Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Supreme Chicken?

The Supreme Court is now considering a crucial case that will clarify the power of the judiciary vis a vis that of Parliament. Many of the country's finest legal minds will focus on this matter, and a verdict will be handed down. In the long tradition of European matters dividing our nation, some unscrupulous parties are attempting to discredit the Courts, in particular by focusing on individual judges and any perceived bias they may have. This is an appalling piece of vandalism, the worst offender being the Daily Mail. Recently that paper has given space to the risible Ian Duncan Smith, a failed Tory leader.  IDS' opinion reminds us how lucky we were to be spared his presence in Downing Street.

He repeats the now-customary jibe that judges are unelected. Of course they are, but then so are brain surgeons and airline captains, and we expect and receive a professional and disciplined service from them. Electing judges would fatally damage the public's confidence in the judiciary's utter impartiality.

We are blessed with a judiciary that is incorruptible, and that is why many foreign litigants choose to have their cases heard in London.

All judges and magistrates take the same judicial oath:-

 “I, _________ , do swear by Almighty God that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth the Second in the office of ________ , and I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.”

That's good enough for me.

11 comments:

  1. You are straying into political comment BS and I think you should be careful. The Daily Mail is the biggest selling tabloid and is always the first paper to sell out in my country local shop. And you cannot say that ALL judges are incorruptable. We can only hope that those that exist at the top of tree are able go put aside their own prejudices and act on the evidence before them. Where a justice has already pontificated on the issue at a lecture outside the country which many would see as one sided then that justice has an opportunity to recuse him or herself. And it is your opinion about IDS as well. I think this blog should stick to what it is good at.

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  2. The High Court should have declined to hear the case - if only because their jurisdiction is limited to England and Wales. How can Brexit apply in some parts of the UK and not others? That's ridiculous. M'luds did themselves no favours there.

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  3. While I agree with what you say, I fear that using the word "incorruptible" is perhaps a little excessive. I'd go along with 'extremely difficult to corrupt', but an absolute feels rather like a school without a bullying problem, or a prison without a drugs problem.

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  4. Many times in my 25 years on the bench my Justices' Clerks have reminded us that it is not just actual bias that is the issue, but the perception of bias that must be avoided if the integrity of the judicial system is to be maintained.

    By rehearsing arguments in public, without having heard the case, and introducing new arguments off her own volition, Lady Hale has clearly over-stepped the mark where perception of bias is inevitable.

    If we as magistrates were to attend an appeal having publically rehearsed the pros and cons of the case before we had even heard it we would very quickly be asked to recuse ourselves.

    By refusing to stand down from this appeal in these circumstances Lady Hale has provided the ammunition for those who wish to attack the impartiality of the appointed judges and opened the door not only to the horrors of an 'elected' judiciary, but also to attacks from politicians and press seeking political gain.

    Her speech was ill-judged, her refusal to stand down borders on criminal.

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  5. We should be grateful we live in a land where we can trust the judiciary. Some countries have the best judges money can buy.

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  6. Would agree that elected judges, especially those promoted by one or other political party (as in the USA) is a lot worse than the situation in the UK. However, to retain its integrity, even the appearance of bias or prejudice should be avoided, regardless of whether it is actual or not, and regardless of whether it is conscious or not. A law lord who is a member of a pro-EU group threatens that.

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  7. It's a comforting tale to tell oneself. You really have no concerns about the impartiality of the three provincial[*] judges who chose to get involved? I would have been flabbergasted to hear any other verdict from them, given their backgrounds.

    Perhaps what we see in them is our own reflected bias.

    [*] Why is an English court proclaiming on United Kingdom matters? It might as well have been heard in Glasgow Sheriff Court.

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  8. The judiciary is a business, nothing more nothing less.

    There are no bad law's, only bad legislation,it has always been thus.

    If you, and all, think the people don't see this, you are blind to the true meaning of law.


    Go against the people at your peril.

    Oath's by those that proport to have more influence over those they think are inferior to themselves are deemed to suffer the consequences of their actions. They had one vote in the referendum like everyone else.

    We are not blessed, at time's more hindered by the influence of those that believe they know better..... Who gives them this right? That is why they (the judiciary)is answerable to the people.

    We need law, and the law is the people, that is the way in the UK.

    Europe is state law, not common law, they and all who wish to destroy our ways are in for a rough ride.

    You on a whole do not understand that a vote has been cast and it will be implemented.

    Lawyers are ten a penny, one on every corner, just like prostitutes. People know this because every time they go for advice from a lawyer they get fucked.

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  9. Swearing an oath is all very nice, but I have been in both Magistrates Courts and indeed the High Court and personally witnessed cases where the judiciary were anything but impartial...

    I personally look on them as "the best we have". By and large you can expect fair treatment, but there are times when their conduct beggars belief.

    My own experiences (as a witness need I add) have taught me that justice does not flow from courtrooms quite so freely as certain people would have us believe.

    Still, a happy Christmas to you and yours - particularly to the Magistracy who are giving up their own time...

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  10. Is it really true that this case is about the power of the judges v the power of Parliament. Isn't it really about the power of the Executive v the power of Parliament, with the judges as arbiters of that question?

    Of course that still counts as something of fundamental constitutional importance.

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  11. I take it the silence following this wise, sensible and eminently judicial comment signifies consent. I certainly hope so. I wouldn't want to live in a country where justice was administered by the mob. Bravo.

    Meanwhile, I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas and will have a happy New Year.

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