Practice Direction amended in the light of R v Mirza [2004]

Sunday 29 February 2004 at 6:40 pm | In News | Post Comment

Following R v Mirza [2004]HL (concerning jury deliberations), Lord Woolf has issued an amendment to the Practice Direction, which in a nutshell says that jurors should bring their concerns to the attention of the judge before the end of the trial and not afterwards.
WLR here.

New Constitutional Era..

Sunday 29 February 2004 at 12:04 am | In News | Post Comment

The Constitutional Reform Bill published 25 February 2004.

Judicial independence for the first time. The Bill enshrines in law a duty on government ministers to uphold the independence of the judiciary. They will be specifically barred from trying to influence judicial decisions through any special access to judges.
Abolishing the Lord Chancellor. The Bill brings to an end the post of Lord Chancellor, transferring his judicial functions to President of the Courts of England and Wales. The Lord Chief Justice, currently Lord Woolf, will become President of the Courts of England and Wales. He will be responsible for the training, guidance and deployment of judges. He will also represent the views of the judiciary of England and Wales to Parliament and ministers.
Supreme Court. The Bill also establishes a new, independent Supreme Court, separate from the House of Lords with its own independent appointments system, its own staff and budget and, ultimately, its own building. The 12 judges of the Supreme Court will be known as Justices of the Supreme Court and will no longer be allowed to sit as members of the House of Lords. The current Law Lords will become the first 12 Justices of the Supreme Court, with Lord Bingham as President of the Supreme Court.
Independent Judicial Appointments Commission. A new system of appointing judges, independent of the patronage of politicians, is also brought in by the Bill. Appointments will be solely on the basis of merit, and solely on the recommendation of the new Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC). The minister will have severely limited powers to reject names put forward by the JAC. He will only be able appoint candidates recommended by the JAC and will have no power to select his own candidates.
Full details here

First Legal Services Complaints Commissioner appointed today

Friday 27 February 2004 at 10:20 pm | In News | Post Comment

The Legal Services Ombudsman, Ms Zahida Manzoor, has now formally been appointed to the additional role of Legal Services Complaints Commissioner (LSCC) to work with the Law Society of England and Wales to improve their complaints handling. Lord Falconer, Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, has appointed Ms Manzoor to take on the LSCC role, without prejudicing the outcome of Sir David Clementi’s review on the regulation of the legal services market.

R v Lowry [2004] CA

Saturday 21 February 2004 at 2:20 pm | In News | Post Comment

[Juries - deliberations - evidence not before the court]
D unlawfully wounded V with a knife which he “found in his hand when he removed it from his pocket”. The jury indicated that the knife had fallen apart during their deliberations. The judge directed the jury that the knife itself was unimportant and that the jury should not waste their time considering it. It later became apparent that the jury had reassembled the knife. D contended that the jury had plainly carried out an improper experiment on the exhibit and, since that had not occurred in open court, there had been an irregularity in the trial, which had rendered the conviction unsafe.

Held
: It was impossible to speculate as to whether there had been any improper reconstruction carried out by the jury. It was clear that anything not before a jury in the course of evidence was inadmissible thereafter. Further, where there was a risk that the jury might reconstruct events out of line with the evidence, they were to be warned not to do so. However, in the instant case, what was obviously relevant was the size of the knife and whether it was likely the defendant had reached into his pocket and pulled it out believing it to be money.

Guilty

The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (Commencement) Order 2004

Wednesday 18 February 2004 at 3:40 pm | In News | 2 Comments

This Order brings the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 into force on 3rd March 2004. This is not part of the syllabus, except so far as it illustrates cultural mores and morality issues in module 6.

Dunnachie v Kingston-upon-Hull City Council CA (2003)

Saturday 14 February 2004 at 5:16 pm | In News | Post Comment

[Statutory interpretation- meaning of "Loss"]
Mr Dunnachie had been constructively and unfairly dismissed.  He had been subjected to a prolonged campaign of harassment, so claimed additional compensation for distress etc.  For 30 years the law had been that compensation for “Loss” meant pecuniary loss (for example loss of earnings) (the current legislation the Employment Rights Act 1996, s 123).

Held: “A phoenix of truly just and equitable compensation might now rise from the ashes of the hoped-for evolution of the common law of wrongful dismissal”. In the early days of the new legislation the National Industrial Relations Court, under its first (and only) president Sir John Donaldson, decided inNorton Tool Co Ltd v Tewson [1972];that this formula embraced only quantifiable pecuniary losses.

C won.
Comment:
This case is almost certain to go to the House of Lords
Full report here

Legal Aid close to collapse?

Wednesday 11 February 2004 at 8:25 pm | In News | Post Comment

Citizens Advice is warning that one of the Government’s flagship policies – the modernisation of the legal aid system – is now in danger of collapse.  Access to legal aid solicitors in England and Wales is a postcode lottery with one in four Citizens Advice Bureaux saying they are in an “advice desert”, according to a survey published on 6th February.
Press release here

Government to deliberate on Jury deliberations…

Sunday 8 February 2004 at 8:07 pm | In News | Post Comment

Following the landmark ruling in R v Mirza the Government has launched a consultation allowing research in jury deliberations and investigations into allegations of jury impropriety. The consultation was delayed whilst the Government awaited the decision by the House of Lords.
Details. Consultation Paper: Jury Summoning Guidance.

Court of Appeal quashes child abuse conviction

Sunday 8 February 2004 at 7:12 pm | In News | Post Comment

Miscarriages of justice? It is possible we will see a series of appeals in child abuse cases where the ‘victims’ have come forward after being tracked down by the police and solicitors.
It is alleged that they were promised money from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme if they gave evidence. These cases involve former care workers when the victims were in care homes.
News report here

Just when you thought three straight As would get you a place at the University of your Choice to study law….

Friday 6 February 2004 at 9:21 pm | In News | Post Comment

It has been announced that 8 universities have decided to use an enhanced testing system for law students.
Those involved are the universities of Birmingham; Bristol; Cambridge (representing the Cambridge Colleges); Durham; East Anglia; Nottingham; Oxford (representing the Oxford Colleges); University College London.
The new National Admissions Test for Law has not been finalised but is expected to start in November this year.
Press report and sample questions, here.

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