Victims To Have Right To Challenge CPS Decisions To Drop Cases

For the future when the Crown Prosecution Service decides not to pursue a case, crime victims in England and Wales would have the possibility to challenge the decisions.

When the victim disagrees with the fact that CPS had decided either not to bring charges against someone or to stop a prosecution they will have the right to ask for a review. Legal documents for this might be required.

Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, commented that most of the final decisions were correct but in spite of this victims needed to be allowed to challenge those otherwise people would stop trusting the criminal justice system.

“The criminal justice system historically treated victims as bystanders and accordingly gave them little say in their cases,” he said.

Such changes started being commented after a case in 2011 when a cerebral palsy was convicted of assaulting sexually two other men in the same condition.

One of his victims then complained to the CPS and this is why charges were pressed to him.

Keir Starmer shared he did not expect a flood of reviews but in fact he believed there would be more than the 1,600 complaints received by the CPS.

“There’s no right to charge. Nobody has that, nor should they,” he stated. “If the right decision was made then it has to be upheld.”

The following reconsideration of the case will not be reviewed by the same lawyer but it will be held in the same region where the first decision was taken.

Decisions made before the policy being in place will not be reviewed.

Reviews will also not be available for such cases which were dismissed by the police rather than the CPS.

 

 

Legal aid plans: Defendants ‘will lose right to choose’

Figures show that taxpayers give about £2bn every year on legal aid as more than half of it is spend on criminal defence. Recently ministers announced that due to their latest plans the annual criminal legal aid budget in England and Wales would be cut with £220m.

The defendants will no longer have the right to choose a solicitor and this would reflect to those people who needed lawyers with specialist expertise. It is not the same with people, who need document drafting.

Ministers stated that the right to a fair trial would not be affected and called for bigger organisations to stop providing legal aid.

When the changes do happen providers of legal aid would have to bid for contracts; defendants whose income is larger than £37,500 would not have automatic access to legal aid; prisoners will have difficulties when trying to complain against the prison system.

Sir Anthony, who retired as a Court of Appeal judge last year, said the plans had serious lapses mentioning that for the future a defendant would be “allocated a firm of solicitors, a lawyer or a corporate provider like Eddie Stobart, or whoever it may be”, not being able to choose such a lawyer who would be well-aware of their cases and needs.

The Ministry of Justice received a response of 150 pages from the Bar Council.

Maura McGowan QC, chairperson of the Bar Council, expressed her opinion claiming that nowadays the whole world admired the current justice system and for the future money would mean everything.

“PCT may look as though it achieves short-term savings, but it is a blunt instrument that will leave deep scars on our justice system for far longer.”

The Association of Prison Lawyers added that many important matters such as the separation of mothers and babies for example, would not receive any funding.

Soon the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act removed legal aid from many areas of civil law were removed.

 

Bank Loans to Business Fall Again Despite Funding for Lending

In spite of the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) the aim of which was to cope with fall of the UK bank landing, it still continues.

For the first quarter of 2013 net landing has fallen with £300m.

The opinion of banks is that they would make more loans in the second part of the year with better loan agreement clauses.

Now under the new scheme banks and building societies should only prove they would give the money to individuals or businesses and they could borrow it cheaply from the Bank of England.

The period for this scheme was extended by a year.

The latest figures showed that as the old loans were phased out, new lending was about to be granted.

The Bank’s executive director for markets Paul Fisher said:

“The picture of flat lending growth overall is broadly as expected at this stage, reflecting reductions in some legacy portfolios being roughly offset in aggregate by expanding new lending”.

Data showed that there are also banks and building societies like Barclays and Nationwide that have increased their loans.

The current trend has not changed much since the previous figures had been showed- the decline is still in the business landing while lending to individuals started improving.

The Bank of England said that the financial crisis had serious effect over three big lenders (RBS, Lloyds and Santander) and due to them the percentage in reduction of loans was that big.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) was strongly disappointed with the figures.

“It is a concern that lending continues to contract despite the Funding for Lending Scheme having been in place for nearly a year,” said John Longworth, the BCC’s director general.

One example is an online estate agency, called hatched.co.uk, based at Hitchin in Hertfordshire.

It applied for a bank loan of £60,000 last year, but was eventually given just £20,000.

“For me, the bank funding just isn’t filtering through to small businesses like our own,” said the company’s managing director, Adam Day.

“And it’s small businesses like ours which are going to help the economy grow,” he said.

 

MPs Want Tougher Regulation of Payday Loans

MPs announced that in their view Office of Fair Trading does not do enough in order to protect consumers from unscrupulous payday loan companies, which do not have proper loan agreements.

According to the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee due to the wrong policy of OFT borrowers lose £450m a year.

In her words, the regulator had to use more often its powers to revoke the credit licenses of misbehaving lenders.

She said: “It passively waits for complaints from consumers before acting.”

And added that none of the 72,000 firms currently in the market had ever been fined.

In the cases in which the license of a certain director( who is supposed to have a directors service contract) had been withdrawn the same person does not stop their business but just starts it up under a different name.

The OFT said there were tight constraints that stopped them to a certain extent but they were doing their best in order to cope with the situation.

A spokesman said: “In the last financial year alone the OFT has revoked the licences of some of the UK’s largest credit brokers and debt management firms, and taken formal action in more than 85 other cases.”

As the Financial Conduct Authority will receive the regulatory duties next year the committee decided to give some suggestions which in their view would be helpful for the future.

One of the proposals said that not only the annual percentage rate had to be displayed but also the total amount repayable on a loan. Another of the proposed changes was related to the number of times short-term loans could be “rolled over” by lenders.

 

 

Portas High Streets still Struggling

The number of the occupied retail units of ten out of the 12 government-funded “Portas Pilot” towns has fallen.

The government had awarded them £1.2m and access to the retail guru Mary Portas.

The results from the High Street Innovation Fund one year later point out that only in seven towns the number of shop vacancies has gone down, but more shops overall have closed than opened.In this case may be we need to prepare special employment contract templates, which will feature such a clause.

The 12 pilot areas are Bedford, Croydon, Dartford, Greater Bedminster, Liskeard, Margate, Market Rasen, Nelson, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Stockport, Stockton-on-Tees and Wolverhampton.

The initial idea of the “Portas Pilots” was to make people get back to their local shops.

Signs of improvement were noticed only in Bedminster and Margate.

Local traders from Stockton-on-Tees shared that their businesses would most probably be gone by the time the funding is being spent.

Director Matthew Hopkinson said: “If more shops close than open, then that’s when you start to see the decay of the High Street and also a rise in vacancy rates.”

The Local Data Company carried out the research.

It showed that shoppers were in fact confused by the rapidly changing environments on the High Streets so they usually did not come back.

The number of vacant shops has fallen in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Liskeard, Bedminster, Margate, Dartford, Bedford and Wolverhampton.

Mary Portas told You and Yours: “There is no simple solution to the crisis on our High Streets. There are no quick fixes but 400 towns up and down the country are working on different plans to try and reinvigorate their High Street.”

 

Sellers Of Lads’ Mags Could Face Legal Action

Retailers were warned by a campaign targeting the so-called “lads’ mags”, that they would most probably face legal action in case they continue selling the magazines.

According to this campaign the magazines showed naked and semi-naked women on their covers so it could be assumed as an act of sexual discrimination that staff was made to handle them.

Eleven lawyers backed up the campaign stating that these magazines also breached the equality legislation in the way they exposed them to their customers.

The campaign was launched in the Guardian with an open letter written by the lawyers.

This letter explains that there are other cases in which staff successfully sued employers for the exposure to pornographic material at work.

Kat Banyard, founder of UK Feminista, said: “For too long supermarkets have got off the hook, stocking lads’ mags in the face of widespread opposition, but this time we have the law on our side.

“Every shop that sells lads’ mags – publications which are deeply harmful to women – are opening themselves up to legal action.”

In the words of lawyers supermarkets that refuse to stop selling lads’ mags would end up in court.

The response of the British Retail Consortium was saying that BRC members did not sell anything illegal and that through voluntary action they observed whether all the front covers which may concern some people are displayed discreetly.

They announced they would not stop having conversations with staff and customers on what is appropriate and what is not.Probably a new HR policy will take place, when it comes to such materials.

 

 

 

Law Society Calls For 28 Day Limit On Police Bail

As the new figures showed that there is a possibility that some suspects would have to wait much longer for a decision on their case the Law Society stated that there had to be limitation of about 28 days on police bail. Usually while the police are investigating a crime there are arrested people who are later bailed. The number of people on bail in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 57,000, according to the legal documents reviewed.

As a preventive measure such people have many restrictions on their movement and finances.

A recent research showed that the decision on the cases of 3,172 of them have not been announced for over six months.

There is even a case in which a man, who was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of fraud, was on bail for three and a half years.

Most people on bail admit that they are not able to live a normal life with all the limitations they have to bear in mind.

Nowadays, police have the power to keep suspects on bail for as long as they wish.

Richard Atkinson, who chairs the organisation’s criminal law committee, commented: “I would call for a 28-day statutory maximum period for police bail. But it could be extended by applying to a magistrate. There, police would have to explain what stage they were at in their investigation and why a further 28-day extension of bail was necessary.”

He received a respond from the Home Office claiming that in their opinion police bails were mixture of protecting the rights of individuals and at the same time allowing police to carry out their criminal investigations.

 

Google’s Eric Schmidt ‘perplexed’ over UK tax debate

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt stated that he was bewildered by the affirmation that according to the corporate documents, they did not pay proper amount of taxes.

Between 2006 and 2011 Google paid £10m in UK corporate taxes on revenues.

According to Mr. Schmidt the government had to change its tax systems, otherwise companies would never start paying more taxes.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Start the Week, he said: “What we are doing is legal.

If the British system changes the tax laws then we will comply. If the taxes go up we will pay more, if they go down we will pay less. That is a political decision for the democracy that is the United Kingdom.”

On the other hand, Margaret Hodge, the head of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, called for a new committee, which had to oversee the tax arrangements of major firms.

In her opinion, the committee had to hear evidence from companies in secret, so that they could not hide the affairs behind confidentiality rules.

European Union leaders gathered last week and took the decision to monitor the situation using information exchange.

The chairman of Google called for a debate on tax reforms claiming taxes had to be paid not only on revenues but on company’s profits.

“Our hope is to move the debate forward, with everyone engaged constructively in developing a clearer, simpler system – one in which companies that abide by the law know that the politicians who devised the rules are willing to defend and commend them.”

 

Many Jurors Confused by Contempt Rules Regarding Internet Use

According to a recent report, about 16 percent of the asked jurors think they were not supposed to go online at all whilst serving on a jury. By the way, mentioning Internet usage related to work, do you have a Computer, Email and Internet policy?

Professor Cheryl Thomas from the University College London (UCL) Faculty of Laws carried out the research believing it would help giving evidence of understanding of the rules of contempt among the jurors in England and Wales. The questioned ones were juries from Crown Courts.

About five percent of the asked people shared that in their opinion there were no restrictions on the Internet sites they may open while on a trial and two percent said they thought they could use Internet only in order to get some information connected to the current case.

Only one percent shared they used the Internet in order to find information about the convicted ones or some of the other people involved in the crime. Some even mentioned they searched at Streetview because they wanted to see the exact location of the place where the crime had happened.

Professor Thomas said: “These findings show that the vast majority of jurors understand and follow the rules on how jurors can use new media during trial, but the message is not getting through and is confusing to a significant minority.”

In his opinion, this research could be helpful to juries from the whole country, as most of the respondents had approved it.

On the other hand, 82 per cent of them shared that they needed more information on how to lead their deliberations.