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

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

How Wrong Can You Be?

Recently Captain Pickles was again displaying his ignorance.  Now, I read the Brentwood Bruiser’s latest speech with a mixture of bemusement and confusion, but my overriding thought about the current incumbent of the post of SoS for C&LG was “you just don’t get it, do you?” Read more of this post

“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

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