Legal Education – Lecture Series

 Fiona Taylor lectures in law and ethics to both undergraduate and post-graduates at the University of the Creative Arts in Farnham. Taylors Solicitors has a strong commitment to making legal education accessible to people who need to access it. Lecture notes (in Powerpoint) are therefore presently made available to access free of charge.

Sources of Law

Contract  Law – Introduction

REPORTING USING DRONES – LEGAL AND ETHICAL ISSUES 

 

 

Right to Die – Without Court Involvement

In a landmark ruling in the Court of Protection, Mr Justice Peter Jackson has given a ruling that effectively means that in England and Wales, decisions can be made to withdraw life-support treatment in certain circumstances without having to obtain the permission of the court.

The doctors and the relatives of the patient will need to be in agreement about the decision, and the medical guidelines will need to have been complied with.

The decision is likely to have considerable ramifications for how such cases are dealt with.

The case related to a fifty-year-old woman with Huntington’s Disease, who was minimally conscious, showed no signs of recognition or engagement with her family and had no prospects of recovery. She had suffered from the disease for over twenty-five years. She was being kept alive with a feeding tube providing nutrition and hydration. This is effectively “life-sustaining” treatment. Its withdrawal will inevitably lead to the person’s life ending.

It is anticipated that the official solicitor will seek to appeal against the decision.

 

 

Flexible Court Hours – Pilot Postponed

There has been considerable comment in the legal media relating to plans to bring in flexible court hours form 08.00 – 20.00 in certain courts in pilot areas.

Various objections had been raised to this, including for defence lawyers the failure to proffer additional funding; the problems of potentially discriminating against part-time lawyers; the requirements that would be inherent of having to  undertake even more preparation during ‘unsocial hours’; the problems of getting security firms to deliver prisoners on time; the difficulties for those reliant on public transport; the lack of consultation…   The list goes on.

Susan Acland-Hood, the chief of the HMCTS has announced that the pilot scheme has now been put back until February. She claims to have listened to the concerns expressed by court users and has stated that she wants there to be a “robust, independent valuation system in place”, accepting that they need a clear evidence base upon which to proceed. She has also said that time will be taken to engage and discuss the pilots, and consideration will be given as to how they can be improved.

It also became apparent that the efforts to find a suitable independent organisation to undertake the pilot had not so far been successful.

The prospect of flexible court hours has not, however, been completely scrapped. HMCTS will be reopening the tender process. There are plans for  further consultation further with legal professionals which will not be limited solely to those in the pilot areas. Watch this space…

Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation

In February of this year, the Government announced that £40m was being allocated to implement various measures to help to protect children and young people from being sexually abused. £20m is to be paid to the NCA (National Crime Agency)  to tackle the serious problem of online child sexual exploitation. There is a new centre of expertise being launched and £2.2m is to be provided to charities which work to protect children who are at risk of trafficking.

The Government also released a report which looked at the progress that had been made since 2015, when the report “Tackling Sexual Exploitation”  was published. The report has identified that there has been a significant improvement in tackling the culture of denial regarding both the scale and nature of the crimes being committed. It has also identified an increase in accountability and support for victims of child sex offending. Since 2015, the Government has provided £14 million of additional funding for direct support of victims. It will be providing a further £7.15m over the next two years to bring in a means of support for victims, which is referred to as the ‘Child House’ model of wraparound.

The report states that in the 2015, 5,879 offenders were convicted of child sexual abuse offences. That is 1,000 more offenders than were convicted in 2014. The police recording of contact child sexual abuse had increased by 14%. The Metropolitan Police revealed figures in March 2017 disclosing that child sexual exploitation crimes had risen by nearly 50%. Part of the reason for the increase was thought to be due to improved recording, but clearly it seemed there as also been an actual increased number of offences.

In July, the Mayor of London’s Office produced a report from the Co-Commissioning Workshop (which has some useful links). Data that had been obtained from the Havens on rape and serious sexual assault of children also identified that those in the most deprived communities were 7.5 times more likely to suffer abuse than those in the least deprived communities, that almost a third have a pre-existing mental health issue and/or have experienced domestic violence, and that nearly 7% had learning disabilities. Nearly a quarter used alcohol or drugs.

The Child Online Protection Centre estimated prevalence at 5% of children being victims of sexual abuse at some time in their lives by the age of 18. The NSPCC also estimates that one in twenty children is sexually assaulted as a child, that one in three of those children don’t tell anybody and that over 90% of the children abused were abused by somebody that they knew.

‘How safe are our children? 2017’ is the “most comprehensive overview of child protection in the UK”. Over half a million children were referred to Social Services in the year ending March 2016, albeit not all relating to sexual vulnerability. It is a shocking figure, especially in the context of the known problem of non-reporting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Law Commission Consulting on “Sentencing Code”

The Law Commission is consulting upon the possibility of introducing a single sentencing statute, a “Sentencing Code”, to become the comprehensive source for all sentencing law

The aims of the Sentencing Code would be to:

Seek to prevent the imposition of unlawful sentences by providing a single reference point for the law of sentencing. This would simplify many of the present complex provisions and would also remove the necessity of referring to historic legislation;

Hopefully save a large amount of money (estimated to be up to £255m over ten years) by reducing the number of unnecessary appeals and reducing delays in sentencing, which case delays in the appeal courts;

Apply modern language so that it is easier to understand and can be seen to be relevant to contemporary society, thereby improving public confidence and allowing people who are not qualified lawyers to understand the process as it applies to sentencing;

Be able to dispense with a vast and complicated array of old law, which could lead to the revocation of many old statutes; and

Enable judges to use the modern sentencing powers for both new and historic cases. This would making cases simpler to deal with and ensure that justice is both done and can be seen to be done in a way that properly serves the interests of justice.

The proposed “Sentencing Code” would not:

Change the maximum sentences for criminal offences;

Result in any offender receiving a more severe penalty than that which they could have had imposed at the time of the commission of the offence they have committed;

Extend the minimum sentencing provisions or create new minimum sentences;

Remove or reduce the discretion of the Judiciary; or

Replace either the sentencing guidelines or the work or role of the Sentencing Council.

At the moment, sentencing can be an immensely complicated issue. It is widely recognised as an area that needs an urgent overhaul.

For further details, see the Law Commission website.