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Showing posts from June, 2012

Injustice coming to a court near you in October 2012

CrimeLine - pretty much the foremost provider of legal news and training to criminal lawyers - reported this morning that changes to Defendant's Costs Orders are expected to come into force this October.

A Defence Costs Order is something you get if you have been falsely accused of a crime, you pay for your own defence and you win your case.  It's simply a branch of the concept that the loser pays, in other words, if you are in the wrong then you get to pay the costs.  So, a convicted defendant can expect to pay towards the prosecution costs just as the prosecution get to pay toward the costs of an acquitted defendant.  Sound fair?  I think it is.

As of October, this is set to change.  Companies falsely accused of crime will have to pay for their own defence full stop.  Defendants in the Crown Court must either accept legal aid (with contributions of up to £900 per month) or pay privately in the knowledge that following an acquittal they will not receive back a penny of the mo…

Legal antenna

I went along to court yesterday for a first appearance in a case where my client and two others are accused of conspiracy to commit GBH.

First, I must say that the co-defendants' solicitor was delightful, insightful and extraordinarily clever... she must have been since she described me as inspirational and amazing.  She also suggested that I could earn a lot of money, "because of who you are."  Come to think of it, she may have thought I was somebody else.

Anyway, we had very different views of the case.  She said she thought the defendants would have to plead guilty in the Crown Court.  I was a little astonished.  I hadn't (and still can't) see how the prosecution can possibly prove their case given that the evidence indicates that the "victim" attacked and stabbed my client and that the victim was never attacked and did not sustain any injuries.  In the first place, I can't see the complainant actually showing up to court to make a complaint with…

Let's all abuse Louise Mensch and Menshn

Regular readers of this blog will realise that I have a particular dislike of politicians and that I consider most of them to be part of a corrupt sub-human species and that entry to Parliament should require each potential MP to answer the question "Do you want to be an MP?"  Those who answer yes would be automatically barred from the job.  There are a few MP's who have real-world experience and who are thus not as bad as the others.

This is why I was quite pleased when I heard that Louise Mensch was involved in the launch of Menshn, a new rival to Twitter.  Anybody who casts their eyes to the left will see that I use Twitter for discussing the law, politics and trying to convince everybody to ride a motorbike. 

I don't use Menshn.

There's no particular reason for that, aside from that it only launched the other day and, to be frank, I still feel like I'm involved in Twitter and Facebook far too early in their lives for my liking.

There have been a lot of cr…

K2 Tax Avoidance Scheme and Jimmy Carr

If you came here looking for information about Jimmy Carr or to join the Jersey based K2 tax avoidance scheme then you are about to be disappointed as this blog post isn't really about either of them.

This week saw Dave Cameron show his somewhat hypocritical side on the issue of tax when he branded Jimmy Carr's involvement in K2 as "morally wrong".

Before going further, I'd like to clear up one thing.  In respect of tax, anything involving "evasion" is a crime and very naughty.  But, anything involving "avoidance" is legal and above board.  There are incidents where a scheme is set up to avoid tax, but where it is subsequently found to be in breach of the rules.  HMRC can then require payment of the underpaid tax and they usually do so with interest being charged.  So, a properly devised and managed tax avoidance scheme that is disclosed to HMRC is perfectly legit.

Given that HMRC are aware of K2 and have yet to indicate that it is anything ot…

Scots prostitution laws miss the point

An MSP called Rhoda Grant has put up a bill that will make paying for sex a criminal offence I read today.  You could be forgiven if you thought that this was already a crime, because we generally speak as though it were.  But, in fact the offences relating to prostitution do not outlaw the oldest profession in the world but they do attack some of the more visible aspects of the sex trade.

For example, if a woman (or a man for that matter) were to accept money in return for sex then no crime is committed.  If she accepted money for sex where somebody else is also selling sex then that's a brothel.  If she is hanging about on the street looking for kerb crawlers then offences are committed by both the purchaser and the seller of sex.

So, if you were to put an ad on an internet site offering call girl (or gigolo) services off of your own back and the transaction took place entirely in private where nobody else was working then neither party is likely to be committing a criminal offe…

Recommending deportation for foreign criminals

Theresa May has been criticised quite a bit over the past couple of weeks and she's been taking it in the neck from the Guardian and many lawyers over her suggestion that the right to a family life is a qualified right that can be overridden in some situations.  More importantly, she's upset lawyers by suggesting judges use their power under the Immigration Act 1971 to recommend deportation from the UK of foreign criminals.

Now, I may upset some of my learned friends, but I actually agree with Theresa on this one.  As Lawson LJ said in Nizari, "This country has no use for criminals of other nationalities, particularly if they have committed serious crimes or have long criminal records."

I have dealt with a number of defendants who have committed very serious offences but who have escaped deportation for reasons I've never fathomed.  In one case, drunken failed asylum seeker disagreed with a doorman's decision to remove him from a night club as a) he was excep…

Magistrates make me mad, part 3

I previously wrote, here and here, about a case of a young person who was convicted and sentenced as part of the London riots.  The posts were ostensibly about the conduct of the chair of the bench of magistrates rather than the case itself.

Today the case came before the Crown Court for appeal and the defendant was acquitted... the original trial advocate is now looking rather sullen, although from what I hear from the defendant and family he conducted the trial as well as anybody could have done, just on the day the tribunal were not with him.

Police to prosecute 50% magistrate court cases

I have just noticed a press release from the Home Office that explains the police are to be given more powers to prosecute certain types of offences.  It even says in bold at the top that the police will handle 50% of magistrate court cases!

I must admit that I am completely perplexed by the rationale behind this, which may be the result of a badly worded press release.  It seems that police officers are having their time wasted by sitting about at court and so to solve this the Home Office wants police officers to do all the work in court.... that's my reading of it any way.  The press release says, "The bureaucracy cutting move will see about 500,000 cases taken through the courts by officers" (my emphasis).  That looks like it is saying that the police will be expected to stand up and present cases, which should be a laugh although I can't see how that will either save police officers time nor speed up justice.

Currently, police officers prepare the evidence, whic…

Republicanism

We're in the middle of the long Jubilee weekend for Liz's 60 years on the throne and it's been quite fun reading and listening to all the weird and wonderful reasons for ditching the monarchy.  None of the reasons I've heard have convinced me so far and I'll talk about some of the better reasons in a minute.  First, I should come clean and admit I am a bit of a Royalist.  Not in the sense that I've been out waving flags or anything but in the sense that I prefer the Queen to yet another elected politician who is only going to lie to us for a few years then lower tax for a week in a effort to keep his job.  I also played in a sandpit with Prince Charles as a kid, but I haven't let that cloud my judgment.

My favourite 3 reasons to become a republic in no particular order:
Their armies fought to obtain and maintain their positionThey have too much power and are unaccountableThey don't serve any function Now let's have a think about each one in order.

Fi…