Monday, October 25, 2010

Fast and furious

One thing which strikes me as I study the law is the amazing increase in the number of laws and regulations. However even more than this, I am amazed by the overall fast and furious pace of change in the entire legal system. I can only imagine what it must have been like to study the law back in the early eighties as opposed to now. To be sure, common law traces its roots back hundreds of years but without a doubt the last thirty years has seen an exponential growth in the legal web which ensnares us. Not only does statute after statute fly out of the halls of parliament, but the amount of delegated legislation expands so rapidly one needs to be a specialist to keep up. Sadly it seems to me that the expanding use of laws and regulations pushes personal freedom ever further and further into a small corner. As parliaments feel the need to act to solve all of the woes of humanity, individuals seem to slowly but surely lose their freedom to act. Power is continually funneled down from the omnipotent lawmaking body into the hands of ministries, bureaucrats and unelected officials, many of whom have the power to act arbitrarily. What does the future hold if we keep up at this pace? Will there be anything left which is not legistlated or prescribed?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cut to the bone

The Con-Lib government yesterday came out with their long awaited and well feared comprehensive spending review. As expected, there was blood everywhere from the deep cuts imposed over the next several years. Perhaps nowhere were these as keenly felt as in the Ministry of Justice where budget savings are expected of over 25%. Obviously 25% saving cannot be achieved with 'economies of scale' or 'cutting the fat'. To reduce costs by 25% the Ministry is expected to close prisons, put less people in prison, slash legal aid, close courts, cut staff, reduce the CPS, put those already in prison out to work and sell off property. All of these steps might just bring them close to meeting their savings target. One of the most interesting comments however came from Ken Clark the Lord Chancellor who said that it is nigh upon impossible to rehabilitate a person who is sentenced to prison for under a year. Obviously the notion is that with the cost of every one person in jail to the taxpayer of about 40,000 pound a year it is better to have lesser offenses dealt with by income generating fines or some form of community service. More importantly perhaps is the acknowledgement that short term prison sentences are far more retributive in nature than rehabilitative. Personally, I believe the punishment should have a strong retributive aspect, if not for deterrence, then for the mere fact that criminal behavior should be punished. However maybe some creative thinking is involved in seeing what actually might be the best punishment for those convicted of crime. I will give some thought to it and should you have any suggestions I would love to hear them…

Monday, October 18, 2010

How good are you?

I seem to be bumping my nose against this question this week. Despite all the studying and all the essay writing, I still don't really know how good my performance is while studying the LLB. Am I doing work which is good enough for a First? An Upper Second? Hard for me to really judge. I don't think that my fellow students have the necessary skills either to give my work a proper grade. What's left then? To hope for the best and just keep on giving it my all? To splash out and pay to have some of my work reviewed by a professional? Usually, one is able to get feedback from professors in order to gauge how things are going. They are experts in pointing out what areas are strong and where improvements need to be made, however in this LLB course I do not have teachers whom I can draw upon. I am on my own. Normally this would not be too much of a problem, and I doubt seriously that I would actually fail a course (ha! I am sure that such arrogance will come back to haunt me). However the problem is that the access to the legal profession seems to narrow significantly for those with a 2.2 or below. To be sure, one can break into the profession even with a pass I suppose but the going is quite tough and the 'rebuttable presumption' is that you are not good enough for the law. So this rambling takes me back to the initial question - how good am I? I suppose the only way is to get out there and prove it. To be as active and involved as possible, interested and actively learning. To dive into competitions when I can find them and to get feedback as much as I can from others and be open to what they are saying. Hopefully at least with all of these things I will find that I am good enough for myself.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A room with a view

I have to say that one of the joys of being a law student is the voyeuristic pleasure derived from the glimpses into private lives through law cases. Where else but in the case of Tabassum (2000) could we learn of one man's overwhelming desire to fondle women's breasts? Little did he know that thousands of future students would then read about his escapades and the role which identity plays in consent. Or the sadomasochistic play in Emmett (1999) in which Emmett's partner willingly gave her consent to have lighter fluid poured upon her breasts and set aflame? Undoubtedly Emmett never expected this little episode to come to light (pardon the pun). Yet now we not only read about it but also take notes on the legal principles applied by the court in his case and how the common law develops as a result. I suppose that there are literally thousands of examples that one could draw upon that expose private dealings to public scrutiny. Could it be more than just a matter of chance whether or not we one day find ourselves as a case study?