Would the outcome of this have been different if the pilot was able to willing to get a good lawyer? To apply a VAT assessment instead of a fine (for not having used a Customs airport) is a gross miscarriage of justice, but one which was never tested because nobody had the funds.
This chap got a top-level lawyer and got a great result.
In the UK the CAA operates a scheme whereby they tell you that if you plead Guilty their costs will be say £1000 but if you plead Not Guilty (but are found Guilty) their costs will be say £5000. This is not illegal, and reflects the extra costs of preparing a case for a NG plea. But obviously it pushes anybody who doesn’t have 5k to spend into pleading G regardless of whether they think they did it. Do other countries have a similar system?
The problem is the cost of a good lawyer. They seem to start at ~5k a day. And I reckon the system relies on pilots mostly choosing poor/nonexistent representation.
Most probably not. Short of an anticonstitutionality challenge It is hard to get a ruling based on what the law should have said versus what it actually says.
Would the outcome of this have been different if the pilot was able to willing to get a good lawyer?
With high probability if he would have listened to a good advisor (not even necessarily a lawyer). From all which is know from this case, at least part of the story seems to be that there was some insisting of “being right” on a point there they were not – rather than trying to find a compromise early in the process.
After that case had come in front of a judge, as T28 wrote the point of no return had been passed and the ruling could not have been different even with the best lawyer in the world.
Do other countries have a similar system?
To some extend I’d assume every country has this system: The fines “offered” by the police (or similar institutions) are typically on the lower end of what you could expect in front of courts if you found guilty in the end. Plus you have to bear the cost of your lawyer, etc.
But obviously it pushes anybody who doesn’t have 5k
But you only have to pay these 5k if you found guilty in front of the court, right?
I’d assume that for the vast majority of people who pay the 1k it is not that they do not have the 5k. It’s rather that they understand that it is something completely different to rant in an online forum about how unfair they are treated and to actually prove it in front of a court. In many cases of airspace infringements, e.g. , if you actually talk to the pilot the narrative quickly changes from “I’d never do this” to “well, perhaps I’ve scratched the airspace – but only by 200ft – and how would they prove that anyways – plus at this location to fly through the airspace is more self defense – ….”
Do other countries have a similar system?
In Poland – NO!
In my 24 years flying “career” I have not met anybody who would be fined so high in PL!
If you bust an airspace 99% of cases there will be just a warning.
Your licence could be suspended, you may be required to do a theory or practical exam but the “fine” would be just an administrative one (very, very low).
I am terrified of the ways that Western Europe is acting right now.
This is another example
Lunken said she’s considered appealing the revocation but her lawyers estimated the cost at $25,000. Instead, she’s spending her time watching from the ground while others fly and hitting the books to reclaim her private pilot certificate. Revocation cancels all certificates and ratings (she was an ATP) and she has to start over to get back in the air. So far, it’s been an eye-opener as she studies for the written. “A lot has changed in 60 years,” she said. Normally, a revocation prevents the guilty party from taking flight training for a year but her legal team negotiated a three-month reduction. “I’ll be a student pilot in December.”
Peter Quoted from His Link:
“Normally, a revocation prevents the guilty party from taking flight training for a year but her legal team negotiated a three-month reduction. “I’ll be a student pilot in December.””
Lots of content being generated for her monthly column.
Appealing with ‘lawyers, guns and money’ would make it less whimsical, and less useful in building column inches. She’s obviously been playing this game with FAA for a long time. I don’t think being short on cash is the issue, nor is she intimidated. This is just fun and games, with a payoff for writing about it.
Well, apparently she used to be a safety officer there, so she sould know how to play…
We’ve done the Würzburg customs case pretty extensively in that topic. I’m fairly certain I would have taken this to the courts in that case.
As I said back in that topic IIRC, many German pilots, myself included, will have legal insurance and thus there is no financial disincentive to take a lawyer if you feel unfairly treated. The figure of 5k a day for a “good” lawyer seems ridiculously inflated nevertheless, though there certainly are lawyers in that price category in some countries.
“5k/day” lawyers are everywhere; the individual doesn’t take this home. It is the billing rate for a senior partner in a practice, and covers staff costs, fixed costs, etc.
In 1991 (30 years ago!) I used a “top accountant” – a senior partner in an accountancy firm then called Price Waterhouse – and he was billing something like £500/hr+VAT. He was also completely useless although for that money you would expect top advice. And that wasn’t a “London rate”; that was a “provincial rate”.
I hear an increasingly popular life strategy for some is to basically run with zero tangible assets or investments and just accept that any litigation will be a straight to bankrupt response. I know some in the building trade who are running like this, everything is leased, no cash in bank, spend high and any assets are quickly distanced away from the individuals.