OJC upholds 904 judicial criticisms in first year

Tuesday 31 July 2007 at 4:43 pm | In News | Post Comment

In 2006-2007 the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC) dealt with 904 valid complaints.
Judges’ conduct resulted in disciplinary action against two ‘mainstream’ judges.
Two complaints were upheld against tribunal members. 28 were allowed for magistrates.

Half led to removal from office.
Others received reprimands, formal warnings and advice.

The reasons for disciplinary actions included being subject to criminal proceedings, misuse of judicial status and inappropriate behaviour or comments.

OJC annual report, here.

Wigs were off last week, this week they are back on….

Monday 30 July 2007 at 9:52 am | In News | Post Comment

Judge in full-bottomed wigJust because all civil judges from the Court of Appeal down are to dispense with wigs, it does not follow that barristers will do the same, according to an article in today’s Guardian. Barristers will make up their own mind about how they dress and will have a vote on it. The judges will change their court dress in January 2008.
Guardian article, here.

Corporate manslaughter will be in force on 6th April 2008, at least some of it.

Thursday 26 July 2007 at 7:28 pm | In News | Post Comment

Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act
The Act is here.
The new Corporate Manslaughter Act became law today after 10 years of campaigning.

Under the new law companies, organisations and, for the first time, Government bodies face an unlimited fine, for corporate manslaughter, if they are found to have caused death due to their gross corporate health and safety failures.

A key obstacle to successful prosecutions has now been removed. It means that both small and large companies can be held liable for manslaughter where gross failures in the management of health and safety cause death.

Zeebrugger ferry disaster, picture from www.thefirstpost.co.uk/
Zeebrugger ferry disaster, picture from www.thefirstpost.co.uk/

The Act builds on existing health and safety legislation – so the new offence does not impose new regulations on business. It is about corporate liability, not increasing liability for individual directors or managers who can already be held to account through health and safety laws and the common law of manslaughter.

Crown bodies – such as Government departments police forces and certain other bodies – will be liable to prosecution.
The Act will come into force on 6 April 2008 and the Ministry of Justice will issue further guidance for organisations affected by the Act in the Autumn. (The offence to deaths in custody will not come into effect on the 6 April, but at a later date).

The Act was passed on the same day that the latest work related fatal injury statistics were published by the Health and Safety Commission.  Chairman Sir Bill Callaghan said that the loss of 241 lives is unacceptable and issued a fresh challenge to industry to place safety at the top of its priorities and do more to protect the work force.

More information about HSE can be found at: http://www.hse.gov.uk

Corporate manslaughter will become law, very soon …

Friday 20 July 2007 at 1:21 pm | In News | Post Comment

A five year wait for the passage of the Corporate Manslaughter Bill is finally over. The Lords have had their way, the government was defeated over the effect on police and prisons.
Full story in The Times, here.

High Court Judge referred to the Office for Judicial Complaints

Wednesday 18 July 2007 at 6:22 am | In News | Post Comment

For the first time the Lord Chief Justice has taken steps to initiate disciplinary action against a High Court judge by referring the judge to the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC), which was set up last year under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005.

It is a first step towards possible disciplinary proceedings against the judge. It could lead to a reprimand or even to a recommendation to ask Parliament to remove him. A High Court Judge can only be removed from office by parliament.

Mr Justice Peter Smith (the judge who presided over the “Da Vinci Code” case) was slammed by the Court of Appeal for marring his judgment with his personal feelings.

[In the “Da Vinci Code” case the judge wrote a coded message, thought to have been unprecedented in court judgments].

The case that has provoked the referral to the OJC came after Peter Smith J had been in negotiations to join a law firm called Addleshaws. The negotiations broke down.

Smith said that he had been angered by his treatment which had wasted his time. The Court of Appeal found that Smith had “animosity” towards the firm.

Then a case was due to be heard before Peter Smith J involving a party who was head of a department at Addleshaws. An application to the judge for him to stand down (be recused) was denied by him.

The Court of Appeal ruled that instead of testing the evidence of the witness the judge cross examined him in a way that a “defence advocate” would.

The Court of Appeal ruled that Peter Smith J’s actions were “wholly inappropriate” especially in relation to the cross-examination and that the court was “quite satisfied that the judge should have recused himself”.

The court also held that Smith’s attitude towards Addleshaws, about which the firm was complaining, “rose directly from the judge’s private affairs”.

The conduct of the hearing, it ruled, underlined the fact that he had been “personally involved”.

“Prison works…”

Tuesday 17 July 2007 at 9:20 am | In News | Post Comment
Criminals released early from prison because of an overcrowding crisis committed eight more offences within days of being freed, the Ministry of Justice said. One of the principles of sentencing is ‘incapacitation’ this is achieved by imprisonment.

Full story in The Independent, here.

Wigs and bands (collars) will not be worn in civil courts from 2008

Thursday 12 July 2007 at 9:24 am | In News | 1 Comment

wig_books2.jpgThe Lord Chief Justice announced this morning that wigs and bands will no longer be worn in civil cases. This will take effect on 1st January 2008. Barristers and solicitor advocates will continue to wear gowns.

In criminal cases court dress will stay the same. Also, solicitor advocates (and others) will wear wigs.

(Information from Daniel Barnet)

Michigan Woman’s Claim: Starburst Are Dangerously Chewy

Tuesday 10 July 2007 at 3:50 pm | In News | Post Comment

Starburst Fruit Chews are exactly as their name would indicate: chewy.

A Michigan woman says the sweets are so chewy, they should come with a warning label.

Picture left of claimant Victoria McArthur.

Read the full report, here.

Starburst website here.

Judicial appointments 2007 report

Friday 6 July 2007 at 6:49 am | In News | Post Comment
District judge
District judge
In 2006, 21 names were forwarded to the Lord Chancellor for future vacancies in the High Court. 144 lawyers applied for 25 posts vacancies.
21 names were sent to the Lord Chancellor.

  • None of the 21 was from an ethnic minority.
  • None was a former solicitor.
  • None was disabled.
  • Three were women.

Judicial Appointments Commission Annual Report, here

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