2008年05月

2008年05月28日

(1) Youth crime –how to solve increasing knife crime

Stabbing especially amongst teenagers is becoming a routine occurrence in London and other cities. As this is caused by a combination of neglect and abuse in childhood, reaching for instant responses such as increased use of stop and search powers and more and longer custodial sentences for teenagers will not produce hoped results. These children are chaotic and entirely unsocialised, therefore, short sharp shocks appear unlikely to implant in them the kind of behavioural boundaries that are needed to stop them from re-offending. Repairing the damaged fabric of a generation of children, is a long-term business for which there is no easy answer.

(2) Rush of applications for visas with new migrant labour law

Just before the introduction of a new immigration points system this autumn, the UK Border Agency is expected to be swamped by last-minute applications from employers seeking to hire low-skilled migrant workers from non-European Union countries. The new points system, designed to stem the flow of low-skilled migrant workers from non-European countries, will give preference to entrepreneurs, financial high-flyers and skilled foreign professionals.

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(17:09)
(1) Blackmail judges in sex video case go unpunished

Two judges under investigation after a blackmail attempt by their illegally employed cleaner have been found guilty of “poor judgment” but have escaped disciplinary action. The Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor said they have concluded that they demonstrated poor judgment in offering paid work to cleaner without properly checking her immigration status. Ms Driza was cleared of blackmail but convicted of stealing Mr Khan’s sex videos. She won her appeal but a retrial has since been dropped.

(2) Crown Prosecution Service – good housekeeping necessary

In the last 10 years, the government has paid too much attention to writing new law, when they should have concentrated on prosecuting those that already exist. The CPS’s internal inquiry report and another report from the CPS’s independent inspector revealed that the CPS was in no good order and that the majority of CPS dossiers were not properly maintained thus leaving many cases dropped at the last minute.

(3) Compromise may help Brown avoid 42-day defeat

Ministers and Labour backbenchers are discussing new safeguards to restrict the power to extend the current 28-day limit in the Counter Terrorism Bill in order for Gordon Brown to avoid a humiliating Commons defeat. Under this compromise, the power would be implemented only after the Government asked Parliament to approve it and would require a “yes” vote in both the Commons and Lords.

(4) Legal industry’s make-female pay divide

The research by the Law Society said male lawyers earned on average almost 50 per cent more than their female counterparts, highlighting the gulf between the status of men and women in a profession that is becoming increasingly female. However, the Law Society said the gab between the sexes fell sharply once figures were adjusted to take account of factors such as hours worked, size of firm and areas of the law covered – all of which may be related to discrimination. The findings show despite more female becoming lawyers, only a few becomes partners.

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(15:35)

2008年05月27日

(1) Solicitors’ pay gap

The Law Society survey found that there is a huge pay gap in the earnings of men and women lawyers. Furthermore, white solicitors earn £10,000 more on average than their ethnic minority colleagues.

(2) Human rights case –terror suspects

Eleven terror suspects held in Britain over 9/11 attacks on America brought a landmark case yesterday at the European Court of Human Rights for compensation against the Government for breaching their human rights by detaining them without charge in high-security prisons under anti-terrorist powers rushed into force a month after the US atrocities in 2001. The Government denies ill-treatment.

(3) CPS’s serious error over data on Dutch criminal suspects

An inquiry into how a disk containing DNA profiles of 2,159 people linked to serious crime abroad went unchecked for a year has found “significant shortcomings” by the CPS. The CPS apologized for the failings found in the review and has taken steps to address this failure, both in terms of staff disciplinary and other management action and internal procedural changes in order to prevent any similar occurrence in the future.

(4) Ex-lord chancellor attacks Gordon Brown’s constitutional retreat bill

At the joint committee scrutinizing the draft constitution renewal bill, Lord Falconer gave evidence and savaged Gordon Brown’s plans to reform constitution. He said the PM’s reform bill contained nothing of significance and offered more radical proposals, namely to stop drawing the attorney general from a political party. He also suggested that the attorney general’s advice on public interest issues should be accountable to parliament so no political pressure can be seen to be applied on individual prosecutions.

Londate

(18:27)
(1) The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

In a landmark decision last night, MPs voted to remove the requirement that fertility clinics consider a child’s need for a father, whereby giving lesbians and single women parental rights. MPs also rejected moves to prevent women having abortions up to 24 weeks into pregnancy.

(2) Civil registrar accuses council of religious discrimination on gay unions

Since the Civil Partnership Act came into force in Dec 2005, more than 18,000 same-sex ceremonies are performed each year at councils throughout the country. But a Christian civil registrar refused to officiate at partnerships between same-sex couples, claiming that it was “sinful” and against her religion. She has brought a legal case claiming that Islington council was forcing her to choose between her beliefs and keeping her job by requiring her to undertake civil partnership duties. Islington council denies religious discrimination or victimization, and claims that the civil registrar’s stance breaches both its dignity-for-all policy and its code of conduct for employees. The case continues.

(3) Banks to appeal against overdraft judgment

Britain’s largest retail banks are to appeal against a court ruling on overdraft charges in a move that could delay resolution of the closely watched case.

(4) Equal pay deal for agency workers

The government previously blocked an attempt by the European Union to introduce an agency workers directive that would have given temporary staff equal rights after only six weeks. In fact, Brussels is pressing for equal treatment from the first day of agency employment to become the norm. But the government brokered a deal under which agency workers will receive the same pay as permanent staff after they have been employed for 12 weeks. This will be discussed at the next meeting in Luxembourg to reach political agreement on the new legislation, which could them be formally approved before the end of the year.

Londate


(12:02)

2008年05月26日

(1) DPP is to step down

Sir Ken Macdonald, QC, who is credited widely with having turned the CPS round, is stepping down in October from his £185,000-a-year job as Director of Public Prosecutions. The post, offered as a five-year fixed-term contract, is open to a senior barrister, solicitor or judge with “high level experience in criminal cases” according to the advertisement in The Sunday Times. Despite being accused of Labour cronyism when he was appointed in 2003, he has proved his critics wrong, as he stood up to the then Attorney-General during the cash-for-honours inquiry and kept his independent stance whereby strengthening the DPP’s role.

(2) Discrimination against military to be outlawed

As part of efforts to promote greater protection and understanding of the armed forces, ministers announced proposals to outlaw discrimination against the wearing of military uniforms. Shops, hospitals and other pubic institutions will in future be committing a criminal offence if they refuse to serve armed forces personnel in uniform.

(3) Hybrid embryo research given go-ahead by MPs

In the first round of the votes on a bill to reform embryology laws, MPs rejected proposals to place restrictions on the medical research.

(4) Abortion limit

A day before the crucial votes in the Commons that could cut the time limit on abortions, MPs on both sides of the abortion divide are embarking on a frantic day of lobbying.

Londate

(13:55)
(1) Compromise to save key parts of embryo Bill

MPs will vote on a series of amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill tomorrow. The majority of those affected by conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and motor neurone disease, strongly support research aimed at finding more effective treatments. The Prime Minister also believes that human-animal embryo research is vital in saving and improving the lives of thousands. In order to save legislation to allow the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos and so-called saviour siblings, the Prime Minister has accepted that he will have to sacrifice a measure on parenthood.

(2) Barristers in family cases face big cut in fees

MPs are preparing a fresh onslaught on barristers’ legal aid fees by making a 15 per cent cut for advocacy fees in family court cases. To make matters worse, the Legal Services Commission, which runs the legal aid scheme, is preparing to decide this autumn on new fees per whole family case, to bring barristers down to the same pay level as solicitors. The Bar Council, which represents nearly 15,000 barristers in England and Wales, will launch its own offensive over the future of legal aid – with a warning that the system is in crisis and the quality of justice at risk.

(3) BAE executives held by the US Department of Justice

As part of an investigation into bribery and corruption allegations in BAE’s dealings with Saudi Arabia, Sir Nigel who is a non-executive director of BAE was detained with Mike Turner, its chief executive, by the US Department of Justice. The pair has been issued with subpoenas as they entered the US, and were detained for about 30 minutes and were asked to return for formal interviews at a future date. The Home Office has been approached by the Department of Justice with a request for information that may help with the US investigations under a protocol called Mutual Legal Assistance.

(4) Police contest liability in death threat cases

Two police forcers are fighting attempts to hold them legally liable for failing to protect the victims of death threats in an important human rights hearing which starts today in the Lords. Despite being told of death threats against victims, the two police forces took no action. The new Equality and Human Rights Commission will argue that the state has an obligation to take positive steps to protect an individual’s life if it knows of threats by a third party. Five law lords will be asked to decide the extent to which the police should be held liable under the law of negligence and human rights law, particularly the right to life under the article 2 of the European convention on human rights.

(5) Judiciary diversity

Although it may be too early to pass judgment on the new Judicial Appointments Commission’s achievements, the statistics show that expectations that the new system of appointing judges would lead to a more diverse judiciary have so far not been fulfilled. In fact it seems to have achieved the contrary, with less women and members of ethnic minorities entering the judiciary.

(6) Prosecutions for illegal trade set to intensify

Against the backdrop of the arms industry – including BAE Systems - being under growing pressure over ethical standards, the clampdown on illegal arms trade has started as new laws have taken effect. The government started to make use of the broad reach of the Export Control Act 2002 and prosecutions of companies and executives for breaking this military equipment export rules have risen sharply. Lawyers say this clampdown is likely to widen further.

Londate

(13:51)

2008年05月20日

(1) Youth Justice Board fails to halt increase in reoffending

According to figures published yesterday, the Youth Justice Board failed to meet any of their targets to cut reoffending rates for youngsters. The overall reoffending rate remained at just under 40 per cent.

(2) Mrs Blair’s memoirs prompt calls for her resignation

A former judge Gerald Butler, QC called for Cherie Blair to resign from the legal profession as she had brought her profession into disrepute by publishing revealing memoirs. In her book, she launched a personal attack on her mentor Lord Irvine.

(3) Prison campaigner found dead by daughter’s grave

A woman who began campaigning for better jail conditions after her daughter died of a drug overdose only hours after being imprisoned was found dead near the grave of the teenager yesterday. She sued the Prison Service under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act and the case was settled out of court. The inquest found that the prison seemed more concerned with processing prisoners than caring for them, that it had a lack of suitable accommodation for vulnerable prisoners and a lack of structured training for staff. Director of the Howard League for Penal Reform paid tribute to her by describing her as a “single most effective and inspiring campaigner” for the cause of in recent years.

(4) Justice Secretary admits prison bugging

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary admitted yesterday that prison staff bugged conversations between a convicted killer and his solicitor without authorization. Conversations between prisoners and legal advisers are privileged and can be taped only if authorized by the prison governor in exceptional circumstances.

(5) Brown signals retreat on 42 day detention

Gordon Brown hinted that he would rather compromise with Labour’s rebels than risk a further loss of authority by being defeated on 42-day detention plan.

(6) SOCA – an agency failing to perform

The heads of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), billed as a British version of the FBI, are trying to quell the impression that the unit is failing and riven by division, as they launched their second annual report. Soca faced criticism recently in the media from unnamed Soca staff of what they claim is a top-heavy management structure and a failure to prosecute indentified criminals. Furthermore, the organization has faced a heavier international workload since the Foreign Office downgraded organised crime as a priority and scrapped its drugs and international crime department. On top of that, its budget has been frozen in real terms as the Home Office has concentrated resources on counter terrorism activities.

Legal Londate LLP



(16:01)

2008年05月19日

(1) Met extends powers to stop and search youths under the 1994 Public Order Act

After a spate of fatalities in the capital, Scotland Yard announced a crackdown on knife and gun crime – including the greater use of stop-and-search powers. Officers will use so-called Section 60 powers under the 1994 Public Order Act, meaning that they do not have to have reasonable suspicion to search someone. The killings and stabbings over the weekend is likely to sway people to support measures some will see as tough, and others as kneejerk.

Legal Londate LLP


(12:46)

2008年05月14日

(1) Is Soca just too soft?

Despite being hailed as Britain’s answer to the FBI when it was launched in 2006, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) failed to build up a reliable intelligence picture of organised crime and hence has not been able to prosecute any key figures of organised crime. Furthermore, experienced officers are leaving the Soca in droves owing to management inefficiencies and incompetence.

(2) New outfit for judges in civil and family cases

In October, judges in civil and family cases will ditch their horsehair wigs and instead be dressed by a designer. The new look was modeled yesterday by Britain’s most senior judge, the Lord Chief Justice. Coloured bands incorporation in the outfit are a nod to tradition and denote seniority.

(3) MPs demand time for embryo debate

Gordon Brown is criticised for trying to rush through new laws on embryo research and is under growing pressure to allow MPs more time to debate measures that will allow the creation of hybrid human-animal embryos; the use of embryo-screening to produce ”saviour siblings”; the need for a father in fertility treatment; and abortion law reform.

Legal Londate LLP

(13:13)
(1) Amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

The House of Commons will vote next week on several amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which call for the abortion limit to be cut to between 12 and 22 weeks. The bill also has three free-vote issues to pass, namely (1) Hybrid embryos (2) Access to IVF for lesbian couples (3) Saviour siblings. MPs is expected to reject demands for tighter controls on abortion but are ready to allow new laws pushing back the boundary of research on human embryos.

(2) Expert opinions are only a part of a jigsaw

Two parents have won a high court battle clearing them of deliberately harming their six-week-old baby, despite a conclusion by the seven medical experts that his injury were most likely to have been caused by intentional shaking. This goes to show that there is a growing recognition by senior judges that expert opinions are one part of a jigsaw and that it is for judges, not doctors, to decide issues of liability.

(3) Ministry of Justice – 1st Birthday

A year has passed since the Ministry of Justice was created and some of the responsibilities were moved from the Home Office to this new department. Although new arrangements were initially unpopular and seemed to offer no guarantees of the continuing independence of the judiciary, the ministry fared better than expected, while there has been a dramatic decline in the reputation, prestige and seniority of the Home Office.

(4) Tougher immigration rules cause shortage of pickers

The new government rules that are intended to reduce the number of workers allowed to entre Britain on a longstanding scheme are causing the shortage of seasonal labourers in British farms. The government’s knee-jerk concession in the anti-immigration clamour to take tougher stance is viewed by farmers and many others as nonsensical.


Legal Londate LLP

(10:03)

2008年05月12日

(1) Home secretary wants antisocial youth to be openly filmed and hounded at home

As part of a government strategy to win back voters by proposing more radical approaches to tackling deep seated problems, the home secretary will announce the crime initiative today whereby thousands of repeat offenders are to be photographed and filmed in “big brother” police operations to tackle antisocial behaviour. She will urge police forces across the country to follow the example of Essex police, who have mounted four-day “frame and shame” operations by filming and repeatedly stopping indentified persistent offenders on problem estates.

(2) Cannabis to be upgraded to a Class B drug next year

Against the government’s advisory body’s recommendation, the Home Secretary announced that cannabis would be upgraded to a Class B drug next year. Punishment for the over-18s will in crease from the existing “confiscate and warning” for a first offence to a possible penalty notice for disorder on a second offence followed by arrest and prosecution for a third offence, while under-18s caught with it will not be treated any more harshly to avoid criminalising them.

(3) BAE chairman calls for fresh investigation

The chairman of BAE Systems said he was seeking a case review by the new head of the Serious Fraud Office of its abandoned probe into the £43bn al-Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia to prove that there was no case to answer. However, this is perceived by some as the BAE’s attempt to spin the recent high court ruling exonerating BAE was wrong and disingenuous. At the BAE’s annual meeting, investors were not hesitant to show their discontent and attacked the company.

(4) OFT’s new effort to encourage companies to observe price-fixing laws

In an attempt to encourage company boards to do more to ensure junior staff do not breach price-fixing laws, the Office of Fair Trading has set up the post whose responsibility is to improve its relations with business and entice companies to attend events such as dinners with the OFT chairman. However, one lawyer who acts for a leading bank and other big companies said “most companies stay as far away from the OFT as possible”.

(5) Attempt to stall workers’ rights bill fails

The government had been trying to prevent passage of a bill that gives new rights to agency and temporary workers, against a growing coalition of its own backbenchers. However, this attempt failed yesterday after ministers abstained from a crucial vote at the start of the committee stage of this private members’ bill. Business reacted with dismay and the Tories accused the government of “dithering” yet again and failing to stand up to its backbenchers on an issue of vital importance to business.

Legal Londate LLP

(11:19)
(1) Demise of Asbos

The issuance of Asbos, the Tony Blair’s flagship measure against antisocial behaviour, has dropped by 34% and its breach rates has soared to 61% among teenagers, literally sealing the fate of asbos. Instead, a much wider range of tools was now being used to tackle antisocial behaviour, with the use of housing injunctions, eviction orders and parenting contracts rising sharply last year.

(2) New study on baby survival rates stokes abortion limit row

New study on survival rates for babies is likely to provide fresh argument in the bitter debate over whether the present abortion time limit should be lowered, just a week before the second reading of the human fertilization and embryology bill. The study found that survival rates for babies born before 24 weeks were extremely low and getting no better in spite of medical advances. However, anti-abortion campaigners will attempt to persuade the House of Commons to lower the legal cut-off point for most abortions from 24 weeks to 20 weeks, arguing that medical science has rendered the later limit out of date.

(3) Prisons officers greet Straw with no-confidence vote

Prison officers, who are angry that the government has reneged on its promise to repeal the strike ban, passed a vote of no confidence in the justice secretary just before he rose to address their annual union conference in Portsmouth. He told them that legislation banning industrial action by prison officers had yesterday reached the statute book.

Legal Londate LLP

(10:46)

2008年05月09日

(1) Negative impact of low legal aid pay – criminals getting off the hook

The impact of new legal aid fees was strongly felt when a convicted drugs offender had escaped a confiscation order for up to £4.5m of his assets because legal aid barristers would not take on the case for the very low rate of pay. No barristers could undertake the case for the fixed fee of £175.25 a day, considering the amount of work and complexity involved, with no payment for preparation. More cases are likely to be turned away by barristers.

(2) Death penalty to be radio broadcasted in Japan

A Japanese radio station, the Nippon Cultural Broadcasting, has decided to broadcast an execution by hanging, from the mechanical thump of the opening trapdoor to the high-pitched creak of a rope strained by the dead man’s weight. Death penalty has long been a taboo subject but the broadcast will shatter that taboo, sending shockwaves through the Japanese justice system. Every time the Japanese are polled on the subject a vast majority approve of capital punishment for murder. However, a protagonist for abolishing the death penalty argues that the Japanese public has no idea how a real execution works and has never engaged in a proper debate on the subject.

(3) Possible deal in US investigation into BAE

Political moves are being floated which would extricate the arms company BAE Systems from corruption investigation in the US, in return for a financial settlement without admission of liability. However, the BAE flatly denied that it had approached the US authorities and said that any suggestion that there had was untrue, inaccurate and misleading.

(4) Straw rejects absconding fears over open prisons

Chairman of the Prison Officers’ Association, told the BBC’s Panorama programme he feared that due to overcrowding many prisoners were not being properly assessed before they were moved to open prisons, leaving dangerous criminals free to walk out. His concerns were shared by assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, however, Jack Straw, the justice secretary denied this claim, by saying all inmates moved to open prisons had been rigorously risk-assessed.

(5) Annual ethical audit for BAE

The BAE Systems, the defence contractor at the centre of one of the UK’s biggest arms sales sagas, have commissioned the former lord chief justice to lead an independent committee to write a review of BAE’s current policies and practices so as to ensure its conduct was seen to meet the highest standards. However, the report is likely to face criticism for failing to examine corruption allegations around Al-Yamamah and other deals that took place in the 80’s.

Legal Londate LLP


(16:23)

2008年05月07日

(1) Conviction overturned as fresh doubts emerged over the reliability of medical evidence

After serving three years behind bars, a babysitter sentenced to life for the murder of her neighbour’s two-year-old son was released from prison yesterday after the Court of Appeal declared her conviction unsafe and ordered a retrial. Judges overturned her conviction as they believed if the fresh medical evidence had been given at her trial it might reasonably have affected the jury’s decision to convict. The new evidence in question was the opinion of experts on the baby’s condition, including an injury to the orbit of the right eye suffered in an accident a year before his death, predisposed him to epilepsy.

(2) Appeal court rulings on whether the NHS should pay for costly new medicines for Alzheimer’s patients

The pharmaceutical industry scored its first victory in a three-year battle with an NHS drugs watchdog that restricts the drugs to Alzheimer’s patients. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) said in 2006 that drugs were not cost effective in early stages of the disease and recommended they only be prescribed when it had progressed to “moderate”. Yesterday the Court of Appeal ruled that the Nice had failed to act with transparency over the way it made a decision to refuse use of the drugs on the NHS for early stage disease.

(3) Judges attack adoption ruling

Two senior judges at the Court of Appeal have strongly criticised a local authority that forced through the adoption of a baby girl against the wishes of her father, and sent copies of their ruling to all family judges and every adoption agency in the country as a warning that the wishes of both parents had to be taken into account in care proceedings. The father was suggested to consider judicial review and his lawyers said that they would be seeking legal aid to pursue his case.

(4) Prison officers call of strikes at six jails

Prison officers agreed to call off strikes at six jails after walking out in support of colleagues subject to disciplinary action. Earlier yesterday, the Ministry of Justice was considering taking legal action against the Prison Officers Association on the grounds that the wildcat strike might be in breach of a High Court injunction. Next week, criminal justice and immigration bill, containing a clause reinstating a “reserve power” banning all 28,000 POA members from striking, is due to receive royal assent.

Legal Londate LLP


(11:23)

2008年05月02日

(1) Criminal justice watchdogs condemn sloppy justice system

Four criminal justice watchdogs castigated the criminal justice system’s sloppy approach which contributed to the fatal stabbing of an innocent man by a criminal on bail. The damning report by watchdogs condemned a lax attitude among officials in the courts, probation and police to enforcing bail conditions, as well as to the committing of offences on bail. Although the Solicitor General said that we were determined to learn lessons from this, a Crown Court judge hit out by highlighting their predicament as they were told prisons were full and forced to issue community orders that just didn’t work.

(2) Old Bailey records to go online

Records of trials at the Old Bailey throughout the 1800s and early 1900s have been placed online, all catalogued into a searchable archive.

(3) MI5 accused of colluding in torture of terrorist suspects

Under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 it is an offence for British officials to instigate or consent to the inflicting of “severe pain or suffering” on any person, anywhere in the world, or even to acquiesce in such treatment. Any such offence could be punished by life imprisonment. However, the accusation that MI5 is at the very least turning a blind eye to the torture of British citizens – and may have actually colluded in their torture – is to surface in a number of forthcoming court cases. The Security Service declined to comment on the allegation that MI5 colluded in torture of terror suspects at Pakistani interrogation centre.

(4) Brown’s decision to upgrade cannabis may face legal challenge

Gordon Brown’s decision to overturn the advice of his own group of drug experts by pressing ahead with a tougher policy on cannabis could face a high court challenge from campaigners. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which established the current framework for controlling illegal drugs in Britain, legal obligation was placed on ministers to consult the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) before they make any changes under the legislation.

Legal Londate LLP

(11:12)