legislation

First-class vs economy-class access to the law: what the US Supreme Court says

A new decision from the US Supreme Court has a strong message for other courts, lawyers and everyone who works with court documents and with legislation, annotated or otherwise. The judgment restates the principle that no-one may claim copyright on decisions of the courts because the law belongs to 'the people' who have a right to know its content. But the judgment goes further and holds that government-commissioned annotations, like headnotes made on legislation, are also not subject to copyright.

Read judgment

It is a principle that some jurisdictions still can’t quite accept: that decisions written by judges don’t belong to the judges who authored them, or to the Chief Justice, or to the government of the country where the judge lives. No, these decisions belong to ‘the people’, and ‘the people’ must have access to these judgments. Otherwise, how will people know what the courts have said, and thus what the law is that they must obey?

Fix laws or face huge damages claims – judge warns Malawi lawmakers on the state of Covid-19 disaster legislation

In a long and highly unusual judgment, a judge of Malawi’s high court has shown that the country’s legislation is completely unprepared to manage the coronavirus pandemic, and without the appropriate regulations or, in some cases, even appropriate laws. The judge made these findings in a case that concerned 10 Chinese nationals visiting the country. In a series of steps by officials of Malawi’s immigration and citizenship services some were deported, while the remaining four are still in Malawi although attempts were made to send them back to China.

Read judgment

The decision delivered by Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda in this case is long, dense and in parts highly unusual in style.

In view of the significance of the judgment, for Malawi and other countries needing to make regulations to manage the coronavirus pandemic, this discussion of the judgment is longer than usual. It is divided into three parts:

1. The story of the Chinese visitors and initial argument in the case they have brought

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