Criminal Defence - Sleepwalking to Bankruptcy


Not a day goes by that we do not see in the legal press and elsewhere (particularly the specialist press covering developments in fintech (financial technology)) a story about robot lawyers, blockchain problem solving, data silos and a myriad of other seemingly wild suggestions as to how the future of law will be shaped.

They appear seemingly wild until you pause and reflect on the fact that some of the largest and smartest law firms in the world are investing millions of pounds into ensuring that they remain a relevant part of any future landscape. So, not so crazy after all.

The future of criminal justice is I suspect not quite as grand or sophisticated, but that is not to say that...

Worboys - What went wrong?


One newspaper questioned how justice had been served after reporting that convicted sex offender John Worboys was to be released from prison following a decision by the Parole Board.

The headline, one of many similar ones, read:

'Black Cab rapist John Worboys to be freed after eight years – that’s just TWO WEEKS for each of 200 victims'

On the face of it, eight years imprisonment for 200 sexual crimes does appear remarkably lenient, and it is no wonder that members of the public not appraised of the full facts should express outrage on social media and elsewhere.

The facts reveal a very different story.

Was Worboys convicted of 200 offences?

The simple answer to that is no. Worboys was...

The consequences of arrest for professionals


For the majority of people, whose only interaction with lawyers might be when buying a house or arranging a will, being arrested is an extremely serious matter. Even if no criminal proceedings result, simply the experience of being detained at a police station and interviewed under caution is not one which many are keen to repeat.

Thinking further ahead, what are the long-term consequences once a criminal investigation is complete?

For most professionals (whether or not regulated), a criminal conviction or caution (which is sometimes treated as a conviction even though it involves no further immediate consequences for the offender) is an even more serious matter. In particular, a...

Good Character, Misdirected


After the case of R v Hunter [2015] 2 Cr. App. R. 9, where the effect of the Court of Appeal’s judgment means that misdirections in good character directions will lead to far less convictions being quashed, it is important to note that the Court can still be troubled by errors made on the subject of good character.

I read with interest the judgment of the Court of Appeal in the case of R v Green in Crimeline 2017/85, where an unusual set of circumstances led to a successful appeal against conviction. This was the case where the judge had drawn attention to the complainant’s good character in his summing up and told the jury that there was a level playing field as far as character was...

Mark Johnson convicted in $3.5bn fraud case


"The defence case that the accused's trading strategy was legitimate risk management designed to help fill the client’s order would have been unassailable but for the contemporaneous recordings and emails. The accused used pre-hedging, which is a common means to reduce risk in a volatile FX market. Being able to differentiate this benign measure from front running, which is designed to harm the client and enrich the bank, is usually impossible outside of egregious examples.

Johnson’s downfall was that he revealed his malign intention, to front-run the client order, and so confessed to the crime. Moreover, he unwisely revealed this on a bank communications network, which he should have...




The offence of drug driving was introduced in response to the review of drink and drug driving law by Sir Peter North (the North Report) which found that there was “a significant drug-driving problem”.


Section 5A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 as inserted by s.56 of the Crime & Courts Act 2013 provides that it is an offence for a person to drive or attempt to drive or to be in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place with a specified controlled drug in their body if the proportion of the drug in that person’s blood or urine exceeds the specified limit for that drug.

The offence is drafted in this way because it is not necessary for the prosecution...

Don't dwell on it - DPP v Distill (2017) EWHC 2244 (Admin)


In DPP v Distill D was charged with racially aggravated harassment alarm or distress contrary to s5 POA 1986. She was alleged to have shouted, whilst stood in her grandmother's back garden, "Polish f**king bastards, f**k off" and the words were overheard by her neighbours in the adjoining back garden.

A dwelling for the purposes of the Public Order Act 1986 (POA 1986) will generally exclude a garden bounded by a private fence. Such a garden is not a structure occupied as a person's home or other living accommodation for the purposes of the act. The exception from criminal liability in cases where the conduct occurred inside a dwelling, and the witness or complainant was also inside that...

Grime in Crime


The field of law has long been recognised as one of the oldest professions. The fountain pen for many heralded a new era in a domain often associated with the ink well and pink ribbon briefs. However, with the advent and increasing evolution of technology and digital working, the profession, particularly the field of criminal law, has been moved, albeit somewhat unwillingly, into the 21st Century. Most technically-savvy and dare I say, progressive, firms are moving towards total digital working practices. Indeed the courts and Crown Prosecution Service are now fully digital albeit not without their own different attendant problems. In line with this has been the development in relation...

Developments in sanctions enforcement


Solicitor Anna Rothwell (Corker Binning) write about new reporting rules.

Solicitors and other professionals may be somewhat alarmed to learn that as of 8 August 2017 the European Union Financial Sanctions (Amendment of Information Provisions) Regulations 2017 came into force, extending a reporting requirement that previously only applied to financial institutions to ‘independent legal professionals’, as well as to accountants, auditors, tax advisors, estate agents and others such as casinos and dealers in rare stones. If legal professionals and other relevant businesses fail to report a known or suspected financial sanctions breach to HM Treasury's Office of Financial Sanctions...

Post Sentence Supervision – Breach and Billing


The issue arises due to clause 10.70 (Crime Contract 2017), which provides:

For the purposes of the definition of a series of offences, a breach of a community penalty or other court order must be treated as an offence. If the defendant is before the court for other reasons, then no separate Standard Fee payment will be made for breach proceedings in respect of a community penalty or other court order, irrespective of whether there is any link between such breach proceedings and any other proceedings being heard at the same time. If breach proceedings are heard alone then they will attract a separate Standard Fee.

Is breach of PSS a breach of a ‘community penalty’ or ‘other court...

Knife possession sentencing


This bulletin presents key statistics describing the trends in the number of offenders receiving cautions and convictions, and in the prison population for possession of knife offences in England and Wales. This bulletin does not cover all knife crimes (offences involving a knife) as published by the Office for National Statistics.

The information presented combines all three types of knife and weapon possession offences; possession offences of having an article with a blade or point in a public place or on school premises; possession of offensive weapon without lawful authority or reasonable excuse in a public place or on school premises and offences of aggravated possession of a knife...

Bar ethics chiefs issue advice and warning to criminal bar


Barristers who were not trial counsel but who are instructed to represent convicted defendants in the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal have been given new guidance by the Bar Council’s Ethics Committee on their duty to check the factual basis for the appeal or risk criticism and action by the court.

The committee, which supports barristers in England & Wales on ethical issues, is urging the criminal Bar to take note of this latest advice, which relates to any case in which a new barrister is instructed in connection with a criminal appeal.

In the note, barristers are advised that they must:

a) Make inquiries of the legal representative(s) who appeared and acted at the trial in...

Criminal Procedure Rule Committee - vacancy for a solicitor member


Following the retirement of Michael Caplan QC there is a vacancy for a solicitor member of the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee, now advertised at: The appointment is made by the Lord Chancellor after consulting the Lord Chief Justice. The closing date for applications is 30th September, 2016.

I should be very grateful if those to whom I have sent this message, listed beneath, would draw others’ attention to the vacancy and encourage colleagues to apply whom you think meet the appointment criteria. Please feel free to forward this email to others if you wish. If applicable,...

Internet giants "consciously failing" to tackle extremism on the web


The Home Affairs Committee says that social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are "consciously failing" to combat the use of their sites to promote terrorism and killings, in its report published following an inquiry that has lasted 12 months, and included visits to Glasgow, Bradford and Europol. The Committee says these networks have become "the vehicle of choice in spreading propaganda and the recruiting platforms for terrorism".

Read the report

Government calls for greater collaboration between police forces to drive down costs


New data on police procurement highlights the need for police forces to push opportunities to collaborate in order to deliver greater value for money for the taxpayer.

Since 2010/11 forces have saved in excess of £290m through better procurement and collaboration, but new information released today shows that that there are still many areas where forces could work together to identify savings.

The release is part of the Government’s transparency agenda to make the police more accountable to the public, and provide information on the prices paid by police for 18 essential items including forensic, telephony and office supplies. Forces are also asked to report on the extent to which they...

Tough new sanctions announced for offshore tax evaders


The proposals will mean that those who do not come forward and pay outstanding taxes from offshore investments and accounts, could face even tougher penalties of up to three times the tax they try to evade, and increase their risk of potential criminal charges.

HMRC will be even better able to target evaders from October 2016, when it starts to receive an unprecedented amount of data on those with offshore accounts in the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories – one year ahead of even more data coming in from across the globe, when the Common Reporting Standard comes into force.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison, said:

Every penny of tax that people evade...