What, one might have been tempted to ask in the wake of the “delay” to that much-hyped “British Bill Of Rights”, was Michael “Oiky” Gove doing to occupy his time at the Department of Justice (DoJ)? The Independent had the answer: “Lord Chancellor Michael Gove has been accused of ‘patronising’ his civil servants with an eccentric set of grammar rules and pet peeves designed to shape departmental correspondence”. Really? Do tell.
“Instructions posted on the Ministry of Justice intranet after he was appointed Lord Chancellor last month warn officials never to use the word ‘impact’ as a verb and to spell out contractions so that ‘doesn’t’ becomes ‘does not’. The bureaucrats are also told that ‘the phrases best-placed and high-quality are joined with a dash, very few others are’. Mr Gove also disapproves of ‘unnecessary’ capitalisations and the word ‘ensure’, which his civil servants must always replace with ‘make sure’”.
For starters, successive rounds of cuts imposed in the rates for taking on legal aid work have led barristers and solicitors on Merseyside to decide that enough is enough: in a joint statement yesterday, they told that “If the 1st July cut is to be implemented then Solicitors will have sustained a 17.5% cut over a fifteen month period in a profession that has not seen an increase to rates in over twenty years”. And there was more.
Dispatching coach-loads of legal eagles to break the action is not on the cards; indeed, other areas may decide to follow suit. There is also the ongoing interpreters’ boycott: “Over 2,300 qualified & experienced court interpreters represented by Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) boycotting MoJ contracts” they reminded everyone yesterday.
[UPDATE 1810 hours: as the Law Society Gazette has noted, the dissent over new legal aid rates has now spread to Cardiff, suggesting that any deal Gove may think he made with those at the top of the professions is not holding. The suggestion of doing more pro bono work may not have helped matters.
Clearly, the brilliance of Michael "Oiky" Gove knows no bounds]