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Thursday, May 10, 2012
To be eligible for legal aid that being free representation, a defendant needs to be able to pass the means test and interests of justice test. Legal aid is a fund from the government to people who would not otherwise be able to afford legal advice or a solicitor to represent them in court. The test applies to defendants being held in custody awaiting trial for criminal defence cases in the magistrates' courts and higher. It ensures that the people, who cannot afford to pay, will then be able to pay for legal representation, which saves at least £35million per year on legal funding since it has been introduced. The Legal Services Commission is the governing body that grants the legal aid to applicants, granting representation orders in the magistrates to Her Majesty's Courts Service. Applicants who do not pass the means test, which means they are not entitled to legal aid in the magistrates court, can choose to fund their defence privately, and can then apply to reclaim their costs if they are then found to be not guilty. They costs can be recovered from central funds which is a further source from the Ministry of Justice. The way of determining whether a defendant is entitled to this aid is by using a financial eligibility calculator, which can work out whether the applicant will be likely to pass or fail the test for legal aid in the magistrates court or pay a contribution if their case goes on to the Crown Court. The calculator will give a legal practitioner an idea of whether the defendant is likely to be entitled to legal aid before the test is carried out at court. When the test is carried out in the magistrates court, aid is only granted to a defendant who has passed the Interests of Justice test and does not have the financial means to fund for legal representation in the magistrates court. The financial means is the means test and establishes whether the defendant is financially able to fund their case. The means test will take into account income and expenses but not capital. Passported applicants will automatically pass the means test but will still need to pass the interests of justice test before they are entitled to legal aid. The means test establishes the applicant's income and how it is distributed between any partners and children. If the applicant's income is more than £12,475 and less than £22,325 then a full means test is carried out. This works by looking at the defendant's disposable income after deducting tax, maintenance and other annual costs from their gross annual income.
Posted by moh alfan at 9:00 PM
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
As a business owner, you probably enter into contractual relationships every day. Many of you deal with written contracts on a fairly regular basis. However, do you understand the basic concepts of contract law and what makes a legally binding contract? Do you know what to look for when reviewing contracts prepared by the other party, or your own attorney that make it a legally binding contract? Under Wisconsin contract law, legally binding contracts, whether oral or written, require three basic components: offer, acceptance, and consideration. An "offer" requires that one party offers to provide something of value to another party, which is then "accepted" by that other party. "Consideration" is what the two parties are obligated to exchange with each other as part of the contract. Consideration must be something of value, and the consideration must be mutual, i.e. both sides must provide something of value under the contract. For example, an agreement whereby a party agrees to pay you $1,000.00, without receiving anything in exchange, is by definition not a contract. Typically, consideration takes the form of money paid in exchange for the provision of goods or services. This holds true for multi-million dollar transactions between international conglomerates, and when you take your car in for repairs by a mechanic. One corporation agrees to pay millions of dollars for another corporation to develop specific software or some other product, and you pay your mechanic to replace your spark plugs. In either case, there is an offer, acceptance, and consideration, and therefore an enforceable and legally binding contract. Keep in mind, however, that legally binding contracts may require consideration other than money, for example when two parties agree to exchange parcels of real estate. Under Wisconsin contract law, all contracts also come with an implied duty of "good faith and fair dealing" on the part of both parties to the contract. While this is admittedly a rather broad phrase, in essence it means that, once an agreement has been reached, both parties have an obligation to make reasonable efforts to fulfill their respective obligations, and to avoid taking actions that would hinder the performance of the contract. Parties to contracts have the right to enforce them in courts of law. Generally, the remedies for breach of contract take one of two forms, either specific performance or monetary damages. Specific performance is an equitable remedy most often awarded in cases involving real estate transactions, and consists of the Court ordering the breaching party to fulfill its obligations, i.e. "specifically perform" the contract. In most cases, the remedy for breach of contract is money damages, usually in the form of "consequential" damages. Consequential damages are those damages that flow naturally from one party's breach of a contract, and can include the cost to replace a product that was never delivered, the cost to repair a defective product, and any resulting lost profits. However, consequential damages must be "reasonably foreseeable" at the time the contract was created in order to be recoverable. With certain exceptions, oral contracts may be just as valid and legally binding as a written contract. As an attorney, I recommend that whenever possible, contractual obligations be set forth in a written document signed by both parties. As a general rule, courts are required to look only at the written contract itself to interpret the parties' obligations, unless there is some ambiguity in the contract. In the absence of a written agreement, or when an ambiguity exists in a written contract, the court may look to extrinsic evidence, including the testimony of the parties, to determine their intent. In other words, the judge or the jury will be determining the fate of the parties, as opposed to the parties themselves. Therefore, written contracts that clearly define the obligations of the parties are almost always preferable to oral contracts. I will close with a suggestion. Never ignore the "boilerplate" language that you often find at the end of contracts. While these provisions may seem like an afterthought added by the attorneys to make the contract longer, they are often of vital importance, specifying among other things where written notices (for example, terminating the contract) must be sent under the contract, to where a lawsuit must be filed and what jurisdiction's laws will govern the contract. While it is important to review the detailed provisions of the contract, it can be just as important to understand the "standard" provisions at the end of the contract.
Posted by moh alfan at 10:30 AM
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Legal minds turned to Internet gambling laws as a specialty when the industry went beyond growth and exploded into the public mind. "The law surrounding Internet gambling in the United States has been murky, to say the least," according to Lawrence G. Walters, one of the attorneys working with gameattorneys.com. In contrast, Internet gambling laws in the U.K. have made the lives of providers and players a bit easier. The passage of the Gambling Act of 2005 has basically legalized and regulated online play in the U.K. With the objectives of keeping gambling from promoting "crime or disorder" the U.K. act attempts to keep gambling fair, in addition to protecting younger citizens and others who may be victimized by gambling operation. Unlike the United States, which still clings to the 1961 Wire Wager Act, the U.K. significantly relaxed regulations that are decades old. A gambling commission was established to enforce the code and license operators. A Whole Other Country According to Walters and many other observers of the Internet gambling laws scene, the United States Department of Justice continues to view all gambling on the Internet as illegal under the Wire Act. But there are details in the federal law that defy attempts to throw a blanket over all online gambling. The Wire Wager Act forms the basis for federal action on Internet gambling laws in the United States. The law was meant to complement and support laws in the various states, focusing primarily on "being engaged in the business of betting or wagering" using wire communication to place bets or wagers on sporting events or similar contests. The law also comments on receiving money or credit that results from such a wager. The keys are "business," "money or credit" and "wire communication facility." But as many attorneys and proponents of fair Internet gambling laws emphasize, the federal law does not specifically address other forms of gambling. This has left the law open to interpretation when it comes to online casinos specifically and using the World Wide Web to play online games. October 13, 2006 is a crucial date in the controversy surrounding the legalization of gambling. For anyone wishing to understand Internet gambling laws, the federal law passed on that day is essential knowledge. President George W. Bush signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which is intended to limit some "financial transactions" used for online gambling. But even if current federal gambling laws can clearly define something as simple as a legal gambling age, the newer UIGEA has not settled all the dust raised around the issue of online gambling. Attorneys such as Walters (and many others) have pointed out that the UIGEA seems to refer only to financial transactions and wagers that are illegal where the wager or transaction is made. Some wagers may be legal while others may not be legal. It's as simple as that. The UIGEA had some effect on Internet gambling, in that many successful companies got out of the business, at least in the United States. In fact, with the passage of the law in 2006, most U.S. online players found they could not play at an online casino or poker room, for a short time. Many of the gambling providers found ways to establish offices and servers outside of the U.S. so that could invite United States players back in. Break Time It's now time to stop, take a deep breath and turn to Internet gambling laws in the various states. Some have passed their own rules and regulations (before and after UIGEA). In a few states, companies cannot operate an online gambling business. In other states it is illegal for an individual to place a bet using the Web. Some legal experts argue that these individual-state rules are unconstitutional since commerce across state lines should only be regulated by federal law, not state law. Commercial online gambling businesses don't operate in the United States, however. If you want to visit their "home offices" you may have to travel to Malta, Gibraltar or Curacoa. The 2005 U.K. law generally allows remote sites such as these. The rules are not so relaxed in the U.S. However, a recent appellate court ruling in the U.S. states that, in at least one case, an Web-based gambling site did not violate states laws. Most legal minds urge gamblers and others interested in the issue to stay tuned. Some have given their attention to finding benefits of legalized gambling, noting that this huge industry might be a key to economic recovery in the United States. At the heart of their argument are examples such as established lotteries run by various states, in addition to the government revenues that flow in to state coffers from riverboats and land-based casinos. Part of this effort rests on the shoulders of more than 100 legal representatives working for common sense in Internet gambling laws. This hoard of attorneys has the task of trying to keep the World Wide Web/Internet free from government intervention. Bob Ciaffone is considered one of the experts on the subject of gambling and poker in general, and on the transition to online gambling. He suggests that any regulation of Web-based gambling should reduce competition from outside the U.S., so that the citizens of the U.S. would benefit in legal gambling states. His detailed plan would parallel the U.K. situation since that country passed its 2005 rules. Ciaffone also strongly urges U.S. lawmakers to keep Internet gambling laws separate from the 40-year-old Wire Act, which was passed to control illegal gambling over the telephone. In essence, Ciaffone writes that the UIGEA attempted to do the right thing, but does it in all the wrong ways. The restrictions have severely handicapped what could be a great revenue source with proper regulation, according to Ciaffone. Consider a statement on the UIGEA from the most-recognizable poker player in the world, Doyle Brunson. Though is comments apply to his favorite game of poker, they can easily relate to all Internet gambling laws. He said, in essence, that his company received good legal advice that indicates Internet poker is not "expressly" illegal. He encourages U.S. players to learn the laws of their own state.
Posted by moh alfan at 5:00 PM
Thursday, January 5, 2012
As our jails and prison populations increase we are finding that we have to let more people out sooner, as we cannot afford to house them all. Unfortunately, this increases crime because our recidivism rates are so high already and if we keep allowing people to get out of jail too quickly, then eventually that deterrent will no longer work for us to keep crime down, as there will be no real punishment. This is indeed exactly what is happening in many of our nation's largest cities. Worse, in California, they must cut down the prison population or the state will go bankrupt, well it kind of already is, but somehow they keep floating worthless bonds, borrowing more money, and deferring debt to subsequent future years, and yes, like the Federal Government future generations. One of the biggest problems on the horizon and it is getting much worse is the huge numbers of illegal aliens in prison in Arizona and other states for violent crimes, grand theft, gang warfare and drug sales. In fact, in the Arizona state prison system over 70% of all prisoners are illegal aliens, so just imagine the cost on that? No one knows what to do. Ideas have been floated such as charging a "remittance tax" on all the money being sent back to Mexico by workers to pay for this. Although many feel that might be deemed unconstitutional. Still, we have far too many people in jail and crime has risen in part due to the recession; people out of work, and fewer law enforcement officers on duty. Please consider this.
Posted by moh alfan at 5:00 AM