The Government has launched an Independent Review of the Human Rights Act (HRA). The Act is now over 20 years old and there is a call for evidence to consider how the HRA relates to other legislation and the constitution of the UK.
Although the HRA was passed in 1998, the convention and charter originally came into being after the atrocities of WWII. In 1948 Winston Churchill said…
“In the centre of our movement stands the idea of a Charter of Human Rights, guarded by freedom and sustained by law. “
Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death. They apply regardless of where you are from, what you believe or how you choose to live your life. They can never be taken away, although they can sometimes be restricted – for example if a person breaks the law, or in the interests of national security.
In his recent book Fake Law, the Secret Barrister notes that the mainstream Media tend to print very scathing reports of the HRA being abused but not many of the positive things that the HRA has done for the UK, such as:
• In 2013 the families of 37 British soldiers were paid compensation due to a claim under the HRA; the soldiers had been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan due to sub-standard equipment
• The public enquiry into Mid-Staffordshire Hospital, and the deaths of numerous patients through ill-treatment, was only possible due to the HRA
• The decriminalisation of homosexuality and the corresponding age of consent came as a result of challenge using the HRA
• The second Hillsborough Inquest, in which the families of the 96 finally obtained answers as to how their loved ones died, was only possible
due to the HRA
It will be interesting to see what the Review concludes and whether the HRA is altered in any way.
Is Court really necessary?
By Zoe Minton
Family & Civil Partnership
A Judge has warned family solicitors and parties involved in legal proceedings about making unnecessary interim applications to the Court.
In a recent case (2020) a Mother was successful in appealing an Order that required her to disclose 5 years’ worth of her medical records which she felt was excessive and a breach of her right to privacy.
The Judge agreed that the Order was excessive and disproportionate to
the issues of the case and took the opportunity to remind court users to consider carefully whether Judicial input is required in issues such as this. The Judge also emphasised the amount of court time and therefore public funds were used in the preparation and hearing of the appeal on an issue that could have arguably been agreed between the parties. In the Judgment, examples were also given of minor issues which were put before the Court including an argument regarding which specific junction on the M4 should the child be handed over for contact.
The Judge, HHJ Wildblood, allowing the appeal said…
“…the message in this judgment to parties and lawyers is this, as far as I am concerned. Do not bring your private law litigation to the Family court here unless it is genuinely necessary for you to do so. You should settle your differences (or those of your clients) away from court, except where that is not possible. If you do bring unnecessary cases to this court, you will be criticised, and sanctions may be imposed upon you. There are many other ways to settle disagreements, such as mediation”.
Although not detailed, we can assume the “sanctions” that may be imposed are likely to relate to costs and this is something which should be considered very carefully. Very often, with good communication and negotiation, most issues can be agreed leaving the Court free to deal only with the main disputes in the case.
If you are making an application to the Court, do take specialist advice to avoid these pitfalls. A Solicitor can advise on the merits of any application and assist in trying to reach agreement and compromise with the other party. Given the current Judicial guidance, that may well be much more cost effective and beneficial in the long term than making an application to the Court.
It is no secret that the restrictions to Legal Aid have caused difficulties for many, leaving many without legal advice and having to face their abusers in Court alone, without legal representation.
In some instances, someone who would otherwise be eligible for Legal Aid
may have to attend Court alone, cross-examine their abusive ex-partner and put forward complicated legal arguments. The Legal Aid Agency have, however, introduced an important change to the financial eligibility criteria.
Beforehand, an if an individual owned a property with a mortgage, no matter of the value of the mortgage, only £100,000 could be deducted from the value of a home when calculating available equity in a property. This cap was initially introduced in 1994 has never been increased despite the significant increase the average house price. This outdated cap left many individuals to be over the capital threshold despite being unable to access this money without selling their property or securing additional loans.
This cap to the maximum deduction has been removed, allowing the full amount of the mortgage to be deducted when calculating equity. This recent change in the legislation will allow more victims of domestic abuse to access legal advice and representation without facing crippling debts.
Last month we welcomed two new junior secretaries to our busy family department. Lisa Mckellar is just finishing her Law Degree at Winchester University and has valuable customer service experience. Holly Gillard comes to us with a wealth of admin experience and an enthusiasm for extreme sports.
We’ve recently welcomed back Zoe Minton, the head of our Family Law department, from maternity leave. She has worked successfully in Family Law for over ten years and advises on all aspects of family law, specialising in children and financial matters following relationship breakdown.
Zoe is an advocate for mental health and wellness within the firm and works hard to help make Shentons a great place to work for everyone.
By Chloe Jay
Jade was arrested following forced entry to her flat by the fire service as there were concerns for her welfare. She was found in a flat with a large number of cannabis plants and arrested for cultivation. In interview with police she made a full confession that she had grown the plants and the whole enterprise belonged to her. There were however tell-tale signs that something wasn’t right – she couldn’t really explain the set up of the plants and whether they had been grown from seed or not. The police though accepted her admissions and she was charged.
One of the Shentons team met Jade at court as duty solicitor. By then the police had become aware there was a background and Jade had been moved to a refuge out of area. It took us some time to build trust with Jade but through speaking to her, her grandmother and finally obtaining her medical notes – the dramatic truth became clear…
Jade had been essentially imprisoned in the flat of her partner and landlord, Greg, for three years. He had physically abused her and forced her to have sex with people for money. When she tried to escape the flat she had been grabbed and beaten so severely that she never attempted it again. Greg had convinced her to give up her job in a pub and had stopped her seeing her friends. She became completely financially dependent on him. When he told her to feed and water some cannabis plants she simply did as she was told and lied when the police questioned her.
We argued that Jade had a clear defence under the Modern Slavery Act and invited the Crown and Police to reconsider the prosecution. They were reluctant to drop the matter as Jade did not want to make statement of complaint against Greg. The view appeared to be that her complaints were not genuine if she would not support a prosecution of Greg. She was forced to reveal her confidential medical notes to prove what had been going on.
We instructed an expert in human trafficking and drafted a legal argument for the Judge to consider ruling the case as an Abuse of Process. Finally, at that point the case was dropped against Jade and she went on to try and repair her life.
Christmas Contact Arrangements
By Zoe Minton - Partner
It is that time of year again when we start thinking about arrangements for the festive period. This can be particularly difficult for separated parents when trying to plan and ensure that both parents see their children over the festive break. Of course, this year we have the added difficulty as the country continues to deal with the devastating effects of
the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Government are yet to formally announce any particular rules for Christmas and we are waiting with bated breath to see what will happen when the current lockdown ends on 2nd December. The Government has however, always been clear that children of separated parents can move between households during lockdowns. It is important therefore that arrangements are made in good time to avoid any confrontation
Things to consider:
1. The best thing you can do is make arrangements in good time and via direct communication if possible. If you are concerned that communication may be an issue you may wish to consider attending Mediation sessions or asking a solicitor to help with correspondence.
2. Some families agree to split Christmas day itself in half or for the children to spend all of Christmas Day with one parent and all of Boxing day with the other which then alternates the following year. There is no right answer – each arrangement must work for everyone and more importantly be in the best interests of the children.
3. On a more practical sense, it might be helpful to try and agree or discuss gifts to avoid any duplication or disappointment on the day.
4. The Court can be asked to make a decision if agreement cannot be reached. The Courts remain open to hear family matters although any hearing may well take place remotely via telephone or video conferencing at the current time. Think about whether you really want to go down that road – or whether communication or compromise could help you reach agreement without the added stress that comes with making
an application to the Court.
If you would like any assistance or advice in respect of these, or any other family law matter, please contact our specialist family team on 01962 844544 for advice.
By Lisa Warriner -
Excellence is something that you see and that you know is special and merits acknowledgment. This special quality is embodied in Chloe Jay.
Although less than half the adult population in Britain has a Will, there are encouraging signs that this is improving. There has been a 6% increase in the last year in adults making Wills and this may be due to campaigns made by leading charities to encourage people to leave them legacies in their Wills.
There have been some stories doing the rounds that Donkey charities receive the most donations, leaving Medical and Children’s charities a long way behind. However, whilst the RSPCA is popular, it appears that most of the best funded charities are those involved in (human) medical research, treatment and nursing care with the British Heart Foundation currently topping the leader board. The RNLI is also a very popular charity.
Whilst, occasionally, a charity may receive a large and unexpected legacy from a benefactor, as Naomi House
did a few years ago, allowing them to go ahead with building Jack’s Place, most legacies remain fairly modest (below £500). However, charities are becoming more adept at marketing and many have initiated or joined campaigns that both encourage people to make wills and to leave a charitable legacy. Even with modest legacies, such schemes clearly work, since 2016 the percentage of adults with wills has increased by more than 6%. In recent years, legacies to charities have reached £2.96 billion. Gifts to charities in Wills represent around 3.5% of all money left in estates and these legacies represent 6% of charities’ total income.
Clearly, this is a win-win situation. Charities benefit from the generosity of these legacies and an increase in people making Wills is always going to be positive, particularly if the Wills in question are properly drafted.
If you have been meaning to get a Will drafted for peace of mind, give us a call any time.
Solicitor Of The Year 2020 (Private Practice)
By Adrienne Edgerley-Harris -
Excellence is something that you see and that you know is special and merits acknowledgment. This special quality is embodied in Chloe Jay.
Over the years that I have worked with her, a solicitor and equity partner at Shentons Solicitors and Mediators, I have been struck by her dedication, enthusiasm and boundless energy to fight for justice for her clients and support her Crime Team to achieve the highest standards.
My challenge was to find a way of reflecting her obvious talent, so it was with great delight that I read about the Law Society Excellence Awards 2020 and realised she more than met the requirements for nomination.
There was no shortage of people – including a Judge, a Chief Constable, others in the justice system and those at the start of their legal careers- who were keen to provide testimonials in support of the nomination. I was struck by their overwhelming accolades and acknowledgements of her contribution to the legal profession.
When making the nomination, I considered it a good possibility that Chloe would do well. To be shortlisted was a fantastic achievement, but Excellence prevailed and- she won! Well done Chloe.
Chloe was given the award (virtually of course) by the newly appointed Law Society President David Greene. He said that Chloe’s social impact was ‘truly inspirational’ and that she was an ‘excellent example of a criminal defence solicitor who is dedicated to her work.’
She says ‘I am absolutely thrilled to win the award. Working in the criminal justice system is the great passion of my life and I am delighted to help bring attention to it.’ Chloe heads the Crime and Road Traffic team at Shentons and represents the defence community on the Hampshire Criminal Justice Board.
Your Questions on Driving Offences
By Alex Chessum
Alex Chessum, Solicitor Advocate at Shentons Solicitors, answers your questions on driving offences.
Does a conviction for drink driving always mean you lose your licence?
In almost all cases, yes. Disqualification from driving for a minimum of a year is mandatory unless you can run an argument that there are ‘special reasons’ not
to disqualify you. These include things like an emergency situation e.g. rushing someone to hospital if there was no one else around, or driving after your drinks were spiked. You would need to call evidence to support any such argument at
court and we can assist with this. If you are banned, you can usually reduce the length of a ban by completing the drink driver’s rehabilitation course.
Would you commit an offence if you just sat in your car with the engine on, whilst over the alcohol limit?
You would be at real risk of being prosecuted for the offence of being drunk
whilst in charge of a vehicle. What constitutes ‘being in charge’ will depend on
the individual circumstances of your case but the fact that the engine is on would certainly concern the court. Ultimately the question centres on whether you had
an intention to drive but the onus will be on you to prove that you did not intend
to do so. We can advise you on whether your defence is likely to succeed and how
to conduct the trial process.
My son has got 6 points in his first two years of driving – what does
Unfortunately your son’s driving licence will now be revoked by DVLA.
This essentially means the licence is cancelled. He’ll have to apply and pay
for a new provisional licence and pass both theory and practical parts of the
test again. If you have any questions regarding your driving licence, we can
obtain the DVLA record and advise you on the current status.
Congratulations are in order for Laura Keith who has recently moved from our Family and Civil department into Wills and Probate as a Probate Assistant! Laura has been a valued member of staff since 2011 and we are looking forward to seeing her thrive in her new role.
Our Marketing Assistant, Lucy Barrott, has just finished an apprenticeship in Marketing whilst working at the firm. She achieved top marks in her assessments and passed the qualification with ease. Lucy joined the firm in 2016 as a receptionist and was invited to work with the Marketing Lead in 2017. She has proven herself to be invaluable in helping the firm grow and provide the best possible service to our clients.
Shentons are supporting a campaign by Hampshire County Council to support victims of domestic violence.
If you aren't safe in your home because of violence, abuse or threatening behaviour, you can get help with a safe place to stay or support to stay in your home safely. We understand that due to self-isolation staying with family and friends might not be an option.
Help making your house safer
In many situations, Hampshire County Council can support you to remain in your own home by supplying and fitting a variety of security measures. Specialist support workers are also available to help ensure you can remain safely at home rather than having to move. Call the Hampshire Domestic Abuse Service Advice Line who will signpost you to the right service for your area.
Find a place in a refuge
You might be able to get safe housing and support in a refuge.
• Refuge services could still be an option for you. You can find out about available refuge places by calling the Hampshire Domestic Abuse Service Advice Line on 03300 165 112, asking another support service or the police to help you.
• Refuge services are still open and accepting referrals. There is guidance for refuges on how to provide support during the Covid-19 pandemic including for survivors and children who may need to self-isolate with them.
• You may be able to get free rail travel to take up a place in a refuge. Ask the Hampshire Domestic Abuse Service about this.
• There are some refuge options available to male victims of abuse. You can call the Hampshire Domestic Abuse Service, the You Trust or the Men’s Advice Line for help finding refuge or similar accommodation.
• Pets: many refuges are unable to accommodate pets. But there are specialist pet fostering services that can provide a solution. For more information please contact the Dogs Trust Freedom Project or Paws Protect.
Help is available from:
• Hampshire Domestic Abuse Service
Advice Line (provided by Stop Domestic Abuse) 03300 165 112 weekdays 9.30am-8pm
• YOU Trust, Dorset
Offers a service to support male victims and families with older boys who would not be able to access most refuge spaces, and people from LGBTQ+ and BAME communities.
Telephone: 0800 032 5204
• Men’s Advice Line
The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them.
Telephone: 0808 801 0327
• Shelter provide free confidential housing information, support and legal advice on all housing and homelessness issues.
They also have an emergency helpline: 0808 800 4444
Welcome to the first edition of
Lawtalk 2020. This is a special
edition celebrating Justice Week.
We wanted to celebrate the amazing
work that we do here to achieve justice
for our clients in all manner of different
forms. Whether we are ensuring that
someone has not been pressured by a
family member in the making of their
will, obtaining access for a father to his
children or securing an innocent person’s
release from prison; upholding people’s
rights and the freedom to make their
own choices is an integral part of a
In this edition you will read about some
of our clients and the difficult situations
in which they find themselves.
Often they are facing one of the lowest
points of their life; bereavement, divorce
or even incarceration, and the legal side
that goes along with it can be extremely
distressing and difficult for them. Our job
is to guide them through that process
with compassion and try to achieve an
outcome that is fair and right; in other
words, to achieve ‘justice’ for them.
Justice Week is a joint initiative from the
Law Society, Bar Council and Institute of
Chartered Legal Executives, the aim is to
promote the important of the justice
system and the rule of law. Why is this
needed? In recent times we have seen
judges be declared the ‘enemies of the
people’ and many cases are incorrectly
summarised and reported by the Media.
Such things have led to an erosion of
faith in the justice system within the mind
of the general public and to widespread
misunderstanding. The Judiciary are not
able to defend themselves as they are
not able to comment on the cases over
which they preside, likewise lawyers are
often unable to correct details due to the
confidentiality they owe their clients. It is
vital that we understand the importance
of the rule of law which protects our
fundamental freedoms and allows us to
enforce our rights when they are violated.
We hope the articles here will show how
these principles operate in everyday life
for everyday people.
Fighting for justice can take many forms and does not always
involve courtroom drama. In my 18 years working in law
I have been appointed to act as attorney for many people
who have a long-term illness or disability.
As attorney I try to actively engage the
care home staff, social workers and
independent advocates to try to achieve
what my client wants; this is usually to
be allowed to return home. Hospital staff
are generally concerned with getting the
person out of the hospital bed and the
assumption then seems to be that the
client will be taken to a nursing home
for ‘respite care’ despite their clearly
expressed intention to return home.
I am often fighting to remind the
professionals of the client’s right to
return home. The law says “people have
the right to make decisions that others
regard as unwise or eccentric. You cannot
treat someone as lacking capacity for this
reason. Everyone has their own values,
beliefs and preferences which may not
be the same as those of other people”.
I remind them that someone’s continuous
expression of a wish to return home has
to be considered by medical staff, care
staff and their social worker even if it is
unrealistic. In fact, a Deprivation of Liberty
Order must be sought if the situation is so
unworkable that it would leave the person
vulnerable or unsafe.
The risks of returning home can be
assessed and care packages can be
determined by the medical team, social
worker and family input so that the
person is safe. This may take more work
but it is important to honour someone’s
wish to return home if this is what they
Appointing a professional Attorney to
fight your corner can be invaluable.
One of the strengths of having a
multidisciplinary firm is that we
can call on colleagues from other
departments to assist us rather
than have to send our clients to
another firm and incur further
The Property Team recently dealt
with an elderly man who wished to
enter into a mortgage and sell his
home to a developer. The purpose
appeared to be solely to release
money to pay off his son’s debts.
As solicitors it is our duty to ensure
that choices such as this are being
made entirely of someone’s own
free will and that there is no undue
influence or pressure coming from
a third party. It is also important to
ensure that they have the full mental
capacity to make this decision. If we
did not ensure this, then others could
challenge what took place, after the
person’s death for example.
In this case we were able to call on
a colleague from our Wills and Trusts
team who also had experience in
Land Law to meet with our client and
check his mental capacity. We were
satisfied that our client had the
capacity to make important decisions
concerning his finances and that
there was no undue influence and
this was genuinely what our client
wished to do and we proceeded
with the transaction.
Most people would agree with the two
1.The need to modernise a justice system
that can be out of touch with the fastpaced
realities of the digital age AND
2. That participants in the justice system,
be it witnesses, victims, police officers,
magistrates and defendants should be
able to participate without having to
travel hundreds of miles to achieve
But is online justice the answer?
As defence solicitors, our job as advocates
in the Magistrates Court is trying to
persuade Magistrates around to our
point of view. We decry decisions that are
wrong or unjust and we can appeal to a
higher court. Criticisms that Magistrates
have faced over the years is that they are
drawn from too narrow a background
and they are not representative of the
communities to which they deliver justice.
There may be some merit in this point,
however, in my opinion, the answer is not
to be found in closing Magistrates Courts
so that everybody has to travel for miles
to get to a Court, nor is it going to be
solved by turning summary justice into
a process driven by online algorithms.
The Magistrates’ ability to use their
discretion in deciding a defendant’s fate
can sometimes work in a defendant’s
favour and I am yet to be convinced that
the most technologically advanced online
systems can replicate this intrinsically
human factor in the justice system.
The Magistrates’ discretion was utmost in
my mind when I recently argued a case of
exceptional hardship. My client had never
been to court before but they were faced
with losing their licence as a result of
totting up speeding points over 3 years.
The client, however, lived in a rural
location and visited their elderly father
every day (as he was suffering from
dementia,) in another rural location.
Buses were infrequent and taxis
prohibitively expensive. The daily visits
meant that the elderly father could stay
in their own home and the client could
give the carer a break. The carer did not
drive and for differing reasons, no-else
in the family could visit every day.
We demonstrated to the Court that the
loss of the licence would be of exceptional
hardship to the client’s father as he would
be effectively house bound and likely to
end up in permanent residential care
without the daily visits. The Magistrates
used their discretion and the client kept
their license knowing that any further
speeding or road traffic offences would
result in an immediate ban.
Chloe Jay and Patrick Hunter
have been invited in to deliver
the ‘Big Legal Lesson’ at
St. Swithuns’ school in
Winchester. The project is
organised by Young Citizens
and runs as a part of justice
week to promote the biggest
public legal education event of
its kind. Children all over the
country will be learning about
justice and the importance
of the rule of law. Chloe Jay
says ‘we wanted to offer our
practical experience to bring
the subject alive for people.’
Partner Elisabeth Pollard was
invited to speak on inheritance
tax at a local event held at
Hotel du Vin, Winchester.
She is pictured here with two
independent financial advisors
Victoria Toan and Mark
Holmes of Vision Financial
Planning having delivered
A recent survey by the Legal Services
Board found that the lower your
level of education and intellectual
capability, the more likely you are to
struggle to handle a legal issue and
in particular the less likely you are
to have access to justice or feel you
have access to justice (Legal Needs
of Individuals in England and Wales
Our family department experience this
all too frequently when dealing with
clients who have learning difficulties and/
or mental health problems. Rachael Cole
says, “Clients often feel they have been
written off as a parent because children’s
services assume they are incapable of
looking after a child, despite government
guidance making it clear that people with
learning disabilities can be good parents
and should be supported to care for their
children. It has been highlighted by the
Court that having a learning disability
does not mean that a person cannot
learn new skills”.
Rachael speaks of a recent case involving
such a client whose parenting assessment
was initially negative. Rachael pushed
for an independent assessment to be
undertaken to focus on the support
available to the client from her family,
particularly her mother with whom she
had moved back to live with. Rachael
was pleased to find that the result was
positive. “The client simply did not have
the ability to fight her own corner, it
was my job to do that for her.” She will
hopefully now be able to care for her
children as opposed to losing all contact
via the adoption process, and most
importantly, the children will have the
opportunity of remaining within their
In another case, Rachael and the team
had to fight to obtain legal aid for a client
with learning difficulties who was denied
funding on the basis that he could ask
a family member or friend to assist him
with the legal proceedings. The team
successfully appealed this decision
pointing out that there was no one in
his life who could fulfil this role and that
it was essential he had the assistance of
a qualified professional or he would be
put at a significant disadvantage. Rachael
says, “It can be incredibly daunting and
stressful for anyone to face legal
proceedings alone, but this can be almost
impossible if you struggle to read and
understand the lengthy and complex case
papers. Often people do not even engage
in legal proceedings for this reason, which
can result in adverse Court Orders being
made against them. This can have very
Shentons have always supported the legal
aid scheme and the concept of access to
justice for everyone.
answers your questions
on domestic abuse
Family and Civil Partnerships
What can a solicitor do to protect
me from my abusive partner?
We are often contacted by our local
refuge to assist vulnerable people who
have fled domestic abuse. Typically, we
will invite them into our office, where
we can then apply to the court for an
urgent order to prevent the perpetrator
contacting them and subjecting them
to any further abuse. If this order is
breached, the perpetrator would have
committed a criminal offence and, as
such, could be arrested, therefore giving
our clients a level of protection they can
rely upon in an emergency.
In some cases, we can obtain orders
to prevent the perpetrator attending or
returning to their address. If they do not
comply, an application can be made to
the court for their committal to prison.
I can’t bear to face my ex in court, is
there anything that can be
done about this?
Yes. We can apply for special measures
to assist you. This can involve several
different options, including separate
entrances to the court building,
separate waiting areas and either
appearing from behind a screen
or via telephone conferencing.
Can I prevent my ex from knowing
where I am living with the children?
This would depend on the gravity of
the case but yes, in cases of serious
violence or threats, we are able to
conduct proceedings on your behalf
without disclosing your whereabouts
to your ex-partner. You would still
need to attend court at certain points
but, again, we could apply for special
measures to keep you from seeing
each other in the court building.
I was instructed by a son following the
death of his father. The father and son
were both farmers who ran their farm
together. However, the farm in its
entirety was owned solely by the
father. The farm consisted of several
farm buildings and two farmhouses.
On the face of it, it appeared that the
whole of the farm was owned by the
father solely at the date of his death.
This meant that the whole value of the
farm would be subject to inheritance
tax at 40% because the more usual
agricultural and business reliefs were
not available to cover the whole of the
farm. For my client this would be an
astronomical bill that would almost
certainly endanger the future of
It is my role to fully explore the history of
a situation and establish exactly what has
taken place. After further discussions it
became apparent that the father and son
had previously owned a farm together;
albeit approximately 27 years earlier.
When the jointly owned farm had been
sold, the new farm was bought in the
father’s sole name for reasons that were
unclear. It was evident that the son’s half
of the jointly owned farm had been used
towards the purchase of the current farm.
Further discussions with the farm’s
accountants and visiting the father’s
home allowed the relevant accounting
evidence to be found which went back
to the running of the previous farm and
to the point of its sale.
I was then able to demonstrate to the
satisfaction of HM Revenue & Customs
that not all of the farm was actually owned
by the father at the date of his death but
was held upon a Bare Trust for himself
and his son.
Applying various other rules this then
meant that the farm was able to pass
to the son without any inheritance tax
needing to be paid.
Young children are being exploited by
inner-city gangs to run “county lines”.
Drug gangs are coercing young children
to hold a mobile phone (the ‘line’) and
then to supply class A drugs to the users
calling the number. The children are
normally moved from their home to sell
drugs in rural or coastal towns in different
counties. They are often placed in the
home of drug users and forced to live
there until the drugs are sold. The
attraction is that these areas are usually
less intensely policed and if something
does go wrong it is the child who is
arrested not a member of the gang. They
focus on young, suggestible, vulnerable
children who can be manipulated to carry
out the work. These children then find
themselves enslaved to the gang with no
real means of escape.
In my role as a solicitor I am frequently
called to the police station to represent
such a young person who has been
arrested for drug dealing or related
crimes. It is my job to try to identify
victims of modern slavery and determine
whether they may be able to rely on
a defence to the allegation under the
Modern Slavery Act. I have to ensure
that a referral has been made to the
National Crime Agency who make the
final determination as to whether a
child is a victim of exploitation.
If a conclusive decision is made this gives
me the tools to challenge the prosecution
as to whether it is in the interests of
justice for the child to be criminalised.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have
guidance stating that young children who
have committed non-violent offences,
as a direct result of exploitation, should
not be prosecuted. It recognises that they
are victims themselves. Even if the CPS
does not agree to drop the prosecution,
we can still run the defence at trial. For
me personally, a conclusive grounds
decision should mean that the child is
treated as a victim, and they should
not be prosecuted. Justice cannot be
served by a prosecution for something
a child has done under exploitation and
coercion. Thankfully our success rate for
this is very high and we have seen many
If you need advice regarding your child
being a possible victim of this, please