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Archive for December 17th, 2009

Barry George accepts libel payout over claims

Independent: Barry George, who was cleared of murdering the television presenter Jill Dando, accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages yesterday over claims he had pestered women he was obsessed with.

Mr George, who was acquitted of the crime after a retrial in August last year, was at London’s High Court with his sister Michelle Diskin, who led the campaign to prove his innocence after his 2001 conviction, for the brief hearing before Mr Justice Eady.

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Human rights committee warning on civil litigation funding curbs

Law Society Gazette: The government must consider evidence that civil court costs rules and funding limitations are preventing people who have suffered human rights abuses at the hands of UK companies from seeking redress, the Joint Committee on Human Rights said today.

In its report on business and human rights, the committee urged the government to consider costs and funding implications as part of its response to Lord Justice Jackson’s review of civil litigation costs.

Legal and evidential difficulties, problems with limitation periods, unduly restrictive local rules on bringing group actions, complex corporate structures, and a lack of awareness of the alleged victims were also cited by the committee as barriers to bringing a case.

Andrew Dismore MP, chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, said: ‘In the modern world, the law is increasingly failing to address the impact of the private sector on individual rights.’

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2009 legal review: wake up there – it’s the last of the naughties

Times / David Pannick QC:

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E-disclosure: how good is your filing system?

Times: Stuck in the photocopier — the extraordinary excuse given by childcare inspectors for their failure to disclose pages of crucial evidence in Sharon Shoesmith’s judicial review of her dismissal as Haringey’s children’s services director after the death of Baby Peter Connolly.

That sort of blunder should be avoidable as e-disclosure — of electronically stored information by electronic means (ESI) — becomes more commonplace. The arrival of the electronic age, however, has created its own disclosure problems with vast quantities of information held in e-mail archives, shared network folders and back-up tapes, with documents potentially held in multiple locations.

In a recent case involving the disputed transfer of funds, Judge Simon Brown, QC, the High Court judge, took Barclays Bank to task for not searching for relevant documents. He dismissed the bank’s argument in Earles v Barclays Bank plc that it would have been a disproportionately expensive exercise. Even though the bank won the case, the judge punished its lack of disclosure by halving the costs it could retrieve from the claimant…….

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Jewish school loses Supreme Court appeal over admissions policy — what the ruling means

Times: A Jewish school’s admission policy amounted to race discrimination, the Supreme Court ruled in a landmark case today.

The case arose after a boy, referred to as M, was refused entry to JFS — formerly the Jews’ Free School, in Brent, north west London — because he was not considered Jewish under the rules set by the chief rabbi.

Although the boy’s father is Jewish by birth, his mother converted to the faith at a progressive synagogue that is not recognised by the orthodox faith. The family issued a legal challenge to the decision to exclude the boy, and the case went all the way to the higest court. Nine justices ruled against the school this morning, although the judges pointed out that the school’s policy had not been motivated by racism in the perjorative sense of the term.

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Johnson building an army of private police

Independent: Ministers are overseeing the growth of an army of private police officers, it is claimed today.

Figures released by the Home Office show that more than 1,600 council employees and other civilians, including dog wardens, park keepers and security guards, now have the power to police communities. In the last 12 months, under the tenure of home secretaries of Jacqui Smith and Alan Johnson, there has been a 20 per cent increase in the number of people who have been given the responsibilities. And the rapid growth in the army of civilians able to impose fines, confiscate property and demand names and addresses has been matched by an increasing use of private security companies to help police in their investigations.

Last night human rights groups attacked the “privatisation of policing” as a worrying erosion of civil liberties, and one senior police officer said he was unhappy about the role of private security companies in the policing of public demonstrations.

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