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Judicial conduct: benchmarks for good and bad behaviour

Judges by David Pannick

The news that a judge has held himself to be in contempt of court – and fined himself – has yet again brought to public attention the issue of judicial conduct. The incident occurred in America, where there are plenty of examples of judicial eccentricity, to put it mildly; but that great nation is by no means unique in harbouring judges whose behaviour challenges normal tolerance of what might be considered proper behaviour from the Bench.

There are plenty …

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Fighting for justice: “let right be done” – The dramatic case of The Winslow Boy

The Winslow Boy - Let Right Be Done

The passion for justice is something that runs from generation to generation. It is the writing that permeates the stick of rock that we call society. Even when it isn’t there, perhaps especially when it isn’t there, its absence makes its presence felt.

Today we take the right to a fair trial for granted. Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the European Convention. And yet, we are never closer to losing it, than when we assume it won for ever.

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Paying LiP service to April fools

A guide to bringing and defending a small claim

It’s often said that a lawyer who represents himself in court has a fool for a client.* But a lay person who cannot get legal aid or insurance to cover the cost of a lawyer is not a fool – merely a victim of the new regime under LASPO (the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012) which (no doubt by sheer coincidence) came into force on April Fool’s Day this year.

Such a person, if forced …

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Litigants in Person: a cautionary tale

Lord Denning

It’s often said that a lawyer who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. The trouble is, when it’s your own case, you are more likely to be persuaded of its rightness as a cause and blinded to its weakness as a case. This is no less true of lawyers than anyone else, possibly more so, because you may be persuaded not only of the rightness of your case, but also of your superior skills as an …

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Taking all the credit for a pupil’s hard work

Old Smoothie

OldSmoothie was against a very traditional opponent today who always insists on bringing along to court the original volumes containing the particular law report in question. This meant that as he came into court both he and his pupil were weighed down by piles of authorities whilst OldSmoothie rather smugly carried his slim bundle of authorities in a folder under his arm.

The judge was an old sparring-partner of OldSmoothie’s and after he entered he smiled at OldSmoothie …

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