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Paralegal
Part 18 Request for further information
Particular Criminal Conduct
Particulars of Claim
Perjury
Perverting the course of justice
Plea and Case Management Hearing (PCMH)
Police
Police Bail
Police Interview 
Positive defences
Pre-Sentence Report (PSR)
Previous Convictions
Primary Disclosure
Private Law
Private Prosecutions 
Probation Service
Property Freezing Order
Prosecution (Party)
Prosecution (proceedings)
Provocation
Pupil

Paralegal

Also known as a clerk or a caseworker, a paralegal is an individual who assists a solicitor in the preparation of a case.

Paralegals are unqualified, although it is often the case they have/are undertaking some form of training perhaps with a view to eventually becoming a solicitor or Legal Executive.

Part 18 Request for further information

A Part 18 Request for further information is a written request for further information that may be made by either party in civil proceedings. Such a request can be made if a party feels there are deficiencies in another party's statement of case and/or where one party feels it is entitled to documentation. The request will seek clarification on any deficiencies and/or request disclosure of documentation.

A party who receives a Part 18 Request for further information is obliged to provide the information within a specified period of time or respond and set out why it objects to the provision of the information. If further information is provided then this must be done in a certain format (and verified by a statement of truth), served on all parties and filed with the court. Reasons for objecting to the provision of information can include:-

  1. that the timeframe is not sufficient
  2. the request is not relevant
  3. the request is a "fishing expedition"
  4. the request is oppressive or disproportionate.

If the requesting party is not satisfied with the reasons set out in objection (or in the case of no response having been received), he/she may make an application that the court make an order that the other party provide such information."Part 18" refers to Part 18 of the Civil Procedure Rules which sets out the procedure to be followed.

Particular Criminal Conduct

In the context of confiscation proceedings, Particular Criminal Conduct is the value of benefit the defendant is said to have obtained from the offence for which the defendant has been convicted (that has triggered the confiscation proceedings).

In some circumstances, the prosecution will also be able to recover the value of the benefit the defendant is said to have obtained from his/her General Criminal Conduct (i.e. the benefit the defendant has derived from other unlawful conduct).

Particulars of Claim

The "Particulars of Claim" is a document setting out ("particularising") the Claimant's case/claim in civil proceedings. The document is categorised as a "statement of case". The Particulars of Claim supplements the Claimant's claim form (although in the most simple of cases the Particulars of Claim may be incorporated in the claim form).

Particulars of Claim should set out concisely (in numbered paragraphs) the basis of a claim; i.e. what it is asserted has happened, what cause of action has arisen and the remedy sought (e.g. damages).

Once Particulars of Claim have been served on a defendant, he/she is required to file a Defence addressing the assertions advanced within the document.

Perjury

Perjury is an indictable-only offence that can carry a substantial prison sentence.

Perjury is made out where a lawfully sworn witness or interpreter in judicial proceedings wilfully makes a false statement which he knows to be false or does not believe to be true, and which is material in the proceedings.

A witness who tells the court something that he/she believes to be untrue is guilty of perjury, even if his/her evidence turns out (to his surprise) to be true after all.

There is an overlap between perjury and the wider offence of perverting the course of justice.

Perverting the course of justice

The offence of "perverting the course of justice" is committed when a person acts or embarks upon a course of conduct which has a tendency to and is intended to pervert the course of public justice.

The offence of "perverting the course of justice" will cover a wide range of scenarios. A common example would be falsifying an alibi for a suspect in a criminal investigation.

The maximum sentence for perverting the course of justice is life imprisonment.

Plea and Case Management Hearing (PCMH)

A Plea and Case Management Hearing is a hearing in the Crown Court at which an indictment will be formally put to one or more defendants. The indictment will be read out and the defendant(s) will have to indicate whether they plead guilty or not guilty to each count.

If a defendant pleads not guilty then the matter will be set down for trial and various directions will be given by the judge. This will normally involve a timetable being set for the proceedings (for example, deadlines being set for the service of defence case statements or notice of applications to adduce bad character or hearsay evidence).

Parties are supposed to appraise the court of various case details at a Plea and Case Management Hearing. These include an idea as to how many witnesses will give live evidence and how long the trial is likely to last.

If a defendant pleads guilty to an offence then the matter may move to sentencing (subject to any adjournment for reports). However, if a defendant pleads not guilty to other counts on the indictment or a co-defendant pleads not guilty then it is likely that sentencing will be adjourned until after those matters have been tried.

Police

There are a number of police forces in the UK organised by region. There are also some non-geographic units (e.g. the British Transport Police).

Police forces are law enforcement agencies responsible for the prevention and detection of crime. The law provides the police with a number of powers to assist them in this task. However, if the police act outside of these powers they may incur civil (and/or, in extreme cases, criminal) liability.

Police investigations focus on one or more suspects. Following the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), one or more suspects may be charged. At this point a suspect becomes a defendant and a prosecution takes place in the courts. The prosecution will be conducted by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Police Bail

The police (specifically the duty custody sergeant) have the power to bail a suspect in an investigation to a new date whilst ongoing enquiries are made or advice is sought from the CPS as to whether the suspect should be charged (and if so for what offence).
A suspect may be bailed for a number of weeks, and possibly even months, whilst a matter is investigated. The police are now able to impose conditions of bail. These can be challenged in the Magistrates' Court.

If by the bail return date, matters are unresolved (e.g. the police are awaiting the results of forensic tests, for CCTV to be obtained or witness statements taken), the suspect may be re-bailed to a new date, in which case they will simply have to sign a form acknowledging a new date. Occasionally, this can be done administratively via solicitors without the need for an attendance at the police station.

The police may wish to hold a further PACE interview and then re-bail a suspect.
In terms of the length of time suspect can be held in police custody the clock will stop when a suspect is bailed and recommence on their next attendance.
Upon charge the custody sergeant can bail the suspect to attend court at a later date for a first hearing, imposing conditions if she/she feels such are necessary. Alternatively, bail may be withheld and the suspect produced in custody at the first available court sitting. The suspect becomes a defendant at this point.

Police Interview

The purpose of a police interview is to obtain evidence from a suspect about their alleged involvement in an offence. This will be achieved through a series of questions. A suspect is not obliged to answer questions and may simply give what is known as a "no comment" interview (thus exercising his right to silence). However, if a suspect fails to raise anything during interview that they later seek to rely on in their defence at court the judge/magistrates/jury may be asked to draw an adverse inference (i.e. consider that a defence has been latterly fabricated). For example, if the defendant has an alibi, why would he not raise it at the police interview when asked about his whereabouts at the time of the offence? A suspect should be cautioned against this at the start of a police interview.
A suspect should not generally be interviewed if they are considered "unfit". For example, if they are drunk. A Forensic Medical Examiner ("FME")/police doctor will assess their state of fitness.

A suspect who has been arrested and detained at the police station is entitled to free and independent legal advice from a solicitor or an accredited police station representative.
The way in which an interview is conducted is governed by Code C of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. This contains detailed requirements and guidelines. Serious breaches can in certain circumstances render an interview inadmissible.

Positive defences

In the context of criminal proceedings, positive defences are defences that go beyond bare denial and "positively" advance a case for a defendant by asserting a fact that would provide the defendant with a complete defence. Common examples include self-defence (in the case of assault), duress, necessity or alibi.

In all but the last example above, on the face of it, the offence may have been committed by the defendant; however they assert that it was in circumstances that provided them with a complete defence. In such circumstances, the evidential burden of proof will shift to the defendant to establish the defence.

If a defendant fails to raise a positive defence during a police interview and/or in a defence case statement, but raises it at trial, he/she may be subject to an adverse inference ruling at trial (i.e. it may be suggested to the jury/magistrates/district judge that the defence has been laterally fabricated).

Pre-Sentence Report (PSR)

A Pre-Sentence Report is an independent report on the defendant prepared by the Probation Service, independently of the court. The Report is the outcome of an appointment between the defendant and the Probation Service. A Pre-Sentence Report will consider the offence, the offender and the risk the defendant poses to the public. It will normally include a recommendation to the court on the appropriate sentence.

A Pre-Sentence Report is prepared during an adjournment in the sentencing hearing. In some circumstances this can be done at court over the lunch break, although often the hearing is adjourned for a couple of weeks so an appointment with the Probation Service can be made.
A recommendation in a Pre-Sentence Report is persuasive, but is not binding on a court (that is, the court is not obliged to follow its recommendation as to sentence).

Previous Convictions

The term "previous convictions" refers to a defendant's antecedents.

A record is kept of an individual's previous convictions and this may be referred to when a defendant is sentenced for any subsequent offences. Previous convictions can also sometimes also be adduced as bad character evidence in any subsequent trial.

After a certain time some (but not all) convictions are deemed to be "spent" under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This will mean that the defendant is not required to disclose any such previous convictions when applying for a job etc... However, certain professions are exempt from this provision and specifically require the disclosure of spent convictions.

Primary Disclosure

In the context of criminal proceedings, primary disclosure is unused material served by the prosecution that the reviewing lawyer [within the prosecuting body] considers might undermine the prosecution or assist the defence.

If the defendant serves a defence case statement, a further review of the material will be carried out in light of the matters raised within the document. This is known as secondary disclosure.

Private Law

Private law concerns individuals enforcing private rights against one another in the civil courts.

Private law will normally involve Party A asking Party B to:-do something;-refrain from doing something; or -to pay compensation ("damages") to correct something Party B has done or omitted to do (e.g. where Party B has been negligent).

If the matter cannot be agreed between the parties, a claim may be issued in court for judicial determination of the matter. The purpose of the court will be to try and put the wrong right; not to punish the individual who committed the wrong (as in the case of criminal law).

Unlike in criminal law (where the state decide whether to prosecute), whether individuals pursue civil remedies is entirely a matter for them.

Private Prosecutions

Private prosecutions are prosecutions brought against individuals by private individuals as opposed to the Crown (the state).

An individual wanting to initiate a private prosecution must persuade the Magistrates' Court that there is a realistic prospect of a conviction. If he/she succeeds then a summons will be issued.

The Crown Prosecution Service can take over a private prosecution, but must be satisfied that the evidential and public interest tests in the Code for Crown Prosecutors are met. The Crown Prosecution Service may take over a private prosecution and discontinue it if it feels that there is no case to answer or it is not in the public interest to continue with the prosecution.
Private prosecutions are rare and comparatively few succeed.

Probation Service

The National Probation Service is responsible for the supervision, monitoring and assessment of convicted offenders.

The Probation Service's responsibilities include:-

  • Meeting with convicted defendants and preparing Pre-Sentence Reports to be placed in front of sentencing judges.
  • Organising and monitoring community sentences (e.g. arranging unpaid work)
  • Dealing with breaches of community sentence orders
  • Monitoring individuals released from prison on licence
  • Assessing whether prisoners are fit to be released into the community
  • Running bail hostels

Property Freezing Order

A property freezing order is an order that can be obtained by the state (currently through the Serious Organised Crime Agency [SOCA]) prior to the commencement of Civil Recovery Order proceedings. The order prevents an individual from dealing with the subject assets. It is similar to a freezing injunction/Mareva order and is normally made following a without notice/ex-parte application.

Prosecution (Party)

The term "the prosecution" is used to describe the party bringing criminal proceedings against a defendant. The term "the prosecutor" is also sometimes used, but this tends to refer to an individual lawyer rather than the prosecuting body bringing the proceedings (e.g. the Crown Prosecution Service).The term "prosecution" is also used to describe criminal proceedings themselves.

Prosecution (proceedings)

The term "prosecution" is used to describe criminal proceedings against a defendant. For example, "I face prosecution for driving offences" and "the outcome of the prosecution was a conviction for driving with excess alcohol".

The term is also used to describe the party bringing the proceedings (i.e. the prosecutor).

Provocation

Provocation is a partial defence to murder. It is called a partial defence as if it succeeds it results in the alternative verdict of manslaughter, rather than an acquittal.

The partial defence of provocation applies where at the time of the offence the defendant suffered a total loss of control as a response to another's provocative conduct.

Manslaughter is a less serious offence than murder and crucially does not carry a mandatory life sentence. In fact, whilst the maximum sentence is life imprisonment, there is no minimum sentence.

Pupil

Pupil is the term given to a barrister in their final period of training (known as "a pupillage"). A pupil will gain practical experience at a barrister's set of chambers, after the completion of the Bar Vocational Course (BVC).

The pupillage is similar in principle to the training contract undertaken by trainee solicitors. A pupillage initially comprises of one year split into two parts of six months each. During the first part pupils generally shadow their pupil supervisor, undertake legal research and assist in the drafting of documents. In the second part, although they are still supervised, pupils are able to take on their own work and have rights of audience. These periods are known as the "first six" and "second six" respectively. At the end of a "second six" a pupil can apply for tenancy at a set of chambers. Competition is very high and only a certain number of pupils will obtain a tenancy straight away. Those who do not will have to wait six months for the next round; this is called a "third six". It is not unusual for a pupil to have to undertake several "third sixes" before obtaining a tenancy.

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