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Ngel Morris-Cotterill's blog from www.countermoneylaundering.com

It's been going on for weeks, the deluge of spam about personal protective equipment of one sort of another. But this one is special.

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English barrister Abigail Holt explains important changes in what used to be called "affidavits" and are now termed "statements of truth." The changes appear in a practice direction published 6 April 2020. Holt also looks at some of the practical problems that arise when taking statements from those for whom English is not a first or even second language.

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The following notice has been published by the Royal Courts of Justice Criminal Appeals Office

15 April 2020

And yes, the typos are in the original notice as is the mysterious absence of the "s" in Criminal Appeals - probably deliberate even though it's nonsense.

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Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals service has issued guidelines for witnesses who, because of CoVid-19, give evidence from a remote location. They will be expected to have regard to the same duty to tell the truth as if they were in a witness box in a courtroom.

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It's 5:30 pm on a Friday. You want to go to the pub. Your boss sticks his head over the top of your cubicle "Big client; important matter, urgent - can you handle it?"

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The headline may be intemperate but the point should not be easily overlooked. The English Common Law has something that codified legal systems, such as those across much of the EU, do not have - flexibility. That is an extraordinary strength that is being eroded in many areas of law. In this case, the point is to solve a problem without codification. Even so, it's odd that, in the specific instance, it's taken so long to come to a consensus - after all, common law is generally common sense. In this case, it's all about cryto-assets and smart contracts in respect of which the UK Jurisdiction Task Force has issued a statement. It's not binding on courts but it's highly persuasive, as Nigel Morris-Cotterill explains.

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The Solicitors Regulation Authority (like the trendy lot they are they don't use the apostrophe that good grammar demands) seems utterly determined to set itself at odds with the profession it regulates. A litany of complaints against its seemingly never-ending list of demands, many of which are costly, is playing out over the requirement that solicitors' practices with a website add a so-called "badge" to their website. The SRA seems to be functioning in a dangerous state of ignorance and arrogance. Solicitors are growling but they are toothless in the face of an autocratic and often incompetent regulator.

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French law, in some circumstances, prevents the transfer of evidence gathered in criminal or administrative (i.e. cases involving the state) cases to investigators or courts overseas.

Advocat Charles Simon of the Paris bar explains why this came about and how it works in practice.

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New professional standards for barristers in England and Wales - are they a reminder of long-established principles or a gag?

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Across the Common Law world, in recent years, there has been a failure in both legislation and more generally to distinguish between "unlawful" and "illegal." In deciding the case known as Miller II, the UK Supreme Court (the successor to the House of Lords' judicial function) has made it very clear: the two terms are different and are not interchangeable.

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Today's news that a prosecution has collapsed and a jury discharged without even considering the evidence because of the lack of credibility of a witness put up as an expert might not be big news - if it wasn't for the fact that the witness is Andrew Ager, a sticky character, a self-described Subject Matter Expert, that the Crown Prosecution Service used as their go-to-guy for anything to do with carbon credits and, sometimes, frauds in other areas, too. Even more startling is the witness' attempts to pervert the course of justice. The CPS is, once more, the subject of much head-shaking for being rubbish. But culpable as they are, the CPS is not the only one against which accusations of ineptitude should be levelled.

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The front page of the website of a solicitor's practice in Bolton in the north of England says "WARNING – SCAM ALERT – We have been advised that Allansons has been cited as the instructed solicitors by Agents purporting to be from ECM Asset Management Limited and in connection with investment equity release. No such company exists and we have been informed this is part of an ongoing investment scam. Allansons has not been instructed by any such company nor been involved in any such scheme." Sadly, the profession's regulator has found, there was malfeasance within the firm. And there is apparently unrelated skulduggery afoot.

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It's a fine point and one which raises hackles on both sides: should a state (which means the taxpayer) fund legal action against the state (which means the taxpayer as represented by elected members) where the action complained of is itself an action against the state (which means society at large)? It's an area where law, emotion and common sense collide and the result is not a pretty sight.

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Australian financial services giant AMP and its solicitors Clayton Utz have "surrendered" in their objections to producing notes of meetings which they claimed were subject to legal professional privilege. ASIC's position is simple: it has wide ranging powers to compel the release of documents and it will accept only a narrow and strict definition of legal professional privilege.

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The irony should escape no-one. In order to work towards the development of on-line courts, the UK will play host to delegates and speakers from "over 20 countries." So, video conferencing is expected to work for court proceedings but not for meetings, then?

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