(1) Jail play dropped

A production of Sweeney Todd in Kingston Jail has been abandoned after a member of Pimlico Opera, the visiting production company, was found to be in possession of cannabis. The whole plan was organised in belief that it contributes to rehabilitation of inmates.

(2) Concession in terror detention row

In an attempt to avoid a damaging defeat in the Commons when the anti-terror bill is voted on at the end of next month, the home secretary is to offer a concession to backbench MPs. Under the new proposal, MPs would be allowed to debate a decision to invoke the emergency powers within 10 days of a government decision.

(3) Sanctions regime for foreigners who boycott ID cards

There will be sanctions for foreign nationals who boycott the introduction of the biometric identity card later this year. They could face losing their right to stay and for those who refuse to make or turn up to an appointment to scan their fingerprints and facial image will face a £250 fine. The sanctions regime for foreign nationals is expected to be a pilot for the UK residents’ ID cards to be introduced next year.

(4) Call for reform of insolvency laws

The Treasury has been asked radically to shake up insolvency laws because the current one is unsuitable to manage the type of insolvency that will soon become common: highly geared, cross-border companies with complex capital structures for which major restructuring will be the only solution.

(5) QC’s legal case exposes Law Society tensions

The two QCs who wrote an arcane book about lawyers’ disciplinary rules, have asked the High Court to order the Law Society, the solicitor’s body, which owns the copyright, to permit them to reprint the key code of conduct for free in another book they have written. This unusual legal action highlights the growing tensions in the tangled new system for regulating the profession.

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(1) Call for stricter bail after revelation that 1 in 7 charged with murder go free

In response to a freedom of information request, the ministry of justice has admitted that nearly one in seven people charged with murder and awaiting trial was released on bail last month. However, it denied that there was any link between prison capacity and the bail figures. Opposition parties have called for a rethink of the bail laws, but Jack Straw revealed that he was already considering tightening the rules.

(2) Law firms pressed to reform after client complaints while their profits mount up

Leading law firms in London are to reform their decades-old system of hourly charges after client complaints. The attention paid by clients to fees grew as firms’ profits mounted up as high as 31 per cent last year.

(3) Experts attach rewrite of arcane legislation

With the next phase of a mammoth task to rewrite all UK tax legislation in progress, a row has broken out between the Chartered Institute of Taxation and the Revenue and Customs. While R & C is convinced that the rewrite project will save £25m a year, the institute believes that much of the rewritten legislation is no clearer than the original.

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(1) Justice secretary urges courts to send fewer to jail

As the prison population in England and Wales soared to an all-time high, the justice secretary made an urgent appeal to magistrates to send fewer people to jail. He suggested that non-custodial sentences and probation were sometimes a more effective way to prevent reoffending.

(2) Ipswich murder case provokes debates on ‘inadequate’ law

Current British law on prostitution is complicated, as strictly speaking it is not illegal to buy or sell sex, while soliciting and kerb-crawling are both against the law. Ipswich murder case has brought contrasting calls for change in the current law as many see it as inadequate. Pro-liberalisation camp argues that policy makers should consider improved health and safety of women in the industry an absolute priority. On the other hand, the other camp is calling for increased actions. The government has been conducting a review into the laws for the past four years trying to find a middle ground between two opposing camps.

(3) Natwest Three to be sentenced

A trio of disgraced British bankers known as the Nat West Three will be sentenced to lengthy jail sentences by a US judge today. Before their extradition, British media run a campaign opposing the fact-track extradition procedure introduced in 2003. But with hindsight, the trio’s plea bargain made some think media ran an ill-conceived campaign. Daily Telegraph’s head of business however, stressed that it was never about whether they were guilty or innocent, but it was about the fact this law needed changing.

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(1) New sentencing guidelines

The Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC) has issued new guidance for various crimes, whereby tougher sentences were laid out for various assaults including the so-called ‘happy slapping’ attacks, assaults on public sector workers and assaults and cruelty to children.

(2) Compulsive gambler sues bookmaker after loosing large sum of money

A compulsive gambler who lost large sum of money is suing the bookmaker for having negligently encouraged him to continue gambling. This case may establish for the first time that bookmakers owe a duty of care to compulsive gamblers.

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(1) CPS blunder criticised for endangering British public

The disc containing DNA details of 4,000 offenders on the run from the Netherlands, which was sent to Britain to be checked against the national DNA database, have been mislaid by the CPS for a year. After all the checks were carried out last moth when the disc was spotted, and found that the records of 15 of the Dutch suspects were on the British database. Tories are accusing the government of endangering the British public because 11 of the suspects allegedly committed crimes in Britain before the CPS looked at the information.

(2) The Banking Bill to become law by the end of the week

The Banking Bill won a majority of 126 in a vote after midnight to approve the temporary public ownership of Northern Rock. The bill will now pass to the Lords with the aim of becoming law by the end of the week. However, it is criticised that this bill is not been debated enough by MPs and gives the Treasury emergency powers not simply to nationalise Northern Rock but also to take over other financial institutions.

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(1) Paralegals to take CPS cases to trial

Due to government cost-cutting, plans are to go ahead for thousands of trials a year to be prosecuted by non-lawyers, even though paralegals themselves say that they are insufficiently trained. The Legal Services Commission plans to allow solicitors to instruct non-panel barristers to do the complex cases if an insufficient number of barristers sign-up. Furthermore, paralegals in the CPS will be given powers to conduct “not guilty” cases subject to approval by the CPS Director. Both the Bar and the Law Society say that standards in courts will be undermined by the funding squeeze.

(2) Asbos for terror suspects recommended

The Government’s independent reviewer of terror legislation recommended that terror could be given antisocial behaviour orders to restrict their movements instead of the control order regime. He said that control orders remained necessary for a small number of cases but they should be time-limited to a maximum period of two years, and any longer imposition can only be justified in rare cases.

(3) Bill to provide bail-out power for Bank

The bill which gives bail-out power to the Bank of England will be rushed through parliament today to nationalise the ailing building society Northern Rock. The bill could be on the statute book within days. The legislation will also allow the government, for a period of 12 months, to nationalise any deposit-taking institution that has received state financial support and poses a serious threat to the stability of the UK financial system if it is not taken into public ownership.

(4) New proposal to toughen qualified lawyers transfer regulations may become an obstacle

The Solicitors Regulation Authority proposes to toughen entry requirements of qualified foreign lawyers transferring from their countries to the UK. However, top law firms are saying that the proposal aimed at rooting out incompetent lawyers would have the side-effect of making it more difficult for well-qualified overseas solicitors to work in Britain. The proposal is the kind of obstacle that will encourage talented people to choose to go to the States rather than come to England.

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(1) Prison gang wars force fearful inmates to plead for segregation

Gang wars have become so acute in some of the maximum security prisons that fearful inmates plead for segregation units for their own safety. Current Prison Service policy does not separate rival gang members as a matter of course and says it will be done only where there is an established risk of disorder or to the safety of staff and other prisoners. The problem has become so acute that it has now become extremely difficult to find enough category A accommodation to separate sentenced members from rival gangs.

(2) Pilot projects to test “Sarah’s Law”

As part of the government’s violent crime action plan, the pilot schemes are to go ahead in four police force areas giving wider controlled access to the sex offender register. This is not a community-wide disclosure and would be done in a “sensible and measured way” and only those who could register a direct interest in the welfare of a child would be given the details. The Home Secretary insisted that new powers will not drive convicted sex offenders underground.

(3) Government’s constitutional reform – not suitable for Britain

The proposed British bill that stipulates rights and responsibilities will be more symbolic and aspirational than legally enforceable and may only confuse the electorate. Furthermore, its proposed legal status is unclear. Creating written constitutions is also an excessively optimistic plan as it would take more than 10 to 20 years to achieve.

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(1) Miscarriage of justice

The Algerian man wrongly accused of training pilots involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks was completely exonerated of any part in the attacks on the twin towers. This means he was given the go-ahead to renew his bid for government compensation for “serious defaults” by police and the Crown Prosecution Service. This judgment should not cause the home secretary to review the use of provisional extradition warrants, but it should also cause the police and the CPS to fundamentally overhaul their systems and procedures to avoid such a serious miscarriage of justice happening again.

(2) Civil case on BAE scandal – court hears how SFO inquiry was halted

Anti-corruption campaigners began a legal action to overturn the decision to halt the BAE probe. They want the original investigation restarted, arguing the government had caved into blackmail. Previously secret files described how investigators were told they faced “another 7/7” if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence.

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(1) Terror law rethink as extremists go free

Senior judges quashed the convictions of five young Muslims for downloading extremist propaganda, arguing that its possession was not sufficient to prove intent to undertake a terrorist act. The Crown Prosecution Service said they it was considering an appeal to the House of Lords.

(2) Plans duties of behavour in bill of rights

Jack Straw is planning a British bill of rights to complement the European convention on human rights, and this exercise is separate from a possible 20-year plan to introduce a potential British written constitution. This new bill of rights may include duties of behaviour between fellow citizens that are enforceable by judges. Concern is that the bill could be confused with the European convention and become either a symbolic unenforceable document or, contrastingly, a statist charter that will impose onerous duties on citizens on how to behave to fellow citizens or the state.

(3) BAE secret lobbying may be disclosed at judicial review

The anti-corruption group Corner House and the Campaign against the Arms won the right to bring today’s court action to open a judicial review over the alleged secret lobbying by the arms giant BAE. It will hear allegations that the company put pressure on the British government to drop a bribery investigation into its Saudi arms deals. Documents revealing secret lobbying by the company are expected to be disclosed by court order. The anti-corruption group is seeking to overturn the decision to drop the investigations, and to have the Saudi inquiry reinstated.

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(1) Attempt to hold a big criminal trial without a jury rejected

Prosecution lawyers’ attempt to hold a big criminal trial without a jury was rejected by a judge. Prosecutors argued that jurors could be intimidated or bribed but the judge ruled that steps could be put in place to ensure the jury was protected, and that he could still discharge the jury and hear the case of evidence of tampering emerged.

(2) Divorce case and the status of pre-nuptial agreement

Unlike the US and most of continental Europe, pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding in the UK. As a result, thus far there has been uncertainly about how the deals will be enforced. Late last year, the Court of Appeal suggested that it might be time to introduce legislation that would increase the enforceability of pre-nuptial deals. The decision made at a multi-million pound divorce battle seems to have given a boost to the status of prenuptial agreements.

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(1) Drug trial may be held without a jury for the first time

Prosecutors plan to apply to hold a major criminal trial without a jury for the first time because of concerns that jurors assigned to the case – which involves members of an organised criminal network- would be vulnerable to intimidation or bribery. The move will revive concern over the future of jury trials in Britain.

(2) Bugging of lawyers could overturn convictions

A legal precedent set at the court of appeal in 2005 has established that deliberate bugging of conversations with lawyers seriously undermines the rule of law that trials should be halted and any convictions obtained overturned. This ruling may mean that dozens of terrorist trials could be aborted and the Soham murderer go free if allegations by a whistleblower that lawyers’ visits with clients were routinely bugged at Woodhill prison are substantiated.

(3) Bugging policeman faces court over leaks

A former police intelligence officer who bugged an MP and eavesdropped on lawyers at a high-security prison is due to appear before a court today to face eight charges of misconduct in a public office in allegedly leaking police information to a local newspaper and a private detective.

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(1) Brown backs court use of intercepts while intelligence services demand veto on use of some bugging evidence

Under the proposals backed by Gordon Brown, intercept evidence will be used in the courts only once strict legal safeguards are drawn up to minimize the risk of exposing sensitive intelligence gathering operations, and to reduce the potential financial costs to the agencies involved.

(2) “Loophole” lawyer trademarks name

Celebrity lawyer who has helped many celebrities escape motoring charges has registered “Mr Loophole” as trademark to prevent rivals from stealing his nickname.

(3) Court delivers justice by mobile phone

Britain’s courts took an unprecedented step by allowing a case to be heard by mobile phone whereby ditching the law’s reputation for delay and avoiding a costly adjournment of the brief proceedings. A woman charged with money-laundering became ill unexpectedly and a presiding judge allowed her to participate in the case over the mobile phone.

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(1) Inquiry into MPs bugging allegations

A former detective revealed that he was pressured into bugging a conversation between a Muslim Labour MP and a terrorism suspect held in prison. This revelation came concomitant with a newspaper report that said the recording of legal visits in prison was widespread. The taping of legal meetings is far more serious because it may breach a defendant’s rights and has the potential to collapse criminal trials.

(2) Legal flaw in power of attorney revealed

Since the Lasting Powers of Attorney have been introduced by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 in 1 Oct ’07, thousands of people who took steps to protect their affairs or those of elderly relatives by appointing Attorneys might have executed their documents invalidly because solicitors gave them wrong instructions. Solicitors said to the family that all they had to do was to sign the documents themselves, while in fact the documents had to be signed by both the person who was granting the power and the person who would take it on and manage their affairs.

(3) Police win judicial review of delayed pay rise

A high court judge ruled that the Police Federation had an arguable case and cleared the way for judicial review of the home secretary’s refusal to backdate police officers annual pay rise. The federation claims Smith has no legal power to set aside a recommendation by an independent tribunal that a 2.5% pay rise be paid in full.

(4) Abuse victim win historic ruling on compensation

Thanks to the last week’s landmark House of Lords ruling which removed the time limit for bringing the claims for compensation by rape victims, two young women have won a key ruling in their legal battle to secure compensation from the man who sexually abused them when they were children.

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(1) Inquiry into MP being bugged when visiting jail

It is alleged that the Metropolitan police bugged a Muslim Labour MP as he spoke to a terror suspect in jail. If this was true, this would mean that a 40-year-old anti-bugging code which bans security agencies from tapping the telephones of MPs or peers, was breached.

(2) Children caught drinking in public could get their alcohol confiscated by police

Under the new laws to make it illegal for youngsters to drink in public, police officers are to be given powers to confiscate alcohol from youngsters caught drinking. At present police can only confiscate drinks from troublemakers.

(3) Secret inquests under terrorism bill criticesed

The government was criticised over plans in the new counter-terrorism bill to hold inquests without juries. Although this is designed to tackle the threat of terror, the new powers are not explicitly restricted to terrorism cases and could in theory be applied to hearings into the deaths of British soldiers and people shot by police.

(4) Law lords to rule whether an independent inquiry is necessary to find whether the UK had complied with International Law when deciding going to war with Iraq

Questions about the legality of Tony Blair’s decision to join the US in invading Iraq will come under the spotlight at Britain’s highest court next week. Mothers of two soldiers killed in Iraq will ask the judges to order the government to set up an independent inquiry into whether it took sufficient steps to satisfy itself that the war was legal before launching the invasion in 2003.

(5) The highest amount of fraud cases came to court in 2007

According to figure released yesterday, fraud committed by professional criminal gangs reached 12-year-high in 2007. The fraud barometer found that more than £1bn-worth of fraud came to crown courts last year, the most since 1995. Whether new rules put in place by the government to crack down on carousel or so-called missing trader fraud would have a big impact on fraud remained to be seen.

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(1) Debate on constitution

The Government has a delicate task of carrying out a constitutional reform whereby establishing the balance between the rights to which we are all entitled to and the obligations that we all owe each other. Failing to strike the balance could result in endless litigation and cost the Government. But, first and foremost, the problem for ministers is to reach out beyond the world of constitutional reformers to the public generally and to show how these changes will benefit them.

(2) Home Office to start forcibly removing child asylum seekers

The Home Office is to start the forcible removal of lone child asylum seekers, prompting fears among refugee groups and children’s charities that many will be sent back to war zones where their safety and welfare cannot be guaranteed. The Home Office insisted that they would only be sent back to “safe environments’.

(3) Judge criticised social workers for removing a new born baby from a mother in hospital

After the visit to Wandsworth prison in south London, the Justice Secretary Jack Straw has ordered a crackdown on drug abuse in jails and improved training for inmates in an attempt to ease the impact of overcrowding. It was only two days ago when the chief inspector of prisons warned the Justice Secretary that the prison system was at breaking point, with record number of inmates.

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