I am a fan of Canadian blogs and draw your attention to many in my forthcoming Blawg Review #292 which I will publish sometime on Sunday, in advance of Monday – my being a Lord of Misrule – Ed of Blawg Review would be surprised if I didn’t….
I am delighted to receive this award – because there is no voting, no bizarre algorithms and no nonsense. The Clawbies promote Canadian blogs, they don’t take awards too seriously and I am pleased to receive the award this year. Also… they are fellow bloggers and awards from fellow bloggers are fine by me……. So… Thank you!
EuroCan Connection Award – This award recognizes European law blog friends who highlight and link to Canadian law blogs. For the third straight year, this award goes to Mike Semple Piggot, better known in the blawgosphere as Charon QC. Charon’s readership includes many Canadians, and the content continues to mix provocative, quirky, and investigative in equal measures, making it a must-read both inside and outside Canada’s borders.
New Year’s Eve hysteria set in a bit early for me and I enjoyed sitting at my desk between 6.30 am – 7.00 am watching BBC Breakfast. I was in a surreal mood and observed on twitter that I had been watching BBC London News read by a Thunderbird Puppet.
Matt Cooke came back very quickly….. he wins!
Happy New Year, indeed.
I came across this fascinating article by James Dean in The Law Society Gazette this afternoon – the attractions of enforced abstinence from law over the Christmas shut down were wearing thin…
Students lured by City-style work
Prospective lawyers are most interested in pursuing careers in City-style law, figures from legal careers website All About Law seen exclusively by the Gazette have suggested.
An analysis of the advice pages viewed by the 10,000 students registered on the site indicates a preference for corporate and commercial work.
Some 1,335 site users accessed pages on the site relating to careers in commercial law, and 1,250 viewed pages on corporate law jobs, compared with just 349 for personal injury law.
Human rights law (1,093 users), criminal law (1,078), and private client charity law (1,054) were the next most popular fields….
Does this comment on The Gazette site sum it up?
don’t be so naiveSubmitted by Mike on Thu, 30/12/2010 – 14:46.
the typical student dreams of the riches of commercial law, magic circle firm, 6 figure salaries, selling ones soul etc its nothing to do with the cost of the LPA. its materialism every time.
I can understand the wish, need and economic necessity of some students to secure work in a City law firm – those who are not in the fortunate position of being sponsored have to pay off a significant and substantial debt.
This led me to speculate about the career advice being given by the leading law schools – academic and vocational. The College of Law and BPP Law School are well positioned in the City law firm world; both law schools providing exclusive offerings to leading City and commercial law firms. Their gearing is probably more City-Commercial oriented than others. I plan to look at at career advice in the new year and talk to some some university and law school; careers people in podcasts. Unfortunately, not everyone can become a City lawyer… there are simply not enough openings. In any event, surely there is a much wider range of law practice out there? Of course there is… but do students get much information about the opportunities? I am a bit out of touch with the advice law schools give to students – but I am keen to find out.
There is no doubt that the legal landscape is changing in 2011 and I have already mapped out a series of podcasts with practitioners on what will be a fascinating year of change.
I would be very interested in hearing from law students about their plans for a career in law. You may email me here and if you would be interested in doing a podcast with me – anonymously if you wish – I would be delighted in talking to you about doing a podcast with you.
Contempt of Court: Twitter was ablaze with speculation on the Yeates murder investigation and the arrest of a potential suspect; with some tweets potentially veering towards publication of material deemed likely to jeopardize a fair trial.
UPDATE: FRIDAY 31 JANUARY 2010
The coverage by The Daily Mirror, Daily Mail and The Sun has been astonishing….
Newspapers warned over contempt law
The Independent: The Attorney General warned newspapers today to be mindful of the contempt of court laws in their coverage of Joanna Yeates murder suspect Chris Jefferies. Dominic Grieve indicated he was considering what action he should take to ensure that the course of justice was not impeded in any way.
“We need to avoid a situation where trials cannot take place or are prejudiced as a result of irrelevant or improper material being published, whether in print form or on the internet, in such a way that a trial becomes impossible,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One.
Asked whether he was preparing to issue an advisory notice to newspapers, he said: “Clearly, we are considering what I have seen in the newspapers today and we will try to take such action, and it is right to ensure that the course of justice is not in any way impeded.”
Mr Grieve stressed that there was “freedom of the press”, but newspapers have to comply with the Contempt of Court Act to avoid prejudicing possible future trials.
Strict Liability Contempt under the Contempt of Court Act 1981
Strict liability contempt (refer to the law earlier in this chapter) applies to publications (including broadcasts) addressed to the public at large or any section of the public, which create a substantial risk that the course of public justice will be seriously impeded or prejudiced. The strict liability rule only applies to legal proceedings that are “active” at the time of the publication, and may render the publication a contempt regardless of any intent to interfere with the course of justice in the proceedings. (Archbold 28-59 to 28-61).
The absence of the requirement to prove intention distinguishes it from the common law variant. Common law contempt may be committed where proceedings are pending or imminent (albeit not necessarily active for the purposes of the 1981 Act), and where there is actual intent to interfere with the administration of justice in those proceedings.
“Active”, for the purposes of section 2(3) of the 1981 Act, is defined in Schedule 1 of the Act as including the issue of a summons or the arrest without warrant of a defendant (Archbold 28-62). Proceedings cease to be active for the purposes of the Act where they conclude by, inter alia, acquittal/sentence, any other order bringing proceedings to an end, or by discontinuance/operation of law. Where a warrant has been issued, proceedings cease to be active once twelve months’ have elapsed without the suspect’s arrest, and – where there has been an arrest – when the suspect is released without charge otherwise than on bail.
Whether the publication creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice is judged at the time of publication. The longer the gap between publication and the trial (‘the fade factor’), the less the substantial risk of serious prejudice is likely to be. (Archbold 28-74 to 28-76).
A number of lawyers on twitter, and one MP, pointed out the dangers of tweeting about the matter, referring to the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and the CPS guidance, and while we could be accused of being pompous or po faced – there is a very real issue that publicity and speculation could prejudice a fair trial. Another difficulty of the modern internet age? It is very difficult to argue against the ideal of fair trials. In an extreme case it is possible to envisage a situation where, if a suspect is released without charge, that a tweet could amount to a libel? One for the libel specialists?
Police demand new powers to stop and search terror suspects
Guardian: Top officers tell government they want to replace section 44 law that was scrapped by human rights ruling
Most people will be able to accept and understand the need for Police to have power to combat terrorism. The problem lies in the use of that power. It became clear that Police abused s.44 powers.
The Guardian noted: “A previous law allowing counter-terrorism stops without suspicion, section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, was scrapped this year by the home secretary, Theresa May, after European judges struck it down for breaching human rights.
This extract focuses the mind on the key issue:
Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said that with the right safeguards her organisation might not oppose the new power: “The devil will be in the detail. What safeguards will there be, who can trigger the power, what is the threshold for turning it on, what public scrutiny will there be?”Under the old power all of London was designated for months on end as a place where police could stop people without suspicion. Chakrabarti said: “The geographical area can’t be an entire county or all of London as it was before, but an area no greater than a square mile. It must not be for months on end but for a specific period of 24 to 48 hours.
“It must target specific places, not classes of people, on the basis of intelligence and risk for narrow windows of time, with adequate authorisation and transparency. Then it will satisfy proportionality and equal treatment whilst providing a rational, flexible aid to anti-terror policing.”
Ben Bowling, a professor of criminology at King’s College London and founder member of Stopwatch, which campaigns against alleged police abuses of stop and search powers, warned the new power could be used to discriminate against ethnic minority Britons: “Where officers have the maximum discretion, that is where you have the greatest racial discrimination in the way police have used their powers. We would want to be absolutely certain that police are not targeting ethnic minority communities for unfair stops and searches.”
The debate about the proposed new power will be shaped by the memory of section 44.
Dark Tuscan Sky 2010
Acrylics and Dulux paint on Board
I went to Tuscany several times in the 1990s. I enjoyed visiting this part of Italy – but I would have enjoyed it more had the skies been dark and slightly surreal. I found an old photograph, drank some of Infobunny’s Damson Gin and some wine and painted. Still not quite finished….. as I may make the sky even darker. Doing the poppies was fun…. applied with a cake icing bag full of undiluted Crimson RED as I wanted them to stand out on the board surface! (Sky was Dulux paint mixed up applied with spray gun – Obviously had to do that first. So.. if I want darker sky… a lot of brushwork ahead of me…. time consuming)
Many of you won’t be getting awards this year. Most of us will not get a Knighthood…or even the MBE…. despite all we do for our country. There are so many absurd awards at this time of year… so why be left out?!
Help yourself to *THE CHARON QC Drinking & Blogging Award 2010*. The good news? You don’t need to be a blogger… but I would be pleased if you had the occasional glass of what you fancy. Feel free to exhibit on your blog…or even print it out and show people down at the pub…. all yours!
I have even awarded one to myself… but regular readers will know that I award myself honours and awards when I feel like it.
And a fair few others….. go on…. help yourself!
While some like honours and awards, I do not care for them. I like even less, organisations riding off the back of the work of others with their idiotic ranking systems. I came across Wikio tonight. I despise ranking systems for blogs and I will have no part of it. I will, however, do all I can to encourage blog writing… but not blog *anking. (Many excellent serious Law blogs are NOT on Wikio…thankfully) I do not include fun awards from fellow bloggers in my criticism….
I value those who take time to read and comment, whether they agree with my thoughts and views or not. I have learned much from reader comments and from other bloggers. The only award I have on my blog is one I gave to myself – and even then, modestly, only awarded myself second place…. The Totally Pissed Blog award – a homage to Total Politics!
There we are….this blog is and always will be… a Wikio free zone…..
I am looking forward to seeing Vince Cable’s *Command* performance on Strictly Come Dancing on iPlayer. @Loveandgarbage on twitter tells me that he jumped out of a box in a tuxedo and observed… “A curious thing for a Minister of The Crown to do”. Can’t argue with that.
Not to be outdone… Gordon Brown came into my mind….
I sat in my Staterooms at midday alone, listening to Church bells. I had to my right, a glass of Rioja. The Archbishop of Canterbury was calling for the rich to help; a speech which I am sure was followed closely by HMRC and The Treasury, and he was suggesting that the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton would bind the very fabric of Britain together again. I have no idea what planet he is on, but it seems a harmless enough activity in these dark days to wander about in medieval robes with a shepherds staff and try to communicate with what is largely a ‘mammonic’ heathen state. His ‘oppo’ in Rome, Papa Ratzi, called for an end to conflicts – ironic, given history, since Popes of old seemed to start most of them or sanction them.
Unfortunately, because I was rather busy qua Chef Charon preparing an exquisite haute cuisine lunch for one – a creazione of roast lamb slices built into an absurd display, complete with smeared nonsense, on the plate and a Claridge’s Chicken pie a la Ramsay, complete with Marsala wine…….I missed HM The Queen auditioning for a spot on BBC Sport at 3.00. I shall pick it up on MonarchyTube later.
I enjoyed looking at tweeted pictures of burnt potatoes and ‘unusual’ christmas lunches on Flickr for a few minutes and had a most enjoyable Skype call with a fellow blawger and friend, Cathy Gellis, a US lawyer in California. It was 8.00 am her time, so she was not drinking. This would not, of course, have stopped me on a holiday day, but I was well into the vino rosso and continued as we talked about a pleasingly wide range of interesting issues. Skype video is a remarkable invention. And talking of inventions – it is the 20th anniversary of the founding of WWW by Tim Berners-Lee
Wikipedia notes: Sir Timothy John “Tim” Berners-Lee, OM, KBE, FRS, FREng, FRSA (born 8 June 1955, also known as “TimBL“), is a British engineer and computer scientist and MIT professor credited with inventing the World Wide Web, making the first proposal for it in March 1989. On 25 December 1990, with the help of Robert Cailliau and a young student at CERN, he implemented the first successful communication between an HTTP client and server via the Internet.
I decided that I would not watch any TV today – so, thankfully, I missed the One Ronnie and a host of programmes dug from the mists of telly time. This decision improved my life and mood.
For a picture of Vince Cable, Business Secretary, dressed up as Santa – please click here.
As I only had one Christmas present to open this year – opened early (naturally) – I had plenty of time to do other things. My Christmas present was from a good friend (and former user of twitter as @infobunny): Home made Damson GINS, excellent chocolate truffles and two packets of dried insects, which I am particularly partial to. These weren’t any old dried insects…. one pack contained *Dried BBQ Flavour Worm Crisps* and the other *Thai Green Curry Crickets*. Both delicious as a pre-prandial snack. I am quite relaxed about eating locusts, ants and other creepy crawlies after my time in Africa. Locusts are but flying King Prawns.
I have also started several paintings. This year, rather than do all the F**kArt paintings in 20-30 minutes, I am taking a bit longer. Whether this will result in any improvement remains to be seen.
Tomorrow is Boxing Day… and the caff is open… so the *Seige of The Staterooms* is over…thankfully…for another year…. and I can get back to enjoying the 364 days of the year I actually do enjoy. I may even shoehorn a bit of law in to my blog on the morrow. Hope you enjoyed your day.
Tomorrow… or Today, depending on when you read this, will be the last Christmas of 2010. I shall enjoy it..and I hope you do..
I have enjoyed doing Charon’s Advent calendar – a suggestion from a friend. I appear to have cocked up the days… so this may or may not be Day 25..not that it matters. I wish all readers a Happy Christmas, An Excellent Isaac Newton Day and a Good New Year. I shall be at my post, blogging, tweeting and, ineluctably, with two days of sybaritic pleasure ahead, I shall be taking of the wine of the gods. Thanks for coming to the blog this year – it does make blogging a bit more fun when people read and…. thank you also to the many who comment. One of the problems with twitter is that there are, now, fewer blog comments as debate and comment now tends to happen more on twitter. Unfortunately, not everyone who reads the blog is on twitter…so some excellent observations and comments from readers who post on twitter are missed by some blog readers… but we can’t have everything.
I plan to do many more podcasts and up the Law Review content in 2011. On January 3rd I shall be hosting Blawg Review (My sixth) and it will be UK centric…..
Have a good one… back on the morrow… inevitably. If you have time and the inclination…. I wrote a Christmas Carol story last night (below). I am never knowingly under refreshed when I blog at night.
MEMORANDUM TO PARTNERS / EYES ONLY
From: Matt Muttley, Managing Partner
Date: 25th December 2010
RE: A CHRISTMAS CAROL
I appreciate that we have scheduled four hours on Christmas Day to attend to matters of family but, as you know, our firm is a 24/7/365 operation and I wish to confirm that we have full cover. I did, however, last night, have a rather strange experience which I wish to record for the file.
1. As you know our esteemed co-founding partner, Dastardly, died some time ago. I use the term ‘died’ in the law firm sense of having retired, but I understand that he has in fact died in real life as well.
2. I was working late tonight. It was a dark and cold night. An associate, Tiny Tim, was working late and he rang me, as instructed, to inform me that snow was falling so that I could hedge our power interests while the US markets were still open.
3. At approximately 10.32, I was visited by the ghost of our former Partner. The meeting, unfortunately, can’t be billed as the Ghost of Dastardly told me that his Amex card did not work ‘where he now was’. I reminded the Ghost of Dastardly that we are not big on pro bono and as the legal press had closed down for two weeks I couldn’t get any leverage on releasing a story about doing pro bono work on Christmas Eve. He understood this (old habits die hard even for ghosts of former partners) and briefed me quickly on various episodes from my childhood. Fortunately, I was not that innocent when I was a child and I was not moved by his advocacy and plea that we, as a firm, show more compassion.
4. At approximately 11.04, I was visited for a second time by the Ghost of Dastardly. I misunderstood what he was saying and thought he had returned to give me a present. This was not the case. He told me that he was now a Ghost of Christmas Present. He asked me to accompany him to Waitrose where people were buying food for Christmas Day. I told him that I had an iPad and we could go onto the Waitrose website instead. Time is money. Dastardly Ghost of Christmas Present then asked me to look at a blog written by one of our former associates who ‘we had to let go’. You may remember him – Rob Cratchit. It would appear that Rob Cratchit was not able to get a job after we fired him and now lives in ‘diminished circumstances’. I asked Dastardly Ghost of Christmas Present if he would kindly get to the point. He told me that we needed to develop a sense of responsibility for our fellow man. I was able to confirm that we do not take a stance on the political issues of the day, our
amoral apolitical stance, means that we can stand above David Cameron’s notions of ‘Big Society’ and retain the clinical objectivity so prized by our client base.
5. At approximately 12.05 am on Christmas Day, I was visited by the Ghost of Dastardly again. He had a copy of The Guardian. He placed it on my desk and pointed to a story about the dire future which lay ahead of us and a rather curious story about an Australian who has developed a ‘Messiah’ complex and is leaking secrets all over the place. To my astonishment, he then placed a picture on my desk of a grave in a rather badly tended cemetery, and told me that it was my grave. I was able to re-assure Ghost of Dastardly of Christmas Yet To Come, as he was now calling himself, that it was highly improbable that a Partner of our firm would be buried in such a run down place and that he really should not watch so much Sky TV given that the future owners of that television station are Australian. Keeping to an Australian theme, I did say that I had been placing fairly substantial investments with ‘our friends’ in Pakistan on The Ashes and on the evidence of the Third Test in Perth, when England collapsed in a rather improbable way, that we could look forward to additional tax free revenue early in the New Year when England did not simply retain The Ashes, but win them. The Ghost of Dastardly did not seem to be impressed by this statement.
6. Finally, I am pleased to report, when I woke on Christmas morning, I felt no particular desire to spend any time whatsoever with my nephew’s family and had no side effects of feelings of love or affection for our fellow man.
7. We have a Partner’s meeting at 3.00 today to discuss our bonuses. It will, gentlemen, be a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year
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I appear to have got up to Day 24 a day early… but strange things happen on this blog, so I’ll have to have another Day 24 tomorrow or be really radical and have a Day 25…
Never let is be said that Charon is not relentless – even on the eve of the eve of Christmas – in bringing to you legal news…..
When filling judges’ benches, we need to solicit more solicitors
Neil Rose in The Guardian: Much can be done to encourage solicitors to apply for posts in the judiciary, a sector historically dominated by barristers.
Neil Rose reports that “1,071 solicitors applied for the 193 deputy district judgeships available in its most recent selection exercise – the biggest the JAC has ever run – and just 9% (94) made it through to appointment. By comparison, 284 barristers applied for this junior judicial role and 28% (80) were successful.”
What I did enjoy was this from Neil’s article…. “The lord chief justice, Lord Judge, recognised this last week when he admitted that he had failed to encourage City lawyers to apply.”
James Dean in The Law Society Gazette noted “Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge told the Lords Constitution Committee yesterday that, if he could persuade City lawyers and their firms that a judicial career is a plausible option, ‘we would have a more diverse judiciary’.”
Lord Judge will, of course, be aware that City lawyers at the top tend to earn truly fantastic sums of money – often going into seven figures, they say, at the very top end of the top end. Judges don’t do too badly but it is probably about one tenth the remuneration of the City lawyers at the very top. The relative modesty of judicial salaries may, of course, be an entirely irrelevant consideration for City lawyers and it may be that they are truly dedicated to their high end corporate clients and feel a sense of public duty to serve beyond the call of duty…. who am I to even think anything else?
Well….there we are… I shall be back on the morrow with Day 25 of my Advent calendar…
As Christmas draws ever closer so too does the end of my Christmas Advent calendar. Today I have a few interesting law snippets of general interest – and, an Assange free day.
I shall start with an irritant… the ‘Class’ system which I despise – a plague in our country which still appears to wreak havoc in terms of benefit being given to the undeserving from the middle classes at the expense of a young man or woman from a less privileged background. It still goes on and today an interesting article in The Law Society Gazette warns that we should not ‘judge a book by its cover’…
Firms reject candidates on the basis of their accents, research suggests
Top London law firms are hiring graduates with ‘smart’ accents and public school backgrounds because they think they are better for their image than working-class candidates, new research has suggested.
Suitable white working-class applicants are being passed over for jobs in favour of middle-class graduates of all ethnicities from elite universities, according to a study of 130 staff at five prominent London firms by City University’s Centre for Professional Service Firms at Cass Business School.
The five firms all had diversity policies, and had successfully recruited ethnic minority candidates, but rejected able working-class students because their appearance or accent was not thought ‘smart’ enough, the research found.
Dr Louise Ashley, leading the study, said that the firms want to preserve their ‘upmarket brand’.
She said: ‘Focusing on ethnicity enables law firms to boast excellence, or at the very least improve diversity outcomes, despite the fact that they have continued to recruit using precisely the same types of class privilege that have always been in operation.’
Ashley said that one partner told her: ‘There was one guy who came to interviews who was a real Essex barrow boy, and he had a very good CV, he was a clever chap, but we just felt that there’s no way we could employ him. I just thought: putting him in front of a client – you just couldn’t do it. I do know though that if you’re really pursuing a diversity policy you shouldn’t see him as rough round the edges, I should just see him as different.’
Was the Telegraph sting illegal?
The Telegraph journalists who posed as constituents to entrap MPs may have committed a criminal offence
While I think Vince Cable (and other MPs recorded) may have some difficulty with civil breach of confidence actions and using copyright law, David Howarth, a former shadow solicitor general and Lib Dem MP for Cambridge between 2005 and 2010, has made a useful point under criminal law…
Section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006 makes it a criminal offence, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to dishonestly make a false representation with the intention of putting someone at risk of pecuniary loss or with the intention of making a pecuniary gain for another.Unlike in the civil law, what counts is the defendants’ intention to cause harm, rather than the actual result. Did the journalists and their editors intend through dishonest false statements to put ministers at risk of losing their jobs? Did they intend to make money for their paper? If either is true, a criminal offence has taken place. There is no free-standing public interest defence. Perhaps the journalists involved should now be preparing their answers to those questions.
Journalists often misreport on legal matters. As a reminder of this, you may like to read this post from the UK Human Rights blog:
Failure to deport Philip Lawrence killer was not about human rights
And, since I am interested in human rights, here is a useful round up of recent judgments as the courts wind up the calendar year….
Bite-size human rights case law
And, as I am on a roll with misreporting, this analysis of the Cable / BSB Sky issue by Carl Gardner is worth a read to get it right: Taking Vince Cable off the BSkyB case
Bye… until tomorrow….
I like innovative ideas. I like ideas that approach practical problems in a different way and, I have to admit, I like Just Go Direct. I received an email from Catherine Naylor, the brains behind Just Go Direct yesterday, asking if she could advertise on my online magazine to promote her new business. I telephoned Catherine and had a fairly long chat.
The legal newspapers and periodicals advertise jobs regularly. More often than not the jobs are advertised not by the law firms or organisations themselves but by recruitment agencies. I did not use recruitment agencies when I recruited for lecturers and administrators at BPP Law School when I was the CEO back in the 90s. There were two reasons. First, it was an expensive way of going about things and, secondly, I wanted to have control of ‘the process’, as Lord Sugar now calls it on The Apprentice. I did not want a recruitment consultant filtering or shaping my recruitment strategy. In today’s internet age, there really is no need to go through an agency – so long as there is an online medium to go through with good traffic. Just Go Direct, which opens in early 2011, has the potential to provide just such a vehicle; allowing law firms to advertise their vacancies and candidates to apply direct.
Just Go Direct is different. They advertise the jobs available, clearly identifying the employer and candidates apply direct. Firms may tailor their package with Just Go Direct (Download the brochure here for details).
Catherine Naylor explained the rationale to me…
“The light bulb moment came randomly one day whilst interviewing a lawyer for a potential opportunity. I asked as all recruiters do whether she had put herself forward to any firms via other agencies. She replied that she hadn’t but had gone direct to a number of firms. That’s when I realised there was an opportunity. To post jobs directly from the employer online in one place, giving candidates transparency and choice. I knew most legal job boards were filled with agency jobs and that it was frustrating for job seekers when looking at these jobs because you couldn’t see who the employer was, you had to go through the agency. I spent the next few months researching the concept, spoke to lawyers finding out whether they would use such a site……”
Due to launch early in 2011, the website is taking email details from those who wish to receive information when it opens. I have no doubt at all that this concept will work. It seems to me that law firms will find the process easier and it must be a benefit, surely, for candidates to be able to contact a law firm direct without having to go through some ‘target billables hungry’ recruitment consultant?
As Catherine Naylor says… “This is an online tool for candidates who are actively looking for a new role and those that want to take control of their own career moves Just Go Direct is certainly for them. For a start law firms want you to apply direct, many say it makes for a better relationships and a truer fit between employer and candidate. It’s a smoother ride for all involved…Power to the Candidate, I say.”
PS: I am, obviously, delighted that Catherine Naylor is sponsoring my FREE online materials for law students
Christmas Day is but a few days away… but as I have never been good at deferred gratification and can see aboslutely no reason to wait, or, indeed, in having several Christmas days…. I have started. I wish you a good Christmas and New Year….
Lord Judge’s interventions in politics have not overstepped the line
If the lord chief justice is a thorn in the government’s side, it is one of parliament’s making
I particularly enjoyed this thought provoking piece from Joshua Rozenberg… I quote a few paragraphs to entice you into reading the rest of it…
Ministers could be forgiven for thinking that Lord Judge, the lord chief justice of England and Wales, had gone too far last week, overstepping the invisible line that separates the judicial from the injudicious.
There he was, introducing his annual report on criminal appeals and complaining about the “continuing burden of comprehending and applying impenetrable legislation, primarily but not exclusively in relation to sentencing”.
And there he was again, giving evidence to the Lords constitution committee about the “extraordinary” effect of the government’s public bodies bill, which gives ministers so-called Henry VIII powers to modify, merge or abolish a huge range of quangos. His concern that an “astonishing” number of acts now allowed ministers to repeal primary legislation will come as no surprise to the lord chancellor: Judge said as much to Ken Clarke at the judges’ dinner in the summer.
But what really worries Judge is the threat posed by the public bodies bill to the independence of the judiciary.
I began the day, reduced to watching the banality that is BBC Breakfast. Most of the programme was about SNOW…with pictures of people, like plague victims, lying on the airport concourse, wearing what appeared to be bacofoil…. prompting me to tweet that if “You want to get the full HEATHROW experience….at home… sit on your floor… get the bacofoil out and wait for a BBC film crew to turn up.”
Then along came Mr Hammond, the TORY Transport Minister, who decided he didn’t need to read an experts’ report on SNOW commissioned by the previous government, but would consult his own expert so ‘lessons could be learned…yada yada blah.’ Iain Dale (who appears to have blogged more since his retirement from blogging than he did in the weeks preceding his Moses Moment on twitter when he announced his ‘departure from Blogging Gate 20’) …. mused on twitter…that Mr Hammond had the makings of a future Prime Minister. I do…so… love pantomime and comic opera at this time of year.
I could not help myself with the tweet above…. The Tory-led Coalition has blamed Labour for everything else since grasping power with the running dog Kim Il Clegg…. and his sidekick Vince CableTV … that I thought it only fair that the previous Labour government should be blamed for the fiasco that is Heathrow today…
That is all. I shall return tomorrow with Day 21….. ineluctably.
Immigration cap overturned by high court judges
Guardian: Theresa May, the home secretary, illegally bypassed parliament to bring in temporary limit on non-EU workers, judges rule. Two senior judges have ruled that the temporary limit imposed from 28 June on skilled migrants from outside the European Union is unlawful because ministers sidestepped proper parliamentary approval when it was introduced.
UK Human Rights Blog : This blog just gets better and better and is a ‘must read’ if you are a practitioner, academic or student interested in the field. While quite a few members of 1 Crown Office Row are involved in the blog and post regularly – and Rosalind English and Angus McCullough QC are editors with Adam Wagner (Pictured), Adam Wagner seems to be tireless in his coverage of the important human rights issues of our times – and long may that continue.
Carl Gardner, Author of the Head of Legal blog has a useful analysis of the prisoner votes controversy…
More muscular parliament would make for better lawmaking
Joshua Rozenberg has in interesting piece in The Guardian: In the face of the government’s desire to legislate, MPs need to be able to scrutinise prospective laws more thoroughly
Parliament should be less supine in the face of the government’s desire to legislate. So says the Hansard Society, the UK’s leading independent political research charity, in an analysis of lawmaking launched at the House of Commons on Tuesday night.
Lawcast 175: Professor Gary Slapper on the reform of legal education
Today I am talking to Professor Gary Slapper, Director of The Open University Law School. Legal education is under review by the profession and this podcast is the fourth in a series of eight on this the reform of legal education
Other podcasts in the legal education reform series
MPs warned they will be ‘overloaded’ due to legal aid cuts
The Law Society Gazette: A group campaigning against the government’s legal aid cuts has sent Christmas cards to MPs warning them that they could be overwhelmed with constituents’ problems.
Justice for All, a coalition of legal and advice agencies, politicians, trade unions, community groups and members of the public, said that the £350m cutbacks ‘will leave thousands of people with nowhere to turn for help with serious and urgent problems’. The card sent to MPs shows a picture of Father Christmas carrying a sack of constituents’ problems to a local MP’s surgery……..
I have little doubt that MPs will be deluged with constituents seeking help. MPs may well come to rue the day that the government has decided to save a relatively modest amount of money (in the grand scheme of things) by cutting back on access to law and justice. I doubt that MPs will be equal to the task of giving legal advice to constituents even if the MPs are lawyers themselves. We shall see.
No naps, and no clothes in bed: Manning’s cell life
The Independent: The harsh prison detention conditions endured by Bradley Manning – the US soldier who is alleged to have supplied classified government documents to WikiLeaks – have emerged. For the last seven months, Private Manning, 23, has been kept in a cell six feet wide and 12 feet long, in solitary confinement at a maximum security military jail at Quantico, Virginia.
Lieutenant Colonel David Coombes, the lawyer defending him, provides a rather graphic description of the conditions. It makes our detention without charge rules look amateur. If the Americans can do this to one of their own – just imagine what they could do to others caught up in the legal system on this and other related issues?
And finally a quick look at a few blogs if you happen to be short of something to do in the week leading up to Christmas. I know I am…. and these are worth reading….
Dan Hull, a US lawyer, writes the eclectic WhatAboutClients? blog. While he does cover law and client service issues on his blog, there are always interesting snippets…gems of random information. I always enjoy visiting WAC?
Obiter J, author of Law and Lawyers, has a detailed piece on PFC Bradley Manning…
A quick way of keep abreast of the blogging of our American friends in law – Colin Samuels of Infamy or Praise does a week Round Tuit – always worth a read.
David Allen Green, aka the blogger Jack of Kent, is well known on Twitter for his handling of the Paul Chambers #twitterjoketrial case and other serious cases. His blog, if you are not already a reader, is a good one to follow.
On Family Law matters…. a good daily starting point must be John Bolch’s excellent Family Lore
A must read for daily law news: Inner Temple’s Current Awareness blog
And… a bit of Charles Fincher Esq…
This will be my last Postcard From the Staterooms before Christmas, so I thought I would start with a picture of me and Vince Cable. Can you tell the difference? Have you ever seen us in the same room together?
I am, as it happens, looking forward to Christmas. I shall spend it alone, through choice…and I shall paint and write. It is quite possible that I shall also tweet. Last Christmas Day I painted a Charonasso as part of my F**kArt series….
I have no idea what painting I shall do on Christmas day this year… but, I suspect, it will be mildly surreal.
They say it will be a White Christmas this year. A quick look outside the window and the hysteria on the news channels confirms that this may be so. Fortunately, I do not need to travel anywhere – all supplies needed are but a hundred yards away and I have a spade. I am quite handy with a spade, given my experience as a gravedigger when I dug graves to assist with my bar and legal education bill when I was reading law all those years ago.
The Assange coverage continues unabated and while I have taken the view, not unreasonably, that due process should take its course, the news coverage continues unabated. There is, of course, a certain irony in this…..from The Australian.
Lawyers cry foul over leak of Julian Assange sex-case papers
And The Guardian / Observer has covered all bases by being critical of Mr Assange : Julian Assange furore deepens as new details emerge of sex crime allegations and here: 10 days in Sweden: the full allegations against Julian Assange
I can only repeat my view that trial by twitter/press or television is just not acceptable and repeat that I have absolutely no view on whether Assange is or is not guilty of the rape allegations (however defined) – for one can only be guilty in terms of the prosecution of crime when found to be so by a court.
The blogger formerly known as Iain Dale has waded into / climbed aboard the Assange bandwagon by writing for Middle England by turning it into a political issue…as, of course, others have done. Iain Dale flagged his Mail on Sunday story on twitter several times suggesting that he may ‘upset’ a few people. Here is the Dale piece…
He preaches openness but demands privacy. He reveals ‘secrets’ but 99% are prurient gossip. He’s accused of rape but won’t face his accusers. Why do the Left worship the WikiLeaks ‘God’?
I am pleased to report on a matter of far greater importance than Mr Dale’s views on Assange that The White Rabbit is back in London. This means …. drinks with Charon…soon. The White Rabbit’s blog is always worth a visit. The White Rabbit reports…..
Finally… a very interesting article in The Independent…
Who’s afraid of the interweb? Judges to rule on Twitter in court
The Independent: Should journalists be allowed to tweet from court?
It’s become a question of some urgency since Tuesday, when district judge Howard Riddle gave the nod for reporters to tweet proceedings from inside Westminster Magistrates’ Court during Julian Assange’s bail hearing. It is a matter of such importance that the Lord Chief Justice has already announced there is to be a consultation on live reporting.
Tuesday’s ruling prompted some commentators to hail the dawn of a new era. By Thursday, however, journalists, bloggers and others interested in reporting how justice was being done in Assange’s case were back to good old-fashioned pen and paper after Mr Justice Ouseley ruled against posting to Twitter from court. Too distracting, he said.
Too distracting? In my experience, courtrooms can be uniquely distracting places. Silence in court, while an irreproachable instruction, is hellishly difficult to achieve. Courts have to contend with a cacophony of sneezing, coughing, whispering, endless standing up and sitting down, heavy things being dropped, paper shuffled, possessions ordered and reordered, quietly dramatic entrances and exits, muttered remonstrations, water being poured, gulped and spilt, prodding, tapping, snorting and grunting, and that’s just the lawyers.
Any “disturbance” caused by people tweeting is arguably minor by contrast. After all, electronic devices can be switched to silent.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no statutory ban on tweeting in court. While the pre-digital age Contempt of Court Act 1981 does not allow sound recordings to be made without the court’s permission, and prevents photographs being taken or sketches made in court, it doesn’t prohibit creating text using electronic devices. Judges do, however, have the power to set the rules for behaviour in the courtroom and that is why Mr Justice Ouseley was able to rule against tweeting in the High Court last week.
Judging by some of the tweeting I see late at night – and participate in…. I suspect that the judicial rules on tweeting from court should contain a requirement that the tweeter be sober.
Have a good week..and, of course, a good Christmas.
Best, as always