Contact Law blog

Editorial

Prince Charles’ letters: a political and legal drama

The recent (March 2014) saga of Prince Charles’ letters to the UK Government is intriguing from a political perspective, and throws up issues going to the heart of UK constitutional law.

Why is it so important to know what Prince Charles has been writing?

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Could no-win, no-fee agreements be on their way out?

Concerns are mounting over no-win, no-fee agreements after a Legal Ombudsman’s report in late January 2014 highlighted abusive practices by some solicitors.

In 2013 lawyers were ordered to pay nearly £1 million in compensation to clients after agreements went wrong.

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Are whistleblowers protected enough?

Whistleblowing is a situation in which someone reports wrongdoing at their workplace. This could relate to things like law-breaking, environmental damage, health and safety concerns, or dishonesty.

It is widely recognised to be in the public interest for workers to be able to make disclosures of this nature. However, recent reports suggest that not enough is being done to protect and encourage whistleblowers, especially in the teaching profession.

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Are Free Schools regulated sufficiently?

A recent development

The Information Tribunal has rejected an attempt by the Department for Education (DfE) to withhold information, concerning the identity of groups who have proposed to open so-called ‘free schools’ in England, as reported by BBC News.

The Information, including the names, location and religious affiliation of such groups, was requested in an attempt to highlight an alleged lack of transparency inherent in the system of proposing and setting up a free school.

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What is the status of sharia law in the UK?

A recent news story about the exercise of criminal law in Saudi Arabia has generated widespread consternation in the UK. This reaction may, in part, reflect unease about the influence of Muslim rulings in this country, given the recent debate on the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill in the House of Lords, led by Baroness Cox.

The incident was reported by the Daily Mail and concerns the beheading by sword of a Sri Lankan national, Rizana Nafeek, despite claims that she was only 17 years old in 2005 when the alleged crime was committed. Nafeek was executed this Wednesday for causing the death of a four-month-old baby in her care, while working as a housemaid in Saudi Arabia.

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Government to re-visit perennial problem of care costs for the elderly?

Norman Lamb, the Coalition Health Minister, has called for the issue of how to fund care for the elderly to be addressed urgently by the Government. In an interview with the Daily Mail this week, Lamb said that legislation must be brought in to address the principal of capping care costs.

The cap was a key recommendation of the Government-appointed Dilnot Commission, charged with making recommendations on how long-term care for the elderly should be funded in the future. The report, published in July this year, advised that the cap, after which the state would fund care, should be set at between £25,000 and £50,000, with £35,000 as the most reasonable figure.

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Landmark ruling on equal pay case could generate wave of new claims

This Wednesday, at the Supreme Court in London, five senior judges ruled on a case concerning whether equal pay claims could be made in the civil court rather than being confined to Employment Tribunals, as reported by the BBC.

The ruling, which follows those made previously by the High Court and the Court of Appeal on the matter, also has implications regarding the time-limit in which ex-employees can launch such claims.

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Supreme Court re-definition of ‘miscarriage of justice’ to be tested in compensation claim

In May 2011, the Supreme Court made a landmark ruling that re-defined the legal meaning of a ‘miscarriage of justice’. This ruling is about to be tested at the High Court in a compensation case launched by Barry George, among four others.

A panel of nine senior judges arrived at the re-definition last year, by a majority of five to four, after debating when compensation should be paid to those wrongly convicted of a crime, as reported by The Daily Mail.

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Is ‘slopping out’ in UK prisons an abuse of human rights?

The Telegraph reported yesterday on the considerations of a High court judge when deciding whether to allow an appeal by a convicted felon, regarding the practice of ‘slopping out’, which lingers in some older UK prisons after being largely phased out in the 1990s.

In the original claim last year, two former inmates argued that slopping out, or using a bucket for toilet purposes when locked in a cell and the later emptying of the bucket at a sluice, contravened their human rights under Articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention (ECHR).

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Should the law be changed to routinely arm British police officers?

The debate about whether police officers in the UK should be routinely armed has been re-visited, after the shocking deaths of two unarmed policewomen in Manchester on Tuesday.

The two officers, 23-year-old PC Nicola Hughes, and 32-year-old PC Fiona Bone, were killed in an incident in the Tameside district of the city, after being sent to check out a routine house burglary report.

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Editorial Image

In this section you will find opinionated pieces about topical issues. They are usually based around a news item, with opinions aimed at promoting discussion.

The views in these posts are those of the individual author, and not necessarily of Contact Law.

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