Fantastic and exciting news!!!!!! Neil Clark and Keesha Jeffers have joined us from McGanns. Neil is a full time solicitors and Keesha is a trainee solicitor and has completed her police station accreditation. This provides a range of experience to add to the depth that we already have. We will have a large team to assist clients right from the police station to the Court of Appeal. We will be the largest supplier of Criminal Legal Aid work in Northamptonshire and all of us have chosen to dedicate our working lives to provide assistance to those who need our services at what can be a very frightening time in their lives.
We have also taken on a further trainee, Kevin McCamley, who has been desperate to get the opportunity to qualify and finally become a criminal lawyer. His enthusiasm knows no bounds and before long he will be advising at the police station.
Our Corby office is now at Room 9, Edinburgh House, Corby Town Centre, Northants. For those who know Corby well, this is the old probation office. Please come and see us there and we will be able to help you.
We have commenced the new criminal contract from 1st April 2017. This will run for at least three years so provides certainty to clients and staff that we are here to help.
We are involved in a number of serious, high profile cases that will come to trial later this year. We will keep you posted on the results as they unfold. We are continuing to receive good results at both Crown Court and the magistrates courts both with victories on trials and good sentences. Liam recently won a Conspiracy to Supply Drugs case where the co-defendants had pleaded guilty and those representing the co-defendants were critical of us running a trial. Think we got it right!
Time to Test the Brakes
In December 2016 two men were convicted of manslaughter following an avoidable brake failure that resulted in the deaths of four people, including a young girl.
Neither of the men drove the vehicle, but they were ultimately responsible, as the haulage boss and mechanic. One was sentenced to 7 ½ years, the other to 5 years and 3 months imprisonment.
The case provides a stark reminder of the duty owed by vehicle operators, and one might have hoped that such cases would materially change behaviour.
A year on, it would appear that the situation has not improved as expected, and the Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain this week called upon operators to change their approach to brake performance testing, commenting that:
‘…despite the clear lessons from the Bath manslaughter case, operators are simply paying lip service to brake performance testing. In many cases, there’s too little recorded on the brake test to offer a meaningful assessment. In others, no information is recorded at all.’
Testing of vehicles has revealed that these failures not limited to a specific type of licence, size of the operator or a particular sector – it is across the board.
The guidance makes clear that every safety inspection must include a metered assessment of the braking performance of vehicles and trailers. It adds that a road test method to assess the brake performance for all planned safety inspections will usually be inadequate.
Where deficiencies in brake performance are identified, either during use of the vehicle or trailer or at the safety inspection, a measured brake efficiency test must be carried out. The efficiency test must confirm the brakes are performing satisfactorily before the vehicle or trailer can be considered as roadworthy.
What you should do now
Operators should carry out an urgent review of their brake testing regime now.
This should include an analysis of safety inspection records over the last 15 months, looking at whether the type of test and the information recorded is sufficient.
Operators must make sure their brake tests are planned in line with DVSA guidance and satisfy themselves that the vehicles and trailers running under their licence are roadworthy.
We Can Help
We can assist with any road traffic issue so if you need assistance in understanding your obligations, representation before Traffic Commissioners or a criminal court, contact email@example.com
Forensic Testing Scandal – Is Your Conviction Safe?
New details have emerged about forensic testing deficiencies at two of the country’s leading laboratories. Police are currently investigating the circumstances, and a number of people have been arrested.
Randox Testing Services (RTS) and Trimega Laboratories handle samples for some of the most high-profile criminal and family law cases, the accuracy of the tests being of paramount importance to people facing criminal prosecution for offences ranging from drink driving to murder.
Home Office Minister Nick Hurd told parliament:
‘Most drug tests from RTS between 2013 and 2017 are being treated as potentially unreliable. RTS was mainly commissioned by individual police forces when investigating criminal offences.’
It is believed that the results from as many as 10,000 tests could be under question.
Is Your Conviction Safe?
If a conviction in your case rested wholly or partially on the reliability of forensic tests, it is essential that you seek further legal advice.
While the Crown Prosecution Service will be carrying out a review into criminal cases, this will take a considerable period of time, and many will question whether the body that brought the prosecution in the first place is ideally placed to make decisions as to the safety or otherwise of a conviction.
Those affected will, therefore, wish to consider whether any further forensic testing ought to take place, and even whether or not there are grounds to appeal. All convictions will need to be considered on a case by case basis.
Even if your cases did not involve the two laboratories currently under investigation, this scandal throws a spotlight on the hidden world of forensic testing and calls in to doubt results from other forensic testing providers.
How We Can Assist
Regardless of whether we handled your case initially our experienced team of lawyers has the expertise to ensure the safety of your conviction is beyond question.
If you believe that inaccurate forensic testing may have led you to be wrongfully convicted (and that includes pleading guilty to an offence), please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Domestic Violence Protection Notices and Orders
Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPNs) are commonly issued by police when attending incidents of alleged domestic violence.
Invariably, whatever the rights and wrongs of a situation, and frequently it is quite impossible for this to be correctly judged, the male is the recipient of a DVPN.
The effect of the DVPN is to force the recipient’s removal from the property for 48 hours; this will then be followed by an application to the magistrates’ court for a DVPO which can result in removal from the premises for a further 28 days.
The rationale is to give the supposed victim of domestic violence a ‘breathing space’ in which to seek assistance.
Can You Challenge a Notice?
Because of the relatively informal way in which DVPNs are issued, there is no realistic way to challenge them before they take effect, so later successful challenges will result in a mostly pyrrhic victory only.
However, you can challenge the application for a DVPO, and we can assist you in that process.
The legal framework for these orders was recently considered by the High Court in the case of Kerr v Chief Constable of Surrey Police  EWHC 2936 (Admin).
The facts, in this case, are typical of many of the cases that we see before the courts, and one particular, albeit by no means an uncommon feature was that the supposed beneficiary of the order, Mr Kerr’s partner of 8 years, did not actively support the making of the order.
The High Court upheld the legislative scheme in its entirety, observing that:
‘…within the experience of a Magistrates’ Court, that victims of domestic violence can be equivocal in their views. There are many reasons why at any given point in time they may express some reluctance to seek to exclude the partner. As [Counsel] correctly observes, that is precisely the danger that this legislation addresses by allowing a short-term emergency order to be made for the protection of a victim of domestic violence, even in circumstances where the victim is not seeking such an order.’
Is Kerr wrongly decided?
There is no case law cited in the judgment, and it is open to argument therefore whether the High Court considered the recent decision of Herrington  2 Cr App R (S) 327 where, when considering whether to make a restraining order the Court of Appeal observed:
‘‘This is not a jurisdiction which can be used to prevent an adult from deciding who she wants to live with. Although any person considering this case would consider that [HJ] is at serious risk of violence from the appellant, she has the right to live with him if she chooses. It is to be hoped that she is genuinely aware of the risk she is running in doing that, but ultimately she is an adult and free to take those decisions for herself. The law does not presently permit the criminal court to act to protect victims of domestic violence against the consequences of decisions of this kind which they freely make. Because of our level of concern for her safety, we caused the police to contact her very recently before this case was heard so that her wishes could be ascertained. She told them unambiguously that she wants this order revoked.’
How Can We Assist?
When new judgments come along, they are often presented as offering the complete answer to a legal problem, but in our experience, they seldom do. Recourse has to be had to earlier decisions, particularly ones not considered in any new case. We do not accept anything at face value, preferring to challenge perceived norms and advance alternative arguments.
If you are facing the prospect of a DVPO, then do not hesitate to contact email@example.com
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