Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? Early Neutral Evaluation

This is aimed at all Parties engaged in litigation but more particularly, Help4LiPs, Litigants in person. Why?

I hear of too many stories where litigants in person have had complete mental breakdowns and worse, suicide, faced with a long uphill journey to have their cases heard and crippled by a complex system of steps to be taken to get to trial, which is in itself combative and contentious by its very nature.

Legal practitioners, academics, and the judiciary should be doing all that we can to help volatile and vulnerable people in their endeavours for justice and if there is a short-cut to a long and arduous court timetable, and lengthy trial, then it should not only be explored, but it should be pro-actively encouraged. I have never heard a Judge so far suggest, or indeed an opponent take up my suggestion for an early neutral evaluation, outside of mediation or arbitration, or general talk of settlement negotiations.

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I have been left out of a will, and it`s not fair. What can I do?

Options after being left out of a will

In these current dark days of the unknown when the cupboard is bare, and money is non-existent, people look to their friends and family for help financially.

‘I loved my father very much. He left me nothing in his will. He wouldn’t have done that to his own flesh and blood’.

No one gives you the will when you ask, out of embarrassment. Or was it really the case that you were left something, but they are withholding it from you?

The unknown creates all sorts of paranoia in all of us.

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The cost of fraud

In the lights of recent events in the HBOS Reading case, H4L presents this article on “The cost of fraud” by David Rosen

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, (‘The ACFE’), based in Texas, USA, published their bi-annual report early last year, which is a Report to the Nations in occupational fraud and abuse: The 2016 Global Study.

What is occupational fraud?

Occupational fraud is fraud that occurs in and around the workplace. It is the use of one’s occupation ‘…for personal enrichment through the deliberate misuse or application of the organisation’s resources or assets’, as defined by the ACFE.

What is fraud?

There is no precise definition. Fraud is generally considered to be wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.

The Fraud Act 2006 does not so much define ‘fraud’, but rather clarifies that if you intend to take or omit to take action with a view to causing a gain or a loss, that will be fraud. This is different from previous criminal offences of fraud under the Theft Act whereby an actual financial gain or loss actually had to result and so the web to catch those committing fraud or attempting to do so, has been widened.

How is fraud measured?

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Talking too quickly

Having just presented my first lecture of the year in Advocacy at Brunel University to a keen audience, I was delighted to read in the Times this morning, an article by Jonathan Paige entitled ‘Speakers who take their time say much more’.

Professor Uriel Cohen Priva of Brown University, USA, has just published a study in which he has made findings eloquently summarised by Paige ‘…that fast talkers are not as efficient as those with a more ponderous delivery’.

Although the study was limited on the one hand, to everyday telephone conversations analysed, and 40 interviews including the speech of 398 people, some of his observations and findings, give food for thought.

It is all very well to communicate in dolphin-like terms, but does the person you are communicating with, take in what you say?

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Harmonising civil procedure rules with family procedure rules for dispute resolution

‘Tis the season, blah, blah, blah…Peace on earth and goodwill to all men…

When I first started out as a solicitor, raring to do justice, defending the underdog, and protecting the innocent, (the usual), I was struck with a variety of differing rules and regulations dependent upon the jurisdiction of specific courts to deal with various matters. The County Court had the green book. The High Court had the white book.

Lord Justice Wolf, then set in motion the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (‘CPR’), which had, in turn, an impact upon the criminal jurisdictions, namely the Criminal Procedure Rules, and the family courts, the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (‘FPR’). It is natural therefore that the rules and culture would adapt and evolve in time, tailor-made to family law or civil litigation as the case may be. Every so often, one or the other jurisdiction re-considers developments to their respective system as to whether it can be incorporated.

I practice in a number of jurisdictions including the commercial, criminal, family, and children: private law jurisdictions. I am frequently surprised that those solicitors and barristers, who practice specialist subjects in certain jurisdictions, are not aware of the rules of other jurisdictions, and developments of law and case law on certain issues. So often, jurisdictions overlap on issues which can be determined in courts (i.e. fraud in civil and criminal courts; property disputes involving family homes in both civil and family law jurisdictions).

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I purchased a house from someone who is a fraudster and is not the true seller after all. What do I do?

You buy a property. You use solicitors or licensed conveyancers for the intended purchase.

The seller of the property also has solicitors or licensed conveyancers for the intended sale.

You found the property for sale through local estate agents.

You have inspected the property and met with the intended seller.

A price is agreed. Contracts are exchanged. There is no mortgage or any charges on the property.

Completion takes place. Your monies are transferred over to the seller’s solicitor.

You then receive a call from the Land Registry to say that…title cannot be registered because the person purporting to sell the property, is not the actual seller. It is a fraud, and the purported seller is a fraudster. Horror of horrors!

It is a criminal matter, you say.

You contact the Police through Action Fraud and receive a crime reference number thinking this can be dealt within hours of being reported.

You do not hear from Action Fraud for weeks if not months because…they are over-burdened with notices of fraud, they have insufficient funding, and insufficient people and support staff.

You look for a civil court remedy. Who do you blame?

Your lawyer? Their lawyer? The fraudster? Continue reading

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I received a default judgment. What do I do?

A claimant brings a claim. A defendant defends a claim. This subject is time-sensitive. You must act promptly to do something about, it or you may forgo your right to do so through passage of time.

This blogpost is aimed at the uninitiated who have never been involved in the court legal system of England and Wales. It can be a very daunting and frustrating experience if you do not seek legal advice.

I hope that this assists people to understand this procedure. How it starts, how it is avoided, and what to do if you receive a default judgment.

The law and procedure cited in this blogpost are accurate at the time of publication, but are subject to change as the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (‘CPR’), are amended, or case law brings new interpretation to understanding those rules.

  1. What is a court judgment?

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