Happy New Year! The Hilary Term, which starts today and runs until Wednesday 27 March 2013, will see the Justices consider 21 matters on subjects ranging from the Irish offence of “unlawful carnal knowledge”, to nitrogen dioxide levels in the air, to the limits of an exemption to protection from harassment. Here are some of the cases to watch out for in the coming weeks:

Public Relations Consultants Association Ltd v The Newspaper Licencing Agency Ltd (11 – 12 February 2013): Online news service Meltwater News trawls newspaper websites for articles containing search terms its users have provided. The Newspaper Licencing Agency seeks a declaration that members of the appellant association require a licence in order to lawfully use the service. The scope of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, s 28A will be tested; namely whether the copies created when a web page is accessed are exempt from copyright protection under the temporary copies exemption contained in the Act.

The President of the Methodist Conference v Preston (13 – 14 February 2013): This Valentine’s Day the Supreme Court will consider whether or not Methodist Ministers are employees. The respondent, an ordained Minister, commenced proceedings for unfair constructive dismissal. Her claim raised the preliminary issue of whether or not she was an employee of the Methodist Church under the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Ministry of Defence v Smith & Ors (18 – 21 February 2013): Relatives of service personnel killed in action overseas are appealing against the Court of Appeal’s decision to strike out some of their claims against the Ministry of Defence. The claims brought under the Human Rights Act 1998 failed on grounds of jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court’s ruling will lay out the extent to which soldiers have the ECHR, art 2 “right to life” during active combat.

BNY Corporate Trustee Services Ltd & Ors v Neuberger Berman Europe & Ors (25 – 26 February 2012): This matter will clarify the Insolvency Act 1986, s 123(2) – whether a company is to be deemed “unable to pay its debts” by reason of the fact that its liabilities exceed its assets, or whether a further test is required.

Uprichard v Scottish Ministers & Anor (5 – 6 March 2013): This Scottish case concerns a challenge to the strategic land use plan for Fife. The appellant’s contention is that the scale of the proposed development would significantly damage the landscape setting of St. Andrews. The inevitable devolution issue is whether the Scottish Ministers were acting ultra vires in approving part of the finalised Fife Structure Plan 2006.

Prest v Prest (5 – 6 March 2013): The Court of Appeal stated that this was a “truly extraordinary case, even within the breadth and depth of Family Division bounds”. The matter concerns “piercing the corporate veil” in divorce settlements. The fundamental issue for the Supreme Court to consider is whether courts have the jurisdiction in financial remedy proceedings to make orders directly against assets belonging to companies owned by the parties. This case will test whether courts can prevent divorcees locking their assets down into companies.

The full timetable for the Hilary Term is available here.