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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was first published in the New Yorker in 1939. It tells the story of a nondescript individual who fantasises about being, variously, a US Navy pilot, a brilliant surgeon, an assassin, a Royal Air Force pilot on a suicide mission and, finally, facing a firing squad. The literary character was a largely harmless daydreamer living in an imaginary world, and has entered modern parlance as a more sinister character who attempts to mislead others into pretending he is someone else.

The law has traditionally not sought to criminalise fantasists or eccentrics unless they do so for fraudulent reasons, or their conduct causes harm. Hence one of the most famous impostors in recent history, Frank Abagnale, was imprisoned for fraud offences after posing variously as an airline pilot, a physician, US government agent and a lawyer.

The House of Commons Defence Committee has recently published a Report entitled Exposing Walter Mitty: The Awards for Valour (Protection) Bill The Bill, “to prohibit the wearing or public display, by a person not entitled to do so, of medals or insignia awarded for valour, with the intent to deceive” was initially introduced as a Private Members Bill, which seeks to restore protections into law by attaching criminal sanctions.  Continue reading

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When Elizabeth Truss took her oath of office to become Lord Chancellor she swore that ” I,  Elizabeth Truss, do swear that in the office of Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain I will respect the rule of law, defend the independence of the judiciary and discharge my duty to ensure the provision of resources for the efficient and effective support of the courts for which I am responsible.  So help me God.”

The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 substantially changed the office of Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor is no longer the head of the judiciary or speaker of the House of Lords, and since 2007 the office has been combined with that of Secretary of State for Justice.

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As the debate around Brexit rages, and the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments from both sides on whether the decision to trigger article 50 is for Parliament or the Prime Minister, the comments on detail progress.  Recent weeks have seen two of the UK’s leading prosecutors appearing before select committees to comment on the potential effect of Brexit on their departments, along with the government committing to information sharing. Continue reading

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The Criminal Finances Bill (CFB) was published on 13 October 2016. The CFB  contains four parts: part one amending and updating the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), part two making similar updates to terrorist finance legislation, part three creating two new offences of failure to prevent tax evasion, and part four covering some ancillary matters. Although the CFB offers one innovative measure, expanding the range of failure to prevent offences (although not in respect of financial crime), many of the proposed measures seem unnecessary. Continue reading

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Those of you who do not read the popular press or have been stuck on a desert island for the past few years will not know Pippa Middleton. Ms Middleton is the younger sister of Catherine ( Kate) Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge and wife to the future heir to the throne of the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and Head of the Commonwealth. I digress.

In 2016 Pippa Middleton’s phone was hacked and The Sun newspaper was good enough to report the fact that it had been approached by the hacker who claimed to have obtained over 3000 images from Ms Middleton’s account for which he was asking for the tidy sum of £50,000.  An alleged hacker has been arrested but the criminal justice system has taken its usual approach to such matters which means that evidence must be obtained and reviewed in the context of the Code for Crown Prosecutor’s before a decision is made upon whether to charge the relevant person or persons for the theft of the data. The application of the evidential and public interest tests, obviously, takes time. Continue reading

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The Beautiful game

The past week has seen the slow release of numerous allegations of improper conduct in football, which has resulted in sackings, calls for further investigation and the resignation of the England Manager, Sam Allardyce after one game in charge in what he described as “an error of judgement on my behalf“.

Although the various allegations, all of which remain unproven, have been described as “shocking” or with similar adjectives in various media sources, there appears to be far less surprise among those who follow football. Continue reading

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On the 15th September 2016, HM Treasury published a Consultation on the Fourth Money Laundering Directive, inviting views and evidence to inform government on the transposition of the directive into UK law.

Relevant businesses and individuals in the UK are currently subject to the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (3MLD) which seeks to mitigate the risks of money laundering and terrorist finance. The 2007 regulations apply to the conduct of business and transactional work in the UK, affecting credit and financial institutions, auditors and accountants, legal professionals, estate agents, high value dealers and casinos. The regulations require a number of measures relating to due diligence, monitoring, verification, registration, record keeping and employee training. The regulations are superintended by various regulatory bodies and subject to criminal sanctions. For more information see Practice note, Money laundering: offences under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007. Continue reading

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The 2016 Global Slavery Index estimates that 45.8 million people are subject to some form of modern slavery in the world today. The Index presents a ranking of 167 countries based on the proportion of the population that is estimated to be in modern slavery. http://www.globalslaveryindex.org/findings/

Those countries with the highest absolute numbers of people in modern slavery are India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan. 58% of those living in slavery do so in those five countries. Practitioners will be alert to the fact that several of these countries provide the low-cost labour that produces consumer goods for markets in Western Europe, Japan, North America and Australia. For more see Note for the board on offences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015  Continue reading

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The limits of Law

The eighth in the series of Thomson Reuters Legal Debates took place on  1 September at the Canary Wharf Auditorium with the motion under debate being whether the judiciary, not just parliament, must address breached election promises. The Rt Hon David Lammy MP and Robert Palmer, Barrister, Monckton Chambers argued for the motion which was opposed by Guardian Journalist, Polly Toynbee and Dan Neidle, a Partner at Clifford Chance who made it very clear from the outset that he was speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of Clifford Chance. Chaired by Reuters Editor at Large, Axel Threlfall, the debate was a lively investigation on the limits of law in the context of election promises. Continue reading