TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF FIGURES
The aim of the report is to research and demonstrate a systematic understanding of the legal systems in the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU).
The report also highlights the rules of presenting digital evidence in a court of law or a tribunal. The role of an expert witness and how to develop an expert report to be used in a court of law is also covered. Comparison of the UK and the EU legal systems is been carried out by this report. The report has also assessed one cybercrime case prosecuted in the United Kingdom.
The research methods employed in this report were based on extensive research reading in the library from law books, online websites, academic research papers, Acts of Parliament, institutional guidelines and procedures and revision of lecture notes.
The research took a bias of only the legal systems in the UK and EU framework and therefore all the materials in reference to this research are of this bias.
The online research involved checking government institutional websites like the Judiciary, Parliament, Supreme Court and the EU Court. The online research also involved opening up of the academic institutions’ websites and accessing research papers available. The online library facilities were used together with the google scholar.
Lecture notes both on the online virtual blackboard and handout notes provided during lectures were also used in this research. Short notes written down during lecture sessions were also used.
The report covers the United Kingdom nations (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). Although the European Union is covered, the area highlighted in the report is only the European Courts which are also part of the United Kingdom legal system.
The point of interest is the legal framework and more so the court structure and how it affects an expert witness in evidence presentation.
The expert witness and the report structure covered in the report is from a perspective of a digital forensic expert witness.
The United Kingdom is a collective name of four countries namely; England, Wales, Scotland and the Northern Ireland. England and Wales have a combined judicial system, while Scotland and Northern Ireland had their own judicial systems.
Due to constitutional reforms which led to the devolution of the United Kingdom, there has been the creation of the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly of Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly that have the independent legislative authority in defined areas.
According to the United Kingdom Judiciary website, Judiciary (2015), it is admitted that the court system is complicated and in some cases it is confusing because of it being developed for over one thousand years rather than being designed from scratch.
Specific cases are handled at different court levels: for instance, all criminal cases start at in the magistrates’ court, but the more serious criminal matter are committed to the Crown Courts. Appeals from the Crown Courts go to the High Court and in some instances to the Court of Appeal and finally to the Supreme Court.
Civil cases commence at the Magistrates’ Courts but may go to the County Courts. Civil cases appeals from Magistrates’ Courts and the Crown Courts go to High Court and then to the Court of Appeal. The appeal cases are taken to the different divisions within the High Court and the Supreme Court.
The tribunals system has its own structure for dealing with cases and appeals, but decisions from different chambers of the Upper Tribunal, and the Employment Appeals Tribunal, may also go to the Court of Appeal.
The courts structure covers England and Wales whereas the tribunals system covers England, Wales, and in some cases Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The above information is explained further in the diagrams below:
The structure is reproduced from: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/about-the-judiciary/the-justice-system/court-structure/
The structure reproduced from: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/about-the-judiciary/the-justice-system/court-structure/
The courts under this system in England and Wales consist of a 5 level hierarchical structure.
The levels are:
- Supreme Court (formerly the House of Lords)
- Court of Appeal
- High Court
- Crown Courts and County Courts
- Magistrates’ Courts and the Tribunals Service
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom was created by the provision of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. Though created in 2005, the Supreme Court opened for business in October 2009 at the start of the legal year.
Before its creation, the senior judges sat in the House of Lords. It consists of 12 Justices supported by a professional legal and executive staff.
The Supreme Court being the final court of appeal, it handles civil appeal cases from UK and only handles criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The decisions of the Supreme Court bound all courts below it.
The Supreme Court being an appeal court, cannot consider a case unless a relevant order has been made in a lower court.
The roles include the following:
- Debates and enacts government legislation and hears appeals on arguable points of law of general public importance
- As a leader in the common law world, the Supreme Court maintains and develops the roles of the highest court in the United Kingdom.
- It is the final court of appeal on UK’s civil cases and also criminal cases from England and Wales.
This is the highest court within the senior courts of England and Wales and only deals with appeals from other courts or tribunals.
The Court of Appeal consists of two divisions namely;
- Civil Division
- Criminal Division
The Civil Division hears appeals from:
- The High Court’s three divisions: ( Chancery, Queen’s Bench and Family Division)
- Cases from County Courts across England and Wales
- From certain tribunals like; the Land Tribunal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal, the Social Security Commissioners and the Immigration Appeal Tribunal.
The Criminal Division hears appeals from the Crown Courts.
The High Court deals with civil cases. This is the main civil court in England and Wales and more substantial and complex cases are begun at the High Court.
It is bound by decision made by the courts above it and its decisions are also binding to the courts below it.
The High Court is divided in to three divisions namely:
- The Queen’s Bench Division
- The Chancery Division
- The Family Division
The cases heard in this court are based on the common law and may range from the factors below:
- Personal injury
- Negligence or nuisance
- Contract breaches,
- Non-payment of a debt, and
- Land or property possession.
The courts under the Queen’s Bench Division are:
- Commercial Courts; these courts deal with national and international business disputes which include, international trade, banking, insurance, commodities and arbitration disputes.
- Technology and Construction Courts; the courts here are technically and specially developed to deal with complex issues arising from construction, engineering and computing issues. The courts are specialist in nature and have specialist judges who preside over the cases.
- Mercantile Courts; the cases heard under these courts are both related to the national and international business disputes. However the cases must be of lesser value and complexity to be heard at the commercial courts.
- Admiralty Courts; the courts under this division deal with shipping and maritime disputes including collisions, salvage, carriage of cargo, limitation, and mortgage disputes.
- Administrative Courts; these courts hear judicial reviews, statutory appeals and application, application for detainees who seek relief from unlawful imprisonment, and issues related to drug trafficking..
- Planning Courts; some of the application under these courts are; planning permissions, Transport and Work Acts, wayleaves, highways and other rights of way, among others.
- Queen’s Bench Civil Lists
Headed by the Chancellor of the High Court (“the Chancellor”), the Chancery Division of the High Court undertakes civil work of many kinds including specialist work such as companies, patents and contentious probate.
This division of the court deals with litigation over matters of land, wills, the administration of estates, insolvency (both companies and individuals), mortgages and their enforcement, partnership disputes, intellectual property, disputes on trust, property, copyright, registered designs and patents and contested probate actions.
The courts under this division are as follows:
- General Chancery; this court deals with business and banking matters, financial and cross-border insolvency cases, property matters, competition cases, trust claims, contentious probate claims, inheritance Act claims, trade and industry disputes, pensions, tax matters and interim applications including injunctions.
- Bankruptcy and Companies Court; deals with cases concerning commercial fraud, business disputes, insolvency, company management, and disqualification of directors. The Bankruptcy part deals with the insolvency of individuals while the Companies part deals with the insolvency of companies, applications of the company law and applications for the disqualification of the company directors.
- Patent Court, this court hears cases concerning copyright, patents, trademarks, registered designs, and some intellectual property cases that are shorter, less complex and of less value.
- Intellectual Property Enterprise Court; the court hear intellectual property and patent disputes from individuals and small and medium enterprises. The disputes must be shorter, less complex and of less value than those suited for the Patent Court. Examples of cases handles here are patents, trademarks and passing off, designs and copyrights.
This is the third division of the High Court and deals in cases relating to all matrimonial matters, including custody of children, parentage, adoption, family homes, domestic violence, separation, annulment, divorce and medical treatment declarations, and with uncontested probate matters.
The division also hears appeals from magistrates and county courts on family proceedings.
The High Court therefore can be summarized in a one structure as below.
The structure reproduced from: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/you-and-the-judiciary/going-to-court/high-court/
The Crown Court is a single entity that sits in 77 court centres across England and Wales. It deals with serious criminal cases which include the following:
- It handles appeals against the Magistrates’ Courts decisions
- Gives sentences for serious offences committed by criminals convicted under the Magistrates’ Courts
- Handles cases referred to it by the Magistrates’ Courts because of the gravity of the case
- Handles cases where the defendant chooses to have a jury.
There three different types of Crown Court centre and the criteria is based on the type of work handled at that particular centre.
These types include:
- First-tier centres; the High Court Judges visit them to handle Crown Court criminal and High Court Civil work
- Second-tier centres; they are also visited by High Court Judges but only handle Crown Court Criminal work
- Third-tier centres; these centres are not normally visited by High Court Judges and only Crown Court Criminal work is handled here.
The Crown Court Criminal work in all of the above centres is handled by the circuit judges and recorders.
The cases always start in the Magistrates’ Courts with only cases which are of serious offence class and/or are of indictable nature are taken to the Crown Courts.
The offences are classified according to the seriousness they possess. The classes are usually in form of class 1 offences, class 2 offences and class 3 offences with class 1 offences being of most serious respectively.
Decisions made in Crown Courts can be appealed to the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal
County Courts only deal with civil cases only.
The cases majorly involve infringement of rights.
The type of cases dealt in this court include:
- Recoveries of money owed to a businesses
- Individuals who seek compensation for injuries caused to them
- Landowners who seek orders to prevent any kind of trespass to their land.
The cases are usually heard by a judge without a jury and decisions made in this court can be appeal to the appropriate division of the High Court.
All criminal cases start at the Magistrates’ Courts.
Offence cases of higher magnitude are transferred to the Crown Courts for either sentencing in instances where the Magistrates’ Courts have found the defendant to be guilty or for a full trial by the judge and the jury.
The cases dealt by Magistrates are of three kinds:
- Summary Offences which are of lesser seriousness and minor assaults.
- Offences like theft or handling of stolen properties or goods in which they are referred to as “either way offences”
- Offences which are indictable only such as murder, manslaughter and robbery.
If a case is indictable only, the Magistrate has a discretion of granting bail, issue restricting instructions and the case will then be passed to the Crown Court.
The defendants are always asked to enter a plea for any case lodged at the Magistrates’ Court. In circumstances where the defendant is found guilty, the Magistrate imposes a sentence for imprisonment or a fine. If found innocent the defendant is set free.
Two or three Magistrates hear a case or a District Judge may also hear cases at the Magistrates’ Courts.
Judgements and decisions made in the Magistrates’ Courts may be appealed to the Crown Court for criminal cases whereas the civil decisions may be appealed to the County Courts.
Matters or cases dealt with the tribunals are usually related to asylum, immigration, criminal injuries compensation, social security, education, employment, child support, pensions, tax and lands.
The decisions made by tribunals may be appealed to the High Court in the appropriate Division of the Court.
The court system in Scotland is divided into two distinct parts: the criminal justice system and the civil justice system.
These two sections are distinct because the criminal justice system exits to prosecute or rather deal with those who commit criminal offences. The civil justice system on the other hand gives people, organisations or communities a way to protect and enforce their legal rights and regulates disputes pertaining to these rights.
The Scottish legal system is distinct from the United Kingdom system and only the Westminster based Supreme Court handles civil cases that are appealed. Some United Kingdom specialist tribunals like the employment tribunals also handle Scottish civil matters.
The court system in Scotland is considered to have 5 levels.
These levels are:
- Supreme Court
- Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary
- Sheriff Appeal Courts
- Sheriff Courts
- Justice of the Peace Courts
This is the final court of appeal in Scotland. It is the same Supreme Court in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Supreme Court hears appeal cases from the Inner House of the Court of Session in Scotland.
According to Clark (2014) this court is considered Scotland’s highest civil court. It deals with all kinds of civil cases which include, contracts, commercial cases, judicial reviews, family law and intellectual property law.
The Court of Session is divided into two sections namely;
- Outer House
- Inner House
This court hears cases on the first instance. This means that only cases that have not been previously in court are heard in this court.
The cases involved in this court are; civil matters, contracts, intellectual property, commercial cases and judicial review.
A judge presides over the cases and when appropriate a jury is also involved.
Decisions made in this court may be appealed to the Inner House.
The Inner House is basically an appeal court that hears cases from both the Outer House and the Sheriff Courts. In some exclusive instances it may hear cases for the first time.
Appeal cases from Tribunals and other bodies are also heard in the Inner House.
Cases are presided over by at least three judges and it does not have a jury in its proceedings.
The decisions made by this court may be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
This is the highest criminal court for Scotland.
This court serves as a court of first instance and also as a court of appeal. In occasions when the court is sitting as a court of first instance, only most serious crimes such as murder, rape, armed robbery, sexual offences that are serious in nature mostly involving children and drug trafficking. The cases are heard by a judge and if appropriate with a jury.
When the court sits as an appellate court, at least two judges hear the case but no jury is involved.
This courts were established in September 2015. They deal with both criminal and civil appeals and therefore are divided into two as Sheriff Appeal Court – Criminal and Sheriff Appeal Court – Civil.
The appeals that therefore originate from the Sheriff Courts and the Justice of Peace Courts will end up in either the Criminal or the Civil division of the Sherriff Appeal Court.
Appeals against summary criminal proceedings are heard by two or three appellate sheriffs while appeals against bail decisions are heard by a single sheriff.
The cases heard at the Sheriff Courts are serious cases that cannot be heard at the District Courts and which are less serious to be heard at the High Court of Justiciary.
Civil matters such as probate, adoption and bankruptcy are dealt in the Sheriff Courts. A judge presides over the cases with a jury if appropriate. Appeals of criminal nature are taken to the Sheriff Appeal Court – Criminal while the civil cases appeals may be taken to the Sheriff Appeal Court – Civil and then to the Outer House of the Court of Session.
A justice of the peace court is appointed from within the local community and usually has background training in criminal law and procedures. The appointed justice of peace is considered as a lay magistrate.
The cases are heard by either a single justice or a bench of three and the most common cases handled in these courts are less serious summary crimes, like speeding, careless driving and persons who breach peace in the community.
The justices are always advised on law matters by lawyers who also fill up the roles of either legal advisers or court clerks.
Appeals for the decisions made in the Justice of the Peace Courts are taken directly to the High Court of Justiciary appeal court.
Below is a structural representation of the Scottish Court System.
The Supreme Court
Court of Session
High Court of Justiciary
Outer House (First Instance)
First Instance (Judge or Jury)
Inner House (Appeals)
Sheriff Appeal Court (Criminal)
Sheriff Appeal Court (Civil)
Summary (Judge Only)
(Judge and Jury)
Sheriff Principal (Appeals Only)
First Instance (Judge Only)
Justice of Peace Court
The courts are divided into 5 levels namely:
- The Supreme Court
- Court of Appeal
- The High Court
- Crown Court and County Court
- Magistrates’ Court
The Supreme Court which is considered for the role of being the highest court in England, Wales and Scotland, is also part of the Northern Ireland court system and hears appeal cases from the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal deals with civil cases that are appealed from the High Court and appeals of criminal cases from the Crown Courts.
Appeals on points of law from the County Courts and the Magistrates’ Courts are also heard in the Court of Appeal.
Cases are presided over by a bench of three Judges without a jury.
Decisions made in this court can be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Three divisions are constituted in the High Court.
These divisions include:
- The Chancery Division
- Family Division
- Queen’s Bench Division
The courts usually hear complex or important civil cases. Appeals from the County Courts are also heard.
One Judge hears the cases and mostly without a jury.
The decisions made in the High Court may be appealed to the Court of Appeal.
The cases heard in the Chancery Division are those ones that involve trusts and estates, title to land, mortgages and charges, wills and companies.
This division of the High Court hears cases that involve matrimony, adoption, children and wills.
The Queen’s Bench Division majorly deals with cases of civil nature.
The County Court deals with civil cases and in some cases of a specified value. The cases can be title to land, recovery of land, equity matter that include trust and estates, mortgages, land sale and partnerships, negligence and trespass.
Appeals from the Magistrates’ Courts for both civil and criminal nature are also heard in the County Courts. The County Court Judge hears the cases without a jury.
Decisions made in this court may be appealed to the relevant division of the High Court.
All serious criminal matters are dealt with at the Crown Court. Terrorism cases are heard by a Judge without a jury. If the cases is not of terrorism nature then a Judge hears it with a jury consisting of twelve persons.
Cases of serious magnitude are presided over by a High Court Judge while lesser ones are heard by a County Court Judge.
Decisions made in this courts may be appealed to the Court of Appeal.
All criminal cases are heard at the Magistrates’ Courts. Serious criminal cases are however transferred to the Crown Court after a preliminary hearing. Juvenile and less criminal cases are heard in this court.
Some civil cases for example family proceedings are also heard in the Magistrates’ Court.
A legally qualified Magistrate presides over the cases.
All the case decisions may be appealed to the County Courts.
The Supreme Court
The Court Of Appeal
The High Court
The Crown Court
Queen’s Bench Division
The United Kingdom being a member of the European Union and having adopted the recommendations of the European Convection on Human Rights, has made it part and parcel of the European Union legal system.
According to Slapper & Kelly (2010-2011), the European Union has three pillar which are:
- Treaties which relate to wider aspects of citizenship, economic and monetary union
- Common foreign and security policy
- Home affairs and justice.
The European Union legal system has two courts namely:
- European Court of Justice
- European Court of Human Rights
Established in 1952 to ensure that the law is observed and to interpret different aspects of treaties.
The court is made up of 28 Judges and 11 Advocates General who are appointed by the member states governments upon consultations and opinion about the suitability of the person to perform the duties concerned.
The President and the Vice President of the court is elected amongst the judges themselves for a term of three years which is renewable.
The European Court of Justice has two major functions:
- It ascertains measures undertaken by the governments, commissions or council to deny rights to check and decide if the measures are compatible with the Treaty obligations.
- It gives authoritative rulings in instances where a national court has made a request to do so. This may involve interpretation of a particular treaty.
There are three divisions within this court which are the Court of Justice, the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal.
It was established in 1959 to handle matters relating to Europeans boarder Human Rights matters based on the European Convection on human Rights.
The Judges of the European Court of Human Rights are elected by Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council from a list three candidates from each member states. The term limit of the Judges is 9 years non-renewable.
The UK and the EU legal systems have both similarities and differences all together. Both the system are designed to handle criminal and civil/human rights issues.
Whereas the UK legal framework works within the UK boundary (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), the EU legal framework works at a wider geographical spectrum which includes the twenty eight European Union member States.
The EU courts therefore handle cross border disputes relating to signed treaties of the member states.
The laws governing the EU courts are based on the treaties signed between different EU member states while the UK courts are based on the common laws and legislation from the parliament.
Given the wider spectrum of the EU legal system, it follows that it is a multi-lingual court compared to UK legal system which is majorly English.
According to Cownie, Bradley & Burton (2003), the Judges of the EU courts are appointed by the member states and therefore they are more politically inclined to the governments of their origins even though they are supposed to be independent. This is in contrast to the UK legal system whose judges are not politically inclined.
Slapper & Kelly (2010) note that the European Court, in contrast to the UK Courts, applies teleological rather than the historical methods to the interpretation of the Treaties and other community legislation. In this regard therefore interpretation of the treaties are applied to match the growth of the people within the European community.
A report published by Halliday (2013) reports that a Judge in Southwark Crown Court prosecuted a 22 year old student (Christopher Weatherhead) for 18 months for being found guilty of conspiracy to impair the operation of computers in the period 1st August 2010and 22 January 2012.
He had been accused of carrying out a cyber a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack against PayPal, Visa and Master Card, Ministry of Sound, International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the British Recorded Music Industry.
According to Halliday (2013), the accused used an online alias name “Nerdo” to hide his identity and pleaded guilty to have played a leading role of the Anonymous cyber-attacks.
The attack cost PayPal a sum of £3.5 million.
BBC (2013) reports that the Ministry of Sound estimated a loss of £9,000 while the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry had a loss of more than £20,000 and the British Phonographic Industry reported a loss of more than £4,000.
The attackers use this by finding a network of compromised computers on the target site which they use to launch attacks.
They overwhelm the target site with requests which makes it hard for genuine visitors to the target site to access.
The requests always look like genuine web traffic which actually makes it hard for the network administrators on the target site to filter out.
The attackers then gain full access to the target site and carry out the malicious acts.
The law under which cybercrime activities are prosecuted is based on Computer Misuse Act 1990.
The Computer misuse act (1990) classifies an offence as an unauthorized acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing, operation of a computer.
The maximum penalty for this crime is ten years imprisonment with an unlimited amount of fine.
The case highlights some instances whereby it is seen that the hacker will always hide their identities in order to cause havoc.
The network security personnel in companies need to do more to secure their networks. It is understood that DDoS is indeed hard to filter but more security features need to be put in place for protection purposes to make it harder for the attackers to rain havoc.
Hackers are always ahead in coming up with offensive material to hack vulnerable sites and therefore more security measures have to be undertaken frequently and vulnerability tests performed on sites to avoid hacking.
An expert witness is a person hired to assist a court of law on specialist or technical matters within their expertise. The expert’s duty to the court should always override any obligation to the person who is instructing or paying them. This therefore means that an expert witness should be independent and not be influenced in any way whatsoever.
According to the code of guidance on expert evidence under the civil procedure rules (1998), the expert duties are:
- In the case of the expert being an adviser, then he should explain to those instructing him on both the weaknesses and the strengths of the case
- To explain in their reports to the court on the range of opinions and the reason for their opinion
- Give time limits for the exercise and give prior notice of any delays
- Always maintain professionality in objectivity and impartiality
- Provide references or literature related to the report to enable the court in decision making.
An expert examiner is responsible for completely and accurately their findings and the results of the analysis of the digital evidence examination or investigation. This is a general principle and therefore all documentation of the process throughout the investigation and the steps taken must be reported.
The report should be written for the intended audience therefore it should be complete, accurate, and comprehensive and all technical jargons should be explained.
When preparing the report the expert examiner should keep in mind the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Good Practice Guide for Digital Evidence.
The ACPO guidelines are as follows:
- The actions taken by law enforcement agencies, persons hired within those agencies or their agents should in any way change the data which may subsequently be relied upon in a court of law
- Any person who gets access to the original data must be competent and should be able to give evidence by explaining the relevance and implications of their actions
- An audit trail should be preserved for all the records of processes performed on the digital evidence such that when a third party the same evidence he should arrive at the same results
- The person in charge of the investigation has overall responsibility to ensure that the law and good practice are adhered to.
An expert report should include the following:
- The purpose for which the report is originally being written
- The dates for the chronological events of the examination process
- Details of the qualifications of the expert, experience and accreditation and relevant to work done. Explain fully the range and extent of the expertise.
- An explanatory statement on the methodologies used in the digital forensics laboratory, the test employed by whom and under whose supervision. Details of any information relied on during the exercise to arrive at opinions should be revealed.
- A description of the assessment process of differential diagnosis, highlighting all the assumptions that are factual, deductions from the assumptions and bring out any unusual, contradictory or inconsistent features of the case
- All the persons involved in the examination should be revealed in the report. Any persons interviewed or any other expert involved should be clearly stated in the report. The stages under which these persons were involved should also be brought out. The expert should also reveal if he supervised the exercise themselves. The names and qualifications of each one person involved should be included in the report.
- The report should explain relevant technical subjects, or the meaning and application of applicable technical terms where helpful
- Experts opinions and justifications should be summarized in a sound reason
- Summary of the recommendations made
It is well desired that a single report should be used across every court. This would actually make the work of an expert witness who is tasked to prepare a report.
A single report will eliminate ambiguities and inconsistencies brought about by the multi-dimensional report formats.
The court administrators like judges and the jury would find it easier too to understand an expert report if there was only a single report.
However this is very hard to be implemented because different court have different laws that govern them. The diversity of the laws does not allow for a single report format.
The nature of reports also hinder the prospects of having a single report because every type of crime investigated or examined has its own expected structure if report.
The thought of having a single report also hinders the expert witness in that they may be limited in what they have to report because of the laid down structure.
If the expert has the freedom to present his report in the way he understands best then best results and broader documentation is achieved.
Advantages of a single report
- Consistency in the format
- Easy understanding
- Step by step guidelines
Disadvantages of a single report
- Limits the expert on what to present
- Too monotonous and repetitiveness may be encouraged
- Encourages plagiarism.
Challenges faced in having a single report
- Diversity of the law
- Disagreements on the structure of the report
- Lack of expression in that the expert will be limited on the structure.
The report has addressed issues regarding the UK and EU legal systems in depth. From the research it is noted that cases that end up in the courts of law are either civil or criminal.
The criminal cases are where a judgement is given to declare if the accused is convicted or freed whereas in civil cases is the redress of wrongs by compelling compensation or restitution.
All cases start from the lower courts like the Magistrates’ Court and proceed to the higher courts like the High Court or the Supreme Court.
It is also noted that the accused party can seek redress until all avenues are exhausted.
The courts try as much as possible to rule on a judgement beyond reasonable doubt and would rather have a criminal be free rather than convict an innocent person.
There is a military court service that has jurisdiction over all members of the armed forces of the UK in relation to offenses against the military law.
The Supreme Court in the UK operates in all the UK countries but has different jurisdiction. Unlike in England and Wales, the Supreme Court of the UK has no jurisdiction over criminal cases in Scotland unless the cases are related to devolution.
The decisions made in higher courts bind all the decision of the lower court therefore once a precedence is set by a higher court, the lower court are supposed to emulate it in making future judgements.
The levels of courts in England, Wales. Northern Ireland and Scotland are more or else the same. All the courts have the Supreme Court as the top most court. The High Court also appears in all the court structure.
The European Court is also embedded in the legal system of the UK and therefore some of the decisions made at the EU courts bind national courts.
A notion is brought out in the sense that the concept of the sovereignty of parliament has been lost by the presence of the EU courts. The European law takes precedence over the English law if there is a conflict with English common law or statute. European law has been superimposed on English national law.
The European Courts deal with treaties that have been signed between member states and will come in cases where disputes arise. The national courts also refer cases to the European Courts for interpretation and guidance purposes.
Parliament legislation of UK countries should therefore make laws that align with EU treaties so as to avoid conflicts.
Laws of the European Courts are based on the treaties and international agreements signed.
Cybercrime activities are so rampant in the current world, this is due to the major technological advancement taking place and are shaping the world. The world will not shy away from technology because of cybercrime rather, the information security personnel need to do much to combat illegal acts in the cyber space.
The major cyberattack mechanism employed by the attackers is the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. The hackers cause havoc by sending overwhelming requests to the target sites thereby disrupting normal operations which gives them a way to penetrate to the targets.
More water tight firewalls should be implemented in systems as much as possible to make users safe.
Digital forensics experts are a major boost to tracking down of the hackers, the expertise of an expert examiner should therefore be reproachable.
Expert examiners should work with the highest level of integrity and adhere to the laid down guidelines. An expert examiner’s report should be understandable and easily read without much jargon. The better the judges and the jury understand the report the easier the judgment. The judge or the jury may overlook an important evidence in a report by the simple logic that they did not understand what it meant. This might cause a setback in the judgement.
The lawyers on the other hand should prepare the expert witness fully so that he is aware of what is required of them in the court of law.
Relevant laws and guidelines should be followed at all times and an expert witness should act independently without interference or favour.
Expert reports differ depending on the nature of the case and its jurisdiction. Laws are different from one nation to the other and therefore the suitability of a single report to be used in all courts of law is not feasible.
However the basic contents of an expert report should be reflected in the report. The report should be consistent and all details disclosed and explained in details.
- Aitken, J (2010) Expert Witness Guidance, COCS70690. [Lecture notes] Guidance for Witnesses who seek to give Expert Evidence in SEND Appeals and Claims. Expert Witness Testimony and Digital Evidence Presentation Module. Staffordshire University.
- Anon. (1998) Code of Guidance on Expert Evidence, COCS70690. [Lecture notes] Code of Guidance on Expert Evidence under the Civil Procedure Rules 1998. Expert Witness Testimony and Digital Evidence Presentation Module. Staffordshire University.
- BBC (2013) Anonymous hacker group: Two jailed for cyber attacks. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21187632 (Accessed: 25th April 2016).
- Clark, S. (2014) Scottish Civil Court System. [Online] Available from: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefingsAndFactsheets/S4/SB_14-15.pdf (Accessed on 16th April 2016).
- Courts and Tribunals Services (2010) Royal Courts of justice customer information. [Online] Available from: http://www.courtsni.gov.uk/en gb/aboutus/rcj/pages/royal%20courts%20of%20justice%20customer%20information.aspx [Accessed: 17th April 2016].
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