The current Secretary of State for Justice, Ken Clarke, gave evidence before the House of Lords Constitution Committee this week. Amongst other matters, he addressed the problem of the current lack of diversity amongst the judiciary. He was hopeful, “I just anticipate that sooner or later we are going to have a judiciary where at least half of them are women, and the proportion of ethnic minorities are roughly equivalent to the rest of society,” but offered no concrete proposals as to how this was to be achieved. He also offered the following assessment of the Supreme Court “I’m not quite sure why they did it. I think I was in favour of it when it was proposed because we [got] rid of anomalies that you couldn’t explain to foreigners but which didn’t affect the independence of the highest court of the land.”  

In other news, the judgments in Morge v Hampshire County Council and Coke Wallis v Institute of Chartered Accountants were handed down, and summaries of the judgments can be found below.

The ECHR attacked ‘no win – no fee’ agreements in its judgment in MGN Limited v. The United Kingdom, which was handed down on the 18th. The case concerned an ongoing legal battle between Naomi Campbell and the Daily Mirror over published photographs of the model leaving a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. The ECHR found that conditional fee agreements requiring that  “The applicant pay success fees to the claimant was disproportionate having regard to the legitimate aims sought to be achieved and exceeded even the broad margin of appreciation accorded to the government in such matters.”

Lord Neuberger gave a speech at King’s College last week, at the London’s Bar Society Annual Dinner. During his lecture the Master of the Rolls focused on the importance of professionalism at the bar and the role of lawyers in society.  He concluded that while lawyers may often be unpopular, and sometimes vilified, the profession ‘serves society well, and it does so even if lawyers are often the butt of criticism and cruel jokes – whether justified or unjustified. It does so because without a vibrant legal profession, one committed to its professional duties, and one reflective of society as a whole, our open, liberal democracy would be diminished’.

In Parliament, Theresa May faces questions over the delayed review of counter-terrorism powers, after the Home Office confirmed that the police power to detain terror suspects for up to 28 days without charge will lapse on midnight on Monday. The Government is likely to cut the number of prisoners eligible to vote, facing prospects of a backbench rebellion. While proposals had been put forward that prisoners facing sentences of less than four years would be able to vote, it is likely that this will be scaled back to prisoners sentenced to less than a year.