Sunday Law Review: the week that was 22nd – 28th January.

As the Prime Minister David Cameron prepared for his midweek speech to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, a joint statement was issued by the Council of Europe and the European parliament criticising UK for politically motivated objections to the EU fulfilling its legal obligation of signing up to the European Convention on Human Rights. As I had hinted in last week’s Sunday Law Review, the implication of the Abu Qatada trial would continue to be debated for a while. The ECHR's main concern was the risk that evidence against Qatada had been obtained by torturing witnesses, rendering any trial he might face unfair. In the absence of Jordanian authorities finding a way of trying Qatada without relying on tainted evidence, it is likely that he could be released on bail next month and have his activities restricted under one of the new terrorism prevention, and investigation measures, which have now replaced control orders.

Jamie Jackson, a sports journalist working for the Guardian faces a possible jail sentence for tweeting the name of a juror while covering the tax evasion trial of Tottenham Hotspurs manager Harry Redknapp. Jackson also tweeted about a legal argument as a witness was giving evidence under oath while the jury was not present. The law of contempt of court forbids the publication of information not heard by the jury that prejudices the defendant's right to a fair trial. In a separate development involving the use of internet, a former university lecturer, Theodora Dallas who carried out online research about a criminal defendant while serving as a juror has been jailed for six months. She was found guilty of contempt of court by three high court judges, including Lord Judge, the lord chief justice. This case highlights a growing problem facing courts in the internet era in ensuring that jurors do not investigate cases, when looking facts up on a computer seems an increasingly natural instinct.

Last year, a consultation paper commissioned by the Bar Standards Board described solicitors as ‘superfluous intermediaries’. The BSB proposed to examine the possibility of barristers accepting direct instructions from clients eligible for public funding and to consider lifting the ban on barristers with under three years’ practising experience, from accepting public access instructions. One sensed an impending split in the profession. This week, the President of the Law Society John Wotton revisited the question of should barristers and solicitors continue to be separately trained, represented and regulated.  He envisaged a future when the distinction would be more a decorative than a functional aspect of the legal constitution.

This week the High Court ruled that Gary McKinnon's ten year battle against extradition must be settled by the summer. Two senior judges have decided that his case must not be allowed to continue indefinitely and have set a legal timetable aimed at ending the saga that began when the Asperger's sufferer hacked into NASA and Pentagon computers. The US is demanding McKinnon under the controversial 2003 Extradition Act despite medical experts warning he might commit suicide should his legal challenge fail.

The government has lost its appeal against a judge's ruling that its cuts to solar power subsidies were illegal. Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, had attempted to impose a lower rate of subsidy for installations from 12th December before a consultation on the change had been finished. However, solar installation companies and environmental groups secured a Judicial Review at the High Court which ruled the decision unlawful. The Court of Appeal has confirmed that decision. The implication of the court’s decision is that thousands of homes and businesses would now be able to claim the higher payments.

Government legal spending through its central panel of external advisers fell by more than a third last year. Figures released by the Government Procurement Service, following a Freedom of Information Act request by the Legal Week, revealed a total of £28.8m, 36% down on the record figure of £44.8m spent during the previous year. Broken down by Government departments, the Home Office was by far the biggest contributor to fees, spending a total of £5m, followed by the Department for Transport at £2.8m.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that workers' right to paid holiday cannot be subject to a minimum period of actual work during the reference period used to calculate entitlement. While EU member states were free to create domestic legislation on conditions for the exercise and implementation of the right to paid annual leave, the very existence of that right could not be subject to any preconditions. The Luxembourg judges added that there may be divergences as regards the conditions for exercising the right to paid annual leave but that the working time directive did not allow member states to exclude the very existence of a right expressly granted to all workers.

The lawyers for a stroke victim who wants help to end his life can continue to act on his behalf without fear of prosecution or disciplinary action following a high court ruling. Lord Justice Toulson, sitting with Mr Justice Charles, described the case as tragic and exceptional, which raising 'thorny legal and ethical issues', and granted them a declaration which will protect them and third parties, including doctors, during preparations for a landmark judicial review on assisted suicide. The claimant suffered a major stroke three years ago at the age of 43 and is unable to move, requires constant care and is entirely dependent on others for every aspect of his life.

The government has made what appears to be its first substantial concession on the legal aid bill by abandoning a plan to means test police station advice. In a recent Lords reading of the bill the Justice Minister Lord McNally, in response to impassioned opposition from Lord Macdonald, the Lib Dem peer, admitted that the government would table its own amendments to parts of the bill when it reaches report stage in March. Last week, Lord McNally had conceded that the government would look again on the Lord Chancellor’s powers to remove categories from the scope of legal aid.

The Asil Nadir trial finally began two decades after he fled the country to evade justice. Nadir is accused of stealing almost £150m from his own Polly Peck business empire to finance a lavish lifestyle. The Old Bailey trial is expected to last four months. Nadir was due to stand trial in 1993 but escaped to Cyprus, evading the courts until he returned to the UK in August 2010. The jury heard prosecution claims that he ran Polly Peck in an autocratic manner, refusing to tolerate rivals and clashing with his own board when it tried to introduce tighter financial controls or questioned the constant outflow of millions of pounds to Turkish and North Cypriot subsidies. Mr Nadir, now 70, denies theft.

In a week that saw the venting of much public anger at corporate bonus for executive bankers with the Royal Bank of Scotland boss Stephen Hester being strongly criticized for his share options bonus of close to £1m, lawyers have urged the Business Secretary Vince Cable to be cautious over his proposal to reform executive pay. The Business Secretary's proposed reforms include the suggestion that investors are handed a binding vote on directors' notice periods and exit payments. Cable is also pushing for increased diversity on company boards, calling for more lawyers to be appointed to leadership roles as well as public servants and academics. 

International human rights developments that had been of interest to me this week were, in Guatemala a judge ruled that the former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt must face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, in Honduras a journalist and rights activist has been subject to intimidation and death threats, China's suggestion  that reports of human rights abuse against the country is merely a political tool, an  Amnesty International claim that torture is widespread in Libyan prisons and the Commonwealth Secretary General’s critique of Malawi’s rapid deterioration in civil and political rights as underlined by a disregard for court rulings and minority rights. The addendum to my 'human right's paragraph' has been the conclusion of the Shafia honour killing trial in Canada. The jury has found her in-laws guilty of first degree murder.

Once again, my sincere gratitude to the legal professionals, journalists, web editors and publications I have cited, and linked to for allowing me to compose this week’s Sunday Law Review. Readers are welcome to highlight any critical omissions, offer factual corrections or discuss the issues raised in my review.

 © TTR

Sunday Law Review: the week that was 15th to 21st January

In the early hours of last Saturday morning as I had started to write that week’s Sunday Law Review, news came through of the terrible Costa Concordia tragedy. Captain Francesco Schettino is accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his vessel before all passengers were evacuated, and remains in a house arrest by Italian authorities. A class action suit has been brought on by a group of 70 passengers against the ship’s owner Costa Crociere. Yet the nature of contract law is so complex that the terms and conditions of the tickets in addition to any criticism of the captain may help the owner avoid liability under international agreements like the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims.

Here in UK, the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke presented the Justice and Security Green Paper to the parliament in October 2011. Clarke’s plan to extend ministerial powers to withhold evidence in civil proceedings would perhaps go some way to undermine ancient freedoms. As I had written in previous columns, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill proposes the most significant changes to the justice system since the inception of Magna Carta almost 800 years ago. Last week, former cabinet minister Lord Tebbit and one-time Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay had thrown their weight behind amendments to the bill urging the government to retain Legal Aid for children pursuing clinical negligence claims. The government made its first small concession in the House of Lords debate agreeing to table a ‘technical amendment’ to ensure all special educational needs (SEN) cases remain in scope.

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has claimed that many detention centres were being used to care for children and that the youth justice system requires a radical overhaul. According to the CSJ report, there are some 5,000 children detained, with each place costing between £69,600 and £193,000. The report claims young offenders' institutions should not be forced to step in when council run social services have failed to help a youngster. Instead, offenders under the age of 18 should only be imprisoned for the most serious crimes, with parents and teachers taking a common sense approach and dealing with misdemeanours.

As the Nationwide Building Society started to cull its panel of conveyancers, this week, the Law Society wrote an open letter to solicitors outlining its strategy and guidance for addressing HSBC’s highly controversial decision to introduce a conveyancing panel comprising of just 43 firms. Regular readers of this column would note that HSBC’s foray into conveyancing generates much heat.

In what appears to be a very empathetic development, the Law Society is set to launch a dedicated advocacy section to build a ‘community’ of solicitor-advocates to match the level of support barristers receive from the Inns of Court. The Advocacy Section would provide mentoring, training and networking opportunities at circuit and national level. It will be open for Crown Prosecution Service solicitors, criminal, civil, family and children advocates, as well as paralegals employed by solicitors with rights of audience.
A new study shows that the market for litigation funding, otherwise known as third party funding, is firmly established for commercial disputes in the UK. That market is extending into cases involving ordinary citizens, such as personal injury and group actions. Researchers from the universities of Oxford and Lincoln warn that these developments mean effective regulation is now needed to ensure clients have control in such disputes. They argue that transparency would protect the integrity of the disputation process. The report concludes that claimants in England and Wales would have to rely on ancient laws that protect a client's interest in dealings with a lawyer.

The European court of human rights has ruled that Britain's most dangerous murderers can remain behind bars for the rest of their lives. The Strasbourg judges have dismissed an appeal from three murderers, Jeremy Bamber, Douglas Vintner and Peter Moore, that their "whole-life" sentences should be struck down because they have no hope of release. Their lawyers told the human rights judges that the lack of any regular review of their progress in prison amounted to "inhuman or degrading treatment" as they had been condemned to die in prison. But the court ruling stated that in each of the three cases the High Court in London had decided that whole-life sentences were required relatively recently and following a fair and detailed consideration.

European courts have been increasingly severe in the recent years on websites facilitating the sharing of illegal pirated content. Yet, rather remarkably, a court in Cologne has made a ruling that German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom should continue to allow access to Internet betting sites, even if they are illegal in Germany. In the US, the Online Piracy Bill stalled despite having bipartisan support. The two bills, PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House of Representatives were backed by content providers like Hollywood studios and music recording companies. Wikipedia and other tech firms like Google, Facebook and Yahoo naturally oppose the bills arguing that such measures could infringe upon freedom of expression. A protest was organised by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales through a blackout of his site. I noted that only the English speaking version of the opensource encyclopaedia was affected.

The US Supreme Court has upheld a law extending copyright protection to foreign literary works even after the works had entered public domain. On Wednesday, the court ruled 6-2 that a 1994 law that brought the United States in line with global intellectual property conventions violated neither US copyright law nor freedom of speech rights guaranteed by the constitution.

Just as I was about to leave the sanctity of the keyboard news arrived of the Prime Minister David Cameron issuing a challenge to the European Court of Human Rights. The ECHR must no longer be able to act as a court of appeal on cases already dealt with in Britain. Cameron's challenge is in response to a decision earlier this week when European judges declared that radical cleric Abu Qatada, wanted in Jordan on suspicion of conspiracy to carry out bombings, might not get a fair trial if sent there by the British government. Qatada, has been in jail since 2005, fighting deportation.

On the international legal front the impeachment trial of Justice Renato Corona in the Philippines seems to be meandering through accusations of technicalities. In the week that saw Kodak filing for bankruptcy protection, the New York Times published a very interesting item on ‘Blacks are about twice as likely as whites to wind up in the more onerous and costly form of consumer bankruptcy as they try to dig out from their debts’. In China, at least 34 journalists were jailed last year for charges ranging from "inciting subversion" to revealing state secrets. Investigative journalism in China has gained strength in recent years, despite a strict censorship system aimed at rooting out information deemed a threat to the ruling Communist Party.  

As ever, I thank the legal professionals, journalists, web editors and publications I have cited, and linked to for allowing me to compose this week’s Sunday Law Review. Readers are welcome to highlight any critical omissions, offer factual corrections or discuss the issues raised in my review.

May I also take this opportunity to thank everyone who had attended the #TweetingLegals on last Tuesday night at the Old Bank of England. A wonderful gathering of like minded individuals and I am already looking forward to the next occasion!


Sunday Law Review: the week that was 8th – 14th January.

The mild January air at the start of the week has been swept aside by bitter arctic chill. The brief lull in Eurozone’s currency crisis over Christmas came to an abrupt end on Friday with the Standard and Poor's downgrading of credit ratings for 9 eurozone countries including France. The fate of the Euro remains uncertain and would certainly pose a problem for Scotland’s fiscal intentions should it manage to constitutionally untangle itself from the rest of UK. The legality of a Scottish independence referendum rages on and a date is yet to be set although the First Minister Alex Salmond has hinted at his party’s preference for an autumn 2014 poll. On Saturday evening here at the Sunday Law Review I wrapped myself in a lovely Scottish lambswool scarf and edged ever closer to the radiator, dragging the keyboard with me. Another eventful week in the fascinating world of law!

As I was ending my review of the first week in January news filtered through of HSBC opening a new front in the conveyancing war. The bank is launching a panel of just 43 firms to handle its mortgage work. HSBC customers are not obliged to use the services of these third party partner firms although, the cost implications would certainly make it cheaper had they chosen to do so. While most of the national media had focused on other legal stories, the Law Society Gazette’s reporting of this restricted size of the HSBC’s conveyancing panel had ensued a heated debate in the article's comments' section with over 23 comments and even a call to organise a demonstration by one ‘disgruntled lawyer’.

Legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill continues to be vociferously debated on all quarters. Opposition to government plans to significantly cut the legal aid budget had been bolstered by a financial analysis conducted by King’s College London. The report had been commissioned by the Law Society of England and Wales, and highlighted that savings made by reducing the availability of legal aid for civil cases would be significantly less than half of that predicted by the government. 'The government’s claim of savings of up to £450m a year by reducing the types of cases for which claimants are eligible for legal aid and through cuts in fee rates appears to be seriously flawed.' The legal aid budget runs at more than £2bn annually, of which £900m is spent on civil cases. The study's main focus is the three broad areas of family law, social welfare law and clinical negligence, which are due to be removed from the scope of legal aid with the aim of saving almost £240m a year. Peers have also attacked the government’s failure to produce evidence of the impact of its legal aid cuts in the latest debate at the House of Lords. Lord Bach, the former justice minister, has called for a ‘full impact assessment’, citing that 'the coalition government had failed to get to grips with the serious consequences of this proposed legislation'.

Two High Court judges have sided with the BBC in ruling that the broadcaster could air an interview with Babar Ahmad, the terror suspect who has been held for seven years without trial pending extradition to the US. The BBC had argued that it wanted to film an interview with Babar Ahmad in prison to cover public interest issues, including the psychological and physical impact of prolonged detention without trial. Ahmad, 38, has been detained in Britain since 2004 on a US warrant. He is accused of running websites used to procure money for terrorists. The lawyers acting on behalf of the Justice Secretary had argued that filming was not necessary to inform the public about Ahmad’s story and that granting the request would set a precedent for other interviews. It also risked causing distress and anger to victims of terrorism. However, the judges concluded that Ahmad’s case was exceptional and that the interview ban was a “disproportionate interference” with the right to freedom of expression.

The Law Society has urged the Prime Minister David Cameron to engage with lawyers specialising in the field of personal injury (PI). Last week in this very column I wrote about a call by David Cameron to tackle the compensation culture and cap the legal fees in low value cases. The Law Society has highlighted the case of several lawyers who had expressed a sense of being sidelined in this ‘waged war’. Members of Parliament have also demanded action on spiralling ‘whiplash claims’. Louise Ellman, chair of the Transport Committee, said: "Insurers, solicitors and claims management companies have themselves driven up the cost of motor premiums by encouraging people caught up in road accidents they did not cause to claim for personal injury, car hire, and other legal costs."

An inquiry into the role of the press and police in the phone-hacking scandal was launched by David Cameron back in July last year. Lord Justice Leveson was appointed as Chairman of the Inquiry. Lord Leveson had been examining the relationship of the press with the public, police and politicians with a view to making recommendations on the future of press regulation, and governance consistent with maintaining freedom of the press and ensuring the highest ethical and professional standards. Richard Desmond, the owner of the Express newspapers appeared before Lord Leveson this week, however, the most interesting development came from the publisher of rival newspapers, The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday. The Mail and Metro publisher wants the high court to overturn a ruling by Lord Justice Leveson that journalists can submit anonymous evidence to his inquiry. Lord Leveson ruled in November that the anonymous submissions would not name any individual or any specific newspaper. About 20 journalists have submitted anonymous evidence to the inquiry, due to be heard by Lord Leveson from the week beginning Monday 25 January.

Faulty breast implants made by French firm Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) has continued to raise alarm this week. Politicians and lawyers acting for women fitted with the implants have claimed that the private health clinics had a statutory duty under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, to ensure the products they supplied were of satisfactory quality. Cosmetic surgery firms had suggested that the Government has a moral responsibility to pay for surgery to replace the French-made implants, because health regulators failed to identify the problem. I can see this issue raging on as individual cases come to light.

With several big headlines dominating the legal world over the process of this week, I took some interest in a development that would no doubt have a major effect in certain family law cases. The Family Justice Council (FJC) has published new guidelines on children giving live evidence in family proceedings. In March 2010, the Supreme Court removed the presumption that only in exceptional cases should a child be called to give live evidence in family proceedings. The new guidelines advise all legal representatives to act with a sense of responsibility when questioning a child witness.
Richard O'Dwyer’s extradition case had ended in defeat for the 23 year old Computer Science graduate from Sheffield Hallam university. US authorities claim that he hosted links to copyrighted material. District Judge Quentin Purdy rejected all three of the defence’s arguments against extradition, including the claim that O'Dwyer would not get a fair trial in the United States, and that if a crime had been committed he should be prosecuted in Britain.

Internationally, what constitutes a human right had been debated once again this week through a curious story about whether access to internet forms a basic human right. Back in June 2011, a UN report had cited blocking and filtering measures imposed by states that would deny users access to specific content on the Internet. The report had concluded that disconnecting people from the internet is a human rights violation and against international law. Last week, Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet had argued in a New York Times artcle that internet access could not be a basic human right. However, this week there seemed to have been a spate of rebuttals, in particular within the technology related online media. I am yet to conclude on this issue myself. 

The important human rights issues that I noted with interest were news of the 10th anniversary of the US military detention camp at Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), the anti-Arab Citizenship Law in Israel, Chinese police raiding the home of human rights activist Hu Jia and the Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's aquital from sexual misconduct charges. In India the government sanction for prosecution of 21 international firms including the likes of Google and Facebook is an extremely interesting case. The firms are charged with accusation that material on social networking sites could instigate public enmity and even endanger India's unity. I followed with fascination a first amendment related case in the US supreme court where the Chief Justice had decided that although protecting employee rights against discrimination is important, the first amendment dictates that the right to exercise ones religion freely is more important.

Once again, I thank the legal representatives, journalists, web editors and publications I have cited, and linked, for allowing me to compose this week's Sunday Law Review. I welcome readers to highlight any critical omissions, offer factual corrections or discuss the issues raised in my review.

Since it is his birthday, I 'd like to end this review by wishing a very happy birthday to one of my TheLawMap associates, Dr Barber!


Sunday Law Review: the week that was 1st - 7th January.

January had crept up on me so surreptitiously. The first week of the year ended uneventfully before a sudden realisation brought me back to the sanctity of the keyboard next to a roaring radiator. That realisation was a promised column on last week's legal news roundup. So, welcome to the ‘Sunday Law Review’ from TheLawMap!

This week had started ominously still in bank holiday mood but the law never stands still. The Stephen Lawrence trial and the sentencing of Gary Dobson and David Norris had kept the broadsheets and redtops busy for most of the week. The 14 and 15 year sentences handed out to Dobson and Norris had been criticised as lenient in some quarters. It is understood that the attorney general would have the matter referred to him. Public opinion seems to be demanding retribution so I would expect a statement from Dominic Grieve QC in the weeks to come.

Noise of legislative changes came in the shape of the Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposal to cap personal injury lawyer’s fees to £400 for cases less than £25000. This created much stir in the legal community. I must add that the £400 would be awarded where the defendant had admitted liability.

ABS or alternative business structure has finally reared its head. Whether that head is ugly or pretty is yet to be decided. For the non-legal reader I should perhaps explain that ABS is a new regulated business structure for law firms that would allow for non-legal partnerships or management structure to exist within the law firm. The Law Society Gazette’s leading article ‘Titanic battle’ predicted as ABS processing begins heralded the start of ABS but I would like to draw the reader’s attention to the comments section of that article as an example of how opinion is divided on ABS. It is true that one of my TheLawMap associates had started the discussion rolling with the first comment, however, there were a number of pertinent points made by other readers! The comments alone highlight the strength of feelings on this matter.

A major report to the parliament on assisted suicide is sure to add more fuel to the euthanasia debate. Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor has deemed the current framework to be incoherent and inadequate at best, and has proposed several changes. The summary of his proposals would incorporate the following: at least two independent doctors must be involved in the decision making process, the patient must be made aware of all medical and social help available, and perhaps most importantly, they must not have taken the decision under duress or others making the patient feel like a burden. Mental illness and the incapability of taking the medication by the individual himself or herself had also been cited as a prerequisite for any decision on assisted suicide.

Drug driving could become a new offence. An expert panel is being set up by the government to consider the possibility to identify, for average members of the adult population, the levels of drugs that may have an impairing effect broadly equivalent to the current blood-alcohol level. Panel members would consider the effect for a number of drugs including cocaine, MDMA (more commonly known as ecstasy), cannabis, and opiates. Based on the findings, a new law could be drafted in the near future 'on driving under the influence of drugs'. One can't help wondering who would be the willing or unwilling test tube participants in the resulting trials!

While attracting little media coverage I found a very interesting story on The New Law Journal on divorce mediation, and duly turned it into one of TheLawMap’s focus of the day tweets. Sir Paul Coleridge, a former family law barrister of 30 years before becoming a judge is seeking to raise £150,000 for a marriage foundation. His proposal is to highlight the negative effects of divorce upon children. Coming in at a time when the Conservative led coalition government had increasingly been propounding on the importance of marriage as a socially cohesive institution and the critique of that stance from the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg questioning the need for married couples tax breaks, it would be interesting to see any resultant legislative change on this front before the end of the present parliament.

The Michael Peacock obscenity trial that had been gathering momentum for a while finally ended rather dramatically with a not guilty verdict. Peacock, a male escort had been charged under the Obscenity Publications Act for distributing DVDs containing lewd sexual acts. The jury’s decision on the material being intended to cater for gay men specifically desiring to be exposed such graphic sexual imagery might have long repercussions on the nature obscenity itself. We can certainly expect a major debate on what constitutes obscenity.

On Friday, the last day of the working week as I was just about to get away from the keyboard and more reluctantly, the radiator, news filtered through on the subject of conveyancing. One must admit that other than the odd tweets from mortgage lending websites, I come across precious few developments on conveyancing in general. However, all that is sure to change as HSBC have established a conveyancing panel of solicitors and licensed conveyancers with the specific aim of providing legal services to its residential mortgage customers. Of the 43 chosen associates 39 are solicitor’s firms and the remaining 4 being licensed conveyancing companies. Customers would continue to be free to use their existing legal representative or chosen conveyancer, however, HSBC would use a panel of firms for its own legal requirements. Where a customer chooses a non-panel firm, the new process would separate the two pieces of legal work, and the customer would be charged for both.

While the Law Society has welcomed the need for the associate solicitor’s firms to carry the CQS (Conveyancing Quality Scheme) accreditation, such a small pool of firms to cater for the entirety of England and Wales jurisdiction is of some concern. The list of associate firms is by no means closed and I would hope that for the sake of the general public, there would be more law firms applying to join the HSBC scheme in the near future.

International human rights news have been dominated this week by events in Syria, Yemen and Nigeria. Calls for the former President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak to be awarded the death penalty in the charge of murdering 800 protesters had been gaining credence. All week, I have felt fascinated by events evolving in Pakistan with regards to the memogate scandal. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had said that his government would accept a parliamentary panel’s decision on the authenticity of an alleged memo that had sought US help to stave off a feared military coup in Pakistan, setting the stage for a fresh confrontation with the Supreme Court that is also investigating the scandal. In India the 2G Scam trial continues with new revelations each week. While it would be unfair to admit that I have lost interest in the Jerry Sandusky trial in the US, this week there had been less column inches dedicated to this trial compared to December. The Alabama immigration law, challenges to the requirement of photo ID for voting purposes and the Obama healthcare bill had been the other major US law news to have interested me.

And that was my fascinating first legal week of the year here at TheLawMap! Comments, additions, corrections or even critical omissions related to any of the reported legal news stories would be most welcome from my readers.
I would like to thank all involved within the legal profession, journalists, web editors and the linked publications cited above for allowing me to draft this review and comment on last weeks legal happenings.