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Big Lawyers and Little Lawyers

Stephen Sedley, 28 November 1996

The Access to Justice: Final Report 
by Lord Woolf.
HMSO, 370 pp., £19.95, July 1996, 0 11 380099 1
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The Future of Law: Facing the Challenges of Information Technology 
by Richard Susskind.
Oxford, 309 pp., £19.99, July 1996, 0 19 826007 5
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... offence to Hong Kong’s solicitors and bringing the project ultimately to a standstill. As Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay, whatever his detractors say, is no Bonapartist; but he, too, was faced with the prospect of piloting procedural reform through the weed-blocked channels of advisory committees whose most modest ...

Wigs and Tories

Paul Foot, 18 September 1997

Trial of Strength: The Battle Between Ministers and Judges over Who Makes the Law 
by Joshua Rozenberg.
Richard Cohen, 241 pp., £17.99, April 1997, 1 86066 094 0
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The Politics of the Judiciary 
by J.A.G. Griffith.
Fontana, 376 pp., £8.99, September 1997, 0 00 686381 7
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... to compensate for, and in places repair, dysfunctions in the democratic process.’ In the centre, Lord Woolf: ‘I myself would consider there were advantages in making it clear that ultimately there are even limits on the supremacy of Parliament which it is the courts’ inalienable responsibility to identify and uphold.’ Common to all three was the ...

Everything and Nothing

Stephen Sedley: Who will speak for the judges?, 7 October 2004

... In June last year, the lord chancellor, Lord Irvine, was dismissed in a cabinet reshuffle. It was announced, not to Parliament but by press release, that his office was not to be filled and that his department was to become part of the Department for Constitutional Affairs, headed by a newly appointed minister, Lord Falconer ...

The Case of N.

Francis FitzGibbon: The strange world of asylum law, 21 July 2005

... come here for medical treatment, but as a refugee. She had been kidnapped and held captive by the Lord’s Resistance Army for two years, then by another rebel group, the National Resistance Movement. She had been severely mistreated and repeatedly raped. This woman, who is known as ‘N.’, applied for asylum on two independent grounds: first, under the ...

Closed Material

Nicholas Phillips, 17 April 2014

... suspect, AF, who had also been subjected to a control order founded solely on closed material. Lord Hoffmann considered that the closed material procedure had received the blessing of the Strasbourg court and therefore satisfied the requirements of Article 6. The other four law lords who sat on the appeal were agreed only that the compatibility of the ...

Waspish Civilities

Stephen Sedley: The Case for a Supreme Court, 21 May 2020

High Principle, Low Politics and the Emergence of the Supreme Court 
by Frederic Reynold.
Wildy, Simmonds and Hill, 154 pp., £14.95, September 2019, 978 0 85490 283 5
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... peerage and handed to a committee composed of legally qualified life peers appointed by the lord chancellor. Then in 2009 the House of Lords was replaced by a Supreme Court, separately housed, financed and administered, its proceedings livestreamed, its judges appointed by a non-governmental commission. To lawyers it looked very much like the end of ...

He huffs and he puffs

John Upton: David Blunkett, the Lifers and the Judges, 19 June 2003

... point, ‘on which judges can build’. These fixed terms of imprisonment are a direct snub to Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, who last year published a directive for judges recommending 15 years as the minimum term for the most serious categories of murder. The proposed new legislation allows judges only a ...

Lord Fitzcricket

P.N. Furbank: The composer’s life, 21 May 1998

Lord Berners: The Last Eccentric 
by Mark Amory.
Chatto, 274 pp., £20, March 1998, 1 85619 234 2
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... The composer Lord Berners (1883-1950), as a dozen books of memoirs remind us, was very much a name in the Twenties and Thirties, in the sphere in which fashionable society meets the arts. His father was a naval captain and his mother the daughter of an exceedingly rich ironmaster (this last a fact which, with perhaps a touch of snobbery, he does not mention in his autobiography, First Childhood ...

Judges and Ministers

Anthony Lester, 18 April 1996

... on the part of judges, and has put out as party propaganda a non-existent lecture, in which the Lord Chancellor would supposedly have called the judges to heel. Michael Heseltine has attacked the judges of the European Court of Human Rights, following its judgment in the Death on the Rock affair, hinting that the Government might take away the right of ...

The Right to Know

Stephen Sedley: Freedom of information, 10 August 2000

... thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.’ Holmes’s dictum is cited by Lord Steyn in a significant recent decision on prisoners’ rights as the third of four reasons for placing a high value on freedom of speech. The first is that freedom of speech is important for its own sake: this I take to mean that it is important to everyone ...

Mrs Webb and Mrs Woolf

Michael Holroyd, 7 November 1985

... the scheme of things. Twenty-five years ago, Strachey’s books were not in paperback and Virginia Woolf was not the feminist idol she has since become. The reputation of E.M. Forster was in decline. The paintings of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell were not privately collected and had been demoted to the cellars of many public galleries. The art criticism of ...

What Bill and What Rights?

Stephen Sedley, 5 June 1997

... the enduring and fundamental need to keep party and state distinct. In his 1951 Reith Lectures, Lord Radcliffe recalled Locke’s extraordinary confidence in the responsiveness of Parliament to the will of the people, and commented: It is only fair to Locke to say that, writing at the end of the 17th century, he did not foresee the extent to which the ...

Doctor in the Dock

Stephen Sedley, 20 October 1994

Medical Negligence 
edited by Michael Powers and Nigel Harris.
Butterworth, 1188 pp., £155, July 1994, 0 406 00452 8
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... inducements to lean one way are recognised by lawyers and doctors alike. An Early Victorian law lord, Lord Campbell, included even ‘respectable witnesses’ in the temptation to slant their evidence as experts. True, the case recalled by a Master of the Rolls a few years later, in which one side had obtained 68 ...

Gloom without Doom

Frank Kermode, 19 April 1990

Letters of Leonard Woolf 
edited by Frederic Spotts.
Weidenfeld, 616 pp., £30, March 1990, 0 297 79635 6
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... Leonard Woolf’s earlier years coincided with the last great age of letter-writing. Moreover his friends were people who had what may now seem an unusually pressing need to keep in touch with one another, even when not very far apart, and this need was well served by the Post Office, which, before 1914, gave London eight deliveries of mail each day ...

After Gibraltar

Conor Gearty, 16 November 1995

... the organisation he was applauding. A subtler Tory response came from the former Foreign Secretary Lord Howe, who suggested that the case was further evidence of the need immediately to make the European Convention on Human Rights part of UK domestic law, so that its terms could in future be applied by British judges sitting in ordinary cases in ...

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