Posts Tagged ‘ nottingham ’


YOU KNOW YOU ARE GETTING OLDER…..

Written by admin
September 23rd, 2019

They used to say you know you’re getting older when the police officers look younger.  Then they used to say you know you’re getting older when the magistrates start looking younger.  For those of us practising in Nottingham it’s going to be a question of you know you’re getting older when the police stations start looking younger.

Back in 1995 a brand new £28m custody facility opened on the banks of the Trent Canal in Nottingham.  It was linked to the new, all-singing, all-dancing Magistrates’ Court.  The Magistrates’ Court itself was something of which the city was so proud they decided to licence its foyer for wedding ceremonies.  Concerts took place on the paved area outside the police station and it was deemed to be “the police station of the future”.

The custody sergeants were housed on a raised platform, which resembled nothing more than the deck of the Starship Enterprise.  There were more computers in the custody suite than there had been on Apollo 11 and the entire facility was watched over by a “new-fangled” CCTV system.

24 years on and it has all changed.  The talk is the closure and the building of a new “all-singing-all-dancing” not to mention “new-fangled” police station on a wasteland in a part of the city which has been calculated to be closest to most of the incidents to which officers are called.  The fact that the new police station will not link to any court buildings and will necessitate hundreds of thousands of pounds per year being spent on transporting prisoners, is a mere incidental.

For those of us who saw the police move from The Guildhall cells and the old Central Police Station to the brand new Bridewell, we can only reflect on the passing of time and the arrival of yet another generation of both police stations and criminal solicitors in Nottingham.

SLAUGHTER OF THOSE PROTECTING THE INNOCENT

Written by admin
September 3rd, 2019

Figures published by CLSA and The Law Society indicate a 29% drop in the number of duty solicitors since 2016.  This has caused us to review our own position and the position of duty solicitors in the areas that we serve.

As far as duty solicitors in Nottingham are concerned, there was a time when 104 names appeared on the duty solicitor rota.  In October there will be no more than 71.  Plainly, this fall is higher than the national average.

As far as duty solicitors in Derby are concerned, at the high tide there were 74 names on the rota, but as of October 2019 it will be down to 51.   A dramatic fall for a rota that has to provide duty solicitors for Derby, Ilkeston, Ripley, Alfreton and beyond.

In Sheffield, it is harder to compare numbers of duty solicitors as the closure of the Rotherham court has confused matters to some extent.  The simple reality however is that for a city of well over half a million people there are only 46 duty solicitors on the rota.  With three duty solicitors required to attend court Monday to Friday, this is a real problem area.

In Barnsley, the number of duty solicitors has fallen from 25 to 16.  Doncaster duty solicitors are down from 38 to 23.  In Grimsby there are now 19 duty solicitors to cover an area that used to have both a Scunthorpe and a Grimsby rota handling the work.

The Lincoln duty solicitor rota at current shows 19 names, but this substantial university town is likely to be by no more than 17.

There can be no doubt that the failure to increase rates for remuneration and the growing distance involved in travelling to service “local” clients are factors that are contributed to the disappearance of enthusiastic young solicitors and the early retirement of those who have been doing it for many years.  If ever there was a time for the government to address the factors that have seen this service cut to the bone, it must surely be now.

A GREAT MAN MUCH MISSED

Written by admin
August 13th, 2019

It is now 10 years since the sad and early death of our Partner David Graham.  David was a lyrical and persuasive advocate who everyone loved to hear.  He encouraged and supported younger staff who were struggling to find their feet and a consummate manager at both our Nottingham and Derby offices.

Those of us who were lucky enough to work with David regularly talk of him with immense fondness.  There are more stories about David than anyone else who has ever worked with us and the telling of those stories always results in gales of laughter.  Inevitably, we always speculate as to things he might have done or said as new challenges come our way.

Rest in peace David, ten years on you’re still much missed.

NOTTINGHAM VIA ROTHERHAM AND SHEFFIELD

Written by admin
May 13th, 2019

The Johnson Partnership are delighted to announce the appointment of Annette Thomas to our Higher Courts Advocate Team.

Having started her legal career with Nottingham with Messrs Bhatia Best Annette has gained considerable experience with firms in Chesterfield, Rotherham and Sheffield. We are delighted to say that she has agreed to join us at The Johnson Partnership, being principally based at our Nottingham office.

Living in the Chesterfield area, Annette is perfectly positioned to help with cases in the Crown Courts at Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield, Lincoln, and even, at a push, Hull and Grimsby. We are delighted to have been joined by an experienced advocate with skill, judgement and insight in abundance. Annette’s calm and considered approach puts colleagues and clients at ease, knowing that they are dealing with a consummate professional.

CLOSENESS IS TOO COSY FOR COMFORT

Written by admin
March 15th, 2019

The arrival of a new super custody suite for South Humberside throws up all the usual questions for the Defence solicitors in the area. Traditionally, Defence solicitors in South Humberside are based either in Scunthorpe or Grimsby. Strictly speaking, the new custody suite is not in the centre of either of these two population centres.

Obviously, there is the possibility for new offices to be opened close to the new custody suite, but as ever, this begs the question of whether an office close to a police station really does bring the expected return.

How many people leave the police station and decide the first place that they want to go rather than home, the pub, their drug dealer or McDonald’s is actually their solicitor. How many people arrive at the police station under their own steam only to think at the last minute “Oh that’s what I forgot! A solicitor!” Those arriving in custody having been transported by the police tend to arrive at the rear of police stations and do not pass the open arms of the Defence solicitors whose offices have been invitingly opened nearby. Even those who are driven to the front of the station are unlikely to take in the subtleties of the names of particular firms.

Inevitably then, it seems likely that The Johnson Partnership will not be opening a new office near to South Humberside’s new custody centre.

In recent times, a small rank of well-established Defence firms have opened in the proximity of Derby’s St Mary’s Wharf custody suite. One of our competitors, when relocating within Chesterfield city centre, decided that an office, cheek by jowel with the town’s police station, was a good investment. Within our area, only the wise folk of Sheffield seem to have decided that relocating to the unlovely, unprepossessing, inconvenient and unwelcoming area of the new Shepcote Lane custody suite would be a poor idea.

Discussions with clients show that they tend to be suspicious of many Defence solicitors who are seen as part of the establishment. The Duty Solicitor Scheme has, from time to time, fallen into disrepute, because clients have believed that duty solicitors were “police solicitors”. To do anything to bolster this idea of cosiness seems to be, if not commercial suicide, certainly a serious commercial illness which might result in some haemorrhaging of clients.

Whether it be Nottingham, Derby, Chesterfield, Mansfield, Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster, Scunthorpe, Grimsby or Lincoln, The Johnson Partnership are pleased to assert our independence, whether it be from police officers, prisons, the Youth Offending Team, the probation service, Judges, prosecutors, or whosoever else may be part of our system.

THE MATHS ADD UP FOR LOONY LISTING

Written by Sian Hall
March 27th, 2018

Few can truly doubt the integrity of Crown Court Listing Departments throughout the country. Certainly, Crown Courts in Nottingham, Sheffield, Derby, Lincoln, and Grimsby all bear the hallmarks of hardworking teams of people with a good understanding trying to do their best for everyone.

Nevertheless, the fact that listing is a problem is something that cannot be doubted. This week, on one day, the firm had six trials, all removed from the list at less than 48 hours’ notice. There was undoubtedly good reason for this. The courts in which the cases were due to be heard were busy indeed throughout the rest of the week. With one exception, all of the cases went off to new trial dates in August.

In spite of howls of derision from the profession, the MOJ have stoically refused to do anything about the problem. There is scope to agree to further judge sitting days! There is scope to designate empty Magistrates’ Court facilities as temporary Crown Courts. Sadly, both of the above require extra funding.

It is not just that extra funding hits the MOJ’s current budget. In reality, there is a twofold gain for the Ministry. By not spending money on judges and extra courtrooms, they avoid unintended and unexpected expense. By ensuring that cases are adjourned for a period of four to five months equally ensure that the bills to be submitted by advocates and litigators for those matters fall into the next financial year. Indeed, there is also the third potential benefit of complainants or defendants losing the will to fight, or cases being side-tracked by new charges or new proceedings, which can lead to extra savings as trials fail to take place at all.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that delay and adjournments are the sole brothers and sisters of a financially hamstrung Ministry of Justice.

THE INS AND OUTS OF LEICESTER

Written by Sian Hall
March 15th, 2018

Isn’t it strange how some journeys are just “too much”. Geographically it may be exactly the same length as innumerable, comparable journeys, but one way or another they never work.

This particular predicament has been highlighted by us being offered the services of not one but two Leicester based solicitors who are looking to jump ship and move firm. Both solicitors are high quality candidates at different points in successful careers. With a Nottingham or Derby base, there could be no doubt that we would be delighted to avail ourselves of their services. Sadly, however, bitter experience shows that a life spent travelling between Leicester and Nottingham or Leicester and Derby tends to be a short one and not a particularly merry one.

Servicing police stations in Leicester never seems to be a problem. To reach into Leicester to attend a police station or at the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court has never been a difficulty. Reaching out from Leicester to do a job based in Derby or Nottingham is something that has just never worked. Derby to Nottingham: yes! Nottingham to Derby: Yes! Nottingham to Lincoln (a longer journey): Yes! But Leicester to Nottingham or Leicester to Derby: just “No”.

OUT OF TOWN IS OUT OF MIND

Written by Sian Hall
December 12th, 2017

In a time when more and more firms of solicitors are moving to sites outside of city centres with modern facilities and parking outside the front door, The Johnson Partnership has made a conscious decision to remain true to our inner city roots.

In recent times we have had to give consideration to whether or not we could better serve our clients by moving to locations on business parks or new developments anywhere between a mile or three miles from their local town or city centre.

Although the prospect of ample parking and high speed broadband are immensely tempting, we have always been left reflecting how inaccessible such premises would be to the vast majority of our clients. Even though they could travel to offices by private car they have still expressed the opinion that they would rather tie in a trip to the solicitors with a visit to other city centre locations, rather than having to make a special trip to the middle of somewhere approaching nowhere.

The proximity to courts, police stations, Crown Prosecution Service offices, and the like gives us an unassailable advantage when it comes to looking after clients arrested on warrants, requiring quick interviews or needing urgent conferences.

While it can be true that there is relatively little passing trade for criminal solicitors, it is equally true that many clients with current cases will want to call in for a quick but urgent reassurance.

As far as staff are concerned, the prospect of palatial premises with accountants and government departments as neighbours is tempting; but never quite as tempting as the stores, bars, cafes, and restaurants of a good old town or city centre.

There is of course an argument to suggest that our slightly unusually situated Sheffield office breaks the mould. While not in a new purpose built professional palace, it does occupy the singular and characterful premises of the old Banners Department store loved by thousands!

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