Joshua Rozenberg has written this clear and objective appraisal of human rights legislation in the UK. Could be of good use for your students to consider issues of parliamentary sovereignty and, at A2, law and justice and judicial creativity - particularly given how some see the ECHR as activist in its approach!
When retailers go bust, customers holding prepaid vouchers can find themselves in a difficult position. The Law Commission is currently consulting on proposals to reform this area of the law where consumers, as unsecured creditors, are currently at the bottom of the pile. When Comet went bust, £4.7 million in vouchers went down the tubes, for example, and you may also remember what happened to Farepak customers. A great example of the role of the Law Commission, which may go some way to solving the problems demonstrated in the clip below.
...is entitled to its protection.
So said Lord Scarman, and his words were repeated today by a High Court judge. Chris Grayling may have escaped death by reshuffle, unlike the Attorney General, but he did suffer another defeat at the hands of the judiciary as his draft regulations intended to introduce a residence test for legal aid were declared unlawful and discriminatory in that they appear to deny legal aid to foreign nationals. A good example of the judicial function, judicial review and the ongoing issues with legal aid "reform".
This can also be seen as an example of a minister going beyond the powers in the enabling Act, in this case LASPO (2012).
This short judgment is a good example of an Attorney General's reference for an unduly lenient sentence. It sets out clearly the facts of the case, the aggravating factors, and students can see clearly why the sentence is increased by the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division). A great example to give to your students.
...or rather, would-be solicitors.This article makes gloomy reading for potential entrants to the profession. There's also some very interesting material for student about the future of the profession - including a potential boom in commercial law and in-house roles, and the rise and rise of the paralegal. So there are still plenty of paths out there for our students - but they need to go in with eyes open and a plan!
Fascinating to see the outcome of the phone hacking trial this week, with Andy Coulson found guilty of x, Rebekah Brooks walking free, and a ticking off for David Cameron from the trial judge!
Here's the full text (via @markfrankel29) of the judge's response to an application to discharge the jury as a result of the publicity following the PM's comments, due to the fact that, it was argued, Coulson and Clive Goodman could no longer receive a fair trial on the remaining two counts:
The text of this is fab - and not just for the telling off issued to the PM for "missing the point". it also contains reference to other cases put forward as precedent, including R v McCann, as well as drawing students' attention to the importance of the jury remaining free from outside influence, and the rule of law even gets a mention!
It is also heartening to read the judge's praise of the jury in this complex, long case. Perhaps Felicity Gerry in this article is correct to assert that jury trial isn't broken, and doesn't need fixing...
This is just a fabulous and funny way to look at case law with a bit of revision sort of built in. @emoticoncaselaw on twitter has been telling the story of leading English cases via the rather original medium of emoticons! Of course a nice end-of-term activity for your AS students would be to turn this into a quiz and to have a competition for the best student version...
This is just a cracking case to use with your students. The government's attempt to hold a terrorism trial entirely in secret has been overturned on appeal by The Court of Appeal following an application by newspapers. Big themes at play here including open justice, the rule of law, the need to balance national security interests against ancient safeguards, and also a good example of the Court of Appeal in action.
The decision represents a partial victory for the press, although they will still be unable to report on some aspects of the trial. Apparently the appeal resulted from a reporter spotting the case in the court list - otherwise we may never have known! Food for thought...
Another way of looking at this is that the precedent has been set that trials can be held, at least in part, in conditions of secrecy - so could equally be seen as a v worrying development.
The MoJ is to introduce a dramatic increase in sentencing powers for Magistrates, raising the limit on fines in the Mags to £10,000 for speeding offences, and introducing unlimited fines for some offences for the first time. Interesting as it can be argued to be giving more power to judges lacking in legal qualifications and imposing greater penalties without jury trial....
This blogpost from Matthew Scott notes that the CPS, and the judiciary itself in the form of proposals for an intermediate Court, would appear, according to the author, to have it in for juries. A fantastic piece to use with students, as it combines up-to-the minute critique of proposed reforms with a lovely polemic in favour of the jury system in all its imperfect glory. Great way to get the students to see how little details affect big themes!
This is a great opinion piece on the continuing diversity problems faced by the judiciary, inspired by the appointment of Alison Russell QC to the High Court, the first judge to be formally known as "Ms Justice". The article is full of facts and figures on the judiciary for students to file away, and will also be useful for encouraging students to distinguish between fact and opinion, as well as making great debate material.
The controversial ruling that a complex fraud trial could not go ahead due to barristers boycotting such cases after a 30% cut in fees has been reversed by the Court of Appeal - albeit with the rider that such a stay could again be necessary at a later stage As well as being a good example of the hierarchy of the courts in action, this is a victory for the embattled Chris Grayling at the Ministry of Justice.
Students will note that the judges took time to emphasise the crucial importance of having skilled advocates "capable of undertaking publicly funded work", and that Sir Brian Leveson (for it is he) noted that "the maintenance of a criminal justice system of which we can be proud depends on a sensible resolution of the issues."
Some of the twitter reaction is below:
So Boris Johnson is going to have to stump up £75m in compensation for those affected by the Sony warehouse fire, caused by arson during the London riots. The "chicken feed" in question results from the Riot (Damages) Act (1886), which states that damages from riot are payable by the local police authority.
Unfortunately for Boris' budget, the judges are reluctant to overturn parliament's will, this having been the law since The Riot Act (1714), until such time as new legislation is brought forward - meaning the insurers get off scot free, the uninsured are compensated, and City Hall has to find the dosh.
As the Guardian notes: Even if this were considered "unfair and unwarranted in the 21st century", the three appeal judges said on Tuesday, "it is for parliament and not the courts to amend it or remove it altogether".
The case is a great example of how the appeals system works; the mayor, having appealed from a ruling in the High Court, has been refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court - although of course his lawyers can apply to the Court of Appeal to challenge this, it doesn't look promising.
It's also a cautionary tale for potential appellants; on appeal, the amount awarded was increased as the judges in the Court of Appeal held the Mayor responsible for consequential losses flowing from the arson as well as direct losses. Judgments can go up as well as down!
At the moment, the taxpayer is left footing the bill. Expect legislation on this at some point in the future...
Mr Justice Hickinbottom has struck out five claims from prisoners acting as litigants in person that the sanitation regimes in HMP Long Lartin or HMP Albany were in contravention of Article 3 ECHR prohibiting "inhuman or degrading treatment".
Originally some 550 claims were brought. Two "lead" cases were identified, and determined in favour of the government. (Grant & Gleaves v The Ministry of Justice), with the remainder of cases being stayed, to be struck out unless distinguished from Grant & Gleaves.The instant judgment dismisses the five remaining such claims. It's a rare example of a brief and accessible judgment. Students can see the attempts made by claimants to distinguish the facts of their cases from Grant & Gleaves - and why the judge, in each case, did not allow it. Precedent in action! Hat tip to @AdamWagner1 for the judgment.
This exam question from City University (via Legal Cheek) is a great example of the fun to be had with problem questions. I think any self-respecting problem question should have a bit of humour and at least one in-joke in it. It's also a great way to engage students with applying the law to a set of facts. PQs are a great way to check application skills and legal method and can be used effectively to break up the dullest of A2 topics.
I suppose the only problem with City's exam question is that it invites the (arguably justifiable) following response:
The Care Act 2014 has now received Royal Assent. It implements 95% of the Law Commission's recommendations, so a good example of its contemporary success. Also having received the Royal Assent is the Co-Operative and Community Societies Act 2014, which happens to be a nice up-to-date example of consolidation for students of law reform.
The Care Act is notable as a response to the Mid Staffs hospital scandal and subsequent Francis Inquiry.
The UK Criminal Law blog is a mine of accessible information, being run by barristers with the aim of making the criminal law accessible to all.. Here we get a perspective on life as a magistrate containing plenty of key facts for students looking at lay people.
The site also contains some fab fact sheets and clarity on high profile cases. Definitely one to bookmark.
...is a really useful vehicle at present for looking at Statutory Interpretation, the Rule of Law and the role of precedent in developing the law. The law (officially known as the Under Occupation Charge, and part of the Welfare Reform Act 2012) sees recipients of housing benefit losing 14% of their benefit if a room is deemed unoccupied, rising to 25% for two rooms. This unpopular policy has been subject to a series of challenges, resulting in rulings on the minimum size of a room that can count as a bedroom, and a judicial review case presently before the High Court regarding the rule allegedly discriminating against children needing overnight care - see the videos below.
Top material on the role of the Courts, precedent, and Statutory Interpretation.read more...»
Who doesn't love a bit of EU Law?
Anyway, this is a nice accessible case for students to illustrate the work of the ECJ, which has rules that under the EU Data Protection Directive, Google is deemed a "data controller" and has to remove search results relating to a Spanish national whose property had been auctioned off to pay his social security debts.
The case seems to recognise a "right to be forgotten" and may even apply to legally published data once it becomes out of date. Some have criticised the decision as a rogues' charter which will damage online businesses, whilst others see it as a landmark case for the right to privacy. So some nice big themes at play - and there is a public interest test to fall back on...
...is not always easy. However there are a few tools out there to show students how the Lords in all its undemocratic glory operates. Students can hopefully gain an insight into the Lords as a living, breathing institution, for all the peers asleep on the red benches in debates!
For example, the Lords now has its own twitter feed:
which is a great way for students to get a feel for the business of the Upper House.
The Lords Digital Chamber offers a way for students to connect with members of the House of Lords and includes YouTube clips, tweets and blogs.
Parliament TV carries live feeds from both chambers of the House of Commons. Students can find out about the work of the House of Lords Select Committees here and about the progress of Bills through the Lords here.
I feel a bit of a project coming on for next year's AS.....
LSE academics have published a paper which purports to show that riot-type crime fell, er, after the riots ended. This is presented as being attributable to the deterrent effect of the very harsh sentencing approach adopted by judges at the time - and it is also interesting to note that the authors found a concomitant increase in other types of crime.
So, is this deterrence in action or did people just get fed up with rioting? Were the likely perpetrators imprisoned anyway? Good debate material for deterrence and the aims of sentencing generally.
This article from the Economist makes fascinating reading on the fall in violent crime and the apparent disconnect with policy, which seems set on ever tougher measures such as mandatory sentences despite falling numbers of both fatal stabbings and knife wounds. Of course, a fall from 272 to 194 fatal stabbings per year over a six year period does not alter the tragic consequences of knife crime in each case.
Both Conservatives and Labour appear to support the proposal that adults convicted of a second knife offence should automatically get at least six months in prison.
In the light of concerns over the perverse consequences that some argue flow from mandatory sentencing, is the law being used as an election megaphone, as the Economist suggests? Or is this the tough approach the crime in question requires?
This is a good example, for students looking at ADR, of conciliation. The early conciliation scheme is now compulsory for anyone considering an Employment Tribunal claim. However the New Law Journal reports that 10% of major retailers were unaware of the scheme, run by ACAS, and of the fines that can be imposed on employers losing at a tribunal - up to £5,000. The article is also useful for a detailed description of how the scheme works.
Another interesting snippet here is that, since increased fees of £250 were introduced 10 months ago, the number of Employment Tribunal claims has fallen 80%. Does this represent a weeding out of spurious claims, or is it evidence of an unfair barrier to justice for the hard-pressed?
...is essential reading for a take on the present state of criminal advocacy. Jeffrey raises serious concerns about the standard of criminal advocacy, particularly from Solicitor Advocates who suffer in comparison to what Jeffrey sees as their better-trained counterparts at the Criminal Bar. There is a worry here about whether the parties in a given case have equality of arms, such appears to be the disparity, with judges (including ex-solicitors, so not a case of barristers looking after their own interests) expressing concerns about advocates taking cases on beyond their level of competence. Which is a polite way of saying someone is out of their depth....
Jeffrey concludes that the market for criminal advocacy is not operating competitively or in a way that prioritises quality - and it appears from the statistics that Solicitor Advocates (who do much good work) are taking an increasing share of the market, with the result that the Criminal Bar feels under threat.
Thought provoking stuff, with ideas for reform also included. You can read the whole report here.
The Metropolitan Police are to trial the wearing of body cameras starting today. In a move designed to improve transparency and reduce complaints, officers in Britain's largest force will begin wearing the cameras. The hope is that clarity will be provided, making controversies such as the "Plebgate" row and the Mark Duggan case less likely. However, some have expressed concerns relating to privacy - so a good example of the need to balance competing interests in law, even when it comes to law enforcement.
Cracking case here which shows how far back some common law principles go. The case concerns squatters' rights (adverse possession), and whether a claim for title made this way is affected by s144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, which criminalises squatting.
The High Court judge makes an interesting decision in favour of the squatter. Which approach to statutory interpretation does he adopt?
It will be interesting to note the outcome of this case following the seemingly inevitable appeal.
The Ministry of Justice have today announced longer sentences for drivers causing death or serious injury whilst banned. Drivers causing death will face up to ten years in prison, and those causing serious injuries up to four years. The current maximum for causing death by dangerous driving is two years.
You might wish to ask your students to discuss which aims of sentencing are being prioritised here, and whether this change will act as an effective deterrent.
This is an absolute must-read article from Adam Wagner about a trial adjourned due to barristers being unwilling to accept the cuts to their fees imposed by the Government. The latter sought an adjournment. The judge's response was that
"...to allow the State a long delay to put right its “failure to provide the necessary resources to permit a fair trial” would be “a violation of the process of this court”.
Great discussion material on the rule of law, parliamentary sovereignty, the role of the Lord Chancellor and much more!
...is a useful site for prospective law students. There's a useful set of articles on different areas of practice authored by various leading law firms here. Also a useful way to illustrate the varied roles taken on by solicitors...
WOW! Law 2014 provides teachers with a fantastic collection of resources that can be used immediately in the A Level & BTEC Law classroom.
We asked a superb team of experienced and passionate Law teachers to develop their best-ever lesson resources for Law and they have delivered! The result is a superb collection of teaching resources that Law students will find engaging, challenging and enjoyable. You can see a sneak preview of some of these resources below!
The delegate price for WOW! Law 2014 is just £190 (+VAT) for which attendees get a full days training and the complete collection of teaching & learning resources.
There is just one more WOW! Law 2014 course running in June 2014 - the last opportunity to attend and obtain the full teaching & learning resource pack. These are:
or by placing an order for a place directly through our online shop
Alternatively, please call the tutor2u office on 0844 8000085 or email janet@tutor2u,net with your request.read more...»
Teaching precedent can be a challenging for a teacher as there is so much for learners to learn and concepts to understand, aside from tackling the topic in bite size pieces I engage my learners by setting my starter to a time challenge and to draw out the competitive nature of students for example. Learners were required to work as part of a relay team sharing and providing knowledge which they understand. Learners are put into 4/5 differentiated teams and each have a blank A3 wipe board. They enter into the centre the element of the topic of which they are being tested so today's lesson was 'Supreme Court'.read more...»
Delegated legislation is a topic learners can find difficult to engage with and an area of which they may shy away from in the exams particularly in relation the controls of delegated and the effectiveness of the same. The question is, how do we engage learners to overcome this difficulty?read more...»
The BBC Radio 4 series Test Case is shaping up as a great resource for studying law at A Level if today's episode on the case of Re C is anything to go by.
Re C is a landmark case from 1993 which established a three-part test for deciding the issue of whether a person has sufficient capacity to make their own decisions on their medical treatment.
The case involved a schizophrenia sufferer in Broadmoor hospital who it was thought required an amputation of the foot to prevent gangrene spreading.
This case represents a move away from a paternalist approach and towards personal autonomy, which can also be seen in the subsequent .Mental Capacity Act (2005). Interesting in its own right, as an example of codification, and also for those of you teaching Tort on the AQA syllabus, for the link to medical care.
The show is available on iPlayer for 7 days. Cracking stuff!
An interesting example of law reform in action here with the news that the defence run by Vicky Price in her recent trial is set to be abolished. Currently a woman who can show that an offence committed under coercion from and in the presence of her husband can have a complete defence to all offences excepting murder and treason.
An amendment to the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing bill will provide for the repeal of this defence, which is only available to a woman who is married to a man, which has been seen as an anachronism.
For our criminal law students out there, note that the general defence of duress is unaffected by the change.
A great story, with applications for both law reform and the legislative process as well as the criminal law make this one A Level Law gold!
It's an interesting time teaching Parliamentary Law Making at the moment considering the recent the Lords rejection of the Private Members Bill to bring an EU Referendum after the next General Election - this itself can be used as an introduction to the topic, identifying what a Private Members' Bill actually is and contrasting it with a Government Bill. This initial understanding can then be utilised using the tutor2u 'Class Act' teaching and learning resource which my students thoroughly enjoyed completing their own draft bills and completing the pre-legislative stages. From learners creating their own Green Papers and entering consultation with their peers to finalising the same and bringing forward their White Papers to ultimately 4 groups having draft bills ranging from Codification of the Constitution Bill, The Young Car Drivers Insurance Bill, The Capital Punishment Bill, The Educational Maintenance Allowance Bill.read more...»
When teaching this topic it's easy to forget that learners are learning a wide vocabulary of legal jargon as well as the training, work and regulation of the professionals. Enabling learners to access this information and demonstrate their learning and understanding can sometimes present a challenge which can be overcome through other methods rather than learners completing merely descriptive questions which focus lower on Bloom's taxonomy. As with previous lessons, I inform my learners about my fictitious law firm - Miller & Gregson Solicitors (see Dispute? Resolve it! resources created for ADR) for which some of them have been invited for an interview of the role of Solicitor, Chartered Legal Executive or in terms of the employed Bar, a Barrister. This is all taken from my resource Interview Me!read more...»
Although this may be less pressing a concern than the legal aid crisis at the moment, many of us still cling to the the notion that the legal profession should perhaps reflect the society it serves. Diversity within the profession has long been a matter of concern. New Justice Minister Simon Hughes is seeking to address the issue. This Indy article contains some telling statistics for your students to ponder!
The grave concerns felt by the Criminal Bar and lawyers practising criminal law is reflected in the action being taken today. The BBC has details of the story, with anger at "boiling point" over £220m of cuts, and a video interview with computer hacker Gary Mackinnon's mother explaining the importance of legal aid. It's easy to paint this as a pay cut for legal fat cats - but the reality is that these are cuts that will hit vulnerable people very hard in terms of quality and availability of legal advice, as talented lawyers go elsewhere.
The Guardian's @peterwalker99 is following the protests on Twitter, and tweets are using the hashtag #walkout4justice, and Legal Cheek is good on the reasons for the protest. The above photo is by @StIvesCriminal
In the video below, lawyers from Bristol explain the concerns, and below that, I have collated some of the key tweets on the protest atread more...»
When we talk to colleagues about outstanding lessons and outstanding teaching there appears to be much debate on how to achieve the same, some of which has been argued is subjective which to a point I believe is true. We can all usually identify what is a 'good' lesson but what does it take to create the 'buzz' that is often craved for a lesson to be graded 'outstanding'? During my own recent mock OFSTED inspection I achieved a grade 1 and am sharing my ideas to enable you to achieve the same.read more...»
The difficulties attaching to jury trial in the age of the smartphone are reflected in new proposals that jurors who search out information about their cases may face prison for contempt of court, following several problems cases abandoned, jurors jailed and jurors dismissed. other proposals include allowing judges to confiscate mobile phones and compelling media organisations to remove certain news stories from their sites.
Although some of these powers already exist under the common law, it is felt that putting them on a statutory footing would provide clear guidance for jurors. Although opinion is divided as to the merits of the proposed changes, with some commentators seeing it as a sledgehammer to crack a nut this is a good story to use with your students about both juries and also law reform, as the proposals emanate from the Law Commission.
Twitter is of course an outstandingly useful source of teaching ideas. There is also a thriving community of legal tweeters out there, which makes twitter a fantastic way to stay up to date with legal developments as they happen. Here are my top 10 legal tweeters:
1. @garyslapper - Times columnist, academic, barrister. And very funny man!
2. @joshuarozenberg - probably the best-known legal columnist out there. An authoritative take on the big stories.
3. @charonqc - founder of BPP law school. Freelance commentator and prolific tweeter.
4. @adamwagner1 - fantastic on human rights issues - as he should be, as a human rights barrister and founding editor of ukhumanrightsblog.com.
7. @thecriminalbar - worth a follow just to understand how deep opposition runs to the government's plans in this area...
8. @thelawmap - good for an overview of what's currently happening, recent judgments, etc.
10 @TheICLR - publishers of the Law Reports. A view of developments from Chancery Lane.
So... there are 10 for starters. There are many more! Feel free to follow me on twitter too - @lawteacher . It would be good to know your favourite law accounts to follow... tweet me or leave a comment below!
The BBC's Law in Action is reliably fab. Here the programme tackles a key issue facing the legal profession these days, namely the apparent oversupply of postgraduate courses when training contracts are thin on the ground, and pupillages rarer still.
A nice variation to the usual activities to get your group doing some listening!
You can listen to the programme here.
Further to the introduction of Wow! Law showcasing in London and Manchester the team have received excellent feedback from delegates.read more...»
The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal from a Christian B&B couple who refused to allow a homosexual couple to share a room at their guesthouse as it was against their religious beliefs. In The Guardian it was reported "The Supreme Court judges said that although the guesthouse owners' rights under the European Convention on Human Rights to manifest their religion were at issue it was justifiable and proportionate to limit them in order to protect the rights of others." The Equality Act 2010 cites that both parties have recognised protected characteristics under the Act nevertheless this judgment therefore confirms that each of these parties has the same right to be protected against discrimination by the other.read more...»
The first of the WowLaw events that have taken place in London and Manchester received excellent feedback from delegates who left the event with tangible resources created specifically for some topics enabling learners to actually access the material but also generic resources which can be adapted for many topics allowing teachers to demonstrate their creativity! Having been part of the Manchester team delivering the session, delegates were actively engaged in the session and more than willing participants putting themselves in the place of learners with various activities - so thank you!read more...»
A momentous moment for the law in the UK. TV cameras have recorded proceedings in one of the highest courts in England and Wales for the first time.
In the first case to be broadcast, the ringleader of a large-scale scam to forge pound coins failed in his bid to appeal against his seven-year sentence.
After years of campaigning by broadcasters ITN, BBC, Press Association and Sky News, cameras have been placed in five courtrooms at the Royal Courts of Justice.
However, as the videos below explain, there are some significant restrictions on what can be broadcast. The cameras will only focus on lawyers and judges. Defendants, witnesses and members of the public will be kept out of shot.
Cameras are not yet allowed in crown courts and magistrates' courts.read more...»
This is just brilliant on the wrong-headedness of the Government's plans to make dramatic changes to legal aid. I try to avoid being political on this blog but the legal profession (including Crown Court judges) is pretty united in its opposition to the government's plans - as referred to in this Observer editorial.read more...»
Good Morning All
Today I awoke to research saying that social networking is a tool we should be using for student engagement:
This evidence confirmed what I already knew. The evidence I had was based on my time during FE and I appreciate that for lots of you policy will dictate your ability to use these tools in and out of the classroom.read more...»
This is my first blog and I am sooo excited at being invited to participate. My expertise lies in teaching and learning on AS and A2 Law. I really enjoy sharing my love of Law and devising resources and developing activities that make learning fun!
If you are preparing for your A2 Law Unit 4 exam or helping students to do so you will be fully aware of the importance of the evaluative essay as it carries 30/85 marks. Discussing up-to-date examples is bound to impress your examiner. So let’s begin with Law and Justice...read more...»
Law involves so much reading, understanding and independent learning...read more...»
Want to know where to go with A level Law...read more...»
Do you use case grids? Do you know what they are? Know how to make them effective?read more...»
AS and A2 students your exams are only round the corner...
Find out how to revise here...read more...»
What is the best way to prepare for your examinations?
Complete some past papers!
Where are they?
I will show you!read more...»
The government's latest reform to the justice system appears to be an attempt to limit the use of judicial review. It includes a large increase in the fee payable for a hearing in person, a reduced time limit for bringing judicial review proceedings of planning decisions, and banning some applicants from having a hearing in person if their initial application is held to be without merit.
So, is this a necessary set of measures to prevent the abuse of judicial review and stop its use to delay immigration and planning decisions, and help economic growth into the bargain?
Or is it an attack on the rule of law which will restrict the right of citizens to challenge decisions made by the government? A great topic to stimulate debate!
Some members of the House of Lords, including the eminent Lord Pannick, think the change will actually result in an increase in applications - one to file under the law of unintended consequences? Video clip here from 8 mins 40: http://www.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/house-of-lords-22268607
This is my first post to the Law blogging section for tutor2u. I will be blogging about topics linked to AS and A level Law and in particular how you can make use of websites and e-learning to help aid your learning.read more...»
I have recently been introducing my BTEC level 2 students to the concept of sentencing and asked them what they thought about the sentencing in the UK and across the world. They gave various typical examples such as having your hands chopped off for stealing and refered to the death penalty in some states in America. I asked them to guess the sentence given to various images and cases that I had displayed and we had a good discussion of whether it was enough or was too harsh.
This is a great audio discussion on whether the quality of advocacy in the Courts has been affected by the blurring of lines between solicitors and barristers. Do lower costs make miscarriages of justice more likely? A clip would make a great discussion-starter.
Loathe as I am to blog on the subject of Mr Terry, it's a good example for new student of the differing standards of proof in civil and criminal cases - despite the argument of "victimisation" trotted out by some, er, commentators. Louis Restell has a sensible blog on this here .
The Lawyer has a piece this week on the problems the profession finds in dealing with the regulator's "black and white" approach. Some good extension material here!
Chris Grayling ousted Ken Clarke as the Minister for Justice in the recent cabinet re-shuffle. He is expected to be more right-wing - so will we see a move away from rehabilitation in sentencing, for example?
Grayling is also the first non-lawyer to hold the post since the reforms set out in the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, a move that has met with no little criticism from commentators as respected as Joshua Rozenberg , who worries, inter alia, that Grayling, as a politician apparently on the way up, may go chasing easy headlines on human rights, for example.
Definitely a situation to watch - how will the legal profession, for example, react?
The guardian has a great story to kick off a new term on the law blog. Serious implications for parliamentary sovereignty. The government has until 25 September to disclose the rules on how the veto of the Crown and the Duchy of Cornwall wielded by the Queen and Prince Charles is used. It will be fascinating to see what comes out of this - how do the Queen and Prince Charles in practice amend bills to protect their private interests?
Watch this space!
Our Law Teacher Newsletter provides email updates on tutor2u and other teaching resources of interest to Law teachers. To add yourself as a recipient, please complete the form below and then respond to the confirmation email we send you.read more...»
A good way to tackle a substantive law or scenario question is to think of a little old lady. Do it now, go on. Think of the oldest, wrinkliest old lady that you can. She could look a bit like your Nan or that little old lady you see at the bus stop every morning or the woman who lives near you that tells you off every other day for bouncing a ball against her garden wall. Have you done it? Good.
Now we’re going to name this little old lady IDA and each letter of her name represents the three things that you need to do throughout your answer ...read more...»
The Gazette reports some interesting research on the impact of the Legal Services Act 2007 on the way law firms are run. Since March, firms have been able to apply for a licence to adopt an Alternative Business Structure - a change known as “Tesco Law” for the way it allows law firms to access outside funding.
The research notes that, although firms see the opportunity to obtain such funding as a “compellign reason” to become an ABS, only seven firms have in fact done so to date, with the sole “big name” being Co-operative Legal Services. Perhaps this is due to worries over loss of control, which many respondents saw as the biggest barrier to conversion to an ABS structure.
So, is the law becoming more of a profession and less of a business? Your students may wish to consider the advantages and disadvantages for both law firms and the public of this change…
After seven years in jail for a crime he did not commit, Sam Hallam was released on bail today. This case shows that miscarriages of justice are still with us, and highlights the role of the Criminal Cases Review Commission. It appears that photos on Mr Hallam’s mobile phone may have shown the jury that the alibi that he relied on was not “a concoction”.
It is also interesting to note that Mr Hallam’s exercising of the right to silence during his interview may not have helped matters.Of course, following the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 it is now possible for the jury to draw adverese inferences from this that historically it was not.
See below for a video clip. The Sam Hallam campaign website is also full of useful content.read more...»
...or so says the Gazette - the magazine for solicitors, and not exactly given to hyperbole. Plans to cut face-to-face counter services seem particularly difficult from an access to justice point of view, given the large amount of litigants in person created by the cuts to legal aid, as the Gazette points out.
Today the coalition government sets out its legislative agenda for the coming year via the State Opening of Parliament and in particular the Queen’s Speech. The Guardian has a great picture gallery to bring the pageantry to life here. Amongst the potential enactments is reform of the House of Lords, although whether this will become reality is anyone’s guess!
Equality and diversity in the legal profession continues to be a live issue, and a relevant discussion point for AS students. There’s a cracking article on the issue here, and an interesting range of views “below the line” as well!
This glossy new ad from the high street network of solicitors branded as Quality Solicitors, now backed in part by private equity firm Palamon Capital (paywall) under the new rules for Alternative Business Structures under the Legal Services Act, shows one of the potential advantages available to firms that can now raise money from outside investment. Louise Restell on the QS blog has a wider take on the significance of the ABS - seeing it as delivering choice and quality to customers. Not everyone sees it that way, however, with critics worrying over the quality and independence of advice
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.
The European Commission is currently consulting on this idea, which EU Justice Minister Viviane Reding describes as “an historic opportunity to drive economic growth by easing the cost of cross-border transactions” and an opportunity to “make a quantum leap towards a more European contract law.”
A full range of options is on the table, from non-binding model rules to implementation via Directive or Regulation, or even as part of a fully-fledged European Civil Code, which would doubtless require a new Treaty.
Not everyone sees this idea as a boon, however. Ken Clarke has described it as an “Esperanto fallacy” and the idea is opposed by, amongst others, the Law Society, who are alive to the potential threat to UK legal firms posed by a potential European Civil Code.
This story is just full of material for law students. For example:read more...»
The Sentencing Council have released stats for Crown Court sentencing from October 2011-March 2012.
Some intersting stats to use with your students on sentencing - for example:read more...»
This is a great podcast by the BBC’s Law in Action team on public inquiries - including, topically, the inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster, and featuring some scathing criticism from Lord Falconer. Good material on miscarriages in particular and inquiries generally.
This is a fab video on how Supreme Court Justices reach their decisions, straight from the Justices themselves:read more...»
Thought provoking article by Zoe Saunders in The Lawyer on the continuing popularity of the BPTC despite the fact that the number of pupillages continues to fall. An expensive gamble at £10-15,000 per course… (via CharonQC). A good example for AS students of the uphill battle facing prospective barristers.
This is just a fantastic article for AS Law students on the Supreme Court, Appeals, Dissenting Judgments, Parliamentary Sovereignty, the Rule of Law… and the force of nature that is Lady Hale. Who will the new President of the Supreme Court be when Lord Phillips retires?
Unusually for the interweb, the comments are excellent too. Someone even mentions Factortame!
I don’t blog about Criminal Law that often, probably because I teach Contract at A2. However this story on that tabloid favourite, self defence, seems too good to miss…
Talkinf of which, there’s a cracking summary of the law in this area here by reknowned academic Gary Slapper.
is of course the highest Court in the English Legal System. This week has seen a nice example of the ECJ creating a precedent that will change matters across the continent. I’m talking, of course, about the ruling on satellite broadcasting of Premier League football brought by a Portsmouth landlady. Although the impact of the case is likely to be limited to permitting the private use of foreign broadcasts, the ruling will pose challenges to the Premier League’s ability to negotiate TV deals within individual EU states on the basis of exclusivity. A good example of the ECJ’s influence in areas such as competition law. See below for a video clip!read more...»
As AS Law students will no doubt be about to learn, a legal education can be an expensive business when you factor in the cost of a degree as well as GDL/LPC/BVC depending on your chosen route into the profession. Perhaps it’s not too surprising then to see that lawyers themselves are now arguing that the time is right for a new route into the profession in the form of Modern Legal Apprenticeships. Strangely, these almost hark back to the old days of doing your “articles” by on-the-job training. For an example, see the scheme run by prestigous firm Pinsent Masons in conjunction with ILEX - so a route to qualifying as a legal exec, but into commercial law and with the chance of a training contract always there…
Interesting news on the legal funding front as the practice of paying referral fees, whereby insurance companies, breakdown firms or car repairers sell on information to claimant solicitors, is to go. The government (and industry figures) reckon it is pushing up premiums and encouraging compensation culture (if such a thing exists….). Ths, together with the Legal Aid and Sentencing Bill which will require any success fee to be paid by the claimant rather than the defendant, amounts to a radical shift in approach which may eliminate some spurious claims. Let’s hope that cases of genuine injury are not put off claiming damages where they are due, however.
Cracking article here on what it’s like to be a duty lawyer at a police station. A good way to illustrate that being a solicitor can be a surprisingly varied job - contrast this experience with that of, say, someone working on deals in the City… or a family lawyer involved in divorce and custody battles.
The article itself is a rich source for AS law students, featuring mention of PACE, an example of an EU Directive, and also mention of the new Legal Aid Bill currently going through Parliament, which places the role of the duty lawyer under threat - in itself a great point for debate!
It looks as if the government are set to announce that sentencing (in the wake of the riots, presumably) is to be televised in future - although not the trial process itself. Nice link to the sentencing aim of denunciation. Let’s hope judicial reasoning behind sentences passed is covered properly too…!
The top 10 craziest by-laws have been named by Sutton Council as part of a battle against bureaucracy. My favourite is:
The person having control of a steam-powered whirligig will bring it to a standstill if a person becomes ill.
No more whirligigging for me then when people start looking queasy….
A nice way to brighten up this type of delegated legislation. Perhaps you could ask your students to come up with their own!
Well, plenty of discussion material for law teachers as a result of the, er, aggravated shopping that went on this summer in our major cities. Magistrates advised by clerks to toughen up… sentencing guidelines on the back burner… certainly food for thought. The riots are a clear example of an aggravating factor, but does this justify apparently inconsistently harsh sentencing? Yes, according to top Manchester judge Andrew Gilbert QC, who stated that it was “perfectly proper” to depart from sentencing guidelines in the circumstances. And depart they have - with sentences on average 25% tougher than normal and 70% of offenders jailed compared to a normal rate of 2% in the Magistrates’ Court.
Is he right, or do such sentences ultimately undermine public confidence in the fairness of the system? Former DPP Lord Macdonald thinks we need new guidelines for such situations - there’s a good discussion on Thursday’s Today Programme.
Also a good topic to prompt debate on competing sentencing objectives. Is this deterrence, or retribution? Is either approach the right one?
New ground broken in the last week as a Crown Court judge dismissed a “nobbled” jury and convicted four defendants accused of benefit fraud to the tune of £112,000.
Recorder Caroline English sitting at Wood Green Crown Court became the first judge to make use of powers under s46 Criminal Justice Act 2003 to dismiss the jury where the judge is satisfied that jury tampering has taken place and that it is fair to continue without the jury.
The thin end of the wedge for jury trial, or a sensible way of avoiding the costs of a retrial? A good case to get students thinking about balancing liberty with other considerations, and the strengths and weaknesses of jury trial.
BBC Radio 4’s Law in Action is always a good source of accessible legal analysis and a good way to deliver up-to-date content in a different way to your students. For example, you can listen to a podcast on the likely impact Ken Clarke’s sentencing reforms here. A great starter to a debate on sentencing theory and competing objectives such as public protection and rehabilitation - including a great bit with Ken Clarke in his usual relaxed tones explaining his justification for discounting sentences based on an early guilty plea after about 5 minutes.
A nice example of commencement - the Bribery Act came into force on 1st July 2011, having received the Royal Assent on 8 April 2010. It also happens to be an example of a consolidating piece of legislation, and creates new offences, including bribery of a foreign official. Guidance from the MoJ is available here. There will also be some interesting issues of statutory interpretation arising from the part of the Act referring to “carrying on a business” in relation to corporate offences under the Act.
... so says Supreme Court judge Lady Hale, highlighting concerns about the extent of the impact of the cuts on access to justice. With 18 law Centres due to close and most areas of civil work removed from legal aid, she appears to have a point. Also a nice example of the passage of a Bill through Parliament - the government’s Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill has its second reading tomorrow.
The case of juror Joanne Fraill, who has admitted contempt of court in looking up a defendant in the case she was hearing, is a great way to start a debate on the relevance (or otherwise) of juries in the internet age.
Video is below!read more...»