Friday, April 25, 2008

Iain Dale's Diary: The Ever Flexible Lord Goldsmith



Perhaps Evan Price can help us out? Iain Dale has very belatedly noticed that Lord Goldsmith has changed his tune on terror laws and specifically detention.

Legal counsel are surely bound by the Taxi Rank convention whereby they take the work that comes along in the order in which it arrives for them? They are trained to argue either side of the case according to who has booked them.

The Attorney General is more-or-less the government's learned counsel and is tasked with arguing the government's case. In a bit of a vacuum. With no judge to weigh the competing arguments. Not there and then anyway.

So what is Iain on about? Lord G may have "had that Tony Blair in the back once" but now he's cruising for new business with his yellow light ablaze.

7 comments:

Evan Price said...

I believe that the cab rank rule applies ... but as the attorney is instructed only by the Government; so I am not sure where that takes us...

I'll look at what Iain Dale says ...

Chris Paul said...

Thanks Evan ... though Iain's flailing about, as usual, so it may do us no good ... in terms of the cab rank it's almost as if he's taken a contract to provide cabbing for a year or two and has to take whatever govt cases come along and make their case?

Evan Price said...

It is a bit more complicated than that ... the Attorney is both the legal advisor and advocate to the Government and the senior law officer of the Government at the same time.

When Montesquieu was describing the English constitution, he referred to a 'separation of powers' and my reading is that this 'separation' had more to do with a philosophical rather than a physical separation. The Americans, the French and many others who have come to look at this afresh have gone for a physical separation ...

The Attorney is one of the posts in our constitution that is itself a constitutional muddle ... he is often Cabinet rank; yet he is also the person from whom indpendent advice is sought. Often the instructions are in fact given to others and the Attorney no longer appears in court very often.

As to Iain Dale's criticism ... as I said this morning on his blog, he fails to recognise the role of cabinet responsibility in preventing a minister from openly departing from Government policy and remaining a minister; and Lord Goldsmith has said, after he ceased being Attorney, that he would have resigned and voted against the 90-day time limit as well as his stated intention to vote now against the proposed 42-day time limit.

Chris Paul said...

Cheers Evan, as I recall other learned counsel were called on the war path and other matters that Goldsmith appears to have fronted up.

My partner - a mere solicitor - just settled a case having ignored and/or sacked three barristers the most optimistic of whom was exceeded by 50% in the end deal. A modest case as it goes.

Evan Price said...

I don't know why you call her a 'mere' solicitor ... barristers and solicitors are two sides of the same coin; only there are about 10 times as many solicitors! Many solicitors are far more specialised than many barristers and have greater knowledge of specific areas of law and practice than many and in some cases any barristers ...

Chris Paul said...

That's true enough Evan. In fact solicitors arguably get a far more thorough training. And in partner's case the stream of under-trained and wonky opinions from barristers makes that point very well.

Barristers at the medium to high end to tend to make more cash by far ... despite the great gaps in some of their knowledges and experiences. Even Barristers' Clerks on average make more than the average solicitor.

Evan Price said...

No comment about the 'wonky opinions' - haven't read them; don't know what the cases are about.

As to earnings ... its very difficult to tell what people earn from what is written in the press. Most comparisons that I have seen carried out by the Law Society and the Bar Council suggest that there is parity in earnings for experience, skills etc ... but many barristers and solicitors at the bottom end do not get paid very well; especially if they are paid from the public purse.

If you compare barristers in Chancery, commercial or tax practice with their competitors from law firms in the City, pay probably favours the solicitors ... at the top end - unless you are talking about the very favoured few at the bar (maybe 50 barristers in total?).