Friday, 19 August 2016

New Chief Coroner

The Lord Chief Justice, after consultation with the Lord Chancellor, has appointed His Honour Judge Mark Lucraft QC as the Chief Coroner of England and Wales with effect from 1 October 2016 for a three year term. He will take over from His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC who retires in October.

But who is he - here is something from his local newspaper when he was first appointed a Circuit Judge-  but has he ever sat as a Coroner (like his predecessor) or even appeared before one?  Can't see any sign of that - seems a bit odd?

Speaking on his first full day at Norwich Crown Court since being called to the circuit bench, Judge Mark Lucraft said judges had been given a more human face over his 27 years in the legal profession and he said it was important for them to consider the human effects in cases they dealt with.
Judge Lucraft said: “Judges are human beings and sometimes they give the impression they are aloof from the society they are part of. I would like to think judges have become more human, or given a human face.”
Judge Lucraft also gave his backing to plans to make the court system more hi-tech.
Norwich Crown Court was one of the first courts in the country to trial a “paperless” system in December, and Judge Lucraft said he would use his laptop and iPad in court.
He said: “If you look around to most other industries, most have had to adapt to modern technology and go digital. I’m all in favour of it.” 
Judge Lucraft has joined the Norwich Crown Court from London chambers, 18 Red Lion Court, where he worked as a barrister on some of the most high profile cases in the country.
He was part of the team investigating fraud following the death of Robert Maxwell – the media mogul and former MP who was found dead in 1991 by his luxury yacht in the Canary Islands.
He said: “I was instructed about a week after he disappeared. It was the most interesting case I dealt with.”
The 50-year-old was involved with the Maxwell case for seven years and also worked on the investigation into allegations British Airways and Virgin Atlantic were price fixing passenger fuel surcharges.
In 2007 BA admitted it had colluded with Virgin Atlantic in fixing the charges on long haul flights from August 2004 to January 2006.
BA was fined £121.5m which was reduced to £58.5m, while Virgin escaped without a fine after reporting the scandal to Office of Fair Trading.
He was also instructed to prosecute manslaughter and health and safety charges from the Hatfield rail crash in October 2000, in which four people died and 120 were injured.
Born in Southend, he studied law at Canterbury and went on to law school to study to be a barrister.
Judge Lucraft was called to the bar in 1985 and spent most of his career specialising in fraud cases and road accidents.
He applied to become a judge after his experiences of hearing cases as a recorder.
He said: “I have sat quite a bit as a recorder and I enjoyed the challenge of sitting. 
“It is very different from being a barrister.”
Judge Lucraft will commute each day from Ely, where he lives with his wife and three sons, aged 23, 21 and 17.
He said: “I’m expecting to see the complete range of criminal offences that take place in Norfolk.”
In a speech at the court on Wednesday, Judge Nicholas Coleman welcomed the “injection of fresh judicial blood”.
With Judge Alasdair Darroch and Judge Peter Jacobs, recorder of Norwich, nearing retirement, more changes at Norwich Crown Court are likely.
Judge Coleman said: “We all hope, and indeed expect, you will embrace and continue all that is good in the administration of justice of this renowned crown court.
“We all recognise that times are difficult.
“Court staff numbers are reduced. The bar is under pressure. Yet through it the system doggedly persists in delivering first class justice. I’m sure you will contribute handsomely to that precious commodity which we all hold dear – namely a fair trial for all accused, no matter what they are said to have done.”







Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Brexit

Bonjour Tristesse, Bonjour Brexit.

Jonathan Freeland has written in the holiday edition of the New York Review of Books that :

"[the 48%] are realising that though they never had much affection for the institutions of the EU, they were attached to what British membership meant for them: a society that was open, not closed, that was accepting of diversity and pluralism, and that offered its young the chance to live, work, or fall in love in any one of twenty-eight countries".

I am one such remainer who has wept into his Italian coffee lamenting the end of the 60 year experiment in Euro integration which has been brought crashing to the buffers by a marginal majority of his fellow country men and women.  Freeland suggests that so many voted to leave because they had nothing more to lose because of their state of economic woes.  It is however, a tragic indictment of society when so many people do not understand where the country's wealth comes from.  Whilst they might be unemployed, living in less than affluent areas, dependent on benefits and jealous of the immigrant workers apparently employed and earning in their stead, nevertheless to bight the hand that feeds them (like the Welsh villagers with massive signs at the entry to their burgh which proclaims how its recent innovations were made viable by massive EU funding or the Lincolnshire country dwellers who voted to leave the Common Agricultural Policy because of the Polish fruit packers stealing their jobs and spouses...) is a ludicrous act of folly.

What we must do now, however, is to ensure that what remains is not so bad.  We must demand the re-enacting by Parliament of all of the EU Laws from which we have benefited for so many years.  The Equality Act, the Food and Product safety regime, the free movement of people, goods and services and mutual recognition of civil and criminal judgments, warrants and sentences.  Whether we join EFTA or make our own way with Brussels, we must do so.  We are no longer (and in truth were never) an Island which could make our own way.  Even the Empire was a series of mutual bilateral relationships with local rulers and ruling classes who acquiesced in British sovereignty (and as soon as they didn't, they became independent) which formed a massive free market which was required to provide remittances back to the motherland, which could not itself consume all that was being produced at home.  It was the end of Empire and its market that put us in the way of the Common Market to begin with.

Put another way we need markets into which sell the expensive goods and services which cannot be all consumed at home.  For example, the law firms and investment banks cannot all serve the people and commerces of the U.K. They need bigger international markets and that is why membership of the EU, for all of its downsides (which were not few) was absolutely necessary.  Think of all the people employed by these massive monoliths who are dependent on open international markets.  I am sorry that not all of the population can benefit directly from these rich corporations and firms, but the collective act of spite, to vote to leave because others are prospering ring and you are not, is to lop of one's noise at the terrible cost of the whole visage.  It is all to fail to understand that it is the taxation on the profits of those international businesses domiciled in the UK who pay the benefits upon which quite a lot of Leavers rely on.

But it is time to wipe away our tears and our cast aside our sadness, Abientot Tristesse.  We must now work hard, all of us, to ensure the best of a very bad job.  We must remain as close to the EU and it's open markets as we can.  We must look for opportunities elsewhere, in the East and in the US and we must keep feeding the voracious service industries on which all of us depend.  There is no point pining for industry and manufacturing when all of our wealth comes from elsewhere.  We must also keep our borders, our art, our culture and our hearts open.  We must no close ourselves down and give in to the hate and racism which appears (at least to journalists, a 500% increase in hate crimes according to Freeland, and Facebook posters) to be on the rise - if it is on the rise, then we all have an obligation to stop it in its tracks and tracts.  We must maintain our liberal society and must not retreat into our own physical and metaphorical borders.

 I say "we", because the time for complacency in the metropolitan bourgeoisie might be coming to an end.  We might have to join political parties and associations, we might have to do something, because when did nothing, little or at the very least not enough, we lost something and we better make sure we do not lose anything more or, worse case scenario, everything.  So it is time to forgive the 52%, to find out what they need to feel vindicated, and then to work out a compromise which brings them the economic security they feel that the EU robbed them of, whilst stopping them from throwing the liberal baby out with the EU bath water.  Apparently some of them are in a state of Regrexit.

So when we are back from which ever corner of the free sunny world we have retreated to in order to lick our wounds, it is time, mes comrades, for action.  Not sure what and not sure when, but I am sure that it is time to break out of our cosmopolitan bubble, to see what is actually going on and to take some unspecific but yet decisive action (I'll have to polish off my bottle of Aperol before I have worked out what we should do)

Freeland says: "A whirlwind has torn through Britian, exposing rifts that have to be healed and destroying much that was precious.  And no one seems to have any idea when, how, or if it can ever be made whole again" Well I don't know either, but I am prepared to give working it out a bit  of a go.  The Future started yesterday and we are already Late.



 

Thursday, 4 August 2016

High Court hellos and good byes



Mrs Justice Jefford

Nerys Jefford QC, construction and engineering specialist from Keating - surely destined for the TCC?  Apparently appointed consequential upon Laws LJ's retirement which does not make immediate sense, but I guess we are waiting on some C of A appointments which means there will be promotions from the High Court, thus making a space for Jefford J?




Mrs Justice O'Farrell

Another Keating construction female QC surely destined for the Rolls Building?  Yep! To replace the reduction in numbers caused by Etherton C becoming Etherton MR and therefore the need for a new Chancellor, who I don't think has been named yet?

Mr Justice Lavender

As in the well known commercial QC from Serle?  Yes  Replacing Mr Justice Saunders who is retiring.









Mr Justice Morris

Stephen Nathan Morris QC from 20 Essex Street, an EU specialist just in time for BREXIT!  To replace Cooke J who is retiring.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

We cannot leave the EU - SIGN THIS PETITION (PLEASE) NOW!




SIGN THIS NOW:

(PLEASE)

PETITION PARLIAMENT FOR A RE-RUN OF THE REFERENDUM NOW THAT THOSE WHO VOTED TO LEAVE REALISE WHAT THEY HAVE DONE:

THE PETITION HAS ALREADY PASSED THE THRESHOLD FOR DEBATE IN PARLIAMENT - WE JUST NEED NOW TO GET IT TO THE SAME MAJORITY NUMBER AS "WON" THE REFERENDUM.....



Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Trouble in the Colonies...yes really, in 2016...

If you had forgotten that we had colonies and did not know that they were a dangerously dysfunctional check out this report by Sasha Wass QC re St Helena, our colony in the middle of the Atlantic.  Imagine if somebody wrote such a damning report about a community in mainland UK which has a population of 4,000.....Unsurprisingly this report came out on 10th December and a new Governor was announced on 20 January

The report is here but here is a taster...


” b. The administration of the St Helena Government and that of its departments have failed to establish management practices, procedures and guidelines to ensure safeguarding routines. c. There is a lack of continuity when managers are replaced. There is a failure of overlap on handovers or a failure to create best practice manuals to ensure that incomers learn from past experience and benefit from prior reports. d. Some of those responsible for directorial oversight were found to be inexperienced and ignorant of best practice. This has resulted in their inability to question front-line professional staff and hold them to account. e. The existence of previous reports and recommendations ought to provide a touchstone for newly arriving staff; instead, new recruits appear to be unaware of them. Consequently, lessons need to be relearned at regular intervals through the intervention of yet more costly investigations, studies, reports and inquiries. 14 The Wass Inquiry Report f. We saw one example of employment gaps in Social Services whereby the only qualified social worker on St Helena left her post in May 2012 and it was not until June 2012 that the St Helena Government even started advertising for qualified social workers to work on the island. Claire Gannon was appointed to take up the post in early 2013. St Helena Social Services had been without a qualified social worker on the island for a period of nine months. Claire Gannon was presented with a chaotic and unmanned Social Services Department on her arrival on St Helena. Her lack of recent experience in front-line social work meant that she found herself completely out of her depth. Although this cannot excuse the unprofessional behaviour she went on to exhibit, it should be recognised that Claire Gannon was not properly briefed for the task that confronted her when she arrived on St Helena in February 2013. 1.49 In addition to the systemic failings, the Inquiry did find that, during the current incumbent’s tenure, Governor Capes’ attention was specifically drawn to matters which required urgent consideration by an email from Viv Neary, the Child Protection Coordinator for British Overseas Territories, in March 2012. These included the lack of a formal arrangement for fostering children on the island; and the fact that the only qualified social worker was due to leave in May 2012 with no replacement ready to take over. 1.50 Neither of those two matters was resolved by the Governor, and his failure to heed the warnings given to him directly impacted on the complications that arose during the Child F adoption case in late 2013 and early 2014. The full facts of that case are addressed in Chapter 8. 1.51 The Inquiry Panel was disappointed to learn that one of the legitimate complaints made by former Police Constable Anderson in his letter of November 2012 remained unresolved at the time of the Inquiry Panel’s visit to St Helena in March 2015. Mr Anderson specifically complained about a case in which a sex offender had been convicted on Ascension Island and sentenced to a community order by the Ascension Island Magistrates’ Court. The man in question was deported to St Helena, where he breached the community order. He was brought before the same Chief Magistrate who had sentenced him and who was now presiding over the St Helena Magistrates’ Court. The legal position was that the St Helena Magistrates’ Court had no power to deal with the breach of a community order which had been imposed by the Ascension Island Magistrates’ Court. In giving his judgment in October 2012, the Chief Magistrate made it plain that this matter required urgent action and that the passing of an Ordinance would resolve the matter quickly. Despite the fact that former Police Constable Anderson had specifically drawn attention to this legal anomaly, the St Helena Government had failed to deal with it by March 2015, when the Inquiry Panel visited the island. We can find no excuse for this oversight.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

All Change Please! All Change!

Lord Justice Briggs has published a very interesting report: "Civil Court Structure Review - Interim Report"

It is full of alarming ideas:

1. Banning lawyers from claims worth less than £25k by creating an Online Court (the OC) to which all shall have easy access.

2. Banning judges from routine judicial work - transferred to the civil equivalent of Justices' Clerks - the Case Officer.

3. Banning of regional cases from London - keep them all in the regions with more civil only local judiciary (DJs and CJs) i.e. stop them being sucked into crime and family.

4.Banning medium value civil claims from the High Court - so High Court judges can go and sit in the Court of Appeal (which could be reduced to just the one LJ per Court like the Crim Div)  The report mentions Senior CJs sitting in the C of A Civ Div - steady on a minute!!

5.Banning the QBD from the Rolls Building. so that the TCC, Commercial Court and Chan D roll into one combined business list?

6. Banning oral renewals of refused permission to appeal paper applications - they are just too expensive!

7. Banning county court multi track final decision appeals to the Court of Appeal - first stop the High Court with the second appeals test protecting the C of A from County Court riff raff appeals.  Bloody good idea this - see the recent decision of PI cases and CRU produced by a C of A composed entirely of former practitioners who could put what they know about PI and CRU on a very small sized postage stamp...quite expensive process of appealing to Supreme Court to put that house back together....

8. Banning the Employment Tribunal and EAT - lump it into the County Court whilst moving some of the housing jurisdiction of the County Court into the Property Chamber of the FTT (now that is a good idea).

Basically, shifting the deckchairs around on the deck of civil justice until someone provides some cash for some new judges, some new courts and some new IT.  All in the finest make do and mend traditions of the justice system....

Went to a Mags Court last week - sweet Jesus - now that is a system on its absolute knees - absolute chaos all round.

In other news there is a new crop of Deputy High Court Judges (e.g. here) and a new President of the EAT: Simler J, with Holgate J off to preside over the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal (what we used to call the Lands Tribunal!)  Simler P better enjoy herself whilst it lasts - until the EAT is abolished....








Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Happy New Year

& congratulations to the 99 new Crime and Family Recorders appointed before Christmas  and to the 107 new QCs announced yesterday.  Corks popping left, right and centre.


Also congrats to the 8 new Honorary Silks - including Joshua Rosenberg, the long serving and distinguished journalist and Adrian Briggs, who's books always get through the odd private international law nightmare which I face from time to time:

Professor Robert Blackburn is a solicitor and professor of Constitutional Law at King’s College London. He has been recommended for his constitutional law work and in particular for his report on how a written constitution might work. He is the author of several key academic works and numerous articles, having written extensively on areas of constitutional law, including authoritative works on Parliament, the Monarchy, the electoral system, Crown proceedings and constitutional reform. His works include contributing four titles to Halsbury’s Laws of England. He has on numerous occasions been called to provide written and oral evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees and public inquiries on matters related to electoral and constitutional reform.
Professor Adrian Briggs is a legal academic and barrister. His nomination focuses on his book on private international law which is relied upon by the courts. He has been a full-time member of the academic staff of the Faculty of Law of the University of Oxford, and a Tutorial Fellow of St Edmund Hall, since 1980; and a non-resident member of Blackstone Chambers since 1990. He is an expert in private international law, in particular on the law of jurisdiction and foreign judgments. He is an author or editor of several significant publications, the one most frequently cited being Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments, now in its 6th edition. His Private International Law in English Courts, published in 2015, seeks to restate the subject in line with its increasingly European infrastructure and details; and Agreements on Jurisdiction and Choice of Law will be published in its second edition in the coming year. He has given advice to bodies charged with law reform, and with the scrutiny of proposed new laws, when and whenever invited to do so. He has also given evidence on English private international law to courts in several jurisdictions overseas.
Professor Sara Chandler is a solicitor specialising in landlord and tenant law and is also Visiting Professor in Clinical Legal Education at London South Bank University. She has been recommended for her work on pro bono and human rights. Professor Chandler has been instrumental in developing the concept of a clinical legal education, such that students give pro-bono advice to the public, under the guidance of qualified lawyers. In her career she has worked at a number of Law Centres and has made a major contribution to the voluntary sector through the Law Centres Federation and Network, where she was an Executive Committee member for a number of years from 1999. She has represented solicitors in the voluntary sector since 2002 on the Council of the Law Society of England & Wales. As a result she is a trustee of four legal charities, including the Access to Justice Foundation. She has also made a major contribution in the field of human rights and was the winner of the LUKAS Human Rights Worker of the Year Award in May 2014. She is the author of numerous articles and conference papers. She has held a variety of positions in boards and committees of the Law Society from 1992 to the present date.
Professor Jonathan Harris is a barrister at Serle Court chambers and is Professor of International Commercial Law at King’s College, London. He also holds a door tenancy at St Philips chambers. He was called to the Bar (Lincoln’s Inn) in 2006. He has been recommended for his work on private international law and in particular for having written the law in several jurisdictions on firewall trusts. He is joint general editor of Dicey, Morris and Collins, The Conflict of Laws and is also responsible for eleven chapters of the book. He is the author of a widely cited book on the Hague Trusts Convention and of a co-authored work on International Sale of Goods and the Conflict of Laws. He has also contributed to various major works and written numerous influential articles. He is the co-founder of the Journal of Private International Law and of the Studies in Private International Law book series. He is a member of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Private International Law and has actively contributed to the Committee’s work. He has advised the Ministry of Justice on many occasions and, in particular, in negotiations on EU initiatives in the field of cross-border succession and wills.
Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE is a solicitor who specialises in international children’s cases. She was nominated particularly because of her efforts to get countries to sign up to the Hague Convention. She was awarded the inaugural UNICEF Child Rights Lawyer award in 1999 and an OBE for her services to international child abduction and adoption in the 2002 Queen’s New Year’s Honours List. In 2004 she was selected as Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year for her work with the victims of forced marriage and in 2010, she received the International Bar Association’s Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award. She has been involved in many of the most important court cases in her field of expertise. She is involved (amongst many areas) in work promoting the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. She has recently provided advice to lawyers and government officials in Japan in advance of Japan implementing the 1980 Hague Convention. She has also been active bringing to the attention of many other governments around the world other important issues related to the field of children law. She also speaks regularly on issues concerning international family law. In the last year she has delivered talks to a number of agencies and/or conferences, including to the Prime Minister’s UK Government Girl Summit, held in London.
Joshua Rozenberg is a non-practising solicitor. He has been recommended for his work as the pre-eminent legal analyst of modern times. He is an honorary bencher of Gray’s Inn, best known as a leading legal journalist and commentator. After taking a degree in law, he became the BBC’s first legal correspondent. He then joined the Daily Telegraph and is now a freelance writer and broadcaster, contributing to a range of outlets. He presents Law in Action on Radio 4 and his work includes four published books.
Professor Ian Scott qualified as a solicitor and a barrister in Victoria, Australia, but moved to the UK in the 1960s and joined the academic staff of the Faculty of Law at the University of Birmingham. He has been recommended particularly for his work editing the Civil Procedure Rules. Throughout his career he has maintained an interest in civil procedure and judicial administration, and has contributed significantly to the English and Welsh legal system through writing, lecturing and Government committee work. Over the last 25 years Professor Scott has contributed greatly to the reform and development of Civil Procedure in England and Wales. He was first editor of the Civil Justice Quarterly (from 1979 to 2006), and in 2007 became General Editor of the White Book, having been a member of the editorial team since 1989. For 25 years he wrote and edited Supreme Court Practice News and more recently Civil Procedure News, compiling at least ten issues every year.
Professor Clive Walker has made a major contribution to the UK law on terrorism over many years and has been regarded as an international expert in this field since the 1980s. He has been recommended for his work as an adviser to the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation and for his contribution to the UK law on terrorism. He has written several authoritative books and articles on counter terrorism legislation and has researched this area extensively. He advised Lord Carlile QC when he was Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation and also assists the current holder of this role, David Anderson QC. Professor Walker’s work was important in the introduction of TPIMs (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures). He has also regularly assisted professionals involved in counter terrorism work.