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  • Law

Responding to the rise of extremist populism

The rise of extremist populism in recent years places liberal democracy, not to mention committed liberal democrats, in an awkward position. There has been an alarming rise in public support for such extremist movements, even in established liberal democratic states. In states such as Hungary, Poland, Turkey, and Venezuela, democratically elected governments are enacting illiberal and anti-democratic political goals and values into law and in some cases directly into their constitutions.

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Legal rights are not all right: when morality and the law collide

In early November 2017, media outlets hailed the Paradise Papers as a major scoop: 13.4 million leaked documents revealed the financial details of some of the world’s leading brands, politicians, sports stars, and musicians. But this was to be no repeat of last year’s Panama Papers, in which well-known names appeared relating to criminal acts l; the Paradise Papers failed to reveal a single crime. So why was it considered news?

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Miscarriages of justice

Today we take it for granted that anyone convicted of a crime should be able to appeal to a higher court. However, this wasn’t always so. English lawyers traditionally set great store in the deterrent value of swift and final justice. Over the course of the nineteenth century, reformers pressed for the establishment of a court that could review sentencing and order retrials on points of law or new evidence. These advocates of change met with fierce resistance from the judiciary and much of the legal profession, and the cause of reform had little success until a spectacular miscarriage of justice came to light.

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A brief history of libel

At a Cambridge court hearing in 1584, Margery Johnson reported that she heard Thomas Wylkinson refer to “the said Jane Johnson thus ‘A pox of God on thee, bitch fox whore, that ever I knew thee.’” If Wylkinson indeed called down such a curse on Jane, he was guilty not of libel, but of slander, a verbal attack on another person. Libel, in contrast, is defined as defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures.

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No-impunity as a global constitutional principle

One of the fundamental principles of global law is to prohibit the impunity of those responsible for serious violations of human rights. The no-impunity principle is part of the founding principles of the global community, norms of a public nature, protecting the supreme values of the world community as a whole, including the fundamental rights of individuals and peoples.

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Taxation and religion in 2018

2018 will be an interesting year for those concerned about the intersection of taxation and religion. Two important issues – the constitutionality of the parsonage allowance and the future of the Johnson Amendment – are primed for further controversy in the year ahead. Several months ago, Judge Crabb agreed with the FFRF that Section 107(2) is unconstitutional.

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Top ten developments in international law in 2017

Two thousand and seventeen was, once again, a dramatic year in terms of world affairs. Fears about a rising tide of nationalism were stemmed by the failure of far-right parties to win majorities in the Dutch, French, and German elections but the impact of arguably 2016’s biggest upheaval – the election of President Trump – was felt far and wide.

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The first “Citizen Enemy Combatants” and the war on terror today

The United States Department of Defense has acknowledged that it is holding a natural-born United States citizen in its custody in Iraq as an enemy combatant. The prisoner, who the government states were fighting for ISIS and turned himself over to United States allies in Syria, has now been in military custody for over four months.

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Suing a company when you didn’t use its product

Ordinarily, American law says that you can sue a company only if you used the company’s product and that product injured you. Due to an odd quirk of pharmaceutical law, people who live in several of the United States are about to learn whether that fundamental principle remains true. The United States Food and Drug Administration tells pharmaceutical manufacturers what the manufacturers can say on a drug’s labeling.

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Unfitness to plead law and the fallacy of a fair trial

Cognitive disability is not well accommodated in criminal justice systems. Yet, people with cognitive disability are overrepresented in these systems. Unfitness to plead law is one legal mechanism that is purported to assist when a person with cognitive disability is charged with a crime. The aim of such laws is claimed to be to prevent an individual with cognitive disability to have to engage in a trial process.

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Test your knowledge of the English legal system

The English legal system has a long history of traditions and symbolism. Do you know your periwigs from your powdered wigs, your judicial dress from your barrister’s robes, and your green bags from your gavels? While some of the quirks and traditions of the English legal system may seem archaic, even bizarre, they from part of the fundamental constitution of UK culture and are therefore of relevance to anyone with an interest in it.

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What the House-Senate Conference Committee should do about the Johnson Amendment

The Johnson Amendment is the part of Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) which bans tax-exempt institutions from participating in political campaigns. The US House of Representatives has passed H.R.1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, to revise the Code. Section 5201 of H.R. 1 would modify the Johnson Amendment. H.R. 1 gets three things right and wrong about the Johnson Amendment.

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Towards a study of the role of law in the Arab Spring

The Arab Spring has been the subject of a growing body of scholarship. Much of this commentary has hitherto related to political and economic analysis of the events that took place in many Arab countries since December 2010. Nevertheless, the role of law remains understudied. There are several inter-related temporal, empirical, and theoretical difficulties that impede a proper analysis of the role of law in the Arab Spring.

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Key UK legislation 1987-2017 [timeline]

Where were you in 1987? Platoon wins the best picture Oscar, the Channel Tunnel gets the go ahead, and The Great Storm batters South East England. Meanwhile in a Greek restaurant in Shepherd’s Bush, Francis Rose and publisher Alistair MacQueen come up with the idea of the Blackstone’s Statutes series. Thirty years later the series is still going strong thanks to careful editorship and a conscientious selection of legislation.

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The politics of contamination

Since entering office, the Trump administration has diverged from its predecessor on many fronts. Environmental regulation and drug control are two prime examples. Under Scott Pruitt, the EPA has loosened or eliminated numerous Obama administration rules on pollution and jettisoned climate-change research. At the Department of Justice, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has instructed federal prosecutors to seek maximum penalties for drug-law offenders

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Brexit and the flow of personal data

At the moment the media, political parties and the legal establishment are all focussed on the big questions of Brexit. What happens to the Northern Ireland border? What does Brexit mean for farmers? And what does it mean for the future of the Nations and regions of the UK? However potentially the most problematic aspects of Brexit are not the big issues but the small technical details

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