JusticeWatch: Lost in translation

Equality of arms
Public bodies should focus upon the search for truth rather than the search for blame, wrote Hillsborough barristers Brenda Campbell & Caoilfhionn Gallagher for the Justice Gap. And, they argued, the government must ensure ‘that bereaved families receive funding for legal representation to strip away lies and obfuscations and ensure justice and accountability’.

Hillsborough families had public funding this time. This was not the case the first time around. ‘Many of the families clubbed together to instruct a single barrister, and one of our clients, Joan McBrien, gave up her job as a teacher to represent herself,’ they said.

‘This Government has presided over indefensible and unconscionable cuts to legal aid for inquests which, in the words of Deborah Cole of INQUEST, “leaves wrongdoing unchallenged, prevents learning and impedes changes to dangerous practices”,’ they added.

Lost in translation
The Guardian reported that more than 2,600 court cases had been adjourned over the past five years because of failures in the interpreting service according to the Ministry of Justice. The scale of the problem was confirmed as ‘doubts emerged about the viability of the troubled contract after the outsourcing firm Capita declined to bid for its renewal in October’, it was reported.

Capita had been ordered to pay £16,000 by the most senior judge in the family courts for its ‘lamentable’ failure to provide interpreters seven times in the course of a single adoption case. In 2013, MPs on the justice select committee described the manner in which the court interpreting service was privatised as ‘shambolic’.

‘It goes without saying that every time an interpreter fails to turn up, either injustice is done, because the case goes on without one, or the case has to be adjourned, leading to delays and a waste of everyone’s time and costs.’
Lord Marks QC, Liberal Democrats’ justice spokesman

Sticking to the facts
What would be the effect on human rights if the UK leaves the EU? asked Joshua Rozneberg for the fact checking site Full Fact. Some things won’t change—and some things will, he began. For a start, he pointed out that we would still be signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Good instincts
British people have good humanitarian instincts,’ said Lord Alf Dubs in an interview for the Guardian. ‘Basically people feel that it’s a rough world, and if we can do something to help a few people, then we should do that.’ The Labour Peer talked of the response of the public when his amendment to the immigration bill passed through the Lords in March. ‘I’ve had people in the street shouting at me, saying well done. And you know, when politicians in the street normally get shouted at, it’s with abuse,’ he said.

According to the Times’ Brief daily newsletter, the ‘feminisation’ of the largest branch of the UK’s legal profession gained pace last year, with the number of women solicitors set to overtake men in the next few years’.

Figures from the Law Society’s recently annual statistical report show men in the majority by only the narrowest margins of 51.2 per cent to 48.8 per cent.

‘The increase in women practising in England and Wales over the last decade demonstrates the dramatic change in the gender profile of the profession. Of the total increase in practising solicitors in the last ten years – from 101,000 to more than 133,000 – women accounted for more than 70 per cent. The gap could disappear within the next two years at current rates of growth.’

Whatever they throw at us
Two-thirds of students who passed the £12,500-plus Bar Professional Training Course failed to secure a pupillage, reported the Law Society’s Gazette.

Also the Gazette has reported on the ‘ambitious expansion plan’ of defence firm Reeds Solicitors. Apparently, it plans to ‘cover every court and police station across the country in the next 10-15 years’.

Reeds was ‘not a big firm simply trying to make more money’, said managing director Jan Matthews. ‘We are a firm trying to make ourselves able to take whatever the government throws at us, whilst finding the best people to work with that we can.’

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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