Friday, 27 July 2012

The London 2012 Olympics are here and other items

Olympics:  The Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics is upon us - London 2012.  The eyes of the world will be on London and the Games which continue until 12th August.  They will be followed by the immensely inspiring Paralympics ~ 29th August to 9th September.  In this cynical age, bedevilled as it is by seemingly insurmountable problems, it is worth reminding ourselves of the fundamental principles said to underlie the Olympics.  "The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity" - Olympic Charter 2011

Sport and the law exhibition: The Supreme Court has handed down its last judgments of the Trinity Term.  The Michaelmas Term commences on 1st October.  Meanwhile, the court is hosting an exhibition on sport and the law. Developed in partnership with academics from De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester and the British Association for Sport and Law (BASL), the exhibition forms part of the official programme of events inspired by the London 2012 Games.  The exhibition is open on weekdays (0930-1630) until the end of September and admission is free.

"Twitter" Joke: Judgment is to be delivered
in the "Twitter Joke" appeal - (see previous post).   This is a long-running case heard initially in the Magistrates' Court where a District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) found Mr Paul Chambers guilty of the offence under the Communications Act 2003 section 127(1) - sending a  "menacing" communication via a public electronic communications network (PECN).  Mr Chambers appealed against his conviction to the Crown Court and, this time, was found guilty by a judge sitting with two magistrates.   The next step was an appeal - "known as Appeal by Case Stated" - to a Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division.  This appeal was heard by two judges who failed to agree.  A further hearing in the Divisional Court was ordered at which the Lord Chief Justice presided.

Julian Assange: Mr Julian Assange continues to be holed up in what is said to be a small room in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London - (previous post 20th June).  Legal challenge to Mr Assange's extradition to Sweden came to an end with the Supreme Court of the UK giving judgment that the European Arrest Warrant issued by a Swedish prosecutor was valid.  Mr Assange then claimed asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.  Throughout this lengthy process, it appears that Mr Assange has feared not so much extradition to Sweden as the possibility that this might be followed by extradition to the USA - see Guardian 27th July - Ecuador seeks to stop 'evil' of Julian Assange US extradition.  Extradition is a complex legal area but the Crown Prosecution Service website offers this "simple introduction."  The Guardian's article refers to "specialty" which is a long standing rule in extradition. It prohibits a person from being prosecuted in the requesting territory after his extradition for an offence committed before his extradition. The exceptions to this rule are where the offence is that in respect of which he was extradited, where the consent of the requested state is obtained or the person has had an opportunity to leave the country to which he was extradited but has failed to do so.

The Bar Student Aptitude Test:  In his own inimitable style, CharonQC has drawn attention to the huge number of individuals wishing to be barristers.   See his post - Professor RD Charon opines on the bar student aptitude test  - "There are too many Bar students pushing at the door and frightening the existing members worried about being handed a SAGA holiday brochure by the senior clerk in their early fifties if the thrusting young are not held at bay."  The Bar Standards Board has come up with an aptitude test which must be passed if someone is to be allowed to take the Bar Professional Training Course.  Failing the test might save the individual a considerable amount of money - about £16000 - but, along with The Guardian, I wonder whether some of the great advocates of the past would have passed the test. Maybe they would: maybe not.  There is really no means of knowing.  However that may be, you could have a crack at the beta version
Fundamentally, I think that CharonQC is right.  There is only limited room at the Inn and, even with this new test, the Bar will continue to be overwhelmed with applicants.

District Judges (Magistrates' Courts): The drive is on to recruit 16 more District Judges (Magistrates' Courts) - Judicial Appointments Commission.   It does not seem 2 years since there was an advertisement for some 30 vacancies and there were around 400 applications.  Although appointments means an end to practice as barrister or solicitor, the salary (£102,921) and pension will undoubtedly be attractive to many.

Ten appointments would be made immediately and 6 more in the future as posts arise.  The advertisement states that - "The Lord Chancellor expects applicants to have substantial knowledge of the Magistrates' jurisdiction and previous fee-paid judicial experience." [My emphasis].

The advertisement continues - "District Judges (Magistrates' Courts) sit alone in magistrates' courts, hearing cases which involve difficult points of law, evidence or procedural issues; long or inter-linked cases and those with public safety implications. These may be criminal trials of summary and either-way offences, preliminary investigations of indictable offences, youth cases or some civil proceedings. District Judges (Magistrates' Courts) can be authorised to hear cases in the Family Proceedings Courts and to sit as Prison Adjudicators.

The posts are across England and Wales and are open to solicitors, barristers and Chartered Legal Executive Fellows with five years post qualification experience. ...."

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