Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Thoughts From The Lord Chief

Lord Thomas has been speaking about the continuing cutbacks in the courts.Harsh as these have been, there are many more to come, and the next few years are set to see cuts of more than a third.

It will be surprising if the courts' system is recognisable in ten years' time, and nothing appears to be off limits. Good luck to my younger colleagues who will have to adapt to some very different standards and practices.


  1. Too many crimes, with a low monetary value are going to crown court because a defendant has elected to go there. We need a fixed value cap and below that it stays in the magistrates court unless the bench is persuaded that there are special circumstances that make it more suitable to go to the crown court, but the choice should be that of the bench.

  2. I am well aware that many of my legal colleagues throw up their hands in horror at the mere suggestion that jury trials for dishonesty should be limited. I do not share that view. There is nothing intrinsically different about a criminal conviction for dishonesty as against once for say Criminal Damage where we have been operating on a monetary limit for many years. Both are offences against property. Both require either intent or at least an element of recklessness in the case of CD. A conviction for either can affect job prospects although I do accept that offences of pure dishonesty carry a more pejorative public perception.

    But overall, with the usual safeguards in place for sending up the road if circumtances require, I don't have any problem with the concept of limiting elections for jury trial for the theft of a packet of razor blades (just an example!!!!)

  3. Proportionality- that's what is missing today. The old Quater Sessions were a half way house but were abolished.

    I can see the LCJ's point. We must change as the funding will not let the process stay the same. there is certainly no need for about at least a third of minor cases going to the Crown Court.

    In civil cases the costs and time that run up huge bills for run or the mill cases is frighteneing. The adverserial system does not serve well here. Its time a more inquisitorial system was developed to just do justice, not just a procedure.

    Divorce family cases are a good example. The world and its dog are represented when kids are involved, you might ask why.

    Why should straighforward divorces cost as much as they do, particularly when there are no kids. A cheap and cheerful process could be empl;oyed where a judge could cut through the crap more cheaply than what we do now..

    The quicker change comes the better.

  4. With the rising EU tide of destruction not only of sovereignty but also of democracy itself, recognizing that HM Government is skint, and understanding (as many plaintiffs and respondents would agree) that much legal procedure is redundantly expensive, and no longer even to the benefit of the barristers (who are as fundamentally important as, say, train drivers and doctors), we must nonetheless be careful not to throw out justice with the democracy bath water. Large organisations will be able to operate willy-nilly when respondents cannot counter the professionals, regardless of who is culpable (or guilty). Developing unbiassed, uncontested, inexpensive divorce processes are a clear example: it could easily be done but nobody bothers to do it because those in charge of the system would lose income. Equally, if sandwich theft from a supermarket carried a hundred-fold penalty times the cost of the sandwich, with half going to the sandwich maker, it would be simple. But no, not a chance because the establishment loses: procedural fees, CPS letting go something that takes more time, legal representation if it still exists, victims tax (which does not benefit victims), and VAT on the whole lot for the government. The current 'in crisis' chaotic situation benefits the establishment, and they will have no interest in changing it.

    1. True the vested interests have always been the enemy of change

    2. What on earth does the EU have to do with any of that? What nonsense.

    3. Probably nothing, but that won't stop them!


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