Weekly Notes: legal news from ICLR — 3 June 2019

Misconductor? Boris Johnson in the frame for campaign lies

Crime

Misconduct in public office

Do falling stats mean less crime?

“It is odd,” says penal system commentator Russell Webster, “that our prison and probation systems are in such chaos at the same time as there are fewer criminals in the justice system than ever before.” He makes a number of observations on the annual Criminal Justice Statistics bulletin for 2018, including the facts that

  • The total number of individuals formally dealt with by the CJS in England and Wales in 2018 was 1.59 million, a number which has been declining since 2015 and fell 3% in the latest year to a record low (since 1970).
  • Prosecutions were also down (by 2%). 1.38 million people were prosecuted last year. Decreases were seen in all offence groups except possession of weapons (up 4%) and summary motoring offences (up 3%).
  • Remands were also down — In the latest year, the number of defendants remanded on bail by the Police decreased by 24%, while the number remanded in custody decreased 7%. A similar trend was observed at courts.
  • Those who are sent to prison receive longer sentences, the average is now 17.3 months.
  • Offenders with long criminal careers now account for nearly two-fifths of the offending population.

Sentencing code

The prospect of a new Sentencing Code to simplify and tidy up the country’s complex sentencing laws moved a step closer last month, as the government introduced a Bill in Parliament. The Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill will “make amendments to the law on sentencing to facilitate the operation and enactment of the code (known as pre-consolidation amendments)” and will “provide for a ‘clean sweep’ of sentencing law”, according to a House of Lords briefing paper.

Civil litigation

Crowdfunding

CrowdJustice has launched a private fundraising platform that enables clients to raise funds in a “controlled environment”, where only the people they invite have access to their funding page, according to Litigation Futures.

Law Tech

Legal Access Challenge

Thanks for funding announced by various government departments last year, designed to promote a

LawTech Regulation

A discussion paper published by the Legal Services Consumer Panel advises all legal services regulators to be “proactive and creative in promoting the development of lawtech”. Entitled Lawtech and Consumers, the paper emphasises the potential for lawtech to address the access to justice gap, as well as boost competition in the legal services market.

Update: More government funding

4 June. The government has just announced a further £2 million of government funding for legal services and lawtech. It’s not very clear from the announcement, but it seems to be funelling the new cash via the LawTech Delivery Panel of the Law Society. We assume this is in addition to the £250,000 promised to the SRA (see above) for the Legal Access Challenge.

Family law

Rule change adds costs threat for uncooperative parties

Legal professions

Legal employment is not pupillage

The High Court has held that work undertaken by a would-be barrister which was comparable to working as a paralegal could not count towards the requirement to complete pupillage in order to qualify for the Bar.

Dates and Deadlines

Bloomsbury Professional Family Law Conference

The Law Society, London — 25 June 2019

Judicial Assistants for High Court

Applications deadline 1 July 2019

And finally…

Tweet of the Week

is by the present author, with apologies for the self-promotion, but having last week featured with a Tweet of the Day in The Times Law Brief (on a different topic), it seems fair to reciprocate by promoting an article in The Times about the Secret Barrister. And it did get quite a lot of engagement.

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The ICLR

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.