What is an unspent conviction

People submitting applications to the UK Border Agency and the Home Office for immigration related matters are under a duty to disclose on their application forms any unspent convictions.

However; most people don’t really know what an unspent conviction is and this causes no end of problems with applications, often resulting in refusal of the applications by the Home Office and UKBA.

Failure to disclose an unspent conviction is very often an automatic reason for refusal of the application. The guidance below is produced to help potential applicants decide whether their conviction is spent.

If you have been convicted of a criminal offence you must declare your unspent convictions on any immigration applications related to the UK. You do not need to declare convictions that are spent.

A conviction becomes spent after a certain period of time has passed (this is called the rehabilitation period).

The length of time it takes for a conviction to become spent will depend on the sentence which was given by the court. It starts from the date on which you are convicted. The period may be shorter if you were aged under 18 at the time of your conviction.

If you have been sentenced to more than 30 months in prison for a single offence, this can never become spent. An application for British citizenship is therefore unlikely to ever be successful.

However in exceptional circumstances we have been able to assist clients even in this situation and if this applies to you then you should contact our office on 020 8401 7352 to arrange an appointment to see a specialist immigration solicitor.

If you have been convicted of a criminal offence but the rehabilitation period has passed by the time you make your application you do not need to provide details of the conviction on your application form.

If you were convicted of a further offence during the rehabilitation period of your original conviction, the rehabilitation period for your original conviction may be extended.

If you have been convicted of a criminal offence and the spent period has not passed you must include details of the conviction on your application form.

If the conviction is unspent at the time of your application, it is unlikely that your application will be successful, unless there are compelling compassionate circumstances or you can establish that refusal of your application is a breach of your Human Rights.

For further guidance on the rehabilitation period, please see Guide AN produced by the Home Office and UKBA. Information on how a conviction becomes spent, and a chart providing examples of rehabilitation periods for various sentences, can be found in the Good Character section of this guide.

Offences for which you may go to court or are awaiting a hearing in court must also be disclosed.

You must provide details of any offence for which you may go to court for or are awaiting a hearing in court. This includes any offences for which you have been arrested and are waiting to hear if you will be formally charged.

If you are living in Scotland you must provide details of any recent civil penalties.

If are arrested or charged with an offence after you have made your application you must let the UKBA and Home Office know.

Applicants should be aware that when applying for naturalisation it is not just serious criminal offences and convictions that will be taken into account. Convictions for any type of Road Traffic offence including speeding, drink driving, careless driving and driving without insurance or a licence will also need to be disclosed.

Even situations where you have had excessive parking fines will be taken into consideration and can result in refusal of your application.

Additionally you must disclose all civil judgements including but not limited to debts, bankruptcy and charging orders and enquiries will also be made of HMRC and your tax office to ensure that you have no outstanding tax liabilities.

Naturalisation is not as straightforward as many would assume. This is especially so when there are negative or potentially problematic issues relevant to the applicant. Convictions and debts are the tip of the iceberg.

It is wise always to seek professional and independent legal advice from a specialist immigration solicitor regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Potential applicants should be wary of less experienced or unregulated individuals and companies claiming to be specialist advisers in immigration law.

To discuss your personal circumstances with a specialist immigration solicitor call 020 8401 7352 to book an appointment today, or contact us.

Private Client Criminal Defence Solicitors

Private Client Criminal Defence Solicitors

When facing criminal proceedings, the last thing you want is delay in your legal team acting in your best interests because of problems and restrictions with Legal Aid. It used to be that Legal Aid would provide full and immediate cover for anyone charged with or suspected of crime. This is no longer the case. With Government cut backs and deep cut restrictions in the Legal Aid budget and levels of cover, many ordinary people with limited incomes are now being refused Legal Aid. It is at times like this when your liberty and reputation are at stake you need professional assistance.

We have over 21 years of experience in providing expert and bespoke defence services to clients facing the most serious allegations including murder, terrorism, hijack, rape and other sexual offences, theft and fraud.

We provide a highly professional, confidential and fast defence team comprising expert solicitor and access to the most senior barristers in the country, for our Private Clients. If you are facing the prospect of having to defend yourself against serious allegations which could result in losing your liberty or reputation, the last thing you want is a lawyer who is bound by financial constraints and time constraints imposed by Legal Aid. As a private fee paying client we will always provide you with the best possible legal team, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Call us on 020 8401 7352 or email us at info@solicitorsfirm.com to discuss your requirements with a specialist defence solicitor and obtain a costs estimate

Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Defence Services

Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Defence Services

 

Although solicitors spend most of their time assisting and defending clients, there can be occasions when a solicitor is themselves called before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (STD) for alleged breaches of the Codes of Practice. This can be a daunting process and in many cases will have occurred after an Intervention into the solicitors firm. Events like this are life changing and potentially can have very serious implications for the solicitor concerned. At times like these you need to rely on professionals who are experienced in dealing with matters of this nature which will often have very personal and confidential issues involved.

If you are a solicitor facing possible Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) proceedings and want to speak to a colleague in confidence, call us on 020 8401 7352. We have extensive experience of representing clients in relation to SDT proceedings and potential criminal proceedings which may be associated with the Solicitors Regulation Authority investigation into your firm. We understand the pressures you will be under at this most difficult stage in your career and you can be assured of our integrity and confidentiality in dealing with your matters.

The outcomes of SRA investigations and SDT proceedings are never isolated in nature. These are likely to impact on your ability to practice, your insurance coverage, your financial circumstances, your reputation and your relationship with your firm and clients. We understand the wider context of disciplinary investigations and proceedings, advising on issues relating to Practising Certificates, Indemnity Insurance Coverage Investigations, Partnership, LLP & corporate issues and Costs in Regulatory Proceedings. When faced with a Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) investigation, it is vital that you seek professional advice as soon as possible. An SRA interview is unlike any other interview. You will not have a right to silence and more often than not the interview will be tape recorded and conducted by senior and highly experienced SRA fraud investigators. Those conducting the SRA interview will already be in possession of vast amounts of information about you and your practice. As a solicitor it is vital that such interviews are conducted whilst you have the benefit of expert advice and with a view to the consequences.

A Solicitors Regulation Authority investigation can last for many months, sometimes even years and throughout this time you may still need to function in your practice. This can be a draining and debilitating time even for the most professional solicitors and it is crucial that at every stage you receive advice on your position and liability.

Any solicitors seeking advice and assistance in relation to pending or threatened SDT proceedings or facing a Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) investigation will receive a 30 minute free consultation. You can email us in strictest confidence at info@solicitorsfirm.com 

 

Ministry of Justice ticked off over barrister earnings claim

Ministry of Justice ticked off over barrister earnings claim

The Ministry of Justice has been criticised by the UK Statistics Authority over misleading figures used to justify legal aid cuts.

Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the independent body, wrote to legal aid minister Shailesh Vara highlighting concerns raised about the ‘nature, quality, timing and use’ of information provided by the ministry about the earnings of criminal barristers.

An ad hoc statistical release, ‘Barrister fee income from public sources 2012/13’ was published on 2 January, four days before planned industrial action by criminal lawyers in protest over the cuts.

Dilnot told Vara the ministry could have ‘increased compliance’ with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, which requires publication in an ‘orderly manner, accompanied by commentary, analysis and information on quality and reliability’.

The authority found the information provided in the statistical report about barristers’ earnings was ‘potentially misleading’ as the notes explaining the figures were not presented alongside the data table.

It is critical of the MoJ’s use of ‘mean and median’ measures without advice on how to use the different measures.

‘Insufficient’ information, says Dilnot, is presented about the intended use of the statistics or about their strengths and limitations.

The authority said concerns had also been raised over statements made by ministers and officials over the average earnings of criminal barristers, following publication of the data.

The ministry stated that the ‘average’ earnings for a criminal barrister who works full time from legal aid is £84,000 a year. The figure was not included in the statistical release and in fact represents the ‘mean’ fee from public funds for full-time barristers where any barrister with a fee income of less than £10,000 is excluded.

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan MP described the MoJ as ‘an evidence-free zone’. ‘This latest slap-down is proof that even when ministers do use figures to support their arguments, they can’t be trusted,’ Khan said.

‘If the figures upon which the government is justifying their massive cuts and upheaval to legal aid are dodgy than it raises serious questions about the legitimacy of their plans.’

An MoJ spokesman said: ‘We stand by the figures that we have presented. We agree that this fee income is not the same as individual earnings, and this was stated in the statistical report we published on 2 January.’

See Full article at Law Society Gazette

UK Government plan to exclude armed forces from human rights laws

UK Government plan to exclude armed forces from human rights laws

 

Defence secretary Philip Hammond has indicated that he is prepared to introduce legislation to prevent what he calls the ‘encroachment of judicial processes’ into the armed forces.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Philip Hammond said current cases involving the military are potentially hampering operations.

Families were given the right to sue the Ministry of Defence following Smith and Others v Ministry of Defence [2012], known as the Snatch Land Rover case, when the Supreme Court ruled that British troops remain within the UK jurisdiction and so fall under the Human Rights Act.

A subsequent report, entitled Fog of War, by the thinktank Policy Exchange subsequently warned the armed forces risked being ‘paralysed’ by a sustained legal assault that could have ‘catastrophic consequences’ for the safety of the nation.

Hammond has now indicated he is sympathetic to that point of view and is ready to change the law to support it. ‘There are issues about the encroachment of judicial processes into the operation of the armed forces,’ he said.

‘A number of cases currently before the courts, or pending, could have a significant impact, and we are watching them closely. We are clear that once we commit our armed forces to combat, they must be able to carry out operations without fear of constant review in the civil courts. If we find that the current cases develop in a way that makes that difficult, we will come back to the House with proposals to remedy the situation.’

The Policy Exchange report said 5,827 claims were brought against the MoD in 2012/13 with an average £70,000 paid to the 205 people who made successful claims.

According to the report, the main weapon used in legal challenges to UK military operations is the European Convention on Human Rights and the 1998 Human Rights Act.

At the Conservative Party conference in September 2-13 home secretary Theresa May said the Conservatives were prepared to withdraw from the ECHR entirelyn and the Prime Minister, David Cameron has pledged this to be put to a vote if the Conservatives win the next election outright. However Human Rights groups and lawyers are gravely concerned that these proposals effectively put the armed forces outside the scope of international law and fail to provide any ‘checks and balances’ against the actions of the State. This would particularly be at a time when it is crucially important to know that our armed forces are acting with the highest possible regard for human rights and the Rule of Law, at a time which would otherwise be marred with conflict.