Legal Services Commission will not appeal Law Society case

Wednesday 27 October 2010 at 5:04 pm | In News | Post Comment

LSC Press release issued today:

27 October 2010

After careful consideration, the Legal Services Commission has decided not to appeal against the judgment made on the Law Society’s judicial review of our tender process.

The priority is to focus on the delivery of future public services; any appeal would only prolong the uncertainty over the future of family legal aid contracts, causing difficulties for clients and providers alike.

[...]

LSC Chair Sir Bill Callaghan said,

“Our priority must always be to ensure family legal aid clients get the help and legal advice they need. We still have some work to do but we hope that this constructive engagement with the profession will help to provide certainty for clients and providers.”

Bayes theorem has limited role in the courts

Wednesday 27 October 2010 at 10:25 am | In News | Post Comment

Footwear impressions - no new rules needed
R v T CA (2010)

D was tried for murder. Expert evidence based upon the use of likelihood ratios was admitted in evidence. The evidence centred around a pair of Nike trainers that were unlikely to have made the marks at the scene, the expert calculated that wear, or a dislodged stone etc could have changed the mark.

Held: In the area of footwear evidence, there is no place for use of a formula to calculate probability. That practice had no sound basis and outside the field of DNA, Bayes theorem and likelihood ratios should not be used.

Not Guilty (retrial ordered)
Per curiam: It is highly unlikely that the process by which expert evidence was formulated and adduced in this case will ever be repeated. […] There is no need for any new process. […]
Comment: The Court of Appeal has somewhat unusually permitted the publication of a redacted judgment, because of the importance of the judgment

Government abolishes quango that does not exist

Sunday 17 October 2010 at 8:38 am | In News | Post Comment
Legal Ombudsman is the new body
On 14 October, the government announced that around 200 quangos were to cease.  Some were merged some retained and some abolished with some or all functions transferred to civil service, local government, other quango, expert committee, charity or private sector.

However, in the list is of quangos to be abolished is the Legal Services Ombudsman who does not exist, its function was replaced by the Legal Ombudsman on 6 October.

So, for the sake of clarity, the Legal Ombudsman is alive and well, The Legal Services Ombudsman is no longer.

Legal Services Ombudsman has ceased

Are black people more likely than whites to be stopped and searched?

Sunday 17 October 2010 at 8:07 am | In News | Post Comment
Blacks are stopped more often by the police
An article in today’s Observer, claims that black people are 26 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched by police in England and Wales.  This is based on evidence in a report by The Open Society Justice Initiative which makes international comparison and reveals”staggeringly high” levels of what is said to be racial profiling among British police using Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, who arrives in London today to launch a campaign aimed at curbing what he says is stop-and-search discrimination, described the figures as “astonishing”.

The figures have to be treated with caution, for example they only relate to stop-and-search under Section 60, which allows police to search anyone in a designated area without specific grounds for suspicion, and the Observer article combines figures from different reports.

Under section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, which requires officers to have reasonable suspicion for a stop search, black people are seven times more likely to be stopped than white people.

Although Home Office guidance states care must be taken not to discriminate against ethnic minority groups, it says there are times when officers should “take account of an individual’s ethnic origin in selecting persons and vehicles to be stopped”.

A Civitas report published today, concludes that disparity in stop and search numbers is not necessarily unfair.

Today’s Observer takes a different view, but confines its ‘evidence’ to Sec 60 stops.

Other reports show that Asians were 6.3 times more likely to be stopped than whites, according to the analysis of Ministry of Justice figures for 2008-09, and that new draft Home Office guidance will allow police to stop and search on the basis of ethnic origin under Section 60.

Defences to murder

Saturday 9 October 2010 at 6:27 pm | In News | Post Comment

The circular is now available here

New Legal Services Ombudsman – effective from 6 October 2010

Thursday 7 October 2010 at 7:32 am | In News | Post Comment
Legal Services Ombudsman
From 6 October 2010 complaints about lawyers in England and Wales will be dealt with by the new Legal Services Ombudsman.

The Legal Services Ombudsman is a totally independent service for handling legal complaints.
No service complaints will be passed from  existing complaints handling bodies to the new Legal Ombudsman.

The term ‘lawyer’ it means any of the legal professionals listed below.
Each branch of the legal profession has its own professional body responsible for setting its standards of conduct and service. These professional bodies are also responsible for investigating complaints.

  • Solicitor – contact The Legal Complaints Service (LCS) formerly known as the Consumer Complaints Services;
  • Barrister – contact The Bar Standards Board (BSB);
  • Licensed Conveyancer – contact The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC);
  • Legal Executive – contact The Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX);
  • Patent Attorney – contact The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA);
  • Trade Mark Attorney – contact The Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA).
  • Law Costs Draftsman – contact The Association of Law Costs Draftsmen

Zahida Manzoor CBE is the Legal Services Ombudsman (LSO) for England and Wales
(Note: ‘ombudsman’ is a non gender specific word of Swedish origin)

Changes to defences to murder – provocation and diminished responsibility

Monday 4 October 2010 at 9:50 pm | In News | Post Comment
Manslaughter provisions

Defences to the law of murder were changed today, 53 years after the last change by amendments to the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

Provocation has been replaced by a new defence of “loss of control” caused by “a fear of serious violence”. This may be a response to “words or conduct which caused the defendant to have a justifiable sense of being seriously wronged”.
In practice it would mean that a man who kills his wife after discovering her infidelity will now not be able to succeed with the defence of provocation.
But it would be available for parents who catch a paedophile molesting their child or a rape victim taunted by her attacker because they would be “seriously wronged”.
A mother who kills a man trying to rape her child would be in “fear of serious violence” and might be able to use the defence.

Diminished responsibility has been replaced by a new defence based on “recognised medical conditions”.

The act clarifies the Infanticide Act 1938, now the offence and defence of infanticide only applies to women and then if she would otherwise be found guilty of murder or manslaughter.

There has been no circular by the Home Office with the commencement of the act and it will be a little while before it is clear how the changes will apply in practice.

It is thought that the existing case law on provocation will be of less significance, but can still be used.
It is generally accepted that existing diminished responsibility cases may continue to be prayed-in-aid.

Both defences continue to be specific and partial.

Employment Law changed on 1st October 2010

Monday 4 October 2010 at 5:30 am | In News | Post Comment
Parliament
Parliament reforms the law
Friday 1st October 2010 saw the coming into force of a condolidating Act, the Equality Act 2010, and cosolidating regulations dealing with disability.  The annual increase in the national minimum wage was also included.

The Equality Act 2010 simplifies and harmonises the different strands of discrimination law that have developed over the last 40 years, and also introduces some key new initiatives to tackle actual and perceived inequality in the workplace. The Act:

  • Sets out the basic framework of protection against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation
  • Introduces a new concept of discrimination arising from disability to restore the protection from disability-related discrimination (lost as a result of the decision in London Borough of Lewisham -v- Malcolm [2008])
  • Prevents employers from asking pre-employment health questions except in specified circumstances
  • Makes pay secrecy clauses unenforceable in specified circumstances
  • Gives employment tribunals new powers to make recommendations relating to the whole workforce
  • Allows voluntary positive action

Increases to National Minimum Wage

  • Standard rate (for workers aged 21 and over): £5.93, up from £5.80
  • Development rate (for workers aged between 18 and 20): £4.92, up from £4.83
  • Young workers rate (for workers aged under 18 but above compulsory school age, who are not apprentices): £3.64, up from £3.57
  • Apprentice rate (new: for apprentices under 19 years of age or apprentices aged 19 or over but in the first year of their apprenticeship): £2.50

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