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Tag Archive | "court of appeal"

Counter-terrorism laws breach fundamental rights

The appeals court has ruled that the United Kingdom’s broad counter-terrorism laws breach fundamental rights in a case involving the seizure of encrypted documents. The decision came in the case of David Miranda, who was detained at Heathrow airport in 2013 for carrying files related to information obtained by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden. Read the full story

Posted in Civil LibertiesComments (0)

Court of Appeal allows charities to challenge legal aid cuts for prisoners

Denying prisoners in England and Wales legal aid so they can effectively challenge the conditions under which they are held could be illegal, the court of appeal has ruled.

Senior judges have granted two charities – the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prisoners’ Advice Service (PAS) – permission to bring a fresh case questioning the legality of budgetary restrictions introduced by the Ministry of Justice. Read the full story

Posted in Civil Liberties, Legal AidComments (0)

No appeal

When the Court of Appeal gave the go-ahead for the government’s controversial legal aid reforms by dismissing an appeal by the Law Society and practitioner groups, and refused to extend an injunction suspending the tender process, the Law Society and the Associations said that they would seek to lodge an application with the Supreme Court for permission to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision, and get the application heard Monday of this week.

An injunction suspending the tendering process for 527 duty provider contracts expired after the Court of Appeal refused to extend it until Monday while the Society sought to take its case to the Supreme Court.

Now there has been a change of plan. The Law Society has announced that it has decided not to take its fight to the Supreme Court.

Society president Andrew Caplen said: “Our counsel’s advice is that the recent judgment is robust and an appeal most unlikely to be granted. We have therefore taken the difficult decision not to apply to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal.”
The tender process, which had been suspended since December, has now been reopened and will close at midday on 5 May.

Caplen said the Society had great reservations about the new duty solicitor contractual arrangements and would call on the new government to review them urgently after the election.

He said: “Individual firms will need to make their own decisions on whether to bid for contracts. We will continue to support solicitors throughout the process.”

The Society has issued guidance for firms wishing to set up delivery partnerships.

Posted in Legal AidComments (0)

Defeat in the Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal today gave the go-ahead for the government’s controversial legal aid reforms by dismissing an appeal by the Law Society and practitioner groups.

In the words of the judgement: “In view of the rational and lawful evaluation of the consultation responses made by the Lord Chancellor, it was not incumbent on him to investigate the current underlying facts in any greater detail than he did.

The judgment concluded that the lord chancellor was rationally entitled to assess that the “admittedly broad brush approach” he adopted at the end of March 2014 in relation to costs of bidding for duty provider contracts was a reasonable one. On the process of consulting with service providers – the basis of last year’s High Court challenge – the Court of Appeal said “it was not incumbent on [the lord chancellor] to investigate the current underlying facts in any greater detail than he did.”

The Court of Appeal refused to extend an injunction suspending the tender process. The Law Society and the Associations are seeking to lodge an application with the Supreme Court for permission to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision, and get the application heard on Monday. The injunction expires today.

Society president Andrew Caplen said: “The Court of Appeal decision is a devastating blow. We remain concerned that vulnerable people may not be able to obtain legal representation if they are accused of wrongdoing.”

Robin Murray, vice-chair of the CLSA, said; “It is a matter of enormous disappointment that the appeal brought by the Associations and The Law Society has been defeated.” Jonathan Black, president of the LCCSA, said the group was ‘gutted’ by this morning’s decision. He said: “While the appeal court has found the devastating carve-up of solicitor representation is technically legal, we and many others believe it’s immoral. We’ll do everything we can to continue the fight.”

The Legal Aid Agency has issued a statement that: “ Following the Court of Appeal’s decision today that the Duty Provider Contract tender process and consultation are lawful, the Invitation to Tender for those organisations eligible to apply for a Duty Provider Contract will continue on Friday 27 March 2015 and will close at 12 noon on Tuesday 5 May 2015.

“Now that the injunction has been lifted and the tender will continue, and we have set a new deadline for tender applications. The closing date for applications has been amended to maintain an overall nine week tender window for this stage of the procurement process. Work under this contract is now due to start on 11 January 2016.”

There was never much doubt that the lord chancellor would press ahead with his plans if he was successful in the Court of Appeal. This is a subject which is close up and personal after the many rebuffs he has received from appeal courts. Purdah will have been far from his mind. A close run thing, the statutory period for tenders of nine weeks expires just two days before election day. So it will be for the incoming administration whether or not to proceed. The Labour party has said it would abandon the contracts if elected.

The full text of the judgement Neutral Citation Number: [2015] EWCA Civ 230 can be found at:

Posted in Criminal Justice, Legal AidComments (0)

One cheer for open justice

An attempt by the Crown Prosecution Service to hold a terrorism trial entirely in secret has been overturned by the court of appeal. The request, unprecedented in recent criminal justice history, would have prevented anyone knowing even the identity of the two men accused.

In May a Crown court judge accepted the Crown Prosecution Service’s application that it was in the interests of national security for the trial of AB and CD to be heard in secret. The CPS told the Court of Appeal that it could abandon the prosecution if the trial had to be held in public. The application for an entirely secret trial was supported by certificates from the home secretary, Theresa May, and the foreign secretary, William Hague, stating that it was required on the grounds of national security. Read the full story

Posted in Civil Liberties, Criminal JusticeComments (0)

LASPO implemented – or not?

From Monday a range of new criminal offences and sentences introduced in LASPO came into effect.

The new offences include a mandatory life sentence for people convicted of a second very serious sexual or violent offence, aggravated knife possession, causing serious injury by dangerous driving, measures to strengthen community sentences and tough new sentences for hate crime. Justice secretary Chris Grayling said: “Criminals should be in no doubt they will be punished for their crimes, with those who commit the most serious offences receiving the most severe sentences.” Read the full story

Posted in Criminal Justice, Law Updates, Legal AidComments (0)

Cameras in court

Courts in England and Wales will be more publicly accessible than ever before when television broadcasting is introduced. Plans to overturn the ban on filming and broadcasting from law courts were unveiled as part of the Queen’s Speech and will form part of the Crime and Courts Bill. Read the full story

Posted in Criminal Justice, Law UpdatesComments (0)

Judges reject use of secret evidence in civil trials

“The importance of civil trials being fair, the procedures of the court being simple, and the rules of court being clear are all of cardinal importance. It would, in our view, be wrong for judges to introduce into ordinary civil trials a procedure which…cuts across absolutely fundamental principles (the right to a fair trial and the right to know the reasons for the outcome), initially hard fought for and now well established Read the full story

Posted in Case Law, Civil Liberties, Law UpdatesComments (0)

Royal Courts’ trial without jury

This week John Twomey, for the fourth time, is on trial on charges in connection with a robbery at Heathrow airport in 2004. The particular significance of this trial, involving three other defendents at the Royal Courts of Justice, is that, for the first time in some 400 years, a trial on very serious criminal charges is being held without a jury. Read the full story

Posted in Case Law, Criminal JusticeComments (0)

Judge alone trials – Jury tampering.

A judge should not continue to try a case alone, after discharging the jury because of jury tampering, where an ‘informed objective bystander’ might legitimately conclude that there was a real possibility of bias by the judge. Read the full story

Posted in Criminal JusticeComments (0)

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