Contact Law blog

Ben Letham

The ramifications of the Government’s criminal legal aid cuts exposed by Cameron’s brother

A serious fraud trial has today (01 May 2014) been halted due to the judge deciding that there was no prospect of a fair trial.

The reasoning is that the defendants will not be adequately represented because no barristers agreed to take on the case.

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Mass solicitor and barrister walkout against Government legal aid fee cuts

For the first time ever barristers across England and Wales have staged a refusal to work in the criminal courts, to raise the issue of the Government’s plans to cut legal aid fees by up to 30%.

They are being joined by solicitors, in what is also an unprecedented move, as they seek to highlight the two major issues at stake – the cutting of fees for legal aid work, and the belief that this will lead to poorer quality legal representation for those people not able to pay privately.

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Speeding his way to jail

Last night Chris Huhne, the former cabinet minister, spent his first night in jail for lying about who was owed the speeding points handed to him in 2003.

It is a dramatic fall from grace for a politician who was once considered one of the most dynamic ministers in the coalition. He only became an MP in 2005, but was energy secretary in the early stages of the coalition before the scandal broke.

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Chubby Checker to sue Hewlett Packard

An absolutely stonking story, this one.

Until 2012 an app, the Chubby Checker, was available to download through Hewlett Packard software for their Palm OS software. Now the original Chubby Checker is suing HP and the company that made the app, Magic Apps, for $500m.

‘Chubby’ is slang for an erection, and the app was designed to be an amusing piece of software allowing women to estimate the size of a man’s penis. You can see why they used the name – it’s great.

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Coroner finds dead spy was probably murdered

The inquest into the death of MI6 cryptologist Gareth Williams has ended in a narrative verdict. The coroner found that there was insufficient evidence to find that he was murdered, but said an open verdict would not have served justice.

Mr Williams was discovered dead in his Bristol flat in 2010. He had been locked into a North Face bag and placed in the bath.

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Court rules The Pirate Bay file-sharing website must be blocked by ISPs

Virgin Media has become the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) to block its customers from access to the Swedish file-sharing website, The Pirate Bay.

The media company is complying with an order granted by the High Court this week. Other providers named by the judge, including TalkTalk, Sky, Everything Everywhere and O2, are expected to take the same action in the near future.
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Chris Huhne case highlights seriousness of speeding fines

There has been a great deal of publicity surrounding the recent speeding case involving the former energy secretary Chris Huhne. Mr Huhne was accused of encouraging his ex-wife Vicky Pryce to take the points, which should have been added to his driving licence, so that he could avoid a driving ban.

Mr Huhne and his wife appeared at Southwark Crown Court on 2 March 2012, accused of perverting the course of justice. They were granted unconditional bail and were told that the trial, which could take place in October, would not take longer than two weeks.
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Family law arbitration drive launched in UK

This week saw the launch of family law arbitration in England and Wales following a drive by the Government to attempt to resolve more divorce cases through alternative dispute resolution. It is hoped that the move will result in faster and more amicable settlements in divorce cases, and will ease the burden on overworked family law courts.

The new scheme will be run by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators, which is a joint venture partnership between family lawyer groups and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

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British citizen to be deported from Australia after 40 years

A 47-year-old British man, who has lived in Australia since he emigrated with his family at age 6, is being deported to the UK from Australia because of his criminal record.

Whilst Clifford Tucker has been living in Australia for more than 40 years and has not had any criminal offences recorded against him in recent years, the Australian immigration authorities were alerted to his residency status when he returned from a trip to Bali in 2009.
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Foreign nationals to be targeted for sham marriages

The Church of England has issued new guidance for clergy urging them to be more cautious in allowing sham marriages to be entered into. The guidance relates to the practice of reading the banns before weddings.

The banns of marriage is the traditional public announcement of the impending marriage. The purpose of banns is to enable any objections to the marriage to be raised, so as to prevent invalid marriages being entered into.
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