15 Feb 2008

Updates till 14th Feb

Past another week and we are back again with the updates from legal circles covering the developments around the world. Some mixed news really this time, lots of crisp and undaunting items this time.

1. Representing a very vocal side of the United States Supreme Court, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (I had the opportunity to be present at his speech at the LSE last week on 'judges as moral arbiters') has come out strongly against the prevalent view commenting that that torture as a means of interrogation may not be unconstitutional. [click here to listen to the interview and here for the transcript] Known for his conservative opinion and strictly against reading constitution as a 'living organism', Justice Scalia as the third senior most judge of the United
States Supreme Court has authored various dissents and is widely known as been blunt on expressing controversial opinions. [click here to read more about him]

2. The article by Gary Slapper is really an interesting one, bringing out the legal position and the fiduciary aspect of the 'lawyer-client privilege'. Exploring the positioning of the law in the
U.K., as it has come to mean from the case-laws and the practice of the legal profession, it offers vital insights into the scope of the privilege and its meaning for clients. A worthwhile read. [click here for the full article]

3. Meanwhile, a heated debate has arisen in UK over the comments of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams who suggested to incorporate the principles of Sharia Law in the UK legal system. He suggested that it would be in the best interests of all if the Muslims in UK were dealt under the Sharia legal system (which he said was already incorporated in UK to some extent) such that there could be hegemony in legal governance in the country. [click here for more of his comments] However his comments have been taken very serious in the UK, treating them as a threat to the common law Parliamentary system which exists in the UK, so much so that the Prime Minister Mr. Gordon Brown had to himself come out with a statement upon the issue [click here to read his statement] rejecting the suggestion that the UK Muslims be given a option to resolve some of their disputes under the Sharia system. The debate has been enraged with supporters of both side expressing their opinions strongly and the scholarly community just pouncing upon the opportunity to flood the academia with their papers (I have personally been notified of more than a dozen papers posted on SSRN in just a week of the debate being pressed).[click here to read an interesting account of what would happen if the proposal does go through] [click here for another interesting insight into the issue]

4. Then I am breaking the tradition of only reporting law news by redirecting you to an academic article posted in SSRN for it really seems to be a must read for all those interested in law even a faint bit. Writing on "How Judges decide cases", three academics really come out with interesting and intriguing insights on what happens inside the courtroom and how judges decide more-often-than-not based upon their hunches and gut feelings and then proceed to give their own model towards explaining the decision making process. Slightly technical but interesting. [click here for the link to the article]

5. This interesting post by a Sport's Law Professor on 'Why study Sports Law' is an interesting insight into the various dimensions and nuances on sports law, as properly understood and its advancement to include various aspects of the games and sports as they are played today. Unfortunately the subject is not very popular in
India, though it has a huge scope and ability to simply take off if triggered. Seen in the light of the recent Harbhajan-racism controversy, one can understand the true scope of the subject. [click here to read the entire post]

6. Unraveling the
United States elections to compare the state-of-affairs of democracy in India, an interesting feature in Mail today speaks on 'Inner-Party democracy' in India. More interesting is the comments offered thereupon by the India Uncut Blog which seems to argue that the Indian democratic system has to come up a long way before it matures into a self-regulating one. [click here to read the entire post]

7. In another update from the
UK, and to report a very significant update on the financial front, is the news on Northern Rock. To the non-starters, I would give a brief foreground on the issue. It is basically the first and by far the most the most critical consequence of the sub-prime-mortgage crisis across the world. A news-piece that this bank (Northern Rock) is short of cash and to avoid default, saw the Bank facing a sudden demands for withdrawal by the investors, between September 14-17, to be exact. These withdrawals were to the extent that they would really have made the Bank default had it not been for an emergency loan by the Bank of England (the English Central Bank). [for more details, refer HMRC's update of 19th November and 18th December]. Now that the issue has been dormant for a while, the debate is sought to be revived again with the British Parliamentary Committee coming upon with its Report investigating the affairs behind the mad-run to the Bank and a series of measure to deal with the issue. [click here for the report]

8. The Pakistan Supreme Court has made public its decisions given the last year on the constitutional validity of the declaration of the emergency by President Musharraf, the legitimacy of the 'Provisional Constitutional Order' and other related cases. The operating parts of the judgment were pronounced on November 23 last year and now the full text of the decisions with the reasoning has been updated on the website of the Court. Written by Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar and representing a unanimous court have applied the 'doctrine of past and closed transactions' to hold that they were not entitled to look into the matter as they already had been decided earlier and thus not subject to reopening. [click here for more]

9. Working on digitalizing legal knowledge, as the SpicyIP blog reports, the Open Book Society has taken up the task of archiving legal journals (on the lines of JSTOR and Kluwer Online) with the attempt to make available legal journals and articles in India, something we have been missing really acutely in India. [click here for the full report]

10. This interesting news-article on Times Of India brings forth the decision of the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) restricting the use of the word 'Indian' and 'National' by private educational institutions, thereby creating a monopoly of the government in using those terms. [click here for the full news-piece] But then I am not very clear as to why this fuss for the restriction. After all similar practices have been there in vogue for long under company law in India wherein the terms such as India, Bharat, National etc. not allowed to be used except by government companies and with a logical rationale of limiting the chances of confusion in the minds of the public as to the sponsorship of these companies.

11. Then those following the Microsoft-Yahoo tussle, this news-piece adds a legal dimension to your knowledge. A group of shareholders of Yahoo have brought a law-suit against Yahoo for refusing the offer as Microsoft, feeling aggrieved and missed out on the opportunity to make instant case by selling their stock to Microsoft. [click here for the full news-piece]

12. Speaking on various dimensions of UK's constitutionalism, the UK Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor Jack Straw has commented that UK is happy with the state of affairs as they exist today and the chances to opt-in for a written constitution are atleast decades away. Not too exciting a comment but worth listening to his interview. [click here for the transcript]

13. Then this is an interesting case regarding domain names which has just arisen. Actually a cyber-crime (though not in all countries) and technically known as cyber-squatting, this complaint by a Stockholm based telecommunications investment company (called 'OnePhone Holding AB') to WIPO alleged mal-holding of a domain name (i.e. 'www.onephone.com') which is registered to a Bahamas based telecommunications company (called 'Indigo Networks'). OnePhone Holding has sought the transfer of domain name to itself contending that it already owns a European registration of the name 'OnePhone' and therefore the domain name belongs to it. Whatever may be the outcome of the case, it would surely add to the cyber-squatting jurisprudence, which is really missing of legal principles as of now. [click here to read more]

14. In a significant report, the Law Commission of India has suggested that child marriages (the Commission has considered the age of 16 as a child for this purposes) be banned in India. It has also proposed that the age at which a girl can give a valid sexual consent be fixed at 16 years (unlike the unwritten rule of 18 years earlier). The 205th Report of the Commission deals with these aspect and others (on which you would find a separate post soon on this blog) and has been sent to the Ministry of Law and Justice for follow-up action. [click here for the full report]

15. Reporting it as an important trend-setting development, Law.com reports an American Law firm opening an office in India (deviating from the general trend of just opening out-sourcing hubs) to cut costs and provide more options for the clients. [Click here to read more][another interesting insight into the issue]

16. Then we have the AsiaTaxBlog which covers an interview given by an eminent tax lawyer from India speaking on the concept of Permanent Establishment as understood under the Indian tax laws and the Double Tax Conventions to which India is a party. [click here to read the interview]

A long list this time, but I am sure quiet interesting posts. :)

No comments: