The life of a defence lawyer is always interesting. We usually work all hours, every day, and we go out of the office a lot. We enjoy the cut and thrust of the Crown Court and the tactical decisions in interviews under caution. Whenever the police station is open or the trading standards officers want to speak to us we are on call. Whenever the courts are open we are on standby. If a client calls, we answer and we tell them we will see them in half an hour.
During the lock down things have changed. We have taken on couple of prosecutions and some shotgun licensing appeals but we are not as busy as usual. The Courts are running and the police stations are open but things have definitely changed.
Let’s have a look at the process for lodging a shotgun licensing appeal during Covid-19.
It starts with a call. He calls me, on my office number. It diverts to my mobile and I answer at my kitchen table. He wants to appeal the revocation of his certificate. His guns have been seized. Can he appeal? Yes. Can I take his case on? Yes. When will the appeal be heard? Nobody knows.
I take all the details and send the information to our new business team. Within a day they have opened the file. I get in contact with the shooting association and their insurers. They ask me to write an advice on the likelihood of success. I tell them we have good prospects. They confirm they will fund the appeal.
I draft the appeal from my kitchen table. I speak to the client a couple of times and we confirm the content. He is happy with the appeal so I serve it by email on the Chief Constable. Is she working? I call her to check. Yes of course she is. She agrees that this appeal has some merit. She has more time for me than usual because her workload is down. She will see me in Court! I speak to the Crown Court. They have received the appeal. They will list the case for a “mention and fix” hearing.
The mention and fix hearing will take place over Skype. We will fix a date for the final appeal in a few months when the lock down has ended. I video call my client to update him. He sees me in my jeans and jumper. It’s all a bit strange, but practically speaking, everything that has happened is totally normal.
We are starting to get used to this new way of working. Progress being made in court over Skype, seeing judges on the screen. Not being sure whether to stand up when the hearing is over, bowing awkwardly. It is becoming a new normal. One day when this is all over we will be recalling the strange days during Covid-19 in robing rooms and police stations, until then, the show must go on.