Tag Archives: law

How Pistorius’s verdict reflects on South African legal system and what lies ahead for his sentencing

Yesterday morning, Pistorius’s culpable homicide conviction was replaced with murder, two legal experts give their opinion on the ruling and what lies ahead for his sentencing.

The South African Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled that Pistorius should have foreseen the deadly impact his four bullets would have had in the small bathroom.

The new ruling over turns the decision made by Judge Masipa of the High Court.

Commenting  on the previous ruling Justice Eric Leach of the SCA called Masipa’s decision a “fundamental error.”

When asked how the change in verdict reflects on the South African justice system, Professor Penelope Andrews, Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Cape Town said: “This should not be seen to be as an adverse comment upon Masipa’s  competence and ability.”

She went on to say: “Lots of judges decisions are over turned in the appeal process that’s why the process exists, the fact that a judge may not have applied the facts properly does not mean the South African criminal justice system is a mess.”

Commenting on the new verdict Prof. Andrews said: “The judges who dealt with the appeal at the Supreme Court were spot on, so I think that has shown how good our criminal justice system is and more importantly that it is fair.

“As an accused you know you can take the matter further or the state can, if there are sufficient grounds based on the law.”

Commenting on his reaction to the verdict Dr. Mohamed Chiktay Senior Lecturer at WITS University School of Law (Johannesburg) said: “Masipa showed restraint and dealt with the case in a professional manner but at the end of the day when you look at the facts and the law, it is quite evident where she went off in the wrong direction.

“She incorrectly dealt with the concept of doulas intervenciones.”

Commenting on Pistorius’s re-sentencing  Dr.  Chiktay said: “Sentencing will be a difficult aspect of the case, the judge will have to be objective and balance all the factors that are relevant like his disability, age and the fact that he has no prior convictions.”

Prof. Andrews said: “Pistorius will have to supply a compelling reason as to why he should not be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in jail, his disability should not affect his sentencing, one cannot give leniency to anyone who killed a person without any proof that they posed a real threat.”

This morning Barry Steenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp’s farther said: “We will have to wait and see what happens at sentencing but for now justice has prevailed and we can try get on with our lives for now.”

Media Mondays-Rosalind McInnes-26.11.2012

By: Lauren Elliott, Lisa Mitchell and Alex Neal.

The latest edition of the Media Mondays series discussed law in the media with BBC Scotland’s principal lawyer Rosalind McInnes. During this talk, she provided a fabulous explanation of the three main problems journalists face in legalising work produced, and gave a basic understanding of the legal aspects that all journalists should be aware of. In light of recent events this talk was perfectly timed to show how professionals can avoid straying over legal boundaries.

Listen Here:

Edinburgh pubs branded ‘irresponsible’ for alcohol promotions.

By James Davies

A number of pubs across Edinburgh have been investigated by Lothian and Borders Police for encouraging ‘irresponsible’ drinking through cheap promotions and discount cards.

 The City’s Licensing Standards Officers are currently investigating around 65 premises in connection with breaching the Licensing Scotland Act (2005) by offering price discounts and alcohol promotions to specific social groups – in particular – students.

Many pubs are now not allowed to give drink promotions

 Pubs and restaurants have been warned by Police that these types of promotions are now unlawful after recent changes to the Licensing Scotland Act (2005) and discount cards and loyalty cards are now not allowed.  The Act states that “no promotion can be given that encourages irresponsible drinking”.

 Patrick Browne, Chief Executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub association said: “Police Officers don’t yet have any formal approval from the Licensing Board and we at The Scottish Pub and Beer association believe that Licensing Officers have made a big mistake.

 “The Mitchells and Butler chain appealed one of the warnings their Dundee branch received two weeks ago, and are waiting on a Sheriffs decision. This will be Case Law and it would be premature if the Edinburgh LSO’s did anything before the Dundee decision”.

 As the promotion cards and discount loyalty cards are mainly aimed at students, I spoke to a fourth year University student to see what his views on the situation are. He said: “Drink promotions are great for students, who have to do everything on a budget.

 “Things like loyalty cards are great because they keep us students able to socialise and go out more. I imagine the pubs involved will feel a pinch in their profits if these types of promotions were made illegal. It’s ridiculous to ban these types of promotions for the majority, when it’s the minority that are actually abusing it.”

 Decisions will be made about those pubs involved in the Edinburgh after the Mitchells and Butler case in Dundee has been settled, and depending on what the Sheriffs verdict is, pubs across the Capital may have to change their ways.

For more information on current Licensing Laws visit www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2005/16/contents

Financial balls, but just what is administration?

By Christopher Hall

Dundee are in it, Liverpool just might be going into it and a number of other football clubs are cautiously striving to avoid it. But just what are the key factors of the phenomenon which is flaunted cautiously in board rooms of football clubs around the United Kingdom?


The key points of this are not as complicated as one may think. The main reason for a club going into administration might be viewed by many fans as an utterly dark portion of a club’s existence, with chances of survival bleak. Many clubs, however, have been in and out of administration just as quickly throughout the years and to understand the fundamentals of the process would shed light on a truly fascinating phenomenon of modern football.

In simple terms it should be seen as a misdirection of the clubs finances. The common admission of problems, similiar to that of Dundee who recently published a bill of £365,000, is pressure from the tax man. The club then were revealed to have overall debts of around 2 million pounds and the administration proceedings were uncovered.

The next stage of the journey involves the appointment of the “administrator” who will oversee the club’s finances rather than the men in grey suits within the board room. They will look into minimising the club’s losses as well as striving to find a buyer (similiar to the Hicks/Gillett saga currently ongoing at Liverpool FC).

As Dundee football club Chairman Harry Maclean recently uncovered to the BBC, the administrators run and assess everything at the club, short of picking the team on a Saturday:

“Speculating on the amount of figures and players that would be leaving is a bit pointless at this time because there’s only one person that’ll know that and that’s the administrator.”

The administrator may also not be as sympathetic in terms of personal issues which arise, such as the unfortunate and real threat of redundancies. The authorities will do all they can to accrue as much of the lost finances as possible. Gordon Chisholm recently feel victim to this process, being removed from his post as part of the administration proceedings at Dundee FC:

Their’s boys getting laid off in their with mortgages, its a horrendous time. I’ve never been through been through anything like that in my life and I hope never to see it again

Finally, If the club is then deemed by administrators to be incapable of saviour, and finances spiral into irreparable levels, then the threat of liquidation (commonly known as a “winding up” order) becomes a very real possibility. The ins and outs of this process can be read in detail at the UK statute law website.

The threat of administration truly is a worrying time for any club. Only time will tell what fate has in store for clubs such as Dundee, Liverpool and Portsmouth. Perhaps the biggest nail in the coffin and realisation of crisis would materialise when clubs of substantial stature fall victim to the perils of a debt ridden management system.

Until then, clubs struggle on as football pulls itself out of the financial culmination of the last decade and beyond.

Scotland Lead the Way to a Brighter Future

New legislation will ensure forced marriage is a thing for the history books.

Scottish government ministers today revealed proposals to pass a bill of rights making forced marriages a thing of the past.

The legislation enables courts to pass prison sentences of up to two years and issue annulments on any marriage found to cause emotional distress. Friends and family of victims also have the right to voice any concern to the police.

This comes as a direct response to current campaigning by the Scottish Women’s Association (SWA) who last week held their annual conference in Edinburgh where discussions were drawn to a close and action taken.

Lily Greenan, Managing Director of Scottish Women’s Aid was present at the conference.

“It was suggested by senior police and court officials that the issue is now a big enough problem in Edinburgh to require legislation,” she said.

Home office statistics show that 4000 women in the UK are forced into marriage every year, and 17, 000 women are victims of honour related violence.

Women’s protection charity Shakti, based in Edinburgh, say the move is long overdue.

“This act is particularly important as it sends a strong message to communities throughout Scotland, that forced marriage is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

The latest measure will stop cases such as Puja’s from occurring. After her marriage turned from bad to worse, her husband started beating her, and forbid her from seeing her only son. She had nowhere to turn for fear that her situation would deteriorate. This law will give men and women such as Puja legal protection as it will provide them with a safe environment and an escape.

Lothian and Borders police say this is a very positive step, which has been needed for a long time, but that public prejudice remains.

A police statement said: “Education also needs to be addressed with regards to the situation. An arranged marriage is a cultural and consensual practice but a forced marriage is an entirely different thing. It is an enforced situation whereby men and women feel trapped within their circumstances.”

Women’s charities hope the bill will raise awareness between the difference as the two are very different, and that difference is not well known. SWA  expressed relief and that this positive step was taken, saying: “The fact that there is now a protection order shows valuable steps have been taken to ensure that anyone in breach of this will be identified as committing a criminal offense”.

Students protest censorship

A protest poster

Students at Edinburgh Napier University are to hold a series of protests this week over the removal of a student newspaper from all campuses.

The protests will be held every day this week, both on campus and at the Scottish Parliament.

The row centres over issues of press censorship and began after independent student newspaper The Journal published an article detailing dissent, and a possible vote of no confidence against the current president Kasia Bylinska, at the Napier Student’s Association.

Current NSA president, Kasia Bylinska
Current NSA President, Kasia Bylinska

The article stated that allegations of six counts of  unconstitutional behaviour had been made against Ms Bylinska and that eight programme representatives had signed a motion for an emergency meeting to enact a vote of no confidence in the president.

The NSA responded by removing all copies of the publication from the university, which has prompted accusations of press censorship by members of the student body.

Rik Carranza, who ran against Ms Bylinska in last year’s election, said: “This action taken by the NSA is disgusting and shares more in common with censorship in China than creating an equal playing field for election candidates which the elections committee is trying to justify.

“I am a proud member of the student union movement and have been for many years now and let me tell you, I have never seen such a flagrant disregard for freedom of speech in my time in NUS. The NSA has infringed basic human rights and they should not be allowed to continue”, he continued.

Edinburgh Napier University said: ” The University does not condone the decision of the NSA to remove copies of The Journal from its campuses.”

Shirley-Anne Sommerville, MSP

The campaign has earned support from SNP MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville. She said: “Freedom of the press is integral to any democratic society. The Journal is a valued resource in the city, keeping students up to date with student issues and wider current affairs – it is a respected paper and provides valuable experience and employment to…… those interested in the field of journalism. I hope that this current dispute is concluded as soon as possible.”

The protesters are also hoping to gain enough signatures on a petition for an emergency meeting for a vote of no confidence in Kasia Bylinska. This would over-ride the need for programme representatives to lend their support. The petition currently has over 200 signatures after just a few hours of campaigning.

Christopher Pilkington with campaign material
Christopher Pilkington with campaign material

Christopher Pilkington, one of the most active members of the protest and a programme representative for the Business Management with Marketing course, said: The idea of a university – a place that is intended to shape young minds – being actively censored is intolerable.

“We cannot be brought up to accept a censored press, particularly when the organisation doing the censoring is refusing to be held accountable to the students it claims to represent.”

Following the publication last week, all copies of The Journal have been removed from Napier campuses. The NSA have yet to issue a statement regarding the reasons for the removal and have so far declined to comment on the Journalgate protests.

Kenneth Dale-Risk, Law lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University said he did not believe the original Journal article to be defamatory stating that it was “an article of fact.”

Protesting students outside the NSA building at 12 Merchiston Place, Edinburgh



Wed: 11 – 5 at Craighouse

Thursday: 11 – 5 at the Scottish Parliament

Friday: 4 onwards sit-in at Craighouse Campus

Follow the row on Twitter – just search #journalgate

Public Distaste at Proposed Illegal Download Laws

By Gemma Shaw

Source: current.com

Photo courtesy of Current

A survey published by YouGov yesterday gave the public’s reaction to the news that the government are planning to cut off the internet of illegal downloaders.

The vast majority (68%) of the 1967 people surveyed would rather a court case where evidence was provided before an internet cut-off to an immediate ban. 19% said that losing their connection would completely disrupt their ability to work, with 23% feeling that their work would be fairly disrupted. 73% would either be fairly or completely disrupted in their ability to use essential commercial services such as internet shopping and banking.

Of the people surveyed, 44% would be less likely to vote for a party planning to endorse this proposed law.

These plans are proposed despite previous public resistance to the proposed laws, accusing them as a violation of human rights. A similar scheme in France was later dismissed on these grounds, as the EU constitution states that internet access is a basic human right. The government still plan to go ahead with the scheme, over several other available options, but say that the cut-off of citizen’s internet is not their preferred option. Dismissed possibilities include a ‘three-strikes’ system, and restricting filesharers’ bandwidth.