The Law Business: 22nd to 28th April

Welcome to the year's 16th edition of the weekly 'Law Business' column brought to you by the SundayLawReview team. Over the last 18 months this column has reported on the Abu Qatada affair so often that the failure of the latest Government bid to deport him to Jordan at the start of the week came as no surprise. Following this the Home Secretary Theresa May set out an alternative plan that would include new diplomatic dialogue with Jordan. However, despite a new treaty the bitter admission remains that any formal deportation may take months to materialise.  

Tussles with the EU is nothing new in British politics and as St. Georges Day was celebrated by the erstwhile patriot, the House of Lords EU committee warned that opting out of 130 European Union police and criminal justice measures would weaken the UK's ability to fight crime. One of the possible ramification could well lead to damaging existing co-operation between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic in tackling cross-border organised crime and terrorism. In another move, Lords also rejected a move by the government to issue workplace rights-for-shares scheme.

An important investigative documentary by the BBC Panorama programme highlighted a few cases where Muslim victims of domestic violence were ignored. Sharia courts for Muslims and Beth Din courts for Jews were empowered by the Arbitration Act of 1996 to settle certain matters according to religious faith without the need for civil law. Earlier this year, a High Court decision approved the terms of a divorce under rabbinical law, the first in British legal history. It is conceivable that in time this could lead to similar settlements by other religious courts, including Sharia courts. The initial arbitration tribunals were set up by Barrister Shiekh Faiz-ul-Aqtab and it is believed that the total number has grown to over 80. The initial hearings dealt with inheritance and nuisance neighbours but the scope and influence of the courts has broadened considerably. Baroness Cox, a cross-bench member of the House of Lords, who has introduced a private members bill to ensure Sharia councils operate within the law, believes that the councils are acting as a “parallel legal system” and questioned the resolve of government to tackle the problem. Kris Hopkins MP, had recently called on the Government to clarify possible penalties it would apply to Sharia councils if the guidelines they operate under have exceeded. While others have argued that increased participation of women in these organisations would eventually lead to judgements that take into consideration issues such as marital rape and domestic violence.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling's plan to reduce judicial reviews has been criticised by immigration lawyers. Judicial reviews have become something of a last resort when dealing with with UKBA with 8734 applications being made in 2011 alone. One of the most important legal rulings of the week came when judges decided against law allowing 17-year-olds to be treated as adults in custody following two teenage deaths. Speaking of custody, a study by the Howard League for Penal Reform has revealed that criminals are four times as likely to avoid a custodial sentence depending on which part of the country they offend in, with Shakespeare's county Warwickshire having the lowest rate. Offenders are twice as likely to go to jail if they offend in the South Wales county of Gwent. Another study by the UK Peace Index has revealed that the rates of murder and violent crime have fallen more rapidly in the UK in the past decade than many other countries in Western Europe. 

The purpose of this column is to take a serious look at what happened in the business of law within UK as reported by online legal publications throughout last week.

The most interesting articles on developments, compliance, business of law within UK or as well as international developments of interest to UK law firms and legal practioners: 

Interesting articles on the study of law, legal training, pupillage and legal academia: 

Articles of the week:

The UK and international articles of the week are pieces selected by @TheLawMap tweeting team based on recommendations from friends and followers of daily law news blog.

  • Debunking myths about the UK Supreme Court | Jenny Rowe - Guardian Law 
  • The £675m owed by UK’s richest criminals - More than half a billion pounds owed remain unpaid, despite threat of additional jail term | Jonathan Owen - The Independent 
  • Oppressive UK surveillance laws set bad example for rogue states | Carly Nyst - Public Service Europe
  • Property ownership for cohabitees - common myths exposed | Staff Reporter - Cambridge News 
  • The quest for Justice - the profound conviction that complicity in mass murder should not go unpunished | Shashi Tharoor - Times of Oman 
  • Can Britain withdraw from the European human rights convention? | Alan Travis - The Guardian 
  • The Boston bombings: Matters of law | S M - The Economist
  • Rape and Justice in the Civil War | Crystal N Fiemster - The New York Times 
  • To protect our children, we must talk to them about rape | Desmond Tutu, Jacob Lief and Sohaila Abdulali - The Guardian     

News from the Law Firms, Chambers & ABS: 

Friday 26th April
Thursday 25th April
Wednesday 24th April
Tuesday 23rd April
Monday 22nd April


We would like to thank all the publications cited in this week's column. Please notify via @TheLawMap Twitter handle of any errors or omissions.


TheLawMap Publications at a glance: - Daily Law News Archive - Weekly Law Business News Blog
Law Specials - A compendium of articles on Justice & Society
Wig - Daily Newspaper Focusing on Law & Society
MetaLawIndex - Informal Blog chronicling behind the scene events at LawNewsIndex & Twitter