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English statutes cleaned up
In the UK, Parliament takes an axe to the laws to eliminate the archaic and obsolete laws. Article here:
"Legal clean-out purges old laws
By Michael Peel, Legal Correspondent
Published: March 19 2008 03:50 | Last updated: March 19 2008 03:50
of allegedly obsolete laws on subjects ranging from the East India
Company to servants who impersonate their masters would be scrapped
under plans before parliament.
The Ministry of Justice said the
pruning of “meaningless and defunct laws” would remove all or part of
328 acts of parliament, although it will leave in force legal oddities
such as the rights of British monarchs to the heads and tails of whales
caught off the country’s shores."
Now this looks very useful: history meets technology, again!
It has always seemed that history is the area of research best suited
for the heavy use of technology. A new wiki on English medieval legal
documents confirms this again!
The notice of the wiki, published on the listserv of the American
Association of Law Libraries Special Interest Section for Foreign,
Comparative and International Law says, "Hazel Lord, Senior Law
Librarian at the University of Southern California School of Law has
been tirelessly working on a bibliography of published sources of
English medieval legal documents (covering the years 600-1532). What
she had thought originally would only be a few hundred sources, has
blossomed into a list of close to 1,000 sources!"
She has created a wiki for this project. The wiki can be found here: http://emld.usc.edu/tiki-index.php.
She hopes that you will take a look and participate.
Hansard's Parliamentary Debates
The UK Parliament is planning to put 200 years of its debates online. All
Hansard reports from 1804 through 2004 are scheduled to be digitized
and posted. Currently, Handsard debates from November 1988 are
available at the Parliament web site.
The English Bill of Rights - a bill of responsibilities!
This is really interesting. The proposed new British Bill of Rights looks
increasingly like a bill of responsibilities. Responsibilities that
are enforceable in court!
More from The Guardian:
A new British bill of rights and duties may include duties of
behaviour between fellow citizens that are enforceable by judges, the
justice secretary Jack Straw indicated yesterday. Straw, also lord
chancellor, is planning a British bill of rights to complement the
European convention on human rights. The exercise is separate from a
possible 20-year plan to introduce a potential British written
Straw made his remarks in a speech at George Washington University,
Washington DC, where he also indicated that a written constitution was
20 years away. He said he was looking at a US-style sentencing
commission that might take into account the size of the prison
population in making broad decisions on sentencing.
The Guardian gets into the constitutional conversation
The constitutional conversation is getting interesting. Here The Guardian gets in its two cents (is that pence?):
Evolution not revolution is the way for constitutions to develop -
except, perhaps, at times in history when a real revolution is under
way. That was the message of justice secretary Jack Straw yesterday, as
he spoke to a Washington audience. The tumultuous circumstances of
American independence allowed the founding fathers to build up enduring
rules from first principles; in more ordinary times a constitution
written on a blank sheet will provide only a paper barrier against the
abuse of power.
Fall-Out from Straw's constitutional comments
That didn't take long. Responses to Straw's comments are coming fast
and furious. This will be interesting to watch. Here is an article in
What a difference a few hours make. In the morning, Jack Straw’s
heavily qualified hints about working towards a written constitution
were welcomed by Unlock Democracy, a leading reform group. Then, in the
afternoon, Mr Straw’s full speech, entitled “Modernising the Magna
Carta”, received a more hostile response: “what a load of cobblers,” as
the OurKingdom website put it.
Jack Straw discusses a written constitution for Britain
Jack Straw discussed the
future of the British constitution and bill of rights and
responsibilities on BBC yesterday. The Guardian picks it up:
Britain is unlikely to have a full written constitution for at
least 10 or 20 years, the justice secretary, Jack Straw, said today.
He confirmed that he is drawing up plans for a draft bill of rights
and responsibilities, which would set down in one document the rights
that citizens have, and also their civic duties.
But he stressed that this would not be the same as a new written constitution, such as America's.
A Supreme Court for the UK nears
As a Supreme Court for the UK approaches, appellate judging is in the news. From The Times:
How many law lords does it take to decide a case? Normally, the
answer is five. But last week and this, nine members of the Appellate
Committee of the House of Lords are hearing two important cases. When
the new Supreme Court opens its doors in October 2009, seven or nine
justices should hear every case.
There are 12 law lords, if you count (and no one has done so for a
long time) Lord Saville of Newdigate, who has spent the past ten years
out of the office chairing the inquiry into the 1972 Bloody Sunday
shootings in Northern Ireland and who is unlikely ever to return to
judicial work even when (if ?) he finishes his report. But the
remaining 11 law lords never squeeze around the same table to hear
appeals. Almost all appeals are heard by five law lords. Exceptionally,
nine of them listened to argument last week in a case brought by the
President of the republic of Equatorial Guinea against defendants who
he alleges conspired in England and elsewhere to overthrow the
Government and seize power by means of a coup which, in the event,
failed. And nine judges are this week hearing a case brought against
the Prime Minister by two mothers whose sons were servicemen killed on
duty in Iraq and who contend that there should be an inquiry into
whether the invasion was in breach of international law.