That-was-the-weekA barrister who could not afford to pay for a practising certificate, worked on a case, and then attempted to backdate the certificate’s validity after paying for it months after a final warning lost his appeal at the High Court. It was held that the Bar Code of Conduct neither expressly nor impliedly stated that if a practising certificate fee was paid late it would be retrospectively valid, and under the Legal Services Act 2007 s 14 it is a criminal offence to carry out legal services without a practising certificate. Having regard to the dismal state of the appellant’s finances, however, the costs order against him was reduced.

The Senior Presiding Judge released a good practice model for 2013 relating to disclosure of information in cases of alleged child abuse. The 2013 protocol encourages a less ‘risk averse’ approach to disclosure into the justice system by the police, with arrangements in place to reduce delay and ensure disclosure takes place by secure electronic means.

The family of a 72-year old Muslim man who is in a semi-conscious state lost their case for medically prolonging his life. They argued that his deeply help religious beliefs meant he would wish to continue his life, even though he was suffering. Specialists gave evidence in court that he had sustained severe brain injuries and was not expected to make a ‘meaningful’ recovery.

Hayden J held that ‘His right to, if necessary, suffer for his faith, has not always been understood and has at times been unwittingly denigrated…Indeed, in an increasingly secular society, it takes great courage to assert strong religious belief.’ He added that while the patient’s physical case should be the priority, he was right to take into consideration ‘his morality, his faith, his ethics and his religious beliefs’ although they could not be ‘determinative’. The patient’s best interests, according to clinicians, were to take priority.

Certain methods of resuscitation would be permitted, but CPR and intensive care were held to be inappropriate in this case. Hayden J said; ‘It would not be prolonging life, it would effectively be restarting a life which has stopped.’

A Bill to allow assisted suicide was launched in Scotland by MSP Margo MacDonald. This is her second attempt to bring this Bill, and has been revised. She put forward proposed safeguards of filming suicides in order to prove it was done correctly, and registering interest in the programme through GPs. The Scottish Government has said it does not support this change. However, MacDonald claims they will not block the Bill.

73-year old John McCririck lost his case against Channel 4 and IMG Media Limited for age discrimination this week, after he lost his job at Channel 4 Racing.

He was seeking £3m in damages from the two defendants but the Central London Employment Tribunal found no evidence of age discrimination. Instead, they found the decision to curtail his employment was a result of his ‘pantomime persona’, chauvinistic and ‘offensive’ behaviour.

Mr McCririck argued this persona had been encouraged on reality TV shows, such as BigBrother and Celebrity Wife Swap by the Channel. However, counsel for Channel 4, when discussing whether McCririck could adopt a more palatable persona, argued, ‘As a matter of reality it simply isn’t the case’. In cross examination, Mr McCririck even declared of himself; ‘I am an unpleasant person. I am a loud mouthed bigoted bore. I am bossy bombastic and domineering.’ In conclusion, the decision to replace McCricick with a new team fronted by Clare Balding was held to be one of modernity, rather than discrimination.

The Bar Standards Board decided that a barrister who had ‘recklessly acted in a manner likely to endanger a West Midland Police helicopter’ by shining a laser pen at the cockpit had engaged in conduct discreditable to the profession. The Head of Professional Conduct said of the ‘Poundland Bond villain’:

‘(He) acted dishonestly and with astonishing recklessness. It is the best outcome for the public that he is no longer a member of the profession.’