Whilst I welcome the opportunity which Prince Andrew has to a jury trial in relation to the allegations against him, I regret the fact that civil litigants in the UK are denied that same right. When I began my legal career back in the early 1970s around 3% of civil high court trials took place with the jury, mainly, but not exclusively where the allegations were ones of defamation. Now that has all gone. The reason why judges and politicians dislike the jury system is that it introduces the human concept of right and wrong into what would otherwise be the dry application of abstract law to a set of facts. In other words, it gives citizens too much power in the judicial system. The landmark case which abolished juries in civil cases was the Court of Appeal decision in Ward v James 1966. However Ward v James was primarily concerned only with personal injury claims in which there was little factual dispute. Only whether there was liability and, if so, how much damages should be awarded. But Denning also said, “Let it not be supposed that this court is in any way opposed to trial by jury. It has been the bulwark of our liberties for too long for any of us to seek to alter it. Whenever a man is on trial for a serious crime, or when in a civil case a man’s integrity is at stake or where one or other party must be lying, then a trial by jury has no equal”.
I am alarmed by the Government’s intention to refer the Colston Four acquittals to the Court of Appeal because they don’t like the jury’s decision. Instead the Government should respect that verdict and move on.
For me, a jury decision is sacrosanct. It provides that crucial element of common sense in a system of justice that has become too professionalized and too remote from common perceptions of right and wrong. No wonder judges and politicians hate it. They hate the fact that the State does not always get everything its own way.
I knew at the outset that the Colston Four would be acquitted. Because that would have been my verdict. And I’m sure it would have been yours. So why was anyone taken by surprise? Whose idea was it to spend tens of thousands of pounds on a prosecution which could only end in embarrassment?
I would advocate a move to an American-style District Attorney system where chief prosecutors are held locally accountable for their decisions and use of public resources. At least they would get their priorities right.
When the UK government lifted the remaining covid restrictions last July, I thought that no-one would have any further use for my November 2020 book ‘Coronavirus: Keeping Business Open’, and I withdrew it from publication. But it seems that we are now back on the same crazy merry-go-round with a new variant and talk of a new circuit-breaker lockdown. This is in spite of the fact that most of the UK population is now fully vaccinated and there is no hard evidence that the new variant is any more dangerous than a heavy cold. So what is this new fear which is being peddled?
It’s why I’ll be dusting off the covers of my 2020 book and updating it with the latest regulations. I’ll also be giving it a new title, ‘Covid Law for Hospitality and Small Business’.
Just one other difference: the new book will be delivered absolutely FREE to anyone who requests it. Because I don’t want anyone to be fooled. No obligation. No catches. It’ll be delivered as a pdf to your nominated email address. Please look out for further details. Thank you.
Am I alone in welcoming the Government’s proposed return to imperial measurements? For me, what is important is that the change is PERMISSIVE. No-one is being forced to change to feet and inches. It is about choice. It is also about heritage. No-one is ever forced to abandon regional languages or dialects. So why should weights and measures be treated differently? Remember also that imperial are the units within which American tech continues to work. And they ain’t gonna change. And they have more influence over our lives than any two-bit politician or bureaucrat.
Why is our glorious summer weather now seen as a problem instead of something to be celebrated? Tell that to someone who lived through the frozen winter of 1684 when the seas froze and livestock died in the fields. The climate has always changed. Think about the Great Ice Ages of pre-history or the medieval warm period when Britain basked in a tropical climate. How do our summers compare with that? We’re just lucky to be living in an upward curve. The biggest threat to the environment is the cutting down of the World’s rain forests. But no-one is doing anything about that. Why?