JusticeWatch: ‘glorious common sense prevailed’

saba 3‘Glorious common sense prevailed’
‘There are times when being a social welfare lawyer seems like senseless slog,’ wrote Nathaniel Mathews of Hackney Community Law Centre on www.thejusticegap.com. ‘Chase that housing officer, chase that benefit officer, know that due to financial constraints hordes of people are being edged out of the welfare safety net, and at best you are playing catch up.’

Happily, this week wasn’t like that. ‘We were able to tell our client Saba Haile that she had won a three year battle with Waltham Forest Council after the UK Supreme Court ruled that she had not made herself intentionally homeless when, after learning that she was pregnant, she left her hostel in East London.’ More here.

‘Saba won because, in essence, the Supreme Court decided that she would have been homeless anyway. Glorious common sense prevailed. Women who become homeless because they have become pregnant must be protected.’
Nathaniel Mathews

 Two tweets of the week

In 2yrs after #legalaid cuts, 10 @LawCentres have shut. It’s your #accesstojustice that’s hit. Help us fight for it! https://t.co/xfBBAf8fr0

— Law Centres Network (@LawCentres) May 20, 2015


‘An orchid in the buttonhole of a subfusc Government
MPs with a legal background now make up almost one-fifth of the House of Commons, reported the Law Society’s Gazette (here) – but, ironically, not the new Lord Chancellor who was sworn in this week. Research (by BPP University Law School) revealed that 119 of the 650 MPs either studied or practised law before standing for election. In 2010, 85 elected MPs had legal experience.

After completing his oath, Michael Gove recalled he had first entered court as a young journalist and learned two things (according to Owen Bowcott in the Guardian here). Apparently, the first was that ‘no one in this country should be deprived of their liberty or property without due process of law. Equally important, is the value of freedom of speech. ‘I believe that one of the surest safeguards of liberty is an adversarial system of justice.’

Gove also quoted Lord Denning’s line: ‘Be you ever so high, the law is above you.’ He went on to say: ‘It must be a sorry nation indeed in which judges themselves agree with politicians 100% of the time.’

Lord Thomas described — ‘rather gushingly’, according to LegalCheek — Gove’s ‘love of communication and thirst for ideas’.

Meanwhile Twitter unearthed an article by a young Michael Gove in full pomp – thanks to @JvdLD. To set the scene, it is 1999 New Labour has published its Access to Justice Bill and Gove, then a columnist for the Times, was concerned about the then Lord Chancellor. ‘How can one not love Lord Irvine of Lairg? He is an orchid in the buttonhole of a subfusc Government,’ the precocious Gove begins.

This is how the article ends:

‘Because legal aid spending has been uncapped, lawyers have taken on all manner of unsuitable cases. Solicitors have known that they have, in the taxpayer, a supporter of actions with bottomless pockets. The untramelled growth of legal aid, which the Law Society’s members have so enjoyed, has been a conspiracy against the public for too long. Legal aid has allowed the Law Society’s members to wallpaper their offices with taxpayers’ money for  years. The time has come for a spring clean. And what better Tory than Lord Irvine of Lairg to take on the job.’
Michael Gove

This week’s vote by criminal barristers in favour of direct action apparently represented ‘an abrupt end to the goodwill honeymoon’ that the new justice secretary might have expected, reckoned the Guardian.

This year’s London Legal Walk

As reported on LegalVoice, an innovative crowdfunding platform for public interest litigation was launched today in response to the legal aid cuts. You can watch a film about Gilberto Torres who claims oil firms BP and Ocensa funded paramilitaries who abducted and planned to murder him on the Guardian website here.

Congrats to the estimated 9,000 lawyers and others who did this week’s London Legal Walk.

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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