Legislation / Legal

EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has advised the government that its new guidance on torture may violate UK and international law. The Commission asked whether -- in its current form -- the guidance does enough to protect officers in the field, because it may leave them with the erroneous expectation that they will be protected from personal criminal liability in situations where they may, unwittingly, be liable for crimes committed & condoned by others.. 
Press release ~ Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
EA: The season for eel fishing closed on Friday 1 October 2010 and has become illegal to set nets to catch them. It is estimated that the return of young eels (elvers) into our rivers has already fallen by more than 95% in Europe as a whole.  The European Commission is so concerned that all member states are required to take immediate steps to protect eels and halt their decline. 
 
Starting in October, fisheries enforcement staff will be out searching for illegal nets and other instruments for eel catching and any found during the closed season will be confiscated and their owners will be liable to prosecution. The Environment Agency is also working on new legislation to cap the number of eels allowed to be caught and anglers who catch eels by rod & line already have to return them.
Press release ~ EA: Elvers and Yellow eels
 
EHRC: Many social housing tenants could now be afforded greater protection from eviction under human rights law after a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights confirmed that courts should take the personal circumstances of tenants - in particular vulnerable groups - into account. 
 
The Equality and Human Rights Commission intervened in the case, arguing that where a social landlord has a right to possession of a property, there is nevertheless an obligation to consider whether an eviction is proportionate to the landlord’s desire to use the property in whatever way they see fit. 

This, the Commission argued, was particularly the case where tenants may be vulnerable due to mental health problems, physical or learning disabilities, poor health or frailty.
 
The Court agreed with the Commission, saying that 'the loss of one's home is the most extreme form of interference with the right to respect for the home'.  The Court found that there had been a violation of Article 8 and each of the applicants was awarded €2,000 compensation.
Press release ~ Nearly Legal: Kay and Others v The United Kingdom Judgment
 
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has told 129 debt management firms that they face losing their consumer credit licences unless immediate action is taken to comply with its Debt Management Guidance. 

The firms are required to provide independently audited evidence within 3 months that action has been taken to address identified concerns.  If evidence is not provided, the OFT will instigate licensing action.  
The formal warnings follow an OFT review of the DM sector, which found widespread problems..
Press release ~ Full findings of OFT compliance review ~ Mystery shopping report ~ Debt Management Guidance ~ Debt Managers Standards Association (DEMSA) ~ Debt Resolution Forum (DRF)
 
Newswire – EC: The question for the proposed referendum on the UK Parliamentary voting system should be changed to make sure voters find it easier to understand, according to an assessment published by the Electoral Commission. The structure of the question, its length, and some of the language used made it harder to read than it needed to be. ,
 
The question assessed by the Commission is contained in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill currently before the UK Parliament.  The final wording of the referendum question is a matter for the UK Parliament.
Press release ~ Commission’s report on the proposed question ~ EC and referendums ~ Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill
 
ScotGov: A new law to protect homeowners across Scotland facing repossession came into force last week. The Homeowner and Debtor Protection (Scotland) Act, provides the strongest legislative protection anywhere in the UK for those at risk of repossession..
 
All cases will now be heard in court with lenders required to prove that they have taken reasonable steps to avoid repossession and (for the first time) advice agencies will also be able to play a greater role in supporting &representing people in court.

A new website, www.keepingyourhome.co.uk has been created to give information for home owners and advice agencies about the new protection available.
Press release ~ Information on legislation affecting homeowners in Scotland
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