G(e)nomes and trolls – DNA sequencing and risk

2017 was intended to be a landmark year for the development of ‘genomic services’ – a term coined by the Department for Health in 2012 when it launched the Genomes project. Whilst this year’s initial deadline has passed and been pushed back to 2018, all signs are still pointing towards DNA sequencing being the next big revolution in healthcare advances, with the intention of sequencing 100,000 genomes from NHS patients.

In the early noughties, scientists were hard at work developing the publication of the first complete genome in an effort to provide a DNA bible by which future medicine would abide. However, in 2017 DNA sequencing is now making itself uncompromisingly known in the daily lives of healthcare practitioners in some of the most important fields of treatment.

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Brexit: the return of the Italian Torpedo

The letter to be delivered on Wednesday to the European Commission will have the most profound consequences for this country: your own view as to whether this will be for good or ill will probably reflect your position as a Remoaner or a Brexiteer. What is however certain is that whether the UK’s Article 50 letter is brief and to the point or rather longer as a positioning paper, the devil will rest in the detail of the subsequent negotiations of how Britain and Europe untangle 43 years of EU Law and jurisprudence. The knottiness of the problem is illustrated by a report (in fact merely the 17th report of the session) published by the House of Lords EU Committee which considers some of the access to justice issues that are entangled with Brexit.

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Legislation for automated driving

The 2016 Queen’s Speech included a “Modern Transport Bill” which was intended to set out the compulsory arrangements for insuring automated driving on UK roads. This title has been shelved and today the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill was introduced in Parliament to address this issue.

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Can your voice reveal an illness?

With Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot speaker systems amongst the most popular gifts under the Christmas tree last month, speech recognition and voice control has taken a big step closer to becoming mainstream. What would have appeared cutting edge technology only a few short years ago is now available to households everywhere, at consumer prices.  We can now control our homes using our voices.  Feeling a bit cold?  Ask Alexa to turn up the heating.  Shuffle your music, set an alarm, order groceries or consult the internet.  We can do all of this and more with our voices and now it seems that our voices can also help in diagnosing our symptoms and reveal if we have an illness.

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Legal tech, lemonade & a claims world record

The story of Lemonade’s “world record” three second claim caused me to reflect on a number of ‘legaltech’ issues that flickered across my screen in the last month or so. Firstly the launch of the ‘smart Will’ by Legacy: downloadable to your smartphone for £5 per month. Legally irrelevant without the hard copy and ‘wet’ signature duly witnessed and expensive to boot where an old fashioned (effective) will can be obtained for just a few months’ worth of fees. But that said it does show where the law may be struggling to keep up with the virtual world. An e-probate that supplied the password to your next of kin for your vast Apple iTunes library of content would get around the “virtual” problem that was worrying Bruce Willis in 2012.

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Autonomous driving: Government response

There is huge public interest in the issue of driverless cars with Rory Ceglan-Jones reporting from the driving seat of a BMW at the CES Tech Show in Los Angeles on BBC News last week. The huge investment of not only the traditional manufacturers but also the “tech” companies demands a regulatory response at several levels and the UK Government (with DfT leading) has been at the forefront of recognising the need to change, the opportunities of a safer motor environment and the economic opportunities that arise from encouraging the adoption of the technology.

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Brexit means … buzzword bingo?

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Minister of State, David Jones managed to cram in at least seven Brexit buzz phrases, highlighted in bold below, in a written reply on 1 December to a recent Parliamentary question about whether the Government would ensure that transitional arrangements are in place before the UK leaves the European Union.

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Brexit: the grand repeal of EU law?

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Wakefield MP Mary Creagh tabled broadly the same question to all major Government Departments last week, asking what proportion of existing EU legislation within each Department’s remit could not immediately be brought into UK law when the UK leaves the EU?

Unsurprisingly, she got very similar answers from the various Departments. This from the Ministry of Defence yesterday (30 November) is typical:

The Government will bring forward legislation in the next session that, when enacted, will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and ensure a functioning statute book on the day we leave the European Union. This ‘Great Repeal Bill’ will end the authority of EU law and return power to the United Kingdom. The Bill will convert existing EU law into domestic law, wherever practical and in that context all relevant legislation is currently being identified and assessed.

Does this seemingly bland response tell us anything about the Government’s plans for Brexit? Continue reading

Brexit – the proliferation of Parliamentary Select Committee enquiries into the impact

The Institute for Government reports that Commons Select Committees have already launched over 18 separate inquiries into the effect of Brexit, alongside a further 13 underway in the House of Lords – and all of this before the new Exiting the European Union Select Committee (DExEU Committee) begins its work. Some of these inquiries are listed at the end of this blog but the body this piece looks at those launched by the Justice Select Committee and the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

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