What do solicitors who are "Railway Specialists" do?

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arabianights

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I don't lurk enough to know whether our own DaveNewcastle is one, or just happens to be a solicitor with an interest on railways, but in any case the general advice given out to miscreants here is that it's very rarely worth getting a specialist solicitor involved for fare evasion. This makes me think that railway specialist solicitors either (a) are working for the TOCs or (b) tend to deal with other railway related matters than fare evasion. Am I right, and if so what do railway specialists usually deal with? If I'm wrong, who are the people hiring railway solicitors?

Hope it's clear what I'm asking?
 
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najaB

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This makes me think that railway specialist solicitors either (a) are working for the TOCs or (b) tend to deal with other railway related matters than fare evasion. Am I right, and if so what do railway specialists usually deal with? If I'm wrong, who are the people hiring railway solicitors?
No, they will often deal with fare evasion cases, but since they are expensive it is only worth hiring them if the consequences of being found guilty are severe enough - for example, if you are a high-powered City worker who will be fired because you've defrauded the railway of £43K.
 

Agent_c

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I think it's more about the complexity of cases rather than anything to do with the specialist themself. Any basic defence solicitor should be able to file a guilty plea, or a clear cut defence of not guilty. You only need a specialist if you've got something really unusual.

Similarly, any GP should be able to treat a wart or mole, you don't need a dermatologist every time.
 

gingerheid

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I would have thought they would have dealt with things like franchise negotiations, access agreements, contract disputes, ...?

I imagine WCRC probably have a railway specialist solicitor arguing that they should be allowed back on the mainline?
 
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ainsworth74

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Surely we're getting confused here? The specialists being referred to in the Disputes and Prosecutions section are specialists in the legislation, case law, etc that pertains to fare evasion. There will be other specialists, for example in contract law as it relates to railways, that deal with things like franchising and open access arrangements. There may be overlap but I would doubt it as the two are rather different areas of law.
 

DaveNewcastle

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I'm not a practicing solicitor, and haven't represented anyone in Court for several months now though expect to do so again, soon. But as 'semi-retired', I do still work hard in researching, preparing and monitoring cases.

When the phrase 'specialist railway solicitor' is used on this forum in the context of a single passenger distressed by an accusation or inquiry related to a single railway journey, then all we are doing is making a distinction between, on the one hand, the general competences of any urban law firm which has a lot of experience of Criminal Defence work in the local Magistrates Courts assisting the local population with their encounters with the Police, and on the other, those who promote and market their firm as specifically having knowledge, experience and sucesses in assisting many passengers distressed by an accusation . . . [as above].

I would have no doubt that those boasting specialisation have already equipped themselves with the haphazard and sometimes contradictory file of case law referring to passenger travel (I guess I'm one of the few people to have made such a comprehensive portfolio of passenger railway law, and I have no immediate plans to publish it). I also have no doubt that they genuinely do have an impressive track record in securing a discharge, an out-of-court settlement, or other pre-emptive resolution, but those are the skills that come to those who practice regularly defending in the Magistrates, and are those who are willing to be as agressive and confrontational as it takes to challenge the Court and the Prosecution, even if the challenge isn't strictly crucial to faulting the prosecution's case.

Much of their work will be just as it is for any Defence Solicitor - trying to wade through all the indignant noise and through all the unsaid silence, to find the facts from their clients, and then, much the same with the other side's noises and silences.

In my experience, more than half the sucesses of those claiming a speciality in railway law are cases which, in my humble opinion, should have been won by any qualified, knowledgeable and experienced local Criminal Defence solicitor.

But the informal phrase 'specialist railway solicitor' is just as likely to be used to identify those few who have also accumulated the neccesary case law and who are instructed by the Railway Companies to prosecute fare evasion and other railway offences. These are the true 'railway specialists' because they are regularly and actively having their knowledge and skill tested by a wide range of Defence Solicitors (or even QCs), and when acting for a passenger, are equally being tested and learning. Probably learning faster than any of their Courts' Clerks ever will, and I say that with respect for the very wide range of their knowledge and experience.

Which brings me to: local knowledge -
There's a lot to be said for the benefit of having a well known solicitor who, in turn, knows their local Courts' Benches and Clerks. The long-standing cheap 'n' cheerful local will know their way around their own Benches, and may be able to take advantage when the Prosecution is a stranger, and not one of the usual Police or Local Authority solicitors or local law firm's preferred QCs.

But the other application of the phrase 'railway specialist' will surely apply to those firms which deal regularly with the Department, with franchising, and with leasing etc.
There's also the lively but specialised areas of liability for the consequences of losses following incidents, and permissions for planned developments, but in my opinion, all the 'specialisation' in these matters is confined to Expert Witness evidence and as much of the technical details as possible are argued out of court.
But those two examples, and others like them, genuinely reflect the world of the specialist railway legal practitioner - and all their back office teams who do the ral work in researching, preparing and developing their briefs.

But to conclude, and in the limited context of passengers in trouble over ticketing matters, then the local law firm will be more than adequate in almost all cases, no matter how complicated it might appear when it is first presented on here (just a little quizzing will usually unravel what is relevant). Where a little specialisation really is going to be relevant, then an advocate who often takes instructions from Railway Companies in prosecuting offences against passengers, is going to be one of the most knowledgeable and experienced representatives when on their feet in front of the Bench.
I would have thought they would have dealt with things like franchise negotiations, access agreements, contract disputes, ...?

I imagine WCRC probably have a railway specialist solicitor arguing that they should be allowed back on the mainline?
I don't.
I'd expect that they will have instructed a knowledgeable and experienced advocate. It's the back room teams representing the parties who will do all the specialist work, and will, hopefully, keep most of it out of Court. All that should be discussed in Court are how any facts that are still in dispute should be addressed, by reference to the relevant law, and to any matters of Law that are in dispute. The rest is noise.
 
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DarloRich

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I would echo much of what DaveNewcastle says. There are two points i feel are key for passengers who fall foul of the ticketing rules:

In my experience, more than half the sucesses of those claiming a speciality in railway law are cases which, in my humble opinion, should have been won by any qualified, knowledgeable and experienced local Criminal Defence solicitor.

and

Which brings me to: local knowledge -
There's a lot to be said for the benefit of having a well known solicitor who, in turn, knows their local Courts' Benches and Clerks. The long-standing cheap 'n' cheerful local will know their way around their own Benches, and may be able to take advantage when the Prosecution is a stranger, and not one of the usual Police or Local Authority solicitors or local law firm's preferred QCs.

As an aside there must be good fees to be earned in putting that research into practice with a national firm, followed by a book (the railway ticketing equivalent of Blackstones perhaps!), followed by some lectures at law schools, followed by some media work, followed by some consultancy work. ;)
 
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