The labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has come under fire recently following accusations of working for free to defend inmates on death row to escape execution.
The death penalty, which was abolished in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, is a controversial topic which gives rise to fierce debate. However, discussions about the cause of the abolishment of the death penalty in the United Kingdom are not as common.
There is an widespread view that the public changing their opinion over time led to the abolishment of the death penalty. However, polls at the time of the abolishment of the death penalty in the United Kingdom reveal that the British public wanted the death penalty to be retained.
Although results of polls have varied over the years, a recent YouGov poll has revealed that 62% of respondents believe the government were right to make an exception, and to allow two ISIS terrorists to be prosecuted somewhere they may receive the death penalty.
As high profile miscarriages of justice have shown over the years there is always a risk that new evidence can come to light in years to come which cast doubts on the guilt of an accused person.
I suspect there will remain a substantial block of the population who will continue to support the death penalty in the UK going forward. What impact this view will have on politics more widely remains to be seen.
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I have been given an undertaking to appear at court. What does this mean?
You may be asked to agree to an undertaking after you have been charged with a criminal offence. An undertaking allows the police to release you from custody, on the basis that you will appear at court at a later date.
The police will provide you with details of the charges, the court date and any conditions attached to the undertaking.
Undertaking conditions both prevent you from acting in a particular way and require you to do certain things. For example, you will always be required to attend court on the date provided to you. However, you might also be prohibited from entering a particular address or from contacting a certain person. If you do not agree to the conditions, you may not be released on an undertaking. In that case, you could be held in police custody before appearing at court the next lawful day.
The Crown and the defence are expected to address the court on their state of preparation for trial in solemn procedure. If the accused is being prosecuted in the Sheriff Court, this hearing is known as the First Diet. The First Diet is fixed after the indictment is served on the accused. The indictment specifies the charges in which the accused is to face trial. An indictment is served on an accused accompanied by a numbered list of witnesses who may be called by the Crown to give evidence, and a numbered list of productions that may be used. The witness statements and the productions must be disclosed to the defence in advance of the trial diet.
The First Diet must be at least 29 clear days after service of the indictment. Proper service of the indictment is crucial. There are several documents which must be lodged with the court prior to the First Diet. These are the Defence Statement and Joint Written Record. Section 70A of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 requires the defence to lodge a defence statement with the court at least 14 days prior to the First Diet. Section 70A(9) of the 1995 Act lists the matters which should be contained within the defence statement. The joint written record must be lodged with the court at least two days before the First Diet. The Crown and the Defence are required to state their readiness for trial within these documents. This encourages both sides to discuss the case in advance and resolve matters as far as possible prior to the First Diet.
Mediation is a voluntary process where you meet with the otherside and a trained neutral mediator to try and work with them to reach an agreement about the issues that need to be sorted out.
Mediation can be used in many different types of cases but can be particularly useful in complicated disputes or where there are difficult relationships to manage.
The mediator will not tell you what to do but will work with you both to try and get you to reach an agreement. Every mediator is different and will take their own approach to things. They will encourage you to keep an open mind about matters.
It can be helpful because you have more control over what is agreed. You will have a better understanding of where the other side is coming from, if you hear it from them either directly, or via the mediator. Misunderstandings can be cleared up much more quickly.