85 episodes

Joshua Rozenberg presents Radio 4's long-running legal magazine programme, featuring reports and discussion on matters relating to law

Law in Action BBC Radio 4

    • Government
    • 4.3 • 184 Ratings

Joshua Rozenberg presents Radio 4's long-running legal magazine programme, featuring reports and discussion on matters relating to law

    Jury conscience, resolving conflicts in space, and the law of Treasure Trove in Scotland

    Jury conscience, resolving conflicts in space, and the law of Treasure Trove in Scotland

    Can juries acquit a defendant as a matter of conscience? For example, if people are accused of causing criminal damage as part of a protest, could the jury find them innocent despite the judge's directions? Joshua speaks to Clive Dolphin from Defend our Juries; Richard Vogler, Professor of Comparative Criminal Law & Criminal Justice, University of Sussex, and Tana Adkin KC, Chair of the Criminal Bar Association.
    There are currently around 5000 active satellites in space and that's expected to rise to 100,000 by 2030. Satellites generate debris, too, and even a tiny fleck of paint can cause serious damage when colliding with something else, due to the speeds involved. But who is liable if one satellite damages another? Joshua asks Rachael O'Grady, Partner at Mayer Brown if international space law is keeping up with technology.
    If you find treasure in Scotland, can you keep it and will the finder receive a reward for declaring it? We hear from Glasgow University student Lucy Ankers who discovered a hoard of coins thought to be linked to the 1692 Glencoe massacre and Bobby Sandeman, Chief Executive of King's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer.
    Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg
    Producers: Diane Richardson and Arlene Gregorius
    Sound: Graham Puddifoot and James Beard
    Editor: Carl Johnston

    • 28 min
    Deepfakes and the Law

    Deepfakes and the Law

    What if someone uses AI to create a fake version of your voice for their own aims? Recently, the actor, broadcaster and writer Stephen Fry found that someone had recreated his voice to narrate a documentary without his knowledge. What does the law have to say about deepfakes? What are your rights, and in which circumstances could someone be sued, or prosecuted? Associate solicitor Oliver Lock of Farrer & Co explains what the law can, and can't do.
    Creating fakes with AI, and the software to detect them, is a growing field. The same is true of forensic speech recognition, which is done both by ear and machine and can help the police or a court identify whether a recording is the voice of a suspect, for example. Dr Anil Alexander of Oxford Wave Research Ltd plays some samples to presenter Joshua Rozenberg. Can he guess them right? And what other uses are there for this technology in law enforcement?
    Forensic scientists are often called upon to give evidence in court, as are doctors. These expert witnesses are crucial, but things can go wrong. Some find cross-examination so bruising that they don't want to repeat it. Others fear for their reputation, if they're pushed into saying something they hadn't meant to say. Baroness Professor Sue Black is a leading forensic anthropologist and shares her thoughts.
    Sometimes barristers and judges are out of their depth on the science of a case. One solution to this problem has been put forward by the independent scientific academy the Royal Society, with the Royal Society of Edinburgh: subject-specific primers on relevant topics. As Dame Dr Julie Maxton, executive director of the Royal Society explains, leading scientists write and peer-review the primers, such as on ballistics or DNA, and senior judges cross-check them from the legal perspective. The primers are online, aimed at judges but available for everyone. The hope is that if barristers fail to ask the right questions on the science, judges who've read the primers can then do so instead.
    Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg
    Producer: Arlene Gregorius
    Researcher: Diane Richardson
    Editor: Clare Fordham
    Sound engineers: James Beard and Rod Farquhar
    Production Coordinators: Maria Ogundele and Rosie Strawbridge

    • 28 min
    Prison sentences: too long or too short?

    Prison sentences: too long or too short?

    Last week, the House of Commons Justice Select Committee published a wide-ranging report about sentencing and public opinion. On the one hand, it said we shouldn't ignore what people think. On the other hand, MPs found that many people didn’t understand how sentencing worked. The justice committee's own research confirmed this lack of understanding. The committee's chair, the Conservative MP Sir Bob Neill, also points out the cost of longer sentences: £47,000 per prisoner per year.
    Despite that level of expenditure, all is not well in the prisons of England & Wales. Self-harm, suicide and assault rates are all up. Prison officers are "voting with their feet," says Professor Alison Liebling, director of the Prisons Research Centre of Cambridge University's Institute of Criminology. She has been doing research in prisons for nearly 35 years, and thinks that this is "the most unstable, and unsafe period [she's] known". But she also has some suggestions for how to improve matters, and to free up prison spaces.
    There's been yet another mass shooting in the United States, again involving a military-style assault weapon. Rather than try for tighter gun control to stop these killings, some people are taking the gun manufacturers to court instead. Chicago-based lawyer Antonio Romanucci is acting for many of those affected by a shooting in Chicago on Independence Day last year. They're bringing a civil claim under consumer marketing laws. Could it be successful?
    The Scottish government is planning to give the people of Scotland new, enforceable human rights. These would largely be economic, social and cultural rights, as opposed to the current civil and political ones like freedom of speech. The plan is to incorporate several international treaties into Scottish law. The UK is a signatory to these treaties already, but the rights they proclaim can't be enforced through the courts. A new Human Rights bill in Scotland would change that. But could it avoid being scuppered by the limits of devolution?
    Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg
    Producer: Arlene Gregorius
    Researcher: Diane Richardson
    Production Coordinator: Maria Ogundele
    Sound engineers: Neil Churchill and Graham Puddifoot

    • 28 min
    Exporting prisoners, is Joint Enterprise racist, and Gaza-Israel

    Exporting prisoners, is Joint Enterprise racist, and Gaza-Israel

    Following the events of the 7th October in which around 1400 people were killed in Israel and over 200 taken hostage, Israel has been striking back against Hamas in Gaza. What does international law say about self-defence and proportionate responses to attacks? Joshua Rozenberg asks expert Professor Guglielmo Verdirame KC of Kings College.
    The government is proposing to rent prison space abroad, due to a risk of prison overcrowding here. There is precedent: Norway sent prisoners to a Dutch prison, for example. How did that work out in practice? What lessons were being learnt? Prisons expert Professor Alison Liebling of Cambridge University has studied and evaluated the Norwegian-Dutch case.
    How safe are Joint Enterprise convictions for murder? As a result of legal action on behalf of JENGbA (Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association), the Crown Prosecution Service has started to gather, and publish, data about those charged with Joint Enterprise homicide or attempted homicide. The figures show that young black men are vastly overrepresented among those charged under the Joint Enterprise doctrine. The convictions are difficult to appeal, as the threshold is high. In 2016 the Supreme Court admitted the law had "taken a wrong turn" on Joint Enterprise for 30 years. What went wrong, and is it being put right? We hear from Professor Felicity Gerry KC, who led the defence in the 2016 Supreme Court case, and from someone who served a Joint Enterprise sentence for murder, even though he says he was not present at the killing and only found out about it afterwards.
    Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg
    Producer: Arlene Gregorius
    Researcher: Diane Richardson
    Editor: Clare Fordham
    Sound engineers: Neil Churchill and Rod Farquhar
    Production coordinator: Maria Ogundele

    • 28 min
    The new Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, Alex Chalk KC MP

    The new Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, Alex Chalk KC MP

    The new Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk KC MP speaks to Joshua Rozenberg. How does he respond to criticisms levelled at the reforms of the Parole Board proposed in the Victims and Prisoners Bill? And how does he reconcile his wish to "provide individuals with the due process which is the hallmark of our legal system" with some aspects of the Home Office's Illegal Migration Bill, that aims to stop people crossing to the UK in small boats? Mr Chalk also speaks about new measures to protect investigative journalists from malicious libel actions, and confirms that the new Lord Chief Justice will be a woman, for the first time in a thousand years.
    Most of the senior judges in England and Wales are male, white, middle-aged and former barristers. The new head of the Judicial Appointments Commission, Helen Pitcher, in her first broadcast interview, tells Joshua that diversity is very important and admits its an issue in the judiciary. So how will she increase it? We hear about projects and research to help remove barriers and ensure senior judges reflect the society they serve.
    What is it like to do your job after a diagnosis of Parkinson's? The condition affects people differently, but many have a tremor, fatigue, reduced mobility in their arms, legs, or both, and some can have depression. Joshua meets a High Court judge, Sir Nicholas Mostyn, to find out how he has been able to carry on working despite the condition. What are employees' rights in this case? And what is it like for those in other lines of work? We also hear from a nurse with Parkinson's on how she does it.
    Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg
    Producer: Arlene Gregorius
    Researcher: Bethan Ashmead Latham
    Production Coordinator: Maria Ogundele
    Editor: Clare Fordham

    • 28 min
    How well is the Parole Board protecting the public?

    How well is the Parole Board protecting the public?

    Is the Parole Board getting it right with prisoner releases? Last year, the then Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Dominic Raab thought not, and introduced reform proposals to, as he saw it, re-prioritise public protection and trust in justice. These proposals are in the Victims and Prisoners Bill that's now before parliament. But the Parole Board tell Joshua Rozenberg that public protection is their top priority anyway, and that only 0.5% of those they release go on to commit other serious offences.
    What can the law do when a husband takes his wife on a trip abroad, such as to his or her country of origin, and abandons her there, without the means to return? Typically in such cases, the man confiscates his wife's passport, documents and mobile phone, and then returns to the UK without her. If there are any children, the husband takes those with him, leaving the wife and children separated from each other. Often, the wife's right to live in or return to the UK is tied to her marital status. We hear from someone who became a victim of "transnational marriage abandonment" as it's called, when she was taken back to India.
    Artificial Intelligence or AI is changing how we live and work. Generative AI is able to produce written texts and many other types of content, including soon perhaps legal documents. Could such AI be used to deliver justice more quickly and cheaply than lawyers and judges? What safeguards should there be? And could it help clear huge backlogs in the courts? Joshua speaks with Professor Richard Susskind, one of the world's leading experts on AI and the law.
    Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg
    Producer: Arlene Gregorius
    Researcher: Bethan Ashmead Latham
    Production Coordinator: Maria Ogundele
    Editor: Clare Fordham

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
184 Ratings

184 Ratings

Danyal Freeman ,

New presenter, better show

It seems that Joshua Rosenberg has taken over this show, and it is now much improved.

Theotherman 364 ,

Entertaining, informative and well put-together.

Always interesting, presents legal issues in context and informatively. It doesn’t dumb anything down, but remains accessible.

splooger1 ,

Great podcast

This is great for people who don’t know that much about the law and I could see it as something to listen to if your practising law and like studying and listening to it

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