Secret Barrister: The Criminal Justice System under Scrutiny
In the book, legal aid cuts and overworked, poorly paid lawyers make for a toxic combination, which falls considerably short of the ‘world-class justice system’ that the Ministry of Justice is seeking to deliver.
The Secret Barrister’s experience certainly resonates, and we need to ask what can be done to make things better. Tellingly, Victim Support, a leading independent charity, states that ‘[t]he legal system in England and Wales has been around for a long time and is widely respected. But it’s also complicated — particularly if you’ve never come into contact with it before’.
What precisely is so complicated about the justice system? Two key aspects emerge – transparency and access – and it seems both require significant improvement. According to the Centre for Criminal Appeals (CCA), a lack of transparency negatively impacts the accountability of the system and necessitates further reforms. Strikingly, the CCA observes that violations of disclosure rules by the police are occurring in 40.7% of cases, and trial transcripts are prohibitively expensive, which means that defendants cannot afford to appeal. On access, Liberty’s recent evidence to the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights quotes Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the then Lord Chief Justice, who wrote in his 2015 annual report to Parliament that ‘our justice system has become unaffordable to most’. Liberty’s evidence further notes that ‘only 39% of the general public believe the justice system works well for citizens and only 17% believe it’s easy for people on low incomes to access justice. The [legal aid] cuts have been criticised by leading human rights organisations, the Trades Union Congress, the National Audit Office, senior judges and parliamentary select committees’.
The DBKAG & K (CJEU) decision: an opportunity for investment funds?
On 17 June 2021, the European Court decided the joint cases K (C-58/20) and DBKAG (C-59/20) regarding whether the supply of certain services constituted the “management of special investment funds”, benefiting from the VAT exemption enshrined in Article 135(1)(g) of Council Directive 2006/112/EC.
Raising the bar: UK Supreme Court clarifies the requirements for HMRC to issue Follower Notices
On 2 July 2021, the Supreme Court delivered its judgment in R (on the application of Haworth) v HMRC  UKSC 25, finding unanimously in favour of the taxpayer and upholding the Court of Appeal’s decision to quash the follower notice issued to him.
The Danish Supreme Court decides the Fidelity case
The Fidelity case concerned claims brough by three undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS) for the repayment of Danish withholding tax on dividends received from companies resident in Denmark between 2000 and 2009. The Supreme Court rejected the claims on the grounds that the Fidelity UCITS did not fulfil the conditions for the exemption provided by Danish law.
A yellow card for footballers and their agents……let’s bring in another match official
There has been long running tension between HMRC and the way that footballers and their agents are remunerated. As the Professional Footballers’ Association wade into the debate, Helen McGhee discusses the problems arising from agents’ fees and image rights.