Interns’ Diary

Over the last eight months, we have been very pleased to have been joined by two interns from Birmingham City University – Chiamaka Nwaiwu and Antonia Champi.

During their time with the firm, they have been learning all about the legal system and gaining some good ‘real world’ experience.

We have been extremely happy with the work that Chiamaka and Antonia have done here at Regan Peggs Solicitors, and we look forward to hearing how both of their careers progress over the coming months and years.

With the hard work, enthusiasm and legal sense that they have both demonstrated, we are in no doubt that they will excel along whatever path they each may choose to follow.

The following diary entries summarise Chiamaka’s and Antonia’s experiences with Regan Peggs Solicitors throughout their time with the firm.

Antonia – 10th May 2018

Today was my last day as an intern at Regan Peggs Solicitors.

I spent the morning in charge of the office. On my way, I had collected some documents from another solicitors firm about a POCA case, so as soon as I arrived at the office I took digital copies of the documents and uploaded them on the client’s file.

Next, I tried getting in touch with the officer in charge of our client’s case who is being accused for a sexual assault. Unfortunately, the officer was unavailable and once again I did not get any updates.

After that I had to contact several clients regarding their cases. I emailed a client who is appealing against his driving licence disqualification, as well as a client who has a potential claim against the police, in order to update him for his case. I then had to prepare a letter containing a client’s driving licence in order to send it back to him.

In the afternoon, once Regan and Gemma had arrived back at the office, I took digital copies of some documents which had just arrived. Finally, I prepared a letter to be sent to a client who is currently in custody, and who wants to instruct us in relation to his arrest dating back to January.

Thanks to Regan and Gemma, I have gained a huge amount of practical experience alongside my university modules, for which I am extremely grateful.

Chiamaka – 10th May 2018

Today was my last day at the office as an intern. It feels like just yesterday when I started – how time flies!

I began the day by chasing up prosecution evidence for a number of cases, and arranged a client appointment. I then worked on a motoring appeal matter. Our client’s appeal hearing is due to be held very soon, so I rang the CPS to obtain the evidence that had not yet been served to us.

Next, I chased up a case that I have been dealing with for the past few weeks, involving a sexual offence. I telephoned a police officer to find out whether forensic evidence had been prepared. We will need to take our client’s instructions when we receive this evidence.

Finally, I made a call to the Small Claim mediation service to arrange an appointment with our client, for a case is regarding a claim defence against Birmingham City Council.

As I come to the end of my internship at Regan Peggs Solicitors, I would like to thank Regan and Gemma for being very welcoming, helpful and supportive during my 8 months at the firm. Never have I met a team that is so individually and collectively wonderful!

It has been an amazing learning experience for me, and has given me the opportunity to improve on both a professional and personal level. I have gained key skills that will be invaluable in my legal career and future practice.

It has been a pleasure to work at the firm as an intern and I look forward to what the future holds in terms of my legal career.

Antonia – 3rd May 2018

Today I worked with Regan and Gemma in the office.

I first dealt with the case where our client is being investigated by the Health & Care Professions Council. Our client provided us with some reports, of which I took a digital copies and sent the originals back to the client by post.

After that, I dealt with another client’s case regarding a compensation claim against a prison. Now that we have all the documents, we can proceed on drafting the letter before the claim against the prison. I began drafting the letter and sent it to Regan to review it, and also emailed the client to update him on his case.

I then created a new file for a client who has instructed us to deal with confiscation proceedings pursuant to the Proceedings of Crime Act 2002.

After a short break, I called Birmingham Magistrates’ Court in order to get updates on our client’s cases. This client instructed us to appeal against a conviction by the Crown Court and also against the refusal to renew his taxi licence. We emailed the court to inform them and we are now waiting from the court to deal with our request. Unfortunately, I couldn’t speak to the person that is dealing with the appeals so I emailed him and I am waiting for a response.

Then, Regan asked me to request from the CPS the prosecution papers for a case where our client is charged with a motoring offence, as we need these papers ahead of the first hearing. The CPS could not locate the prosecution papers but I managed to get them from the court.

Finally, Gemma and I spent some time dealing with a case where the police took some property from our clients for investigation. The police are refusing to return this property, so we made an application to the court asking for the items to be returned to the clients.

Chiamaka – 2nd May 2018

Today I met Regan and Gemma at the office. I had a number of tasks to get through so I immediately started work on these.

In the morning a client came in to collect some bundles, and I took bundles containing evidence and correspondence in connection with our client’s case.

After this I worked on a case that I had worked on a few weeks ago, involving a claim against the police. I wrote to the police to chase up custody records for our client, and I also wrote to the client to update him on the progress of his case. We will need to review the records to find out whether our client has a claim against the police.

I then worked on another case, for which I telephoned a court to request prosecution evidence. This client is a company that has been charged with failing to identify a driver, but has a defence. Once we receive this evidence, we will need to take our client’s further instructions.

In the afternoon, we were joined by Chris King. Chris is a lecturer at Birmingham City University, and is in charge of my placement module. He visited the office to make an observation of my work in the firm, as part of the placement module assessment process.

I then worked on a case in which a client is charged with a sexual offence, and on which the police are carrying out investigations. This involved telephoning the police to obtain an update on the forensic reports.

Finally, I did some scanning, including a Defence Cost Order assessment – an order that is granted by the court that allows defendants in proceedings to claim back costs. I also scanned in a letter from the Disclosure and Barring Service.

Antonia – 26th April 2018

Today I worked in the office by myself – the first time I had been left in charge of the office for the whole day.

I began by checking my emails and tasks for today and set a priority order.

Firstly, I had to prepare some original documents to be sent to our client. I copied them and then prepared them to be sent by post.

Secondly, I dealt with a case where our client is facing two connected matters – a taxi driver licence appeal and an appeal against a conviction. My task was to call the court and get updates on our appeal applications, and also to call an insurance company to check whether they will cover our client’s costs. The court informed me that there is no fixed date for the taxi licence appeal, nor had they dealt with the appeal against the conviction, so I will have to chase it again next week.

Next, I dealt with a case where our client decided not to instruct us, so I had to send our documents to the newly-instructed solicitor’s firm.

After that, I had to call the CPS to ask for a copy of the prosecution papers, but unfortunately they could not locate the case. Our client is convicted of failing to identify the driver, and we requested that the court list this matter for trial.

Later, I called the prison again to get updates on our request for a client’s medical records so we can proceed with our case.

Finally, I called a client’s personal consultant in order to ask for updates on our request for a medical report. This proved to be another successful call, since the enquiry was resolved by the doctor’s secretary.

 

Chiamaka – 25th April, 2018

This morning I met Regan at the office. Regan has a long Proceeds of Crime case at Birmingham Crown Court, and Gemma was attending her graduation ceremony.  I was therefore left in charge of the office. Regan briefed me  about the tasks that I was assigned for the day, and then was off to court.

My first task was to telephone a police officer to get an update on a client’s case. This client is under police investigation for assault. I was informed that the police are still conducting a review of the case and will let us know of their decision soon. That is, whether or not they decide to refer the case to the CPS. If they do, it will then be up to the CPS to decide whether our client will be charged.

After this I worked on a case at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court.   This client’s case is regarding an allegation of speeding: he has entered a guilty plea to the court. A guilty plea places our client at risk of disqualification, because he was driving at a high speed.  In due course, Regan will attend court with our client in an effort to keep him on the road.

I worked on another case of assault. The client is also under police investigation. As we had not received any update from the police regarding the client’s case and their decision, I contacted the investigating officer to discuss progress in this case, and then updated the client.

I was also asked to work on a taxi licensing matter.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary
Bartle Halpin Photography

Our client has a Magistrates’ Court conviction, which he needs to appeal to the Crown Court.  The Magistrates convicted him of refusing to take a passenger’s assistance dog. Because of this conviction, the Licensing Authority have revoked our client’s Hackney Carriage Licence.  We therefore need to appeal this decision to the Magistrates’ Court.  My task today was to begin the process of arranging for our client’s insurers to pay our fees.

Antonia – 19th April, 2018

This morning I worked with Gemma at the office.

My first task was to work on the case of a man who was convicted of two motoring offences in his absence and without his knowledge. He recently made a statutory declaration at our office, which removed his convictions.  Today I was trying to obtain the prosecution papers so that we can advise the client about the cases.  Unfortunately the prosecution cannot find them!

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary
Bartle Halpin Photography

Then I called Birmingham Prison to chase the medical records we requested from the prison some months ago.  The person dealing with these procedures informed me that she could locate the medical records of our client and she will forward them to us as soon as a GP reviews them.  After that, I emailed this client in order to inform him about the progress of his case.

Later, I dealt with a case in which our client is being investigated by the Health & Care Professions Counciland for which we have two potential witnesses.  I spent a long time carefully drafting the witnesses’ statements, based on their instructions to us. Regan checked them, before I sent them to the witnesses for them to sign.

In the afternoon Regan arrived for a meeting with some clients in relation to a search of their business premises.  The police took some property for investigation and they are refusing to give them back so we made an application to the court in order for the items to be returned to the clients.  Today’s conference purpose was to discuss any updates of the case.

Chiamaka – 18th April, 2018

Today I worked on a number of cases at the office with Regan and Gemma.

My day started with a client who wanted advice on an application for a Private Hire Licence.  This gentleman has made an application before, which was rejected because he has previous convictions.  Now he wanted to pay for professional assistance in making a new application.  However, when Regan saw his list of previous convictions, he advised the gentleman that any application would almost certainly fail.  Regan explained that it would simply be a waste of money to pay us to assist.  The potential client was disappointed, but grateful that his money had not been wasted.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary
Bartle Halpin Photography

After the conference, I worked on a case where our client has been accused of driving with no insurance. Our client has informed us that this came about because of a mistake by his insurers.  If the insurers are prepared to put this in writing, we may be able to persuade the prosecution to drop the case.  If not, the client will be technically guilty, but would have a ‘special reason’ for not having points put on his licence.  I opened a new file for this client, and sent him a letter.

I worked on another case where our client has been accused of speeding. Our client intends to plead guilty, and put forward mitigation in the hope of avoiding a driving disqualification.  I opened a file for this client and added his details and relevant documents to the file.  In due course, he will need an appointment to provide us with the full details of his mitigation.

Antonia – 12th April, 2018

Today I worked with Gemma at the office.

My first tasks were to contact a prison and a hospital about two compensation claims.  Both are being very slow at providing the records we need, and so I am asked to keep bothering them until they do as we have asked.

Next I worked on a motoring case.  I spoke to a prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service to ask whether the file has been reviewed yet.  The case is listed for next month, so we are trying to obtain the prosecution’s papers ahead of the trial.  I was informed that the prosecution have not reviewed the papers yet, which means that the papers will be provided late.  I therefore contacted our client to rearrange our forthcoming meeting, since it won’t be possible to have a proper discussion of the case without the papers.

Next I called two police officers, who are in charge of separate investigations of our clients.  I wanted to get updates on the cases, as our client are due to answer bail soon.  Neither officer was able to give me any meaningful update.

Up to this point, I was having a frustrating day!

After that, I worked on a case in which we act for a Registrant who is being investigated by the Health & Care Professions Council.  We have two potential witnesses for her case, who I spoke to, to discuss their contribution.  Having done so, I emailed Regan to inform him about their responses.

doctors

Later, I called a court to ask whether our application for a DCO (Defence Costs Order) has been granted by the court.  In this case, our client was prosecuted for having a dangerous dog.  However, we were able to persuade the prosecution to refer the matter back to the police, so that a conditional caution could be administered.  Our client is therefore entitled to claim her legal fees back from the court, something I have been asked to help with.

Finally, I dealt with a case where we act for a company that builds houses.  Our client is resisting a compensation claim brought by someone who bought one of the houses.  I assisted Gemma with an application to strike out the claim.

Chiamaka – 11th April, 2018

This morning I worked with Gemma at the office as Regan is away this week.

I continued work on compensation claim for a client who was badly assaulted in a prison. This is a case that I have been working on for some time now.  I have learnt how long it can take to process this type of claim.

Next I worked on a motoring case.  Our client recently found out that he had been convicted of two motoring offences in his absence, and without any prior knowledge of the offences, or the case at court.  The court had disqualified him from driving, and he had no idea!  Luckily, he was able to come to make a statutory declaration at our office, which we then sent to the court.  This removed the convictions, and the driving ban.  Now the cases must start afresh, and so I began working on obtaining and reviewing the evidence.

After this, I worked on a case where our client is accused of driving whilst using a mobile phone. We have been informed that our client’s first hearing date has been listed, and so we have arranged a conference with the client at the office.  My task today was to obtain the prosecution evidence so that the conference will be productive.

Using phone while driving

Next, I worked on a civil claim.  Gemma had recently been able to negotiate a good settlement on a client’s behalf, and so I wrote to the client to confirm the agreement, and closed the case.

After lunch, I worked on another compensation claim. Our client was arrested by the police in connection with an alleged assault on another individual. Our client wishes to make a claim against the police on basis that there was no reason to keep him in custody all night, after his arrest. We will now write to the police to obtain our client’s custody records to advice our client on whether he has sufficient grounds to make a claim.

Antonia – 5th April, 2018

Today, me and Regan went to the offices of a Local Authority for an interview.  Our client is suspected of criminal conduct within his employment by that Authority.  Regan had obtained disclosure from the investigators before today, so we knew in advance what would be asked.

Before the interview took place, we had a small chat with our client to advise him about the best approach to the interview.  Together, we discussed the various tactics that might be used.  Regan gave advice about which would be the most effective, and our client made the final decisions.

During the interview, my role was to take notes of everything,  so my colleagues will be able to refresh their memories later on.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

Bartle Halpin Photography

Afterwards, I went back to the office to work with Gemma.  Regan went to Wolverhampton for a taxi licensing appeal.

One of the cases I worked on concerns a new instruction on a potential private prosecution.  This client wants to prosecute someone for cruelty to an animal.  I sorted out the papers, so that Regan can review them and advise the client about the best approach.

Antonia – 29th March, 2018

This morning I worked with Gemma in our brand new office.

As always, I checked my emails from both clients and Regan and then set an order on the tasks I had to do for today.

In relation to a compensation claim against a prison, I was delighted to find that I finally had a response from the client’s GP, from who we had requested a medical report.  Now that we have the medical report and all the other evidence we need, we can proceed with our client’s compensation claim.  I considered the report, and then passed it to Regan for his view.

After doing some scanning, we all went to the Birmingham Law Society’s Easter Egg Hunt.  It was special for me since it was interesting getting to know a British tradition.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

After a reception at No. 5 Chambers, I had my lunch and went back to the office , where I sent updates to Regan about my other cases.

I have to write up my placement soon, and so finally, I spent some time taking notes from the most interesting cases I dealt with, in order to include them in my university’s coursework.

CHIAMAKA – 28th MARCH, 2018

Today I worked with Regan and Gemma at the office.

I started the day by working on a motoring case.  I was tasked with obtaining the prosecution evidence from the Crown Prosecution Service.  Once we have the prosecution evidence, we will invite the client to the office to take his further instructions.

The second motoring case I worked on concerned the case of a client that was dealt with the other day.  We had written to persuade the prosecution to drop the more serious of two allegations faced by our client.  I was able to confirm that the prosecution had agreed, and that the client had been dealt with leniently as a result.  We were able to pass the good news to our client, who had avoided going to court altogether.

After that, a client came in for a conference. This client is accused of breaching a High Court injunction that prevents ‘street cruising’.  This is an unusual case, and we took some detailed instructions, before agreeing a plan for the case with our client.  We will now contact the City Council to find out what evidence they have against our client.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

After lunch, I was left in charge of the office, when Gemma and Regan went to a hearing before Birmingham Council’s Taxi Licensing Sub-Committee.  They are fighting to keep our client’s income for him.

Chiamaka – 26th March, 2018

Today, just as I arrived at the office, Regan asked Gemma and me to go straight to our client’s garage.  This client is being investigated by the police, and he had arrived at his garage to find that the police were conducting their second dawn raid of the site.  Regan asked us to ensure that the police acted properly, and to ensure that our client’s rights and personal property were respected.  Therefore, while we watched dogs and officers searching, and cars and machinery being loaded onto police lorries, we liaised with the supervising officers.  We were able to ensure that the police did not take anything they should not, and that no items were damaged in the search.

Once we were back, Regan and I had a conference with a client who faces proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act.  He was ordered to pay a Confiscation Order some years ago, and did so.  However, his house has increased in value, and so the police now want him to pay over the increased equity, and have applied to the court for the Confiscation Order to be increased.  Regan hopes to persuade the judge that this is not in the interests of justice.

Antonia – 22nd March, 2018

Today I worked with Regan and Gemma at the office.

As soon as I arrived at the office I checked my emails and my tasks for today.  I decided to begin with organising the papers in a case where our client – a medical professional – is being accused of misconduct at her job.

doctors

After a short break, back to the office, my academic module leader Chris King visited the firm to observe me while engaging in normal placement activities and to talk with Regan about my progress.  Therefore, I continued doing my tasks as normally as I could under Chris’ gaze.

Firstly, I dealt with some things Chiamaka asked me to finish for her, on the same case with the employment issues.  I contacted a potentially important witness to discuss whether she would be prepared to assist our client.

Finally, I dealt with a case where our client is applying for a small costs claim against Birmingham City Council.  I completed a directions form, asked Regan to sign it and prepared it to be sent by post to both the Council and the Court.

Chiamaka – 21st March, 2018

This morning I met Regan and Gemma at the office. Regan left shortly after for a trial. Today I got to work in our new office.

I started work on a new client’s case.  This client faces a total of 5 allegations of misconduct and/or lack of competence in her previous work place.  Our client has instructed us to represent her before her professional tribunal.  We are hoping to keep he professional career intact. I began wading through a large number of papers that have been provided by her professional body.

After lunch, I worked on another client’s case. This client has been accused of two offences; speeding and driving whilst using a mobile phone. Our client has pleaded guilty to speeding, and pleaded not guilty to using their phone.  Our client now has a pending trial and sentence on the charges mentioned above, and it is time to prepare his defence ready for the forthcoming trial.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

Antonia – 15th March, 2018

Today I worked with Gemma at the office as Regan was at the court, still in the trial on a man accused of conspiracy to import guns.

I worked on two cases.  The first case concerns 4 of our clients who were unlawfully arrested.  We are helping them to claim compensation for their detention and damage the police caused to their property.  The police deny the claim, and we are moving to the next stage of the claim.

In the second case, our client has instructed us to review the evidence following his conviction a number of years ago.  At the time there were problems with disclosure and, following the recent concerns over the standard of prosecution disclosure, he wants us to take another look to see if he might appeal.

After that, I worked on a case concerning a compensation claim against a prison.  My role in this case is to regularly harass the prison until they send us the relevant records!

After a short break, Gemma asked me to work on a taxi licensing matter.  Our client has been refused his licence by Birmingham City Council and we will represent him in relation to his matter at the Committee hearing.

In the afternoon, Regan came in and we had a meeting with a new client who came to instruct us in relation to an allegation that he defrauded his employer.  (Chiamaka mentioned this case yesterday.)   This man is to be interviewed soon.  Regan interviewed him and advised him in relation to his case and our next steps.

This was the first meeting to take place in our smart new meeting room:

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

 

Chiamaka – 14th March, 2018

Today, I met Gemma and Regan at the office. I had a lot of tasks assigned to me, so I immediately started work on our clients’ cases. Regan left for court shortly after, because he has an on-going trial.

I worked on new Confiscation case, in which Regan has been instructed by a firm that does not specialise in this type of work, to look after their client’s interests.

After this, I worked on another client’s case that involves employment and criminal law. This client is alleged to have been involved in gross misconduct at his workplace, as well as a potential criminal offence due to the misconduct. This client’s case was referred to us by another solicitor, to give advice on the criminal aspect of the alleged offence.

Next I worked on a careless driving case.  Our client was facing a driving disqualification if convicted.  Therefore, I was pleased to be able to confirm to the client that, following our representations, the case has been dropped.

Chiamaka – 7th March, 2018

This morning I attended Warwick Crown Court to pick up old case papers for one of our clients.  Several years ago, Regan represented this client in relation to historical allegations.  He was convicted after trial, and at the time there were concerns about the quality of the ‘disclosure’ provided by the prosecution.  Due to the recent admissions by the police and CPS about past disclosure failures, we have been instructed to consider the case afresh, and decide whether an appeal might now be successful.

After this, I went to the office where I met Gemma. Regan is in a long trial at Birmingham Crown Court relating to the importation and supply of guns.  Gemma is holding the fort while he is busy with that.

I dealt with a client who faces one allegation of careless driving, and one allegation of having his vehicle in a dangerous condition. Our client has indicated to the court not-guilty pleas, which means the court can now set a date for a trial.

Next I made some calls in relation to a road rage incident.  Our client, who is of good character, insists that he only defended himself when attacked by another driver.  I have been asked to chase medical records which the other party seems to be reluctant to provide

After lunch, I dealt with the case of a client who was arrested but released, pending investigation. At the time of our client’s arrest, his car was seized by the police, and he would like it back.  The police are refusing to either give it back, or get on with their investigation.  We are therefore instructed to apply to the court for the return of the car – the police can’t just keep people’s property for as long as they like.

In the late afternoon, we were treated to the spectacle of a fire-breather posing for photographs below our office –

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

Antonia – 1st March, 2018

Today I met Regan and Gemma at the office.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

It was icy at the Custard Factory today

First, I was asked to work on a new instruction.  Our client has instructed us in relation to offences of careless driving and having his vehicle in a dangerous condition, and he is pleading not guilty.  I was tasked with sorting out the early stages of the case.  The police have charged our client, but have provided no evidence of what his driving was like.   Therefore we have asked the court to make stringent directions about the service of evidence in the case.

We had lunch at Hotel dû Vin today, at Birmingham Law Society’s monthly lunch club.  This time the  Lord Lieutenant was the best speaker.  The Lord Lieutenant gave an excellent speech about his career and interests and also about his role as the Queen’s representative.

Back at the office, I worked on the case of a client who is accused of serious offences.  He is due to answer his bail next week, and so I spent some time trying to find out the officers’ intention towards our client.  Knowing this in advance helps us to decide our tactics, and prepare our client.

Finally, I obtained some medical records for a client who is accused of failing to provide a specimen of breath.  This client has a medical defence, and so we need the records to allow an expert to prepare his report in support of the defence.

Antonia – 22nd February, 2018

Today I met Regan at the office.  It was Regan’s last day out of court for the next five weeks, and so we had a very busy day trying to get through as much work as possible.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

I tried to chase up a hospital and a client’s GP to ask whether we should expect some medical records and reports we requested from them.  I emailed them to explain that our client has paid them the fee they requested to release those documents and I am now awaiting for a response.

I then had many phone calls to make:

I began by making a phone call to a client to inform him about a letter we sent to him some days ago.  The letter included a copy of his statement for him to sign, based on the instructions he provided us prior to his motoring appeal.  Our client is currently away from UK, therefore, I left him a voicemail and emailed him as well.

I called another client who was disqualified from driving and for whom the court did not consider our application for an exceptional hardship argument and informed him about a hearing coming up in the next couple of days, where the court will consider our application for his ban to be suspended.

Then, I tried calling a Police Station to get in touch with an officer, who is investigating one of our clients.  This client is accused of assault following a serious road rage incident.  However, we say our client was the victim.  We are chasing the medical evidence up so that we can persuade the police to also investigate the complainant’s conduct.

Another call I had to make was regarding a case where our client has been arrested  on suspicion of drink driving, and when taken to the police station he failed to provide a test specimen.  We requested the CCTV footage from the police, so I called the CPS to ask whether they have it yet or not.  Unfortunately, no CPS lawyer has checked it yet.

Regarding a case I talked about last week, where we cannot get any response from our client’s medical consultant, today I emailed several independent experts, explained our client’s situation and requested a quotation.  This might increase costs slightly for our client, however, it will speed the case along.

Chiamaka – 21st February, 2018

Today I worked with Gemma at the office, dealing with lots of clients’ cases.  These are some examples.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

A client has been disqualified from driving following a mistake by a court.  It is now necessary to appeal against that disqualification, and make an emergency application for the ban to be lifted pending the appeal.  I arranged for the case to be put before the court at the first available date – next week – when Regan will attend to get our client back onto the road.

Another client urgently needs confirmation that his case has been dropped, so that he can demonstrate this to the Australian authorities, in order that he can emigrate.  Bizarrely, courts do not send this confirmation out routinely.  I arranged for the court to certify this fact in a way that will mean that our client can get on with his plans.

A client accused of drink driving disputes the procedure that the police adopted when they breathalysed him.  The forms that the police completed do not show any errors, so it is important to obtain the CCTV.  The police are being very slow to provide this, so I spent part of the day applying pressure to ensure we get it ahead of next week’s hearing.

I liaised with the Staffordshire courts about a motoring case.  Our client faces a driving disqualification, which will mean that she will be unable to work, or take her daughter to the school at which she is settled.  Next week, Regan will argue that these and other circumstances would cause her ‘exceptional hardship’, and try to retain the client’s driving licence.

Antonia – 15th February, 2018

Today I met Regan at the office.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

We had an early meeting with the client who I had seen on the previous two Thursdays, at court.  The purpose of today’s meeting was to hold a conference to discuss the future of the case, now that it is in the Crown Court.

After that we had a meeting with a new client.  Our client is currently on bail and he came to us to get some legal advice.  Regan discussed with him his bail conditions, what possible offences there might be, and the likely sentences.  Together, we came up with a plan for the future of the case, to suit this client.

Yesterday, Gemma, Chiamaka and Regan worked on an urgent case.  My next task today was to go to another firm to collect that client’s files.

We are still trying to get in touch with a client’s medical consultant regarding his case, which I have talked about before.  Despite our several attempts to get a response from the consultant, we did not get any.  Therefore, I tried contacting him again, and also discussed the use of a different expert with the client.

Lastly, I called Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court about a client’s motoring case.  Unfortunately the court has made a mistake, and has overlooked our letter.  It has therefore disqualified our client from driving, rather than adjourn the case.  Unfortunately, the courts are so stretched that these sorts of mistakes are becoming common.  Gemma and I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get this overturned, and Gemma will have to continue tomorrow morning.  In the meantime, our poor client cannot drive!  Once it is all sorted out, we will make a claim for compensation against the court.

Chiamaka – 14th February, 2018

Today I worked with Regan and Gemma at the office.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

A new addition, just outside of our office

When I arrived, I was informed that an urgent client conference was scheduled to take place this morning.  It concerned a planning offence, so I quickly read up on the relevant law.

It is alleged that our client has altered a listed building – a nightclub – when he should not have. He initially pleaded guilty to this charge, but now wishes to change his plea, having been poorly advised in the past.  There is a hearing very soon, at which this application will be made.  If we are successful, his guilty plea will be changed to a not-guilty plea and we will start preparing for trial.

During the conference, our client informed us of what has been going on in his case and what the current position is, given that he has been represented by another solicitor up until today.  We had to talk quickly, and Regan had a lot of questions for the client.  I took a note of what was said at this conference.

As soon as the client left, we all began to work on the case.  Regan wrote out a list of all of the things that had to happen before the end of the day, and we divided the tasks between us.  I worked closely with Gemma to complete all the tasks relating to our client’s case.

Antonia – 8th February, 2018

Today Regan and I went to Coventry Magistrates’ Court for the Pre-Trial Review of the case I attended last Thursday (see below).  In the intervening period, it had become clear that the case was too complicated for the Magistrates’ Court, and so ought to be at the Crown Court.  Regan managed to persuade a reluctant court to send our client’s case to Crown Court and the first hearing will take place in the next couple of months.  Back to the office, I emailed this client, to inform her about the outcome of today’s review.

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Coventry Magistrates’ Court

Regan then gave me a long list of things to do to make sure that we are ready for the next hearing.

In the afternoon, Gemma and I had a meeting with a client who has been charged with driving offences.  Our client provided us with a detailed statement of the day the incident took place and we advised him on what our next step will be.

After that, Regan asked me to do some work on another motoring case, in which we are trying to save a client’s driving licence.

 

Antonia – 2nd February, 2018

Today I worked in the office with Gemma, as Regan was in Weymouth representing an old client.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

Is Weymouth Magistrates’ Court the only court with a view of a marina?

After yesterday’s hearing (see below), Regan had obtained an ‘Achieving Best Evidence’ (ABE) interview from the CPS.  This is a videoed statement made by the complainant in the case – our client’s child.   I was asked to watch the interview, and prepare a summary.  I went through the disk and prepared a document that included all the important things that were mentioned by the child.  Regan will now be able to advise the client about the case, ahead of next week’s hearing.

When I returned to the office after my lunch break, I emailed several adult psychologists to assist us on a case which includes 4 clients.  Our clients were arrested because they were suspected of being connected to a terror attack.  They were treated very badly by the police, despite it being very obvious that they were not actually connected at all.  We are helping them to claim compensation for their unlawful detention, the damage the police caused to their home and possessions, and the psychological damage they have suffered.

Antonia – 1st February, 2018

This morning I worked in the office with Regan and Gemma.

I spent the first part of the morning chasing up expert witnesses and courts in relation to clients’ cases.  It can be frustrating for clients when other parties take a long time to respond, so it is helpful to try to speed things along.

Later, we had a meeting with a new client who is charged with failing to provide specimen of breath at a police station.  Regan began by asking him several questions to understand the facts of the case and then he advised him on what options he has and what the next steps will be for his case.  This client may have a defence, so the next step is to obtain the prosecution evidence and CCTV so that we can advise fully.

After lunchtime I travelled to Coventry with Regan and Avneet, a student who is currently at the firm for work experience.  Our client is charged with child cruelty.  Today, we attended the Magistrates’ Court for a mention.  At that hearing it became clear that the CPS had not managed to get its case together, and so the case was further adjourned to a hearing next week, by which time the CPS must have thoroughly reviewed the case.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

Coventry Magistrates’ Court

While we were waiting at court, we saw some other cases, including one with a defendant who failed to pay his council tax.  It was interesting to watch the way the court went about enforcing this debt.

Chiamaka – 31st January, 2018

I worked with Regan and Gemma at the office today.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

The Custard Factory has had a lick of paint

I made a call to Worcester Magistrates’ Court to find out the next hearing date of a client who is accused of speeding.  This lady faces a totting disqualification, and has instructed us to advance an exception hardship argument to try to keep her on the road.   There was a Single Justice Procedure Hearing yesterday, at which our client’s guilty plea was recorded.  We now need to prepare our detailed submissions, so Gemma will be seeing the client soon to take her instructions.

Next I worked on another motoring case.  This client is accused of failing to name the person driving when an offence was committed.  This is an offence that carries 6 penalty points, so has serious consequences for most drivers.  Our client is adamant that he did respond to the police, and so has a defence.

Then it was time to work on a third motoring case.  This client wishes to persuade the court to overturn the DVLA’s decision to take his driving licence away on medical grounds.  I spent some time trying to hurry the medical experts along, so that we can hopefully get our client driving as soon as possible.

During the course of the day, the Vice President of Birmingham Law Society popped to the office to see Regan.  We had a chat about careers in law.

 

Chiamaka – 24th January, 2018

This morning, I started the day by working on the case of a client who has been charged with common assault.  We have now received the prosecution evidence, which I considered ahead of taking our client’s instructions and preparing the case for trial.

I then dealt with another client’s matter. This client has been charged with speeding. The prosecution have not complied with the court’s direction on the service of evidence.  As we have not received this, we are obliged to inform the court of the CPS’s non-compliance.  Having tried one last time to get the papers from the CPS, I wrote to the court.

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Lincoln Magistrates’ Court

Regan was in Lincoln today, for a client’s motoring trial.  He won the trial, and so obtained a Defence Costs Order.  Gemma and I started work on claiming back this client’s legal fees.

 

Antonia – 19th January, 2018

Today I worked with Regan at the office.

My main task for the day was to review the evidence of the other side from a case that I have worked on before.  Our client is involved in a dispute about some property seized by the police, for which someone else is also claiming ownership.   I spent a long time carefully scheduling the evidence on each side, as we exchanged our evidence yesterday.  After that, I prepared a note for Regan to consider, so that he can advise our client on the merits of his case.  Regan will see the client soon to discuss the next stage of the case.

In the middle of this, the day’s post arrived, and I opened and sorted it.  I was also twice left in charge of the office.  First when Regan went to a Board meeting of Birmingham Law Society, and second when he went to a BLS event to meet some of its student members.

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The future of the legal profession in Birmingham

Antonia – 12th January, 2018

Today I worked with Gemma at the office.

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As soon as I arrived at the office I began checking my tasks list and started going through each task by priority order.

I firstly contacted two clients’ medical consultants, from whom we have requested some medical records. I asked for any further updates and then emailed our clients to update them.  These clients are due compensation, and are anxious.  It is important that we keep them informed about progress in their cases.

Then, I worked on two Defendant’s Costs Order applications.  Where a client wins a trial, or successfully appeals against their sentence, it is possible to recover all or part of their costs.  The first case was an appeal against a driving ban in which Regan persuaded the Crown Court to overturn a driving ban.  and get our client’s driving licence back.  On the second case, our client was found not guilty of assault.

Chiamaka – 10th January, 2018

Today I worked with Regan and Gemma at the office.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

A recent photo taken from our office

My first task in the morning was to liaise with the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to two new instructions.  Both of them are allegations that would see our clients disqualified from driving if they are convicted.  We are keen to get hold of the papers so that we can start work on saving our clients’ licences.

After that I made another call to Bath Magistrates’ Court in relation to another motoring case.  This particular client has been charged with speeding, and he has instructed Regan to mitigate for him at the next hearing.

After lunch, I worked on the case of a client who has been arrested in relation to some very serious offences.  He faces a long prison sentence, but has substantial mitigation.  I reviewed some of the instructions that will help to minimise the sentence.

Antonia – 4th January, 2018

Today I spent the day with Gemma at the office.

Firstly, I worked on a motoring appeal.  Our client represented him self at the Magistrates’ Court, and has instructed us to assist with his appeal against conviction.   Unfortunately the court is being slow at processing the appeal, so I wanted to see if I could speed things up for this client.

We also had two meetings today.

Our first client is involved in a dispute about some property seized by the police.  (I wrote about this case on the 21st of December).  We had a meeting today to go through our evidence and sign off various witness statements to support our case.

Our second client instructed us in relation to a matter of speeding.  He is in danger of a totting disqualification, and wishes to put forward an exceptional hardship argument in order to escape a driving ban.  Our meeting’s aim today, was for our client to provide us with evidence that shows the difficulties he would incur if he was disqualified from driving.

In the afternoon, Gemma asked me to conduct some legal research regarding some possible defences to using a mobile telephone while driving.  This is an area of the law that is arguably out of date now that more people use their smartphones as Sat Navs.

Chiamaka – 3rd January, 2018

I worked with Gemma at the office today.

My first task related to a client who was injured in prison, and who is claiming compensation for this.  I have been working on this case over the last month or so, and my next task was to write to the prison to obtain the relevant records.  Once we have those, we will be able to draft a claim against the prison to get this client the compensation he deserves.

Next I worked on an appeal against the refusal of a driving licence to one of our clients.  We say that this client was incorrectly refused his licence because the DVLA misinterpreted the medical evidence he supplied.  My task today was to begin the process of obtaining further evidence in order to bolster our client’s case.

Finally, I dealt with a knotty problem for a client.  This client was charged in 2012 with 9 motoring offences but he has only just learnt about them.  He has since returned to India, and needs us to sort out his predicament for him, as it is affecting an application for an Australian visa.  We will need to see the papers so we can advise him how to sort the problem out.  This client has been charged with 9 offences, but we hope to reduce them down to 5.

Antonia – 21st December, 2017

First today, I spent some time redacting confidential details from bank statements so that we may serve them on the other party in a Police Property dispute.  In that case, the police seized some property from our client, but someone else also claims ownership of some of the items.  It will therefore be for the Magistrates to decide who owns them.

Then, Gemma asked me to make some phone calls to some consultants.  Our client has had his driving licence revoked on medical grounds.  We are appealing against that, and are in the process of obtaining expert opinion about whether he is safe to drive.

After that, I called different consultants who we are hoping to use to support a claim for compensation for some different clients.  They were treated very badly by the police, to the extent that they have quite serious trauma.  We need psychiatrists to assess how badly they have been damaged.

That was all for today since we left the office in the afternoon and we all went to Gusto Restaurant & Bar to have our Christmas meal.

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Chiamaka – 20th December, 2017

This morning I attended a pre- trial review at Birmingham Crown Court.  The case concerned the co-accused of one of our clients.

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I was instructed by Regan to sit in and take a note of what was said at the hearing.

The purpose of a PTR is to:

  • Check that the parties have complied with all previous court orders and directions.
  • Give directions for the conduct of the trial.
  • Fix a trial timetable if this has not already been fixed.

Our client, who is a co-defendant in this matter, has already pleaded guilty to supplying drugs.  We need to keep a close eye on his co-defendant’s case as the outcome will make a difference to the sentence our client receives.  I took notes of the defence’s submissions as well as the judge’s decisions.

Back at the office, I prepared an attendance note to record what was said at the hearing.  I also wrote to our client to inform him of the outcome of the hearing.

In the afternoon, a client came in for an interview. He has been convicted at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court of four motoring offences. He intends to appeal against these convictions and wanted Regan’s advice on whether he had a chance at winning the appeal. He instructed us to lodge a notice of appeal to the Crown Court. We hope to be successful in the appeal.

Antonia – 18th December, 2017

This morning, I met Regan and Gemma at the office.  Regan had to leave for the court for a robbery case where he was acting for the prosecution, therefore, I spent the day with Gemma.

Gemma asked me to work on a case which I found interesting and confusing at the same time.  A client of ours is running a printing company and has some issues with two of his clients regarding the debts they owe him.

On the first case, a company placed to our client an order which the customer collected without making the payment.  Some days later, our client contacted the customer asking for the payment and he replied that he will made the payment on that date.  Since that day, no payment has been made, nor did the customer answer any phone calls made to him.  We were then instructed by our client in relation to this debt and we found out that the customer has made an application to strike off his company. We have been able to stop the striking off of the company, so that our client will eventually get his money.

The second case for this client is newer.  I had to write the letter before claim, for Gemma’s approval.

Then, I spent some time on a compensation case.  Our client was unlawfully arrested by the police.  The force have today agreed to pay him a large sum of money in compensation.

Antonia – 14th December, 2017

This morning I worked with Gemma and Regan at the office.  As always, I began by checking my emails and tasks list so that I could plan my day.

I began by making a phone call to Birmingham Magistrates’ Court regarding the case of a client of ours to find out the day for the next hearing.  Our client is charged with four offences of speeding and wants to plead guilty.  He will face a totting disqualification and wishes to advance an exceptional hardship argument.  Therefore, we wrote to the court to ask that the case be listed for a 30-minute hearing.

My next task was to purchase and write some Christmas cards from another Custard Factory business in order to send them to our clients who will spend Christmas day in prison.  Thankfully there aren’t many of our clients in prison this year.

After that, I called again Birmingham Magistrates’ Court but for a different case.  This case is about a client who is charged with two offences: speeding and failing to identify the driver.  In this case our client only became aware that he was being prosecuted after the court had convicted him.  So we are working on having those convictions set aside, and the case listed for a trial.

Later on, Gemma asked me to help with a very complicated land law problem that some clients brought to us.  We do not generally do this type of work, but these clients refuse to instruct any other firm.  We are therefore working closely with a firm that specialises in this area of law in order to assist our clients.

I then received an email from Regan which contained the approved judgment from the Court of Appeal on a client’s case.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

The Court of Appeal, Royal Courts of Justice

This judgment was only handed down today, and we were all very excited to read it.  Regan and Gemma are part of a team that is bringing a private prosecution for fraud at Birmingham Crown Court.  A judge at the Crown Court stayed the prosecution as an abuse of process.  But the Court of Appeal has overturned that decision, so that the prosecution can carry on. The judgment can be found here.

Chiamaka – 13th December, 2017

This morning Regan and I visited Leamington Spa Police Station to represent a client in an interview.  Our client was accused of assaulting a taxi driver.  He has an important job, and if he had received either a caution or a conviction, would have lost that job.  In the weeks building up to the interview, Regan had been laying the groundwork for the matter to be dealt with as a ‘local resolution’, so that our client would not lose his job.

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Warwickshire Justice Centre in the snow

It was my first time at a police station and it was interesting to see how things worked.

Before the interview began, Regan, and I sat in with the police officer in order to receive disclosure.  Disclosure is when a police officer explains the reason they suspect a person of committing an offence.  This usually involves revealing what evidence they have of the incident. In our client’s case, this included CCTV footage. The police officer provided us with general information on what happened on the day of arrest and updates on the matter, and then played us the footage.

We then had a chance to discuss the evidence with our client, play him the CCTV footage, and to advise him about what to do.

Once this was over, it was time for the interview. Regan, our client, the police officer, and I were all in attendance.  After the interview, it was agreed that if our client apologised in writing, he would not be prosecuted.  We therefore wrote out a letter of apology.

Not long after we had concluded the interview, we were informed that the taxi driver had accepted our client’s letter of apology. This means our client’s matter has now closed, and he can keep his job.

We got back to the office, and I wrote to our client informing him of the outcome of his matter. I also closed his file.

Later in the afternoon an old client came in to the office to see us.  As it happens, this client is a taxi driver.  Regan had acted for this man in relation to a careless driving allegation.  His insurers had requested more details about the incident, and Regan agreed to write to them setting out what had happened.

After this interview, Regan went to a meeting of the Criminal Committee of Birmingham Law Society, leaving me in charge of the office for the rest of the afternoon. I carried on with other matters that I was assigned for the day.

Antonia – 7th December, 2017

Today I spent the day with Gemma at the office working on several cases.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

The Custard Factory starting to look Christmassy

My first task was to get in touch with Weymouth Magistrates’ Court.  One of our clients is charged with an offence under the Public Order Act 1986, and due there soon.  Unfortunately he has a pre-booked holiday and cannot attend.  We have asked the court to move this hearing date, but the court is having to wait a very long time for the Crown Prosecution Service to indicate whether they object or not.   We will keep trying to ensure that our client can have his holiday!

The second case I was dealing with today, is concerned with a client of ours who is charged with careless driving and whose next hearing will be at Oxford Magistrates’ Court.  In this case, we need to instruct a barrister, and I spent some time sourcing the best barrister for the case, and agreeing a fee on behalf of our client.

After lunch, I chased up some medical reports we need to pursue a client’s compensation claim.  Then I watched some CCTV of what happened in a custody suite when our client was arrested for drink driving.

Chiamaka – 6th December, 2017

Today, I worked with Regan and Gemma at the office.

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Gemma & Chiamaka discussing a case

I made a call to the Court of Appeal Criminal Division.  This was about a case in which the Crown Court imposed a driving ban in circumstances when – the Court of Appeal has held – it should not have.  The Court of Appeal has remitted the case back to the Crown Court, where we hope to persuade a Judge to allow our client back on the road.  Today I was trying to obtain a transcript of the Appeal Court’s judgment to support our client’s case.

Later, I dealt with a debt collection matter.  We are often asked to help small businesses to collect debts owed to them.  This is a new case for a client we have helped before.  In the last case, we obtained judgement, and have been able to prevent the debtor company from voluntarily being liquidated.  We are hoping to force the director of that company to pay up by preventing him from running away from the debt.

In the late afternoon I accompanied Regan to the swearing of a statutory declaration. This is a formal declaration made in a prescribed way, affirming that something is true to the best of the declarant’s knowledge.

Chiamaka – 29th November, 2017

This morning, I met Gemma at the office. Regan was at Dudley Magistrates’ Court representing a client who was accused of drink driving.  The client faced an 18 month driving ban, but the magistrates were persuaded to keep reduce the ban to 12 months.

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Dudley Magistrates’ Court

I spent the morning working on my existing cases.  These included an application for criminal injuries compensation, and a motoring case.  That client will have a trial at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court, where Regan will be representing him.

Regan came in shortly afterwards, and we had an office discussion about how to deal with a difficult case which concerns a client who is accused of assisting people to stay in the country unlawfully.  Between us, we worked out the best approach to the case.

In the afternoon I dealt with an appeal against the refusal of a licence by the Security Industry Authority, which is linked to the judicial review of a Home Office decision.  I spent a long time talking to the courts about these matters.

At 3:30 pm, Regan and Gemma went off to see a client at his home. That client is a young boy who is claiming compensation from the police and social services, because of the way they treated him.  I held the fort once again.

Antonia – 23 November 2017

Today I worked with Gemma at the office, as Regan was in London carrying out a private prosecution.  He was applying for a summons for a businessman who had ripped off his client.  The District Judge issued the summons, and sent the fraud case to the Crown Court, where there will be a trial.

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Barkingside Magistrates’ Court

Firstly, I worked on a Confiscation case.  Regan had helped this client to minimise the amount he had to pay under the Proceeds of Crime Act.   Then, I did some work on a case involving an old client of ours, who is accused of a public order offence in Weymouth.  Regan has acted for this man since he was 13 years old.

Gemma and I then had a meeting in the office with a new client who is trying to get his driving licence back.  His licence was revoked on medical grounds, and we believe that the DVLA have done this incorrectly.  We took all of the instructions we need to lodge the appeal at the Magistrates’ Court and hopefully get this client back on the road.

Chiamaka – 22nd November 17

Today I worked with Regan at the office.  We were joined by a fellow BCU student, Nicola who is on work experience.

This morning I arranged a video conference with a client who is claiming funds from the Criminal Cases Review Commission.  I have been working on her case for a few weeks, and we are starting to progress.

I was present for an interesting client conference this afternoon.  Our client was a serving prisoner at Birmingham Prison when he was attacked by other prisoners, who used coshes and other weapons.  They caused him quite severe mental injuries, and he has ongoing psychiatric problems.  We are helping this client to get from the prison the compensation he needs to live a relatively normal life.

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HMP Birmingham

Another client came in to speak to us. He has been charged with drink driving. During the interview, he told us what happened, and Regan advised him on the possible outcome of his case. The next thing will be his hearing, where he will enter a guilty plea.  We hope to minimise this client’s driving disqualification.

After these interviews, Regan, Nicola and I went out for lunch. We caught up on our daily lives and what we have planned for the rest of the week. It was nice to meet and chat with Nicola.

I spent the rest of the day making phone calls and updating client files.  At about 3.30, Regan had to go to a Birmingham Law Society meeting, and so I was left in charge of the office for the rest of the day.

Antonia – 16th November 17

This morning I went with Regan to Birmingham Crown Court, where we had two cases.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

Birmingham Crown Court

The first case was an appeal against sentence that was listed for ‘mention’.  Our client was convicted of failing to identify the driver of his vehicle at the Magistrates’ Court.  His appeal is in two weeks, so the hearing today was designed to check that everyone is ready.

The second case was the one that Gemma and Chiamaka were working on yesterday (see Chiamaka’s diary below).  Our client had been banned from driving as a ‘totter‘.  He had represented himself at the Magistrates’ Court, but had decided to be represented at his appeal.  Regan managed to satisfy the court that our client’s driving ban was causing him exceptional hardship, and so he got his licence back.  This means that he will be able to work.  This particular client was under a lot of financial pressure, and so being able to drive and therefore work meant a lot to him.

Back at the office we had a meeting with a new client who was arrested because he was driving the wrong way up a street and had an accident.  He informed us that the police want to charge him with dangerous driving.  Regan explained how we might be able to keep this as careless driving, and so save this client’s licence.

I did some work on two other motoring cases.  One concerns driving without due care and attention, and the second client is charged with speeding and failure to give information relating to the identification of the driver of a vehicle.

Finally, I worked on a case in which a young boy and his parents are taking the police and social services to court in relation to their treatment of him.

Chiamaka – 15th November 17

This morning I met Gemma at Moor Street station. It was nice to walk with her to the office, catching up on the progress made in some of my cases over the last week.  Gemma also informed me of some of the tasks to deal with for the day.

Throughout the day, I worked on my existing cases.  This involved chasing courts for adjournment dates, contact with clients, and generally trying to drive the cases forwards.

At the end of the day, Gemma and I had a conference with a client about his case, which is at Birmingham Crown Court tomorrow.  The client was recently disqualified from driving by the Birmingham Justices, and tomorrow Regan will be representing him at his appeal.  The client represented himself at the Magistrates’ Court hearing and felt he could not properly put forward his exceptional hardship argument.  Regan will put forward our client’s arguments tomorrow, in the hope that we can get him back on the road.

Once the client had left, Gemma and I prepared court bundles for tomorrow’s hearing.  Here I am working late, in order to get them ready for the morning –

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Chiamaka in our office

Chiamaka – 8th November 17

Today I had a lot to do, so Regan and I started by organising my time so that I could get through it all efficiently.

I spent the morning working on progressing two of my cases.  In one of them – a drink driving case – I drafted a statement to send to our client’s GP, which will be used in his medical defence.

In both cases, the Crown Prosecution Service have failed to comply with directions made by the court.  I wrote to the court to point this out.  I am told that this is not unusual.  It is important to notify the court, so that we can make applications to benefit our clients if the CPS still doesn’t serve the evidence we need to defend our clients.

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The Custard Factory

After lunch, Gemma and I visited a client’s home to take witness statements from him and his family.  The police have taken a lot of property and money from this family, whilst investigating our client for something that does not concern his family at all.  Soon there will be a hearing at court at which Regan will argue that the items belonging to the family should be returned.  Today, Gemma and I got the evidence that will enable this to be argued properly.

Antonia – 2nd November 17

Today was my fifth day at the office as an intern.

In the morning, two clients swore statutory declarations in front of Regan, relating to their business premises.  Then we headed to Birmingham Magistrates’ Court where Regan and I had video links with two different clients who are currently in prison.  The first client is facing Prison Mutiny charges.  Together, we took her instructions.  The second client is charged with dangerous driving, and supplying class A drugs.  This was the first time Regan had been able to discuss the detail of the case with the client, so they spoke for a long time about the sentencing guidelines, and the ways of mitigating the offences.

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A TV link – waiting for our client

At lunchtime, we attended the monthly lunch club hosted by Birmingham Law Society at Hotel du Vin.  Chiamaka joined us as well.  Jan Teo, who is the current Chief Executive of Birmingham Royal Ballet, gave an amazing and ambitious speech about her background and her career and also about things people do not really know about the Birmingham Royal Ballet.  Lunch at the hotel was also great and it was such an unprecedented experience for me, meeting new people, introducing myself as an intern at the firm, and discussing different stuff with them.

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Hotel dû Vin

Getting back to the office, we had a meeting with a new client.  He has a history of many driving disqualifications.  He wishes to apply to the Crown Court for the return of his licence. Before the meeting, I read the relevant statutory provisions in order to be informed.  Regan  advised this client that he has a good chance of getting back on the road, and we will begin working on his case soon.

Chiamaka – 1st November 17

Today started with a meeting with senior staff of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). Regan and I had been invited to accompany an academic, Kohn Kendall, to discuss custody visitors, and conditions in custody suites generally.  John is an enthusiastic gentleman who worked as a solicitor for 25 years. He later retired and decided to volunteer as a custody visitor. During his many visits to prison cells, he found that the welfare of detainees being held in police custody has almost completely been ignored by PCCs around the country, who are in charge of running the custody visiting scheme. The reason for the meeting with the PCC’s team was for John to introduce his thesis to this public body. This was in fact the first time he was bringing his research to a public body.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

Lloyd House

On our short walk to the PCC headquarters, I asked John questions about his motive for wanting to prepare his PhD on this subject.

At the meeting with PCC’s team, John talked about his views on custody visiting and highlighted a number of changes he feels should be made to it. Fortunately, the team responded really well to his views. They acknowledged that there are several improvements to be made on the running of this scheme, particularly on the training of visitors. I found John’s  perseverance very intruiging and motivating.

After the meeting, we headed back to the office. I carried on working on the cases I have been assigned.  This included drink driving, and handling stolen car parts.

Antonia – 26th October 17

Today I met Gemma at the office with Lily who is currently at the office for some work experience.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

Our office

The day began by completing various important tasks on the cases I have picked up over the last few weeks.  I also made a phone call to the court, in order to book a video link conference.

In one interesting case, our client is a defendant in a civil claim.  Our client intends to defend all of this claim and wishes to make a counter claim.

After the lunch break, we had a meeting with a client who is trying to renew his taxi licence.  His application was rejected due to his medical record.  The client has therefore instructed us to assist with his appeal to the Magistrates’ Court.

In my opinion, the most fascinating part for today was when I was given a the prosecution case to go through on another client’s matter.  It included witness documentary evidence such as witnesses’  statements, photographs as well as exhibits from the defendants’ electronic devices.  The case is about 2 defendants who are charged with: dangerous driving, and possessing controlled drugs.  We have a video link with one of the defendants, our client, in order to discuss further about the case and I am looking forward attending it.

The day ended with a meeting with a client who faces some motoring offences which he states he did not commit and that most probably someone else is using his name and details instead of his real personal information.  He found out he had been convicted 3 times when deductions were made from his earnings.  He came in last week and swore a statutory declaration as this allows the court to re open the case.  Now we must prepare his defence.

Chiamaka – 25th October 17

This morning I met Gemma at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court, to see a client by video link. This is an easier and faster way to see clients who are in prison. The client is likely to be charged with prison mutiny. Gemma and I took notes of the client’s instructions so we can follow up on any issues. Back at the office, I prepared an attendance note so that Regan can consider the best way of dealing with the or the client we saw in the morning.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

Birmingham Magistrates’ Court

The leading case of R v Ghosh has been overturned. As this is a significant change in criminal law, Regan asked me to read this up and make a note to highlight the change.

Antonia – 19th October 17

Today I met Gemma and Regan at the office.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

The Custard Factory

It was a truly productive day, working on lots of different matters.  I also looked at some areas of law that I have not seen before.

I worked on the case of a client who is accused of failing to provide a specimen of breath for analysis.  He has a medical defence, and we hope to keep him on the road.

Then I spent some time preparing for a hearing next week, about the theft of museum pieces.  We are arguing with the prosecution about how much our client should have to pay on his confiscation order.  They were saying £11m, but we have them down to £4m now!

Next I arranged for Regan and me to see a client by video link to the prison they are in.  This is a good way of seeing clients more often than we would otherwise be able to.

This afternoon, Regan asked me to help with the drafting of a Non Disclosure Agreement for a client.  We worked through that together, and were able to send the agreement through for our client’s approval.

Finally, I went with Regan to see some clients swear Statutory Declarations.  This is something I had not seen before.

Chiamaka – 18th October 17

Today, I was at the office to see three clients.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

Our office

Our first client’s business premises and home were raided by the police about six months ago.  The police took his property as part of their investigation, but have not done anything with it, or even interviewed our client.  They have tens of thousands of pounds of equipment, possessions and cash, and yet are refusing to do anything with it at all.  We are therefore applying to the court for the return of all of the items and money.  The client had come into the office to discuss the draft application before it is sent, so that we could make sure that everything in it was right.  Later in the day, we lodged the application, and soon there will be a hearing at which the Magistrates will decide whether the police should return everything.

Our second client is accused of possession and supply of drugs. Regan discussed the evidence with him, and planned the future of the case.  That client is facing a trial in Hull, but is very keen to have a solicitor he trusts to represent him.

Our third client has been on bail for a long time while the police investigate him.  A month or so ago, the Magistrates refused to vary his bail conditions, but got the law wrong.  So Gemma and Regan have lodged a Judicial Review of the Magistrates’ decision.  Last week the police applied to the Magistrates’ Court to extend the period our client can be on bail.  Gemma lodged detailed objections to the application.  The court refused the application, but accidentally told our client, us and the police that it had been granted!  So our client has spent 9 extra days complying with his bail conditions when he wasn’t on bail at all.  It was only when Gemma did some extra digging at the court that this came to light.  Our client came into the office to talk about the future of the Judicial Review, and claiming compensation from the Magistrates’ Court for the mistake, which led to him not being able to go home for an additional 9 days.

All of these cases led to Regan and Gemma giving me a lot of work to do, so I was very busy for the rest of the day!

Antonia – 12th October 17

Today I spent most of the day with Gemma at the office.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

Our office

Despite the fact that I did not attend any courts today, it still was such an exciting day, full of new and unusual tasks for me.  I had my very first phone calls to a prison and to the court in order to arrange a video link with a client of ours who is facing Prison Mutiny charges. I also  researched the Mutiny offence in Blackstone’s Criminal Practice to identify what it must be proven in order for our client to be found guilty.  Then, I spent some time working on the case.

At lunchtime Gemma and I had a quick break, got back to the office and then Regan arrived.  I was asked to chase up some medical records that we need to support one of our clients’ defences.

Chiamaka – 11th October 17

In the morning, Regan and I attended Birmingham Magistrates’ Court for our client’s first appearance. This client is charged with failing to provide a specimen of breath for analysis, like one of the clients I met last week.  This client has a medical defence. At the hearing, he entered his not guilty plea and the court set a trial date. The court made a number of directions about the future of the case.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

Birmingham Magistrates’ Court

After the hearing, we came back to the office. I immediately started working on our client’s case.  The key thing in this case is to obtain the medical evidence that our client needs to support his defence.  I hope to be able to obtain this evidence next week, before we see the client to take his detailed instructions.

Antonia – 5th October 17

Today was my first day at the firm.

I met Regan at Birmingham Crown Court, since had a case to deal with this morning. This was actually my first time in any court and I can say that it was such an interesting day, seeing how the court works and some of its procedures.  Our client was having his first appearance in the Crown Court, and is accused of conspiring to supply guns.  After the hearing we went into the cells to discuss the future of the case with him.

Over lunch, Regan and I discussed the questions I had about the case.

In the afternoon we went to Birmingham Magistrates’ Court to deal with the enforcement of a Confiscation Order.  The prosecution and court agreed to adjourn matters to allow our client to sort the order out.  I was really impressed with the beautiful building.

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

Birmingham Magistrates’ Court

Back at the office, I met Gemma.  She showed me how to use the firm’s case management system, and some general office tasks.

Chiamaka – 4th October 17

Today was my first day as an intern, although I did a week of work experience over the summer.  So I already knew Regan and Gemma, and the way the office works.

No sooner had I arrived than our first client of the day came to the office.  He is accused of failing to provide a specimen of breath for analysis.  We sat him down, and listened to what he said happened.  The client is worried because he is a professional driver, and a driving ban will mean that he cannot work.  Regan advised him that he has a defence to the allegation because the police officers did not follow the correct procedure.  Hopefully, he will win his trial and so be able to keep working.

Our second appointment was with a man who had some computers seized by the police.  The police never arrested him, or prosecuted him, but have not given the equipment back after more than a year!  We are going to help him to sue the police for compensation.

At lunchtime, Regan, Gemma and I went for lunch, pausing to take this photo –

Birmingham City University, Interns’ Diary

Chiamaka at the Custard Factory

My afternoon was spent opening files for the new cases, and writing to the prosecution to request papers so that we can begin work on saving my first client’s driving licence.