Your Client, Intermediaries and ‘Invisible’ Autism

Here’s a question that we regularly deal with as solicitors or advocates: is it possible my client needs an intermediary?   The answer might be ‘yes’ if your client is autistic. We don’t often think of asking a second question: how do I know if my client is autistic?   That’s because many autistic clients… Read more

Conclusive Grounds Decision – It’s a matter for experts

I’m currently defending a 21-year-old male who was tricked and trafficked to the UK with a promise of a better life. He paid his traffickers £5,000 to be transported in the back of a lorry from Albania to the UK last July. On arrival, he worked in construction as promised, but within months was transported… Read more

How To: The Cross Examination of Vulnerable Witnesses (Part 2)

By Charlotte Surley   This article is the second in a series which aims to explore some common themes in the cross examination of vulnerable witnesses by providing tips and illustrative examples. For part one in the series which looks at working with the intermediary and cross-examining children, click here.   3) Cross Examining Non-Verbal… Read more

How To: The Cross Examination of Vulnerable Witnesses (Part 1)

Over the past decade, the criminal justice system in England and Wales has greatly improved its ability to accommodate the needs of vulnerable witnesses. If, as I do, you specialise in defending clients accused of serious sexual offences, you will no doubt have completed the Advocacy and the Vulnerable Witness training some time ago. You… Read more

Mental Incapacity and Consent to Sexual Activity: a Case Study

Sexual offences against a person with a mental disorder: at what point will a “mental disorder” mean a person lacks capacity to consent to sexual activity? Where do we draw the line? And how will incapacity be proved? Consent to sexual activity, as we know, requires (amongst other things), capacity. There are a number of… Read more

Is “Advance Consent to Sexual Activity” a Defence?

Can consent to sexual activity be given in advance? Will “advance consent” be a defence for sexual activity with a person who is asleep or unconscious?   Can a sleeping person consent to sexual activity? Common sense suggests not: consent requires capacity; and capacity, self-evidently, requires consciousness. But what about consent given in advance? What… Read more

The Sentencing Code 2020

The Sentencing Code 2020 The Sentencing Act 2020 or ‘the Sentencing Code’, as it is often referred to, came into force on 1 December 2020 and applies to all those convicted on or after this date. The Act aims to simplify, clarify and structure the complex sentencing process by helpfully consolidating the existing sentencing legislation.… Read more

Video Hearings and Disabled Defendants – A Review of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Interim Report

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a paper entitled ‘Inclusive Justice: a system designed for all’. Whilst the EHRC was already conducting an inquiry into the fair treatment of disabled people in the criminal justice system, their interim report presents a cautious set of recommendations in response to the increased pace of roll-out… Read more

Legal Advice Regarding Coronavirus Offences

The current Coronavirus pandemic has presented all of us with unprecedented challenges, especially whilst under lockdown. As a direct response, emergency legislation has been passed to ensure compliance with new laws and regulations now in force. The legislation passed comprises Schedule 21 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations… Read more