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.

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Friday, 19 February 2016


Joint Enterprise is rarely a consideration in a magistrates` court which in such circumstances is usually just a staging post in the legal process.  However the decision earlier this week in the Supreme Court raises, in my non lawyer`s mind at least, some interesting points. First in my list of these are those who constitute the court.  As we are all human with limited working lives those learned folk are a snapshot of their time.  Unlike in the USA they are appointed by worthy officials without the public being able to ascertain their credentials apart from what is in the public record.   They do not appear before a parliamentary committee of our representatives to answer to the public.  The whole process whilst not held behind actual closed doors appears to take place in a series of smoke filled rooms if that were not now illegal.  Appeal Court judges are appointed also by committees of their peers with political oversight.  Public information on their opinions is non existent apart from what`s on the  public record. 

We are now informed by that Supreme Court that at the Appeal Court of which eight of their number were a constituent part prior to their elevation decisions were wrong in law for the last thirty years.  Perhaps one or more of those involved in this latest judgement were in fact overturning a previous decision they had made in their more junior capacity. Whatever their  individual histories I assume that there have been appeals at the highest level [prior to the establishment of the Supreme Court] against "joint enterprise" where such appeals have failed.  Why should the onlooking public have faith that this decision with a slightly altered view of the angels dancing on a pinhead is any more "correct" than the previous ones now declared to be erroneous?  

All this is going on when the supremacy of the Supreme Court itself is a factor in the argument of European jurisdiction over U.K. justice and its subservience to E.U. decisions from  Strasburg and Luxembourg.  Is this decision likely to enhance or not the concept of the quality of justice per se and and the reputations of those who administer it?    Will it be an argument for or against decisions from the aforementioned European courts although they are not involved in this domestic case? Many people with no intimate legal knowledge could be persuaded either way depending on their pro or anti EU opinion.  

I began this post by acknowledging that joint enterprise rarely features in magistrates` courts.  But there is one final observation to make: unlike magistrates who occupy the lowest level on the judicial tree and who have no requirement to be British,  judges as above must be British citizens or citizens of Ireland or a Commonwealth country. As an aside this anomaly to which I referred [This blog 06/05/2015] " indeed there is not even a requirement that a J.P. must be a British citizen"  surely should be amended for what is sauce for the senior goose should also be sauce for the junior gander.




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