Archive for the ‘Charon After Dark’ Category
Legal aid tendering: will it actually work?
Joshua Rozenberg in The Guardian: The MoJ’s public consultations on legal aid reforms show they are open-minded, but if the aim remains to reduce spending, what about the cost to justice?
Dr Elizabeth Gibby, head of legal aid policy at the Ministry of Justice, was answering questions at the first in a series of open meetings arranged by the department and advertised, very discreetly, on its website. This one took place at a hotel in Reading and attracted more than 100 lawyers; there are to be another 12 this month around England and Wales.
“We appreciate that the proposals [in Transforming Legal Aid] are causing deep anxiety and concern,” Gibby said, “and people have genuine worries about aspects of the [reform] model. That’s why we genuinely want to hear from people. I know people often think that responding to government consultations is a waste of time. All I would say to you is that we want to hear your views. We want to hear your suggestions.”
Dr Gibby came a ‘bit unstuck’, floundering when asked to point to the section in the consultation paper dealing with the interests of the user:
“I’m sorry; I don’t quite understand what you are saying,” Gibby replied after a pause. (She continued to flounder as Rozenberg relates)
Then it was the turn of Tim Mouseley QC who questioned her on Grayling’s assertion in the consultation:
“Where is the evidence that the public have a lack of confidence in the legal system as it currently is?” the QC asked.
Dr Gibby ‘made it clear that this line had not come from her’.
Mr Rozenberg wrote :“What struck me as I heard Gibby explain all this is that officials really cannot be sure that any of this is going to work.”
Good stuff, Mr Rozenberg. It is good to know that our ‘political masters’ and civil servants are on the ball – not.
Some very useful reading on
A BARRISTER’S WIFE - a behind closed doors view of the justice system. A must read!
Baroness Deech, Inner Temple Bencher, gives speech on the impact of legal aid cuts in the Lords:
My apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan for ‘modifying’ the lyrics to the Lord Chancellor’s song in Iolanthe
I am sure you will be able to locate a true and real analysis of The Queen’s Speech on Google.
I shall leave you with this modification…back soon…adios for now
When I didn’t go to the Bar as a very young man
(Said I to myself — said I).
When I didn’t go to the Bar as a very young man,
(Said I to myself–said I),
I’ll work on a new and original plan,
(Said I to myself–said I),
I’ll never assume that a rogue or a thief
Is a gentleman worthy implicit belief,
Because his attorney won’t be getting a brief,
(Said I to myself–said I!).
Ere I go into the House I won’t read my brief through
(Said I to myself–said I),
And I’ll always take work the Bar is able to do
(Said I to myself-said I),
My learned profession I’ll do my best to disgrace
By taking their fees with a grin on my face,
When I haven’t been there to attend to the case
(Said I to myself–said I!).
For something serious – have a listen to my podcast with Michael Turner QC?
If you had any doubts about ‘external investment’ in the legal system in England & Wales…. Neil Rose’s article on Eddie Stobart will inform / amuse / irritate you!
Stobart Barristers sets sights on criminal legal aid contract
Stobart Barristers – the direct access service run by the famous logistics company – has given a strong indication that it will bid for the new criminal legal aid contracts the government is set to offer under price competitive tendering…..
He said the current model – with large numbers of firms doing identical work while fees are falling – was “unsustainable”. Even if they start to merge, that will not wipe out “the legacy of debt” most carry. He described criminal law practices as “very wounded animals ready to die”.
It would appear that Group Legal Director and founder, Trevor Howarth, has ‘form’… experience of the law as practice manager for the firm of celebrity solicitor Nick ‘Mr Loophole (TM)’ Freeman.Will the Stobart trucks used to ferry their lawyers to court be named as the trucks are for shipping goods? Could keep us amused ‘spotting them’…
You may be interested in listening to my podcast with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of The Criminal Bar, on legal aid reforms and the rise of ‘external investment and involvement’ in the legal profession?
Scroll down or click here
“High court judge rules Andrew Tinkler and legal director Trevor Howarth may have lied to secure gagging order on whistleblower”
Not an ideal start for a company wishing to provide legal services – if true?
I have marvelled, as many others have, at the antics of the Kippers in the run up to the local elections. After the extraordinary report of a Kipper – the article headline says it all… Physical exercise prevents you becoming gay, claims UK councillor candidate…“ John Sullivan, a UKIP party candidate, up for election next week, has made a series of anti-gay Facebook comments, including congratulating Russia for banning gay Pride, and comparing gays to termites” – I didn’t think it could become any more farcical.
But… today, the Kipper in Chief excelled himself by revealing that one of his candidates was not giving a ‘Nazi’ salute…he was imitating a pot plant.
NIGEL Farage has defended a Ukip candidate who was pictured seemingly giving a Nazi salute, offering the bizarre explanation that he was actually “imitating a pot plant”.
Nigel Unter Den Linden was quoted in the articles…” “I’ve looked carefully into this and spoken to Alex, and I believe him when he says that he was angrily trying to take a camera off his girlfriend who was annoyingly taking pictures of him in the pub imitating a pot plant,” he told the Huffington Post.
“These things happen – I should know!”
I am not at all sure that we need politicians – local or national – who want to imitate pot plants. The Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling is quite enough to contend with for the present.
Well…there we are… ain’t UK politics a larf….. ?
The problem of costly and spurious cases clogging up the courts will be tackled by new plans for Trial by Ordeal announced by Justice Secretary Killaburglar Grayling LC.
The proposals would reduce the number of ill-founded defences so that guilty people can be dealt with more swiftly and effectively.
The changes will not alter the important role the CPS plays in holding the guilty to account but will instead deal with the unnecessary defence lawyers in the system. The number of not guilty verdicts has rocketed in the past three decades.
Lord KillaBurglar Grayling LC said:
‘The Government is concerned about the burdens that proving guilt in criminal cases are placing on stretched public services as well as the unnecessary costs and lengthy delays which are stifling innovation and economic growth – particularly in the prisons construction sector headed by our friends in the prisons biz, now they have recovered from the Olympics fiasco.
‘We plan to renew the system so that Prosecutions will continue their important role but the courts and economy are no longer hampered by having to deal with defences being put forward and ensure the defendant knows they have no chance of success. We will publish our proposals shortly.’
The measures which will be considered include:
- Shortening the length of time following arrest of guilty people so that they can be put to Trial by Ordeal within 24 hours and stopping people from using tactical delays including the employment of counsel to defend them.
- Halving the number of opportunities currently available to guilty people to demonstrate their skills by taking forward planned action to bang them up in advance of their actions
- Reforming the current fees paid to lawyers to such a level to dissuade them from even thinking about acting pro bono
A public engagement exercise on the plans will be carried out shortly and kicked into the long grass for implementation after 2015.
Mea culpa – for the nonsense above – but I marvel at times… I really do.
Adam Wagner of the excellent UK Human Rights blog – thankfully – had time to deal with this issue of the MoJ plans on Judicial Review – more seriously – an excellent read: A war on Judicial Review? [updated]
I am moving to Kent to set up my ‘forward operating base’ (FOB) this weekend – taking some subversive ducks from Battersea-on-Thames with me to instruct Medway ducks in the delights of subversion.
Once settled – The Van Rouge Tour will start. I will start in the South-East and go hence throughout our sceptred isle over the course of a year in a camper van. To avoid inflicting hypothermia on myself in the winter months I may have to stay occasionally in a hotel and will, in any event, return to the aforementioned FOB at weekends to enjoy the pleasures of research and writing up. In six months time FOB will be moved North and I will take another six month let in a modest dwelling.
Podcasts, voxpops with a television camera, analysis of the legal events of the day, commentary on the changing legal landscape, ephemeral musings and anything else that comes into my surreal mind will be reported. I am setting up a special Charon Van Rouge Tour blog to place all the posts in one place. I rather like the idea of going on ‘Assizes’ and creating a Legal Domesday Book. The plan is to cover England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It will take at least a year.
The important thing for me is to have an open mind and talk to many people to find out what they think of our legal system. I shall be thorough in my investigation and talk to a wide cross section of people – not just lawyers.
I very much hope that regular tweeters who know me through twitter will take part and make this a truly collaborative project. It will be a pleasure to do and I very much hope readers will enjoy the ‘reports from the frontline’.
I am genuinely pleased with the extraordinary support – financial, moral, encouragement, offers of beds for the nights, offers of dinner - from tweeters and I will do my best to include as many people as I can in this project.
So far, sponsors have come forward to assist with logistics, running expenses, kit etc: The Law Society, Kysen PR, The Legal Technology Insider, LBC Wise Counsel, Riverview Law, The University of East Anglia Law School, Brecher, Routledge Law, Inksters, Cellmark., The College of Law, BPP Law School, TaxAid, Darlingtons Solicitors, Lawyers on Demand, The Trial Warrior blog
I am not a rich man – nor wish to be. So… if any other organisations or individuals would like to be involved in this tour as a sponsor, please get in touch with me. Sponsorships are modest.
Planning a move to Kent for six months for the end of next week and then the beginning of my Van Rouge / Cuppa tour (Details below). Being sensible, I have decided to find a base to return to at weekends. If I can pull off the tour (I am getting good sponsor interest and many from twitter offering a bed for the night – which is most kind!), I can cover much of England & Wales over six months 4-5 days a week -. I may be a bit blogging light over the next week as I organise this.
However, I hope to do a Postcard From the Staterooms at Battersea-on-Thames – my last from Battersea, tomorrow.
Back later or tomorrow…
Not feeling too bright – Manflu. The above rather sums up my thinking this evening…if one can call it ‘thinking’.
Taking an evidence sourced approach to blogging - the new ‘fashion’:
This is what happened only last night when I nearly died laughing.
Unfortunately, the issue is not as simple as I assert with that proposition.
I had not considered the possibility of ambulance chasers in my vicinity at the time of laughing at tweets. Unfortunately, this Wikipedia entry, unedited by the new Tory Party co-Chairman Grant Shapps MP, is not that helpful in defining ‘tweet’.
I was laughing privately and not in a manner likely to worry the Director of Public Prosecutions (Even on a bad day at the office). No menacing laughter justifying a prosecution near Doncaster under s. 127 per the Twitter Joke Trial. Not even the hint of affray, riot, treason, or even failing to kettle myself when asked to do so, in a group of two, by a police officer. (See the CPS guidelines for public order offences – whether you intend to amuse yourself by committing same or not, as may be the case).
I was laughing alone. I did not feel the need to seek asylum at the Ecuador Embassy in London.
Events got a bit out of hand…. the following extracts from official documents provided to The Home Office and other relevant bodies serve as a narrative.
STATEMENT: FROM THE DECEASED – Professor R D Charon
1. I died. I am not, in fact, dead – as will be clear even to judges seeking an appearance in The Daily Mail (Here and here) - cf: despite the death certificate issued by Dr X who has not yet been struck off. (Infra)
2. However – in support of my claim for PPI, whiplash injury, loss of consortium with myself and all other losses, as yet unquantifiable, but which will almost certainly become clear by the time we get to court, I claim that I suffered nervous shock (without even a hint of novus actus interveniens in between) after reading the death certificate (infra) which Dr X handed to me after clinically processing my Centurion AMEX card on his portable electronic wealth modifying device (WMD).
3. The doctor attended at my rooms in Bloomsbury, accompanied by a solicitor. They happened to be passing – driving a Toyota Priapic hybrid car en route to a car crash nearby, when they heard my laughter and broke in on the off chance that I may need assistance.
Attended at a flat in Bloomsbury. The law professor was sitting in a chair at a desk. I was able to deduce that he was a law professor by his mode of dress. He was wearing full academic regalia, including mortar board and red doctoral gown. The professor’s iMac computer indicated that his name was “@ProfRDCharon”. This was apparent even without an on site autopsy. I was able to form this view by looking at his twitter history (infra) – The professor’s browser revealed that he was, and certainly had been when alive, on twitter. Professor Charon was a ‘goner’. Dead. Died Laughing. Definitely dead. A solicitor who attended with me also took the view that the professor was dead after consulting an accident claims website to gain a ‘value priced’ billable view.
[A] . I observed Professor Charon at 9.58 pm. He had been laughing. He was in his chair at his desk. He wasn’t moving that much after I had to break in. He had not responded to a ‘Direct Message’ on twitter for four minutes before, save to type “hahaha….”
I concluded he was dead.
People can die of laughter. He died laughing.
[B] In support of this I am able to certify that the cause of death was laughing
As an after thought to the extraordinary evening I had last night when a doctor and a solicitor broke into my rooms in Bloomsbury, unasked, to declare me dead - I was able to resume my life and took the opportunity to ‘google death by laughing’
I read this on a website: “In the third century BC, Greek philosopher Chrysippus died of out-of-control laughter after he gave his donkey some wine, and then observed it pigging out on figs… Pietro Aretino (below), writer, raconteur, and the founder of “literary pornography,” is said to have died in 1556 of suffocation from laughing too much…
Read more on death by laughter on Wikiepedia…why not? – death by laughter is a bit over rated and didn’t work for me…..
AND… from the website, aforeto mentioned:
“More recently… On March 24th of 1975, Alex Mitchell, a 50-year-old bricklayer in Norfolk, England, kicked his bucket while howling with laughter over the “Kung Fu Capers” episode of his favorite TV show, “The Goodies.” The episode featured a kilt-clad Scotsman attacking a vicious-looking blood pudding with his bagpipes, and roundly trouncing it. After laughing uncontrollably for twenty-five minutes, Mitchell finally succumbed to heart failure on his sofa. His bereaved widow reportedly sent a letter to the producers of “The Goodies” in which she thanked them for making Mitchell’s final moments so enjoyable!”
While I am, of course, sympathetic to the last unfortunate demise – it is pleasing to see that The Goodies amused someone. I am still recovering from the trauma in childhood of watching same on television.
A most puzzling evening. I continue, however, to live and I am grateful to my brother Charon QC for this opportunity to inform on this pleasing event in his blog.
BY Professor R.D. Charon LLB (Cantab), BCL, Ph.d, FRSA
– Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence, University of The Rive Gauche, London Faculty, London
Author: “Legal Nihilism: Taking Rights Seriously, seriously”, Maninahat Press, 2009
Bonfire of The Vanities II (2012)
A Cecil B De Charon film
Cecil B de Charon’s Battersea-on-Thames ‘homage’ to Tom Wolfe’s original satire stars Julian Assange as the “master of the universe,” a fearless exposer of secrets and truthtalkstopowerista, who leaks millions of documents while enjoying the good life in the Ecuador Embassy in Knightsbridge, London. Glenn Greenwald, Guardianistacomlately, and Assange are living the dream on twitter when they take a wrong turn and find themselves facing the omnipotence of ……the David Allen Green, Mythbuster.
What could possibly go wrong?…
And.. on that note… have a most excellent bank holiday weekend…I’ll be back with a Postcard over the weekend… if I am not rendited or denounced. Adios, for now..as we say in Quito…¡Ay, caramba!
The New Statesman must correct its error over Assange and extradition
Mr Greenwald has written – in The Guardian: “The claim that Swedish courts, not government, have final say on extradition is a crucial mistake that distorts the Assange case”
The story continues…..as I observed above.. what could possibly go wrong?
And then… there was this tweet from a Swedish academic:
@ggreenwald is now ordering the actual source on which he relied to retract his dissent. Priceless.
@sunny_hundal yes, in parts both DAG and GG are right, but also that both are wrong, at least in some parts of their texts
And.. a useful piece: How do you write about foreign legal systems – The Guardian style guide
And… truly.. my final tweet to all of the above on this:
I hesitate, in the present climate on twitter, to mention this – but Carl Gardner did a podcast with me some days before David Allen Green did his New Statesman piece and we drew on a number of sources in the discussion. We even talked about ‘myth busting’. I also thought an article by Owen Jones in The Independent was rather good – and referred to it in the podcast.
Carl Gardner has written extensively about the Assange issue for some time – which is why I wanted to do a podcast with him.
Mr Greenwald did suggest on twitter that I was being homophobic. That is not the case, nor was it my intention – I merely took the original film poster as a base – intending that a mild ‘parody’ might lighten the dark mood on twitter which the Assange issue has aroused. The arguments are important – the unpleasantness between ‘factions’ is unfortunate.
Update: LAN2LAN is a British company that comprehensively specialises a plethora of useful and necessary services, including: wireless network solutions, data recovery, wireless security systems and a whole host of IT support services. We can help anyone in need.
The Assanganistas head orf to their rapture….. as I like to imagine them so doing… above.
On a day when Wikileaks denounced lawyer and journalist David Allen Green (A lawyer I have podcasted with many times) – for his correct analysis on the #Assange issue… I marvel. Beyond parody…beyond satire.
I do enjoy the darker side of life and value humour, above all, as a means of getting a point across. Private Eye, Peter Cook and Python were formative influences in my young life. I do not, however, blame them for my many shortcomings in life. But I do thank them for the many laughs they have provided – and continue to provide.
Assange, for me, has turned out to be a rather disappointing icon for free speech. The Assanganistas will not listen to reason. They are encouraged to read a bit of UK law on twitter by law bloggers and many others and respond by doing a Denial of Service attack on the UK Supreme Court website. Right on dudes! Way to go!
I am always prepared to tease my fellow bloggers ( I plan to continue doing so) – but I am pleased they do what they do. Unlike the Assanganistas – they don’t mind being teased – even if they have been denounced by Wikileaks.
In the meantime… for lawyers…at least those who did manage to shoehorn in a bit of Jurisprudence into their busy social lives while studying law at university.. my final thoughts on the day…
Modern hip lawyer: I’ll have a Bingham Machiato, Fuller than usual..easy on the Mill..was on the Raz last night… but Dworkin today..OK Yah?!
The Brethren are saving the unenlightened….what would we do without ‘em?
Orf to find an exorcist… back later with some nonsense… have a good one…
A useful collation and comment on the Assange posts from Adam Wagner: The Assange Reality Distortion Field
And a podcast I did with Carl Gardner last Friday:Lawcast 219: Carl Gardner on the Assange asylum issues
In the meantime… as I am sure you are as Asshagged out as I am by Assange and the Assanganistas…. I rather liked this HT @bretttechlawyer …
The strong (and passionate) arms of the law
I did enjoy Alex Aldridge’s quote in the article…
“The law is full of eccentrics,” says Alex Aldridge, editor the irreverent, must-read tabloid law website Legal Cheek. “Lawyers were usually the geeks at school who weren’t very happy or lucky with girls, so when they find themselves in a high status job, earning lots of money and getting lots of attention late in life, they do crazy things and behave like lunatics.”
Update: JSB offers the chance to improve and sustain the performance and promise of individuals and teams in a variety of invaluable sectors, such as: Employment Training, HR Training and Management and Leadership Development training.
The Olympics, enjoyed by many, are now cast to the ethereal memory to reveal the malignant presence of dystopian reality.
The prime minister has left Downing Street to go on a holiday (not annual leave: Politicians need holidays too, says David Cameron), leaving UK PLC in the capable hands of Theresa May and our foreign secretary, hitherto, arguably, the most sensible member of the axis of incompetence governing our country. Mr Hague decided yesterday to force the Assange issue by digging up a law from 1987 few knew about, let alone recalled, to suggest that Ecuador may be stripped of their diplomatic status and the rozzers could ‘storm’ the Embassy.
Ecuador has duly participated in Mr Hague’s cunning plan to shift moralo-global responsibility for the mess to Ecuador – Ecuador granted Assange asylum - and there is much speculation on how Assange is to get into a diplomatic car without setting foot on British soil and avoid the attention of the Police who wait with their handcuffs to haul him off for breach of his bail conditions. The BBC has the story. Solicitor David Allen Green (aka Jack of Kent blogger and legal correspondent of the New Statesman) valiantly tried to stem the march of the trolls and tin foil hat wearers by tweeting about the complexities of the law – to no avail – and my mate Carl Gardner appeared on BBC Radio 4 to inform Mr Naughtie and listeners, including me, about the law this morning. Carl Gardner has written a sensible analysis of the problem faced by the UK Government: Julian Assange: can the UK withdraw diplomatic status from the Ecuadorian embassy?
I don’t think I added to the jurisprudence on this issue with my sardonic tweet of late last night: “Breaking: Ecuador Embassy buy teleporter from makers of Star Trek to transport Assange to Ecuador.”
David Allen Green has considered the twitter issue with: On being hated by tweeters.
And… a late ‘analysis from @Loveandgarbage – a must follow (at your own risk) on twitter – @loveandgarbage: Duchy of Grand Fenwick turns down Asylum Application from Ecuadorian Ambassador
Apropos of Mr Assange escaping to Ecuador – a country not noted for free speech – without being arrested by police when he steps onto British soil to make a dash for the diplomatic car – I had the pleasure of teaching Mr Umaru Dikko years ago.
Wikipedia notes: “On July 5, 1984, he played the central role in the Dikko Affair; he was found drugged in a crate labeled Diplomatic Baggage at Stansted Airport, an apparent victim of a government (Israeli) sanctioned, but aborted kidnapping. The crate’s destination was Lagos.”
Dikko came to see me in my office to talk about doing a law degree. I believe in the principle ‘innocent until proved guilty’. As he had not been convicted of any criminal offence at the time, I was quite happy for him to enrol on the University of London LLB programme. I did warn him that should he be convicted at a future time – of corruption or any other criminal offence – this would impact on his suitability for call to the Bar. During one of my contract lectures, I happened to talk about a case involving a consignment of goods to Nigeria. Several Nigerians at the back of the lecture hall – burst out laughing and started shouting “Dikko, Dikko, Dikko”. To his credit, and to my amusement, Mr Dikko, immaculately dressed in expensive suiting, stood up, turned to face the Nigerian students and did a bow. Class!
The ‘silly season’ is upon us; traditionally a time for the surreal and daft to appear in our newspapers in the absence of more serious news. So, in that spirit… and I head this section with an image of the Olympics which I particularly liked…althought there were so many marvellous photographs.
Random wanderings about London
The long vacation for lawyers begins at the end of July. I decided to take a short break away from law, which I enjoyed. I spent a few amusing days getting on buses without having a clue where the bus ended up. I like a bit of ‘random’ in my life these days. London is, truly, a marvellous place to wander around, even for a law blogger who has lived in London for 30+ years. I won’t trouble you with the boring details of where I ended up – but I can reveal that I purchased a very bright green Casio wrist watch (£20) and a very loud pair of electric blue suede desert desert style boots on my travels. I shouldn’t be allowed out on my own sometimes. It is perhaps a good thing that I don’t escape that often? I did my bit for Britain during the Olympic fortnight, on my mystery travels, by talking to tourists about our great City – Big Society in action? The tourists were most grateful for the information I imparted…possibly. I wasn’t even tempted to say that Nelson’s Column was, in fact, in Chancery Lane and that the guy in Trafalgar Square was an imposter statue. No…sireee…
The English language is endlessly fascinating to me. I don’t share the facility possessed by linguists with languages (Although I speak acceptably bad French. OK – really bad French - c’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas le français and ‘tourist italian’). . My real brother – not Professor RD Charon – speaks quite a few languages including Hindi. In fact, he teaches young British Asians to speak and write Hindi)
A number of unusual words have amused me in recent months – a selection:
philosophunculist: One who pretends to know more than they do to impress others
tibialoconcupiscent: Having a lascivious interest in watching a woman put on stockings (I don’t, in fact, have this hobby – but one never knows when a new hobby will come along. I was much taken with the idea of becoming a sword swallower last night after seeing an item about sword swallowing on BBC London News. The thought has, thankfully, passed.)
And the other day I was fascinated by the idea of having a concilliabule – A secret meeting of people who are hatching a plot
But my favourite for this week – given twitter’s proclivity for stampeding madly about, wilfully, mendaciously and with a full on ‘mens rea’ - at times - ignorant of law, facts or sanity was: exsibilation – The collective hisses of a disapproving audience
And, finally… on the subject of words… Hat tip to good friend, Professor Gary Slapper (Always worth following on twitter @garyslapper)
I tweeted – Word du Jour: Afflatus (n) inspiration; an impelling mental force acting from within
Many complain about the modern habit of turning nouns into words. ‘Medalling’ was popular during the Olympics. And…before I get accused of explaterating – To talk continuosly without stop…
Best, as always
PS… I am coming to the conclusion that academic lawyers may know more law than the practitioners. Whether this is useful – I hope to consider this phenomenon and wind up some of my practitioner friends when I get back to serious blogging. In the meantime, you might enjoy this speech from Lord Neuberger MR – who is soon to be President of The United Kingdom Supreme Court: JUDGES AND PROFESSORS – SHIPS PASSING IN THE NIGHT
Wonderful stuff with much talk about citing academic lawyers – but only if they are dead!
And here is something rather more sensible than Mr Hague compromising the security of our own diplomatic staff abroad from Carl Gardner at his Head of Legal blog:Julian Assange: Can the UK withdraw diplomatic status from the Ecuadorian Embassy
Mr Nit Romney doesn’t really ‘get’ Britain…which is just fine and dandy with me…. Yeee…Ha!!
And… in other news… Britain’s LOCOG cracks it and goes for GOLD!
Thank gawd for the British Army – who, it has to be said, have pitched in when some of them could have been on well earned leave after very recent Afghan deployment
BY Professor R.D. Charon LLB (Cantab), BCL, Ph.d, FRSA
Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence, University of The Rive Gauche, London Faculty, London
Author: “Legal Nihilism: Taking Rights Seriously, seriously”, Maninahat Press, 2009
While I marvel at the ability of regulatory committees to achieve anything of value, The Bar Standards Board, enthused, possibly, by that great festival of corporatism The Olympic games, have gone for Gold with their proposals to introduce a Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT).
1. In the beginning Mammon created the law and the Bar
2. And The Bar was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of mammon moved upon the face of the waters.
3. And Mammon said, Let there be a Bar Standards Board to regulate all the barristers: and there was The Bar Standards Board.
4. And Mammon saw the light, that it was good: and Mammon divided the light from the darkness.
5. And Mammon called the light barristers, and the darkness he called those wishing to be barristers. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
6. And Mammon said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7. And Mammon made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament with a Bar Course Aptitude test: and it was so.
I have no idea how The Bar Standards Board cooked up their idea of a Bar Course Aptitude test – but it amuses me to think that it may not have been far from the imagined description above – judging by the plans in place thus far.
A number of points come to mind. I address these seriatim:
1. There is no room at the Inn. There are too many Bar students pushing at the door and frightening the existing members worried about being handed a SAGA holiday brochure by the senior clerk in their early fifties if the thrusting young are not held at bay.
“And Lo”… the éminence grises of The BSB pronounced the creation of the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT).
2. Competition Law, unintended consequences or even fairly straightforward out of the box thinking not being on the agenda, presumably: The BSB has gone for an aptitude test which has, Neil Rose of Legal Futures reports, been “set at a level that aims to weed out the bottom 10% of candidates. The Damoclean sword has been replaced by a bacon slicer.
3. It would appear that a law degree is not a sufficient test of ‘aptitude’ to be a barrister. Curiously, The BSB has decided, in its wisdom, not to test English as part of this aptitude for the time being. One can only surmise that they are rather keen to ensure that the many students from overseas (who return to their own countries and are not a burden to our sceptred isle or the angst of the practising Bar worried about the horde at the gates) continue to come from overseas, pay the fees to them, the Inns and law schools, and then return to their own countries? I would not wish it to be thought that I suffer from gout to come to such a surmise.
The alternative, possibly rather too radical, proposition of making the Bar Professional Training Course more difficult to pass – which would probably achieve the same reduction of numbers objective, give all students a fair chance to take the exam and benefit the general public onto which the thrusting young barrister is unleashed – does not appear to have survived the bacon slicer thinking behind the BCAT creation process.
Interestingly, The Bar Standards Board appears to have invented a good old fashioned bogeyman to head criticism off at the pass with this statement – taken from Neil Rose’s report:
Some 64% pass all modules of the BPTC at the first attempt. The application says that as well as showing that “students are admitted who are not capable of passing the course after the one year of academic study for which it is designed”, their presence “immensely diminishes the quality of the learning experience for the class as a whole”.
At the risk of being burned at the stake for apostasy by the éminence grises of The BSB – I would imagine that students with poor English skills being allowed onto the course, may well have a more ‘diminishing the quality of the learning experience for the good guys effect’? But be that as it may. Aptitude in English is not a required aptitude for practice at The Bar for the purposes of the bacon slicing designed to repel boarders at the gates of heaven.
I fear that Chris Kenny may have been reading too many editions of Private Eye with this wonderful piece of BBC Burtspeak taken from the Legal Futures article. I sympathise.
LSB chief executive Chris Kenny said the very fact that the test has not operated in practice, other than in limited pilots, means it is “impossible to verify in absolute terms” what impact the test will have on issues such as diversity, and the number or competence of barristers.
“This uncertainly has a material impact on our ability to reach definitive conclusions, both about the impact in relation to individual regulatory objectives and better regulation duties, and our assessment of the broader impact on the overall public interest,” he said.
But it isn’t all bad news: Neil Rose reports BSB chair Baroness Deech saying that far from breaking new ground, the BSB was late to the idea of aptitude testing. “Medics have been doing this for years without any adverse impact on race and class,” she said. Overseas legal bodies also used it, she added.” So to borrow from the BBC’s excellent Twenty Twelve …”That’s all good”.
And…and at least fee income is being considered – a priority in these dark days..
The BCAT will be in place from this September ahead of applications for the 2013 Bar professional training course opening in November. The application fee for the test will be about £67. All students will be told their scores, but the information will not be passed to course providers.
I am, it has to be said, a bit baffled by the kafkaesque last sentence – “All students will be told their scores, but the information will not be passed to course providers.” I can only assume that those who failed will be ‘disappeared’ or be given the keys to the library where a revolver and a whisky await, provided at no extra charge. ?
Perhaps I shall telephone the BSB to find out how cunning that latter part of the plan is and what the sentence means in practice.
On that note – given that it is unlikely my colleagues from the world of academe and practice will be able to pull any more stunts over the Long Vacation requiring my analysis, I bid you leave.
If you are short of material to read over the Long Vacation – may I suggest, without irony, my greatest work (infra) which my brother Charon QC describes thus “If you thought that Shades of Grey was amazing…this mind ripper will alter your mindset forever.”
I am not quite sure what he meant. When I first asked him to review my book he replied with the famous aphorism of Sir Maurice Bowra when asked to review a book – “Be sure, I shall lose no time in doing so.”
Professor R.D. Charon LLB (Cantab), BCL, Ph.d, FRSA
Author: “Legal Nihilism: Taking Rights Seriously, seriously”, Maninahat Press, 2009
Note by Charon QC
My brother has ‘issues’ with the legal establishment. I have found it better to humour him than engage with him in reasoned rational argument – for therein lies the sort of ‘mania’ experienced by some legal commentators on twitter when they engage the libertarians, trolls and shield munchers.