Assessing the Efficacy of the Paris Agreement: Goals, Challenges, and Global Climate Action Progress

In 2015, 195 countries agreed to endorse the Paris Agreement which sought to try and prevent the rising of the earth’s average temperature among the other effects of climate change. For the first time in history, nearly all the world’s nations committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions to help combat this growing crisis. The agreement outlined three primary objectives: firstly, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent global temperatures from warming more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels; secondly, to review each country’s emission reduction commitments every 5 years; and thirdly, to ensure that developing nations (most often being the most affected by climate change) have access to climate finance to mitigate the effects of climate change. These goals, along with the ambition to achieve net zero emissions, set forth a historic moment for global politics as it was legally binding for all signatories and set forth a strong and unified goal to mitigate the harm of climate change.

The central goal of the Paris Agreement was to limit global warming to only 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, considered as a ‘long-term average’ or about 20 years. However, recent measurements have reported the global temperature average being 1.52°C higher than pre-industrial levels. While this does not currently constitute a violation of the Paris Agreement, it serves as a stark warning of what lies ahead without substantial action from all signatory nations.

Many experts have again reiterated that swift and substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are the only way to stop increasing temperatures. Yet some governments seem to still be finding their footing with regard to the importance of implementing effective climate measures. For example, in the UK, where many green policies have been delayed. Countries like Canada and Germany have received an average rating on the Climate Action Trackers for their net-zero target design elements. This indicates that their current policies and strategies for achieving net zero lack critical components.

This is concerning, as many other signatories of the Paris Agreement are rated as average or poor in their climate action plans, missing up to seven of the nine essential practices for achieving net zero or reducing carbon emissions. Despite the initial surge in climate policy momentum in 2015, such efforts have dwindled and climate policy seems to not be developing at the rate it must to counteract global warming.

An assessment by the Climate Action Tracker of the current efforts being taken by the 195 countries suggests that the objectives of the Paris Agreement are unlikely to be met. Achieving these goals would require nearly halving greenhouse gas emissions, along with additional adjustments, a target that seems unrealistic given the current rate at which governments are implementing climate-focused legislation.

Although the Paris Agreement was a significant demonstration of global unity against climate change, the actions taken by individual countries have fallen short of the commitments made, underscoring the need for increased effort and cooperation to address the worsening climate crisis effectively. It is necessary for businesses in the UK to seek advice as to what steps they can take, not just to deal with scope emissions but also to deliver new circular economy frameworks for their sectors.

© Lawrence Power 2024

Who is the Climate Change Committee, and what do they do?

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) stands as an independent statutory entity body established by the Climate Change Act 2008. Its core function is to advise the UK and its devolved governments on setting emissions targets and to serve as an impartial advisor on mitigating climate change. The CCC reports to Parliament regarding progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in preparing for, as well as adapting to, the impacts of climate change. It offers a long-term perspective on UK climate policy.

The CCC functions as a non-departmental public body and is sponsored by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. Despite being publicly funded, the CCC lacks budgetary independence, a situation it offsets with a commitment to transparency. It publishes reports, supporting data, and research in full. Moreover, under the Freedom of Information Act, the public has the right to request any recorded information held by the CCC on any subject that falls under their scope.

The advice of the CCC has been instrumental in shaping legislation and policies across the UK, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This expert technical advisory body’s recommendations have significantly influenced climate change and environmental legislation and policies in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

A key aspect of the CCC’s work involves the reduction of the UK’s emissions through the assessment of the latest greenhouse gas emissions data. This is to determine whether the UK is on track to meet its carbon budget targets, which set limits on the amount of greenhouse gases in the UK over five years.

As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, the UK government is committed under the Climate Change Act to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050. This Act has formalised the UK’s approach to combating climate change. It requires the UK government to establish legally binding carbon budgets, moving towards the 2050 target, with an emphasis on both mitigating emissions and adapting to increase resilience against climate change. The CCC plays a crucial role in maintaining the UK’s focus on achieving this long-term target.

The Adaptation Committee, a branch of the CCC, advises the government on the climate risks and opportunities for the UK. The committee leads the development of an independent evidence report, which informs the statutory UK Climate Change Risk Assessment, and biennially reports on England’s progress. The CCC’s methodologies have reached beyond the UK, with countries like New Zealand and Korea adopting elements of its framework for their climate risk assessments.

The CCC lacks ‘formal powers’ to alter the government’s climate change strategy and instead depends on the potential political embarrassment that its assessments may cause, alongside the threat of judicial review by environmental groups to enforce its statutory obligations under the Climate Change Act. This reliance on informal power has meant that some recommendations have been ignored, and the government has not always adopted the suggested policies. An example is the UK’s reluctance to reduce meat consumption, despite the CCC’s warnings that the government was not on track to meet its 2030 climate targets set before COP26 in Glasgow.

As a result of this noncompliance, the CCC’s progress assessments have become increasingly explicit, this evolution has made it easier for the public to judge the government’s response to the discrepancy between climate targets and the policies intended to achieve them.

Read the 2023 report.

© Lawrence Power 2024

How Businesses Can Align With The SDGs For Social Governance Success

Part Two of the “Power” Guide Trilogy

With escalating concerns regarding environmental degradation and social inequality, it has become imperative for corporations to prioritise Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within their social governance policies.

The question then arises for business leaders: how can you invest in these programmes to generate a positive impact?

Integrating SDG targets into corporate strategies can position your business and its employees as responsible global citizens, foster stronger relationships with stakeholders, and drive long-term success.

Social governance refers to the organisation of society to meet everyday needs and tackle shared problems, encompassing policymaking, regulation, service delivery, and participation. Investment in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals is essential for achieving sustainable social governance. These programmes address a broad range of issues, including health, education, gender equality, and climate action. They promote holistic and inclusive development that benefits both humanity and the planet – leading to positive outcomes for individuals and communities.

For example, improving access to affordable healthcare prevents health issues and reduces medical expenses for families, while advancing gender equality enables women to fully participate in society. In short, investing in SDG programmes is not only ethically sound but also economically sensible.

By aligning your business objectives and values with these global initiatives, you can significantly contribute to creating a more just and equitable world. Whether it’s promoting responsible consumption and production or diminishing inequality and poverty, businesses of every size play a pivotal role in making the SDGs a reality.

How to Create a Successful Social Governance Policy:

1. Identify the SDGs that align with your company’s values and purpose:

It’s critical to align your company’s ethos and mission with corresponding SDG goals. Doing so not only contributes to a brighter future but also enhances your brand’s reputation among customers, employees, and stakeholders. Whether the focus is on alleviating poverty, protecting the environment, or fostering equitable economic growth, such alignment provides clear direction for your corporate social responsibility initiatives and facilitates a lasting impact on society. Embracing SDGs that resonate with your company’s ambitions, unlocks new avenues for opportunities, partnerships, and business models that propel innovation and growth.

2. Set measurable targets for each SDG

Establishing and monitoring progress towards specific targets is vital to achieving sustainable development. While the goals outline a blueprint for a better world, businesses require concrete targets to ensure they are contributing effectively. It is important to remember that while the SDGs may seem daunting, incremental progress towards these objectives can make a substantial impact. With a clear set of targets, we can better ensure that every individual, community, and nation is on the path towards a more sustainable future.

3. Incorporate employee involvement and engagement

It is universally acknowledged that employee involvement and engagement are essential elements of organisational success. One effective way to incorporate this into your company policy is to actively seek employee feedback and include their opinions in the decision-making process. This ensures commitment and alignment with organisational objectives. This approach cultivates a sense of ownership and pride among staff.

4. Partner with organisations that support specific SDGs

Maximising profits while positively impacting people and the planet can be achieved through partnerships with NGOs or charities that support specific SDGs. Collaborating with an organisation dedicated to eradicating poverty or enhancing education allows your business to align with these goals and play a crucial role in creating a better world. These partnerships not only benefit society but also offer opportunities to tap into new markets, enhance brand reputation, and boost employee engagement.

In Conclusion

Investing in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is both a moral imperative and makes excellent business sense. Various ways to invest in SDG programmes range from funding innovators and startups addressing global challenges to partnering with established organisations focused on specific SDGs. Another way is through supply chain management and sustainable sourcing by choosing suppliers who adhere to sustainability standards. To conclude, investing in SDGs is more than just an ethical decision – it has the potential to yield dividends in multiple ways.

© Lawrence Power 2024

A 3-Minute “Power” Guide to the 17 Social Development Goals Working Towards Sustainable Business Operations

Is addressing social and environmental issues a top business priority for you?

Many consumers now demand that companies actively engage in social and environmental causes. This shift in behaviour has led to the rise of sustainable and socially responsible businesses. However, identifying the most impactful areas for social development can be challenging.

The United Nations’ (UN) social development framework offers guidance in this regard. It provides a structured approach to channelling our efforts towards a more equitable and sustainable world. Whitestone is an expert in offering advice on the adoption and implementation of these guidelines.

What Are The Social Development Goals (SDGs)?

The UN Social Development Goals consist of 17 objectives that aim to create a better world by 2030, irrespective of one’s background, circumstance, or location. Endorsed by all 191 member states, these goals are an essential tool for improving the lives of people across the globe – representing a globally agreed-upon framework for driving positive change in areas that impact everyone.

In short, we have a set of targets to bring the world’s attention to the most pressing global issues: poverty, inequality, and climate change.

These goals evolved from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of goals established in 2000 to address similar issues.

While the MDGs primarily targeted developing countries, the SDGs are universal and reflect a bigger, more integrated vision for our planet’s future. Since 2015, the SDGs have evolved to become more encompassing, increasingly focusing on peace, justice, and human rights.

Each SDG has specific targets and key performance indicators to measure progress, making it easier for governments, organisations, and individuals to monitor their contributions towards a more sustainable and equitable world. At their heart, these goals underscore the belief that through collaboration, commitment, and willingness to adapt, we can construct a better, more sustainable future.

Read more about The 17 Goals.

The Social & Environment Impact So Far…

While some countries have made remarkable strides, others struggle to make progress. One of the reasons for the uneven progress is that the SDGs are complex, and success requires cooperation across sectors and borders. The COVID-19 pandemic intensified these challenges, necessitating a reassessment of priorities and the development of new strategies to address global issues.

Countries like Denmark and Costa Rica are playing pivotal roles in the success of the SDGs. Denmark has become a leader in clean energy promotion, steadily reducing its reliance on fossil fuels, which sets an excellent example for other developed countries. Moreover, Costa Rica has advanced in environmental conversation and sustainability, achieving 100% renewable energy sources in just a few years! These nations serve as inspirations, proving impactful change is possible with political determination, strategic policymaking, and effective execution.

For example, Goal 3, which focuses on health and well-being, has enabled better maternal health services for women in Ghana. Another example is that a community in India can now irrigate their crops more effectively due to innovations in water management systems, in line with Goal 6, which focuses on clean water and sanitation.

What About Your Employer?

It is simple: companies must act now. Integrating the UN SDGs into business strategies is essential for addressing sustainability and climate change. This is where Whitestone’s expertise can be invaluable.

The UN goals call on businesses and organisations to contribute to a better world. Collaboration transcends political boundaries, as the shared goal of sustainable development benefits all. From the vast halls of the United Nations to remote villages, the power of collaborative efforts is evident in forming the SDGs and the actions taken by countries to achieve these goals.

Sustainable development is a continuous journey that must start now, requiring persistent effort to preserve our planet for present and future generations. We must reverse the history of exploitation, and this transformation begins with our collective actions, starting in our workplaces.

© Lawrence Power 2024

Google Earth’s Newest Feature: Time-Lapse Back 37 Years

Google Earth has recently added an exciting, new feature to its system that allows users to go back 37 years in time and have a look at how the Earth has changed. Debuting in April 2021, this is the biggest update that Google has added so far, and took more than two-million hours for computers to complete. The images collated essentially form one large video – and it is believed to be the biggest video the Earth has ever seen!

The equivalent of more than half a million 4K high-resolution videos, the new time-lapse feature enables users to go as far back as the 1980s. Considering the size of the project, Google would not have been able to complete the new feature without help from its space agency partners including NASA, the US Geological Survey’s Landsat Project and the EU’S Copernicus project. Unlike Google Maps which is more focused on transportation and getting people around, Google Earth is geared towards geology and exploring how the Earth’s landscape has changed over time. The time-lapse feature spans seven decades and shows the effects of climate change and human contribution to the Earth – it’s consequences and achievements alike. From the sprawling city of Dubai to the melting of glaciers, the new feature aims to raise awareness about climate change and could even become a tool in classrooms for students to interact with. In a statement about the feature’s ability to capture the effects of climate and environmental change, Google stated that, “”We have a clearer picture of our changing planet right at our fingertips – one that shows not just problems but also solutions, as well as mesmerisingly beautiful natural phenomena that unfold over decades.”[1]

The time-lapse feature is an impressive addition to Google’s renowned systems and houses a surprising amount of historical data. It comes at a time when climate change and environmental issues are starting to be taken more seriously and more companies veer towards a greener future.


Amazon – What do they say about you?

With Amazon’s profits more than tripling in the first three months of 2021, it is clear that the Covid-19 pandemic and its subsequent restrictions has led to an increase in reliance on orders from the online retailer. It is now, therefore, more important than ever to understand the data published for an Amazon account, and how this can be amended to suit privacy preferences.

Here is how you view the information published on your profile through a computer:

  • Log into your Amazon account.
  • Click ‘All’ on the menu bar.
  • Within ‘Help & Settings’ select ‘Your Account’.
  • From the list below ‘Ordering and Shopping Preferences’ select ‘Profile’.
  • You will now be on your own unique Amazon profile, where all the information published on your account will be displayed.

And here is how to view it on a mobile phone at :

  • Log into your Amazon account.
  • Click on the three lines in the top left corner.
  • Within ‘Help & Settings’ select ‘Account’.
  • Within personalization select “profile”.
  • You will now be on your own unique Amazon profile, where all the information published on your account will be displayed.

And now to edit your information:

  • Follow the above instructions to find your profile.
  • Click the orange box marked ‘Edit your public profile’.
  • On the page ‘Edit public profile’ you can change your public name, as well as optional details such as a bio, occupation, website, location, and links to any other social media accounts. All information on this page will be made public.
  • On the page ‘Edit privacy settings’ you can select whether other information including reviews, who you follow, any badges obtained, and active wish lists are to be made ‘Public’ or ‘Private’. If selected to be public, these details will appear within the ‘Insights’ table on your profile. There is also an option to ‘Hide all activity on your public profile’ if you seek complete privacy.

Amazon state on their website that this data is used to make shopping on Amazon more ‘convenient’ and their products ‘better’, adding that the protection of their customers’ privacy and the security of such data is a top priority for the company.

So go take a peek at what Amazon says about you.

Proactive ways to increase your productivity wherever you work

Even with schools opening, whether you work remotely or at the office the issue of productivity still lingers. It is one of the key skills employers look for; it directly correlates with high performance. Outside of work productivity can boost your self-esteem and make you feel satisfied with goals you have achieved. Maintaining a productive attitude from 9 to 5 seems draining and impossible but by implementing a few new habits you could see a change. From our research here are our top recommendations for increased productivity which include:

Start the day right

As soon as you wake up, set yourself a mini challenge. This could be anything from a gentle yoga flow to making your bed in the morning. It may seem small, but this little achievement will set the right tone for the day and inspire you to take on all the challenges ahead of you. You could even take a “moment out” before you start work to set your intentions for the day: what you hope to achieve, your goals and priorities. By starting on a positive note you will be more motivated to stick to future tasks and mini challenges will help test your productivity on a daily basis. Plus, you will now be ready to eat an amphibian!

Eat that frog

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Mark Twain’s infamous line has been given a modern redo with many interpreting the line to mean, “get the worst task done first.” It is easy to leave the challenging jobs last but by training yourself to push through and get them done first you are more likely to increase your productivity for the rest of the day. Productivity relies on prioritisation and if you are procrastinating at work this approach could be useful in helping you get the most important tasks done first. You are also more likely to feel energised and motivated after pushing yourself, thereby setting the right tone for the day.


Scientific evidence shows a direct link between stress and productivity; the more stressed you are, the less productive you will be. When we worry we tend to overthink and focus all our energy, both positive and negative, into our worrying. In turn this takes away from the tasks at hand. Stress is unavoidable but by identifying your triggers you will be better able to come up with viable solutions to keep it under wraps. Outside the workplace consider a relaxing hobby like yoga, Tai Chi or meditation to help you de-stress so you can feel more energised.

Good sleep and diet

It is a “no-brainer” but so few people actually put it into practice. Our physical state has a direct impact on our mental health and if you are always tired at work the last thing you feel like doing is being “productive.” Fuelling up on carbs and sugary foods will also cause a spike in energy with a slump later in the day making you even more lethargic. Without proper rest and a balanced diet you will be unfocused at work and the effort you put into tasks will likely be minimal. Challenges are hard enough, so give yourself a helping hand by improving your physical health. If stress is keeping you awake at night consider meditative practices like writing, drawing or yoga. Practice discipline when it comes to snacks and think about packing your own lunch; this way you will be less tempted by what is on offer at your local eatery.

Have a release (outside of work)

Be sure to give yourself regular breaks – in and out the office. Schedule time outside your workday to do something you love, or you risk burnout. It is important to challenge yourself and get the job done but carving out “me time” is just as needed. By taking time away from work you are more likely to return with a clearer, sharper mindset and might even have a fresh perspective on a project. With business we are required to focus on numbers and performance that we often forget about our own well being – and burnout is often the result of pushing too hard. You might think you are testing the limits or getting more work done but without regular breaks your productivity will eventually be sapped.

The evidence is:

Productivity enhances performance, making us feel motivated and more satisfied with the outcome of our tasks. By being more conscious of your procrastination triggers, health and priorities during the day, you will be one step closer to harnessing the full potential of this skill.

© Whitestone Chambers 2020

Beware Cookie Law

Websites that use cookies to track users and their interactions will have to pay close attention to the recent case of Bundesverband der Verbraucherzentralen und Verbraucherverbände — Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband eV (the ‘Federation’) v Planet49 GmbH (‘Planet49’) Case C‑673/17, 1 October 2019, which clarifies the indication the user must provide as to their consent to the use of cookies.

Planet49 organised a promotional lottery accessed via a website. If users wished to take part in this competition, users were required to enter personal details such as their name and postcode on the website. The user was also presented with two boxes to check. The first box one was unchecked and required the user to check it to enter the competition, this would also allow certain sponsors and corporate partners to contact the user. The second box was pre-checked and if this approval were not removed it would allow multichannel retargeting company Remintrex to evaluate the user’s use and behaviour through the use of cookies.

With reference to EU Directives 95/46 and 2002/58, the court was asked to provide a preliminary ruling as to whether “the consent referred to in those provisions is validly constituted if, in the form of cookies, the storage of information or access to information already stored in a website user’s terminal equipment is permitted by way of a pre-checked checkbox which the user must deselect to refuse his or her consent”. Additionally, the court was asked to consider EU Regulation 2016/679, (the ‘GDPR’), on a ratione temporis basis, as the German Court previously stated that it may be applicable to the main proceedings.

Recital 17 of Directive 2002/58, provides examples of a user’s consent being validly given, for example, ‘by ticking a box when visiting an internet website’. EU Directive 95/46 Article 2(h) then specifies the user’s consent as ‘any freely given specific and informed indication of his wishes, and as per Article 7, the consent must be given unambiguously.’ In this instance the court determined that “only active behaviour on the part of the data subject with a view to giving his or her consent may fulfil that requirement.” After the entering into force of the GDPR, the data subject’s consent has been defined further in Article 6(1)(a) as requiring a ‘freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous” indication of the subject’s consent, and Recital 32 precludes “silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity” from constituting consent.

As a result of the court’s ruling, a website using a pre-checked box to act as consent to the use of cookies on the user’s terminal before 25 May 2018 would be in breach of EU Directive 95/46; as of 25 May 2018, Directive 95/46 has been repealed and replaced by the GDPR meaning that any breach after this date would be a breach of the GDPR rather than the Directive.

Interestingly, what the court was not asked to give an opinion on was whether the user’s consent was ‘freely given’ as set out by Article 2(h) of EU Directive 95/46, and Articles 4(11) and 6(1)(a) of the GDPR. The very important question still remains as to whether consent is freely given if the user must allow the use of cookies to enter the competition, or in a wider context, to enter a website.

© 2019 Whitestone Chambers

Lawfulness of bulk hacking powers under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016

This article was first published on Lexis®PSL Corporate Crime on 20 August 2019. Click for a free trial of Lexis®PSL.

Corporate Crime analysis: Adam Richardson, barrister at Whitestone Chambers, considers the most recent judicial review challenge brought by Liberty concerning the lawfulness of the bulk hacking powers under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA 2016).

R (on the application of National Council for Civil Liberties (Liberty)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and another (National Union of Journalists intervening) [2019] EWHC 2057 (Admin), [2019] All ER (D) 02 (Aug)

What are the practical implications of this case?

As the claimants effectively lost the case, the existing regime vis-a-vis IPA 2016 still stands—arguably even more firmly than before. As such, there will be no new practical implications to consider other than those already created by IPA 2016. The largest concern for lawyers has to be the effect on legal professional privilege (LPP). Ever since the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA 2000), there has been a question of a surveillance authority legally acquiring information that is the subject of LPP. This goes against years of convention protecting privilege, however RIPA 2000 remained silent on the topic. When IPA 2016 was first drafted, the Bar Council raised explicit concerns about the erosion of LPP through either a failure to distinguish between privileged and non-privileged communications (as a result of bulk hacking) or the power given to authorities to monitor ‘sensitive, highly confidential communications that have nothing to with criminality, national security or threats to individuals’.

The government listened and added a few additional safeguards for privileged information. A warrant would be required to be issued for the interception and review of information that is subject to LPP. The authority issuing the warrant must have regard to the ‘public interest in the confidentiality of items that are subject to legal privilege’. Further, IPA 2016 also requires public interest, necessity and prevention of death, or serious injury conditions to be satisfied before such a warrant can be issued.

Needless to say, this is a very high bar. There can be no getting around that as a result of bulk hacking, privileged information will be intercepted if only through inadvertence. Given the number of practical and operational issues raised by the claimant in the case, this should be concerning at best.

The claimants have made clear they intend to appeal this, and it may end up in the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) where there may well be a different view taken, so, until all appeals are exhausted on this matter, no position is settled.

What was the background?

The High Court’s judgment in Liberty, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Another is the second iteration of the issues raised on this claim. See R (on the application of the National Council for Civil Liberties (Liberty)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and another [2018] EWHC 975 (Admin), [2018] 3 WLR 1435, , [2018] All ER (D) 129 (Apr), where the court gave judgment on the first part of the claimant’s challenge to IPA 2016. That challenge was brought under EU law. It only concerned IPA 2016, Pt 4 (regarding powers to require the retention of ‘communications data’), as this part had just been brought into force. The court found in that judgment that IPA 2016, Pt 4 was incompatible with human rights law and gave the government until 1 November 2018 to redraft it, which it duly did.

In the instant judgment, the court was concerned with the second part of the claimant’s challenge, which arises under the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998). This challenge concerns various other parts of IPA 2016, which have now been brought into force on various dates.

The claimant challenged four different sets of provisions in IPA 2016. What they all have in common is that they concern bulk powers, rather than powers which are directed at any particular individual who may be a potential subject of interest (sometimes called targeted surveillance). The relevant provisions are as follows:

  • IPA 2016, Pt 6, Ch 1—which relates to bulk interception warrants
  • IPA 2016, Pt 6, Ch 3, and IPA 2016, Pt 5—these concern warrants for bulk and thematic equipment interference. The claimant has described this in its submissions as ‘hacking’
  • IPA 2016, Pt 7, which relates to warrants for bulk personal datasets (BPD)
  • IPA 2016, Pt 6, Ch 2, and IPA 2016, Pt 3–4—respectively warrants for bulk acquisition of communications data and retention notices for, and acquisition of, communications data. Communications data is not the content of communications but other matters such as where, when and who

The only remedy which the claimant sought was a declaration of incompatibility under HRA 1998, s 4.

A very simplistic summary of the claimant’s case is that the minimum safeguards established by the ECHR for secret surveillance regime were not met. As not all human rights are absolute, certain breaches may only take place where they are in accordance with law or necessary for a democratic society. The claimant submitted the measures in IPA 2016 were neither necessary nor proportionate.

What did the court decide?

The court went to great pains in this judgment to be as comprehensive as possible. The judgment itself is almost 400 paragraphs long (excluding accompanying legislation) and gives an incredibly detailed overview of the law. While the claimant was able to bring to light shocking examples of government data use, including data being lost in ungoverned spaces without the necessary controls, among others, the court still found that IPA 2016 was not incompatible with HRA 1998. Among the extensive reasoning is that the mechanisms for oversight within the legislation itself, such as the establishment of the office of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner (to conduct independent oversight of spy agencies’ use of the powers), provide sufficient checks on the risk of abuse. The court dubbed the regime as ‘a suite of interlocking safeguards’.

The court spoke specifically of Parliament’s consideration for the fears about abuse expressed by the claimant but noted they chose to address those in IPA 2016 through those various interlocking safeguards mentioned.

Interviewed by Alex Heshmaty.

Does Social Media = Jail Time?

Fraudulent litigants be warned!

Have you been entirely truthful? If not, you may fall foul to your own Social Media history!

The recent Court of Appeal judgment in Zurich Insurance PLC v David Romaine, [2019] EWCA Civ 851 (CA), makes it clear that committal proceedings can be brought against a litigant whose Social Media activity, in this case a Facebook account, reveals dishonesty.

The claimant issued personal injury proceedings against his former employer for noise induced hearing loss relying on a medical report which stated that he; ‘had not had any noisy hobbies’. The appellant solicitors commissioned an ‘intelligence report’, in which the claimants Social Media history was inspected, revealing that he was a motorbike enthusiast and performed in a live rock band. This was served. Tactically, the claimant discontinued his claim and the appellant issued committal proceedings. At first instance Goose J found that despite a contempt, it was not in the public interest for proceedings to be brought in circumstances of discontinuance at an early stage and dismissed the appellant’s application. The matter went on appeal, consequently the Court of Appeal granted permission for committal proceedings to be brought.

LJ Haddon-Cave stated; “a message needs to go out to those who might be tempted to bring – or lend their names to – fraudulent claims: that dishonest claimants cannot avoid being liable to committal proceedings merely by discontinuing their original fraudulent claim”.

It is now clearer than ever that:
• Electronic evidence is and will become vital in cases, to establish the merit of a litigant’s case. The inspection of such, ought to be an additional step for legal professionals and will become key part of the preparation process for litigation.

• Over the past decade Social Media has changed how we communicate and share information about ourselves and our lives. It is a treasure trove of evidence in the public domain. This is easily accessible and not exempt from the eye of the law. Any assertion in evidence and conduct of parties, can be proven or unproven by gathering evidence from Social Media platforms to form an ‘intelligence report’, which in light of this recent judgment, will most likely become commonplace.

• Discontinuance under part 38, cannot be used by a claimant as a tactic to ‘wind up’ a claim, without adverse repercussions, in circumstances where there is clear evidence of untruths, particularly, from social media posts and in response to part 18 questions or in their witness statements.

• Committal proceedings should be considered in cases of fraudulent conduct.

© 2019 Whitestone Chambers