Archive for the ‘Charon QC UK Van Rouge Law Tour’ Category

The legal profession is under siege  from the legal aid reforms being proposed by the Lord Chancellor and access to justice – often for the most vulnerable in society – will be compromised.  I discussed this in relation to criminal law with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, in my last podcast.  

Some say that there is only a one in eight chance of a Bar student getting through to practice with a tenancy at present.  It doesn’t seem to be a good time to contemplate a career at the Bar. Senior members of the Bar have expressed concern at the numbers of aspiring barristers being churned out by the law schools and  that the Bar will become less diverse with only the middle class candidates, backed with family money presumably, able to contemplate a career at the Bar.

So what is it about the Bar that attracted a 42 year old ex-army tank commander – a non-commissioned officer with no A levels – to go to university after leaving the army, securing a First class degree in English Literature and Contemporary History from York St John University and a Very Competent in what was then the Bar Vocational Course,  and  apply for a pupillage at the Bar?

Well… I am about to find out. As part of my 12-18 month tour of the United Kingdom to see how law is practised in different parts of the country and what people think about our legal system,  today I am talking to Craig Lowe.

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Iain Gould, Solicitor and Partner at David Phillips & Partners
TourLawcast 15

The Police and the Crown Prosecution Service  play a pivotal part in the criminal justice system – but, what happens when the Police break the rules or are negligent?

Solicitor Iain Gould has built up specialist expertise in the field of actions against the police and shares his thoughts and experience in this podcast

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Tour Report #16:  On Human Rights law with Kirsty Brimelow QC and Francis FitzGibbon QC

Littman, David G. (January 19, 2003). “Human Rights and Human Wrongs”. National Review (New York). “The principal aim of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was to create a framework for a universal code based on mutual consent. The early years of the United Nations were overshadowed by the division between the democratic and communist conceptions of human rights, although neither side called into question the concept of universality. The debate centered on which “rights” — political, economic, and social — were to be included among the Universal Instruments.”

Human rights law is at the very foundation of our Rule of Law.  Today, I am talking to two of the leading crime and human rights lawyers – Kirsty Brimelow QC, the new Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee and Francis FitzGibbon QC, both of Doughty Street Chambers.

1.   What are human rights and the importance of human rights – The Rule of Law – Lord Bingham’s famous question about which human rights would you like to lose.

2.  Overview of the European Convention and ECtHR work

3.  The HRA and coalition government plans for a ‘British Bill of Rights’

4.  Human Rights hard cases – Qatada et al / prisoner votes et al
5.  Press and public attitudes to the Human Rights Act

6.  The role of The Bar in promoting human rights – British foreign policy predicated to some extent on countries complying with human rights

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Without Prejudice lawcast: The Leveson Report with Carl Gardner, Jez Hindmarsh and David Allen Green

The BBC reports:


  • Create a process to “validate” the independence and effectiveness of the new self-regulation body
  • Validate a new process of independent arbitration for complainants – which would benefit both the public and publishers by providing speedy resolutions
  • Place a duty on government to protect the freedom of press

Would not:

  • Establish a body to regulate the press directly
  • Give any Parliament or government rights to interfere with what newspapers publish

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Our thanks to Gray’s Inn for hosting the recording.


Useful resources

On Leveson, David David Allen Green
Carl Gardner on Leveson
The Guardian essential guide
The MST:
The FSN:

The Leveson Report

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Social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter,  is being widely used now and it is not without dangers. The recent Lord McAlpine libel litigation, cyber-stalking, tweets which break the contempt of court laws –  all have a ‘chilling’ effect on ‘free speech’.  Employers are increasingly turning to Twitter and Facebook to check out future employees and to monitor the behaviour of current employees.

Today, I am talking with Sean Jones QC of 11 KBW, a leading employment and public law set. We look at the employment law implications for use of social media in some depth and discuss the important case of Smith v Trafford Housing Trust [2012] EWHC 3221 (Ch)

We then move on to discuss practice at the Bar, the immediate to medium term prospects for barristers and Sean Jones QC provides some advice for prospective barristers.

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Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services

“The past few years have seen incredible innovation and growth in the way legal services can be delivered–yet most law firms around the world continue to practice law the way it’s been practiced for centuries, namely, as a labor-intensive endeavor carried out by high-priced lawyers billing by the hour.”

I’m talking with Toronto lawyer Mitchell Kowalski the author of Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services. Avoiding Extinction makes the case for how the law firm of the future will succeed, with a laser-like focus on delivering high-quality legal services better, faster, and cheaper. This entertaining and instructive book is a must-read for anyone seeking a creative vision into what a new, truly different law firm could look like.

The podcast:

Your book – why did you choose the fictional law firm Bowen Fong and Chandri PC – the medium of a novel – for your book?

A utopian construct or capable of practical reality?

The billable hour v  value billing debate

Comparison with UK – UK firms Lawyers on Demand and Riverview Law?

Five key propositions for delivering legal services you regard as the most innovative and important

* Billing
* Knowledge Management
* The People at the top set the tune for the middle
* Legal process outsourcing – the more money you save, the more money you earn
* Project management – if you can’t map out all the processes you are doing  you cannot value and price it.

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Report #11: An interview with Toby Craig, Head of Communications, The Bar Council

The Bar Council represents the interests of all barristers in England & Wales – the regulatory function being carried out by the independent Bar Standards Board.

Facing significant change in the way legal services are delivered in the wake of the Legal Services Act , increasing competition from solicitor-advocates and a government now cutting back on the provision of legal aid, proposing to restrict judicial review and pushing through legislation on secret trials – the role of the Bar Council in the legal profession is a very important one.

Last Sunday I did a podcast with John Cooper QC on the controversial issue of referral fees. Toby Craig, head of communications for The Bar Council contacted me soon after I published this podcast to ask if I would be prepared to do a podcast with him to enable The Bar Council to put their view.

The discussion with Toby Craig covered a number of controversial issues which members of the Bar have expressed concern to me about.

In this podcast we look at:

1. The Role of The Bar Council

2. The relationship of The Bar Council with government

3. The potential conflict of interest in relation to the Attorney-general who is the head of the Bar

4. Michael Turner QC’s robust criticisms published in The Daily Mirror: Injustice for all: Leading QC on why legal aid cuts and change in regulation is bad news for Britain

5. How democratic is the Bar Council and the controversy during the  recent  Criminal Bar Association elections

6. Criticism of The Bar Council raised in a report commissioned in 2011

7. Referral fees – the Bar stance is that referral fees are a breach of the Code of Practice and will also give rise to civil and criminal liability – issues raised by Nicholas Lavender QC in June 2012. I ask Toby Craig what steps the Bar Council is taking to survey Chambers that may have paid or are currently engaged in paying referral fees to bring in work.

8. Social media and diversity at the Bar

The podcast raises important issues of representation and professional ethics and I welcome comment and discussion from members of the Bar and others with an interest.

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UK Tour report #9:  A view of the changing  legal profession – Jeremy Hopkins, Riverview Law

We’re not doing anything clever. We’re just applying common sense to the legal market

The UK legal services market is valued at approximately £24bn pa. It is highly fragmented with few brands. It’s going through a period of significant upheaval. Changes in regulation and customer expectation provide an opportunity for a more modern, flexible, and customer-centric approach to the provision of legal services.

Riverview Law website statement

Today I talk with Jeremy Hopkins, director of operations at Riverview Law.  Jeremy Hopkins, formerly a senior clerk at well known chambers 3VB, talks about the vision behind Riverview Law and the way they deliver legal services on a fixed fee basis.  We then move on to consider the wider issue of the immediate to medium term future of the legal profession.  The discussion is wide ranging.

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Today, I am at 6 Bedford Square, the former home of Lord Eldon, Lord Chancellor, talking with Professor Gary Slapper, Director of NYU in London.  We discuss the pervasiveness of law and the foundation and structure of the law of England & Wales.  The intention is to provide an overview of the system for non-lawyers to set the scene for the remainder of the tour.
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Report #4 for my UK tour is now published on the Tour blog

Report #4: Lawyers..what they are and what they do….

It seems logical that I begin the analysis by looking at what lawyers are and what they do.  The law is all pervasive in our society.  On Monday I record podcasts with two leading academics: Professor Gary Slapper, global professor of Law, NYU and  and Professor Richard Moorhead, Chair in Law and Professional Ethics at University College London

My podcast with  Professor Gary Slapper – to be recorded in Gary’s office, the former office of Lord Eldon, Lord Chancellor, will be on the pervasiveness of law in our society, The Rule of Law and why lawyers, popular or not in our society, are so necessary.  Professor Moorhead will talk about the importance of ethics in the legal profession and focus on what the ethical principles are

Read Tour report: Report #4: Lawyers..what they are and what they do….


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We share our common law heritage with many former colonies, territories, protectorates and dependencies  throughout the world and Commonwealth

Antonin Pribetic,  a Canadian lawyer and enthusiastic blogger (The Trial Warrior blog) considers a rather important difference of opinion from the justices of the UKSC and SCC and has given  permission to me to publish his recent blog post.  (infra)

It is an important decision – one which illustrates the very real importance of the ‘unelected judiciary’ in the development of our law – a topic which I shall be examining in some detail during the tour.

See the full report on the UK Tour blog

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The UK Tour begins now…. with some background which I hope will be of interest to non-lawyers.  Professor Gary Slapper has kindly provided the first report and Chapter 1 of his book:  How Law Works

Report #1: The Law is all pervasive

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The ‘Jag Rouge’ or Charonmobile….

My tour of UK to find out what lawyers and others think about our legal system begins on Thursday 1st November.
The first report will be in the form of a podcast with Andrew Hopper QC on the regulatory framework.  Andrew Hopper QC will share his experience and shine a bright light on the workings of the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

I plan to do five podcasts with lawyers in London to start the tour and then gradually move from the South-East through the country.  A schedule will be published soon for the first section of the tour through to March 2013. The tour will end back in London when I plan to do a detailed survey of legal practice in London and The City.

Together with the many lawyers who have kindly agreed to contribute by acting as ‘roving reporters’ I shall start publishing background text, analysis and comment – an important feature of the entire project.  The tour will take at least a year to complete.

All reports will be published simultaneously on my Charon QC blog  and on the new Charon UK Tour blog (The latter will enable me to archive the reports and order them for easy reading and access.)

AND Thanks.. to all the sponsors who have helped to make this project a reality!

For those interested in kit and gizmos…

The Vehicle: Jaguar 3.2 Sport (1995)  – remarkably cheap  (£1050 including Satnav fitting and the car is in first rate condition.) It would appear that people just don’t want old cars. The dealer told me he was selling Jags of this age and quality for £3k+ a year or so back.  My good fortune!  The car does about 30mpg – roughly the same as a camper van.

Recording equipment for Podcasts:  Zoom H4N Recorder/microphone, Sennheiser wireless clip microphone for use for podcasts and televised sections,  I am purchasing a fourth hypercardidoid microphone next week and will update the post when I have chosen the microphone and rig I purchase.

Televised recordings:  Sony Z1 HD and a Sony Handycam HDR-CX190

Camera: Nikon Digital SLR D3100

Computer:  iMac 24″, Macbook Air and iPad 3
So.. the tour is about to begin.  I am looking forward to it and I very much hope you will take part by commenting – or, meeting me as I travel the length and breadth of our sceptred isle!

Jon Harman – has designed an advert for the tour – please do click – he has done great work!

Van Rouge from Jon Harman on Vimeo.



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I’ve been busy for the last week since my move planning the UK Tour.  I’m delighted to say that the planning is going rather better than expected and I have been fortunate in the support of some great sponsors and participants who will contribute their skill and knowledge to make the tour a ‘collaborative experience’.

I’ll be back to law and ‘normal’  blogging this week – and the Tour starts very soon with reports on the new Charon QC’s UK Law Tour blog – which will allow me to collect everything one place – including embedded podcasts (with an iTunes upload) and Video for the vox pops.

Do please, if you have time, have a look at the new Charon QC’s UK Law Tour blog Please get in touch if you would like to collaborate by being a contributor to the blog reports or do a podcast with me as I reach your area.


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