Sunday, 22 March 2015

Broadchurch creator comes out fighting to defend second series

Broadchurch - Tennant & Colman

I came to the Broadchurch party much later than most (in fact, only since earlier this year), but I’ve watched series one and two twice now. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time.

For what it’s worth, I’m also giving Gracepoint a bash – the bizarre and spectacularly bad remake of Broadchurch, re-engineered to be spoon-fed to American audiences. From the uninspiring location, poor casting, and a complete lack of chemistry between any of the actors, it’s a very poor imitation. On top of all that, David Tennant’s laughably bad American accent - which slips more often than it stays - pretty much drives that final nail home. Seriously: just don’t bother. I bet Tennant wishes he hadn’t as well.

Gracepoint10-part mystery? The only mystery is why it was commissioned in the first place.


Now the dust has settled from series two of Broadchurch, its creator, Chris Chibnall, has come out in combative fashion to defend his baby from the tirade of indignation produced in response to certain aspects of Joe Miller’s trial.

From the Guardian 04/03/15:

This series of Broadchurch, just like the first, garnered plenty of media coverage and opinions. After the early storms (Mumblegate! Music-too-loud-gate! Ratings-wobble-gate!), […] there’s one issue I do want to address: Legalgate!

There’s been plenty of discussion over the accuracy of our portrayal of the trial process. Some argued our court story would never happen. Our research and advisors suggested otherwise.

The story was devised as the result of months of research and consultation. […] The shape and detail of the series was based on their responses. As I wrote, all three advisers (legal and police) were continually consulted. They read and gave notes on every script.

Broadchurch has always been about the impact of crime, on all those affected. The research made me wonder how our characters would fare under the rigours and vagaries of a trial. What’s the emotional cost to witnesses and the families of victims in an adversarial system? It was a story I hadn’t seen and one I wanted to explore.

I knew it would be a big risk to develop and reshape the show this way. […] That choice meant complex procedure had to be compressed. […] Murder trials often last around four weeks. So exact process and wording has to be dramatised.

That’s not a scandal: it’s a legitimate dramatic technique. Drama is not a literal portrayal of events. It’s a depiction, it’s impressionistic.

Oooh. I can already sense criminal lawyers up and down the country smarting over that final comment. A TV show daring to stray from a faultlessly accurate portrayal of the English criminal justice system? Whatever next?

I’m not sure Chibnall needed to dignify the critics’ objections with a response, frankly. I don’t think I would have. People are always inclined to get their panties in a bunch over these things and lawyers are more guilty of it than most. Social media makes it all too easy.

Despite all the noise, despite the fact we took a big creative risk in our second series, our audience of more than nine million came with us, and stayed. […] Some enjoyed the second series less than the first: that’s definitely allowed. We’re now working on the third series. It will be different again. There’ll be plenty more to discuss.

So it’s pretty clear that Hardy didn’t get into that taxi at the end of series two (he finally buttoned his collar and straightened his tie for nothing, then).  But where might the story go from here? Here are some of my thoughts.

*** BIG SPOILER ALERT … I MEAN, REALLY BIG ***
(Don’t read any further if you haven’t seen series one and two.)

The Sandbrook trials are held. There’s got to be at least one ‘not guilty’ plea in there. The show’s anything but predictable after all.

There’s a significant new crime to solve (or at least cause for some more off-duty sleuthing by Hardy and Miller). Given that the Tennant-Colman interplay seems to be the backbone of the show - and the only thing to be universally praised throughout the two series - the storyline of series three has to provide enough room to accommodate more of Hardy and Miller’s inimitable set pieces.

Joe Miller comes back. How could he not? And I’ve a sneaky feeling he’ll want access to his kids. Maybe he’s also going to want Ellie to pay for her role in banishing him from the town.

Joe Miller’s guilt or innocence is confirmed. For a while now, I’ve had an inkling it was Tom Miller who killed Danny and Joe confessed to take the rap for his son. Stranger things have happened. Or what if Tom’s younger brother, Fred, did a ‘Bobby Beale’ on poor Danny? Ok – that one’s less likely, I admit.

The postman killed Danny. What were he and Danny arguing about back in series one? That was never explained, was it?

The prosecution’s contention was correct and Mark Latimer did indeed kill his son and it was Nige Carter (‘that other bald bloke’) who was seen moving the body. Mark’s ‘I-was-writing-a-letter-to-my-wife-saying-our-marriage-was-over’ thing, all after a one-off bonk with another woman on the back seat of her car, never rang true.

In a similar vein, Hardy and Miller were having an affair, and did plot to put Joe away. But that still doesn’t explain who killed Danny.

All of the protagonists were responsible for Danny’s murder – a la Murder on the Orient Express? You never know.

Whatever series three has in store, I sense it’s going to be quite a ride.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Top Five Ways to Guard Against Data Theft

Guest PostSecurity Shredding
Businesses deal with sensitive data on a regular basis – and if this data falls into the wrong hands, it could severely compromise the reputation and security of a company and its clients. That’s why it’s important for all businesses, whether large or small, to protect their data and documentation properly. Your business can ensure its data security in a number of ways. Some simply require the changing of old habits, whilst some may require a cash outlay – but such an outlay is nothing compared to the disastrous consequences should your business suffer a data theft.

Password Protection
Use password protection for all devices, including laptops and smartphones as well as your company’s networks and accounts. Encourage staff to create unique passwords for all online accounts, using combinations of upper-case and lower-case letters, numbers and other characters.

Antivirus Software
Protect your computer from viruses, spyware and malware by installing reliable antivirus software. A strong firewall is also necessary, as are regularly-installed updates. Many staff will choose not to install updates as it is time-consuming – but this leaves their computers at risk of attack.

Email Security
Ignore emails from unfamiliar parties, even if they have appeared in your inbox rather than your junk mail. Any emails asking you to verify details such as credit card or account numbers ought to immediately set off warning bells and should be ignored.

Employee Training
Even if you’re confident that your trade secrets are safe with you, it doesn’t mean your employees are also keeping schtum - and they may not even realise when they’re giving away confidential data. Make it clear to your employees what aspects of your business they are and are not allowed to share with others.

Data Destruction
The only sure-fire way to protect your data is to ensure that once it’s no longer needed, it is destroyed. Document shredding companies such as Datashredders can visit your premises in a mobile shredding vehicle to provide full shredding services, not only for paper documents, but also laptops, hard drives, data discs and more, providing a Certificate of Destruction upon completion of the job for added peace of mind. Outsourcing your company’s shredding to a service such as Datashredders also frees up dozens of valuable staff hours to work on more profitable tasks.

In this day and age, even information which seems inconsequential to you could be hugely beneficial to your business’s competitors and rivals. But simply by making a few small changes to staff habits, making sound investments in security and by putting data destruction into the hands of professionals such as Datashredders, you can protect your business from data theft.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Death in the digital age: managing digital assets

Sponsored Post

Death in the Digital Age
We all have scores of online accounts these days.  The value of the information associated with those accounts can be huge – both financially and in other, more nuanced ways.   Take, for instance, online storage services, to which years of photos or video footage (and the memories connected with that) can be uploaded. Or a blog with thousands of blog posts published over a period of years.  Until quite recently, this type of digital content hadn't been considered by those making wills, and even now it's the exception rather than the norm.

I’ve blogged previously about some of the difficulties associated with digital assets when someone dies.  As more and more aspects of our lives occur online, or at least have an online element, remembering to include digital assets when drafting wills becomes ever more important.

The Co-operative Funeralcare have published a report revealing that of the 94 per cent of UK adults who hold online accounts, 75 per cent of those have not considered or made arrangements for the management of their digital presence after they die. 

At best, omitting digital assets from a person’s will may leave a number of untidy loose ends.  That can bring with it additional anguish for those they leave behind - adding to their grief - and it can leave the administrators of their estate uncertain whether they are acting in accordance with the deceased’s wishes.  At worst, precious and irreplaceable memories could be lost forever - a heart-breaking prospect

Amongst other things, the Co-op’s report highlights the adverse impact that omitting digital assets is having on those who have been bereaved.  Some 78 per cent of those who have managed a loved one’s online accounts following their death report having experienced difficulties in winding up the account, and a fifth of those found it so difficult, they abandoned their attempts altogether.  

16 per cent of people surveyed for the report said they would want their next of kin to have access to their social accounts given the sentimental value associated with the data.  Even more interesting, 14 per cent of those surveyed stated they would want their families to stay in touch with the online contacts they had built up throughout their lifetime.

There’s a real financial impact, too.  The report found that the average UK adult accumulates personal digital capital such as music, films or books worth £265.  That means for the 500million online accounts and assets that exist throughout the UK, a staggering £17 billion worth of assets could be left ‘floating’ in cyberspace.  

Sam Kershaw, Director of Operations for The Co-operative Funeralcare, said: “Conversations about end of life  are never easy.  However, as we increasingly live and manage our lives online, communicating with a loved one about the accounts you hold and what you would want to happen to them may greatly help should they ever need to access, manage or close accounts on your behalf.” 

But the answer isn’t as straightforward as leaving log-in details and passwords set out in wills. James Antoniou, Head of Wills for the Co-operative Legal Services, acknowledged: “It is important that people are aware that they should never leave online passwords in their will as it can become a public document after death. Individuals can, however, leave details of the online accounts they hold in a sealed letter alongside their will and addressed to their executors to ensure that their digital lives are not missed, or forgotten about, once they have passed away.”

To help consumers plan for manage digital legacies, The Co-operative Funeralcare has developed a guide offering advice and information about managing and protecting online accounts and assets, as well as identifying the accounts of loved ones who have died.  The accompanying infographic can be viewed here.  

Further information is available at www.co-operativefuneralcare.co.uk

Monday, 23 February 2015

Employment Law Tribunals vs The Small Business

Guest PostEmployment Law Tribunal
No company, big or small, is exempt from the potential threat of an employment law tribunal. But for the owners of smaller businesses the threat could affect their entire livelihood due to the financial consequences that may result.

However, there are certain ways that a small company can lessen the chances of a tribunal loss; namely by being fully prepared for the tribunal long in advance of the day.

The following are a few of the best ways to ensure that you're ready for all aspects of an employment law tribunal.

Analyse every detail of the case
Having a wide knowledge of the employment law legislation you're facing is vital, as you need to supply your solicitor with as much information of the case as possible, so they can judge how to prepare their strategy most effectively.

Make certain that all materials you need to support your case, such as documents and statements, are ready well in advance so you are best prepared for any line of questioning the prosecution explores.

When it comes to the materials of your defence, you are required to present the claimant's council with all documents you intend to use at least seven days before the tribunal date.

Be meticulous in your analysis of the events leading up to the claim and trace every bit of interaction between you and the employee to make sure you don't overlook something that could prove vital to your case. This could mean the difference between winning and losing.

If you have trouble understanding a particular area of UK employment law legislation, consult the UK government website where all UK tribunal laws are explained.

Urge an alternative hearing
It may be easier for both parties if you settle the case outside of a tribunal. Suggesting an alternative is not a sign of weakness but rather shows that you're willing to be fair and are prepared to compromise.

This is also a beneficial alternative for the employee as claimants are now liable for the full tribunal fee; a requirement implemented in July 2013.

There are also employment relation organisations that can help solve legal affairs independent of the tribunal system, and are able to negotiate a settlement through interaction with the employment law solicitors of each side.

Rehearse thoroughly
Be sure to rehearse the day with your employment law solicitor in order to review every area of the case.

This might include participation from witnesses. If so, make sure they are fully aware of what will likely be asked of them, and give them plenty of time of preparation time.

Should you find a witness refusing to give evidence, you can legally bring them to a tribunal by serving them with a 'witness order' through the courts.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Law Actually is eight years old

Birthday Cake

I know.  I know! I can barely believe it either.

Go on, admit it: you didn’t think I’d still be here, did you?

I’ve just spent the last ten minutes or so looking at my previous Law Actually birthday posts, and reminiscing.  What struck me is just how long eight years is, and how much the blawgosphere has evolved [read: withered and died] in that time.

There’s no point pretending blogging is what it once was.  I think it’s still got it’s place in the world, but its present status alongside some of the more mainstream social media channels is pretty insignificant.

Still, longevity must count for something.  While I preferred the first four years of blogging on Law Actually much more than I have these last four, I’m glad I’m still here, occupying this tiny little part of cyberspace. 

Friday, 6 February 2015

Facebook now cited in a third of divorces

Guest PostFacebook - Divorce
The power and influence of social media in relationships has been highlighted by recent research, which has claimed that Facebook is now cited in one-third of all divorce cases.

According to a report produced by Lake Legal, which involved the collation of figures from legal firms’ statistics, the popular social network is often relied upon by disgruntled partners looking to highlight their spouse’s unreasonable behaviour.

All too often, Facebook provides evidence of new relationships and infidelity, while also helping husbands and wives to track their estranged partner’s movements. What’s more, the social networking powerhouse also records expenditure on luxurious items such as holidays and cars.

A number of divorce cases revolve around social media users who have reconnected with old partners who they may not have spoken to in years, spelling bad news for existing relationships should temptation take hold.

Now, solicitors are warning that social media actually provides an ongoing storyline of users’ lives. Sharing statuses and written posts, along with pictures and tagging provides a record of activities that could be used against them in a court case. Not only that, if an individual discusses their employment opportunities, plans for a holiday or reveals a recent windfall on Facebook, it may provide proof that they are lying about their financial position.

Similarly, photographs uploaded to social media profiles, and the comments made on these, can be used as evidence of a new romance, which can then be used against a party in court by a partner who refuses to accept responsibility for the breakdown of the marriage.

Nicki Welch Family Law advisor of Percy Hughes and Roberts said: “While the internet does provide a large quantity of extremely useful information, users should have more of an awareness of how much they are telling people online. This data is easily accessible and may be used against them should anything untoward take place.”

This is without going into evidence culled from mobile telephones, particularly texts which are very frequently produced in court in family law cases. Many a person is now confronted in court by copies of abusive and sweary texts they have sent to an estranged partner. It somehow looks so much worse when presented in black and white.

Text in haste repent at leisure.

Percy Hughes and Roberts family and divorce solicitors have a wide range of experience dealing with family disputes.  If you feel you require legal assistance, speak to an expert today.

Video Links for Courts and the Legal Profession

Guest Post Legal video conference
In the past few years, it has become increasingly acceptable for Judges to receive evidence and testimonies from witnesses in both criminal and civil cases. A video conference is often referred to as a video link within the legal profession.

Here at Eyenetwork we’ve been assisting solicitors and barristers for many years, either providing public facilities for the witnesses overseas, or bridging service between the court and remote locations.

Many courts have installed video conference equipment, but pre-2000 when it was not so common, we were involved in setting up a ground breaking videoconference which created a legal precedent. Mander Hadley & Co, a Coventry based legal practice specialising in personal injury claims decided to use Eyenetwork to help set up a temporary courtroom based in Birmingham, that was complete with judge, clerk and the necessary legal, administrative and recording personnel. The video conference equipment was used to connect with a number of witnesses in Malaysia.

Paul Scott of Mander Hadley & Co said “this is a ground-breaking case. The judge found it easy to talk to the family and witnesses using the video link, and quickly put them at their ease. That was a significant benefit. He treated the occasion as though we were all in the same room, and this has to be another advantage of the videoconference.” Damages of £1million were paid to the claimant.

As many courtrooms now have video conference equipment installed it is not necessary to move the court and personnel to another location as in this instance. However the witnesses still do need to use a public video conference facility to link with the court. There are over 3000 of these public facilities around the world, they can be hired by the hour and a video conferencing services company such as Eyenetwork can arrange this.

We are often contacted by panicked interns or temporary staff who have been tasked with the job of finding a public facility but have no idea how to go about it. The process can be confusing especially when you have to liaise between the courts and other third parties who need to be involved.

How does it work?
The Judge must grant permission for a witness to give evidence via video link. Annex 3 to Practice Direction 32 provides useful guidance as to when video conferencing might be used, as well as providing detail on the process to be followed and technical considerations associated with giving evidence in that way. 

Giving evidence through a video link is typically considered suitable in cases where the following outcomes can be achieved as a result of using that technology:

  • Savings in costs
  • The avoidance of public disruption
  • The facilitation of early listing.

In the past, video conferencing has been deemed suitable in cases which:

  • Involve vulnerable parties - such as hospital patients or children
  • Involve overseas parties
  • Involve prisoners
  • Are of a particularly urgent nature, in which the parties cannot readily attend court.

Once all the details (date, start time, duration) are agreed, a video conference facility convenient to the witness will need to be booked or if the witness is in a remote location, or unable to travel to a facility they can be connected from their own personal device such as a laptop or iPad. A test is always made prior to the date of the hearing, to assure good quality of sound and image. During the trial, the video link is monitored by specialists to resolve any issues that may arise.

The witness does not require any technical knowledge, they only need to be present and focus on their role in the hearing.

Connecting a witness remotely can also benefit their ability to give evidence. For some witnesses, travelling to the court and testifying can be a stressful experience, so giving evidence via video link can help to greatly reduce this, resulting in more relaxed witness and subsequently a better testimony. In the case of the Malaysian trial quoted above, as there were over 10 witnesses, as well as the financial cost of flying this number of people over, there would have been a high emotional cost returning to the country where a traumatic event took place.

Connecting with Courts
In most cases, connections to courts are made via a bridging service. The bridging service will connect sites on differing ISDN and IP networks as well as ensuring all sites are successfully connected. It tests with the sites pre-trial and provides technical support to resolve any issues that may occur.

Who is Eyenetwork?
Eyenetwork is a video conference service provider aiding the legal profession since 2000 by:

  • Linking witnesses to court from remote locations
  • Creating virtual Courts which enable defendants to be trialled remotely
  • Connecting counsel interviews or conferences before trial
  • Help experts provide evidence or give expert advice at court
  • Arrange meetings between counsel, administrative and appeal hearings

    Eyenetwork connects to courts all over the UK and the world on a daily basis and has an experienced client oriented team who aim to make the process simple and straightforward for our customers. With the help of our bridging service we connect to courts, facilities and laptop participants and ensure that their video conferencing experience is positive and successful.

    Author: Lisa Honan, Managing Director
    Eyenetwork

    www.eyenetwork.com