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’.
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.
Keeping Your Confidences
Helen McGhee considers the legal rights which allow individuals and companies to resist the disclosure of confidential evidence, and the limitations surrounding legal privilege.
The new powers tackling promoters of avoidance schemes
Under new proposals in draft Finance Bill 2021, HMRC will have wider information powers and be able to impose tougher sanctions on those who continue to promote or enable tax avoidance schemes. Whilst a robust approach to tackle unacceptable behaviour by a minority of promoters is entirely welcome, the new rules would arguably impose unnecessary administrative burdens on those operating within the law.
Draft Finance Bill 2020–21—promoters and enablers of tax avoidance schemes
Helen McGhee, senior associate at Joseph Hage Aaronson LLP, shares her insights on the Draft Finance Bill 2020–21 and its impact on promoters and enablers of tax avoidance schemes.
Apple and Ireland Win €13bn State Aid Appeal
The General Court of the European Union has today annulled the Commission’s decision regarding two Irish tax rulings in favour of Apple. The Commission had considered that the two rulings constituted State Aid, granting Apple €13bn in unlawful tax advantages.