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If we are to continue to provide justice in this country – despite the difficulties we all face – it is important to ensure that we have the lawyers to represent those who need help.

The mark of a civilised country, surely, is that it treats those who face the legal system fairly? How will we be able to do that if we don’t provide legal aid?

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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 …..

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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 

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”

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.)

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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.

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.

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