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Expert Witness News

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

Lib Dems vote to stop legal aid cuts

Liberal Democrat logo for Your Expert Witness storyOn the final day of its autumn conference in Glasgow, the Liberal Democrats voted to oppose further cuts to legal aid and called for the proposed changes to be delayed.

The emergency motion was put by the Liberal Democrat Lawyers Association, supported by Julian Huppert MP and chair of the justice committee Sir Alan Beith MP.

The motion demanded that: “No further cuts in the provision of Legal Aid and the availability of local justice should take place without ensuring that any such proposals are first properly trialled and assessed to demonstrate that there will be no adverse effect upon access to justice and the quality of legal services provided to those who require assistance by means of Legal Aid.”

Lord McNally, the government minister in charge of the reforms in the Lords, opposed the motion.

Head of legal aid at the Law Society Richard Miller welcomed the ‘expression of concern’ from the party and said the votes draw further attention to the ‘substantial challenges’ facing the criminal legal aid sector.

Quoted in the Law Society Gazette, Eddie Tang, partner at London firm IBB said: “The government needs to fully scrutinise the current proposals to cut legal aid and the stance by the Liberal Democrats’ motion to stay the proposals pending thorough consultation on scrutiny is positive.”

Last Updated on Monday, 23 September 2013 09:08

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Woman takes on cosmetics giant in test case

In the first case of its kind a woman from Liverpool has taken a cosmetics giant to court over claims she suffered injuries after using a hair dye product.

The case against German company Henkel was heard on 16 August. It is the first of its kind to reach court in the UK and could prove significant both for people who use hair dye products and the companies who produce them.  Henkel sent one of its directors to St Helen's County Court to help with the defence.

The case centres around the efficacy of the so-called ‘patch test’, whereby a small amount of the product is used to test for a reaction.

Greg Almond of Almond Solicitors, who are representing the claimant Michelle Buckley, said: “My client did everything by the book. She tested the product first to check for a reaction before proceeding. If the patch test isn't working something is wrong.

“This is not an isolated incident. Many people have been injured because they have reacted badly to hair dye products. The industry is not regulated sufficiently and companies have batted away the issue of adverse chemical reactions by settling out of court.  This test case is putting the cosmetics industry in the dock, not just Henkel. My client has shown courage to take on the might of such a large industry. The outcome could help thousands more like her.”

Last Updated on Friday, 20 September 2013 08:54

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LAW 2013 Roadshow

In May the Lowry Hotel in Manchester saw the return of the popular conference and networking event organised by the SOLICITORS group – the LAW 2013 Roadshow. It was home turf for Your Expert Witness – members of the magazine’s staff were on hand to introduce those amongst the estimated 1,000 or so legal professionals in attendance still unfamiliar with the title to the range of news and special features the journal has to offer.

The LAW 2013 Roadshow combines continuous professional development conferences for legal professionals with an exhibition of services on offer. The popularity of the exhibition led to a welcome boost in circulation for Your Expert Witness, while new friends were made and old acquaintances renewed.

The two days of concentrated activity meant the many experts who advertise in Your Expert Witness saw their services promoted to an even wider readership among solicitors than previously.

Director of business development Ian Wild was enthusiastic about the results. “It was certainly a worthwhile event. We generated a lot of interest in the publication and added value for our advertisers,” he said. “We will certainly be attending further events this year to promote the magazine to an even wider audience.”

The event was one of a series of roadshows around the country. The 2013 series launched in Birmingham in February, where Ian and his colleagues saw similar success.

The roadshows, however, are just one element in the whole range of events and services on offer from the SOLICITORS group – the largest collection of law firms in England and Wales and organisers of the profession’s largest legal conferences and training exhibitions across the UK.

It claims a membership of 22,000 likeminded professionals and offers training services and the profession’s largest buying group.

Law firms join either as an associate or full member. Associate membership is free of charge and the full membership fee is set according to the size of the firm.

Among the range of services available to the legal profession, in addition to the CPD training events throughout the country, are DVDs and CDs on a full range of CPD topics, online training modules and inhouse courses.

There is also a range of directories featuring experts in all areas of law.

The latest innovation from the group is a news channel available on You Tube: tsglegal.tv.

Because the SOLICITORS group has a large number of law firms in membership it is able to partner with suppliers of all kinds to the legal profession to generate special offers and discounts for its members.

Everything from insurance to stationery and from accounts software to property searches is available at a special rate from the group’s preferred suppliers.

See this along with much more in our Online Edition

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 July 2013 11:18

Manchester lawyers cycle Arctic Norway for charity

Dan-Walker-and-Jim-TruscottA duo of Manchester lawyers swapped their suits for cycle helmets for an Arctic adventure raising thousands of pounds for charity.

Jim Truscott (Partner) and Dan Walker (Associate) from Manchester law firm Heatons LLP have returned triumphant from their 1000km, 10 day challenge which saw them travel from Bodo, just above the Arctic Circle, to Hammerfest, the most northerly city in the world.

With a mission statement of ‘getting out there, setting and achieving personal challenges’, the team overcame aches, pains and other obstacles to raise over £2,500 for three poignant charities; Christies, Sands and Arthritis UK.

The expedition was completely self-funded, with any donations going straight to the causes.

Heatons Partner, Jim Truscott noted;

“At times we felt like we were on Man v Wild – I’m sure even Bear Grylls would have found it tough going. We had to contend with challenging terrain and punishing weather, it was relentless. Saying that, the experience was one of a lifetime and raising that amount for charity is the icing on the cake”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 20:52