2005 Constitutional Reform Act up for review – Law Society’s Gazette

‘The government intends to revisit the role of lord chancellor as part of a ‘careful review’ of the Blair administration’s 2005 Constitutional Reform Act, current incumbent Robert Buckland QC MP has revealed.’

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Law Society's Gazette, 14th June 2021

Source: www.lawgazette.co.uk

Lewis Graham: Suspended and prospective quashing orders: the current picture – UK Constitutional Law Association

Posted June 11th, 2021 in constitutional law, government departments, judicial review, news by tracey

‘The government is currently pursuing reform of judicial review remedies. Out of the many possibilities canvassed over the last year or so, two proposals in particular have emerged as likely contenders for legislative action: suspended quashing orders and prospective quashing orders. In this post, I examine these proposals, alongside the court’s existing powers in relation to issuing quashing orders, in order to discern what the real impact of any legislative intervention would be.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 7th June 2021

Source: ukconstitutionallaw.org

Paolo Sandro: Do You Really Mean It? Ouster Clauses, Judicial Review Reform, and the UK Constitutionalism Paradox – UK Constitutional Law Association

‘The Conservative government’s response to the IRAL report has raised plenty of alarm bells from UK constitutional scholars. The widespread observation that the government’s judicial review reform plans appear to go well beyond what the Independent Panel recommended points to a more fundamental problem: that the government seems to proceed from a very partial understanding (at best) of the UK “constitution”.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 1st June 2021

Source: ukconstitutionallaw.org

Mark K Heatley: The Implications of the Hertfordshire County Council Case for Local Democracy – UK Constitutional Law Association

‘The High Court recently delivered its judgment in the case of Hertfordshire County Council v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, finding that remote meetings of local councils could not continue after 7 May 2021. This article looks at the decision and considers its impact for future local democracy.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 2nd June 2021

Source: ukconstitutionallaw.org

Finnian Clarke: Be careful what you wish for: The government’s judicial review consultation on public law nullity – UK Constitutional Law Association

‘In its “Judicial Review Reform: the Government Response to the Independent Review of Administrative Law” consultation document, the government puts forward a number of suggestions for reform of the concept of “nullity” within UK public law. They suggest among other things that only jurisdictional errors should be deemed void ab initio, and/or that courts ought to have a presumption against a finding of nullity. Though the recent Queen’s speech included a Judicial Review Bill, it made no mention of these specific proposals, suggesting that the government may be minded to shelve these ideas for now. In this post I’ll argue that the government would be well-advised to leave nullity alone.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 24th May 2021

Source: ukconstitutionallaw.org

Max Taylor: The Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill: Missed Opportunities – UK Constitutional Law Association

Posted May 19th, 2021 in bills, constitutional law, news, parliament, prorogation by sally

‘The newly introduced Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill (“the Bill”) – like the Draft Fixed-term Parliaments Act (Repeal) Bill which preceded it – is a missed opportunity. It has failed to unify and define the scope and exercise of the powers of proroguing and dissolving Parliament, in one statute, which were in need of clarification post-Miller II. Now that the Government has decided on the form which it would like the Bill repealing the Fixed-term Parliaments Act to take, the moment has gone and, as a niche of constitutional law, it is unlikely to garner enough political capital for these issues to be deemed worth addressing for the meantime.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 18th May 2021

Source: ukconstitutionallaw.org

Gareth Evans: The Senedd Election and the Constitutional Prospects for Welsh Devolution – UK Constitutional Law Association

‘On 6 May 2021, the people of Wales went to the polls in the sixth Senedd election. More so than in previous Senedd elections, the focus of the debate centred around a catalogue of distinctly Welsh political issues, including the constitutional future of the Welsh devolution settlement. Among the constitutional possibilities offered to voters at the election were proposals for both the abolition of the Senedd and Welsh independence, together with the more muted options of maintaining the constitutional status quo, or seeking the devolution of additional powers in areas such as justice and policing, transport and broadcasting.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 13th May 2021

Source: ukconstitutionallaw.org

Mikołaj Barczentewicz: Should Cart Judicial Reviews be Abolished? Empirically Based Response – UK Constitutional Law Association

‘The Government adopted a recommendation of the Independent Review of Administrative Law that Cart judicial reviews should be abolished. The reasons given by the Review for that recommendation have been criticised on this blog by Joe Tomlinson & Alison Pickup and by Joanna Bell. The Review (and the Government) claimed that there is only a 0.22% rate of success in Cart judicial reviews (“Cart JRs”), which makes the expenditure of judicial resources on dealing with Cart claims disproportionate. Tomlinson & Pickup and Bell noted that this figure is almost certainly incorrect, but they were not able to say what the true rate of success is due to the unavailability of necessary data. To address that, I conducted an unprecedented empirical study concluding that the success rate of Cart reviews is at least over ten times higher than the Review’s calculation. Here, I briefly summarize the results of my study and argue that in the light of that evidence the Government should propose to put the Cart procedure on a statutory footing, but not abolish it.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 5th May 2021

Source: ukconstitutionallaw.org

Ep 143: Henry VIII Powers undermining parliamentary supremacy – Law Pod UK

‘In this episode, Rosalind English discusses with Sarabjit Singh and Isabel McArdle of 1 Crown Office Row a number of laws containing “Henry VIII” powers which allow ministers to avoid full parliamentary debate.’

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Law Pod UK, 4th May 2021

Source: audioboom.com

Nicholas Reed Langen: Confronting Climate Change in the Courts – UK Constitutional Law Association

‘Talk is cheap. Governments, particularly wealthy, western ones, have been quick to make promises on climate change. They swear blind that they understand the threat the world faces, and that they will implement a policy response commensurate with it. Few nations have adopted this rhetoric as determinedly as the UK, with the British government promising to transform the UK into a net-zero country by 2050, an oath enshrined in law through the passing of the Climate Change Act 2008 (Order 2019) by Parliament in the summer of 2019.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 27th April 2021

Source: ukconstitutionallaw.org

Tim Sayer: Preserving Judicial Oversight: An Appeal to Self-Interest – UK Constitutional Law Association

‘Boris Johnson’s government takes the view that ours is a time of judicial overreach, necessitating redress in terms of the balance of judicial and executive power. This seems to have been driven by a number of high-profile cases, certain vocal thinktanks which appear to have the ear of government, and a wider constitutional prospectus of enhancing executive power to the detriment of the other branches of state. An endless series of projects and proposals have emerged, designed to remedy the perception of an overmighty judiciary. The Independent Review of Administrative Law, established with a view to curbing the perceived excesses of judicial review, reported recently in relatively tame terms, only to be swiftly followed by a further set of proposals. The Independent Human Rights Act Review potentially paves the way for satiation of long-held Conservative fantasies of amending the Human Rights Act. There are also, if leaks are to be believed, proposals to reform the UK Supreme Court.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 21st April 2021

Source: ukconstitutionallaw.org

Parliament’s power needs to be restored after its ‘shocking’ marginalisation by government – UCL Constitution Unit

‘The Constitution Unit has jointly written a briefing to all MPs – summarised in a letter in the Times published on 21 April 2021 – with the Hansard Society, Public Law Project and Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law warning that parliamentary accountability and control over decisions have diminished to a degree that would have been unthinkable before COVID-19. Individual MPs have also been shut out of participation, and the vast majority of Commons votes are now held by party whips.’

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UCL Constitution Unit, 21st April 2021

Source: www.ucl.ac.uk

‘No meaningful parliamentary debate or scrutiny’ of Covid laws, says former government legal chief – The Independent

‘The British government’s former top lawyer has called for urgent changes to the way coronavirus laws are made after a year without any “meaningful parliamentary debate or scrutiny”.’

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The Independent, 20th April 2021

Source: www.independent.co.uk

Covid-19 and the courts – The House of Lords Constitution Committee’s report – Transparency Project

Posted April 14th, 2021 in constitutional law, coronavirus, courts, inquiries, news, select committees by sally

‘In a report published at the end of last month the House of Lords Constitution Committee made a number of criticisms of the way the courts have responded to the coronavirus pandemic and the suspension of live hearings necessitated by the lockdown, and made various recommendations as to the need for more resources to reduce the backlog of cases and create a better justice system for the future.’

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Transparency Project, 11th April 2021

Source: www.transparencyproject.org.uk

Joe Tomlinson and Alison Pickup: Putting the Cart before the horse? The Confused Empirical Basis for Reform of Cart Judicial Reviews – UK Constitutional Law Association

‘The Independent Review of Administrative Law has now reported. For a review process that was unnecessarily quick, the Expert Panel, led by Lord Faulks QC, has produced a substantial and detailed analysis. The Report has rightly drawn broad support from across the political spectrum—even if the Government’s support for the report has been accompanied by a new consultation which departs from the Report’s findings on various important points. No doubt, the focus will now shift to the new consultation. However, in this post we want to respectfully take issue with one of the firm conclusions of the Panel: that Cart judicial reviews ought to be discontinued on the basis they are a disproportionate use of judicial resource.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 29th March 2021

Source: ukconstitutionallaw.org

Florence Powell and Stephanie Needleman: How radical an instrument is Section 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998? – UK Constitutional Law Association

‘The operation of the Human Rights Act 1998 (the “HRA”) is currently being reviewed by the Government’s Independent Human Rights Act Review (the “Review”). One of the Review’s key themes is “the impact of the HRA on the relationship between the judiciary, the executive and the legislature”. In respect of this theme, the Terms of Reference ask how s.3 has operated and whether it should be amended or repealed.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 24th March 2021

Source: ukconstitutionallaw.org

Craig Prescott: Modernising the Monarchy: Moving Beyond the 1917 Letters Patent and the “George V Convention” – UK Constitutional Law Association

Posted March 23rd, 2021 in constitutional law, equality, news, peerages & dignities, royal family by sally

‘In March 2021, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, gave one of the most extraordinary interviews ever held with a member of the Royal Family. It may have a profound and long-lasting effect on the monarchy, an institution that remains central to the UK’s constitutional arrangements. Already, there are calls for reform. This blog focuses on the section of the interview that discussed the lack of princely status for Archie, the Sussexes’ eldest child.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 23rd March 2021

Source: ukconstitutionallaw.org

Michael Foran: Shamima Begum, the Separation of Powers, and the Common Good – UK Constitutional Law Association

‘The Supreme Court has come under significant criticism for its handling of the Shamima Begum case, decided on 26 February. Much has already been said in relation to the deference that the court showed to the executive, with some arguing that it was improper or even a complete abdication of the judicial role itself. This post seeks to clarify what precisely the court did and did not do in relation to the exercise of its constitutional duty to review the legality of executive action. It will suggest that the Court did not engage in any strong deference as to the nature of Begum’s rights nor to the balance to be struck between those rights and the common good. Such questions remained wholly within the purview of the Court. While the Court did pay due respect to the executive’s authority to determine and pursue the common good, this was subject to an assessment of lawfulness. Any deference, if it can even be called deference, was to the rule of law, given both the statutory scheme in question and the common law distinction between review and appeal. The determination of the scope of individual rights entails an exercise of judicial interpretation which seeks to strike an appropriate balance between the applicable legal considerations. It is not deference for the court to include constitutional principles such as the separation of powers within those considerations.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 17th March 2021

Source: ukconstitutionallaw.org

Mikołaj Barczentewicz: An empirical study of the gender of counsel before the UK’s highest court – UK Constitutional Law Association

‘During the live television coverage of the Supreme Court hearings in Miller (No 1), some commentators (and no doubt many members of the public) noted that almost all lawyers in the courtroom were male. That image of the UK’s “Supreme Court bar” (to borrow a US term), though not entirely accurate, highlighted an ongoing problem with gender representation. In a new study (available here), I analysed the trends of gender and seniority in counsel appearances before the House of Lords and the Supreme Court from 1970 to 2020 based on a unique dataset I created covering 5,041 lawyers and 2,714 judgments. I found that there are some very optimistic signs regarding appearances of the most junior counsel. However, gender balance among the more senior counsel is not as good and has not been clearly improving over the most recent years, which matters because counsel with more experience before the highest court dominate litigation in that court. The unprecedented representation of women among the most junior counsel in the Supreme Court gives nevertheless a reason to believe that the situation will improve also among the more senior counsel.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association , 15th March 2021

Source: ukconstitutionallaw.org

Max Taylor: Parliamentary Confirmation of Ministerial Nominations – UK Constitutional Law Association

Posted March 11th, 2021 in constitutional law, Crown, ministers' powers and duties, news, parliament by sally

‘In terms of government formation, there are two kinds of parliamentary system: “…countries where the government needs to win an investiture vote are said to have positive parliamentarism, while countries in which the government just needs to be tolerated by parliament are said to have negative parliamentarism”. By this definition, the UK has a negative parliamentary system (excepting s. 2(5), Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011): the Queen appoints the Prime Minister by inviting him to form a Government; and subsequent ministers are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the PM; but the House of Commons may move that it has no confidence in HM Government. Compared to a positive parliamentary system – e.g. Spain, where the appointment of the King’s prime ministerial nominee requires a successful vote of confidence by an absolute majority of the Congress of Deputies – a negative one has three disadvantages. These are that there is a democratic deficit in the Government; obscurity in a Government’s democratic mandate, under hung parliaments; and that there are inadequate checks and balances between the Government and Parliament.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 11th March 2021

Source: ukconstitutionallaw.org