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General legal information

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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The word ‘insulting’ to be removed from Public Order Act

Yesterday, Teresa May, the Home Secretary, confirmed the Government would not seek to overturn an amendment supported by peers in the House of Lords in December 2012, regarding the removal of the word ‘insulting’ from Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.

Section 5 states that: “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” could be deemed a criminal offence. The amendment to the Act was proposed last year by the former chief Constable of the West Midlands, Lord Dear, as part of the Crime and Courts Bill.#

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‘Unreasonable’ council fines for household-waste offences to be scrapped by Government

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, spoke on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Show this week-end. He vowed the Government will introduce legislation, in the next session of Parliament, to stop local councils fining residents for a range of infractions in putting out their rubbish for collection.

For example, according to the Telegraph, Pickles says that it is ‘ludicrous’ fines can be issued for trivial matters such as over-filling wheelie-bins, putting yoghurt pots into the wrong recycling container, and leaving bins out too long after collections.

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Prince Charles worried about changes to succession law

It appears an outmoded British law is to be dealt with, under the direction of the Prime Minister, David Cameron. However, the Daily Mail reports Prince Charles has some misgivings about the changes, which concern the inheritance of the throne.

The basis for succession law rests on constitutional developments surrounding the abdication of the last Roman Catholic monarch of the British Isles, James II, encouraged by the Protestant Parliament. These events culminated in the Bill of Rights 1689 and the Act of Settlement 1701, so it may be high time for some movement on the issue.

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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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Appeal Judge rules on case of Christian who refused to work Sundays

2013 may prove to be a bumper year for legal cases involving Christian belief. Controversy is already brewing over the issue of gay marriage, and the wearing of religious symbols at work.

Additionally, according to the Telegraph, the Government has suggested the temporary relaxation of Sunday opening regulations, effective around the time of the London Olympics last summer, might be made permanent. Currently, stores larger than 280 square meters in size are allowed to open for a maximum of six hours only, under the Sunday Trading Act 1994.

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Contempt laws under review for modern juries

According to a report by the BBC, the Law Commission has begun a consultation into the effectiveness of England and Wales’ contempt of court rules.

The current law was introduced in 1981, long before the ‘information superhighway’ became a part of our day-to-day lives.

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Senior judge warns asylum lawyers over disclosure

The president of the Queen’s Bench of the High Court, Sir John Thomas, has warned solicitors they could face disciplining by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). This may happen if they do not comply with the principle of full disclosure, when making applications to halt the removal of asylum seekers.

Lawyers representing failed asylum seekers can ask the High Court to grant a judicial review or an injunction against removal, in order to keep their client in the country pending further legal action.

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Young man claims police locked him up for filming on-duty officers

The Mail on Sunday reported yesterday that a 20-year-old man, Jake Coplestone, is claiming Wiltshire police locked him up overnight because he filmed some on-duty officers apparently taking a break.

Coplestone, who played ruby for south-west England under-16s, claims he saw five on-duty police officers gathered in a Marlborough café-bar one evening this September. He filmed them with his phone, but was spotted doing so and approached by two of the officers.

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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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