Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Spencer on Byron

I quote from the decision, the most central part-

"The Supreme Court has clarified in Sunset Terraces that the rationale for the
Hamlin duty is based upon the control which councils have over building projects
and on the general reliance which people place on councils when acquiring premises
to be used as a home. The issue of council control is a neutral factor here since
councils have control over the issue of building consents for both commercial and
residential building components. As to general reliance, we do not consider the
Council ought reasonably to have foreseen that purchasers of the residential
apartments would place reliance on the Council in a situation where they were
effectively buying into an entire complex in which the residential component
represented only a small fraction of a building functioning as a substantial hotel. In
those circumstances, the law should not deem the Council to have assumed
responsibility. It would follow that the necessary degree of proximity is not

From this we can derive several things. The duties of care for residential homes will 
definitely not be extended beyond non residential construction, which will not please 
the many Boards of Trustees of leaking schools. And where is the building industry in all this?
Where did the standards drop or fail to prevent this disaster for so many? 
Perhaps we also learn that the current Court of Appeal has no stomach for the sort 
of lawmaking often heavily criticised by business groups, perhaps because they realise 
that this can shake up standards. But they don't need to worry with this bench.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Drug Reform and the Law commission

At last-a sensible report from the Law Commission. As both readers of my blog will know, I have criticised the silliness of the Sir Geoffrey Palmer Alcohol report. Now the Commission has written an eminently sensible report about crime and drug offending. Key provisions are decriminalising minor drug offences and referral to drug education-the ambulance has finally driven to the top of the cliff! The often arbitrary application of the law on minor drug offences is most unfair, and I suspect is also populated by numbers who do not have the resources to fund lawyers to obtain discharges without conviction or persuade the Police to divert the charge. 
Quoted from the site-

  •  "A mandatory cautioning scheme for all personal possession and use offences that
     come to the attention of the police, removing minor drug offenders from the
     criminal justice system and providing greater opportunities for those in need of
     treatment to access it.
  • A full scale review of the current drug classification system which is used to
     determine restrictiveness of controls and severity of penalties, addressing
     existing inconsistencies and focusing solely on assessing a drug’s risk of
     harm, including social harm"
    Now watch most of the politicians run for cover when it comes to application
     of this useful and thoughtful report. The present party could not get this past
     the dinosaurs although I suspect the Attorney General, who is conservative
     but has a rigorous and legally acute approach to his job, would be a
     cautious supporter.  

    Predictably the Police Association have objected, completely failing to understand what the report is about. They can be relied to go through the usual pose of throwing hands in the air with faux horror at anything vaguely liberal in sentiment. I expect if you asked Federated Farmers they would adopt the same pose.