One of the finest minds in English legal history, Lord Bingham, passed away last year. His book, “The Rule of Law”, is essential reading, as BabyBarista explains. This giant of the English legal landscape is seen as a hero by the likes of both Shami Chakrabarti and Peter Oborne - quite a feat. As Lord Chief Justice, he was prepared to fight for the idea of the rule of law, particularly when it came to the issue of terrorism. The Independent, amongst many others, regard him as the greatest judge of his time.
For a more in-depth review of The Rule of Law, click here.
The Open Justice website is now a great resource for students to use on sentencing and, amongst other things, the proposed changes to the criminal and civil court systems.And of course there’s fab sentencing resource You Be the Judge...
It looks like the latest victim of government cuts could be the right to trial by jury for some offences that are currently triable either way. This follows a report from the Commissioner of Victims of Crime, Louise Casey, and also follows the swift justice meted out to the rioters of summer 2011. Although jury trial itself will stay, according to the government, we may see a reduction in the number of either-way offences together with an increase in the sentencing powers of Magistrates.
The proposal is much criticised, including this article and also a piece by famed QC Michael Mansfield, who calls the proposals “pathetically predictable”. Plenty for your AS students to get their teeth into!
Mr Justice Treacy’s sentencing remarks in the Stephen Lawrence case are now available to view. A fantastic source to give to the students - ask them to identify aggravating and mitigating factors referred to by the judge.
The BBC also have a good clip here from an interview prior to the sentences being passed in which a barrister explains how the judge will approach matters.
It’s also useful for illustration of the impact of Schedule 21 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 on sentencing for murder - as the offence in question was prior to this, the Act does not apply to Dobson and Norris.
A high profile case and a topic which should also provoke discussion of the aims of sentencing. See below for a brief video clip!read more...»
The fab The Bizzle has the following correspondence for us in respect of an Agreement for the Delivery of Presents. Something to brighten our mood as we mark endless mocks….
Barristers continue to do very nicely, thank you; at least at the commercial bar, where earnings in the region of £500,000 are average, and pupils are paid £65,000. However, this in turn raises the question of the impact on recruitment of quality personnel to the ranks of the judiciary, with the Chancery Division of the High Court particularly affected.
it’s probably not a good idea to mention this problem to any friends of yours at the tougher end of the criminal bar….
Another problem affecting the judiciary relates to selection of judges, and the use of veto by the Lord Chancellor - Ken Clarke, a politician, has blocked the appointment of two of the Judicial Appointment Commission’s choices for tribunal members this year, with obvious implications for judicial independence and the separation of powers.Not much point having an independent Commission if this is going to happen, you may well think.
Two stories with interlinked themes in terms of their impact on the judiciary for your students to ponder, with plenty of insight for evaluation purposes.
Fab case name, and a helpful point for A2 Contract Law students considering construction. It is well established that, in constructing the meaning of a term, the Court will take an objective approach - they will look through the eyes of the reasonable man, assuming relevant background knowledge.
In this case, the Supreme Court follows the reasoning in Schuler v Wickman. Rather than only departing from the above test only where it produces a result so extreme as to suggest it was unintended, where there are two alternative meanings, the Court will prefer the one that makes business sense, as per Lord Clarke:
If there are two possible constructions, the court is entitled to prefer the construction which is consistent with business common sense and to reject the other..
This is also a relatively short and digestible judgment for more able students to have a look at.
The ECJ has ruled that it is not permissible to patent the results of stem cell research within the EU. To do so the Court interpreted a Directive banning research that prohibits research resulting from the destruction of a human embryo widely, Article here.
A good example of the work of the ECJ in interpreting Directives, and of statutory interpretation.
The decision also poses questions from a law and morals standpoint. Will it drive research funding and jobs outside the EU, or is it an important step in preventing the privatisation of such knowledge for commercial gain?
This is a fantastic interactive resource for illustrating flows through the criminal justice system.
Are professional District Judges better than lay Magistrates? This article is perfect, based on the MoJ’s recent report. Fewer differences than you might think, apparently… perhaps get your students to list the comments on lay magistrates and District Judges made in the article, and use them for a debate!
There’s also some welcome criticism here of the old Auld report proposals for a new middle level of Court between Mags and Crown.