HMCS announces changes in criminal legal aid

Saturday 30 September 2006 at 12:43 pm | In News | Post Comment

The Criminal Defence Service Act 2006 (CDS) comes into effect on 2 October 2006. The driving force behind this change is that Government believes that those who can afford to pay for their defence costs should be made to do so and that legal aid resources should be targeted towards those that need them most

The Act will:
- Reintroduce means testing for criminal proceedings in the magistrates’ courts so that applications for legal aid are assessed on both interests of justice and financial means;
- Provide an appeals route for both interests of justice and means assessment decisions;
- Transfer from judicial discretion to grant to an administrative one; and
- Ensure national consistency in the legal aid application and decision making process.

Cameras in court no nearer

Saturday 30 September 2006 at 12:39 pm | In News | Post Comment

No decision on TV cameras in courts has been made 2 years after it was put up for discussion. The Department for Constitutional Affairs said it was not a priority. In August 2004 Lord Falconer announced a pilot scheme to film proceedings at the Royal Courts of Justice, saying that the time was “ripe for a debate” over filming the courts in England and Wales. The scheme excluded juries, witnesses and the dock from being filmed, but the proposals would allow broadcasters to screen the summing up of cases by a judge. A similar consultation for cameras in Parliament took 20 years to be made.

Wigs and robes to go in civil courts

Sunday 24 September 2006 at 10:49 pm | In News | Post Comment

Judge in wigIt is reported in The Times that Lord Phillips, the Lord Chief Justice, has started consulting the judiciary about scrapping wigs (and elaborate robes) in civil cases but to retain them in the criminal courts.

This issue raises its head about every five years, this time it appears to be supported by solicitor advocates who are not allowed to wear wigs. Also, it is known that a large number of High Court judges favour the change and for the first time the issue is for the judiciary to decide and not the LCD, because of the changes brought in by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005.

It is thought that there is likely to be some changes in attire because when Lord Phillips took office he declared his dislike judicial costumes and made it clear that he would like to do away with wigs. 

National Minimum Wage

Friday 22 September 2006 at 9:51 pm | In News | Post Comment

On 1 October 2006, the national minimum wage will increase to £4.45 for workers aged 18-21 and to £5.35 for workers aged 22 and over.

A judge, another judge, a cleaner, a video = blackmail

Thursday 21 September 2006 at 7:33 am | In News | Post Comment

Group of judgesA 37-year-old Brazilian cleaner is on trial at the Old Bailey for allegedly attempting to blackmail a judge who is alleged to have had an affair with another judge. Their names have been protected and are known only as Judges J and I.

It appears that the judges were once live-in lovers. Judge I is male; Judge J is female. The plot thickens when we discover that the 37-year-old Brazilian as well as being the cleaner was also having an affair with Judge I, and the cleaner did not have a work permit, to boot.  £20,000 was mentioned.  There appears to be a video of certain goings on.
There is no law to be learnt here, and apart from being salacious the interest in the story is the way some judges live and also that someone in the judiciary knows how to use a video camera.

News item here.

Defences to Criminal Damage

Sunday 17 September 2006 at 11:22 am | In News | Post Comment

Paul Milling, 60, and Margaret Jones, 57, will face a new trial next year for criminal damage after a jury at Bristol Crown Court failed to reach a verdict. Milling and Jones argued they were justified in disabling trailers used to transport bombs for US B-52 bombers and fuel tankers in order to prevent war crimes in Iraq. The pair also put forward the statutory defence of reasonable excuse (Criminal Damage Act 1971) and “necessity” or duress of circumstances because they claimed to have been preventing a greater evil. Originally they put forward the defence that they were acting to prevent war crimes by attempting to prevent US B-52 bombers from taking off to launch the first air raids on Baghdad. However, the House of Lords said that waging an unlawful war is not a crime in domestic law. So they argued that their action was aimed at preventing individual war crimes in Iraq such as damage to non military property.
News report here Milling and Jones outside court

Double jeopardy, first case

Tuesday 12 September 2006 at 9:47 pm | In News | Post Comment

Billy Dunlop aged 43 pleaded guilty to murdering Julie Hogg after being previously acquitted. His conviction makes him the first person to be prosecuted again after acquittal in 800 years.
The necessary changes to the law were contained in the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

The rule against double jeopardy exists so that there is finality to criminal proceedings. Only those suspected of serious offences such as murder, rape, and arson endangering life can be prosecuted after they have been acquitted.

News report here.

Magistrate aged 19 appointed

Sunday 10 September 2006 at 11:52 am | In News | Post Comment

Lucy Tate JP, a 19-year-old law student has been appointed to the Pontefract bench, she is the youngest magistrate ever to be appointed.
BBC news, here.

Supreme Court gets closer

Saturday 9 September 2006 at 1:08 am | In News | Post Comment

Middlesex GuildhallWestminster City Council has agreed planning permission for the government plans to convert Middlesex Guildhall into a new Supreme Court. Subject to formal approval by English Heritage work will begin in April with the new court expected to open for business in October 2009. 

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