Thursday 23 May 2013

After Jay J, Dingemans J - new High Court Judge announced...

What do you get if you successfully serve as Counsel to a Public Inquiry:

Swift J (Shipman), Christopher Clarke J (Bloody Sunday), Jay J (Leveson) and now Hutton.

Of course they all deserve their elevation for the same reasons as they excelled in their role as Counsel to these Inquiries, still it is an interesting trend...........

Dingemans is a consummate QC of the old School.  A joy to watch in operation -

As the Daily Telegraph once said re Hutton:

Let us be grateful that the Hutton Inquiry is not being televised. Television tarnishes everything it touches. It vulgarises. It overexposes. And it would turn the exquisite James Dingemans QC, the 39-year-old Senior Counsel to the inquiry, into a "media personality". First would come the rent-a-quote legal opinions, then the chat shows, then the pilot for an "upmarket game show" set in a court room.
I suppose the reason that I find Mr Dingemans so impressive is that, having been neither a court reporter nor a villain, I have never had the chance to see a good QC in action before. Perhaps they are all like him. Perhaps they all have his poise, his wit, his beautiful manners. But I doubt it. One of my favourite Dingemans quotes came when John Scarlett, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, peevishly complained that he never called the dossier a dossier, he called it an "assessment". Dingemans apologised devastatingly: "I am sorry for the loose use of language."
Another reason Mr Dingemans seems so good is that he has been examining people who look so bad, the politicians and journalists who have merged into one pasty-looking, faintly mad professional class. Also, he reminds me of those urbane Army officers who answered impertinent questions from reporters during the war against Saddam. They were articulate and magnanimous and embodied decency and sang froid. They exhibited what the poet Keith Douglas called "that famous unconcern". One, a brigadier I think, had to shout above the whiz bangs and bullets when he referred to the "spot of bother" outside Basra.
Are they a dying breed, these gentleman officers, these silks? They certainly seem a little out of place in our public school-hating society. If Mr Dingemans became a television star there would soon come a backlash. The tabloids would realise that he is everything they despise: that his suits are made in Savile Row, that he is a rugby Blue, that his father is a rear admiral. They would turn him into a national laughing-stock and mock his plummy voice for their sport. James Dingeman's natural home is the courtroom, away from the cameras. It is his context, his battlefield. Long may he remain there.

Sunday 19 May 2013

Save UK Justice....or else...

Criminal barristers earn bugger all.  I know - I'm married to one and spend lots of time with them.  If you get into trouble - you will want one but if HMG gets its way either you'll have to pay lots to get one or you'll get a free one who does not want to do his or her best for you because of the way the State pays them.....

If citizens are not properly represented when the State accuses them of a crime, then society and civilisation breaks down because each innocent person incompetently represented and thereby unjustly convicted is another reason why the population might chose not to obey democratically enacted laws.  Without that obedience....remember the riots of 2 years ago......everything breaks down........You can cut the costs of the public purse, but not the irreducible minimum costs of civilisation itself.  Taxes are the price we pay for a civilised society (Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, Justice of US Supreme Court), the Criminal Bar is one of things that has to be included in that price.

Sign this PETITION now

More here

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Tory Euro Referendum Bill - scary Henry VIII clause...

Tories have published their 'hoped to be' Private Members' Bill to provide for an In Out, shake it all about, referendum on EU membership.  You can tell they have thought through the detail by the scarily wide Henry VIII clause. I accept that any Order will have to be approved by a joint resolution - but even so... these clauses are the very height of the powers of our Elected Dictatorship:

Conduct of the referendum and further provisions
(1) The Secretary of State shall by order provide for the rules in accordance with which the referendum is to
be conducted.
(2) The Secretary of State may by order make further provisions about the referendum.
(3) An order under this section may make provision modifying or amending this Act or another enactment.
(4) An order under this section may not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved
by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

A little bit of legal reform in HMQ' s Speech from The Throne...

The odd nugget of legal reform in the Queen's Speech:

  • Exempting from health and safety law those self-employed whose work activities pose no potential risk of harm to others.  Can't wait to see how they draft this one.....
  • Removing a power for employment tribunals to make wider recommendations in successful discrimination cases under the Equality Act 2010.  Stripping the Equality Act back to its bare EU law essentials....
  • Implementing the Unified Patent Court, part of which will be based in London. This would introduce a single patent system in almost all EU countries making it possible for British businesses to protect their inventions across countries in a single application. Any disputed applications would be held in the UK.  This is one is beyond my purview....
  • Consumer law: Provide clarity in areas where the law has not kept up with technological advances. For example, setting out clearer consumer rights for the quality of digital content like e-books and software.  Easier access to compensation where there have been breaches of consumer or competition law. For example, new powers for enforcers (such as Trading Standards) to seek a court to require compensation to be paid to consumers where consumer law is breached.  More powers for Trading Standards and other enforcement authorities to require traders, through the courts, to compensate consumers where they have breached consumer law.  About time somebody looked at this mish mash of law.
  • Mesothelioma - Scheme of last resort funded by a levy on the UK Employers’ Liability market to correct a market failure where insurers failed to keep adequate records of Employers’ Liability insurance during historic times when exposures to asbestos were taking place. I support this.
Not quite as hectic as in previous years...............

Yet more new High Court Judges - including the now famous Robert Jay QC

The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Miss Susan Lascelles Carr, Q.C., to be a Justice of the High Court with effect from 14 June 2013 on the retirement of Mr. Justice Stadlen. The Lord Chief Justice will assign Miss Carr to the Queen’s Bench Division. 
Leading Professional Negligence Silk, used to head the Professional Conduct Committee for the Bar and is a welcome common law addition to the QBD. From 4NS, had been their Head of Chambers, successor to Stuart-Smith J in fact.

The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Robert Maurice Jay, Esquire, Q.C., to be a Justice of the High Court with effect from 4 June 2013 on the retirement of Mr. Justice Roderick Evans. The Lord Chief Justice will assign Mr. Jay to the Queen’s Bench Division.
Needs absolutely no introduction whatsoever: Leverson's Counsel, 2012 Barrister of the Year and usual choice for MOD and other bits of HMG in tricky cases.

The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of His Honour Judge Andrew James Gilbart, Q.C., to be a Justice of the High Court with effect from 29 July 2013 on the elevation of Mr. Justice Fulford to the Court of Appeal. The Lord Chief Justice will assign Judge Gilbart to the Queen’s Bench Division. 
This is part of the trend of promoting Senior Circuit Judges to the High Court bench. The Designated Civil Judge for Manchester, was appointed Stewart J last month. Gilbart J is his criminal counterpart in that City, being Hon. Recorder of Manchester and is in his special Recorder robes on the far right of the picture above (a ceremony for the new High Sheriff of that county).

STOP PRESS -see comments below - 

Is this Gilbart J in his Hon Recorder of Manchester robes?

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Making the Employment Justice System Pay - Fees and Penalties

The Employment Tribunal system has been very expensive to run.  Lots of claims have meant lots of Tribunals, staff and judges and the system has been free to use and therefore there has been no income stream to off-set the costs.  This led to some Tribunals like East London shutting their doors because they had run out of cash - i.e. HMG failed in its basic constitutional duty to provide a justice system.  HMG is having no more of that - Employment Tribunals are going to pay their way.

Firstly there are going to be fees to pay to use them - for a bog standard unfair dismissal -  £250 to issue, £950 for a hearing, £650 payable by the Respondent if you fancy a bit of judicial mediation, £400 to issue your appeal in the EAT and £1200 for the Appeal Tribunal to hear your appeal   Fees remitted if you are on benefits.

Secondly, if an Employer been found by a Tribunal to have breach someone's Employment Law rights in a manner which can be described as 'aggravated' then they will order 50% the value of the damages up to £5000.  You get a 1/2 price deal if you pay the Treasury within 21 days.  See Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 - awaiting official publication.

Thirdly, HMG would prefer it if you did not trouble the Tribunal at all -  so there will be enforced Conciliation by ACAS before you can actually issue your claim.  Again this is in the new 2013 Act, which is awaiting publication.

Fourthly, the 2013 Act will empower some claims to be determined not by Judges but by Legal Officers - who are cheaper....oh and more often the EAT will be composed of just a Judge - making it cheaper....

Oh and - the Tribunal will be able to make deposit orders on specific allegations and issues to try and stem the 'tide' of crap cases going forward - to save money....

Have you spotted the theme to these reforms yet...........