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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Know your memes – Waya and the Supreme Court (Part One)

On 14th November 2012 the Supreme Court gave judgment in the case of R. v. Waya [2012] UKSC 51.  A nine-Justice court delivered a majority decision, split 7-2.  We’ll go through both the majority and dissenting minority decisions, but what the dissenting minority (Lord Phillips and Lord Reed) seem to think of the majority decision can be neatly summarised thus:

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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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“The Truth? You Can’t Handle The Truth!” – Part 2: Practical Tips

So from last time we have in mind some of the theory of what’s going on when a witness is giving evidence.  But knowing the theory is one thing; what about putting some of that into practice? Here are seven practical tips to enhance the process of giving evidence Read more of this post

“The Truth? You Can’t Handle The Truth!” – Part 1: Theory

Giving evidence as a witness is a stressful experience, even for planners and others who are used to giving evidence in hearings or at public inquiries. But there are some things you can do to make your experience of giving evidence much easier. Read more of this post

Why Plato Is Wrong

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty.” – Plato

We all wait with bated breath for the judgment of the Supreme Court on Read more of this post

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