Last update09:22:08 AM GMT


Whose reputation is taking the biggest bashing: lawyers or police?

Your Expert Witness blog logoLawyers have been in the firing line again this week – on both sides of the pond. Here, a the Court of Appeal has censured two solicitors and a barrister after an embargoed draft judgement was disclosed to ‘third parties’ in breach of a court order. The breach of confidentiality was considered serious enough to attract the censure.

Speaking out of turn has, of course, always been viewed with the utmost of severity by the legal establishment. In most cases that view has been manifestly justified. Only occasionally has there been a hint that there has been anything approaching the desire to guard privilege.

• More mundane misdeeds have also been reported – in one case with something approaching glee.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 June 2013 16:46


Get building, Britain – but not on my land!

Your Expert Witness blog logoExperts in the property field are celebrating the fact that prices are on the rise. Well, the online newsletter property expert is. It quoted ONS figures and data from the website SmartNewHomes.

Ominously, the analysis appears to partially bear out the fears expressed by Ed Balls that the Government’s flagship Help to Buy programme could create another bubble, a fear echoed by the OECD on 29 May.

According to Steven Lees, director of SmartNewHomes: “It has been a very positive spring for developers. The launch of the Help to Buy scheme in April has boosted confidence in the new homes market, reflected in positive monthly, quarterly and annual price growth.”

The trend is more marked in London, where a YouGov survey found that most people expect prices to just keep on rising.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 June 2013 08:42


The new militants on the block throw their wigs into the ring

Your Expert Witness blog logoIt would be deliciously ironic if the government of old Etonians were to be sent into headlong flight by the professional classes that it is seen by many to represent. As the miners brought down Heath through militant industrial action and the council workers did the same for Callaghan, could it be that the Cameron government could be forced into back-pedalling by, of all people, barristers and linguists.

Following the half-day strike by silks in Manchester and promises of ‘mayhem’ in Wales, there are reports that a ‘mass meeting’ of barristers in London vowed to boycott the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates and to defeat it. Moreover, the circuit leader launched a blistering attack on the cuts to legal aid, saying they would “destroy the independent bar” and hit “middle-class families hardest”.

Yet more woe was heaped upon Chris Grayling today with the publication of a poll showing two-thirds of people think the cuts in legal aid will result in people being convicted of crimes they did not commit.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 18:48


MoJ averts one strike but gets caught up in another.

Your Expert Witness blog logoOne of the new – and quirkiest – features on the Your Expert Witness website is a one-click button for lawyers to find details of translators and interpreters for work outside of the court system. It is, apparently, proving popular among language experts keen to offer their services in the commercial field.

That is not entirely surprising, given the controversy surrounding the contract entered into last year by the MoJ for the supply of such services within the judicial system, which has given rise to criticism from bodies such as the Commons Select Committee. Many are reported to have boycotted the new contract, while the furore has prompted the MoJ to offer improved pay and conditions to those who jump on board (at the taxpayers’ expense, of course).

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 16:42


Barristers strike a blow for justice, but who spins the best horsemeat yarns?

Your Expert Witness blog logoThe Government's 'reforms' to the legal aid system have turned their focus to the criminal law, and have been met with a little more fight than the civil system has so far shown. In the North of the country the moves have been met with an unprecedented strike by barristers, more than 400 of whom, it is claimed, stayed away from court on 22 April.

The focus of Monday's action appeared to be Manchester (are barristers the new Peterloo Martyrs?), where over 100 solicitors joined their colleagues for part of a meeting. One Manchester solicitor told the Law Society Gazette that four prison vans had left the Crown Court in convoy at lunchtime.

The action was in response to a number of changes, seen by lawyers as restricting access to justice in addition as capping their fees. One such is the allocation of counsel by the court system, described by Robin Murray as Stalinist. He quotes Winston Churchill, who wrote: "The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country."

Last Updated on Friday, 03 May 2013 14:28