Sunday, 26 July 2015


Gove and the Govt are thinking about putting Court and Tribunal fees up again.  Indeed they are thinking of introducing fees where currently there are none:

For example:

  • The general fee cap of £10,000, rising to £20,000 (but not for PI)
  • A general 10% uplift on civil fees all round.
  • Civil possession claim from £280 to £355.  As most of those are brought by local authorities and social housing providers, the flow of cash would be a little circular.
  • General Part 23 Applications - from £50 to £100 if without notice and from £155 to £255 otherwise.
  • Divorce is going up from £410 to £750; why not profit from those going through one of the worst periods of their life.
  • Want to appeal to the C of A, was £235, went up to £480, in future - £528??
  • Want a hearing in the Immigration Chamber of the FTT?  £280 up from £140.
  • Want to challenge your landlord in the Leasehold bit of the FTT?  £2,000 for hearing, currently nil!
  • Want to challenge an FOI refusal from HMG in the FTT - currently free, in future £500!
  • Don't like a HMRC decision, want to appeal to the Tax Chamber of the FTT -  all currently free - fees to be introduced, up to £1000?
Thinking that all of that is a bit of a step too far....

Respond to the consultation here - 

Friday, 17 July 2015

Gove consulting on closing Bow, Lambeth, Hammersmith and Woolwich "County Courts"

A judge once told me that Bow County Court (as it was then, now - The County Court sitting at Bow (which makes no sense because it doesn't - its sits just outside Stratford...)) was the busiest civil court in Europe.  Which did not surprise me as when I used to go there regularly it was standing room only.  Probably being located in a very deprived area and having both a civil and family jurisdiction (which may well now have been hived off to the new Family Court sitting in Canary Wharf) is what did the trick.  If it were both a possession day and a family day, then it was also a total chaos, waiting around til 6pm to be seen by a stressed judge, day. MoJ want to close it and move everything to Clerkenwell and Shoreditch at Gee St (itself an amalgamation of some historic county courts.....)   Good luck C & S (and B?)....they'll be standing in the aisles and hanging from the roof on possession day..............

Lambeth is usually also about as busy as it gets and it covers a massive part of South London not
otherwise covered by Bromley, Wandsworth which is where its work is going...... and errr Woolwich, which is also being consulted upon for closure and transfer of its work to Bromley.  

Hammersmith is also up for closure with its work also going to Wandsworth to make way for Feltham Mags which is to be squeezed into Hammersmith Mags which is where Hammersmith Cty Ct is currently co-located (after its West Kensignton West London CC much loved foreunner was abolished.)  

Woolwich's work is to be packed off to Bromley (which is err, not local to Woolwich.....especially given its catchment runs into Dartford's)

Good bye to more of my favourite once daily forensic hunting grounds and perhaps more importantly, good bye to local judges dispensing local justice to the locals who did not have far to go.....

Check out the paper - it proposes the following closures, your favourites/essential local justice provider may on the list and you might want to object/protest:

London Bow County Court Feltham Magistrates’ Court Greenwich Magistrates’ Court Hammersmith County Court (formerly West London County Court) Lambeth County Court Pocock Street Tribunal Hearing Centre Richmond-upon-Thames Magistrates’ Court Tottenham Magistrates’ Court Waltham Forest Magistrates’ Court Woolwich County Court Midlands Birmingham Youth Court Burton-upon-Trent Magistrates’ Court Buxton Magistrates’ and County Court Corby Magistrates’ Court Grantham Magistrates’ Court 15 Hinckley Magistrates’ Court Kettering County Court Kettering Magistrates’ Court Sandwell Magistrates’ Court Shrewsbury Magistrates’ Court Skegness Magistrates’ Court Solihull Magistrates’ Court Stafford Magistrates’ Court Worksop Magistrates’ Court North East Consett Magistrates’ Court Halifax County Court and Family Court Halifax (Calderdale) Magistrates’ and Family Court Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court and County Court Morpeth County Court Rotherham Magistrates’ Court, County Court and Family Court Scunthorpe Magistrates’ Court, County Court and Family Court Wakefield Magistrates’ Court North West Accrington County Court Accrington Magistrates’ Court Bolton County Court and Family Court Bury Magistrates’ Court and County Court Kendal Magistrates’ Court and County Court Macclesfield County Court Macclesfield Magistrates’ Court Oldham County Court Proposal on the provision of court and tribunal estate in England and Wales Oldham Magistrates’ Court Ormskirk Magistrates’ Court and Family Court Runcorn (Halton) Magistrates’ Court St Helens Magistrates’ Court and County Court Stockport Magistrates’ Court and County Court Tameside County Court Trafford Magistrates’ Court and Altrincham County Court Warrington County Court West Cumbria Magistrates’ Court and County Court South East Aylesbury Magistrates’ Court, County Court and Family Court Basildon Social Security and Child Support Tribunal (Acorn House) Bedford and Mid Beds Magistrates’ Court and Family Court and Bedford County Court and Family Court Bicester Magistrates’ Court and Family Court Bury St. Edmunds Magistrates’ Court and Family Court and Bury St. Edmunds Crown Court Chichester Combined Court (Crown and County) Chichester Magistrates’ Court Colchester County Court and Family Court Colchester County Court Offices Dartford Magistrates’ Court Dover Magistrates’ Court Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court, County Court and Family Court Harlow Magistrates’ Court Kings Lynn County Court and Family Court Lowestoft Magistrates’ Court, County Court and Family Court Redhill Magistrates’ Court and Family Court and Reigate County Court and Family Court 17 St Albans County Court Tunbridge Wells County Court and Family Court Watford Magistrates’ Court and Family Court West Berkshire (Newbury) Magistrates’ Court South West Barnstaple Crown Court Bath Magistrates’ Court, County Court and Family Court or North Avon (Yate) Magistrates’ Court Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court Cheltenham Rivershill House Tribunal Chippenham Magistrates’ Court, Civil Court and Family Court Dorchester Crown Court Fareham Magistrates’ Court Gloucester Magistrates’ Court North Avon (Yate) Magistrates’ Court or Bath Magistrates’ Court, County Court and Family Court Stroud Magistrates’ Court Torquay Magistrates’ Court Wales Brecon Law Courts Bridgend Law Courts Carmarthen Civil, Family, Tribunal and Probate Hearing Centre Carmarthen Law Courts (The Guildhall) Dolgellau Crown and Magistrates’ Court Holyhead Magistrates’ Court Llangefni Civil and Family Court Neath and Port Talbot Civil and Family Court Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court Proposal on the provision of court and tribunal estate in England and Wales Prestatyn Magistrates’ Court Wrexham Tribunal (Rhyd Broughton)  

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Who are these characters? Unelected Ministers....

There has never been a need to be elected to be a Minister nor indeed to be a member or either House of Parliament at the time of your appointment.  I could be made a Minister right now and exercise the Crown's powers without ever being made a member of either House of Parliament.  Although without a means of holding me to account people might get a little angsty and demand I attend Parliament to answer questions.  There has always been the option of co-opting non Parliamentarian experts into Government by the means of a Life Peerage, but I have to say I have rarely seen so many made up at once (see below).  The SNP is a bit upset about Lord Dunlop because the Tory's single MP in Scotland means that they have had to make up a Lord to find someone else to deputise for the S of S of Scotland (that one single Tory MP).......Maude is understandable, and Bridges is just promotion for an in house policy wonk.  O'Neill, Altmann and Prior are sector SMEs brought in to help in tricky areas - but do they have any legitimacy in Govt?

Lord Dunlop is a former adviser to the Prime Minister on devolved constitutional issues. He was formerly the head of policy and research for the Scottish Conservative Party, special adviser to the Defence Secretary and a member of the Downing Street Policy Unit. He was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Scotland Office on 14 May 2015.
Lord Maude of Horsham served as MP for Horsham, West Sussex (1997-2015). He held several government posts, including Financial Secretary to the Treasury (1990-1992), and Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1989-1990). He is also a former chair of the Conservative Party (2005-2007). He was appointed Minister of State for Trade and Investment on 11 May 2015.
Baroness Altmann was the coalition government’s Business Champion for Older Workers and is a former non-executive policy adviser to the Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street. She was appointed Minister of State for Pensions on 11 May 2015.
Lord O'Neill of Gatley is a former chief economist at Goldman Sachs. He was appointed Commercial Secretary to the Treasury on 14 May 2015.  
Lord Bridges of Headley is a former chair of the Conservative Research Department, and was the Conservative Party's campaign director (2006-2007). He was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office on 14 May 2015.
Lord Prior of Brampton is a former chair of the Care Quality Commission (2013-2015). He served as MP for North Norfolk (1997-2001) and is a former deputy chair and CEO of the Conservative Party. He was appointed Minister for NHS Productivity in May 2015.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

New High Court Judicial Appointments

I wondered in a post below who was going to replace Eder J, and now we know: a public law and employment specialist from 11 KBW:

The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Timothy Julian Kerr Esq QC, to be a Justice of the High Court with effect from 4 June 2015 on the retirement of Mr Justice Eder.

The Lord Chief Justice will assign Mr Kerr to the Queen’s Bench Division.

Mr Kerr, 57, was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn in 1983 and took Silk in 2001. He was appointed a Recorder in 2008 and is approved to sit as a deputy High Court Judge. He served as a Fee-paid Chairman of the Employment Tribunals (England and Wales) from 2001 to 2006.

Mr Justice Eder was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1975 and took Silk in 1990. He was appointed a Recorder in 1996 and a Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in 2011.

& to replace one of my favourites on the High Court Bench (and Birmingham DCJ before then) ....a commercial/shipping silk from 7KBW:

The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Simon Derek Picken Esq QC, to be a Justice of the High Court with effect from 8 June 2015 on the retirement of Mr Justice MacDuff.

The Lord Chief Justice will assign Mr Picken to the Queen’s Bench Division.

Mr Picken, 49, was called to the Bar by the Middle Temple in 1989 and took Silk in 2006. He was appointed a Recorder in 2005 and is approved to sit as a deputy High Court Judge.

Mr Justice MacDuff was called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn in 1969 and took Silk in 1993. He was appointed a Recorder in 1983, a Circuit Judge in 1997, a Senior Circuit Judge in 2002 and a Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in 2008.
& in other news: YIKES!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

EU Referendum Madness begins.....

& so it begins: The question will be

“A ddylai’r Deyrnas Unedig ddal i fod yn aelod o’r Undeb Ewropeaidd?”


Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?

The franchise will be Parliamentary and Gibraltar is going to join in the fun....

No provision for separate majority consent in each part of the UK let's hope they all vote the same way.......

What joy!

The Bill is available on the UK Parliament website.....

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Catching up on judicial appointments........

Just a few judicial appointments in case you had missed them:

To replace Sales LJ in the Chan D -  Richard Snowden QC formerly of Erskine Chambers.

His Honour Judge Mackie CBE QC who used to run the London Mercantile Court has retired.  He appears to have been replaced by HHJ Waksman QC -although it is unclear whether this is permanent or indeed whether HHJ Waksman QC has left his North-Easter Mercantile Court post (where he was very popular and effective).

I note that His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC has had his term of office as Chief Coroner of England and Wales extended to 1.10.16 which is excellent as Coroners are still (in my experience) in need of a firm coordinating hand.

Eder J has retired from the QBD.  No news on his replacement which I have seen....

Rose J has been made President of the Upper Tribunal Tax and Chancery Chamber to replace Warren J.

& the old LCJ, Lord Judge has been made Chief Surveillance Commissioner to replace Rose LJ.

The role of the Commissioners is to provide oversight of the way in which all public authorities in the United Kingdom (with the exception of the Security Services) carry out covert surveillance. The covert surveillance techniques overseen by the Commissioners include property interference, directed and intrusive surveillance, the use of covert human intelligence sources and the investigation of encrypted data. These techniques are governed by Part III of the Police Act 1997 and Parts II and III of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Sunday, 10 May 2015



Do you recall when there was no Human Rights Act 1998 but yet Judges applied the ECHR to English Law because it was our international obligation to do so?  If the HRA is repealed - will there be any real difference from what obtained before?  Unless, of course, we are going to withdraw from the Council of Europe?  Really?  Winston would be turning in his grave.  & what of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights - that will still be binding right - oh wait,....there's going to be that EU Referendum we have been promised............GULP.....


English Parliament?  English Grand Committee of the UK Parliament?  More devolution?  Federation?  Empowered English Mayors and super local authorities?  Time for a Constitutional Convention to sort the lot out?


Boundary change could cement a Tory majority in England forever.  Proportional Representation would do the opposite?  Yikes!  Check out the boundary changes proposed last time by the Tories:  HERE


Gove as Lord Chancellor!

Apparently he wrote a book once in which he said:

'The problems we face are compounded by the dogged refusal of too many in the legal establishment to put the defence of our civilisation ahead of the defence of the traditions with which their profession has grown comfortable.'

Right to a fair trial?  Right to competent representation?  Right to remain silent?  Right to plead Not Guilty without worrying about Court Fees?  Right not to have safeguard your children or fight for your share of the matrimonial money pot without a lawyer?  Which of these old fashioned traditions should we grow less comfortable with?  Which one of these traditions should we stop defending?  Which one of them does not define our civilisation which Gove wants to defend in any event?  Cart before the horse - it is only by defending these "traditions" that we maintain our claim to be the very civilisation which Gove wants to defend............... Still he'll look lovely in the Chancellarian tights.....

Might be time to build and man those metaphorical barricades.........You'll be missing the breaking effect of those lovely Lib Dems you voted out....Bless 'em, you're going to miss 'em..........