Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Further and Better Particulars Required


The document that purports either to ban or to emasculate this blog in its present form includes this:-
"It is also recommended that all judicial office holders familiarise themselves with the new IT and Information Security Guidance which will be available shortly."
That Guidance is not yet available, and I want to read it carefully before reaching a final decision on my way forward.

39 comments:

  1. The words of the eminent Lord Justice Neuberger, Master of the Rolls can be found here:-

    http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Speeches/mr-speech-jsb-lecture-march-2011.pdf

    In particular, he said:

    "we should foster the already developing community of active informed court reporting on the internet through blogs, and tweeting; we should support the responsible legal journalists; we should initiate, support, encourage and assist public legal education. The great strength of our society is that it is built on the competing voices of free speech. Justice to be truly open must join its voice to the chorus"






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    1. and, after the end of September, he will be President of the Supreme Court.

      Delete
    2. and, after the end of September, he will be President of the Supreme Court.

      Delete
  2. So we have the future President of the Supreme Court enjoining us to join the chorus of bloggers.

    And the Senior Presiding Judge telling us to stop making that bloody racket now.

    And we have the Magistrates' Association not advising us of which one of these eminences we should listen to.

    Thank God the football season is starting...

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  3. There seems to be a lot of heat without much light in the utterings from above

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  4. I consulted my old bench book last night, in particular the guidance on working within the HRA. Where a possible breach of a qualified right is suspected (Article 10, for instance), the court must ask itself, re the alleged breach
    Is the interference prescribed by clear and accessible UK law?
    Does it pursue one of the legitimate aims set out in the article?
    Is it no more than is necessary to secure that legitimate aim?
    To my rusty judicial brain, it seems that the SPJ's 'guidance' falls at each stage. I'd be interested to hear counsel's opinion.

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    1. I know I am commenting far too much on this issue (on the other hand, BS may well redact all of it without a whisker of notice so this fact may be irrelevant) but I have to say that this is a genius rebuttal.

      Can't remember the last time I read that bit of the Bench Book (not that I am admitting to being a magistrate of course). Well played!

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  5. Well, I guess I have to comment anonymously for fear of outing my own bog profile. I am seriously angry about this, and especially the assumption that we have to be told to comport ourselves in a manner which will not bring the magistracy into disrepute. This blog has done sterling service in illuminating the work of the courts (for those of us on the bench as well as those in front of it). Like Bystander, I await the all-important circular with bated breath - but not a high expectation of clarity or realism. You'd almost think someone was getting nervous, wouldn't you?

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  6. I think you mean blog profile not bog profile. Or may be you don't!!!!!

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  7. Interested Party15 August 2012 at 20:29

    Firstly, Neuberger LJ's comments should in no way be seen as approving such blogs, as he seems to be talking about court reporters and not those sitting in judgment.

    Secondly, the SPJ's guidance appears clear: no blogs by members of the judiciary that advertise that fact and no blogging so as lower public confidence in the system. Admittedly, the first limb is likely to present more of an issue than the second.

    Thirdly, one should be loathe to rely on the certainty of a qualified right and I can easily see the guidance being accepted as proportionate.

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    1. Neuberger was talking about court reporting not reporters.

      And Bystander reports on Court business as do other JP bloggers.

      Delete
  8. I would have thought the thing to do here is to write directly to Lord Neuberger bringing this to his attention. He has always struck me as very much alive to the need to increase public engagement with and understanding of the judiciary at all levels.

    I think the notion of any guidance which purports to limit the existence or scope of this sort of blog is deeply deeply counterproductive and I sincerely hope it is rescinded forthwith.

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    1. Lord Neuberger won't give a toss.

      Delete
  9. The 'blunt instrument' nature of the guidance is not restricted to this sort of blog - there are quite a few blogs out there that use a blogging platform such as wordpress or blogspot, but are actually about dry law rather than personal reflection.

    The blogs IPKat, Freedom of Movement, Usefully Employed, etc are all written by barristers and solicitors. Under this guidance, if a contributing lawyer started to sit as a part time immigration judge, employment judge, or deputy district judge then he or she would have to stop writing articles on the law. Submitting an article to a magazine or non-blog based website such as Family Law Week would be allowed however.

    This guidance does not, with respect to the author, seem particularly well thought through.

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    1. Exactly, well said. Judge Nic Madge regularly writes for Legal Action magazine and identifies himself in the articles. I cannot see why it should make a difference whether the article is on paper or on a screen. (In fact, his articles are on his website as well: does that make it a blog? If not, how do you define blog?)

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  10. Several of my Twitter 'friends' who are lawyers and/or hold some sort of judicial office are seriously annoyed at this diktat. I just hope that those who may have the ear of the higher judiciary get the message across that this is reactionary, counterproductive and unduly constraining. I understand at least one JP has already resigned over the issue.

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  11. Bystander seems to have been spurred into action on the "redaction" front at least, perhaps with an eye to greater scrutiny of his blog. I note, for example, that a rather regrettably snide post by Ed(notBS) in response to payasoru's highly germane reminder abut the threshold criteria for Convention rights has mysteriously disappeared. Since the street warfare that sometimes erupts on these comments pages between police officers on the one hand and magistrates, lawyers and it sometimes seems the rest of the world has been one of the more common causes of complaint about this otherwise valuable resource, this is probably no bad thing. But censorship is a tool that itself needs to be wielded with care. Bystander has demonstrated that he is himself particularly sensitive to anything that smacks of criticism. It will be interesting to see whether this comment too is excised.

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    1. i) There is no censorship. I sometimes bin tiresome troll-type posts that seek merely to sneer at people in the system. E(NB) has had numerous warnings, and I will delete any abusive juvenile crap from now on. Constructive and adult comments remain welcome from anyone.
      ii) I have always been open to criticism, but infantile sneers about my or others' motives may go too far. This blog is not a democracy, it is mine, and I retain editorial control of it.
      iii) Anyone who doesn't like that is free to start their own blog, and see how long it takes them to get over three million page views.

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    2. No worries MoTV. The awaited guidance is likely to be technical and operational, about secure messaging and the like.

      We've had this blog, I am afraid. Thanks BS for all the good times.

      Delete
  12. Can someone please clarify if the guidance really means that it's alright for judges etc to dine with friends and acquaintances (including new acquaintances) and express their views, as they have done since time immemorial, but that they must not express exactly same views in the same terms in a blog? If so that leaves a very clear impression that the presiding judiciary think it is OK for the sort of people who dine with judges etc to hear the views but not for the "hoi polloi" to read them on blogs.

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    1. Ed (not Bystander)16 August 2012 at 19:29

      Are you saying you believe there is no difference between 1) words spoken in private; and 2) written on a globally-visible, possibly permanent web page?

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    2. In a sense there is not. The SPJ's issue concerns (rightly) are that judiciary office holders should not "damage public confidence in their own impartiality or in the judiciary in general".

      That is applicable, and to be avoided, whether you are talking to 5 people or to 500 (and exponentially on and on).

      It is the act itself which damages; the number of people who are witness to it is largely a matter of detail. As is the medium which is used.

      Otherwise you might legitimately argue that it is only blogs with large numbers of visitors which might present a problem.

      Delete
    3. Ed (not Bystander)16 August 2012 at 19:57

      If a tree falls in a forest...

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    4. ...and nobody hears it, then fine.

      But neither I nor Anonymous were talking about conversations (or trees) that go unheard. Necessarily to damage public confidence in the judiciary one must first engage with the public. Whether one person or one thousand.

      Gnomic utterances don't advance your case.

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    5. Ed (not Bystander)16 August 2012 at 20:04

      So your case is that one person is "the public"?

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    6. My case is that the SPJ's issue concerns (rightly) are that judiciary office holders should not "damage public confidence in their own impartiality or in the judiciary in general".

      That is applicable, and to be avoided, whether you are talking to 5 people or to 500 (and exponentially on and on).

      It is the act itself which damages; the number of people who are witness to it is largely a matter of detail. As is the medium which is used.

      Otherwise you might legitimately argue that it is only blogs with large numbers of visitors which might present a problem.

      I trust the repetition assists.

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    7. In this case, Biker, please try to understand that it is Goldring's 'act itself which damages..public confidence in general in the judiciary'. Or at least reading the comments above, some fraction of this unscientificic sample of the public.

      If Biker has a background that biases him towards being an apologist for whatever the upper classes might dictate, then I think he should declare it.

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    8. Not too sure I understand the point being made. But I do appreciate the irony of being asked to declare my background by 'Anonymous'.

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    9. I have no connection with the judiciary, except when summonsed as a witness, mostly at Coroners' courts. How about you Biker ?

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    10. I am a member of the Judiciary.

      Not too sure that makes me an apologist for any one social class though.

      Delete
  13. Good clean , if sometimes funny comment should continue

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    1. And so it shall, Anon, so it shall.

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  14. Re anon (21.24)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6MtmkqPbps

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  15. Note "be a man my son"............

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  16. will you be asking your clerk to explain it to you and then basing your conclusions EXCLUSIVELY on what he or she tells you?

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Posts are pre-moderated. Please bear with us if this takes a little time, but the number of bores and obsessives was getting out of hand, as were the fake comments advertising rubbish.