Protecting clients and staff in the pandemic

Protecting clients and staff in the pandemic

We have taken the decision that in the midst of this pandemic we will as a firm withdraw from all face to face client contact.

This includes all police station attendances, magistrates’ court attendances, crown court attendances and prison visits.

The office will now be closed and a sign will be placed on the shutter with a telephone number for client enquiries. We want you individually to continue to work from home and assist clients by providing telephone advice and via video links (bridging software can be used from home which the LAA will reimburse: – we will be sending out a further email regarding this).

It follows that in criminal matters our advice to clients is that it is fundamentally unsafe for us and them to attend court and that we can assist them by writing and telephoning the court to explain their and our absence and to request adjournments and the enlargement of bail.

In family matters it is our understanding the majority of hearings will now take place via Skype for business or by telephone.

It also follows that we are not going to ask any agent or Counsel to risk their lives and we will share this email with the agents we often instruct, freelancers, Counsel and their Chambers.

We are currently investigating how we might continue to support and represent clients using video link software from the safety of your own homes. We will send out a further update regarding this during the week. We have taken this step in the light of everything we have read and know about the highly infectious nature of COVID-19 and our responsibility for your health and safety. In the absence of any positive decision by the MOJ/LAA to protect providers and their staff we decided we cannot wait any longer for such a decision.

Yours faithfully

Greg Powell, Sinead Zaman and Saloud Zaman

27 January 2020 – Not Guilty!

Greg Powell’s client faced a difficult case in which is was alleged he had caused death by dangerous driving. This was a very unusual case in which we were able to obtain medical evidence to show that the cause of death was later negligent medical treatment. This persuaded the Crown to drop the causing death allegation and proceed with a charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. After a 5 day trial, our client was found not guilty at the Kingston Crown Court. Thanks go to the excellent Tom Wainwright, counsel from Garden Court Chambers and to the road traffic expert, Dean Beaumont.

A Report of Powell Spencer & Partners work for the RMT Union from the latest RMT Magazine.

Of particular interest and importance to members will be the advice we recently provided for the union following a branch request regarding the law relating to sentences for people convicted of assaulting RMT members and the ancillary orders that might prevent them entering stations or travelling on the public transport system.

We have suggested that part of the way forward may be for RMT to lobby for a specific offence relating to the assault of public servants working in the transport system in the same way that assaulting emergency workers is now a specific offence.

The Union has supported many members involved in investigations in the past year. Unfortunately some members are involved in fatal accidents in the course of work which occur in a variety of circumstances, for example when people commit suicide or are being reckless around trains by trying to board moving trains or indulging in “surfing” or graffiti.

The issues that arise are always unique and the facts always complex.

Our task is to provide prompt and effective advice and representation. We cannot stress highly enough the importance of our early involvement. We have recently provided emergency advice over several days to RMT members following a tragedy in which two members were killed. In these cases there may be extensive investigation by the ORR as well as the police. Similarly we have been involved in the investigation of road traffic accidents which again have involved fatalities.

There are of course many other matters which are less serious vitally important to members who often face the potential of losing employment if they are convicted, for example allegations of assault pf racially aggravated assault or Public Order Act offences involving members of the public. We have had a hige amount of success in either preventing people being charged or winning their subsequent magistrates court trials as a consequence of which members keep their good character and their jobs.

Other allegations which have arisen in the course of the last year are as diverse as allegations of sexual assault in the work place, breaches of data protection and, of course, many allegations of misconduct arising from the driving of vehicles. In addition, on occasions there are accusations of fraud within services provided on trains or ferries.

Our message as ever is, as soon as the prospect of criminal investigation arises seek professional help. We are here to defend members and their interests, their reputations and to ensure the best outcomes when these very difficult situations arise. We thank the union and all the members we have represented for instructing us as it is a privilege to represent you all.

Source: RMT News Magazine – Page 21 – Issue 10 – Volume 22