55 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

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.3 • 167 Ratings

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

    Covid penalties

    Covid penalties

    Thousands of people have received fixed penalty notices for breaching Covid-19 restrictions, even though no offence had actually been committed in their cases. Yet there is no appeals procedure, and not paying the fines risks a criminal record. So what should happen with them?

    Sir Geoffrey Vos, the master of the rolls and head of civil justice, reveals how new online systems are increasingly doing away with the need to go to court.

    The legal profession used to be dominated by middle-aged, middle-class, white men, but that has been changing, and this year I. Stephanie Boyce became the first person of colour to be elected president of the Law Society, the professional body for solicitors in England and Wales. What are her priorities for her tenure?

    The recent quashing of the convictions for theft and false accounting of 39 sub-postmasters after Britain's biggest miscarriage of justice has laid open the world of private criminal prosecutions. It was not the Crown Prosecution Service that took the sub-postmasters to court, but the Post Office itself. Should private prosecutions now be regulated?

    Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg
    Producer: Arlene Gregorius
    Researcher: Diane Richardson

    • 28 min
    Traumatic brain injury and crime

    Traumatic brain injury and crime

    Traumatic brain injury can cause neurological changes that make people more impulsive, less able to control their reactions, and less able to understand others. Therefore it's associated with violent crime. An estimated 60% of those in prison have a history of brain injury. But is prison the best place for them, and their rehabilitation? The criminal justice system is taking an ever greater interest in how to deal with traumatic brain injury. We hear about a Thames Valley Police pilot project to keep offenders out of prison, pre-sentence screening in the UK and elsewhere, and about an innovative court for those aged 18-25 in New Zealand.

    Brain injury is as common among women prisoners, often due to a history of suffering domestic violence. For these women their injuries, compounded by other factors, lead to mental health issues so serious that it's estimated that three quarters of them have tried to take their own lives. What are prisons doing to help them? And what about women prisoners' additional burdens, such as anxiety about separation from their children, which affects them more than men? Can a new report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons point to ways forward for England and Wales?

    Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg
    Producer: Arlene Gregorius
    Researcher: Diane Richardson

    • 28 min
    Fighting knife crime

    Fighting knife crime

    Fighting knife crime before it happens; Scotland's "not proven" verdicts; and the law on automated cars.

    Knife crime in England and Wales is at its highest in ten years. Some young people can find it hard to resist gangs or knives for what they see as self-protection. Often they end up in the criminal justice system. Some argue the law is not the answer. But what is the alternative? We hear from a youth worker at the successful youth centre Youth Futures, and from a retired senior criminal barrister, who has launched an online one-stop-shop, fightingknifecrime.london, for those seeking or offering help to keep young people out of trouble.

    In Scotland, juries can find defendants guilty, not guilty or not proven. If guilt is "not proven", the defendant is acquitted and regarded as innocent in law. Should that third option be abolished? Juries often use "not proven" in rape cases, if they feel guilt has not been proven 'beyond reasonable doubt' (the requirement for a guilty verdict) but nor do they want to imply they disbelieved the alleged victim. Now some campaigners want to abolish the "not proven" option, as research has shown that if it didn't exist, more juries would find the accused guilty, even in rape cases.

    The government has announced that cars will be allowed to steer themselves in slow-moving motorway traffic, so long as they had been approved for use with automated lane-keeping systems. But what does the law say about liability for automated vehicles? Who is responsible if there is an accident? Is it the driver or the car manufacturer? What changes are being introduced by this year's Automated and Electric Vehicles Act and the planned changes to the Highway Code?

    Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg
    Producer: Arlene Gregorius
    Researcher: Diane Richardson

    • 27 min
    Reforming Judicial Review

    Reforming Judicial Review

    Judicial Review is a mechanism to check the legality of decisions or actions by public bodies such as the government or parliament. But has this turned into "politics by another means"? The government commissioned Lord Faulks and a panel of experts to examine this question, and to make recommendations for reform. The report was published last week. But does the government now want to go much further than the recommendations in the report?

    Should there be legal aid for bereaved families whose relative died in the care of the state, such as in prison, a police cell or in a mental health in-patient setting? These deaths trigger "Article 2 inquests", referring to the right to life, protected under the European Convention on Human Rights. The coroner will want to find out what went wrong, so it doesn't happen again. The state has legal representation to defend itself, but the families often can't afford the specialist lawyers that, campaigners argue, are required for a level playing field.

    Family breakdown can mean former partners end up in court to try and resolve disputes. This can be time-consuming, with long delays, and be very costly. Could family arbitration be the solution? We eavesdrop on a mock arbitration to find out how it works. And how much cheaper are they really?

    Which UK elections can EU citizens vote in, and in what parts of the country? The answer is surprisingly complex for the votes in May - and will become more so in future elections.

    Details of organisations offering information and support with bereavement are available at bbc.co.uk/actionline, or you can call for free, at any time to hear recorded information on 08000 158 707.

    Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg
    Producer: Arlene Gregorius
    Researcher: Diane Richardson

    (Image: Lord Faulks. Credit: UK Parliament)

    • 28 min
    Can the law fight climate change?

    Can the law fight climate change?

    Around the world environmentalists are taking governments and companies to court to fight climate change. Joshua Rozenberg explores how the law is evolving into a powerful activists' tool.

    In the first case of its kind, in a ruling that was upheld by the Dutch Supreme Court, the Netherlands were found to have a duty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% compared to 1990, and this by December of last year. What happened?

    Apart from governments, companies are being sued by individuals or shareholders. For example, a Peruvian farmer has filed a case in a German court against a German electricity company for what he claims is its role in warming up the climate enough for him to be threatened by flooding as a nearby Andean glacier melts.

    In Poland activist shareholders sued the board of their utility company to stop the development of a new coal mine, claiming an "indefensible" financial risk, due to rising carbon costs and falling renewables prices.

    And senior lawyers are developing the concept of "ecocide", with the aim to make it an indictable offence at the International Criminal Court, analogous to genocide or crimes against humanity.

    So how is the law evolving to tackle climate change, asks Joshua Rozenberg.

    Producer: Arlene Gregorius
    Researcher: Diane Richardson

    • 28 min
    Exclusive interview with the lawyer of Anne Sacoolas

    Exclusive interview with the lawyer of Anne Sacoolas

    Amy Jeffress, the US lawyer of Anne Sacoolas, speaks exclusively to Joshua Rozenberg, about the accident that led to the death of Northamptonshire teenager Harry Dunn, and its aftermath.

    Scotland needs the agreement of the Westminster-based UK government to hold a referendum about independence legally. So far Downing Street has indicated that the UK would not agree to a second referendum in the short term. But could there be legal options around the need for Westminster's approval?

    And jabs for jobs? Can vaccination be made compulsory in some circumstances? What are your rights if your employer requires you to be vaccinated to come to work? Or if your employee refuses to be vaccinated? And what about companies - from cinemas to airlines - can they legally require proof of vaccination from their customers?

    Presenter: Joshua Rozenberg
    Producer: Arlene Gregorius
    Researcher: Diane Richardson

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
167 Ratings

167 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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