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.

 

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#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 

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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?

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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.