That-was-the-weekOn Monday the annual London Legal Walk raised over £575,000 for the London Legal Support Trust, an organisation that supports free legal advice centres. Walkers included the Attorney General, the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls, Lords Neuberger, Kerr, Phillips and Clarke of the Supreme Court, and the President of the Law Society. The 10km course took in legal landmarks including Temple, the Law Society and the RCJ.

The High Court ruled that a tweet published by Sally Bercow, wife of Commons Speaker John Bercow, was libellous. She had broadcast “Why is Lord McAlpine trending. *innocent face*” to over 56,000 followers, linking the politician to a BBC Newsnight exposé on sexual abuse at a children’s home. She argued that the question she had posed was entirely neutral, but it was held that her inclusion of the words “innocent face” had shown the question to be intended to be ironic. Also, under the “repetition rule” rule a defendant who repeats a defamatory allegation made by another is treated as if they had made the allegation themselves.

On Tuesday over five hundred lawyers protested outside the Houses of Parliament against government plans to cut the legal aid budget further and introduce price-competitive tendering in criminal representation. The Criminal Law Solicitors Association organised a meeting to oppose the reforms, and solicitors and barristers attending vowed to act collectively to fight the proposals. Although it is contrary to competition law for lawyers to take concerted strike action, the outcome of the meeting was a motion to “institute a rolling programme of training days increasing in number on dates to be announced from time to time”.

Mr Justice Saunders was appointed to the Sentencing Council, following Lord Justice Treacy’s elevation to the Court of Appeal.

Preparations to move Central London County Court from Regent’s Park to within the RCJ started. A working group was established to consider the location of the issue department and listing office, IT systems, and other support the Court will require. The move is at the request of the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, who said:

“This is a valuable opportunity to look at how civil work is distributed between High Court and Deputy High Court Judges, District Judges and Masters and to improve the administration of justice by combining the resources and administrations at the RCJ and CLCC. Court users can expect to see standardised processes and better targeted case management. As well as these benefits the judiciary will be deployed more flexibly and cases heard more expeditiously.”

The Court of Appeal criticised a first instance judge’s heavy reliance on an appellant’s closing submissions in Crinion & Anor v IG Markets Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 587. The Court heard that the judgment under consideration consisted of “cut-and-pasted” sections of the appellant counsel’s submissions. It was held that although the judgment was not “defective” and the judge had properly performed his judicial functions:

“…Appearances matter. For the Judge to rely as heavily as he did on [the appellant counsel’s] written submissions did indeed risk giving the impression that he had not performed his task of considering both parties’ cases independently and even-handedly.”