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A little lurch to the right and Texas prepares for a UN invasion

Expert Witness blog logoThe appointment of right-winger Chris Grayling as the new Justice Minister has evoked the expected (and possibly elicited) mixture of euphoria and opprobrium.

The Law Society Gazette, in the persons of John Hyde and Michael Cross, described the appointment as a "right turn", adding: "His appointment is likely to be viewed as an attempt by Cameron to win favour with the right of his party."

Christian Guy, managing director of the Centre for Social Justice – a 'think tank' set up by Iain Duncan Smith – said in a statement: "The appointment of Chris Grayling is to be welcomed, and I am sure that he will continue the Government's drive to cut reoffending and slow the revolving door culture that has blighted this country's criminal justice system for years. We hope he will carry the reforming spirit he has shown on welfare reform to the Ministry of Justice."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 September 2012 16:32


Suffer the little children, and where exactly is Wales?

Expert Witness blog logoHaving grudgingly allowed a concession on the issue of legal aid for clinical negligence – but only insofar as it affects newborn babies or those injured in the womb – the Department of Justice has come up with another wheeze for clawing the money back again. It intends to apply what it calls a Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme to recoup up to 25% of damages from successful claimants, ie those whose lives have blighted from birth by medical negligence. This is, apparently, to fund other legal aid cases – assuming there are any.

The department's impact assessment claims that the deduction will be from damages "other than those for future care and loss". However, it also admits that the data it has "does not break down to allow future care and loss cost to be excluded". So they've had a guess at it!

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 October 2012 15:06


Do we need an expert on experts, and what price a law degree?

Your Expert Witness blog logoThere were a couple of announcements recently regarding the instruction of expert witnesses that, unsurprisingly, seem to have largely evaded the national press. On 31 July Mr Justice Ryder's report into reforming the family courts was published. Among the proposals are an overhaul of the way experts are used in the courts and when they should be instructed at all. The purpose is, apparently, to make the courts more efficient (for that, probably read 'cheap') and more accessible.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 October 2012 15:31


What price love overseas, and how many judges make 12? by Chris Stokes

Expert Witness blog logoIn what could be the start of yet another pitched battle between the judiciary and the Government, the Supreme Court caused pandemonium at the Home Office by ruling all of its immigration rule changes since 2008 unlawful because they had not been scrutinised by Parliament. A hasty putting together of the myriad of jobs which may or may not qualify for residence followed, to be put before the House of Lords – the Commons were already on their jollies. 

The bombshell followed the putting forward of further new rules that would have imposed a minimum earnings rule for those wanting to marry a non-EEA (European Economic Area) national and bring their loved one into the country. Nothing outrageous about that, you might think: except that the earnings level was set at £18,600! It does not take a genius to figure out that Ms May and co have no real idea what people in this country actually have to live on; or what the minimum wage is, for that matter.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 16:05


20/07/2012: Surgeons are cut to the quick; and could the army make better use of £100,000? by Chris Stokes

Expert Witness blog logoIt seems I'm not the only one who wasn't aware that there are, apparently, individuals going around cutting people up and calling themselves 'surgeons' who don't actually have any medical qualifications. That was the appalling revelation made by the Royal College of Surgeons in its report of a survey carried out for its patient group. It's not the case that everyone who calls themselves a 'surgeon' is pretending to be something they are not. Podiatric surgeons, for example, are highly trained in treating the feet, but often don't have medical training as such. My alma mater accredited degree-level training in chiropody, as it was known then, but didn't have a medical school.

And even MPs claim to have 'surgeries', although the only one I know of to claim to be a surgeon actually was one.

Last Updated on Saturday, 21 July 2012 13:18