Guest Post: Was Christopher Jeffries wrongfully arrested?

http://www.insitelawmagazine.com/images/iaingouldWas Christopher Jeffries wrongfully arrested?
By Iain Gould, Solicitor and Partner at David Phillips & Partners

Christopher Jeffries, the man wrongfully accused of the murder of Joanna Yeates in Bristol in December 2010, is back in the news this week as the fall-out from the Leveson enquiry continues.

Lord Justice Leveson’s report, published yesterday, confirms that Mr. Jeffries is pursuing a civil compensation claim against the police (Avon and Somerset Constabulary) for ‘false imprisonment, breach of human rights, and trespass to person and property’ (see point 3 of his statement from his submissions to the Leveson enquiry by clicking here).

He has already received compensation from eight newspapers for libel following his ‘vilification’ (to quote Lord Chief Justice Judge) in the national media, who referred to him as a ‘peeping tom’ and ‘nutty professor’, among other things.

It appears that the press paid out relatively quickly. However, his claim for compensation against the police continues, almost two years later. Why? As a solicitor who specialises in actions against the police and routinely deals with claims which, like Mr. Jeffries’ case, involve wrongful arrest and the resulting false imprisonment, I have some insight which may assist.

What is Mr. Jeffries’ case?
Mr. Jeffries’ claim will be based on the notion that his arrest was unlawful as it was not founded on a reasonable suspicion that he committed an arrestable offence, or some other lawful authority.

As a consequence, he will argue, for every minute of the three days he was detained he was subject to false imprisonment.

As a result, Mr. Jeffries may claim that he is entitled to compensation for injury, distress, discomfort and inconvenience, loss of liberty and damage. In addition, he will no doubt claim aggravated damages (for the additional humiliation and suffering caused), as well as exemplary damages (for the arbitrary, oppressive and unconstitutional conduct perpetrated by the police).

Why is it taking so long?
According to The Observer’s report on 24 November 2012, Mr. Jeffries’ civil claim against the police is not yet settled. It is nearly two years since his arrest. The police will surely have concluded their investigations and stated their position on liability. The fact that the claim has not settled out of court is telling.

I expect that the police have denied liability and argued that the arresting officer had a reasonable suspicion to justify the arrest ‘to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or of the conduct of the person in question’ (s.24(5)(e) Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE)).

‘Reasonable suspicion’ involves a two pronged test and is governed by s.24 PACE (as amended by the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005).

The first part is a subjective test: it is for the arresting officer to verify that he or she had an honest suspicion that the arrested person committed the offence.

The second part is an objective test: did the arresting officer hold that suspicion on reasonable grounds? If so, do his/ her reasons for arrest amount to a reasonable belief that the arrest is necessary, and did they give grounds for arrest as soon as reasonably practicable?

If the police can satisfy the court that both tests were met then the arrest was lawful and Mr. Jeffries’ claim for that head of damages would fail (although other claims could still be made for, say, excessive detention, breach of Human Rights etc.).
Proving ‘reasonable suspicion’

For Mr. Jeffries to prove his claim for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment it is essential that he satisfies the court that the arresting officer did not have reasonable suspicion to arrest him.

Lord Devlin in Hussein v Chong Fook Kam (1970) defined it by saying:
‘suspicion in its ordinary meaning is a state of conjecture or surmise where proof is lacking; ‘I suspect but I cannot prove’…suspicion can take into account matters that could not be put in evidence at all.’

So, while a ‘hunch’ may not be enough, the test to be met is far lower than legal proof.

It is irrelevant as to whether the person arrested actually committed the offence. Even if the officer is completely mistaken, and the person arrested is wholly innocent, providing the officer can satisfy the two-part test above, the arrest will be lawful.

Proving Mr. Jeffries’ compensation claim against the police
Will the police accept that, on balance, Mr. Jeffries was wrongfully arrested and agree to settle his claim? Or will he have to take court proceedings and go to trial? Time will tell.

Mr. Jeffries is innocent.  He suffered greatly due to another man’s deplorable acts and has rightly received compensation for libel. My heartfelt sympathies go to him.

However, being innocent and receiving compensation for what was written about him in newspapers does not automatically mean that he has also a claim for wrongful arrest/ false imprisonment.

There are complicated issues of law and fact to be considered and, as I have explained above in considering the issue of reasonable suspicion, the police have to satisfy a very low threshold in order to justify the arrest, avoid paying any compensation, and being on the receiving end of more negative publicity.

In my experience most actions against the police are fiercely contested by the police’s legal teams. The fact that such a high profile individual as Christopher Jeffries is still fighting nearly two years on shows how difficult such cases are to pursue.

These cases are difficult, but not impossible. I have successfully argued on numerous occasions that the police wrongfully arrested my clients when the circumstances were equally challenging.

If Mr. Jeffries can prove his claim, he ought to receive a sense that justice has been done. For many of my clients, that makes the hard fight worthwhile. No doubt Mr. Jeffries would say the same.

Iain Gould is a solicitor who specialises in actions against the police.

Without Prejudice lawcast: the Leveson Report with Carl Gardner and David Allen Green

http://www.insitelawmagazine.com/images/levesonreport

Without Prejudice lawcast: The Leveson Report with Carl Gardner, Jez Hindmarsh and David Allen Green

The BBC reports:

Would:

  • Create a process to “validate” the independence and effectiveness of the new self-regulation body
  • Validate a new process of independent arbitration for complainants – which would benefit both the public and publishers by providing speedy resolutions
  • Place a duty on government to protect the freedom of press

Would not:

  • Establish a body to regulate the press directly
  • Give any Parliament or government rights to interfere with what newspapers publish

Listen to the podcast

iTunesversion

Our thanks to Gray’s Inn for hosting the recording.

***

Useful resources

On Leveson, David David Allen Green
Carl Gardner on Leveson
The Guardian essential guide
and INFORRM’s
The MST:
HackedOff:
The FSN:

The Leveson Report

UK Tour Report #13: Social media and the employment law implications with Sean Jones QC

Social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter,  is being widely used now and it is not without dangers. The recent Lord McAlpine libel litigation, cyber-stalking, tweets which break the contempt of court laws -  all have a ‘chilling’ effect on ‘free speech’.  Employers are increasingly turning to Twitter and Facebook to check out future employees and to monitor the behaviour of current employees.

Today, I am talking with Sean Jones QC of 11 KBW, a leading employment and public law set. We look at the employment law implications for use of social media in some depth and discuss the important case of Smith v Trafford Housing Trust [2012] EWHC 3221 (Ch)

We then move on to discuss practice at the Bar, the immediate to medium term prospects for barristers and Sean Jones QC provides some advice for prospective barristers.

Listen to the podcast

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Guest post: Whiplash – what actually is it?

Whiplash – what actually is it?
UK Claim Lawyers

Think of injury claims and you might imagine someone in a neck brace. Why? Because one of the most common injuries from road accidents is whiplash; the neck injury that often requires the victim to wear a neck brace.

But what actually is whiplash? Whiplash is in fact a term that covers a number of specific injuries to the neck which are caused by a sudden extension. This is why it’s a common injury to be sustained from a road accident – the jolt of a rear, front or side collision will cause a very sudden movement in the neck muscles and ligaments. This movement stretches the ligaments (the joints between the bones) and the tendons (the joints between the muscles and bones) and can leave them sprained and sore. Sufferers will experience pain when moving their neck, and stiffness and muscle spasms can last for a considerable time.

Whiplash may take a couple of hours or even a day to develop, so if you have been involved in a car crash or an accident but don’t notice anything straight away, you may still be at risk of developing whiplash symptoms. In fact, the majority of sufferers only develop pain the day after an accident.

So what should you do if you suspect you have whiplash as a result of a car collision? Firstly you must seek the attention of a medical professional who will be able to tell you if you have suffered whiplash. They can check if there is any damage to the bones or spine and make sure you are not suffering from concussion. If whiplash is diagnose, you may then be advised to wear a neck brace for support, but it is not always essential as you will usually be told to keep your neck active and moving to stop it seizing up. Also, be careful not to wear a neck brace for too long as they can actually cause the muscles in your neck to weaken.

If you are suffering from swelling and pain in your neck you can apply ice every three to four hours to help reduce any inflammation. You can also take painkillers such as paracetemol and ibuprofen but always double check what medication you can take with your doctor.

Finally, if your whiplash was the result of someone else’s recklessness you can claim road accident compensation which will hopefully help to ease the pain somewhat too. To enquire about car accident compensation contact UK Claim Lawyers, the expert personal injury solicitors based across the UK.

Guest Post: Governments Quest to Lowering Energy Prices

Governments Quest to Lowering Energy Prices
By Denver

The government has announced that it will be legislating to ensure that all energy suppliers are giving their customers the best possible prices, in a committed bid to drive the cost of energy prices down.

David Cameron’s announcement has come on the back of several energy company announcements that their prices would be rising in the run-up to winter. These companies include Scottish Power, who announced that their prices will be rising by 8.7%, British Gas who are rising their utility prices by 6% and Npower who will be following suit, at 8.8%. These announcements follow hot on the heels of SSE, who already announced their increase in prices by 9%, in August.

Only E.ON and EDF have not yet announced price rises, although the former is maintaining a prize freeze until January.

Legislation is now necessary.

The Prime Minister told Parliament that utility companies must be forced to provide customers with their lowest tariffs. This new law will be incorporated into a new Energy Bill, which is due to be presented by December 2012. A government spokesman added that the government intended to communicate the details out further and explain how the law would be put into effective, but reiterated that the objective of the new legislation was clear.

Consumer groups concern.

However, some consumer groups are worried that changes to legislation might endanger competition and eventually disadvantage those who are already at the whim of rocketing domestic and business electric prices.

They pointed to the long term market failure, where successive government regimes have attempted – and largely failed – to encourage competition in the energy market to drive forward better market conditions for energy customers. Nick Clegg’s policy of forcing energy providers to contact their customers annually to highlight their best tariffs, was one such example.

The consumer groups are keen to encourage customers to be keenly aware of their rights in the energy sphere, where awareness may need improving. Many customers are unaware of where they can obtain help and what their rights are when dealing with energy providers. For example, if a customer has a 2 hour slot to get a meter reading taken and the supplier misses the slot, they can claim compensation from that supplier – from 22 for electricity and  20 for gas. Power cuts that last for 18 hours or above are also eligible for compensation of up to 54.

Which? and other consumer groups have since rallied together to help customers and created a guide to energy rights, which is entitled ‘staying connected’.

Meanwhile, market analysts, consumers and rights groups alike hope to see positive changes in the energy market soon, to help benefit the UK economy and divert valuable income away from fixed bills and back onto the high street, where it can be used to bolster British businesses and help to get the economy back up and running. There are also concerns that rising energy prices will drive up inflation, which is an additional worry for those hoping for a stronger British economy in 2013 and beyond.

Written on behalf a renewable energy management and solutions company, they look to help lower and identify improved contracts through alternative approaches. Click here for further information.

Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services with Toronto lawyer Mitchell E Kowalski

Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services

“The past few years have seen incredible innovation and growth in the way legal services can be delivered–yet most law firms around the world continue to practice law the way it’s been practiced for centuries, namely, as a labor-intensive endeavor carried out by high-priced lawyers billing by the hour.”

I’m talking with Toronto lawyer Mitchell Kowalski the author of Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services. Avoiding Extinction makes the case for how the law firm of the future will succeed, with a laser-like focus on delivering high-quality legal services better, faster, and cheaper. This entertaining and instructive book is a must-read for anyone seeking a creative vision into what a new, truly different law firm could look like.

The podcast:

Your book – why did you choose the fictional law firm Bowen Fong and Chandri PC – the medium of a novel – for your book?

A utopian construct or capable of practical reality?

The billable hour v  value billing debate

Comparison with UK – UK firms Lawyers on Demand and Riverview Law?

Five key propositions for delivering legal services you regard as the most innovative and important

* Billing
* Knowledge Management
* The People at the top set the tune for the middle
* Legal process outsourcing – the more money you save, the more money you earn
* Project management – if you can’t map out all the processes you are doing  you cannot value and price it.

Listen to the podcast

iTunesversion of the podcast

UK Tour Report #11: An interview with Toby Craig, Head of Communications, The Bar Council

Report #11: An interview with Toby Craig, Head of Communications, The Bar Council

The Bar Council represents the interests of all barristers in England & Wales – the regulatory function being carried out by the independent Bar Standards Board.

Facing significant change in the way legal services are delivered in the wake of the Legal Services Act , increasing competition from solicitor-advocates and a government now cutting back on the provision of legal aid, proposing to restrict judicial review and pushing through legislation on secret trials – the role of the Bar Council in the legal profession is a very important one.

Last Sunday I did a podcast with John Cooper QC on the controversial issue of referral fees. Toby Craig, head of communications for The Bar Council contacted me soon after I published this podcast to ask if I would be prepared to do a podcast with him to enable The Bar Council to put their view.

The discussion with Toby Craig covered a number of controversial issues which members of the Bar have expressed concern to me about.

In this podcast we look at:

1. The Role of The Bar Council

2. The relationship of The Bar Council with government

3. The potential conflict of interest in relation to the Attorney-general who is the head of the Bar

4. Michael Turner QC’s robust criticisms published in The Daily Mirror: Injustice for all: Leading QC on why legal aid cuts and change in regulation is bad news for Britain

5. How democratic is the Bar Council and the controversy during the  recent  Criminal Bar Association elections

6. Criticism of The Bar Council raised in a report commissioned in 2011

7. Referral fees – the Bar stance is that referral fees are a breach of the Code of Practice and will also give rise to civil and criminal liability – issues raised by Nicholas Lavender QC in June 2012. I ask Toby Craig what steps the Bar Council is taking to survey Chambers that may have paid or are currently engaged in paying referral fees to bring in work.

8. Social media and diversity at the Bar

The podcast raises important issues of representation and professional ethics and I welcome comment and discussion from members of the Bar and others with an interest.

Listen to the podcast

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Guest Post: Criminal injuries compensation scheme: upcoming changes

Criminal injuries compensation scheme: upcoming changes
BY Personalinjury.co.uk

The revised criminal injuries compensation scheme is due to come into action on Tuesday 27 November 2012, as confirmed by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

This follows the initial consultation of ‘Getting it right for victims and witnesses’ which began on 30 January and ended on 22 April 2012. The document put forward a number of changes to the services witnesses and victims currently receive. The reduction of the compensation budget was cited as a necessary cutback due to a lack of adequate funding.

During the consultation period, a number of modifications were made due to opposition from MPs. In July 2012, the Draft Scheme was approved by the House of Lords. However, this also received heavy criticism from Labour and Conservative members when considered by the House of Commons in September 2012, meaning that the proposal then went back to the Ministry of Justice for further consideration.

On Monday 12 November 2012, the revised scheme was finally passed by 275 votes to 231 following the addition of a £500,000 hardship fund for victims whose income would be affected by their sustained injuries.

Currently, the scheme awards compensation to between 30,000 and 40,000 victims who can’t achieve a settlement from any other source. When the new scheme comes into effect on 27 November, 90% of claimants will have their financial support cut or axed. This means that many innocent victims of violent crime will be unable to receive compensation for any physical and psychological damage they have endured.

Up until 23:59 on 26 November, claimants will be able to submit an application for compensation through the existing scheme. Yet, all new applications after the 27 November will be dealt with through the 2012 system, even if the injury was sustained prior to this date.

For victims of violent crime, it is advisable that any compensation claims are submitted prior to the change. To ensure that your claim is successful, you must have co-operated with police, the incident must have taken place in England, Scotland or Wales and you must begin your claim within two years of the event. If you have a criminal record or have received personal injury compensation outside the CICA, this can affect your eligibility.

Both during and after the revised scheme comes into action, victims can also choose to obtain criminal injury compensation advice from personal injury solicitors. As the process can be complex and time-consuming, an experienced legal team can help to manage the process and make sure that your application is accurate to help you achieve the right level of compensation. This guidance can be especially useful if your claim is complicated, involves large amounts of money, if you deem that an initial compensation offer was too low or if your initial claim was dismissed.

Human Rights podcast: UK Tour Report #10: Professor de Londras – Guantanamo and they key issues in human rights for Europe

UK Tour Report #10: Professor de Londras – Guantanamo and they key issues in human rights for Europe

We have a Bill of Rights in this country. It’s called the Human Rights Act and is thoroughly British, European and universal in its values”

Shami Chakrabarti, Liberty

Human rights underpins much of our law and we are in the midst of controversy yet again with a government appearing determined to avoid complying with the European Court of Human Rights in relation to prisoner votes and ‘disappointed’ with the recent judgment of SIAC in relation to Abu Qatada.

Today I am talking to Fiona De Londras, professor of law at Durham University. Her research primarily focuses on questions related to effective rights protection with a particular concentration on times of strain and crisis and especially counter-terrorism.

We look at the problems the US President faces with the closure of Guantanamo Bay – promised within a year of his inauguration as President four year ago – as a comparison with the difficulties the British government faces in relation to compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights – and then consider likely developments within human rights law in the United Kingdom in the next few years.

The plans announced yesterday by the government to limit the scope of Judicial review – covered well by Adam Wagner at the UK Human Rights blog: A war on Judicial Review? [updated] – bring into sharp focus the need to examine how Britain will respond to the human rights agenda in the future.

Listen to the podcast

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Guest Post: The Legal UK Chambers Guide

The Legal UK Chambers Guide
BY Hughes Carlisle Law

Finding the right solicitor is not always easy. Though there are countless names and numbers in the telephone directory, picking out one solicitor from such a vast selection usually involves a degree of randomness. Of course, when choosing a solicitor, randomness should never be a factor. How can people who are in need of professional legal counsel choose between the lawyers who advertise on television and those whose names appear on high-street billboards? What makes one law firm’s website different from all the others? Does the process have to be so difficult?

In answer to the last question, no. Finding the right solicitor does not have to be such a difficult task, at least not if people use the Chambers UK Law Guide for reference.

Chambers UK Law Guide

Endorsed by British Market Research Bureau (BMRB), the Chambers UK Law Guide is published once a year and includes details of solicitors working in the UK. The guide covers no less than 70 legal specialities, including agriculture, charities, clinical negligence, crime, education, health and safety, local government, personal injury, social housing and tax. Some specialities include subcategories that list niche areas of the law. This is especially useful for people who require a particular type of legal service, as finding experts who specialise in niche fields can be all but impossible in some cases.

Firms throughout the UK, whether its Birmingham, London or Liverpool solicitors who specialise in spinal injury cases, for example, are usually far more difficult to find than non-specialist personal injury solicitors in Manchester. Likewise, if a person or company requires expert legal counsel on an issue as complex and challenging as, say, pensions, there is little use in going to a generalist employment law solicitor; niche areas of the law require specialists.

The Chambers UK Law Guide lists thousands of law firms and solicitors, placing their details in whichever categories and subcategories are relevant to their services. This act alone is immensely useful for any person who needs to find a solicitor, as categorising law firms by speciality enables prospective clients to refine their search criteria.

Assessment

Chambers also produces a law guide for students, which lists the types of training and employment opportunities offered by firms in various parts of the country. Another guide covers barristers, while similar publications exist in other countries, but the Chambers UK Law Guide is undoubtedly the most useful general purpose publication for finding a solicitor in the UK.

One of the main advantages of the Chambers UK Law Guide is that it provides an independent assessment of law firms, listing the strengths and weaknesses of each practice or solicitor. Law firms are only included in the guide if they pass a basic standard of assessment, but most readers will be more interested in the ranking system of the guide.

Every year, the Chambers UK Law Guide includes a new assessment of each solicitor or law firm; reviews published in previous years are not simply updated or revised, so assessments are generally accurate and up to date. A numerical ranking system is used to rate each law firm or solicitor, with six being the lowest rank or band and one being the highest. Of course, band-six law firms are still good enough to be included in the guide, so the rankings only refer to measurable quality beyond a minimum standard, which is actually quite high.

The Chambers UK Law Guide provides readers with an objective, independent analysis of law firms and solicitors in the UK, covering a wide range of specialities. It is an indispensable guide for those who need to find the right lawyer.

Written on behalf of Hughes Carlisle Law

Breaking from The Ministry of Justice – Trial by Ordeal to unclog the Courts

The problem of costly and spurious  cases clogging up the courts will be tackled by new plans for Trial by Ordeal announced by Justice Secretary  Killaburglar Grayling LC.

The proposals would reduce the number of ill-founded defences so that guilty people can be dealt with more swiftly and effectively.

The changes will not alter the important role the CPS plays in holding the guilty to account   but will instead deal with the unnecessary defence lawyers in the system. The number of not guilty verdicts has rocketed in the past three decades.

Lord KillaBurglar Grayling LC said:

‘The Government is concerned about the burdens that proving guilt in criminal cases are placing on stretched public services as well as the unnecessary costs and lengthy delays which are stifling innovation and economic growth – particularly in the prisons construction sector headed by our friends in the prisons biz, now they have recovered from the Olympics fiasco.

‘We plan to renew the system so that Prosecutions will continue their important role but the courts and economy are no longer hampered by having to deal with defences being put forward and ensure  the defendant knows they have no chance of success. We will publish our proposals shortly.’

The measures which will be considered include:

  • Shortening the length of time following arrest of guilty people so that they can be put to Trial by Ordeal within 24 hours  and stopping people from using tactical delays including the employment of counsel to defend them.
  • Halving the number of opportunities currently available to guilty people to demonstrate their skills by taking forward planned action to bang them up in advance of their actions
  • Reforming the current fees paid to lawyers to such a level to dissuade them from even thinking about acting pro bono

A public engagement exercise on the plans will be carried out shortly and kicked into the long grass for implementation after 2015.

***

Mea culpa – for the nonsense above – but I marvel at times… I really do.

The actual statement made by Mr Chris Grayling LC  – is quite similar to the nonsense above.

Adam Wagner of the excellent UK Human Rights blog – thankfully – had time to deal with this issue of the MoJ plans on Judicial Review – more seriously – an excellent read: A war on Judicial Review? [updated]

UK Tour report #9: A view of the changing legal profession – Jeremy Hopkins, RiverviewLaw

UK Tour report #9:  A view of the changing  legal profession – Jeremy Hopkins, Riverview Law

We’re not doing anything clever. We’re just applying common sense to the legal market

The UK legal services market is valued at approximately £24bn pa. It is highly fragmented with few brands. It’s going through a period of significant upheaval. Changes in regulation and customer expectation provide an opportunity for a more modern, flexible, and customer-centric approach to the provision of legal services.

Riverview Law website statement

Today I talk with Jeremy Hopkins, director of operations at Riverview Law.  Jeremy Hopkins, formerly a senior clerk at well known chambers 3VB, talks about the vision behind Riverview Law and the way they deliver legal services on a fixed fee basis.  We then move on to consider the wider issue of the immediate to medium term future of the legal profession.  The discussion is wide ranging.

Listen to the podcast

iTunes version of the podcast

.

UK Tour Report #8 – John Cooper QC on the problems facing the Bar in 2012 and beyond

UK Tour Report #8 – John Cooper QC on the problems facing the Bar in 2012 and beyond

The Bar, as with the other branches of the legal profession, is having to adapt to the fast changing legal landscape.  As part of this preliminary series of podcasts, in which I try to set the scene for the tour as a whole,  I talk with John Cooper QC, a well known crime and human rights advocate, about the challenges facing the Bar.

We discuss a number of key issues:

(a) The problems being caused by the cuts to legal aid funding.

(b)  The undermining of the rule of law when  defendants cannot afford legal representation.

(c)  The practical difficulties faced by barristers in practice at the crime, family and common law bar.

(d) The debate between the Solicitors Regulation Authority and The Bar Standards Board on which regulator should regulate trial advocates.

(e) The role of the CPS and prosecutors – who will be fully funded by taxpayers.

(f) The complex and controversial issue of ‘referral  fees’.

(g) The role of the Bar Council and whether it is doing enough to represent barristers as a whole.

 

Listen to the podcast

iTunes version of the podcast

Note: Because John is in the middle of a trial outside London we had to record the podcast over Skype.  The sound quality, accordingly, is not as good as for the face to face recordings.  A couple of times, because of time lag or lack of Skype clarity, John had to ask me to repeat the question.  the hesitation in response on occasion was due to the time lag and not to any hesitancy on John’s part.

***

John Cooper QC: 25 Bedford Row, London
Leading in serious crime including murder, serious violence, drug trafficking, terrorism, fraud, human rights and media. Regulatory work including fraud and sports regulation. Inquest work including Judicial Review. John Cooper QC has been named by The Times as one of the Top 100 Influential Lawyers of 2012 in the UK. He is also visiting Professor of Law at Cardiff University and a Master of the Bench at Middle Temple.

John Cooper was lead counsel in the successful Twitter Joke Trial appeal

Chambers : 25 Bedford Row
Blog: Shadow of the Noose
Twitter: @John_Cooper_QC

***

Podcasts in the series coming up in the next two weeks:

1. Jeremy Hopkins, Director of Operations at Riverview Law on his view of the changing landscape from what he sees and hears on the ground.

2. Professor Fiona de Londras, BCL, LL.M, PhD (NUI) – Guantanamo and international human rights.

3. Sheila Bramley, Director College of Law Guildford on the changes in legal education.

4. Sean Jones QC, 11 KBW, on current key issues in  employment law.

5. Nicky Richmond, managing partner at Brecher, on the role of a managing partner in a modern law firm
and her perception of the future legal landscape.

6. Tom Harris MP on the role of the law makers in Parliament  and how laws are made and implemented.

I will publish the podcasts due to be recorded in December shortly.

 

 

 

 

UK Law Tour: Report #7 Human Rights law – Carl Gardner on the Abu Qatada judgment

“All human beings, whatever their cultural or historical background, suffer when they are intimidated, imprisoned or tortured . . . We must, therefore, insist on a global consensus, not only on the need to respect human rights worldwide, but also on the definition of these rights . . . for it is the inherent nature of all human beings to yearn for freedom, equality and dignity, and they have an equal right to achieve that.”
-The Dalai Lama

Human rights law is, arguably, one of the most important foundations upon which our modern society is built – a subject which arouses pride in some, yet irritation and anger in the minds of others when decisions of the courts do not fit with the political or national mood.

The BBC noted some time back: A common misconception is that the European Convention on Human Rights and its institutions have been thrust upon an unwilling UK as part of the wider European project. But the reality is that the UK (which passed the first ever legislation known as a Bill of Rights in 1689) was one of the architects of the human rights agenda that grew out of the devastation of Second World War.

The European Convention on Human Rights has its roots in the philosophical tradition of universal rights which stretches back to the Enlightenment of the 18th century and the French Revolution. But the actual catalyst for creating a model set of rights in the 20th century was the Allies’ determination to bring peace to Europe.”

On a day when Abu Qatada was released on bail following the judgment of SIAC yesterday – it is noteworthy that the Prime Minister commented in clear, negative, terms:

Mr Cameron told BBC News: “I am completely fed up with the fact this man is still at large in our country, he has no right to be there, we believe he’s a threat to our country…We have moved heaven and earth to try and comply with every single dot and comma of every single convention to get him out of this country.

…It’s extremely frustrating and I share the British people’s frustration at the situation we find ourselves in,”

Mr Cameron may well feel that his government has ‘moved heaven and earth’ – but the reality is that SIAC came to a view that the government had not made its case for lawful deportation and blame for that may well lie at the door of Theresa May, the home secretary.

Today, I talk with Carl Gardner, ex government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal blog about the SIAC Abu Qatada decision and the wider implications for our society if we do not continue to uphold the Rule of Law – no matter how inconvenient it may be for politicians.

Listen to the podcast

iTunes version

Useful resources

SIAC judgment: read judgment

Theresa May MP, home secretary: Theresa May’s statement on Abu Qatada winning appeal against deportation:

Carl Gardner: Abu Qatada: what happens next?

My irritation with lawyer MPs…Here is a good book all MPs should read… even the lawyer MPs!

I do marvel, on occasion, at the ability of some  MPs,  who are lawyers,  to forget their law and feel that non-lawyer MPs may benefit, as lawmakers, from reading a bit of *Law* – not unreasonable in the light of recent political activity?

May I recommend an excellent book.  Lord Bingham’s “Rule of Law’ – available on your tax payer funded iPad…

Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori

Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, —
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

 

Because we still fight wars for human rights and our security…we remember and honour, also, at 11.11  the men and women who serve today and the many who have died in recent wars in The Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan…

 

Charon UK Tour Report #6: Professor Moorhead on legal ethics

Today, I am at University College London talking with Professor Richard Moorhead, Professor of Law and Professional Ethics. University College London has a curious distinction – the possessor of the utilitarian philosopher and jurist Jeremy Bentham’s skeleton dressed in his clothing preserved in a glass case.(Infra)

Professor Moorhead gives a brief definition of ethics before moving on to consider the practical difficulties lawyers face in practice today, illustrating his theme with examples. We consider whether the Code of Practice for solicitors is fit for the purpose – referencing a lawcast I did with Andrew Hopper QC on the regulatory framework – and we consider whether more emphasis should be placed on legal ethics at the academic and vocational stages of legal education.

Listen to the podcast on the Charon QC UK Law Tour blog

iTunes and downloadable version

Useful Resources:

Blog posts by Professor Richard Moorhead

Employment Tribunals: Weighted Against Employers?
Hackgate: where were the lawyers?
(Wannabee) Law Students: One graph which signals your future
LNATs and aptitude tests: what’s good got to do with it?

Footnote from Wikipedia on Bentham

As requested in his will, Bentham’s body was dissected as part of a public anatomy lecture. Afterward, the skeleton and head were preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet called the “Auto-icon”, with the skeleton padded out with hay and dressed in Bentham’s clothes. Originally kept by his disciple Thomas Southwood Smith, it was acquired by University College London in 1850. It is normally kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the college, but for the 100th and 150th anniversaries of the college, it was brought to the meeting of the College Council, where it was listed as “present but not voting”.

Charon UK Tour Report #5: The English Legal System – the foundation

Today, I am at 6 Bedford Square, the former home of Lord Eldon, Lord Chancellor, talking with Professor Gary Slapper, Director of NYU in London.  We discuss the pervasiveness of law and the foundation and structure of the law of England & Wales.  The intention is to provide an overview of the system for non-lawyers to set the scene for the remainder of the tour.
Listen to the podcast

Guest Post: Personal Injury accidents

Personal Injury accidents
By Ward & Rider, Solicitors

When you think about personal injury claims the first things that probably come to your mind are those annoying TV adverts or the cold callers that are constantly phoning to try and convince you to make a claim for an accident that you may or may not have had. Due to this, personal injury claims often get a lot of bad press but they’re not all bad. Fraudulent claims are definitely a problem but there are a lot of people that suffer injuries through no fault of their own and the money from a claim can really help. Hire a solicitor to make a claim that has a specialism in personal injury, such as May I Claim

There are many types of accident and injury that may entitle you to make a claim but we are going to look at just a few of the main ones:

Road Traffic Accidents
Road traffic accidents are unfortunately very common. Vehicle on vehicle collisions are a daily occurrence throughout the country and often lead to some pretty serious injuries. Common injuries affect the neck and back but not everything is physical. Many people develop psychological conditions as a result of being involved in road traffic accidents.

It is possible for even worse injuries to occur when a vehicle collides with a pedestrian. Broken bones and severe internal injuries are common if the victim is lucky enough to survive the impact from a car. However you may be injured from a traffic accident if you have lengthy hospital stays, regular treatment for a recurring ailment that arose from the accident or need to take a long period of time off work you could be due substantial compensation.

Accidents at Work
Another of the most common personal injury scenarios are accidents at work. Despite many laws being in place to protect workers, many employers fail to live up to their responsibilities. If you are involved in an accident at work at no fault of your own you could definitely be due some level of compensation.

It is your employer’s responsibility to provide you with a safe environment in which to work but you need to live up to your side of the deal too. Keeping your own areas free of clutter and other hazards is one way you can help to protect yourself and your colleagues.

In office environments common hazards include tripping over wires and other things that are carelessly left lying around, faulty electrical equipment and repetitive strain injury from repeatedly performing the same task such as typing.

In more commercial environments such as warehouses and construction sites hazards are more likely to be things like vehicles moving around such as forklift trucks and falling objects. It is your employer’s responsibility to provide you with the necessary safety equipment and if they don’t they may be held responsible for any injury you might suffer.

Slips, Trips and Falls
The workplace isn’t the only place where you might suffer a trip, slip or fall. Accidents happen every day both in public areas and on private premises due to the negligence of others.

How many times have you seen a broken step, cracked paving slab or pot hole whilst walking around in public? How many times have you seen a puddle of liquid or other hazard in an aisle of a supermarket? The people who are responsible for maintaining these areas are expected to keep them safe.

Whilst these sorts of hazards seem fairly minor they can cause serious damage. A broken ankle or leg will not only keep you out of work for a significant amount of time but may require a lot of further treatment for the rest of your life, not to mention the psychological effects from no longer being able to do things that your injury will prevent.

If you think you have suffered an injury from no fault of your own don’t hesitate to make a personal injury claim, it’s no less than you deserve.