Review of The Power of Persuasion (Blom-Cooper)
Power of Persuasion
Sir Louis Blom-Cooper is one of the most distinguished barristers of his generation, dubbed by his peers as a polymath practitioner. In this thoroughly enjoyable volume of essays, Sir Louis considers an array of topics covering the origins of the European Convention on Human Rights, judicial review, penology, reform of the jury system, the legacy of Lord Denning, and media law. Each is considered, thorough and thoughtful, providing clear insight.
His essay on the Convention is brief but incisive. He discusses the historical background to the Convention, the role and status of the Strasbourg court (supranational while paying deference to national traditions), and the position, advanced in judgments by Lord Reed, that the common and domestic law has as much to offer and should be our first point of reference, along with the judicial dialogue between the Supreme Court and the Strasbourg court, considering even, in a limited sphere, whether due process has "taken a step towards a unified system of criminal justice within the Council of Europe".
The author advances his suggestion for the creation of a Legal Forum of the Isles, to consist of senior judiciary of the various jurisdictions of the UK and Ireland and the chairmen of the respective bar associations (albeit in Scotland limited to the Dean of Faculty). This body would provide a forum to "consult and exchange information... to promote harmony and parallel development of the respective legal systems", an interesting suggestion given the recent amendments to Scots criminal law distinct from the rest of the UK.
The book is also not without humour. The author recalls his initial inability to recover, either from the Crown or with the assistance of the court, the plans of Bedford Prison, deemed essential to enable effective cross-examination of a witness, where his client had been charged with conspiracy to assist prisoners escape the prison and had been said to be in possession of the plan. His ability to recover it and utilise it, and his observation of "judicial deflation", is classic Rumpole!
Through these essays, the author demonstrates and achieves his power of persuasion. As he himself writes, “The power of persuasion is always accompanied by the product of failure.” A remarkable, expansive, persuasive book.
David J Dickson, solicitor advocate