JusticeWatch: Book now for Sharing Solutions Conference 

Book your place now
The Sharing Solutions Conference aimed at the advice sector takes place at Allen & Overy on May 21. It a partnership between with the Advice Service Alliance, the Access to Justice FoundationLegalVoice and the Litigant in Person Support Strategy.

With interactive sessions focused on relevant and topical issues such as supporting distressed clients and the use of tech for good, our aim is for attendees to leave the event with relevant and practical information that can support the delivery of services in their organisations.

More information and tickets can be found here.

The event is free to attend, although there is a small refundable fee to confirm attendance. There are travel grants for organisations based more than 50 miles from London.

Putting your head in the lion’s mouth
Legal advice was not necessary for making immigration applications said the government as the Home Office announced details of the Windrush compensation scheme – as reported by the Law Society’s Gazette. The government acknowledged that paying for legal advice during the course of making an unsuccessful application represented a loss incurred by the claimants under the compensation scheme.

‘The government’s position is that obtaining legal advice is not necessary in making an immigration application and that no advantage in the application process should accrue to people who choose to access, are able to afford legal advice, over those who cannot.’
Home Office

Also in the Gazette, it was reported that the government is ‘unlikely to bring forward its summer 2020 deadlines for completing comprehensive reviews of legal aid eligibility and fees’.

The justice secretary David Gauke was appearing before the House of Commons justice select committee to discuss the LASPO review. He was responding to MPs’ concerns that the timetable would make it difficult for the MoJ to get cash from the Treasury following the next spending review.

‘He was sympathetic to the case for early intervention, but said the ministry needed to “build the evidence” to ensure there was a good case for intervening early in terms of improving people’s experience of the justice system, achieving the right outcomes, and in a way that was good and fair to the taxpayer,’ reported Mondipa Fouzder. ‘In an ideal world, we would have the evidence as we went into the spending review.’

Sexist judges
The scale of sexism in UK courts was ‘exaggerated’, the Lord Chief Justice has suggested – according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. Lord Burnett had warned that sexist judges would be disciplined following criticism by the chairman of the Criminal Bar Association who said some judges were ‘much more uninhibited’ in their criticism of young women.

However in ‘an apparent U-Turn’ while giving evidence to the House of Lords Constitution Committee Lord Burnett said: he was ‘not aware of any evidence that women are deterred from applying to judicial office’.

‘I fear that there was a phenomenon in play that is all too familiar to politicians… . The same examples [of sexism] get repeated time and time again and the impressions given are false…. of the hundreds of judges that sit in high court and family court, if there is a problem that exists in this nature it exists in a very small number.’
Lord Burnett

‘A culture of sexism is widespread in the there in the judiciary. It’s there and it’s unacceptable. At every single courthouse in the UK, there is at least one male member of the judiciary who thinks it’s acceptable to professionally undermine female members. This judges need to be held to account and to be retrained.’

Meanwhile the Guardian reported on how ‘a row has erupted after a judge spoke in court about the “fundamental human right” of a man to have sex with his wife’. The remark was made by Mr Justice Hayden, ‘who had been asked to consider imposing a court order preventing a man from having sex with his wife of 20 years because she may no longer be able to give her consent’.

The case had been brought to the court of protection after social services took the view that there was evidence that she no longer had the capacity to make decisions about whether she wanted to have sex. Lawyers have suggested that a judge might have to bar the husband from continuing to have sex with his wife in order to ensure that the woman is not raped.

The judge apparently said the man might be put in a situation where he could face prison if he breached an order, or an undertaking, not to have sex with his wife. ‘I cannot think of any more obviously fundamental human right than the right of a man to have sex with his wife – and the right of the state to monitor that,’ he said. ‘I think he is entitled to have it properly argued.’

The Labour MP for Bristol West, Thangam Debbonaire, who tweeted that his comment ‘legitimises misogyny and woman-hatred’.

About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

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