Archive for March 23rd, 2010

Supreme Court to decide on the validity of prenuptial agreements

Not being a Family lawyer –  and with much of my interest in law rooted in Contract –  I can’t really see why two adults should not  attend to their financial affairs in advance of marriage in the reasonable expectation that the courts will uphold what they have agreed.    I can understand why the courts should have protective jurisdiction over children under the age of 18 but do not see why the courts, in these modern days, should have any involvement whatsoever between the adult parties – save for dissolving the marriage according to statute, a pretty routine administrative matter these days   The Supremes are going to get a chance to stick their oar in shortly – The Times.

I shall now sit back, light a cigarette and wait to be flamed by outraged family lawyers who will, no doubt, find many reasons why the courts should intervene in what, essentially, is or should be a private matter.

“They say that satire died when Henry Kissinger was given the Nobel Peace Prize,” Ken Loach, the film maker,  told a little-reported event in Brussels last year. “Well, it died again when Tony Blair was appointed a special representative for the Middle East.”

The Samosa carries a report of an attempted Citizen’s arrest on Tony Blair.  While these stunts may well be admired by those who do not care for Tony Blair’s war mongeringe, they are not without danger.  The difficulty is, that you can’t really arrest someone and then hope to find a court to try him. generally, the court is ready and waiting, the indictment laid, the offence ordained by statute or common law.  Unfortunately, as far as I am aware, there is no indictment charging Blair with war crimes…. that is the root issue?

Do lawyers really earn too much?

Well… the answer to that depends on who is paying.  A private client, whether corporate or wealthy individual has a fair prospect of negotiating value even if he or she cannot significantly depart from the remarkably similar fee scales charged by the top lawyers for their services!  When it comes to lawyers being paid by the State I am coming, increasingly, to the view that it is entirely reasonable that the Secretary of State for Justice should ensure that the State gets good value.  The issue really turns on what is a reasonable fee for the work done, given that Jack Straw, rightly, has said that the law is not there to provide work for lawyers.

The Times reports: “Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, warned that “we are in grave danger of becoming over-lawyered and under-represented” as figures showed that 950 barristers earned more than £100,000 gross last year. Ten QCs were paid more than £500,000, with the highest on £928,000. The highest-paid criminal defence solicitors’ firm earned £9.3 million.”

Lawyers are not going to get a lot of sympathy for their very high fee demands at the top of the pile (many lawyers do not earn a great deal of money) and as Dennis Skinner MP, the ‘Beast of Bolsover’  told MPs yesterday…. “You aren’t going to starve on £60,000” – I would far rather see lawyers struggling to maintain a reasonable and fair living supported – for then representation for those who need it will rise –  than the pockets of the top lawyers being lined with public funds.

For a noble ‘profession’ there do seem to be a lot of very greedy people in it – but that is not a problem so long as we stop the nonsense about calling it a vocation or a profession.  Nursing is a vocation…working for peanuts in a law centre is a vocation… being a very rich barrister or City lawyer is not.

Perhaps it is time for those at the very  top of the legal aid earnings pile to take a ‘vow of chastity’ and come down to …say £500,000 ?  I’ve just seen a small squadron of pigs with barristers wigs on flying past in formation down the Thames.

And talking about men with barrister wigs on… the Daily Mail reported yesterday that a man wearing a barrister’s wig with electrical wires coming out of a rucksack caused alarm and consternation yesterday. In fact, he was lucky not to be shot when Robocops turned up.

Wrestling with the libel hydra

Pressure is growing to stop the rich and powerful using the courts to stifle debate – but time is running out


Prisoner sues after he is banned from smoking
The Telegraph: A prisoner addicted to tobacco is seeking damages after he was banned from smoking for swearing at a prison officer.  While the Floggers, Hangers and Softoncrime lifers applaud every abuse against prisoners – you just need to see the comments supporting the prisoner who slashed and nearly killed the Soham killer, Huntley – I can see that the sudden removal of tobacco from a prisoner without providing a substitute could well infringe the Human Rights Act.  It will be interesting to see how the trial judge views this.

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