Category Archives: Legal

Stuff about the law

The Council Strikes Back!

As I have previously noted, I am not a regular petitioner. In fact, my petition on change.org Freedom for Fleurieu Dogs is the first and only time I have initiated a petition on a matter of public interest, or indeed anything else. I am told by change.org that 85% of petitions never even reach 50 supporters,  but since my petition was launched earlier this week, it has already found over 500 supporters. If you have not supported it, but would like to do so; please do so.

The response of the Chief Executive of Yankalilla District Council was initially to show interest in the petition[1], but this interest now appears to have somewhat waned[2].

But what has happened, since the launch of the petition, is that approximately 5:50 PM on Wednesday I was visited by an officer of the Council, who personally served on me an Expiation Notice[3] alleging that that Perdita was “wandering at large” on the beach on 5th January.

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It is a surprising document, because it Continue reading

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A Rare Petition

575238_222880941184528_1973088916_nI am not big into petitions. But the recent By-Law designed to stop dogs running freely on local beaches really does get my goat.

So, if you can be troubled, and if you agree that dogs (including Perdita, of course) should be allowed to run freely on the beach, I really would be grateful if you would add your name.

You can read more and sign the petition here: Continue reading

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The Elite or The People?

brexit-mapThere is an irony in the fact that the decision handed down last month in Miller v Secretary of State [2016] EWHC 2768 (admin) was the week of Guy Fawkes’ Day night. There are parallels between the two events. I will come back to this parallel a little while.

The judgment, which ruled that the government does not have power to give notice of withdrawal from the European Union and Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, is a remarkable document for all sorts of reasons. As with so many events in British history over the last millennium, it has much to do with the question of Britain’s independence from, or subservience to, Europe.

It should be said at the outset that the judgment will have come too many of us as a surprise. We have been Continue reading

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Mildly Droll: A Tale of Human Wrongs

ECHRThe Guardian has put up a skit in which, they say, “Patrick Stewart, Adrian Scarborough and Sarah Solemani expose the problems in the Conservative plan for a UK bill of rights.”

Well, no, actually.

The Guardian is the newspaper of choice for the Watermelons, and famous for its inability to spell. It is not famous for being funny. Except inasmuch as it is the butt of long-running jokes in Private Eye.

Human rights is one of those topics like UFOs, fairies and homoeopathy – it tends (with some noble exceptions) to be those people with the greatest interest in it that are the most misguided. It sounds good, of course.  But when it comes to the details, what one sees time and time again is that the protections of something like the European Convention on Human Rights are protections that are already present in a well-developed legal system like English law. And so, in the various “What has the ECHR done for us?” questions posed in the skit, it turns out that the answer is “Nothing useful at all”.  The gloss that it adds to the rights that were there all along is pretty much all bad news, harming the lives of citizens, not protecting them.

In short, the ECHR does a very poor job in areas where the English law had already done rather better. The skit is wrong on every Continue reading

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Hillsborough Baby Of Truth Thrown Out With The Bathwater Of Fudge

I posted a while ago about the Hillsborough Report, in which a panel set up by Liverpudlian Government Minister Andy Burnham[1] and chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, exonerated some Liverpool football fans.  These were the fans who in 1989 crushed to death 96 other Liverpool fans while trying to get into a football ground in Yorkshire to watch a football match that was just starting.  The finding was that the fans who did the crushing were not at all responsible for those deaths. It was all the fault of the police and other authorities.

map hillsboroughNow, in case you, dear reader, are American or otherwise a bit vague about English geography, I should explain that the north of England is divided by the Pennines, a range of hills which runs North-South. The Pennines are too hilly for anything much apart from a National Park.  On the West is Lancashire: the two big cities are Liverpool and Manchester. And on the East is Yorkshire, including York and Sheffield. There has been a bit of rivalry between them.  In 1455, for example, they went to war[2], and stayed at war for 30 years. Exact figures are hard to come by, but perhaps about 50,000 people were killed in that conflict[3]; it was ended, ironically, by a Welshman, Henry Tudor, at the Battle of Bosworth, who promptly got himself Continue reading

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Make Love, not War (if you want to go to prison)

bulldog

I put up a post the other day about a young man who has been sent to prison for 6 years for making love to a young woman. By way of contrast, two other young men (also from the North of England) have escaped any substantial punishment notwithstanding having being caught on camera torturing the family pet – a bulldog.  They had videoed the event, but then later accidentally dropped the SD card on a supermarket floor.  Someone evidently found it, watched it, and reported it to the RSPCA.

The young men were Andrew and Daniel Frankish. To screams of delighted fun from them, the poor animal was repeatedly abused, thrown down a flight of stairs, stamped on, kicked and then hurled head first onto the floor. The dog was thereby crippled, losing the use of her hind legs, and was later put down.

The pair received Continue reading

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Romeo and Juliet are now Both Sex Offenders

randj

Romeo and Juliet would now both liable to lengthy prison sentences for sexual offences including “grooming”

Some months ago, young man and a young woman engaged in some snogging and even some heavy petting in his car in the North of England. It was entirely consensual; they had been exchanging messages about getting together.

Why, you might ask, is this normal if somewhat tawdry behaviour of any concern to any of us? The answer is that the intrusion of the heavy arm of the law on this occasion has proved to be hugely damaging, both the young man and the rest of us who pay tax.

The young woman in question was 15 years old, and for most of the population of most of Europe[1], the behaviour of this young couple would have been absolutely lawful; the pair of them could have snogged, heavily petted and bonked to their hearts content, so long as they were both willing. These sorts of interactions are very common; it seems that about a quarter of young English women first experience sexual Continue reading

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Some Blasted Heath (others will doubtless do likewise)

ted-heathThere has been a good deal in the news this week about allegations of child molestation by Sir Edward Heath.

It is impossible to know for sure if these allegations have any substance. There is an element of improbability about the whole thing; he was self-evidently such a prig and a prude that it is difficult to imagine him getting up to anything particularly salacious.And anyway, at the relevant time, the entourage around him would have made it virtually impossible for him to engage in anything particularly nefarious.

Since he is dead, Sir Edward is entirely unable to defend himself. Since the police have Continue reading

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The lighter side of terrorism

We are going to get on to Charlie Hebdo in just a moment. But first a brief excursion.

Imagine that you are a rather old-fashioned Roman Catholic priest in Ireland in the mid-1980s. You have been a member of the IRA all your life, as your father was. You genuinely believe that it is God’s work to kill Protestants, and to shoot any of your fellow Catholics who get in your way in the knee. You are desperate to get rid of filthy Protestant practices, such as contraception or legalised abortion. But you’re getting on a bit, and you need some help with the killings and the knee-cappings from the younger generation. You are happy at the level of financial aid which isevery_sperm_is_sacred coming in from NORAID, so you have plenty of guns and materials to make bombs. You are not at all happy that Monty Python’s song “Every Sperm is Sacred” has just won a BAFTA award for Best Original Song in a Film. They are heathens.

You think you’re doing quite well with one of your young parishioners explaining the seriousness of the cause, and how hell and damnation will result unless more heathens are killed. But then your young charge cocks his head on one side, and gently starts singing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”.

You have lost him. It would be very frustrating.

Hmm. Estimates vary as to how many people were killed by the IRA – probably more than 3,700 with tens of thousands more injured, particularly by bombs. The killing eventually stopped. Happily, the British government never resorted to bombing the Republic of Ireland, although the demise of the IRA might have been assisted by the British security forces killing a few of its particularly unpleasant members. More to the point, it seems that in the end the Irish preferred shopping to war, and having a fine sense of humour, actually thought that Monty Python was quite funny.

Certainly, ridiculing the terrorists would have helped. But not all governments think like that. Take for example

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Roll with Laughter

LawSocI was walking down Chancery Lane in London a few days ago, past the Law Society. A good opportunity to check that my name is no longer on the English Solicitors’ Roll now I am at the South Australian bar, so I popped in. Did they have someone who could help me? No, not in person, but there would be someone who could help me available on the hotline telephone in the corner. The word “help” turned out to be less than entirely accurate. The conversation went something like this:

ME:                 I just want to check on the status of my name on the Roll.

VOICE:           Yes, sir. Can I have your full name?

ME:                 [full name] Continue reading

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