A judge who earlier in the month refused to allow a Muslim woman to wear her veil which covered the whole of her face has now made a compromise allowing the woman to wear it apart from times where she is giving evidence to the court. The compromise ruling made by Judge Peter Murphy is a first and has set a precedent on the wearing of a niqab in court during criminal proceedings.
The woman in question who has been named as only D in the case has pleaded as not guilty to accusations of witness intimidation while wearing the religious veil. She said that it is contrary to her religious beliefs to show her face to the public and so the judge made special arrangements which involve screening her from public view when she is asked to reveal her face during the proceedings.
The trial which is set to take place in November at Blackfriars crown court includes directions which will ban court room artists from drawing or sketching the defendant when she is not wearing her niqab. The only people who will be permitted to look at the woman’s face are the jury, legal counsel as well as the judge only when she is giving evidence.
The judge who accepted submissions both from the defence and the prosecutor stated that there was not clear precedent in existence which would bring a resolution to the matter. The judge commented at the uncertainty and reluctance to deal with the issue by saying that the religious veil had become “the elephant in the courtroom”. He took a stance on the religious garment by saying that women had a choice whether or not to wear the veil but this choice should nevertheless be respected by the judiciary as is the persons religious belief.
The issue in the circumstance which the judge had to address was striking a balance between the defendant’s right to a religious belief as protected by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the public interest which is involved in criminal cases. In the judgement it was made clear that the court has the right to impose restrictions on religious freedoms which are deemed to be necessary as was done by the European Court of Human Rights when they upheld a judgement banning a worker from wearing a cross at her place of employment on health and safety grounds.
Up to 40% of those sentenced at the crown court could equally have been dealt at an earlier stage by the magistrates court says Damian Green, Minister for Policing and Justice. Figures have been published stating that every 4 in 10 people could have been handed a sentence at a magistrates thus saving money and valuable time according to a speech due to be read this Wednesday by the justice minister. In his speech which is addressed to the magistrates, Mr Green is to state that a greater effort is needed from their behalf to ensure that cases are dealt with in the correct court and not be meaninglessly transferred. This event will kick off a further three scheduled events prior to a consultation which will take place assessing the role of the magistrates later in the year.
The plans are set to contribute towards a change in the criminal system and the way the courts operate. The overhaul will aid the magistrates by easing them off workload such as minor traffic offences which will be resolved outside the normal process in addition to introducing new powers for magistrates in order to deal with reoffending figures. Prior to making the speech the justice minister stated that magistrates are vital in the English legal system and are an example of a good citizen. In saying that the system is privileged to have such individuals he gave magistrates the credit for dedicating their time, skills and expertise against no cost. In his latest statement he did not hesitate to comment on the statistic by saying that 4 out of 10 people who were given a jail term in the crown court could also have been given the same by a magistrates. He explained that the government will look into why this is a common occurrence and if need be, do more in order to fully benefit from such volunteers.
The justice minister said that in order to have and maintain a fair and modern justice system the judiciary needs to hear the right cases in the appropriate court. Mr Green is anticipated to state that magistrates are to allocate their time on communal cases which make a greater difference to the local community. He commented that in simple road traffic offence cases where the defendant does not dispute the matter in question and where he may not even be present at the case, there is no need for 3 magistrates to spend their time looking at such a case.
All the recent scandals in the financial world, such as PPI, LIBOR and Rate Swaps etc have had a big impact – not just for the financial institutions and the customers affected, but for the economy too. Besides the millions that have been exchanged in compensation payouts, costs and fines, there are the changes that have emerged from the change in views towards financial institutions and their employees. New rules, regulations and regulators such as the Financial Conduct Authority (from the ashes of the Financial Services Authority) and the Prudential Regulation Authority are now in place, and there has been a real shift in focus for many finance related businesses to not only running their businesses and making a profit, but running them in the correct way too.
Hence the recent rise in what was once the more modest compliance sector and the emergence of compliance as a career path in its own right. Graduate schemes specifically in compliance began a few years ago, though many to the sector are those who have made a move from careers in banking, accounts, audit, and indeed, law.
Those with legal education and experience are particularly able to demonstrate the skills needed for the compliance profession – namely the ability to read, understand, analyse and apply complex legal and regulatory documents. Precision is key in this field as the consequences of errors can be vast, therefore workers in compliance must be technically competent and highly skilled in a business environment too.
Despite the cutbacks that many employers are making since the recession in terms of investment and employees, compliance is the sector that is tending to withstand such pressures. Banks in particular are reinforcing their compliance departments and raising standards, with hedge fund roles and insurance based roles showing particularly high rates of employment growth. Salaries are likewise often withstanding the pay freezes with many who work in compliance expecting a pay rise this year – a true testament to the importance of what their role brings.
The future also looks bright for the legal compliance sector. Recruitment agency Randstad note the growing trend in vacancies available for compliance roles, stating a prediction of more than 30,000 new jobs by the end of this decade. Compliance could definitely prove to be a promising career indeed for those with the right qualifications and skills.
PPI or payment protection insurance has, over he past few years, been in the news for all wrong reasons. Introduced as an insurance plan that would cover monthly repayments following an accident, sickness or redundancy, PPI has emerged as one of the most poor value products to ever have been introduced in the UK financial market. The mis-selling of the policies and the fact that the banks made huge profits by selling these policies all made the PPI a controversial financial product. Further, the non-payment of the claims and the fact that millions were forced into buying an insurance policy they could never claim on have made this the biggest mis-selling scandal in UK history.
The sheer scale of the mis-selling, that made the banks and estimated £5billion a year for almost a decade, has meant that this is now also the biggest compensation scheme ever conceived. The title, previously held by the Miners Compensation Scheme which ended in 2004 and paid out £4.1billion over 13 years, has already been dwarfed the PPI compensation payouts which have already eclipsed £7billion over the past 2 years. Many analysts have estimated that the final bill will be in excess of £25billion – making this the biggest compensation scheme in the world, not just the UK!
The wholesale industrialised mis-selling of PPI by bank staff was driven by greed, with some reporting that they received commissions of upto 87% for selling the policy. Not only that, but they were also set very rigid sales targets which meant that if they did not push the product, their job was on the line as the banks were putting profit above all else.
To date, over 4.5million people have already made a claim for PPI compensation but according to recent figures released by the FOS, this represents just 10% of the total who may be eligible to claim.
The number of complaints being rejected by the banks is also alarming, as the uphold rate at the FOS is over 75%. In December 2012, the UK’s biggest bank, Lloyds Banking Group, released a statement saying that 50% of claims they were receiving were either “fictitious or bogus”. This may well have been a misdirect designed to discredit claims management companies and put people off making a claim. According to the FOS only 3% of claims are considered fraudulent or fictitious.
The number of people turning to CMC’s such as PPIClaimsAdviceline.com is also dropped from 76% in 2011 to 59% in 2012 – a drop of 17%, attributed to greater consumer awareness and a joint campaign by consumer groups Which? and MoneySavingExpert and the banks to discourage people from using CMC’s.
Economists are currently warning that the United Kingdom may slip into a trip dip recession. This would be a serious concern for many people looking for new work. Prospective lawyers are not immune to the challenges job seekers face during a tough economy. However, you can still find a good legal job if you take the right steps.
Here are some tips that you can follow when looking for a new legal job
Consider visiting a recruitment agency to see if they can help you out. They provide a number of great services for anyone looking for work. They can negotiate with potential employers on your behalf.
The recruitment agency can also help you get all your documents in order. Your curriculum vitae (CV) is one of the most important documents you will need to have updated when you are going to be looking for any legal job. Your CV should detail all your most recent work experience, publications you’ve made and any certifications you hold. Some lawyers haven’t updated it in several years. They may be missing out some key information.
Many people wonder which recruitment firm they should work with. Most people are surprised when recruitment agencies tell them to work with other firms as well. Recruiters say that there may not be as much overlap between the job opportunities as job seekers may think.
All job applicants should use three to four recruitment agencies. That way they will be able to get the most traction from them without spreading themselves too thin trying to manage relationships with all of them.
Many recruitment agencies specialize in working with lawyers. Some agencies you may want to look at include Robert Half Legal and Kelly Services. These firms are highly rated by attorneys who have worked with them in the past.
Anyone can cringe at the idea of having a tax investigation. It is definitely one of the most stressful things in life. It is necessary to find a specialist in helping you in resolving tax investigations and give you some peace of mind. Things like investigations, enquiries, disputes as well as conflicts can affect you not only mentally but also with many other aspects of your life. The HM Revenue and Customs are very stringent when it comes to these tax issues and that is why it is necessary to be aware about your situation and seek help from a professional finance lawyer to help you should you be under investigation for your tax activities.
Finance lawyers often deal with cases from sole traders as well as large corporates, and even trustees or partnerships. Should there be some inconsistencies with the past tax payments, the finance lawyer will shoulder the pressure, and help these entities to find better ways to handle the situation and avoid sanctions that could affect their business, employees and their reputation. Through the help of a finance lawyer, the client need not to have contact with the HMRC since he or she will represent the client and fight hard to ensure that the tax penalties will be fair and not make the matter too complicated for both parties. It is necessary to have a team of professionals who will make an exhaustive analysis of the tax history of the client and they will analyze every detail to avoid serious problems in the future.
One of the most popular ways a lawyer can give to the client is preparing voluntary disclosures and paying the necessary amounts to ensure that they pay their dues and not be subject to more serious legal sanctions. They also help in resolving tax investigations and deal with tax enquiries for different entities.
Small business owners need to be aware of any changes to employment laws. The ramifications for breaking any of these laws can be serious, even if the employer wasn’t aware of the change ahead of time.
These laws are changing quickly so employers will need to be diligent about keeping up with them. A number of new laws are already being introduced in 2013 that you will need to be aware of.
What Changes Should We Expect in 2013?
The government is passing several new laws that will extend more rights to employees throughout the United Kingdom. Here are some of the biggest changes that you will need to be aware of.
Shareholder Contracts with Employees
Many employers have shareholder contracts with their employees. A new law will require these contracts to be structured differently two months from now. Shareholder contracts will give employees the right to demand training when needed and file a complaint when they believe they were unfairly terminated.
Addition of Tribunal Fees
The government has grown concerned that too many employees have tried to manipulate the complaint system and file compensation claims against their employers. This new system will charge a fee of 250 pounds to discourage employees from trying to exploit their employers.
Limits of Compensation on Any Claims
More jaded employees have filed unjust termination claims against their employers. The government wants to ensure employees who have a legitimate case will still be able to seek compensation. However, they are also going to place some limitations on the amount that they can claim. There are two new criteria that set the limit of the amount an employee can claim:
- The employee cannot be awarded more than £74,200
- The employee also will not be awarded more than a year’s salary
Wrongful termination claims can be financially devastating to small and medium sized businesses, so these new standards should limit the financial damages they will face.
Be Aware of these Laws in the Coming Year
Employment laws change drastically throughout the year. You will want to make sure that you understand the changes that will go into effect in 2013 and adopt to them as best as possible.