The legal scene
New precedent set for vulnerable renters Birmingham City Council was ordered by the Supreme Court to change its decision to declare a single mother of four “intentionally homeless” because she could not afford to pay her rent. The unanimous ruling in June 2019 creates an important precedent which expands the housing responsibilities of local authorities. The judgment also highlights how the Legal Aid Agency repeatedly refused to support the woman’s appeal even though she was in immediate danger of being evicted onto the street.
supermarkets have tried to block the claims, in some cases on trivial technicalities, but have so far failed. The battle continues and if they eventually lose, supermarkets could find themselves liable for billions of pounds’ worth of claims from unfairly paid employees. Anonymity for sex offence suspects? Singer Sir Cliff Richard and others are calling for a “re-balancing of the legal system” to ban the media from reporting the names of people accused of sex offences before they are charged. The BBC filmed a police raid of Richard’s home on suspicion of sexual assault, but he was never arrested and successfully sued the corporation for breach of privacy. However, MP and barrister Harriet Harman has pointed out that the law already bans police from naming crime suspects “save in exceptional circumstances where there is a legitimate policing purpose to do so.” Harman argues that the focus should be on ensuring that the police adhere to the existing guidelines, which officers clearly failed to do when investigating Richard. Major cases Here is a minuscule sample of the many important and fascinating cases heard in UK courts in 2019. UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia InJune2019campaignerswona legal challenge to thegovernment’sdecision tocontinueselling weapons toSaudi Arabia, which isengaged in the civil war inYemen. TheCourt of Appeal ruled the continuationof arms sales, includingTyphoon jets andprecision-guidedbombs, tobeunlawful, although judges said that licences shouldbe reviewedbut not immediately suspended. The ruling isablowto theUKarms industry, whichsells 40%of itsexports toSaudi Arabia. According to theUN, Saudi Arabiahasbeen involved in serioushuman rights violationsduring its conduct of thewar, including thedeliberate targetingof Yemeni civilians.
Free speech campaigners welcome libel ruling
It might seem strange to see free speech advocates celebrating two newspapers losing a libel appeal in the Supreme Court, but that is exactly what happened earlier this year when French aerospace engineer Bruno Lachaux won his case against the Independent and the Evening Standard , both owned by oligarch Evgeny Lebedev. The newspapers had libelled Lachaux while reporting on his lengthy divorce battle with ex-wife Afsana Lachaux. The case was a major test of libel laws in England and Wales, and although Lachaux won damages, free speech campaigners welcomed the outcome because it established that claimants must now prove “serious harm” to their reputations to bring a successful libel case.
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