Posts

Showing posts from October, 2009

The Supreme Court - a Missed Opportunity

Some years ago I was a member of a working party of the Lib-Dem Lawyers Association that was tasked with commenting on the government's proposals for constitutional reform. One of those proposals was a new Supreme Court for the United Kingdom in place of the House of Lords. The others were abolition of Queen's Counsel and reform of the procedure for recruiting judges. It was quite a high powered committee so far as I can remember. We were chaired by Lord Goodhart QC and our number included Professor Jowell and Jonathan Marks QC.
To my mind all the proposals seemed very modest if not bordering on the irrelevant. The proposal to set up a Supreme Court with essentially the same powers and discharging the same functions as the House of Lords seemed to me to be nothing more than a name changing exercise. The only justification proffered by our wonderful government for the change was that it would end an historical anomaly. What anomaly one might well ask? Montesquieu's doctri…

Practice: Mediation in the IPO

Last week I represented a defendant to a trade mark and passing off claim in a mediation that took place in the new London offices of the Intellectual Property Office. This was the first time I had visited those premises and I was rather taken back to see that they shared them with Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authorityand, even more disconcertingly, the Insolvency Service. The IPO used to share their premises with the Charities Commission in Harmsworth House - rather less ominous for the sort of start-ups and other small businesses I tend to advise and represent.
The mediator was Mr Peter Back. This must have been one of his last mediations since Peter is due to retire very shortly. Peter and I already knew each other since he had spoken at a seminar on IP mediation that I had chaired in Leeds on 10 May 2006. Peter was a very patient and perceptive mediator and the fact that we did not settle was down to the nature of the case and the attitudes of the parties. I have appeared …