(1) Urgent reform needed for the system for appointing peers

In response to the cash-for-honours affair, a cross party committee has stressed that the system for appointing peers should be reformed and a new Corruption Act and new powers for party funding watchdogs to help prevent a repeat of the affair is needed.

(2) Home Office grants thousands of asylum seekers permission to remain

As part of a Home Office “legacy” drive to clear a backlog of between 400,000 and 450,000 files, more than 19,000 asylum seekers who have been trapped in bureaucratic limbo for years have finally been given official permission to stay in Britain and many more are expected to follow.


(1) Jack Straw misled the public about the real cost of building prisons

Although the Justice Minister said previously that the £1.2bn would be used to provide an extra 10,500 prison places including the three large “super-prisons”, Whitehall sources have revealed that the money would cover the land and the sites for the three prisons but did not actually cover the cost of building the jails. He might have misled the public about the real cost of building the prisons.

(2) British terror suspect’s legal status in Spanish prison

The news that four British residents held in Guantanamo Bay could shortly be released has focused attention on the legal status of another British resident being held without charge in Spain. Due to the lack of political will to save this British national from receiving mistreatment and torture in a Spanish prison, police officers in Spain remain above the law and the climate of impunity is spreading.

(3) UK’s new immigration system will be announced soon

The immigration system will go through the biggest shake-up in its history and the proposed changes will be outlined by ministers in a wide-ranging consultation paper today or tomorrow. Points-based system will start for economic migrants and there could be different classes of visas for business, tourist and family visitors, for different lengths of stay.




(1) New Bill to ban criminals from sitting in the House of Lords

According to the current law, MPs who are convicted of a criminal offence are immediately banned from the Commons, but peers are allowed to keep their seat, regardless of the severity of their crime. However, Labour government is planning to bring in a Bill that would ban convicted criminals from sitting in the House of Lords and if this passes Lord Black, the former newspaper publisher who has recently got fraud conviction, could lose his peerage.

(2) Intercept evidence should be allowed in terrorist asset cases

Although the Home Secretary is still reluctant to use “intercept” evidence widely in terror trials, she is for it if it is for freezing terrorists’ assets. She is also in support of extending maximum pre-charge detention period from 28days to 42 days, subject to retrospective parliamentary scrutiny.

(3) New strategy for executives in financial crime battle

The latest case of three British oil executives who are due in a Houston court to plead guilty to price-fixing, offers British executives the consolation of serving their jail time in Britain, provided they plead guilty. The deal to send them home could represent a landmark change in the prosecution of transatlantic financial crime, which has become increasingly contentious after law changes made it easier for British business people to be extradited to the US.




(1) The ramifications of the NatWest Three decision

Lawyers working for British businesses view that it was inevitable for the NatWest Three to accept a plea-bargain deal since the absence of any British witnesses meant that the defence would be fighting “with one arm tied behind its back”. There is a growing feeling of anger in the City about the underlying disparity in the UK-US extradition arrangements and a widespread feeling that the law should be re-examined. For the time being, British businessmen who work abroad has to grasp what is legal in the specific jurisdictions where they work, and understand what the local extradition arrangements are, because they may be caught in a Kafkesque situation where the pragmatic response to any accusation is to admit guilt – even if innocent – simply to avoid something worse.




(1) Plan to reduce legal fees

The new head of the Bar warned that moves to reduce the fess that barristers earn in long, complex cases would discourage best advocates to take on the hardest cases and put at risk 14 terrorism trials due to start next year. `

(2) Family justice policy

In-court conciliation, which helps separated and divorced parents reach agreements without a court hearing, has showed remarkable success in reaching agreements and increasing contacts after parents split. However, the picture is less rosy than it first appeared because although conciliation makes contact happen, it does not make it work for children. 40 % of cases went back at court within two years and children’s wellbeing was as bad as when the case first went to court.




(1) Jailed killer has right to father a child, European Court rules

The European Court ruled yesterday that Britain breached the human rights of a murderer and his wife by refusing them access to IVF treatment. The couple met via a pen pal network while they were both in separate prisons and had launched a legal battle in 2001 against a Home Office decision to deny them access to IVF treatment.

(2) Examination of a US-style sentencing system

The government will outline radical proposals to examine a US-style grid system of sentencing so as to control the number of offenders sent to overcrowded jails. Under the scheme a sentencing commission would be set up and it would create a framework in which offences would be banded together by seriousness and would then be matched to guideline penalties, whereby bringing more consistence and predictability to sentences.

(3) Surrogacy loophole that let British babies be taken abroad

The surrogacy agency Cots has been unaware that it was unlawful for a British child to be taken abroad to be adopted and around 20 babies born to British surrogate mothers have been taken abroad unlawfully by the foreign couples who commissioned them because of an oversight by British courts.

(4) More investigations on possible breaches of data protection laws

The Information Commissioner said he was investigating several possible breaches of data protection laws, after two discs containing the entire child benefit database of 25 million people were lost in the post by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC). He also revealed that he submitted outline proposals for a new criminal offence of “recklessly releasing damaging data about individuals” in September, long before the HMRC fiasco.

(5) Blow to Brown’s plan on extending detention period for terror suspects

Gordon Brown’s plans to extend the 28-day detention limit without charge on terror suspects faced another blow after MPs concluded that neither the government nor the police had made a convincing case to justify such a move.




(1) UK fighting a losing battle against the EU’s new legislation for temporary workers

UK’s frantic behind-the-scenes attempt to block the EU’s proposed new legislation which gives temporary workers the same pay and workplace conditions as permanent staff may not succeed.

(2) Support to keep wigs

According to the survey carried out by the Bar Council, many lawyers, judges, court users and students all support for traditional court dress, including wigs, despite a decision to abolish them for judges in civil and family courts.

(3) Plan to introduce a bill to make intercept evidence admissible at criminal trials

The government is to introduce a bill to allow inquest juries to hear secret phone tap evidence after the family of a 24-year-old unarmed black man who was shot dead by police threatened legal action. The current law prohibits the Met Police to give secret material obtained from intercepts to the coroner. His mother has been seeking a court ruling that the inability to find out how her son died at the hands of police breached his right to life under the European convention of human rights.


(1) Prison – mobile phone used to supply drugs and continue criminal activities

According to the report from the prison’s Independent Monitoring Board, the supply of mobile phones is limitless in Wandsworth prison, the biggest jail in Britain, and inmates are ordering drugs, continuing to run criminal activities and plotting escapes using mobile phones that are smuggled into the building.

(2) Fewer women jail would save money and cut crime

The New Economics Foundation published its research result claiming that it would save tax payers money and reduce crime if fewer women were jailed. This research result supports recommendations made in March by Baroness Corston who called upon ministers to end the routine jailing of women. She said the female jails should be replaced by small custodial units housing only women who have been jailed for more than two years.

(3) Children of multimillionaire given legal aid

Two children of a multimillionaire jeweler have been given legal aid of £30,750 to protect their interests under a family trust amid a divorce between their parents. These are two of the four children who are under 18 and do not have their own income. The rich former husband has tied up his wealth in trusts and determined to avoid paying out, which is making this case more complicated and inevitably raising doubts about the liability of England’s family justice system

(4) No easy answer to reform of rape law

Despite countless efforts were made to improve the dismal conviction rate for rape cases, none has been effective enough to make a big difference. The difficulty is that many proposals involve a diminution of the accused’s rights, and may produce huge injustice to defendants. Rape has been the most difficult crime to fit into the English criminal trial system, as it usually depends on one person’s word against another. The central issue is the woman’s consent, and when alcohol is involved the matter becomes even more complicated.




(1) Labour donations scandal

A new investigation by the Metropolitan police into the Labour Party donations scandal began following a decision by the Electoral Commission to refer possible breaches of the law to the police.

(2) Another suicide at young offenders’ centre

A teenager was found hanged in a young offenders’ institution as an inquest continues into the death of another teenager in the same prison almost three years ago. He was the 30th juvenile to die in state custody since 1990.

(3) Police justice more prevalent than convictions in the courts

Figures from the Ministry of Justice released yesterday showed that the number of crimes dealt with by convictions in the courts had been overtaken for the first time by the number handled directly by the police through cautions and fixed penalty fines.

(4) Review of prostitution laws

Due to growing pressure for radical action to curb the growth in sex trafficking, the government has launched a review of prostitution laws, which will examine the effects of Sweden’s policy of prosecuting men for buying sex.

(5) Japan rocked by bribery scandal

A day after the arrest of a former senior bureaucrat at the defence ministry who is suspected of accepting bribes from firms in return for securing them lucrative contracts for defence equipement, Japanese prosecutors raided the ministry and this was broadcasted live on TV.

(6) NatWest Three case sparks call for review of extradition law

The guilty pleas in the US trial of three British former NatWest bankers prompted fresh calls for a review of the contentious extradition agreements between Washington and London. Business people are very concerned about the potential for the US to extradite alleged fraudsters without giving supporting evidence to a British court.