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Showing posts from 2011

Appealing convictions

It's been quite a while since I last got around to writing anything so I thought I best start off with something topical.  Then I thought sod that, I'll write about something relevant to me and everyone else can like it or lump it... or I suppose leave abusive comments, although you really shouldn't do that you naughty trolls.

In the modern world a lot of solicitors like to be lawyers and do lawyery things like consider papers, draft documents and advise clients.  I also enjoy that, but I have also come to terms with my additional roles, which include such delights as courier, messenger boy and now long distance delivery driver.

Anyway, the source of this rant comes from the fact that yesterday I ended my Christmas break early, left my girlfriend and our son at her parents to drive for three-hours to Leeds to collect papers for a client's appeal and then drive the three-hours back to my girlfriend's parents to drop the car back to her followed by another two-hours …

I have found our next Prime Minister

Good news, I have found our next Prime Minister!

Don't worry though, we don't have to abandon elections just yet, because I have a list of three names for you to chose from all of whom are currently unemployed and thus can start tomorrow.

First, is Giles Fraser.  He has been in the news recently as he resigned as Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral.  He is against violence and so when he become concerned that evicting the protesters from the church yard would end in violence he chose to have no part in it and resigned!  MPs in general take note, this is integrity.

Second up is Fraser Dyer, a Chaplin at St Paul's who resigned because he felt "embarrassed by the position taken by the Dean and Chapter" of the cathedral.  In other words, his bosses made a decision that he could not support on principle so he refused to support it and resigned his post.  Nick Clegg, Vince Cable & other Liberal MPs take note this is called sticking to your principles and be…

Wiping the slate clean - taking offences into consideration

The BBC are on a mission this week to discuss criminal offences that are dealt with by being taking into consideration, there are articles on their website, it's being discussed on the Today programme and I will be discussing it on Radio 4's Law in Action at 4pm on the 1st and 3rd November 2011 - well I might be if I was interest enough during the interview.  Taking an offence into consideration is the process whereby a guilty defendant can admit to crimes for which they have not been charged on the understanding that they will not be prosecuted in future for that offence.  This helps the police as each offence TiC'd counts as a bona fide detection and thus boosts forces detection rates.

It is not a well understood process, even by lawyers, and many make the mistake of thinking that once you TiC a crime you are safe from prosecution because you can rely on the special plea of autrefois convict - literally instead of pleading guilty or not guilty you enter a preemptive plea…

Legal aid rules offer modern equivalent of Schrodinger's cat

Sometimes you have to really think about a blog post, other times kind colleagues in other firms helpfully do it for you.  Today, I am shamelessly copying the words of Andrew Port who is a partner at Dexter & Port Solicitors in Reading.  The text below is from his letter to the Law Society Gazette that was published in the 27th October 2011 edition; both he and the Law Society have kindly given permission for me to reproduce the letter here.

"Now that there is no payment under legal aid for magistrates' court work which is committed to the Crown Court, I find myself in a practical equivalent of the paradox described by Schrodinger and his dead or alive moggy.I have a representation order for a youth charged with two robberies.  The details of the allegation are such that representations have been made to the prosecution that alternatives of assault and handling would be more appropriate.  The court clerk has already made her view clear that, if the charge remains as robber…

Letter to Vince Cable MP about legal aid cuts

Abolishing IPP sentences and missing the point

Bent coppers - when is too far?

Claims are flying about that undercover police officers were arrested, prosecuted and convicted while using their cover names in court.

This is serious because if true then the police officer would have not only committed a criminal offence, in one case it is suggested he was convicted of assaulting another police officer, but more importantly if that undercover officer gave evidence he would have taken an oath to tell the truth.  The first question his advocate would have asked him would have been along the lines, "would you please give your full name to the court?"  If he answers with his false name then he is lying to a court and thus committing a further offence of perjury.

I have seen reports that say senior officers authorised undercover officers to stand trial under false names.  If so then those officers are likely to be guilty of a conspiracy to commit perjury or pervert the course of justice.

Some police officers have been known to charge suspects with attempting t…

Riot appeals

In the immediate wake of the riots in August, there was a lot of nonsense talked in robing rooms up and down the country about how OTT the sentences were.  I had a discussion with one barrister who felt that the rioters should have been dealt with like shoplifters and sentenced on the basis of their actions, e.g. stealing a packet of cigarettes, with the courts ignoring the context in which the offences occurred.

Now that a bit of time has passed and the Court of Appeal is starting to uphold the sentences I have to ask whether anybody is really surprised at the sentences that were handed out?

Trafficking kids for crime

I saw on the TV last night that Panorama will be presenting a show about how children are trafficked across Europe to beg and steal.

It's nice that the TV and authorities have finally picked up on this problem, indeed the Crown Prosecution Service now has a whole team dedicated to trafficking and a policy about it too.

Trafficking has it's sexy side - by which I mean a side that gets reported regularly, probably because it involves sex, which gives the newspapers the chance to titillate their weird readers and set the tongues of everybody else tutting at the inhumanity of johnny foreigner and/or the vile indifference of men who pay for sex.

What rarely gets reported is the flood of kids who are brought to the UK (and indeed every other European country) so that they can beg and steal.  This isn't reported presumably because then the press would have to side with the feral youth whose crimes they like to gleefully report.  These kids in my experience are usually between 11 …

Citizenship tests

I fear I may have to leave the UK and settle elsewhere as I have just failed the citizenship test on the Guardian website.  Although, I would like to point out that the question about whether you can attend hospital without a GP's letter for a non-emergency is wrong on at least two levels.  First, my GP has never given me a letter to take to the hospital; and secondly, I know that my local hospital runs walk-in sexual health clinics that do not require a referral.  I believe they also operate some post-natal clinics on a similar basis.

The questions weren't what I expected and I did have to guess at a few of them... did anybody manage to pass without cheating or getting lucky?

Paranoia

I know the dangers of commenting about a news story and that sometimes facts come out later that put an earlier story into a new light.  But, I do have to question the grounds on which security guards would decide to challenge somebody for taking a photograph of his own child.

Search terms

It's always interesting to see how readers have come across this blog.  One chap has found me using the words "piss brif".  I'm not sure what he was looking for (maybe a lawyer to defend a gross indecency charge?) but I hope he found something worth reading.

New driving offences proposed

I understand that the Government are considering introducing a new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, which I suppose means I'm going to have to update the firm's website (again).

As a fellow motorcyclist, I have sympathy for Darren Braund who was injured when a driver pulled in front of his motorbike causing him to collide with her car but looking at the description of the offence and the sentence I have my doubts whether this new offence would have made a difference for Mr Braund as it looks like the car driver was convicted of careless driving rather than dangerous driving, in which case the new offence wouldn't apply to her.

Dangerous driving is defined as driving that falls far below the minimum acceptable standard expected of a competent and careful driver; and it must be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.

Whereas careless driving occurs when the way somebody drive falls below the minimum accept…

Tesco Law

I just caught the end of BBC Breakfasts discussion on the new Legal Services Act 2007, which changes the way solicitors firms are owned.

This probably sounds like one of the least exciting topics in history, but it is important to everybody.

Currently certain activities can only be carried out by qualified solicitors and for good reason.  In my own main practice area, criminal law, many people have this idea that what criminal lawyers do is very easy.  In fact, a lot of other lawyers think it's easy and will happily dabble in criminal law, often to the detriment of their clients.  In one case in which I acted, a co-defendant's commercial solicitor got involved in a cash forfeiture application.  On one course I attended that solicitor's actions were described as "stupid" and "ill-considered".  The solicitor didn't understand what he was doing and caused a loss of tens of thousands of pounds to his client.  My client avoided that unnecessary loss.  If…

Amanda Knox and the English appeal system