Monday, May 16, 2011

England and Wales and the Border Esk

Some days in court you wonder why you bother.
The morning was composed of trials that couldn't happen because some people or some paperwork was missing, and usually the absence of people was due to them not being sent some paperwork in time.

I blame the royal family - these wedding bank holidays have caused chaos in the government bureaucracy. Although someone in the previous court should have realised that setting a court date two weeks in the future was optimistic considering so few of those days were working days.

We did some busy-work (statutory declarations and the like) but even so, we had finished the morning business well before 11:00.

The afternoon was given over to private prosecutions, which can be very interesting indeed. We've seen everything from illegal truckers to truancy enablers, copyright criminals to benefit fraudsters. This afternoon though was devoted to fishing licence evaders.

Now don't get me wrong, a crime is a crime, and fishing without a licence involves entering a business premises and taking goods without making an attempt to pay. Fish larceny if you like.

But the police deal administrative with way more complex crimes than this with on-the-spot fines and cautions, and traffic wardens hand you a ticket if your car is illegally parked - so why oh why oh River Wye does this stuff end up in a Magistrates Court ?

Nobody bothered showing up to plead guilty or to attempt a defence so we managed to sentence a half dozen of these cases in less than an hour and that was the business of the day concluded. We had been in court for less than two hours total and had not seen a single defendant.

One interesting bit of trivia though : Scottish devolved government took over control of fishing on Scottish rivers - except for the Esk, which meanders back and forward across the English border. And so, the whole of the Esk (even the Scottish bits) remain under English law. This means that it is possible for Scottish people to be well inside Scotland doing some fishing and end up in an English court because they haven't got an English fishing licence.

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