Tuesday 13 October 2015

300 Lawyers

300 'senior lawyers' wish us to know that the government's policy for a programme of 20,000 Syrians over 5 years is too little.  Even the Grauniad reckons this lot have overstepped the mark, and John Humphreys didn't take too kindly, either, not to mention the Telegraph and Mail.

Not sure how much comfort we take from this high-minded journalistic disapproval.  The legal profession - judges in particular, of course - have it in their power to create severe practical difficulties for a policy they don't like, especially when it needs to be implemented case-by-case in the thousands, as will be inevitable when individual migrants are involved.  Long ago, when myself involved in a commercial litigation, it was explained to me in chambers that our case ran counter to a current strand of activist legal position-taking and that we would be in trouble if we ran into 'the South African tendency'.  

The what?  Apparently, during the apartheid era the liberal South African legal fraternity took it upon itself to interpret the law in such a way as to work consistently against government intentions - as expressed in the law - and carefully built up precedents etc to get their way, which was to thwart apartheid whenever they could.  Interestingly, significant numbers of these activist legal luminaries didn't subsequently choose to pursue their careers in Mr Mandela's wonderland, I wonder why, but came to London instead where some of them rose to positions of great prominence, numbering amongst the Law Lords.

Well, I keep away from the courts wherever possible and only know what I'm told.  And what I guess is that hundreds of activist lawyers and judges with what we might call a common purpose, could spell trouble for the government going way beyond silly letters to the Times.  Corbyn's newly radicalised front bench will be stirring it, too (oh how quickly the 'new reality' takes hold).  This one will run and run.



James Higham said...

And what I guess is that hundreds of activist lawyers and judges with what we might call a common purpose, could spell trouble for the government ...

Well italicized, Nick.

MyGobsmackedName said...

You'll note it wasnt called the common good....

Besides there'll be a lot more refugees now that a Chinese carrier has docked in Syria and are reportedly preparing to fly sorties with the Russians.

Is it just me or it this is completely fucking mental?
Russian and Chinese military aircraft potentially flying into NATO airspace in Turkey and over the Golan in Israel.

I see deflation taking hold in the UK too - as though it ever left - yet the BBC tell us house prices are rising. I'm starting to think the lunatics really have taken over the asylum.

Will it take Chinese submarines at the Thames Barrier?

Jer said...

MGSN - There will be many fewer Syrian refugees. The fall of Assad would trigger a rush though.

Perhaps there is a genius long range US policy to destabilise Europe - otherwise the US foreign policy, in the ME and Eastern Europe seems to be idiotic.

Jan said...

MGSN Any measure for housing (prices/rents) is conveniently left out of the CPI figure even though this is probably the most important item in most peoples' budgets.

dearieme said...

They are probably all child molesters, these South African lawyers.

I am a bit surprised, though, that they found it easy to work in London. South African law (like Scots Law or Quebec Law) is a variety of Roman Law, not English Common Law. Are you sure you've got this right?

Visc said...

dearieme - it appears to my eye that any excuse to try and render Common Law 'outdated' and suposedly superceded by statute is taken, so no wonder they all came across.

Nick Drew said...

dearieme - well I only know what i am told, but now I've done the job for you & googled it and there were 2: Lords Hoffman and Steyn

(+ doubtless some who never made it to the very top)

PS, we ran into Hoffman in the Lords and, as predicted by our brief, we lost! so the episode is firmly engraved in my mind - I didn't think i was mistaken

Steven_L said...


Common law can be superceded by statute. For example, detinue is largely superceded by the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1979.

More recently, aspects of misrepresentation have been superceded by the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014

Whether small claims court judges ever realised these things happened is another thing.

dearieme said...

According to WKPD there's not much room in his career for Hoffman to have done much anti-apartheiding: "Between 1961 and 1973, he was Stowell Civil Law Fellow at University College, Oxford ... After being called to the Bar from Gray's Inn in 1964, Hoffmann became one of the most sought after and highly priced barristers of his generation ..."

As for Steyn: "he settled in the UK in 1973 joining the English Bar and building a distinguished international commercial law practice." I can only assume that he was prosperous enough to afford some time out of his careers to mug up on English Law. Maybe it would have helped that he made a living in a bit of the law that has little or no connection to English common law.

Anyway, if either was a hero of the anti-apartheid struggle WKPD is strangely silent on the point.

DJK said...

MGSN: It would be mental if Chinese carrier based aircraft were operating over Syria --- but they aren't. Can you quote a source? (DEBKA doesn't count).