The Trouble with Sexting


A story published today across the media highlights the growing problem of teenagers engaging in “sexting” and the potential for significant ramifications on their lives and careers. In the present case, a mother of a 14 year old boy has spoken out, with the support of the Criminal Bar Association, after her son (A) was questioned by police in connection with a naked image sent via Snapchat to a girl (B) from his school. As users of Snapchat will be aware, images sent will usually be deleted after 10 seconds of the recipient viewing them. However, in this instance the image was not only saved by B, but also shared with other members of their school. Had A been over 18, this act would...

Book Review


There is no shortage of books that offer tips and advice to the budding advocate. Some of these books are very good indeed, others are nothing other than an anecdotal reminiscence probably written more in drink than accuracy. This book, perhaps not surprisingly, offers exactly what it says on the tin - 365 pages, each filled with just one advocacy tip. Putting aside the environmental crime that is the underuse of paper, the concept is brilliantly executed, taking the reader from concepts such as preparation and psychology, to the inevitable words of wisdom on examination in chief and cross-examination, onto trial strategy, argument construction, useful quotes and ending with resources to...

The Lord Janner U-turn: what is the public interest in a trial of the act?


Yesterday’s U-turn concerning the decision to prosecute Lord Janner for alleged child sex offences has thrown a spotlight onto a procedure in English criminal law called the “trial of the act”. What is this procedure and what purpose does it serve? And why has its application to Lord Janner’s case proved controversial?

A trial of the act is a procedure in two stages. The first stage is that a judge decides, on medical evidence, whether a defendant is unfit to plead. If the judge concludes that the defendant is fit to plead, the prosecution continues in the normal fashion. But if the defendant is found unfit to plead, the judge must proceed to the second stage, which is a modified trial...

Irish High Court refuses extradition request from the USA


Irish High Court refuses extradition request from the USA on the grounds that solitary confinement at ADX Florence is inhuman and degrading.

I am also fully satisfied that by being denied the opportunity for meaningful contact with others, the prisoner in solitary confinement is prevented from being fully human. To prevent another from being fully human is by definition inhuman and degrading treatment.”

Those were the bold words of Ms Justice Donnelly in the case of Attorney General v Damache [2015] IEHC 339 in her judgment of 21 May 2015, wherein she refused to order the extradition of an Irish national to the USA, accused of committing offences of international terrorism

Mr Damache...

Keep the kids, but I want the contract - handling contractual divorce


On 3 occasions over the last 5 years I have been approached by solicitors, of partnership status in their firms, to ask what happens to a crime contract if one leaves, or the partnership dissolves entirely. The simple starting point when attempting to answer this question is to look at the partnership deed, and then go on to consider the view of the LAA.

The Court of Appeal itself expressed surprise in a case reported yesterday (see here) that a partnership arrangement was ‘struck in the pub’. The only surprise to me is the level of detail that they managed to agree over a bottle or two of red. It is clear that a great many criminal lawyers are in partnership never having imagined it...

The Thursday Troubles


We have the Monday Message, and the Tuesday Truth, this must then be the Thursday Troubles (a one-off you’ll be pleased to know), coming as it does just one day after the government announced that it would proceed with further legal aid cuts and 2 tier contracts.

That announcement seemed to send shockwaves through the legal defence community, but did we really learn anything new yesterday?

One of the most surprising emails to hit my inbox yesterday said that I had consistently said that 2 tier would not happen, but that I have never explained why I thought that. That will come as a surprise to most as I have been sticking to my mantra on this for over 18 months now. But here goes, for...

Curfew-only YROs: guidance for youth offending teams


From 1 June 2015, new arrangements come into effect which relate to the management of Youth Rehabilitation Orders (YROs) with just an electronically monitored curfew as a requirement.

The new arrangements relate primarily to court enforcement activity. The changes result from the application of the Offender Management Act 2007 Section 4(2), which requires that such work must be undertaken by a public body.

Youth offending teams (YOTs) should be mindful that, in the event of a YRO with electronically monitored curfew as the only requirement, they have limited and specific responsibilities. It is the electronic monitoring service and not the YOT that is responsible for almost every aspect...

Alcohol back calculation for road traffic investigations


Back calculation is the process whereby a forensic toxicologist uses the concentration of alcohol in a blood or breath sample to calculate the concentration of alcohol in the individual’s blood or breath at some time before the sample was taken. This type of evidence appears regularly in road traffic investigations.

Read the guidance (PDF)

Be sure to sign up for CrimeLine Complete (free 14 day trials available) in order to keep up to date with these and many other legal issues. The law changes daily, but your text books do not. Isn't it time you equipped yourself with books and resources that change as and when the law does?

Framework document for the National Crime Agency


The purpose of the document is to set out the NCA’s accountability, management, operational and financial arrangements and to explain how the relationship between the Home Secretary and the National Crime Agency is intended to function.

Read it here (PDF)

Be sure to sign up for CrimeLine Complete (free 14 day trials available) in order to keep up to date with these and many other legal issues. The law changes daily, but your text books do not. Isn't it time you equipped yourself with books and resources that change as and when the law does?

Sexual Offences Handbook


Publication of this updated text is timely given the rise in prosecutions for sexual offences and the heightened public scrutiny of the trial process. Practitioners in this field go to court ill equipped at their peril, and therefore need to ensure that they are up to date with all aspects of case preparation.

The text weighs in at over 800 pages and it is worth remarking that none of those pages are wasted on what are often irrelevant appendix materials. The format of the book is much as you would expect it to be, save that the authors have been very careful in Part 2 to distinguish between so called historic sex offences, those that span the commencement of the 2003 At, and current...

Criminal Judicial Review


There are lots of practitioner texts dealing comprehensively with judicial review, and there are a few that cover, somewhat fleetingly, aspects particular to criminal law. There are however few that combine in one text the level of detail required to deal with a criminal law related judicial review from start to finish. This book fills that gap.

The book starts with the basic principles of judicial review, and then goes on to deal with specific areas in great detail: Policing, Crown Prosecution Service, Courts, Prisons, Coroners and other statutory bodies. Following that a number of specialist areas are covered, once again in great detail: Children, Young Persons and Juveniles, Mental...

Care Provider Offences


Sections 20 and 21 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 were implemented in mid-April. Each creates a new criminal offence. These offences criminalise those they deem responsible for the ill-treatment or neglect of people who were meant to be receiving health or social care. The range of persons to whom these offences apply are individuals and organizations which are paid to provide care. Whereas doctors, clinicians and care workers and their respective employers are within their range, parents and others who provide unpaid or informal care are not. Neither offence therefore seeks to intrude into family life or to discourage volunteers.

Both the Winterbourne View and Mid-Staffs...

Professional Court User Wi-Fi


It is now expected that all courts will have PCu WiFi by October 2015 (more details here).

Current running total of Professional Court User WiFI in both Magistrates’ and Crown Courts that is live (last updated 20 August 2015):-

Professional User Guide (PDF)

Amersham Magistrates' Court

Banbury Magistrates' Court

Basildon Magistrates' Court

Basildon Combined Court (Crown)

Basingstoke Magistrates' Court

Chesterfield Magistrates' Court

Birmingham Crown Court

Folkstone Magistrates' Court

Caernarfon Crown Court

Berwick-Upon -Tweed Magistrates Court

Canterbury Combined Court (Crown)

Bexley Magistrates' Court

Carlisle Combined Court (Crown)

Birmingham Magistrates Court


Changes to CPD – Solicitors


We are receiving a large volume of enquiries in relation to the recent CPD changes. This note will hopefully clarify the position for you.

There are now 2 different CPD regimes in operation

For the years 2014/15, and 2015/16 you can choose between the following options:

  1. Complete 16 hours CPD (but note there are some changes – see below), or
  2. Opt-in to the new Competency regime.

These are detailed below. (Source: SRA)

For the 2016 CPD year onwards, you must follow the competency regime.

I want to continue doing 16 hours

Then continue as before, but note that there has been one significant change – the removal of the 25% face-to-face requirement (previously called ‘accredited CPD...

Crown Court fees to be paid directly to trial advocates


Changes are being introduced in May 2015 which mean “trial advocates” attending the main hearing in a criminal case will receive the legal aid fee.

This amendment is being made in response to Sir Brian Leveson’s Review of Efficiency in Criminal Proceedings.

He recommended that for case ownership to work in practice, the fee should go to the advocate who conducts the main hearing.

As a result the Ministry of Justice will be amending the Criminal Legal Aid (Remuneration) Regulations 2013.

The amendments made will come into force in May 2015. We will be updating the Crown Court Fee Guidance in April. This will provide further guidance for providers about this change.

A new AF1 form will...



Helpful guidance note on the new drug-driving offence (in force 2 March 2015)

Read it here (PDF)

Be sure to sign up for CrimeLine Complete (free 14 day trials available) in order to keep up to date with these and many other legal issues. The law changes daily, but your text books do not. Isn't it time you equipped yourself with books and resources that change as and when the law does?

Barrister given 5 year bankruptcy restriction


Nicholas John Elcombe, a barrister from Braintree, Essex, was given a five year bankruptcy restrictions order for neglecting his business affairs.

Mr Elcombe failed to submit self sssessed tax and VAT returns when due to HMRC or to make payment in full (including Capital Gains Tax), resulting in a tax liability of at least £156,432 thereby increasing the extent of his bankruptcy.

Mr Elcombe’s restriction follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

In addition, Mr Elcombe (55) who was not present in Court when Chief Registrar Baister made his findings of unfitness, incurred debts of £26,263 to 2 private schools in the period July 2010 to July 2011,which he had no reasonable...

Who prosecutes?


Karl Turner MP: To ask the Attorney General, what proportion of criminal cases the Crown Prosecution Service instructed the independent Bar to prosecute in (a) 2010, (b) 2011, (c) 2012, (d) 2013 and (e) 2014.

Reply (Robert Buckland MP):

The CPS does not centrally record the number of instructions to advocates from the self-employed Bar. Were it to do so, such data would need to take account of changes to the instructed advocate during the course of proceedings; cases in which more than one advocate is instructed; and cases in which an in-house advocate may be instructed initially but where an advocate from the self-employed Bar was subsequently instructed.

The CPS retains payment data in...