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Privacy Policy

 

Privacy Notice under the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”)

This privacy notice contains information about the information collected, stored and otherwise processed about you and the reasons for the processing. It also tells you who I share this information with, the security mechanisms I have put in place to protect your data and how to contact me in the event you need further information.

 

Who Am I? 

I collect, use and am responsible for personal information about you. When I do this I am the ‘controller’ of this information for the purposes of the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018.

If you need to contact me about your data, or the processing carried out, you can use the contact details at the end of this document.

What do I do with your information?

Information collected

When carrying out the provision of legal services, or other activity undertaken by me in my professional life, I collect personal information that may include the following:

  1. personal details
  2. family details
  3. lifestyle and social circumstances
  4. goods and services
  5. financial details
  6. education, training and employment details
  7. physical or mental health details
  8. racial or ethnic origin
  9. political opinions
  10. religious, philosophical or other beliefs
  11. trade union membership
  12. sex life or sexual orientation
  13. genetic data
  14. biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person
  15. criminal proceedings, outcomes and sentences, and related security measures
  16. other personal data relevant to instructions to provide legal services, including data specific to the instructions in question.

 

Information collected from other sources.

The same categories of information may also be obtained by me from third parties, such as other legal professionals or experts, members of the public, your family and friends, witnesses, courts and other tribunals, investigators, government departments, regulators, public records and registers.

 

How I use your personal information: Purposes

I may use your personal information for the following purposes:

  1. to provide legal services to my clients, including the provision of legal advice and representation in courts, tribunals, arbitrations, and mediations
  2. to keep accounting records and carry out office administration
  • to take or defend legal or regulatory proceedings or to exercise a lien
  1. to respond to potential complaints or make complaints
  2. to check for potential conflicts of interest in relation to future potential cases
  3. to promote and market my services
  • to carry out anti-money laundering and terrorist financing checks
  • to train other barristers and when providing work-shadowing opportunities
  1. to respond to requests for references
  2. when procuring goods and services
  3. to publish legal judgments and decisions of courts and tribunals
  • as required or permitted by law.

 

Whether information has to be provided by you, and why

If I have been instructed to act in a case involving you or to provide advice, then your personal information has to be provided, to enable me to provide that service and to comply with my professional and accounting obligations.

 

The legal basis for processing your personal information

I rely on the following as the lawful bases on which I collect and use your personal information:

  • If you have consented to the processing of your personal information, then I may process your information for the Purposes set out above to the extent to which you have consented to me doing so.
  • If you are a client, processing is necessary for the performance of a contract for legal services or in order to take steps at your request prior to entering into a contract.
  • In relation to information which is in categories (g) to (o) above (these being categories which are considered to include particularly sensitive information and which include information about criminal convictions or proceedings) I rely on your consent for any processing for the purposes set out in purposes (ii), (iv), (vi), (viii) and (ix) above. I need your consent to carry out processing of this data for these purposes. However, if you do not consent to processing for purposes (iv) and (ix) (responding to potential complaints and providing a reference) I will be unable to take your case or to provide a reference. This is because I need to be able to retain all the material about your case until there is no prospect of a complaint and to provide an informed and complete reference.
  • In relation to information in categories (g) to (o) above (these being categories which are considered to be particularly sensitive information and include information about criminal convictions or proceedings), I am entitled by law to process the information where the processing is necessary for legal proceedings, legal advice, or otherwise for establishing, exercising or defending legal rights.
  • In relation to information which is not in categories (g) to (o) above, I rely on my legitimate interest and/or the legitimate interests of a third party in carrying out the processing for the Purposes set out above.
  • In certain circumstances processing may be necessary in order that I can comply with a legal obligation to which I am subject (including carrying out anti-money laundering or terrorist financing checks).
  • The processing is necessary to publish judgments or other decisions of courts or tribunals.

 

Who will I share your personal information with?

If you are a client, some of the information you provide will be protected by legal professional privilege unless and until the information becomes public in the course of any proceedings or otherwise. As a barrister I have an obligation to keep your information confidential, except where it otherwise becomes public or is disclosed as part of the case or proceedings.

It may be necessary to share your information with the following:

  • data processors, such as my Chambers staff, IT support staff, email providers, data storage providers
  • other legal professionals
  • experts and other witnesses
  • prosecution authorities
  • courts and tribunals
  • the staff in my chambers
  • trainee barristers
  • lay clients
  • family and associates of the person whose personal information I am processing
  • in the event of complaints, the Head of Chambers, other members of Chambers who deal with complaints, the Bar Standards Board, and the Legal Ombudsman
  • other regulatory authorities
  • current, past or prospective employers
  • education and examining bodies
  • business associates, professional advisers and trade bodies, e.g. the Bar Council of Bar Standards Board

I may be required to provide your information to regulators, such as the Bar Standards Board, the Financial Conduct Authority or the Information Commissioner’s Office. In the case of the Information Commissioner’s Office, there is a risk that your information may lawfully be disclosed by them for the purpose of any other civil or criminal proceedings, without my consent or yours, which includes privileged information.

I may also be required to disclose your information to the police or intelligence services, where required or permitted by law.

The personal information I obtain may include information which has been obtained from:

  • other legal professionals
  • experts and other witnesses
  • prosecution authorities
  • courts and tribunals
  • trainee barristers
  • lay clients
  • family and associates of the person whose personal information I am processing
  • in the event of complaints, the Head of Chambers, other members of Chambers who deal with complaints, the Bar Standards Board, and the Legal Ombudsman
  • other regulatory authorities
  • current, past or prospective employers
  • education and examining bodies
  • business associates, professional advisers and trade bodies, e.g. the Bar Council
  • the intended recipient, where you have asked me to provide a reference.
  • the general public in relation to the publication of legal judgments and decisions of courts and tribunal
  • data processors, such as my Chambers staff, IT support staff, email providers, data storage providers
  • public sources, such as the press, public registers and law reports.
  • cloud data storage services based in the USA who have agreed to comply with the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, in order to enable me to store your data and/or backup copies of your data so that I may access your data when they need to. The USA does not have the same data protection laws as the EU but the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield has been recognised by the European Commission as providing adequate protection. To obtain further details of that protection see https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/law-topic/data-protection/data-transfers-outside-eu/eu-us-privacy-shield_en
  • cloud data storage services based in Switzerland, in order to enable me to store your data and/or backup copies of your data so that I may access your data when I need to. Switzerland does not have the same data protection laws as the EU but has been recognised by the European Commission as providing adequate protection; see https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/law-topic/data-protection/data-transfers-outside-eu/adequacy-protection-personal-data-non-eu-countries_en

If you would like any further information please use the contact details at the end of this document.

 

How long will I store your personal data?

I will normally store all your information:

  • For a period of at least 15 years. This is due to the fact that it is at least 1 year after the expiry of any relevant limitation period (which will usually be 6 years, but may be 12 years, or longer where the case includes information relating to a youth or s14B Limitation Act 1980 is of relevance) , from the date of the last item of work carried out, the date of the last payment received or the date on which all outstanding payments are written off, whichever is the latest. This is because it may be needed for potential legal proceedings or complaints. At this point any further retention will be reviewed and the data will be marked for deletion or marked for retention for a further period. The latter retention period is likely to occur only where the information is needed for legal proceedings, regulatory matters or active complaints. Deletion will be carried out (without further notice to you) as soon as reasonably practicable after the data is marked for deletion.
  • I understand that many people, particularly clients in criminal cases, want their lawyers to retain their information. If this applies to you, then please contact me – this is an ‘opt in’ process.
  • I will store some of your information which I need to carry out conflict checks for the rest of my career. However, this is likely to be limited to your name and contact details, the name of the case. This will not include any information within categories (g) to (o) above.
  • Information related to anti-money laundering checks will be retained until five years after the completion of the transaction or the end of the business relationship, whichever is the later
  • Names and contact details held for marketing purposes will be stored indefinitely or until I or my clerks become aware, or are informed, that the individual has ceased to be a potential client.

 

Consent

As explained above, I am relying on your explicit consent to process your information in categories (g) to (o) above. You provided this consent when you agreed that I would provide legal services.

You have the right to withdraw this consent at any time, but this will not affect the lawfulness of any processing activity I have carried out prior to you withdrawing your consent. However, where I also rely on other bases for processing your information, you may not be able to prevent processing of your data. For example, if you have asked me to work for you and I have spent time on your case, you may owe me money which I will be entitled to claim.

If there is an issue with the processing of your information, please contact my clerks using the contact details below.

Your Rights

Under the GDPR, you have a number of rights that you can exercise in certain circumstances. These are free of charge. In summary, you may have the right to:

  • Ask for access to your personal information and other supplementary information;
  • Ask for correction of mistakes in your data or to complete missing information I hold on you;
  • Ask for your personal information to be erased, in certain circumstances;
  • Receive a copy of the personal information you have provided to me or have this information sent to a third party. This will be provided to you or the third party in a structured, commonly used and machine readable format, e.g. a Word file;
  • Object at any time to processing of your personal information for direct marketing;
  • Object in certain other situations to the continued processing of your personal information;
  • Restrict my processing of your personal information in certain circumstances;
  • Request not to be the subject to automated decision-making which produces legal effects that concern you or affects you in a significant way.

 

If you want more information about your rights under the GDPR please see the Guidance from the Information Commissioners Office on Individual’s rights under the GDPR.

 

If you want to exercise any of these rights, please:

  • Use the contact details at the end of this document;
  • I may need to ask you to provide other information so that you can be identified;
  • Please provide a contact address so that you can be contacted to request further information to verify your identity;
  • Provide proof of your identity and address;
  • State the right or rights that you wish to exercise.

 

I will aim to respond to you within one month from when I receive your request.

 

How to make a complaint?

The GDPR also gives you the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioners’ Office if you are in the UK, or with the supervisory authority of the Member State where you work, normally live or where the alleged infringement of data protection laws occurred. The Information Commissioner’s Office can be contacted at http://ico.org.uk/concerns/.

Future Processing

I do not intend to process your personal information except for the reasons stated within this privacy notice. If this changes, this privacy notice will be amended and placed on the website.

Changes to this privacy notice

This privacy notice was published on 24th May 2018 and last updated on 24th May 2018.

I continually review my privacy practices and may change this policy from time to time. When I do it will be placed on the website.

Contact Details

If you have any questions about this privacy notice or the information I hold about you, please contact me.

 

The best way to contact me is to email me at Daniel.bunting @ 2drj.com

 

 

 

Immigration Act 2016 – inspection and enforcement powers 

There is a lot of new law in the 2016 Immigration Act, some of which I have been looking at and digesting as they. One into force. 

Here’s a piece I did for Lexis looking at the key provisions relating to inspection and enforcement powers.

Immigration Act 2016 – Inspection and Enforcement Powers

 

*This article was first published on Lexis®PSL Immigration analysis on 17 June 2016. Click for a free trial of Lexis®PSL.*

Illegal Working – all change? : Immigration Act 2016 Briefing

Introduction

On 12th July 2016 we will see the biggest shakeup in the law relating to illegal working for the last 10 years. These are contained in Chapter 2 (ss34-38) Immigration Act 2016.

Set out below is an overview for both employers and employees as to what the law will be when this is implemented.

 

For employers 

The current offence is widened considerably. The main points to note are :

  • the maximum sentence increases from 2 years to 5 years
  • the definition of ‘who is an illegal worker’ is changed
  • the offence becomes objective, rather than subjective

 

Overview of offence

A person, A, commits the offence if they –

  • employ somebody (B) who is
  • disqualified from working due to their immigration status, and person A
  • has reasonable cause to believe that B is disqualified

 

Who is ‘disqualified from working’?

Someone will be ‘disqualified from working’, if :

  • they have not been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, or
  • their leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom— 

          (i) is invalid,

          (ii) has ceased to have effect (whether by reason of curtailment, revocation, cancellation, passage of time or otherwise), or

          (iii) is subject to a condition preventing the person from doing work of that kind.

The fact that an employer does not know that that their employee is disqualified is not a defence. If they have ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ that somebody is disqualified – i.e. if another person looking at the grounds would believe so (as a rough guide – it’s a bit more complicated than that) then they will still be guilty.

What is meant by ’employ’?

There is a definition of employment in s25 Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2006 which states that employment means “employment under a contract of service or apprenticeship, whether express or implied and whether oral or written“.

Although it appears straightforward, this can be an incredibly complicated question of employment law, where a number of different factors come into play.

In addition it should be noted that, sightly confusingly, this is different to the test for somebody who is an employee for that offence, although in practice this will probably not make much of a difference.

 

Who in a company is liable?

This can get quite technical – if there is any issue then you would be advised to seek legal advice.

But as an overview, if someone in the company (or other body) who has responsibility for the employment is in a position where they know, or should know, that someone is being employed illegally, then the company will be liable.

In addition, any ‘officer’ of the body (Director, Manager, etc) will be liable provided that they also have the requisite state of mind.

 

Sentence and Procedure

The maximum sentence is increased from 2 years to 5 years.

The case is either way – meaning that somebody charged with it can have their trial in the Crown Court in front of a Judge and Jury if they want.

 

For employees

There has never been a simple offence of working illegally. Those that did so often faced other charges (fraud being an obvious example) as well as enforcement action by the immigration authorities.

The Immigration Act 2016 introduces a ‘catch all’ offence of illegal working. This is achieved by way of an addition to the Immigration Act 1971 (a new s24B).

 

An employee commits an offence if they :

  • work
  • whilst disqualified (on immigration grounds), and
  • they know that (or have ‘reasonable cause to believe’ that) they are disqualified

 

Who is ‘disqualified from working’?

Someone is disqualified from working if :

  • they have not been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, or
  • their leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom—

          (i) is invalid,

          (ii) has ceased to have effect (whether by reason of curtailment, revocation, cancellation, passage of time or otherwise), or

          (iii) is subject to a condition preventing the person from doing work of that kind.

This is the same test as for an employee.

If somebody is disqualified from working, then they will fall foul if the law if they know that they are disqualified, or if they have ‘reasonable cause to believe’ that they are. That is an objective test, and so if someone buries their head in the sand and ignores the obvious, it does not mean that they can get away with it.

 

What is ‘work’?

For the purpose of the offence, employment is defined as someone who works :

  • under a contract of employment
  • under a contract of apprenticeship,
  • (under a contract personally to do work,
  • under or for the purposes of a contract for services,
  • for a purpose related to a contract to sell goods,
  • as a constable,
  • in the course of Crown employment,
  • as a relevant member of the House of Commons staff, or
  • as a relevant member of the House of Lords staff

You should note that this is different definition of employment to the one that applies to employers under s21 Immigration, Nationality and Asylum Act 2006.

 

Sentence and Procedure

The offence is summary only, and so the maximum penalty is 6 months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

The kicker here is that the prosecution can apply for the case to go to the Crown Court for confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

 

Will this apply to people who started employment prior to 12th July 2016?

A very good question. The law normally has ‘transitional provisions’ – guidance as to what happens to people when the law comes into force, but there aren’t any in this case.

So we are left to guess. As always, if there is any doubt then seek legal advice. My view, for what its worth, is that Courts will interpret ’employs’ to be a continuing act – i.e., if you start your employment on 1st July 2016 then come 12th July 2016 the offence will be committed, provided the relevant person has the relevant knowledge. That should not be taken as a legal opinion however.

 

Conclusion 

This law will potentially have a big impact on those who are, or who employ, foreign nationals. If you are in that category then you should take stock of your position to ensure that you stay on the right side of the law.

*As always, this is an overview of the law and is not intended to be legal advice, and is not a substitute for legal advice. If you want to ask me any further questions, then please contact me*.

 

Flag_of_Europe.svg

What do I do post Brexit if I’m an EEA national?

Introduction

Well, against all expectations from the pollsters and the bookies (and the bookies are always right, aren’t they?) the UK has voted to leave the EU.

If you’re an EEA national in the UK (or an EEA family member) what should you do?

 

What happens now?

Ultimately, we don’t know. That may sound unhelpful, but it is a sad consequence of the paucity of the debate over the vote that there was no real discussion as to what was going to happen if the UK voted to leave.

The legal position is (relatively) clear – google Art 50 (there’s a post here, but there’s many others) – but there is already confusion as to what is going to happen and when. When he resigned, Mr Cameron said that it would be for the next Prime Minister to do this (so not before October), but the EU leaders are keen for the UK to get on with it.

 

Don’t panic …

The laws today are the same as they were on Wednesday 22nd June 2016 – we haven’t withdrawn from the EU, EU law is still part of UK law, and you have the full panoply of Freedom of Movement rights.

It will take a long while to unpick the relationship with the EU, and this will take time. In theory the UK could clamp down tomorrow on free movement rights, but that would put the UK in breach of its international obligations and is unlikely.

In addition, working out what to with the 3 million EU citizens is not an easy task.

So, right now, although there is understandably anxiety, there is no need to panic.

 

… but do plan

Like it or lump it, the UK has voted to leave. Although of course things could change, it is overwhelming likely that that is it, and the UK will be out – it’s best to discount second referendums, etc, and plan for the future.

It’s difficult, because so much is up in the air. It may be that the UK decides it has to have access to the EU internal market which may mean not only that the UK has to grant the same freedom of movement rights as now, but they may have to go further and sign up to Schengen (which would be ironic).

Whatever happens, we can be reasonably confident of two things – (1) there will be provision for many EU citizens to remain under the Immigration Rules, and (2) some people who are in the UK exercising treaty rights will be excluded.

For example, someone from Germany working at a bank in the City will probably have no problems, even if she has to go through more hoops and paperwork. It would be surprising if there was not some sort of blanket position for some people – a provision that grants categories of people leave to remain, or something similar, automatically.

On the other hand, someone who is an American citizen with a history of overstaying and/or who has committed offences but is in the UK based on a marriage to a German may be in a pretty precarious position.

It is worth seeing if you can apply for British citizenship (a complicated area of law), as if you have that, then you’re probably safe.

Even if not, then it is worth checking your position and seeing if you could or should apply for a Residence permit, or to see what your position would be under the Immigration Rules.

 

Should I dust off my tartan?

Politically, Scotland has become more and more a different country. Even before the SNP laid waste to every other party in the 2015 election, it was a different beast. And in the Referendum, Scotland voted overwhelming to stay in the EU.

This may trigger another referendum in Scotland, or throw a spanner in the UK leaving. Again, who knows?

But, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Scotland becomes an independent country that is in the EU (with all the benefits that brings), but in some sort of free trade/Common Travel Area with the rump of the UK, and possibly the Channel Island and the Isle of Man, which may make Scotland (a lovely country in any event) an even more attractive place.

 

What about the ECHR?

This is separate from the EU and the UK pulling out of the EU doesn’t, of itself, mean that we will leave the ECHR, although there may be renewed political pressure.

This means that Art 8 arguments may still be used to challenge removal. Again, this is a complicated area, and the protection offered by Art 8 is less than that of the EU. But it is better than nothing.

 

Any other thoughts?

Just one – if anyone says that they know what will happen, or what the legal position is, then ignore them. This is unchartered territory. David Cameron and Boris Johnson don’t know what is happening, and if even they don’t then certainly nobody else will.

*update* – this will probably change as events will move quickly. For example, it seems that Jersey will give some form of residual rights to EU nationals living there. What impact will this have? Probably very little, but it is an example of one of the many, many things that had probably not been considered.

Also – I should have made it clearer that the position of Irish Citizens will probably be very different due to the historical arrangements between the UK and Ireland which pre-date the EU.

Should I worry if my barrister works for the CPS in other cases?

Introduction

Note: This is prompted by a post from Lucy Reed on the Pink Tape family law blog about whether a parent facing family law proceedings should worry if their barrister has also acted for social services in the past (or in other current cases). It’s a great take down of former MP John Hemming’s slightly ‘unorthodox’ take in the professional conducts, and is well worth a read.

This is an issue that often comes up in criminal law. Barristers in chambers are self-employed and, nowadays at least, will normally specialise in one or two areas of the law. But it’s not unusual for barristers who do criminal law to both prosecute and defence.

Obviously not in the same case, but I have seen it many times where a barrister, Ms Smith, is in Court 4 at 10am representing a defendant. Then 15 minutes later she has swapped sides and is representing the prosecution in the same court room. Is that wrong? Should her defence client be concerned?

Is this a problem?

The CPS are obviously used to this, but for individual defendants, particularly those that aren’t particularly familiar with the system, it may seem odd. If my barrister gets part of their income from the CPS doesn’t that mean that sometimes they’ll ‘pull their punches’ in my case for fear of what the CPS may say?

I don’t think that it’s a problem at all. Firstly, on a practical level,the CPS is a pretty big organisation. Unless it’s a highly specialist unit, it’s unlikely that anyone in it would know what ‘their’ barrister in a particular case is doing the rest of the time. But it’s not just the practicalities.

Although there are more and more people who are doing just one of prosecution or defence, I think that the majority of people still do both. It’s ‘the way that things have always been done’. This may or may not be a good reason for carrying on doing something in general, but it does mean that the CPS do not expect barristers to only prosecute, and would not expect a defence lawyer to approach their defence case differently whether or not they sometimes prosecute.

In days gone by, barristers had no choice, in theory at least. Due to the cab rank rule, barristers couldn’t pick and choose which cases they do, so would have to do both. Even if that ever existed, it has gone now in crime, in that fees for most criminal cases were ‘undeemed’ – taken out of the scope of the rule.

Now is not the time to analyse whether or not that is actually the exact position, but the idea behind it (that barristers don’t just act for one side only) lives on.

It may also work to your advantage, in that someone who prosecutes obviously has a much better knowledge of how the CPS works than someone who doesn’t. This may mean that they find it easier to hone in on the weaknesses in the CPS case, and know their vulnerabilities.

That’s not to say you should only have a barrister that prosecutes and defends. Just that, in my view, it’s not a way of telling whether you should be using that barrister or not.

So, should I be worried?

Although it may seem odd, I’d say it doesn’t matter one bit if your barrister only defends, or prosecutes as well as defends.

I would recommend reading Lucy’s post as to what questions you should be asking of your lawyer, they’re applicable to criminal law too.

There are brilliant defence lawyers who don’t prosecute (and fairly ropey ones who do of course), and brilliant ones who do. The key point is that you shouldn’t use that as test. If your lawyer does both, don’t be alarmed. It’s normal, and it doesn’t mean that they will fight for you any less

Note 2 : I’m using barrister here, but the same rules apply to solicitor advocates too of course. It’s just that the majority of advocates who do prosecution and defence work are freelance barristers in chambers. 

Can EEA family members be guilty of obtaining leave by deception?

In February 2016 I was in the Court of Appeal representing the Appellant in the case of Boateng [2016] EWCA Crim 57.

I wasn’t his lawyer in the Crown Court (where he had pleaded guilty) but took the case on to go to the Court of Appeal – you can read above some of the arguments that there were.

One of the conclusion was this – where someone is applying for a Residence Permit as a family member of an EEA national, they are not applying for ‘leave to enter’ the UK. The significance of this is that my client in that case was accused of trying to get a Residence Permit by deception. In that case it was as a family member of someone pretending to be an EEA national, but this could equally apply to someone who is accused of entering a sham marriage with an EEA Citizen.

He was charged with an offence contrary to s24A(1)(a) Immigration Act 1971 – Obtaining Leave to Enter or Remain by Deception and he pleaded guilty. But could he be, in law, guilty of this offence.

The Court of Appeal agreed that the framework of immigration law relating to ‘leave to enter (or remain)’ is very different to the system of immigration control for those who are either EEA nationals or family members of EAA nationals.

What about the fact that he pleaded guilty? It doesn’t matter. Even if the offence could be indicted under s24A(1)(b) (and if the CPS tried to, there would have to be more legal argument) the charge “cannot possibly be regarded as “a mere drafting or clerical error” or “a purely technical defect”. The counts were “fundamentally flawed”“.

And so, even though there was a guilty plea, the appeal succeeded and those convictions quashed.

I assumed that this was a one off – a piece of bad drafting that just arose in this case. But recently I was talking to a colleague who was off to do a trial where someone accused of a sham marriage where this was the charge. It seems that there may be plenty of other people in the same position.

So, if you have been charged with this and have a trial coming up, you need to be aware of this case. If you’ve been convicted of a s24A offence when the allegation was you were trying to get a right under EEA law, you want to look at whether you can appeal the conviction, even if you pleaded guilty.

Do I need a lawyer?

One often asked question is “Do I need a lawyer” and, if so, “when“?

To be honest, if you’re asking the question, then the answer to the first question is almost certainly ‘yes‘, and ‘yesterday‘ to the second.

Although on the TV a lawyer can pick up a case in the morning and go straight off to do a trial, in practice this is no longer possible (it doesn’t stop people trying unfortunately). Apart from the simplest of cases, there will be disclosure to be obtained from the the CPS, witnesses to be spoken to, and investigations to be undertaken. If you speak to a lawyer the day before your trial, then sure they will do their best. And sometimes their best will be enough to win, but not always.  

To give yourself the best chance to win, get in early. Not only will this give enough time to prepare the case to put yourself in the best possible position to win, it will actually probably be cheaper. That sounds counter-intuitive, but if there’s an urgency then diaries will need to be rearranged, etc, etc, and it is likely that you will be charged more. 

The worst thing that can happen is you’re told it’s too early – come back in a month, or when you’re charged by the police, or something like that. You probably won’t have to pay for that either.