Those British Isles lockdown questions answered

Do I have to stay at home all day?

No. You may leave home if you have a “reasonable excuse.” Unless you live on the Isle of Man (and possibly in the Bailliwick of Guernsey) where even a reasonable excuse is no excuse.

What is a reasonable excuse?

It is an excuse which is reasonable.

Can you give me any examples?

There are lots of excuses which are deemed reasonable throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The full list is quite a mouthful but here it is:

In these jurisdictions a reasonable excuse includes:

the need:

(a) to obtain basic necessities, including food and medical supplies for those in the same household (including any pets or animals in the household)

(b) to take exercise either alone or with other members of their household;

(c) to seek medical assistance …;

(d) to provide care or assistance … to a vulnerable person, or to provide emergency assistance;

(e) to donate blood;

(f) to travel for the purposes of work or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work, or to provide those services, from the place where they are living;

(g) to attend a funeral of—

(i) a member of the person’s household,

(ii) a close family member, or

(iii) if no-one within sub-paragraphs (i) or (ii) are attending, a friend;

(h) to fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or to participate in legal proceedings;

(i) to access critical public services, including—

(i) childcare or educational facilities …;

(ii) social services;

(iii) services provided by the Department of Work and Pensions;

(iv) services provided to victims (such as victims of crime);

(j) … to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children, …

(k) in the case of a minister of religion or worship leader, to go to their place of worship;

(l) to move house where reasonably necessary;

(m) to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.

That seems clear enough. So I can leave the house to exercise as much as I want?

Maybe, but not necessarily, and probably not in Wales.

Why not in Wales?

For obscure reasons the Welsh regulations differ from those in the rest of the UK, and deem that it is reasonable to exercise “no more than once a day.” That does not mean that exercising twice a day is necessarily illegal in Wales. It does mean that if the matter were ever to go to court it would be for you to prove that you had a “reasonable excuse” for doing so. Perhaps if your intended run was curtailed after 5 minutes because you forgot your phone, then you might have a reasonable excuse to go back home and start again. But I expect others can think up more imaginative reasonable excuses.

The English, Scottish and Northern Irish regulations contain no such restriction, despite the Prime Minister’s initial broadcast announcement that exercise was to be permitted only once a day. However, the Prime Minister does not make law by ministerial broadcast.

But although there is no “once a day” rule in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you must still “need” to exercise in order to leave home legally under the exercise exemption. If you have no “need” to exercise, a zealous police officer, of whom there seem to be a great many, could still ticket you for breaching the rules.

What is a “need” to exercise though? Oh sorry, I’m meant to be answering the questions, not asking them.

You’ve got me confused now. I live in Wales, can I exercise more than once a day? Yes or no?

Oh alright then. No.

What about England? Can I exercise more than once a day?

Yes, but …

I don’t want to hear any buts. Yes or no?

Yes.

Scotland?

I’m not a Scottish lawyer but …

Oh for crying out loud, how difficult is it to give a straight answer?

Yes.

Thank you. Northern Ireland?

Yes

How about the Isle of Man?

I’m not a Manx lawyer, but …

Come on, just answer the question.

Yes, but …

I don’t want any buts.

This one is quite interesting.

OK, what’s the “but” about the Isle of Man?

In the Isle of Man you can exercise as much as you like, but it has to be just “one form of exercise.”

I’m sorry?

In the Isle of Man you can leave your home to exercise as much as you like but you must only undertake “one form of exercise per day.” Paragraph 5 (1) (c) of the Emergency Powers (Prohibitions on Movement) Regulations 2020

What does that mean?

You have to choose. Running. Walking. Bicycling. Gymnastics. Rock-climbing. You can do any one of them as much as you like and as many times as you like, but you have to choose which one and stick with it for that day. You can try a different form the next day if you like.

How many forms of exercise may I undertake in a week in the Isle of Man?

Seven. But not all on the same day. And don’t say “that’s not reasonable,” there is no exemption for leaving the house with a “reasonable excuse” in Manx law.

How can I go rock-climbing unless I can walk to the rocks?

You can go by motorbike. The Isle of Man is good for motorbikes and criss-crossed by roads. The rules say you can leave home “in order to undertake one form of exercise per day,” so I imagine biking to the rock face would be permitted. Just don’t try walking or running there. Anyway, we’re getting diverted.

No, no, this is really interesting stuff. Isn’t riding a motorbike at 120 MPH round a twisty mountain road a form of exercise?

I suppose it could be, yes. But maybe not if you just rode the bike very slowly and cautiously.

How about Jersey?

Ah, Jersey. The rules say you can’t go into any public place at all until 8 a.m. on 13th April, unless you’re an authorised officer, or travelling to your place of work, or if you’re under a legal obligation to go somewhere.

So in Jersey I can’t exercise outside at all?

You can if you have a reasonable excuse.

What is a reasonable excuse?

I’m not a Jersey lawyer, but my hunch is that it means an excuse that is reasonable.

Is exercise deemed a reasonable excuse?

No, it’s not deemed to be a reasonable excuse in Jersey, but it’s not deemed unreasonable either. It all depends.

So can I exercise in Jersey?

Jersey law is silent on the point. Consult a local lawyer.

What about Guernsey?

There is a lockdown of sorts, but the Island’s Chief Minister has admitted that even he doesn’t understand it:

We have no rule book or precedents. There will be difficult judgments and nobody said it would be easy … and there simply has not been time in many cases to deliver fully fleshed out measures that covers every circumstance.”

At least he sounds honest. What about Sark?

All I know about Sark law is that it has the world’s smallest prison.

The Government should be careful what it wishes for from the Supreme Court

Barristerblogger is normally risk averse when it comes to commenting on great questions of constitutional law. I have always thought it is something best left to the experts: academics like Professors Paul Craig  or Mark Elliott, for example, or former Government lawyers like Carl Gardner or David Allen Green who know how these things work from the inside.  However, since everyone else has been putting their two pennyworth into the Prorogation cases, including “Britain’s rudest manDavid Starkey, perhaps I can throw in the contribution of a polite criminal hack.

1. The Supreme Court will be criticised whatever it does

If the Court upholds the Scottish Court of Session decision that the Prorogation of Parliament was unlawful it will be criticised for making a political decision.

If it upholds the English Divisional Court it will give a gift to Scottish Nationalists who will denounce a court made up largely of English judges for over-ruling the unanimous judgment of the highest Scottish court.

Incidentally, the decision to increase the number of judges hearing the case from 9 to 11 has increased the English majority from 5 – 4 to 7 – 4. (The “non-English” judges are Lords Reed and Hodge from Scotland, Lord Kerr who is from Northern Ireland and Lord Lloyd-Jones who is Welsh). Continue reading “The Government should be careful what it wishes for from the Supreme Court”

There are dangerously authoritarian tendencies in green politics

I am not going to criticise Greta Thurnberg but it would be wrong if the climate rebels of Extinction Rebellion and green political theorists were given a free ride because of our admiration for an undeniably impressive 16 year old.

As Extinction Rebellion was making its final preparations for its Easter campaign of civil disobedience, my brother Tom was selected as one of the Green candidates for the Euro elections that may not, but probably will, take place next month. He would make an excellent and hard-working MEP, and after waiting in Cornwall for years for the right wave to come along, a combination of indignation over climate change inaction and the Brexit debacle may now give him an opportunity to surf his way into power.

In the still improbable event that he is elected, I wish him well. As his political career takes off I will be content to be Piers to his Jeremy: an eccentric blogger brother of whom he is always slightly embarrassed. Continue reading “There are dangerously authoritarian tendencies in green politics”

Lessons from the Ipswich Family Court: 7 mistakes that litigants in person often make

If only I had the near miraculous ability of Gordon Exall, editor of Civil Litigation Brief, to convert complex and often rather turgid case-law into manageably-sized blogposts of crystalline clarity. Sadly he hasn’t yet done that to the extraordinary matrimonial case of VW v. BH, and I doubt that he will because Gordon’s posts tend to be aimed at legal practitioners. The lessons of VW v. BH, a divorce case recently heard by HHJ Lynn Roberts at the Ipswich County Court, are more for those attempting to litigate without lawyers.

HHJ Lynn Roberts

Before we dive into the detail of the case, a warning: I really don’t know a great deal about family law. I tried my hand at it many years ago and found that I was pretty hopeless. If you want to read a blog by someone who really knows about family law, I would recommend either Lucy Reed’s Pink Tape (Lucy has also written the fantastically useful Family Court without a lawyer, a handbook for litigants in person), or David Burrows, who likes to concentrate on broader questions of family law policy.

What I do know is that the disputes are usually about money or about children. The days when the evidence from the latest celebrity defended divorce could fill the Sunday papers – seedy Brighton hotels with private eyes examining the sheets, hoping that the Queen’s Proctor would not smell a rat, and so on – have long since gone the way of co-respondent shoes. Continue reading “Lessons from the Ipswich Family Court: 7 mistakes that litigants in person often make”

Abi Wilkinson should be ashamed of her abuse of Danny Finkelstein

Danny Finkelstein – or Baron Finkelstein of Pinner to give him the title he hardly ever uses – has become the latest person to be the object of a twitter hate campaign.

He is, according to Abi Wilkinson, a Corbyn-supporting journalist, “a racist scumbag” who is “chill with ethnic cleansing.”

It may seem surprising that Finkelstein, former member of the SDP and since that party’s demise a leading voice of “moderate” Conservatism, should be so characterised, even by Wilkinson who believes that “incivility isn’t merely justifiable, but actively necessary.”

His columns in The Times are typically reflective, considered and measured. This has not prevented him sometimes receiving the most appalling online abuse, accusing him of defending paedophilia, for example, because he expressed scepticism about groundless allegations levelled at politicians. Continue reading “Abi Wilkinson should be ashamed of her abuse of Danny Finkelstein”

I’m a Remainer but I’m not campaigning for a second referendum

Last Saturday something like 100,000 people marched through Westminster demanding a second referndum on any final Brexit deal. The “People’s Vote” petition has gathered what, at present, seems a fairly modest number of 145,000 signatures at the time of writing, asking for the same thing. According to the Petition:

The future of this country and young people is too important to be decided by politicians alone, who cannot unite around the national interest.”

It is a mirror image of the argument that “politicians alone” should not have decided on our continued membership of the EU; a populist, anti-representative-democracy, argument that led directly to the 2016 referendum. Continue reading “I’m a Remainer but I’m not campaigning for a second referendum”

Secret Barrister Set To Become Special Tribunal Judge

The leaked news that the Secret Barrister, who recently published the critically acclaimed The law and how it’s broken, has been appointed as a Special Tribunal Judge has come as a surprise to his or her many fans.

The Special Tribunal is a little-publicised court that sits in private at undisclosed locations, including, according to some unconfirmed rumours, the Cold War nuclear bunker inside Box railway tunnel in Wiltshire.

Box Bunker

Created by the anodyne sounding Court Publicity (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2015 under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, a Special Tribunal can be convened, according to Paragraph 1 of Schedule 4, whenever the Minister of Justice certifies that a secret court hearing is necessary:

in the interests of national security, maintaining public confidence in the justice system or when for any other reason the Minister believes a closed hearing would be expedient in the interests of justice.” Continue reading “Secret Barrister Set To Become Special Tribunal Judge”

Sergei Skripal: The Shadow Home Secretary speaks out.

Today’s Diane Abbott interview with Mishal Husain in full and unedited.

She could be the next Home Secretary.

Listen here at 2.41.15

Continue reading “Sergei Skripal: The Shadow Home Secretary speaks out.”

Breitbart London editor Raheem Kassam goes shopping

Good morning Sir, how can I help you?

Shut up dickhead. You’re not a journalist. You don’t get to ask me questions.

Very good sir. By all means have a look around. We’re open till 5.30.

What a loser. Don’t you have anything better to do than sit around in this scummy shop all day? I’m just in from the States, where I spend a lot of time.

How nice. I hear it’s been unusually cold over there recently. Continue reading “Breitbart London editor Raheem Kassam goes shopping”

The deaths of the Aberystwyth lynxes: a reappraisal and an apology

Sometimes Barristerblogger rushes to post a blog, often over the weekend, and often about a subject which he only half understands. Sometimes it hits the right target, sometimes it misses spectacularly. That’s the risk with a blog. Generally speaking I will leave the post up unaltered, leaving it to the commenters to eviscerate it if necessary. Just occasionally I am left with serious regrets that a well-intentioned post may have serious consequences for innocent people, and that is the case with my last post, which I could not resist titling The legalised lynching of Lillith the lynx.

When it was first posted I was quite happy with it, the only immediate regret being that I couldn’t somehow work a Welsh word beginning with “ll” into the title. Continue reading “The deaths of the Aberystwyth lynxes: a reappraisal and an apology”