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Law in Action


Law in Action's aim is to lead the field in lively, jargon-free but rigorous analysis of the legal stories in, behind, and ahead of the news. The series has been running since 1984.

Law in Action's aim is to lead the field in lively, jargon-free but rigorous analysis of the legal stories in, behind, and ahead of the news. The series has been running since 1984.
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London, United Kingdom




Law in Action's aim is to lead the field in lively, jargon-free but rigorous analysis of the legal stories in, behind, and ahead of the news. The series has been running since 1984.




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


How did the US Supreme Court become so powerful?

Joshua Rozenberg hears the story of the extraordinary case that rewrote the way America is governed - giving the Supreme Court the power to overrule Congress. He discovers what American prosecutors get up to behind the closed doors of the grand jury room. And he asks whether we should be screening jurors in England and Wales for bias before they are allowed to serve on rape trials. Producer: Neil Koenig Researcher: Diane Richardson


Can the law rein in Amazon?

There is a possibility of a new legal challenge to the tech giants. Early last year, an unknown American law student published a scholarly article in a distinguished journal. Lina Khan argued that competition law – known in the United States as anti-trust law – could be used to rein in the activities of huge enterprises like Amazon. Other lawyers disagree with her reasoning - but the Federal Trade Commission is assessing the arguments. Joshua Rozenberg sounds out opinions in the United...


Should a former soldier be tried without a jury?

Dennis Hutchings, a former soldier charged with attempted murder in Northern Ireland in 1974, says the UK Supreme Court should let him face trial by jury, rather than a hearing at a special court where a judge sits alone. Joshua Rozenberg speaks to Mr Hutchings and his lawyer. And in the first of a series of reports from the US, we investigate whether female lawyers face prejudice in the courtroom - including allegations of using tears to manipulate jurors. Producer: Neil Koenig Researcher:...


Facial Recognition Technology

Some police forces are using automated facial recognition technology to pick suspects out of a crowd. But is face mapping a valuable tool in the fight against serious crime or a new threat to our civil liberties? And does it work? Joshua Rozenberg investigates. Also in this week's programme... Do body-worn video cameras help police to deal more effectively with domestic violence incidents - or do they make matters worse? And the mysterious case of the "pernicious weed"...who should pay when...


Social media in the dock

Does social media pose a threat to criminal justice - and can fair trials be ensured? In this week's programme, Sir Brian Leveson, head of criminal justice in the courts of England and Wales, tells Joshua Rozenberg that the law needs updating to cope with the growth in social media. And a retired senior judge from Northern Ireland considers whether more needs to be done to protect complainants - and defendants - in sexual assault trials. Also in this edition of Law in Action: something...


Should justice move online?

Is moving justice online a good idea? In British Columbia they have done just that, with a new online tribunal handling things like small claims and property disputes. Could something like this work in Britain? Joshua Rozenberg reports from Vancouver. Also in this week's programme: law is an immensely popular subject for students, but are they given sufficient warnings about how difficult it will be to find work as a solicitor or barrister - especially in the field of criminal law? And does...


No-fault Divorce

Should it be easier to end a marriage? The Supreme Court is currently considering a rare defended divorce. Campaigners hope the case will prompt a change in the law in England and Wales - but others fear this will lead to divorce on demand. Joshua Rozenberg investigates. Also in this week's programme: Christina Blacklaws, incoming president of the Law Society of England and Wales, on the implications of an important milestone. A century after the reform that allowed them to become lawyers,...


Interview with Lord Chancellor David Gauke

David Gauke MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice speaks to Joshua Rozenberg about prisons, modernising the courts system, legal aid and the coroners service. Also: Could plans to change the way solicitors are regulated result in easier and cheaper access to legal services or put consumers at risk? Paul Philip, chief executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and deputy vice president of the Law Society, Simon Davis, discuss the pros and cons of the proposed...


Driverless Cars and the Law

The government wants fully self-driving cars on UK roads by 2021 but which will be ready first - the technology or the law? Who is responsible in an accident - the owner or the manufacturer? Joshua Rozenberg meets the team planning a 200 mile driverless journey across the UK and speaks to barrister Lucy McCormick, co-author of Law and Driverless Cars, who explains how the legal landscape is evolving. Also: this week, the High Court is considering a challenge by two victims of the black-cab...


Sex Discrimination Law

Is sex discrimination law failing women in the workplace? It's more than 40 years since parliament passed the first Sex Discrimination Act, making it unlawful for employers to discriminate against women in the workplace by treating them less favourably than men. Still, allegations of sexual discrimination and sexual harassment have dominated the news over the past few months. Joeli Brearley tells the story of how she lost her job after she told her employer that she was pregnant and Joshua...


Failings in Evidence Disclosure

The number of prosecutions in England and Wales that collapsed because of a failure by police or prosecutors to disclose evidence increased by 70% in the last two years. Joshua Rozenberg speaks to the Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders and David Tucker from the College of Policing about their response to this rising concern. He also speaks to those directly affected by the failures - members of the public charged and taken to court because police failed to disclose evidence that...


Trump, the FBI and the Law

Following the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged links between Russians and Donald Trump's election campaign, Joshua Rozenberg finds out what the role of the special counsel involves, how he will go about his work and how the White House will be affected by the probe. Also in the programme: the BBC's Delhi Correspondent, Sanjoy Majumder, reports on the reaction to a recent Indian Supreme Court decision which has upset drinkers and liquor store owners -...


Interview with The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales

In his first interview since taking office, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Sir Ian Burnett talks to Joshua Rozenberg. He explains what can be done to gain back public confidence. Also, if you are a foster carer, are you an employee or a worker? How a Scottish couple fought to have their status changed. Katie Gollop QC in conversation with Nemone Lethbridge who was called to the Bar nearly sixty years ago. She remembers why she was not allowed to use one particular facility in...


Investigating the Dead

Joshua Rozenberg asks what's the point of investigating the dead over allegations of abuse. He speaks to the former judge Sir Richard Henriques, who is critical of recent police investigations into dead people accused of abuse. The programme also explores whether we need new laws to protect cyclists on our roads. Producer: Smita Patel Researcher: Diane Richardson.


Acid Attacks and the Law

Professor Simon Harding, criminologist at the University of West London, considers proposals to control the sale and possession of corrosive substances with Joshua Rozenberg.


The Lawyers Working for GCHQ

Joshua Rozenberg talks exclusively to the director for legal affairs at the government's signals service GCHQ and asks him why the UK's secret intelligence agency needs lawyers.


Interview with the Lord Chancellor David Lidington

Joshua Rozenberg examines the implications for the criminal justice system - especially the courts and prisons - of the growing number of prosecutions and convictions of older people for sexual offences. The programme also discovers the legal implications of the explosion in the theatrical use of holograms of both the living and the dead. And we find out what's on the agenda for the new Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, David Lidington.


The Law After the Election

Following the general election, Joshua Rozenberg introduces a special live discussion programme in which he and his guests consider what the composition of the new House of Commons means for the law. They consider the courts and those who use them, the strained prison system, impending legislative changes to the law - including those required to achieve commitments made on Brexit - and how those seeking access to justice are likely to fare. Producer Simon Coates.


Why Are We Short of Judges?

Vacancies for senior Judges and circuit Judges are now at an all-time high - why? The Judiciary is still reeling from last year's "Enemies of the People" headlines and morale is low, with many Judges fed up with the job. Speaking to three senior judges, Joshua Rozenberg asks what can be done to address the situation? Producer: Jim Frank Researcher: Beth Sagar-Fenton


Joint Enterprise and Homicide Law

Joint Enterprise is the law by which a group of people can be convicted with the same offence and earlier this year the Supreme Court ruled that Joint Enterprise law had been misinterpreted for 30 years. This gave campaigners significant hope as they say Joint Enterprise is an unjust law, especially when applied to murder convictions because all defendants face the same mandatory life sentence even if they were periphery players. But these hopes were dashed when the Court of Appeal announced...