Fraud, findings and a fair trial

One of the pleasures of being a common law barrister is the wide field of law that I practice in. Although the focus of this blog is, and always will be, on costs and litigation funding, I enjoy undertaking cases in other disparate fields having worked for many years in personal injury, credit hire and road traffic claims, and public law, including town and country planning work amongst other things.

It has occurred to me that I should perhaps do more to publicise that work, to run counter to the increasing trend towards specialisation and narrowness of practice, which has been picking up pace in the legal profession for many years now.

Indeed it would make sense to have a suite of websites, each devoted to a particular audience. Finding the time to update them would of course, be the mischief.

Last week judgment was handed down in a case, where I succeeded in overturning findings of fraud made by HH Judge Baucher in conjoined claims in the case of Da Costa and another v Sargaco and another [2016] EWCA Civ 764. The case still failed for want of proof but the issue of the modest damages at stake was not what warranted a trip to the Court of Appeal.

Its always a pleasure to go to the Court of Appeal. The judges are bright, focused and polite. The work is interesting. And the cases which are decided there, add incrementally to the store of binding precedents, which raise the law slightly higher each year, like a metaphorical legal coral reef.

The case is of interest both for the way the Court of Appeal dealt with the issue of fraud, but also due to the criticism placed on the judge below, for wrongly excluding from court one of the claimants in the case, whilst the other was giving evidence, raising an issue as to what constitutes a “fair trial” at common law. I note that already commentators in the blogosphere have weighed in on one side or another, on whether it can ever be right to exclude a party from hearing his own case in court. A copy of the judgment can  be found here: Da Costa and another v Sargaco and another Judgment

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