Plus: Ministers 'preyed on Bar's goodwill'
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The Times
Monday November 26 2018
The Brief
Frances Gibb Jonathan Ames
By Frances Gibb and Jonathan Ames
It’s Monday again …

David Gauke, the lord chancellor, discovered at the weekend that if nothing else £8 million wins at least a polite welcome at the barristers’ annual conference.

That is the amount the Ministry of Justice has added to its original offer of an extra £15 million for the legal aid pot for criminal defence advocates – and it should head off threats of further strikes by barristers, which is a jolly good thing, according to one Supreme Court judge.

Gauke did not hang around long at Saturday’s shin-dig, but The Brief did. Scroll down to see coverage of the call by the Bar chairman for ministers to reverse legal aid cuts more widely. And also claims that the courts must be more aware of #MeToo issues; that parliament needs more barrister MPs; and that Labour would stop the ‘racket’ of expensive law courses.

It’s not all about the Bar’s yearly knees-up this morning. Yet another City law firm has sacked a partner for alleged sexual harassment and gig economy legal fights move from sandwich delivery riders and plumbers to high-brow guides at the National Gallery.

All that and more in this morning’s must-read of all things legal, including news, comment and gossip.
Digital courts bad for justice, say barristers
Hospital ordered to pay £1m damages over racial bias
Blue Bag diary: Bar votes for the Secret Barrister to stay … secret
Comment: Juries are essential to fair rape trials
Tweet us @timeslaw with your views.
Story of the Day
Legal aid lawyers win £23m rise in fees for complex cases
Ministers have agreed to spend an extra £23 million on legal aid fees for advocates in trials such as for robbery, rape and murder to help stem the drain of talent from criminal defence work. David Gauke, the justice secretary (pictured), also pledged that he would bring forward a 1 per cent increase to all fees to come into effect alongside the new scheme.
The announcement comes after a consultation on proposals to increase spending on the revised advocates graduated fee scheme (AGFS) by £15 million, announced in August.
Read the full story >
Juries are essential to fair rape trials
Making sure justice is done does not always mean increasing conviction rates, Felicity Gerry, QC, writes

At a time when many litigants are unrepresented, disclosure in criminal trials is a disaster, there is no publicly available docket of evidence or rulings at trial and no right of appeal where new information has come to light, it is remarkable that an MP has called for the abolition of jury trials in rape cases.
Read the full story >
News round-up
Digital courts bad for justice, say barristers
The £1 billion drive towards digital courts will damage principles of fair and open justice and risk miscarriages, an overwhelming majority of barristers believe. More than 80 per cent fear that the far-reaching programme - with more virtual hearings and video links - will lead to “justice being trampled on” and “cheap” rather than “just” decisions.
Read the full story >
Hospital ordered to pay £1m damages over racial bias
An IT manager has won £1 million in damages over his dismissal from a London hospital, after it was found that bosses did not believe his side of a story because he is black.
Richard Hastings, 50 (pictured), was granted one of the biggest damages awards ever by an employment tribunal which said that managers at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust failed to properly investigate Mr Hastings’ allegations that he had been racially abused by a group of contractors whom he had accused of driving dangerously in the hospital car park.
Read the full story >
Reed Smith latest to sack 'sex pest' partner
Reed Smith is the latest large City of London law firm to sack a partner over allegations of sexually harassing junior female lawyers, it emerged on Friday.
The London office of the US firm issued a short statement acknowledging that it had taken “swift and appropriate action” after an incident that occurred more than a year ago. It is understood that that the incident involved a male partner and more than one junior female lawyers and that the man was dismissed after an internal investigation.
Read the full story >
‘Sacked’ artists sue the National Gallery
A group of artists and lecturers will take the National Gallery to court today in the latest “gig economy” challenge.
The case involves 27 men and women who were allegedly dismissed after decades working for the gallery, giving daily talks and running workshops, and who intend to establish their legal rights as workers. They claim that the gallery sacked them in ­October last year and insisted that they were self- employed and therefore had no rights to benefits or consultation before termination of their contracts.
Read the full story >
Bar conference: Ministers ‘preyed on goodwill’ to cut legal aid
Cuts to legal aid present a “huge threat to access to justice” in England and Wales, the chairman of the Bar has warned. Andrew Walker, QC (pictured), told hundreds of barristers gathered in London for their annual conference that in the last two decades “we have been following a course that has set its face against justice, by political design, political folly and political expediency.
Read the full story >
Judges think women who date online ‘will sleep with anyone’
Judges and juries often wrongly assume that women who use online dating sites “would have sex with anyone”, one of the country’s leading human rights QCs has claimed. Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, QC, told the Bar conference that courts needed to be more aware of women’s rights and the ­#MeToo movement.
Read the full story >
Labour would stop ‘racket’ of expensive law courses
Labour would end the “racket” of expensive bar courses for students “who have no prospect” of a career at the Bar, the shadow attorney-general has said. Shami Chakrabarti (pictured) warned law schools that she intended “to put the profiteers on fair notice that change is coming” and that a Labour government would work with the Inns of Court to create a more economical vocational course.
Read the full story >
Parliament needs more barristers, says attorney-general
More barristers should enter public life to ensure that politicians understand the importance of an independent justice system, the attorney-general has said. Geoffrey Cox, QC (pictured), who was a practising barrister as well as an MP until he took up his post as the government’s chief law officer in July, lamented the “growing divergence” between the legal profession and public life.
Read the full story >
Wigs are not a striking look, says Supreme Court judge
Barristers should not indulge in public protests over legal aid fees because they lack public sympathy, one of the UK’s most senior judges has said. Lord Sumption, a Supreme Court justice, said that barristers would never attract the level of public support that nurses or teachers enjoy.
“This means that they cannot use the same campaigning methods,” he told the Bar conference. “Public demonstrations with banner in hand and wig on head look ridiculous and are counter-productive.”
Read the full story >
In Brief
  • Manchester Arena attack victims may sue ‘too slow’ MI5 – The Sunday Times
  • Banksy works worth £12m impounded in Belgium after legal row – The Guardian
  • The job of terror legislation reviewer is now worthless, says Jawad Iqbal in The Times Thunderer column
  • Legal verdict on May’s Brexit deal by Martin Howe, QC – The Spectator
Don’t throw out the meal ticket for life
Divorcing spouses need to be properly compensated for marital choices that would disadvantage them in their independence, Jo Edwards writes

The law must be sufficiently broad to apply to the enormously wide spectrum of couples before the court. Otherwise, there is a risk that many spouses – mostly, but not always, wives – could be left in a state of real financial hardship.
Read the full story >
Tweet of the day
Ah. This explains how he became shadow justice sec. I had been wondering.
Student essay competition
Brexit: a threat or an opportunity for UK lawyers and legal London?
The Times and One Essex Court are offering you the chance to enter our student essay competition. There is more than £10,500 in prizes to be won. Entries must be submitted by November 30.

Entries will be judged by: the Rt Hon David Gauke MP, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice; Lord Grabiner, QC; John Witherow, editor of The Times; Lord Neuberger, former President of the UK Supreme Court and Anna Boase, barrister at One Essex Court.
Read the full story >
Blue Bag
Bar votes for the Secret Barrister to stay secret
It is no secret that the Secret Barrister has a large social media fan club that defends the blogger with Praetorian Guard-style loyalty.

But The Brief can exclusively reveal that barristers across the profession are keen supporters of his Scarlet Pimpernel approach to reporting on the failings of the criminal justice system.

In a survey of the profession by The Times conducted before last weekend’s annual Bar Council conference, 96 per cent of respondents agreed that while SB had made some harsh criticisms of the system, he was justified to carry on doing so from behind the cloak of anonymity. Roughly the same percentage agreed that SB should not bite the bullet and drop the mask.
It’s a black Friday for the law
Is nowhere safe from the curse that has seeped across the Atlantic that is “Black Friday”?

What has hitherto been a craven attempt by retailers to bring forward pre-Christmas consumerism to late November has infected the legal profession.

Chambers Student, the guide for prospective lawyers from the monolith that is the Chambers & Partners directories conglomerate, roped in – either wittingly or unwittingly – one of the best known sets in the Temple for its own black Friday wheeze. In a tweet labelled “black Friday giveaway” it announced that “premium career insights” were available from the barristers.

A link went to the set’s profile at the online Chambers Student guide. Almost as bad as attempts to flog cut-price trainers – not quite, but almost.
Quote mark
Quote of the day
“I am particularly impressed by today’s wide, interesting and varied programme and the wholly advantageous juxtaposition of sessions on the implications of Brexit and driverless cars - both perhaps are in need of some sort of backstop.”
Geoffrey Cox, QC, the attorney-general, speaking at last weekend’s annual conference of the Bar Council of England and Wales in London.
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