Category Archives: Access to justice

Where did all the privacy injunctions go? A response to the Queen’s Bench ‘Media List’ consultation

Dr Judith Townend highlights the difficulties in accessing accurate data on privacy injunctions as part of a submission made on behalf of the Transparency Project to the Queen’s Bench ‘Media List’ consultation . Dr Townend is a Lecturer in Media and Information Law, (University of Sussex) and Associate Research Fellow at the Information Law and Policy Centre. This post first appeared on the Transparency Project website. 


According to the latest official statistics on privacy injunctions in January to December 2016 there were just three proceedings where the High Court considered an application for a new interim privacy injunction. Two were granted, one was refused.

Two appeals were heard in the Court of Appeal against a granting or refusal of an interim injunction (the refused application mentioned above) before it went to the Supreme Court, where the injunction was upheld until trial or further order (though the case isn’t identified, we can safely assume this is the well publicised case of PJS v News Group Newspapers).

This data has been collected for the past six years as a result of the Master of the Rolls’ report on super injunctions, conducted in the wake of the super injunction furore of 2010-11.

Following his recommendation that HMCTS and the MOJ investigate the viability of data collection on privacy injunctions, a new Civil Practice Direction was introduced to ensure judges recorded data relating to specified cases. These include civil proceedings in the High Court or Court of Appeal in which the court considers applications, continuations, and appeals of injunctions prohibiting the publication of private or confidential information (the scheme does not include proceedings to which the Family Procedure Rules 2010 apply, to immigration or asylum proceedings, or to proceedings which raise issues of national security).

Prior to the introduction of this regime, it was impossible to say how many ‘super’ or anonymous injunctions had been granted historically, as the MR (then Lord Neuberger) conceded at the time.

But how accurate is the Ministry of Justice data? According to the Inforrm media law blog, not very. Although the data purports to show fluctuation and an overall decrease in injunction applications since a peak in January to July 2012, the Inforrm blog has shown these statistics are “clearly incomplete”. The evidence is incontrovertible: there are public judgments in five privacy injunction applications in 2016. Furthermore, there have been press reports of other proceedings with no published judgments.

Inforrm remarked: “It is difficult to ascertain the true figure as many injunctions are never the subject of publicity – often because they relate to threatened ‘privacy disclosures’ by private individuals who subsequently agree to permanent undertakings. It seems likely that there were at least four times as many applications for privacy and confidentiality injunctions in 2016 than those recorded [by the] Civil Justice Statistics Quarterly. The reasons for this under reporting are unclear.”

It was worth remarking, as the judge in charge of the Media and Communications List at the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Justice Warby, has now launched a short consultation for practitioners and other court users.

Among other questions it asks users whether they agree that (a) collection of statistics is worthwhile, and (b) whether they think the current system is adequate.

On behalf of The Transparency Project, Paul Magrath (ICLR), Julie Doughty (Cardiff University) and I (University of Sussex) have responded: answering that (a) yes, collection of statistics is worthwhile, and (b) no, the current system is inadequate. Our submission can be downloaded here [PDF].

There is no official space for extra comment, but we offer the following observations and hope there will be an opportunity to engage further with the judiciary and the Ministry of Justice on this issue, and broader points about access to the courts (there is, for example, a problem about access to information about reporting restrictions and defamation cases, as I have previously written about here and here).

We welcomed the Master of the Rolls’ recommendation in 2011 for HMCTS to examine the feasibility of introducing a data collection system for all interim non-disclosure orders, including super-injunctions and anonymised injunctions.

Prior to this, there had been much confusion in the media and on social media about the number and type of injunctions that had been granted. There was some criticism of media exaggeration and distortion but at the same time, no reliable source of information existed with which to check the claims that were being made.

At a press conference marking the launch of the release of the Master of the Rolls’ report, Lord Neuberger said he ‘would not like to say precisely how many’ super injunctions or anonymous injunctions had been granted since 2000. The number could not be ascertained because no reliable records had been kept.

It is our view that it is wholly unacceptable that no reliable information exists for how many injunctions were granted historically. We were pleased therefore when the Ministry of Justice began publishing results twice a year. However, we do not think the system is reliable or complete, as has recently been observed on the Inforrm media law blog. It is worrying that HMCTS and the MOJ did not appear to notice the incompleteness of the data.

We recommend that judges should record all interim and final non-disclosure orders, including super injunctions and anonymised injunctions and relating to publication of private and confidential information (by mainstream media organisations or other publishers including individuals) – as defined in Practice Direction 40F.

We have two concerns about the process to date despite the PD being in force:

First, that not all such orders have been recorded. We do not know the reason for this. It is important that PD 40F is followed and enforced. Although we ticked option 5b, we do not think the judge’s completion of the form should rely solely on legal representatives prompting the judge to complete the form as they may have no incentive to do so. HMCTS should also ensure that the data has been correctly completed by the judge. Therefore, as part of the data collection exercise, HMCTS should have an audit procedure for ensuring data is being correctly and systematically collected.

Second, we do not think that the format of the data is accessible or as useful as it could be. We think that the anonymised case names should be published alongside the statistics to allow for verification of the data and cross-referencing with any published judgments (there would be rare exception where a ‘true’ super injunction was in force). We think the MOJ and HMCTS should also collect information relating to the eventual outcome: when an order is discontinued or expires, for example.

Given the narrow remit of this consultation, we will keep these comments brief. However, we have other ideas for how transparency and access to information in media proceedings could be improved with view to improving public understanding and education in these types of proceedings. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss these with you and would like to join any future meeting and discussions of users of the Media and Communications List.

Why using AI to sentence criminals is a dangerous idea

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                                                                                       Phonlamai Photo/Shutterstock


In this guest post, PhD researcher Christopher Markou, University of Cambridge, explores the use of Artificial Intelligence in the justice system and asks whether the use of algorithms should be used to decide questions of guilt or innocence.

Artificial intelligence is already helping determine your future – whether it’s your Netflix viewing preferences, your suitability for a mortgage or your compatibility with a prospective employer. But can we agree, at least for now, that having an AI determine your guilt or innocence in a court of law is a step too far?

Worryingly, it seems this may already be happening. When American Chief Justice John Roberts recently attended an event, he was asked whether he could forsee a day “when smart machines, driven with artificial intelligences, will assist with courtroom fact finding or, more controversially even, judicial decision making”. He responded: “It’s a day that’s here and it’s putting a significant strain on how the judiciary goes about doing things”.

Roberts might have been referring to the recent case of Eric Loomis, who was sentenced to six years in prison at least in part by the recommendation of a private company’s secret proprietary software. Loomis, who has a criminal history and was sentenced for having fled the police in a stolen car, now asserts that his right to due process was violated as neither he nor his representatives were able to scrutinise or challenge the algorithm behind the recommendation.

The report was produced by a software product called Compas, which is marketed and sold by Nortpointe Inc to courts. The program is one incarnation of a new trend within AI research: ones designed to help judges make “better” – or at least more data-centric – decisions in court.

While specific details of Loomis’ report remain sealed, the document is likely to contain a number of charts and diagrams quantifying Loomis’ life, behaviour and likelihood of re-offending. It may also include his age, race, gender identity, browsing habits and, I don’t know … measurements of his skull. The point is we don’t know.

What we do know is that the prosecutor in the case told the judge that Loomis displayed “a high risk of violence, high risk of recidivism, high pretrial risk.” This is standard stuff when it comes to sentencing. The judge concurred and told Loomis that he was “identified, through the Compas assessment, as an individual who is a high risk to the community”.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court convicted Loomis, adding that the Compas report brought valuable information to their decision, but qualified it by saying he would have received the same sentence without it. But how can we know that for sure? What sort of cognitive biases are involved when an all-powerful “smart” system like Compas suggests what a judge should do? Continue reading

Access to information should not be an after-thought in plans for ‘transforming our justice system’

In this post, Sussex University lecturer Judith Townend argues that access to information should be at the heart of plans to reform the justice system. She summarises the key points from her submission to the Ministry of Justice in response to the consultation on the proposed reforms. The post first appeared on the Transparency Project website. 

Transforming justice - access to justiceOn 15th September 2016 the Ministry of Justice opened its consultation into “Transforming Our Justice System”. The 36 page document, accompanied by a statement by the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chief Justice and the Senior President of Tribunals, sets out a “vision” for a radical overhaul and major financial investment in courts and tribunals in England and Wales. The plans for reform include more use of case officers for routine tasks, more decisions made “on the papers” (where a judge can consider representations without a physical hearing), more virtual hearings, and more cases resolved out of court.

The consultation document concentrated on some specific areas of reform including its “assisted digital” strategy (to help users access services), and online conviction and statutory fixed fine plans. The latter would allow for certain routine, low-level summary, non-imprisonable offences with no identifiable victim to be resolved entirely online, whereby a defendant would enter their plea to an online system. If that’s a guilty plea they would be able to view the penalty, accept the conviction and penalty, and pay their fine.

Responses were sought on online convictions and the “assisted digital” strategy by 10th November (extended after an administrative error). It is likely that many of the responses will focus on the access to justice issues and the risks of an online plea system; research by the charity Transform Justice, for example, indicates that “many unrepresented defendants do not understand whether they are guilty or innocent in legal terms – whether they have a valid defence – and certainly don’t understand the full implications of each option”.

However, there’s another major issue which is overlooked in the consultation, that of access to courts and tribunals by members of the public who are not necessarily directly involved with proceedings — this includes members of the media, NGOs and universities, but also ordinary people who wish to observe proceedings and access the information to which they are legitimately entitled.

Although the consultation document contains a pledge that the judiciary and government will “continue to ensure open justice”, access to proceedings and materials is not explored in any detail in relation to the specific reforms outlines on online convictions and “assisted digital”. It states the “principle of open justice will be upheld and the public will still be able to see and hear real-time hearings, whilst we continue to protect the privacy of the vulnerable” (p.5). This sentence points to a very important tension in complex digital environments, and one that needs overt recognition and detailed consideration when designing new access systems for online court procedures in both civil and criminal contexts.

There is mention of “transparency” in the joint statement (p.10) but only in relation to general data about proceedings (i.e. statistics) rather than with regard to access to proceedings. The Impact Assessment on Online Convictions mentions that “Listings and results would be published” (p.5, para 23) with no indication of whether this means to the open web (indefinitely?), or in a physical courtroom. If they intend to publish the full listings for all these summary only non-imprisonable offences to the open web, it is very important that the judiciary and MoJ consider the legal and societal implication of this — it is not something that has previously been done so systematically by the court.

Given that many major criminal convictions are unreported by the media owing to a lack of resource or interest, we could end up in a strange situation where there is greater access via online search for far less serious offences and this must be considered in the context of issues such as equal opportunities and potential barriers to work, as well as open justice and transparency. The MoJ, HMCTS and Judiciary should investigate a range of technological options for sharing data from courts and tribunals and should open these proposals to scrutiny through stakeholder research and official consultation.

In the annual University of Sussex Draper Lecture 2016 in London this week (8 November), Lord Justice Fulford* said that one option being considered was to provide viewing centres in public buildings, but these were early days and they were still looking for imaginative solutions. It would seem perverse, given the overall agenda of the reforms, for the courts not to consider digital access options that do not require physical travel to court.  

On behalf of the Transparency Project I have written a submission to the consultation, raising our overall concern about the lack of attention given to open justice and access to information in these initial documents. Our submission urges the Ministry of Justice and Judiciary to provide more detail on their specific plans for physical and digital access to virtual proceedings and to open these plans to further consultation. Too often, public access to courts information is an afterthought, which leads to mistakes such as the inadvertent release of sensitive and confidential data, or insufficient information and access being made available.

*Unfortunately I was unable to attend the lecture but it was reported by TP member Paul Magrath here and the Law Society Gazette here.

Judith Townend is a lecturer in media and information law at the University of Sussex and a member of the Transparency Project Core Group. She is the former Director of the Information Law and Policy Centre. 

Photo: Steph GrayCC BY-SA 2.0

Full Programme: Annual Workshop and Evening Lecture

Restricted and Redacted: Where now for human rights and digital information control?

The full programme for the Information Law and Policy Centre’s annual workshop and lecture on Wednesday 9th November 2016 is now available (see below).

For both events, attendance will be free of charge thanks to the support of the IALS and our sponsor, Bloomsbury’s Communications Law journal.

To register for the afternoon workshop please visit this Eventbrite page.
To register for the evening lecture please visit this Eventbrite Page.

Please note that for administrative purposes you will need to book separate tickets for the afternoon and evening events if you would like to come to both events.



11.15am: Welcome

  • Judith Townend, University of Sussex
  • Paul Wragg, University of Leeds
  • Julian Harris, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London

11.30am-1pm: PANEL 1 – choice between A and B

Panel A: Social media, online privacy and shaming

Chair: Asma Vranaki, Queen Mary University of London

  1. David Mangan, City, University of London, Dissecting Social Media: Audience and Authorship
  2. Marion Oswald, Helen James, Emma Nottingham, University of Winchester, The not-so-secret life of five year olds: Legal and ethical issues relating to disclosure of information and the depiction of children on broadcast and social media
  3. Maria Run Bjarnadottir, Ministry of the Interior in Iceland, University of Sussex, Does the internet limit human rights protection? The case of revenge porn
  4. Tara Beattie, University of Durham, Censoring online sexuality – A non-heteronormative, feminist perspective

Panel B: Access to Information and protecting the public interest

Chair: Judith Townend, University of Sussex

  1. Ellen P. Goodman, Rutgers University, Obstacles to Using Freedom of Information Laws to Unpack Public/Private Deployments of Algorithmic Reasoning in the Public Sphere
  2. Felipe Romero-Moreno, University of Hertfordshire, ‘Notice and staydown’, the use of content identification and filtering technology posing a fundamental threat to human rights
  3. Vigjilenca Abazi, Maastricht University, Mapping Whistleblowing Protection in Europe: Information Flows in the Public Interest

1-2pm: LUNCH 

2-3.30pm: PANEL 2 – choice between A and B

Panel A: Data protection and surveillance

Chair: Nora Ni Loideain, University of Cambridge

  1. Jiahong Chen, University of Edinburgh, How the Best Laid Plans Go Awry: The (Unsolved) Issues of Applicable Law in the General Data Protection Regulation
  2. Jessica Cruzatti-Flavius, University of Massachusetts, The Human Hard Drive: Name Erasure and the Rebranding of Human Beings
  3. Wenlong Li, University of Edinburgh, Right to Data Portability (RDP)
  4. Ewan Sutherland, Wits University, Wire-tapping in the regulatory state – changing times, changing mores

Panel B: Technology, power and governance

Chair: Chris Marsden, University of Sussex

  1. Monica Horten, London School of Economics, How Internet structures create closure for freedom of expression – an exploration of human rights online in the context of structural power theory
  2. Perry Keller, King’s College, London, Bringing algorithmic governance to the smart city
  3. Marion Oswald, University of Winchester and Jamie Grace, Sheffield Hallam University, Intelligence, policing and the use of algorithmic analysis – initial conclusions from a survey of UK police forces using freedom of information requests as a research methodology
  4. Allison Holmes, Kent University, Private Actor or Public Authority? How the Status of Communications Service Providers affects Human Rights

3.30-5pm: PANEL 3 – choice between A and B

Panel A: Intermediary Liability

Chair: Christina Angelopoulos, University of Cambridge

  1. Judit Bayer, Miskolc University, Freedom and Diversity on the Internet: Liability of Intermediaries for Third Party Content
  2. Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay, Félix Tréguer, CNRS-Sorbonne Institute for Communication Sciences and Federica Giovanella, University of Trento, Intermediary Liability and Community Wireless Networks Design Shaping
  3. David Rolph, University of Sydney, Liability of Search Engines for Publication of Defamatory Matter: An Australian Perspective

Panel B: Privacy and anonymity online

Chair: Paul Wragg, University of Leeds

  1. Gavin Phillipson, University of Durham, Threesome injuncted: has the Supreme Court turned the tide against the media in online privacy cases?
  2. Fiona Brimblecombe, University of Durham, European Privacy Law
  3. James Griffin, University of Exeter and Annika Jones, University of Durham, The future of privacy in a world of 3D printing



Lecture Title: Heads and shoulders, knees and toes (and eyes and ears and mouth and nose…): The impact of the General Data Protection Regulation on use of biometrics.

Biometrics are touted as one of the next big things in the connected world. Specific reference to biometrics and genetic data has been included for the first time in the General Data Protection Regulation. How does this affect existing provisions? Will the impact of the Regulation be to encourage or to restrict the development of biometric technology?

  • Speaker: Rosemary Jay, Senior Consultant Attorney at Hunton & Williams and author of Sweet & Maxwell’s Data Protection Law & Practice.
  • Chair: Professor Lorna Woods, University of Essex
  • Respondents: Professor Andrea Matwyshyn, Northeastern University and Mr James Michael, IALS

The Humanity of Barristers: Stories from the Bar

LS1385_0008In this guest post Atalanta Goulandris, former barrister and PhD researcher at City University London,  reflects on the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies’ contribution to the Being Human festival: the ‘Humanity of Lawyers’, which focused on the work of the Bar…

There is a general lack of knowledge about the Bar, with misconceived notions of what barristers do, how they work and their professional interaction with the solicitor branch and the public. The ‘humanity’ of barristers is not something people generally think or talk about. This was, however, the starting point for the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies’ (IALS) contribution to the national Being Human festival in November 2015, which is led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

Whilst promoting the event – a follow up to last year’s ‘Humanity of Judging’ at the Supreme Court – it was striking how many chuckled (or guffawed) at the notion that barristers have humanity! Common portrayals of barristers, whether in the press or emanating from the Ministry of Justice, are of ‘fat cat lawyers’ or clever, slippery-tongued advocates, who are cool and detached. Aside from being simplistic and one dimensional, these characterisations ignore the complexity of barristers’ professional role, the ethics that underpin their thoughts and actions and the difficult real life situations in which they perform as professionals and as people.

Our venue was the Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court in London, places most members of the public would not usually visit – and therefore appropriate to this year’s festival theme,  ‘Hidden and Revealed’.  Although much of barristers’ work takes place in public courtrooms, much also remains hidden from view, with many working in the cloistered surroundings of the Inns of Court or in chambers across the provinces.

At our event on 19th November – deliberately pitched at a wide public audience – many remarked that they had never been inside the Temple, had no idea it was there and were astonished by the beauty of the buildings, the gardens and the interior of the magnificent Parliament chamber. If nothing else, the physical surroundings in which barristers work were revealed.

parliamentchamberOur five speakers, from academia and practice, approached the topic from different perspectives.

Dr Justine Rogers, joining us via a pre-recorded video from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, talked about her three months shadowing pupil (trainee) barristers as part of her PhD research, which took an anthropological approach in considering their professional identity formation.

LS1385_0010Dividing her time between commercial/chancery, criminal and family law chambers, she was struck by the intensity and the humanity of their professional lives. Citing examples, she charted the taxing emotional challenges pupils and barristers face on a daily basis, whether it was being humiliated by a judge for getting something wrong, being shouted and spat at by an upset and unhappy client in the cells underneath a criminal court or having to deploy strategic sympathy (sometimes real!) to a distressed client in order to provide support.

She witnessed pupils develop the ability to detach themselves from some of these challenges in order to be able to perform their role professionally and manage their fears to appear supremely confident, when very often they were not, having just started out in their careers. Of barristers more generally, she remarked that although they were aware that they were often disliked, they felt it was more important to get things right for the client than be popular. Justine found that the barristers she observed were generous with their time, witty and good company and although they downplayed their ethical role as fearless, independent and honest advocates, these aspects of their professional life were a source of great pride.

LS1385_0011Professor Andy Boon, of City University London spoke next and mindful of the lay audience, gave a brief historical overview of lawyers and the rule of law. Explaining the role lawyers played in developing the framework of rights under the rule of law, he then cited three aspects of a lawyer’s role: neutrality, partisanship and non-accountability. Focusing on two barristers at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, he illustrated how essential it was for them to not be morally judgmental about their clients, how they had to give every client their best shot and how they could not be accountable of the moral consequences of their representation, however controversial that might be.

Thomas Erskine (1750-1823) was accused of being ‘shameful’ by the Attorney General, for defending Thomas Paine in his trial for seditious libel. His response was both courageous and very human:

‘I will forever, at all hazards, assert the dignity, independence and integrity of  the English bar, without which impartial justice, the most valuable part of the English constitution, can have no existence. From the moment that any advocate can be permitted to say that he will or will not stand between the  Crown and the subject arraigned in the court where he daily sits to practice, from that moment the liberties of England are at an end.’ In Rt Hon. Lord Widgery, ‘The Compleat Advocate’ (1975) 43:6 Fordham Law Review

Andy’s second example was Henry Brougham (1778-1868) who defended Queen Caroline in 1820 in a trial brought by her husband, King George IV. Even faced with the likelihood of undermining the credibility of the monarch, he felt it was his duty to defend her, however dangerous that might be for him personally.

‘(a)n advocate, in the discharge of his duty, knows but one person in all the  world, and that person is his client. To save that client by all means, and expedients, and at all hazards and costs to other persons, and among them, to himself, is his first and only duty; and in performing his duty, he must not  regard the alarm, the torments, the destruction he may bring upon others. Separating the duty of a patriot from that of an advocate, he must go on reckless of consequences, though it should be his unhappy fate to involve his country in confusion.’ In Nightingale (ed) Trial of Queen Caroline (1821)

Both examples serve to illustrate the importance of the rule of law, and the courage, integrity and humanity of the advocates that defended it in the past and continue to do so in the face of continuous challenges.

LS1385_0018The audience then heard from the first of two barristers, Robin Howard, of 1 Gray’s Inn Square chambers. ‘Are we human? I hope we are. Do we not bleed?’ he opened, before describing the context in which most barristers work, namely of representing clients in extremis. Whether it concerned their liberty, livelihood, home, family, possessions or health, more often than not by the time clients meet their barrister they are in trouble and the stakes are high. For him it is a privilege to be called upon in these circumstances to use his strength, effort and skills in acting for them.

He agreed with Justine Rogers that some form of detachment or ‘carapace’ was necessary in order for him to carry out his work professionally. He also brought up the question that all barristers, whatever their practice, get asked: how can you defend someone you know is guilty? Robin’s answer was you never know the client is guilty, unless he/she tells you and that the barrister’s opinion of innocence or guilt is irrelevant, every client having the right to a fair hearing. For him the real pressure comes when defending someone he believes to be innocent and if he has failed to secure their acquittal, it is those cases that he remembers years later and feels bad about.

LS1385_0025Mavis Maclean, University of Oxford, spoke next about her ten years of research, observing barristers, solicitors and judges in the family courts. One study involved shadowing family law barristers. Having worked for the Lord Chancellor’s Department and its successor, the Ministry of Justice, Mavis was taken aback by the negative view most of the civil servants and politicians held about lawyers generally and with regard to family lawyers how they perceived them to be profiting from tax payers money (via legal aid, when it was available for private family law cases) by stirring things up between divorcing couples.

Her research did not support this view – rather, she found that all the legal professionals did everything they could to diffuse the tense situations in family law cases, focusing more on negotiation and sorting out housing and child issues in an attempt to avoid contested court hearings. She was impressed by the delicacy, tact, respect and grace with which barristers, often quite young, handled difficult cases and distressed clients.

She observed them spending many unpaid hours after a case was over, talking with clients and helping them find the courage and self-respect to carry on, when, for example, they had lost custody of their children. Her assessment of barristers could not have been further from the unpleasant, tough image portrayed by politicians, whom she mused were perhaps more concerned with their own career advancement when proposing clever and money saving reforms at the expense of the work family lawyers did.

LS1385_0031Public law and human rights barrister Caolifhionn Gallagher was the last speaker. She agreed that the public perception of barristers was mainly negative, with ‘money grabbing’ and ‘dishonest’ images prevailing, placing lawyers on a par with estate agents, bailiffs, politicians, used car salesman and traffic wardens, amongst others, as the most hated professions. She suggested that perhaps this was because many people only come into contact with lawyers at ‘the worst time of their lives’ and resent needing them or that many don’t really understand what lawyers do or appreciate the amount of hours of work that is involved for what might seem a fairly short hearing. She felt, nonetheless, that many had had positive personal experiences with their own particular lawyer, despite the ‘pale, stale, male’ stereotype so evident in images of barristers.

LS1385_0036Caolifhionn likened barristers to professional problem solvers, who acted as a conduit in explaining a client’s situation to the court. She remarked that having a young family of her own often drove her to work even harder for those that had lost a family member, her appreciation of their loss being even greater. Much of her work was out of the public eye, but was often the most rewarding. She described calling a duty judge on the phone late at night to seek remedies when a public body had failed in its duty to, for example, find shelter for a child who was homeless or reverse the unlawful separation of a mother and child.

She did not mind being ‘humiliated’ by a judge, as Justine Rogers described, as long as she had done her job properly and highlighted that the only thing that mattered to her was the clients and acting in their best interests. Although Caolifhionn agreed that some form of emotional detachment was necessary to do her job as well as she could, she also felt that this should not prevent barristers from identifying with causes and getting involved in wider campaigning. In her case she was involved in the Act for the Act campaign to promote accurate real life stories of people who have benefited from the Human Rights Act, a meaningful and valuable antidote to the many misconceptions surrounding it.

LS1385_0037A lively Q&A discussion followed, before more conversation over LS1385_0052drinks.

Those who were unable to make this event or would like to know more about the theme might like to pass by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies at 17 Russell Square where in the foyer there are two cabinet displays on our Humanity of Lawyers theme.

The display includes archival material from the Inner Temple Library, a selection of books written by practitioners and academics, with extensive captions, as well as a display of watercolours by artists Isobel Williams, who has painted court scenes from the Supreme Court and photographs, by Stephane Gripari, of the strike action in 2014, when thousands of barristers, together with other legal professionals refused to work, for the first time in their long history, because of the extensive legal aid cuts imposed on many areas of practice.

exhibitionwigThis small exhibition will be on display during the spring term.

Atalanta Goulandris chaired the Humanity of Lawyers event on 19 November 2015.

A note from organiser Judith Townend at the IALS: we owe a big thanks to numerous people for this event!

  • to the School of Advanced Study for funding this event through the Public Engagement Innovators’ fund
  • our student volunteers from the University of Sussex law school; photographer Lloyd Sturdy; Nimal Waragoda Vitharana and Muhibul Islam from the IALS for AV and library research support respectively
  • our hosts, the Inner Temple – in particular Alice Pearson, Magna Carta Project Manager, for facilitating the event, and Patrick Maddams, sub-treasurer of the Inner Temple, for welcoming us to the Temple on the evening
  • all the speakers and our chair and adviser Atalanta Goulandris, who provided us with invaluable guidance in putting together the programme and display.

Thank you all!

Can resolving disputes online deliver better access to justice?

Professor Richard Susskind OBE is well known within the legal profession for his numerous books predicting a dramatic transformation in legal practice, and calling for an overhaul of 21st century lawyering.

In February 2015 he made national headlines for his proposed eBay-style scheme for online dispute resolution (ODR) and the recommendation that HMCTS introduce a new, internet-based court service, known as HM Online Court (HMOC), to be launched in 2017. As Chair of the Civil Justice Council’s ODR Advisory Group and IT Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice, he had been tasked with finding a way to resolve low-level civil claims more cheaply.

An article by Judith Townend in the September issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers sets out the main points of the report and considers the initial reactions to the scheme, its practical workability and the likelihood of its implementation. The article has also been published on Legal Voice and the Inforrm blog.