Tuesday, 30 September 2008

3rd Year Begins

Ah so the third year of uni begins, I guess this means that I will have to work this year to actually get a 2:1, no longer can I stay out til 5am in the morning, drinking and stumbling my way to the bus stop, onto the bus, and then procede to slag off every possible poor sod that has decided to be on the bus with me.

I have currently chosen my final options, as I have studied all the core 8 subjects horror! By studying them I mean.. I picked a few topics in revision and I was lucky enough that they came up in the exams and I did alright with what I had looked with. So my options are Company Law, Law of Evidence and Law of Medical Ethics. I switched from Labour Law to Law of evidence, because the man taking the seminar is none other than someone whom is highly respected at the criminal bar, and therefore a reference from him would surely get me a pupillage perhaps at his chambers where he practices, but seeming as I was slightly drunker then realised on that particular mini-pupillage they may have put me in the alcoholics rejection pile.

So this is the year when I am supposed to be studying, as I was supposed to have done all my mini-pupillages last year.. oops. Somewhere along the line in between the advice given to me mostly likely by other fellow bloggers, I missed doing mini-pupillages and only have one under my (currently over expanding) belt, so more shall have to be done. That and joining "societies" has to be done I feel, might look good on my CV.

Perhaps one particularly good thing I could put on my CV is that I now currently advise people on how to avoid fare evasion what do you think? Since I have installed Sitemeter, I can now tell that the only people that come to my blog are either fare dodging criminals (like msyelf) or other fellow bloggers. To mention this or not? I think I shall!! I have been doing pro bono work! My guide must have been looked at least 50 odd times, so that could have been 40 odd people I have helped, taking that and the account of the various emails I receive on the subject I could have helped about 60 people!!! Probably more than any person in an LAC would have done!! Yes I feel smug :)

I have definitely decided to go to the bar, however decisions have to be made as to whether I should LLM it or not, which BVC provider, what inn to choose (most likely middle). I have even done some extra reading (what is this?) and have picked up David Pannick's "Advocacy" which was fun in the beginning but as Mr Myerson QC has mentioned the short text has actually turned into a text book, with a legal authority for each point he makes..

I also had offered to help out with a law society, however this back fired as when I originally offered to help out it was in the form of maybe writing an article, when I attended the meeting that lasted for a good 2 hours, that perhaps writing an article wasn't enough, and I had to think hard about politics and infrastructure of a national student body.. unfortunately (or fortunately) I couldn't actually make the next meeting due to a family booze up at the sea side that I had forgotten about, since then I have had no communication with said group, perhaps they think of me as unreliable?

On another note a farewell to Law Minx who is either running around naked around Temple or has found herself a juicy pupillage. I wish you the best in what you do, and hope that you will return to the legal blogsphere! Is it me or are student blogs no longer in the mode?

Hopefully all of you starting the BVC are not too busy, as to recommend which bar school I should apply to ehy ?

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Dodging Fare Evasion - A Guide

Dodging Fare Evasion – A guide.

This post only relates to Fare Evasion on Buses that are operated by TFL.
It does not deal with Fare Evasion on the Tube, though I suppose you can use similar arguments, but you should be careful to make that distinction for yourselves.

Quite a few of you readers have been emailing me and asking me how I got out of being prosecuted by TFL for fare evasion. Some of you have been nice, and others have just taken my information and run, without a thank you (I hope you get done propa). Though I find it incredibly boring to give people the same advice all the time, and I’m pretty sure I keep missing stuff out, so here’s a guide if you help you getting out of being prosecuted via settling out of court.

Disclaimer: I accept no responsibility for any reliance that you make on this information, it should not be considered as independent legal advice, if you do intend to rely on this information by reading this you promise not to be a dumb ass, not to copy and paste points that I put across, you are free to distribute this information as you wish as long as I am credited.

Update 03 April 2009 - If you get a court summons just ring them up and ask to settle out of court. They will normally let you and you will have to pay around £102.


Update February 5th 2009 - there is another fanastic website that deals with this, I have yet to verify the information on it, but I consider that the information is still reliable. In addition to reading this guide you should also read the information on the link below.

I have just recently become aware as of February 6th 2009 of this wonderful website

1. You’ve been caught
So you have been caught, either it was a mistake or you were deliberating doing it, it really makes no difference. Make sure that you check whatever you sign at the time, this will be used in evidence against you, so make sure that you agree with what TFL inspector, or if you did not know then you may say that you were under duress to sign it.

If the ticket inspector has taken down your details it will be all put in a computer, and I gather that the decision to prosecute is made by the prosecution managers. If you have given a real name and address you are likely to receive a letter, saying that you were caught at X time and X date, and do you have anything to say about the matter.

You should immediately reply, with a grovelling letter of apology, it will also be important to make sure that any correspondence with TFL is printed off or photocopied, and kept in a safe place or folder, you will need this if you need to go to court.

2. The Court Summons
Think that they have forgotten about it, haven’t heard about them in a couple of months? TFL are extremely busy prosecuting people, probably with the amount of people that don’t pay on the buses. As fare evasion is a summary offence a court summons can arrive any time (so I’m told) within 6 months of when the offence was committed. Any longer and I assume you can have the case chucked out of you as the time limit for bring forth proceedings has elapsed, or you could be unlucky enough to have the court summons arrive 4 days before the elapsed period.

2(a) Read

Though you will probably be in shock and perhaps thinking that your legal career is over it is important to read all the documents that you have in front of you, check all the statements provided by inspectors, look to see if they are signed or not, an unsigned statement may not be valid, after all how do we know that someone else has not made this information up? Look also at the statements look for discrepancies, the TFL inspector may have surmised what you have said, or might not have written down what you said at all. Note this down for later.

Also have a look at the Revenue Enforcement and Prosecutions Policy and highlight any sections that you feel are applicable to your case.

2(b) Do I have to respond immediately?http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.bold.gif
My advice is no, do not respond immediately to the court summons as you will be trying to settle out of court. I did not fill out the back of the form or send anything off. If you have already put in your plea it doesn’t matter you can change it.

If you have received a court summons ring up the TFL number provided on the summons and ask for whoever is in charge of your case and ask for their email, this will speed up communication time, as you will not have to put valuable letters within the remit of Royal Mail.

3. Drafting a response to the court summons

(a) Tone and Format

Assuming now that you want to settle out of court, have read through all the information on the court summons, have highlighted any discrepancies in the evidence against you, and checked that the statements have been signed so you can assure for their validity you can now start with your draft letter/email in the hope that you can settle this out of court.

You will need to sound (a) apologetic, do not rant, keep it simple and precise, and (b) it needs to be written in a formal manner, even if its in an email I recon it should look like this found HERE (click link) . Do not use the same adjectives over again, have an expansive vocabulary but do not get flowery.

Here is where you need to develop your written advocacy!! Whilst also being formal, apologetic all that jazz, you need to be persuasive, be persuasive in a suggestive way for example “It could be open to suggest that…” etc.

(B) What to include.
Hopefully if you have read all the above points you will know what to include.
You may want to set it out like this (a) Apology (b) Revenue and Policy Guidelines that support you case (C) The Pace argument (explained later) (D) if the statements are signed or not.

(C) The Pace Argument

The pace argument relates to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. (You may wish to google this) now TFL inspectors are bound by this act and therefore must perform their duties in accordance with it. Depending on your circumstances you may not be even to use this argument, this must be considered very carefully, because if you use it and its not applicable to you then you will look like a dumbass. I suggest you do your own research on Pace.
Now what can you use PACE for. Basically PACE stipulates that any conversation or questions put to a suspect that are likely to produce an allged confession, must only be after you have been cautioned. A police caution in this circumstance being that which you may be familiar with on the bill "You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence." Also see this site HERE for more information.

So if you have been questioned and you have said anything that may be prejudical to your case you could suggest to TFL that it would be inadmissible in a court of law.
If it went to court, you can make an application under s.76 and s.78 of PACE 1984 to exclude such evidence being admitted.

4. The Waiting Game

So hopefully you will nervously await a reply from TFL as they decide your fate! This process can take up to a week. They will either (a) inform you that they are proceeding with the prosecution or (b) saying that they will drop it, if you pay prosecution costs and the fare evaded, an amount which could be between £100-£200. Once you have paid they will send you a confirmation that they have dropped the case and that you do not need to attend the court date.

5. What happens if they don’t drop the prosecution.

Now I never got this far, however I would try and keep communications open as possible with TFL, keep asking them to settle out of court.

If not you can ask to meet with the prosecutor and suggest that they charge you with a caution, if not then you could ask the magistrate to impose an absolute discharge (which is not a criminal conviction) given the prosecution’s hard stance. You could also show how eager you were to co-operate with TFL, and make sure that you have a copy of all the correspondence between yourself and TFL.

5(A) Should I get representation?

Not if you can settle it out of court, solicitors will charge £100 for an interview as fare evasion does not give rise to legal aid! There may however be people who will represent you bro pono.

Contact details are below.

Community Legal Services Direct
0845 345 4345

The Law Society on 020 7242 1222.

Bar Pro Bono Unit
0207 6119500.

6. How will this effect my future career in Law Etc

I have been told that this will probably not effect being called to the Bar. You MUST if asked declare any convictions declare them to your professional regulatory body, either to the Bar or Law Society. If you do not have a conviction then you do not need to mention it ;)

I think that they ask for any previous convictions, not withstanding whether or not they have been spent, so you must declare them. If you do not declare your conviction you risk the chance of being found out later and disbarred, or whatever the equivalent for a solicitor is.

There are two different views on whether or not this will effect your chances of pupillage/jobs, either (a) everyone has done it in London including Barrister’s themselves so it’s not very serious or (b) it’s an offence of dishonesty, “ I wouldn’t want to work with a thief” a mumbling twat would mutter, and with competition for these jobs being so high, its another reason to reject your application.

Now hopefully this has provided you with the answers that you want. If you still have questions you can contact me at lost London law student at googlemail dot com.

Good Luck!!

What can I do with these books?

I have books of law bursting out of my REAR. All these books that I have only really have read or have never read at all, and they are still all lieing about my room, my flat and all need storage?!?!

Fellow bloggers, please tell me what your storage solution was to the endless amount of books an LLB students seems to amass?

I wonder

how long it will be til my head explodes, so far my current interests are battling the housing association (see post below) , bookbinding, ikea, looking at desks, seeking out ornate mirrors, sourcing artwork/prints for my flat, thinking of starting another unrelated blog, will I or wont let my lesbian friend live in my spare room as apparently she is can get quite, noisy (need I say more) pulling freshers, arranging things in my wardrobe, should I do criminal law, what work experience do I need, should I start exercising, should I get a job, should I look at my law text books some of which I have never opened.

Yet none of these are actually really important. I fear that I have go to the grown up land and that the little Peter Pan inside me has died, under the lists of things that I have/want to do are being made at 4pm after I have woken up after having gone to bed a 4am and doing practically nothing those 12 hours, nothing of use anyway.

I waste too much time, I could have filled this summer with a job, or some more work experience however I have failed to have done so. So does it get any better once you are older? Do you get to do all the things you need to do or just you have a list of things a mile long that you eventually need to do? My old flatmate's dad used to have a monthly schedule of what he would do on his weekends off!

Please someone put me out of my misery (we'll argue that I called you a collaborator with the on the VHCC and I’m sure that will satisfy both provocation tests) if I end up like that, hopefully I will be earning so much in practice that I can afford people to do this for me? Perhaps I could even be sufficiently lucky to another £7.20 on the lottery again!!

Pretending to be a grown up is hard, why can't someone else do things for me, I will happily vacate my body and go to the barrister nirvana of pupillage (A minxvention) a truly spiritual place I hear after one goes through the soul destroying process of the BVC and OLPAS.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Lost v Housing Association.

I have just sent a rather big complaint letter to the housing association that is in charge of running the shit hole that I live in. Whilst I am a private tenant of a landlord who has acquired the lease of the maisonette (posh word for scag den) I have written to my housing association telling them that I am now completly fed up of their lack of ability to do anything in the positive to the building that I live in.

I have told them that I'm fed up of people pissingand shitting on the stairs to my building, my flat mate having to leave because she was sexually assaulted on the stairs, bikes being stolen from outside of the flat, having kids smoking weed on the stairs. I've had enough of it all. They get paid a service charge of £1,000 every year and for what?!?!

So therefore I have suggested that all of the above reasons are severe enough to warrant a security door to be installed, and therefore would stop the sexual assaults, people fly tipping and people pissing everywhere.

Also to my annoyance people keep living rubbish, by the rubbish shoot when they can put it down the fucking rubbish shoot! I shall be putting notes up and through people's doors!!!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Resit Results

UPDATE - I passed, well a 2:2 in EU, which isnt that bad seeming as that I thought it may have been another 39%!!! YAY:D

Resit results are out tomorrow, just EU that I had to resit, whilst doing reasonably well in the others. I really really really hope I have passed, but if I have failed it and have to take it again in May 2009 I shall be devasted!

I feel really sick and can't sleep, so have started organsing bills and any other piece of paper I can get my hands on!

I'll update with whether or not I've passed(I should bloody expect that I have passed!!) later on today! EeeK!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Keeping In Contact

What is the best way I wonder to keep in contact with Barristers whom you have met or had mini pupillages with?

It seems slightly erksome to me to email and just say "Hi! Remember me?!?"

Any suggestions?:S

Prosecution, Prosecution, Prosecution.

A rant written prior to TFL dropping their prosecution.

As with the age of the 90's when the amount of claimaints went up and the apparent "sue" culture became its own, it now appears that a prosecution culture has arisen. This culture being the antithesis of its predecessor, seems to be tackling people of all the spectrum regardless of the degree of what offence has occurred and treating them in the same way.

For example the woman with a pram who was prosecuted for getting to touch in, or the student whom got on the bus found out she didnt have enough money on her oyster card but was hawled away to the next stop where ticket inspectors were. Regardless of the reliability of any stories, there seems to be a very zero-tolerance Blairite policy of attacking anyone who commits an offence and not treating them different from one another, therefore the habitual offender is treated as the same as someone who is mistaken or has various mitigating circumstances.

Now what I see is a trend towards the classical criminal justice system, that of Bentham and Beccaria. This sort of disproportionate punishment seems to be more and more apparent with the introduction of strict liability offences, and the only thing left for magistrates/judges to do is to determine innocence or guilt, a system that is dependant on the criminal act rather than the individual offender. I am not a fan of this, obviously ;)

On the other hand one can look and hope towards a positivit criminal justice system we look at the individual offender and how they can be rehabilitated in society, less stringent on imposing maximum and minimum sentences, but more interested in the individual and the external factors that surround them. Therefore we do not need "targets" for sentencing criminals, nor need to impose a definite sentence for such a like.