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Archive for July 1st, 2010

With Parliament in recess and the Law ‘long vacation’ upon us, there won’t be a lot of law for me to write about, so I shall strike while the iron is still hot with this story from the Supreme Court…

Cuts ‘would close supreme court’

Guardian: Chief executive warns public spending cuts of 40% would mean court ‘couldn’t actually deal with any casework’  “At a press conference to mark a first legal year for the highest court in the country, Jenny Rowe said: “As 62% of our costs are genuinely fixed, a 40% cut causes us some problems. We couldn’t actually deal with any casework, in fact, with a 40% cut.” Rowe said that casework was a “priority” for the court, but that after being asked to come up with scenarios of cuts of 25 and 40%, its education and outreach projects looked most vulnerable. Since its launch in October last year, the supreme court has heard a total of 67 appeals and handed down 62 judgments.”

I met Jenny Rowe last summer.  In fact, I enjoyed doing  a podcast with her on the work of the new Supreme Court.

Clearly, we can’t have a situation where the 40% cut requirement brings about a situation where the highest court in the land continues to exist but can’t actually hear any cases.  Even the most repressive of Lord Chancellors  – and Michael Howard, a former Home Secretary, now appearing regularly in ermine in the Lords doing… I know not what…nor care to find out – would pull that stunt.   I have read most of the 62 judgments handed down by the Supreme Court this year.  The new news summaries, the reports being published immediately and the excellent UKCS blog has made a big difference to access to information.  (The UKSC blog hasn’t done much of late.  I hope that this doesn’t mean it is ‘dying’.  That would be a shame.)

It would be interesting to hear from practitioners who have appeared before the Supreme Court to hear their views.

I can understand the need to close some magistrates courts.  I can understand why – but do not approve of – cuts to the legal aid budget are being made, but if we are to have a meaningful legal system, a strong Supreme Court to administer justice for the people of the United Kingdom (It is not as if the Supreme Court judges are paid fantastic sums of money – they aren’t and most lawyers take significant ‘pay cuts’ when they become judges), we have to resource it.

Lord Hope, deputy president of the court and one of the most senior judges in the UK, said the public had gained since the court’s establishment.

“Our concern is that having started on this enterprise … we should be able to sustain that operation,” he said. “It’s a quite different operation from what we had before [in the House of Lords]. It’s one which can’t be maintained without resources.”

It takes a fair degree of skill to piss off both Jews and Muslims but David Cameron has pulled the double off with his remarks about Israel and Pakistan. Did he ‘mis-speak’? or was this a well scripted intentional statement.  I can only presume the latter – in which case, bravo, as I think it is high time we had a Prime Minister who is direct.  I rather like the idea also, instead of HighCommissioners and Ambassadors coming from the ranks of trained diplomats that we let a few businessmen and assorted hedgies, bankers and ponzi scheme organisers to represent Britain’s interests abroad and drium up some business.

As I find it impossible to take PCSOs seriously – I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful parody. Hat Tip to @OldHolborn for the tip-off.  Wonderful film!

Just a quickie today… I am holidaying at Table 14 at Riviera on Battersea Square at various times during the day and shall be so for the next week.  Indeed, had a most enjoyable drink or two with The White Rabbit and, curiously, we even managed to debate politics and consider the historical position of the Labour party and reflect on the coalition.  More worryingly, we both seemed to come to the conclusion that the Coalition is doing good work on civil liberties, removal of ASBOS and prison policy – but we did manage to express reservations about Osbore and his CUTS policies.  We have not turned into Coalitionites….  The White Rabbit’s blog is always worth a look.  No law on it, though…..!

Best as ever

Charon

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While I may enjoy doing  a mild parody or two of Nick Clegg, I read with pleasure in the tabloids and in the broadsheets that the Great Repeal Act planning is under way – with the novel approach of asking us, the people, what laws we would like to do away with.  I rather suspect that Mr Clegg will get  quite a few suggestions to a point, reductio ad absurdum, where we won’t have any laws left.

Being Clegg – he can’t just do something without giving us a tree hugger lecture…. The Independent reports:

“We are turning things on its head. The traditional way of doing things is that government tells people what to do.

“That is the old way of doing things. We are saying, ‘Tell us what you don’t want us to do’.”

Mr Clegg said letting dormant laws accumulate on the statute book sends out the “wrong signal” and there is plenty of “old stuff” that should be dropped.

He said the previous government had gone too far in invading people’s privacy.

He said: “Did that make us safer? No, it didn’t necessarily make us safer, so we’ve got to get the balance right.”

He said that from today any minister who proposes a new regulation will also have to propose an existing law to be taken off the statute book.

He said: “It’s a one in, one out rule.”

This one law in, one law out is rather bizarre.  Taken to its logical conclusion – assuming that the ‘bad laws’ are, indeed, stripped out – we could be left with a situation where one good law has to go to make way for a new good law.  This is certainly a new way of doing things.  But there we are.  The rolling back of government has begun.

The website at www.hmg.gov.uk/yourfreedom will ask citizens three questions:

* Which current laws would you like to remove or change because they restrict your civil liberties?

* Which regulations do you think should be removed or changed to make running your business or organisation as simple as possible?

* Which offences do you think we should remove or change and why?

Simon Burns apologises to dwarves following insult aimed at John Bercow

Telegraph: Simon Burns, the health minister, has apologised to dwarves after insulting John Bercow.

The health minister, who called the Speaker a “stupid, sanctimonious dwarf”, has apologised – but only to short people in general.  One assumes that dwarves were not amused.  It really is quite astonishing that a government minister can be quite so stupid at all, let alone from the floor of the House of Commons.  Intelligence and tact, it seems, are not qualities needed for high office these days.

‘Hilarity’ continued.  The Telegraph noted: “Back in the Commons, the former Labour minister Chris Bryant joked with Mr Bercow: “I am glad you are getting short with ministers these days.” The Speaker, who is thought to be 5ft 6ins tall, replied: “You suggest that I have been short with ministers.”

“I am not sure about that but what I would say to you and the House is I have always been short – and I am entirely untroubled by the fact, which is probably as well.”

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