Showing posts from January, 2011

Bugger justice

Following the Second World War the Government of the day thought that it would be a jolly good thing if people had access to the legal system so that they could protect themselves from wrong doing and make life for everybody better.  For example, in the 1960s if a husband and wife split up, the wife had few if any rights to the family home etc.  That changed when a wife who had been the victim of domestic violence and who had been told by the High Court that she had no right to stay in the family home as it was in her husband's name, was able to bring a case before Lord Denning in the Court of Appeal where Denning told the legal world, and every judge that had come before him, that they had misunderstood the law and that the wife had every right to the house and that it was her violent abusive husband who would not be allowed to set foot in there again.  That one decision advanced the rights of women more than most things I can think of.

One important aspect of the legal aid lawye…

Control Order Lite

The BBC have this story on their website about the Government's new Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (aka T-PIMS, which just sounds like a mobile phone company to me).

I don't have any immediate comment about these orders aside from the observation that there doesn't seem to be very much difference between these and the Control Orders that they replace.  It does strike me that if these people are seriously dangerous and the authorities know it then there must be a better system for dealing with them, such as bringing them to trial.  Maybe you think that is naive of me and that the Security Services must protect the sources of their information.  You may be right; I don't know.  I do know that the police manage to operate a large and highly secretive (unless you go to my basement where you'll find the informant handling manual!) intelligence system that utilises data from a wide range of sources from super grasses to rumors heard on the street.  If yo…

As one court closes another one opens

I attended Stratford Magistrates Court today.  I like it there.  I can park my bike easily, there is a reasonably spacious advocates room to change in and the staff are friendly, helpful and efficient.

On arrival I was told I would be in court 11 before a lay bench.  This surprised me as after many years of attending Stratford I have only ever found 10 courts.  I went to court 10.  Left was court 9.  Right is the stairs.  Opposite is the probation office.  Nowhere is there a court 11.

I asked for some help and was directed to the 'canteen' (an amusing title in itself for a large room with half a dozen tables but only two chairs and a vending machine) where I found the court in full swing.  Three magistrates, a clerk, defendants, lawyers... all sitting in the canteen.  Much to my disappointment, the vending machines had gone so no coffee or chocolate for me.

Fire extinguisher throwing student gaoled

I have just read this story on the BBC News website.

That he went to prison is no great shock and he should just be grateful that he did not hurt or kill anybody else he'd have been facing a far longer sentence.

It frightens me how people can lose control and do something stupid in a moment of madness.  I once represented a student from the London School of Economics who had come from a good school and had excellent prospects until he caved in a man's head with a brick - the man survived but only just!

I don't know if I can say I'll never lose it and do something stupid, but I do my best to stay out of trouble.

Cash forfeiture and the meaning of draconian

I was due to represent a client in a cash forfeiture hearing this week, although it has been called off at the last minute.But, I thought I’d take the opportunity to say a few words about these proceedings.
The point of the various financial seizure/forfeiture/confiscation orders is for the authorities to deprive criminals of cash found in their possession.There are a few ways this can be done.Confiscation proceedings follow a conviction for certain offences, such as drug dealing, money laundering, etc.Put very simply, in confiscation proceedings the prosecution must show that a) the convicted criminal has benefited from crime to a value of X; and b) that he has realisable assets (in other words has cash or can sell goods) to the value of Y.The court will then make an order that the defendant owes X but that he must pay Y wherever X is greater than or equal to Y.Obviously if he can pay the total benefit figure (X) then he must pay that.Failure to make payment can result in more time in…


I recently read a lengthy interview with Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, in which he explained his views on privacy.  Paraphrasing somewhat he suggested that people should show only one face to the world, so how you behave when with friends should be how you behave at work - you might say that this would mean there should be no such thing as a private part of your life according to his philosophy.  It strikes me as quite a naive view of the world, but maybe that's just me.

Imagine my surprise when  I visited his Facebook page only to find that he does not share all of his information!  No pictures are available aside from the little profile pic.  No information about him aside from his taste in films and books and this little quote: "About Mark:  I'm trying to make the world a more open place."

Presumably, he means more open for other people's information, but not his own.

Happy New Non-Story

Happy New Year to everyone.  I thought I'd start of the year with a nice non-news-story brought to us by our friends in the Scottish National Party.  A chap called Stewart Maxwell of the SNP quite rightly wants to stop sales of alcohol to those who are under-age and so he has written to supermarkets asking them to stop selling booze through self-service tills... well he says that's the reason he's doing it, although personally I think it's just a cheap way to get some personal media attention. 

His big point is that, "[i]t would make much more sense for alcohol as a licensed product to only be for sale through a full service till where a sales assistant can properly assess a customer's age."  Whenever I've tried to buy alcohol (or any age-restricted item) through a self-service till the machine makes an infuriating beeping noise and will not allow you to continue with the transcation until a member of staff has confirmed my age.  The self-service ti…