Too late…

Friday 28 April 2006 at 8:35 am | In News | Post Comment

According to the Guardian this morning Judge Smith’s code has been broken. The answer is: “Jackie Fisher, who are you? Dreadnought”. The judge lists the study of the early 20th century admiral, Jackie Fisher, as a main interest. Jackie Fisher conceived of the great battleship HMS Dreadnought.
Guardian report here

Is this obiter?

Thursday 27 April 2006 at 8:18 pm | In News | Post Comment

The Guardian reports that Mr Justice Peter Smith the judge in the Da Vinci Code copyright trial inserted his own secret code into his judgment.  Smith italicised letters in the first part of the document to spell out “Smithy code”, but lawyers who have been poring over the judgment for the last three weeks have only just noticed.

After “Smithy code” there are more of the letters jumbled up, they can be found here.
We think the letters are:
j a e i e x t o s t g p s a c g r e a m q w f k a d p m q z v

Channel4 news has some cracking solutions already, here

“Gay” not “homosexual”

Wednesday 26 April 2006 at 7:56 am | In News | Post Comment

The Lord Chancellor has banned the word “homosexual” from official documents in his department. Lord Falconer has ordered for the word to be removed on the grounds that it “may be considered offensive”.

Apparently the pressure group Stonewall regards the word as derogatory, “It originates from a medical definition when same-sex attraction was construed as mental illness.’ The report said “it should no longer be used in official documentation. Stonewall recommends that ‘lesbian, gay and bisexual’ is a more appropriate term.”

News report

Addressing the Judges to change in Ireland and India

Friday 21 April 2006 at 8:49 am | In News | Post Comment

Group of judges (or whatever is the collective noun)
In the Republic of Ireland judges will no longer be referred to as “My Lord” or “Your Lordship”. Judges will now be referred to as simply “Judge”.  Referring to judges as “lords” is thought to be old fashioned and obsolete in a republican democratic state.

In India they have shed their wigs and now they have renounced “lordship” as a title. Indian judiciary wishes rid itself of colonial tag it acquired from the British Raj; “Lord” is thought to be a relic of slavery.
According to a resolution adopted by the Bar Council of India – a body of nearly one million lawyers – the Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts will be addressed as “Your Honour” or “Hon’ble Court”. 

Home office plans £367m database linking police across the country

Wednesday 19 April 2006 at 7:48 pm | In News | Post Comment

The IMPACT Programme will connect information held locally and nationally by police systems, as well as on the Police National Computer. The programme will meet Sir Michael Bichard’s recommendations following his inquiry into the Soham murders and to more widely transform the police’s ability to protect communities.

ADR to *must* be considered by courts awarding costs

Thursday 13 April 2006 at 12:32 am | In News | Post Comment

When awarding costs, courts are now required by the latest Practice Direction to take into account the extent parties considered Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

This is no surprise; the Woolf Reforms, the Overriding Objective, followed by the Civil Procedure Rules, earlier Pre-Action Protocols, the case of Dunnett v Railtrack [2002] and other judgments, have been moving headlong towards compulsory use of ADR.

The latest Protocols says that the court can require parties to produce evidence of their condideration of ADR. The Protocol states that, “The Courts take the view that litigation should be a last resort”.

It is expressly recognised that no party can or should be forced to mediate or enter into any form of ADR.

The Civil Procedure Rule Committee makes rules for the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal, the High Court and the County Courts, the chairman of the Committee is Head of Civil Justice, Anthony Peter Clarke MR)

Sentencing Guidelines Council under attack

Wednesday 12 April 2006 at 9:51 pm | In News | Post Comment

In April 2006 the Sentencing Guidelines Council said that men who used violence against their partners should be sentenced to rehabilitation classes or community orders in some circumstances, they said,
“Rather than the imposition of a short custodial sentence, an appropriate disposal in such situations might be a suspended sentence order or a community order, in either case with a requirement to attend a domestic violence programme.”
Man hitting woman
The Metropolitan Police Authority responded immediately saying:

“The proposals by the Sentencing Guidelines Council that those responsible for domestic violence could potentially escape custodial sentences for their brutality is a retrograde step and the Metropolitan Police Authority’s new Domestic Violence Board questions the logic and justice behind the suggestion.

“We just have to look at the facts to see that domestic violence is a vicious and a repetitive crime. On average a woman is assaulted more than 30 times before seeking help and even more worrying is the fact that domestic homicide accounts for over 25% of murders in London.

“Rehabilitation classes or community orders should not be viewed as an alternative to custodial sentences – complementary perhaps, but the fact is that the individual responsible for the violence is committing a criminal act, leaving victims traumatised and vulnerable in their own homes, and we need to send out a strong message that it is simply unacceptable.”

New judicial website

Monday 3 April 2006 at 11:32 pm | In News | Post Comment

To accompany the changes in selection of judges, with JAC and JACO going live, and the Lord Chief Justice taking over as head of the Judiciary, the judges have treated us to a new judicial website. Not at all stuffy as you would expect but lively interactive quizzes and a video interview with the LCJ suggests that this is going to be a promising site. The website can be found at

First phase of Statutory Charging goes live a year ahead of schedule

Monday 3 April 2006 at 10:51 pm | In News | Post Comment

The national roll out of Statutory Charging, a new scheme which should ensure that up to 30,000 additional offences are brought to justice each year, has been completed today. Devon and Cornwall is the last of the 42 criminal justice Areas in England and Wales to move to the Scheme following an ambitious and successful roll out programme.
CPS logo
Statutory Charging is the most significant change to the way the Crown Prosecution Service handles criminal cases since its inception. Statutory Charging, a joint initiative by the CPS and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), means that the CPS in England and Wales determines the charge to be brought against a suspect in all but the most minor routine cases.

The police and CPS now work in partnership as ‘The Prosecution Team’ at a much earlier stage in an investigation to achieve the common goal of bringing cases to the right outcome, by building robust cases from the outset.

Statutory Charging was introduced in response to recommendations made by Lord Justice Auld in his ‘Review of the Criminal Courts in England and Wales’ published in October 2001. He recommended that the CPS should determine the charge to be brought against a suspect in all but minor routine cases, ensuring the correct charge from the outset, weeding out non-viable cases at an early stage and ensuring that the remaining cases are trial–ready at the point of charge.

Early pilot and ‘shadow’ schemes demonstrated that significant benefits for the criminal justice system could be achieved by adopting this scheme nationally.
Full benefits are not expected to be realised until March 2007 but February 2006 figures indicate that the overall discontinuance rate in magistrates’ courts has reduced to 16% from a baseline of 36% before Charging was introduced. This represents a 56% improvement overall.
The guilty plea rate has risen to 68% from a baseline of 40% – a 70% improvement; and the attrition rate has dropped to 23% from a 40% baseline – an improvement of 42%. Improvements have also been recorded for Crown Court activity.

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