As I return to blogging – I shall get fit with “Smokedo”

Now that my spinal injury (sustained when I tripped on a bathmat and fell backwards into a bath) is almost healed – I plan to return to decent fitness by walking and practising the noble art of “Smokedo” – doing exercises while smoking.

I cover this in an earlier blog post –

Back to regular blogging and podcasting and a bit of Wonga greed….

Now that my spine injury is healing well – I will be back to blogging and podcasting from Monday – perhaps…even on the morrow if something surreal comes up – apart from Wonga  paying out £2.6 million quids  to compensate 45,000 customers after it sent threatening letters from non-existent law firms.

Even Muttley Dastardly LLP didn’t manage to think up a stunt like that!   One really has to laugh at the  stupidity and vapidity… greed is good? 

Lawyers On Demand heads to the North-West

Lawyers On Demand heads to the North-West

UK’s original alternative legal services provider looks for local legal talent as it launches Manchester hub for pilot LOD service in North-West

Lawyers On Demand (LOD), the alternative legal services provider launched by Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) in 2007, today announces the launch of a Manchester hub, its first outside of London. LOD will be offering in-house legal teams across the North-West alternative cost-efficient ways of resourcing their legal work as well as providing lawyers in the region with new ways of working.

LOD will initially launch the service as a pilot and from Autumn 2014 offer organisations across the North-West access to local, highly qualified freelance lawyers on ‘secondment style’ arrangements. This will be the first service of its kind to be launched in the North-West.

LOD’s model appeals to high quality lawyers looking for more flexible ways of working and greater autonomy in their legal careers. LOD has already begun recruiting lawyers in the North-West to add to its current team of over 200 lawyers who range from those with a couple of years’ experience to those with senior legal experience (see regional case studies in appendix). For LOD’s clients, which include Google, BBC and Barclays as well as several international law firms, the service allows them to flex their teams’ capability and capacity without the overhead of a permanent employee.

LOD is also looking to expand its remote working service, LOD On Call, by recruiting local lawyers to work remotely with its clients. LOD’s clients use On Call as a more cost effective alternative to outsourcing to a law firm.

LOD was originally created by BLP and is now a separate group company. The launch follows BLP’s recent announcement regarding its intentions to open an office in Manchester in Summer 2014 and a new Integrated Client Service Model offering. LOD’s pilot will be run from BLP’s Manchester office following a local recruitment drive for lawyers. LOD lawyers have access to BLP knowhow, professional support and training, allowing LOD to provide a service which combines the approach of an in-house resource with the support and quality assurance of a major law firm.

LOD was founded by Simon Harper and Jonathan Brenner, both originally from the North-West, and has quickly become one of the City’s legal success stories. Starting as a pilot internally at BLP, it has grown rapidly and now offers a variety of different services to clients, boasts over 200 specialist lawyers and has turned over £9m in its first year since spinning out from BLP, completing over 400 assignments for a range of blue chip clients.

LOD Co-Founder, Simon Harper, said: “Twenty years ago, when I was looking for a legal training contract, local options in the North-West were very different. But over recent years, the legal market has fundamentally changed. Manchester is the UK’s second largest legal market and now seems poised for further growth.”

“We have been impressed by the huge appetite for innovation here so we are delighted to bring the LOD brand back to our roots in the North-West.  We want to hear from talented lawyers in the area who have a desire to practise law on their own terms but without compromising on quality and interest in the work they do.”

For more information about LOD visit

Guest Post: No Win No Fee Ruling: Damaging the Claimant and Solicitor Relationship?

No Win No Fee Ruling: Damaging the Claimant and Solicitor Relationship?

As of April 2013, many people have been denied the justice and compensation they deserve because of personal injury or medical negligence claims. This is set to damage the claimant and solicitor relationship, as claimants won’t be able to afford justice and solicitors won’t want to undertake low or difficult ranged cases. Not only will this prove to be a gross abandonment of victims but it will harm many legal businesses across the country.

Previously, if you were injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, or you were a victim of medical negligence, you could make a claim – with little financial risk – through a no win, no fee agreement. Whatever happened, you’d have access to justice without having to pay for it; not everyone can afford legal fees, meaning that they suffer in silence.

If you lost, your lawyer received no payment. If you won, the cost was covered by the other side, meaning that you wouldn’t have to pay a penny towards bringing your case to court –a financial problem you wouldn’t have to face, if another party hadn’t behaved negligently towards you.

This system works, as it allows the claimant to keep every penny of their important compensation – the power was in the hands of the victims. The judge awards that much money because it’s thought to be a just recompense for the damage received. If you have to pay your lawyer out of your compensation money, you leave with as much as 25% taken out of your lawful claim.

When this money is so crucial for many victims to live, you can see how this negatively impacts the most vulnerable in society. Especially the poor and disabled.

It’s All Changing Now

Now, all claimants will have to pay for legal costs, meaning for many that they can’t afford access to the legal system – it’s not worth the risk. Difficult cases will be ignored by solicitors, who cannot afford to lose. The power is now back in big corporations who behave negligently towards workers.

The government also plans to place restrictions on claiming for whiplash compensation, as this has been increasing the price of insurance premiums for all drivers.

A law firm in Preston, Vincents Solicitors understands that whiplash is a very distressing condition, saying “we feel that it is only right that you are compensated if you were injured and it was not your fault”.

Whiplash is very difficult to disprove – it’s caused by sudden movements of the head causing neck injury. Symptoms involve a painful or stiff neck, tender muscles, painful neck movements, and headaches. Any pain usually develops after 6-12 hours and gets worse the following day.

It’s hoped that these new restrictions will weed out spurious claims and allow genuine claims to progress. Fraudulent claims will be brought before a judge, where they will be challenged heavily. How the government plans to disprove illegitimate claims for whiplash remains to be seen.

Across the legal sector, these crackdowns on claiming compensation and ‘no win, no fee’ agreements have left claimants out in the cold to suffer for an accident that wasn’t their fault. Who will take the risk now of getting these people justice?

Rough justice – Lord Denning and the illiberal judiciary?

Rough justice – Lord Denning and the illiberal judiciary?

Over a long and in some ways remarkable legal and judicial career, Lord Denning made a significant and substantial contribution to English law and jurisprudence. Every law student will remember the decision in Hightrees and many other cases where Lord Denning changed the law.

I had the pleasure of meeting him twice, twenty five years apart, and he recalled the first meeting, which surprised me. While the chill winds of constructionalism prevailed in the years after his retirement, and the House of Lords did much to undo some of the impact Denning had on English law, Denning was not always of a liberal or libertarian disposition and, at times, revealed a remarkable reluctance to admit of the fallibility of the justice system.

A note in Wikipedia reveals a glimpse of this illiberalism:

“In the summer of 1990 he agreed to a taped interview with AN Wilson, to be published in The Spectator. They discussed the Guildford Four; Denning remarked that if the Guildford Four had been hanged “They’d probably have hanged the right men. Just not proved against them, that’s all”. His remarks were controversial and came at a time when the issue of miscarriage of justice was a sensitive topic. He had expressed a similar controversial opinion regarding the Birmingham Six in 1988, saying: “Hanging ought to be retained for murder most foul. We shouldn’t have all these campaigns to get the Birmingham Six released if they’d been hanged. They’d have been forgotten, and the whole community would be satisfied… It is better that some innocent men remain in jail than that the integrity of the English judicial system be impugned.”

I haven’t checked all these references for this blog post, but the Wikipedia note appears to be a reasonably accurate summation.

I can, however, discuss another example of reluctance to admit of the possibility of a miscarriage of justice. I recently watched an excellent BBC film covering the interesting and excellent work of the Rough Justice series – the first time television journalists had been instrumental in bringing a miscarriage of justice to the attention of the Court of Appeal and securing a quashed verdict.

The Rough Justice programme is a must watch for any law student.  (I don’t think it is still available on iPlayer) They say, it is the reason we have the the Criminal Cases Review Commission; an independent body which is a valuable observer and practical overseer of our criminal justice system.

It was strange to see Lord Denning, a judge who did much to protect the vulnerable, to act judicially in the interest of the ‘common man and and woman’, reveal a reluctance to admit of judicial fallibility when he expressed the view that once a judge and jury had dealt with a case, journalists should not be poking their noses in. (I paraphrase).

I am pleased however: (a) that we no longer have the death penalty; (b) that we have The Criminal Cases Review Commission; (c) that we have investigative journalists who are prepared to ‘poke their noses in to the workings of government and judiciary and, to be fair; (d) a higher judiciary prepared to apply the law of our land and act as a break on the government and executive, perhaps, more fairly than in days gone by – this latter point made by Lord Bingham, one of our most distinguished judges.


I wrote this piece back in 2011 – I think it bears another airing – given the terror threats we face?

Guest Post: This Year’s Masters Conference Places a Strong Focus on eDiscovery

This Year’s Masters Conference Places a Strong Focus on eDiscovery

Are you planning to attend this year’s Masters Conference for Legal Professionals? The conference is the premier event for legal professionals because it introduces attendees to present-day practices and the most cutting-edge legal strategies. This year, the conference shouldn’t be missed because it’s placing a strong focus on eDiscovery.

eDiscovery (also known as electronic discovery and electronically stored information or ESI) is the exchange of information in the electronic format.

Civil litigators, especially, benefit from the conference’s strong focus on eDiscovery. Litigators can’t electronically share willy-nilly. In fact, the rules that govern eDiscovery vary from location to location, making it difficult to know exactly what an acceptable practice is, and what isn’t acceptable. The conference will focus on the basics of eDiscovery, as well as it will expand on the process and introduce how social media and eDiscovery are working together to expand litigation globally, and thus introduce international discovery issues.

Although the main focus of this year’s Masters Conference is eDiscovery, the conference will also cover:

·  Data protection

·  Records management

·  The complexities of social media

·  Mobile devices

·  FRCP changes

·  Big data

·  Privacy

·  And more…

Perhaps one of the most notable additions to this year’s Masters Conference is eDiscovery expert, William P. Butterfield, a partner at Hausfeld LLP who has joined the conference’s advisory cabinet. It’s this cabinet that determines which information is most valuable for legal professionals, as well as the cabinet confers on methods of education. The cabinet is comprised of “e-discovery, library, records management and research thought leaders.” Overall, this year’s cabinet is quite comprehensive and has already proven their abilities at March’s Masters Conference in San Francisco. One attendee said, “This year’s conference was the best so far. I found the information to be incredibly beneficial and thought-provoking.”

Butterfield’s expertise, especially, is a notable addition to the conference’s cabinet. Butterfield is a partner at a global claimants’ law firm, so his expertise is unmatched in the area of eDiscovery. In fact, Hausfeld LLP offers an online brochure that thoroughly depicts how the firm is a leader in antitrust/competition, as well as the firm’s ability to successfully navigate eDiscovery on a global scale.

“I am honored to join this diverse group of thought leaders in the field of information management,” said Butterfield, when asked how he felt about joining the Masters Conference advisory cabinet.

Of course, e-Discovery is an important part of the conference, but that’s not all this year’s conference covers. This year’s conference will cover social media, among other things. Social media is necessary for any legal professional looking to standout online. Gone are the days when a simple Yellow Pages ad could result in a lot of business. These days, it’s all about staying prevalent online, but archaic practices, such as keyword stuffing, no longer result in heavy traffic. The conference will help professionals navigate the changing online atmosphere, ensuring that your business stays popular in social media. If you’re curious how social media interacts and impacts eDiscovery, the conference will cover that as well.

Overall, this year’s Masters Conference for Legal Professionals is more important than ever because it tackles new legal issues in our changing digital landscape. Because the law varies, in regards to eDiscovery, it’s essential to get these lessons now before you’ve suffered the consequences of a violation, or worse been denied the submission of evidence.

Conferences are taking place across the country throughout 2014. So, if you missed March’s San Francisco event, fret not because you can still attend the Masters Conference in Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

Guest Post: How medical malpractice suits work

How Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Work
Medical malpractice isn’t a “little accident;” it’s an issue that can carry life threatening consequences. While the majority of medical procedures are administered with the utmost care, accidents do happen. Often, part of the issue is communication. Doctors need to do a better job of communicating the potential outcomes of a procedure or treatment to the patient. The reality is that medical malpractice lawsuits serve as an important regulatory function for the health care industry. Though some consider them frivolous, and surely some are, lawsuits help keep doctors in check and encourage them to stay current with medical practices and create a safer atmosphere for the patient.

Here is a brief rundown of the requirements for a malpractice suit, as well as a short summary of potential outcomes.

Basic Claims

In order for something to qualify as malpractice, there must be some basic requirements that are met. The plaintiff must be able to show that there was an existing doctor/patient relationship. This prevents people from suing doctors for advice they overhear, or were not given in any official capacity. You must also prove that the doctor was negligent in his or her duties, and not merely that you were unhappy with the service. This is often the meat of any malpractice claim. You must also directly relate the negligence to your claim, and show that you suffered specific damages as a result.

Common Requirements

Malpractice suits must be brought to a jury as soon as possible. The court may dismiss the case otherwise because it has exceeded the statute of limitations. Also, some states start the statute clock when the offense occurs, not when the patient discovers the issue. Some states may also require that the patient bring her case before a medical board for independent review. This is helpful for expert testimony, where a common court might not be as familiar with the procedure. In fact, expert testimony is almost always required no matter what state you bring the case to court in.

Common Malpractice Offenses

There are basically three common offenses for a case to be considered malpractice. The doctor might have failed to properly diagnose the patient. For example, information about mesothelioma lawsuits reveals that patients often don’t know where or how they came into contact with asbestos, and doctors often treat them for unrelated respiratory problems before finding the root of the issue. Treatment is another trigger, where the doctor either fails to prescribe the proper medication or does so in a capacity that is inappropriate. The doctor can also fail to adequately warn a patient of risks. This isn’t the same as taking a pill that gives you nausea as a side effect, but it can have serious consequences when the medication is having an emotional effect or causing some other part of your body to shut down.

Awards and Damages

Patients suffering from malpractice may require different types of awards to help their quality of life. The doctor’s procedure may have left them unable to enjoy life as they previously had, or may even result in the patient’s death. In these cases, compensation helps the patient and his family to get back on their feet, pay medical bills and begin to recover. General damages, for instance, go directly to the patient and cover loss of enjoyment of life from the procedure. Special damages are used to cover the quantifiable, like medical bills or prescription costs. The patient may also qualify for punitive damages, if the doctor was aware of his or her malpractice offenses at the time.

If the patient dies, there may be wrongful death damages that compensate the family for the loss of an income earner.

Final Thoughts

Malpractice lawsuits are not a frivolous practice. Injuries sustained by the patient during treatment have an affect on the quality of their life. These suits act in an important regulatory function to keep doctors honest and engaged with their work, and to give patients a sense of safety.


You will find this link most useful

Turning Points – the career conversation starter

“Lawyers in 2014 face unprecedented industry-wide change, and for new entrants looking ahead to their career in law, it is clear that the path before them is more varied and volatile than ever before.

With the aim of helping you to shape your future career in law, Legal Week, in association with BLP, has launched this online hub. Dedicated to providing news, views and insights, the hub is a unique space for current and would-be lawyers to start an open conversation about the personal turning points that affect legal careers today and in the future.”

Turning points – the career conversation starter.  Legal Week

Deciding on a  career path is probably one of the more important decisions a young lawyer has to make in his or her career.  Legal Week has a fascinating  series of pieces on this very issue in the article referred to above –  as well as providing insights and advice it also makes good reading.

Here is an interesting survey questionnaire from the article

And you may find this article from Legal Week of interest: Poll finds law students backing legal profession to resist forces of change


Guest Post: Checking that a document is authentic

Checking that a document is authentic

Cross-border transactions can be fraught with complications. Different jurisdictions have their own legal systems and languages. If a document is to be used in another country from that where it was executed then the recipient has another issue to consider:

  1. Is this document authentic?
  2. Has it been properly executed?
  3. Was it even signed by the person it purports to have been signed by?
  4. The answers to these questions may be strict requirements which have to be demonstrated to foreign commercial registers or courts.

Since London is an international business hub, it follows that it contains service providers who are able to assist in this field: specialist firms of London Notaries Public – also known as “Scrivener Notaries” – have been established to ensure the UK is not left out on a limb.

The Scrivener Notary is well-versed in authenticating documents for use overseas so that they can be presented to foreign legal practitioners, courts and governmental authorities.In order to notarially certify documents the following would typically be required:

Identification of the individual signing:

  • The signatory will personally need to appear before the Notary Public to sign their document
  • They will need to identify themselves by means of their current passport
  • They will need to prove their current residential address by recent original bank statement/council tax bill/utility bill

Representational Authority

  • Where the individual purports to sign on behalf of another person then their representational authority will need to be proved (e.g by showing original Power of Attorney).
  • Where the individual is a Board Member signing for a UK company then they will need show a Board Resolution authorising the action to be taken.
  • If an individual wishes to sign for a foreign corporate entity then they will need to show background documentation proving the company’s existence and their position within it.

Once these requirements have been complied with a document will typically have a notarial certificate stitched to it and sealed. In it, the Notary will confirm who executed the document, when and by virtue of what authority.

After being notarised in this fashion the document may also need to be “legalised” by Apostille from the Foreign Office in London and in certain cases also by the consular mission in London of the country where it is headed.

This will be completed by the document being stamped and sealed by a Foreign Office official/by the relevant consular official. These stamps will certify the document has been certified by a genuine London Notary Public.

Guest Post: Motorcyclists: Riding Safe and Receiving Injury Compensation

Motorcyclists: Riding Safe and Receiving Injury Compensation

As the days get warmer and longer, every motorcyclist will be relishing the prospect of a more pleasant commute or the thrill of sunny weekends spent cruising along some of the UK’s smoothest, curviest, most scenic and satisfying biking routes.

Taking to the road on two wheels is undoubtedly exhilarating; the freedom, the speed, the contact with the tarmac and convenience make it thrilling in a way that is unrivalled by almost any other mode of transport.

But, unlike every other kind of driver, motorcyclists face a unique set of risks that make them the most vulnerable road users to accidents and injuries.

According to the THINK! Campaign, bikers make up “just 1% of total road traffic but account for 19% of all road user deaths” and are “35 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident” than passengers in a car.

THINK! And ROSPA recommend a number of actions that motorcyclists can take to keep them safe, including wearing the right, high visibility protective gear, taking advanced riding lessons for new or inexperienced riders and learning how to make journeys defensively.

Defensive riding means being constantly vigilant for hazards, paying attention to road signs and weather conditions and being aware of the behaviour of other road users, but in many cases, accidents and injuries to bikers are caused by the negligence of other drivers.

Road Accident and Safety Statistics issued by the Department for Transport show that although the number of motorcycling fatalities has dropped every year, from 557 in 2004 to 316 in 2012, the number of serious injuries remained high with 18,618 casualties reported in the same year.

Unlike drivers of 4-wheeled vehicles who are protected by air bags, a chassis and seatbelts on impact, motorcyclists are more likely to experience severe injuries even when the accident is relatively minor.

Three of the most common motorcycling injuries are:

  • Brain Injuries: Even when wearing a protective helmet, high velocity impacts can cause internal bleeding, bruising and in worst cases, permanent brain damage.
  • Soft Tissue Injuries: Hitting tarmac at speed can shred clothing and skin quickly and cause severe damage to skin and muscle tissues which may need reconstructive surgery.
  • Fractures: Being thrown from a bike during a collision or becoming trapped underneath it are the most common causes of arm, leg, pelvis and spine fractures and breaks.

For the biker, a simple accident can have devastating consequences. Anyone who has already been involved in a motorcycle accident will know how debilitating the injuries can be.

The good news is that any accidents which occurred within the last three years where the rider was not at fault could be entitled to financial compensation for their injuries.

More information or advice on safe motorcycling this spring and summer is available on the THINK! Campaign website.

For free, confidential advice about making a personal injury claim for a motorcycling accident within the last three years, contact the experienced law team at Accident Compensation 4UK who can assist you to secure the compensation you may entitled to.

How the DPP is turning rape trials into kangaroo courts

Today on spiked, Luke Gittos, a solicitor in criminal law, says DPP Alison Saunders’ ‘action plan’ to increase the number of rape convictions overturns fundamental legal principles.

‘Look beyond the rhetoric and  action plan makes little sense’, writes Gittos. ‘Saunders says she intends to address the issues which “prevent cases progressing”, yet there was an eight per cent rise in the volume of police referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for 2013-14, compared with 2012-13. The CPS also charged 700 more defendants over the same period, which is an increase of 25 per cent. So there is no problem with cases “progressing”.’

Gittos continues: ‘But rather than just being incoherent, this plan is deeply problematic. It is a complete subversion of the principle that defendants are innocent until proven guilty. Both Saunders and Met chief Bernard Hogan-Howe explicitly said that the point of these reforms was to focus on the steps taken by the defendant to “ensure there was consent”. In other words, they are entirely shifting the burden of proof in rape cases; rape defendants should now be presumed guilty until they can prove otherwise.’

Gittos concludes: ‘The CPS is trying to eradicate the presumption of innocence in rape cases… When the CPS talk about the need to maintain and increase conviction rates, remember that their job is supposed to be finding the truth, and doing so with objectivity and respect, rather than cynically massaging conviction numbers like salesmen keeping track of their commission.’

Read full article here:

(1) Luke Gittos is law editor at spiked and a solicitor practicing criminal law.

(2) spiked is a UK-based online magazine:

Back to blogging and podcasting….

I am now able to start blogging and podcasting again.  Missed it with the past injury.

And so I start with a gentleman from China who thinks he is “Charon QC”

On 11 Jun 2014, at 05:00, jiangzhihai wrote:

Dear Sirs,

Our company based in chinese office, our company has submitted the “charonqc  ” as CN(.cn/ domain name and Internet Keyword, we are waiting for Mr. Jim’s approval. We think this name is very important for our products in Chinese market. Even though Mr. Jim advises us to change another name, we will persist in this name.

Best regards

Jiang zhihai


I replied that it would provide some amusement for me to do a bit of satire if he is daft enough to use the name.

Onwards and upwards…as they say in Nuneaton.