An offence of trespass…

Monday 28 May 2007 at 7:29 am | In News | Post Comment
Aaron Barschak
Aaron Barschak
An offence of criminal trespass begins on 1st June 2007. It was found to be necessary when no action could be taken against Aaron Barschak who jumped on stage dressed as Osama bin Laden at Prince William’s 21st birthday at Windsor Castle on 21st June 2003 when. He was found to be a simple trespasser against whom no criminal sanction could be used. In the same year a reporter started work as a footman at Buckingham Palace and the paper published photographs of the inside of the palace including the Queen’s breakfast table.
The offence is viewed as being necessary both to create a deterrent to intrusions at high profile secure sites where no other apparent existing offence had been committed. Not only are Royal residences covered but some government buildings too, including 10 Downing Street. There are initially 16 locations but it is inevitable that the number will increase.

Judges snub Falconer

Friday 25 May 2007 at 9:50 pm | In News | Post Comment

At the launch party of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) on Wednesday 23 May, not one judge turned up.

The judiciary feel it would be wrong to support a ministry that is supposed to uphold the law when the creation of the MoJ department itself may be constitutionally unsound.

They left the champagne swigging to Charlie Falconer and his prison wardens.

“The trouble is I don’t understand the language. I don’t really understand what a website is.”

Thursday 17 May 2007 at 6:07 pm | In News | Post Comment

Judges will often ask counsel what appear to be blindingly obvious questions not because they don’t know the answer but because future generations will not know. So, when a judge asked who Gazza was and who the Beatles were the judges were eliciting an answer for posterity not because he didn’t know.

As protective of our judiciary as one might feel, it appears impossible to find a benign explanation for Judge Peter Openshaw’s when he said, “I don’t really understand what a website is.”

See the full article here.

One night in the court cells costs as much as a Ritz suite

Monday 14 May 2007 at 5:07 pm | In News | Post Comment
Ritz Hotel London
Ritz Hotel London
Prisoners are being held in court cells that cost more per night than a suite at the Ritz it emerged as ministers were accused of an “absurd waste of money”.

The Government faced condemnation after it was revealed that 77 prisoners had been forced to use cells in courts since the start of the year at an average cost of £1,800 a night.

Story in the Independent

Small claims for PI will not be raised

Wednesday 9 May 2007 at 1:55 am | In News | 1 Comment

Lawyers applauded an announcement from the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, that he would not raise the small claims court limit for personal injury claims.

Lord Falconer told delegates this week at the annual conference of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) that raising the limit “would be reform which does not have the consumer at its heart”.

Incoming APIL president Martin Bare, said “we’re delighted Lord Falconer has recognised that injured people are individuals and their unique needs are not to be treated in the same way as faulty goods.”

The Home Office and the Ministry of Justice start today as separate departments.

Wednesday 9 May 2007 at 1:54 am | In News | Post Comment

The Ministry of Justice is in charge of prisons, probation and sentencing. The Home Office will retain policy for security, crime, drugs, counter-terrorism and ID cards.

The split was deemed necessary after Home Secretary John Reid said a year ago that the Home Office was “not fit for purpose”.

John Reid will head the Home Office and the Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer will head the new Ministry of Justice, formerly the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

Lord Falconer’s new ministry will have to deal with the overcrowding of prisons in England and Wales.

In addition to criticism from political opposition parties the new arrangements has it critics in the judiciary. The judges see the single budget of the new department being competed for by prisons and the probation service, they fear that sentencing will be affected by cost and this they claim this breaches constitutional independence.

Constitutional Reform Act 2005
Senior judges have been openly talking about the “nuclear option”. This would involve the Lord Chief Justice reporting to Parliament that the Lord Chancellor has breached his statutory duty under the Constitutional Reform Act to protect the independence of the administration of justice.

The new Minister of Justice will be subject to regular challenges in the courts, particularly over prisons and penal policy, this, the judges say this may compromise presiding judge who will be ruling on prison matters and against the same minister who is in charge of their budget.

Under the previous arrangement the Home Secretary did not meet judges, but the Lord Chancellor has a constitutional relationship with the Lord Chief Justice under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 and has to be in constant dialogue over judicial matters.

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