The Supreme Court may not have embraced the concept of ‘dress down Friday’, but have relaxed dress codes for those appearing before the Court. A press release from last week states that “advocates appearing before the Court or the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council may, by agreement, dispense with any or all of the elements of traditional court dress.” Joshua Rozenberg was scathing of the proposed changes, suggesting that “what advocates wear in court is surely not a matter for the judges, but for the professional bodies to which those advocates belong.”

A consultation paper published by the Ministry of Justice last week has suggested a number of reforms to improve judicial diversity. The paper suggests that large chunks of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 dealing with judicial appointments should be repealed and replaced with secondary legislation that would be easier to amend. The paper also suggests reforming the way in which the president of the Supreme Court is chosen, replacing the current panel with a seven-member panel including the lord chancellor, one judge from the supreme court, one judge from another court in a different part of the UK, a member from each of the three UK judicial appointments bodies, and a lay chair from one of the same appointments bodies. While the paper is to be praised for its attempts to improve the appointments process, there are concerns that the suggested reforms are overly complex.

There have been a flurry of judicial speeches in the past week. Lord Justice Jackson gave a speech at the LexisNexis conference on controlling the costs of disclosure, while Lord Neuberger gave the annual Lord Renton lecture at the Statute Law society entitled “General, equal and certain: law reform today and tomorrow”, in which he criticised the volume of legislation produced by government and the lack of time allocated to legislation, which often results in poor drafting. In a speech to the Law Centre Federation’s conference Lady Hale warned of the consequences of the legal aid cuts, Lady Hale said that “It is not the proper role of any judge to attack Government policy … But it is the proper role of the judges to warn the Government of the consequences of the particular choices they make in pursuit of their policies. In the case of legal aid cuts, there is no shortage of warnings, because those consequences are on several different levels.”

Magistrates courts could hold evening sittings to ease the pressure on the justice system, the head of the Crown Prosecution Service has said.  Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, said he did not believe all-night sittings – held after the summer riots in a number of English cities – would be sustainable in the long-term.  However he said that evening sittings would enable the courts to get through a lot more work while being more convenient for people attending.  “I would certainly want to explore evening courts – courts running from perhaps five o’clock till about nine o’clock,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

Increased use of virtual courts and live links technology is making justice quicker and more effective, Justice Ministers Nick Herbert and Jonathan Djanogly have said. Virtual courts allow a defendant, charged in a police station, to have their first hearing held over secure video link from the magistrates’ court. This can happen within hours of being charged and if the defendant pleads guilty, the court can often sentence on the same day. The Telegraph reports that Ministers have been forced to hire more than 80 new judges in a multi-million pound effort to address appeals by welfare claimants who dispute the loss of their benefits. Since 2007, only ten Social Entitlement Chamber judges have been recruited to oversee the appeal process but in recent months a further 84 have been hired to help tackle the caseload.

The current president of the European Court of Human Rights, Sir Nicholas Bratza, has publicly complained about “senior members” of the UK government fostering hostility towards the European Convention on Human Rights. Citing the “vitriolic” and “xenophobic fury” directed against judges on the European Court of Human Rights, Sir Nicolas Bratza has acknowledged that relations between Strasbourg and the supreme court in London are under “strain”.

For those wishing to enter politics, doing an unpaid internship has become de rigeur. But scores of MPs may have broken minimum wage law by taking on unpaid interns, according to legal advice to ministers. Internal legal advice to department for business, innovation and skills ministers, stated “most interns are likely to be workers, and therefore entitled to the NMW [national minimum wage]”. Government lawyers added that only “altruistic” relationships, where the benefits were wholly to the intern, of one to two weeks, were likely to be exempt. The department confirmed MPs are not exempt from the wage law, as charities and public bodies can be.

Finally, a man who posted video on the internet of his stepmother dancing on seats in the lobby of a court in Cornwall has apologised to a judge. Shane Curnow, 24, from Stithians, faced contempt of court proceedings after taking the footage in Truro Crown Court and posting it on Facebook. Mr Curnow’s lawyer told a judge that his client believed filming bans only applied to courtrooms, not buildings.