When the 2010 Bribery Act finally came into force in July it was companies who were most vocal in opposing the new provisions, concerned that the Act would interfere with corporate hospitality and place a greater burden of compliance on firms. However, the first person to be charged under the new act is not a company but a court clerk. Munir Yakub Patel is due to appear before Southwark crown court on 14 October to answer the charge under s 2 of the Act, for supposedly “requesting and receiving a bribe intending to improperly perform his functions”.

Riot sentencing continues to be subject to much debate. A boy of 11 was sentenced to an 18-month youth rehabilitation order for the theft of a bin in Romford during the recent riots.  Magistrates responded angrily to claims by the leader of Britain’s Prison Governors Association that they had indulged in a sentencing “feeding frenzy”. Eoin McLennan-Murray, said courts had shown “naked popularism” in meting out tough justice after the riots. But Magistrates Association chairman John Thornhill said sentencing had followed guidelines and he was “angry and concerned” by the comments. Given the debate over the sentencing of the youths involved in the riots it will be interesting to see the response to a research paper by the Transition to Adulthood (T2A) Alliance and the Criminal Justice Alliance, which calls on the government to pilot a sentencing scheme for young people that follows the German practice of focusing on maturity rather than age. The approach would see all young adults aged 18-20 transferred to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, with courts given the option of sentencing them under juvenile or adult law, depending on their level of maturity.

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 has been extended to include governments and private institutions tasked with keeping people in custody. As of the 1st September these bodies may be accountable in criminal law for corporate homicide if an individual dies in their custody. The Guardian reports that until now, the prison service, police forces and immigration units have not been subject to the new Act, and there have been no successful prosecutions of police or prison officers, individually or at a senior management level, for institutional failures that have contributed to a death in custody.

Bodies representing the legal profession continue to issue volleys attacking the legal aid cuts at the government. Max Hill QC, the new Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, warned that if legal aid cuts cripple the criminal Bar, it will be almost impossible to restore. He said, “Criminal barristers play a vital role, both prosecuting and representing people charged with criminal offences, in the public interest. We operate on the front-line to ensure that our justice system works efficiently, effectively and most importantly, fairly for all involved.” Meanwhile, Christina Blacklaws, Law Society Council member for childcare, has said that reduced legal aid fees for expert witnesses are making it ‘almost impossible’ to find experts in child protection cases.

An important sex discrimination case is to be heard in the Supreme Court in October. The case, which concerns dinner ladies and care workers in dispute with Sheffield City Council, will hopefully clarify the complex issue of what amounts to indirect sex discrimination in pay. The outcome could affect wages paid to workers, particularly in local authorities and the NHS where some specialised roles – such as road sweepers or carers – have traditionally been performed almost exclusively by separate groups of men or women.

Finally, two members of private security firm G4S have been sacked after they accidentally tagged a man’s false leg, allowing him to remove it and flout his electronic curfew. A spokesman for G4S said that, “In this individual’s case two employees failed to adhere to the correct procedures when installing the tag. Had they done so, they would have identified his prosthetic leg.”