JusticeWatch: ‘We roar like lions – and act like mice’

NTGLS King JohnA masterclass in bare-faced cheek
This week we (finally) celebrated the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. ‘The entirety of the British establishment descended on Runnymede yesterday with all the pomp and ceremony the British state can muster,’ noted Mike Harris in the Independent. ‘It’s a pity that for over a decade government after government has been desperate to tilt the scales of power once again towards a Leviathan state, and against the people,’ he continued, listing examples of the erosion of our civil liberties (here).

David Cameron kicked off the big day by promising to rip up the Human Rights – and thus safeguarding the legacy of Magna Carta. ‘The good name of human rights has sometimes become distorted and devalued,’ he said.

‘The Prime Minister could give a masterclass in bare-faced cheek, using Magna Carta day to denigrate our Human Rights Act.’
Shami Chakrabarti, Liberty

When is a decision, not a decision?
We roar like lions and act like mice,’ blogged a criminal barrister in his A view from the North blog (@Jaimerh354 on Twitter), reflecting on this week’s decision by the CBA not to back direct action – despite a poll of its own members last month in which 96% supported such a move.

‘When is a democratic decision not a decision? Well I guess the answer is when a vote is a survey. So I am not going to worry my pretty little bald head over such things as my future, the future of the professions and the future of the Justice system. I am going to leave it to those who know best and the man who wreaked havoc in Education.’

Tweet of the week

Last week, I asked @tonycrossqc to co-opt me back onto CBA Exec. He declined to do so. Just as well, because I would have resigned today.

— Ian West (@ianswest) June 18, 2015

Committee news
Bob Neill – a Tory barrister – is to replace Sir Alan Beith as head of the justice select committee which earlier in the year produced a critical report into LASPO (here). Neill supported the plans to curb JR. ‘There is a real concern – I have seen it as a lawyer, in my time as Local Government Minister and, before that, as a local councillor – that the growth of judicial review has become an inhibitor to good decision making,’ he said last year.

Meg Hillier takes over from Margaret Hodge as chair the public accounts committee. Hodge hauled senior MoJ officials over the coals over the implementation of the 2013 legal aid cuts at the end of last year. More in the Guardian here.

Employment claims
Unison has asked ‘how big the fall in the number of employment claims needs to be before the imposition of tribunal fees can be considered unlawful’, the Law Society’s Gazette reported.

The Court of Appeal heard that the number of equal pay claims fell 83% after the introduction of fees, while sex discrimination claims fell up to 91% in the first quarter of 2014.

‘Absent of any other explanation, it is my submission that on any rational inference these fees are imposing too heavy a burden. How big a drop would be required before one can infer these fees are imposing too heavy a burden?’
Karon Monaghan QC of Matrix Chambers, representing Unison

Congrats to Sara Chandler who has become the first female president of the Federation of European Bar Associations – she’s the fourth English solicitor and the first woman to be appointed.



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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