Categories
Legal Analysis

Solicitors from Hell

Solicitors from Hell (www.solicitorsfromhell.co.uk) was a website that gained notoriety for allowing users to post negative reviews and complaints about solicitors and legal professionals.

Created by Rick Kordowski, the site became a platform for airing grievances and sharing experiences related to legal services. However, it also faced legal challenges due to its controversial content.

Mr. Justice Tugendhat ordered the immediate removal of the entire Solicitors from Hell website in November 2011, but it is still available on the Wayback Machine from the Internet Archive.

The Internet Archive (archive.org) is believed to be hosted outside of England and Wales and is therefore not subject to the injunction.

It should be noted – What happens on the internet stays on the internet forever !

The last version of the Solicitors from Hell (www.solicitorsfromhell.co.uk) website was captured by the Internet Archive on the 12th November 2011.

https://solicitorsfromhell.co.uk now leads to a blank WordPress site.

Please Note : This article is for educational purposes and contains information freely available on the Internet. Solicitors are regularly named or shamed on the Internet.

Background and Purpose of the Website

  • The Solicitors from Hell website was established in 2005. It allowed individuals to anonymously share their experiences with specific solicitors and law firms.
  • Contributors were required to pay a fee (ranging from £1 to £100) based on the prominence of their posting.
  • The website also charged solicitors a £299 “administration fee” to have their names removed from the site.
  • The website aimed to expose wrongdoing and “blacklist” firms and solicitors to avoid.

The Website’s Impact

The Solicitors From Hell website allowed users to anonymously share their experiences with specific solicitors and law firms. While some saw it as a valuable resource for holding legal professionals accountable, others criticized it for its lack of verification and potential for defamation.

  • Being included on a website purporting to list “solicitors from hell” was considered defamatory in itself.
  • The website caused serious damage to the reputations of solicitors, firms, and others listed, resulting in loss, embarrassment, anxiety, and distress.
  • By publishing and republishing such material, the website operator knowingly harassed those listed, as the information was widely disseminated via search engines.

Legal Battles

  1. High Court Victory for Rick Kordowski
    • Rick Kordowski, the founder of Solicitors From Hell, faced numerous lawsuits related to the website. In most cases, he lost.
    • Rick Kordowski was sued 18 times in relation to the Solicitors from Hell website he founded.
    • However, there was one unexpected victory.
    • In December 2014, Mr. Kordowski successfully applied to set aside a judgment in default and an injunction imposed on him by Mr. Justice Stuart-Smith. Representing himself, he argued that he had nothing to do with the construction and publication of certain websites, including a Solicitors From Hell successor referred to as XYZ.net.
    • Although it was “highly improbable” that Mr. Kordowski had no involvement with XYZ.net, the judge acknowledged that his arguments could succeed. The court concluded that he had a “real prospect of successfully defending the claim”.
  2. Interim Injunctions Against the Website Owner
    • In October 2010, a second High Court judge issued an interim injunction banning Rick Kordowski from publishing or republishing defamatory material about a lawyer from a London firm. This was the second time in less than a month that a court had issued such an order against him.
  3. Defamatory Statements and Damages
    • A law firm, described as “shameless, corrupt, fraudulent, dishonest, unethical, incompetent, and oppressive,” sued the operators of a spin-off of the Solicitors From Hell website. The judge ruled that the comments made were defamatory, and damages were awarded.
  4. Class Action Lawsuit
    • Brett Wilson LLP brought a claim on behalf of the Law Society, Hine Solicitors, and Kevin McGrath against Rick Kordowski. The lawsuit aimed to address the impact of the Solicitors From Hell website on legal professionals.
    • Mr. Justice Tugendhat handed down a judgment in a claim brought by Brett Wilson LLP on behalf of the Law Society, Hine Solicitors, and Kevin McGrath against Rick Kordowski, the operator and publisher of the Solicitors from Hell website.
    • Mr. Justice Tugendhat ordered the immediate removal of the entire Solicitors from Hell website.
    • An injunction granted on November 2, 2011, preventing the defendant from transferring data related to the website, continued.
    • Further orders prohibited the defendant from publishing or establishing similar websites inviting negative comments about legal professionals, where such comments could lead to harassment or unlawful processing of personal data.

The class action highlighted the delicate balance between freedom of expression and the potential harm caused by unverified online content related to legal professionals.

Conclusion

The Solicitors From Hell website stirred controversy and legal battles, highlighting the delicate balance between freedom of expression and the potential harm caused by unverified online content. While it provided an outlet for grievances, it also faced criticism for its lack of accountability.

  • Do you think solicitors and other legal professionals should be held to account ?
  • Was the Solicitors From Hell website published in the public interest ?
  • Would the legal profession succeed, in the Courts in 2024, to stifle legitimate criticism and concerns ?
  • Was your solicitor or legal professional ever listed on Solicitors From Hell ?

Check out our articles on Solictors, Mayo Wynne Baxter, SRA, Barristers, Direct Access Barristers, Bar Standards Board, Bar Standards Board Justice ?, Rule of Law, and the highly questionable Sussex Family Justice Board.

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Categories
Law

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is the independent regulatory body responsible for overseeing and “policing” solicitors in England and Wales. Formed in January 2007 by the Legal Services Act 2007, the SRA operates independently of the Law Society, although it is formally an arm of the Law Society.

History

The SRA’s origins trace back to the Legal Services Act, which received Royal Assent on 30 October 2007. This landmark legislation ushered in significant opportunities for solicitors, allowing them to collaborate with non-lawyers and attract capital for their businesses within a carefully regulated environment. Prior to the SRA’s establishment, regulation of legal services followed a different framework, but the Act brought about radical changes in how legal services were overseen.

Powers and Responsibilities

The SRA wields substantial powers to regulate solicitors and maintain professional standards. Some of its key responsibilities include:

  1. Investigating Misconduct: The SRA has the authority to investigate allegations of misconduct by solicitors. This includes the power to require solicitors to explain their conduct, produce information, and submit relevant documents.
  2. Gathering Evidence: The SRA can compel solicitors and other relevant parties to provide information during investigations. Statutory provisions, such as Section 44B of the Solicitors Act 1974 and Section 93 of the Legal Services Act 2007, empower the SRA to gather evidence effectively.
  3. Regulatory Changes: The SRA aims to provide solicitors with clear, authoritative guidance on how the Legal Services Act impacts their practices. It facilitates opportunities for solicitors to collaborate with non-lawyers and access capital while ensuring compliance with regulations.

SRA Principles

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) 7 Principles represent the core ethical standards that are expected to be upheld by those who are regulated.

Should these Principles come into conflict, those which safeguard the wider public interest (such as the rule of law, and public confidence in a trustworthy solicitors’ profession and a safe and effective market for regulated legal services) take precedence over an individual client’s interests. They should, where relevant, inform their client of the circumstances in which their duty to the Court and other professional obligations will outweigh your duty to them.

You act:

  1. in a way that upholds the constitutional principle of the rule of law, and the proper administration of justice.
  2. in a way that upholds public trust and confidence in the solicitors’ profession and in legal services provided by authorised persons.
  3. with independence.
  4. with honesty.
  5. with integrity.
  6. in a way that encourages equality, diversity and inclusion.
  7. in the best interests of each client.
SRA 7 Principles

Standards and Regulations

The SRA sets out clear standards and regulations that solicitors must follow. These include ethical guidelines, professional conduct rules, and compliance requirements. By enforcing these standards, the SRA aims to maintain public trust in the legal profession.

SRA Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs

SRA Code of Conduct for Firms

The SRA Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs, describes the standards of professionalism that the SRA, and the public expect of individuals (solicitors, registered European lawyers and registered foreign lawyers) authorised by us to provide legal services.

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Compliance

One critical area of focus for the SRA is anti-money laundering. Solicitors and law firms play a pivotal role in preventing money laundering and terrorist financing. The SRA provides guidance to legal professionals on identifying suspicious transactions, conducting due diligence, and reporting any concerns promptly.

The SRA Code of Conduct for Firms describes the standards and business controls that we, the SRA, and the public expect of firms (including sole practices) authorised by us to provide legal services.

Choosing a Solicitor

When selecting a solicitor, individuals can use the SRA’s solicitors register to verify a solicitor’s credentials and track record. The register provides essential information about practicing solicitors, including their areas of expertise, qualifications, and any disciplinary history.

Reporting Concerns

If someone encounters issues with a solicitor’s conduct, they can report it to the SRA. Whether it’s unethical behaviour, negligence, or other concerns, the SRA investigates complaints and takes appropriate action when necessary.

Training and Qualification

Aspiring solicitors follow specific pathways to qualification. The SRA oversees the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), which assesses candidates’ legal knowledge and practical skills. Yearly reviews ensure that the SQE remains effective and relevant.

Check out our articles on Solicitors, Solicitors from Hell, Barristers, Direct Access Barristers, Bar Standards Board, Bar Standards Board Justice ?, Rule of Law, and the highly questionable Sussex Family Justice Board.

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Categories
Legal Analysis

What does Lady Justice Symbolise ?

Lady Justice, often depicted as a graceful figure holding a sword, scales, and sometimes wearing a blindfold, is an iconic symbol of the judicial system.

Her image evokes a sense of impartiality, fairness, and the pursuit of justice. Through the ages, Lady Justice has come to embody the ideals of a just society, representing the principles upon which legal systems are built.

In this article, we will explore the history, meaning, and significance of Lady Justice, focusing on the symbolism behind her scales, sword, and blindfold.

Historical Origins and Evolution

The origins of Lady Justice can be traced back to ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. In Greece, she was known as “Themis,” the daughter of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth). Themis was the personification of divine law, order, and justice.

The Romans adopted this concept and named her “Justitia” – the goddess of Justice within Roman mythology. Over time, her imagery and symbolism evolved to what we now recognise as Lady Justice.

The Scales of Justice

One of the most prominent features of Lady Justice is the scales she holds in her hand. The scales symbolize the weighing of evidence and arguments in a court of law. They represent the need for a balanced and impartial consideration of facts and arguments before reaching a fair judgment. Lady Justice reminds us that justice must be meted out objectively, based on the merits of each case.

The Sword

Lady Justice also holds a sword. The sword represents the power and authority of the judiciary to enforce the law and protect society. It signifies the role of justice in upholding the rule of law and maintaining order. The sword reminds us that justice has the strength to cut through falsehoods, expose the truth, and hold accountable those who have violated the law.

The Blindfold

Lady Justice’s blindfold, if depicted, is a powerful symbol of impartiality and the fair application of the law. By covering her eyes, she demonstrates her commitment to judge each case solely on its merits, without bias or favouritism. The blindfold represents the ideal that justice should be blind to factors such as wealth, status, race, or gender. It ensures that all individuals, regardless of their background, are treated equally under the law.

It has been said that the addition of the blindfold in the 16th century was intended to show Lady Justice as blind to the injustice carried on before her.

The Fight Against Injustice

Lady Justice stands as a potent symbol in the ongoing struggle against injustice. Throughout history, societies have faced numerous instances of injustice, where the principles of fairness and equity have been disregarded. There have been many cases where the blindfold has been lifted, and justice has been influenced by prejudice, political pressure, or systemic biases.

Lady Justice serves as a constant reminder of the importance of upholding these principles and working towards a just society. She encourages us to fight against corruption, discrimination, and inequality, and to advocate for the rights of the marginalised and oppressed.

‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’

Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

Conclusion

Lady Justice, with her scales, blindfold, and sword, represents the pillars of fairness, equity, and the pursuit of justice. Her image has evolved over time, reflecting the ideals of different civilizations.

Lady Justice serves as a constant reminder of the need for a balanced consideration of evidence, an unbiased application of the law, and the power of justice to combat injustice.

As society continues to strive for a just and equitable future, Lady Justice will remain an emblematic figure, inspiring us to fight for a world where fairness and equity prevail.

Check out our related articles on Rule of Law, Innocent until Proven GuiltyOpen Justice, R v Sussex Justices and the highly questionable Sussex Family Justice Board.

We recommend you should always seek formal legal advice if required, from a qualified and reputable lawyer (solicitor or barrister).

We have a number of links to Free Legal Resources and Legal Organisations on our Free Legal Advice , Legal Aid and Pro Bono pages.

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Categories
Legal Analysis Legal Professionals

What is the Legal Services Board ?

The Legal Services Board (LSB) is an independent regulatory body that oversees the legal services sector in England and Wales. Its role is multifaceted, encompassing standards-setting, approval, regulation of legal services providers, and consumer guidance. Here are the key aspects of the LSB:

  1. Purpose and Oversight:
  2. Reshaping Legal Services Strategy:
    • The LSB’s strategy aims to reshape legal services to better meet society’s needs.
    • It focuses on fair outcomes, confidence-building, and improved services.
    • The Reshaping Legal Services Conference 2024 explored these themes.
  3. Ethics, Transparency, and Diversity:
    • The LSB works on projects related to professional ethics, market transparency, and legal technology and innovation.
    • It promotes a diverse legal services sector accessible to all.

History and Role of the Legal Services Board

The primary mission of the Legal Services Board is to ensure the effective regulation of legal services, promoting transparency, fairness, and consumer protection.

  1. Background and Reforms:
    • The Legal Service Act 2007 aimed to modernize the legal sector by introducing independent oversight.
    • It designated professional representative bodies (such as the Bar Council and the Law Society) as approved regulators.
    • These regulators were required to delegate their regulatory functions to independent arms overseen by the LSB.
  2. Approved Regulators and Licensing Authorities:
    • The LSB directly regulates lawyers practicing in England and Wales through approved regulators.
    • Some of these regulators also serve as licensing authorities, granting licenses to alternative business structures (ABS) that provide reserved legal activities.
    • Let’s explore the approved regulators and their areas of regulation:
    • Solicitors:
      • Approved Regulator (AR): Law Society (representative body)
      • Independent Regulatory Body: Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
      • Reserved Legal Activities Regulated:
        • Right of audience
        • Conduct of litigation
        • Reserved instrument activities
        • Probate activities
        • Administration of oaths
    • Barristers:
      • Approved Regulator (AR): Bar Council (representative body)
      • Independent Regulatory Body: Bar Standards Board (BSB)
      • Reserved Legal Activities Regulated (similar to solicitors)
    • Chartered Legal Executives:
      • Approved Regulator (AR): Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) (representative body)
      • Independent Regulatory Body: CILEx Regulation
      • Reserved Legal Activities Regulated (similar to solicitors)
    • Licensed Conveyancers:
      • Approved Regulator (AR): Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) (regulatory body, no representative functions)
      • Reserved Legal Activities Regulated (specific to conveyancing)
    • Patent Attorneys:
    • Trade Mark Attorneys:
  3. Oversight and Recommendations:
    • The LSB supervises the entire regulatory framework.
    • It oversees the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and recommends amendments to the list of reserved legal activities.
    • The LSB also ensures the Office for Legal Complaints (which administers the Legal Ombudsman scheme) operates effectively.

For more detailed information, visit the Legal Services Board website.

Check out our articles on What is the Law ?, Rule of Law, Open Justice and the highly questionable Sussex Family Justice Board.

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Legal Professionals

Direct Access Barrister

A Direct Access Barrister, also known as a Public Access Barrister, enables members of the public to directly instruct a qualified barrister without the need for an intermediary such as a solicitor. This scheme provides individuals and companies with a more accessible and cost-effective way to seek legal advice and representation.

The Direct Access Scheme

The Direct Access Scheme allows clients to bypass the traditional route of engaging a solicitor and directly engage a barrister. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Instructing an Authorised Barrister: Under this scheme, you can instruct an authorised barrister directly. These barristers are qualified and regulated by the Bar Standards Board (BSB).
  • Scope of Services: A direct access barrister can provide a range of legal services, including:
    • Expert legal advice on case merits and potential outcomes.
    • Assistance with drafting correspondence.
    • Drafting statements from litigants and witnesses.
    • Preparing formal court documents.
    • Advising on suitable experts and drafting instructions to expert witnesses.
    • Guidance on the next steps in legal proceedings.
    • Assistance in resolving your case.
    • Representation in court.
  • Limitations: Most direct access barristers do not conduct litigation. Therefore, the day-to-day management of your case remains your responsibility.

Eligibility and Legal Aid

Here are some important points regarding eligibility and legal aid:

  • Legal Aid Exclusion: Direct access barristers cannot undertake publicly funded (legal aid) work. If you believe you qualify for legal aid, you can check your eligibility using the Legal Aid Eligibility Calculator.
  • Privately Funded Basis: If you are eligible for legal aid but prefer direct access, you can still instruct a barrister on a privately funded basis.

Benefits of a Direct Access Barrister

Why choose a direct access barrister?

  • Cost Savings: By eliminating the need for a solicitor, you can save on legal fees.
  • Control and Efficiency: You have direct control over your case, allowing for efficient communication and decision-making.
  • Specialist Advice: Direct access barristers often specialize in specific areas of law, providing tailored expertise.

Using the Direct Access Portal

The Direct Access Portal (DAP), launched in March 2022, offers an improved process for finding suitable direct access barristers. Run by the Bar Council, the DAP ensures that all listed barristers meet the necessary qualifications and standards.

  • Search and Contact: Use the DAP to search for and contact specialist barristers directly.
  • Complaints: The DAP does not handle complaints against barristers. If you have a complaint, contact the barrister directly and request their complaints procedure or contact the Bar Standards Board.

In summary, direct access barristers empower individuals and businesses to access legal services efficiently, while maintaining control over their cases.

Whether you need advice, representation, or assistance, a direct access barrister offers a transparent and accessible path to justice.

Check out our articles on Barristers, Four Inns of Court, Bar Standards Board, Bar Standards Board Justice ?, Solicitors, Rule of Law and the highly questionable Sussex Family Justice Board.

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Categories
Legal Analysis

What is a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO)?

A Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) is a powerful tool introduced in 2014 under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. These orders empower local authorities to address anti-social behaviour (ASB) in specific public spaces within their jurisdictions. PSPOs aim to ensure that public spaces can be enjoyed without interference from anti-social behaviour.

Legislative Background

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 brought several new tools and powers for local councils and their partners to combat ASB. These tools replaced and streamlined previous measures, emphasizing the impact of behaviour on both communities and vulnerable individuals. PSPOs are one such tool available under this act.

Key Features of PSPOs

  • Wide-Ranging and Flexible: PSPOs grant local authorities broad and flexible powers to address specific nuisances in designated public spaces.
  • Targeted Approach: PSPOs focus on particular behaviours that negatively impact the quality of life for people in those spaces.
  • Replacing Previous Measures: PSPOs replace earlier measures such as designated public place orders, gating orders, and dog control orders.

Purpose of PSPOs

PSPOs are not about restricting responsible use of public spaces or preventing young people from socializing. Instead, they provide councils with an additional instrument to tackle persistent issues that harm their communities. When used appropriately, proportionately, and with local support, PSPOs can effectively prevent anti-social behaviour.

PSPO Validity

Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) can last for up to three years. After this initial period, it must be reviewed. If the review supports an extension and other requirements are met, the PSPO may be extended for an additional three years. There is no limit on the number of times an order can be reviewed and renewed

Example PSPO

The image used in this article was taken at Tilgate Park in Crawley West Sussex. There is a PSPO in place that states all dogs must be kept on a lead.

Dog control – Tilgate Park Public Spaces Protection Order (PDF, 10.22 MB)

Dog control – Tilgate Park Public Spaces Protection Order map (JPG, 258.98 KB)

Practical Guidance

Local areas contemplating the introduction of a PSPO should consider the following steps:

  1. Assess the Need: Identify specific anti-social behavior issues affecting the locality.
  2. Consult with Stakeholders: Engage with residents, businesses, and community groups to understand their concerns.
  3. Draft the PSPO: Define the prohibited behaviors and geographical area.
  4. Statutory Guidance: Read the Home Office’s statutory guidance on the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

Relevant Guidance

For more detailed information, refer to the following resources:

Remember, PSPOs can be a positive tool when used judiciously to enhance community safety and well-being.

Check out our articles on What is the Law ?, Rule of Law, Open Justice and the highly questionable Sussex Family Justice Board.

Read the reviews of Junior Sussex Barrister Gavin Howe 

“He is awful, underhanded and should not be practising law!”

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Categories
Judiciary

Transparency and Open Justice Board

The Lady Chief Justice of England and Wales, Dame Sue Carr, has created a new Transparency and Open Justice Board.

Justice must be done, and it must be seen to be done. The public has a right to know what happens in their Courts and Tribunals.

Transparency & Open Justice Board

Chaired by High Court Judge Mr Justice Nicklin, the new board will lead and coordinate the promotion of transparency and open justice across the courts and tribunals of England & Wales.

The members of the board and an outline of its work are set out in the terms of reference that are published today. The board’s first task will be to engage widely in setting key objectives to guide its work. Thereafter, and in partnership with HMCTS and MoJ, the board will support and coordinate a programme of changes to promote transparency and open justice. The board will establish a stakeholder committee to assist in this work.

Transparency & Open Justice Board

You really must read our articles on the Sussex Family Justice Board, HHJ Farquhar and HHJ Bedford.

The Sussex Family Justice Board is a highly questionable legal cartel operating in secrecy and no accountability in Sussex.

Thankfully none of the Sussex Judiciary have been appointed to the new Transparency and Open Justice Board !

Read the reviews of Junior Sussex Barrister Gavin Howe 

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Categories
Legal Professionals

What is a Paralegal ?

A paralegal is a legal professional who performs tasks that require knowledge of legal concepts but does not hold the full expertise of a lawyer with an admission to practice law. These skilled individuals play a crucial role in supporting lawyers and law firms across various legal domains.

Tasks and Responsibilities

Paralegals engage in a wide range of duties, assisting lawyers in their day-to-day work. Some common tasks include:

  • Legal Research: Conducting research on case law, statutes, regulations, and legal precedents.
  • Document Preparation: Drafting legal documents, contracts, and correspondence.
  • Interviewing Witnesses: Gathering information from witnesses and clients.
  • Case Management: Organizing case files, maintaining records, and tracking deadlines.
  • Trial Preparation: Assisting in trial preparation by organizing evidence, witness lists, and exhibits.
  • Client Communication: Maintaining professional communication with clients.

Distinction Between Paralegals and Lawyers

While lawyers analyse legal matters from various angles, considering implications, consequences, and strategy, paralegals focus on executing the course of action recommended by lawyers. Their work involves practical implementation, such as interviewing witnesses, conducting research, and completing legal paperwork.

Crossover with Lawyers

In some practice areas, paralegals handle cases from start to finish, especially when dealing with routine matters like conveyancing, probate, debt recovery, or small claims. However, lawyers continue to handle complex cases or those involving substantial sums of money, such as mergers, murder trials, and high-stakes divorces. Paralegals’ involvement in such instances tends to be peripheral.

Examples of Paralegal Work

Here are some real-world examples of paralegal tasks:

  • Probate and Family Law: Handling divorce cases or probate matters within a solicitors’ firm.
  • Property Transactions: Assisting in land purchases and property sales for development companies.
  • Trademark Registration: Registering and defending trademarks for businesses.
  • Animal Cruelty Prosecutions: Working with the RSPCA prosecutions team.
  • Immigration Law Advice: Providing immigration law guidance to clients.
  • Consumer Law Protection: Advising on consumer rights within local authority trading standards departments.
  • Citizens Advice Volunteer: Assisting the public with employment, housing, and other issues.
  • Crown Prosecution Service: Supporting legal proceedings.
  • Company Incorporation: Handling company secretarial work for solicitors’ firms, accountancy firms, or company formation practices

Paralegal Links

Certainly! Here’s a curated list of UK-based paralegal websites that you might find valuable:

  1. Professional Paralegal Register (PPR): The PPR is a voluntary registered scheme and regulator for professional paralegals. Employers and the public can be assured that paralegals on the register meet required standards. Paralegals with a Paralegal Practising Certificate (PPC) are fully regulated to offer legal services to consumers.
  2. How to Become a Paralegal in the UK: This website provides insights into becoming a paralegal in the UK. It also highlights job opportunities advertised on platforms like Indeed and Reed.
  3. UK Law Blogs: Discover the best UK law blogs ranked by traffic, social media followers, and freshness. Stay updated on legal trends and news from these informative blogs.
  4. National Paralegal Register: If you’re looking for a paralegal to assist with a legal issue, use this register. You can shortlist paralegals based on region and legal expertise. Check if a paralegal is a NALP member using the filters.

In summary, paralegals are essential contributors to the legal field, bridging the gap between legal theory and practical implementation. Their expertise ensures the efficient functioning of legal processes and supports lawyers in delivering effective legal services.

Check out our articles on Barristers, Direct Access Barristers, Four Inns of Court, Bar Standards Board, Bar Standards Board Justice ?, Solicitors, Rule of Law and the highly questionable Sussex Family Justice Board.

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Categories
Legal Analysis

What is a Judgment ?

A judgment, also known as a judicial decision or court ruling, is the final decision made by a court of law in a legal case or dispute. It represents the court’s official decision on the matters brought before it and typically resolves the legal issues in question.

It is the culmination of legal proceedings, where a judge evaluates evidence, arguments and applicable laws to arrive at a verdict. Whether it’s a criminal case, family dispute, civil dispute or administrative matter, a judgment carries significant consequences for the parties involved.

A judgment may include various elements such as:

  1. Findings of Fact: The court’s determination of what events or circumstances occurred in the case.
  2. Conclusions of Law: The legal principles applied by the court to the facts of the case to reach a decision.
  3. Decision or Disposition: The specific outcome or ruling of the case, which could include a verdict of guilty or not guilty (in a criminal case), or a judgment for the plaintiff or defendant (in a civil case).
  4. Orders: Any specific actions or remedies ordered by the court as part of the judgment, such as monetary damages, injunctions, or other relief.

A court judgment is typically written and issued by a judge or a panel of judges. It is a formal and legally binding document that concludes the legal proceedings in the case, although it may be subject to appeal or modification under certain circumstances.

Sometimes, judgment is reserved, which means withholding a final opinion until more information is available. It acknowledges the complexity of issues and avoids premature conclusions.

These are the latest judgments published by the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary of England and Wales.

  • Neutral Citation Number: [2024] EWHC 1177 (Ch) In the High Court of JusticeBusiness and Property Courts in WalesProperty and Trusts List 17 May 2024 Before :His Honour Judge Jarman KCSitting as a Judge of the High Court Between : Vanessa Jean Davies -v- (1) Barbara Eleanor Watts(2) Mary Gwenllian Davies The post Davies -v- Watts and Davies appeared first on […]
  • In the Crown Court at Teesside 17 May 2024 Sentencing remarks of The Right Honourable Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb Between:Rex-v-Ahmed Ali Alid The post R -v- Alid appeared first on Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.
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Legal Analysis

What is an Adverse Inference ?

Adverse inference is a legal principle that plays a significant role in various areas of law, including criminalcivil, and family law. It arises when a party remains silent or withholds evidence, leading the court to draw a negative inference.

The CPS publish important guidance on the law and practice surrounding adverse inferences from a Defendant’s silence in certain circumstances. To avoid the drawing of an adverse inference, some Defendants will read out a pre-prepared statement and then refuse to answer any further questions.

Section 34 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (CJPOA) 1994

  • Section 34 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (CJPOA) 1994 allows an inference to be drawn if a suspect remains silent when questioned under caution before being charged and subsequently relies on a relevant fact in court.
  • If a suspect declines to answer questions during questioning, this alone does not trigger an adverse inference. However, when the suspect later seeks to provide an account or explanation, the adverse inference provision comes into play.
  • The term “fact” in Section 34 has a broad meaning, covering any alleged fact that is in issue and put forward as part of the defence case. Even if the defendant does not give or call evidence, a specific case presented by the defence advocate to a prosecution witness can be considered a relevant fact.

Sections 35 to 37 of the CJPOA 1994

  • Section 35: Deals with the effect of a defendant’s silence at trial. It allows the court to draw an adverse inference if the defendant remains silent during the trial.
  • Section 36: Addresses the effect of a defendant’s refusal or failure to account for objects, substances, or marks.
  • Section 37: Covers the effect of a defendant’s refusal or failure to account for their presence at a particular place.

Section 38 of the CJPOA 1994 – Interpretation and Savings

  1. Definitions:
    • Legal Representative: Refers to a person authorized under the Legal Services Act 2007 for activities related to the exercise of a right of audience or the conduct of litigation.
    • Place: Encompasses buildings, vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and any other location.
  2. Offences Charged:
    • References to an “offence charged” include any other offense for which the accused could lawfully be convicted based on the same charge.
  3. Inferences and Proceedings:
    • Proceedings Against the Accused: An adverse inference cannot solely lead to transferring proceedings to the Crown Court, finding a case to answer, or convicting the accused.
    • Refusal to Grant Applications: A judge cannot refuse applications solely based on an inference drawn from the accused’s failure to answer questions (as mentioned in sections 34, 36, or 37).
  4. Preserving Other Legal Provisions:
    • Admissibility of Evidence: Sections 34, 35, 36, or 37 do not affect provisions that render certain answers or evidence inadmissible against the accused or others.
    • Court’s Discretion: Courts retain the power to exclude evidence at their discretion, regardless of whether it involves furnishing information, making discoveries, producing documents, or other forms of evidence.

Section 38 ensures that adverse inferences are drawn judiciously, respecting legal rights and maintaining fairness in criminal proceedings.

Preconditions for Drawing an Adverse Inference

Before an adverse inference can be drawn, the following conditions must be met:

Certainly! Let’s explore the six necessary conditions that must be satisfied before an adverse inference can be drawn in circumstances where there has been a failure to mention a relevant fact when questioned. These conditions are crucial in legal proceedings, particularly when considering a defendant’s silence. Here they are:

  1. Pre-interview Disclosure:
    • The defendant must have been informed of the allegations against them before any questioning.
    • This ensures that the defendant is aware of the specific charges they are facing.
  2. Legal Advice to Be Silent:
    • The defendant must have received legal advice regarding their right to remain silent.
    • Legal professionals must ensure that the defendant understands their options and the potential consequences of remaining silent.
  3. The Defendant Waiving Legal Privilege:
    • If the defendant voluntarily waives their legal privilege (i.e., chooses to speak), their silence during questioning can be used against them.
    • This condition ensures that the defendant’s silence is a deliberate choice rather than a lack of understanding.
  4. Prepared and Self-Serving Statements:
    • The court considers whether the defendant’s statements were prepared or self-serving.
    • If the defendant selectively chooses to mention certain facts while remaining silent about others, this can impact the inference drawn.
  5. Failure to Mention a Relevant Fact:
    • The alleged failure must relate to not mentioning a fact that is relevant to the case.
    • The defendant’s silence regarding a crucial detail can be significant in assessing their credibility.
  6. Reasonable Expectation to Mention When Questioned:
    • The defendant’s silence should pertain to a fact that, under the circumstances, they could reasonably have been expected to mention when questioned.
    • If the omission is material and relevant, an adverse inference may be drawn.

These conditions help ensure fairness and balance in legal proceedings, allowing courts to consider a defendant’s silence in a well-defined context.

Case Law Examples

  • In Webber [2004] 1 All ER 770, the House of Lords held that the word “fact” as given in Section 34 should be given a broad meaning. It covered any alleged fact which was in issue and put forward as part of the defence case. Therefore, a specific case put by a Defendants advocate to a prosecution witness can be a fact relied on, even if the Defendant does not give or call evidence.
  • In M [2012] 1 Cr App R 26, it was held that the judge had incorrectly allowed the jury to draw an adverse inference from a failure by the appellant to mention relevant facts in interview when there was no basis for drawing one. There, the officers who interviewed the appellant mistakenly asked him about the alleged rape on the wrong date. The appellant subsequently relied on facts relevant to the date that the alleged rape was said to have occurred. The Court found that it was difficult to see how in those circumstances the appellant could have reasonably been expected to say more.
  • In Lee [2015] EWCA Crim 420, it was held that the judge had correctly allowed the jury to draw adverse inferences from the Defendants silence in interview following his arrest for an assault on his partner. Although the police did not have the specific details of the allegations at that stage, the questions were clearly directed to trying to discover whether or by whom the partner had been assaulted.

Civil Law

  • Evidence Withheld: In civil proceedings, parties may withhold evidence within their possession or control.
  • Negative Inference: If a party fails to produce relevant evidence, the court may infer that the evidence would have been unfavourable to that party’s position.
  • Example: If a claimant fails to provide crucial documents related to their claim, the court may infer that those documents would not support their case.

Family Law

  • Child Custody Cases: In family law, adverse inference can arise in child custody disputes.
  • Parental Behaviour: If a parent refuses to provide relevant information about their parenting abilities or fails to disclose relevant facts, the court may infer negatively.
  • Example: If a parent avoids discussing their history of substance abuse during custody proceedings, the court may draw an adverse inference.

Conclusion

Adverse inference ensures that parties are transparent and forthcoming in legal proceedings. Whether in criminal, civil, or family law, the principle encourages honesty and accountability. Legal professionals must navigate these provisions carefully to uphold justice and fairness.

We have a number of links to Free Legal Resources and Legal Organisations on our Free Legal Advice , Legal Aid and Pro Bono pages.

We recommend you should always seek formal legal advice if required, from a qualified and reputable lawyer (solicitor or barrister).

Read the reviews of Gavin Howe Barrister

“He is awful, underhanded and should not be practising law!”

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