PLUS: Reversion therapy
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The Times
Thursday January 30 2020
The Brief
Jonathan Ames
By Jonathan Ames
Good morning … It’s the only day you care about: Thursday, which is soon to be renamed Briefday.

The UK may be officially ditching the EU tomorrow night but argument still rumbles about the role those shadowy and dastardly judges on its Court of Justice will have. An internal Brussels diplomatic document revealed that the EU would insist that the European Court of Justice be able to enforce the terms of a trade, fishing and security deal.

Back to Blighty, where the Supreme Court is undergoing a Scottish takeover. Who needs Indyref2 when the two top slots at the court are occupied by Scots judges. No sooner had Lord Reed been appointed the court’s president earlier this month than Lord Hodge took over as his deputy this week.

Also over the last week, the Crown Prosecution Service sustained another fusillade of criticism – this time from a judge. Vincent McDade, a deputy district judge, accused prosecutors of “abject failure” after the trial of Extinction Rebellion activists collapsed because a key witness had booked time off.

At least there was some positive reporting of the legal profession as a barrister was painted as a have-a-go hero. Oliver Glasgow, QC, the son of another well-known silk, rushed to the aid of a police officer who was under threat of attack by a man who leapt from the public gallery at the Old Bailey during the sentencing of five gang members for murder.

The week is rounded off with a tale of lawyers debating over just how pompous they can be. Skim down to our Blue Bag diary for the intellectual debate.

See you next Thursday … er, sorry … Briefday (it’s official now).
News analysis
City partner accused of threatening Gulf prisoner
Dechert lawyer denies High Court claims over 'interrogation' of client's enemy in remote jail in Ras al-Khaimah, reports Jonathan Ames

City solicitors usually sit safely behind counsel during difficult cross-examinations in commercial disputes, but one well-known partner has found himself in the hot seat over extraordinary allegations involving the murky world of Arabian Gulf politics.
Read the full story >
More from this week's Times Law
Law firms failing disabled staff
Disability is the forgotten area of bias in the legal profession, campaigners tell Catherine Baksi

Lawyers with disabilities face daily discrimination because of ignorance and unconscious bias as well as blatant prejudice, research reveals.
Read the full story >
Feature round-up
Also in Times Law today
  • Our world is burning but an ecocide law could help douse the flames, says Kirsty Brimelow, QC
  • Lawyer of the week: Katherine Gittins on definitions of rape
  • Edward Fennell's diary: An Indian lawyer's passage to England
  • Comment and analysis
    NHS is treating symptoms of negligence, not cause
    An attitude of delay, deny, defend is hurting patients and the health service itself, writes Gordon Dalyell

    People whose lives are shattered because the wrong limb, ovary or testicle is removed, or because a serious disease is not diagnosed early enough, can need a life-time of support.
    Read the full story >
    Stalking orders put recipients in a precarious position
    No charges are necessary and ‘defendants’ may face more serious repercussions than they realise, write Edward Grange and Jemma Sherwood-Roberts

    The stalking protection order is the latest preventative tool to be added to the police armoury. Its aim is to protect individuals from a risk of physical or psychological harm caused by acts associated with stalking – at first blush perhaps a necessary addition. However, the order appears to be a dramatic extension to the much-criticised harassment warning notice or police information notice.
    Read the full story >
    Penalty points guide is paradise for law-breaking drivers
    Proposal to stop abuse of hardship exemption is full of holes, writes Nick Freeman

    Nearly 11,000 drivers are still on Britain’s roads despite racking up 12 points or more. More than 250 motorists have at least 20 points, while 30 drivers have at least 30 points.
    Read the full story >
    Innocents die in prison because of appeal flaws
    Judges are effectively hoodwinked by the lack of access to police files, writes Emily Bolton

    Derek Bentley (pictured) was hanged 67 years ago on Tuesday at the age of 19 for the murder of PC Sidney Miles at a warehouse burglary in south London. Bentley was innocent of this crime – his conviction was posthumously quashed. Had he been allowed to live, he would be 86 years old.
    Read the full story >
    Tweet of the week
    A junior colleague asked me what to do with a cheque today, whether it should be scanned and sent via email. No judgement from me whatsoever, it is just a sign of the times - nobody is using cheques anymore, other than solicitors paying barristers!!
    In conversation | Gerald Shamash
    Labour’s Jewish solicitor says next leader needs to ‘mend fences’
    Gerald Shamash claims to have never faced antisemitism himself, but admits allegations could have been handled better, writes Catherine Baksi

    Gerald Shamash (pictured, left) joined the Labour Party in 1969 when Harold Wilson was prime minister. More than 50 years on, the deeply riven party is reeling from a crushing electoral defeat and is in the middle of a lengthy leadership campaign.
    Read the full story >
    In Brief
    Elsewhere this week ...
    • Airbus agrees €3.6bn deal to settle corruption investigations – The Times
    • Ticket reseller StubHub faces legal threat from regulators – Financial Times
    • Wales passes a law to make smacking children illegal – Wales on Line
    • Think tank lambasts lack of progress on a diverse judiciary – Law Gazette
    • Dentons’ highest-paid partner profits surge to £2.2m – The Lawyer
    • Solicitor rejected for job was victim of age discrimination – Legal Futures
    • EU ponders ban on facial recognition technology – Legal Week
    • Tory MP challenges for justice committee chairmanship – Law Gazette
    • Regulators waited three years to stop disbarred bomb hoax barrister from working for solicitors – Legal Cheek
    • Well-known barrister appears as sex cam model – Roll on Friday
    Blue Bag
    Reversion therapy
    Lawyers on Twitter love nothing more than engaging in long debates about just how pompous they are – with the latest trigger being use of the word “revert”.

    And here we must declare an interest. Discussion was triggered on the social media site by a query from Times Law and Brief contributor, Catherine Baksi, herself a qualified barrister.

    “Does anyone, other than lawyers,” she asked, “use the word revert when indicating in emails that they will reply? Why do lawyers do this?”

    Predictably, the debate dived the legal twitterati. “Because they have already replied to you. They will come back with a fuller response. Revert is precisely the correct word in that context,” came the po-faced answer from @JustCounsel, a barrister at 3PB chambers.

    “Because we like to sound pompous,” sounded like a more plausible explanation, from lawyer @AdrianYalland. “In fairness there is an absolute need for lawyers to be precise and clear, which means we end up writing in very formal terms. But mostly we just like to sound pompous.”

    Some claimed it was simply another example of lawyers misusing the English language. “I’m not sure it is accurate,” said @Justice4Ducks. “To revert is to change something back to what it was. To revert to a former arrangement.”

    Indeed, at least one version of the Oxford English Dictionary seems to support that. None of its three definitions of the verb “to revert” indicate a sense of replying to a query.

    By yesterday evening, more than 80 (mostly) lawyers had joined the debate. We trust all the time was duly noted on their time sheets and that they will revert to their managing partners with the figures.

    Bathing on the bench
    Hilary Heilbron, QC, was the main turn on Tuesday evening as her chambers, Brick Court, celebrated (somewhat belatedly) last year’s centenary of women being allowed to qualify as lawyers in the UK (writes Linda Tsang).

    Her biography of her mother, Rose QC: Trailblazer and Legal Icon, has recently been reissued in paperback, and the event doubled as a handy opportunity to shift a few copies.

    Heilbron revealed that her mother, who practised from the 1940s to the 60s and in 1972 became the first woman to sit as a judge at the Old Bailey, received fan mail, including a request for a photograph of her in a bathing costume.

    And yet, unlike in our media-obsessed age, Rose Heilbron hit the headlines without ever giving an interview or agreeing to be photographed.
    Tweet of the week
    Stratford Station this mirning - off to say goodbye.
    Quote mark
    Quote of the week
    “There has been a huge investment in diversity by the legal profession, but that has focused on gender, socio-economic background, race and sexuality. Disability has not been on the agenda. Disabled people are stereotyped out of the profession.”
    Professor Deborah Foster of Cardiff University, speaking to Times Law about discrimination against people with disabilities in the legal profession.
    Read the full story >
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