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Celebrities Status Will Work Against The Accused – Mr Loophole Warns

Celebrities accused of a sexual offence will now find that their high-profile status may work against them in the dock, the country’s leading criminal defence lawyer has warned.

Nick Freeman - who has represented a string of “A-listers” including footballers, models, rock stars and actors – said that celebrity status, which was once considered to be a neutral factor, could now become very much an aggravating one.

The new guidelines for sexual offences, which are currently under review, place a greater emphasis on the impact upon victims who will now be much more central to the sentencing process.

Mr Freeman, aka Mr Loophole, said: “The message is simple – celebrities beware. Whereas your status was once irrelevant it may now increase your sentence.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 December 2013 23:24

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Mitchell costs decision should act as warning to lawyers

Pictur of Andrew Mitchell for Your Expert Witness storyOn 27 November the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by Andrew Mitchell, the former Conservative Chief Whip at the centre of the so-called ‘Plebgate’ affair, against a decision to limit his recoverable legal expenses in a libel action against The Sun. The limitation was applied by the High Court after Mr Mitchell’s legal team failed to submit their budget in the required time limit – the first time the Jackson reforms of litigation costs has been applied.

According to the Association of Costs Lawyers, in a single judgment the Court of Appeal has sent a clear message that the new costs rules will be firmly enforced – and that any relief from sanctions for non-compliance will be judged narrowly.

According to an article in its online journal, Mr Mitchell’s appeal in seeking relief from sanctions was also a key test of the judiciary’s approach to the management of litigation – and for costs lawyers, the need for clients to strictly adhere to court rules on costs budgeting.

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 November 2013 19:59

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Expert Witness Orthotics Experts Ltd adopts mkryptor to protect client confidentiality

Orthotics Experts Ltd has adopted mkryptor to encrypt sensitive case information sent via email. Orthotics Experts provides independent medical reports as evidence in legal cases and the communications that take place over email between the company and legal firms contain highly confidential information.

Chris Drake consultant orthotist and expert witness said, “There must be thousands of expert witnesses up and down the country like me that are engaged in supplying reports of a confidential nature. Whilst large legal companies with IT departments may have encryption tools I wonder how the expert witness community is addressing email confidentiality? I was delighted to find mkryptor to solve this problem, it is user-friendly and at a price point that smaller businesses and independent consultants can afford.”

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McNally announces family expert standards at Bond Solon conference

Picture of Lord McNally for Your Exert Witness storyOn 8 November the Ministry of Justice announced the anticipated national standards for expert witnesses in family courts. The announcement was made by Minister if State Lord McNally at Bond Solon’s Annual Expert Witness Conference and formed the joint response by the MoJ and the Family Justice Council to the consultation that has been taking place on the Family Justice Review.

Lord McNally told the conference: “Expert witnesses have a vital role to play in many of these sorts of cases making complex issues understandable to lawyers, judges and juries. You play an important part in the administration of justice.

“The Family Justice Review also recommended that agreed quality standards should be developed for expert witnesses in the family courts. My officials have been working with the Family Justice Council, experts groups and other interested parties to develop those quality standards. These standards were recently subject to consultation. I am pleased to say that, today, we are launching the joint Ministry of Justice and Family Justice Council response to the consultation.”

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 09:55

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Terror suspects have right to solicitor, High Court rules

HeathrowThe High Court has ruled that a person detained for examination under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is entitled to consult a solicitor in person at any time. The decision clarifies the existing uncertainty about the scope of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act and follows a Law Society intervention in a judicial review against the Metropolitan Police.

The Law Society argued that it is unlawful to restrict a person who has been detained at a port or airport under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act to only being entitled to have legal advice from a solicitor via telephone prior to a police interview, rather than having the right to have a solicitor present in person during the questioning where the detainee has specifically asked for that greater form of protection.

In his judgment, issued on 6 November, Mr Justice Bean said: “The detainee has the choice. The right may be exercised at any time during the period of detention and may be exercised repeatedly, although not in a manner which frustrates the proper purpose of the examination. If the solicitor attends in person he may be present during the interview…”

Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson commented: “As the professional body for solicitors in England and Wales the Law Society has intervened in this case to establish that there is no doubt that detainees have a right to consult their solicitor in person once detained and to emphasise the useful role solicitors play in advising detainees.

“Police powers under the Terrorism Act are wide and highly intrusive and individuals are questioned under the threat of criminal liability. There is no right to silence. The legislation permits officers to stop and question without suspicion in order to determine whether the detainee appears to be involved in terrorism. It is vital to ensure that individuals are not being detained other than for permitted purposes.

“We have highlighted the value of face-to-face advice in this context and further established clarity over whether individuals can refuse to answer questions pending their solicitor’s arrival.

“The presence of solicitors provides a fundamental safeguard to detainees and this ruling has clarified that in principle there is no sound reason why questioning of a detainee should not be delayed pending the arrival of a solicitor, who can advise on what questions they are obliged to answer and explain the legal implications of refusing to do so.

“This case focuses on the right to consult a solicitor in a situation where individuals are extremely vulnerable. It raises an important issue not only to the legal profession but also to the public generally.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 November 2013 11:59