Category Archives: law

How Does Europe Impact British Wildlife?

It seems that whenever Europe imposes a law or regulation which is to be adhered to by the member states, there is a wide range of interpretation as to exactly how it should be applied and imposed, British wildlife and conservation issues are no exception. You only need take a look at how the anti smoking laws have been applied to see a significant difference in how each country applies them, in the UK we have an outright ban, in other countries they seem to ignore it completely, and I’ve heard (although not experienced) of others which have a collection pot in the bar, smokers put in a Euro or 2 if they want to smoke and that money is used for paying off the fines.

Wildlife law and legislation is no different. Europe imposes a number of regulations to be applied across European states which are in place to protect specific species, however due to differing geological and weather factors, these laws have some degree of flexibility and are therefore imposed by each country within their own legal systems, there are a set of regulations which apply in the UK, it’s these which impact how our conservation laws are imposed.

One such Council Directive is regarding the conservation of natural habitats, it has the rather catch name Directive 92/43/EEC you can read about it here, in short it is designed to protect habitats around Europe and ensures that member states maintain and protect conservation projectslocal habitats and species which live within them, have dedicated areas which are fully protected, put measures in place to ensure conservation areas are maintained for the appropriate indigenous species, in some cases surveillance must also be undertaken to monitor and protect at risk species. Each member state must also report back to confirm exactly what has been done every six years.

All this is ultimately good news for Britain’s protected and endangered species and supporting industries and charities. There is huge interest in wildlife conservation in the UK at present with a range of equipment available for all manner of activities, from bat detectors for the monitoring of populations, badger gates and fencing to allow them free passage through rabbit fencing and various artificial habitats for all manner of creatures from the Dormouse and wild birds to hedgehogs, as can be seen here. I’ve even seen a recent television advert encouraging children to get involved in conservation and add hedgehog hibernation areas, bee hotels and all manner of ways to attract wildlife into bat detectorsurban areas.

This combined with the recent news stories about the decline of both honey bees and our 250 species of solitary bees due to habitat destruction and the use of pesticides has also helped to drum up the public’s interest in protecting our wildlife and encouraged an upsurge in the number of beekeepers across the UK, both in the countryside and urban areas.

It seems that Europe is making some wise decisions regarding wildlife protection and has even put a temporary ban on the use of certain pesticides while further testing is done regarding their impact on the environment, it also seems that the UK is putting these new regulations to good use and applying them in a way which should help to protect our endangered and indigenous species into the future.

Restricted Access ?

There is a meeting of the UN happening right now in Dubai (why there I do not know) where there is a push for full global government control of the internet. If this is approved, not only could people find their access is restricted and monitored, but in turn this could also slow things down for the average user, quite considerably.

The internet has grown massively over the last 20 years, much of it through the use of the general public and open source software (did you know that the vast majority of internet servers operate on Linux, an open source operating system?). However, governments from the likes of China, Russia and the UEA are trying to reign in the unweildly beast that is the internet and bring it under government control. This has the potential to create a loss of privacy on a massive scale and increased censorship. While I appreciate that there are certain things which appear online which should not be allowed, I do not believe that a global censorship campaign is the right way to go about it.

At present the ITR (International Telecommunications Regulations) are the rules which govern internet use and are essentially open and promote the free sharing of information, however the meeting of the ITU (the body which make the rules, is being pushed hard from certain countries to tighten up and give governments more control.

This story is being covered in detail by various media, the global blogging community of course, have plenty to say about it, as do the national and international press.

The outcome should be apparent very soon, although the outcome remains to be seen, as does the length of time it will take to implement any changes.

UK Law and Assisted Suicide

Assisted suicide is a contentious issue in the UK.  Under the UK law, the 1961 Suicide Act, it is an offense to “aid, abet, counsel or procure the suicide of another.”  Interpretation of the law is another matter entirely however and this is where things become much more complicated.

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: What do they mean?

Euthanasia

Euthanasia has several different types under interpretation.  From a layman’s standpoint, euthanasia means a “mercy killing” or “to put someone out of their misery” when a person is suffering from a terminal illness and usually in considerable pain.  It is illegal in the UK.

Voluntary euthanasia is the term that means to end someone’s life with their permission, under the health condition as described above.

Involuntary euthanasia is the term that means that the sufferer is usually physically unable to end their own life and is unable to make the decision to do so.  Therefore, strictly speaking consent is not directly been given, but in such cases often the family are well aware of the prior agreement to the action by the sufferer from a time when they were able to still communicate their wishes.

Assisted Suicide

Assisted suicide is a category of euthanasia.  It means that someone has been assisted in committing suicide by being provided with one way or several ways to carry out the action.  This can be by providing apparatus or drugs or arranging transportation out of the UK in order to carry out the plan to commit suicide.

The Legal Position

From a legal standpoint, assisted suicide is illegal under the Suicide Act and punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment.  However, only the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from the CPS can determine whether to issue proceedings against the person or persons who assisted an enacted suicide.  To do so, the DPP can only proceed if they believe it is in the public interest to do so.  Therefore, whilst assisted suicide is illegal in the UK, not everyone who has assisted in a suicide has been prosecuted.

Director of Public Prosecutions Change of Policy

solicitorsOn February 24 2010, the DPP detailed the change in policy when dealing with the matter of assisted suicides.  There are now 16 proposed public-interest factors that are to be considered on cases revolving around an assisted suicide.  An earlier draft of the DPP paper detailed only eight.

The current thinking on the idea of a new law specifically related to assisted suicide is that it would be somewhat redundant and unlikely to pass as a law.  The view of the DPP is therefore the policy of the government.  This is an unusual and highly controversial situation, where the laws are not being passed by parliament but instead decisions are being made whether to pursue prosecutions based on the DPP’s own guidelines.

The major new development is the recent issue of whether someone is breaking the law if they help a terminally ill sufferer to travel to another country where assisted suicide is legal, and help them to die outside of the UK.  The clarification from the DPP suggests that someone is more likely to be prosecuted than they were before, following the issuance of the new DPP guidance, but it is far than one hundred percent clear.  Possibly because each case is unique and legislating or even making absolute policies for assisted suicide cases is simply too restrictive.

If you need legal advice on specific subjects just click here to find one specialising in the correct area of law, for example if you live in Wiltshire search for a Swindon solicitor, or Cheltenham solicitor, likewise if you are in Oxfordshire an Oxford solicitor would be best.