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Government criticised over implementation of confiscation orders

Picture of a financial spreadsheet fro Your Expert Witness storyThe National Audit Office has criticised the government’s implementation of its policy to deny criminals the proceeds of their crimes by confiscating their assets.

According to a report to Parliament issued on 17 December, government has no overall coherent strategy for confiscation orders and that fundamentally undermines the process for confiscating assets. Decision-makers across the criminal justice system, such as senior police officers, are often not prioritising confiscation. In 2012-13, 673,000 offenders were convicted of a crime, many of which had a financial element; yet only 6,400 confiscation orders were set.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 09:55


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


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


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.”


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