Thursday, June 16, 2011

Some news articles that caught my eye...

Facebook juror sentenced to eight months for contempt

When jurors go bad...

Yes, this is a story of a juror who thought they knew better than the judge and not only contacted a defendant via facebook but carried out her own internet research into the case.

The whole point in a jury is that you try the case on the information presented to you in court, to do anything else however tempting is just not fair justice for the defendant.

It may seem a bit harsh for this woman to spend up to four months in jail but I agree with the Solicitor General a message needs to go out to jurors that this is not acceptable. The whole foundation of our justice system can be contaminated by actions like this. Every defendant has the right in fairness to them to be tried only on the information presented to the court i.e. past history wont affect the burden of proof.

Banks must ring-fence retail operations, Osborne to say

This is about tighter regulation of the banking system to ensure the credit crunch doesn't happen again. Step1 is that Banks must hold more capital reserves, the international recommendation is 7% and in the UK the chancellor has gone for 10%, reminiscent of Gordon Brown's prudence. Step 2 is that the retail arm of a bank will be ring fenced from the investment arm. In practical terms this means that if a bank does fail the government could save the retail arm whilst letting the investment arm fail.

One criticism of this policy is that the banks will pass charges and costs on to the public. Well in my humble opinion you either make regular small payments or one big payment when we bail the banks out when they fail again. What we need to accept is that safe banking may actually cost us a bit more than it used to. The benefits are that we wont loose our money and we wont have to go through what has been an awful credit crunch again.

Another criticism is that the ring fencing doesn't go far enough, banks will still drain a retail arm to prop up an investment arm. Without all the technical details it may be difficult to work exactly if this might happen, but I look on this as more of a positive. A looser ring fencing policing will mean that the banks are not in a rigid straight jacket and can work within loosely defined boundaries to the benefits of the banks and the customers. For us, the customers, if we leave the banks with some flexibility then the costs for the retail banking side will be slightly lower.

To implement both of these policies seems a very sensible incremental policy change and not a knee jerk reaction that is unnecessary or costly.

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