Westminster update: Queen’s Speech introduces new legislation

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Queen’s Speech introduces new legislation

On Tuesday May 10, Prince Charles delivered the Queen’s Speech to the House of Lordsoutlining the government’s main priorities for the next parliamentary session.

The speech focused on:

  • navigating the post-Brexit UK economy
  • amend the legislation relating to the rights and freedoms of individuals and institutions
  • level the country and its infrastructure and services

The speech included a total of 38 bills, several of which will impact the justice system and members of the legal profession.

The Bill of Rights will seek to change the relationship between UK courts and the European Court of Human Rights, with consultation proposals suggesting it be enshrined in law that UK courts are ‘not bound’ to follow the European Court but simply “may take into account” for that.

The government is also seeking to replace section three of the Human Rights Act with “a more restrictive restriction” on how judges can interpret legislation where it appears to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. the man.

In addition, the government wants to introduce an authorization stage for human rights claims, which would limit the number of cases heard by a court.

The bill will also include provisions for the automatic deportation of serious criminals in most cases.

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill is likely to be substantial legislation and will include reform of Companies House, providing it with:

  • more effective investigative and enforcement powers
  • powers to seize crypto assets (the main medium used for ransomware) from criminals, and
  • provisions for the sharing of information between companies on money laundering, in order to detect and prevent economic crime more effectively

Through the Brexit Freedoms Bill, the the government is committed to adopting new legislation which will allow ministers to repeal or change old EU laws that are still in force in the UK.

The reforms proposed in this bill are likely to be controversial and will seek to end the special status of EU law, making it easier to change or remove it.

The bill will allow the government to use secondary legislation to amend or repeal parts of EU law that we kept in the Brexit deal. This means that he will be able to make changes without the need for full parliamentary control.

The Leveling and Regeneration Bill will seek to codify Upgrade white paper, produced during the last session. It will aim to level the UK and grow the economy in the places that need it most.

The invoice will include:

  • a decentralization agreement, intended to be concluded by 2030
  • a government obligation to report annually on upgrade missions
  • elements of now dead planning bill to support regeneration in less prosperous location

Other important bills expected to enter Parliament next year include:

  • National Security Bill
  • mental health bill
  • victims bill

We look forward to working with parliamentarians on all of the above.

Find out what the Queen’s Speech means for lawyers and the law

Justice Select Committee Reviews SLAPPs

The Justice Select Committee held a session on strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) Tuesday, May 10.

The session covered:

  • whether legislation is needed to prevent SLAPPs
  • the changing nature of claims
  • why England and Wales may be a preferred jurisdiction for these cases

Witnesses, who included lawyers and a representative of journalists, disagreed on the need for government intervention.

Some said legislation was needed to deter plaintiffs from filing SLAPPs while others said the current law already strikes the right balance between protecting people’s reputations and freedom of expression. journalists.

The panel noted that the nature of SLAPPs is moving away from the use of defamation claims towards data protection or privacy claims. As such, the claims are often more difficult to defend.

The panel argued that England and Wales is a preferred jurisdiction for SLAPPs, as cases here can be long-lasting and costly for defendants to fight.

Some have argued that cost caps should be introduced and that judges should be given early strike-out mechanisms if they suspect a case is a SLAPP.

The panel said regulatory action should be taken against law firms that falsely threaten to sue for defamation.

However, the chairman of the committee, Sir Bob Neill (Conservative), noted that companies have a duty to represent their customers in the most effective way possible.

The government is currently consulting on SLAPPs.

We will submit a submission to this consultation and consult widely with members to inform our response.

Results of the local elections 2022

On Thursday May 5, local elections were held in Wales, Scotland and parts of England.

The Conservative Party suffered several losses across the country.

The Liberal Democrats emerged as the biggest winners in England, while Labor made gains in Wales.

In England:

  • the Tories have lost 336 councilors and 10 councils
  • Labor won 22 councilors and three councils
  • the Liberal Democrats won 194 councilors and three councils

In Wales:

  • Labor gained 66 councilors and a board
  • Plaid Cymru lost six councilors but gained control of three councils
  • the Tories have lost 86 councilors and one council

Among the most notable results were Labor victories which saw them gain control of Wandsworth and Westminster councils – two traditionally Tory strongholds.

Outside London, Labor has made more limited progress.

Commons debates justice reform proposals

Following the Queen’s Speech, on Wednesday May 11, the Commons debated the Justice and Crime Prevention Bill.

Opposition parties seemed happy with proposals to crack down on economic crime and fraud. But they were more apprehensive with the draft bill of rights.

Joanna Cherry, SNP member of the Joint Human Rights Committee, said the committee had found no reason to replace the Human Rights Act and that the proposed reforms “would only cause confusion and prejudice to those who need their rights protected”. ”.

She added that the reforms should not be pursued without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

Jamie Stone (Liberal Democrat) expressed concern about the weight of primary and secondary legislation in the bill.

He suggested that the amended rights are so fundamental that they should be carefully considered by the House, “rather than being acquiesced in one instrument or another”.

Opposition benches have also challenged government promises to help victims of violent crime.

As they signaled their support for some measures in the Victims Bill, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper reminded the minister that the bill had been promised as early as 2015, when which the rate of rape charges fell from 8.5% to 1.3%.

Coming

We will work closely with MPs and peers to influence a number of bills and inquiries: