Legislation / Legal

Defra: A new body to take responsibility for animal health is among major changes proposed by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn in a new Bill on Animal Health. Other measures in the draft Animal Health Bill include:
* Making statutory the role of Chief Veterinary Officer (UK), based at Defra
* A new Chief Veterinary Officer for England
* Widening existing powers in England & Wales to collect & test veterinary samples & to vaccinate animals
* Simplifying payments for slaughtered animals or property seized or destroyed for disease control purposes in England & Wales
Press release ~ Animal Health Bill
DfT: As a result of an agreement between the British, Irish & Northern Ireland Ministers, UK drivers disqualified for serious motoring offences in Ireland will no longer escape punishment when they return home.  Similarly, disqualifications earned by Irish drivers while in the UK will be recognised & enforced when they return to Ireland.
The new law is the first practical step to recognise driving disqualifications in Europe under the terms of the 1998 European Convention on driving disqualifications.
Press release ~ 1998 European Convention on driving disqualifications ~ DfT: Increased co-operation on lesser traffic road infringements ~ Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003
MoJ: Justice Secretary Jack Straw has made a written ministerial statement on the working group on libel (see press release).
Press release ~ Straw proposes reducing success fees in defamation cases ~ Civil Litigation Costs Review
HO: New powers to tackle underage drinking, including making it easier for police to confiscate alcohol, move on groups of teenagers causing trouble & stop retailers selling to underage children came into effect last week in England & Wales. The powers were introduced through the Policing and Crime Act 2009 andnew guidance has been published for police forces setting out exactly how the powers should be used.
The powers include:
* confiscating alcohol from young people
* making it easier to move on groups of young people
* greater power to tackle persistent underage drinkers
* changing the offence of persistently selling alcohol to under 18s
Also coming into effect were new powers for local councillors to tackle problem premises.  In addition to the police & members of the public, local councillors will now also be able to call for a review to restrict or remove an alcohol retailer’s licence.
Press release ~ Policing and Crime Act ~ Alcohol-related crime ~ 5 mandatory conditions to tackle alcohol-related crime & disorder ~ Youth Alcohol Action Plan 2008 ~ The practical guide for preventing and dealing with alcohol related problems ~ Know Your Limits ~ Why Let Drink Decide? Campaign
MoJ: Legal Aid Minister, Willy Bach has claimed to have ‘strengthened the government's commitment to ensuring a sustainable future for social welfare law’. The Minister was launching a new project with the South West London Law Centre (SWLLC) to test a new business model for law centres.
The project is intended to strengthen law centres' infrastructure and aims to identify new, more efficient ways of working and potential sources of funding for different aspects of law centres' work, including the range of central government departments, local authorities, charities, independent trusts and law firms.
Press release ~ Legal advice at local level - implementation plan ~ Legal aid ~ Law Centres Federation ~ West London Law Centre (SWLLC)
BIS: Legislation to ‘give parents more choice & flexibility in how they use maternity & paternity leave’ could be introduced under Government plans outlined last week. New fathers could be able to take advantage of additional paternity leave & pay during the second 6 months of the child’s life, if the mother wishes to return to work with maternity leave outstanding.  The move comes as the Government publishes its response to a consultation on the subject, held at the end of 2009.
The Government has tabled the regulations for Parliament to (as soon as possible) debate & approve (by both Houses) before they can be implemented.  Subject to this, the Government intends that the law be in force by April 2010 and have effect for parents of children due on or after 3 April 2011.
Press release ~ Government response to consultation on legal & technical aspects of Additional Paternity Leave & Pay
ScotGov: Moves to make smoking less attractive to children have been approved by the Scottish Parliament. MSPs voted to approve the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill which will bring an end to the display of cigarettes & tobacco products in shops as well as banning sales from vending machines.
The bill also makes it a legal requirement that anyone running a GP practice must have a direct involvement in patient care.
The display ban will come into force for large retailers in 2011 while small retailers will have until 2013 to implement the display ban.  On October 1, 2007, the minimum age for buying cigarettes was raised to 18.
Press release ~ ScotGov: Action to tackle smoking ~ Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill
MoJ: Justice Minister Claire Ward and a group of Nottingham students have taken part in a mock court hearing at the Galleries of Justice Museum. Students from the Nottingham University Samworth Academy were invited to play the part of judge & jury and decide a defendant’s fate in a You be the Judge event organised by the local court.  They discovered that the justice system is fairer and can be tougher than many people believe, after they gave the defendant a more lenient sentence than the courts did in reality.
The mock trial was one of many that have been taking place across the country in a move to inform the public of how sentencing decisions are made.  It coincided with the publication of national sentencing statistics, and revealed the story that the figures do not tell.
Press release ~ National Centre for Citizenship and the Law ~ Sentencing statistics ~ Performance data for Nottinghamshire Criminal Justice Board ~ Galleries of Justice Museum ~ Nottingham University Samworth Academy ~ You be the Judge