August 17, 2011 01:00 ET

Criminal Defence Solicitors Advise on the Changes to 'Special Measures' Legislation

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Aug. 17, 2011) - On 27th June 2011 the provisions of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 ('2009 Act') were implemented to extend the 'special measures' available to witnesses who give evidence in criminal proceedings.

David Phillips & Partners Solicitors are one of the top criminal defence solicitors in the country. They say the change will simplify current special measure legislation.

The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 had previously established a number of measures available to assist witnesses who might otherwise have had difficulty in giving evidence in criminal proceedings. These measures include everything from screening the witness away from the accused to the giving of evidence by live link or video recorded evidence as well as including the removal of wigs and gowns by Judges and advocates in Court.

Under the provisions of the 2009 Act, all persons under the age of 18 are automatically eligible for such assistance, where previously this automatic eligibility was only available to those under the age of 17.

The 2009 Act has extended the category of 'specified offences' in which complainants will automatically be eligible for special measures in a number of specified gun and knife crime offences. These include murder or manslaughter in where it is alleged that a firearm or knife was used to cause the death in question.

The Coroners and Justice Act 2009 has been implemented with the aim to simplify the complexities around existing special measures legislation and to help provide additional support to vulnerable and intimidated witnesses, particularly in rape cases.

A spokesperson for David Phillips & Partners Solicitors commented: "From a solicitor's point of view, it is better to have clearer regulations so that the legislation is clear cut and easy to follow. At a time when the protection of Prosecution witnesses is at the centre of public consciousness it is clear that the 2009 Act extends the already robust measures to assist the giving of evidence in criminal proceedings'.

About David Phillips & Partners Solicitors:

  • Offices throughout the UK including London, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.

  • Regulated by Solicitors' Regulation Authority (SRA Ref#: 73353).

  • Founded in 1982 and has over 29 years legal experience in the following specialised areas; criminal defence, accident claims, actions against the police, matters involving children, motoring offences and prison law matters.

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