Login | Register
01/11/2013

Blog: Paucity of evidence

Words:

The past few weeks have been taken up by a sudden rash of prosecutions for breach of various planning controls, in particular a number of Tree Preservation Orders matters, in which I have been mostly instructed for the defence.

And in just about every case the same thing has happened: the manner in which the prosecution have gathered and presented their evidence has completely ignored basic rules of evidence, procedure and well-known case law.  Which results in an easy (and predictable) win for the defence, with prosecutions stayed, defendants discharged and (sometimes) awards of wasted costs against the prosecuting authority.
 
The most astonishing thing about it all was how fundamental some of the mistakes have been:
 
(1) Including witness statements in bundles that were to be put before a tribunal of fact – a classic giveaway that whoever advised on the contents of the bundle does not know criminal evidence and procedure
 
(2) Seeking to rely on evidence of motive, knowledge or intention in a strict liability case – this evidence is inadmissible from the outset
 
(3) Charging defendants with contravening provisions which were not in force at the time the alleged offences were committed – check your commencement dates before issuing the Informations and Summons.
 
The obvious point being that, had the prosecution instructed a lawyer who regularly practised in criminal law none of those results would have gone the defendants’ way.  In the meantime, I’ll keep on taking the low-hanging fruit while I’m instructed for the defence…
 
Scott Stemp is a barrister at 12 College Place. Read more blogs here 
 

Tags

FEATURES
  • Titled 'The future of planning: What's next?', this year's Planning Convention asked big questions about the direction in which the profession is headed and the role it can play in shaping our collective futures. The Planner's editorial team took note

    Images from the convention
  • Discussion of the housing crisis – and what planners can do to fix it – again permeated the annual convention. The Planner sat in on panels focusing on specialist housing and the role of local authorities, as well as an address from the housing minister, writes Matt Moody

    Illustration: Housing construction
  • ”What we do with our cities will either make or break our species,” suggested New York architect Vishaan Chakrabarti in considering how to create future successful cities. Martin Read reports

    A modern city scene
Email Newsletter Sign Up