Law: Briefs

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The Independent Culture
JUST WHEN it seemed the fifth Law Society annual elections might end up a rather boring affair, in steps David Keating to challenge current vice-president, Robert Sayer, for the top job of president.

This has led to some rather colourful language being used by Sayer to illustrate his feelings on the development. In the Law Society Gazette, Sayer's reaction read: "He [Keating] is throwing a spanner in the works of the reforms we have been trying to make in the last year." However, in the Lawyer magazine, Mr Sayer's objections are less measured, describing Keating as a "complete pillock". Keating's language is more in keeping with the office to which he hopes to be elected. He said: "In any democratic process, people should have a choice. There's no need to get hot under the collar."

WHILE ENGLISH and Welsh lawyers are being told to erase Latin from their vocabulary, their Scottish counterparts will have to brush up on their Gaelic. Under proposals drawn up for the Scottish Parliament, court proceedings in Scotland may be held in Gaelic. The Scottish government is believed to support the idea of a bill to give the Gaeliclanguage a higher status, including a role in court.

Campaign group Comunn na Gaidhlig has been pressing for more status for the language, which the group says is spoken by about 65,000 people in the Highlands and Islands. At present, only the Scottish Land Court can be addressed in Gaelic. In a separate development, civil court proceedings in the Western Isles and Skye may be held in Gaelic if all participants agree under proposals due to go to Westminster shortly. The move will come under the Council of Europe Charter for Regional or Minority languages, signed last year by the Government.

JUDGES ARE often accused of being unwilling to admit they sometimes get it wrong. Not so Judge John McNaught, who called a defendant back to court five days after imposing a nine-month prison sentence for stealing pounds 20,000 from a safe at the Portman Building Society in Swindon. The judge apologised for being too harsh and giving him a raw deal.

ALL STUDENTS enrolling at De Monfort University this year are to be given a brand new laptop computer. A calculated ploy to boost student intake or an unparalleled act of generosity? According to John Thurston, head of professional legal studies at the university, it "is not a bribe or marketing ploy". He told the Solicitors Journal: "We could have given students a disk and told them to load it on their own computers, but they may have not had them. This was the only way to create a level playing field." Unconvinced, a sceptical Nigel Savage, chief executive of the College of Law, said: "When people start giving away laptops it suggests they are losing their market share, and want to do something flashy to attract the kids."