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DEC
22

The (Almost) Sorry "Tail" of Cadbury the Labrador (Or The Potential Threat of Dangerous Dog Legislation) – by Richard Demczak

dogI have recently been instructed in a case regarding an alleged dangerous dog being out of control in a private place, the dog in question being a 7 ½ year old black Labrador.

Cadbury had never been in trouble before and his owners had a routine of putting him in the front room of the house with the door closed when someone would ring the front door bell – the reason for this?: Cadbury does what 99% of all dogs do and barks when there is a stranger at their owner’s front door.

Now, on the day in question, a PCSO was routinely visiting houses in the local area to distribute anti-burglary leaflets. The PCSO approached my client’s front door and Cadbury barked. He was therefore put into the front room by his owner as per the normal routine. The door was answered, however unfortunately for the owner (and Cadbury), a friend who was also visiting that morning accidentally opened the door to the front room. This resulted in Cadbury running to the front door, jumping up and unintentionally catching the PCSO’s forearm with a claw. The injury was a graze of less than 1cm. Cadbury was quickly controlled and taken back to the front room and the door was closed.

The police contacted my client after this was reported to them by the PCSO. After instructions were taken from my client, I liaised with a dog expert in relation to an assessment being carried out upon the dog, and a report being compiled so this could be handed to police (if required) to determine whether the dog was dangerous. The outcome of this case I will cover in more detail toward the end of this blog.

Dangerous Dogs Act

Prior to 13 May 2014, the Dangerous Dogs Act did not apply to my client and Cadbury, however recent changes in law now make it an offence for a person to own or be in charge of a ‘dangerously’ out of control dog in a public and private place.

The Dangerous Dogs Act was amended on 13 May 2014 and it now applies to all dog owners and all breeds of dog. Arguably, the amendments in the law came about by the much publicised media hype regarding dogs attacking and sometimes killing a person on private property. The new law is therefore aimed to tackle this issue and has brought about new law, which casts a wider net and may have an effect on some of the 39% of UK households that own at least one dog.

The old law did not make it an offence if your dog attacked or bit someone on private property. The key amendments in the law under section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 2014 now make it an offence if any of the following apply:

• If your dog attacks a guide dog or other assistance dog;
• If your dog attacks or threatens to attack a person, even if it is on private property;
• If a person is worried or afraid and has reasonable apprehension that your dog may attack or bite them;
• The Police or their local appointed agents or authority now have the powers to seize a dog that they consider to be dangerously out of control from private land, as well as the previous allowance for seizure in public places.
• Dogs may also be seized from private premises when a police constable is lawfully on the premises if they are evidence of an offence under s19 Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1986 (PACE). For example, where a drugs warrant is executed and a Pit Bull Terrier is found on the premises.

In simplistic terms, if a dog bites someone, it will be presumed to have been dangerously out of control regardless of whether it is on private or public property. Furthermore, if the dog does not bite but the person feels that the dog may injure them, the law still applies and legal action may be taken against the owner and/or the person in charge of the dog at the time.

The amended law now gives specific powers to the police/local authority to seize a dog they consider to be dangerously out of control. The dog will then be taken to a local secure kennels that can be contracted by police should it be necessary for a dangerous dog to be seized prior to any prosecution. In the vast majority of police forces, there should be a designated dog legislation officer who should have experience in carrying out this assessment.

Unlike in the majority of criminal matters, under section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1994, the burden of proof is reversed, and it is for the owner or the person in possession of the dog at the time of the alleged offence to prove to the Court (or Police) that the dog is not a prohibited type or that it is not a dangerous dog.

Advice

As it is for the defence to prove that the dog is not a prohibited type/dangerous dog, the services of a dog expert are essential. An expert witness is an individual who possesses specialised knowledge through skill, education, training, or experience beyond that of the ordinary person or juror, and whose knowledge will aid the triers of fact (jury, judge, arbitrator) in reaching a proper decision.

If you have been contacted by the police in relation to an allegation under the Dangerous Dogs Act or if your case is still in police station stages, an advisable approach would be to employ the services of a dog expert so that the allegations against you can be dealt with head on as soon as possible. If your case is in court again, the use of an expert is an essential part of advancing your defence.

In my client’s case, after taking instructions I liaised with a dog expert who confirmed that he would attend to my client’s address, carry out an assessment, and prepare a report on his findings if required to do so. Prior to my client’s interview with the police, I informed the officer in the case that a dog expert had been contacted and had agreed to assess the dog and prepare a report, and this would be handed to police pending the outcome after interview.

My client’s case was discontinued by police as it was found that Cadbury was not dangerously out of control and the police decided to take a common sense approach. The new law will no doubt affect many more dog owners throughout the UK. All dog owners should be aware of the new laws and take steps to avoid ending up in a position that no one wants to find themselves in.

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MAY
04

The Magnitsky Campaign Opens another Front in Norway – By Siobhain Egan

human rightsThe Financial Times (22 April 2014) reports that Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Campaign are working with the Norwegian Human Rights Group ‘The Norwegian Helsinki Committee’, and intend to present evidence to senior Norwegian prosecutors and request a criminal investigation into Oleg Silchenko and two prison guards for allegedly mistreating the lawyer, the late Sergei Magnitsky.

Mr Magnitsky was Bill Browder's lawyer in Moscow and had uncovered a huge tax fraud perpetrated against Hermitage Capital and, seemingly, the Russian Government. He was killed in prison.

Mr Silchenko has repeatedly denied any involvement in these criminal allegations.

Norway is one of the few countries in the world whose legislation will allow a criminal investigation/prosecution into Human Rights abuses, even if committed outside Norway.

This begs the question of those of us in the UK, why on earth does the British government ignore the Magnitsky Campaign and ignore the fact that millions of pounds from that tax fraud have been laundered through this country (largely through the prime London property market)?

Instead, this country which apparently prides itself on its work on Human Rights abuses allows others to examine this appalling tragic death of a man who left behind a young family.

We should be ashamed.

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1554 Hits
MAY
01

Changing the Rules of the Game – by Richard Greenby

RCJThe recent Game Group litigation in the Court of Appeal case has re-defined a commercial landlord’s entitlement to claim in the administration procedure for rent accrued during a trading administration.

An administration, for the reader’s reference, is an insolvency procedure spear-headed by administrators (i.e. insolvency practitioners) which provides companies with a corporate rescue mechanism.

Prior to the Game-Group litigation, landlord and tenant case-law in relation to trading administrations was previously defined by Goldacre and the case of Luminar, which held that where an administrator continued to make use of commercial premises, rent was payable under the Insolvency Rules 1986 as either an expense or as an unsecured debt.

In relation to scenarios where administrators continued to use commercial premises before the next quarter day, the rent could be classified as a provable debt only and it failed to receive the elevated repayment status of an expense.

In relation to situations where the administrator had been appointed and were still in occupation of a company’s commercial premises after the following quarter day, the whole of the next quarter of rent became due as an expense. In doing so, administrators were required to treat this type of rent as a higher form of debt repayment priority.

Under those circumstances, the courts were not in a position to confirm what they considered to be a fair sum for the administrators to pay, based on the actual leasehold space used by the company, or to apportion the rent on account of when the company actually vacated the premises.

Furthermore, an administrator’s rental liability would only terminate thereafter if the company had fully left the premises before the following quarter day.

Following the case of Pillar Denton Limited & Ors v Jervis & Ors, aka ‘the Game Group litigation’, irrespective of when the rent falls due, administrators (and liquidators) are now required to pay landlords in full on a pay as you go daily basis for the on-going use of commercial premises.

Thus, the balance between commercial landlords and administrators has been re-adjusted and the old consideration of whether a trading administration (or liquidation) is in occupation on, between or following the next quarter day falls by the way.

In that case, the administrators were appointed on the day after a quarter day and had therefore sought to argue that the on-going rent was not an ‘expense’ of the administration but rather an unsecured debt. However, following the Court of Appeal judgment, the administrators were required to treat the rent for the whole period in question as an expense.

As a result of the Court of Appeal’s recent decision, insolvency practitioners, landlords and the legal community alike will all benefit from greater clarification in what was previously a confusing and perhaps misused area of the law.

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1912 Hits
MAR
21

Siobhain Egan Published in Lawyer Monthly

briberySiobhain’s latest article on bribery and corruption has been published in Lawyer Monthly’s March edition.

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MAR
06

Online Guide Begins Publishing LNL Blogs

buy to letLNL begins a series of Property Law blogs on the popular (and trendy) North London online publication, The Kentishtowner. Click here to read our article on shared ownership.

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