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Law in Action

Podcast Law in Action
Podcast Law in Action

Law in Action

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  • Full-length interview with Robert Spano, recent president of the ECHR
    The international lawyer Robert Spano, originally from Iceland, has just completed his nine-year stint as a judge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. For the last two and half of those nine years, he was the president of the court. In an exclusive interview with Joshua Rozenberg, he shares his thoughts on the relationship between the UK and the ECHR, on the Justice Secretary Dominic Raab’s planned Bill of Rights, and on the future of democracy in Europe. Photo credit: Picture Credit: Image of Robert Spano, former President of the ECHR by Candice Imbert, Council of Europe. Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg Producer: Arlene Gregorius Sound engineers: James Beard in London and Matthieu Zisswiller in Strasbourg Researcher: Diane Richardson Production coordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross Editor: Simon Watts
    11/18/2022
    31:24
  • The UK and the European Court of Human Rights
    Is the UK on a collision course with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg? So far the UK's relationship with the ECHR has been a good one, and the UK has proportionately fewer cases before the court than the other 45 member states. But might Justice Secretary Dominic Raab's Bill of Rights bill change that? Former judge Robert Spano, the president of the ECHR until last month, speaks to Joshua Rozenberg. Is it time to improve the legal protection of the UK's 3.6 million cohabiting couples? Many wrongly believe that after a period of time together or having children, they have similar rights to married couples or people in civil partnerships. But that is not the case, and the government recently rejected the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee's recommended reforms. In Scotland, cohabiting couples gained some statutory rights for the first time in 2006, but a report by the Scottish Law Commission now says that they need to be updated and made fairer. What is mine and what yours? Not always easy to answer. Say you're on a plane, and are using your tray table when the person in front of you reclines their seat - who owns the space above your knees? You or the other passenger? The authors of the book 'Mine!' tackle some ownership conundrums. And to end the series we hear some powerful reflections from Robert Spano on the future of democracy. Picture Credit: Image of Robert Spano, former President of the ECHR by Candice Imbert, Council of Europe. Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg Producer: Arlene Gregorius Researcher: Diane Richardson Production co-ordinators: Maria Ogundele and Helena Warwick-Cross Sound engineer: Graham Puddifoot Editor: Simon Watts
    11/15/2022
    28:56
  • Protest and the Law
    Climate change activists have caused a lot of disruption over the past year, and recently also made headlines with stunts like throwing tomato soup at a Van Gogh painting in the National Gallery. The government's response has been to tighten up protest law; first in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 and now in the Public Order bill currently going through Parliament. What is and isn't illegal now? What could become illegal soon? And how are the police interpreting new laws that rely on their discretion, such as whether a protest is too noisy? Can rap lyrics amount to confessions to murder? Song lyrics are usually understood to be fiction - Tom Jones's 'Delilah' isn't an admission that the Welsh singer actually stabbed an unfaithful girlfriend, and Bob Marley never "shot the sheriff". But in California rap lyrics have been presented as evidence in criminal prosecutions in such a way that the state has now legislated to restrict the use of those lyrics in trials. And a murder conviction has been overturned, and a retrial ordered, for a rapper convicted on the grounds of his lyrics. Where would you go for free legal advice? Probably not a university, but in Liverpool people can now get appointments with law students at Liverpool John Moores University, who will conduct an interview them and produce a letter of advice, all under the supervision of solicitors, and free of charge. There's something in it for the students too: they gain practical experience which counts towards their course, and later on towards their qualifying examination. Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg Producer: Arlene Gregorius Researcher: Diane Richardson Production coordinators: Maria Ogundele and Helena Warwick-Cross Sound engineer: James Beard Editor: Simon Watts
    11/8/2022
    28:51
  • Scrapping European law
    The government is currently committed to a bonfire of laws which were inherited from the EU after Brexit - including things like the right to four weeks' paid annual leave. The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022 requires government departments to check over 2400 laws; then decide which ones to keep, which ones to amend, and which ones to let disappear from the statute books. Those chosen to be kept or amended will have to get through parliament by the end of next year, if they are to remain in force. A useful cleansing of the statute books, or a loss of consumer, worker and environmental rights? Why does Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister want to raise the age of criminal responsibility? It's currently set at the age of ten, the same as that of England and Wales, although not Scotland. This is very low by international standards. Are young adult defendants being unfairly pressurised into pleading guilty? The campaigning organisation Fair Trials says that 18-24-year olds sometimes get as little as 30 minutes to make a potentially life-changing decision. There is an incentive of getting a third off a prison sentence for pleading guilty at the first opportunity - Fair Trails say young defendants can fail to realise the long-term consequences of making such a plea. Can podcasts help bring about justice or do they run the risk of prejudicing trials? We hear about the Australian true crime podcast ‘The Teacher’s Pet’, which has now helped solve a murder from 1982. The victim’s husband was convicted and is about to be sentenced. Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg Producer: Arlene Gregorius Researcher: Diane Richardson Sound engineer: Graham Puddifoot Production Co-ordinators: Maria Ogundele and Helena Warwick-Cross Editor: Simon Watts
    11/1/2022
    28:36
  • Secrecy in the Court of Protection?
    How can a court decide that a young woman is to have medical treatment without her knowledge or that of her mother or guardian? The Court of Protection - which rules on cases involving 'protected' persons who lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves - sometimes holds 'closed hearings' that are secret to one or more of the parties, and to the public. Why are those hearings used, and can it ever be justified for the secrecy to lead to public misinformation? The law now treats animals very differently than in the past. A new book describes how in medieval Europe, they could even be prosecuted - in one case, a pig was actually sentenced to death for the murder of a child. But nowadays cases involving animals focus on their welfare. A campaigning organisation has been granted a court hearing to examine if the breeding of Britain’s fast-growing broiler chickens is detrimental to their health and welfare, and therefore in breach of the law. Nearly 3000 prisoners are continuing to serve more than their original sentence - sometimes over a decade more - because they are subject to “Imprisonment for Public Protection”. Some have never been released, others have been recalled to prison, even though IPP sentences were abolished in 2012. The Justice Select Committee has now called on the Government to review these sentences, with the aim of release for most. Members of the House of Lords agree, saying this form of detention is unjust. Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg Producer: Arlene Gregorius Researcher: Diane Richardson Production coordinators: Maria Ogundele and Helena Warwick-Cross Editor: Simon Watts
    10/25/2022
    29:02

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