In Conversation With … Lord Sumption

lordsumptionLord Sumption discusses life before and at the Bar with Stephen Turvey and Matthew Lawson.

What state is the Bar in now and how might it change in the future?

I think that the Bar at the moment is in pretty good health. There is a huge demand for a referral profession. There is a degree of specialisation available at the Bar which is simply incapable of being replicated within any one solicitors’ firm - even the major departmental city firms.

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Repairing British Politics

Stephen Hockman QC argues the case for a written constitution

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The Judicial House of Lords

Edited by Louis Blom-Cooper, Brice Dickson and Gavin Drewry
Oxford University Press; Hardback (August 2009); £95
ISBN: 0199532710

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Fee-sharing favours solicitor-advocates over barristers

Solicitor-advocates may be appointed for cases beyond their competency because of a desire to keep costs low, a report commissioned by the Legal Services Board (“LSB”) has found.

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New faces in the coalition government

Barristers Dominic Grieve QC and Edward Garnier QC have been appointed Attorney General and Solicitor General respectively in the new Con–Lib Dem coalition government.

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A Blue Print for Change

With the general election looming, Richard Gordon QC argues that the price of restored trust in democracy may be a codified constitution

Is it time for the UK to have a written constitution? In suggesting that we had no constitution, the 19th Century French political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville was wrong. Britain does have a constitution but it is old-fashioned, top-down and—as far as the rest of the free, democratic world is concerned—of a fast-disappearing kind.

What causes confusion is that, unlike us, nearly all democratic States have a written (in the sense of codified) constitution. Only Israel and New Zealand join us in relying on a nebulous body of rules, some contained in Acts of Parliament, some in constitutional conventions, some scattered around in the most diverse sources. The expenses scandal and the ensuing loss of trust in politics led many (myself included) to think we needed fundamental change.

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Westminster Watch

Charles Hale on electioneering, acting and performances

It’s strange, isn’t it? The airwaves are buzzing with talk of how this general election could be the first genuine internet election, with the main parties taking their lead from Obama’s celebrated use of online communication to help secure his victory. Apparently the latest political brainwave involves identifying hot news topics that will generate multiple searches and buying appropriately linked domain names. For example, if you want to know more about David Beckham’s Achilles tendon injury, you might Google “Beckham’s operation” – only to discover that this exact phrase has just been purchased by the Liberal Democrats. So, instead of learning about the England star’s dashed World Cup dreams, you find yourself reading Nick Clegg’s views on a hung Parliament. I can’t imagine that the man on the Clapham omnibus will welcome such blatant interference into his browsing habits, but maybe I just don’t understand as I’m not a politician.

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Role of Attorney General is “sound”

Baroness Scotland has mounted a robust defence of the “fundamentally sound” role of the Attorney General. The government began a review of the role of Attorney General in 2007 and announced its decision, that no change to the law was necessary, in 2009.

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Lawyers at Long On

Which lawyers have played first class cricket? Daniel Lightman investigates

There is a long tradition of lawyer-cricketers. Perhaps the first was William Byrd (1674–1744). Born in Virginia, where his father was an early settler from England, he was sent to English public school and went on to be called to the Bar and join the Inner Temple. In 1704, on his father’s death, Byrd returned to Virginia to take over his family’s estates, and is said to have introduced cricket there. Between 1709 and 1712 William Byrd kept a secret diary, the entry for 25 April 1709 recording: “I rose at 6 o’clock and read a chapter in Hebrew. About 10 o’clock Dr Blair, and Major and Captain Harrison came to see us. After I had given them a glass of sack we played cricket. I ate boiled beef for my dinner. Then we played at shooting with arrows and went to cricket again till dark.”

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108th High Court judge

Guy Richard Newey QC of Maitland Chambers has been appointed as an additional High Court judge in the Chancery Division to help with an increased workload.

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