The Law Society Gazette, 7 October 2004
Tories issue warning over criminal contract tendering
Competitive tendering of criminal legal aid contracts is likely to lead to allegations of corner-cutting and incompetence against solicitors, shadow attorney-general Dominic Grieve MP told a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth this week. Mr Grieve said the competitive process due to be introduced for criminal law specialist firms in London next year raised considerable ethical concerns.
Courting the IT age
Five years ago, investment in court IT in the then Lord Chancellor’s Department was around £1,200 per head. This year shows the dramatic turnaround in our position. The Department for Constitutional Affairs now spends more than £6,000 per head. This shows the importance we attach to IT in transforming the way we deliver our courts service. Today, prisoners can now ‘appear’ in court via video link. This reduces hearing delays, improves security, and saves money within the criminal justice system. In the magistrates’ courts, deployment of the new Libra application, a national standard case management system, is expected to begin in November.
The Hon Charles Romer KC has been appointed a judge of the High Court. Mr Justice Romer has already created one
precedent by introducing to the courts the first woman judge’s clerk. She is Mrs Elsie Turner, whose husband was, until he joined the Navy in 1941, Mr Romer’s clerk.
The woman solicitor is no longer rara avis. An echo of past difficulties is sounded by the news of the appointment of Miss Lucy Nettlefold as one of the four women on the Royal Commission on equal pay. After taking an LLB degree at London University, she entered into articles before the last war and was one of four women who sued the Law Society for refusing to register their articles. The proceedings were dropped when, on the outbreak of the last war, Miss Nettlefold went into Government service. Her subsequent career as deputy assistant secretary with the Ministry of Food and now as joint managing director of a large industrial concern, shows us what law has lost and industry has gained.