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IB April 2018

WOMEN IN THE LAW First

WOMEN IN THE LAW First Female President of Supreme Court inspires in Manchester on International Women’s Day Women in the Law UK’s 2018 annual dinner was hosted on 8 March 2018 at the Midland Hotel, Manchester and the first female president of the Supreme Court, and former University of Manchester lecturer and Northern Circuiteer, was invited as the guest speaker. The event, which is considered one of the premier events in Manchester’s legal calendar, was attended by over 200 of Manchester’s finest including The Recorder of Manchester The Rt Hon Recorder of Manchester David Stockdale, HHJ Elizabeth Nicholls, Edith Conn JP OBE, Nigel Pool QC, Winston Hunter QC, Mr Justice Hayden, John Broadly (back from retirement) and many more from the Manchester legal community. The event was sponsored by Lincoln House Chambers whose former member, HHJ Libby Nicholls, gave the introductory speech to Baroness Hale. Coinciding with a 100 years since women got the right to vote, and celebrating International Women’s Day, Baroness Hale spoke about the suffragettes, the difference they made and how women can be anything they want to be. Next year’s dinner will be another extra special event as 2019 will mark a 100 years since women were given the legal right to practice law. Lisa Roberts QC, Sally Penni and Baroness Hale WITLUK events are fundraising events and this year’s annual dinner raised money for charities including the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, chosen in particular for their support in the aftermath of the Manchester bombings, Prevent Breast Cancer, based at Wythenshawe Hospital, and Reign, a charity preventing child sexual exploitation through the training of police officers and social workers. Baroness Hale and Sally Penni Next year’s dinner will be another extra special event as 2019 will mark a 100 years since women were given the legal right to practice law. Planning for next years dinner is already underway and it will take place on the 14 March 2019. Bookings are now open via “eventbrite” and please do save the date and join us. In the meantime WITLUK are looking forward to continuing with their planned monthly professional development events which have a special emphasis on wellbeing and progression at the Bar. Lisa Roberts QC & Sally Penni Sharon Wade, Rachel White, Baroness Hale and Sally Penni 10 In Brief

COLLECTED RAMBLINGS The Collected Ramblings of a Disaffected Northern Circuiteer Part 10: As I am sure, by now, you will all be aware, I have been graced by Her Majesty with an appointment in the New Year’s Honours List as a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to legal education (Wigan). My letter from the Cabinet Office Appointments Committee rather bigged it up by reminding me that these appointments recognise the achievement and service of extraordinary people throughout the United Kingdom. Indeed they do. My letter also went on to say that my appointment should remain strictly confidential until after the publication of the List on 29th December. This proved rather tricky. In accordance with our Chambers policy of utmost transparency on any matter that might remotely be important, I felt it best to err on the side of caution and let everyone know. It was rather fetching that so many could suspend their disbelief just long enough to convey their heartfelt and sincere congratulations. Still, an appointment is an appointment, as I keep telling our new Presiding Judge. ***** In light of recent security concerns, heightened no doubt by my appointment, Northern Quarter Chambers has decided to invest in technology. Boris, a ten-year old Labrador Retriever, who descends from an impressive pedigree of Stasi-trained sniffer dogs, has been deployed four days a week in Chambers’ reception. He was sold to us on the basis he could detect nerve agents a mile away, which seems a bit of a risky thing for a sniffer dog to do, but there we are. Anyone who comes into Chambers with a remotely Russian name is introduced to Boris. And then we wait a while to see if everything is okay. What we do on the fifth day is anyone’s guess. He has his own entry under ‘Our People’ on our Chambers website, and I expect he will shortly feature in the Legal 500 as one to watch. ***** Back in the 1980’s, when the Bar was still fairly new, Chambers meetings discussed weighty topics with extraordinary vigour, like whether we could run to a second toaster for the Crim bods in a morning. Today we discuss things that none of us know anything about with equal vigour, like Bitcoin and Blockchain. In order to put fresh air between ourselves and our rivals at the Bar, it was proposed that we accept payment of our fees by cryptocurrency on a new digital platform. This sounded great, at first, but then I made the point that I barely have enough real money to put into my bank account, never mind unreal money. Nothing reaches into the innermost workings of a Barrister’s soul more than money, so we have shelved the idea. We then moved on to another weighty topic – CPD. Compared to Bitcoin and Blockchain, the new CPD requirements are perhaps slightly more perplexing, but in a move which was designed to bring some relief, I wrote to the BSB, complaining that CPD was a largely pointless exercise and asked for a dispensation. Their response (and I haven’t figured out if this is good or bad, yet) is to accord me ‘spot-check’ status for the next ten years. I will inform them I am an MBE. ***** Chambers dinner parties are something of a rarity these days, and after a recent incident, I expect they are about to become even rarer. Following a cessation in hostilities, Miranda Molyneux QC, our Head of Chambers, invited the great and good, and those with appointments, over for dinner at her semi-suburban chateau near Runcorn. It started off well enough, with champagne flowing freely. This is, maybe, where my problems first began. Dinner was the usual raucous affair. Like all Barristers, we told stories that were so apocryphal, they had taken on a life of their own, sprouted legs, run around the block and come back again. Of course, we all laughed out loud, frequently at things that weren’t funny. This is what champagne does to you. At 10:26pm, I decided it was time for a short adjournment. Rather like the Palace of Versailles, the bathrooms were not easy to find, but I did eventually stumble across what I can only describe as the finest throne room north of Paris, the centrepiece of which was an opulent porcelain toilet basin on a raised dais approached by its own gold-leaf alabaster staircase. Naturally, I romped into position, and after I did the business while singing the Marseillaise at the top of my voice I jumped up with a gusto, whizzing the loo seat back into position, and in that split-second, in that very split-second, the world came to a crashing halt as it suddenly dawned on me that the Court of Louis XIV were not great proponents of soft-close heavy oak loo seats. My goodness, you could have heard the impact on that magnificent porcelain bowl the other side of Widnes. I stood there in abject horror as a crack snaked its way below the water line and did what any half-decent ex- Criminal Barrister would have done in those circumstances. I panicked and started thinking of a defence. It took me less than six minutes to make my excuses and drag Mrs Knott out of the house in order to relieve the babysitter of our 26-year old daughter. ***** Back in Chambers I think Miranda has put me on some sort of watchlist. ***** For my fifty-somethingth birthday recently, my wife bought me an ‘Air Experience’. These are the things you talk about at Chambers’ dinner parties, if you get invited. My wife said it was something to cross off my bucket list, which was a bit unnerving because until then I didn’t know I had a bucket list. My wife said that time wasn’t on my side and that I should start planning ahead. Anyhow, I imagined I would be sipping cocktails aboard a Learjet while being attended to by pretty hostesses, but I should have known that the clue was in the name. My instructor, callsign ‘Iron Man’, was described to me as a combat vet with six thousand hours on F15 Eagles. I ascertained fairly early on that this wasn’t for wildlife conservation. After a briefing in which he spoke so long and so purposefully about so little that I thought he must have been a Circuit Judge in a different life, I did at least form the distinct impression that I was about to die. In reality of course I WAS about to die. It was the longest, most violent, gutwrenching, vomit-inducing, thirty minutes of my whole life, added to which I had to put up with Iron Man’s incessant pilot chit-chat coming at me in stereo throughout the entire flight. And if I told him once I must have told him a hundred times my name wasn’t Roger That! I think this was karma for the loo. John Knott MBE is a dog-loving member of Northern Quarter Chambers. He is free most Saturday evenings and prefers to fly Club Class. In Brief 11