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Last Updated: Friday, 25 February, 2005, 16:26 GMT
Prevention of terrorism debate
BBC Radio 4's Law in Action was broadcast on Friday, 25 February, 2005 at 1600 GMT.

Terror laws

You would have to have been under house arrest and denied access to phone, TV and internet to have missed the furore over the government's new Prevention of Terrorism Bill.

Armed police officer in London
There are fears London could be targeted as the general election approaches

Opposition MPs are angry that only two days will be allowed to debate the bill covering the highly controversial new control orders. These would replace detention without trial with a form of house arrest without trial.

But why does the bill have to be rushed through so quickly? And why was the Home Office minister, Hazel Blears, so reluctant to answer a straight question about the government's plans when she was interviewed on this Tuesday's Newsnight?

Professor Conor Gearty of the London School of Economics explained the situation.

Royal wedding

So it's all sorted. The wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles can go ahead. All legal objections have been removed. We know this because the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, told us so.

If only life - and the law - were that simple.

Here's the background:

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles
The wedding is due to take place on Friday, 8 April, at Windsor Guildhall

The 1836 Marriage Act, which established civil weddings, specifically excluded the royal family. However, Lord Falconer says the 1949 Marriage Act superseded the 1836 Act and allowed the Royal Family the right to a civil wedding.

But last week we heard from Professor Stephen Cretney, who argued that the 1949 Act was only a consolidating act - one which simply draws together existing legislation, without changing it.


And now, to add to the confusion, someone has actually lodged an objection to the marriage.

So we tried to find out what is really going to happen next with registrar, Mark Rimmer, and Professor Aileen McColgan of King's College London.

American tort reform

President Bush arrived in Europe this week and speedily set about the task of winning friends and building bridges.

The spring in his step may have been put there by a major legislative victory at home. The House of Representatives has passed a bill that limits awards in medical malpractice cases to $250,000 in "non-economic" damages - that's damages for pain and suffering, to you and me.

It is difficult to underestimate the size and seriousness of America's concern with the cost of its tort law system. That is the system that governs things like personal injury and medical malpractice claims.

A recent report calculated that in 2003 the system cost a mind-blowing $246bn, that's $845 for each person in the US.

We talk to people on both sides of the debate - Dr John Nelson, President of the pro-reform American Medical Association, and Professor Michael Rustad, a leading critic of tort reform.

Sexuality discrimination

On Friday an employment tribunal began hearing the case of a highly-paid former vice president at Deutsche Bank.

Sid Saeed is taking the bank to court using new sexuality discrimination laws that protect against harassment and unfavourable treatment.

But men and women in his situation did not used to be able to bring claims of this kind, so what has changed? And how significant is his case? We asked barrister Ulele Burnham.

Law in Action


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