“X never, ever marks the spot”

(Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark – Lucasfilm/Paramount)

Having now settled in to the planning team at No 5 Barristers Chambers (based in London) it’s about time I made like Indy in the Map Room of the lost city of Tanis (above) and brushed some dust off…

I make no comment on whether this blog will let you use the Staff of Ra to find the Well of Souls (and there the Ark of the Covenant) but what you will be able to do is find comment and observations on developments in planning law, planning policy/guidance and similar matters.

Check back soon.

Scott

Get Away From Your Computer

I know it’s been a while since I’ve been sat at mine writing blogs for you all.  It’s because you’ve all been keeping me astonishingly busy with a phenomenal volume of work (for which I am very grateful – thank you all very much!).  But a side effect is that I just can’t get back to blogging as much as I would like.

Hang on – you lot aren’t keeping me occupied just so I don’t put up posts on here, are you?

So it’s an odd thing for me to get back to blogging and the first thing I say is ‘get away from your computer’.  Why would I say that?

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Knowing Your Elbow From Your…

For me the past few weeks have been taken up by a sudden rash of prosecutions for breach of various planning controls, in particular a number of Tree Preservation Orders matters, in which I have been mostly instructed for the defence.

And in just about every case the same thing has happened.

The manner in which the prosecution have gathered and presented their evidence has completely ignored basic rules of evidence, procedure and well-known case law of some long standing.  Which results in an easy (and predictable) win for the defence, with prosecutions being stayed, defendants discharged and (sometimes) awards of wasted costs against the prosecuting authority.

The most astonishing thing about it all was how fundamental some of the mistakes have been – for example:

1. Including witness statements in bundles that were to be put before a tribunal of fact – a classic giveaway that whoever advised on the contents of the bundle does not know their criminal evidence & procedure;

2. Seeking to rely on evidence of motive, knowledge or intention in a strict liability case (where a defendant’s state of mind is irrelevant) – this evidence is inadmissible from the outset;

3. Charging defendants with contravening provisions which were not in force at the time the alleged offences were committed – check your commencement dates before issuing the Informations and Summons.

The obvious point being that, had the prosecution instructed a lawyer who regularly practised in criminal law none of those results would have gone the defendants’ way.  In the meantime, I’ll keep on taking the low-hanging fruit while I’m instructed for the defence…

Scott

Assuring Letters

Have a look at s125 of the Localism Act 2011.  When you’ve read it, I’ll bet you have an expression a bit like this:

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Planning…with Slim Shady?

          “Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity

           To seize everything you ever wanted…one moment

           Would you capture it or just let it slip?”

                                                                                 – Eminem, “One Shot”

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It’s…..ALIVE!

After a brief period of absence, which for me has been filled mostly by Inquiries, giving seminars, taking part in long-distance mountain bike events and recovering from crashes in said riding events, here we are again.

Sadly it seems the enforcement provisions (amongst others) of the Localism Bill didn’t suffer quite so many crashes in their journey through Parliament as I did on my bike and they have survived almost completely unscathed in their originally drafted form, despite very vocal and informed criticism from many quarters.

So now we find ourselves presented with the Localism Act.  Although it obtained Royal Assent yesterday the enforcement amendments are not in force and seemingly have no timetable for Read more of this post

Worse Off Wednesday – SoS for CLG v. Welwyn Hatfield BC

Last Wednesday (6th April) was commonly known as “Worse Off Wednesday” because it was the date that many of Coalition’s budgetary cuts (including tax and benefit changes) really started to impact on households.

It will probably be remembered as Worse Off Wednesday by Mr and Mrs Beesley too but for entirely different reasons.  On 6th April the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the final episode of the long-running saga of the Beesley’s house/barn.

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