Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:
Reported by Anna Flaherty
Terminally Ill Person Loses Legal Battle over Assisted Dying
Noel Conway, a man with motor neuron disease (MND), was diagnosed with the disease in 2014. He has now lost the movement of his body, excepting his right hand, head and neck. Conway had sought the right to die if his condition worsened to the point where he had 6 months or less to live.
Conway lost his case at the Court of Appeal in June and had applied for a hearing at the Supreme Court. This has also been refused, bringing an end to the legal battle.
The court deemed there was not a strong enough prospect of the case succeeding were it to be brought to a full hearing. The Supreme Court judges stated that they had reached their decision “not without some reluctance”. Noel Conway, who had been too ill to attend the hearing, was quoted saying that it was “barbaric” and “downright cruel” that he must choose from “unacceptable options” to end his life.
These options refer to removing his ventilator and effectively suffocating to death under sedation. Assisted dying would allow Noel Conway to make a “voluntary, clear, settled and informed choice” with medical assistance. The case has brought a blow to all those who campaign for assisted dying in the UK, with Dignity in Dying stating that it will now “turn […] attention back to parliament”.
- Legal Aid
Reported by Zara Smith
Legal Aid Cuts Affect Access to Justice for Human Rights
Legal aid is available for those members of the public who can’t afford legal advice but require it. The funding for legal aid being cut means it has implications on the access for justice, as well as the rule of law and independence of the judiciary.
Restrictions to legal aid were introduced in 2012. Changes in how solicitors are paid changed in 2006. The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) has said the budget for justice is forecast to fall by £400m next year.
The CBA recently claimed the entire criminal justice system was “in chaos” and that legal aid work was being undermined to save money.
Andrew Walker QC, spoke at the Annual Bar and Young Bar Conference and stated there is “a huge threat to access to justice in our country,” and “If we can no longer deliver access to justice of which we can be proud – even worse, if our systems of family and criminal justice start to fail – then our justice and rule of law are at risk.”
Walker said. “It is a system of justice in which our citizens can have confidence. But our politicians and the public have a choice to make. They must make it wisely. If they take all this for granted, then I fear that we will all pay the price.”
These legal cuts could have an adverse effect on the Rule of law. It is an important aspect of the law; political decisions can undermine it in the UK.
“The government must exercise self-restraint and refrain from criticising the judiciary and legal profession,” the chair of The Joint Committee on Human Rights, Harriet Harman MP stated.
Human Rights in the UK are a hugely important issue in the law, and by cutting legal aid costs it has been argued that it would also restrict the access to justice on Human Right issues.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights said there must be an urgent review into legal advice and the financial eligibility criteria for legal aid, with consideration given to fully aligning it with the criteria for welfare benefits.
More legal support for families at inquests and calls on the powers of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has been requested to be extended, so that it can take human rights cases on the same basis as equality cases.
Harriet Harman MP has advised to “act urgently to address” the issue, she also stated “government, parliament, the media and the legal profession all have a responsibility to consider the importance of the rule of law, and the role that rights which can be enforced through an independent court system, plays in that.
- Brexit Talks
May visits Scotland as her Brexit Deal comes under attack
Reported by Nathan Gore
Theresa May has recently been embarking on a Brexit ‘publicity tour’ of sorts, as she attempts to sell her recently-agreed Brexit Deal to the whole nation. This, however, has become increasingly more difficult for her following the very public backlash she has been receiving over this arrangement, from all sides.
As she heads to Scotland on Wednesday, with a House of Commons vote on her much-heralded deal looming large, the political opponents of this deal have been lining up to express their own indivudal dissatisfaction over what has been agreed upon thus far.
DUP leader Arlene Foster said the PM’s trip to promote the deal to businesses in Wales and Northern Ireland was a “waste of time” as Parliament would not back it.
Meanwhile, former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon told the BBC the deal was “doomed” and must be renegotiated.
Mrs May, however, has continued to insist that her ‘Brexit Deal’ protects the “vital interests” of the whole of the UK, and should be backed by her political compatriots.
In this midst of all this, she has also had to fend of criticism from Donald Trump, with the US President criticising the effect that the deal would have on transatlantic commerce and relations.