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Archive for the ‘Charon Podcasts’ Category

Postcard from The Staterooms

Dear Reader

As Chris Grayling raids the dressing up box, it warms the heart to see that he has finally been apprehended…

If I was inclined to rudeness – which I am not, I might be tempted to suggest that Mr Grayling would serve his country better by returning to the fold of back bench psychopaths on the Tory benches.  But as I am not rude, I won’t.  Tuberville v Savage [1669] EWHC KB J25

Having managed to fall backwards into a bath, slipping on a bathmat while shaving some months back – cracking my spine, I take an interest in The Darwin Awards.

The winner this year…

Yes, it’s that magical time of year again when the Darwin Awards are bestowed, honoring the least evolved among us.
Here Is The Glorious Winner:
1. When his .38 caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California would-be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.
I shall return later in the day, possibly, with another Postcard.  I leave you with good seasonal  news from RollonFriday “Allen & Overy has replaced the University of Law as its LPC and GDL provider with BPP University.”

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Dexter Dias QC talks to me about the legal and moral issues involved in female genital mutilation and the increasing prison population in the USA and UK.

Dexter Dias QC is a member of Garden Court Chambers 

Podcast 224:  Dexter Dias QC on female genital mutilation and human rights.

Justice Brief

 

 

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Tour Report #26:  Direct Access to barristers and the changing face of legal practice

Today I am talking to Jonathan Maskew and Bruce Webster, of myBarrister about the firm and the concept and practice of Direct Access to barristers.

”myBARRISTER is a new online service that gives people and businesses direct access to the specialised skills of barristers, helping them resolve legal issues, defend against prosecution, take legal action or simply providing specialist legal advice on a particular situation.”

myBARRISTER website

The podcast covers:
The start up and challenge
Overview of myBARRISTER
The Brand
Aim of the Business
Direct access , the potential and online offering for client choice
What our business does
Views on the prospects for the profession moving forward

Listen to the podcast

iTunes Version of the podcast

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Tour Report #25:  The role of Information technology in modern legal practice

Yesterday I talked with Charles Christian, Editor in Chief of Legal IT Insider (both available online and in print), about the role of technology in the practice of law and the information  tools used by lawyers in the modern era.

We looked at:

1. The consumerisation of legal software – why Facebook is so easy yet MS Word so difficult when it comes to training

2. Asked why don’t legal publishers adopt the iTunes approach to content – you buy the chapter you want, boot the 19 chapters you’ll never need

3. The use of social media

4. The gamification in continuing education and training, making it more fun to learn

Listen to the podcast

iTunes version of the podcast

(We had bad signal issues on Skype yesterday so in parts the sound broke up briefly.  Beyond my control unfortunately)

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Today I am talking with Jerry Hayes a former Tory MP and practising barrister about the purpose and likely impact of the cuts to legal aid being proposed by Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.

Much has been written about the legal reforms in the dead tree press and the law blogs. (Patrick Torsney has a comprehensive listing of blogs written by lawyers and others from the legal blogging community. )

We discuss the need for the protest by lawyers outside parliament and the likely impact on society in terms of access to justice.  It is not about ‘lawyer fatcattery’ – the proposals being put forward by the Lord Chancellor will impact on many in our society in terms of a fair trial and access to good legal representation – and they will, directly or indirectly, affect us all – not least in terms of the ‘Rule of Law’ so lovingly used by the prime minister, foreign secretary and other senior ministers when promoting Britain overseas or lecturing despotic governments abroad.

Jerry Hayes is a former Tory MP who knows the back benches of the Tory party and its workings well.  Jerry is also a practising barrister.  He is not shy in putting his robust views on Chris Grayling’s reforms – nor is he shy in coming forward to comment sardonically.

Please listen to the podcast – lawyer or non-lawyer.   There is a serious message here – but there is also fairly ribald ‘analysis’.  It  was a most enjoyable podcast to do.

Listen to the podcast

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PLEASE SIGN the petition so that Mr Grayling has to answer before Parliament for his ill conceived reform plans.

>>>>Sign the petition – please, if you haven’t already.

The verdict is in: FailingGrayling LC guilty of attempted murder of Legal Aid

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The legal profession is under siege  from the legal aid reforms being proposed by the Lord Chancellor and access to justice – often for the most vulnerable in society – will be compromised.  I discussed this in relation to criminal law with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, in my last podcast.  

Some say that there is only a one in eight chance of a Bar student getting through to practice with a tenancy at present.  It doesn’t seem to be a good time to contemplate a career at the Bar. Senior members of the Bar have expressed concern at the numbers of aspiring barristers being churned out by the law schools and  that the Bar will become less diverse with only the middle class candidates, backed with family money presumably, able to contemplate a career at the Bar.

So what is it about the Bar that attracted a 42 year old ex-army tank commander – a non-commissioned officer with no A levels – to go to university after leaving the army, securing a First class degree in English Literature and Contemporary History from York St John University and a Very Competent in what was then the Bar Vocational Course,  and  apply for a pupillage at the Bar?

Well… I am about to find out. As part of my 12-18 month tour of the United Kingdom to see how law is practised in different parts of the country and what people think about our legal system,  today I am talking to Craig Lowe.

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Tour Report #21:  Podcast with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of The Criminal Bar Association,  on the legal aid reforms

To set the context, I quote from an article in The Express:

High Street solicitors could be forced to close by Government legal aid changes
MORE than 1,500 High Street solicitors will be forced to close branches “within a year” if the Government’s controversial legal aid reform plans succeed.

The loss of High Street solicitors would also have a severe impact on barristers. Michael Turner QC, head of the Criminal Bar Association, warned: “Our barristers’ system will fail. Our brilliant judiciary comes from the Bar. Once you have Tesco and G4S providing advocates, you will get Tesco and G4S judges in 10 years’ time. Make no bones about it, we are facing absolute devastation to what is the finest legal system in the world.”

He rejected claims that Britain’s legal aid was the most expensive in Europe. “You have a different system there, with investigative magistrates who interview witnesses, and the big cost is the judicial spend.”…..

Access to justice in a civilised society is fundamental to the Rule of Law and the rights enshrined in our Human Rights laws to a fair trial.

The Independent covers the theme:

New legal aid reforms end ‘justice for all’, lawyers warn

England’s 800-year-old tradition of fair and open access to justice for all will be destroyed by sweeping Government plans to reform criminal legal aid, senior judges and magistrates warn today.

In an attempt to save £200 million by 2018, the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling plans to stop paying solicitors for the work they do – and instead give them a fixed fee for each case they represent.

Lawyers will be incentivised to recommend guilty pleas to their clients, a coalition of judges, magistrates and civil liberties groups warns. Their fears are backed by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates miscarriages of justice on behalf of the Government.

Criminal suspects will lose their rights to choose or dismiss a solicitor, and the number of accredited legal aid firms will drop from 1,600 to less than 400 – raising the possibility that hundreds of small high street firms could be replaced by huge contractors like G4S.

“The Government is creating a system where potentially the same company could defend you, lock you up in prison and then rehabilitate you when you come out,” said one judicial source……”

 Under plans to save £200m solicitors will be paid fixed fees, with contracts going to firms like G4S

Interestingly, two well regarded judges have commented on the issue…

The current President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, is understood to have deep reservations about Mr Grayling’s plan. Sources suggest that he believes it undermines the right – first enshrined in the Magna Carta – that “to no man shall we deny justice”.

The former Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf told The Independent on Sunday that the proposals would lead to a “factory of mass-produced justice” and miscarriages of justice.

“It is the complete privatisation of justice.”

Michal Turner QC has robust views on the proposed reforms which will have a considerable impact on access to justice, the profession, the public and have a devastating effect on the very cornerstone of our democracy.

Listen to the podcast

iTunes version of the podcast

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Some useful links:

Michael Turner QC

Criminal Bar Association

The Independent: New legal aid reforms end ‘justice for all’, lawyers warn

David Allen Green, The New Statesman: How the Ministry of Justice’s proposal for the tendering of criminal legal aid is misconceived and illiberal

The Ministry of Justice consultation document: Transforming Legal Aid: Delivering a more credible and efficient system

Barrister 999: Legal Aid – some thoughts

Crimeline: DO NOT expect others to do things for you. It is your justice system at risk. Do something – here are some ideas.

Criminal Bar Association: PRICE COMPETITIVE TENDERING. A SOLICITOR’S VIEW FROM THE HIGH STREET

Crimsolicitor: The right to choose…

(Sorry about the minor technical recording difficulty at the beginning of the podcast – thankfully we only lost the  introduction – and a very brief summary of the Ministry of Justice proposals which are linked above under the links section.  We also had the sound of crockery being laid out in an adjoining room – which accounts for a very brief pause in recording eight minutes in!

Michael Turner gave me a short history of the Garden Court Chambers building and an excellent tour.  Fascinating. 

Please spread the word about this podcast – #SaveUKJustice)

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