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Archive for November 25th, 2009

Banks win Supreme Court case on overdraft charges

BBC: A Supreme Court judgement has struck a major blow to the hopes of millions of bank customers to be refunded billions of pounds in bank charges.

The court has overturned earlier court rulings that allowed the Office of Fair Trading to investigate the fairness of charges for unauthorised overdrafts.

The decision follows more than two years of test case litigation.

At stake is an estimated £2.6bn of annual income for the banks, which had appealed against earlier rulings.

Seven banks and one building society wanted the court to overturn two previous rulings that would let the OFT investigate their overdraft fees.

In a three-day appeal in the House of Lords in June, the banks argued they would receive a “deluge of litigation” if the decision was made against them.

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Army account of Iraqi deaths questioned

Independent: The British Army’s account of the deaths of 20 Iraqis and the alleged mistreatment of nine others after a battle in southern Iraq has been questioned by a secret report.

Ministers maintain that the Iraqis were insurgents killed or captured as a result of a firefight with British forces in 2004. But the families of the dead men allege that they were executed by British soldiers after being transferred to a detention camp. The nine survivors claim they were tortured at the same base.

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Iraq invasion discussed in 2001 – but was dismissed as illegal

Independent: Toppling Saddam Hussein from power was being discussed by British and US officials two years before the invasion of Iraq, senior Whitehall figures admitted yesterday.

Foreign Office mandarins even drew up a secret document discussing the idea of removing the dictator as attempts to restrain him with sanctions began to fail. But any suggestions of supporting “regime change” were dismissed repeatedly as having no legal backing.

On its opening day of public hearings, Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry into the Iraq war heard that elements of President Bush’s administration, which came to power at the start of 2001, were already making noises in support of regime change in Iraq even before the 9/11 terror attacks in the US.

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‘Cruel, illegal, immoral’: Human Rights Watch condemns UK’s role in torture

Guardian: The attorney general was under intense pressure tonight to order a wider series of police investigations into British complicity in torture after one of the world’s leading human rights organisations said there was clear evidence of the UK government’s involvement in the torture of its own citizens.

After an investigation spanning more than a year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) today condemned Britain’s role in the torture of terror suspects detained in Pakistan as cruel, counter-productive and in clear breach of international law.

Critically, a report published today by HRW – entitled Cruel Britannia: British Complicity in the Torture and Ill-treatment of Terror Suspects – draws upon corroborative evidence received from the Pakistani torturers themselves.

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Britain heard US drumbeat for invasion before 9/11

Guardian:

• UK dismissed idea in 2001 as having no basis in law
• Terror attacks ended US support for ‘containment’

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Counter-terror police ‘failed to seek legal advice before arrests’

Guardian: Lord Carlile criticises officers over failure to consult lawyers before operation in Liverpool and Manchester

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Bar Regulator approves fundamental changes

BSB: The Bar Standards Board (BSB), which regulates 14,000 barristers in England and Wales, has today paved the way for fundamental changes in barristers’ working practices by giving approval for barristers to supply legal services through the legal structures known as Legal Disciplinary Practices (LDPs).

The BSB has taken significant decisions in order to open up the legal services market so that consumers have access to even better value, quality, legal services in fulfilment of the Regulatory Objectives of the Legal Services Act 2007.

The BSB is mindful that these decisions are fundamental to the future of the Bar, as it operates in the legal services market, and are likely to be irreversible. One of the BSB’s guiding tenets has been to ensure that whatever changes it makes are in the public interest and the users of legal services in the future should suffer no detriment from their introduction. This has involved careful consideration over a long period of time.

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