Weekly Notes: legal news from ICLR, 18 November 2019

Endless recession? The 2019 election.


Next of the big spenders?

The various political parties have yet to publish their manifestos, so all we have to go on at present are their headline spending promises and policy declarations. The two main parties have made big spending commitments, but the “small print” on which the press and media rarely challenge them indicates that these commitments are usually spread so far into the future – often well into the next parliament, if not the one after that – as to make little actual difference to the lives of the electorate.

Debate wars

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats have waxed very wroth about their leader Jo Swinson, along with Ian Blackford as the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, not being invited to appear in a televised debate between the two main leaders (Johnson and Corbyn) on ITV. Such a binary debate, it is said, ignores the remain option offered by the LibDems and the independence option offered by the SNP, depriving the population of any genuine appreciation of the choices offered in the election. However, a legal action to challenge ITV’s decision has failed.

Justice spending

So far only the Labour party appear to have come out with any spending commitments on law and justice. In an article in the Guardian, shadow Lord Chancellor Richard Burgon MP promised that Labour will restore legal aid so all citizens have access to justice — not just the rich.

Media law

Practice rule changes

Getting changes done to the Civil Procedure Rules seems to be an unbelievably sluggish process. Many months ago the Media and Communications Law User Group (MACLUG), a consultative body set up by Warby J when he became the first judge to head the Media and Communications List in the Queen’s Bench Division, recommended a number of changes to Practice Direction 40F and its accompanying form, dealing with the logging of non-disclosure orders affecting the media (ie privacy and confidentiality injunctions, or as the press like to characterise them, “gagging orders”).


Sir Henry Brooke Memorial Lecture 2019

Lord Sales, Justice of the UK Supreme Court, gave what used to be known as the BAILII annual lecture this year, on the topic of Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence and the Law. The event was hosted in a packed auditorium at the offices of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, just off Fleet Street, on Tuesday 12 November.

Recent reads

Adventures with dentures

In Dentures at Snaresbrook, Matthew Scott blogs about a series of strange encounters between barristers in the robing room at Snaresbrook Crown Court and an “unpleasant and vaguely sinister artefact”. These encounters emerge from tweets, describing the partial set of dentures left on top of a radiator in the robing room, whither barristers have retreated to eat their lunch, or to don or doff their wigs and gowns. Treating the abandoned dentures as a kind of memento mori, Scott muses upon life, death and other grave concerns.

Law on Television

Defending the guilty

You can still watch Defending the Guilty, the outrageous television adaptation of Alex McBride’s hopefully fictional account of the professional (and unprofessional) life of a set of pupils in a set of chambers. Highly approved by real barristers such as Dinah Rose QC:

Rumpole’s return

Good news for fans of the more traditional televised legal drama of Rumpole of the Bailey. It is being re-broadcast via Talking Pictures TV, an independent archive film and television channel, every Wednesday evening at 9pm starting 20 November. First episode is called Rumpole and the Younger Generation. Hopefully it will also introduce Rumpole to a younger generation of viewers.

Dates and Deadlines

Pro Bono volunteers needed

The Transparency Project is calling for lawyers to participate on a voluntary basis in the Legal Bloggers Pilot scheme. This is a scheme under which ‘duly authorised’ lawyers may attend and write about family court cases heard in private on the same terms as accredited journalists.

Settlement: is the future with the judges?

Brick Court chambers : 6pm, 26 November 2019

Tweet of the Week

is Anna Higham’s rueful reflection on the overlap of work and family life:



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The ICLR publishes The Law Reports, The Weekly Law Reports and other specialist titles. Set up by members of the judiciary and legal profession in 1865.