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Law in Action


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

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


London, United Kingdom




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




Room 1252 BBC White City 201 Wood Lane London W12 7TS U.K


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...


E-scooting through the law

It’s illegal to ride a private e-scooter on public roads or pavements – but the rules for the new, council approved e-scooter rental schemes are different. We navigate the maze of laws and regulations to ask what’s allowed, required or illegal. Billionaires are about to fly into space, but what is the legal framework for this? What if your rocket hits my satellite? We boldly go into space law. Why coal tip laws brought in following the Aberfan disaster do not protect the public and need to...


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,...


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...


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...


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...


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...


Civil Justice for Harry Dunn?

A civil claim has been launched in the state of Virginia by the parents of Harry Dunn, who was killed in Northamptonshire in 2019 when his motorcycle was in collision with a car driven on the wrong side of the road by Anne Sacoolas. What are Harry's parents hoping to get out of it? Joshua Rozenberg speaks to their American lawyer. Picture Credit: Justice4Harry19 The number of cases waiting to be tried at Crown Courts in England and Wales is now over 56,000. We examine the backlog viewed from...


Jack Merritt's legacy

Remembering Jack Merritt, who was murdered in the attack at London Bridge in November 2019. He and Saskia Jones, who was also killed, were associated with an offender rehabilitation programme at Cambridge University called Learning Together. The murderer was a former prisoner attending a conference at Fishmongers Hall to mark its fifth anniversary. Earlier in 2019, Law in Action had interviewed Jack Merritt and some of the prisoners he was supporting at Warren Hill Prison in Suffolk. A year...


Good advice

How has the North Kensington Law Centre managed to keep going for 50 years when other social legal advice providers have run out of money? One reason must be the vision of Peter Kandler, 85, who set up the UK’s first law centre in a former butcher’s shop and is still closely involved in running it today. He tells Joshua Rozenberg that, half a century on, the centre is now coping with housing and immigration problems that he thought were a thing of the past. Picture: Peter Kandler, founder of...


Fire Courts

The lessons of history: what the Great Fire of London can teach us about dealing with a modern plague. And, as the lord chief justice tells his judges to keep calm and carry on — despite the lockdown to be introduced in England on Thursday — we ask whether the Nightingale courts of England and Wales could learn a thing or two from the Odeon courts of Scotland. Joshua Rozenberg reports. Researcher: Diane Richardson Producer: Neil Koenig


The International Criminal Court

An independent investigation into the International Criminal Court has revealed examples of bullying, sexual harassment and judicial incompetence. Victims of war crimes are having to wait a lifetime for reparations. But, as Joshua Rozenberg has been hearing, those same victims are hugely grateful to a court that has given them a voice. And with a week to go before the presidential election, courts across the United States have already been dealing with voting-related challenges. Will the...


Reinventing the law

How can the courts cope with the constraints of Coronavirus? That’s the challenge facing Lord Burnett of Maldon, head of the judiciary in England and Wales. Joshua Rozenberg asks the Lord Chief Justice whether new ways of working can deliver justice at a time of crisis. Among those innovations is mediation, Law in Action speaks to a court-based mediator and a court user whose case was resolved without leaving home. And we find out how lockdown is changing the civil courts. Can remote...


Gambling with the law

A poker player who used a Victorian conjuring trick to win £7.7 million from a London casino left court empty-handed in 2017 after a court found he “took positive steps to fix the deck”. But now judges have decided that the ruling in Phil Ivey’s case should be the test for dishonesty. Joshua Rozenberg explains how it works, while a gambler tells us that the courts have got it wrong. Also this week, how do you ensure social distancing in a crowded detention centre? And how is lockdown...


Justice in lockdown

Can virtual courts deliver justice? We speak to participants of a mock jury trial held by law reform group Justice, with legal teams and jurors replacing the courtroom with the sitting room. Scotland's second most senior judge, Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian, outlines how socially distanced jury trials can resume safely in July. And Joshua Rozenberg asks Director of Service Prosecutions Andrew Cayley QC if the Service Prosecuting Authority is prosecuting cases of rape and sexual assault...


Workplace law

Recent high-profile discrimination claims have cast a media spotlight on the employment tribunals of England, Wales and Scotland. But how good are they are at resolving disputes between employers and staff? How independent are they of the government? And how well have they recovered from fee increases that meant some employment judges had to move jobs? Why an autistic man’s experiments with explosives were lawful. Joshua speaks to Jonathan Hall QC, Independent Reviewer of Terrorism...


Deferred Prosecution Agreements: pragmatic but unprincipled?

Earlier this year, Airbus was ordered to pay nearly €1bn by a criminal court in London. The penalty, for failure to prevent bribery, was more than twice the fines paid by defendants in England and Wales for the whole of 2018. In addition, the global aerospace company was required to pay fines totalling €2.6bn in France and the United States. But Airbus has not been convicted of any crimes and nobody has gone to prison. Joshua Rozenberg Investigates deferred prosecution agreements....


An Enterprising Court

Tucked away in the City of London is one of the UK’s most successful invisible exports. But is the Commercial Court threatened by international developments? Joshua Rozenberg investigates. Italy has extended its emergency coronavirus measures and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has ordered people to stay at home. Lawyer Mariella Melandri tells Law In Action how this is affecting her legal practice and clients. The government is planning emergency legislation allowing people who are forced to...


Supporting evidence

Imagine what it must be like to be a child with autism. Your school won’t give you the support you need. But challenging that decision involves giving evidence at a tribunal where the lighting seems dazzling and the air-conditioning sounds deafening. Joshua Rozenberg reports from a tribunal in Glasgow designed by children for children. He visits a unique sensory room designed to put children with autism at their ease and help them speak for themselves. Also, could Manchester City FC overturn...


On parole

The Parole Board will soon have to decide whether it’s safe to release prisoners convicted of low-level terrorist offences. But how effective is it at predicting whether a criminal will reoffend? Joshua Rozenberg visits the Parole Board for England and Wales to find out. Also new legal powers to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Joshua speaks to David Lawson, Barrister at Serjeants' Inn Chambers and Catharine Arnold, author of Pandemic 1918. Producer: Neil Koenig Researcher: Diane Richardson