How to make a Will in England? Anyone Know?

How to make a Will in England? Anyone Know?

Course we do – it’s easy:-

Testator/Testatrix signs, watched by two witnesses who

  • Know the document is a Will (though they need not know exactly what it says) and
  • Are present at the signing and
  • Who will not be among the future heirs. (If they are named in the Will as beneficiaries the result will be that the legacy intended to be inherited by that witness will not pass, so will fall into the “residue” or into intestacy)

Then each Witness in turn, signs, watched by the other witness and by the Testator/Testatrix.

Simple as a simple thing, amazing anyone could ever get that wrong?

In England, it’s been done the same way since 1837 and you may have thought that we would know how to do it by now. Although plenty of times it’s still not done right, and I have written before about the many amusing and indeed inventive ways in which people have managed to get it wrong.

-Link Here- to earlier blog-

Of course, there is nothing amusing about the consequences of getting it wrong if it happens to you.

The thing about a Will is that typically a mistake is only found out when it’s too late to correct it. Because, well, you know.

Now we have coronavirus in our world. For the past too many months we have all been in lock-down. We have all been affected but perhaps those hardest hit in particular are those people who because of age or illness are most at risk. Which, to avoid euphemism means, – most at risk of death.

Many of the oldest and most frail people in England continue determinedly to remain indoors at home, secluding themselves from visitors. And whilst every adult in my opinion should hold a valid will most of course do not.

This CV-19 world is now a place in which everyone with any imagination has contemplated their own increased risk of early death. Dying this year, not in some comfortably far-off future. So it’s not surprising that a great many Wills are being made this year.

The problem being that now many of those people who want to make their Wills (because of fear of death) are also very unwilling to go to a lawyers’ office or to invite people into their homes to act as witnesses (because of fear of death) .

So the Law has been changed. Now, any Will made on 1st February 2020 or later is not invalid if the witnesses and person making their Will were only together “virtually”. Watching each other on ZOOM or Skype, Teams or such. On a Computer tablet or phone.

Here is – the government guidance link-

So that’s alright. By the way: – How is your old Mum on her computer? Does she tweet? Into WhatsApp and TikTok? Thought not.

OK I know we are not only talking about older people, but they will be in the majority.

And remember, the old lady computer wizard will need two witnesses. And as stated above, they must not be people who will benefit under the will. So no children for example. So two friends then. Probably two more old ladies with good tech skills then? Not a problem in sight.

The national understanding of those who report about this in the press is that now Wills in England are to be made in a different way, with the three parties to the signing and all of them online.

This is the way stuff works isn’t it. The actual intention is that video-witnessing whilst permitted should be a last resort. Used only in exceptional and unusual circumstances. But I suspect no-one will be listening to that. Humans love to rush into new stuff.

Carl Sagan died last century. Was he wrong to say, before iPads and smart phones even: – “We’ve built a society on science and technology in which nobody understands anything about science and technology, and this combustible mixture of ignorance and power sooner or later is going to blow up in our faces.”?

I would suggest that the model permitted under the new rules will be too difficult for the majority of those trying to do this, if they try to do it without a lawyer. How will the attestation clause be written to reflect what has happened so that the Probate Registry will not be raising difficult requisitions after the death?

How many people persist in believing that being a witness means only – signing my name?

The guidance says that the original document once the will-maker has signed it “shall be taken for the two online witnesses to sign ideally within 24 hours“. Taken, taken by whom? Everyone is isolating. Posted then? How many daily collections do you have?

Is this a Jane Austen or Wodehouse novel where I decide to invite you to dinner tonight and so I post the invitation at nine a.m. and get your posted acceptance by three p.m. so I can send the servants to buy the food in time for the feast?

And if the two witnesses live 500 miles from you and 500 miles from each other? And if the broadband connection is a bit tricky on the day. And when you get it, the other witness is not available to zoom. Or one witness simply signs and forgets to zoom the testator.

So the reality in my opinion is that too many mistakes are going to be made unless this kind of witnessing is done as an alternative only to the traditional way – where the will maker goes to the lawyers’ office where the two lawyers act as Witnesses.

I can just about see it working like that. So that way, the video-conference is between the signer at home and the two lawyer witnesses at their office, then the signer by some means gets the paper to the lawyers then a second zoom meeting where the signer confirms the signature is genuine and watches the witnesses sign it together.

Another point I might make is that in my view the new model also fails to reflect the “last minute” nature of the way Wills are often made.

I have attended many deathbeds in hospitals and hospices to witness Wills. The Testator has sometimes died later the same day. The new model won’t work in that scenario. Not with one postal collection a day.

Increasingly of course people are dying with large fortunes often resulting from increasing property values over the years. This has been the reason for the flood of litigation in recent years in which disappointed sons and daughters and others have tried to challenge the validity of wills which did not make them as rich as they wanted.

That means there’s a gang who will be looking for loopholes. (W.C. Fields would read the Bible for no other reason). And what a rich seam of loopholes the new rules might provide. Not the least will be the almost thrown-away phrase in the new guidance that “ideally they (the testator and the witnesses) should be present with each other but if this is not possible …..”

NOT POSSIBLE. Define “not possible”. Anyone? It means CANNOT be done. It doesn’t mean – “too much hassle”, or “I feel safer if I don’t”.   I don’t know what it does mean though. Does anyone? That is the state of the law these days.

So my summary is, This is new, So Let’s all ignore it.

Wills witnessed remotely are fraught with possibilities of mistakes, and vulnerable to challenge. Only use them as a last resort. Having said that, making a Will by any means is better than not making a Will

Let’s all stay safe, wash our hands, wear a mask and with a fair wind there’ll be no need to –Call The Doctor-

Louise and I are back at work, so please do contact us whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

 

Notarisation. All Human Life is here. A Matter of Birth, Marriage and Death?

Notarisation. All Human Life is here. A Matter of Birth, Marriage and Death?

Last week Louise showed how notarisation can literally be a matter of life and death. –Link-

And certainly Notaries are involved in every aspect of human existence and therefore that necessarily includes Births, Marriages and Deaths.

The function of a Notary is to certify (and financially underwrite) facts. Usually in the case of an English Notary this is done to assist persons in a foreign jurisdiction so that they can be sure of what has actually been done, or signed, and by whom, in England.

But England is a country with its own laws, rules and customs, and “abroad”, just like the past, is a separate and always foreign country.

They do things differently there.

An example:- For a valid marriage in Brazil, it is fine for someone who cannot travel to get married there, to sign a Power of Attorney and appoint someone else to go there for you. And if your future spouse can’t get there either then someone else can be appointed too. A second Power of Attorney can be made and a second Attorney can turn up for the Marriage.

So neither of the two people who turn up at the Church or Registry Office are actually parties to the marriage. But the marriage is valid nonetheless.

That procedure is not available to create a legal marriage in England. But if both parties are present in England and want to sign those Powers of Attorney before a Notary Public in England – then fine.

There is an English law against not going to your own English marriage, but no English Law against not going to your Brazilian marriage.

So the principle which I have to follow as a Notary seems to be that I can assist my clients to achieve abroad whatever the foreign law allows, unless there is an English law that says that this is something that an English Notary cannot do.

Two areas other than marriage in which Notaries are often asked to help are in relation to

1 – Assisted suicides and

2 – Surrogate births.

I have blogged before about Dignitas et al. -Here is the link-

In a nutshell, I may not assist if I know or am told that the purpose of the document being signed in my presence is to facilitate voluntary acceleration of death.

Because whilst suicide itself is not a crime, it can be a crime to aid and abet suicide, particularly for money.

Enough about Death – What about Birth? What about surrogacy and notaries?

If assisted suicide relates to “unnaturally” ending a burdensome life, Surrogacy might be seen as the opposite. It is a means of “unnaturally” bringing into being a much wanted life.

There is nuance in the word “unnatural”.

Taken neutrally, it means only “contrary to the ordinary course of nature”.

In 1978, when everything was different, a Judge called surrogacy “irresponsible, bizarre and unnatural”. He is likely to have meant, and was surely understood to be meaning “irresponsible, bizarre and deviant, inhuman, perverted” – that sort of thing.

No-one thinks like that anymore so far as I know.

But if ever there was a scope for profiteering, put overwhelming desire for a child in the mix with short supply and there you are.

After years of exploitation of their citizens becoming surrogates in the hope of alleviating poverty, India Nepal and Thailand have banned –or at least rendered illegal – commercial surrogacy. -Link to NY Times article-

And how about this for an illustration of the dark side when profit becomes the motive? – unsterile hospitals, surrogate mothers treated like cattle in Ukraine according to Aljazeera – link here –

The English Law up to date has tried to balance –on one hand- the legitimate desire of infertile or same-sex couples to raise their own children by surrogacy, and the legitimate desire of altruistic and willing surrogate mothers to assist them, whether or not to be paid for doing so against –on the other hand – the obvious and real risks of exploitation and profiteering by hard headed commercial or even criminal interests.

-Here’s the Law –

So in England, commercial surrogacy companies cannot exist. So if you are English, you will be going abroad if the arrangement is commercial – if you are going to pay the mother and the doctors who are working for profit.

Which is where the Notaries come in, because just like the marriage by Power of Attorney in Brazil in the early paragraphs above, what is not illegal abroad can be notarised in England if the notarisation itself in England is not illegal.

But aiding and abetting commercial surrogacy enterprises (as opposed to charitable and/or non-profit-making foundations) – is also illegal in England.

Simple enough for you?

So when a couple come to see me to notarise their surrogacy agreement from Colorado, it’s not exactly straightforward for me to work out, can I help or not?

You tell me, I’ve given you the law.

My own answer? –  A resounding “It depends”.

Here is the song, an excuse for some vintage footage –Link here – (that was from 1963 – and did you know that Ronnie Spector most recently issued a single in 2017 – here it is- )

Louise and I are back at work, so please do contact me or Chris whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

 

 

Notary Certification Of Degrees – A Rubber Stamp? Or A Matter Of Life And Death?

Notary Certification Of Degrees – A Rubber Stamp? Or A Matter Of Life And Death?

Louise Morley writes – It is good to be back in the office and, to celebrate, here is my first Blog of the new normal.

We have blogged before about the crucial importance of Degree verification. Here and Here.

Now once again, here is a link to an Indian newspaper – this time a mother has lost her unborn child because of a criminal with fake certification who was able to get a job and hold it for ten years as a Doctor at Bangladesh Medical College Hospital.

There is nothing to be done about the harm that has been done. No compensation can reverse a death.

If you are a Degree Holder you are competing for employment with criminals whose degrees are fake. You can get the edge by proving that your qualifications are Genuine, with verification by a Notary.

If you are an employer – do we really need to say it – CHECK the references? How? With verification by a Notary.

It has been brought to our attention on more than a few occasions that persons who require to have their educational and police certificates certified for use abroad are increasingly finding “Solicitors” who are willing and prepared to give a certification on a document which is to be used abroad.

For anyone who is not aware, please note that a “Solicitor” and a “Notary” are two different professions – both can in fact give certifications on documents.  A Solicitor can certify documents for use in England and Wales and a Notary gives certifications on documents for use in any country of the world.  A Solicitor is a creature of England and Wales only, and usually only carries insurance to deal with documents within the remit of England and Wales. Also they are liable only to their own clients, not to third parties who rely on their certificates.

A Notary is a legal officer who is authorised to deal with documents for ANY country of the world and also carries insurance for all third parties.

There is also great confusion as to what is meant by a “certification”.  Most certifications given by solicitors are to confirm that a document is a true copy of an original – so for example, they would take your Degree Certificate, place it on a photocopier and take a copy and then certify that the copy produced is a true copy of the original and nothing further.

So if you are a crook with a forged certificate, you will get a Solicitor certification that “This is a true copy of the original”. They have put the lipstick on the pig. But it’s still a pig.

That certification is really not what the foreign jurisdiction are wanting to see.  They want a certification that confirms that a document is genuine and that what it says on it can be relied upon.

But all too often the lipsticked pig is accepted abroad because after all, the foreign end user probably doesn’t have English as their first language. What they are reading is “This is a true copy of the original”.

What they think those words mean is “The original Document of which this is a true copy is Genuine.”

They don’t.

A Notary Public authenticates your Degree or TEFL Certificate of ACRO Police check as GENUINE and “certifies” directly on either your original certificate to confirm this.

Students and job seekers tend to ring around for the best quotes and inevitably ring a Solicitors office asking for a certification and are told “yes we can do that for a fiver” – client is ecstatic to get it done so cheaply because of course a Notary’s fee to authenticate and verify and notarise is much more than a measly fiver – so off they trot to the high street solicitor firm with their certificates to get “certified” copies done for a fiver so they can use them abroad.

Once they have their certified copies, say they are wanting to use them in UAE for a teaching job they have got lined up – they will be aware that once they have their certified certificates they need to then submit them to the Foreign Office to obtain additional stamps called an “Apostille” – Apostille cost £30 each and then finally the UAE Embassy stamps costing £37.00 each – so off they go to the post office to post their solicitor certified copies to the Foreign Office for their respective Apostille – Apostille placed on the document no problem confirming that the Solicitor signature is genuine – finally the client submits them to the UAE Embassy and pays all the fees to get the certificates stamped.

Job done, so it seems, client has got his/her certificates back “certified” and legalised with the FCO and UAE – so now they send to the end recipient in UAE so they can hopefully get the green light to go out and undertake employment.  Sadly this is when the client gets told the bad news that their solicitor certified and legalised certificates have been rejected as they have been dealt with by a Solicitor and not a Notary. And of course, does not even say that the degree is Genuine.

It has been a major waste of time and money for the client – back to the drawing board they go to find a Notary who is able to certify and legalise their certificates in the correct manner.

This is happening more often than not and this Blog is really just to highlight the point to our clients and our solicitor colleagues of the pitfalls of giving just a certification.

Nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems – But doing it right, could save a life.

So let’s all sing – Don’t Let the Bad Guys Win

We are back at work, so please do contact me or Chris whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

 

 

 

AtkinsonNotary Blogs are back HOORAY

AtkinsonNotary Blogs are back. (and the final Chapter in the Wm Morrison saga)

The absence of our regular blogs was a merely trivial consequence of the present CV19 plague, but we missed them and now hope to resume them.

Louise and I have now re-opened our office.

Please note that our office premises are closed to visitors but we have a cunning plan!

I have a camper van – 6 metres long – which is parked in the office carpark where we can meet you. I sit at one end, masked – you sit at a table at the other end. And a splash of hand sanitizer before and after we meet.

Also, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has partially re-opened after being closed for three weeks. Apostilles are likely to take over a week to obtain.

Many consular offices have closed and others are working on reduced service; we can advise you as required.

Anyway – the Blog.

Earlier Blogs related to recent litigation on the topic of “Vicarious Liability”. This is the concept that if you are hurt by the fault of an employee who is at work in the course of his business duties, but that employee cannot afford to provide adequate compensation, then you can address your claim to the employer.

The sort of thing – You are run over by a brewery lorry delivering barrels to local pubs and it turns out the driver knew the brakes weren’t working properly but hadn’t bothered to tell the Brewery.

The Brewery might well truthfully say – if he had bothered to tell us, we would have fixed the brakes so this really isn’t our fault.

Even so, the law from as long ago as the 18th Century has said in the words of Chief Justice Holt “For seeing somebody must be a loser, it is more reason, that he that employs and puts a trust and confidence…should be a loser rather than a stranger’.

My earlier blogs about vicarious liability both involved by complete co-incidence the unfortunate employer Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc.

The first one is about the petrol pump attendant who went fully “postal”. The link is here
Morrisons were held vicariously liable to compensate.

The second is the case of their data protection officer who went rogue and put private, personal details of over one hundred thousand employees on the internet. Again, Morrisons lost the case and are held liable to compensate. The link is here

That case then was appealed by Morrisons who lost the appeal because the appeal Court followed the reasoning of the Judge of the first Court.

In both cases the legal discussions and arguments reminded us that the Law was and remains that:- There cannot be vicarious liability unless both of two factors are present,

First the person causing the damage must be, broadly speaking, “at work” that is, doing stuff the employer is paying for.

So if you are run over by the brewery lorry on a Saturday night when the driver is not at work but has taken it for a drive without permission, that test may not be met

And second, that there is “sufficient connection between the employment position and the wrongful conduct”

So in the first Morrison case, the petrol station attendant who punched and assaulted the customer had gone mad and certainly any employer would dismiss him but he was nevertheless (albeit consumed with unreasonable rage) shouting at the poor victim that he was barred from Morrisons and must never come back there. He was clearly, in his deluded mind, “at work” and “exercising his authority as an employee”.

So, in that case, the tests were met and Morrisons have to pay for the consequences even though their only fault was to trust their employee to behave properly and there had been no previous suggestion that he would not.

And in the second case also, the facts could be seen to be similar. – An employee who was trusted to do his job properly, suddenly turned rogue.

So in all three of the times that that case was heard before Courts, the argument of Morrisons was the same. Which is that the IT Data controller was not “at work” in the way that the mad petrol pump man was “at work”.

Morrisons argued, this was quite different:- that in this case, Mr Skelton was a trusted employee in the IT and data handling department of Morrisons, trusted to liaise with the Company accountants and supply sensitive data when necessary.

Although the Company knew that Mr Skelton had recently been disciplined for sending his own personal postage through the firm’s post room [even though he had paid for the stamps he used!] and it also knew that he felt that the treatment he had received was unnecessary and unfair, it had no reason to suppose that ideas of revenge would fester in his mind until they lead him to release the entire employee personal database contents onto the internet.

And Mr Skelton did not do that “on behalf of” Morrisons. He was not a petrol -pump man in uniform shouting and screaming “stay away from my employer’s business premises”.

Quite the contrary, he was a bitter man plotting in his bedroom how best to attack Morrisons and “make them pay” for his perceived injustice.

Eventually, Morrisons has found a judge who agrees.

Here is a link to the case transcript

So – you know – Glory Be and thank you for that.

We are perhaps left wondering why it has taken three court appearances over two years and left Morrisons millions of pounds out of pocket before an answer has finally been arrived at – the answer being what you might think any level headed observer would have expected from the beginning.

Mick and Keef were not in the Courtroom, but in their place the barristers told the Court once and told it twice and it never listened to their advice. Until the last time – link here

It is good to be able to finish by saying: – We are back at work, so please do contact me or Louise whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

Neither A Borrower Nor A Lender Be?

Neither A Borrower Nor A Lender Be?

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”

I can quote from Shakespeare with the best of you – provided I have a wi-fi link of course.

Leaving aside the final phrase, in line with the behaviour of governments and car purchasers everywhere, the first two lines sing to us loud and clear from four hundred years ago.

But as the case of Lejonvarn discussed below reminds us, never mind merely not lending. Also, giving gifts can result in a nasty bite.

In these frightening virus times we are mindful of others, and property adjusted people are wanting to help. Far be it from me to dissuade you. But just be aware that the true rewards for generous benefactors are more often found in heaven than in this life.

Tricky business though, being a good person. As the blessed Vinnie Jones showed us, Hands-Only CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) can save lives. But he didn’t mention that it can and probably will break ribs. There are USA documented cases of folk having their lives saved, then suing their kind lifesaver.

-Link Here –

“In case of cardiac arrest resuscitation attempts should continue until adequate spontaneous circulation is achieved or until the death of the patient is ascertained. Nevertheless, these attempts may cause considerable injuries to patients, thus increasing rescuer’s exposure to legal risk.”

So you can opt to save a life, or worry about being sued for causing bodily harm. Your call.

The case of Lejonvarn is that of a generous person who gave of her knowledge and expertise, and presumably now bitterly regrets it.

It has been described as the case that just keeps on giving, at least to those like me who write Blogs.

Eight years ago – eight long and worrying years for Mrs Lejonvarn, an Architect, since her neighbours asked her for a favour. Perhaps they asked for a “little favour”. It’s usually a little favour. The most valuable lesson a professional can learn is, it’s never little.

When you hear the phrase, run. Run as though the Devil is at your heels.

Mrs Lejonvarn was too kind, or naive, to run away when her (then) friends Mr and Mrs Burgess asked for the little favour of assisting with proposed landscaping works to their large garden and grounds.

She did some preparatory work for them, free of charge. Works continued after she had left the project to the contractors and workmen on site.

The original case of Lejonvarn was the subject of a blog I wrote in 2016 – link here-

And the 2016 case report is – link here-

But in 2016 all that was decided was a question of law – whether Mrs L, who was not being paid, could be negligent in performing tasks out of the goodness of her heart, so that she could be made to pay compensation if things went wrong.

Well I think, I could have told her the answer to that. It is “Yes”. Of course, you have to be just as careful when you are working for nothing as when you are getting well paid. Next question? So round one to the Burgesses. But all that Court hearing decided was that it is possible to sue someone for bad work, whether or not you are paying them. It did not actually look at the quality of the work.

The case then moved to a final decision on the work itself, and I blogged about that in 2019 – link here-

And the Law Report of that second and deciding 2019 case is – link here-

The Judges found that Mrs Lejonvarn had no contract with the Burgesses, so she was not contractually responsible for their losses nor under any contract liable to compensate them for what appears to be little more than rage at a disappointing outcome to their garden plans.

Not on a contractual basis.

And not on a Tort basis (negligence) either, since the Court decided that the evidence before it actually was that what Mrs Lejonvarn had done, was done well, and there was no reason for any complaint about it. If she had fallen out with the Burgesses and walked away before the work was finished, that was entirely her right, and if the works went to hell after that, it was nothing to do with her.

As I wrote in that blog, “Of course the next argy bargy will be – who pays the extremely substantial Court costs?”

Well now we know, and the decision looks at first glance to be a massive win for Mrs Lejonvarn. So hurrah for that, and you might need a heart of stone not to feel cheered up by a judgment which means that Mr and Mrs Burgess will now not only have to pay their own lawyers, but also the full amount of the fees of the lawyers for Mrs Lejonvarn – which will be around £725,000.00.

Say it quickly, but it still doesn’t help does it, it’s a fortune.

I say at first glance – because of course Mrs Lejonvarn has really won nothing except, at last, peace of mind. In order to defend herself from the outrageous claims her erstwhile friends have blighted her life with, she has incurred lawyers’ fees of £725,000.00. So of course this judgement won’t even put a penny in her own pocket, it won’t provide her with any financial compensation for years of worry: – it just means that her lawyers will get paid by the Burgesses.

However, at least it does mean that. It is an award of costs on the “indemnity basis”.

And if you are not a lawyer, you may be thinking well, that’s how it goes. There is a Court case, and the loser pays all the bills. It’s only fair.

As the lawyers know, that is not how it usually goes at all.

Usually the loser will be ordered to pay the winner’s costs – yes – but calculated according to something called the “standard basis”. Which typically means only about 60% to 75% of the actual bill if that.

A case has to be considered by the Judge to be “out of the norm” before the winner will get every penny. I suppose the idea is that rich defendants should not be able to scare away a claimant by using the most expensive lawyers and barristers and expert witnesses without themselves taking the risk of paying a substantial amount of those fees incurred even if they win.

So in the 2020 case just now decided, the issue was only -”Who should pay the Costs, And what percentage of the costs?”.

So, here is -the link- to the Law report on this year’s hearing, the one about costs

Was this case “out of the norm” so that Mr Lejonvarn should get all of her costs paid? Yes indeed. The Judge said that the Burgesses had pursued their litigation well beyond the point of any reasonable justification.

He approved the decision of the earlier Judge, that the Burgesses were not being rational, they had lost all sense of proportion, and they were blaming Mrs Lejonvarn for stuff that had “gang agley” long after she had walked away from their troublesome garden.

And this, being a case resulting from “an irrational desire for punishment”, which was unlinked to the merits of the claims themselves, “is precisely the sort of conduct which the court is likely to conclude is out of the norm”.

So the case that just keeps on giving, has given me scope to write three blogs. Surely it’s over now? And each time I have looked at it the motto has been the same – don’t do favours. No good deed goes unpunished.

That of course, is strictly legal advice. Your good heart may tell you different.

Nice song here –Nothing is better, nothing is best. Take care of Your Health and get plenty of rest –

As ever, if you require our services or if you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please so not hesitate to email us louise@atkinsonnotary.com and notary@atkinsonnotary.com.

Or alternatively please telephone on 0113 8160116 or 07715608747. Please also visit our website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com

We Thought We Got Married? But We Can’t Divorce?

The Law of England is of course always changing, in order to reflect the fact that day to day life changes.

That does not mean that the Law can be considered to be whatever you want it to be. At least, not for the time being. I think there is still a consensus among the British that certainty in the Law is a good thing.

In the area of Marriage laws, in England and Wales, if you want to get married, there are certainties – rules. Rules as to your ages, your relationship to each other (you cannot marry your brother, etc.) whether you are actually unmarried (bigamy is a crime) etc.

If you are going to persuade the British state that you got married in England, you need to have a marriage certificate.

[I have blogged earlier about the chap who had never been to Ghana but found out that a ceremony there which he did not attend resulted in him being legally married in the eyes of the English Courts. -Link Here- – bit of an unusual one that was. This Blog is not about that!]

So eyebrows were certainly raised in 2018 by the judgment in the case of Akhter and Khan when Mr Justice Williams decided that a couple who had never married were in fact parties to a “void” marriage.

When Muslim believers attend a Mosque to marry each other in a Muslim country such as say Pakistan, the religious ceremony of marriage called the “Nikah” is effective to create their marriage. If that couple travels to live in England, the English Courts will accept that they are married. Because, it was a ceremony conducted in Pakistan where it resulted in a marriage recognised in Pakistan. And so when they come to England, they are of course still married and England accepts that.

But if it takes place in England, the Nikah alone does not create a marriage recognised in England. Because the rules in England are not the rules of Pakistan. This is well understood among Muslims in England and indeed many mosques here will not celebrate a Nikah unless a civil marriage has already taken place.

And in the case above, the wife was well aware that English law requires an English ceremony sufficient to result in an English marriage certificate and her evidence made it clear that she had joined in the Nikah on the clear understanding that it would be followed within a very short time by an English civil marriage.

So it is unlikely that the wife was truly expecting her application for an English divorce to be allowed by the Judge and the whole of the English legal profession was extremely surprised when it was. The Judge said in effect:- yes you aren’t married, but you can have a divorce – and also therefore the benefit of all of the English divorce laws as to the division of marital assets, and maintenance and child maintenance rights etc.

Here is a link to the case report –link here-

Once again – “you aren’t married but you can have a divorce”.

Really?

The Judge was trying to persuade himself that the Nikah alone resulted not in a “Non-Marriage” like everyone thought, but in a class of marriage called a “Void” marriage.

An example of a void marriage might be the marriage of Mr Rochester to Jane Eyre at the first attempt if it had ever happened, and happened in the present century.

Jane did not know that Rochester was already married to mad Bertha locked in the attic. She understood that her proposed marriage was real, would have assumed she was properly married if the ceremony had completed. If she later found out the marriage was void, she could get therefore divorced.

Contrast this with a “non-marriage” – say, one of the marriages in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Dur, These are film actors pretending. They cannot get a divorce.

But if our Judge thought a Nikah created a void marriage, I’m pretty sure no-one else did.

His decision comes as further example of the maxim that “Hard cases make bad law”. The wife’s situation here was no doubt a hard case.

Most unfair of her “husband” to take her through a ceremony which was morally and religiously binding upon her and upon her conscience – doing so in full knowledge that it had no legal significance in the Country where it took place unless it was followed by an English civil marriage which he had only pretended he would agree to. In the full knowledge therefore that he could walk away from her whenever he chose, free from sanctions of the English divorce courts.

If the refusal of the husband to proceed with the English Civil marriage had caused the wife to walk away from the relationship almost immediately, I do not think the Judge would have found it possible to find the marriage to be a void one or any kind of one.

But she did not seek to walk away immediately, in fact by the time of the case the “marriage” had lasted for eighteen years and there are four children.

But in trying to help the wife with her “hard case”, the Judge’s decision can now be seen to have resulted in “Bad Law”.

Because a marriage either is, or isn’t a marriage. It complies with the rules, or it doesn’t. It cannot be a sort of “wait and see” sort of thing, whereby a “non-marriage” morphs into a “void marriage” after what – a year? Two? Eighteen? A child? Four? It really cannot be that we don’t know whether we are married when we leave the ceremony, it depends what we do next?

So here is the outcome, hottish off the press – the decision of Mr Justice Williams has been overturned – Link Here –

The judgment has restored certainty. But it has of course returned participants in a Nikah to their previous very difficult position.

As her Counsel said – “in this case where the husband led the wife to believe that they would undertake a civil ceremony as part of the process of marrying he has thus left her in the situation where she does not have a marriage which is valid under English law …… Once she had embarked on the process going through the Nikah ceremony and consummating the marriage, the reality for this wife and I suppose many others in her situation is that [just walking away from the “marriage”] was not a realistic option for her. Thus if this marriage is not a valid marriage according to English law nor a void marriage she is left without the remedies which arise from divorce or nullity.”

Any answer I could suggest of course comes too late for this lady, mere hindsight. But my suggestion is that the English Civil ceremony should come first before the Nikah, or better still should be combined. Many mosques are approved venues for marriage and the Nikah and the English marriage can take place together. (It took me all of ten seconds to find the North Finchley Mosque webpage – link here-).

Of course the preservation of divorce rights is a bit of a pessimistic priority for getting married. Here is an optimistic song –Let’s get married, you can have a cat, just as long as it barks-

If you would like to speak to us about our Notary practice -what we can do and what we can provide – then please do not hesitate to visit the website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com or contact me or Louise Morley on 0113 816 0116 or email louise@atkinsonnotary.com to discuss further.

FAKE QUALIFICATIONS ARE NOW A BILLION POUND INDUSTRY

FAKE QUALIFICATIONS ARE NOW A BILLION POUND INDUSTRY

If the well-groomed intelligent looking person sitting opposite you for a job interview answers the questions well, why not just say – “When can you start”?

After all interviews are a chore and most of us really don’t know how to do them. What we really want is someone who will fit into our organisation, someone personable and if they support Leeds United so much the better.

Obviously if the post requires specialist qualifications, the candidate will be asked to produce their degree certificates and references. But you probably suppose that a person who is not actually an engineer is hardly going to be asking for a job as engineer, so yes, just accept the paperwork at face value and put it in the drawer.

You think?

Link – here — this lady faked her qualifications to work as a Psychiatrist for 22 years, yes you have read that right, 22 years. She was placed into a position of trust pretending to be a Psychiatrist whilst treating Alzheimer patients.

Scary much?

“The convicted fraudster had failed the first year of medical school in New Zealand in 1992, but subsequently managed to register as a doctor with the General Medical Council (GMC) with a forged degree certificate, forged primary medical qualification and a fake letter of recommendation from her most recent job in Pakistan, under a visa scheme that has since been discontinued”

Being a crook, she also took financial advantage.

She “befriended” one of her patents who was recently widowed and fraudulently drafted a Will for that patient and also applied for Power of Attorney over her patient’s estate.

I am pleased to say she did go to Jail for all the fraud she had committed.

But – How did this women get to be in such a position of trust for 22 years, prescribing extremely strong medication (anti-psychotic drugs) and even sectioning patients!

The trouble is, honest people find it hard to believe in criminals. In the abstract, yes. But not in your office, in a job interview, with coffees and bickies – Surely not.

BUT AGAIN – It has been reported that around 75 bogus Universities websites and criminal operations were shut down in the past 4 years in England alone –more than 200 potential cases of fraud based upon the use of bogus degrees and similar fake qualifications have been reported since 2015

As a Notary Public office we are able to offer the service of verification checks of any proposed candidate’s qualification issued in UK, information contained in a curriculum vitae & verifying Criminal records check.

A  Notary Public is a trusted Legal officer whose certification is recognised in any country of the world and who is able to warrant facts and authenticate documents.

There are websites that you can purchase these bogus certificates directly from who are offering “get a realistic FAKE PhD Degree, buy it now @ $250.00”. Here is a –LINK – to one.

Dishonest people who purchase Bogus Educational qualifications are doing so in the hope of landing that “high-flying” job– there have been many reports recently of Doctors who are not qualified who have purchased a fake Degree Certificate to secure the job of their dreams even though they have no medical qualifications whatsoever – yes this really does happen!

See here – a link – to just one of such cases.

And there are more and more reports on the web of people in positions of trust who have used fake and bogus certificates to get the job they want – even aeroplane pilots! – the mind boggles!

Some of the headlines relating to fake Degrees:-

“Pilots and airline staff suspended for fake degrees”
“A PILOT who was caught inventing qualifications to lie his way into a commercial airline job is now flying holidaymakers out of Scotland”
“Thousands could be using fake degrees to apply for jobs”

If you are an employer or recruiter anywhere in the world my message to you is, don’t get caught out by unscrupulous individuals who feel it is okay to lie and cheat their way into employment that they are not qualified or entitled to do.

I am pleased to say that we offer a verification service so you can 100% be reliant on the paperwork your candidate produces. We can verify and authenticate any English Academic papers, we can verify details given on a C.V i.e check references, work experience etc.

Our verifications will be accepted around the world, we can obtain all necessary additional Apostille and Consular stamps.

We also have processes in place to verify and notarise as genuine ACRO and DBS Police Check!

Don’t give these fraudsters a way in. Let’s put a stop to this deceit and verify qualifications and references EVERY TIME – the more recruiters and HR Departments and other employment professionals opt to do this then the less likely it is that a fraudster can find a way in!

So don’t let anyone involve you in their intricate frauds. As the great man almost said “Shame on their greed, shame on their wicked schemes – I’ll say this, I don’t give a damn about their dreams” – Here’s the song –LINK HERE-

If you would like to speak in more depth as to what we can do and what we can provide then please do not hesitate to contact me, Louise Morley, Business Manager 0113 816 0116 or email louise@atkinsonnotary.com to discuss further.

You said “Happy Birthday”. Now I am humiliated.

You said “Happy Birthday”. Now I am humiliated.

It is the right of an employee to be allowed to carry out their duties free from harassment in the workplace. Harassment is the word used in s26 of The Equality Act. It means persistent behaviour that demeans, humiliates or embarrasses a person. So, it means ”bullying” .

Also the Act defines, then prohibits, illegal discrimination. Including discrimination upon grounds of age.

I confess that I find the Act hard to understand in the time I am willing to spend upon reading it. It seems to me to contain a long list of definitions of types of discrimination and of harassment but it less than clear as to what behaviour is prohibited with what consequences in breach.

And look at s30, whatever the consequences of bullying might be, don’t be behaving that way on ships or hovercrafts. Here is -the Link – I’ll let you have a go.

Anyway, let’s assume that brighter minds that mine can unravel the legislation and that workplace harassment is indeed against the law as it obviously should be.

So on to the facts of the Tribunal hearing of Munro -v- Sampson Coward. A secretary in a firm of Solicitors reached her fiftieth birthday and returned from a week off to find that a birthday card had been purchased for her and signed by all of the staff.

She complained to the firm that her birthday was her own private affair and says that the reply was “It was your 50th wasn’t it, you can’t hide it you know”.

The claim of the secretary was in part that the remark was “utterly shocking to her .. insensitive, humiliating and insulting”.

She claimed that the disclosure of her birthdate and of her actual age was a breach of GDPR – a release of her private data to persons not entitled to know it.

Long story short, -here is the link -,  the tribunal dismissed her case.

It found that her reaction was “unusual and extreme” and that the giving of a card was not harassment nor yet discriminatory. Nor, since the Tribunal found that the information as to her birthdate and age came from a disclosure she had made in conversation with one of the other secretaries rather than from her HR file, was there any data breach.

It found that the giving of the reviled birthday card was intended as an “act of kindness”.

You think so, Sherlock?

Any conclusions?

A reading of the case indicates that the Tribunal decided that the lady had been dismissed for rather poor work within the first two-years of her employment. Therefore, before any rights in Law against unfair dismissal had been accrued.

So it seems to have decided that perhaps her claim was instead made on the basis of dismissal for “whistleblowing” about the alleged data breach simply because there is no such time limit applicable for that.

The general tone of internet comment to the idea of finding a birthday card “humiliating” has been robustly derisive.

But. And then again, but.

Over twenty years ago, when a secretary of mine reached fifty, one of my friends rang her in the guise of an undertaker trying to sell her an instalment-plan funeral. Ho ho.

Much longer ago again, when the oldest of my group of teenage friends reached twenty, we all signed an “in memoriam” card with lilies and weeping angels on the front and posted it to his parents, declaring our deepest sympathy in their time of loss of their beloved teenager. Once again, Ho ho. And furthermore, Tee Hee.

How does that look in 2020?

Why do actors, particularly female ones, appear sensitive about their age?

Why was it necessary to bring in Acts of Parliament to protect workers from being required to leave work when they qualify for a pension?

Why does Pizza Express (other restaurants are available) demand your birthdate? It says – in order to confirm you are over 16. Do you believe them? In which case, maybe a box to tick “I am over 16” would do the trick?

[Having said that, if you enter your email address and a random birthdate each time you download a restaurant offer, you may well eventually receive almost weekly emails congratulating you on your birthday and notifying you of a free prosecco or whatever when you visit.]

All data has value – Below is advice to commercial email senders and advertisers from Experian including:-

“Whether the subject line is just a simple “Happy Birthday” or it indicates an offer or a gift … the response metrics are strong. …. Compared to mass-promotion mailings, the total open rates for birthday and anniversary campaigns are 235% and 150% higher respectively.” –Link Here-

If you go to most shops, the “loyalty card” needs your birthdate. See above. They think they can sell you more if they email you on your birthday.

Worse than any of that, see my 2015 Blog. – Link Here- Computer hackers actively look for elderly people to steal from. You’re 40 now, not bothered? Think on- You will get old and the computers in forty years’ time will not have forgotten you or your birthday.

So maybe going forward, we don’t find it so friendly a thing to do to make a note of, and celebrate, a work colleague’s birthday without express permission.

But, it’s a lonely world and a bit of friendliness in a spirit of kindness should surely always be seen as a good deed? You tell me.

As, ironically enough, no-one says any more, O tempora! O mores!

Have you got a Birthday this year? So have I. Here is the music –Link Here-

As ever, if you require our services or if you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please so not hesitate to email us louise@atkinsonnotary.com and notary@atkinsonnotary.com.

Or alternatively please telephone on 0113 8160116 or 07715608747. Please also visit our website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com

 

Judges – On The Whole, Rudeness Is The Remarkable Exception These Days.

Judges – On The Whole, Rudeness Is The Remarkable Exception These Days.

In many of my Blogs I have provided links to the transcriptions of various Judgments of the Court.

For example:- The judgment of The Honourable Mr Justice Fraser, in my most recent Blog, about the terrors of working for the Post Office, was a document of the length of a novel and it was a model of clarity.

Again, in the case where the liability of Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC to its employees in respect of a malicious act of a computer hacker was considered (currently awaiting a final appeal decision) the words of The Honourable Mr Justice Langstaff are thoughtful and clear and where the Judge felt that there was room for doubt he was fair to say so and to give leave – without being asked to – for an appeal. -Link here

And it is true that in the vast majority of cases in the higher courts, this is the standard.

Lower down the legal system, sometimes this is not the case.

Even so, rude and hostile judges are still so rare that examples tend to make the news.

There was one such case in 2019 which made the local press -Link here- and professional press headlines -link here-

This was the case of a court being asked to decide about the care and housing of a young child – a baby girl of one year old. The case was heard over five days and it’s not surprising that most of the witnesses, experts and family members, and judge alike, had strong feelings and a deep emotional investment in arriving at the right decision.

The decision to be reached was in essence a choice between foster placement leading to an adoption plan for the baby, or placement with grandparents.

The main problem with the second choice was the existence of a brother of the baby, a youth of 14 whose medical and behavioural problems meant that his presence in the same household as a one year old child would be a “threat to her safety and wellbeing”.

And whilst the boy was in residential care when the hearing was taking place, he was the subject of a settled “care plan” which included returning to live with those grandparents shortly.

The eventual decision of the Judge, District Judge Mian, was that the baby could not safely live with the grandparents and this fourteen year old, and so a placement was ordered for the baby girl as a preliminary to adoption.

On appeal, the Appeal Court agreed that, on the evidence, the decision of the lower Court – of DJ Mian – was actually cogent and well-reasoned. ”It would be difficult to criticise the Judge’s approach to the discretionary elements of the case.”

So what’s the problem?

As a reading of the press reports, and of the Appeal Court Judgment shows, the problem was not that Justice was not done. The problem was that justice was not seen to be done.

Have you ever experienced a situation where a meeting gets out of hand? Where you are simply trying to put across your point of view in a reasonable way. And everyone else is being obstructive and refusing to let you speak, or refusing to give any weight to your views. And the emotion ratchets upwards and everyone gets crosser and crosser and you can’t understand why no-one else in the room can see that you are the only person talking sense? According to you, of course.

(Brexit anyone?).

The hearing fell apart. Because the grandparents who represented their own views, and the social workers who spoke for the interests of the baby girl, clearly did not believe that the brother ever would come to live with the grandparents.

So they were discounting that possibility, and all of their submissions to the Judge were that the best place for the baby was with the grandparents because the perceived risk to the child if brother came to live there too was not an actual problem. Because he NEVER WOULD return. May I call that “Position A”.
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But the Judge took the view that her hands were tied, because a Court had approved a care plan for the brother which was in force, which in her eyes meant that the case had to be decided on the basis that he CERTAINLY MUST return. My label, “Position B”.

And so the Judge was effectively trying to forbid any witnesses’ submissions on the basis of Position A. But the witnesses considered Position B preposterous and found themselves unable to accept it even as a hypothesis.

So round and round they all went, day after day, like teddy-bears in the nursery rhyme.

Which made the Judge crosser and crosser. Swearing and shouting. Storming Out of the Courtroom, unable to speak because she was shaking with rage. Turning her back on the Court. Scornfully mimicking the advocates and witnesses. Oh dear.

The fact that the Appeal Court could find no fault with her eventual written judgment didn’t make it all right. As they told her, you simply cannot run a Court hearing like that.

And of course, and wouldn’t you know it, by the time the Appeal Court heard the case, the 14 year old had confirmed his refusal to leave residential care to live with the grandparents and his own case had been reconsidered and he will now live until adult in a suitable residential placement away from his family.

Here is the Appeal Judgement transcript – Link Here –

So as the Appeal Court said, at paragraph 28, it is easy, “when you have hindsight and the irony of the situation is not lost” – Precisely what the Judge was being urged to consider and had refused time and time again to consider, “has come to pass.”

Very sad for all concerned. This is not an incompetent or usually rude Judge. But things went badly wrong.

If we are actually looking for rude Judges, the contemporary prize seems to go to the now retired His Honour Robert Stephen Dodds.

The Court Case Judgement which led the webzine Legal Cheek to dub him “Britain’s Rudest Judge is here -Link Here- . Once again, the Appeal court does not find his Judgment necessarily wrong in relation to the facts and justice of the case. But the manner of it certainly was.

But do you not feel cheered to read of a Judge who can tell the open Court “Can I tell you how bitterly resentful I am at how much of my Saturday I spent reading this codswallop”?

I hope that His Honour lives long to enjoy many codswallop-free Saturdays in his retirement.

At least there is no Judge practicing in the English Courts now who is in the terrifying league of the late Hanging Judge Jeffreys. His reputation has survived over some 350 years.

An extract from a learned paper – link here-

“There was a fiendish exultation in the way in which he pronounced sentence on offenders. Their weeping and imploring seemed to titillate him voluptuously; and he loved to scare them into fits by dilating with luxuriant amplification on all the details of what they were to suffer.”

Crikey.

Here’s the song – Peter Tosh reminds us that we may one day meet a Higher Judge. –Link Here –

As ever, if you require our services or if you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please so not hesitate to email us louise@atkinsonnotary.com and notary@atkinsonnotary.com.
Or alternatively please telephone on 0113 8160116 or 07715608747. Please also visit our website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com

Computer Says NO. Go To Gaol. Just Another Day At The Post Office.

Computer Says NO. Go To Jail. Just Another Day At The Post Office.

Am I out of step with most News reporting agencies in feeling that one of the most astonishing Court cases in recent years was largely unreported as it trundled along over the past decade? Or maybe I just missed it.

What have you seen in the media before this year about the saga of the Post Office and its IT system called “Horizon”? Ring any bells?

In around 2000 this system written by the IT Company Fujitsu began to be rolled into use in Post Office branches, that is, into the sort of Post Office which is based inside a privately owned shop, perhaps a newsagency or cafe.

Therefore, the system was used by subpostmasters who were really just shopkeepers. And as shopkeepers, they did not network with each other or have any Union or trade body looking after them. Each of them was separate, and on their own.

The new Horizon IT system began to cause them problems. On reporting to the Post Office, each was told that no-one else had experienced any problems, and they must be doing things wrongly.

So in 2005 on her first day of training in her new post office (which she had paid £250,000.00 to buy) Mrs Seema Misra watched as the Post Office trainers ran the system for her. At the end of the day, the system showed a £150.00 shortfall which was dismissed by the trainers as just one of those things. “It’s never penny accurate”.

Every day following, the system showed a shortfall of £200.00 or so. It is the contractual responsibility of subpostmasters to make good all shortfalls from their own money. Mrs Misra got no help from the Post Office. She got threats.

In January 2008, pregnant, she was sent to jail. Say that again? Sent to Jail. Pregnant.

Found guilty of theft of £74,000.00 and false accounting. Here is -a link- to a case commentary which concludes with the timetable to the Crown Court Hearing. If you click on the links in the timetable you can read the transcript of the court proceedings on each day.

So far as false accounting is concerned, she admitted that. Her reasoning as she explained was that, whilst the shortfall apparent in the accounts was the result of computer rogue errors and were not her fault, they would result in her being required to “repay” tens of thousands of pounds if she did not try to disguise them in some way.

She did however plead “not guilty” to the charge of theft, and that is what her trial was about.

I would also point out a difference between the evidence given to the jury in her trial, and the evidence which is usually given to a jury in an “embezzlement” trial.

That is, there seems to be no prosecution evidence or allegation of what Mrs Misra is supposed to have done with the £74,000.00 she is accused of having stolen – where she had put it, or spent it.

Usually when a person is charged with embezzlement, the money is traced. Often that in itself is the best evidence of the thefts.

Indeed it is usually by examination of the accused person’s bank account that the existence of large amounts of unexplained money gives rise to, or justifies, suspicions. You know the sort of thing – the headlines say “Trusted employee spent stolen millions on girls, drink and fast cars” (c.f. George Best – “the rest I just wasted”. Sorry).

This sort of thing – link- thief buys jewellery and gambles and sends the kids to private school and goes on holidays and buys a new car or –link- where the somewhat fabulously named US Attorney Mr Anthony Eugene Cheatham “used the money to pay his bills, write personal checks to himself and family members—and make payments to other individuals from whom he had previously taken money”.

As an aside, – Would you go to a lawyer called Mr Cheatham? He must be quite charming to leap that hurdle.

But – No such money was traced in this case. No allegations were made: – of living beyond her means, of nice holidays new cars or works of art. Do you think, – Because, there never was £74,000.00 gone missing? Durr.

All she knew was that she was on her own, she had no knowledge that this wasn’t happening only to her. But the Post Office did. There were lots of others.

Here is -a link-  to the Telegraph article highlighting her case and other cases.

I find it hard to imagine what it must feel like. To invest £200,000.00 of my own money (£67,000.00 on a mortgage) into a business where the computer says each day I owe £200 and each day and each day. Would I sleep? Then to be arrested, then sent to jail.

Not just her though :-

Mr Thomas. Age 72. Jailed.

Per Wikipedia, Ms Jo Hamilton was faced with having to repay the non-existent sum of £36,000.00 and because she couldn’t afford it and hadn’t had the money she tried to “falsify” the already false deficit. She pleaded guilty to fourteen charges of false accounting and re-mortgaged her house to repay money which never existed.

Rubina Nami jailed 12 months. Lost her house. Slept in a van upon release.

Private Eye states one person has committed suicide.

In 2011 this state of affairs was reported upon in Private Eye magazine. The journalist runs a Blog and is far more explanatory than I could be – he has been writing about the case for years here is – a link-.

In spite of the fact that the Post Office had been instrumental in the jailing of its subpostmasters for years, it seems that only in 2015 did the Chief Executive Paula Vennells – (who earned five or so millions of pounds whilst in post and who has not been sent to jail) – instruct her employees to enquire of Fujitsu whether the system was truly secure or whether external logins to its Horizon System were possible.

Its Court pleadings say ”neither Post Office nor Fujitsu has the ability to log on remotely to a horizon terminal so as to conduct transactions”

Not True.

It has become clear that the Post office has for years been desperate to defend the indefensible. Faced with real and obvious evidence to the contrary its position appears to have been – “Fujitsu say there’s nowt wrong with what we bought. So you must all be liars and jail’s the place for you – off you go.” I paraphrase.

Presumably because a billion pounds or so has been spent upon this system.

Possibly because it would feared that losing a court case would eventually result in the privatisation of the Post Office.

So for over one decade if not two decades it has been telling lies or allowing Fujitsu to do so without proper consideration of the facts and exhibiting, in the words of The Honourable Mr Justice Fraser “Institutional Obstinacy” amounting to repeated pig headed assertions that their system “cannot be to blame” and simply failing to accept all or any factual accounts by all witnesses to the contrary.

Because there is now a reported case. In fact the Post Office has agreed to pay compensation/settlement money of £58 million or so to – how many do you think? The number is 550 subpostmasters.

Five hundred and fifty poor sods. Five hundred and fifty lives disrupted for year after year.

The written judgment is a very good read. –Link Here- You can perhaps tell whether the Judge is furious. The levels of politeness and overt fairness have gone into overdrive. He is scrupulous as can be and his judgment runs to 1030 paragraphs over 313 pages.

After delivery of it he is reported to have said

“Based on the knowledge that I have gained both from conducting the trial and writing the Horizon Issues judgment, I have very grave concerns regarding the veracity of evidence given by Fujitsu employees to other courts in previous proceedings about the known existence of bugs, errors and defects in the Horizon system. These previous proceedings include the High Court in at least one civil case brought by the Post Office against a sub- postmaster and the Crown Court in a greater number of criminal cases, also brought by the Post Office against sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses.

“After very careful consideration, I have therefore decided, in the interests of justice, to send the papers in the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Max Hill QC, so he may consider whether the matter to which I have referred should be the subject of any prosecution.

“It will be entirely a matter for the DPP what, if anything, he does in respect of this referral…I wish to make it clear that the specific subject to which I will drawing the specific attention of the DPP relates to the evidence on previous occasions of Fujitsu employees.”

There was a time when the person in charge of a monumental balls-up requiring a negotiated settlement of £58m. would resign. Never mind personal responsibility or culpability even if there were none. As a matter of honour.

Wikipedia tells me Paula Anne Vennells, CBE, FRSA is “a British businesswoman and Anglican priest. She was Chief Executive officer of the Post Office Limited from 2012 to 2019 before assuming the chair of Imperial College Healthcare Trust, one of the largest NHS hospital groups”.

Yes, she’s running hospitals now.

By the way, and not before time, it would appear that the Horizon system is now working properly. So that’s all fine.

Here is a suitable song to cheer us all up – link –

As ever, if you require our services or if you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please so not hesitate to email us louise@atkinsonnotary.com and notary@atkinsonnotary.com.

Or alternatively please telephone on 0113 8160116 or 07715608747. Please also visit our website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com