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When sorrows come…….
Marc Beaumont considers how the Bar’s Complaints process might be made more tolerable
"When sorrows come - they come not single spies - but in battalions." Hamlet’s Uncle Claudius may have been a psychopathic killer, but he spoke the language of a wise and just monarch. When accusation is heaped on accusation, the world can be a lonely and frightening place. And it is no less so for Barristers.

Where there is no publicity there is no justice?
By Stephen Cobb QC, family law specialist
Jeremy Bentham, the Eighteenth Century jurist, philosopher and social reformer, believed that “…in the darkness of secrecy, sinister interest and evil in every shape have full swing. Only in proportion as publicity has place can any of the checks applicable to judicial injustice operate.

Dangerous Minds
By Thom Dyke, Barrister
The Court of Appeal in Ferguson v British Gas [2009] EWCA Civ 46 sent a strong message that it was not prepared to accept any attempt to escape liability for criminal and tortious acts by hiding behind what was termed by Sedley LJ as ‘the privilege of incorporation.

When the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) came into being in April 2006 I know not everybody was convinced about the need to set up an independent body to select judges
By Baroness Prashar, Chair, JAC
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge was kind enough to say this year that in his view the debate over whether there should be a Commission, and whether judges should be selected in open competition on merit is for the past not the future.

Strands of Evidence
By Matt Taylor, Managing Director of ScreenSafe UK
For many years now, hair testing has been used as a useful tool within the legal/medico sector to provide crucial evidence of exposure or use and of substances including prescription, over the counter and illegal drugs, but are you making full use of this clever technology?.

Change you can believe in: What new rights against associative discrimination mean for claimants
By Matthew J Smith BA Oxon, PGDL Brookes, LLM Inns of Court School of Law
The recent European Court of Justice case of Coleman v Attridge Law demonstrates the potentially radical changes the Tribunal System can affect in day-to-day life. Sharon Coleman worked as a legal secretary for a firm of solicitors called Attridge Law

Concerns over future of publicly funded work
By Paul Mendelle QC

The government monitors the state of legal aid by all manner of indicators, yet it sometimes seems as if the cost of its upkeep is the only vital sign that matters. The mantra of the day from government is sustainability, but no-one outside Whitehall (or inside we often feel) is clear quite what that means

Working with experts at civil trials
By Mark Solon, Solicitor, Bond Solon Training
Judges do not have to accept expert evidence, even if it is from a single joint expert, or from an ‘illustrious source’. The function of expert evidence is to assist the judge, not to usurp the judge’s role. At a minimum, you should remind inexperienced experts that when they give evidence they should: a) address the judge (not the counsel examining them.
Comparing the cost: we must look beyond prison
By Roma Hooper and Roma Walker, Make Justice Work
A number of countries are waking up to the fact that prison is an expensive and ineffective option for low level offenders, and that imprisonment should be reserved for those who are a serious danger to the public. For example, new reforms in Norway mean that all prisoners serving less than four years will start their sentence in an open prison.

Call to ban magistrates from sending minor offenders to jail
By Carol Hedderman, Professor of Criminology at the University of Leicester
Anyone who questions whether we need to be sending quite so many people to prison risks being labelled soft on crime and being more concerned with the rights and needs of offenders than the rights and needs of victims.

The National DNA Database: crime solving tool or violation of civil liberties?
By Sir Bob Hepple QC, FBA, Emeritus Master of Clare College and Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Cambridge.
DNA profiling has had a dramatic impact on the detection and prosecution of crime. But this rapidly developing technology has also given rise to many concerns, for example the indefinite retention of DNA samples from those who are not charged or are acquitted;the irrevocability of consent given in fraught circumstances by victims and witnesses. 

A new era dawns: Are we awake?
Andrew Butler, Barrister at Tanfield Chambers, considers the arrival of the Legal Services Act and what this means for how barristers should market their expertise, and reviews his chambers’ experience so far in embracing the new era. The aim is clear: the Act seeks to encourage change in the legal marketplace, but how, as barristers, will this affect our profession? .
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