Bridge over troubled legal water? Legal issues of the Brexit transition period

Professor Steve Peers
Website / Blog 

Compared to famous Florentines, Theresa May’s recent speech on the UK’s Brexit plans inevitably owed more to Machiavelli than Leonardo da Vinci. Nevertheless, it gave a rough indication of the basic legal architecture that the UK government would like to govern its relationship with the EU for a transition period after Brexit Day. I have previously summarised and commented upon the main points of the Florence speech, but there is more to say on this legal framework – and also on the rules which would apply to EU27 citizens in the UK during the transition period.

Legal framework

First of all, is a transition period after Brexit Day even legally possible? If so, what provision of EU law would apply?

Article 50 TEU, which sets out the basic rules on Member States’ withdrawal from EU membership, is silent on the issue of any transitional period after the withdrawal date. However, it might be noted that Article 49 TEU, governing accession, is equally silent on transitional periods after joining the EU; nevertheless such periods are an established feature of the accession process.

In its negotiating guidelines on Brexit, the European Council (EU27 States’ leaders) stated that:

To the extent necessary and legally possible, the negotiations may also seek to determine transitional arrangements which are in the interest of the Union and, as appropriate, to provide for bridges towards the foreseeable framework for the future relationship in the light of the progress made. Any such transitional arrangements must be clearly defined, limited in time, and subject to effective enforcement mechanisms. Should a time-limited prolongation of Union acquis be considered, this would require existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures to apply.

These principles are set out again in the negotiation directives handed down to the European Commission by the Council (EU27 States’ ministers) at paragraph 19. Those negotiation directives go into no further detail on the transition period issue for now; instead, there will be further negotiation directives in future, once the EU27 side has decided that there has been ‘sufficient progress’ on its priority issues (EU27 and UK citizens’ rights, financial issues, Northern Ireland) during the Brexit talks.

For the UK’s part, the Florence speech states that on Brexit Day, the UK will cease to participate in the EU political institutions. The period must be ‘strictly time limited’, suggesting ‘around two years’;  but the two sides ‘could also agree to bring forward’ aspects, such as a new dispute settlement system. The latter point implies that the ECJ will apply until that point.

Substantively, during the transitional period, ‘access to one another’s markets should continue on current terms’; the UK will ‘continue to take part in existing security measures’; and the ‘framework’ will be ‘the existing structure of EU rules and regulations’.  There would be no change to other Member States’ payments and contributions during the current funding cycle (ending in 2020), implying that EU laws on funding and spending continue without amendment until then.

EU citizens can still come to live and work during this period, but they will be registered; but as I noted in the previous blog post, such registration is allowed under the EU citizens’ Directive. (More on that below). Finally, the speech referred to one substantive difference in law: the UK would hold its own trade negotiations, and would ‘no longer directly benefit’ from the EU’s trade negotiations.

Moreover, the speech made comments on another aspect of the withdrawal agreement – maintaining EU27 citizens’ rights – that may be relevant by analogy to transition issues. The Prime Minister said that the UK would ‘incorporate our agreement [on citizens’ rights] fully into UK law and make sure the UK courts can refer directly to it’; and that UK courts must be ‘able to take into account’ relevant ECJ case law.

Comparing the UK to the EU27 position on the transitional period, there are lots of similarities. Both sides are willing to contemplate such a period (the EU27’s ‘legally possible’ caveat is considered below). Both sides want it to be for a limited time. The Florence speech states that the transitional rules would be linked with the future permanent UK/EU relationship (‘a bridge from where we are now to where we want to be’), matching the EU27 position. (Note there’s no need to define the future relationship in detail in the withdrawal deal: Article 50 refers only to defining a ‘framework’ for that relationship, and the EU negotiation position refers only to bridges towards the foreseeable future framework).

The greatest difficulties may come with the issues of post-Brexit EU legislation, and the legal effect of EU law. At present the European Communities Act provides for the adoption of new EU law into the UK’s legal order. It gives that law direct effect and supremacy, and gives effect to ECJ rulings in domestic law. However, the proposed EU Withdrawal Bill would remove all these provisions, instead retaining pre-Brexit EU rules and ECJ judgments in force pending potential amendment by government or Parliament. Pre-Brexit ECJ judgments would retain their force subject to such amendments or overruling by the UK Supreme Court, and UK courts would have an option to take post-Brexit ECJ case law into account. The Bill would also remove the principle of damages liability for breach of EU law, and would not keep the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as part of retained EU law in the UK (on the latter point, see discussion here).

Technically, anything which the UK agrees to in the Withdrawal Agreement can be incorporated into UK law easily enough, since clause 9 of the Withdrawal Bill would give the UK government unlimited power to amend any UK laws to give effect to that Agreement. (Note, however, that the Bill could be amended in Parliament as regards any of these points before it becomes an Act of Parliament). So the issue is not the capability of the UK government to give effect to the Withdrawal Agreement, but its willingness to negotiate on these issues.

After her speech, the Prime Minister deliberately avoided answering a question about whether the UK would apply post-Brexit EU law during the transition period, saying it was a matter for negotiation. In fact, there is some flexibility on this, since the EU27 negotiation position does not take any view on that point. (Remember that the EU27 negotiation position on transitional issues will be enlarged later). In the meantime, UK cabinet members have tried to rule this prospect out. (Note that the speech refers to keeping ‘existing’ and ‘current’ EU law in force).

There is less flexibility as regards the legal effect of EU law, where – to recall – the EU27 position is that ‘existing EU regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures’ should apply. The combined reference to ‘judiciary’ and ‘enforcement’ structures suggest that the ECJ’s current jurisdiction, and the current legal effect of EU law in the UK, should apply. While the Prime Minister obliquely referred to the ECJ, she hoped that its role could be terminated early as regards the UK; and the UK government’s position on the legal status of EU27 citizens (no ECJ role; option to take account of ECJ rulings; incorporation of Withdrawal Agreement into UK law but no special status), if extended to the transitional rules in the Withdrawal Agreement, would fall short of the EU27 position. Equally, while it is not expressly mentioned in the current negotiation position, the EU27 might, when amending that position, argue that the EU Charter should still apply to the UK during the transitional period. (Note that the Charter does not apply to all actions of Member States, but only applies to Member States when they implement EU law).

Three further points. First, what happens to the position of non-EU countries as regards the UK? They are parties to some treaties with the EU alone, and to some treaties with the EU together with its Member States. The legal issues arising in this respect during the transitional period will have to be addressed.

Secondly, what happens after the end of the transitional period? In particular, what if it is deemed desirable on both sides to continue the arrangement, in whole or part? In that case, the special decision-making rule applying to Article 50 (see next point) will have expired, and so the normal decision-making rules of EU law will apply. Depending on the content of what is carried forward then, this may require some unanimous voting and even ratification by all Member States, although it should be recalled that the EU side can decide to apply treaties provisionally pending national ratification.

That brings us to the most fundamental legal issue: can the EU27 side include a transitional deal within the scope of Article 50 in the first place? The words ‘[t]o the extent…legally possible’ hint at some doubt on this point, presumably because of an argument that Article 50 cannot extend to the regulation of legal relationships that are created after Brexit Day, but only to the regulation and/or termination of those created before that date. However, while little is certain now about how the ECJ might interpret Article 50, in my view that interpretation is too narrow, given that Article 50 refers to taking account of the framework for future relations with the withdrawing state, and Article 8 TEU refers to maintaining strong relationships with neighbouring non-EU countries. If this is correct, it follows that as long as the transitional deal is limited in time and linked to the future framework for relations – as both the EU27 and UK side intend – there should not be a legal problem. (On the other hand, there is nothing in Article 50 to require that anything in the withdrawal agreement must be subject to ECJ jurisdiction, besides the usual rule that only the ECJ can rule definitively on how to interpret EU law for EU Member States).

The importance of this is that the Article 50 agreement needs only a qualified majority vote to be approved by the EU27, without national ratification by Member States (as confirmed in the negotiation directives). But the EU27 and UK should prepare a ‘Plan B’ in the event that some Eurosceptic devoted to a ‘WTO-only’ and/or ‘no deal’ relationship between the UK and EU brings a legal challenge. If such a challenge were successful, the ECJ might anyway maintain the problematic parts of the treaty in force temporarily due to legal certainty; and the UK and EU should aim to agree the impugned parts of the Withdrawal Agreement on the correct legal basis as soon as possible, applying that new treaty provisionally.

Extension of the Article 50 period

Some have suggested extending the negotiation period for the Brexit talks instead – as Article 50 expressly allows for – arguing that a transition phase is no different from extending the negotiation period anyway.  It’s true that legally the extension of the negotiation period would be simple: it requires only a unanimous vote of the EU27 Member States (with no national ratification) required, plus the UK government, with no role for the European Parliament. As a matter of domestic UK law, arguably an Act of Parliament would be required to this end (note that the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act, which gave the government power to invoke Article 50 pursuant to the Miller judgment, does not mention the issue of extension).

But an extension to the negotiation period would be politically difficult. It’s not known whether the EU27 would give their unanimous consent, particularly given the awkward consequence that the UK would then end up participating in the 2019 European Parliament elections. And within the UK, announcing an intention to delay Brexit would likely mean that Theresa May would immediately be the centrepiece of a modern version of Da Vinci’s Last Supper – followed swiftly by the political resurrection of Nigel Farage.

Furthermore, it’s false to say that there is really no difference between a negotiation extension and a transition period. First of all, during a negotiation extension the UK would still participate in the EU’s political institutions. Secondly, it’s certain that there would be no change in the legal effect of EU law in the UK or the substance of EU laws in the UK, and that new EU laws and new ECJ judgments would continue to apply, in the event of a negotiation extension – whereas those issues may, as discussed above and below, be addressed differently during a transition period.

Thirdly, in the event of a change of mind in the UK on Brexit, remaining within the EU on the basis of a negotiation extension may be different from rejoining the EU after having left. This depends (a) on the resolution of some legal issues concerning Article 50 (Can the withdrawal notice be rescinded? If so, must the EU consent? If so, can the EU attach conditions? Or can the Article 50 period simply be extended indefinitely, with no further negotiation taking place?) and (b) on the extent to which the UK could rejoin on the same terms (Would the EU have already removed the UK’s opt-outs from the Treaties? Would the UK rebate on the EU budget have been rescinded yet?).

EU27 citizens

As noted already, the UK government’s intention to require EU citizens to register if they come to the UK during the transitional period is consistent with the EU citizens’ Directive, which allows registration for stays longer than three months. Indeed, the Commission has reported that almost all EU states register citizens from other EU Member States. But a failure to register can only be punished by proportionate penalties, not expulsion or detention (see the ECJ ruling in Watson and Bellman, concerning a prior version of this law). According to the ECJ ruling in Huber, Member States may include information on EU citizens in a database, but this can only be used for the purpose of administering EU free movement law; if they put information on EU citizens in a criminal database, they must be treated equally with nationals of that Member State.

The Directive goes on to say that Member States cannot insist that registration certificates must be the sole method of checking entitlement to reside or any other right, since other forms of proving identity are possible; and that Member States can only penalise EU citizens for not carrying their registration certificates if they penalise their own citizens the same way for not carrying ID cards (see also the ECJ judgment in Oulane). It follows that as long as the UK doesn’t have an ID card system, it could not penalise EU citizens for not carrying registration certificates.

So while registration of EU citizens is permissible, the limits set out in the legislation and case law put the more general questions about ‘transition law’ raised in this blog post in a particular context. It would not be credible for the EU27 to insist that the UK not register EU citizens at all, particularly given that most of them do the same thing themselves. But will the important limits on registration apply? It’s an important question given the tendency of the UK Home Office to create a ‘hostile environment’ for EU and non-EU citizens alike, and the risk that absent the application of EU case law and legislation to this issue, there could be fines, detention, expulsion or other refusals of rights for EU citizens who didn’t register, lost their registration certificate or forgot to carry it. (All the same issues arise if the UK extends – as it could – the registration obligation to EU citizens who were present before Brexit Day).

If the EU27 and UK agree that the existing EU law still applies and the pre-Brexit ECJ case law remains binding, in principle the issue is resolved, at least during the transitional period. But what if the UK breaches this agreement, or if there is some question about how the UK applies the requirement, or if there is some new relevant ECJ case law? Then the important questions will be whether the existing EU law remedies (direct effect, supremacy, damages) are still available; whether UK courts can still ask the ECJ questions; and whether the UK courts are obliged to follow post-Brexit ECJ case law.

This issue, important as it would be for many EU citizens resident in the UK, is only a microcosm of the legal issues raised by the transition period – and which the UK and EU27 will hopefully have time to consider properly.

Barnard & Peers: chapter 27

Photo credit: Thousand Wonders

Time for a Bit of Jerry Hayes – ex Tory MP and barrister

jerryhayes5IF YOU KNEW SUSHI LIKE SHE KNEW SUSHI

Jerry Hayes, Barrister

 

“If the Number 10 operation resembles Fawlty Towers on a bad day the upcoming party conference will be a bit like Titus Andronicus without the jokes.

There are four stages in the downfall of a Prime Minister. Arrogance, incompetence, ridicule and pity. Madame has the gift of being able to portray all four simultaneously. It is quite an art and must have taken years of practice. Her trip to Japan has been a masterclass of how not to behave in front of the Japanese. She was surprised that she was served sushi rather than steak. After all you don’t go to Japan to eat their bloody foreign food do you? And then she told the press that she doesn’t go too much on Karaoke either and has NEVER performed. That’s almost as bad as telling Mr. Abe that she has never dated a Japanese man because she was of the belief that they had small penises. But traveller beware. Penises are a particularly no go topic of conversation in Japan. A friend once went into a gay bar in Tokyo, sat next to a thong of pretty boys and raised his glass in salute in anticipation of a night of unbridled debauchery. “Chin, chin,” he leered. Well, the reaction was not one that he expected. The crowd went mad and beat the crap out of him. You see, chin chin means small cock in Japanese. I do hope someone has warned Madame. On the other hand it will be fun if they haven’t. It reminds me of Thatcher’s disastrous trip to Turkey where her speech writers had put in a couple of lines from Bryon where he said how much he loved the Turks. The poor scribbler hadn’t read the rest of the poem which went onto explain why Byron loved the Turks, which was basically that the boys were a great shag. This didn’t go down at all well and Thatcher’s bid to build the new Bosporus bridge went to Japan.

Anyhow, Madame braved her sushi and ate an urchin. No doubt this was a subtle signal to the carpet biting wing of the Conservative party that she was launching a new, radical, child poverty initiative. Eating an urchin cleverly solves two problems. It culls those awful chavs that those delightful people in Activate seem to despise and will provide a vital source of food after we have left the EU and the starving roam the streets. Splendid. A stroke of genius….

Read the rest here

Mike Briercliffe at briercliffe.com – a useful resource

Mike Briercliffe writes..“One of the key aspects of my work is “Content in Context” curation – this site is a “one stop” showcase for much of the content streams and digests that I preside upon.

I hope you find it interesting and pay regular visits to catch up with what I’m seeing that I think is relevant and read-worthy.

As you will see, I sometimes carry “sponsored” links. My policy is simple: if I like it AND it’s relevant – I’ll maybe tell you about it.

I won’t carry links to anything I don’t consider worthy. Sometimes I get paid for these links.

If you’d like your company to be featured here – drop me a line and we’ll make an arrangement. Painless.”

Link to Briercliffe.com 

The greatest game on earth? Cricket…here are some cakes!

I enjoy cricket… I try to watch or listen to every first class test cricket match.  I played cricket reasonably well as a youngster.  I was a wicket keeper – I enjoyed stumping and shouting “Agggghhhhht” at the umpires.

I also bowled rather badly.  I remember practising my bowling in Crete on a holiday many years ago by bowling pebbles from the beach into the sea.  I may have had too much of the local hooligan juice – Retsina.

 

As for batting… Mixed fortunes – I did score 110 in one innings in Africa.  I was 21.

 

Cricket is a fantastic game – subtle, tactical and far more dangerous to players than Rugby and American football.   The commentators on test Match Special – are world class.  I miss Jonners and the cakes.  And as for his immortal commentary England v West Indies:  “The Batman’s Holding, the bowler’s Willie”…one can only laugh.

Law is tedious. Far better things to study and do in life

I read Geology at University before law after working in Zambia as a geologist after school.  I really regret both studying law at university and running two law schools.  I look upon it now as a wasted life.  History would have been far more interesting to study. So would English literature and Art.

For those contemplating law as a career:   Don’t read law at University.  You won’t learn much of value to you in later life.  Law teaching in universities can be patchy and certainly, in many instances I suspect,  would not survive a rigorous inspection by serious education inspectors. Study something else at university and do a Diploma in law and then qualify as a solicitor / barrister in the usual way by doing their fair but  unchallenging examinations.

Nothing wrong with a career in law – be you a fair minded individual who cares about society and practices in those fields or one who simply wants to make loads of dosh.

 

I wish all those who do law and work in law well.  I am not going to be covering as much law – apart from Human Rights and instances of Injustice in the English Legal System – on my blog from now on.  There is no shortage of injustice in English law to write about.   Google throws up many instances of it. I don’t blame the lawyers or the judges.  They merely have to follow Government produced ‘Laws’. That is their job.

Time for some comment from ex-Tory MP and barrister Jerry Hayes

jerryhayes5“I know this is the silly season and I enjoy the manufactured stories about skate boarding ferrets, trampolining squirrels and Diane Abbott having a functioning brain rather than a bowl of custard as much as anybody. The Amish Wing of the Tories nowadays avoid the grouse moors and prefer bespoke baby seal clubbing holidays in Nova Scotia. Corbynistas are in a bit of a dilemma though. Normally they would be off to the socialist paradise of Venezuela, but sadly this gloriously successful country has been systematically undermined by Imperialist American running dogs, forcing its benign government to arrest the traitors, spies and saboteurs that make up the press, judiciary and any political opposition.

So apart from the Trump administration making May’s government look strong and stable and the prospect of a world war triggered by two madman with bad hair there isn’t a lot to write about. Yet there is something bizarre occupying tiny Tory minds. The phenomenon that has become Jacob Rees Mogg. The peculiar case of the Mogg in the night. Now Moggy is a decent old cove and a genuine, rather than manufactured eccentric, unlike Despicable Me impersonator Bozo. Mind you, if someone was brave enough to crack open their sperm banks in 50 years time they would be disappointed. The the tanks would have run dry. These guys don’t come fecund best. Moggy in the sanctity of a catholic marriage and Bozo like an alley cat on viagra. If the the Tory bible, Conservative Home, is to be believed (it’s more Old Testament than New filled with lots of old smite) the Bozo joke is wearing thin and they seem to prefer the cut of young Moggy’s jib. Most sentient folk would scream with hysterical laughter at the thought of a Mogg premiership, but remember we are talking about the Conservative Party many of whom don’t always take their medication and once, when in a floridly Psychotic state, actively considered making Andrea Loathesome their leader.

I haven’t a clue who will be the next Tory leader. But it will be sooner rather than later. This is the most incompetent government I have ever had the misfortune to witness. At a time when we should be in concessionary mode with the EU, Madame is sending edicts from the top of some Swiss mountain about hardening our position. They just haven’t got a clue. And the right wing press cheer her on by calling any of us who commit the heresy of not saying that Brexit will bring us a glorious future traitors. Someone pray for us.

I’m probably wrong but I suspect that Madame will be dissuaded from soldiering on until Armageddon in 2019 by her husband Philip. It will then be too late as we would have been cast into the seventh circle of hell by Barnier and his gang of cheese eating surrender monkeys.

The Tory party conference will be a jittery affair. No great cheers for Madame who will be treated with the respect one gives to a family pet which will have to be put down but nobody has the courage to decide precisely when. It will be dominated by the leadership hopefuls beauty parade. A bit like Love Island for old people. Where everyone gets fucked”

Jerry Hayes Blog 

(Jerry is a good friend.  I’m still not convinced that he is a real Tory – a ‘Secret Liberal’ ?  But a good lawyer and a good friend to me over many years. Helped me greatly some time ago when I needed help.  Did not hesitate for a moment to help.)

Law Review: The end of an era, the beginning of a new era.

Report 

“The UK Supreme Court have published Lord Neuberger’s and Lord Clarke’s valedictory remarks.

Lady Hale, Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Sir David Steel, James Eadie QC, Karon Monoghan QC, Robert Bourns (Law Society) and Andrew Langdon QC all give valedictory remarks on the occasion of Lord Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court, and Lord Clarke’s final sitting in the UK Supreme Court.

Lord Neuberger was made a QC in 1987 and appointed Lord Justice of Appeal in 2004. On 1 October 2009 he became Master of the Rolls before being appointed President of the Supreme Court in 2012. Lord Clarke spent 27 years at the bar specialising in maritime and commercial law and was appointed Master of the Rolls and Head of Civil Justice in 2005….”

Inksters sponsor “This is your Trial”

For the 5th successive year Inksters Solicitors are sponsoring ‘This is Your Trial’ at the Edinburgh Fringe. However, this year there is an extra, family friendly, show at 12 nooneach day so that children can join in the court room fun.

 

Top comedians are lawyers, prosecuting and defending cases brought by non-adults against their parents, siblings and friends. The audience is the jury, deciding the verdict in the mock trials.

 

It has been said it is difficult to tell who was more fun, the kids or the parents. ‘Judge’ Tim Fitzhigham however summed it up perfectly when he said: “You know I don’t think it matters? It’s the type of person. It doesn’t really matter how old they are.”

 

There will also be a draw a judge competition with participating children having a chance to win prizes from Inksters.

 

The adult show is on at 7.15pm each night. Last year saw the likes of Clive Anderson, Susan Calman, Andrew Maxwell, Marcus Brigstocke and Josie Long join the regular gang of Thom Tuck, Tim Fitzhigham and Trevor Lock. Expect to see even more comedy superstars this year, as the line-up changes for each and every show.

 

Brian Inkster of Inksters said: “Every year ‘This is Your Trial’ gets bigger and better and we are very pleased to be supporting them again this year as they give children an insight into court room procedure albeit with a comic slant!”

 

‘This is Your Trial (PG)’, the family friendly show, takes place at 12 noon every day during the Edinburgh Fringe from 31 July 2017 at Heroes @ Monkey Barrel (Venue 515). Book your tickets here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/this-is-your-trial-pg

 

The adult show is on at 7.15pm every night during the Edinburgh Fringe from 2 August 2017 at Gilded Balloon Teviot – Wine Bar (Venue 14). Book your tickets here:https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/this-is-your-trial

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers July/August 2017

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers July/August 2017

The latest issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is now published.

In this issue

  • Electronic evidence – Stephen Mason and George Weir describe the various mechanisms by which electronic evidence is adduced
  • Robot lawyers – Casey Flaherty of technology company Procertas is sceptical about intelligent robot lawyers
  • Robots in chambers – Stephen Ward of Clerksroom describes the features of Billy the robotic junior clerk
  • Digital marketing – Susan Hallam explains how and when you should employ competitive keyword advertising
  • Websites – Delia Venables asks What are chambers’ websites for? and reviews the current offerings
  • Digital legacies – Alex Heshmaty explains the concept of digital legacies and offers some top tips
  • Robots at large – Nick Holmes looks under the bonnet at DoNotPay, “the world’s first robot lawyer”

Access the Newsletter online

How’s your CPD / continuing competence planning going?

Our Internet for Lawyers CPD 2017 competence courses will guide you through the legal resources and tools available online, help you understand the internet and the legal issues it raises and assist you in the practical application of internet services to your legal practice.

Using our service you can quickly and easily create a plan and keep the appropriate records for SRA and BSB compliance purposes. Just Start a plan and Select relevant courses and you have an instant Plan and a Record which you can update during the year.

Why not sign up now at the early bird price of just £90+VAT? This covers access to all our courses and maintenance of your current and past plans.

Plan it. Do it. Record it. Now.

Enjoy the Newsletter.

Regards

Nick Holmes and Delia Venables

infolaw Limited
5 Coval Passage
London SW14 7RE

The Internet Newsletter for Lawyers PDF version is sent to all Newsletter subscribers and contributors and to recent purchasers of our Internet for Lawyers CPD courses.

Rive Gauche: Is the detective single asks female juror

The Guardian reports: “A juror has been forced to leave a four-month long terrorism trial at the Old Bailey after repeatedly trying to find out if a detective who had been a witness in the case was single.

A second juror acknowledged finding the detective, DS Ryan Chambers of West Midlands police, attractive but was allowed to stay on the case after the judge, Mr Justice Globe, decided she had been forthcoming in response to questions about the incident.

Globe warned that he had considered whether he had to discharge the entire jury, abandoning a long and complex terrorism trial for the most unexpected of reasons.

A group of men from the Midlands, who called themselves the “three musketeers” in a messaging group, have spent months in the dock at the Old Bailey accused of planning a terrorist attack between May and August last year. The defence claims that the key evidence in the case, a bag containing a pipe bomb, a meat cleaver and shotgun shells, was planted in the lead defendant’s car by rogue undercover police officers.

The case, which was originally scheduled to last two months but had faced continual delays, started summing up on Monday, with the jury expected to go out for deliberations next week. One of the issues they will be asked to decide on is whether the evidence of police officers was credible.

Globe told the jury: “The information that had recently been given to me was that one amongst your number had said that DS Chambers was attractive, and another among you had then spoken to the court usher and on more than one occasion had asked the court usher to find out whether DS Chambers was single.”

The information had originated from an inquiry by the Guardian relating to an overheard conversation.

Globe continued: “The inquiries that I’ve conducted have led to one amongst your number telling me that that juror did find him attractive but had not expressed any interest in finding out whether he was single – but another juror had jokingly asked whether that was the case.

“And although the juror who found DS Chambers attractive didn’t want an inquiry to be made of the usher, nonetheless, the other juror went ahead and asked.”

No attempts had been made to seek further information about Chambers. The answers provided by the juror who was discharged were “really unsatisfactory”, Globe said. “She has not accepted that she tried to find out from the court usher on more than one occasion whether DS Chambers was single.”

He reminded the court of their responsibility to consider the questions at stake “dispassionately, impartially” and without factoring in whether they found witnesses physically attractive.

The juror who found Chambers attractive had impressed the judge with her direct answers to his inquiries, he said. Asked in a questionnaire whether she still felt she could act as a juror, she wrote: “Yes definitely!”

Globe said he believed other members of the jury may have overheard questions being asked of the usher, and he reminded them that they had a duty to report any concerning behaviour among other jurors. “To put it mildly, I am disappointed that I was not given that information,” he said. “I’ve had to ask myself whether it isn’t so important that I shouldn’t allow you as a group to continue considering this case.”

Naweed Ali, 29 and Khobaib Hussain, 25, from Birmingham, are on trial alongside Mohibur Rahman, 32, and Tahir Aziz, 38, for preparing terrorist acts between May and August 2016. They deny the charges.

The case continues.

Baroness Hale to be President of UK Supreme Court

Brenda Hale to become first female president of supreme court.

b

Baroness Hale, who has campaigned for greater diversity in the judiciary, is said to be taking role as three other court posts are filled.  It will be interesting to see how she influences the future of English law. She has a background in legal academic work as well.

Full Guardian story

Female Prime Minister, Female First Minister in Scotland and female President of the UK Supreme Court.

Jerry Hayes writes on his blog…

I always enjoy reading my good friend’s blog.  Jerry usually nails it.

STOP ALL THIS HYPOCRITICAL CRAP ABOUT GRUBBY AND SHAMEFUL DEALS. ELECTIONS ARE ABOUT BRIBES AND DEALS. AND I THINK I’VE SEEN THE FUTURE. HE’S CALLED GAVIN

27 Jun 2017 at 08:31

Oh, can’t we all grow up a bit over the DUP deal? They may be a fairly ghastly bunch, but like the leaders of Scotland and Wales they want to screw as much money out of the government as they can for their own patch. They just have the opportunity. If you’ve got it flaunt it. And if you flaunt it abuse it. Even Gerry Adams had to admit that it was good news that £1bn is on its way to Ulster. And we might just get Stormont and power sharing back on track. It is a condition of payment. Who is daft enough to block that? As Claud Cockburn used to say, there is nothing more effective than a cash bribe.

I spent three happy years in Northern Ireland as a bag carrier in Paddy Mayhew’s team. The truth is we have been bribing them for years. They have a seriously good education system, public housing which is built to a far better specification than over here and if a medium sized town wanted a leisure centre in the nineties, they’d get it. It was one of the price tags of peace. I always got on well with the Ulster Unionists and actually took a member of the DUPround the Vatican. I even have the odd drink with Ian Paisley junior. But as a culture they are a little odd. But so is the Province. Last year I popped over to appear on Stephen Nolan’s television show. As I was sitting alone in my dressing room bored out of my skull I thought I’d pop into the green room for a drink and have a banter with some of the other guests. Firstly, I’d forgotten that the green rooms over there are dry, which was a terrible shock to the system. Secondly, there was a segment about a comedy play mildly taking the piss out of the bible that a DUP council had tried to ban. Not that they’d taken the time or trouble to go and see it. From what I’d heard it was all pretty tame stuff with reworked jokes like Moses coming down with the 10 commandments he had negotiated with God and saying the bad news was that adultery was still in. Gentle Two Ronnies stuff. So in I strolled in and sidled up to a kindly old boy. ‘What are you here for?’ ‘That play.’ ‘Can’t see what the fuss is all about.’ ‘So you think adultery is hilarious do you?’ Needless, to say I slagged him off to a supportive audience. The next morning I was recognised at the airport. To a man and a woman (there must have been about 20 of them) they said how nice it was to see me on Nolan, but how much they disagreed with me over the play. It’s a very different place.

So is this deal shabby and shameful? No more than any other political deal is. We had to ditch parts of the manifesto when we did deals with the Lib Dems in coalition. And it worked rather well. People, mostly of the Lederhosen persuasion, thought it was a disaster, but compared to today’s clusterfuck omnishambles those were the days of milk and honey. At least the DUP have buried the toxic rantings of the manifesto and will, with Ruth Davidson and her hit squad give us a fighting chance of realistic Brexit.

So everyone, let’s cut the hypocritical crap. All elections are about seeking power. All manifestos contain bribes. This deal is neither grubby nor shameful. It’s just practical. How long it will last is another matter. But with Alene Foster’s family history with PIRA I can’t see her breaking bread with Corbyn and his mob. This is personal.

In the last few days I have been pondering who should take over from May. Some commentators were saying we should skip a generation, but never made any serious suggestions. But this morning it dawned on me. It’s glaringly obvious. Who has had experience in Number 10? Who is popular with all sides of the party? Who comes from humble beginnings? Who has negotiated a deal that could save the skin of the Tories? Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson. And he has all the powers of patronage and the whips office machinery behind him. He could be formidable.This is early days and I have never even met him. I don’t even know if he is remotely charismatic. I’ve never even heard him speak. We will see. But I am am going to google William Hill and have a flutter. And don’t underestimate Green. A good man who did well at the dispatch box yesterday. And that wily old fox Davis comes over well. I could happily vote for any of those three. But buy shares in Williamson. A man to be watched.

What should law firms do about ransomware?

  • “What should law firms do about ransomware?

    One of the biggest law firms in the world has been hit by the huge ransomware attack (Petya) that is currently sweeping the globe. DLA Piper has confirmed that its computer systems and phones have been taken out by the mass hacking.

    LegalT Today have published Matt Torrens’ article entitled “What should law firms do about ransomware?”

    What better time, to have a read?

    Click to read the article in PDF – LegalITToday-Article-MT-Ransonware

 

The latest issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is now published.

The latest issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is now published. The PDF issue is attached. Print subscribers will receive their print issues shortly.

In this issue

  • Legal services – Delia Venables reviews the 50 plus companies (as distinct from law firms) selling legal documents and services online
  • Tribunals – Jamie Anderson of Trinity Chambers reviews the Employment Tribunals Decisions now on GOV.UK
  • Websites – Sue Bramall of Berners Marketing looks at mistakes to avoid in commissioning a website
  • Intranets – Helen Dewar describes the process of commissioning a new intranet for Leigh Day
  • Technology – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words explains what smart contracts are and the current and potential uses
  • Publications and events – Nick Holmes rounds up the latest lawtech publications, launches and events

Access the Newsletter online

The latest issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is now published. The PDF issue is attached. Print subscribers will receive their print issues shortly.

In this issue

  • Legal services – Delia Venables reviews the 50 plus companies (as distinct from law firms) selling legal documents and services online
  • Tribunals – Jamie Anderson of Trinity Chambers reviews the Employment Tribunals Decisions now on GOV.UK
  • Websites – Sue Bramall of Berners Marketing looks at mistakes to avoid in commissioning a website
  • Intranets – Helen Dewar describes the process of commissioning a new intranet for Leigh Day
  • Technology – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words explains what smart contracts are and the current and potential uses
  • Publications and events – Nick Holmes rounds up the latest lawtech publications, launches and events

Access the Newsletter online

Lawyer 2B reports: Judges speaking up – and being slapped down

Since last year’s notorious “Enemies of the People” headline, there has been a fierce debate about how the judiciary should respond to public criticism. The Lord Chancellor, Liz Truss MP resisted calls to speak up on the judges’ behalf, saying that although she supported the independence of the judiciary it was not for her as a government minister to censor the tabloid press. Instead, she suggested judges should speak up on their own behalf. But that can cause problems, as recent events have shown.

The judiciary are “hopelessly bad at communicating with the press” and “simply won’t get engaged”, according to Sir Alan Moses, a former Lord Justice who is now chairman of the press regulator Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) speaking to the BBC at the time. (It’s not the first time he’s criticised the judiciary for their failure to engage with the media, as revealed in this discussion of his 2014 lecture, Wearing the Mourning Robes of our Illusions: Justice in a Spin.)

But Moses agreed with the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd that the Lord Chancellor had not gone far enough to defend the judiciary in the wake of the High Court’s decision in the Brexit ‘Article 50’ case (Regina (Miller and another) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union[2016] EWHC 2768 (Admin); [2017] 2 WLR 583, DC).

Read the rest of the article here

Biblio – a new Law Society magazine from East Park Communications

biblioSimon Castell, who runs East Park Communications, publishes an extensive range of Local Law Society magazines.  They are interesting, a good read and a good way of keeping up to date with your local Law Society. Biblio is a new magazine produced by East Park Communications.  You may read it online here.

You may look at all the other Law Society magazine here

US visas for business immigration

US visas for business immigration
By Davidson Morris, Solicitors

The US remains a popular destination for business immigration.

Any foreign individual (ie non-citizen of the US, Canada and Bermuda) seeking to enter the US for business or work-related purposes must first apply for a visa.

This is provided the individual is not covered by the US ‘Visa Waiver Program’.

What is the Visa Waiver Program?

The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of specified countries to visit the US for up to 90 days without a visitor visa, provided they meet certain requirements.

Eligible countries include:

United Kingdom, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan.

In addition to having status as a national of one of the specified countries, applicants must also not otherwise be ineligible for a US visa, for example due to a criminal record.

Applicants must also hold a valid e-passport.

The Visa Waiver Program cannot be used if the purpose of travel is for study, self-employment, foreign journalism or settlement.

Where non-US citizens are not eligible under the VWP, they must apply for an appropriate US visa.

Which US visa? 

US visas are issued by the US Embassy or Consulate. They entitle holders to travel to the US.

Importantly, a visa does not guarantee entry to the US. Holders remain subject to immigration control checks, exercised by immigration officials at the port of entry who will confirm or refuse admission to the country.

Each visa category carries specific eligibility criteria and application requirements.

The purpose of the intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa category is required.

As part of the visa application process, applicants will need to establish that they meet all requirements under the specific category of visa.

Individual eligibility and capacity to meet each visa requirements will be scrutinised as part of the visa application process.

It is important therefore to select the most appropriate visa for each individual circumstances to avoid application delays, lost fees costs and potential application refusal.

Some of the more common US visa types for business purposes include:

 

 

The B1 visa allows holders to carry out business-related activity within the US during a time-limited visit.

 

 

 

The E-1 treaty trader visa allows foreign nationals of a ‘treaty nation’ to enter the US to engage in international trade in the US for a US organisation where more than 50 per cent of the business is trade between the US and your home country.

 

 

The E2 visa permits individuals from 80 specified treaty countries to invest in or set up a business in the US. Applicants are required to intend to make significant investment, equating to at least 50% ownership, in a US business. 

 

 

  • Short-term employee transfer – L1 visa

 

L 1 visas are available to employees of an international company with offices in both the United States and abroad. The visa allows such foreign workers to relocate to the organisation’s US office to deliver expansion, such as opening a new office.

 

The most popular route to work in the US, the H1B visa allows US companies to employ workers in occupations that require specialist skills and expertise in specific fields. Importantly it must be the employer that applies for the H1B visa.

 

The B2 visa allows foreign nationals temporary entry to the US for tourism and pleasure related activity.

Each category has restrictions, exceptions and nuances. For example, the visa category will determine length of visit, if and how dependants may be brought with the main visa holder, as well as other factors, conditions and restrictions relating to the visit.

Tips for US business visa applications

 

  • Plan ahead

Visa applications should be made as far in advance as possible.

 

  • Select the right visa

Consider the specific circumstances of the visit and the individual applicant.

 

  • Get the application right

US visa application processes are stringent.

 

Avoid errors, omissions and oversights as these can result in delays, lost fees and even refusals. Applications must be completed fully and accurately and be accompanied by valid and relevant supporting documentation.

 

  • Prepare for the interview

The interview will go into detail about travel plans, reason for visit, length of stay as well as a broad range of background matters, such as dependants, travel history, personal finances, residential status in home country.

 

We recommend seeking specialist advice to help avoid any surprises or issues with US visa applications.

 

Immigration law firm DavidsonMorris has a specialist US immigration team helping businesses and individuals with US visa applications.

Joshua Rozenberg QC on Brexit


Joshua Rozenberg QC Facebook reference

THE GENERAL ELECTION: A LAWYER WRITES

The motion that Theresa May will put to the House of Commons tomorrow will be “that there shall be an early parliamentary general election”. Under section 2 of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, the election will take place before 2020 if that motion is passed by the House of Commons. The House of Lords is not involved.

A motion may be passed by the Commons with or without a vote (known as a “division”). If there is a division, the motion calling for an early parliamentary election will pass only if “the number of members who vote in favour of the motion is a number equal to or greater than two-thirds of the number of seats in the House (including vacant seats)”. That means it needs at least 434 votes in favour.

In that event, says the act, “polling day for the election is to be the day appointed by Her Majesty by proclamation on the recommendation of the Prime Minister”. We know that Theresa May will recommend 8 June.

Parliament will not be dissolved tomorrow. A few days will be needed for MPs and peers to pass essential business, such the Finance Bill. That can’t be done until the House of Lords returns from its recess next week. The Finance (No. 2) Bill is being debated in the Commons this afternoon.

Some other bills will be rushed through. But they will not include the Prisons and Courts Bill, which is nowhere near ready. It was always intended that it would be carried over to the next parliamentary session. If the Conservatives win the general election, they would be expected to reintroduce the bill.

There is no reason why they should not, since it has the support of the prime minister. A delay of two or three months should make no difference to the plans for online courts.

And who will be the bill’s sponsoring minister? I would not put any money on Elizabeth Truss keeping her job as Lord Chancellor. We can expect a Cabinet reshuffle even if the Conservatives win. It would be an ideal time to bring in a Secretary of State for Justice with more political experience. Michael Gove is sounding much more supportive of Theresa May today than she ever was of him.

Like all ministers, Truss will remain in post until a new government is formed shortly after June 8. But she will not be a MP after parliament is dissolved.

A Conservative government with a new five-year term would presumably be in a stronger position to negotiate Brexit. Not only will have more time at its disposal, it will have an electoral mandate for leaving the EU. And, if May’s calculations are correct, it will be less vulnerable to backbench rebellions over Brexit.

Another argument in favour of an early election has received rather less attention today. Last month, the Conservative Party was fined £70,000 after an investigation by the Electoral Commission into the party’s campaign spending. Some Conservative MPs may be personally vulnerable to legal challenge. A new election limits that risk — provided the party obeys the rules this time.

One unintended consequence of the early election may be to delay the introduction of the Unified Patent Court across most of the EU. The government said last year that it wanted to remain part of the court and had promised to introduce the necessary secondary legislation “in the spring”. If that’s delayed, the court may have to postpone its planned start date of December 2017.

And what about human rights? The prime minister deferred a policy decision on a “British” bill of rights to the next Conservative manifesto. That will come three years sooner than expected. I’m sure there will be some sort of pledge but I still detect no appetite at all for reform. I certainly don’t expect a commitment to leave the human rights convention.

UPDATE: I should have pointed out that, under section 3 of the 2011 act, parliament will be dissolved at the beginning of the 25th day before the date appointed for the election (excluding weekends and holidays). So the last day on which this parliament may sit is Tuesday 2 May. But it may be prorogued sooner.

The new British University ‘Scumdog Millionaires’…Dreadful

I have a feeling that some British Universities will do very little about Cheating law essays / dissertations etc …. I hope to be convinced otherwise.  I am appalled.

I am sure that even some English Universities may do something to resurrect their international reputations on this….  I really do hope so.  Sorry to be so ‘unconvinced’.

It really is tragic that British academic law standards have dropped so low.  I am sure that Scotland has not followed this unpleasing trend.  I do hope so.  if not – we may as well give up on ‘Integrity’.

 

 

Guest Post: Launch of new crowdfunded app Playora set to change the way photos and videos are shared

Launch of new crowdfunded app Playora set to change the way photos and videos are shared

 

Playora allows you to share photos and videos instantly, to anyone, on any device or Smart TV, anywhere in the world.

 

Playora is a new app which will quickly and easily allow people to share their media from mobile devices to other screens, including Smart TVs, no matter where they are located (even on the other side of the world).

 

Serial entrepreneur and founder of Playora, Matt Spall, explains: “Sharing photos, videos, music and other media to other screens can be complex and frustrating. Playora enables simple sharing of digital media to almost any screen; handheld or household. Using our proven technology core Playora’s first release will be available on iOS and Android platforms as a free-to-download freemium app.”

 

Playora allows users to display instantly any media file (including photos and videos) on family and friends’ screens anywhere in the world. For example:

 

  • Imagine you’ve got photos and videos of your kids on your Android phone, and their grandparents, on the other side of the world, want to see them on their tablet. Imagine you could instantly share those photos to their tablet and that they can then share them from their tablet to their Samsung Smart TV.

 

  • Imagine you’re with your friends in a bar, and you want to show them your holiday pictures. Imagine the pictures you choose appearing on all their smartphone and tablet screens, all at the same time, irrelevant of manufacturer.

 

  • Imagine you’re at your parents’ house, and you’ve got a video on your phone to show them. Imagine being able to send it directly to their Smart TV without messing around with wires or streaming boxes.

 

Playora is initially monetised using in-app advertising. In-app purchases will be added later. The team forecast 2million installs in year one, and close to 10 million by year three.

 

Playora founder Matt Spall is a BAFTA winning serial technical entrepreneur, with a significant background in digital entertainment since 1986. Matt is the designer of Playora and has been active in development on Smart TV platforms and content since 2011.

 

Fellow Director Simon Jeffrey has had significant exposure to high profile licensed assets through his experiences with Virgin, Sega, LucasFilm and Hasbro-owned Backflip Studios. Simon is an investor and early advisor to AppLovin Inc., which recently agreed a US$1.4 billion sale to Orient Hontai Capital.

 

It is predicted that 2.1bn people will be smartphone users by the end of 2016 (Statistahttps://goo.gl/VQvc8W)  79% of smartphone users regularly take photos with their smartphone, making it the most popular non-call based activity (Futuresource Consulting). Worldwide shipments of Smart TVs exceeded 100mm in 2015, with more than half of all TV sets shipped globally in Q1 of 2016 (IHShttps://goo.gl/3FdmdV). 42m streaming stick devices were sold in 2015, a third of them being Google’s Chromecast (Strategy Analyticshttps://goo.gl/xeGDEv). Google revealed in July 2016 that Chromecast sales had risen to over 30m (Recodehttps://goo.gl/icWt1f)

 

For more information about Playora see: http://www.playora.com/ and https://www.crowdcube.com/playora

 

About Playora

Founded by BAFTA winning serial technical entrepreneur Matt Spall, Playora is the trading name of Invisiplay Limited. The company was formed with the specific purpose of making it easier to use, so called, ‘Smart’ technology for entertainment by people left behind by the digital divide.

 

http://www.playora.com/

https://www.crowdcube.com/playora

@Playora

https://www.facebook.com/playoraapp

 

Lord Chief Justice criticises Liz Truss

Belfast Telegraph article

“Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, who was one of the High Court judges who ruled that Parliament, not the Prime Minister, had the final say on triggering Article 50, said Ms Truss had been “constitutionally wrong” not to stand up for the judiciary in the face of fierce press criticism.

The Lord Chief Justice criticised the stance taken by Ms Truss that it was not her role to tell the media what to write.

He told the Lords Constitution Committee: “T o my mind, she was completely and absolutely wrong.

“And I am very disappointed.

“I can understand how the pressures were on in November but she has taken a position that is constitutionally, absolutely wrong.

“In short, I believe the Lord Chancellor is completely and utterly wrong in the view she takes.”…..

Immigration Law: Residency Rules Changes Cause EU Nationals Panic

Immigration Law: Residency Rules Changes Cause EU Nationals Panic
Ryan Duffy

Panic has set in this week for EU citizens based in the UK after news emerged that Government regulation changes will grant the Home Office the ability to remove people from the country if they don’t have a comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI).

Immigration specialists have published briefings stating claims that the Home Office acquired controversial new enforcement powers that would start from the 1st of last month against EU citizens.

The new power brings warning to EU nationals who aren’t considered to have EEA PR, more commonly known as a right of residence. This includes spouse of UK citizens as well as many students who don’t have a CSI, meaning they could be refused entry or worse be deported.

The Home Office have been quick to dismiss these claims are incorrect, going on to state to these regulations aren’t a new measure. Their spokesperson said: ‘It is completely wrong to say that we have new powers to deport EU citizens without comprehensive sickness insurance. EU citizens will not be removed from the UK or refused entry solely because they do not have this insurance. Their right to remain will remain unchanged while we are a member of the European Union and they do not need any additional documents to prove their status.’

However, according to the briefing, the new sparked a surge of panic from EU nationals who are living in the UK. There were hundreds of concerned messages following the social media posting of the piece. These issues were coming from mature students as well as spouse of British Citizens who are not working and are therefore at risk at being removed due to these rule changes.

The barrister who put together the initial briefing, Colin Yeo of Garden Court Chambers in London, described how he thought the changes wouldn’t have as detrimental of an impact as what was first thought, however he went on to state how he felt that the Home Office was being ‘careless’ and creating ‘unnecessary panic’ to these people.

Speaking to the Independent, Colin said, ‘According to the regulations, if you are perfectly self-sufficient in the UK and you’re not claiming benefits or anything like that, but you don’t have comprehensive sickness insurance, you don’t have a right of residence and therefore you could be removed. I don’t think the Home Office is going to enforce this against say, the French wife of a British citizen. I think they’re using it against people they don’t like, like Polish rough sleepers. The position of a Polish homeless person who hasn’t committed any criminal offences or claimed public funds is the same as the wife of a British banker but doesn’t have CSI, according to the regulations. They’re both equally removable as far as the Home Office is concerned. I think they’ve drawn it up without really realising the power they’ve granted themselves and the way that it’s going to make people feel, because this is going to make people feel very insecure.’

These immigration law changes come after reports that PM May stopped giving rights to EU nationals under the new freedom of movement rules when Article 50 was triggered. It’s still yet to be apparent if the Governments plan will breach European treaties that guarantee the freedom of movement. Under this plan, there currently is around 3.6 million EU citizens residing in Britain so those who came before the change will have their rights protected – that is dependent on whether the EU agree the same states for UK people living in Europe.

Why a Lasting Power of Attorney Can Be Important for Your Marriage

Why a Lasting Power of Attorney Can Be Important for Your Marriage
Ryan Duffy

It has been projected that each year, thousands of people have an accident or develop conditions that damage their mental capacity. It is likely that you will assume that when you are married to your partner, that if you every require money for your loved one’s medical care, it will be as simple as going into a bank and request access to their money. However, this is not the case, and the only you can do this is with a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). If you do not have a LPA, you may be forced to go through a long legal battle to get the rights to the money. Obviously, when you are having to deal with your partner being ill, this is the last thing you want to be doing! To ensure you don’t get into this position, read below to make sure you are fully informed about an LPA.

What is LPA?

If you happen to find yourself in the horrible position where you condition where you are unable to care for yourself because of an accident or a disease, it would leave you in a position where someone else will have to manage your finances. The LPA is a legal document that allows you to nominate your partner so you have someone you trust to handle your affairs.

When Does the LPA Become Active?

In 2005, the mental capacity act which was brought forward. This act is used as the criteria to assess whether you will be unable to act on your own behalf if you are ill or have been in an accident. The outline of the act states that loss of mental capacity is apparent when a person cannot function and retain information which is required for them to make a decision on something. If you have an LPA already written it will then become active and your partner will make your decision for you.

Why Set One Up?

If you do get to the stage where you are unable to act on your own behalf and still haven’t set up a LPA, then your partner will then need to try and become a ‘deputy’ – which is a very long expensive process. This is a highly confusing matter and you will more than likely need the help of a wills solicitor to get you through the jargon and help you navigate your way through the matter. This can also cause further stress if you happen to have children which are not the biological children of your partner, and this may cause them to want rights to the money, which could end in a dispute resolution – causing even further stress on your family when they should only be worried about caring for you.

As is the case with many legal documents such as wills or prenuptials, this is something which is never at the forefront of our minds because we’re often too busy loving our lives with the love of our life. However, if you can think one step ahead and prepare for the moments when life not may be as easy – you will give yourself that extra peace of mind.

Therefore, it is important to look at all your options and make sure that you and your partner are fully protected should the worst happen.

Barrister fined by the ICO for failing to keep her client’s information secure.

You have by now more than likely read the story of the barrister fined by the ICO for failing to keep her client’s information secure.  I wonder how commonplace the same security carelessness is within her peer group, through insecure local file storage and/or sharing.  I don’t wish to scare-monger; rather I wish to make clear, that it does not have to be difficult to exercise good practice.  Remember it is your responsibility to look after your client’s data.

Firstly, ensure that any mobile device is encrypted to FIPS 140-2 standard.  There is specialist encryption software available on the market to purchase, however most new laptop machines nowadays come with FIPs compliant encryption built-in (just make sure you deploy it properly and save the key securely!)

Secondly, beware of ‘consumer’ file sharing applications as you often have little control over where the data resides and in the event of an account breach, it presents a huge risk of your files being compromised.

Lastly, (and this is a long term commercial consideration) move towards a private cloud solution as your business environment.  There are many things to consider when making the right choice of cloud solution and IT partner but holding your data in the cloud should mean you have access on the move to your files in a secure environment without the need to download locally.

Sprout IT can offer advice and assistance with all of the above and  IT security in general.  You can find more about encryption, secure file sharing and choosing the right cloud partner by clicking the links or contacting SproutIT on 020 7036 8530.

Legal IT Specialist & Bar Council Service Partner

Service|Responsibility|Excellence
info@sproutit.co.uk | sproutit.co.uk | Twitter | LinkedIn

 

Fiona has 15 years’ experience within the legal sector, supplying products and services in various client facing roles.  Focused on forging strong relationships with clients, she is passionate about providing excellent client service, gaining a deep understanding of customer needs and providing quality products and services to improve clients business environment.

 

Smarke – new app and hardware allowing you to share secure, scheduled access to your rental property – no key required

smarkeSmarke – new app and hardware allowing you to share secure, scheduled access to your rental property – no key required
Chantal Cooke

Smarke is the easiest way to share secure, scheduled access to your rental property with your guests – instantly and remotely. No key required.

After successful Beta trials Smarke is launching in the UK.  Smarke promises to completely change the way we give access to people entering our property – whether friends or rental clients. No more asking your mum to let your AirBnB client in because you are abroad – just use your smartphone and Smarke app.

With Smarke you can use your mobile phone to grant immediate access to your property – whether you are nearby or halfway around the world. Simply retro fit a Smarke lock (which is the same size as a standard Euro lock – so easy to fit) and download the mobile app.

The Smarke keyless entry app gives you full control. You decide when guests are able to check in and check out of your property – keeping the process secure, efficient and convenient. You grant access via the Smarke app to your guest‘s smartphone by specifying the dates and times of their visit. The guest can then grant access to other members of their party.

The Smarke app uses Bluetooth to unlock and lock the door, so there‘s no need to rely on potentially hackable Wi-Fi or a vulnerable internet connection. The device fits on any Euro Profile Cylinder lock. It takes just minutes to install.

Smarke is battery operated so there is nothing to wire or connect. When the battery is running low (it lasts up to six months), you are alerted via the app.

Smarke’s home access range currently consists of three products: a smart lock, an intercom solution, and a keypad. All these products are protected via military grade encryption – so you can relax in the knowledge that only people you have authorised can use it.

 

  1. The smart lock retrofits onto existing Euro-profile type locks. It sits on the inside of the door, so no one will know that you have Smarke installed on your door and you can still use a key on the outside. Installation is extremely simple, taking up less than five minutes of your time and requiring no drilling, wiring, or professional assistance. It is controlled via Bluetooth by the Smarke mobile app that allows the owner to lock and unlock the door when in range of the lock, while also allowing the lock owner to send scheduled access to family members, friends, and anyone that downloads the Smarke app on their smartphone.

 

  1. Smarke’s intercom solution is completely new to the market, and allows property owners in apartments, flats or gated communities to have a complete smart entry solution. Anyone with an existing intercom system can install the chip in their apartment, allowing you to access your building using no more than a code, while also being able to send a scheduled personalised code to others via the mobile app.

 

  1. The keypad controls the smart lock via Bluetooth. It sits discretely on the outside of the door, and offers users an alternative if they do not have their smartphones with them or their phone battery dies.

 

Smarke is developed and manufactured in the UK.

 

Smarke is designed to meet the needs of property managers, hosts and guests on platforms such as AirBnB and HomeAway. Smarke is also perfect for anyone who has ever been locked out, left their keys at the office, or constantly has to pat-down all their pockets before leaving a public place.

 

Smarke is currently running a rewards crowdfunding campaign that allows users to get their hands on Smarke’s products, at massively discounted rates, as soon as they are available.

 

Smarke’s solution is a game changer for those who offer holiday lets or part-time letting via platforms like AirBnB.

 

For more information see: http://www.smarke.com

And for the rewards campaign see: https://igg.me/at/smarke

 

About Smarke:

Smarke’s smart lock solution allows property managers, hosts and guests on platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway, to share secure, scheduled access to their rental property with their guests – instantly and remotely, through the mobile app. No key required. http://www.smarke.com

 

Twitter: @sharingsmarke
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SharingSmarke/

Indiegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/smarke-open-the-door-to-smart-access-smartphone-security#/

 

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers March/April 2017

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers March/April 2017

The latest issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is now published. In this issue

  • Access to justice – Judith Townend of the University of Sussex considers the human impact of the online court proposals
  • Bar marketing – Catherine Bailey of Bar Marketing provides guidance on completing legal directory submissions
  • Legal practice – David Gilroy of Conscious Solutions asks who (or what) should law firms be afraid of in 2017?
  • Court technology – David Chapman of Zylpha describes how the courts are being digitised and the resulting benefits
  • Litigation – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words explains predictive coding and its impact on lawyers and paralegals
  • Online legal services – Delia Venables looks at the pros and cons of providing legal services online and the firms doing it

Access the Newsletter online

Do you have a CPD competence plan?

Under both the new SRA continuing competence and the new BSB CPD schemes you must maintain a learning and development (CPD) plan, undertake relevant activities and keep appropriate records. Needless to say, you can’t leave your planning till the end of the year!

With our new CPD 2017 competence service you can quickly and easily create and maintain a plan based on our course topics and keep the appropriate records for SRA and BSB compliance purposes. Just Start a plan and Select relevant courses and you have an instant Plan and nascent Record which you can update during the year.

Why not sign up now at the early bird price of just £90+VAT? This covers access to all our courses and maintenance of your current and past plans.

CPD 2017 info and online purchase

Enjoy the Newsletter.

Regards

Nick Holmes and Delia Venables

infolaw Limited
5 Coval Passage
London SW14 7RE

Artificial Intelligence: opportunities for law firms

Artificial Intelligence: opportunities for law firms

By Rohit Talwar – CEO Fast Future Research

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) represents both the biggest opportunity and potentially the greatest threat to the legal profession since its formation. This is part of a bigger global revolution – where society, business and government are likely to experience more change in the next 20-30 years than in the last 500.

This large scale disruption is being driven by the combinatorial effects of AI and a range of other disruptive technologies whose speed, power and capability is growing at an exponential rate or faster – and which both enable AI and are fed by it. These include quantum computing, blockchain technology, the internet of things (IoT), big data, cloud services, smart cities, and human augmentation – all of which could literally be hundreds or thousands of times more powerful and impactful within a decade.

The resulting changes will literally lead to the total transformation of every business sector, the birth of new trillion dollar industries and a complete rethink of the law, regulation, legal infrastructures, and the supporting governance systems for literally every activity on the planet.

I believe law firms can and should escape from conventional wisdom and look to drive exponential improvements in internal performance and market growth by exploiting the opportunities presented by AI and other emerging technologies.

AI has truly transformative potential – with a wide range of legal applications emerging, such as:

  • Inferring the likely outcome of a case
  • Determining the best structure for a contract
  • Suggesting how best to approach a new matter, or
  • Making sense of literally billions of data points across the web to spot new and emerging risks and legal threats.

 

I envisage five broad categories where we will see increasing use of AI within law firms in the next three to five years:

  • Automation of legal tasks and processes
  • Decision support and outcome prediction
  • Creation of new product and service offerings
  • Process design and matter management
  • Practice management.

In addition, we are likely to see the growing use of AI both by in-house legal teams and in a range of online platforms offering direct services to businesses and individuals. AI will also power developments using blockchain technology (the secure transaction encoding mechanisms that underpin most digital currencies such as Bitcoin) e.g.:

  • Smart contracts encoded in software which require no human intervention
  • Distributed autonomous organisations (DAOs) with no human employees that exist entirely in software
  • Decentralized Arbitration and Mediation Networks – which effectively operate as ‘opt-in’ global justice systems for commercial transactions, and which sit outside the existing national and global mechanisms
  • Algocracy (Algorithmic Democracy) – creating global codes of legal transacting by codifying and automating legal documents, including contracts, permits, organizational documents, and consents
  • Rewriting and embedding the law in software – e.g. automatic fines, drawing evidence from the IoT, standardized open source legal documents, and automated judgements.

So How Might AI Evolve Within the Sector?

Here is a plausible timeline of AI developments in the legal sector over the next five years:

The Next 18 Months

  • Growth of law firms establishing internal technology innovation labs, creating seed funds to invest in legal technology start-ups, and running joint experiments with technology providers and clients
  • A number of firms and in-house teams will run AI trials and develop applications than create smarter internal processes
  • A range of trials and applications of AI for lawyer decision support
  • Launch of the first client facing AI applications and new AI-enabled products and services
  • Growth of FinTech – rising pressure from financial services to embrace AI/ Blockchain technology – with legal cost reduction a key driver
  • Emergence of Blockchain Smart Contracts and DAO’s

 

The Next Three Years

  • Clear evidence of lawyer replacement by smart technologies
  • Widespread and accelerating deployment of AI on core law firm processes
  • Meaningful penetration of AI into in-house legal
  • First truly AI-centric law firms
  • Significant range of AI-based solutions offered direct to consumers and SMEs / Technology businesses
  • Widespread adoption of Blockhain smart contracts in newer firms / Rise of DAOs in both the private and public sectors.

The Next Five Years

  • Applications starting to emerge that display near-human levels of intelligence (Artificial General Intelligence) in certain domains
  • First examples of true Algocracy – Countries moving to digitising / automating / embedding the law
  • Blockchain / smart contracts / DAOs in widespread use in financial services and other sectors
  • 20-50% of ‘routine’ legal work by sector fully automated by clients with no law firm involvement
  • New technology-centric legal sector entrants from the last five years competing head on with Big Law
  • AI in widespread use across law firms and frequently mandated by clients.

 

All these developments will require the interpretation, reframing and redrafting of legal frameworks and the creation of new legal concepts and dispute resolution mechanisms to encompass new political, economic, social, and business paradigms. So while AI will undoubtedly have a transformative impact on how law firms work internally, the true exponential growth opportunity lies in helping, governments, businesses and civil society to understand, regulate for and adjust to the coming waves of AI-enabled disruption.

 

For forward thinking law firms, these developments in AI offer the potential to drive exponential growth in revenues – if we give ourselves permission to invest the time understanding the brave new world technologies and their transformative potential. Whether firms seize the opportunity or become paralysed by fear and indecision will ultimately be a matter of choice and a function of our willingness to step into the unknown and start learning.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rohit Talwar rohit@fastfuture.com is a global futurist, strategic advisor and the CEO of Fast Future Research and Fast Future Publishing. He advises business, government and NGO leaders around the world on how to prepare for and create the future in an increasingly disrupted world. He is the editor of a recently published book on The Future of Business www.fastfuturepublishing.com. The book draws on contributions from 62 future thinkers around the world to explore how developments such as AI and robotics could transform existing industries, create new trillion-dollar sectors and reinvent business over the next decade.

 

Cyber Security: Technology, alone, is not enough

Cyber Security: Technology, alone, is not enough

By Fiona Hamilton, Key Account Manager

Cyber threats and the sophistication and speed of cyber-attacks are increasing at an alarming pace.

The huge volume of important and often sensitive data held and collated by Chambers and Barristers can be a soft target for perpetrators. Clients’, barristers’ and chambers’ information, integrity and precious reputations, built over years of practice, can be decimated in a matter of minutes, should an attack occur.

Cyber Security is now as fundamental to the successful operation of an organisation, as is any of the core functions. However, Cyber Resilience is not simply a technology function. The entire process is reliant on the awareness and understanding of all staff, suppliers and contractors, which is why Cyber Resilience needs to underpin all security measures and controls. The Human Firewall.

Training your users to know what to look out for and understanding the weak points of one’s own electronic practices and will strengthen your organisation’s defences. It is widely recognised the greatest return on investment it will make, in the fight against cyber-crime. We have surely all read the unfortunate stories about ‘conveyancing theft’ or perhaps have seen for ourselves how prevalent attempts to imitate Heads of Chambers or senior staff, requesting funds transfers, are. It pays be vigilant.

Sprout CyberAware, powered by AXELOS, is a best practice Cyber Resilience Training programme. It is a portfolio of learning products that includes; certified training, awareness learning for all staff, leadership insight and a maturity assessment tool that enables good and timely decision-making on all aspects information security.

Download ‘Cyber Resilience in the UK Legal Sector’ at: https://www.sproutit.co.uk/cyber-resilience/

Contact us for a Cyber Awareness portal trial.”

Law Review: How can you defend a rapist?

lucyread2Barrister, Lucy Reed, author of The Pink Tape blog is always worth reading.

“This : “but how CAN you defend a rapist?” is the apocryphal question asked of any lawyer at any dinner party she is daft enough to attend (actually the question is real enough, though I’m reliably informed by those who have a life that one doesn’t have dinner parties any more one has impromptu supper). It is unwise in the extreme to invite me to participate in a legal ethics quiz after more than a glass of red, because you might just get the full length answer. Fortunately for you, this full length answer is in the form of a blog post so I won’t notice or be offended if you turn your attention to someone else in the room and ignore me as I blather on….”

Read the article

Kill all the lawyers?

Daily Mail article

A plague on lawyers: STEPHEN GLOVER’s blisteringly provocative critique on the greed, self-importance and lack of scruples of Britain’s last unreformed vested interest group

The loudest laugh in any Shakespeare play is often provoked by the line in Henry VI, Part II: ‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.’ Indeed, over the centuries a lot of rude things have been said about representatives of the legal profession.

But however much lawyers may have been ridiculed in the past, I doubt they have ever been held in such low esteem as they are now.

A recent poll in America found that people ranked them lower than any other profession — below business executives, journalists and artists.

Yet lawyers are an increasingly dominant force in this country, not least because Britain now boasts more of them per head of population than almost any other nation.

They are supposed to defend and uphold the law, yet more and more they are renowned for being consumed by a desire to make barrow-loads money in order to feather their own nests.

Sometimes, their fees can run into the millions of pounds for a single trial. Their fondness for money is matched, not infrequently, by their sense of self-importance.

Only yesterday the Mail reported how an official report has revealed that the majority of judges think they are under-appreciated and underpaid.

Of 33 Court of Appeal judges who took part, each of whom earns more than £200,000 a year, two-thirds said their pay is not reasonable. They can say that again!

In short, the legal profession comprises what may be the last unreformed vested interest group — conducting themselves according to their own sometimes opaque rules, which often seem to operate more obviously for their own benefit than the public’s.

Consider the extraordinary case of Phil Shiner, a high-profile solicitor who was struck off eight days ago having had 12 charges of misconduct proved against him, and was the subject of yesterday’s devastating House of Commons report on ambulance-chasing lawyers bringing thousands of ‘spurious’ cases against our troops.

It was Phil Shiner of course who laboured so relentlessly to ruin the reputations of those troops.

But the story of his corruption and eventual downfall does not simply concern one rotten apple. The legal profession as a whole is implicated.

F or while he and his firm pursued those specious claims against hundreds of British servicemen, this dishonest man was lauded by many of his colleagues.

In 2007, he was named solicitor of the year by the Law Society, the professional body in England and Wales that represents solicitors.

The number of solicitors for which this organisation speaks, by the way, has trebled from 44,000 in 1980 to 133,000 today as we become an increasingly litigious, lawyer-driven society — with lawyers naturally being the main beneficiaries.

Even as the Mail raised deeply disturbing questions about Shiner’s integrity and motives, he was being praised by solicitors’ official publication, the Law Society Gazette.

As recently as June 2014, it referred to ‘media manufactured vilification’ and ‘malign hysteria’. Will the Gazette now apologise? Don’t hold your breath.

And will Rabinder Singh QC — now an exalted High Court judge, one of only 102 — express regret for having lavished public praise on Shiner, with whom he worked on several occasions while still a barrister? I don’t expect so.

In 2007, Singh said: ‘My honest view about lawyers is that we should be modest about what we contribute to justice . . . but Phil Shiner is an exception to that rule.

If there were no Phil Shiners in the country, then the sort of legal issues arising out of the Iraq war I don’t think would have surfaced.’

If only there were no Phil Shiners! This is a man who has finally admitted philshinernine allegations of acting without integrity, which included making unsolicited approaches to potential clients.

Among his misdemeanours was the payment of ‘sweeteners’ to a fixer to persuade him to change his evidence in the Al-Sweady inquiry into allegations of mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by British soldiers.

This collapsed, after £30 million of public money had been wasted investigating what proved to be false and dishonest allegations made by Shiner.

There could hardly be a graver charge against any lawyer since his falsehoods might have resulted in the wrongful imprisonment of British soldiers who had risked their lives for Queen and country.

Journalists have rightly been held to account over phone-hacking, and a handful were convicted.

But can anyone maintain that the sins of the most reckless phone hacker compared in seriousness with what Shiner did?

And yet while an elaborate judicial inquiry was set up to look into ‘the ethics of the Press’ — under a senior judge, needless to say, in the shape of Lord Justice Leveson — no one has suggested it might be a good idea to hold an inquiry into the ethics of lawyers.

On the subject of Leveson, it subsequently emerged that one of the inquiry’s lawyers — an attractive married lady — was having an affair with a bouffant-haired barrister acting for Hugh Grant, the press-hating actor.

Goodness knows what cooings between the two took place while the inquiry progressed, but a later probe by the Bar Standards Board — surprise, surprise! —cleared the pair of misconduct.

But then the degree to which lawyers police themselves in secret can be breath-taking. When Ben Emmerson QC was accused last year of sexually assaulting a woman in a lift at the offices of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, Matrix Chambers (for which he works) asked former High Court judge Sir David Calvert-Smith to investigate.

After Sir David had interviewed Emmerson, he concluded ‘without hesitation’ that the lawyer was innocent of any sexual impropriety.

It is no slur against either man to suggest that this secretive inquiry does not exactly inspire public confidence.

 Few lawyers can, of course, rival the likes of Phil Shiner in deceit. But that a number of them are slippery to the point of dishonesty can scarcely be doubted. In 1990, ‘no-win, no-fee’ agreements were unfortunately introduced in the dog days of the Thatcher government in the belief that would provide greater access to the law for the poor.

Also described as ‘conditional fee agreements’, their effect has been a huge increase in the number of civil disputes as so-called ambulance-chasing lawyers have induced people to mount or fight cases they would not otherwise have accepted.

Such ‘no-win, no-fee’ arrangements encourage lawyers to rack up costs that can run into the millions, in the knowledge that the person they’re suing will pick up the bill if they win.

Thus a well-intentioned measure designed to help those who would otherwise be unable to afford justice was ruthessly exploited by avaricious lawyers.

A 1979 Royal Commission had warned: ‘The fact that the lawyer has a direct personal involvement in the outcome of the case may lead to undesirable practices including the construction of evidence, the improper coaching of witnesses [and] groundless arguments designed to lead courts into error and competitive touting.’

Prophetic words! If only someone had listened.

In 2012, the Commons Transport Select Committee noted a 70 per cent rise in motor injury claims during the previous six years, despite a 23 per cent drop in the number of casualties caused by road accidents. Bogus claims encouraged by lawyers (especially for hard-to-prove ‘whiplash’ injuries) provide much of the explanation.

Although it has since then become illegal for lawyers to pay insurance companies for the names of accident victims, there still appears to be a lucrative trade in this data.

We are all of us paying significantly more for our car insurance than we should, largely thanks to unscrupulous lawyers touting for business.

Isn’t this absolutely incredible? Before the War, my father briefly practised as a solicitor before becoming a clergyman. He would be utterly aghast if he knew that the honourable profession of which he was once a member had been disfigured by money-grubbing chancers.

These days there are lawyers everywhere, and it is no surprise at all that we have become one of the most litigious nations in the world.

Reforming no-win, no-fee agreements would be an important start in curbing burgeoning litigation, but history tells us than once lawyers have been given a benefit they are loath to surrender it. Might this be because an amazing one-fifth of 650 MPs in the Commons have a legal background, and unsurprisingly are quick to defend lawyers’ interests?

I don’t, of course, want to suggest that most lawyers are crooks like Mr Shiner. I am sure that there are many high-minded solicitors and barristers who above all want to serve the cause of justice. But while I accept there are some modestly remunerated lawyers, the desire to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible appears to have taken hold of large parts of the profession.

While junior barristers bump along on relatively low pay, fat-cat QCs can make grotesque amounts. Last March, David Pannick QC charged £407,250 for a defence involving a two-day trial he didn’t attend.

Pannick also appeared for Gina Miller in the recent Supreme Court case, arguing that Parliament should be consulted before Article 50 (setting in motion our withdrawal from the EU) is triggered. What absurd amount did he trouser this time?

Jonathan Sumption, now a Supreme Court judge, earned almost £8 lordsumption3million over a period of ten months defending the owner of Chelsea football club, Roman Abramovich. That worked out at about £40,000 a day in court.

You may say that if Abramovich was prepared to pay a lawyer such a ridiculous sum of money, that’s his business. But is this a really a free market? Or is it a well-defended fortress of privilege in which a handful of clever but not necessarily outstandingly brainy barristers have scooped up most of the cream?

The law is in many respects another country with its own sometimes impenetrable legal language, strange habits, arcane conventions, and, occasionally, unimaginable rewards. It is a world in which the leading lights — senior judges and highly paid QCs — take themselves very seriously indeed, sometimes complimenting one another on their allegedly enormous intellects in a self-regarding way, and assuming an easy, though hardly merited, sense of superiority over the rest of humanity.

This truism was perfectly illustrated when 1,000 top lawyers, no less, wrote a letter last year insisting that the EU referendum result was merely ‘advisory’ and not legally binding, and that only Parliament should decide whether Brexit should happen at all! I don’t doubt that many lawyers and judges are conscientious and decent people. One particularly admirable member of the judiciary was Sir Paul Coleridge, whose experience of the break-up of families led him to speak out in favour of marriage.

B ut such commonsensical views are rarely expressed by an increasingly progressive, politically correct judiciary. How interesting that Sir Paul was reprimanded by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice, and found guilty of ‘judicial misconduct’. Shortly afterwards he retired.

Whatever the merits of individual judges — and the commendable efforts of the senior family law judge Sir James Munby to open the country’s most secretive courts to greater public scrutiny also spring to mind — it can scarcely be denied that the senior judiciary is increasingly throwing its weight around.

Such ‘judicial activism’ was encouraged by the establishment of the 1998 Human Rights Act, which allowed our judges to ‘interpret’ such loosely phrased ‘rights’ as privacy. Since then, they have gradually shaped a new restrictive privacy law. Yet if we are to have a privacy law, shouldn’t it be debated and passed by Parliament? (The Act incidentally, was seized upon by a group of Left-wing lawyers, including Cherie Blair, who formed the Matrix Chambers, and enriched themselves considerably through the pursuit of ‘human rights’ cases.)

It’s hard not to conclude that the introduction of the Human Rights Act has increasingly emboldened the judiciary to interpret the law as it sees fit.

There was of course an almighty hullaballoo recently when the High Court, subsequently endorsed by a majority in the Supreme Court, ruled that Parliament must be consulted before Article 50 was triggered. Some senior legal figures were apparently stunned by criticism in this and other newspapers.

But if judges make rulings that have dramatic political consequences, they can’t reasonably expect to be immune from comment in the Press — which is what politicians experience daily.

And yet despite the rise of judicial activism (according to the American benemmersonqcacademic Ran Hirschl we now live in a ‘juristocracy’ rather than a democracy) senior judges in Britain continue to maintain that they are purely impartial and somehow above the political process, in which they nonetheless interfere.

But surely no human being can be utterly impartial or neutral. Values and moral judgments are inevitably shaped by experience.

It was illuminating, for example, to learn that several members of Britain’s Supreme Court have strong links to Europe or the EU. Lord Neuberger, who I accept is a very great man, is married to Lady Neuberger. A week before the EU referendum she declared online that ‘referenda [are] mad and bad’, and dismissed Ukip and Brexit as ‘just a protest vote’. Lord Neuberger’s sister-in-law, meanwhile, announced she has decided to apply for a German passport due to her shame over the referendum result, and criticised the ‘anti-immigrant’ nature of the Leave campaign.

While I entirely acknowledge Lord Neuberger’s neutrality, we surely have a right to know that his nearest and dearest hold such strong views.

In the United States, where the constitutional role of the Supreme Court has long been recognised, it is accepted that the most senior judges have political predilections. Indeed, judges in the U.S. Supreme Court are appointed by Presidents largely on the basis of their known political leanings.

In Britain we do things differently, and I would argue in this instance less well. We have a rising juristocracy — and since 2009 our own Supreme Court with its own grand building — and unaccountable judges, appointed in conditions of utmost secrecy, who like to maintain the illusion of impartiality.

Oddly, most politicians seem remarkably relaxed about the slow ebbing of power towards the higher judiciary. Indeed, whenever a problem arises, their first instinct is often to summon a judge.

The outcome is often unsatisfactory. In 2003, a wrong-headed inquiry — led by the solidly establishment figure Lord Hutton — into the unexplained death of government weapons expert Dr David Kelly exonerated Tony Blair and his side-kick Alastair Campbell. It’s findings left many sensible people gasping in incredulity.

Lord Saville’s investigation into the death of 13 civilians in ‘Bloody Sunday’ took 12 years, and cost £195 million. Lord Justice Leveson’s 2,000-page examination of the Press devoted just 12 pages to the internet.

Y et despite all the shortcomings I’ve mentioned, Shakespeare’s idea of bumping off the lawyers, although undeniably tempting, is hardly practicable. The rule of law is immeasurably precious, and can’t be preserved without an independent judiciary prepared to stand up to everyone, including overmighty politicians —which is not the same as shaping policy.

I’m even prepared to admit that lawyers are a vital element of a healthy and fair-minded society, though I’ve always avoided consulting them as far as possible, and strongly recommend everyone to do the same in the cause of a quiet and happy life.

But if lawyers are too little regulated and too often avaricious, and if judges are a condescending and out-of-touch cadre gradually aggrandising their powers, the rest of us cannot be expected to sit obediently and say nothing.

A thorough inquiry into the legal profession would, in fact, be an excellent idea. The only trouble is that in modern Britain it would be headed by a judge.”

A very British Solution. Trump will not address Parliament because Parliament will be in Recess!

Diplomacy at its finest…

And just in case we need to be protected we have efficient Police to protect  us from him.  (sic)

I assume that the Police will be armed – because Trump probably carries a .44 Magnum…”The biggest handgun in the world!”

I have, as it happens, fired a .44 Magnum  at a Gun Club I used to visit (The Mayfair Gun Club – in East London!) many years ago when I did pistol shooting.  An absurd gun.  Very difficult to hit anything, let alone a target.  The Glock, on the other hand, was remarkably accurate.  Even I managed 148/150 regularly at 25 metres and even managed 150/150 on three occasions. The Gun Club instructors I met were two brothers, One Ex-Para, the other ex-SAS.  Nice guys.  Modest, thoughtful and amusing men who enjoyed their time in the army but never discussed it with us after a shooting session.

Client Eastwood used a Magnum .44 in the Dirty Harry / Magnum Force movies – ‘The biggest handgun in the World’ etc etc.

One of the brothers dressed up in full Black fatigues and black Balaclava when I took a friend of mine to the Gun Club for a shoot,  I wanted to have some fun for Mick Nosh (The Nosh Brothers restaurant – I was a shareholder) He was holding a machine gun – empty, obviously. And when I introduced Mick Nosh to him, he removed his Balaclava before shaking hands and said “Jeez..now I’ll have to shoot you because you have seen my face!”   Good blokes.  I enjoyed pistol shooting. Had an amusing five minutes with an Israeli Uzi sub-machine gun.  Accurate and light.   My then wife was not so impressed by the fact I kept my Glock handgun in a  locked safe at home – in the days before private ownership of guns was banned post Dunblane et al.

I have told this story before but it bears repeating – a friend of mine, a barrister who lectured for me, now a partner in his own London Law firm after re-qualifying, pulled a pistol out of his suit pocket at one of our dinners and fired it at the ceiling – a blank –  the wadding hit the ceiling, the light crashed onto the dining room table along with plaster.  My then wife ran to the bedroom in tears and, half laughing, half crying’ asked me when I went down to see her “Why do your friends need to be armed to come to our dinner parties?”  I had no answer.  To his credit my friend sent some wonderful chocolates to Carolyn the next day and repaired the ceiling!

 

noshbrothers2017Mick Nosh is the geezer without the beard. A very nice man.  Nick was also a good friend of mine back in the day.  I remember him driving a Bentley Mulsanne Turbo and doing ‘doughnuts’ by spinning the Bentley round on a road using the handbrake to spin the rubber and the car around on its own length. .  Expensive way to wear in tyres!

 

 

 

Barrister and ex Tory MP Jerry Hayes is always worth reading for a laugh

WELCOME TO MALICE IN WONDERLAND WHERE THE TORIES HAVE BECOME THE MAD HATTER’S PARTY.

“I really do think it is about time that we all grew up. Trump made some inflammatory, hotheaded, promises on the stump to tickle the collective clitorides (its Greek) of the howling contorted masses of the dispossessed most of which are unworkable. But, shock horror, the President has kept to his word and has launched flotillas of Executive Orders most of which will have a rough ride on the Hill. The Wall is in theory up and running. But Congress might have qualms about the $20 billion price tag. Now we come to the to the banning of people from entering the USA from certain countries. This is repulsive, immoral and probably unconstitutional. Already a Federal judge has placed a temporary stay on it. This will go all the way to the Supreme Court and might even be watered down or abandoned at some stage by Congress. To be honest, it’s a policy that is destined to create rather than hinder terrorist attacks. And over here what to we do? Sign a dopey petition saying that we should abandon his state visit. For heaven’s sake. Trump may be a monster spawned out of the bitteratti and harddonebyists but it is better to engage and try and tame the beast rather than keep him in his White House lair licking his wounds and dreaming of a revenge which he is temperamentally capable of. Isolate him and the world will be a less safer place. Anyhow, whether it be us, European leaders, the courts or Congress who hector and lecture him it will be the proof that his rag bag of despicables want that the political elites are out to get them.

Nobody can seriously doubt that the May visit was not so much a triumph as a diplomatic coup for Number 10 and the Foreign Office. And today, for once in his life, Bozo was on message. Of course he should have a State visit. Nothing is more powerful than weaponising the Windsors. And don’t think that HMQ will be the slightest bit fazed. After all in her many years on the throne she has wined and dined and shaken the hands of some seriously blood soaked tyrants. Its all part of the job. As of yet Trump is not bloodstained. And she can give him something no other woman can. The faint whiff of respectability. Riding down the Mall in an open carriage to the bling gaudiness of a Buckingham Palace which makes Trump Tower look rather understated and middle class. The Royal children will be on parade whilst the President could be forgiven for giving a momentary letch at the Duchess of Cambridge. He may be a monster, but he is nearly our monster. There will be demonstrations and candle lit vigils, but by the time he comes to us he should be used to it. What he has to do is is realise that it’s best not to declare war on the press. They will always win. He has to realise that his relationship with them will always be dog and lamp post. And the roles are interchangeable. He really ought to dump his spokesman Sean Spicer. No doubt he regards himself as rather swashbuckling. But he has more buckle than swash. He really needs a CJ Craig figure.

What sent a shiver down my spine at the joint press conference with May was how a democratically elected leader of the free world could, in an off handed manner extol the ‘virtues’ of torture. It must have made her mentally have a sheep intake of breath. Although not so much as the hand grabbing bathophobic episode. As always May was unfazed. I suspect she was given a briefing about his horror of slopes and stairs.

What is fascinating about Trump is that he defies all the rules of diplomacy and how to run a government. Maybe he will learn or maybe he doesn’t want to. After all, that has always been his USP. Deep down, whether you agree with them or not, most, if not all democratically elected leaders have a sense of their duty to do good. Does Trump? I really don’t know. But I hope he does. He presides over a toxically divided nation.In Good We Trust? Deep in the dark tea time of his soul surely there must be an ounce of decency lurking there somewhere. If not we are all rather fucked.”

 

(Jerry is a good friend.  he assisted me greatly when I needed help.  An amusing drinking companion.)