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May 2017

'Hard' Brexit could hit NI Legal Profession

On 24th and 25th May the International Bar Association hosted their annual Bar Leaders’ Conference in Belfast.  The event brought together delegates from around the world to discuss the latest developments affecting the legal profession today.  One topic of discussion was the opportunities and challenges Brexit could bring to the legal profession.  Norville Connolly, Council Member of the Law Society NI, said that Brexit was a significant issue for the profession.  He commented

Local Developments

Legal action threatened over Labour NI candidate ban

The vice-chairman of the Labour Party NI has written to the Labour Party’s London headquarters threatening legal action over its refusal to stand local candidates in the forthcoming 8th June general election.  Solicitors acting for Damian Harris claim the ban is discriminatory and contrary to human rights legislation. 

Other Public Interest Cases

Court of Appeal upholds decision on criminal records disclosure scheme

R (o.t.a P & others) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department & others [2017] EWCA Civ 321

The Court of Appeal of England and Wales has upheld an earlier ruling that the criminal records disclosure scheme was disproportionate and in breach of privacy rights under Article 8 ECHR

Prisoners' Rights

Families of suicide victims lose judicial review

Families of suicide victims lose judicial review over their prison deaths

The relatives of two inmates who committed suicide in HMP Woodhill last July have lost their English High Court case calling for action to protect prisoners. 

The relatives claimed that the prison governor had not compiled fully with Prison Service Instructions (PSIs) which cover management of prisoners at risk of harm to themselves.  Since May 2013 18 prisoners have died by suicide at HMP Woodhill, a rate that the relatives argued was exceptionally high.

Prisoners' Rights, Suicide

Local Judicial Review - Humanist Marriages

Permission granted to humanist marriage challenge

On 10th May 2017 the High Court granted permission to Laura Lacole’s challenge to have her forthcoming humanist marriage legally recognised. 

Freedom of Thought, Conscience & Religion, Northern Ireland High Court, Religious Law

Local Judicial Review - Police Ombudsman

Systemic underfunding of Police Ombudsman impeding investigation of complaints

Bell’s (Patricia) Application [2017] NIQB 38

Mr Justice Maguire has ruled that persistent government underfunding of the Police Ombudsman’s office is impeding investigations of complaints against police within a reasonable time. 

Local Developments

Depriving a suspected terrorist of his citizenship is ruled lawful under ECHR

K2 v the United Kingdom (application no. 42387/13)

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) unanimously declared inadmissible, an application that decisions to deprive the applicant of British citizenship and exclude him from the UK, violated his rights under Articles 8 and 14 of the Convention.


Website editor not liable for publishing sexual allegations against political candidate

Olafsson v Iceland [2017] ECHR 259

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that the Icelandic courts were wrong to hold a website editor liable for publishing allegations made by two sisters that a relative, who was standing for election, had sexually abused them when they were children.

Dafamation, Media

Employers are entitled to ban the Islamic headscarf in the workplace

Case C-157/15 and Case C – 188/15

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) held that employers are entitled to ban religious symbols in the workplace, including the Islamic headscarf.

Discrimination, Employment Law

CJEU rules that Member States are not obliged to grant refugees humanitarian visas

Judgment in Case C-638/16 PPU X and X v État beige

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that refugees do not have to be granted humanitarian visas to the EU, even in circumstances where there is a risk of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.

Immigration & Asylum