographs or films without consent a criminal offence. The maximum penalty on conviction is 2 years imprisonment in the Crown Court and 6 months imprisonment in the Magistrates Court.  See previous postings on sexting.

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Aug 29

Fancy a career in the police?

TattooIf you fancy a career in the police, it is wise to avoid having a tattoo. Even females who have a small discreet heart tattoo behind the ear could fall foul of police appearance policy, and be excluded from a police career.

The Home Office say that candidates with a tattoo may be eligible for appointment, but each case should be considered on its merits. The Metropolitan Police, since 2012, have directly banned officers from having tattoos visible on their hands or face. They will only accept tattoos that are covered and hidden from vision.

My own view on wearing a tattoo is that it is like buying an item of clothing that you intend to wear 24 hours a day for the rest of your life. In no time, that item will become yesterdays fashion statement. It will also fade in colour and quality as  you age.

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Aug 11

Should a Judge swear at a defendant?

questionA Judge who reflected the words back at a man convicted of racism, after he swore at her while being sentenced, is facing complaints and an investigation by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO).

In Chelmsford Crown Court a 50-year-old defendant, who had been convicted of making insulting and  racist slurs towards a black Caribbean woman, made matters worse by swearing at the Judge.

The defendant  was in the dock when he told Judge Lynch she was a “bit of a c***”, to which she responded: “You are a bit of a c*** yourself. Being offensive to me does not help.” Read More »

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Jul 20

University fees to go above £9000 limit?

teachers payIt is reported that three Universities have set their 2017 tuition fees at £9,250. They have made this announcement even before Parliament have debating plans which would pave the way to raise fees.

The three Universities concerned are Royal Holloway, Durham, and Kent. The Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, John Pugh, described the premature announcement  as “disgraceful arrogance from some Universities”.

Update: See Tuition Fees rise.

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May 11

Wearing high heels at work …

heelsThere has been a great deal of press coverage about a female receptionist being sent home from work because she was not wearing high heels. Indeed, according to BBC News reports, the complainant has started a petition calling for the law to be changed so that such demands would be unlawful.

It seems to me that a requirement for women to wear high heels at work could amount to sex discrimination under existing provisions via the Equality Act 2010. If, for example, an employment tribunal were to conclude that only women in the employment were required to wear high heels (and men were not) – then that could amount to direct discrimination. If so, then the employer could have no ‘justifiable’ defence – essentially because you cannot justify direct discrimination.

A requirement for female staff to wear high heels must at the very least establish an argument of indirect discrimination (in that the requirement impacts upon women more than men). In such circumstances, the employer would then need to show that the dress code requirement to wear high heels can be objectively justified as appropriate and necessary.  In my view, an employer would find such a defence as being difficult to succeed with. Though, of course, the actual facts  (and the employees and employers response to the situation) in any case can be vitally important.

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May 02

A few tips …

tipsTips left by customers should go to workers in full – and not their employers, the Government has said in a report.

Restaurants and bars could also be stopped from adding service charges to bills to remind customers they do not have to tip if they don’t want to.

The eight-month review of tipping practices follows claims that some “well-known” chains were counting tips as part of a worker’s pay and were withholding some or all of the money.

The big question now is what are the government going to do about this problem? A voluntary code of conduct for employers may not be strong enough. Some form of statutory legislation, that makes it unlawful/illegal to retain tips intended for staff,  could be the approach that is needed.

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Apr 27

Children and Teenagers victims of revenge porn …

mobileChildren as young as 11, and teenagers of the age of 19, are amongst 1160 victims of revenge porn on the internet between April 2015 and December 2015. The average age of a revenge porn victim is 25.

Revenge porn refers to the act of a partner or ex-partner purposefully distributing images or videos of a sexual nature without the other person’s consent.

Facebook was used by perpetrators in 68% of cases where social media was mentioned in reports. Then came Instagram (12%) followed by Snapchat (5%).

Being a victim was a “hugely distressing, damaging and violating experience”. See BBC News report. See also Ministry of Justice Publication.

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Apr 21

Found guilty – but should he be free to work …

chedUPDATE: The Appeal Court have quashed the Ched Evans conviction for rape on the basis of new evidence being provided. The Appeal Court have indicated that a re-trial should take place.

FINAL UPDATE: Ched Evans is found NOT GUILTY of rape at a re-trial heard in Cardiff Crown Court.



Ched Evans, the former Manchester City and Sheffield United forward, was found guilty of raping a 19-year-old girl in a hotel room and the Judge at the trial gave a five year prison sentence. In accord with normal procedure, Evans has been released from prison after serving two and a half years of his sentence. Despite such, via his website he maintains his innocence and the Criminal Cases Review Commission is to examine his caseSee a summary 0f the legal issues. (at 4th January 2015)

One of the main aims of sentencing is rehabilitation. This means that it is hoped that the convicted criminal will serve their time, reflect upon his/her unacceptable behaviour, and helped to be restored back into society a better person. As Gordon Taylor, of the Professional Footballers Association remarks: “It is a fundamental part of the justice system in this country and society in general that a person serves the punishment which the court determines is appropriate and, providing that has been done, an individual is entitled to be released to continue with his or her life.”

Ched Evans has served the punishment given by the Courts.  Should he now, like some other footballers with a criminal record, be free to work and participate in society?   Or, should society carry on punishing him?

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Mar 20

The filming of Crown Court trials …

Judge-150x150On the face of it, news that we may be able to watch Murder Trials on TV sounds exciting. However, when we examine the details we can see that its value is greatly limited. Currently, TV companies can film (and sometimes do) the proceedings of the UK Supreme Court and the Appeal Court.  The problem of such filming is that arguments over points of law may interest lawyers and law students, but it is dry and does not interest many members of the public. So, it is rarely filmed.

Under new proposals from the Ministry of Justice, it will become possible to watch parts of murder trials from criminal Crown Courts like the Old Bailey.  Though, this latest experiment in filming doesn’t mean we’ll get to see entire criminal trials like those of OJ Simpson and Oscar Pistorius. Indeed, in Crown Court trials the issues of fact are determined by the jury. However, the cameras will not show the jury, or any witnesses, so issues of fact will not be examined on TV.

What TV viewers could get to see and hear is that of judges sentencing murderers, and others, at the conclusion of gripping and notorious cases. In effect, what this means is that we will see a brief clip of a Judge from within the Court at end of the proceeedings. That’s clearly not going to do a great deal of informing law students about the legal processes within Courts. It will be far better to visit the Courts for the day and observe at first hand what happens.

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Mar 03

Cheating watches

_88562516_watch7Exam Boards have warned students about the dangers of “Cheating Watches”. These watches can be bought online and they are designed to enable a student to produce notes on a watch that can be read in exams. Should an invigilator walk nearby, the student can simply press a button on the watch and it then turns into a normal digital watch display.

These “Cheating Watches”, sold for around £44, may tempt students into cheating. However, exam boards have warned examination officers/invigilators to look out for such watches before exams start. Some Schools/Colleges are even banning students from taking watches into exam rooms. They also warn that any student found cheating could face exclusion from all of the examinations they are taking (e.g. all of their A-Levels).

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Mar 02

Mohamud v Morrisons 2016

petrolThe tort case of Mohamud v Morrisons involved an employee physically attacking a customer of Morrisons at a petrol station. Previous to this case, it was generally accepted that Morrisons would not be liable in tort law for the criminal actions of a working member of their staff. Though, liability could apply where a bouncer caused injuries to a customer at a night club – since the very nature of that job involved physical interaction between the bouncer and the customer.

However, the UK Supreme Court have now opened the door to companies being much more generally liable for the actions of their staff. The Supreme Court determined that a court must ask what function or field of activities has been entrusted by the employer to the employee (i.e. what was the nature of his job). This is to be viewed broadly. Second, the court must decide whether there was a sufficient connection between the position in which he was employed and his wrongful conduct to make it right for the employer to be held liable.

Given that the employee was employed at the petrol station to interact with Morrisons customers, the Court determined that the employer was liable for the actions of a member of their staff when he assaulted a customer.


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Dec 22

Drink Aware …

drinkingAccording to a study, the number of teenage girls – aged 13 to 19 – going to A&E with suspected alcohol poisoning is one and half times the rate of their male counterparts. See also government advice.

What is alarming about the data is that it also masks the reality that alcohol often leads to fights and violence. For example, a 16 year old girl slashed across the face with a razor blade may not be classed as a alcohol related incident – i.e. despite the fact that the person who conducted the attack was influenced by alcohol. Indeed, many medics feel that 75% of attendances to A&E between midnight and 2am are drink related.

Obviously, a social life is important. If you don’t party as a teenager – when will you party? That being said, it is important to stay in control to avoid danger. T0 assist, there is a DrinkAware App that you can download that will help you stay in control. Personally, I find abstention from alcohol can also be fun. It’s great being sober and seeing all your friends make fools of themselves.

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