by Laurie Anstis on March 29, 2013
Being an employment lawyer, my January was dominated by the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in Ewieda, Chaplin, Ladele and McFarlane v UK. The Ewieda and Chaplin cases dealt with the wearing of religious symbols at work, with Ladele and McFarlane looking at what happens when work duties conflict with religious conscience.
These highly politicised cases brought out the best in legal blogging.
1 Crown Office Row’s UK Human Rights Blog, which must have some claim to being the UK’s most successful legal blog, lead the way, with Rosalind English working through the detail of the judgments. James Wilson was even more thorough, with a series of three posts. Carl Gardner criticised the judgment as “the Strasbourg court micromanaging respect for human rights in the UK”.
Michael Reed praised legal bloggers’ reactions and analysis of the cases, saying it marked a “tipping point” for legal blogging, going so far as to predict that there would be a 2035 PhD thesis on: “Eweida: The moment a nascent legal blogosphere came of age“.
February saw the first trial of Vicky Price for perverting the course of justice. This prompted much discussion of the obscure defence of “marital coercion”.
The ICLR provided heavyweight analysis of Sweeney J’s ruling on whether the apparent burden on the defendant to prove the defence was compatible with the Human Rights Act, while “Carrefax” considered whether such a ruling could bind lower courts.
The eventual collapse of the first trial, and the questions asked of the judge by the jury, drew criticism from some quarters, but David Allen Green spoke up for the jury in a dialogue which continued with Joshua Rozenberg.
Lucy Reed sensed a chill in the air, as did Obiter J, who has written consistently on the topic. Andrew Sharpe wasn’t losing any sleep over it, though felt there was more to think about for commercial bloggers. Paul Bernal recommended keeping vigilant, and blamed the threat of regulation on bad behaviour by the press.
The language used in the proposed Royal Charter, and in particular its attempt to require a two-thirds majority in Parliament for amendments, did not impress “A Barrister in London“. This attempt to entrench a two-thirds majority was also considered by Brodies LLP, a firm which maintains a comprehensive set of blogs, and which also looked separately at the implications of the Royal Charter for Scotland.
Finally, three special mentions:
Second, Kerry Underwood, whose frequent polemics on the Jackson reforms have made his blog required reading for anyone with an interest in justice and the legal system.