The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

February 2013 Archives

The BBC has uncovered a loophole in the law that allows meat suppliers from around Europe to pass off low-quality meat that would otherwise be banned in UK sausages.

The BBC's investigation has uncovered emails that suggest that European meat suppliers are using different names to sell on mechanically recovered meat residues that would otherwise be prevented from inclusion as 'meat' in food products.

Desinewed meat or DSM was introduced into the UK 20 years ago and involves removing small quantities of meat and sinew from the carcasses of butchered animals using low-pressure water. The result is a form of fine mince used in processed foods.

Abortion: Northern Ireland Government to publish new abortion guidance

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety of Northern Ireland has announced that it will release new guidance on abortion within the next week, reports the BBC.

The move to publish new guidance came after the controversial death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway, Ireland, last October.

Ms Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist, presented to hospital in the 17th week of her pregnancy believing she was miscarrying.

The mother of a seven-year-old boy with a rare form of malignant brain tumour has spoken out against the radiotherapy he is receiving on the orders of doctors supported by a High Court judge.

Sally Roberts believes her son would have survived the cancer without treatment and says the side effects of the therapies are too much to bear, reports The Daily Telegraph and the BBC.

In December a High Court judge ruled that seven-year-old Neon Roberts should receive the radiotherapy treatment recommended by his doctors as it represented the best chance of saving his young life.

Police procedures: Legal challenge could change youth arrests

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A legal challenge over the arrest and detention in a London police station of a 17-year-old boy could change the procedure for arresting young people, reports the BBC.

The case concerns a teenager who was arrested and detained overnight in a police station on suspicion of robbery. The teenager had no previous convictions, and was released without charge in the morning.

The boy was not allowed to phone home to tell his parents where he was.

The family of radical Islamist cleric Abu Qatada have won an anti-harassment injunction banning protesters from gathering within 500 metres of their family home in London.

The court intervention was aimed at preventing extreme right-wing groups from demonstrating near their home, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The High Court has ordered an anti-harassment order banning protesters from gathering within 500m of the home of the family of the radical Islamist cleric currently wanted under terrorism charges in Jordan.

Football: Young fan may sue police over match-day restrictions

A 15-year-old Hull City fan has threatened West Yorkshire Police with legal action over match-day restrictions they have placed on the game against Huddersfield on 30 March this year, reports the BBC.

Louis Cooper, a Hull City fan who lives in Manchester, was dismayed when he discovered that local police had decided to impose a travel and ticket restriction on Hull City fans travelling to the game.

The kickoff time for the match has been moved to 5.20pm and the police have decided that in order to safely police the game, only fans that arrive on official coaches will be allowed into the ground. The police have also limited the number of tickets available to away fans to 1,500.

Branding and public order: 'Buckfast' makers may sue police

It is one of the most notorious alcoholic drinks available in Scotland, but the makers of Buckfast fortified wine may have to sue Strathclyde Police who are attempting to add 'anti-crime' messages to its labels, reports the BBC.

The distributors of Buckfast fortified wine have said they may launch a legal action against Strathclyde Police this week, after the police attempted to force retailers to add an 'anti-crime' message to the labels of its product.

Buckfast is a red-wine-based drink brewed from a French recipe by Benedictine monks at Buckfast Abbey in Devon since 1890. The wine has a distinctive yellow label, is around 15% ABV and has a sweetened taste that appeals to young drinkers.

A group of holiday home investors from Northern Ireland have won a £1m legal case against an Italian law firm, Giambrone Law LLP, who took large sums as deposits for holiday homes that were never built, reports the BBC.

It began as a dream but quickly turned into a nightmare, but yesterday thirteen property investors from Northern Ireland won a £1m case after the law firm they were suing accepted that they had let them down in the handling of their money.

The investors all paid up to 50% deposits towards a new development of holiday homes in Calabria, Southern Italy six years ago. The money was paid to Giambrone Law, an Italian law firm with an office in London, purporting to specialise in overseas property transactions.

Lord McAlpine, the Tory peer falsely linked with a paedophile ring, has announced that he will not pursue legal action against Twitter users with 500 followers or fewer.

He has refused, however, to drop his case against Sally Bercow, wife of Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, who has more than 50,000 followers on the social media site, reports The Evening Standard.

The Conservative peer Lord McAlpine has decided to drop his libel case against several Twitter users who linked his name with a paedophile ring operating in Wales. The peer wrote to those concerned to say he wanted to "draw a line" under the matter and invited them to donate £25 to the charity Children in Need.

The jury in the controversial trial of the former wife of ex-cabinet minister Chris Huhne has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict on whether she was coerced into accepting points for speeding, reports the BBC.

Vicky Pryce, the ex-wife of former Liberal Democrat Cabinet Minister Chris Huhne looks set to face another trial, after the jury at Southwark Crown Court failed to reach a verdict over whether she was coerced into accepting speeding points for Mr Huhne back in 2003.

The high-profile case has already seen Mr Huhne plead guilty to lying to police about who was driving his car in 2003, an offence that looks likely to cost him time in prison for perverting the course of justice.

The Coroner at Warrington Coroner's Court yesterday recorded an 'open' verdict at the inquest into the death of leading cancer surgeon Anthony Owen.

Mr Owen died of brain injuries after being felled by a single punch from a teenager, whom he had an altercation with in the street, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The inquest into the death of Anthony Owen, a cancer surgeon of global renown, heard how a teenager on a bike punched him once in the face, after he had got out of his car to remonstrate with him.

The Law Commission yesterday launched a new consultation that will examine the 'right to light' provisions.

Properties in the UK have benefited from a right to natural light for centuries, but recently questions have been raised over whether the right is hindering urban development.

The consultation will seek public opinion on the matter and runs until May 2013.

A group of leading doctors have urged the Government to take decisive action against the obesity epidemic by introducing new laws to regulate the advertising of fizzy drinks and junk food, reports the BBC.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, a body that represents all the Royal Colleges in medicine and can claim to speak for almost all UK doctors, has urged the Government to take action against what it calls the 'huge crisis' of obesity.

Obesity affects over a quarter of adults in the UK and is defined by having a body mass index, or BMI, above 30. BMI is calculated by dividing a persons' weight in kilograms by their height in metres squared. Obesity is linked to a huge range of health problems in later life including cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes and arthritis.

The Prime Minister used a key speech in India to tell journalists that the Government had no intention to introduce new laws to curb tax avoidance.

Instead, Cameron said it was for businesses to answer a 'moral question' about paying the tax they owe.

The Prime Minister David Cameron has used a key address during his trade mission to India to tell journalists that the UK will not introduce laws to ban tax avoidance.

Immigration: Home secretary attacks judges who ignore law

The Home Secretary Theresa May has attacked immigration judges for ignoring guidance on deporting foreign criminals.

Now she has pledged to create a new law, allowing those who commit serious crimes to be automatically deported, reports the BBC.

Theresa May has attacked Britain's immigration judges for ignoring Home Office guidance on the deportation of foreign criminals saying that their decisions are making Britain a more dangerous place to live.

Intellectual property: EU patent law change to aid businesses

A new EU law designed to streamline the patent application process looks set to aid UK entrepreneurs by allowing them to register a single EU-wide patent applicable to all EU countries for around £600, reports The Independent.

The Business Secretary Vince Cable will this week sign the UK up to new European legislation designed to streamline the process for obtaining EU-wide patent protection for ideas and innovations.

At present, a UK inventor must apply for patent validation in each EU country separately via the European Patent Office, enduring the associated administrative process and costs. It is estimated that obtaining EU-wide patent protection can cost up to £20,000 at present.

A former NHS Trust chief executive has blown the whistle over safety concerns and alleges his NHS bosses did all they could to ensure the truth didn't make it into the public domain.

The story highlights the use of 'compromise agreements' in healthcare employment matters and how they may be used against the public interest.

Gary Walker, the former chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, has blown the whistle over what he claims were attempts by NHS bosses to silence his concerns about patient safety, after he was dismissed from his role in 2010.

A key legal case brought by school leaders, teachers' unions and councils to reverse controversial grade-boundary changes in last summer's GCSE English exams has been dismissed in the High Court after it ruled that the boundary changes may have been unfair but were not illegal.

The controversy began when GCSE results were released last August that appeared to show that grade boundaries for English exams administered by Edexcel and AQA had been changed since the January assessments.

Some 10,000 pupils were affected by the boundary shift, missing out on the crucial C-grade in English that has a major effect on applications for further education, employment and vocational training. In other subjects, 40,000 students were affected by similar grade-boundary changes.

Motoring: Frenchman to sue Renault after car jams at 125mph

A French motorist is to sue manufacturer Renault after his Laguna vehicle became jammed with the accelerator depressed, forcing him to drive more than 100 miles into Belgium being chased by a fleet of gendarmerie.

Franck Lecerf, 36, was driving to the supermarket in his home town of Pont-de-Metz in a Renault Laguna that has been specially adapted for his disability, when the accelerator jammed at around 60mph. In a frightening moment, Mr Lecerf realised that every time he attempted to brake the car simply gained more speed.

Fortunately for Mr Lecerf he was on a dual carriageway when the accelerator jammed, allowing him to maintain his speed and transfer to the coastal motorway towards Dunkirk. He travelled much of the way close to the car's top speed of 125mph.

Cohabitation: Lawyers report rise in 'no-nuptial' agreements

Pre-nups might be all the rage among the rich and famous across the pond in the US, but in the UK where thousands of couples are choosing to live together outside of wedlock it is the 'no-nup' that is catching the headlines, reports The Daily Telegraph.

Lawyers specialising in housing and family law are reporting a surge in the number of couples seeking cohabitation agreements in advance of moving in together to map out the legal framework of t heir relationship and to determine what will happen to assets if the relationship should dissolve.

No-nuptials have become particularly popular for parents who have invested money helping their child get onto the property ladder.

Employment law: Court of Appeal outlaws 'back-to-work' schemes

Billed as a way to jumpstart the employment market, the Government's 'Get Britain Working' campaign featured several schemes designed to get the unemployed back into work.

Yesterday the Court of Appeal dealt a blow to the Government when it ruled that some of these schemes were unlawful, reports the BBC.

The Government has lost a legal challenge to its flagship 'back-to-work' schemes after the Court of Appeal ruled that some of the schemes were unlawful.

A Romanian law banning the use of horses on public roads could be to blame for the outbreak of horsemeat contamination of beef products affecting the UK and France, reports The Independent.

The horsemeat scandal, which until this weekend appeared to be confined to the UK and Ireland, has now spread across the channel to France and also in Sweden.

Findus, the food producer at the centre of the latest part of the scandal, withdrew thousands of products from French shelves over the weekend after it was revealed that its frozen 'beef lasagna' product may contain up to 100% horsemeat.

The UK Government has published its proposed legal case against Scottish independence posed by the ruling Scottish National Party, in a bid to keep the union together. Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom since 1707.

The SNP Scottish Government won power with a mandate to put Scottish independence to a referendum. They have previously announced that the referendum would be held in autumn 2014.

The SNP hopes that their electoral majority will concur with their wishes for independence.

Human rights: Pensioner trapped by local council wins legal case

A pensioner who was held in a psychiatric care home against her will after her local council sought a court order to keep her there has won a legal case after the council admitted their actions had violated her human rights.

The 69-year-old pensioner was diagnosed with dementia in 2011, a diagnosis that she strongly contested. She was subsequently detained under the Mental Health Act in a secure psychiatric home.

After her initial six-month detention order was due to expire, Knowsley Council in Merseyside submitted an application to have her detained further, without allowing her the opportunity to put a case forward on the basis that her condition had improved.

Medical negligence: Families to sue healthcare trust over deaths

Ten families have instructed lawyers to sue University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust over the way their children were treated between 2008 and 2012.

Seven children died as a result of negligent care, according to the families, whilst the children of the remaining three families suffered from serious treatment complications.

All the incidents relate to children with heart problems treated at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. The families claim that nursing staff shortages were to blame for many of the complications that arose, saying that they were often left to provide much of the nursing care themselves.

The rates of deaths attributable to paracetamol overdoses has fallen by a staggering 43% in the past 11 years since a law limiting pack sizes was introduced, according to a study in the British Medical Journal.

The Medicines (Sale or Supply) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Amendment (No. 2) Regulations 1997 introduced a limit of the pack sizes for paracetamol and aspirin on general sale of 16 tables containing 500mg each, and limits the total available on prescription to 100 tablets containing 500mg.

In addition, supermarkets and shops limit the number of packets that an individual can buy to two and often require proof of age, in accordance with guidance on the sale of paracetamol from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

The families of patients who died after being neglected by medical staff at two hospitals have announced that they will sue the NHS Trusts they feel are responsible.

Lawyers for eighteen families say that they will commence legal action on the basis that the treatment their relatives received breached their human rights.

The two hospitals concerned are the Queen's Hospital in Romford and the Eastbourne District Hospital in East Sussex. In a statement, both hospitals said that they had taken steps to improve the quality of care offered to their patients.

The Home Secretary Theresa May is to change the law surrounding extradition appeals to remove the role of government ministers in determining whether appeals should be approved on human rights grounds.

The change was announced as part of wider reforms of the extradition appeals process, which has been highlighted by several recent high-profile cases.

Gary McKinnon, the IT hacker diagnosed with the autistic spectrum disorder, Asperger's, avoided extradition to the US in October last year after the Home Secretary stepped in to block the American Government's request.

Cohabitation: Laws on cohabitation criticised as unfair again

The laws that surround the division of property and responsibility for children for unmarried, cohabiting couples, has been thrown into the spotlight yet again with a senior Court of Appeal judge labeling the law 'unfair'.

The civil case of Brian Collins and Pamela Curran was heard at the Central London County Court last year.

The couple were in relationship for 30 years and ran a successful kennels in Ashford, Kent. Both their family home and the business were held in Mr Collins' name.

The House of Commons last night delivered a resounding yes to new legislation that will legalise marriage for same-sex couples in the UK for the first time.

The controversial legislation never really looked in doubt, securing significant cross-party support from 400 MPs. There were 175 MPs, mostly Conservatives, who voted against the measure and a further 75 MPs were abstentions or 'non-voters'. The leaders of all three main parties back the policy.

Nick Clegg believes the vote was a landmark for equality in Britain.

Finance: Government announces new plan to break up the banks

The chancellor George Osborne warned British banks that they risk being broken up if their fail to protect their day-to-day deposit business from their more risky investment divisions.

The financial crisis that has engulfed the world's major developed economies and almost brought Europe to its knees was started because banks and other financial institutions gambled their client's deposits on risky investments that they failed to protect.

When the investments failed it was depositors and ultimately the taxpayer who were called in to bail out the banks to prevent a catastrophic financial meltdown.

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat MP and former cabinet minister for energy and climate change has pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice at his trial at Southwark Crown Court.

The admission to the charge came as a shock during a trial that he had previously said he would contest.

Mr Huhne was charged with perverting the course of justice after it emerged that he and his former wife, Vicky Pryce, had lied to police about who was driving their vehicle when caught on camera speeding in 2003.

A landmark ruling by a UK court to refer a divorce case to a religious court could pave the way for Sharia law, and other religious legal structures, to be recognised in UK law.

The prospect of greater involvement for religious courts in the UK legal system was created when a Jewish couple had their divorce case referred to Beth Din, the Jewish religious court.

The case was reported by The Times.

Legal process: justice secretary accused of interfering

The Justice Secretary Chris Grayling walked into a political and legal storm over the weekend, after it emerged that he may have directly interfered with a judicial decision concerning a 'consent order' for a prisoner.

Mr Grayling, who in his capacity as justice minister also acts as Lord Chancellor, is believed to have overturned a decision by senior officials to sign off the consent order allowing the prisoner anonymity.

It is tho ught the prisoner in question has served many years for murder and is applying for a move to an open prison.

A cross-party commission of MPs is to investigate whether the current UK abortion laws permit too many disabled children to be terminated.

The investigation comes amid concern that advances in medical technology and changed attitudes to disability should mean that more disabled children are permitted a life and role in society.

At present the law imposes a legal limit of 24 weeks on abortions, but permits later terminations to save the mother's life or grave injury to her health, or if there is a significant risk that the child will be seriously handicapped by a physical or mental disability.

A 17-year-old boy from Northern Ireland is challenging a legal ruling that lifted protection of the anonymity normally afforded to juvenile offenders.

The protection of his identity was removed last July by a Crown Court judge, but an injunction was immediately secured preventing disclosure of his name until an appeal could be heard.

The 17-year-old, who was 15 at the time of the incident, attacked a 76-year-old woman in her home in Newtownards, County Down, in March 2011. He gained entry to her home through the front door, and then forced the woman to her bedroom where the attack took place.

UK families look set to face a tough legal battle with UK-based pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), after it announced that it will defend claims made against it over the now withdrawn diabetes medication Avandia.

Avandia is the trade name for Rosiglitazone, a type of diabetic medication prescribed to type 2 diabetics.

The medication increases the sensitivity of cells to circulating insulin; however, it is associated with significantly higher risk of heart attacks and heart failure in patients on the medication compared to controls taking a placebo drug.

An Isle of Man hospital has announced an investigation into claims that a series of test results that were issued to patients were inaccurate.

Noble's Hospital in Strang, Douglas, has also revealed that it is taking legal advice from the UK over the matter.

The inaccurate test results were given to more than 20 breast cancer patients, who were subsequently called in for a full treatment review after mistakes were made in hormone tests.

Legal advisers to the Government are planning to appeal a Court of Appeal decision that requirements for people to disclose previous criminal convictions are a breach of their human right to privacy.

The case in question concerned a 21-year-old man known only as T, who was refused a job at the local football club after previous police warnings were revealed on his Enhanced Criminal Records Certificate (ECRC).

The convictions also later appeared on an application to commence a university course involving working with children.