Law: Briefs

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The Independent Culture
LAST YEAR Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor, opened his private rooms to the public. Following a clamour of inquisitiveness from a gawping press, little was said on the subject. Last week Keith Vaz, parliamentary secretary at the Lord Chancellor's department, told the Commons that since 1 January 1999, the Lord Chancellor's Office has received 46 letters requesting visits to the residence and 14 requests to use it for a fund- raising reception. Twenty-eight letters have been received thanking the Lord Chancellor for the use of the River Room for charitable receptions.

THE JUDICIARY is often accused of ignorance over modern music culture. At this year's Inns of Court Summer Ball there was no excuse to feel out of touch. Headlining bands such as Big Country, The Human League and Jimmy Somerville were all straight out of the 1980s, a decade when at least some judges - if only the District variety - must have noticed who was topping the charts. The suggestion that the choice of bands might have been dictated by the event's budget rather than what is popular today must be placed in context with the fact the Ball is estimated to have raised pounds 25,000 for charities.

THE BAR, according to the legal services ombudsman, Ann Abraham, may have been making quiet progress as regards the system of dealing with complaints against barristers. She says: "Last year (for 1997) I expressed disappointment at the failure of the Bar to use its new compensatory powers to the advantage of a single lay-complainant." But 12 months later the situation has only improved slightly. Of the 638 complaints investigated in 1998, only one led to the payment of compensation by the barrister and a further five to a reduction in fees.