Last updateThu, 28 Mar 2024 2pm

Home Office GDPR exemption risks new Windrush, says Law Society

The Law Society of England and Wales has criticised the decision to exempt the Home Office from data access rules in the new Data Protection Act, which implements the widely-publicised GDPR. The move will inevitably lead to miscarriages of justice, the society has warned.

Law Society president Joe Egan said the immigration exemption in the legislation stripped accountability from Home Office decision making.

“Since legal aid was removed for most immigration cases in 2012, it has become increasingly difficult to challenge immigration decisions – decisions which evidence shows are often incorrect,” he said. “Subject access requests are the final recourse for people trying to deal with a complex, opaque and unaccountable immigration system.

Psychoactive Substances Act: one year on

In May last year the Psychoactive Substances Act came into force. One year on there have been a number of articles published reflecting on the Act and its effectiveness, particularly with reference to the availability of new psychoactive substances, or so-called ‘legal highs’ as they were termed prior to the Act.

In April Home Office Minister Sarah Newton (pictured) reacted to criticism from some quarters of the legislation.

“We have known about the devastating consequences of Spice for some time,” she wrote, “and we have acted to give police the powers they need to take action, making third generation synthetic cannabinoids Class B drugs on a par with ketamine and amphetamines. We will continue to monitor its impact and if we need to do more, we will.”

Appeal court overturns animal legacy ruling

Two animal charities have expressed their 'delight and relief' after a historic decision by the Court of Appeal on 9 June in a landmark legacy case, overturning the High Court judgment in the case of King vs Dubrey & Others [2014].

June Fairbrother made a will in 1998, leaving around £20,000 of pecuniary legacies to family and friends and the rest of her estate to seven animal welfare charities.

When Mrs Fairbrother died in 2011 her estate mainly consisted of a property worth £350,000. Sometime after her death, her nephew Kenneth King claimed that Mrs Fairbrother had spoken to him about her house four to six months before she died, effectively gifting her property to him.

In 2014 the High Court ruled that, by operation of the little known legal doctrine of donatio mortis causa (gifts made in contemplation of death), Mrs Fairbrother did gift the property to Mr King - a result which meant that the charities and other beneficiaries would receive nothing from her estate.

Parliamentarians form ADR group

Last November a new All Party Parliamentary Group on Alternative Dispute Resolution was formally launched. The group is an initiative of various members of the ADR community, including the secretary of the Civil Mediation Council Iain Christie, Bar Council ADR panel member John Pugh-Smith and parliamentarians Bob Neill MP and John Howell MP.

The objective of the group is to ‘change the climate and culture of dispute resolution in the UK’. The group has set out an ambitious programme of meetings designed to promote awareness of effective dispute resolution processes and how they might be integrated more comprehensively into the system of dispute resolution in the UK to ensure it is meeting current and future needs.

Chancellor's standstill on inheritance tax good news for charities

Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement did not, as many expected, include a rise in the threshold for Inheritance Tax (IHT) from £325,000
to £1m.

Although many will be disappointed, the charitable sector can breathe a sigh of relief, according to specialist wills and tax law firm Moore Blatch.

Experts at the firm had warned that if the Government raised the IHT nil-rate band to £1m, many people would be put off from leaving money to charity in their will.

If an estate is worth over £325,000 when the person dies, Inheritance Tax may be due. However, any gifts made to a qualifying charity either during an individual's lifetime or in their will are exempt from the tax.