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Dr Bashir Qureshi. Expert Witness in Cultural, Religious & Ethnic issues in Litigation and also in GP Clinical Negligence, London.

Expert Witness Blog

Legal sector carries on as 'new normal' during coronavirus pandemic

Legal sector carries on as 'new normal' during coronavirus pandemic

Since the last issue of Your Expert Witness, when we were in limbo as to where the coronavirus outbreak was going, the COVID-19 crisis has infiltrated all aspects of life – including in the legal sector. It did not take long for the Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to suspend all but the most urgent of hearings, before devising ways of carrying out more routine hearings.

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Expert Witness News

Family court expert report draws two cheers

Family court expert report draws two cheers

Criticism from lawyers, judges and the press may be deterring health professionals from being expert witnesses in family cases. Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division, warned back in 2018 that the supply of expertise was ‘drying up’.

In autumn 2018 Sir Andrew established a working group to identify the scale of the problem, to look at the causes and to identify possible solutions. Mr Justice Williams was appointed to chair the group with representation from the judiciary, legal profession, royal medical colleges and other interested bodies.

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Expert Witness Legal News

How can the Paralegal Sector help law firms get back on their feet, post Covid-19? By Amanda Hamilton, NALP

How can the Paralegal Sector help law firms get back on their feet, post Covid-19? By Amanda Hamilton, NALP

As we all know, Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown has affected our lives in many ways and forced many law firms into hardship.

Some practices are in a catch 22, wondering whether or not to invest in remote working facilities when their financial situation is so vulnerable. I’m aware of one commercial business owner that has 300 employees and a massive weekly payroll. She has to make just that decision: should she financially invest in supplying internet, computers and phones for them to work at home when there is little/no income coming in? Furthermore, there is the knowledge that this situation will not last indefinitely.

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Expert Witness : Building and Property

Construction trial Zooms to a conclusion

Construction trial Zooms to a conclusion

The first ever trial in the Technology and Construction Court to be held entirely remotely reached its conclusion in May, having been conducted across video-conferencing platform Zoom. The case made English legal history and could help transform how future court cases are conducted, even after the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has receded.

The settlement resulted in liability for Barnet Council of over £3m, following the repeated flooding of a family home. The case was brought by construction law specialist Barton Legal, alongside Peters & Peters and two members of 39 Essex Chambers. The Honourable Mrs Justice Jefford DBE rejected the defendant's application to adjourn the case, in favo...

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Expert Witness : Criminal

More psychologists are in court – and that’s a good thing!

More psychologists are in court – and that’s a good thing!

Vulnerable offenders with mental health, alcohol and substance abuse problems are increasingly being diverted from short-term custodial sentences and towards treatment that aims to tackle the causes of their offending.

In the pilot areas – Birmingham, Plymouth, Sefton, Milton Keynes and Northampton – psychologists are working collaboratively with the existing panels of justice and health officials. Together, the professionals ensure that magistrates and judges have the information they need to determine whether an offender should be required to receive treatment for their mental health, alcohol or drug issues.

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Expert Witness : Medico Legal

Latest MoJ report short on detail, expert complains

Latest MoJ report short on detail, expert complains

In September the Ministry of Justice published the results of a consultation on medical reporting within the package of whiplash and small claims track reforms – due to be implemented in April next year for road traffic cases. The consultation ran for a month in April-May, and the resultant document sets out the government’s policy choices.

It is, however – as seems par for the course in this area – very light on detail. That is the conclusion of Alistair Kinley, director of policy and government affairs at law firm BLM.

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Expert Witness : Technology

Government to plug mobile phone loophole

Government to plug mobile phone loophole

The government has confirmed it will close a legal loophole which has allowed drivers to escape prosecution for hand-held mobile phone use while behind the wheel.

At present, the law prevents drivers from using a hand-held mobile phone to call or text.

However, people caught filming or taking photos while driving have escaped punishment as lawyers have successfully argued that the activity does not fit into the ‘interactive communication’ currently outlawed by the legislation.

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Expert Witness : Environment

The fundamental right to be protected from the dangers of air pollution

The fundamental right to be protected from the dangers of air pollution

The British Safety Council welcomed the news of the High Court quashing the verdict of the 2014 inquest into the death of nine-year old Ella Kissi-Debrah, who suffered a fatal asthma attack. Her mother Rosamund has since campaigned for a fresh inquest, believing Ella’s death was caused by high levels of air pollution near her home in southeast London. It means that Ella could become the first person in the UK to have air pollution mentioned as a contributory factor on her death certificate.

Lawrence Waterman, Chairman of the British Safety Council, commented: “The ruling of the High Court is proof that since 2014 we have become much better informed about the dangers of air pollution. Air poll...

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Expert Witness : Animal & Farming

Dr WHO? by Dr Debbie Marsden

Dr WHO? by Dr Debbie Marsden

Dr Debbie Marsden, a leading equestrian expert with over 20 years professional experience of expert witness work, offers some advice on selecting the right expert in cases involving animals

In animal related cases, a veterinary surgeon is often the best expert, being generally regarded as an authority on animals and easily recognised by the word ‘veterinary’ – a protected title – and the letters MRCVS (Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) after various degrees.

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Parliament, Legislation And Public Sector

Home Office GDPR exemption risks new Windrush, says Law Society

Home Office GDPR exemption risks new Windrush, says Law Society

The Law Society of England and Wales has criticised the decision to exempt the Home Office from data access rules in the new Data Protection Act, which implements the widely-publicised GDPR. The move will inevitably lead to miscarriages of justice, the society has warned.

Law Society president Joe Egan said the immigration exemption in the legislation stripped accountability from Home Office decision making.

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Expert Witness: Events

Expert witness conference is hailed a success

Expert witness conference is hailed a success

On 8 November Bond Solon held the 25th Bond Solon Expert Witness Conference at Church House in Westminster. Demand for the conference had been particularly high, leading to a fully-booked event. Nearly 500 expert witnesses were in attendance and there were over 50 expert witnesses on the waiting list.

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 Your Expert Witness Issue 53


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Pourquoi ne pas faire l’amour l’après-midi (et, s’il le faut, dire aux enfants de ne pas déranger papa achat viagra online et maman pendant leur sieste »)? Le chocolat noir est très riche en flavonoïdes, antioxydants également achat kamagra oral jelly présents dans le vin rouge et de nombreux fruits et légumes. Alors que l’homme préfère souvent être celui kamagra doctissimo qui choisit, qui fait ce qu’il faut pour se retrouver au centre du cercle », explique le sexologue et kamagra pas cher pharmacie gynécologue Christophe Marx. ð Les auteurs se sont acharnés à détruire les fonctions reproductives de leurs victimes.

Les mauvais traitements de l’enfant ou la maltraitance s’entendent de toutes vente levitra prix les formes de mauvais traitements physiques et/ou affectifs, de sévices sexuels, Cela sera sans doute la dernière a confié un spécialiste du solaire. Nous acheter cialis en ligne france vous rapportions mardi les résultats d'une étude, publiée lundi dans les compte-rendus de l'Académie américaine des sciences (PNAS), selon priligy prix laquelle ces dysfonctionnements, jusqu'ici considérés comme liés à un surpoids, au tabagisme ou encore à des problèmes hormonaux, prix propecia en france pouvaient aussi être causés par une variation génétique. Fondé en 2011 à New-York, il regroupe 115 000 membres et soutient que Jean-Jacques peut être gonflé comme n’importe quel muscle.

Nella maggior parte dei casi, a soffrire di disfunzioni o di vere e proprie patologie è la popolazione maschile. La sua abilità di scaricare tensioni comprare cialis senza ricetta non può essere messa in dubbio. temono infatti che il vendita levitra prezzo bluff che sentono di essere venga scoperto. Non solo così viene aumentato il piacere ma si aiuta anche il partner che ha problemi di erezione e di brand cialis on line eiaculazione precoce. Le fragole e i lamponi hanno proprietà eccezionali per la vostra libido in quanto ricchi di zinco. Le psicoterapie che, in generale, sono risultate più efficaci sono: l'uomo è un innaffiatoio, geneticamente predisposto a fecondare diverse donne. Grazie ciò non dove acquistare tadapox online dovrai più provare la vergogna che spesso accompagna gli uomini che non sono capaci di soddisfare le aspettative di una donna.

Oggi sono in corso sperimentazioni per l’uso di questi ormoni androgeni da utilizzare nei casi di frigidità nella donna e i dove acquistare viagra risultati sembrano confortanti. Tuttavia, inutile girarci intorno, l’atto sessuale è intensamente soddisfacente e non c’è cialis costo da meravigliarsi se ogni uomo cerca di aumentare la durata del rapporto sessuale, per il piacere suo e della partner. Ora, è precisamente questa concezione materialista del desiderio che il movimento pro-sex ha kamagra preso di mira con le sex-wars. Durante la levitra 10 mg procedura chirurgica, il medico riporta la circolazione del sangue nel pene. Il piacere del desiderio è sottile, è una aspettativa.

Authored by AI - Here be crypto dragons: it’s all about the evidence, proclaims the CastellGhostWriteBot

Can you tell if this has been authored by a robot? Would it matter, legally or otherwise, if you couldn’t?

Are you crypto-friendly, or if not, at least crypto-aware?

Bitcoin is on a rollercoaster – zooming up and down in value. Who can predict which way or by how much? Are you one of the early adopters, adroitly enjoying the financial thrills and spills of a Bitcoin punt, despite allegations of ‘crypto whales’ manipulating the market for their own devious gain?

Facebook has plans for Libra digital currency that so worry the regulators they are seriously considering trying to stop it happening; but it may already be too late. Facebook recently reported that it now has 2.4bn monthly users across its various apps – Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook – with users on at least one of these apps every day.

As the Chinese cryptocurrency czar Changchun Mu has pointed out, “the most a central bank could do to prevent Libra from entering a country would be to ask all of their payment institutions and commercial banks not to process any transactions which are related to Libra”.

Are you longing to pitch into Libra and get your Facebook profile endorsed with gushing ‘likes’? Investors yearning for a profitable crypto unicorn future (as a company valued at $1bn plus) are anticipating the imminent arrival of the long-evangelised crypto economy. Does that include you?

What, it doesn’t? Perhaps you realise that crypto assets are largely unregulated, with few innocent investor protections? Or maybe you have noted that over $2bn of detected criminal cryptocurrency theft and scams have occurred so far globally during this year alone?

REASON AND RATIONALITY

But all hail Lady Justice, with her blindfold, scales and sword. What does she represent?

  • The blindfold (justice is ‘blind’ – objective and without bias): Whether strong or weak; rich or poor; righteous or wicked: all are treated equally. The blindfold lady does not judge based on appearances but with reason and rationality.
  • The balance (scales of justice): Justice fairly takes into account both sides of the story, from the accuser and the accused; or from the parties with opposing claims. It symbolises objectivity. Justice hands out a verdict assessing the relevance, sufficiency and ‘weight’ of the evidence presented for or against a claim.
  • The sword (the symbol of power): Lady Justice’s sword symbolises the power of reason rather than any real physical power. This power manifests as the law and those authorised to enforce it.

For justice to be carried out and the law enforced, as citizens we give the law its physical power. We have agreed as a society that the rule of law is what we desire; translated into physical power in the form of law enforcers. 

Standing before Lady Justice, it’s all about the evidence – both objectively and subjectively. So how is the digital evidence of crypto assets and associated transactions likely to feature or fair before her?

ENTER THE DRAGON

Your clients may encounter, or need to wield or be shielded from the sword of justice when they become embroiled in crypto disputes and investigations; or wish to pursue claims and counterclaims in relation to crypto assets.

So listen up: the crypto menagerie of whales and unicorns is about be joined by flame-spitting crypto dragons. The dragon is a legendary powerful, sinister creature and a guardian of treasure. Killing it is the conflict between light and darkness, slaying the forces of evil.

The Dragon breathes fire from the sky as it swoops, and it catches your eye. Don’t try to avoid it. (Most lawyers enjoy its appearance – new clients! Oh my!).

Yes, look out for these swooping crypto dragons – the many, varied financial disputes over crypto assets, potentially bringing a whole new raft of crypto-clients urgently needing crypto-savvy lawyers. Complaints, disagreements and conflicts leading to both civil and criminal claims, are set to increase – driven by the growth in crypto scams, thefts, losses and investigations.

As a lawyer, will you know how to slay a crypto dragon when your clients and their financial affairs are assailed by one? Is a crypto entity an asset class, a currency, information, an intellectual property right – or what? When a crypto dragon swoops, any claim in which you may become involved, whether for the claimant or the defendant, is for what, exactly?

Can a record about something in a digitally recorded ledger be considered a certain contract for money, property, an asset – or for anything? Has there been any court judgment qualifying or defining a crypto?

And if a client’s crypto assets are somehow tied up with arrangements or transactions involving a so-called smart contract, can you be sure that contract law applies; and, if so, to what extent? Where are the practical legal differences and appropriate forensic approaches applicable – and what are they?

The Smart Contracts Alliance (SCA) points out that “although the term ‘smart contract’ immediately pushes lawyers to questions of contract law, the reality is that smart contracts may be neither particularly smart, nor automatically intended to be used as a contract, in the legal sense of the word”.

In the SCA’s view a smart contract (in the context of blockchain technology and crypto assets) can be defined as:

“Computer code that, upon the occurrence of a specified condition or conditions, is capable of running automatically according to prespecified functions. The code can be stored and processed on a distributed ledger and would write any resulting change into the distributed ledger. Critical to this definition is the recognition that a smart contract is not necessarily a legal contract. Instead, a smart contract is essentially an advanced form of a conditional ‘if-then’ statement written in computer code”.

Ok, got that? You’re happy to advise your clients as to the legal reliability of and procedures for disclosure of supposed immutable blockchain computer code, with all those fancy ‘if-then’ statements, are you? Whose code is it and whose obligation is it to retain and keep safe the record of changes ‘into the distributed ledger’ – where those changes are critical to tracing and valuing crypto assets in which your client is mighty interested?

A contract not legally smart is hardly a good term of art. Is it really a bargain, or just mindless arguin’ ’bout how you can take it apart?

THE INTERNET BELONGS TO NO ONE

The internet is not a sue-able party. It has no intrinsic financial value and belongs to no one. A crypto asset fundamentally consists of zeros and ones scratched on an internet-accessed blockchain; and changes stored and processed, and written into a distributed ledger. So it seems futile – arguably even legally meaningless – to ascribe a tangible value to a decentralised blockchain without any substantive, sue-able trusted third party responsible for, or standing behind its integrity and security.

So are crypto asset holdings and dealings beyond legal protection and regulatory reach? Computer says “No”!

For when a crypto dragon strikes, the identification, location and financial valuation of any crypto asset; and access to it, holdings of it and dealings and trading in it will be critical.

And here’s the key point: although a crypto asset may essentially be ‘decentralised digital vapour’, a court of law can make a binding order to get forensic traction on it because of the well-established obligation of disclosure.

IT’S ALL ABOUT DISCLOSURE

This obligation applies to digital crypto assets just as it does to computer-held digital materials and documents relevant to any forensic investigation, whether for a civil dispute or criminal prosecution.

Disclosure and valuation of digital assets – including crypto assets – is a significant issue arising in financial and technology legal actions (civil or criminal). During years of expert witness work, I have routinely assisted solicitors and senior counsel in framing appropriate technical requests for disclosure. At the request of attorneys, I recently drafted a checklist giving practical, generally applicable wording for an effective digital asset disclosure exercise.

Litigation lawyers, assisted by experts, should find the suggested checklist wording (see Figure 1) helpful in striving on behalf of their clients; sharpening your crypto dragon-slaying swords; and strengthening your defensive shields. The checklist should assist in financial audits, tax assessments, fraud and theft enquiries, fintech due diligence, investment exchange issues and listings, mergers and acquisitions projects, corporate risk assessments, divorce proceedings, intellectual property conflicts and smart contract audit forensic investigations.

This Checklist: a good aide memoire. Rehearse it when driving your car, or court litigation, all over the nation. It’ll make you a crypto law star

THE DRAGON HAS SWOOPED

You may be wondering whether there has been any court judgment qualifying or defining a crypto. There has: in August 2019 (in what is believed to be the first decision of its kind), Stewarts secured an asset preservation order (APO) over £1m worth of Bitcoin which had been stolen by fraudsters. In this case, the High Court considered the most important unresolved legal issue about Bitcoin – is it legal property as opposed to mere data or information; and, if so, what kind of property is it? In an interim ruling, the court made its first move in recognising the crypto currency as legal property.

Elsewhere, Devonshires was recently instructed by a private investor scammed by a Financial Conduct Authority-regulated FX trader during the sale of £1m of Bitcoin. The firm has since obtained what is believed to be the first Bitcoin freezing injunction in the English courts.

CastellGhostWriteBot is conceived, nourished and supported by award-winning independent computer technology and expert witness Stephen Castell, chairman of CASTELL Consulting.

www.castellconsulting.com