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Recent Changes to Driving Legislation

There have been a number of changes to the law in relation to motoring have occurred on the past few years.  Some of these changes are completely new, creating new types of motoring offence, whereas others are the development and extension of existing legislation.  Unfortunately, each government feels the need to tinker with the law to show that they are tough on crime whilst not always making it for the better.

These changes mean drivers may now find themselves being prosecuted for behaviours that were previously legal, or which were not strictly enforced or carried fairly minor fines.  Here we outline three of these changes and discuss the best course of action if you are accused of breaching these laws.

Smoking in Cars

It has been illegal to smoke in public buildings and work vehciles for some years, but it is now illegal to smoke inside a car where under 18's are also present.  An offence may be committed by (a) the person smoking and/or (b) the driver, for failing to prevent the smoker from smoking.

In the case of a "failure to prevent smoking" by another person there are a number of defences available including showing that someone took reasonable steps to prevent smoking, or that they did not realise someone was smoking.  One can imagine this will be difficult to show if the prosecuted party was present because of the natural smell of the smoking tobacco.

The penalty involves a fine only, and does not involve getting points on your licence – so you may decide it is not worth contesting and just paying up. But it does count as a criminal offence, which you may not want to have on your record  for two reasons:

* Your occupation / career

* Possible implications for future insurance, as insurers usually ask whether you have any been convicted of any motoring offence

So, if you have been wrongfully fined for smoking in a car, or for preventing someone else from smoking, it is worth consulting a barrister to assess your options and see if a defence is possible.

Drug Driving

It is illegal to drive while under the influence of a number of substances, including some prescribed medications which were not previously restricted.  This has had a huge impact since was introduced and has effectively replaced the old law of driving whilst udner the influence of drink or drugs.  The old law was clumsy and difficult to prove.  The new legislation allows the police to take forensic sample and prosecute it like a drink drive offence.

The penalties include a criminal record, driving ban, fines and potentially a jail sentence.  This is not to be under estimated given that cannabis can stay in your system for an extended period of time and a habitual user may not be effected by it, but if they are over the threshold, then will be guilty of the offence.  The thresholds are also very low as these are for the most part controlled drugs and therefore there is a zero tolerance.  This contrasts to drinking where of course it is legal to drink, just not be over the legal limit.

With such far reaching penalties – and the high possibility of people not being aware of the new laws or unwittingly being over the limit – it's important to consult your doctor about any medications you regularly take.  Especially important if driving is your profession or you regularly have to drive as part of your job, to avoid being caught out.

With regards to any defence you may have it is a critical aspect whether your driving is impaired as a result of the medication – the prosecution has to show this. So it is essential to take advice from a barrister to ascertain your best defence.

 Hogging the Middle Lane

The offence is not really "lane hogging" specifically, but generally a crackdown on inconsiderate or careless driving.

Exactly what constitutes "inconsiderate" or "careless" is highly dependent on the specific road conditions at the time and therefore there is often considerable scope for interpretation.  From experience police officers view these things through a prism and vary hugely between individuals.  It therefore makes sense to consult a barrister at the earliest opportunity to establish what defence may be possible.    

Marcus Croskell is an expert barrister specialising for over a decade in road traffic offences.  If you need advise and assistance with your legal problem, then do not hesistate to contact him by EMAIL HERE or on 0843 886 2603.

Arranging Funding for Legal Services

When you need to find a direct access lawyer, one of the main concerns is how to fund legal advice and representation.  People are often worried over running up large legal costs and, if you have not had dealings with courts or legal processes in the past, you may have no idea of how much the charges are likely to be.

However, it is important to have proper representation to put your case properly and achieve the best outcome. Whether you are facing a consumer or business dispute, a motoring charge or a case related to your home, such as a negligence claim, it is essential to have someone at your side who has expert knowledge.

Marcus Croskell has expertise in all these areas of the law.  As a direct access barrister based locally in Ipswich and working with clients in Suffolk, Norfolk, across East Anglia and further afield, can advise you on your case and represent you both in and out of court. At an initial consultation he will also discuss the costs with you and how to fund them – often insurance may be an option here.

Funding via Insurance

Fortunately, in many cases, it is possible to fund legal services via insurance policies. You may not even realise that your household or motoring insurance includes a Legal Expenses Insurance (LEI) section.  These are often sold as an extra for small additional charge on policy but may also be included as standard.

If you are claiming on these policies, it is essential to go about it in the right way.  You need to follow correct procedure and keep insurer fully informed. Also amounts covered for each claim can vary depending on insurer. Marcus Croskell often provides on behalf of individual and business clients formal written advices to the insurer to trigger funding including on the prospects of a success of the client’s case, whether the client will plead guilty, or not guilty or the prospect of settlement in a civil case.

Household Insurance LEI

LEI is often a bolt on to the actual insurance policy for your home or business.  It will have a different regime and you may only cover you for certain types of claim or personal  problems.

A household policy insurance bolt-on is likely to cover:

  •  Proceedings connected to your home
  • Personal injury, such as if you are injured in a fall (uneven pavement etc) and want to try to get compensation
  • Consumer disputes over goods and services.

Motoring LEI

If an insurance policy is associated with your vehicle, then it is most likely it will be limited to recovering uninsurred losses connected with your vehicle or road traffic offences.  It is a useful tool to have as it goes far beyond standard motoring insurance for damage etc.  Policies for motoring offences only pay out if insurer thinks you are reasonably likely to succeed in fighting the charge, so helpful if your lawyer advises them over this.

If you are having to deal with the law and a court case it is very worrying time and it adds to the strain if you are not sure how you can fund a case. However, it is well worth checking if you have a policy bolted on to your household or motoring insurance which will cover you. 

Marcus Croskell is an expert barrister specialising for over a decade in road traffic offences and one of the first things he will often ask is about opportunities for funding to avoid clients having to pay from their own pockets.  If you need advice and assistance with your legal problem, then do not hesitate to contact him by EMAIL HERE or on 0843 886 2603. 

Dangerous Driving - Finding an Expert Lawyer

Every year, more than 3,000 people in the UK are charged with dangerous driving. Anyone convicted of this offence faces a high risk of going to prison and receiving a sentence of up to two years, as well as facing a long period of disqualification.

If you face this serious charge, it is essential to get expert legal advice from a dangerous driving lawyer.  Marcus Croskell has over a decade of assisting drivers with offences relating to their vehicles before magistrates, juries or if required, appealing to the Court of Appeal in London.  He is highly experienced in defending people charged with offences of this type across East Anglia.

There are also potential longer prison terms for people convicted of the new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving or the even more serious offence of causing death by dangerous driving – up to 5 years prison for injury or up to 14 years for causing death. It is immensely distressing for a motorist, who often has never been in any form of trouble before, to face court over these serious charges, making it all the more essential to have expert representation.

What is Dangerous Driving and What Is the Court Process?

Dangerous driving is not a set way of driving as such - the test the court will apply is whether the standard of driving fell well below that of the reasonable and prudent driver.  This requires the magistrates or jury to try to be objective and assess the standards to what would be commonly expected of reasonable driver on a day to day basis.  Marcus recently assisted a gentleman in the Court of Appeal (he did not represent him at trial) who approached him after he had been convicted and desperately needed help.  Marcus Croskell helped him set out his appeal and was successful by reducing the period of ban by nearly 50% for his offence that would be described by the newspapers as 'road rage'.

This is an either-way charge, i.e. it can be tried at magistrates or Crown Court.  These are types of offences that can be tried in either venue.  In the first instance, the Court will consider whether it is so serious as to whether it could only be tried in the Crown Court.  However, if they remain happy to retain it, you can overrule them by electing to have you right to be tried by a jury of your peers.  What does this mean?  In many respects, very little as in Marcus Croskell’s experience, if something is so serious a magistrates’ court will likely commit for sentence if it warrants it and Crown Court judges tend to be more sensible with their sentences.  Plus statistically, you are more likely to be acquitted in the Crown Court.

Defences and Mitigation

It is up to the court to decide what constitutes dangerous driving.   There may be possible defences, for instance a car developing a fault which was not previously known about or a driver becoming ill at the wheel with a condition which developed suddenly and again was not previously known.  This was not a defence recently available to the dustcart lorry driver in Glasgow as he knew he had the condition and concealed it from his employer.

Often, an expert dangerous driving lawyer will help consider whether an alternative plea could be offered to reduce the risk of a larger sentence.  For instance, a course of driving may amount to driving without care and attention (careless driving), but not dangerous.  The former carries no mandatory disqualification so it may be more attractive to offer this.

In other cases, where it is clear that the driving was dangerous, it is still possible for your lawyer to offer mitigation, explaining the circumstances.   There may be a wide amount of mitigation available such as the conduct of other drivers, a long history of good driving and behaviour, etc.

Causing Serious Injury or Death by Dangerous Driving

In 2012, causing serious injury by dangerous driving became a separate offence and more drivers now starting to be charged with this. As explained above, this is an either-way offence that may be tried in the magistrates’ court or crown court.  There has been a recent rise in death by dangerous driving cases which the court’s are vigilant to monitor and ensure motorists realise that they driving is a privilege and not a right.

If you face a dangerous driving charge it is bound to be a difficult and traumatic time, especially if someone was injured or even killed in the accident.   It is essential you have expert legal advice from the start of the whole process, and as a specialist in this whole area Marcus Croskell can advise you. Legal aid likely to be available in for the more serious offences, although this is wholly dependent on your income.  Marcus Croskell can help you through this process or on a privately paid basis if you are not eligible but still want assistance. 

Marcus Croskell is an expert barrister specialising for over a decade in road traffic offences including dangerous driving.  If you need advice and assistance with your legal problem, then do not hesistate to contact him by EMAIL HERE or on 0843 886 2603.   

Drink Drive Lawyer East Anglia - Why Representation is Vital

Many thousands of drivers land up in court every year charged with drink-driving. Being convicted of this serious offence can have a devastating effect – you could be sent to prison and lose your licence, meaning you are also likely to lose your livelihood. If you face a charge of driving over the limit, it is essential to find an expert drink driving lawyer who can advise you and give you the representation you need.

Marcus Croskell specialises in motoring law and has advised and represented many people who face drink drive charges. Importantly, he can give you an honest evaluation as to whether you have a defence and, if you do have to plead guilty, explain any mitigating circumstances to the court on your behalf. 

More than 55,000 people were convicted of drink-driving in 2010-11 according to a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice.  Unfortunately rate dramatically increase over the festive period, including 'morning after' drinkers who get behind the wheel in the morning after a party, failing to realise they are still over the limit.

According to official Department of Transport estimates there are more than 8,000 casualties in accidents involving drink drivers each year, including over 200 deaths. If you were involved in an accident where someone was injured or killed, likely to face a longer sentence, so even more important to find a lawyer who can represent you effectively.  The penalties are severe an may include prison and long disqualification.

Providing a Breath Test

Police officers are on the look out for odd pieces of driving - maybe a car weaving down the road, hitting a curb or potentially causing damage to street furniture or other property.  Marcus has in the past represented persons have literally bounced down a residential orad whilst in drink causing damage to multiple cars on each side of the road.   To stop you for a you breath test, the police officer needs to have a reasonable cause to suspect you are committing a traffic offence or after you were involved in an accident.  In reality this is rarely a difficult hurdle for the police to prove as long as they can point to some conduct from lights being switched off to erratic driving.

If the roadside breath test is positive you will be arrested and taken to police station and you will have to provide two specimens of breath there to be analysed. Under some circumstances you can also provide a blood/urine test.  However, the statutory option to seek an alternative if the breath reading is close to the limit has now been removed from 2015.

If you fail to provide a breath, blood or urine sample it is also a serious offence. This is considered on more depth here.  The consequences of this offence are akin to that of drink driving althought there may be defence to the charge if the polcie officers failed to follow key procedures and secondly as a result of medical problem, for instance if you have a breathing problem.  Your lawyer will be able to explain this to the court if this is the case.

If the tests at the station are positive, you will be charged and usually bailed to appear in court on a specified date.

Drink Drive Offences

The charge you may face vary.  Firstly, if you have not driven the vehicle, but are in charge, you will commit an offence which has a discretionary period of disqualification.  The most common offence is a standard driving or attempting to drive with excess alcohol in one’s system which carries a mimimum mandatory disqualification of 12 months and could result in imprisonment.  These offences are all heard in the lower court, namely the local magisrates’ court to where the offence took place.

By far the most serious drink driving offence is causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink – this is an indictable offence which must go to Crown Court for plea or if a trial, before a jury.  The penalties for this are include potentially substantial prison sentences. Also, if you are charged with drink driving together with other motoring offences such as dangerous driving the case may go to Crown Court, where you will need to be represented by expert motoring barrister.  Marcus Croskell has been representing drivers for over a decade in all courts all the way to the Court of Appeal if required.  Many of the more serious offences such as dangerous driving have a mandatory extended re-test.  This is not a simple task as the test is very long and comprehensive.  Furthermore, there be further requirements to pass a medical examination.

Possible Defences and Mitigating Factors

An expert lawyer will go over the facts of the case with you and advise you if you have a defence, e.g. if you were not driving on a public highway or place to which the public have access (a pub car park by way of example), if someone gave you a spiked drink or if you had a drink after driving but before you were breath tested, in which case scientific evidence may be needed to prove this was the case.

If you have to plead guilty, your lawyer can explain any mitigating factors on your behalf, for instance if you were responding to an emergency which amounts to “special reasons”. One way of reducing a sentence in the first instance is by expressing a desire to complete a drink-drive rehabilitation course.  This will cost you more money as these are courses provided by government approved suppliers.  Furthermore, you can also apply for long driving bans to be reduced after you have served at least two years.  See more information on this here.

Marcus Croskell is an expert in representing people charged with drink driving and has appeared in many cases of this type across East Anglia.  He understands that it is bound to be a very difficult and stressful period, but he has all the expertise for you to be sure that your case is put to the court accurately and your defence or mitigating factors are fully explained.

Marcus Croskell is an expert barrister specialising for over a decade in road traffic offences.  If you need advise and assistance with your legal problem, then do not hesistate to contact him by EMAIL HERE or on 0843 886 2603.   

Driving Whilst Disqualified

More than 7,000 people in the UK are convicted of driving while disqualified annually. This is a serious offence which carries a possible custodial sentence of six months in prison – so it is essential to get expert legal advice as soon as you are arrested or hear you are being summonsed.

Direct access barrister Marcus Croskell is a specialist motoring offence lawyer with extensive experience of defending people charged with the whole range of driving offences, including driving while disqualified. Here is a look at the law in this area, including the introduction of tough new penalties for drivers who cause death or serious injury through driving while disqualified.

Reasons for Driving Bans

There are a number of reasons why a driver may be facing a driving ban from being caught driving while over the alcohol limit or under the new drug-drive laws, speeding, etc or being caught as a so-called “totter”, i.e. reaching 12 points.

It may be possible to argue in court that you should not be banned and it is for this reason that it is always advisable to seek advice even when getting standard 3 point type offence to avoid becoming at risk of reaching 12 points.  See my articles on having too many penalty points and special reasons for more details.

It may also possible to apply for a driving disqualification to be lifted/shortened.  Further information is available here about reducing a long ban. If you want to try to keep your licence/shorten a disqualification, it is vital to get expert legal representation.

What Happens When Drivers Are Caught Defying Bans

Once a driver has been disqualified, if they decide to risk driving in defiance of the ban, it is highly likely at some point they will be caught – they could be recognised by local police or by people who know them and are aware of the ban. Also automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) is used across the UK and enables law enforcement authorities to check numbers if there is suspicion over potential criminal activity.

When motorists are caught driving while disqualified, this is an arrestable offence – this means they are normally arrested, taken back to police station and fingerprinted, searched etc. Usually they will be bailed to attend magistrates' court – but a driver could be refused bail and held in custody if there is a fear of them committing further crimes.  Serial offenders for driving whilst disqualified are often punished harshly, so there is real risk of a party failing to attend court.

Court Appearances and Sentencing

There is a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment and an unlimited fine and you are also likely to receive a further period of disqualification.

When the case comes to court, it is an “absolute” offence – this means the prosecution only has to prove that you were driving. Even if you argue you did not realise you were committing the offence or had a good reason to do it, you are still guilty in law.

However could be mitigating factors/special reasons – for instance if someone was banned after totting and did not attend court so did not know about the ban, or if they were just moving the car a short way or were reacting to an emergency. An expert motoring lawyer can fully explain the circumstances to the court on your behalf.

Causing Death or Serious Injury by Driving While Disqualified

There has been recent changes with new offences under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 which carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for causing death, which is a case that can only be tried in Crown Court. In particular, with the advent of the new offence of causing serious injury whilst disqualified, there is substantial sentence available to the court of up to 4 years.  The prison sentence itself will not mean the ban is avoided.  The Court has the power to delay the coming into effect of the ban until the release date.  This makes sense from a public policy point of view, but means the driver’s sentence will continue well on after release.

Marcus Croskell is an expert barrister specialising for over a decade in road traffic offences.  If you need advise and assistance with your legal problem, then do not hesistate to contact him by EMAIL HERE or on 0843 886 2603.   

Marcus Croskell Named by Legal 500 as Leading Commercial Barrister for Third Year in a Row

Today saw the announcement of the 2016 rankings for the Legal 500.  This is an authoritative publication that lists the leading solicitors and barristers in the UK and worldwide.

Marcus Croskell has been named a leading junior (a barrister below the level of QC) for the third year in a row in the commercial, banking, insolvency and chancery section.  This is a reflection of the increased complexity of the work undertaken by Marcus Croskell in the last year in the county court and high court in commercial and chancery casework.  An instructing solicitor has commented for the publication on Marcus Croskell stating that:

He adds value and has a real commitment to his cases.


Marcus Croskell is part of East Anglian Chambers and it has also been held overall to continue its status as a leading set in the South East of the country.  If you would like to know more about the Legal 500 and the entry for Marcus Croskell please click HERE.

If you would like expert legal advice and representation with your legal problem, contact Marcus Croskell for an initial free telephone consultation on 0843 886 2603 or email HERE.


Why Expert Representation Is Vital

Many thousands of drivers land up in court every year charged with drink-driving. Being convicted of this serious offence can have a devastating effect – you could be sent to prison and lose your licence, meaning you are also likely to lose your livelihood. If you face a charge of driving over the limit, it is essential to find an expert drink driving lawyer who can advise you and give you the representation you need.

Marcus Croskell regularly represents clients alleged to have driven whilst being over the drink drive limit.  Often those that he has helped have never been in trouble with the law before and this is their first taste of the legal system.  Marcus will help them to analyse how the incident came about and whether they have any substantive defence.  Simply because someone is told that a machine concludes they are over the legal limit, does not automatically mean they are guilty.  Marcus will want to ensure there are no anomalies with the intoximetre (the device used in police stations to collect the evidential breath samples), whether any blood or urine samples were taken correctly or whether there are alternative defences available.  

One example is a client in Suffolk he represented this year that was found not guilty (despite being over the legal limit) because he had defence of duress of circumstance as he was forced to drive to avoid a serious attack by his ex-wife and stepson.  If, however, you need to plead guilty, Marcus helps clients in two key ways: firstly by persuading the court to keep the mandatory driving ban to the minimum and secondly, by making submissions on the financial hardship the loss of the licence will cause to keep the fine as low as possible. 

More than 55,000 people were convicted of drink driving in 2010-11 according to a Freedom of Information Request filed at that time. Unfortunately many more people are caught over the festive period.  Many of these include 'morning after' drinkers who get behind the wheel in the morning after a party, failing to realise they are still over the limit.

According to official Department of Transport estimates there are more than 8,000 casualties in accidents involving drink drivers each year, including over 200 deaths. If you were involved in an accident where someone was injured or killed, likely to face a longer sentence, so even more important to find a lawyer who can represent you effectively.

Providing a Breath Test

There are a variety of reasons you as a driver may be stopped by police.  It may be something completely unrelated to alcohol such as a damaged light or a police marker on the vehicle. Often, it is following poor driving that lead a police officer to conclude that they have a reasonable cause to suspect you are committing a traffic offence or after you were involved in an accident.  At this stage, an officer can undertake a roadside breath test.

If the test is positive you will be arrested and taken to police station where you have to provide two specimens of breath there to be analysed. Under some circumstances you can also provide a blood/urine test, for instance if your reading is close to the limit.  If the alcohol tests at the station are positive, you will be charged and usually bailed to appear in court on a specified date.

A word of warning on providing breath samples.  By refusing to give a breath sample, you will not help the situation.  You will be committing a separate criminal offence and will face a mandatory disqualification from driving and heavy fine.  It is imperative that you try to provide as and when requested at the roadside and in the police station breath, blood and urine samples.  Like any offences, that does mean that there are no defences to the charge.  However, experts repeatedly say that the machines are designed to accommodate those with a poor and low lung capacity.  Each case is different and you will need expert legal help from a lawyer to guide you through potential defences to this charge.

Drink Drive Offences

There are a plethora of offences connected with drink driving including being drunk in charge of a vehicle, driving or attempting to drive a car while over the limit or unfit through drink. These are serious offences as you can receive up to 6 months custody, receive a heavy fine and driving ban.  Any period of disqualification may rise to a minimum period of three years if you have previously been caught drink driving within the last 10 years.

The most serious offence will be where the drink offence is incorporated as part of the key facts of an offence of death by dangerous driving.  In these types of cases, it is highly likely if convicted that the driver if found guilty will face some form of prison sentence.  However, there is also the more specific drink driving offence of causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink – this is an indictable offence which must go to Crown Court.  In either instance, it is recommended that you obtain the advice and assistance of an experienced motoring lawyer to help you through this traumatic time.  “High risk offenders” do not get their licence back automatically and may have to pass series of medical examinations and re-tests before let back on the road.  Marcus Croskell can help you through this process.

Possible Defences and Mitigating Factors

An experienced lawyer in road traffic offences will go over the facts of the case with you and advise you if you have a defence.  For instance, they will explore if you were not driving on a public highway at the material time, whether someone gave you a spiked drink or if you had a drink after driving but before you were breath tested (known as the ‘hip-flask’ defence), in which case scientific evidence may be needed to prove this was the case.  Marcus Croskell has experience of helping clients get this expert evidence from third party forensic science service.  Often for the latter, you will need what is called a BAC calculation to work out what the likely blood alcohol level was at the time of driving.

If you have to plead guilty, your lawyer can explain any mitigating factors on your behalf, for instance if you were responding to an emergency which amounts to “special reasons”.

Subject to you having been offered it before, it is nearly always possible to reduce a ban by up to 25% by completing a drink-drive rehabilitation course.  These are private run courses that you have to pay for but are run in conjunction with the court and qualify to reduce the ban period.  Furthermore, you can also apply for long driving bans to be reduced after you have served at least two years.  Click here to explore this further and what help Marcus Croskell can provide.

Marcus Croskell is an expert in representing people charged with drink driving and has appeared in countless cases of this type across East Anglia.  He recognises that it is bound to be a very difficult and stressful period, but he has all the expertise for you to be sure that your case is put to the court accurately and your defence or mitigating factors are fully explained.

If you would like a free initial consultation, call 0843 886 2603 or email Marcus Croskell here. 

Arranging Funding for Legal Services

When you need to find a direct access lawyer, one of the main concerns is how to fund legal advice and representation. Look at how people are often worried over running up legal costs and, if you have not had dealings with courts or legal processes in the past, may have no idea of how much the charges are likely to be.

However, important to have proper representation to put your case properly and achieve the best outcome. Whether you are facing a consumer or business dispute, a motoring charge or a case related to your home, such as a negligence claim, essential to have someone at your side who has expert knowledge.

Marcus Croskell has expertise in all these areas of the law – as a direct access barrister based locally in Ipswich, he can advise you on your case and represent you both in and out of court. At an initial consultation he will also discuss the costs with you and how to fund them: often insurance may be an option here.

Funding via Insurance

Fortunately in many cases, it is possible to fund legal services via insurance policies. You may not even realise that your household or motoring insurance includes a Legal Expenses Insurance (LEI) section.  These are often sold as an extra for small additional charge on policy but may also be included as standard.

If you are claiming on these policies, it is essential to go about it in the right way.  You need to follow the correct procedure and keep your insurer fully informed.  The amounts covered for each claim can vary depending on insurer and wording or your policy.  Marcus can email the insurance company and give them information on the prospects of a client’s success, such as whether the client will plead guilty, or not guilty/prospect of settlement in a civil case. 

 Case Study

Marcus recently acted for a gentleman in a criminal case of drink driving.  Upon request, Marcus provided the insurer with a comprehensive written advice (also given to the client) and then liaised at every stage with the insurer to ensure the client was covered for all work undertaken.  When the case was won by the client and Marcus in Ipswich Magistrates’ Court, he obtained a costs order for reimbursement out of Government central funds for all or part of those costs (they are subject to assessment by the National Taxing Team for criminal courts) for the insurer and the costs paid initially by the client.

Household Insurance LEI

LEI is different to your main household policy.  Your home policy will likely assist if damage is caused to your home or possessions.  LEI is effectively a extra bolt-on policy that protects you from ‘uninsured losses’ and in particular is very useful when you are called upon to defend a claim against you in a civil or criminal court.  Policies may include cover for:

  •  Proceedings connected to your home (such as someone injuring themselves at your home or a neighbour bringing a case against you for a boundary dispute);
  • Personal injury, such as if you are injured in a fall (uneven pavement etc) and want to try to get compensation; or
  • Consumer disputes over goods and services.

Motoring LEI

An LEI on a motoring policy is very similar, save that it is sold as a bolt-on to your car insurance.  Once again, this will allow you to use its provisions for claims connected with the use of your motor vehicle including for defence costs of defending a driving prosecution.  Some policies may also cover you as a pedestrian and if you are a passenger in a car.

After the event insurance is also available from specialist insurers.  Often you do not need you need to be protected until too late.  If you find yourself dragged into litigation in a civil or criminal court, there may be options available to you over and above set out here.  Marcus does not work for any insurance companies and is not eligible to give you financial advice.  However, through his regulatory body and the Bar Council, there are various recommended service providers that clients can be introduced to as a starting point in their quest to protect their financial position.

Equally, there are alternative funding options that can be explored where effectively credit is given by a third party company that specialises in the payment of barristers.  The finance company will allow the client to pay instalments per any agreement between them, but the barrister is paid in the usual way.  This often gives security to both parties.  The client does not have to stump up the full amount (important if a larger and more expensive claim) from the outset and the barrister knows he will be paid in accordance with the terms of business.

There is no doubt that entering into litigation is not a life choice.  No one wants to be sued for damages or prosecuted for a criminal offence.  However, if you do find yourself in that position it is very worrying and for most people, it adds to the strain if you are not sure how you can fund a case.  However, it is well worth checking if you have a policy bolted on to your household or motoring insurance which will cover you.

If you contact Marcus Croskell, he will help you run through all the options from public funding to insurance or specialist finance.  Please call on 0843 886 2603 for an initial free telephone consultation where your case and funding issues may be considered.  If you would like more information, please email Marcus Croskell HERE.

Using Hand-held Mobile Phones While Driving – Moves for Tougher Penalties

The law against use of hand-held mobile phones while driving came into force in 2003, with the penalties later being increased. Now there are proposals to make the punishment for this offence tougher still, with increased fines and a larger number of penalty points.

However, sometimes there can be mistakes. For example, police may think that a driver was holding a phone when this isn’t the case. Often motorists accept a fixed penalty notice because they are worried about going to court, but there is no reason to accept points and a fine if you were not in fact using a phone illegally.

As one of the most successful barristers in East Anglia dealing with motoring cases, Marcus Croskell has experience of defending clients charged with a whole range of offences, including using a hand-held phone.

Driving While Using a Mobile Phone

Using a hand-held phone was originally made illegal because research showed that it is highly risky for drivers to use these devices while driving. It is estimated that drivers using phones are 4 times more likely to be involved in accidents than those who are not.

When the law was introduced in 2003, drivers could receive a fixed penalty of £30, or face a fine of up to £1,000 in court, with higher fines for some types of vehicle. The fixed penalty sum was later raised to £60 and most recently, in 2013, to £100. Drivers also receive 3 penalty points.

The law bans a range of uses of handheld phones or other similar devices. These include texting, playing voice messages, taking photos, including “selfies”, and accessing social media, as well as making calls. This applies even if you have stopped at traffic lights or are queuing in traffic, since you are still regarded as driving.

There is a rare exception to the law which exempts you if you have to dial the emergency numbers 999 or 112 and are unable to stop your car safely. If you believe this defence applies to you, a road traffic lawyer can advise you on this. Another exemption covers 2-way radios, as used by members of the emergency services and taxi drivers.

As well as drivers facing charges for using hand-held mobile phones, employers could also face a charge if they are suspected of causing or permitting an employee to use a phone while driving.

Also, although using a hands-free phone is not a specific offence, drivers using these devices can still be charged with not having proper control of a vehicle if police believe the device was causing a distraction. This is the same charge which drivers can face if it is thought they were distracted by eating and drinking, putting on make-up or carrying out various other activities while at the wheel.

Proposed Changes to the Law

The Government is considering making further changes to the law over using hand-held phones, and put forward a number of suggestions during a recent consultation. It is proposing to increase the number of penalty points from 3 to 4 for drivers of non-HGVs, and to double them from 3 to 6 for HGV drivers.

The Government is also proposing to increase fixed penalty notices for both HGV and non-HGV drivers from £100 to £150. It says in its consultation document that, even after the changes in the law, most first-time offenders will be offered a course instead of being given a penalty. HGV drivers will also be sent a letter. However, it is up to the discretion of the police as to whether any individual motorist should be invited to a course.

Defences and Mitigation for Motorists

In cases where you were not in fact using a handheld phone, you can refuse to accept a penalty and fight the case. Your barrister can explain this to the court and present the full facts of the situation, and Marcus Croskell has done this successfully in previous cases. Police checks of call logs and text messages may be able to back up your argument that you were not using the phone.

Some drivers who receive 3 points will find this pushes the number of points on their licence up to 12. This means they face an automatic road ban for a minimum of 6 months under “totting”. If this applies to you, you need to consult expert motoring lawyers to find out whether you have a case for arguing that a disqualification would mean “exceptional hardship”.

If you are looking for barristers based locally in East Anglia with a specialist knowledge of motoring cases, get in touch with Marcus Croskell. As an experienced motoring offence lawyer, he can advise you if you are charged with offences including using a hand-held phone, or if you are facing a ban from driving. Marcus Croskell works with motorists across Woodbridge, Ipswich, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and further afield. You can make a free initial enquiry either by email or by calling 0843 886 2603.

When and Why to Talk to a Barrister

Many people believe that because barristers are trained to represent members of the public in court, you only need to talk to one when a court appearance is inevitable. Here, Marcus Croskell, barrister at East Anglian Chambers, looks at the different situations where it is either useful or essential to consult or appoint a barrister – including some situations where a case never goes to court.

Before Pursing an Action

Although a barrister's primary function is to represent their clients in court, their experience of the practicalities of the court process means that they can be of particular value when assessing whether to take an action to court in the first place.

If you are considering taking someone to court (for instance, to recover a debt, contest a business contract, bring a claim for monies held in a joint property following a relationship breakdown, or some other type of civil dispute) then it is highly advisable to consult a barrister before committing yourself to court action. Once you have notified a third party that you are intending to or are prepared to take the matter to court, this tends to escalate the situation and they may well instruct their own legal representatives before you are really ready to proceed.  

Early instruction will often save you money in the long run

By talking to a barrister about the circumstances concerning you, you give yourself the opportunity to assess the case in your own time and find out what your options are. In many cases involving a dispute of some kind, negotiating a resolution can be faster and cheaper for all concerned. A barrister with the appropriate type of specialism can act for you to achieve a resolution, without involving the courts. Sometimes just a letter drafted on your behalf by a barrister can be enough to achieve an acceptable outcome; in other cases, a barrister may undertake lengthier negotiations on your behalf, perhaps involving mediation of some kind, or suggesting options to the third party involved.

Finding out that pursuing the matter to court could be far more expensive than settling out of court (if that is possible). It could in itself be far more valuable to you in terms of money, time and stress saved, than any potential actions a barrister might make on your behalf in a courtroom.

When You Have Decided to Pursue an Action

Once you have decided to pursue an action (against a person or an organisation) which might lead to a court appearance, talking to a barrister becomes essential if you have not already done so. Even if you feel that a court appearance is likely but still some way off, it is still important to consult a barrister as early as possible, rather than wait until a court appearance is close at hand.

If you anticipate that the other party will have access to a strong legal team (e.g. a large company or public body) then it is important to consult a barrister as early as possible, for a number of reasons:

·       Indicating to the person or organisation that you are considering legal action, before your own barrister is in place, allows the other side to get a head start in terms of proceedings, which could weaken your position.

·       Barristers can clarify points of law and ensure your action is well founded, before committing to any action.  Crucially this may save you unnecessary expense and exposure to unnecessary costs.

·       Barristers can tell you about alternative courses of action that might be available, rather than going for the court option.

·       A barrister can advise you about your likelihood of success, helping you make an informed decision about whether to go ahead.

·       A barrister can advise you about the processes and procedures that will apply, including practical issues such as the location and type of court where your case could be heard, and the likely timescales involved – helping you to plan your action.

·       A barrister can also advise you on the type of evidence you will need to provide (e.g. paperwork), ensuring you are well prepared before initiating an action.

Having a good understanding of the law that applies to your case and being thoroughly prepared at an early stage, all helps to ensure that if your case does go forward that you have the best chance of success. By contrast, instructing a barrister at a late stage can mean that you are less well prepared or find out that your case is less well founded than you thought, but at a stage when it is too late to withdraw.

When an Action is Being Pursued Against You

If you are being taken to court by someone else – either by the police in a criminal case, or by a private person or organisation in a civil case – then it becomes clear that you will require someone to represent you in court.

But even here, there is sometimes confusion about whether people should appoint their own barristers, or whether to allow the court to appoint one for them.  In addition, some people feel that if the evidence looks stacked against them, or they intend to plead guilty (whether they are guilty or not), then there is no point in choosing their own barrister as it won't affect the outcome of the case.

In this type of situation, instructing a barrister of your own choosing can make a huge difference to the outcome of a case, and to your experience of the whole process. If a barrister is appointed for you, the appointment is made using the "cab rank" rule i.e. using whichever lawyer is next in line to take a case. Some reasons for choosing your own barrister with specialist knowledge include:

·       Finding a barrister with a track record of success in cases similar to yours helps to ensure that all possible avenues are explored which might assist your defence, rather than simply relying on or responding to the evidence presented by the police.

·       A barrister specialising in your type of case will have more detailed technical understanding of the type of evidence the police will use (e.g. use of evidence from cameras for speeding and other motoring offences) and is more likely to spot weaknesses in the evidence against you.

·       Even if conviction seems to be inevitable, having your own barrister present your case can make a significant difference to the type or length of any penalty or sentence handed down, which in turn can make a big difference to the effect the conviction may have on your business, your job or your wider family.

Not Sure Whether You Should Consult a Barrister?

Barrister Marcus Croskell represents civil and criminal cases throughout East Anglia including Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, London and beyond, and offers a free legal enquiry service. Marcus Croskell is a leading barrister recognised in the Legal 500 for his work as in contract and commercial work.  By contacting him, will enable you to speak about your case and receive initial advice about your options and get a better idea about whether you want to proceed with a more formal consultation.

 

Barristers East Anglia – Contact Marcus Croskell here.