Sunday, 21 June 2015

Summer Solstice ~ a few items

* No jury required today *
Remember the trial, in South Africa, of Oscar Pistorius?   Writing in Counsel Magazine, Ian Glen QC, offers an interesting and robust view of how the trial might have proceeded here in the Crown Court - A Rainbow's Light on our jury system

On the subject of juries in criminal cases, Joshua Rozenberg has expressed the view that defendants might be permitted to waive their right to jury trial - The Guardian 18th June.  This, it is argued, would save the State money and, for that, a sentencing discount might be permissible.  Rozenberg has picked up on the report by Sir Brian Leveson - Review of Efficiency in Criminal Proceedings.  I suspect that this suggestion, if adopted by Parliament, would eventually spell the end of jury trial - a centuries old right in serious cases.  Having said this, there is merit in extending the jurisdiction of the Magistrates' Courts to enable them to handle cases sufficiently serious to merit up to 12 months imprisonment though this issue inevitably gets tangled up with the question of whether there would be greater use of imprisonment - see Transform Justice 9th November 2014. 

The new government is pushing ahead with certain reforms to criminal legal aid.  These are set out in a written statement to the House of Commons by justice minister Shailesh Vara MP.   There is widespread anger in the legal profession about these proposals though what action lawyers may or may not take remains to be seen* - see Message from the Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association.  See also The Guardian 10th June
The Director of the Legal Aid Agency has seen his remuneration "package" reach around £225,000 pa - Salary of Director.   The 2014-15 report by the Director of Legal Aid Casework
is of considerable interest.

* Addendum 25th June:

Joint Statement by Liverpool Solicitors and Barristers - Over 100 barristers and solicitors met this morning to discuss the future of our profession. Every Chambers in the city, and the vast majority of solicitors were represented. The room was unanimous that the introduction of 8.75% cuts to Solicitor’s fees is untenable ......

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