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New Law Allows Schools to Keep Allergy Pens

According to statistics provided by Allergy UK, approximately 44 percent of the UK adult population now suffers from at least one allergy, and the numbers are increasing. (Mintel, 2010). The numbers of children affected are also increasing.

Between 1992 and 2012 there was in increase in 615% in the number of hospital admissions related to anaphylaxis in the United Kingdom. (Turner, Paul J., et al, 2015). According to Asthma UK (2017), one in eleven children in the UK is now receiving treatment for asthma. That is more than a million children affected.

So the change in the law that enables UK schools to buy and keep available for use auto-injectors for use in emergencies upon children with serious allergies definitely seems to be a move in the right direction.

From 1st October, both primary and secondary schools will be able to order the injectors from pharmacies. They can be used if an additional dose is required, where the child’s own inhaler or epipen is not available, is not working properly, or has been administered incorrectly. There must be a risk of anaphylaxis and prior consent from the child’s parent and general practitioner. As 17% of fatal allergic reactions that affect children take place in the school, it is anticipated that this change in the law will save the lives of children.

There are a variety of causes if severe allergic reaction. The most common are food such as peanuts and seafood; insect stings; medication; and contact with latex.

The Criminal Finances Act 2017

 

The Criminal Finances Act has now been enacted. This places a significant onus on companies, and other business structures to effectively police the activities of its employees, agents and service providers.

New criminal conduct involves holding a company or partnership, etc. liable for the acts of employees (amongst others) who commit offences whereby the company or partnership has failed to prevent the facilitation of domestic tax evasion, as well as an offence when they have failed to prevent facilitation of foreign tax evasion.

It is draconian legislation. Where a person who is associated with the relevant company or business commits an offence either by facilitating UK tax evasion or foreign tax evasion, the organisation will be vicariously liable, regardless of knowledge. The associated person does not just have to be an employee, but can include an agent or any person performing services on behalf of the relevant body.

There are three stages to the offences, which are as follows:

  1. There is an act of tax evasion by a tax-payer, whether UK based or abroad; (It must be proven that there is dishonest intent in the facilitation. Dishonest intent for the underlying offence as well as dishonest facilitation must be proven, which might be evidenced by concealment, misrepresentation, non-disclosure or recklessness).
  2. There is a criminal facilitation of this offence by a person who is associated with the organisation;
  3. The organisation has failed to prevent the associated person from the act of facilitating.

The only defence is that the organisation had reasonable procedures in place to prevent such acts occurring.

The penalties are unlimited fines. Prosecution can only be commenced with the consent of the DPP or the SFO.

There are also new seizure powers relating to assets and cash.

Furthermore, there are new ‘unexplained wealth orders’. One group of people affected by this are those deemed to be ‘politically exposed persons (PEPs) or those involved or associated with serious crime. Regarding a politically exposed person, there doesn’t have to be any proven connection to criminal behaviour. An order can be made for disclosure of both the nature and extent of an interest in property, as well as an explanation as to how they have come into possession of it. This arises when there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person is holding assets that are disproportionate to their known income. It is an offence to give false information.

There are other provisions relating to making reports of suspicious activities to appropriate bodies (not unfamiliar territory for those familiar with the money-laundering duties to report).

This legislation is going to have significant impact upon financial institutions, including banking, pensions and financial services providers and advisors, property providers, and the legal profession. The need to have a stated procedure to address these issues is paramount. For solicitors, it is time to update the office manual!

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…