David Walbank KC addresses questions of ethical and social policy

April 21, 2023

David Walbank KC, in his New Law Journal articles published on 24 March and 7 April, addressed ‘sensitive and controversial questions of ethical and social policy’.

Prusianu v Braila Court of Law [2022] HRLR 19 arose from the ongoing debate about the incarceration of transgender females in women’s prisons, whilst Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Northern Ireland) Bill [2023] 2 WLR 33 concerned women’s right to attend abortion clinics without their personal autonomy being challenged or diminished.

In the first of these cases, the Administrative Court was presented with evidence of an obvious protection gap in the assurances which the UK government had received regarding the treatment of transgender women within the Romanian penal system. Specifically, although the Romanian authorities did provide protection for vulnerable prisoners, the regime included a 21-day quarantine period during which the appellant would be at real risk of being placed in a men’s prison. There was also evidence before the court that the prison authorities in Romania would treat the appellant as a gay man instead of a transgender woman, ostensibly breaching the requirement under Art 8, ECHR to respect the appellant’s gender identity.

In the second of these cases, the Supreme Court observed that a legal system which enabled those who had lost a political debate then to undermine the resulting legislation (by relying on freedom of conscience, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly) would in practice align the law with the values of the opponents of reform and deprive women of the protection of rights which had been legislatively enacted.

David Walbank KC specialises in the trial of white-collar crime. He is also the founder of www.crimecast.law, on which he presents regular video reviews of recent cases. To read his two most recent Crime Brief articles in full, click here [Abortion Services article] [Prusianu article].