Why the Serious Fraud Office should now be left to get on with its knitting

Why the Serious Fraud Office should now be left to get on with its knitting

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is an organisation under pressure. Pressure from MPs over the severance packages of former executives, pressure after its annual report this week revealed that it has taken on and won fewer trials, and pressure to redefine itself within a highly politicised arena where it is an easy scapegoat for any number of financial ills.

First, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday published its 10th report in relation to the SFO’s redundancy and severance arrangements, finding that former director Richard Alderman had undermined the reputation of the SFO while he was director between 2008-2012. Continue reading “Why the Serious Fraud Office should now be left to get on with its knitting”

Judicial watch: Sir John Thomas handed top judicial role as Lady Justice Hallett misses out

Judicial watch: Sir John Thomas handed top judicial role as Lady Justice Hallett misses out

Despite speculation that the UK could be set for the first woman Lord Chief Justice, it was this week confirmed that Queen’s Bench Division president Sir John Thomas has been appointed to replace retiring Lord Judge, who steps down at the end of September after completing five years in the role.

Thomas, who was recently involved in the high profile cases of Abu Hamza and Julian Assange, will take up his role on 1 October following his 66th birthday. Continue reading “Judicial watch: Sir John Thomas handed top judicial role as Lady Justice Hallett misses out”

Guest post: There is a market for judges emerging – but only winning with the oligarchs is not the answer either

Guest post: There is a market for judges emerging – but only winning with the oligarchs is not the answer either

Moses LJ has set his satirical pen a scribbling in a recent speech reported in the Gazette. It simplifies, as satire must I suppose, but it got me thinking about something that has been bothering me for some time. Before I come to that, let me set the general theme. There is already a market for judicial services. It may not bite as hard or as dangerously as price competitive tendering, and it may not as directly influence the judges, but it is there nonetheless. It works on a number of levels. Forum shopping from judges can be a form of market for influence. Arbitration is a more obviously economic market in competition with the courts. Continue reading “Guest post: There is a market for judges emerging – but only winning with the oligarchs is not the answer either”

Deferred Prosecution Agreements: Form over substance?

Deferred Prosecution Agreements: Form over substance?

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) last week published a draft Code of Practice setting out their approach to the use of Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) in a move that lawyers warn will open the floodgates to unduly lenient case settlement.

DPAs are to be introduced by the Crime and Courts Act 2013, expected to come into force next year, and offer a company charged with criminal activity, such as corporate criminal liability under the Bribery Act, the chance to reach an agreement with a prosecutor without going to trial. Continue reading “Deferred Prosecution Agreements: Form over substance?”

Legal profession forms united front on proposed cuts to legal aid

Last month court staff across the country took the unusual step of going on strike in a rare show of solidarity among all strands of the legal profession against the Ministry of Justice (MoJ)’s controversial proposals to slice £220m off the £1.2bn annual criminal legal aid budget.

The strike, while said by lawyers and court officials alike to have caused little disruption, stands out for being part of a series of measures taken by the ordinarily fragmented profession to emphasise its profound disapproval of reforms proposed by justice secretary Chris Grayling, including the introduction of price competitive tendering (PCT), the removal of the automatic right to legal aid for defendants with disposable income of more than £37,500 and the restriction of the right for defendants to choose their own solicitor.

Continue reading “Legal profession forms united front on proposed cuts to legal aid”

Government spending review brings legal aid cuts and privatisation closer as MoJ’s budget cut by 10%

Government spending review brings legal aid cuts and privatisation closer as MoJ’s budget cut by 10%

The government’s plans to cut criminal legal aid and privatise parts of the court services appeared to edge one step closer yesterday following Chancellor George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review, under which The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will see its budget slashed by 10% over the next 18 months. Continue reading “Government spending review brings legal aid cuts and privatisation closer as MoJ’s budget cut by 10%”

City lawyers say court strike will cause minimal disruption but should be given due attention

City lawyers say court strike will cause minimal disruption but should be given due attention

As court staff go on strike this afternoon (17 June) in protest at the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ’s) plans to cut £220m off the annual criminal legal aid budget, it is with the support of many City lawyers.

The unusual move comes as the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) last week claimed the MoJ’s plans could breach human rights laws and as lawyers warn that cuts made to civil legal aid earlier this year are already leading to a significant increase in pro bono requests and in areas outside of their expertise. Continue reading “City lawyers say court strike will cause minimal disruption but should be given due attention”

Consumer protection dragged into 21st century with new Bill that could open floodgates to class actions

Consumer protection dragged into 21st century with new Bill that could open floodgates to class actions

A Consumer Rights Bill published on Wednesday (12 June) is set to radically overhaul the rights of consumers in the digital age but could open the door to US-style class actions, lawyers warn.

The Bill was one of many announced in the Queen’s speech at the state opening of Parliament in May, and if enacted, will enhance consumer rights by making them easier to understand and streamline complex areas of consumer legislation into a single bill. Continue reading “Consumer protection dragged into 21st century with new Bill that could open floodgates to class actions”

Guest post: Legal aid reform – a fiscal realist’s view

Guest post: Legal aid reform – a fiscal realist’s view

Even I’m concerned about Chris Grayling’s proposals for criminal legal aid. When the government announced cuts to civil legal aid, I broadly backed them, in contrast to most lawyers. Now, the government’s proposing some further cuts to civil legal aid as well as major changes to the criminal legal aid system most dramatically, a move to competitive tendering of publicly-funded criminal defence work. Continue reading “Guest post: Legal aid reform – a fiscal realist’s view”

Guest post: #SAVEUKJUSTICE and whoring justice to Russian chavs – a few observations from a sardonic law blogger

Guest post: #SAVEUKJUSTICE and whoring justice to Russian chavs – a few observations from a sardonic law blogger

The #SAVEUKJUSTICE demonstration outside the Ministry of Justice yesterday (4 June) was well attended. Coverage of the event has been extensive and well dealt with in the law blogs.

A few observations…

The unified stance taken by the Bar and Law Society has been a remarkable feature of the campaign.Leading lights from the legal profession have given time and thought to putting the message across through blogs and on twitter. Many bloggers have written on the subject. Patrick Tornsey has a comprehensive listing of blogs written by lawyers and others from the legal blogging community.

 

Continue reading “Guest post: #SAVEUKJUSTICE and whoring justice to Russian chavs – a few observations from a sardonic law blogger”