2nd October 2017
Drones and the law
This article examines drones and the legal framework which governs their usage. It focuses on drones which are available to the public and looks at potential risks, the relevant law, one’s responsibilities as a drone owner and further caveats for particular types of drone use.
What are drones?
‘Drone’ refers to any object that can be flown without a human pilot. They can range from armed technologies used in military operations to smaller gadgets that can be purchased by members of the public. The latter category is the focus of this article. These items can be controlled remotely and may also be attached to a camera which provides a live-feed to the controller. They allow for educational, professional and leisure purposes. Various models are available which vary in size, speed, range and price.
When are drones a problem?
Drones become a problem when they interfere with other objects using the same airspace. They can present a problem for both military and civilian aircraft. Despite their relatively small size a collision could have disastrous consequences. Such incidents are more likely to happen when drones are flown too high or too close to areas where aircraft are taking off and landing frequently.
What are the rules?
If you have bought a drone for personal use, then you have some responsibilities relating to your use of that drone. Breaching these duties can result in prosecution. It is advisable to consult the Civilian Aviation Authority Air Navigation Order 2016, specifically Articles 94, 95 and 241. You can download the ‘Drone Code’ from the website dronesafe.uk. You must understand your essential duties as a drone owner, many of which are common sense:
- know how to fly your drone safely, and do so within the law
- understand that the operator is legally responsible for every flight
- keep your drone in sight at all times – stay below 400ft
- don’t fly your drone over a congested area
- never fly within 50 metres of a person, vehicle or building not under your control
- ensure any images you obtain using the drone do not break privacy laws
- avoid collisions – you should never fly a drone near an airport or close to aircraft.
It is a criminal offence to endanger the safety of an aircraft in flight. If you break the rules, you could threaten life and also face prosecution, in some cases resulting in imprisonment or a substantial fine.
Are there extra rules when using drones for commercial purposes?
If you want to use a drone for commercial purposes, for example as an estate agent to take aerial video of properties for sale, then permission must be sought from the Civilian Aviation Authority. It is also expected that you will attend an accredited course which will test your knowledge of and competence with drones.
What about cross-overs into the military’s use of drones?
Any drone use completed for the Ministry of Defence is regulated by the Military Aviation Authority. Tasks such as surveys at height, photography and multimedia activities are covered by these provisions, and one should look at Regulatory Articles 1600, 2320 and 2321 for specific requirements.
The bottom line…
So, drones can be fun and useful but come with their fair share of responsibilities. If you follow the principles highlighted above, you will be much less likely to fall foul of the rules and regulations governing this exciting new technology.
25th September 2017
High-Risk Offenders - The Hidden Peril of Drink Driving
Many people convicted of driving with excess alcohol leave court with a pretty clear idea as to the length of their driving disqualification, but for a significant number, there is a shock further down the line.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no 'right' to hold a driving licence, merely by having passed a driving test, and not otherwise be disqualified. The Secretary of State for Transport has the right, where the circumstances justify it, to withhold a licence. One of the circumstances where this arises if after a drink drive conviction if the offender is deemed 'high-risk'.
What is a high-risk offender?
The high-risk offender scheme applies to drivers convicted of the following:
87.5 mcg per 100 ml of breath
200.0 mg per 100 ml of blood
267.5 mg per 100 ml of urine
If I fall into one of those categories, what does it mean?
It means that at the end of your disqualification period, your licence will not be returned.
How do I get my licence back?
There will need to be a medical assessment of your suitability to hold a driving licence; this will consist of:
If a licence is awarded, the ’til 70 licence is restored for Group 1 car and motorcycle driving. Consideration may be given to a Group 2 licence.
If a high-risk offender has a previous history of alcohol dependence or persistent misuse but has satisfactory examination and blood tests, a short period licence is issued for ordinary and vocational entitlement but is dependent on their ability to meet the standards as specified.
A high-risk offender found to have a current history of alcohol misuse or dependence and/or unexplained abnormal blood test results will have the application refused.
What does this mean in practice?
You need, if you are regularly consuming large quantities of alcohol (which may be much less than you believe it to be), to reduce your intake significantly, otherwise, this pattern of alcohol abuse will reveal itself when the blood sample is analysed (for liver function markers).
I wish I had been told this at the time?
Unfortunately, our experience shows that clients are not advised of this hidden consequence of drink driving.
Is there any appeal mechanism?
Fortunately, yes there is. We have a dedicated team lawyers ready and able to assist you.
If you would like further advice about this topic, then please contact Paul Morris on 01633 266999.
20th September 2017
A Taxing Problem For Business
The main provisions of the Criminal Finances Act 2017 come into force on 30th September 2017, and there are important things for a business to know.
While tax evasion is already an offence, currently there is no obligation on a company to take steps to stop another person engaging in such illegal activity. With a few exceptions, if you do not personally participate, you can stand idly by while another person offends. These provisions bring this situation to an end so far as certain aspects of taxation are concerned.
The Act will render a business (which includes partnerships) liable to prosecution if a 'tax offence' is committed by an employee or other person performing services for the company (agents etc.).
To be guilty, the following must apply:
'Associated Person' means: '...an employee, a person acting in the capacity of an agent, or any other person who performs services for or on behalf of your company who is acting in the capacity of a person performing such services'.
The provisions apply in relation to both UK and foreign offences.
Is There A Defence?
Yes, if you can prove:
(a) That you had in place such prevention procedures as it was reasonable in all the circumstances to expect you to have in place, or
(b) It was not reasonable in all the circumstances to expect you to have any prevention procedures in place.
Therefore, your business needs to have reasonable safeguards in place to be able to try and prevent tax evasion.
What Is The Penalty?
Your company could face an unlimited fine. While there are currently no sentencing guidelines, we can reasonably anticipate these to be very large, in some cases measured in the tens of thousands of pounds and above. You would also need to try and measure the reputational and other damage (such as loss of future contracts) that might follow.
That Doesn't Sound Good, What Can I Do To Protect My Company?
Your business will need to commit to policies and processes designed to prevent your employees and others committing tax facilitation offences. There is no 'one size fits all' policy toolkit that you can purchase off the shelf. To devise such procedures, you will need to:
We Will Certainly Put This On Our ‘To Do’ List
While HMRC doesn't expect you to have everything in place on 30th September 2017, it does have some 'day one' requirements, with HMRC stating in its guidance that:
'[We expect] there to be rapid implementation, focusing on the major risks and priorities, with a clear timeframe and implementation plan on entry into force’.'
Laws relating to business can be challenging at the best of times, but when they could also land your company before the courts and facing crippling fines, it is best to act in advance and do all you reasonably can to put protections in place.
The provisions of the Criminal Finances Act 2017 are only summarised above; it will hardly surprise you to know that they are in fact much more complex, so you should take care to understand in detail your actual obligations.
Contact Paul Morris on 01633 266999, or email@example.com to discuss further what we can do to assist.
18th September 2017
Liar, ITV's new 6-part drama, is gripping the nation, with people already reaching conclusions as to whether Laura, played by the actress Joanne Froggatt (better known for her role as Anna Bates in Downton Abbey) is telling the truth when she accuses surgeon Andrew of raping her.
For most of us, this is highly watchable drama as we flip flop between whom we believe, our perceptions changed over time by the sophisticated script and device plots.
It is no surprise that some people have formed an opinion already, and recent research demonstrated that half of the jurors might reach a guilty verdict before even going to deliberate with other jurors.
We know that people are on occasion willing to change their minds, just as you might when the plot unfolds.
It is vital therefore that a strong case is advanced from the start, laying a solid foundation for a successful defence.
For our clients and their families, facing an accusation of rape or other sexual crime can be a horrendous experience. So, what is our role and how do we defend such cases?
Reactive and Proactive
We always start with a reactive approach. The complainant states they were drunk, our client states they were in fact sober. We entered the bedroom uninvited says one person, we were invited in, says our client, and so on.
We can build the start of a defence with this important work, but we do not have the benefit of the incident in question playing before us on a TV screen, with the truth revealed at the end.
We instead have only the competing versions, and it might feel as if it is simply one word against another, and often it is unless you seek further evidence.
It is a proactive approach to case preparation which makes a difference. We always ensure that:
and even, as alluded to already in Liar, any psychiatric issues are explored.
We also understand the personal toll legal proceedings will take on you and your family, and offer a compassionate and reassuring voice at a time when the future may at times appear very dark.
Driscoll Young Solicitors has decades of experience in defending cases of this type.
Before entrusting your case to anyone else come and meet us, get a feel for our work ethic, and ensure you are confident that you are receiving the best defence possible.
You only get one chance to get this right, so the alternative is unthinkable.
We offer private client services at affordable rates, and legal aid may be available.
So, if you are arrested for, or charged with any offence, call us on 01633 266999 or 07972 670689 (24hrs) to arrange an appointment, or email firstname.lastname@example.org