Guest Post: 4 High Profile Court Cases

4 High Profile Court Cases

Most high-profile court cases are easy to identify – they attract significant coverage in the mainstream media, and often the scrutiny of legal experts due to the presence of important legal issues or major celebrities.

However, aside from media coverage and notoriety, there are several other factors that can influence whether or not a court case is noteworthy and high profile. These can include landmark legal issues, massive financial stakes, topics that have been in the news, and important issues related to domestic or international policy.

The four court cases selected for this article range from high-value commercial cases to noteworthy courtroom battles. Criminal cases have been excluded. Many of these cases may be replaced by other, more noteworthy cases in the news reports of the future, as the top high-profile court cases are in a constant state of change.

While many of these cases will undoubtedly be replaced by other, more noteworthy examples in the future, some may continue to stand up as important commercial or civil court cases.

  1. Barclay Brothers v. Paddy McKillen

Irish businessman Paddy McKillen’s failed attempt to take control of the Claridge’s hotel chain cost him a huge amount of money. He now owes £20 million in fees due to his failed claim, in addition to the costs of the Barclay brothers’ successful appeal.

This case is particularly noteworthy because it shows the large sums involved in a lot of modern commercial cases. McKillen’s attempt to force the Barclay brothers to sell their shares in Claridge’s left him with significant bills and nine years of wasted time spent on the case.

  1. Graiseley Properties v. Barclays Bank

This case is particularly important because of the huge amount of money involved and immense topical interest. With over £350 trillion in financial transactions put aside as a suggestion for compensation claims, Barclays faces an incredible costly case.

Other banks, including Bank of America and JP Morgan are likely to be affected by the outcome of this case, making it an important event for the financial services industry as a whole.

  1. Prest v. Petrodel Resources

As a divorce case that involves ownership of several large, lucrative companies, this case is of particular importance. The case has a five-year history and a combination of family and corporate law involvement, making it a diverse and interesting case.

One important point of this case is that the court found that the companies owned by the husband were not, as stated, controlled by shareholders, but by a trust that he controlled. This has allowed the court to piece the “corporate veil” and access a range of assets that would otherwise have been concealed.

  1. Berezovsky v. Abramovich

This court case reads like a Hollywood movie screenplay. Russian billionaires, a $5 billion claim, and a London courtroom all make this dispute between oligarchs Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich of particular interest to the public.

Berezovsky’s untimely death following the case added to its intrigue. The billionaire had been described as “an unimpressive and inherently unreliable witness” during the case, while rival Abramovich was labelled a “competent witness” by the court.

This article was written by Vannin Capital. Visit their website to learn more about Legal Funding.

 

The New World of Legal Work

The New World of Legal Work 

Lawyers On Demand reveals the changing rules for the 21st Century

“The future of work has arrived! There’s only one problem: It doesn’t look quite the way most of the experts predicted.” Jordan Furlong

A new report released today [insert date] has revealed an impending ‘employment revolution’ within the legal industry that is predicted to have a profound impact on legal jobs and the way in which legal work is undertaken in the 21st Century. The report, commissioned by Lawyers On Demand (LOD), the alternative legal services provider launched by BLP in 2007, envisages radical changes to the way lawyers are employed, legal work completed and the way in which firms are run.

LOD’s New World of Legal Work report forms part of a wider BLP initiative running throughout 2014 and exploring A Future in Law from a number of different stakeholder perspectives.

Written by leading Canadian legal consultant, Jordan Furlong, the report highlights why change in legal employment and workflow is both necessary and desirable, and also how lawyers, law firms and in-house counsel can begin to implement change in measured and decisive steps.

A key theme to emerge from the report is the rise in ‘agile working’, a point highlighted by the author, with a degree of caution, as something that needs to be implemented by legal teams and adopted by a new generation of lawyers if the legal industry is to remain sustainable long term. By becoming more agile in its working practices, the author also claims that the legal industry will be able to adapt and catch up with other industries in areas such as technology, division of labour and business process.

The report also suggests that traditional legal jobs will increasingly be joined by other ways of working as firms embrace market change., These new legal employment opportunities promise more choice, flexibility, and customisation than seen in today’s market.  So how will law firms, lawyers and legal work look in the future and how can such huge changes be implemented? The report’s key findings and recommendations can be found below.

Commenting on his predictions, the author of the report, Jordan Furlong, said; “What many legal teams don’t yet appreciate is that the efficient deployment of talent and systems to accomplish legal work will not only reduce personnel costs, but also increase efficiency. The pent-up productivity potential in the legal market is off the charts and the employment revolution described earlier will play a key role in unleashing those benefits. The means by which legal work can best be done, in terms of productivity, sustainability and effectiveness, will become a primary consideration for legal service providers and their clients.”

Simon Harper, Co-Founder of LOD, said; “The rise of agile employment is already having a huge impact on the way lawyers, firms and clients engage with one another and LOD has been part of the revolution since we began in 2007. Aided by technology and changing attitudes to work, companies now have the opportunity to boost output, cut costs and offer employees more freedom over how they work.  Agility will soon become as commonplace a labour concept in law as it is in many other industries. We now have the means and motive to re-design how we work to a degree unprecedented in the profession’s history.”

 Neville Eisenberg, Managing Partner of BLP, said: “LOD’s report on A New World of Legal Work is an important part of our broader campaign on A Future – in Law that is running throughout this year. “It is widely recognised that law firms are having to change to meet new market challenges, and that the legal industry of the future will be quite different. However, what is less evident is a deep understanding of the impact of these changes both in organisational terms and at a personal level for individual lawyers. The opportunities and challenges facing newly qualified lawyers entering the profession are dramatically different today than those from previous generations. In addition, the ambitions of younger lawyers today  are being shaped by these market changes as well as the evolving work and priorities of the younger generation generally.”

In 2007, recognising that both clients and lawyers were looking at ways to work differently, LOD was launched to shake up traditional models. LOD now has a team of 120 high quality lawyers working with clients such as Barclays, Channel 4, Google, Porsche and Royal Mail Group.

Key findings at a glance:

 1)         Future Change

Changes to lawyers:

o  Private-practice lawyers will increasingly be, for all intents and purposes, entrepreneurs. Some will continue ‘sole practice’, although with much more specialised niche practices.

o High-quality project lawyers will evolve and compete to join rotating teams of professionals on an ‘as-requested’ basis whilst others will develop hybrid careers such as ‘lawyer-knowledge curator’, ‘lawyer-analyst’, ‘lawyer-technologist’ or ‘lawyer-educator’, serving either fellow lawyers, clients or the general public.

o Some lawyers will still remain as permanent members of staff but only if they are critically important partners or are en-route to joining those ranks.

Changes to law firms:

o Firms will be smaller with fewer permanent lawyers and staff occupying less square footage – offices will be reserved only for the most influential partners and business developers.

o Meeting spaces will replace law offices offering collaborative zones where lawyers, staff and clients can gather to review matters and execute plans in comfort and confidence.

 Changes to legal work:

o Current ‘lawyer work’ will be re-classified as ‘legal work’ – carried out by a variety of performers (not just lawyers) with basic tasks such as boilerplate contracts, document review and fillable forms reduced to programming language and consigned to computers, reducing costs and raising accuracy and quality.

o Mid-level tasks will be given to trained paralegals or overseas lawyers and higher-level work farmed out to teams of independent project specialists, reporting to the permanent full-time lawyers at the firm or directly to the client. Even the most complex and challenging matters will be broken down into component parts, assigned to a performer whose skills and price best align with the value of each part.

 2)         Recommendations

 With the report indicating such huge changes in the way lawyers, clients and firms work with one another, how can such changes be implemented? Here are thereport’s recommendations at a glance:

Recommendations for Law firms:

o Firms need to embrace the new models of sophisticated process mapping. An internal inventory of skill and performance imbalances can help identify talent surplus or deficits and allow the rebalancing to begin.

o Reassess talent acquisition strategies – many are vestiges of an outdated market. Develop a system to accurately identify and develop the firm’s future leaders looking at both newly recruited graduate lawyers as well as currently employed associates.

Recommendations for lawyers:

o Future legal employment will be agile and entrepreneurial so the word ‘independence’ should be kept at the forefront of lawyers’ minds.

o Instincts and capabilities of a bold entrepreneur will become essential. Project lawyer work will flourish so the self-starter able to build a reputation for value, effectiveness and foresight will be in high demand.

o Lawyers should learn to anticipate problems before they occur, calculating risk and charting a course to avoid or minimise problems and making themselves indispensable.

Recommendations for in-house counsel:

o Think about alignment and action, identifying and appointing the right provider/s according to the complexity, urgency and sensitivity of each task. A simple inventory of the most commonly tackled tasks in your department, and list of providers, can help tackle this piece-by-piece with a simple decision tree.

o Do not be afraid to grasp the opportunities that are being presented – the pace for change will ultimately be determined by the buyers, not the sellers.

The full report can be downloaded at www.lod.co.uk/newrules.

How CCTV balances the scales of justice

How CCTV balances the scales of justice

Iain Gould, solicitor and specialist in civil actions against the police, comments on the upside of the surveillance state

It is often said that Britain is the CCTV capital of the world.

According to a report from the British Security Industry Association there are between 4 million to 5.9 million CCTV cameras operating in the UK.

Most of those are privately owned but not all.

A 2009 Freedom of Information request made by the BBC’s Newsnight programme showed that both Shetland Islands Council and Corby Borough Council have more CCTV cameras than the San Francisco Police Department.

Wandsworth Borough Council in London has just under four cameras per 1,000 people, more than the police departments of Boston (USA), Johannesburg (SA), and Dublin City Council combined.

This contributes to the 7,431 public CCTV cameras in London, almost 23 times as many as Paris.

In my day-to-day work as a solicitor who sues the police and those who act with police-like powers I am regularly told about situations where the police have over-stepped the mark.  CCTV footage is often instrumental in proving how.

CCTV in a Supermarket Proves Police Lies

I represented a client (who wishes to remain anonymous) after he was prosecuted for a breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act (allegedly using ‘threatening,  abusive or insulting words or behaviour’) after he spoke to a Leicestershire police officer in his local Morrisons Supermarket.

Mr. X (as I will refer to him) saw the officer shopping for shoelaces and approached him. He asked,

‘There is a 9.2 million pound deficit for the next 3 years and you are here shopping for bloody shoelaces and shoe polish.  Do you think this is acceptable?’

To which the officer replied that he needed new laces to catch criminals.

The officer then warned Mr. X that his conduct amounted to a breach of Section 5. Mr. X disagreed and said he would lodge a complaint.

Two months later he received a summons to attend court in connection with the alleged offence.

At trial the police officer gave evidence that Mr. X had been aggressive and intimidating during the exchange.

The police and/or Crown Prosecution Service failed to disclose the supermarket’s CCTV footage so, without evidence to the contrary, Mr. X was convicted at Magistrates’ Court.

He was sure he had done nothing wrong so appealed his conviction to the Crown Court. In advance of the appeal hearing the CCTV footage was disclosed.

Although there was no audio, the footage showed that Mr. X was neither aggressive nor intimidating towards the officer. Crucially, the officer showed no signs of alarm or distress.

As a result, the appeal was allowed and his conviction was overturned.

I later sued Leicestershire Police for damages for malicious prosecution and assault.

Despite the CCTV footage, Leicestershire Police denied liability, leaving me with no alternative but to issue proceedings and prepare Mr. X’s case for trial.

Mr. X’s claim settled out-of-court for 15 times more than the police’s original offer, plus full legal costs. Read his case report on my website for more.

Assault by Security Guard Caught on Train Station CCTV

In a similar case which settled this week, my client Mark Holt (pictured and again, details used with permission) has received a five- figure compensation award after an assault by a security guard (or ‘byelaw enforcement officer’) employed by Carlisle Security. You can read his case report here.

Mark Holt, 53, is a prominent local businessman and peace campaigner who has never been in trouble with the police before. On 10 January 2012 he was returning home from a day out in Liverpool with his wife.

He and his wife had shared a bottle of wine over a meal, and he had a double whiskey later on. He was not drunk when they went to the train station at 9.45pm to go home.

Both had valid tickets. Mrs Holt went through the barriers. Mark stopped just short of the barriers as he attempted to find his ticket. A ticket inspector (now known more grandly as ‘revenue officer’) came up to him and said, ‘you’re drunk, you’re not travelling’.

Mr. Holt, who was not acting in a disorderly way, calmly found his ticket and put it into the barrier machine. The ticket inspector ordered that all barriers be locked, and called for help.

A security guard, or ‘byelaw enforcement officer’, grabbed Mark in a headlock and wrestled him to the ground.

Mark fell heavily face first onto the station floor, breaking his right front tooth and cutting his lip.

Another guard helped restrain Mr. Holt while British Transport Police were called. The first guard told the police that Mark:

  • was drunk and abusive;
  • swung a punch (which missed;
  • so the guard, fearing for his own safety, wrestled him to the ground.

The police did not question this version of events and arrested Mark for a breach of Section 4 POA.

He was taken to a local police station where he was kept for 12 hours before being released on bail.

Mark instructed me to bring a compensation claim.

I obtained the CCTV footage from the station operator, Merseytravel.

Although it confirmed Mark’s version of events, the guard’s employers, Carlisle Security, denied liability.

In a letter which will cause concern to anyone interested in the over-reaching powers of private security firms, they claimed that Carlisle Security byelaw enforcement officers have the power to arrest and detain, so that they were acting within their rights.

I had no alternative but to issue court proceedings. A fresh pair of eyes working for Carlisle’s insurers sensibly settled Mark’s claim for substantial compensation and costs, four times as much as their original offer.

CCTV Provides Equality of Arms

 

Without CCTV footage Mr. X would now have an unjust criminal conviction and both he, and Mark Holt, would have lost their legitimate compensation claims.

Police and defendant insurers routinely fight cases even after they have viewed the CCTV footage.

They plan on fighting to trial where they have a distinct advantage. The officers involved invariably have exemplary records. They turn up at court confidently prepared and trained to give evidence in full uniform. Juries are impressed. No one wants to call a policeman a liar.

By contrast, any independent eye-witnesses, even if they co-operate, can be unreliable. And my clients are ordinary people who have often never been in trouble with the police before, let alone given evidence in a trial. They can be nervous, which sometimes comes across as unsure. The burden of proof is on the claimant. It is easy to create doubt in the mind of a juror.

The scales of justice weigh heavily in favour of the police and those who act with police-like powers. CCTV footage can help balance the scales.

  Iain Gould is a solicitor who specialising in suing the police. You can read more about his work on his blog, and follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and +IainGould.

 

Image credit: cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by Quinn Dombrowski: http://flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/4697813093/

 

Returning to regular blogging on the morrow

In the meantime… a view from my sardonic past….

Charon QC on Tea Making,  4th Supplement to the 29th Edition (Maninahat Press) £780 + VAT

“This inter-disciplinary and seminally important update to the 29th edition of this internationally acclaimed tractatus from leading and  very contemporary law diva, Charon QC, explores the commoditisation of law students from the academic stage of legal education all the way through to the industrial tribunal when they are finally fired by their law firm as 50 year old partners. Given recent Government reviews and consultations, resulting in access to justice being withdrawn from all save for wealthy injunctioneers and footballers unable to engage their brains before exercising their membrum virilis, commoditisation of law students  is very much an issue exercising the public agenda and ‘direction of travel’ at present. Charon QC deftly  argues that most discourse in legal education, and indeed the profession, is driven by sociological perspectives  involving large amounts of  money.  His aim is to interrogate the supply and demand of paid work for law students through a wider range of disciplines including tea making, flipping burgers, flogging off Olympic memorabiliatat and sandwich boarding. This is laudable, as complex social issues like failed expectation demands a truly interdisciplinary analysis and given the broad range of opportunities now available to law students within law firms, other than actual employment as a lawyer,  Charon QC, remarkably, despite his fondness for the nectar of the gods, has succeeded in producing a largely coherent, integrated and well organised volume that should be of interest to a diverse readership.  We, at Muttley Dastardly LLP, are certainly interested in providing opportunities for highly qualified law students who understand the intricacies of the Japanese tea making ceremony or chadō (茶道) as The Partners at Muttley Dastardly call it.”

I commend this volume to the world urbi et orbi – a bodice ripper of a book from The Diva!

Dr Erasmus Strangelove MA  (Oxon), MBA, Ph.d, FRSA, Barrister, Director of Psyops, Education and Strategy, Muttley Dastardly LLP

 

Are NIHL claims a disease claim?

Roberto Carrasale
Head of Costs department
Joseph Frasier Solicitors

Historically, Noise Induced Hearing Loss claims (“NIHL”) have been classed as a disease claim for the purpose of recovering a 62.5% success fee pursuant to CPR 45.23 (3) (e) – Section V “Fixed Recoverable Success Fees in Employers’ Liability Disease Claims”.
However, it appears that some Defendants are successfully arguing at detailed assessment that a NIHL claim is not a disease claim but is a “bodily injury” and as such the automatic 62.5% uplift normally allowed in these cases does not apply.

One such reported case is that of Kevin Smith v. Secretary of State of Energy and Climate Change [20.09.2013], Mansfield County Court, in which District Judge Davies, having heard submissions from both parties, ruled in favour of the Defendant (represented by Nabarro LLP) and held that NIHL is not a disease within the meaning of CPR 45.23 and therefore the 62.5% success fee did not apply.

Whilst first instance decision only and consequently not binding, the judgment makes for an interesting read. Great reliance was placed by the District Judge upon the High Court decision of Patterson v. MoD [2012] EWHC 2767 (QB) in which Males J held that a non-freezing cold injury was not to be classed as a disease claim. The main points to be noted from the decision in Patterson are that:-

Section IV (“Fixed Recoverable Success Fees in Employers’ Liability Claims”) applies where the dispute arises ‘from a bodily injury’ but cannot apply where the claim related to a ‘disease’. However, some injuries can be regarded as diseases and fall within Section V (e.g. psychiatric injuries and upper limb disorders) even though they would not be regarded as disease in everyday language;

The term ‘disease’ appears to have a more extensive meaning for the purposes of Section V than its meaning in everyday language given the above definition;

Where there is a dispute as to whether section IV or section V applies, the main point to consider is whether the condition qualifies as a disease and, if so, it does not matter whether the disease also constitutes or results from a ‘bodily injury’.

His Lordship in Patterson considered and noted that there was no definition of ‘disease’ and that he would objectively interpret the word ‘disease’ and that dictionary definitions, including medical dictionaries, were unhelpful and that the word ‘disease’ was to be understood in its ordinary sense and that, within the context of ordinary, everyday language, a non-freezing cold injury could not be applied as a disease.

That was the basis upon which District Judge Davies approached the definition of the word ‘disease’. The District Judge then considered the specifics of NIHL and whether it could be classed as a Section V disease.

The Defendant placed reliance on academic works such as Hunter’s Disease of Occupations and “Mechanisms of Noise Induced Hearing Loss” and defined NIHL as being caused by:-

“…increased oxygen free radical production within the ears, a process already taking place naturally, as a result of the stress caused by excessive noise where, due to the clear relationship between the exposure and the condition, it is clearly akin to an injury. Damage is caused by a discreet albeit repeated external stimulus and represents an acceleration brought about by external factors similar to other acceleration cases. A normal metabolic process is sped up by the trauma caused by excessive noise. NIHL is the result of an external insult speeding up a natural process which occurs with ageing”.

The question which the District Judge therefore asked himself was whether NIHL is a ‘disease’ or an injury brought on by an external cause, which in NIHL, would be excessive noise. Applying the guideline set down in Patterson, the District Judge found that a disease, unless specifically included and incorporated into the rules, is a:-

“biological process caused by a virus, bacteria, noxious substance or parasite”

And, based upon that definition, NIHL could not be considered a disease.

Clearly the case has long reaching ramifications. Even if Courts in the future accept that NIHL is not a ‘disease’ claim for the purposes of Section V then how will it approach what success fee should be applied? Section IV (25% success fee where the matter settles before trial) can only apply where the injury is sustained before 01 October 2014. The majority of NIHL claims are sustained over a long period of time and well before this date and Section IV appears to imply a singular accident rather than one which occurs over a period of time. Therefore, it is certainly arguable that Section IV should not apply either. Therefore, if neither Section IV nor Section V apply then are we left with a situation in which the uplift is not fixed and is to be assessed according to the old Costs Practice Direction 11.7 and 11.8? If so, arguably this may be even better news for Claimant Solicitors who can argue that such claims are difficult to win given the higher risk of failing on liability, require more investigation which carries a greater financial risk to Solicitors than other EL claims and consequently should attract a higher success fee (this emphasises the need to ensure comprehensive risk assessments continued to be carried out in these type of cases).

Secondly, the judgment is contrary to the basic objectives of CPR 45 IV and V which was to avoid arguments about the level of success fees.

Thirdly, the judgment is inconsistent with the “notes of guidance” given for the pre-action protocol for disease claims. This specifically mentions and includes NIHL and states:-

“This protocol covers disease claims which are likely to be complex and frequently not suitable for fast-track procedures even though they may fall within fast track limits. Disease for the purpose of this protocol primarily covers any illness physical or psychological, any disorder, ailment, affliction, complaint, malady, or derangement other than a physical or psychological injury solely caused by an accident or other similar single event”.

In both Patterson and Smith, the Court effectively ignored the pre action protocol on the basis that it is for the purposes of the protocol itself and before the commencement of CPR and that it does not form part of the formal CPR. It seems rich for the Courts to have effectively ignored the pre action protocol and applied its own definition of ‘disease’ when clearly the pre action protocol imposes sanctions for parties who fail to comply with it!

Fourthly, and perhaps of most importance, is that under the new claims notification process for low value personal injury claims in employers liability disease claims, FORM ELD1 clearly stipulates deafness as one of the possible diseases which the Claimant has suffered. It is therefore arguable that it was the intention of the Rules Committee to have included deafness claims as a disease claim within the original Section V rules.

Although in time this argument will become of less significance given the post April 2013 position as to success fees, it remains to be seen how far Defendants will push the issue on existing pre April 2013 cases.

Roberto Carassale – Head of Costs Department – Joseph Frasier Solicitors 
Roberto is Head of Joseph Frasier’s Costs Department and an expert on all aspects of the Civil Procedure Rules. He has a wealth of experience in costing Personal Injury and Disease cases, Commercial matters and Clinical Negligence cases, and he is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to offering training on Jackson reforms and preparation of Costs Budgets.
r.carassale@jfsllp.co.uk

Guest Post: Could listening to music players put your hearing at risk?

Could listening to music players put your hearing at risk?

Hearing loss is something which could be frequently associated with those who work in traditionally noisy occupations, such as construction, demolition or engineering. Fortunately, legislation exists in this country which aims to prevent staff members from damaging their ears.

For example, The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 requires managers to implement appropriate safety measures – such as providing suitable personal protective equipment; when employees are exposed to sounds louder than 80dB on a daily or weekly basis.

If they fail to do so, those adversely affected could suffer varying degrees of hearing loss ; and might be entitled to claim industrial deafness compensation as a result.

However, it seems employees in noisy occupations are not the only people in danger of damaging their hearing. According to some sources, individuals could be going deaf by listening to their music players at an excessively high volume.

A recent survey carried out by the New York City Health Department supports this claim. After interviewing a range of participants who stated they frequently used headphones, the researchers discovered that almost 25% of these respondents suffered from some degree of hearing loss.

Although these findings suggest that many American individuals could be damaging their ears by listening to music players at an excessively loud volume, it seems this problem might also be affecting people in Great Britain.

The NHS states that hearing difficulties used to be primarily associated with noisy occupations; however, it appears the organisation now regards “recreational loud noise” as the most common cause of problems amongst individuals. This description covers potential hazards such as music players, live music and nightclubs.

To demonstrate how dangerous music players can sometimes be, The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 states individuals must not be exposed to a daily or weekly sound volume of 87dB.

Meanwhile, the NHS states that levels as low as 85dB can also result in permanent hearing damage if individuals are exposed to these noises for excessive periods of time. Worryingly though, the organisation claims that some music players can reach sounds of approximately 112dB; potentially placing listeners at risk.

Unfortunately, as their damage would probably be self-inflicted, it seems unlikely that those adversely affected by music players would be able to claim compensation for deafness. However, if an individual is worried about their hearing, then there are a number of simple solutions which could prove beneficial, such as reducing the volume or listening to music through noise-cancelling headphones.

If they have any further queries, they should seek advice from a qualified medical practitioner.

Legal Aid Funding for DNA Paternity and Relationship Analysis

Legal Aid Funding for DNA Paternity and Relationship Analysis

In the past 12 months there have been some significant changes to Legal Aid funding.  The Government stated that the expenditure was too high and cuts had to be made.

Initial changes were made in April 2013 and following a further consultation process in the summer of 2013 new guidance has been issued leading to action being taken in 2 key areas:

1.       The range of cases that Legal Aid can be claimed for has been reduced:

o   In family law cases Legal Aid is not available for matters that “do not justify the use of public funds”.

o   In immigration cases, visa applications for relatives to visit/reside with relatives already resident in the UK are now excluded.

2.       A reduction of 20% in the fees payable to experts (e.g. Cellmark) for the same work.

The new guidance, which was published in November 2013 and came  into effect for cases registered from December 2nd last year, sets a lower level of funding for DNA testing.

  Pre 2/12/13 Post 2/12/13
DNA – testing of sample* £315 per test £252 per test
DNA – preparation of report £90 per hour £72 per hour

*The guidance states that a test comprises a father and child (plus mother if required). For each additional child the limit of funding is a further £133.  If there are a number of alleged fathers, each father and child/children tested would constitute a separate test.

Cellmark will (from January 1st 2014) reduce its prices for standard DNA paternity testing to comply with the new guidance.  Our new price will be £324 ex VAT.

Included in Cellmark’s paternity price will be the following:

·         All sampling kits and the cost of sending them to UK sampling locations

o   Pre-paid return envelopes to safely transport the samples to our laboratory

·         The cost of testing the samples once they have been received at our laboratory

·         The cost of producing and sending the final test report to the “customer”

·         Our standard turn around time of 3 – 5 days (routinely 80% are reported in 3 working days)

·         Our FREE advice service for the duration of the case – before and after the final test report – accessible via email, FreePhone 0800 036 2522, and our web Chat service

Our commitment:

The Government’s own impact assessment on the 20% reduction in the level of fees that can be claimed under Legal Aid highlighted several risks:

·         Lower income might cause a reduction in the number of experts available

·         Numbers of public law family cases will continue to rise

·         Lower fees might mean experts deliver a lower quality service

As the UK’s most recommended DNA testing service and the world’s first private DNA fingerprinting company we would like to take this opportunity to restate our commitment to continuing to provide the same, industry leading, quality of testing, analysis and customer service that we have since June 1987.

Are you eligible for Legal Aid?

The Legal Aid Agency has produced a range of information to assist solicitors and individuals in establishing whether their case is eligible for Legal Aid funding and this can be accessed via the following web page – http://legal-aid-checker.justice.gov.uk/ we recommend you use this as a starting point before embarking on the complex process of applying for legal aid.

If you can’t get Legal Aid you may be able to get free advice from one of the following:

·         The Law Centres network

·         Citizens Advice

·         AdviceNow

You can also pay for advice from a local legal advisor or solicitor – a number of firms are responding to the changes by offering fixed price services.

Three Steps to Communication Excellence

 

feetontheground

Harvest Learning in conjunction with Metro Bank invite you to attend ‘Three Steps to Communication Excellence Taster’ with Nick Looby owner of Feet on the Ground Training on 23 January 2013 from 6pm –7pm at O2 Tottenham Court Road, 229 Tottenham Court Road London, W1T 7QG.  Networking from 7pm – 8pm at Metro Bank, Tottenham Court Road.

Over the last 8 years Nick has been responsible for assisting numerous corporate giants with their communication expertise.

Our Three Steps to Communication Excellence workshop series is designed to ensure you communicate with more power, more passion and more purpose so you can secure more business, more sales and even more success.

Our Taster evening will deliver incredible value in the three key areas which are explored in full during our workshops; we will be exploring Communication Strategy, Body Language Secrets and the Winning Mindset.  There will be networking opportunities for you to meet a number of likeminded business professionals and even try out your new body language expertise!

Come along and learn techniques that will enhance the effectiveness of your communication, enable you to win more business and increase your confidence in every imaginable situation.

If you are looking for the edge in business then this could be the most important evening of your year.

To reserve your complimentary place, please email melanie_berenblut@yahoo.co.uk.

Professor R.D. Charon wishes to convey a few thoughts

I often marvel that my academic brother – R.D. – continues to have thoughts.  He ran riot some years ago – so I now have to spend valuable time – which I charge for, naturally –  checking his posts before I post them.

‘Approved Post’ from Professor R.D. Charon

It is some time since I marvelled at the ability of law students to come to terms with the principles of law and, indeed, our legal system.  Before the appointment of a non-lawyer to the role of Lord Chancellor, we had a fighting chance of ensuring that our legal system, our law, would act in the interests of our people.

Unfortunately, because of cuts to the legal aid budget, it may be that those who need access to good legal representation won’t get it.   I have no doubt that many lawyers will do what they can to help,  but we don’t expect bankers to work for free – or, indeed, in the national interest – so why should Mr Grayling expect lawyers to do so?

I have no other thoughts to share with you this day – so I will leave you to get on with watching the opiate of UK television.  Pity that Strictly Come Dancing has ended…. kept many of us occupied and amused and not causing riot and affray on the streets of our fine nation.

Goodnight…

 

Rive Gauche: Mass cull and other matters….

Mass Cull…

The Law Society Gazette reports that a mass cull of high street law firms has taken place because they could not secure professional indemnity insurance.

“The list includes Grants Solicitors of Croydon, the firm set up by the former justice minister Helen Grant and Alastair J Brett of London, the firm set up by the former legal director at The Times newspaper. In all, 23 of the closed firms are in London….

…President Nicholas Fluck said: ‘There will be a number of reasons why firms have closed and some of these will have been positive decisions by the partners involved. However, thanks to the EIP many firms were able to find insurance and continue practising.”

I am often astonished by the activities of the Kippers – but this story is truly astonishing.  And UKIP wants political power in Britain?

 HatTip to  @MckRich

And on to other matters…

I always enjoy my visits to The Legal Cheek website – an irreverent (rightly) look at the law and the workings of lawyers.

And a recent post may give you a reason to visit them…

CAN AN OXBRIDGE LAW DEGREE PUT YOU OFF BECOMING A LAWYER?

Back soon with a bit more… perhaps, even a post from Lord Shagger who is still in Monaco amusing himself….

My ‘Brother’ Professor R.D.Charon wrote this some years ago

While my younger brother grapples with the technical aspects of wordpress and works out how to give me posting rights under my own ‘moniker’ I shall post with my avatar.

I began my academic career at a good university, but one, unfortunately placed geographically, far too distant from where I wished to be, so I did not spend much time there. I did make occasional journeys to the university town, with the intention of visiting the law school, but often found myself waylaid by the attractions of a fine pub situated about half a mile from the Law School and was not always able to make it to the school. I do, however, remember the Dean giving all the new students an address. The Dean was a solemn man, newly elevated to professorial rank, a man whose knowledge of criminal and other law stupefied the judges when he was at the Bar, to a point where it was felt that his talents might be better used in academe – which, indeed, they were.

He looked straight at us all. His eyes flickered and darted from side to side. He spoke quickly as he told us that of the 100 in the theatre only two would get a First, twelve, possibly, fifteen, would get an Upper Second, the herd would get Lower Seconds (and find solace practising law in modest firms), a few would get Thirds (and find little pleasure in a life in the law) and, sadly, – looking menacingly around the theatre: “Five to six of you will get pass degrees – a certificate of incompetence.”

I’m afraid, possibly though mild intoxication, that I found this absurdly funny and burst out laughing.

“Mr Charon” the Dean asked “Perhaps you find that amusing? Why so?”

I cannot, of course, remember the exact words which I used to reply (It always amazes me how people who write biographies can remember almost every word they spoke in their lives) but I will give the gist (and in future posts, should I need to resort to dialogue, I will ask you to imagine that I can remember every single word.)

“Well it is rather amusing, Professor ‘X’. How can anyone spend three years of their lives studying something and end up with a certificate of incompetence? Better to cut the losses after the first year and run.” The Dean merely smiled and passed on to other matters. I could, however, see a few anxious looks on the faces of my fellow students. There were eight women on the course. This was most disappointing. Things have changed – a theme to which I shall return when I next post.

R D Charon

Guest Post: Cuts to Legal Aid mean “Guilty Will Go Unpunished”

Monday 6th of January was a momentous day for the British legal system. For the first time in the history of their profession, barristers staged a strike in protest over proposed cuts to the legal aid bill.

Hundreds of trial lawyers, dressed head to toe in their traditional garb – black gowns, grey wigs, white bands – took part in vocal demonstrations outside the Old Bailey with the aim of convincing the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, to reconsider the planned reductions.

The Ministry of Justice claims that the cuts will slash £220 million from government spending, but the 30% reduction is just another in a long line that has seen legal aid fees budget for criminal cases decrease by 40% since 1997. Many law firms around the country, including Manchester-based criminal law solicitors Maguires Solicitors, rely on Legal Aid funding from the government to carry out cases where the financial situation restricts them from paying the costs.

There are legitimate fears among legal professionals that the new proposals will result in a lower quality of legal representation, more miscarriages of justice and fewer convictions. Nigel Lithman QC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, feels that barristers are being unfairly singled out and that many will leave the profession if the cuts are implemented: “Why not publish the incomes of top surgeons?” Lithman asked. “Why not show the politicians who have incomes from property? We are being singled out. Why such contempt for the criminal bar?”

Lithman’s comments are a reaction to the MoJ’s attempt to paint criminal lawyers as wildly overpaid, a claim that they say is greatly exaggerated. Official figures show that 1,200 barristers (of the some 15,500 the Bar Council say practise in England and Wales) earned a minimum of £100,000 each from criminal legal aid. But barristers counter that after all their expenses are taken into account, including chamber fees and pension provision, they are left with £50,000 in taxable income.

The median income for barristers was shown to be £56,000 but Lithman  explains that this doesn’t show the real picture: “Some barristers are earning as little as £13,000 a year. We are seeing more and more bankruptcies in the junior bar. Many are earning less than £25,000 a year.”

However, the MoJ still contend that the current system is too generous. A spokesperson for the department said: “At around £2bn a year we have one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world, and it would remain very generous even after reform.”Latest figures show more than 1,200 barristers judged to be working full-time on taxpayer-funded criminal work received £100,000 each in fee income last year, with six barristers receiving more than £500,000 each.

“We entirely agree lawyers should be paid fairly for their work, and believe our proposals do just that. We also agree legal aid is a vital part of our justice system – that’s why we have to find efficiencies to ensure it remains sustainable and available to those most in need of a lawyer. Agencies involved in the criminal justice system will take steps to minimise any upset court disruption could cause for victims and witnesses involved in trials.”

As well as cuts, the MoJ’s Transforming Legal Aid consultation comes with a whole host of propositions, the most radical of which include:

– Prisoners who challenge their treatment in jail will no longer be entitled to legal aid.

– Judicial reviews will become more difficult. Those cases deemed to have a less than 50% chance of success will no longer be funded through legal aid (making it harder to hold the government accountable for unlawful actions).

– A residency test will exclude those with “little or no connection to this country” from receiving support for civil legal actions in England and Wales. The Catholic church has condemned it as harmful to recently arrived victims of human trafficking and domestic abuse.

– A financial eligibility threshold will prevent those with a disposable household income of £37,500 or more from receiving legal aid in the crown court.

Law Review: At last, a law to stop almost anyone from doing almost anything edition…

Motorists face 60mph speed limit on motorways

Interestingly, not to save lives from driving and reduce claims for road traffic accidents – but from pollution.  The plan is to reduce the speed limit to 60mph on some roads. The Telegraph 

Remembering 1914

With Lord Kitchener appearing on a £2 coin – an example of rather poor taste in the view of many – the remembrance of The Great War will bring much comment and analysis.

Neil Schofield writes: 

“Part of the point of commemorating the hundredth anniversary of a war is the certainty that nobody who served in it will still be alive.  It is the point at which, definitively, that war has passed from direct into reported experience; history that can be turned into mythology, without the inconvenience of spontaneous testimony from those who were there, and might have something different to offer on the subject….”

Witness protection – why Nigella Lawson is not a victim of the criminal justice system

Felicity Gerry writing in Legal Week makes some robust and good points about the Grillo sisters case.

Nigella Lawson is a victim of domestic violence, but she is not a victim of the criminal justice system.

Much has been said about the treatment of Ms Lawson as a witness in the fraud trial of her former personal assistants, Francesco and Elisabetta Grillo; an experience she has described as “deeply disturbing”. There have even been calls for greater protection of witnesses as a result.

This comes at a time when former chief prosecutor Sir Keir Starmer QC has announced that he will lead areview into the treatment of victims in the criminal justice system.

No review of the treatment of witnesses will stop them from being accused of lying or being inaccurate when that is the defence case; that is the purpose of a trial. To put this into perspective, if you were accused of stealing from your employer, then you would naturally expect your accuser to be questioned robustly.

At last, a law to stop almost anyone from doing almost anything

George Monbiot in The Guardian writes: “Protesters, buskers, preachers, the young: all could end up with ‘ipnas’. Of course, if you’re rich, you have nothing to fear”
Back later…

Rive Gauche: Sir Hugo Kok de Up MP on Justice

It may give The Twitterati some transient pleasure to mock one of the finest gentlemen to have ever graced the House of Commons benches by referring to him as a ‘Crime Scene in Progress’  – I talk of no other than Lord Chancellor Grayling, a man of vision who made his long walk to freedom  from obscurity to hold one of the highest offices of state in the land: Lord Chancellor –  the first non-lawyer to serve as Lord Chancellor since the Earl of Shaftesbury in 1672-3.  It did not end well for The Earl of Shaftesbury, it has to be said – although charges of High Treason were dropped and Shaftesbury fled to Amsterdam,  fell ill, and soon died.  But, be that as it may.

And as for those of you with a predilection for trawling through Wikipedia for amusing nonsense on Chris Grayling and other fellow Conservative MPs to find this sort of thing…..shame on you!

Between 2001 and 2009,[8] Grayling claimed expenses for his flat in Pimlico, close to the Houses of Parliament, despite having a constituency home no further than 17 miles away[9] and owning two buy to let properties in Wimbledon.[10] Grayling says he uses the flat when “working very late” because he needs to “work very erratic and late hours most days when the House of Commons is sitting.”[11]

During the Parliamentary expenses scandalThe Daily Telegraph reported that Grayling refitted and redecorated the flat in 2005 costing over £5,000.[9] Grayling said that both the water and electrical systems failed “leaving the place needing a major overhaul”.[10]

Grayling’s expenses issue was seen as embarrassing for the Conservative Party as he had previously criticised Labour ministers for being implicated in sleaze scandals.[12]

There is more to heaven and earth Horatio than was dreamt of in Wikipedia…. and on that note, I bid you good day. Although I am partial to the Australian greeting…”Gooday mate, how’s it hanging?” when unable to avoid socialists in the house.

Guest Post: Israel’s Entry To US Visa Waiver Programme Under Threat

Israel’s Entry To US Visa Waiver Programme Under Threat

Recent reports from the Arab American Institute have claimed that the bill which would have seen Israel become part of the Visa Waiver Programme has been abandoned. The non-profit organisation has alleged that the bill, also known as the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, is ‘dead in the water’.

Despite strong opposition by the Arab American Institute, the bill was supported by many pro-Israel groups, such as AIPAC. If enacted, the bill would have allowed Israelis to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme, thus making it easier for Israelis to travel to the country. Supporters of the bill also claimed that it would boost Israeli tourism in the US and, therefore, have a beneficial effect on the country.

However, since the bill was proposed in March 2013 it has faced strong criticism. Whilst the bill would have ensured that all Israelis could travel under the Visa Waiver Programme, subject to the general exceptions and limitations of the programme itself, some critics alleged that the bill allowed Israelis to ‘maintain discriminatory practices against the US.’

The Arab American Institute alleged that the wording of the bill would have allowed Israelis to refuse entry to some Americans, which would result in American Arabs, Muslims or pro-Palestinian activists being turned away at the border.

Yousef Munayyer of the Palestine Center also opposed the bill and highlighted the cases of Nour Joudah and Sandra Tamari. Mr Munayyer argues that the fact that both Palestinian-American women were denied entry to Israel in 2012 is indicative of the discriminatory practices which would be allowed under the new bill.

Whilst acceptance into the Visa Waiver Programme would undoubtedly make it easier for Israelis wanting to travel to the United States, it appears that the current bill will not be enacted and Israelis will, therefore, still be required to obtain a visa before entering the country.

However, much of the criticism levelled at the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act is concerned with the wording of the bill and the implication it has on discriminatory practices in Israel, rather than the acceptance of Israel into the Visa Waiver Programme itself.

It’s possible, therefore, that a new bill will be put forward in early 2014. Providing a new bill could overcome the criticism levelled at the current US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, it’s possible that Israel could become part of the Visa Waiver Programme and Israeli citizens could find it far easier to enter the US. However, unless legislators ensure that the wording of the bill does not allow for the discrimination of American citizens, it is likely that Israel will not be able to participate in the Visa Waiver Programme due to the on-going criticism and opposition from a variety of groups.

A Guide to Appearing at Court for a Driving Offence

A Guide to Appearing at Court for a Driving Offence
By Ava Watkins

If you’ve never been to court before, you’re unlikely to know what to expect. Being accused of a driving offence can lead to serious ramifications for your social and business life, so it’s important that you get to grips with the legal process. An informed defendant is likelier to emerge with a more positive outcome than someone who didn’t do their homework. Remember that legal cases can be far-reaching and expensive.

How Long Will It Take My Case To Get To Court?

Usually, the police have up to six months (from the date of the incident) to summon you to court. That doesn’t mean that you have to be informed within this period; it just means that the police need to get the case to court within this timeframe. As a rule of thumb, if the authorities are slow off the mark, you may be going to court as late as 7-8 months after the incident.

Do You Have To Attend?

Depending on the offence, you may not have to be physically present. Most cases can be closed through correspondence. However, any serious offences will require your presence. If you could potentially have your licence disqualified, you will have to defend yourself. A legal representative can sometimes go in your stead, so ask before you travel.

How Long Will The Hearing Last For?

You have to come prepared. If you don’t, you will unnecessarily draw out the whole process. Guilty pleas can take as long as 30 minutes. Not guilty cases are usually considerably longer.

Will It All Be Over And Done With Then?

When the defendant pleads guilty, the Court will try to settle the matter in one sitting. It’s not necessarily guaranteed, so be prepared to adjourn. Not guilty hearings usually take at least two court hearings to finalise.

Will You Receive Help?

Once you’ve been issued a summons to court, you will be expected to take the necessary steps for your case, such as hiring a lawyer and gathering evidence. A legal representative and a carefully constructed case won’t be waiting for you when you arrive, unless you organise it yourself.

Can You Represent Yourself At Court?

You are within your rights to represent yourself in court, but it isn’t advisable; especially if the case is serious. Where possible, it’s best to hire a qualified solicitor that specialises in motor law. If you plan to represent yourself, at least seek legal advice before you do so.

What Are The Advantages Of Hiring A  Solicitor?

With a specialist motor solicitor, you can relax and let them take care of the complicated legal process, knowing that your chances of success are significantly increased. You’ll benefit from their previous experience of similar offences. If your licence is threatened, it’s best to put together the most watertight case possible. This is even more crucial, if you rely on your licence to do your job.

Composed by Ava Watkins on behalf of Driving Offence drink driving solicitors. Visit their drink driving solicitor page here http://www.drivingoffence.com/   for more information on these types of matters.

The Ins and Outs of Felony Fraud

The Ins and Outs of Felony Fraud
Ava Watkins

The law of England and Wales no longer distinguishes misdemeanours from felonies, which are now simply regarded as indictable offences. What may be described as a felony in other countries (most notably the United States) is merely a criminal act in the UK, albeit one that is invariably serious in nature or consequence.

What is Fraud?

Fraud is one of the most serious crimes in the UK. Covering aspects of bribery and corruption, fraud can be defined as any deceptive act whose motivation is personal gain or another party’s loss. Most instances of fraud involve a person’s failure to disclose important or accurate information, false representation or abuse of position, as described in the Fraud Act 2006.

The rate of fraud tends to increase during times of economic difficulty. Serious fraud typically involves huge sums of cash or valuable assets; for example, when stockbrokers operate Ponzi schemes to defraud investors.

Of course, there are many different types of fraud, many of which involve the unlawful transfer of money. One example is cheque fraud. This often involves someone forging another person’s signature or creating a fake cheque in order to gain access to money. The penalty for this type of fraud may depend on the amount of money in question, the severity of the deception or whether the crime was a one-off or frequent act. Any person convicted of fraud will need the services of a specialist solicitor.

The Fraud Act 2006 outlines two penalties for any person who is found guilty of fraud: summary conviction can lead to a term of imprisonment lasting no longer than twelve months; conviction on indictment can result in a maximum prison term of ten years. Either punishment may be replaced or supplemented by a fine.

Insurance Fraud

Insurance fraud is also common, especially in the motoring and property sectors. Criminals have been known to forge death certificates to access money from insurance policies. Again, the severity of the crime and the damage or loss it has caused will be considered by the court. Insurance fraud is often carried out by professional criminals who work in gangs. Often, there is a nominated person who, depending on his expertise, takes responsibility for different stages of the crime. For example, a staged car accident may involve a number of gang members: one person to target the victim on the road, another person to drive the ‘attacking’ vehicle and a third person to fake injury and put in the claim to the insurance company.

Home to some of the UK’s leading serious fraud solicitors, Manchester also happens to be a hotspot for so-called crash-for-cash accidents, but lawyers in the city should be able to deal with all types of fraud.

Other Offences

The Fraud Act 2006 lists separate offences of making, supplying or having possession of “articles for use in frauds”, obtaining services through dishonesty and participating in fraudulent business activities. These offences are subject to different penalties. In the UK, fraud is heavily linked to bribery and corruption, which may take the form of extortion, corporate espionage, illegal gratuity and other related offences.

Written by Ava Watkins.

Well…I spliced the main brace last night and ended up three sheets to the wind.

The United States and The United Kingdom – Peoples divided by a common language? 

“Well…I spliced the main brace last night and ended up three sheets to the wind. I can tell you that Mrs C was taken aback. Thought I was for the high jump. Mind you, it was cold enough outside to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. I was at a loose end, you see, and our work is, after all, money for old rope. Hadn’t had a square meal for hours which is probably why I was over refreshed. Normally, of course, I accept all drinks invitations at the drop of a hat and I am sure Mrs C took my excuse on the phone earlier with a pinch of salt. But hook or by crook, I was determined to join you at this wonderful bar for a spot of grog. Needed a hair of the dog anyway, but at the risk of flogging a dead horse and not wishing to be a fly in the ointment, I made my way over the water to get here. After all,  I don’t have feet of clay and these days one has to stand up and be counted, throw one’s hat into the ring…you understand, I am sure. Anyway…I would not be worth my salt if I had chickened out. Anyway…as you can see, I grasped the nettle, knowing that we would not have to pay through the nose here and it is not as if I had drunk a Mickey Finn…By the way…why are those Germans looking at me so strangely…. speaking the Queen’s English, which they understand, I am sure….so what is the problem? I am a good European. I back the EU…why are they staring at me that way?

Anyway..where was I ? Ah yes…It is a moot point as to whether I was left in the lurch when Johnny pegged out after having too many irons in the fire, which put the dampers on my plans to hold the fort and bag a table …..

***

Of course…we all understand the above phrases..but how many of us know where they come from? An excellent book “Red Herrings and White Elephants” by Albert Jack will make all clear. Available at Waterstones and all our other favourite legal bookshops…hopefully, still available.

 

***

#SAVEUKJUSTICE – A few observations…some sardonic 

A message from Cardinal Charoni di Tempranillo ? Absolutionally not!

It is some years since I invited a cousin – Cardinal Charoni di Tempranillo –  to write on my blog.

This is what he wrote last time…. it will give you a clue as to why I have not invited him to write again….

“For many years the Church enjoyed power, prestige, influence, great wealth and the private pleasures of the flesh by preying on the superstition and lack of education of the people it sought to have power over.  King Henry VIII started the rot by getting rid of the Pope and grabbing the land and wealth owned by the Church under the wonderful euphemism of ‘Reformation’ to set up a model more convenient to his politico-legal needs to establish a dynasty. Now we share with our brethren in other faiths, a world of converts much diminished by education, and seek to convert the remaining ill educated peoples of the world to our ways.

We have had some success but the internet, the spread of television and people like Hitchens and Dawkins flogging their God Delusion books through Amazon and all good bookshops has made it much more difficult to pass the collection plate around on Sundays – although we are doing good trade in‘Weddings in Church for the modern godless couple’, particularly in our more ‘historic’ churches and…. we have upped the stakes by doing wine tastings on Sunday mornings and slipping in a bit of absolution and a complimentary wafer  as our congregation sips the wine.

I am often asked if I believe in God.  I smile beningnly, raise my arms to the heavens and say ‘God is within us all’… which usually does the business.   Now, if you forgive me, I have matters to attend to… we are developing a package for governments that are running out of money to pay their police and armed forces.  We have a working title for it… ‘Operation Put the Fear of God back into your people’.

In the name of the  Father… the son….

Cardinal Charoni di Tempranillo”

A bit of the old ‘Rive Gauche’…

I am not a ‘grinch’ but I am not a great fan of the annual Christmas period. I found it pretty tedious as a child and still do. But, here we are at the start of a new year;  an opportunity to repeat mistakes of old and an opportunity to craft a few new ones.

It would appear that French influence in the world is waning?

I have decided to return to riding motorbikes.  A car in London isn’t of any value to me and, in any event, I far preferred my motorbikes to the many cars I had in my past.  So, I shall sell the Jaguar and buy a Honda Blackbird. (I have had five of these marvellous bikes in the past – always started and not one breakdown.)

***

So…let’s kick off the new year with a look at what  Tim Kevan’s marvellous creation Babybarista is up to: Solicitor Advocate 

“Jo Worby is one of those rare people in business who is more interested in talking about other people’s success. “ Clare Rodway, of the wonderful Kysen PR firm, writes an excellent blog: The Conversation.  Here she interviews Jo Warby

John Bolch continues, pleasingly, to cast a sharp and, at times, caustic eye over matters relating to Family Law.  His Saturday Review is well worth a look – with a rather spectacular graphic in the post.  The following quote will give you a taste of John’s left field approach to the subject.  (He does serious as well, though)… “The only time my wife and I had a simultaneous orgasm was when the judge signed the divorce papers.”  ~ Woody Allen 

***

This is why Criminal barristers are taking action on Monday 6th January

“In 24 hours time criminal lawyers will be on strike for the first time in history.” #walkout4justice” : Follow @TheCriminalBar on twitter for details.

And for a bit of prognostication from Brian Inkster’s The Time Blawg: Future Law: IT and Legal Practice Predictions for 2014: http://ow.ly/shlhH  #LegalIT #LegalTech #futurelaw

Fellow blogger and podcaster, Carl Gardner, writes: Alan Turing: a strain’d quality of irrational and arbitrary mercy

John Flood on his  RATs blog continues to analyse the profession:

“In law we live in comparative prehistoric times. Regulation is our protection, our safeguard, to prevent savages from invading our sacred spaces…”
Are We About to See the Arrival of Multidisciplinary Practices?

Simon Myerson QC – always a pleasure to read – pulls no punches in this blog post:

Ahead of Monday’s action (reminder: which I reluctantly support), the MoJ has published an “Ad Hoc Statistical Release”. Its purpose is clearly to prejudice readers, which will include the media, against the Bar. As such it is a disgusting piece of work – a Ministry should not seek to argue a political case against a group of private citizens at all, still less by the use of data obtained in an effort to promote ‘efficiency’. The counter-argument is that everyone is entitled to “the truth”. Alas, that argument cannot properly be deployed in this case because….

Misinformation By Public Bodies

Obiter J in his Law and Lawyers blog asks:  New Year’s Eve 2013 (1) – Are Human Rights approaching a knife edge?

“There is no British diplomatic mission in Syria, no latter-day Foley can help any of those facing death and destitution….”

Francis Fitzgibbon QC explains in his blog Nothing Like The SunRighteous Among the Nations?

***

And finally – Dan Hull in his WhatAboutClients blog writes:

How to Pick a Fight in a Global Recession.

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.

–Henry Kissinger, quoted in The New York Times Magazine, June 1, 1969

Answer: You choose fights more carefully–and you go on the offensive only when you must. As Rome discovered too late, protecting every terrain and border is expensive and draining. As business and trial people learn young, butting heads with everyone who has ever done you a disservice, or fighting every point in an oral argument, or an evidentiary or discovery dispute, will not just be expensive and draining. It will defeat you. And it will make you go bonkers.

Back later in the day… hopefully.

Par Avion from The Staterooms…

I thought I would start with some good news and head south after that…

QC brother of PM supports legal aid strike: Cameron’s barrister brother lends his backing to legal aid strike designed to undermine Government reforms:  Daily Mail

Well…there we are. Siblings don’t always agree with each other.

BUT… while I am on the topic of politicians, it occurs to me that the word *Sociopath* may be  a perfect description for some Tory MPs judging by their performances in the Daily Mail and other right wing rags?

An interesting note on the distinction between a Psychopath and and a Sociopath

With Britain getting back to the joys or miseries of work (take your pick) next week, I will be able to get back to podcasts and comments on the law, should I be seized of a desire to so comment.  In the meantime, I am enjoying Twitter and the net and the unusual things that pop up in my timeline.

And I did enjoy this tweet vis-à-vis the above on Psycho/sociopaths…

Pleasingly bizarre, also in the ‘provenance’ of the tweet…

Solicitor, Jules Carey had an unusual letter….

While I have taken up the amusing habit of *Vaping* with my new E-cigs when faced with restrictions on smoking fully leaded Marlboros – I have not taken up nude smoking.  However, should I be seized of a desire to do so, I shall be sure to invest in the natty fag pack holder pictured below.

And finally…. a wonderfully pointless talent to have… Backwards reading…

Back later, hopefully… orf to see a man about some cough mixture and cold medicaments.  One can never find a Carbolic Smokeball on the high street these days.

Guest Post: What do the Jackson Reforms mean to the general public?

What do the Jackson Reforms mean to the general public?

The chances are that the majority of the general public will never have heard of the Jackson Reforms. Indeed in a small survey where I questioned acquaintances as to what they knew of the Jackson Reforms none had ever heard of them. Needless to say none of those asked were lawyers or politicians. Asking the same question of the latter groups would no doubt elicit a more positive and knowledgeable response. They would probably be able to say that the Jackson Reforms arose from his year-long review of 2009 into the rising cost of civil litigation. His report of 2010 went on to become the principal tenets of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 which was implemented on 1st April 2013 and which has radically changed Civil Procedure Rules with the major objective of curbing the ever-escalating costs of civil litigation. Given that many solicitors, barristers and even judges are struggling to learn the new rules, it is hardly surprising that the general public remains oblivious.

However, if one small word is changed in our title-question and it becomes: “What do the Jackson Reforms mean FOR the general public? “then  it becomes more pertinent and easier to answer.

Key areas of reform are in the fields of Personal Injury (PI), Road Traffic Accidents (RTA), Employers’ Liability and Public Liability Claims. Basically the reforms have aimed to reduce solicitors’ costs by clarifying rules and speeding up procedures. The biggest changes for clients relate to how costs are calculated. For example, lawyers are no longer able to recover success fees and ATE (After the Event) insurance premiums from losing defendants. Payment of lawyers, always the biggest worry for impecunious litigants, will be allowed through contingency fees replacing C.F.A,’s and new Damage Based Awards. In PI cases success fees have been capped at 25% of damages and in RTA cases the cap for claims has increased to £50,000. Rules are now much more stringent and budgets must be prepared and approved at set stages. Such budgets are designed to ensure proportionality of costs to value of claims.  Probably a best known aspect of the Jackson Reforms is that they come at a time of the virtual disappearance of government legal aid. Addressing how litigants can fund their litigation, the Jackson Report endorsed and envisaged the growth of third party litigation funding. Previously it had been unclear how far the courts approved of third party funding, but since Jackson was looking for ways to increase access to justice it is clear he had to give it the green light. For the claimant to give up a percentage of his winnings to the funder might be a small price to pay, especially where the alternative might be to abandon the claim.

Lawyers are still attending courses to better understand the implications of the new post-Jackson rules. They must watch as new case law evolves under the new regulations. Only then will the full meaning both to and for the general public be really clear.

This article was brought to you by our friends at Vannin Capital. To find out more about corporate litigation visit their site today.

A bit of the old ‘Rive Gauche’

It is a bit early in the new year for any law firm, or lawyer for that matter, to have managed to get themselves into the Darwin Awards or appear as a feature on RollonFriday or Legal Cheek, so I shall have to content myself with other matters…

This transatlantic trade deal is a full-frontal assault on democracy

Brussels has kept quiet about a treaty that would let rapacious companies subvert our laws, rights and national sovereignty

“The purpose of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is to remove the regulatory differences between the US and European nations. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. But I left out the most important issue: the remarkable ability it would grant big business to sue the living daylights out of governments which try to defend their citizens. It would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections. Yet the defenders of our sovereignty say nothing.

A most interesting article in The Guardian from George Monbiot.

Reflecting on the death of the wonderful John Fortune and his satirical creations, with John Bird,  led me to Google.  There is a big difference between ‘satirical’ and satyrical.  An error of typing led me into a very strange world of Google pics.  At least some lawyers only wear the hair of a horse on their heads.  The amateur Satyrs go for a half man half horse look. It isn’t a good look, judging by the pictures on offer on Google.

RIP one of the creators of Sir George Parr – the clips always worth a second or third look. 

Well..there we are.  The new year is underway and a bit of real work beckons.

Guest Post: A Guide to Appearing at Court for a Driving Offence

A Guide to Appearing at Court for a Driving Offence

If you’ve never been to court before, you’re unlikely to know what to expect. Being accused of a driving offence can lead to serious ramifications for your social and business life, so it’s important that you get to grips with the legal process. An informed defendant is likelier to emerge with a more positive outcome than someone who didn’t do their homework. Remember that legal cases can be far-reaching and expensive.

How Long Will It Take My Case To Get To Court?

Usually, the police have up to six months (from the date of the incident) to summon you to court. That doesn’t mean that you have to be informed within this period; it just means that the police need to get the case to court within this timeframe. As a rule of thumb, if the authorities are slow off the mark, you may be going to court as late as 7-8 months after the incident.

Do You Have To Attend?

Depending on the offence, you may not have to be physically present. Most cases can be closed through correspondence. However, any serious offences will require your presence. If you could potentially have your licence disqualified, you will have to defend yourself. A legal representative can sometimes go in your stead, so ask before you travel.

How Long Will The Hearing Last For?

You have to come prepared. If you don’t, you will unnecessarily draw out the whole process. Guilty pleas can take as long as 30 minutes. Not guilty cases are usually considerably longer.

Will It All Be Over And Done With Then?

When the defendant pleads guilty, the Court will try to settle the matter in one sitting. It’s not necessarily guaranteed, so be prepared to adjourn. Not guilty hearings usually take at least two court hearings to finalise.

Will You Receive Help?

Once you’ve been issued a summons to court, you will be expected to take the necessary steps for your case, such as hiring a lawyer and gathering evidence. A legal representative and a carefully constructed case won’t be waiting for you when you arrive, unless you organise it yourself.

Can You Represent Yourself At Court?

You are within your rights to represent yourself in court, but it isn’t advisable; especially if the case is serious. Where possible, it’s best to hire a qualified solicitor that specialises in motor law. If you plan to represent yourself, at least seek legal advice before you do so.

What Are The Advantages Of Hiring A  Solicitor?

With a specialist motor solicitor, you can relax and let them take care of the complicated legal process, knowing that your chances of success are significantly increased. You’ll benefit from their previous experience of similar offences. If your licence is threatened, it’s best to put together the most watertight case possible. This is even more crucial, if you rely on your licence to do your job.

Composed by Ava Watkins on behalf of Driving Offence drink driving solicitors. Visit their drink driving solicitor page here http://www.drivingoffence.com/   for more information on these types of matters.

Postcard from The Staterooms – First of the year

I thought I may as well start the new year the way I fully intend to continue…so, on that basis… this marvellous graphic which I saw on Twitter…

HT to @SvenRadio

 

The Farageisti must be terribly disappointed.   What will they have to bang on about next?  It seems that the Bulgarians and Romanians prefer Spain, Italy and Germany to our fair shores.

I recall having to sit through The Sound of Music, rather hoping they would be caught. I am not a fan of musicals – save for The Rocky Horror Show. I don’t think that my Mother was terribly impressed when I asked when they were all going to be caught by the nazis…. pronounced Nazees….in a loud bored tone. I recall being quite young at the time.   I did not enjoy the film – but I did enjoy reading: Skreeeeem! The Sound Of Music.

RollonFriday reports... “Two judges are to be struck off for misappropriating more than £1.5 million in legal aid fees. But for the time being they still get to be judges.”

Astonishing, really.

Lord Justice Ward comes across as a man with a sharp turn in humour.  Legal Cheek picks up 10 of the Best Lord Justice Ward lines.  The extract below from Legal Cheek will give you a flavour…

When a Fathers 4 Justice campaigner came to argue his case dressed in a Darth Vader outfit complete with Jedi weaponry, Lord Justice Ward asked: “Would Lord Vader kindly take off his helmet and put down his light saber before addressing the court?” Ward then proceeded to politely refer to the man as “Lord Vader” throughout the hearing. [The Times]

One of my favourite satirists is the photoartist and satirist Beaubodor – invariably nails it with each picture he produces.  If you haven’t seen his work – do, please, have a look!

Like many, I was sorry to learn of the death of John Fortune :  Rory Bremner on John Fortune: ‘A fearless satirist and a lovely human being.

I have need, now, to do some smoking.  While I enjoy the Electric cigarettes for inside use – nothing quite like huddling under an umbrella smoking the real thing..  Back later… hopefully…

But..finally…oh dear….

Lawyer who uncovered JK Rowling’s Robert Galbraith alter ego fined £1,000

Christopher Gossage told his wife’s best friend that obscure writer of The Cuckoo’s Calling was in fact Harry Potter author
It may be that I am too easily amused at this time of year…