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Posts by: David Lawson

Driving Law Changes 2022

Driving law changes in 2022

This entry was posted in For you, News, Road Traffic Law on by .

2022 is set to be a big year for changes to the laws around road traffic and motoring. Whilst some of the changes have already been made, such as the updates to the Highway Code that were recently announced, there are a number of other new rules set to come into play throughout the course of this year that you may not already be aware of.  Here’s a brief overview of some of the driving law changes we can expect to see in 2022.  

Changes to the Highway Code 

In January this year, the UK Government made changes to the Highway Code in order to prioritise the safety of vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians. One of the biggest changes made was to the hierarchy of road users, which now sees pedestrians positioned at the top of the hierarchy, followed by cyclists, horse riders, and horse-drawn vehicles. 

The new rules outline that motorists, motorcyclists and cyclists are to give way to pedestrians waiting to cross the road, whether that be at a zebra cross, parallel crossing, by the roadside, or at a junction. 

There have also been guidelines announced on overtaking and passing distances. 

You can find out about the changes in more detail here

Stricter rules for mobile phone use behind the wheel 

Whereas last year motorists could only be penalised for making calls or sending texts while driving, the law on mobile phone use has now tightened, and drivers can now be penalised for touching their phone while behind the wheel. 

Motorists must not hold or use a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any other device while driving, and this new law still applies if you’re stopped at traffic lights, queuing in traffic, supervising a learner driver, or driving a car that has an automatic engine cut-off when you stop moving. Having your phone in offline or flight mode also won’t make you exempt from the rules. 

There are some exceptions to the rule, including if you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency situation, if you’re safely parked, if you’re making a contactless payment while the car is stationary (such as at a drive-through), or if you’re using your device to park your car remotely. 

For further information, visit the Government website.  

Minor traffic offences enforced by local councils 

The power to issue fines for minor motoring offences, such as stopping in yellow cross hatching areas or driving in cycle lanes, is set to be extended beyond the police to local councils. 

Councils across England and Wales will be able to apply for this authority, and will be able to issue fines of up to £70 to motorists who break the rules. 

A complete ban on pavement parking on the cards 

Parking rules are currently under review by the Department of Transport, who are considering issuing a complete ban on pavement parking in England. 

Whilst it’s already against the law to park on the pavement in London, if the law comes into play for the rest of the country, councils across England could be issuing £70 fines to those who park on the pavement. 

Speed limiters mandatory from July 

From 6th July this year, it will be mandatory for manufacturers to install speed limiters in all new cars. 

A speed limiter, or Intelligent Speed Assistant (ISA), alerts drivers if they’re driving too fast and will intervene if the driver doesn’t slow down. 

The speed limiter can be overridden by the driver in some circumstances, such as when overtaking. 

Smart motorway development on pause 

The Government has announced that the development of smart motorways will be put on pause for the next five years to allow for comprehensive safety reviews to be carried out. 

The Department for Transport has also announced that £900 million will be invested into improving the safety of existing smart motorways, with £390 million going towards constructing 150 additional emergency areas to give motorists more places to stop if they run into difficulty while out on the road. 

Self-driving cars allowed on UK roads 

Following a review of the Automatic Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS), which automatically keep cars in lane at low speed and allow drivers to delegate control of the vehicle, the first self-driving cars could be seen on our roads as early as this spring.

New clean air zones in the North: Manchester and Bradford 

Manchester is set to launch its clean air zone (CAZ) in July this year, meaning charges for those entering the area in a high-emission vehicle. 

Manchester’s CAZ will target HGVs, buses, coaches, vans, minibuses, hackney cabs and private hire vehicles, and motorhomes and camper vans, charging up to £60 per day for some, depending on the vehicle’s emissions. 

EV charging points a legal requirement for all new homes 

From this year, it will be a legal requirement for all buildings constructed in England to have an EV charging point installed, and this will apply to new-build homes, new supermarkets, and any other building that’s undergoing major refurbishment or renovations. 

If all goes ahead as planned, this should provide an additional 145,000 charging points for electrical vehicle users. 

DRN Solicitors – Experts in road traffic law 

Our legal partners understand the intricacies of UK motoring law, each with years of experience in providing expert legal representation for those facing road traffic offences, and will work tirelessly to help protect your licence, and your future. 

Get in touch with our team today for sound, reliable legal advice. 

COVID-19 – Do I need to complete a risk assessment for my wedding?

This entry was posted in For you, News on by .

When restrictions surrounding the number of guests permitted at weddings were lifted on 21st June 2021, couples across the UK that had been eagerly awaiting their big day jumped into action and wasted little time in getting all of the necessary preparations in place. One thing they may not have anticipated, however, is the need to complete a risk assessment for the event. 

The Government has indicated that to-be-weds may now invite an unlimited number of guests to their wedding, as long as the venue will allow for social distancing rules to be followed. Additional restrictions have also been put into place for those in attendance, which include food and drink served directly to tables with no option to order at the bar, and with a limit of six people to a table. There’s also a risk of the newlyweds incurring a £10,000 fine if any guests break social distancing rules. 

 

The Government has outlined that the risk assessment should be completed by the organiser, who should be someone who is not only able to implement the practical steps required by the risk assessment in the planning stages to ensure the event is COVID-compliant, but also someone who is able to attend the event to ensure everyone sticks to COVID guidelines on the big day itself. 

The sample risk assessment form posted on the Government website sees wedding organisers also burdened with enforcing a ‘no dancing’ rule, and ensuring all guests remain seated while eating and drinking.

If the designated organiser is unable to attend the event, it’s then up to the happy couple to select a stand-in, who will be present on the day to make sure the event runs in compliance with all COVID regulations. Government guidance adds: “This may be the couple if the event is being organised in the garden of a private home, but could be another person involved in organising or managing the event, such as a wedding planner.” 

 

Couples across the UK remain hopeful that these restrictions will be lifted, and the need to complete a risk assessment made redundant, on 19th July, which is the date the Prime Minister is working towards for an end to all COVID restrictions. 

 

How soon do I need to complete a risk assessment for my wedding? 

The form needs to be completed in good time before the event, and retained for at least 28 days after it. 

It is advisable to conduct the risk assessment as early as possible to allow plenty of time to implement any safety measures necessary to ensure compliance with the restrictions currently in place. 

 

I’m having my wedding at home. Will I still need a risk assessment? 

Yes – if more than 30 people will be in attendance, you will still need to complete a risk assessment for a wedding held on private land. 

 

What is allowed at my wedding? 

  • Unlimited number of guests, as long as the venue can allow for social distancing measures and be made COVID-compliant before the big day 
  • Live bands and musical entertainment, with a group of up to six performers allowed indoors, and up to 30 performers allowed outdoors 
  • The first dance 
  • Speeches (preferably taking place outdoors or in a well ventilated room, with the use of a PA to mitigate the need for raised voices) 
  • Cutting the cake 
  • Guest books and games, but with minimal contact and hand sanitiser made readily available 
  • Stand-up drinks receptions on private land, provided they are socially distanced 

 

What is not allowed at my wedding? 

  • Indoor dancefloors 
  • Stand-up drinks receptions at indoor and outdoor hospitality venues 

The Government has also indicated that some activities are advised against, including: 

  • Dancing indoors and outdoors 
  • Communal singing, including hymns, indoors 
  • Reusable service booklets and devotional material 
  • Cash donations (online giving should be encouraged instead) 
  • More than six guests to a table 

Mask wearing is also mandatory for guests during the ceremony and reception, except when eating and drinking. Newlyweds should also wear a mask, but may remove it whilst the ceremony is being conducted. 

 

Nick Cassidy – Criminal Defence Case - Success Story

Providing Expert Criminal Defence – DRN’s Recent Success

This entry was posted in Crime, News, Recent Case on by .

Our experienced criminal defence solicitor, Nick Cassidy, working together with Philip Holden of Lincoln House Chambers, has successfully defended a client in relation to an alleged joint enterprise to steal motor vehicles across the UK. 

The case was said to involve the sourcing, theft, and then transportation of motor vehicles across the country. 

Following negotiations with the Crown Prosecution Service, it was accepted that identification was a real issue, and ultimately no evidence was offered before trial. 

DRN Director, David Lawson, stated: “Identification is an issue in every case. The Crown Prosecution Service will consider submissions on the weakness of a case and it is therefore vital you have a proactive defence. 

“Myself, Nick, and the rest of the team are experienced in evaluating a case and making the necessary representations on your behalf.” 

Robust criminal defence for clients across Lancashire 

With several years of experience in building a strong defence for a range of criminal cases in Magistrates’ and Crown Court trials, our team of highly dedicated and experienced solicitors are committed to providing the best possible legal support and representation. 

For more information on our criminal defence services, please contact our offices on 01282 433241.

Developers win naming battle for Barnoldswick’s new masonic hall and homes

This entry was posted in Community, News, Property on by .

The team here at DRN have recently been involved in an unexpected legal battle between the builders of Barnoldswick’s new masonic hall and seven-home development and the local town council over what to name the site. 

The development, which originated as a vicarage and later became a doctors surgery and, finally, a masonic hall, before it was demolished last year to make way for the upgrade, sits off Skipton Road and is still currently under construction. 

 

When developers announced the intended name of ‘Kirklands’ (church lands) for the site, after the original name of the building when it was bought by the three masonic lodges in 1963, some Barnoldswick councillors indicated their disagreement, preferring instead to name the site after the Reverend Richard Milner, who was Barnoldswick’s vicar from 1836 until his death in 1870, and who lived in the old vicarage that originally sat on the site. 

The suggestion was met with opposition from developers when it was pointed out that the reverend shared his name with former Barnoldswick councillor, Richard Milner, who was convicted of fraud in 2016. 

 

Having spent ten long months fighting Pendle Council and local town and ward councillors, the team at Platt Developments were delighted to have won the battle at Burnley Magistrates Court on 22nd April, with the aid of DRN Solicitors. 

 

Andrew Platt, director of Platt Developments, said: “The new development, now called Kirklands, has transformed the previous old masonic hall, which over many years had become dishevelled and virtually unusable, with surrounding grounds and walls overgrown  and in disrepair, making it unsightly and an eyesore to the surrounding area. 

“The building of a completely new masonic hall, with seven new dwellings for local people now underway, has not only greatly enhanced the area but will allow the three masonic lodges to continue with the exceptional charity work they strive to achieve.” 

Mr Platt told The Craven Herald that the dispute had caused lengthy delays to the project and brought about extensive additional expense, not only to the developers but also to the council, which he expects will also have incurred substantial costs. 

“In the current climate, this seems to have been totally unnecessary and council funds could have been spent elsewhere in the town,” Mr Platt commented. 

 

DRN Director David Lawson, who acted on behalf of Platts Developments, said: “Hopefully in the future, if there is another case over the naming of a new development, the ward councillors will take into consideration the developers and their views before trying to impose unsuitable names. 

“This has been the most ludicrous case I have been involved in, but the outcome was successful and correct.” 

Mr Platt added: “I would like to thank everyone who has expressed and shown support over the past ten months. This, on top of everything else that has happened over the past year or more with the pandemic, has caused a great deal of stress and upset, but thanks to the support of Barnoldswick people, we have made it through and feel stronger after the court made the right decision.” 

 

 

 

Making a Claim Against the Police

This entry was posted in Actions Against Police, For you on by .

Claims against the police can arise for a number of reasons. At DRN, our solicitors have extensive experience in submitting successful claims against the police and other authorities for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, assault, malicious prosecution, trespass, and other unlawful actions and behaviours. 

 

What is unlawful arrest? 

As a key part of their duty, the police should only use their power of arrest if absolutely necessary, and should always consider the legal grounds for arrest before arresting and detaining someone. 

Unlawful arrest is the term used when an arrest is made without legal grounds, for example, when the situation could have been resolved by other means, such as with a voluntary interview. 

 

What is false imprisonment? 

If you have been unlawfully arrested, then your time spent in police custody will be considered false imprisonment. Claims for false imprisonment can be made following an unlawful arrest, a case of mistaken identity, or in any case where a warrant for arrest has expired. 

The police also have a duty to ensure you are not detained for longer than is necessary. Claims against the police may be made if your detention has not been properly reviewed. 

 

What is police assault? 

Whilst the police do have the authority to use physical force in some circumstances, it is their duty to pursue this route only when it is considered reasonable and can be justified. In addition, the level of force used by the police must be proportionate. 

If physical force is used against you without it being necessary, or to such a degree that it causes injury or physical harm, a claim against the police for assault or battery may be made. 

 

What is malicious prosecution? 

Police authorities, along with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), must act with integrity at all times. 

If you believe a prosecution has been carried out against you based upon spite, or is lacking reasonable or probable cause, you may be able to make a claim for malicious prosecution. 

Malicious prosecution claims can only be made in cases where the prosecution has ended in your favour, i.e. in an acquittal, or with the charges against you being withdrawn. 

In a malicious prosecution claim, you may be entitled to receive compensation for damage to your reputation, or loss of employment and earnings. 

 

Claiming against other authorities 

At DRN, our civil and criminal litigation teams are experts in making successful claims against the Police and other authorities, including Her Majesty’s Prison Service, as a consequence of injury or other unlawful act. 

Recognising that many of our clients who are pursuing a claim against the authorities have endured a traumatic experience, the solicitors who handle such claims here at DRN are committed to helping you seek justice, with sensitivity, sympathy and understanding being core values that are consistently upheld. 

 

To speak privately with a member of our team, please contact our offices on 01282 433241. 

Header Image - COVID019 Vaccine

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs – Who is eligible, and what are the side effects?

This entry was posted in For you, News on by .

Following extensive research and testing, there is now a COVID-19 vaccine available in the UK. Having been shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials, the vaccine is currently being rolled out across the country. 

The vaccine requires two doses – the first to provide initial protection, and the second to act as a booster. 

With vaccinations for the novel Coronavirus now being distributed, we’ve compiled a list of the frequently asked questions surrounding the roll-out plan, who is eligible, and what some of the expected side effects might be. 

 

Why should I be vaccinated against COVID-19? 

The COVID-19 virus can cause serious illness, which may lead to long-term health complications, particularly in older people or those with underlying clinical risk factors and conditions. 

Unfortunately, being healthy does not reduce your risk of catching the virus, or of passing it on. You can catch COVID-19 and not experience any symptoms, but then pass it on to friends, family and co-workers who are at an increased risk of falling seriously ill. 

With the rate of transmission still climbing, it’s important that we each do what we can to help with stopping the spread of the virus. The COVID-19 vaccine offers a barrier to transmission, and is our best hope of having things return to normal. 

 

How is COVID-19 spread? 

COVID-19 is a droplet-borne virus, meaning that it is spread via droplets breathed out of the nose or mouth of an infected person, particularly when speaking, coughing or sneezing. 

Wearing a mask when out in public, such as whilst travelling to your workplace if you are unable to work from home, or when shopping for essential items, will reduce the risk of you contracting the virus from an infected person, or spreading the virus should you yourself be infected and not be experiencing any symptoms. 

The virus can also be transmitted if you come into contact with a contaminated object or surface. 

 

If you experience symptoms of COVID-19, such as a persistent cough, difficulty breathing, or a lack of taste or smell, you should endeavour to stay at home until you have had the opportunity to be tested. If you test positive for the virus, you must self-isolate for a period of 14 days. 

Is the vaccine for COVID-19 safe? Should I be concerned about getting vaccinated? 

The COVID-19 vaccine has undergone extensive testing here in the UK and has been shown to be effective. During the testing period, no safety concerns have arisen in any study. 

 

Will the vaccine protect me against COVID-19? 

Being vaccinated will reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 and suffering with the virus. However, no vaccine is 100% effective, and as with all vaccines, it will take a few weeks for your body to build immunity and protection against the virus, so it’s important that you continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines, and other restrictions that have been put into place. 

After being vaccinated, there will still be a small chance that you could contract the virus, but the vaccine should lessen the severity of the symptoms should you become infected. 

 

Can I still catch and transmit the COVID-19 virus after being vaccinated? 

Yes. No vaccine is 100% effective, so there is still a small chance that you might contract the virus, although symptoms should be less severe if you have been vaccinated. 

As there is still a chance for you to catch COVID-19 after vaccination, there is also a chance that you could then pass on the virus to someone else, therefore it is important that you continue to maintain social distance and wear a mask when out in public, and continue to wash your hands thoroughly and more often throughout the day. 

 

Could the vaccine give me COVID-19?  

No, the COVID-19 vaccine cannot infect you with the virus. However, being vaccinated does not offer complete immunity. A full course (of two doses) will reduce the chances of you catching the virus, or of becoming seriously ill should you catch it. 

 

I’m a frontline key worker. Will receiving the vaccine help me to protect those I care for? 

In short, yes. Most vaccines reduce the overall risk of infection, meaning those on the frontline are less likely to contract the virus, and therefore less likely to pass it on to anyone they are caring for. 

 

Why do I have to wait for my vaccine? 

The vaccine is currently being distributed across the UK, with the priority placed on those who are most likely to suffer serious ill health or medical complications should they become infected. 

The first group of people to receive the vaccine will be those living in a care home, and those working as a frontline healthcare worker or social care worker, who are more likely to be exposed to the virus on a regular basis. 

The vaccine will then be rolled out following a distribution plan which categorises people by age group. 

 

Who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine? 

If you’re a frontline worker in the NHS, or a key worker in the private health sector, you are more likely to be exposed to the virus whilst at work. Healthcare workers and those working in social care, particularly in care homes, are at a much higher risk of repeated exposure to the virus. That’s why key workers are amongst those being prioritised for receiving the vaccine. 

 

After the first round of vaccines has been delivered to the priority group, the vaccine will then be rolled out to other groups according to the following order: 

  • Those aged over 80 years 
  • Those aged over 75 years 
  • Those aged over 70 years 
  • Adults on the NHS shielded patients list 
  • Those aged over 65 years 
  • Adults aged under 65 years with long-term health conditions, including: 

–   A blood cancer, such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma

–   Diabetes 

–   Dementia 

–   A heart condition 

–   A chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis,              emphysema, or severe asthma

–   A kidney or liver disease 

–   Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment, such as HIV infection, steroid medication, chemotherapy or radiotherapy 

–   Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or psoriasis 

–   Organ transplant patients 

–   Stroke sufferers  

–   A neurological or muscle-wasting condition 

–   A severe or profound learning difficulty 

At the same time, adult who provide regular care for an elderly or disabled person, and younger adults in long-stay nursing or residential care settings, will also receive the vaccine. 

Anyone in a group not listed above will be required to wait for their vaccine until more supplies become available.

 

Can I still be vaccinated if I’m pregnant? 

As with all new vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine has not yet been tested in pregnant women, therefore it is advised that pregnant women should wait until their pregnancy is completed before they receive the vaccine. 

If you find out that you are pregnant after you have had the vaccine, don’t panic. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain organisms that multiply in the body, therefore it cannot cause COVID-19 infection in your unborn baby. 

 

How long does it take to build up immunity after vaccination? 

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. This means that it is possible for a person to become infected with COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still fall ill.

Even after your body has had time to respond to the vaccine, no vaccine is 100% effective, so you should continue to follow all guidance and restrictions in your local area as closely as possible. 

 

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine? 

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects, however it’s important to remember that most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone will experience them. 

Very common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine include: 

  • Having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm you received your injection. This pain tends to be at its worst around 1-2 days after vaccination. 
  • Feeling tired 
  • Suffering with headaches 
  • Suffering with general aches and pains, or mild flu-like symptoms 

You might also feel feverish for the first few days after receiving your vaccine. However, should your fever be prolonged beyond this period, it may be an indication that you have contracted the virus or another infection. 

You may take paracetamol in order to alleviate any of these side effects, not exceeding the advised dosage, and you should try to rest as much as possible. 

 

These symptoms normally last less than a week, however if you grow concerned over any side effects you are experiencing, or if they appear to worsen, you should seek medical advice by contacting NHS 111. 

 

 

Can I return to work after being vaccinated, or will I need to isolate? 

You should be able to return to work as long as you feel well, although current guidance advises anyone who can work from home to do so.  

If your arm is particularly sore after you have received your injection, you may find heavy lifting to be difficult, so it’s important to keep this in mind if you are required to lift heavy objects at work. 

You should rest and avoid operating machinery or driving a vehicle if you feel unwell, or if you are fatigued. 

 

What should I do after I’ve been vaccinated? 

After you have received your COVID-19 vaccination, you should plan to attend your second appointment to receive the booster injection, which should be between 3 and 12 weeks from the date of your first. 

It is important that you receive both doses of the same vaccine, as this will offer you the best protection against the virus. 

 

Be sure to keep your vaccine record card safe, and try to keep your follow-up appointment to receive your second dose

 

If you are unwell when the time comes for you to receive your second dose, it’s better to wait until you have recovered from your illness. You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you are self-isolating, exhibiting symptoms, or waiting for a COVID-19 test. You should make arrangements to receive your vaccine as soon as possible once you have recovered from your illness.

 

I’ve already had a flu jab – do I still need to have a COVID-19 vaccine? 

Yes. The flu vaccine will not protect you from COVID-19. As you are eligible for both vaccines, you should have them both, but you should try to arrange your appointments so that there is at least one week separating the two vaccination dates. 

 

When will things get back to normal? 

Unfortunately, it is still unknown when things might return to normal. However, having the vaccine approved and rolled out across the country is a huge step in the right direction. 

In the meantime, it’s important that we each do everything in our power to help stop the spread and prevent our NHS from facing additional pressures. Be sure to continue to follow social distancing guidance, only mix with people in your own household or support bubble, wear a mask in public spaces, and wash your hands thoroughly and regularly throughout the day. 

 

Unjumbling the Jargon: Basic Definitions of Some Common Legal Terms (Part 1)

This entry was posted in For you on by .

If you’ve ever been involved with any aspect of the law – from making a contractual agreement, putting together a Will, or filing for divorce, to actioning a claim, handling child matters, or building a strong criminal defence – “legal talk” can often seem like an entirely different language. 

In this two-part blog series, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most commonly used legal terms and offered basic, easy-to-understand definitions for each. 

 

Acquittal 

Used in criminal trials. When the trial ends in a verdict that a person is not guilty of committing the crime for which they’ve been charged. 

An acquittal signifies that the prosecutor failed to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt

Example sentence: “The trial ended in an acquittal.”

 

Absente reo 

Any event which takes place in the absence of the defendant. 

Example sentence: “The testimony was given absente reo.” 

 

Testimony 

A formal written or spoken statement given in a court of law. 

Example sentence: “The judge called for the testimony of the eyewitness.” 

 

Affidavit 

A written statement, confirmed to be true under oath, which can be used as evidence in a court of law. 

Example sentence: “The business owner swore an affidavit in support, setting out her case.” 

 

Appeal 

A request made by the losing party after a trial has concluded to have the case reviewed by a higher court. 

Example sentence: “The claimant filed an appeal following the trial’s end.” 

 

Dispute 

A disagreement, usually between two parties. Disputes may arise following the breakdown of a relationship, or the death of a loved one. They may even arise following a conflict with a friend or neighbour, or in any case where harm has been caused or money lost due to negligence on the part of a professional or tradesperson. 

Example sentence: “The couple opened a dispute with their contractor.”

 

Probate 

The legal process of dealing with the property, finances and possessions of a person who has died. 

Example sentence: “His property was valued for probate.” 

 

Force majeure, or act of God 

A natural hazard outside of human control, such as an earthquake or hurricane, for which no person can be held responsible. 

Example sentence: “The claim was discontinued due to the force majeure clause.” 

 

Ad litem 

Used when a person is appointed to act on behalf of a child or other person who is not considered to be capable of representing themselves in a court of law. 

 

Looking for professional legal advice? 

We work within all aspects of law, and have several years of experience in providing comprehensive legal support. Contact our offices today to find out more about our services. 

Complex Fraud Allegation Reaches Conclusion After Two Years Thanks to DRN Consultant Solicitor, Nick Cassidy

This entry was posted in Crime, News on by .

Nick Cassidy, a consultant solicitor in our Criminal Department, has recently represented a financial professional in relation to a complex fraud allegation involving a nationwide conspiracy.

 

After a lengthy investigation stage lasting almost two years, the Crown Prosecution Service and the police confirmed that there is no further action to be taken against our client. Nick Cassidy explains: “The police investigation stage is the most important part of a case. Despite popular belief, if you can engage with the police and make representations in relation to enquiries and potential lines of enquiries, many officers will be happy to consider all angles and ultimately it may prevent a case from proceeding to court. The case involved alleged offenders making fraudulent commission claims in a complex and organised scheme. I am delighted that we secured confirmation the case is now concluded and our client has peace of mind.”

 

At DRN, police station attendances are covered under our firm’s contract with the Legal Aid Agency, however more complex attendances can be covered on a private fee paying basis. If you are a professional facing a police or regulatory investigation, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team at DRN and we will be happy to discuss your needs.

 

Nick Cassidy has been a solicitor for over 15 years, still consults for DRN Solicitors and is a qualified financial adviser. You can contact Nick or a member of the Criminal Department by emailing nc@drnlaw.co.uk.

 

COVID-19 – The UK’s Second Lockdown – Updated Restrictions

This entry was posted in For you, News on by .

In response to the continual rise in cases across the country, the UK has once again been placed under a national lockdown. 

After a brief period during which a tiered system was trialled, the new lockdown came into effect on Thursday 5th November at 12.01am, and is planned to remain in place until Wednesday 2nd December, when it will once again be reviewed by the Government. 

As with the first lockdown, pubs, restaurants and shops selling non-essential items have been forced to close, with the key message to the public being to stay at home as much as possible, and to work from home if you can. 

 

What will happen after 2nd December? 

The situation with active cases will be reviewed by the Government on 2nd December, after which date it is said that different parts of the country will return to adopt the previous tier system in order to plan an exit strategy, dependent upon the rate of infection and the number of active cases with each area. 

 

What are the new restrictions? 

The new lockdown shares similarities with the national lockdown which came into effect back in March 2020, but there are some key differences. 

  • Pubs, bars and restaurants must close, but food takeaways and deliveries are still permitted.
  • All non-essential retail, leisure and entertainment venues must close, including cinemas, theatres, music venues, gyms, leisure centres and shops selling non-essential items.
  • Mixing between households is banned, except for support or childcare reasons. 
  • You may exercise outdoors with one other person from outside your household. 
  • Travel within the UK is discouraged, and outbound international travel is prohibited (except for work purposes). 
  • Everyone is encouraged to stay at home, and should only leave their home to attend an educational institution, to receive medical care, to shop for food or essentials, to exercise, to provide care to others, or to go to work (if working from home is not possible). 
  • Children may also move between the homes of their parents if their parents are separated. 

Whilst some of these restrictions are ones we’re familiar with, unlike in the first lockdown, this time nurseries, schools, colleges and universities will remain open. 

 

Can I meet with my solicitor in lockdown? 

With the second lockdown, the rules have been updated to allow solicitors to meet with their clients within their firm if required, however virtual meetings are encouraged over meetings in person. 

 

Do you require the help of one of our experienced legal professionals? Contact our team today to find out more about our services. 

Travelling in Europe Post-Brexit

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What is Brexit? 

The UK left the European Union on 31st January 2020, and the UK Government have since been in ongoing trade talks with EU member states in order to clarify the terms of the new UK-EU relationship moving forward. This period of negotiation has been referred to as the transition period. 

With the deadline to extend this transition period now having passed, all negotiations will have to be finalised and agreed upon by 31st December 2020 to avoid crashing out without a deal in place. 

Terms which are currently being discussed will impact many areas of life, including import, export and travel between the UK and other European countries. 

So, what will travelling in Europe look like after new Brexit rules come into play on 1st January 2021? 

 

How will Brexit affect my holidays to Europe? 

As outlined on the GOV.UK website, travel to any EU countries, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein is expected to change from 1st January 2021. 

Currently, Brexit is expected to impact several key areas of travel, there are a number of aspects which will need to be taken into consideration before travelling, including: 

  1. Passport
  2. Insurance 
  3. Driving License 
  4. Pet Travel 

 

Do I need to renew my passport before Brexit? 

In order to be eligible to travel after 1st January 2021, you will need to make sure that your British passport has at least 6 months’ validity remaining, and is less than 10 years old. 

You will need to renew your passport if it is more than 10 years old, even if there are 6 months or more before it is due to expire. 

If you do not renew your passport, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. 

Please note: these rules do not currently apply for travel to Ireland, and you can continue to use your passport as long as it’s valid for the length of your stay. 

 

What will my travel insurance need to cover after Brexit? 

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will only be valid up until 31st December 2020, so it’s important to invest in appropriate travel insurance, which covers healthcare while abroad, if you intend to travel to any EU country after this date. 

Whilst the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing medical conditions, many travel insurance policies do not, so it’s imperative for those with pre-existing conditions to do the research and secure travel insurance with the right cover prior to travel. 

 

Will I be able to drive to EU countries after Brexit? 

Whilst you’ll still be able to travel to and between EU countries after Brexit, you may need extra documentation to complete your journey. 

In some countries, an international driving permit (IDP) may be required, and if you’re taking your own vehicle, you might also need a ‘green card’ or valid proof of insurance, and a GB sticker for your vehicle. 

 

Will I still be able to travel with my pet after Brexit? 

You will not be able to use the existing pet passport scheme if you intend to travel to other countries in Europe after 1st January 2021. Instead, you’ll need to follow a different process, which could see your application take up to 4 months to be authorised. 

You can find out more about post-Brexit travel to EU countries with your pet by visiting the Government website

 

How will my experience at Border Control change after Brexit? 

When travelling to EU countries after Brexit, you can expect to see the following changes: 

  • You may be required to show a ticket for return or onward travel 
  • You may be required to show you have enough money for your stay 
  • You may be expected to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queuing 

Will I need a visa to travel to EU countries after Brexit? 

You will not need a visa if you are planning a short trip to an EU country as a tourist, and you will be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa in place. 

Different rules will be applied for travel to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania, and if you choose to visit these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total. 

A visa may be required if your stay is likely to exceed the 90-day limit, or if you intend to travel for work, study or business purposes. 

Information provided by the Government website currently indicates that travel to Ireland will not change after 1st January 2021, and you will also be able to work in Ireland the same way as before. 

 

COVID-19 – What powers do the police have?

This entry was posted in Community, Crime, For you, News on by .

In response to a significant rise in cases across the country, the Government recently announced stricter measures in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

As of Monday 14th September, residents in England were told that it would be against the law to host social gatherings with more than six people present. But how is this law being enforced, and what are the ramifications of breaking this new law? 

 

What powers to the police have if I choose to host a social gathering of more than six people at my home?

Any gathering which involves more than six people in total, be it indoors or outdoors, in a private home or in a public space, is now banned in England. 

Exemptions have been made for workplaces, schools and colleges, and occasions such as weddings or funerals. 

In most areas across England, the mixing of up to six people from multiple households is allowed. However, some areas of the country are now under tighter restrictions due to the rate of infection being especially high. To find out more about local COVID alert levels and whether or not the borough in which you live is currently experiencing a high volume of active COVID cases, you should visit the website of your local council, or use the NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app. 

Whereas initially the rules pertaining to social distancing were issued as non-enforceable Government guidance, this latest move has now seen them pass into law. As a result, police are able to take action if you are involved in breaking the law, and fines may be issued. 

 

How much could I be fined? 

Those who refuse to disperse when instructed by police officers could be issued with a £100 penalty ticket (which is reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days). However, this figure doubles with each additional offence, rising to £3,200 for six or more offences. 

As the organiser of an illegal gathering in England, the fine can reach up to £10,000. 

 

Can the police enforce the rule of face coverings in shops? 

In short, yes. If you are in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland and you refuse to wear a face covering whilst in a shop (without being exempt for medical or other reasons), you could face a fine of up to £100

Although shop staff and security guards have no formal powers to enforce this rule, they may choose to have the dispute resolved by the police, in which case a fine is likely to be issued. 

Face coverings are required in most public spaces across the UK, including in transport hubs such as airports or train stations, in taxis, on public transport, in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres, in theatres, in libraries, in community centres, in places of worship, in conference centres, hotels and visitor attractions such as museums, cinemas or bowling alleys, and at any premises which offer hospitality, including bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes (unless you are sat at a table to eat or drink). 

 

Those who are legally exempt from wearing a face covering include: 

  • Children under the age of 11 
  • People who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • People who may become severely distressed when putting on, wearing or removing a face covering 
  • People who are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear speech or facial expressions in order to communicate 
  • Police officers and other emergency workers, where wearing a face covering would interfere with their ability to serve the public 

 

You may also remove your face covering: 

  • If asked to do so in a bank, building society, or post office, for identification
  • If asked to do so by shop staff or relevant employees for age identification purposes when buying age-restricted items such as alcohol or tobacco 
  • If required in order to receive treatment or services, such as a facial 
  • In order to take medication 

COVID-19 – New ‘Nightingale Courts’ in England and Wales

This entry was posted in Crime, News on by .

The impact of COVID-19 has been felt everywhere – in businesses across all industries, in the private and public sectors, and in UK courts, where the pandemic exacerbated existing delays. Before COVID struck, some 37,000 cases were waiting to be heard in the crown courts, with nearly 400,000 waiting to be heard in magistrates’ courts.

In recent months, officials have reported a significant backlog mounting behind the scenes, with over half of all courts closed during March, when the lockdown was imposed, and jury trials postponed or delayed in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus.

 

In an effort to help clear this backlog, ten new ‘Nightingale Courts’ are set to be built at sites across England and Wales, all of which will feature a medieval chamber and the Ministry of Justice’s headquarters.

With the first court at East Pallant House in Chichester set to hear cases this week, it is reported that all ten sites should be up and running next month, and all will be equipped to hear civil, family, and tribunals work, as well as non-custodial crime cases which involve jury trials.

 

Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland commented that the new Nightingale Courts “will help boost capacity across our courts and tribunals – reducing delays and delivering speedier justice for victims.”

Chair of the Criminal Bar Association Caroline Goodwin QC also commented: “These 10 extra court buildings are a start, but just that. Now let’s get serious and open up 50 more buildings and focus on criminal trials.”

 

Figures released by the Ministry of Justice last month show that magistrates’ courts in the UK faced a backlog of over 480,000 cases at the time of publication, whilst over 41,000 cases had mounted up awaiting hearings at crown courts.

It is anticipated that more public buildings will be transformed into courts as the effort to combat this huge backlog of cases continues. However, Lord Chancellor Buckland also set out measures last week which included extending court opening hours and continuing to see hearing carried out via video call where appropriate.

 

The new Nightingale Court sites are:

  • 102 Petty France, the Ministry of Justice’s London headquarters
  • Knights’ Chamber and Visitor Centre, Bishop’s Palace, Peterborough Cathedral
  • Former County Court in Telford, Shropshire
  • Hertfordshire Development Centre, Stevenage
  • Swansea Council Chambers, Swansea
  • Cloth Hall Court, Leeds
  • Middlesbrough Town Hall, Teesside
  • East Pallant House, home of Chichester District Council in Sussex
  • Prospero House, London
  • Former Magistrates’ Court in Fleetwood, Lancashire

 

 Looking for expert legal representation? At DRN, our solicitors have years of experience in handling civil and criminal litigation matters, and are committed to achieving the best results for every client. For sound, reliable legal advice, contact the team today on 01282 433241.

 

 

Confidentiality during the COVID-19 Pandemic

This entry was posted in Business Law, Employment Law, For Business, For you on by .

With many businesses forced to shut up shop and adapt their operations to allow for homeworking, there have been a number of concerns surrounding how businesses might manage sensitive client data and ensure confidentiality is maintained outside of the traditional work environment.

With these concerns in mind and lockdown restrictions still currently in place for an unknown length of time, it’s important for businesses to review the way that sensitive data is being managed within their teams, particularly if some (or all) members of staff are working from home.

 

Look into the technology you’re using

Whilst the current crisis presents some difficulties, we are fortunate in this digital age to have the technologies readily available which enable us all to stay connected. With so many different communicative online platforms available, it may be that each of your team members has a preference for one platform over another.

It’s important to note that each different messaging, email, video calling and screen sharing platform will have varying security and encryption features in place. As such, it’s safer if all team members use the same platform when exchanging or discussing sensitive information with colleagues and management, and it should be a platform that features end-to-end encryption if possible.

  

Set high standards for your team

You should try to encourage your team to consider aspects of confidentiality on a regular basis and act accordingly so that they can stay safe online.

You might like to consider putting an authentication process in place for all devices that are used to access your company systems, such as 2FA (two factor authentication).

 

Impose safeguarding procedures

When it comes to safeguarding confidential information whilst staff are working outside of the office, there are several systematic settings you might wish to implement:

 

  • An automated lock-out

This setting is usually something that can be put into place by IT staff fairly easily, and it will ensure that a device or system is automatically locked after a set period of inactivity.

 

  • Make your email more secure

For certain emails containing sensitive data, you might like to consider using password protection/encryption. This will involve the receiver having to input a password in order to access the email once it has landed in their inbox. You should be careful to send any password details to the receiver via another platform, such as WhatsApp.

 

  • Keep your firewall and antivirus up to date

Keeping on top of your antivirus software updates is essential in everyday practice, but particularly so when working from home. Ensure your team has all of the necessary firewalls and antivirus programmes activated to prevent devices or sensitive accounts from being hacked or damaged.

 

  • Encrypt all devices

It’s worth noting that devices being used outside of the office are more likely to be lost or stolen. For this reason, you might consider encrypting all devices which are currently being used by remote workers. This will prevent access to the device, and any sensitive information held on the device, should it land into the wrong hands.

 

Stay safe, stay secure

The above information outlines basic measures that can be put into place, many of them remotely, in order to keep your device and any sensitive or confidential data or information safe.

The best practices to adopt will be dependent upon your specific company services and circumstances. For further advice on your legal responsibility for client data protection, please contact a member of our team on 01282 433241.

 

COVID-19 – Avoiding Scams during Lockdown

This entry was posted in Crime, For you, News on by .

Whilst the Coronavirus lockdown has seen many people band together, showing community spirit by helping elderly neighbours with shopping and essentials, displaying rainbows in their windows and taking part in the weekly #ClapForNHS, sadly this cannot be said for everyone. Some are using this time to exploit anxieties, gaining access to personal information which can then be used in a scam for money or valuables.

 

What should I look out for?  

Whilst technology is currently helping us to stay connected to our loved ones and relieve the negative impact of social distancing, it has also provided criminals with countless new channels via which scams might take place.

 

Video calling

Many are using online networking platforms such as Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts in order to stay connected with friends and family.

If you receive a link to a video chat, it’s a good idea to check with the person who has sent the link that it is legitimate. If you don’t recognise the person the link has come from, delete the email or block their messages (if they’re making contact via social media channels or text messaging).

 

Phishing

Phishing is a common method which many scammers use in order to gain access to your personal information, and there are many who are taking advantage of current circumstances in order to appeal to people’s better nature.

Phishing scammers will often pose as legitimate companies and will send prompts via email or text message to either contact a specified number to provide your personal details, or click a link in order to verify, update or reactivate an account which contains sensitive information.

Recently, there have been reports of phishing emails coming from sources posing as official government organisations, offering various financial aids including:

  • Tax refunds
  • A sum of money for NHS workers
  • Free meals for school children, provided by the Department of Education

Some have also made attempts to issue fines to people for leaving their homes, some of which have equated to £250 or more. Other scammers have been appealing for PPE (personal protective equipment), urging people to donate what they can in order to combat the shortage of PPE and supply additional equipment to our key workers. Whilst some companies are currently operating a legitimate fundraising campaign for this purpose, not all are genuine, so it’s always best to double check. If you would like to help, but are worried that the links you have been provided with may not be secure, you can always donate directly to the NHS Charities COVID-19 Appeal by visiting their fundraising website.

If you receive a text message or email prompting you to supply personal details in order to receive certain aids, the best thing to do is to verify the contact information of the government agency the message has come from (you can normally find their information online). You might then wish to contact the agency using the verified number in order to report the fraudulent messages you have received and also to clarify whether or not they are actually running any financial support programmes which you can apply to.

 

Computer software hacking

Hackers have been known to launch apps that claim to sell PPE or to find people in your area who have contracted Coronavirus.

Downloading these apps can cause damage to your computer, phone or tablet, and may also offer a hacker access to your personal information.

There are no apps currently known to legitimately offer these services. If you wish to find out more information about the spread of COVID-19, please visit the Government website or use another reputable source of information.

 

Top Tips for Avoiding Scams

The main thing you should always remember is that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!

  • If you receive a message from a seemingly legitimate company, such as an insurance provider, a pension provider or a government organisation, be sure to visit their official website in order to verify their contact details. You can then use those details to contact the company if you wish, but don’t click on any links that are sent to you via text message or email unless you are absolutely certain they’re legitimate.
  • If a company has made contact with you via phone call, avoid providing any personal details, including bank account information or policy numbers, until the person on the end of the line is able to provide verification that they are who they say they are. Be sure to check the credentials of the company that’s calling you, and never feel pressured into making agreements over the phone.

 

DRN Solicitors offer expert legal advice and representation in a range of areas, including Commercial and Civil Litigation, Family Law, Employment Law, Criminal Defence, Wills and Probate, Corporate Law, and Properties and Conveyancing. With a team of highly qualified and experienced lawyers who are specialists in their respective fields, clients have been trusting us to achieve the best possible outcome for them since 1924.

Looking for legal advice or representation? Get in touch with the team today.

33% Discount on Standard Wills for NHS Staff and Emergency Response Workers

This entry was posted in For you, News, Wills and Probate on by .

DRN Solicitors have announced a 33% reduction in the price of drafting a basic single Will or basic mirror Will for staff of the NHS and all emergency response workers, including those in the police force and fire brigade, and emergency helicopter medics.

“Our emergency response staff, and the NHS nurses, doctors and administrative staff, are all working incredibly hard to help with the battle against the coronavirus pandemic,” says DRN partner, David Lawson. “This is our way of showing our appreciation to these incredible people who are putting their lives on the line every day for our protection.”

Whilst the DRN offices in Burnley, Ramsbottom and Colne are accessible on a restricted, by-appointment-only basis, the staff are contactable via email and telephone, and will also be able to provide aid with drafting a new basic Will, or making amendments to an existing Will, via online social platforms such as Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime and Google Hangouts.

“If you don’t already have a Will in place, now is definitely a good time to start thinking about it. Whilst it can be quite a daunting task, it’s probably one of the most important tasks you’ll complete in your lifetime, and having a Will in place is the only way to guarantee that your wishes are carried out after you’re gone.”

 

Contact DRN on 01282 433241 for more information about this incredible offer, and get the ball rolling with drafting your Will today.

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