“Dog therapy” rolled out across Family Courts

“Dog therapy” is being trialled across Family Courts in Cornwall in a bid to calm witnesses before they take the stand.

Family Judge Simon Carr said the results have been “miraculous”.

It is generally accepted that holding and stroking a pet is calming for many people, even for those without anxiety problems.

The court believes that by letting witnesses and alleged victims interact with the dogs before giving evidence, they will be less nervous or afraid to retell their recollection of events.

Judge Carr said: “The experience of what we’ve done so far is that it has made it much easier for them to give evidence, they are much more relaxed, much more centred, and much less stressed.

“Anything that achieves that has got to be an advantage.

“I’ve asked if I can be on the cycle each day so I can have a bit of stress relief along with everybody else.”

The dogs, a miniature schnauzer, a Labrador cross and a retriever are called into action three times a week.

Last month, the dogs comforted a young man who was an alleged victim of sexual assault.

Family Judge Nick Vincent added: “He was in quite an upset state and I had some doubt about whether he would be able to tell his story, but the introduction of a therapy dog into the room with him before he told his story had a miraculous effect.

“He calmed down immediately and was able to give a very full account of what he said had happened to him.”

Businesses could be underprepared for new customs service in 2018

Businesses that import and export goods outside of the EU should begin preparing for the new Customer Declarations Service (CDS), HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has warned.

In a new report, HMRC has confirmed that it will begin a phased launch of the CDS from August 2018, replacing the existing Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.

From early 2019, all declarations must take place on the new system and businesses will need to ensure they make adequate preparations to complete this transition.

Although plans to replace the current system were implemented before the EU referendum, HMRC has suggested that it could be scaled to adapt to “any potential increases in volume of declarations that may result from the UK’s exit from the EU”.

Businesses will use the CDS to process declaration for goods entering and leaving the UK or EU through ports and airports, as well as calculate and pay the correct duty and taxes. Customs information can be provided through the CDS electronically, therefore streamlining the process for both HMRC and businesses.

Additional information, pertaining to the recently implemented World Customs Organisation Kyoto Convention, will also be required for declarations and businesses must be careful to ensure that all legal requirements are met.

This includes:

  • an audit trail of previous document IDs;
  • additional party types, such as the buyer and seller;
  • possible additional commercial references or tracking numbers; and
  • levelling – change between ‘Header’ and ‘Item’ for some data items.

If you have concerns about exporting or importing products from outside of the UK and how to ensure compliance with relevant legislation, please contact a member of Mackrell Turner Garrett’s commercial law team.