Friday 13th December: this week, the Law Commission's proposal to reform elements of the law on contempt of court includes a proposed offence for jurors seeking out information beyond the evidence presented to the court. This puts the spotlight on trial by jury and the wider questions raised by such trials. Does the jury system work and is it worth fighting for in an age of economic stringency?
Here, the Attorney General, the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP finds in favour of trial by jury:
This week the Law Commission published a report with recommendations to reform elements of the law governing contempt of court. They include creatig a statutory offence for jurors who intentionally seek information beyond the evidence presented in court.
Friday 6th December: As 2013 draws to a close, the economy seems to be in recovery, but is it the right type of recovery? Dr Gerard Lyons reflects on a mostly positive Autumn Statement, but reminds us that there still are many economic challenges that have yet to be addressed.
After the wrong type of austerity do we now have the wrong type of recovery? That is the issue the morning after the 2013 Autumn Statement. The main message from the Autumn Statement was "growth matters". An improvement in growth allowed the Chancellor to announce a better outlook to his fiscal numbers, with a budget surplus projected before the decade is out, and the debt to GDP numbers trending down.
Friday 29th November: Britain's battle with Brussels is not just over who pays for indigent immigrants. It is a battle about two views of the state, writes Sheila Lawlor.
Many English people watching the latest battle with the EU may be asking how will it develop? The Prime Minister and an EU Commissioner have clashed over benefits for immigrants. Will Westminster or Brussels decide the rules for new EU immigrants arriving after January 2014 - the date when Romanians and Bulgarians are entitled to work and draw benefit here?
Friday 22nd November: This week it was reported that three women, held in slavery for thirty years, had walked free from an ‘ordinary house in an ordinary street’ in south London.
As the Home Office prepares to introduce a new Modern Slavery Bill, many will ask how, as the law stands, can traffickers be brought to justice? Oliver Heald, QC MP, the Solicitor General, explains that as well as continuing to work overseas, a wide range of legislation exists to prosecute traffickers in the UK:
The main offences of trafficking include the Sexual Offences Act 2003, Asylum and Immigration Act 2004 and the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. These offences attract maximum penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment on conviction and the first two are ‘life-style offences’ for the purposes of proceeds of crime, so the Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS) can deprive the defendant of the financial benefit that he or she has obtained from criminal conduct through a confiscation order.
As the debate on the future of England’s A & E units opens, another on prescription costs has closed. The pharmaceutical industry has now agreed a five year deal with the health department. For the first time the overall cost of medicines will be capped.
While the cap might help public spending cuts, it may not augur well for the country’s economic health, says Dr Tony Hockley.
The agreement to cap the NHS drugs bill for branded medicines from 2014 may have consequences for the economy beyond the implied saving. Over the past 15 years the imposition of a price-cut of branded medicines has become the norm every five years, when the pharmaceutical price regulation scheme is renewed. But the result has been that Britain, from being one of the most supportive European markets for new medicines (at least in terms of price, not usage) has slowly drifted towards the bottom of the league table. Should that trouble us? Do arbitrary price controls affect the location of pharmaceutical innovation?