Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Whoops, Are We Prosecuting?

I received a telephone call today whilst I was sat in my office. The person on the end of the telephone said that they had a bit of a problem as they were phoning from a London Borough's legal department:

Him: Are you dealing with Mr. Blogg's case.
Me: Yes, why do you ask?
Him: I have had a telephone call from the Crown Court and they have listed a case which they say we are prosecuting. The problem I have is that both of our solicitors are away today and we know nothing about this case.
Me: It is a benefit fraud prosecution.
Him: Do you have a file?
Me: Yes, hold on I will check. [I go a get my file] Ah, the case is a joint prosecution between you and the Department for Work and Pensions. It was the DWP who issued the summons so I guess they are dealing with the prosecution.
Him: Yes, that must be right. That could have been a bit embarrassing with the case being called on with no Counsel.
Me: Yes.
Him: Oh well, thanks for your help. Remember not to mention this conversation to anyone.
Me: Sorry... [phone is hung up].

I am not quite sure why the man was so embarrassed. Last year I had several cases where some of my Client's were committed to the Crown Court to be sentenced in cases brought by both the Department for Work and Pensions and London Boroughs in respect of benefit frauds and Counsel for the prosecution did not turn up, or turned up with no papers and no idea what was going on. It is a sad fact that incidents like this are usually accepted as being accepted problems.

I shall wait and see if Counsel from the Department for Work and Pensions turns up tomorrow prepared for the hearing.

7 comments:

Gavin said...

No surprises today. The Department for Works and Pensions did not turn up to prosecute the case.

World Weary Detective said...

It never ceases to amaze me how much time and money is wasted in the court system due to easily avoidable errors. Barristers, through no fault of their own, are sent to deal with a particular case with very little, if any, time to prepare. The presentation is half-baked at best, and adjournments are used. Quick phone calls and good case management by the prosecuting agency would easily save the state thousands and thousands of pounds.

Gavin said...

So true.

Katy Newton said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
A barrister said...

I am often given extra cases to I have occasionally been asked to defend someone at court as well, but not nearly as often. I think that the CPS tend not to be as careful with briefing as defence solicitors because they know that they will have someone prosecuting in every courtroom in any given Crown Court, and so they will always have someone that they can collar and ask to pick up another case. We get used to picking things up very quickly, but it isn't exactly confidence-inspiring for the officer in the case or lay client to have to bring a complete stranger up to speed.

Gavin said...

It should be amazing that a case can go unrepresented at the Crown Court - but we all accept it and most of the time we are used to dealing with it too!

Anonymous said...

What is it we brits say " we have th finest legal system IN THE WORLD" mmm how we boast, maybe we should hang our heads in shame an admit our faults. then maybe we can work to get things right.