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Published on June 1, 2021 by Holly Porter

Welcome to the Lawyer Portal Monthly News for May 2021. This month Labour has proposed new offences for violence against women, parents in the UK start to take legal advice early in preparation for A Level Results day, the Solicitors Regulation Authority have agreed in principle to Legal Practice Course examinations continuing to be available online and Dr Christian Jessen has been ordered to compensate Arlene Foster for a defamatory tweet.

Targeting Gender Violence

In a Green Paper published this month Labour has proposed that they would create a range of new offences aimed at targeting harassment and violence perpetrated against women.

Changes would include making misogyny a hate crime, new crimes for media platform owners who are slow to remove misogynistic abuse from their platforms and a toughening of various laws and measures to better protect victims of rape and sexual abuse.

David Lammy, MP who is current Labour Shadow Justice Secretary said that, “The Conservatives are failing to protect women and girls from violent criminals, which should be one of the first duties of any government.”

As well as introducing new measures and toughening those which already exist, Labour have proposed a change to allow those who struggle to receive help in the face of domestic abuse because of legal funding barriers, something which has been a controversial issue since the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

Moreover, the proposals are far-reaching and long term aiming to help women and girls suffering from violence in all aspects of life from at home to online.

Appealing A-Level Results

The Observer reports that after almost a full year of Covid-affected learning, parents are gearing up to bring appeals following this years’, yet-to-be-published, teacher assessed A Level examinations.

Education Lawyers have reported that they are already being approached by parents wishing to prepare for appeals to their children’s upcoming results concerned about things such as teacher bias, the basis that is being used to assess their children’s work and if their children’s special needs or disabilities will be adequately accounted for in any grading process.

Teachers and Education Unions have also levied their frustration at the lack of planning exhibited by the Government around grading processes, comparison between schools and what the potential appeals process would look like. This is exacerbated by memories of the chaos faced last year when Ofqual’s standardization process reduced a large percentage of grades.


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Remote LPC Exams

In recently published minutes of an SRA board meeting held on the 27thApril 2021, the SRA have agreed that remotely proctored LPC exams may continue on a permanent basis provided certain conditions are met by providers.

The conditions imposed include that: the security and integrity of LPC assessments must be maintained, that the proctoring arrangements used are fair and adequate for those who require adjustments or those who are unable to access remote assessment.

In addition, the SRA noted that providers should be required to explain how remote assessments would benefit students as opposed to benefiting the provider. This includes the need to consider that students undertaking the assessment should be able to choose the mode of assessment which best suits their needs.

The Board also noted that further enquiries must be made to explore remote proctoring as a possibility for the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination.

 

Dr Jessen Libel Charges

Finally, Dr Christian Jessen, best known for his appearances on TV medical programme Embarrassing Bodies, has been ordered by the High Court to pay compensation to the First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, over a defamatory tweet.

The tweet, which made false claims that Mrs. Foster was engaging in an extra-marital affair, amongst other defamatory statements has cost Dr Jessen £125,000 in compensation.

In judgement, Mr. Justice McAlinden stated that the statements made about Mrs. Foster by Dr. Jessen were “grossly defamatory” and constituted a “most serious libel.” He went on to explain that the tweet had constituted a public “trashing” of one of Mrs. Foster’s most dear relationships and her deep Christian faith which cut her to the core.

To read the judgement in full, please visit: here

Words: Alicia Gibson 

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