Speculation continues as to the upcoming announcements of the new appointments to the Supreme Court. A number of commentators have indicated that Jonathan Sumption QC will fill one of the two vacancies left by the departure of Lord Savill and Lord Collins. However, Sumption is now to represent Roman Abramovich in a dispute over oil industry ownership with Boris Berezovsky. The case is due to start in October and rumours are circulating as to the size of the brief fee. Some sources have suggested Sumption would like any appointment to the supreme court deferred so that he can meet his commitment to the owner of Chelsea football club.

The European Court of Human Rights have published a series of new case law fact sheets, which summarise the jurisprudence on a particular topic. In 2011 almost twenty new factsheets have been added to the Court’s website including fact sheets on child protection, data Protection, expulsions and extraditions and terrorism. In other European news, a House of Lords report published on Wednesday has predicted ‘another crisis of workload’ for the Court of Justice (CJ), the supreme or constitutional court of the EU. The ‘prognosis’ for the General Court (GC) is ‘even bleaker’, the report added. The ‘best and most flexible long-term solution’ for the GC, the report suggested, would be to increase its judiciary by one third.

The Office for Judicial Complaints is investigating a crown court judge after he was accused of being “influenced by alcohol” during a trial in which an alleged paedophile was freed. Judge Douglas Field, 63, is said to have attended a leaving party during an extended lunch break. He then instructed his jury to acquit a 55-year-old defendant accused of raping an eight-year-old, after they failed to reach a verdict at the end of the five-day hearing. It is claimed, however, that Field forgot the man was facing a further two charges and dismissed the jury before they were able to give their verdict.

Legal professionals are becoming more involved in policy making and debate through legal think tanks such as Halsbury’s Law Exchange and public policy units at major law firms. However, domr professional academics question the value of their contribution, the Guardian reported last week. Academics have implied that practitioners making policy decisions function at a far more superficial level than the academic lawyers. For example, practising lawyers often fail to realise that diversity itself is a construct hotly debated by academics – an oversight that limits their ability to influence discussions about its practical application.

There have been growing concerns over growing restrictions on open justice after a wealthy financier involved in a family dispute won anonymity in a libel case. The story builds on concerns raised by John Hemmings MP about ‘hyperinjunctions’, which he claims prevent parties to a case talking about it to their MP. The concerns regarding open justice are justified, however there is a need for caution. There have been queries as to the accuracy of Hemmings’ claims, suggesting that he has blurred the distinction between a court order and an undertaking agreed by the parties appended to the court order. Furthermore Carl Gardner argues that the injunction granted in the case involving financier was justified given the circumstances, and suggests that commentators should be wary of jumping to the conclusion that the courts have gone ‘censorship mad.’