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Expert Witness Blog

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


12/07/2012: Who cares? And who cares about Lords reform? by Chris Stokes

expert witness blog logoIt's amazing what happens when you turn your back for a second. Last week I began work looking at the Government's proposals for reform of the House of Lords and the effect it would have in Scotland.

The Law Society of Scotland stated in response to the proposals: "The UK Parliament still has important legislative functions in relation to Scotland in the context of UK legislation on reserved areas under the Scotland Act 1998 and as amended in 2012, which must also be taken into account."

Its director of law reform Michael Clancy welcomed the Bill that was introduced on 27 June, saying: "As the UK does not have a written constitution, having two Houses of Parliament provides an essential system of checks and balances, however we believe the House of Commons should retain its prominence."

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 July 2012 15:11


Expert Witness blog by Chris Stokes

expert witness blog logoThe Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill has finally limped its way into law, and its many opponents might be expected to be retiring to lick their wounds and tool up for the next election and a chance of getting rid of it with another government. Indeed, the Bill's most vocal critic in the Lords, Lord Bach, has given up his front bench post in the wake of its passing into law.

However, Lord Bach is not giving up the fight: he had always intended to return to the backbenches after doing what he could to thwart the Bill and he has taken to the road. This year's London Legal Walk, in support of legal advice centres, was a seminal one in that it marked the start of 'FightBach', as the peer has styled his Twitter self.

Last Updated on Monday, 09 July 2012 11:53


Expert Witness blog: 28/05/2012

Your Expert Witness blogAs has been mentioned before, there is a campaign being waged among junior lawyers in the Law Society to resist moves to abolish the minimum salary for trainee solicitors. The Junior Lawyers Division of the society has branded the decision to deregulate as having "effectively slammed the door shut in the faces of those from lower socio-economic groups trying to enter the profession". Now the opinion has emerged that women will be 'disproportionately affected' by the move. The opinion is that of...erm, the Association of Women Solicitors (AWS).

AWS chairwoman Joy Van-Cooten and AWS Law Society Council member Sarah Austin issued a joint statement, in which they said: "We are concerned it will discourage able women away from the profession and the result will be a return to a less diverse profession that will reflect practitioners' means rather than their merit." They didn't say why.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 11:12