Courts and Legal Services Act Summary

A Barristers main duty is to represent their clients in court, because they are professional advocates. This distinguishes them from solicitors; who on the other hand spend a majority of their time in offices doing paperwork. Barrister’s are also involved with paperwork; but not of the same capacity as solicitors. However the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 and the Access to Justice Act 1999, have now paved the way for solicitors to acquire full rights of audience; provided they have completed the required training, (www. barcouncil. org. uk).

Although the job of a barrister is demanding and they are not allowed to work in partnership with other barristers; even though they are permitted to share chambers. In order to make sure clients are satisfied with the services of both barristers and solicitors, the Law society and the Bar Council have separate bodies that regulate and represent them. The Bar Standards Board deals with the complaints concerning the work of barristers and the Legal Complaints Service deals with complaints concerning Solicitors.

The former regulator for solicitors (Solicitors Complaints Bureau) was controlled by the Law Society and therefore criticised for handling complaints inefficiently and slowly (in favour of the solicitors). However the Legal Complaints Service was introduced along with its new scheme of lay members who are not part of the Law society, (Elliot & Quinn, 2009). The Legal Services Ombudsman (LSO) on the other hand oversees the handling of complaints by the various regulatory bodies. If a complainant is not satisfied with a regulatory body they can appeal to the LSO for a reconsideration concerning a complaint.

Solicitors as well as barristers can also be sued for negligence where there is evidence that they have not performed properly. This was out lined in the case of Arthur JS Hall & Co v Simons (2000), and as a result both professionals are no longer immune from liability, (Martin, J. 2006). It is important that solicitors and barristers can be held accountable for their works; because they get paid for their services and should not be allowed to get away with neglecting a client’s case. Evaluate the selection and appointment of judges and how their accountability is maintained.

On the other extreme of the criminal justice system are Judges, magistrates and juries. The one thing they all have in common is that they try cases. Judges are selected from a field of lawyers and their duty is to apply the law to the case, whilst magistrates are a jury can compromise of unqualified and qualified citizens, who are required to try cases based on the facts that have been presented before them, in the court. To become a judge, it could be suggested that the academic route is the same as that of lawyers, because judges are selected from a pool of lawyers.

All judges, regardless of what court they preside in, are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of either the Prime Minister who in turn was advised by the Lord Chief Justice (the head of the judiciary), or by the Lord chief Justice himself, (Elliot & Quinn, 2009, p. 152). The former judicial appointments procedure for judges did not have a fixed criterion, so both the candidates and the clue what they were being judged on. It was also based on social networking, therefore leaving it open to class discrimination and as a result the majority of judges were white upper and middle class males.

This resulted in the criticism of the old system of appointment by Helena Kennedy a QC; she concluded that the system was infiltrated by gender and racial discrimination, which meant that there was little chance for people of ethnic minorities and female’s becoming judges. The current selection of judges is now based on merit and good manners and candidates are assessed based on their skills and attributes rather than race or gender, (Elliot & Quinn, 2009, p. 154). According to Elliot & Quinn, 2009, not all countries share the same method of appointing judges.

For example in France the profession of a judge is a career path on its own; whereby the profession has its own academic route and training process. Ideally judges should have a few years of intense legal knowledge and experience of the legal system; a trustworthy background that could be researched and reliable referees that could provide an honest account of their character. In all the French system could be flawed, because as a judge who is looked up to by society for justice, there is a need for one to have passed through stages in the justice system that could justify ones position as a judge with experience.

In regards to accountability the judiciary have several provisions to ensure that Judges are accountable for legal errors and unacceptable personal conduct. This can be through the media, scrutiny by the legislature or the Office of Judicial Complaints. These means of accountability can be provided through annual reports by the Lord Chief Justice from the judiciary, to the Queen, and select committees in the legislature scrutinizing heads of the different jurisdictions in the judiciary. However in order not to cross the boundary between the judiciary and the legislature this is done rarely.

In terms of accountability towards the civil society, the office of Judicial Complaints deals with all the matters brought forth by members of the public. In addition, the media can also be a form of maintaining accountability, as judges are required to give a public account of their proceeds in court. Evaluate the role of a lay person in the justice system and the advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to the position of magistrates and juries as a form of unqualified judges, it seems as though the use of magistrates for 95% of criminal cases has decreased the role of the jury in the justice system.

Most common crimes that are committed; such as theft are classified as summary offenses; therefore they are tried in the magistrate’s court, as magistrates only deal with the least offences. It has been suggested that there is no need for the jury in the justice system as they only try one percent of criminal cases (indictable offenses) and one percent of civil cases such as defamation, Elliot and Quinn, 2009, p. 221). As voluntary workers magistrates are not paid for their duties; however they have the right to claim for loss of allowance and travel expenses.

On the other hand the jury which constitutes 12 randomly chosen individuals from an electoral register requires a lot of preparation therefore making it expensive to summon and reimburse the 12 people needed. Jurors do not need any relevant qualification; however they need to have a clean criminal record; be able to speak the relevant language (English) and have good reasoning. The only people who do not qualify for jury service are those who are mentally unstable. To be excused from jury service one will need to have a credible reason or have a duty that is of more importance than jury service.

Unlike magistrates who have been criticized for the fact that they are mostly white males from middle class backgrounds. It is arguable that the jury is a much reliable system in terms of representation; because of the diversity in terms of age, sex and ethnicity; as jurors can be between the age of 18 and 65. The use of a jury also benefits the jurors as well as the justice system, as it makes the public aware of the procedures that are taken by the state in making sure offenders as well as victims needs are addressed in an unbiased manner, as well as given the opportunity to defend themselves.

In addition the jury is a significant representation of the society as a whole in the justice system; making jury trail fair, (Elliot & Quinn, 2009) With magistrates there is a possibility of a defendant or victim feeling as though he/she has been treated unfairly as a result of their race, if they are being tried by one person of another race; who is not in the position to judge by virtue of qualification and experience, but merely volunteer, (https://www.gov.uk/).