The Court Service has given a massive hostage to fortune by setting detailed targets at all stages and levels of the legal system. Some will require an accountant and a management consultant to compute; in the county courts, staff are expected to be 80 per cent "effective" on some circuits, rising to 82 and 84 per cent "effective" on others. Another heading, "staff utilisation", or "the proportion of time staff were actually available for work in relation to the total hours they could have been available for work", sets a target of 81.4 per cent.
Others are more straightforward. Crown court jurors in London, for example, should spend an average of 85 per cent of the time they attend actually sitting. Elsewhere, it should be 70 per cent. And the target for the numbers of defendants waiting 14 weeks or less and defendants committed for sentence waiting 10 weeks or less is 80 per cent.
In the crown court, standard fees should be paid within 10 days, or five if submitted at court. Circuit taxing-teams should determine 75 per cent of cases inside three months, and all within six months.
Debate over Bar tuition:
The Bar Council has launched a wide-ranging consultation exercise that could lead to the Inns of Court School of Law in London losing its monopoly over providing tuition for the Bar Vocational Course. Peter Goldsmith QC, chairman of the Bar Council, says his body wants "a system of training that guarantees equality of access for prospective barristers, with a commitment to the highest standards of training".
Risks and derivatives:
The board of the International Accounting Standards Committee has unanimously approved a standard on disclosure and presentation of financial instruments. The chief issue dealt with in the document, the first stage of the body's project on derivatives and other financial instruments, is the disclosure of interest rate risk, credit risk and fair value.
Fight for the presidency:
The Law Society's 40-year-old convention of uncontested presidential elections has been abandoned, with two council members standing in opposition to the council's choice for president, John Young. The current deputy vice-president, Henry Hodge, will also face a challenge for the vice-presidency.
Roger Trapp, editor of Finance & Law, has been named runner-up for the third consecutive year in the Accountancy Journalist of the Year awards staged by the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants.