Legal developments 2020

Legal developments 2020


Covid-19 Legislation

See the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020 No. 684) [Link].  This is a new set of regulations that will, from 4th July 2020, substantially replace SI 2020, 350, 447, 500, 558, 588.  The new regulations apply to England (other than Leicester, in respect of which, see SI 2020 No.685 [Link]).     

See the Electric Scooter Trials and Traffic Signs (Coronavirus) Regulations and General Directions 2020 (2020 No. 663) [Link] in force from the 4th July 2020.  The aim of the Regs is to allow representative, on-road trials of e-scooters to begin in order to gather evidence on their use and impact and to inform possible future legalisation (see the accompanying Explanatory Memorandum).

See the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings on Public Transport) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020 No.592) [Link] in force 15th June 2020. 

See the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions)(England)(Amendment)(No. 4) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020 No. 588) [Link].  Regulations 2(1), (2), (4)(c), (5), (6)(a) and (c), (7), (8) and (9) come into force on 13th June 2020, the rest on the 15th June 2020.

See the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020 No. 568) [Link].  For the Explanatory Memorandum, see the [Link].

Note the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (Specified Proceedings) (Amendment) Order 2020 (SI 2020 No. 562) [Link] in force from 3rd June 2020.  The Order enables the DPP to take over the conduct of criminal proceedings initiated by the police under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/350, as amended by S.I. 2020/447, 500 and 558).

Note the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) (No.3) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020 No. 558) [Link] in force from 1st June 2020.

Note the Prison and Young Offender Institution (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No. 2) Rules 2020 (SI 2020 No. 508) (the majority of the provisions in force from 15th May 2020) [Link]

Note The Misuse of Drugs (Coronavirus) (Amendments Relating to the Supply of Controlled Drugs During a Pandemic etc.) Regulations 2020 (which extend to England, Wales and Scotland, are in force from 30th April 2020) [Link]

Note the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 [Link] in force from 11.00 a.m. on 22nd April 2020.

General Legislation

Note that the  Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 has received Royal Assent (25th June 2020) [Link]

Note the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) (England, Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020 No. 558) [Link] in force from 24th June 2020.  The Explanatory Notes states “These Regulations amend the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 (S.I. 2001/3998) to provide for a specified cannabis-based medicine called Epidyolex to be placed in Schedule 5 of the Regulations.  The effect of this is that the specified medicine is exempt from the prohibitions on import, export and possession under sections 3 and 5 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.”

Note that the  Magistrates’ Courts (Knife Crime Prevention Orders) Rules 2020 will be in force from 30 March 2020 [Link]

Note that the Controlled Drugs (Supervision of Management and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 will be fully in force by 1 April 2020 [Link]

Note the correspondence between the Home Secretary and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs “COVID-19: ACMD advice on proposed legislative changes to enable supply of controlled drugs during a pandemic” (April 2020) [Link] which may result in temporary measures being introduced by amending the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.


R v Hilton (Respondent) (Northern Ireland) [2020] UKSC 29 [Link]

This is an important decision concerning s.160A (NI) POCA 2002 – s.10A (England and Wales).  The section enacts a procedure by which 3rd parties may make representations in confiscation proceedings where (and only where) the Crown Court is minded to make a determination under s.10A (s.160A (NI)).  It is not the case that on every occasion that 3rd party interests arise, the court must proceed under that section.   Were that to be the position then this would inevitably introduce a cumbersome procedure in the making of a confiscation order.  
The position of 3rd parties has been the subject of detailed discussion by this commentator for decades: see R. Fortson, Chpt.13-177, ‘Misuse of Drugs and Drug Trafficking Offences‘ (6th ed., 2012, Sweet & Maxwell). 

Lord Advocates Reference No. 1 of 2020 [2020] HCJAC 25 [link]

It was held by the Appeal Court, High Court of Justiciary, that whether – for the purposes of s.5(1A)(a), Firearms Act 1968 – a firearm is “disguised as another object” (in this case a stun gun that also functioned as a torch) requires “a straightforward objective assessment of whether the item is presented in such a way as to conceal that amongst its functions is that of a firearm”. This is “critically a question of fact for the jury to determine on all the facts of the case”. The normal meanings of the word ‘disguise’ are to be adopted, and the matter “must be determined from the perspective of the ordinary person in the street”(per Lady Dorrian, the Lord Justice Clerk (at [23-24])).  Thus, the question is not whether the item was a multi-function device.