House of Commons sittings

During the coronavirus lockdown MPs have been using a “hybrid” system of sittings, with some appearing in person in the Commons chamber, and some appearing via video link. A number of votes have thus been held remotely for the first time in Parliament’s history. Those measures were initially due to end on 12 May, but MPs agreed to a motion from the government to extend the relevant standing orders until 21 May — the start of the Whitsun recess. These were considered by the Procedure Committee in its report Procedure under coronavirus restrictions: remote voting in divisions (7 May 2020).


More face-to-face hearings

An expansion of face-to-face hearings is planned this week as 16 more court and tribunal buildings open across England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice announced on 8 June. They say

Remote hearings review

The report from the Civil Justice Council’s rapid review of the impact of COVID measures on the civil justice system was published on 4 June. The review was led by Dr Natalie Byrom, Director of Research at The Legal Education Foundation, with the support of a wider virtual working group. We summarised the report’s main findings and recommendations in a separate post: Civil Justice Council report on the impact of COVID-19 on civil courts


Remote signature witnessing

A story in Legal Futures raises the question whether a will can be validly witnessed via WhatsApp. The testator, who was ill with Covid-19, made a will which was then witnessed on video using the app. As the LF article explains:

Land law

Possession claims stay extended

The Nearly Legal blog reports that the stay imposed by CPR PD 51Z on possession claims is to be extended. A government announcement states that the existing stay will continue till 23 August, and that “Renters across England and Wales will receive greater protection”.

Human Rights

#BLM protests

Public protests have continued both in the United States and in other countries, including the United Kingdom, over the unlawful killing of a black suspect by police and other examples of systemic and institutional racism. They have been amply reported in the news.

Statuary deconstruction

In the United Kingdom protests have taken place in a number of cities. In Bristol an angry mob pulled down a statue, erected in 1895, to memorialise a former slave trader, MP and public benefactor, Edward Colston (1636–1721), and threw it into the harbour. The incident was condemned by some as wanton vandalism likely to undermine the message of the protest, and justified by others as civil disobedience in the face of civic intransigence. Comparisons were made with the statues erected in the segregationist era memorialising Confederate leaders who resisted abolition of the slave trade in the American Civil War, and the continuing affront they represent to the descendants of the former slave population.

Recent commentary

Coronavirus lockdown

One Kingdom but four nations emerging from lockdown at four different rates under four different laws, by Dijen Basu QC via the UK Police Law Blog explains “the difficulties with the amended legislation, the inconsistencies between the laws of the four nations of the UK, as well as the problems of enforcement by the police”.


The clock is ticking — bail breaches and Covid-19, Guest post by Hannah Edwards on the Secret Barrister blog, drawing attention to need to comply with the 24-hour time limit on magistrates dealing with alleged bail breachers once arrested.

Data protection

Principles for legislators on the implementation of new technologies, posted by Dr Eoin O’Dell on his blog: a joint proposal by him and other signatories of an earlier joint letter to the Irish government and legislators, on the need for robust protections for human rights and privacy in any laws regulating new technology, such as contact tracing apps.


Furlough and Common Law Rights and Remedies, by David Cabrelli and Jessica D’alton, via the UK Labour Law Blog, who “focus on the effect of furlough on the common law rights of employees and workers”.

International Human Rights — South Africa

South African lockdown rules declared unlawful: case comment by Rosalind English on the UK Human Rights Blog.

Legal profession

Why the Attorney General should resign, by David Allen Green, via his Law and Policy Blog. Explains what Suella Braverman AG did wrong when tweeting to support a statement from the Prime Minister’s office that Dominic Cummings did nothing wrong after he was alleged to have breached the coronavirus regulations, and then made public statements about the case that were incompatible with her special role as government legal adviser.

Media and communications

Still on the Cummings debacle, Colette Allen on Inforrm’s blog, in Cummings, #MediaWitchHunt and Trust, discusses the role of fake news and lack of government transparency in relation to its management of the coronavirus crisis and its impact on public trust in the news.

Media — Australia

Media companies can now be held responsible for your dodgy comments, case comment by Michael Douglas on Inforrm’s blog, about the case of Fairfax Media Publications and othes v Voller [2020] NSWCA 102. The court held the newspaper publishers liable as publishers for comments hosted by them on their social media accounts.


When Privacy and Security Collide: the legality of using facial recognition security systems in quasi-public spaces, by Raghav Mendiratta via Inforrm’s blog. He says it is

Dates and Deadlines

Disability at the Bar

Panel events via Google Meet — 6pm, 12 June and 17 June 2020

Clinics Conference — The Power of Pro Bono in Changing Times

LawWorks — 9.30 am 19 June 2020

Recruitment for independent Reviewer of Prevent

Applications open until 11pm on 22 June

And finally…

Tweet of the week

is from Jon Worth and relates to that Parliament story about queuing to vote in the chamber:


Photo by Brandon Montrone from Pexels