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National Recommendations for Firearms Licensing Published by IPCC – by Laura Saunsbury

On 14 June 2013 the Independent Police Complaints Commission published a report making national recommendations for firearms licensing following its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fatal shootings in Durham on New Year's Day 2012 by shotgun and firearm certificate holder Michael Atherton. The investigation concluded that Durham Police Constabulary had missed several opportunities to review and reassess Mr Atherton's suitability as a certificate holder.

The IPCC report goes on to make national recommendations for shotgun and firearm certificate holders to be subject to a more regular review of their suitability and personal circumstances, rather than simply every five years when certificates fall due for renewal. The proposal is that all certificate holders would be subject to this closer scrutiny, regardless of whether any particular incident or concern about an individual has been brought to the attention of their local firearms licensing department.

The IPCC recommendations include a suggestion for national guidance to be produced for police forces in relation to how they conduct and process reviews of certificate holders. This would certainly have the benefit of producing more consistency of approach across the country as well as greater clarity for certificate holders and indeed members of the public.

The IPCC argues that a minimum requirement of any certificate holder review should be for the individual to be subject to a further home visit and interview by the local firearms enquiry officer. This would seem to be an eminently sensible approach and should help to minimise the number of instances of revocation and refusal decisions being taken by the police without first inviting the certificate holder to offer any explanation or response to the police concerns.

These are no doubt all quite laudable recommendations, but one wonders how police firearms licensing departments would manage to implement them in practice, given they are already struggling in the wake of redundancies and/or mergers of the licensing departments of two adjoining police forces to simply process new certificate applications and five yearly reviews on renewal!

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Stunning Week of Success for LNL and Our Criminal Lawyers, Specialist Extradition Lawyers, and Driving Offence Lawyers

  1. Siobhain Egan acted for two City accountants cleared of money laundering allegations.
  3. A client represented by Penny Muir and Sam Trefgarne was acquitted of sexual assault by penetration, sexual assault and common assault after a trial lasting five days at Bournemouth Crown Court. The prosecution argued that after a night out, the complainant had returned to the client’s hotel room and non-consensual sexual contact took place. The defence said that everything that took place was consensual. The jury returned unanimous not guilty verdicts after two hours of deliberation.
  5. James Reilly (one of our specialist traffic offence solicitors) represented a client who faced an allegation of being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle. He was found by police in the driving seat of the vehicle, keys in the ignition and was three times over the driving alcohol limit. Answers extracted by police during detailed questioning were ruled inadmissible under section 78 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, and as a result of James’s robust legal submissions and medical evidence we showed that it would have been impossible for him to have attempted to drive. The client was acquitted.
  7. Danny Barnard, another of our specialist motoring offence lawyers, represented an individual who faced a six month driving ban as a result of being a ‘totter’ i.e. having 12 points on his driving licence. The client was a self-employed businessman living in London with his family, whose office and staff were in the Midlands and who had business projects up and down the country. His inability to drive had badly affected the business; in fact it had an immediate and marked effect upon it. Danny argued, on appeal to Kingston Crown Court, that following the judgement in Brennan v McKay, economic hardship and difficulties can amount to ‘exceptional hardship’. We were able to provide cogent evidence supporting the problems which the business had faced since the imposition of the ban, which the Court accepted and reduced the ban by three months, which meant that the client was able to resume driving immediately after the hearing.
  9. Sean Reilly (brother of the above) is one of our specialist extradition lawyers, whose client faced a European warrant issued by the Polish government. Thanks to Sean's consummate legal skills, the warrant was quashed.
  11. Danny Barnard secured the acquittal of a client facing an allegation of blackmail in relation to a custody dispute of a child. As a result of Danny's tenacious and thorough cross-examination, the fundamental and glaring inconsistencies of the complainant’s allegations came to light and the client was acquitted by the Jury.
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New Instructions for LNL Criminal Lawyers

  1. Jeffrey Lewis has been instructed in two new extradition cases and a major copyright infringement prosecution brought by FACT.
  2. The firm has been instructed in another SFO investigation.
  3. We have taken instructions on a substantial waste crime prosecution, acting for the owners of waste management company.
  4. There have been two major confiscation instructions for Layna Thompson and LNL last week. Layna’s reputation for successful results in large-scale confiscation proceedings has attracted two more clients.




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Should I Use a Will Writer?

Quite obviously any professional solicitor will say no, BUT before you leave this page, let us explain why.

This isn't just about self-protectionism for the legal profession, there are some very solid reasons for avoiding will writers and instructing solicitors to draw your will.

Your will is going to be one of the most important documents that you will ever create, important not just to you but also to your beneficiaries.

Disputed probates/wills is one of the biggest areas of litigation and is growing all the time. In a time of massive social change, including family structures and the worst economic downturn in a century, beneficiaries are resorting to litigation if they feel that they have been unfairly treated by the will maker or that the will is unclear. There are mistakes in over 20% of wills in this country; not only that, but charities are incredibly aggressive in situations where a legacy to them has been identified and have considerable resources behind them when it comes to litigating against other beneficiaries.

Heir Hunters, who deal with intestacy, are also very litigious and won’t hesitate to take on potential beneficiaries if the estate is valuable enough.

More people are relying upon legacies to help them through life and old age, or in turn to help their children on the increasingly elusive property ladder.

Sitting down face-to-face with an experienced, highly-skilled wills and probate lawyer, who is going to ensure that every one of your wishes is clearly and accurately stated and that your estate is protected from such litigation, is vital. After all, any litigation costs will be met from the estate, leaving the value of the estate much reduced. You can’t do any of this with an online will writing service.

Our lawyers can advise you about tax planning and inheritance tax issues, something that wills writers cannot. They can inform you about current HMRC policy on valuations of estates and recent tax tribunal decisions, so that you can have an accurate idea of how much you are likely to leave your beneficiaries.

You will then be confident that you can control your and divide your assets as you wish.

You may have illegitimate children, step-children or estranged relatives and other issues that need to be addressed sensitively, so it’s important that you are dealing with a lawyer who is approachable and sensitive to your individual situation.

Perhaps you are very unwell; we can travel to you at home or in hospital to draw your will and give you peace of mind. An online will drafting service cannot do that for you.

A solicitor will ensure that you are sufficiently competent to state your wishes and make all the necessary decisions; again this is a fast changing area and one of the biggest issues in dispute. The courts recently ruled that somebody suffering from dementia was sufficiently competent to make a will.

Your wishes must be stated clearly, leaving no room for doubt. Assets must be clearly described, so too must the allocation of shares of the assets in order to avoid doubt and confusion.

Specific legacies could fail if there aren't any replacement clauses, for example.

Perhaps you have assets in foreign jurisdictions who have very different approaches to the distribution of assets e.g. France. The asset will be distributed amongst the entire family of the testator. These issues have to be clearly addressed.

Some will writers offer wills at very low prices BUT will charge high monthly fees to store your will. Most solicitors will store the will for either a low charge or no charge at all.

Will writers often have pre-paid probate packages, however these will only cover to the grant of probate and NOT the full administration of the estate. These packages do not allow the executors to work with experienced professional to administer the estate and don't allow for the charges of third parties.

Any mistake about any aspect of the will can leave the will invalid and the client intestate, and again that is when the prospect of a disputed will arises. If a solicitor makes a mistake when drawing a will then a beneficiary or executor can sue (because all solicitors have professional indemnity insurance) or complain to the Ombudsman and the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Unregulated will writers are not in that position; if there is a mistake in the will the only redress that your beneficiaries will have will be to embark on expensive complex litigation, and most of these will writing companies are insubstantial with few assets, if any.

There is also the issue of the ‘long stop rule’ to take into account, this is a limitation period of 15 years from the date of the making of the will in which any interested party can sue, but in reality, many people make wills many years before they die and so very often the interested party is time barred from civil action or has only a short time in which to sue, by the time they realise that a mistake has happened. With the solicitor’s profession this is not an issue.

So, we hope that we have explained that there are very many problems when instructing will writers.

If you would like to discuss the making of a will contact us now for a quotation.





















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Ensuring Fair Trials Throughout the EU

Wherever they are in the EU, suspects or accused persons will be entitled to consult a lawyer before the start of any questioning by the police and throughout criminal proceedings, according to new rules agreed by the European Parliamentary Civil Liberties Committee this week.

Although the right of defence for anyone suspected of a crime is widely recognised as a basic element of a fair trial, at the moment the conditions under which suspects may consult a lawyer differ among member states. The recently agreed draft directive sets out some EU-wide minimum rules, including:

  • Suspects or accused persons will have a right of access to a lawyer before they are questioned by the police and without excessive delay. This right must also apply throughout criminal proceedings. The new rules also allow lawyers to participate effectively during the questioning and attend certain investigative or evidence-gathering acts, such as identity parades and experimental reconstructions of the crime scene.
  • Member states must respect the confidentiality of meetings and other forms of communication between the suspect or accused person and his or her lawyer.
  • When a person is arrested, he/she has the right to communicate with a person of his/her choice, such as a family member, partner or employer. If outside his or her home country, the arrested person would have the right to contact that country's local consulate.
  • Anyone subject to a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) will have the right of access to a lawyer both in the issuing member state and the country in which the suspect is arrested under the EAW.

The text of the draft directive is expected to voted on by MEPs and adopted by the Council after the summer break. Once adopted, member states will have three years to incorporate the directive into national law.

Contact Lewis Nedas’ Criminal Lawyers in London

If you have been charged with a crime and require specialist legal advice please contact our solicitors Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan on 020 7387 2032 or complete our online enquiry form here.

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