Law Review Weekly #4 Part 2: Has Lord Sumption developed a taste for generalising?

Newly minted Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption makes some good points with his recent statement that the best lawyers are not law graduatesbut it would be interesting to know what  evidence he has for this broad assertion. It seems to be rather a general and sweeping statement?  Perhaps Lord Sumption has developed a taste for ex tempore extra-judicial statements of a general nature?

Amusingly, Ronald Dworkin has a scathing response to  a Lord Sumption review and it is worth quoting in full from Ronald Dworkin’s Justice for hedgehogs blog –   the source of the quote:

In the course of an otherwise generous review (The Spectator, March 19, 2011) Jonathan Sumption, who is a Justice of the UK Supreme Court, made a damning observation:

[Dworkin] has taken pleasure in throwing rocks into the placid ponds of academic discourse; to such an extent that the life-cycle of a Dworkinian argument is by now quite well-known. It starts with a brutal forensic demolition of some conventional truth, accompanied by a radical alternative theory. Critics then gather round with their objections. Some of them hit the mark with distressing accuracy. Dworkin responds by reducing the size of the target. He jettisons the more striking and vulnerable parts of the argument one after the other, in order to preserve the persuasive force of the rest, rather like the crew of an early steamer cutting timber out of the superstructure to feed the boilers. Gradually, the theory becomes more acceptable but less radical, until the point is reached when Dworkin is no longer saying anything remarkable after all.

I recently asked him for an example of my regrettable but recurring practice. He confessed that he had “somewhat” overstated his position. He didn’t really mean that it was “well-known” that I water down earlier bold claims. On the contrary he meant only that he now remembers having that impression – in the 1970’s – based on his understanding of my first book. Could he remember which bold statements he had the impression that I later retracted? Or any other details about the impression he now remembers? No, it was much too long ago. Justice Sumption will, of course, take much more care on the bench.

Well.. it amused me.

And so…to the law blogs…

I continue my ‘dystopian legal system’ theme from my Law Review Weekly #4 Part 1 with this notification of fraud and world class theft from RollonFriday.com…

There are two new entries from the archive into the RollOnFriday Dodgy Solicitor Top Trumps pack this week.

First up, Simon Morgan, formerly of Milners, Leeds. Ex-office manager Morgan is currently eighteen months into his seven year jail term for stealing an impressive £1.4 million from his former employer. He spent the cash on using private jets and a Ferrari and on expensive holidays.

Second, and long overdue his own RollOnFriday Top Trump is Hogan Lovells’ nightmare Christopher Grierson. The former partner was recently convicted of stealing £1.3 million in phony expense claims from his firm, much of which he gave to his mistress. Given his extensive plea in mitigation, Grierson escaped what could have been an extremely stiff sentence, but will still serve three years.

And Legal Cheek is on the boil with this story: EXCLUSIVE: Drug Possession Pupil Barrister Henry Mostyn Is Rejected For Tenancy. Clearly..being the son of a famous high court judge – Sir Nicholas Mostyn – was not a plea in mitigation.

It is, of course, not unknown in the legal profession for lawyers to enhance their performance by self medicating with alcohol and taking coke and other illegal highs.  Being caught by Police in possession of  cocaine is not a career improving move.  Legal Cheek reports: “As Richard Todd QC put it while defending Mostyn at his May Bar Standards Board (BSB) disciplinary hearing: “The caution [given by the police to Mostyn when he was caught with the drugs] itself has an impact – it will have a bearing on future applications, whether for [crown court] recorder or Queen’s Counsel.”

And on that note..on to more legal matters…

Following the report of the BSB on advocacy – scathingly ripped apart by Richard Moorhead (referred to in Part 1) – Legal Futures reports: Judges “warming up” to QASA as row over solicitor-advocates rumbles on

I followed the debate in the House of Commons on Lords reform yesterday and was struck at how badly flawed the proposals are.  The principle of electing members of the ‘upper house’ is a good one – but the proposals for a 15 year term, to quote just one part, let alone difficulties surrounding  primacy of the two houses and the lack of a referendum reveal a lack of clear thinking and, one suspects, an element of haste for vainglorious Liberal-Democrat political legacy and glory?  Clegg was described as a ‘struggling sixth form debater’ by one twitter ‘observer’ – and, I have to agree.  It was not an impressive performance.  Rather woolly.

Carl Gardner, on his Head of Legal blog – puts the boot in with elegance and precision of thought: We must say no to this bad Lords reform

Carl Gardner begins with…“Walter Bagehot, in his high Victorian classic The English Constitution, wrote that the danger of the House of Lords certainly is, that it may never be reformed.”

I suspect that reform may be kicked into  the long grass tonight by the Tory rebels et al – not a matter over which I shall lose much sleep given the rather more pressing problems facing the country at the moment which require mature political thought and action.

The UK Human Rights blog reports: Supreme Court dismisses self-incrimination appeal
Philips v Mulcaire [2012] UKSC 28 – read judgment.  The Supreme Court has had its first (and perhaps last) look at an issue arising from the phone hacking litigation against the News of the World newspaper.

@Bretttechlawyer has an interesting piece on his blog: Accountants win in the Board Room – also not taught at General Counsel School

In England, the accountants rule. But it’s the lawyers who are dominant in business in the United States*. I work in England under the rule of accountants and they call the shots in business here. For a profession that has zero television shows made about it accountants really do command a lot screen time in the office and in the board room. But “LA Accountant” is never going to make prime time.

Meanwhile.. over at Family Lore…John Bolch asks: Can divorce lawyers stop wives from cutting up their husbands with chainsaws?

JohnBolch writes: “This advert by Dresden-based lawyers Hannig, Ahrendt & Partners is apparently causing something of a stir in Germany. The slogan that appears after the woman drops the chainsaw reads: “This wouldn’t have happened with a divorce lawyer.” Hmm…”

Obiter J has an interesting analysis on the riots of last summer: August 2011 Disorder ~ Judicial and Court ~ Statistics

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”  The phrase is something of a warning to exercise care when reading statistics.  Nevertheless, two interesting statistical offerings from  the Ministry of Justice and one from the Attorney-General’s Office are worthwhile reading.  Make of them what you will.

Obiter J also reflects on the Libor scandal: Can the law nail the Libor bankers?

“I love the law,” said UpTights today. “Makes me skip to work in the morning. Gives meaning to my life. Colour to my soul. Feeds me from the first to the last. You know, without the law, I am nothing.”

Babybarista: I love the law

“Proof that as the Olympics grow ever closer the authorities are losing whatever grip on reality they may ever have  had came yesterday with an electronic cigarette.”

The White Rabbit investigates The Case of The Electronic Cigarette

Bizarre… indeed.

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Recent podcasts

Lawcast 211: Giles Peaker of the Nearly Legal blog on housing law and the changing legal world.

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The Guardian

Lawyers decry government plans for ‘flexible courts’ to speed up justice

Supreme court president to be confirmed by No 10 within weeks
My money is on Lord Neuberger MR

John Terry trial: Twitter’s contempt for the rules


‘Secret justice’ bill will mean no justice at all

Shami Chakrabarti: National security doesn’t mean we should jettison our proud tradition of fair trials – peers must oppose this bill

Clive Stafford Smith: ‘The jury system in this country is utter insanity’
The lawyer and founder of Reprieve on defending clients on death row, why the whole justice system is flawed – and his fear of appearing sanctimonious

LegalWeek: CC takes on double Libor role for Barclays and RBS with Chinese wall
Clifford Chance (CC) is advising both Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) on the fallout from the Libor scandal, with a Chinese wall set up to avoid potential conflicts.

Legal Week: A little more collaboration
Alex Novarese on Legal Week’s move to work on a ‘preferred partner’ basis with Chambers and Partners…

Law Society Gazette: Freshfields and Linklaters dampen magic circle celebrations
Magic circle rivals Linklaters and Freshfields have recorded modest financial results to end a week of announcements by the UK’s biggest firms.

Law Society Gazette: Legal Ombudsman delays complaints publication

The Lawyer: Firms have well-publicised diversity programmes – but they’re not working, InterLaw finds

The Times (£): Cohabitees ‘should get more rights’

The Times (£): Lucy Scott-Moncrieff takes the helm at the Law Society

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Professional Update
Thursday 05 July 2012
This week’s issue features diversity reporting requirements, PII practice notes, new president, and more.

Law Society annual review and financial report

Help shape our library services and win M&S vouchers

Sponsored by CILEx

49th CILEx President calls for independent practice rights

Higher Apprenticeship in Legal Services
Industry to benefit from government funding for new Legal Services Higher Apprenticeship.

Bar Council news

School Pupils Gain Taste of Life at the Bar
9 July 2012 – The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, will this week host the sixth annual Bar Placement Scheme in conjunction with the Social Mobility Foundation. The scheme enables talented state school students to spend a week undertaking work experience with barristers’ chambers and attending talks, workshops and a reception hosted by the Chairman of the Bar, Michael Todd QC, and the Chair of the Bar Council’s Social Mobility Committee, Taryn Lee QC.

Bar Council Chair Condemns Secret Court Plans
9 July 2012 – As the House of Lords prepares for the Report Stage of the Justice and Security Bill, the Chairman of the Bar Council, Michael Todd QC, has condemned the Government’s planned extensions to the use of Closed Material Proceedings (CMPs), endorsing the arguments of Liberty, Reprieve and the Special Advocates who participate in these proceedings.

And I leave the more mature male readers with the news from the humourist Barry Cryer – that he continues to take Viagra to stop him rolling out of his bed…

AND…this, without much doubt, is probably the BEST transcript of court proceedings in a criminal case you will ever read.  Class!

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