Discovering the Law
Authors: Edited by Sean Butler
Publishers: Law Matters Publishing
Publication Date: 08/09/2006
Part of the Introduction
Law has always been a popular university degree, both as a stepping stone to working as a lawyer, and to all sorts of work for which legal concepts and techniques are useful. Thus it has value in itself, and for where it can lead.
On the other hand, it is a demanding subject to study, so law students need a high level of commitment. Since law is not widely taught in schools, it is difficult for potential law students to get the flavour of what it is like to study law. There are many good introductory guides, which present thorough overviews of legal issues, but which may not fully convey an idea of what a law degree involves, its content, or how law is approached as a university course.
In this book various university lecturers and tutors have presented their observations about the subjects that appear in most law degrees. Each chapter is about a different subject with a brief general introduction and an exploration in depth of specific areas. This gives an understanding of the issues likely to be considered by law students, how the subject is approached, the tools and techiques involved, and shows how interesting the study of law can be.
Why is law such an exciting and challenging degree to study? This new book explains the law’s popularity by giving the reader a clear introduction to each of the main areas studied on a law degree, focusing on subjects rather than systems. Each chapter starts with an overview of the subject, and then particular topics and themes are examined in greater detail to give the reader an understanding of how the different subjects are approached. Discovering the Law will give all those considering or preparing for a law degree a valuable head start.
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Practical Policing Skills for Student Officers
Editor: Gary Wynn
David Crow Northumbria Police
Amanda Form Durham Constabulary
Gary Fraser Durham Constabulary
Trefor Giles Avon and Somerset Constabulary
Publishers: LawMatters Publishing
Publication Date: 24/03/2006
Publisher's Title Information24/03/2006
The police service now has a series of National Occupational Standards against which new officers will be trained and assessed. This book, written by police officers, introduces the key competency areas and elementary skills required of officers. Taking a highly practical approach the book guides the reader through scenarios that typify those officers will face, addressing issues in the context of modern policing, but also considering them alongside the relevant professional competencies and occupational standards. Designed to complement the new IPLDP, this book is essential reading for those preparing to join the police or Student Officers undergoing initial training.
Each chapter is linked directly to the new National Occupational Police Standards
Makes the subject highly accessible by using diagrams, case studies, summaries and points for reflection
The authors are all serving police officers who are all heavily involved with training within the police force.
It is the lot of new Police recruits, probationers in my day and student officers now, to be told that things are not as good/officers are less competent than they were. I am always sceptical about that but do sometimes wonder whether, in the welter of extraneous concerns that student officers need to consider, and rightly so (human rights, diversity etc.), combined with the pressure to work to performance figures, that the development of an inquiring mind and an investigative approach has been neglected. My own recent experience as a 'customer' of the Police has disappointed me and I know from anecdotal evidence that I am not alone in feeling that the officer was more concerned to clear the job than to catch the villain. This book is a useful tool in helping to address that gap.
It takes the student officer through the 'bread and butter' incidents that form the staple of day-to-day policing in a clear and methodical way. Starting with missing persons and working through burglary, youth disorder, shoplifting, and driving documents and ending with domestic violence. The student officer is asked to approach each task with an open and inquiring mind, gathering evidence and relevant information to achieve the most productive outcomes.
The format is partly interactive, requiring the reader to consider the answers to set questions before providing answers and explanations for them. The introduction highlights the extensive policing experience of the authors and the text supports this assertion.
I do have a couple of criticisms, albeit relatively trivial. The first concerns 'diversity' - whatever one thinks about this subject it does form a real part of today’s policing environment. In the section on domestic violence it is suggested to the officer attending that he should get another officer, 'preferably female' to speak to the woman victim. First, please note my use of the word 'he'. There is an apparent assumption that the reader is male in the way this is worded. Second, although it might well be the victim’s preference to have a woman officer attend, my experience suggests that what most victims want is the best qualified, most skilled officer available. I would hope that future editions of this book might spend a little time explaining how to check with a victim, in an appropriate way what they need from us in these types of circumstance.
My second criticism is in connection with the evidential seizure of property. Few officers understand the importance of continuity and the purpose of referencing seized and other property and this is a missed opportunity to explain it. Many years ago an experienced detective asked me, 'What is an exhibit?' The answer, of course, is any item admitted by the court to be put before the jury (or Magistrates). It is not the same as any item that might need a reference for the purposes of continuity, and the integrity of the evidence. It is a shame therefore, that the sample statement of the store detective in the shoplifting section reflects less than best practice. Of course a seized jacket should bear a reference mark and a label to indicate continuity but it is not an exhibit reference, merely an identification reference. It will only become an exhibit if admitted in evidence at a trial and will then have a court exhibit reference. This might seem nit-picking, but a lack of understanding in this area can lead to confusion in the minds of officers and the marking, as I have seen more than once, of contemporaneous notes as ‘exhibits’.
Although the above criticisms are lengthy, I would not want to take away from the overall strengths of this book and, looking forward to some minor amendments, I would recommend it to any student officer or Police trainer as a sound and practical text.
Criminal Evidence in Context
Edition: 1st 2005
Claire McGourlay Jonathan Doak
Publishers: LawMatters Publishing
Publication Date 19th Oct 2005
This text analyses the key principles of the law of criminal evidence in England and Wales, against the backdrop of their broader practical and theoretical contexts. Readers will engage with the rules governing testimony in the criminal trial, including hearsay evidence, the admissibility of confession evidence, bad character evidence, and the burden of proof. The text takes account of recent legal and doctrinal developments in the field and integrates discussion of the European Convention of Human Rights and post-Human Rights Act cases where relevant. The recent, profound impact of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 and the Criminal Justice Act 2003 are also examined, alongside critical commentary on a number of recent Court of Appeal and House of Lords judgements (e.g. Camberwell Green Youth Court, Johnstone, Sheldrake, Hayter). This fresh contribution to scholarship in the field questions the rationale and practical operation of a number of these developments and identifies potential problem areas in the law, as well as options for further reform.
Of all the aspects of the Criminal Law to avoid writing a book about, and particularly one aimed at students, the one to steer clear of must be that relating to Evidence. The reviewer is old enough to remember youthful and predominately male lawyers, being severely dressed down by elderly and grumpy Judges for not following the rules. Happily, with many more pretty faces filling the ranks these days, Judges do not seem as old, they are not as grumpy and the sight of an attractive female does much to mellow them, when those rules have been transgressed.
So the authors of this book have taken a bold step into an ever-growing field of complexity and they are to be congratulated for trying to make sense of what all too often turns out to be a near impenetrable minefield.
When the book was first opened the reviewer was just a little apprehensive when he noticed that in the final paragraph of line 3 of page vii of the Preface the word `were' should read `where' and then found a reference in page xxi - Table of Statutes that the Crime and Disorder Act had been dated 1988. However happily things got better after that.
As a reviewer basically for police officers, evidence and procedure is the least of an investigating officer's worries, very largely because facts are more important than whether a matter is subjective or objective. But what this book admirably brings out is the plethora of procedural legislation that Parliament has churned out on the subject in the past two decades. Judges must have sleepless nights wondering whether their summing up, or guidance to advocates conforms to what all too often is sloppy law, sometimes passed in haste. To the advocates and lawyers in general, whilst they might wrestle with the words, it also provides opportunities for successful appeals and even these days, increased sentences of those convicted. One wonders whether the time is coming when it becomes possible for procedural matters to be split between bodies dealing with pre and post trial issues, or pre and post arrest matters, or for the Crown Prosecution Service to play a more dominant role. How it might be done could form a useful research project for some diligent academics, but to create separate subject branches would be a much more formidable task.
The book sets out in detail many of the complex issues that now face the criminal justice system and it is small wonder that calls are being made for reform in the shape of clarity and openness.
The lay - out is most helpful, with skilful use being made of italics and a most readable typescript for both student and practitioner to assimilate.
The modern tendency has been to form squads for all sorts of policing and a number, that in the reviewer's opinion, should not be any part of a police officer's remit, so why not legislate for investigation and arrest to be part of the police task and for the
interrogatory issues to be under the control of those who are going to have to deal with the increasingly complicated laws of evidence, namely the lawyers. The alternative can only be to simplify the latter and risk creating loopholes through which resourceful criminals and their advocates might find ways of slipping.
The increasing use of electronic technology is well covered and the pitfalls this can produce. The case of the witness ‘Bromley' in the Damilola Taylor trial is highlighted as one instance where the evidence had to be tested in cross examination, but surely the circumstances and the facilities afforded the witness by the police had much to do with the acquittal. This was not, in the reviewer's mind, an issue that needed more sensitive handling of the witness, but rather a case where the circumstances cried out for the Crown Prosecution Service to have stopped this prosecution long before it ever reached the court doors. It also makes a strong case for that Service to intervene in prosecution matters much earlier and as mentioned above to be more forceful in their decisions.
The book explains in some detail the massive provisions that the Criminal Justice Act 2003 has added to the laws of evidence and reinforces the additional work that is thrust on Judges and Magistrates. Without in any way denigrating the latter and their support staff, the complications of this Act are more likely to fall on the former and I suspect that some of them, at least, will have a careful peek at the pages particularly those relating to character and hearsay. All too often one sees criticism being levelled at Judges without justification and it is to their credit that so little reaches the appeal courts.
A large part of the book is devoted to that eternal issue, the burden of proof which is highlighted by reference to the plethora of Statutes that have already been enacted in the present century, which by their proximity, have played havoc with the law of precedent. There is no doubt that as this present decade progresses, we will see further arguments being developed and more legislation passed.
The recent changes in the law relating to refreshing memory has at last brought some common sense to bear. As a former police officer, the reviewer could never understand why it was not permissible to read from notes made at the time without permission of the court. Likewise it remained a mystery why defending advocates always queried when the notes were made. Gradually over the years changes have allowed it to become possible to provide a much more sensible approach towards arriving at the truth. All this is set out in a chapter entitled ‘Examination and Cross Examination'.
Space has decreed that the reviewer has not been able to cover all the contents but Chapter 7 - Confessions is recommended reading for any investigating police officer.
The authors are to be congratulated on making a complicated subject less complicated.
Brian Rowland 1040/12/05 24th December 2005
Understanding International Trade Law
Author: Simone Schnitzer
Publishers: Law Matters Publishing
Publication Date: 01/12/2005
This valuable introduction to International Trade Law examines the interconnection and the practical relevance of the different contracts to be concluded in pursuance of a single international sale transaction. Its focus is on the sale of goods, transported by ship, road and air with the main attention given to sea transport. Important trade terms and Inco terms used in international sale contracts and common law are explained as well as highlighting essential issues of contracts of carriage and cargo insurance.
Cases and Materials on Torts
Author: Geoffrey Samuel
Publishers: Law Matters Publishing
Publication Date: May 2006
This new cases and materials book creates a link between the lecture hall, the physical and electronic libraries and the factual situations that create tort litigation. It recognises the conceptual and functional difficulties associated with the law of tort, as well as demonstrating the growing influence of European law. Each section is introduced and linked to the next by an author’s note, followed by questions to prompt reflection and suggestions for further reading and research.
Table of cases
Table of statutes
Definition and Scope of the Law of tort
Purpose and Policy of tort
Liability for Individual Acts (1): Harm Intentionally Caused
Liability for Individual Acts (2): Harm Negligently Caused
Liability for Things (1): Moveable Things
Liability for Things: Immoveable Things
Liability for People
Liability for Words
Liability of Public Bodies
Causation and General Defences
Review to date
"Up-to-date and will stimulate deep learning by students...Set out in a student-friendly style" (Senior Lecturer in Law, Southampton Solent University)