Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

Posts Tagged ‘lord chief justice

New Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice: David Lidington MP

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Following the outcome of the General Election in 2017, the period of office of the first female Lord Chancellor, Lynne Truss MP, was brought to an end.

This was widely predicted, as there was a widely held opinion, especially among lawyers and the judiciary, that she had failed to gain the confidence of the legal profession. In particular, her failure to intervene to protect the independence of the judiciary when sections of the mass media attacked senior judges for upholding the argument that parliamentary authority was required before the formal process of the UK leaving the EU could begin, was seen as a lack of understanding of the Lord Chancellor’s obligations to protect the independence of th judiciary, set out in the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. Lord Thomas, the current Lord Chief Justice, was particularly critical of this.

Truss’ replacement is David Lidington MP. He is another post holder who has no experience of the law. Under section 2 of the Constitutional Reform Act, non-lawyers must nevertheless be ‘qualified by experience’. What this phrase means in practice is proving hard to determine. Presumably the post holder should be someone who understands and is willing to uphold the independence of the judiciary – even where such independence may lead to decisions unwelcome to the Government of the day.

At present it is impossible to say whether the new appointee will turn out to be a more satisfactory appointment than his predecessor, though his previous experience as a Foreign Office Minister suggests that he may have a particular understanding of the importance of upholding the rule of law, and the function of the judiciary is the process.

For comments of the Lord Chief Justice to the Constitution Committee of the House of Lords see http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/constitution-committee/lord-chief-justice/oral/49312.pdf

For the Lord Chancellor’s speech at his swearing-in ceremony, see https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/lord-chancellor-swearing-in-speech-david-lidington

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by lwtmp

July 8, 2017 at 2:44 pm

The future of the Criminal Courts charge

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The Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 introduced the principle that those convicted of crimes should be required to make a contribution towards the costs of the criminal court. Regulations prescribe the charges that must be imposed:

Conviction by a magistrates’ court in proceedings conducted in accordance with section 16A of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 (trial by single justice on the papers)(a)

£150

Conviction by a magistrates’ court for a summary offence on a guilty plea

£150

Conviction by a magistrates’ court at a trial of a summary offence where (a) the defendant did not enter a plea, (b) the trial proceeded in the absence of the defendant, and (c) the court dealt with the case on the papers without reliance on any oral evidence

£150

Conviction by a magistrates’ court for an offence triable either-way on a guilty plea

£180

Conviction by a magistrates’ court at a trial of a summary offence

£520

Conviction by a magistrates’ court at a trial of an offence triable either way

£1000

Conviction by the Crown Court on a guilty plea

£900

Conviction by the Crown Court at a trial on indictment

£1200

Magistrates’ court when dealing with a person under section 21B(1)(b), (c) or (d) of the Prosecution of Offenders Act 1985

£100

Crown Court when dealing with a person under section 21 B(2)(b) or (c) of the Prosecution of Offenders Act 1985

£150

Crown Court dismissing an appeal by a person against conviction or sentence

£150

Court of Appeal dismissing an application for leave to bring an appeal under Part 1 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968 against a person’s conviction or sentence

£150

Court of Appeal dismissing an appeal under Part 1 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968 against a person’s conviction or sentence

£200

The charges have been criticised by many lawyers and judges on the basis that they have the potential to create a perverse incentive to plead guilty (and thereby attract a lower charge) even in cases where the case should go to trial. Press reports have suggested that the current Lord Chancellor, Michael Gove, is not unsympathetic to reviewing the rules, although the recent statement on Public Expenditure did not mention the charge.

Nonetheless, the Justice Select Committee decided that it would issue an urgent report on the matter. This was published on 20 November 2015. It recommended abolition, or, failing that, that sentencers should have discretion over whether or not to impose a charge and what the amount of the charge should be.

While it is unlikely that there will be abolition so soon after introduction, my hunch is that the Government will be returning to the issue in the not too distant future.

You can read the Justice Committee report at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmselect/cmjust/586/58602.htm

Written by lwtmp

November 30, 2015 at 10:43 am