Bar at ‘rock bottom’, declares Browne

first_imgThe morale of the publicly funded bar is at ‘rock bottom’ and careers advisers are telling would-be barristers to steer clear of legal aid, according to the bar’s chief. Speaking at a debate on legal aid, Desmond Browne QC said barristers around the country are ‘totally demoralised’ due to pressures in relation to fees, competition and uncertainty over proposed reforms. He said the best barometer of this is the decline in the number of pupillages on offer this autumn in chambers doing publicly funded work. In Birmingham, he said, they were ‘non-existent’. Browne said the number of able young people who want to come to the bar and do legal aid work had not diminished, but they are being deterred by tutors and careers advisers. Browne was addressing the all-party parliamentary group for legal and constitutional affairs. Legal aid minister Lord Bach and Law Society president Paul Marsh also contributed. Only two peers and no MPs attended the debate.last_img read more

CPS to recruit new lawyers to improve ‘poor’ performance

first_imgThe new head of London’s Crown Prosecution Service has announced it will recruit 42 new lawyers in a bid to improve service following a review that found performance in over a third of the capital’s boroughs was ‘poor’. The report of Her Majesty’s CPS Inspectorate on the performance of 20 of the 32 London boroughs assessed the performance of 12 as ‘poor’, seven as ‘fair’ and one as ‘good’. Overall, the review found the main failings were in Crown court casework, disclosure, magistrates’ court casework, service to victims and witnesses, and the handling of serious violent and sexual offences, which were all rated as ‘poor’ across the boroughs. However, the inspectors said the Complex Casework Unit, which handles murders and other serious and sensitive cases, performs well, and the management of custody time limits across the boroughs has improved. London chief Crown prosecutor Alison Saunders said the service is recruiting 42 more lawyers and increasing the number of paralegal assistants in Crown courts.last_img read more

Law firms entitled to set compulsory retirement age

first_imgA former law firm partner who accused his firm of acting unlawfully by making him retire at 65 has lost his age discrimination case in the Court of Appeal. Leslie Seldon, now 69, a former civil litigation partner at Kent law firm Clarkson Wright Jakes (CWJ), had signed a contract with the firm that included a clause saying he should retire aged 65. However, Seldon argued that the UK’s default retirement age of 65 applied to employees only, not to equity partners. He claimed that the firm had discriminated against him by contractually obliging him to retire at 65. CWJ, both at the original employment tribunal in 2008 and the employment appeal tribunal in 2009, argued that it retires partners at 65 so that younger solicitors at the firm are able to take up their places in the partnership. It maintained that this was a legitimate business aim because it helps retain talented lawyers who otherwise might move to another firm to gain advancement. By retiring Seldon, the firm said, it had used a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. In dismissing Seldon’s appeal this week, the Court of Appeal accepted CWJ’s arguments. Sir Mark Waller said: ‘It is in the interest of young would-be employees and/or actual employees that employers or firms should have a retirement age providing a greater likelihood of employment for young persons and reasonable prospects of promotion. It would be quite inconsistent… to hold that a compulsory retirement age whose aim was consistent with that social policy was not legitimate.’ The ruling came as the government today announced that it was to abolish the 65 default retirement age for employees from October 2011. However, equity partners will not be considered employees.last_img read more

Family law

first_img Janys M Scott QC, Alison Stirling (instructed by Drummond Miller WS) for the appellant; Morgan Wise, Lynda Brabender (instructed by Biggart Baillie) for the first respondent; Rosemary Guinnane, David Sheldon (instructed by Aitken Nairn WS) for the second respondent; David Johnston QC, Roddy Dunlop QC (instructed by in-house solicitor) for the first minuter; Marie Helen Clark (instructed by HBM Sayers) for the second minuter. Administration of justice – Human rights – Jurisprudence – Children’s hearings The appellant (K), an unmarried father, appealed against a decision ([2010] CSIH 5) suspending a sheriff’s interlocutor granting him parental rights and responsibilities so as to make him a ‘relevant person’ for the purposes of a children’s referral relating to his daughter (X). Although not living with X, K had enjoyed regular contact until it was stopped pending allegations of sexual abuse. Various children’s hearings took place, which K was not entitled to attend since registration of X’s birth predated the coming into force of the 1996 amendment to section 3(1) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and he was not therefore a ‘relevant person’ for the purposes of section 93(2)(b) of the act. The sheriff granted him parental rights under section 11 to enable him to attend the hearings, but the First Division suspended the sheriff’s interlocutor on the basis that he had not considered the overarching principles in section 11(7). The key issues concerned: (i) the kind of orders made in the sheriff court which would be effective to give a father the right to participate in a children’s hearing; and (ii) human rights consequences arising from the statutory scheme relating to children’s hearings. Held: (1) The sheriff’s order had been competently pronounced and properly granted under section 11(1) of the act (see paragraph 24 of judgment). The right to be heard was one of the fundamental rules of natural justice and K needed to be made subject to parental responsibility to maintain relations with X, (paragraphs 14,17,25), Ceylon University v Fernando [1960] 1 WLR 223, PC (Cey) and Official Solicitor v K [1965] AC 201 HL considered. The defect in the order was one of specification, not of substance; it would have been preferable for the sheriff to set out more detail but his failure to do so did not make the interlocutor incompetent because there was no ambiguity and no sound basis for the view that the overarching principles had not been applied. (2) As currently constituted, the children’s hearing system violated article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950. The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 provided that all fathers registered after May 2006 were entitled to be present at children’s hearings irrespective of the strength of their family life with the child. It was difficult to see why the exclusion of fathers registered before that date was justified. (paragraphs 45-48). There were positive procedural obligations inherent in the right to respect for family life. Parents had to be enabled to play a proper part in the decision-making process before they experienced interference by public authorities, W v United Kingdom (A/121) [1988] 10 EHRR 29 ECHR applied and Elsholz v Germany (25735/94) [2000] 2 FLR 486 ECHR considered. Children’s hearings had to have the best and most accurate information, and excluding the very person whose conduct was in question deprived everyone of that information (paragraphs 41-48). The potential for violation of article 8 could be cured by inserting into section 93(2)(b)(c) the words ‘or who appears to have established family life with the child with which the decision of a children’s hearing may interfere’ (paragraphs 60-70). Appeal allowed. center_img Principal reporter v K: SC (Lords Hope (deputy president), Rodger, Kerr, Dyson, Lady Hale): 15 December 2010last_img read more

Aspiring judges to get support

first_imgThe Law Society and Judicial Appointments Commission [JAC] will today launch a joint plan to support solicitors who want to become judges, after an analysis of the appointment of solicitors as judges over the past 10 years. A study by the JAC and Ministry of Justice showed little difference in the proportion of solicitor applicants for most judicial posts pre- and post-2006/07, when the JAC took over the selection process from the then Department for Constitutional Affairs. It suggested solicitors are performing better than before in selection exercises for entry- and middle-ranking posts under the JAC, while appointments to more senior positions have fallen. The joint plan will see a series of outreach events tailored to the 2011/12 selection programme, with feedback on the process from solicitors and a revision of the JAC application form to benefit solicitors. The Law Society will also run workshops to support aspiring solicitor judges. Law Society president Linda Lee said the JAC process was more objective than the previous system, but more work is still needed because Society research shows many solicitors are still deterred from applying for judicial appointments.last_img read more

Asbestos ruling ‘will not open floodgates’

first_imgA leading trade union lawyer has dismissed expectations that a Supreme Court ruling will prompt a rush of asbestos-related litigation. The ‘trigger case’ judgment last week ruled in favour of allowing insurance claims by families of people who died after exposure to asbestos. Following the ruling, the trade union Unite suggested that ‘thousands’ of cases would be launched now the insurers’ ‘responsibility holiday’ was over. But Ian McFall, head of asbestos policy at national trade union firm Thompsons, said obstacles preventing meritorious claims for diseases such as mesothelioma were still in place. ‘Any talk of floodgates opening is ill-informed nonsense,’ said McFall. The judgment merely ‘restores the status quo’, he said. McFall said changes to the no win, no fee system and abolishing the recoverability of after-the-event insurance – which covers medical tests and tracking down insurers – meant cases were still difficult to launch. The cost of tracking down beneficiaries of decades-old policies is also blocking hundreds of cases, he said. It is almost two years since a government consultation recommended setting up a ‘fund of last resort’, funded by insurers, but there is still no sign of progress from the Department for Work and Pensions. Leon Taylor, a partner at City firm DLA Piper, said the result will be ‘a relief’ to thousands of disease victims and their families, as well as employers’ liability policy holders, whose mesothelioma-related insurance claims have been on hold pending the outcome. The Association of British Insurers welcomed the ruling and blamed the case on a ‘small group’ of insurers acting independently and at odds with the industry. ABI director Nick Starling said: ‘The ABI and our members are committed to paying compensation as quickly as possible. ‘We have always opposed the attempt to change the basis on which mesothelioma claims should be paid, as argued by those who brought this litigation.’last_img read more

Sod polite architecture

first_imgGet your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Subscribe now for unlimited accesslast_img read more

Legalaid

first_imgSubscribe now for unlimited access To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAYlast_img read more

Sound arguments

first_imgTo continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Subscribe now for unlimited accesslast_img read more

Nice NEC does it

first_imgTo continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Subscribe now for unlimited access Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our communitylast_img read more