If you figured the British Medical Journal would take the side of individual liberty against the nanny state, you might soon be fated to miss the point.
“For roughly 200 years, trial transcripts were popular, if not the favorite, reading material in the English-speaking world — especially in Britain.” Theodore Dalrymple recounts high points from “the 83 volumes of Notable British Trials, which are as complete a compendium of human nature as has ever appeared.” [City Journal]
In what is believed to be the highest such award in the United Kingdom, MS Globenet Ltd. has been ordered to pay £70,000 [US $93,000] after being “found to be involved in 20 cases related to a major fraud ring, operating primarily in north London between 2012 and 2014.” An insurance company brought suit for “tort of deceit” and a judge found that the alleged accidents were fraudulent and that a director of the accident services firm “had been knowingly complicit in the fraud.” [Neil Rose, Litigation Futures; Insurance Times]
Protected geographical designation laws, which prevent the sale in some countries of articles like Champagne or Gouda cheese unless produced in the indicated locality, are sometimes defended as advancing consumers’ interest in fraud prevention or accuracy in labeling; it is also suspected that they can serve to curtail competition and protect incumbents even when no genuinely distinctive local contributions are at issue of soil, technique, etc. In 2000, Newcastle Breweries and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, obtained a designation on Newcastle Brown Ale, a popular product dating back to 1927, to prevent it from being sold unless manufactured in the city. That didn’t work out so well when the brewery moved to nearby Gateshead four years later. Dan Lewis, Now I Know:
EU regulators took notice and weren’t as forgiving as the brewers would have hoped. The owners of the Newcastle Brown Ale brand had two obvious choices: move back across the Tyne or change the name of the product. Neither was a good option, so the brewery decided to do something new: they applied to have the registration canceled. And as seen in this pdf, they were successful. In August 2007, the EU revoked Newcastle Brown Ale’s PGI status, allowing it to be made across the river — or anywhere else.
Today, Newcastle Brown Ale is made in neither Newcastle nor Gateshead. Heineken, which bought the Newcastle’s brewers in 2008, has since relocated operations to Amsterdam.
- “Prosecutors say use of condoms manufactured outside state made sex crime a federal offense” [ABA Journal]
- Philadelphia family court judge, much criticized in course of appellate review, now subject of probe by state Judicial Conduct Board [Samantha Melamed, Philly.com]
- Check out illustration: would you be likely to confuse cartoon beaver with cartoon alligator? Texas jury in trademark dispute thinks you would [Lowering the Bar]
- Panels at Federalist Society’s annual Executive Branch Review Conference tackle disparate impact, litigation and regulatory reform, and civil service reform, including participants like Gail Heriot, Roger Clegg, Stuart Taylor, Jr, and Philip K. Howard;
- British restrictions on trial reporting wrongly infringe on liberty of press, but at core of Tommy Robinson affair is old-fashioned contempt of court [Daniel Hannan, Washington Examiner]
- Animal Legal Defense Fund argues animals should have standing to sue persons who abuse them, opening many new employment opportunities for lawyers at places like ALDF [KATU; related, recent Ninth Circuit monkey-selfie ruling]
British law gives more of a share in decision-making about children’s lives to the state, and less to the parents, than is typical in American law. I like American law better. [Damian Thompson, The Spectator]
A reader recommends this piece by barrister Matthew Scott in Quillette defending the British authorities’ actions. While it fills in much useful detail, I’m not at all persuaded on the central issue of whether it was proper for British law in 1989 to oust parental rights from areas in which they had been long respected, all in the name of the best interests of the child as discerned by courts, experts, and the state. In my first book, The Litigation Explosion, I argued against the specious attractions of a best-interest-of-the-child standard in the child custody modification context, pointing out that to upset an existing decree of custody it should be needful to allege something stronger than that the child would be marginally better off with a switch, or that the case for a switch was supported by marginally better expert avowals than the case for leaving custody where it was. Instead, presumptions of stability and family integrity should be respected, to be overcome only by a strong showing of likely substantial harm from not switching. Likewise, the presumption that parents are the ones to direct their infant children’s medical care should be a strong one, rebuttable to be sure in some cases of wretched or misguided parental errancy, but not simply by rhetorical flourishes, even when embodied in law, about how the best interests of the child must conquer all and we determine what those are.
For examples of the narrower scope of parental rights in the United Kingdom and its subdivisions, see this 2015 story (parents warned they may be reported for neglect if they allow under-18s to play adult-themed videogames such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto); this from 2009 (seven children seized from obese couple in Scotland; but note American trends too); and the Scottish Named Persons scheme. More on expertise and best-interests-of-the-child standards: Megan McArdle, Jim Geraghty.
- Outcry among British doctors after trainee pediatrician convicted of negligent homicide in death of patient following systemic errors at understaffed hospital [Telegraph, Saurabh Jha, Medscape, General Medical Council]
- “There’s no particular reason to think that smokers will be happier with denatured tobacco than drinkers have been with weak beer.” [J.D. Tuccille on FDA plans to reduce nicotine level in cigarettes]
- “Why Doesn’t the Surgeon General Seek FDA Reclassification of Naloxone to OTC?” [Jeffrey Singer, Cato]
- “1 in 3 physicians has been sued; by age 55, 1 in 2 hit with suit” [Kevin B. O’Reilly, AMA Wire] “Best and worst states for doctors” [John S Kiernan, WalletHub]
- “Soon came a ‘routine’ urine drug test, ostensibly to ensure she didn’t abuse the powerful drug. A year later, she got the bill for that test. It was $17,850.” [Beth Mole, ArsTechnica]
- Milkshakes could be next as sugar-tax Tories in Britain pursue the logic of joylessness [Andrew Stuttaford, National Review]
Noting that Britain’s 2006 Noise at Work Regulations “recognize no distinction as between a factory and an opera house,” a British judge has approved the claim of a violist for the Royal Opera House Covent Garden who says he suffered hearing loss from the loudness of the close-by brass section during a rehearsal of Die Walküre, part of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Damages are yet to be determined; he is seeking £750,000. [Mark Savage, BBC] The opera house argued that it had gone as far as a reasonable employer to reduce the risks of loudness, including issuing ear protection which he was using, and that his condition “had in fact been the result of his coincidentally developing Meniere’s disease at around the same time.” [Damien Gayle, Guardian] Earlier on the United Kingdom regulations on sound in the workplace here (police dogs’ barking, with links to many other posts), etc., and related here and here on European orchestra noise regs.
- Burdensome though it is in other ways, HIPAA does not create a private right of action, so no big-ticket damage suits. Connecticut high court rides to rescue by creating new tort for breach of medical confidentiality [Steven Boranian, Drug and Device Law]
- Details of cases aside, once again, should federal law really be requiring healthcare employers to grant religious exemptions to staff unwilling to undergo flu vaccination? [Department of Justice press release on suit against Ozaukee County, Wisconsin; earlier on EEOC settlement against North Carolina hospital]
- First Amendment should come into play when FDA bans drug providers from making truthful statements about their therapies [Henry Miller and Gregory Conko, Reason] And a Cato panel discussion on FDA regulation of speech with former Vascular Solutions CEO Howard Root (author of “Cardiac Arrest”), Christina Sandefur of the Goldwater Institute, and Jessica Flanigan of the University of Richmond, moderated by Cato’s Michael Cannon;
- “Uberizing Nonemergency Medical Transportation” [Ann Marie Marciarille, Prawfsblawg]
- “Protecting Reasonable Physician Choice in Medical Product Cases” [Luther Munford, Drug and Device Law]
- Britain’s National Health Service lurches toward crisis in negligence payouts [BBC, Paul Goldsmith, Centre for Policy Studies]
Public Health England “is ‘demanding’ a calorie-cap on supermarket ready meals that would limit breakfasts to 400 calories and lunches and dinners to 600 calories each.” That’s among numerous nanny-state initiatives under way in the United Kingdom, including stringent guidelines on individual drinking and the introduction of a sugary drinks tax. Madsen Pirie, Adam Smith Institute:
It is not really government’s job to make people feel miserable, and it is certainly no business of theirs to legislate what people may or may not eat. The fact that the recommended limits are so low is justified by officials on the grounds that people will always exceed recommendations, so ultra-low ones will make them exceed to tolerable rather than intolerable levels. The problem with this approach is that the ultra-low targets simply discredit the whole process of recommendation. …
There is a very good case for proposing that government should stop doing this altogether. There is plenty of good medical advice that people can read in the press, and most people are aware of the ancient dictum, “Nothing to excess.” Most of us, I suspect, would like to indulge ourselves occasionally without having official bullies making us feel bad about doing so.