Thursday 31 March 2011

All together: Scottish law centres show solidarity with TUC campaign

GLC solicitors with the radical socialist
lawyer, Michael Mansfield QC
GLC solicitors Lorraine Barrie and Lindsay Paterson joined the Trades Union Congress (TUC) 'All Together' campaign in London at the weekend to show Scottish law centre solidarity with the TUC's call for an alternative to the unfair and savage cuts the UK Government is imposing on welfare benefits and vital public services across the UK. 

The TUC suggest progressive and fairer alternatives such as investing in growth and introducing fair taxation. A tiny tax on big financial transactions by banks – a Robin Hood tax – could raise £20bn per year.

The TUC say that tax avoidance by big companies and the super rich is more than £40bn a year. And investing in our public transport, housing and the green economy can build a sustainable future.


Tuesday 22 March 2011

Application to the European Court of Human Rights for Margaret Jaconelli

Govan Law Centre (GLC) today submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights (ECrtHR) in Strasbourg for Mrs Margaret Jaconelli. 

The application seeks just satisfaction, an order to require the Scottish Government to ensure that Scots law on CPOs of dwelling-house (and eviction thereafter) is compliant with the European Convention of Human Rights, and a quashing of the CPO made against Mrs Jaconelli's home. 

GLC's Principal Solicitor's Mike Dailly, was required to enter through a small window of Mrs Jaconelli's barricaded home, in order to discuss her application to the ECrtHR, take her instructions and complete the necessary legal paperwork in order to lodge an application to the European Court.

The application to the ECrtHR argues that: the applicant, Mrs Jaconelli, was unlawfully deprived of her possessions as she did not obtain a fair trial as required by Article 6 of the ECHR in relation to the making of the Compulsory Purchase Order which deprived her of ownership of her property. Accordingly, Article 1 of the First Protocol and Article 6 have been violated.

The applicant had no equality of arms, she being unrepresented and there being no legal aid available. The applicant was unable to present a fair defence in proceedings which were highly technical. She did not receive a fair hearing in terms of Article 6. Reference is made to the cases of Steel and Morris v. UK (Application 68416/01); Ashingdane v. UK (Application 8225/78); Golder v. UK (Series A No.18 of 1975); and Airey v. Ireland (Application 6289/73).

The applicant’s right under Article 8 of the ECHR to respect for her private and family life and her home has been violated. The applicant relied on the decision of the UK Supreme Court in Manchester City Council v Pinnock, 2010 3 WLR 1441 for authority for the proposition that she was entitled to found upon Article 8 as a defence to the eviction action against her.

The case of Pinnock was authority (at paragraph 53) for the proposition that in response to an Article 8 defence the Council had to ‘plead’ and ‘adduce evidence’ to justify its interference. No examination of the disputed facts was permitted to take place by the court; reference is made to Connors v. UK (2004) 40 EHRR 189 at paragraphs 81-83 and 92; McCann v. UK 40 EHRR 189; Zehentner v. Austria (Application 2008/02) and Paulic v. Croatia (Application 3572/06).

Under reference to paragraph 92 of the European Court of Human Rights decision in Connors v. UK the applicant in the present case contends that the Scottish court procedure was insufficient to satisfy the requirements of Article 8 because Glasgow City Council was not required to establish any substantive justification for evicting the applicant. There was no opportunity for an examination of the facts in dispute between the parties and the applicant’s Article 8 rights have therefore been violated.

Friday 18 March 2011

Glasgow City Council's eviction of the Jaconelli family in Glasgow's East End: Govan Law Centre statement

Govan Law Centre finds it reprehensible, inhumane and unnecessary for our client, Mrs Margaret Jaconelli and her family, to be forcibly ejected today from her home of 34 years when she has offered to leave voluntarily, and without any qualification, following the emergency mediation offered by the Scottish Government last night. 

Glasgow City Council have refused the Scottish Government's offer of mediation, notwithstanding Mrs Jaconelli has agreed to voluntarily leave her home after an opportunity to get the round the table, represented by Govan Law Centre, with an independent mediator from the Scottish Government. 

GLC's Principal Solicitor, Mike Dailly said:
"There is no need to evict my client, and to do so in circumstances where she has agreed to leave after Scottish Government emergency mediation makes no sense. Glasgow City Council's barbaric action is positively unGlaswegian and does not reflect the spirit of our great City".

"I remain extremely worried and perplexed that Glasgow City Council would prefer to forcibly evict a Glasgow family from their home of 34 years, rather than get round the table on Monday and discuss matters; particulary as I have advised the Council that my client is willing to voluntarily leave without further qualification". 

"Before yesterday's Court of Session action the Council was prepared to be flexible and compassionate, and give additional time to secure a civilised departure.  However, Council officials have done an inexplicable U-turn within the space of 24 hours, and there is a fear that this case may have become overly personalised. But it is still not too late to be reasonable".

Unfair bank charges update from Govan Law Centre

The Scottish Legal Aid Board have granted full civil legal aid certificates in the cases of Sharp v. Bank of Scotland plc and Reid v. Clydesdale Bank plc.  This will enable Govan Law Centre to argue that the overdraft charges applied to our clients' current accounts were unfair in relation to s.140A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, as amended, and separately, regulation 5 of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations (on grounds excluding price in relation to the UTCCR as per the decision of the UK Supreme Court in OFT v. Abbey National plc and others).

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Highland pupil's road safety dispute

The Press and Journal reports that a Highland couple have kept their 10-year-old daughter off school for 18 months – for fear she might be knocked down and killed on a busy single-track road. 

Robert Brooks and his wife Shermaine from Skye claim it is not safe for Katie-Ann to walk three miles along the 60mph limit A855 Uig to Staffin road to Kilmuir Primary School because there is no pavement or street lighting.

They decided to keep her at home after Highland Council ruled in August 2009 that she no longer qualified for free transport because she lived less than three miles from the school, a distance children aged eight and over are expected to be able to walk.

Louise Melia, associate solicitor at the Glasgow-based Govan Law Centre, who has taken up the family’s case, said a legal precedent had already been set whereby walking distance rules could be overridden on the grounds of road safety. Ms Melia said councils have a “huge amount of discretion” and the authority could decide to provide free transport if it wanted.

A spokesman for Highland Council said the council had carried out a new risk assessment of the A855 and the results would be shared with Mr Brooks “very shortly”.