EDITOR'S CHOICE
You are here:   Features > Who Will Do Justice To Our Judiciary?
 
In these circumstances, it is not surprising that judicial morale is low. It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that when two or three judges are gathered together, conversation turns to the adverse conditions under which they are trying to do their job. It is the daily subject of high table discussion, another example of something that never used to happen. Recent retirees look 10 years younger, while they pursue third careers in arbitration or mediation. And the proof of the pudding is that the JAC’s problems in recruiting a sufficient volume of new judges are undeniable and serious. Of those that are appointed, a higher than ever proportion are taking early retirement. Indeed, this is increasingly becoming the norm, even among the most loyal and public-spirited.

It is true that there are still some first-class candidates putting themselves forward to become judges. Many judges still produce good or outstanding judgments, and nearly all of them work extraordinarily hard. There is a case for saying that judges cannot be immune from the cuts which affect other public servants. In the light of recent events, a contemptuous tabloid reaction to judicial dissatisfaction can easily be imagined. But if the position suggested in this article is even half-accurate, the long-term future is worrying. The onus then passes to those who maintain that, despite the deterioration in judicial conditions of work, willingness to serve and morale, the system can go on producing high-quality judges and judgments indefinitely. If it cannot, so much the worse for our common law, and for us all. Who knows when the judiciary will be called upon to assert the ancient liberties of British citizens against an overbearing executive or a tyrannical legislative majority — to declare (plucking an example at random) that a government cannot, by purportedly exercising the royal prerogative, abrogate rights conferred by Parliament?

Society is only as healthy as its judges, and its judges will in the end be no better than the way they are treated. 

View Full Article
 
Share/Save
 
 
 
 
BAH
December 20th, 2016
2:12 PM
Paul Leslie's posting is wholly inappropriate. His complaints arise from matters nothing to do with what Jonathan Gaisman has so pertinently written about and he does not begin to justify his comment that "most of this article is utter nonsense and even dishonest in parts". That is unsurprising: the article is on the ball and palpably honest.

Paul Leslie
December 15th, 2016
2:12 PM
Unlike most Standpoint articles this piece is not only utter nonsense but also dishonest in parts. "Society axiomatically benefits from a judiciary in good fettle, vigilantly defending our rights and freedoms, even — particularly — when there is violent disagreement over what those rights are" - what vigorous defence? With the full complicity of many senior and more junior judges - sometimes even without recourse to legislation which tramples the rights of the accused - more and more cases are coming to court where there is no proof even that a crime has been committed Especially since the deplorably one-sided report by Robin Auld, the only defence for the unjustly accused against prosecution is not the lack of solid evidence but a belief by the DPP that there is not a more than 50% possibility of conviction. As far as victims of miscarriages of justice are concerned they have to jump through expensive hoops and demonstrate their innocence "beyond reasonable doubt". Even when, as in the case of Victor Nealon, this can be conclusively demonstrated - including by invoking the proof (I am aware that absence of evidence is not always proof of innocence, but not in this case) that his DNA was completely absent, whether on the victim's clothing or elsewhere at the scene of the crime - there are any number of highly placed judicial functionaries to bring forward specious arguments to deny justice to the wrongfully convicted. See http://thejusticegap.com/2016/04/without-recompense-wrongfully-convicted... and other relevant articles.

Paul Leslie
December 15th, 2016
2:12 PM
Unusually for a Standpoint article most of this article is utter nonsense and even dishonest in parts. "Society axiomatically benefits from a judiciary in good fettle, vigilantly defending our rights and freedoms, even — particularly — when there is violent disagreement over what those rights are." - and the complicity of so many senior and more junior judges in the serious erosion of the fundamental principle of the presumption of innocence and the contemptible curtailing of compensation for the wrongly convicted? The wrongly convicted have to jump through expensive hoops to have a chance of being compensated and to demonstrate that they are innocent "beyond reasonable doubt". Take, for example, the case of Victor Nealon case where the absence of his DNA at the scene of the crime demonstrates conclusively that he could not have been guilty the high ranking judicial functionaries involved found a way to deny him any form of retroactive justice (I am aware that absence of evidence is not always a proof of innocence, but not in the case of this poor man who served seventeen years in prison following a deplorable miscarriage of justice). In a country where the judiciary is attached to the right of a fair trial someone who is acquitted or wrongly convicted and only belatedly let out of prison should not pay for justice to be properly served.

Angela Brown
November 25th, 2016
7:11 PM
The selection process for judges seems to be built around a framework of desirable competencies and behaviours, as frequently used by HR professionals. A much better indicator of capability and potential is performance in relevant current and previous roles, when available, which it surely is in the case of recruitment to the judiciary.

SGM
November 23rd, 2016
2:11 PM
I entirely agree and particularly enjoyed the excoriation of Falconer. It seems a shame to bring the Article 50 case into it though. However unfair some of the press criticism may be it is not a case of the courts stepping in to restrain a tyrannical legislative majority or overbearing executive, but of the courts being exploited by a disaffected minority to try to frustrate the result of a referendum. Perhaps it was the right decision from a legal point of view but lawyers should not be surprised that non-lawyers look askance at the outcome.

Post your comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
More Features
Popular Standpoint topics