Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.




Comments are usually moderated. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment. If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

DIRECT ACCESS



Last week for the first time sitting across from me and my colleagues was a barrister who described his firm as “Direct Access”. Neither our L/A nor either of my colleagues was familiar with the designation. He proceeded to explain that he was present on a one time only basis on behalf of his client.  There was some contentious  legal argument which was hardly unusual but what was unusual was his vociferous and at times downright rude manner to the court.  His method of making his case was to try and shout louder than our L/A .  It took a great deal of self control from the bench to make it perfectly clear to him that as opposed to the L/A`s position when giving the bench “advice” which the bench can follow or not as the case might be when she gives an interpretation of the law the bench is obliged to follow that instruction.  Eventually he sat down muttering under his breath.  His behaviour provoked a few minutes discussion during the post court review.



And now earlier this week my colleagues and I find another barrister presenting his client`s argument that he is unable to offer a plea on his first appearance owing to disagreements over disclosure and in his opinion the requirement that the CPS should pay the translation and transcription costs of documentary evidence which he claimed would be necessary for his client to be able to successfully defend a charge of assault.  The debate was relatively uncomplicated but once again the manner in which it was presented by the barrister,  whilst not quite bordering some might have said  on contempt, was delivered in  such  furious outbursts and language which had no place in a court of law. 



At the post court review I described to our L/A the previous experience of the week prior.  He was as baffled as we  were by the aggression shown.  Perhaps in our neck of the woods chambers have decided to go all out no holds barred for this new business opportunity leaving no prisoners in their wake.  Perhaps they consider a bench of three lay magistrates might be easily intimidated.  I would say,”Think Again!”

5 comments:

  1. Plainly the conduct of those two members of the Bar was objectionable, but I take issue with the suggestion that any bench is obliged to follow an interpretation of the law offered by their legal adviser. Clearly, a bench will give great weight to such an interpretation, but ultimately the bench is the tribunal of both fact and law. It is open to a party to seek to persuade the bench that the state of the law is X, by reference to statute and authorities, however firmly they are advised it is Y. For a bench to decline to rule on the law is to improperly delegate their role.

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    1. As far as I am aware a bench making a decision on law against the advice of its legal advisor runs the risk that a successful appeal against its findings could lead to wasted costs against each bench member personally.

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    2. Not so. Justices of the Peace have statutory immunity from costs orders - see Courts Act 2003 ss.31 to 34

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. Barristers must have a lot of experience in all areas of Law. They must be able to tailor a service that suits clients. A good lawyer can handle stressful and complicated cases very well with his smartness.

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