At last a Ministry of Justice, in a few weeks time

Saturday 31 March 2007 at 10:01 am | In News | Post Comment
Home Office logo
Home Office logo
The Home Office is to be split and one section will become the Ministry of Justice.
Full details will evident on its creation on May 9.

The Secretary of State for Justice will be Lord Falconer who believes it makes sense to bring together all the people involved in the justice system.

The Ministry of Justice will comprise the National Offender Management Service, the Office for Criminal Justice Reform and the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA).

The new department will have responsibility for the courts, sentencing, prisons, rehabilitation plus DCA policies like voting, crown dependencies, human rights, tribunals and freedom of information.

A woman cannot claim rape just because she was drunk

Tuesday 27 March 2007 at 9:09 pm | In News | Post Comment

Red Bull and Vodka
Red Bull and Vodka
R v Bree [2007] CA
[Consent – drunken consent is still consent]
D had intercourse with V a 19 year old student at Bournemouth University, she claimed she was too drunk to give consent.

Held: V was still capable of consenting to intercourse, even though she had drunk so much she was sick (she had drunk Red Bull and Vodka and cider).

Not guilty
Comment: This case further damages the government’s intention to drive up the number of convictions for rape following the passing of section 74 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003,which says that a person consents if she agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. It was thought that a very drunk person would have lost capacity would not have consented and the defendant would be guilty (subject to having the necessary mens rea). Sir Igor Judge said, “…when someone who has had a lot to drink is in fact consenting to intercourse, then that is what she is doing, consenting: equally, if after taking drink, she is not consenting, then by definition intercourse is taking place without her consent.

Legal aid, The Law Society, Civil Action – Letter Before Action

Saturday 24 March 2007 at 10:43 am | In News | Post Comment
Legal Services Commission logo
Legal Services Commission logo
The Law Society has sent a Letter Before Action, as any litigant has to before taking proceedings. The letter is required as part of the “Pre-action Protocols”. The proceedings proposed are against the Legal Services Commission. The action is on behalf of thousands of solicitors throughout the country who are objecting to the proposals that followed Lord Carter’s Report.

The solicitors are angry that the current legal aid contracts are not going to be renewed at the end of the month and they will be subject to a ‘unified contract’. This essentially means that instead of being paid for the work they do they will be paid for a job they do. So, if a case is more complex and they need to do extra legal work they will not get paid for the extra work.

In many areas solicitors have withdrawn their labour at courts. The government is determined the reforms will be implement. Hence the matter will now be dealt with by the courts.

The end of jury trial?

Friday 23 March 2007 at 6:59 am | In News | Post Comment

The Lords voted by 216 to 143 – a majority of 73 – to delay the second reading of The Fraud (Trials without a Jury) Bill.   It looks like the government might use the Parliament Acts to force the measure through.

The end of jury trial?

Tuesday 20 March 2007 at 7:29 am | In News | Post Comment

Activity in the Lords today will not end jury trial, but it is an attempt to restrict the use of juries in criminal complex fraud cases. A bill before the Lords will attempt yet again to allow a judge to sit alone in complex cases. Critics see it as the thin edge of the wedge. The bill is a short bill and cannot be amended so it is a do or die effort.

High Court rules Sex Discrimination Laws incompatible with EU Directive

Saturday 17 March 2007 at 3:33 pm | In News | Post Comment
Successful woman; Aishwarya Rai, successful Bombay actor, voted the most beautiful woman in the world, most often.
Successful woman; Aishwarya Rai, successful Bombay actor, voted the most beautiful woman in the world, most often.
This week the High Court ruled, in judicial review proceedings brought by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), that the government has failed to implement the European Equal Treatment Directive properly within the Employment Equality (Sex Discrimination) Regulations 2005 so as to protect the rights of women.The definition of harassment in the regulations was too narrow, and did not reflect the broad protection in the Directive. For example, the regulations gave no apparent protection to women harassed by clients, even when their employer knows of the harassment and could take steps to prevent it but fails to do so.

Women’s rights during maternity leave were also unclear as a result of the new regulations. Women and their employers did not know whether a woman was protected if she was not consulted about a change to her job while on maternity leave, or if she fell behind a queue for promotion because her time on additional maternity leave was excluded from length of service.

The court has ordered that the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has until midday, March 16th to inform the EOC and the court how the Government plans to remedy the situation.

Miscarriage of justice prisoners lose prison bed and breakfast challenge

Saturday 17 March 2007 at 2:09 am | In News | Post Comment

Carl Bridgewater aged 13 murdered in 1978
Carl Bridgewater aged 13 murdered in 1978


The House of Lords ruled this week that people wrongly convicted of crimes who are paid compensation, should have the amount they receive reduced by up to 25% for the cost of keeping them in prison. The argument being that they have not had to feed themselves during the period they are wrongly held in prison.

  • Michael Hickey and his cousin, Vincent, were wrongly convict ed of the murder of newspaper boy Carl Bridgewater, 13, who was shot dead in 1978 in West Midlands. Their convictions were quashed in 1997.
  • Michael O’Brien, who was 20 when he was convicted in 1988 of the murder of a Cardiff newsagent, was awarded £670,000 compensation after spending 10 years in jail.

Lord Brennan, QC, the Home Office-appointed assessor, reduced awards by 25 per cent deductions to pay for their saved “board and lodgings”.
The House of Lords supported the Independent Assessor; it reflected the necessities of life which they would have had to buy from their wages had they been at liberty.
Lord Brown said,

“Here are men, incarcerated in prison for many years for crimes they never committed, entitled by statute to compensation for that grave miscarriage of justice, now required, so it is suggested on their behalf, to give credit against their earning losses for the supposed benefits of being fed, clothed and housed in prison.”

Sally Clarke wrongly convicted of killing her two sons has died at her home

Saturday 17 March 2007 at 12:51 am | In News | Post Comment

Sally Clark – the solicitor wrongly jailed for murdering her two sons – died yesterday.

Sally Clarke wrongly convicted of killing her two sons has died at her home
Sally Clarke wrongly convicted of killing her two sons has died at her home
Mrs Clark, 42, was jailed in 1999 for killing her 11-week-old son Christopher in December 1996 and eight-week-old Harry in January 1998.
A first appeal against the convictions failed in 2000 but she was freed in 2003 after a fresh appeal. A statement released by the family solicitor said she was found dead at her home on Friday morning.

BBC story here

The House of Lords will not be changing for a while

Friday 16 March 2007 at 7:48 pm | In News | Post Comment
House of Lords
House of Lords
Wednesday’s vote to have a fully elected House of Lords will not lead to any immediate change. The Lords themselves voted differently and the whole thing appears to be a tactical exercise of no significance, even though many newspapers called it ‘historic’
The House of Commons voted 337-224, endorsing a 100 per cent elected Lords. The vote, however, is advisory in nature and does not pave the way for an enactment. But, leader of the house Jack Straw said the vote indeed means something will happen.

The selection of judges is a fiasco…

Sunday 4 March 2007 at 11:36 am | In News | 2 Comments

In its first year, the new judicial selection process appears to be running into trouble, and the big question is have “secret soundings” found a back door?

In January 2007 the selection of 75 circuit judges had to be re-run because more than 200 candidates who were wrongly rejected. Senior judges, including the Lord Chief Justice made representations concerning applicants that the Judicial Appointments Commission had passed over. Extra interviews are needed to correct the “error”, which has been blamed on the initial sifting panels that simply looked at application forms and took no account of judicial references.

Some are suggesting that this has created an appearance that senior judges have leant on the Commission to make sure candidates they thought should have been selected are selected.

Judge in wig
Judge in wig
On top of that, this week it has been revealed that 21 judges of the Immigration Appeals Tribunal have been reappointed after their 5 year contracts were not renewed. They had started legal action for Judicial Review but got their jobs back before the case came to court.

Further concerns have been voiced because some appointees have been made from the Crown Prosecution Service, which as part of the executive should be kept separate from the judiciary.

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