Saturday, 2 July 2011

Weekend items ... Saturday 2nd July ... and Blogtour

Figure of "Justice" at Vancouver, Canada
Legal Aid - analysis of the bill:

The Law Society Gazette published an excellent analysis of the key issues in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill which had its second reading on Wednesday 29th June.  It was voted through the Commons - 295 Ayes to 212 Noes - see Hansard.  It will go to committee stage which will end on 13th October.  Not much time really since Parliament is in recess from 19th July until 5th September.  See also "Falling on Deaf ears" - "despite more than 5,000 responses to the government's consultation, the legal aid bill offers few concessions ...."

 The Ministry of Justice has announced that legal aid for squatters will cease.  Even if one welcomes this, it looks as if the politicians are using it in order to make their shameful legal aid bill look more acceptable.

New members of the Court of Appeal:

Due to retirements, the appointment of one new Lady Justice of Appeal and four Lords Justice of Appeal has been announced.  Rafferty J becomes Lady Justice Rafferty on 5th July - (see No.10 website).   The other appointments - (McFarlane J, Davis J, Lewison J and Kitchin J) - take effect from 28th July to 5th October.

Northern Ireland and non-jury trial:

In Northern Ireland, non-jury trial is to remain as a possibility for a further two years - see Northern Ireland Office.   The relevant law is here

China, human rights and trade:

The Guardian has published a disturbing article about those lawyers in China who have the courage to stand up for the human rights of others. China has "rebuked" Cameron for pointing the finger over human rights abuse - The Guardian 27th June.   Cameron announced a £1.4bn trade deal with China and Germany is also increasing trade with China.

The Police bail meltdown:

The "meltdown" over Police powers relating to suspects, has been covered in detail below.  This will proceed to the Supreme Court on 4th July when the court will be asked to "stay" the Hookway judgment pending hearing of the full appeal on 25th July.  Meanwhile, the government is going to bring forward a bill to ensure that things remain in accordance with the Police interpretation of the existing law.  This looks like a "sticking plaster" solution whereas the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Part IV (Detention) really needs a major overhaul so that the needs of the Police to investigate crime are properly balanced with the rights of the citizen who can, at least on the present-day Police interpretation of PACE, be kept on bail (often with considerable conditions) for months as the Police eke out the 96 hours available to them.

Lord Hanningfield:  Received a sentence of 9 months imprisonment in relation to Parliamentary expenses.  The sentencing remarks of Saunders J are available on the Judiciary website.

Bribery Act 2010: This was finally implemented on 1st July - see Solicitor's Journal 1st July and Law and Lawyers 25th October 2010.

Domestic Violence:   from 30th June, sections 24 to 30 of the Crime and Security Act 2010 were implemented in three police areas: Greater Manchester, Wiltshire and West Mercia.  This makes possible, in those areas, Domestic Violence Protection Notices and Domestic Violence Protection Orders.  Some of the background to this Act is available at Family Law Week - here.

A glance at some of the blogs:   The UK Supreme Court blog has "The Week that Was" a brief overview of legal happenings during the week including brief mention of the decision of Owen J in Smith and others v Ministry of Defence [2011] EWHC 1676 (QB).  This decision is considered more fully by the UK Human Rights blog - "Where in the world does the Human Rights Act apply?"  CharonQC has another of his excellent podcasts - this time with barristers Carl Gardner (author of the Head of Legal blog) and Amanda Bancroft (author of the Beneath My Wig blog).  Charon's other guest was Timothy Pitt-Payne QC of 11 King's Bench Walk.   Family lawyer Marilyn Stowe looks at how two former judges are now engaged in private mediation of family dispute resolution - "When one party refuses to settle, why not try this?"    One of the longer established blogs is the excellent Magistrates' Blog which is taking a look at some of the questions surrounding what appears to be a growing use by magistrates of technology such as laptops etc. in court - see Tricky Tech.   The post quotes from some judicial guidance issued to magistrates which permits the use of technology to find things such as sentencing guidelines but not to record notes of the case.

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