Monday 30 April 2012

Z is for Zealous Witness

I realise I already covered witnesses, but my other options for this letter were 'Zebra Crossings', 'Zombi' or 'Zone'. 3 things which there was not particularly much to write about, and I don't even think 'Zombi' relates to law in any way unless it is an offence (written in statute or decided through common law) to 'mechanically drive a human corpse' (that is apparently its definition according to the website I'm using).

'Zealous Witness' is defined as a witness who demonstrates disproportionate enthusiasm while testifying.
They are quite rare as witnesses are usually well-advised by the lawyer counselling them to resort to no theatrics.

So its basically a witness who is overly confident about the party who he is testifying for, and believes that party will succeed with their claim.

It was put forward that the best way to deal with such a witness, when questioning one is to act indifferent in order to lessen the enthusiasm shown by the witness.

Well I shall have to finish here, as it turns out there's not much to write about a zealous witness either! Well I have certainly enjoyed the challenge and I'm glad to have got to the end of it successfully :) On my agenda for may will be to revise so apologies if my blog seems quite empty!

Saturday 28 April 2012

Y is for Year-and-a-day Rule

This phrase is associated with murder within criminal law.

This phrase was used in the common law and was a rule precluding prosecution for murder where the victim had died a year and a day, or later, after the infliction of the ultimately fatal wounds. This rule has now been abolished due to the advancement in medicine, such as life support technology which can extend the interval between the murderous act and subsequent death. It was abolished in 1996 by the Law Reform (Year and a day Rule) Act.

Friday 27 April 2012

X is for Xenophobia

This doesn't really have much significance for law, but come on, X was a very VERY difficult letter where no words actually fit. So.

Xenophobia is a fear or hatred towards foreigners, foreign countries, or anything foreign.
The significance this has with law is based on the European Union.

Xenophobia appeared in Article 67 of the TFEU and states that "The Union shall endeavour to ensure a high level of security through measures to prevent and combat crime, racism and xenophobia". As a result of this aim, a regulation (which is directly applicable in all member states, meaning that it does not need to be transposed into law and cannot be disguised as anything else) was created to deal with this.

The regulation establishes a European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia with a view to providing  the community and its Member States with objective, reliable and comparable data at European level on Racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism in order to help them when they took measures or formulated courses of action within their sphere of competence.

Thursday 26 April 2012

W is for Witness

Coming up to the truly difficult letters now, and I'll just point out the obvious with this one, since we all know what a witness is.

Witness is defined as: one who testifies or is legally qualified to testify in a case or to give evidence before a judicial tribunal or similar inquiry.

A witness is often somebody who witnessed the event - commonly a crime or an accident. This is specifically known as a percipient witness, or an eyewitness. They can give an oral or written statement.

When giving a witness statement to the police, they will keep your details private to protect you.
It is against the law to intimidate a witness.

The protection of witnesses is crucial in society, without it people who witnessed crimes or accidents would not report what they saw because they are afraid of being targeted. The protection of witnesses means that people will be more likely to help the police with their investigations, which in turn will assist the police to successfully convict people and distribute justice to those who commit wrongful acts. It may have a more positive effect on the community - making people feel safer, reducing crime rate and thus benefiting the area people live in.

From the top of my head, that's all I can think on that topic. :)

Wednesday 25 April 2012

V is for Vandalism

Got my stuff from the direct gov website again. I think vandalism would more likely come under Criminal Damage in my text books, so I may have sort of cheated a tad here, but alas, there was a lack of V's to choose from! Actually, since looking at statistics I have noticed that Vandalism and Criminal Damage are considered separate - I shall have to look into that!

So, we all know what vandalism is. It can take many forms; graffiti, smashing windows, dumping rubbish, starting fires, and doing general damage to things like buildings, or cars. It is deliberate, and usually done for no good reason. It can sometimes cost millions of pounds to repair, and as such it damages people's quality of life.

It is the kind of crime which makes you feel unsafe, even if you might be in a very safe area. The tax payers are usually the people who have to pay for the remedying of vandalism - through higher taxes and insurance premiums.

Normally, if you witness vandalism occurring, you should report it to the police. If you've noticed something has been damaged, call the council.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

U is for Undue Influence

Undue Influence occurs where a contract was entered into as a result of being put under pressure. The party who was subject to the pressure may have a cause of action in equity to have the contract set aside on the grounds of Undue Influence (UI). UI occurs where there is a relationship between the party who has been exploited, and the party who gains the benefit. Where a contract has been found to be entered into as a result of UI, the contract may be rendered void.

Many cases in this area are concerned with husbands who seek a bank loan for one reason or another (more often than not its because they claim their business needs it, and subsequently goes bankrupt after the loan was taken), and as security they ask their wives to sign over their interest to the mortgagee (bank) as security for the loan. Therefore, when things go wrong, the mortgagee (bank) can claim the house.

Undue Influence is an equitable concept, and was developed to protect those who had entered into a transaction because of the inappropriate use of influence by a person whom they trusted.

The leading authority is Royal Bank of Scotland v Etridge [2002]. In this case, following a flood of claims in the late 20th century, the House of Lords gave a clear statement of steps that a third party (the mortgagee/bank), should take in order to protect itself from being affected by claims of UI.

This approach was taken as its quite obvious that when a wife signs over her interest in her house for her husbands sake, there is no benefit in it for her. The husband and the mortgagee are aware of this, and thus the bank/mortgagee should be the ones to ensure the wife does not enter into the contract without knowing its implications, and by doing so, will protect itself if it seems that there is a risk of UI.

Some of the steps include:
  • Mortgagee/bank should ensure the person who may have been influenced (in my example, the wife), is given the chance of having independent legal advice about the transaction and that he/she has had the implications explained before deciding to proceed.
    • The bank should ensure the legal advice is independent from the person who benefits from the transaction (the husband in this case) - e.g. a separate firm of solicitors should be the ones to explain it.
There are many more steps, and this is UI only briefly, and this is mainly with regards to mortgages in Land Law. UI can cover many more situations not mentioned here. (Judith-Anne MacKenzie and Mary Phillips, Textbook on Land Law, 13th edition, 2010, Oxford University Press.)

T is for Trust

Now, basically, the term is actually well suited to the concept I'll be writing about. I mean 'Trust' in terms of Land law of course.

Briefly, a trust arises when a property is held by a person 'upon trust' for another person. (It can be held by more than 1 person, and can be held for more than 1 person). E.g. A may hold property on trust for B. A will be the 'trustee', and B the 'beneficiary'. The beneficiary is the person who is entitled to the benefits of the trust, so e.g. if it is a house, B may eventually use the house, or sell the house, whereas A will be considered a bare owner and must not use the estate for his/her own benefit.

Under trusts, there are essentially two owners because of this. Historically, trusts were not recognised by common law, and if the trustee did use the property/estate for his/her own benefit, there would not be much you could do about it. Equity eventually protected the beneficiary, who has a right enforceable only in equity (not at law).

I suppose looking at it from a normal persons perspective, it lives up to its name in that if somebody uses a belonging of yours when they've been expressly told not to, or you have not permitted it, they've breached your trust, and vice versa.

(This is trusts VERY briefly, and I tried to make it more understandable to people who don't study law. I've literally taken all of this out of my law book, with the exception of the last paragraph above this one, and I've changed the examples demonstrating it ever so slightly, so here's the reference: Judith-Anne MacKenzie and Mary Phillips, Textbook on Land Law, 13th edition, 2010, Oxford University Press.)