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Law Society announces Excellence Awards shortlist

Law Society Excellence Awards logo for Your Expert Witness storyThe finalists in the Law Society Excellence Awards 2013 have been announced, following a record number of entries. The shortlist includes outstanding individuals and teams who have set new precedents in the profession. Now in its seventh year, and bigger than ever before, the event showcases some of the brightest legal talent in England and Wales.

The winners will be announced by BBC broadcaster Mishal Husain at a gala awards dinner on 22 October at the Park Plaza Hotel, Westminster Bridge, London. The Excellence Awards reward the most outstanding practitioners in the legal profession and are open to the entire legal sector, not just solicitors.

Entries were scrutinised earlier this month by a line-up of specialist judges, including Rt Hon Sadiq Khan, chairman of Which? Patrick Barwise, former attorney general Lord Goldsmith, CEO of Thomson Reuters Foundation Monique Villa, master of the rolls Lord Dyson, and solicitor and High Court Judge Sir Gary Hickinbottom.

Law Society president Nicholas Fluck said: “The standards this year have been exceptionally high, and I know the judges had a mammoth task on their hands in choosing whom to shortlist. The shortlisted candidates are those who are breaking new ground, showing innovation and who are outstanding representatives of the legal profession.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 September 2013 08:54

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Lawyers need guidance to help people with learning difficulties, report says

Photo of Chris Kenny for Your Expert witness storyA report by the University of Bristol has recommended guidance and training for lawyers to better understand the needs of clients with learning difficulties.

Undertaken on behalf of the Legal Services Board, the Legal Services Consumer Panel and the learning disability charity Mencap, the research involved 90 people with learning disabilities and interviews with 26 family carers and nine legal services professionals.

The report praises the ability of some solicitors to understand the support and communications needs of people with a learning disability but highlights tailored training and guidance would improve the experience for many clients with learning disabilities.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 14:47

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Alison Saunders announced as new DPP

Photo of new DPP Alison Saunders for Your Expert Witness storyThe Crown Prosecution Service has announced that the new Director of Public Prosecutions will be Alison Saunders CB. The announcement was made on 23 July by the Attorney General, Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP.

Ms Saunders is currently the Chief Crown Prosecutor for London and will take up her position on 1 November, following the departure of Keir Starmer. She joined the CPS when it was formed in 1986.

The Attorney General said: “Alison will make an excellent Director of Public Prosecutions and is the right person to help the Crown Prosecution Service meet the challenges it will face in the coming years. I am particularly pleased that Alison is the first Head of the CPS to be appointed from within its ranks as proof of the high quality of the professionals that work within the service.”

Dominic Grieve continued: “I'd also like to thank Keir Starmer for the great contribution he has made not only to the CPS but more generally to the criminal justice system.  He can be proud of the reforms that he and his staff have led to keep our criminal justice system one of the best in the world.”

Commenting on her new role, Alison Saunders said: “I am delighted and privileged to be appointed as the next Director of Public Prosecutions. To lead an organisation of committed and professional staff is an honour especially having worked for the CPS since its inception.

“I look forward to carrying on with the fantastic work that Keir Starmer QC has undertaken, ensuring the CPS further improves and continuing with reforms, both within the CPS and more widely in the criminal justice system.”

Keir Starmer added: “I have had the privilege of working with Alison Saunders for five years. She has been an outstanding leader within the CPS and she will make a first-rate DPP.”

Alison Saunders is recognised as an expert in the prosecution of sensitive and complex cases. She came to public notice when her role in the prosecution of ‘Railway Rapist’ David Mulcahy – convicted of a spate of sex attacks and murders during the 1980s – was highlighted in a TV documentary broadcast in 2001.

Recently she has appeared in prosecutions stemming from the London riots and in the Stephen Lawrence murder retrial.

Prior to her appointment as London’s Chief Crown Prosecutor in December 2009 she was head of the CPS Organised Crime Division. The unit deals with the most serious offences, including human trafficking, immigration, drugs-running, counterfeiting and money laundering, and confiscation of criminals’ assets.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 16:03

Pre-recording of vulnerable witness evidence to be allowed – 25 years on from its proposal

Picture of Lord Judge for Your Expert Witness storyThe most vulnerable victims are to be protected from the trauma of appearing in court, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced today.

On 11 June Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced that, for the first time, young and vulnerable victims who have survived the most horrific crimes will be able to pre-record both their evidence and any cross-examination, rather than having to suffer the trauma of appearing in court.

The new system will be tested in three areas – Leeds, Liverpool and Kingston-upon-Thames – with the intention of rolling it out more widely if it proves a success.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 June 2013 15:58

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Two jailed for VAT fraud

Picture of HMRC office for your Expert Witness storyTwo court cases at opposite ends of the country have resulted in jail terms for VAT fraud. On 16 May a Surrey man was jailed for 12 months for attempting to pocket nearly £47,000 in fraudulent VAT repayments.

John Patrick Cahill was investigated by HMRC following suspicions about the accuracy of VAT refund claims he submitted between January 2011 and January 2012. These claims were monitored as part of a London fraudulent repayment tax taskforce launched in 2011.

Taskforce enquiries revealed that his Mayfair business address was simply a mail-drop service. Investigations showed that although Cahill claimed to trade as an energy efficiency inspector his company made no sales for the period.

Last Updated on Sunday, 26 May 2013 17:16

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