Tuesday, November 18, 2014


This post by our old friend ObiterJ puts things so well that I shall not offer my own contribution on the subject. As I get closer to the mandatory retirement age, I feel more than ever that my generation has had the best of it.


  1. Depressingly true. There are areas, such as public law work, where lay benches are still able to do work of real value and are appreciated for the quality of their analyses, but it's hard to find many other things to take pleasure in.

  2. I had to retire last year, and up to then thought I would be devastated. I was so proud to be appointed, but as things have turned out, I am now so grateful that I was able to do the job when it was worthwhile and when we were respected. The police are increasingly acting as judge and jury, just to save money as well as saving them the bother of spending time preparing for court.

    I'm sorry, but my hackles rise every time I hear the phrase 'lay magistrates'. We are (as even in retirement I continue to be) magistrates. We are not 'lay' anything. There is no need to add an adjective, since there is no-one else called a magistrate. We are highly trained, highly experienced and quite honestly the best people to make decisions on someone's guilt or innocence, which can only be determined by a bench of three in any court on any day.

    Even family courts have become a rubber-stamping exercise, which is why I gave up on the failure to 'bang heads together' for warring parents who hold the kids to ransom in their venom against their former partner.

    The courts are now a laughing stock, aided and abetted by the government and the Sentencing Guidelines Council, who consistently pull the rug from under our feet.

    1. Why object to the word that highlights your specific value to the administration of justice? It is precisely the refusal to hand over to the "clerks" , the priests of the law, the power to strip a man of his honor, his freedom and his wordly goods, that has made english justice system the kernel of democracy. Wherever lawyers alone have sat as judges, courts have traditionally been just another instrument of the ruling power. You've cause to be proud of your "lay-ty", it is the key to your country's most awesome contribution to the progress of civilization .

  3. All of who were appointed in the past 25 years have watched in despair as this unique institution has been destroyed by successive governments. As an aside, the article referenced by Obiter J refers to removal of licensing responsibilities from Justices and now, Government and the public can see the results of this change in most town centres at night.
    It is unfortunate that this blogger who may have influence has virtually ignored the destruction of the Magistracy over the years.

  4. Thank you for linking to my post. The Magistracy of England and Wales has done a remarkable job for centuries and has proved to be immensely adaptable. It continues to do a great job but has far too often been undermined in the ways described in my blogpost. I hope that the magistracy is enable to continue to deliver justice in their courtrooms. Many of the initiatives now being announced such as overseeing the use of cautions do not seem to me to use the skills of the JP in terms of the hearing and evaluation of evidence.

    It should be noted that Scotland reaffirmed its faith in JPs with the setting up of Justice of the Peace courts. Seems to me to be a very sensible model which makes good use of the JPs, It could have been also adopted for England and Wales. Doubt it will be however.

    I blog in the hope that what is written may inform people about various events within the legal world. There is a lot happening and, in particular, the attacks on human rights and legal aid. To what extent blogging has "influence" is very debatable. Probably none at all and maybe some blogs or bloggers have a little influence. However, we do not do it to have influence. Only to try to explain and inform on those subjects that are of current interest.

  5. Will this blog continue after you have reached the magic age? I can't face not getting my fix!

  6. I do hope so, as long as I can get a broadband signal on my tropical beach (or, more likely, in the bar of a country pub).


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