8 July 2011

Freedom... from unnecessary legislation?

The Local Government and Environment Select Committee is currently hearing submissions on the Freedom Camping Bill, a Bill which will enable local authorities to pass bylaws to prohibit freedom camping in designated areas and to issue infringement notices to people who breach the prohibition.  Others have criticised Bill for a number of reasons.

But my beef with the Bill is that it is, I think, unnecessary and another instance of ad-hocery creeping into the local government legal framework.  First, local authorities already have an existing power that enables them to pass such bylaws.  Secondly, there is an existing power in the Local Government Act 2002 that allows specific bylaw offences to be designated infringement offences. The claimed mischief that has been advanced to justify the Bill just isn't there.

Course Outline

Lord Justice Lawton in Maxwell v Department of Trade and Industry [1974] 2 All ER 122 said:

"From time to time ... lawyers and judges have tried to define what constitutes fairness. Like defining an elephant, it is not easy to do, although fairness in practice has the elephantine quality of being easy to recognise. As a result of these efforts a word in common usage has acquired the trappings of legalism: 'acting fairly' has become 'acting in accordance with the rules of natural justice', and on occasion has been dressed up with Latin tags. This phrase in my opinion serves no useful purpose and in recent years it has encouraged lawyers to try to put those who hold inquiries into legal straitjackets.... For the purposes of my judgment I intend to ask myself this simple question: did the [decision-maker] act fairly towards the plaintiff?"

This course examines the elephantine concept of fairness in the law, along with other contemporary legal issues.

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