The OFT urged universities to reconsider rules which prevent students from graduating or enrolling onto the next academic year if they owe debts such as library fines, university accommodation costs or childcare services. They warned that the blanket use of academic sanctions for even very small debts is contrary to consumer protection law.

Policy Exchange, the right-leaning thinktank behind initiatives such as the introduction of police and crime commissioners, issued a report (‘Future Courts’) recommending court closures and arguing that magistrates should sit inside police stations to dispense on-the-spot justice instead. In support of the theme of encouraging haste in the criminal justice system the author of the report said:

“There is no good reason for our criminal justice system to operate in such a leisurely fashion. Police courts would mean much swifter justice for low-level crime, reflecting the fact that if a punishment is to be meaningful and actually change behaviour, it has to be delivered very quickly.”

The report also suggested recruiting 10,000 new magistrates to meet this objective.

Iain Duncan Smith announced new benefits rules, which will apply from March. European migrants will have to earn £150 a week for three months in order to qualify for ‘worker’ status before they can access many benefits. The European Commission has already indicated that the new conditions almost certainly breach EU law. In other DWP news a leaked departmental document indicated that people whose benefits have been removed could be charged by the government for trying to appeal the decision.

100 new silks were announced, and the QC Appointments organisation highlighted the greater diversity in this year’s round compared to the 2012-13 competition. Out of the 100 successful applicants 18 were women, 13 declared an ethnic origin other than white, five declared a disability, and 11 were aged over 50. The youngest successful applicant was 36 and the oldest 68.

Defra and the Environment Agency announced strategies for ending the use of landfills for hazardous wastes over the next two years. Both institutions are consulting on the plan to remove derogations for hazardous waste three times the EU waste acceptance criteria from permits for landfills.

The High Court asked the Home Secretary to reconsider her ‘legally flawed’ decision to deport a former British army soldier to Botswana, despite having only a speeding offence in Poloko Hiri v SSHD [2014] EWHC 254. The applicant also feared prosecution in Botswana, where it is a criminal offence to serve in the armed forces of another country.