Author Archives: Admin

Representing Clients from Out of the Country- 3 Common Situations

Let’s say you are practicing law in Australia. As you know, there are more people who are not from Australia than those who were born there. Being a large and beautiful nation/continent, with diverse flora and fauna, not to mention cultural attractions, places like this have a tremendous number of tourists showing up on their shores. Tourists are notoriously unaware of local laws and customs, at least that’s what the stereotype would have us believe. As such, they frequently work themselves into pickles with the law, meaning that you might one day find yourself representing the legal interests of someone who lives overseas.

So, if you get contacted after a worried tourist finds your contact information after Googling “criminal lawyers in Sydney”, don’t be shocked. It happens everyday, but representing someone from out the country presents its own unique challenges. Being in touch with multiple lawyers and studying this phenomenon as a hobby of my own, here are three of the most common issues I see.

  • Time. Because many of these individuals do not reside in the nation where they are standing trial, they need to get away to take care of things back home. This can present a challenge. Depending on the severity of the charge, they may be restricted in their movement across the country, as flight risk is a serious concern. Depending on the severity of the infraction, this may not be a consideration, but the defendant’s responsibilities back home certainly are. As such, the process may be permitted to be expedited. In fact, this is what I would recommend for anyone representing such a client. Get it over with as fast as possible, try to reduce it to a fine, do what you can to get the client’s life back to normal as soon as possible.
  • Money. International exchange of currency may present a difficulty when representing a foreign client. In general, I try to recommend my clients the cheapest possible currency transfer services, but sometimes there simply isn’t money to spare. In situations like this, there may be remuneration on the part of the state, or a situation which allows your client to more or less go free, pending specific action.
  • Language Barrier. In addition to ignorance of local law and custom, your client may not speak the local language. This may present a difficulty, but it may help your client to be able to get home without too much trouble also. If it can be argued to your judge that a client and the wronged party would be better served to let the client return home, then this is a desirable outcome. If the case must be brought to trial, then necessary translation services must be obtained, and the defendant made aware of his or her rights and the details of the case.

Travelers get in trouble overseas all the time, but this doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be well-represented. Acquaint yourself with the details of their situation, and you and they should be able to move beyond the present trial without too much trouble.

Learning Management Platforms Bring Law Students into the Digital Age

As law students gear up for the upcoming fall semester, they can expect a number of technological innovations that are changing the ways college courses are conducted. The University of Oregon has already used a learning management system called “Blackboard” for a number of years. With the online platform, students are able to access course syllabi, readings, assignments, notes, and quizzes with the click of a button. Law students enjoy the efficiency of the program, which allows them to reach out to fellow students in their classes, email professors, and keep track of their homework. But what about those long, exhausting hours of study?

Digital Platform Makes Legal Study More Manageable

Albany Oregon attorneys are particularly interested in technology and its role in the legal world, anticipating more digital enhancements to law programs in the Pacific Northwest region. A recent article detailed an application growing in popularity. LearnLeo is a learning management system specifically engineered for legal education. Since its launch in 2012, LearnLeo has been involved with 20 of the country’s top law schools. In lieu of bulky textbooks and endless sticky notes, diligent graduate students have access to an online program that lets them read, highlight, and organize materials without the hassle of paperwork.

Among other scholarly fields of study, B.A. to J.D. programs are notoriously tedious when it comes to course workload. Students find themselves sifting through endless information while preparing for assignments, exams, and mock trials. Experts predict that digital platforms like LearnLeo can save scholars hours of study time a week. Instead of compiling, organizing, and outlining case notes, eager learners have more time to actually take in the information and understand it. The virtual classroom also streamlines course content, letting professors lead the group in study without waiting on them to thumb through gigantic textbooks.

Technology to Meet Law Student Demands

At Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, students use ExamSoft to take their tests, a program that makes grading easier and allows professors to assign quizzes for homework. Embracing a program like LearnLeo will cater more specifically to the needs of students. While the original product is focused on helping pupils create briefs and outlines, two new products made by the company are now available.

Described as a “pre-law prep program” and a “careers” option, the software gives valuable advice for young people thinking about a career in the legal field. The technology evaluates participating law firms and provides important job prospect information for graduates. LearnLeo also mentors younger students, acquainting them with terminology and other info that will help them adjust to the culture shock of law school.

Right now, the innovative technology is still in its infancy. But Albany, Oregon attorneys recently discovered that students in local programs can access almost 15,000 cases in LearnLeo’s database, making it an incredible–and totally free–resource. Users need to create a quick profile before starting. With news that 3 of Oregon’s law schools have ranked among the top in the nation as of 2015, it’s only a matter of time before they are on board with the learning platform. If you’re headed back to school this Fall, consider these other ways the Internet can help you survive the stress of law school.

Technology’s Impact on Law Students’ Study Habits – 5 Helpful Tips

  • Online dictionaries offer instant access to the definitions of perplexing legal jargon.
  • Collaborate with others on case briefs and read existing resources via a variety of free websites.
  • Research the latest cases in legal news that out-of-date textbooks won’t tell you about.
  • Endless blog articles offer helpful advice on the transition to law school and how to adjust your lifestyle.
  • Connect with other students, lawyers, and professionals, creating a study support system.

 

 

Mis-sold PPI and its Repercussions

In the past couple of years, numerous cases of mis-sold PPI have been uncovered leading to an enormous spurt in claims for PPI refunds. PPI or Payment Protection Insurance covers the credit card payments or loan payments in case of sickness, accident or unemployment. You may have also been mis-sold the policy without your knowledge.

Considering PPI Claims

If you look into the PPI basics, you will find that the policy is in essence a good one, but due to the wide mis-selling, hundreds of people are left without any cover. And this even happened in spite of paying a huge amount in monthly premiums. The cost of the insurance is large, and dwarfed the interest thus leading many people to think of it as an expensive affair.

Cause for Mis-selling

The financial providers were under huge stress to increase the sales of PPI which forced them to mis-sell thus leading to the PPI fraud. You could have avoided getting embroiled in the PPI scam if you had known whether you really need to have a PPI while taking the policy.

Standalone PPI

If you have taken a PPI policy along with a loan or mortgage, the provider should let you cancel the insurance. If you do need a PPI, you should get it as standalone insurance and cancel the PPI you purchased along with the loan to save money. A PPI calculator will help you know the exact amount of money you need to pay.  You get to save money with a standalone policy because the commission money will be reduced. With a standalone factor, you need to cover only one third amount of the cost.

If you have been mis-sold, you can lodge a PPI complaint with the concerned provider, or get assistance from the Financial Ombudsman Service. PPI help can also be obtained by approaching PPI claim companies, such as www.oraclelegal.co.uk.  With the High Court judgment being made in favour of the consumers, PPI claims should be dealt with in a fair manner now.

Chancellor confirms LLP tax clampdown

In the autumn statement chancellor George Osborne revealed that controversial measures to stop employees claiming partnership status to avoid tax, will be implemented in due course.

This year’s Autumn Statement was held on 5th December 2013. The most expected announcement, as a result of the summer consultation, concerned the proposed controversial legislation which affects fixed share members and the taxation of corporate members.

1The chancellor declared that he is determined to guarantee that tax advantages of partnerships are not abused. Furthermore, he revealed that changes proposed in the draft National Insurance Bill earlier this year will be applied soon.

The requirements postulated in the new rules are for many members of limited liability partnerships to be obliged to pay higher national insurance contributions by removing an automatic exemption. This is a result of a government announcement in the budget that the government would remove the assumption that LLP members are self-employed rather than employees.

However, the Law Society made a warning that these proposed measures would have serious implications for the legal and business community, and posed a risk to UK’s reputation as an attractive business location.

Chris Grayling Says Court Might Increase Small Claims Limit in the Future

UK Justice Secretary Chris Grayling had said that it is possible that courts might decide raising the small claims limit in the future despite refusing to increase it today. According to Grayling, he had listened to the observations of the House of Commons transport select committee and their opinion on retaining the £1,000 threshold regardless of complaints.

1The raising of the small claims limit was the first step in lowering the premiums of car insurance, which was triggered by fraudulent car accidents claims with “ghostly” injuries, namely whiplash injuries, which pay out greatly because it causes severe pain without physical manifestation.

Car insurance companies said that the disproportion of insurance claims to the number of car accidents authorities record is a sign that many fraudsters are taking advantage of the system, which leaves out those who really need their compensation.

According to the House of Commons transport select committee, now is not the time to raise the small claims limit because it will truly make it difficult for those genuinely in need of the insurance and can make it easier for fraudsters to again take advantage of the small claims courts despite having a smaller payout.

Medical Inspection and Check Up

Grayling mentioned that he wanted to make sure insurance companies will encourage their customers to get a medical survey before they get their compensation and share their data on suspected fraud cases to solicitors and lawyers to carry out more effective checks with their clients.

Experts said that by 2014, the UK will have its own independent specialist medical panels that would inspect whiplash cases and other car injuries involving soft tissue injuries. As soon as the government finally consults all concerned health bodies it would make a standardised form of reports and publish the scheme of the new system.

Implications

Lifting the small claims limit will allow insurers to challenge the claimant’s case in court. Grayling also mentioned that the court might lift information fees from lawyers, solicitors and insurance companies in an attempt to bring down the legal costs of challenging a claim.

Many insurers just recompense their customers because legal costs for challenging suspicious claims are more costly than the lump sum repayment they can provide. For more information about the claims process in the case of injury, click here.

Judge compromises over niqab for Muslim woman in dock

 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.

Justice Minister promotes Magistrates Courts

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.

1

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.

The Rise of the Legal Compliance Sector

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.

The Truth Behind the PPI Claims Statistics

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.

FOS Uphold RatesThe 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.

Buying a Second Hand Car – Your Legal Rights

There are some who think that buying a second hand car, either from a dealer or an individual, means you have no comeback if something goes wrong. This is far from so, although it must be said that you have a much better standing under the law if you purchase from a dealer. The Sale of Goods Act applies where second hand cars are concerned, but not in its entirety where you buy from an individual: in this case there is no legal right to ensure it is of satisfactory quality or fit for the purpose, so beware.

Buying from a dealer is a different matter, and there are avenues you can go down if you have a problem. If you find your car to be faulty soon after purchasing you can reject it; this can be under the grounds of not being reasonable quality, not fit for the purpose, or not as described. In any of the above the dealer is legally bound to refund your money, or compensate you for the state of the vehicle.

Buying at Auction

Auctions can be a tricky area of the law, for they are viewed in a different manner. However, buying a second hand car at auction does not relieve you of your rights. The problem is that a simple sign saying that cars are not guaranteed to be of satisfactory quality, as described or fit for the purpose can be displayed in the auction house and in the catalogue and will relieve the auctioneers of any liability under those areas of the Sale of Goods Act.

The best advice is to buy your second hand car from a reputable dealer, to test it thoroughly beforehand, to give it a thorough inspection and – if you do find something wrong – to return it to the dealer as soon as possible.