Sunday, 28 June 2015

It's been quite a week .... a Sunday roundup

It's been quite a week.  

Reaction to Gove:

The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Rt Hon Michael Gove MP) spoke to the Legatum Institute and, in carefully chosen words and flowing phrases, stuck the boot into the manifold inefficiencies (summed up here by The Brighton Brief) in the day-to-day operation of our system of justice brought about largely due to his own department's policies over the last five or so years.  Of course, Gove gave no indication that any of those policies would be changed and so the Two Nation justice system of which Gove spoke seems set to continue.

Numerous comments and articles have appeared about Gove's speech.  My own look at Gove's speech is here and here are some of the others:

The Independent 27th June 2015 - Sarah Forshaw QC - These false economies are costing us all dear

Law Society Gazette 23rd June - Can wealthy lawyers really plug the justice gap?

Martin Partington Blog 23rd June - Revolution in the Justice System

Legal Cheek 23rd June - Smooth-talking Gove charms lawyers over legal aid reform and rule of law 

The Justice Gap - Robin Murray 24th June - One Nation is not built on injustice, Mr Gove

Marilyn Stowe blog 25th June - Gove ignites pro bono debate

The Independent 27th June - Leading criminal lawyer tells barristers to make a stand and strike over legal aid cuts

and also see:

Nigel Pascoe's blog 27th June - Hang on

The Telegraph 25th June - Rupert Myers - Scrap magistrates, cut juries and let professional judges decide

Should the DPP have to "consider her position" over Janner?

Turning to other matters, it has been reported (in advance of any decision being publicly announced by the Crown Prosecution Service) that a review by an independent barrister of the Lord Greville Janner matter has concluded that the Director of Public Prosecution was "wrong" to have ruled out prosecuting Janner for various sexual offences allegedly committed against children.  Some of the more excitable on Twitter (and other media) have gone so far as to suggest that the DPP (Alison Saunders) ought to "consider her position" if the review goes against her.  Such a stance is utterly ridiculous.  The DPP is an independent officer and must not bow to political or media pressure.  Her decision was one which any lawyer properly acquainted with the facts and the medical opinion was entitled to reach.  On this topic, please read the excellent piece by The Secret Barrister - Why on Earth should the DPP resign over Lord Janner.   I entirely agree.  My earlier piece on this case is here

Human Rights:

The subject of "human rights" has gone a little quieter recently though no doubt there are people beavering away in the Ministry of Justice on a plan!  Gove said very little about this important topic in his speech.  The influence of human rights law within the UK has been immense as is illustrated by the excellent material at Rights Info - Fifty Human Rights Cases that transformed Britain.

Quality Assurance for Advocates:

The Supreme Court of the UK has ruled that a Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates - (QASA) - is lawful - R(Lumsdon) v Legal Services Board [2015] UKSC 41.  The decision in the Supreme Court turned on whether the Board's scheme for quality assurance was contrary to Regulation 14 of the Provision of Services Regulations 2009 implementing Directive 2006/123/EC on services in the internal market.  OK - all that is rather dull, but the court's judgment is of considerable interest because the court reviewed the Court of Justice of the European Union's case law on "proportionality"

... see Carl Gardner on his Head of Legal Blog for a view of this case

David Hart QC discusses the case on the UK Human Rights Blog

Doughty Street's Criminal Appeal Bulletin:

Doughty Street Chambers has issued the second edition of their Criminal Appeals Bulletin.   The bulletin highlights recent changes in case law and procedure and offers practical guidance to those advising on appellate matters.  Cases considered include Gurpinar and another 2015 (on the statutory partial defence to murder of "loss of control"); Hutchinson 2015 (whole life terms for murder) and R (Wang Yam) v Central Criminal Court (part of trial proceedings held in camera).  This is excellent material and Doughty Street are to be congratulated on making it readily available.

Same sex marriage:

In our country, the issue of same-sex marriage was decided recently by Parliament - Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.  In the United States, the Supreme Court has ruled on the question in a case called Obergefell v Hodges.  It is discussed by Carl Gardner on Head of Legal Blog.  Gardner notes that - "In Britain, same-sex marriage is now permanent and broadly accepted – in large part because Parliament brought it in, rather than a court ruling."  There is much to be said for the UK approach to these difficult questions where opinions in society can widely differ.  Parliament is the proper forum for resolving those questions.  In the USA many controversial matters become issues about what the US Constitution permits or requires and this places the Supreme Court Justices in the position of being the arbiters of many difficult questions.

In the USA, the appointment of Justices of the Supreme Court can be riddled with politics.  Once appointed they have a freehold on office: a job for life.  It is far from unknown for ageing justices to cling to office rather than resign if they think that the serving President may make an appointment not to their liking.  Such politicisation of the judiciary is not a road I would wish to see the United Kingdom travelling along.

ooooo ooooooo ooooo

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