There’s been quite a lot of blawg talk about Paul Dacre’s speech, apart from here. I’m especially interested in Simon Myerson’s good advice to would-be barristers about avoiding judge-bashing, as disrespectful of the rule of law and ultimately of democracy. Of course you can criticise judges’ legal reasoning – this blog would be in trouble if I didn’t indulge in that quite a lot – but I think that requires what I’d call a scientific attitude, reflecting a desire to get at the “truth” of what the law is and to move legal reasoning forward. Plus of course a demonstrable ability to enagage with the legal issues, without which your criticism will carry not credibility.
Simon’s post was interesting enough to make me question my own recent and serious attack on Lord Phillips, in which I said he wasn’t fit to lead the Supreme Court next year. Even after reflection, though, I stand by it. I think to suggest it wouldn’t be a radical change if family disputes in this country were decided according to a system that discriminates systematically against women is I think well below the standard you should expect from the head of a consitutional court in a leading democracy.
I was pleased to be called “characteristically forensic” by Geeklawyer: praise for your argumentative style from that quarter is worth remembering and quoting (if necessary, back at him). Da Geek exemplifies Simon Myerson’s advice in arguing for the law to be different – I’m not sure his language is to be recommended in pupillage interviews, though. I’m sympathetic to his instinct to separate the rich and extrovert from the ordinary citizen, but I don’t see any way of doing that – at least not without breaching article 14 by giving people differential privacy protection depending on their income or wealth. Actually, I’d go further and say that we shouldn’t worry too much that the big cases are all about the rich: that’s just the way of the world when law costs money. Equally, freedom of expression cases can only generally be run by big publishers with plenty of cash, but I think the fact that they do so helps smaller, more shoestring publications. Just as Max Mosley’s victory makes for greater privacy for everyone.
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