Tuesday, 31 July 2012


Both Ben Williams and Robert Marven have joined 4 New Square.


I only found out today that Richard Moorhead has been headhunted and is off to join UCL. Lucky them. He mentioned on his blog a criminal case called R V MOMODOU (2005) which i had not heard of .Some years ago Lord Woolf declared that coaching witnesses was noble , something i did not agree with. In Momodou the Court of Appeal identified real drawbacks with the process in eloquent terms.


At long , long last it seems the consultation paper will be out this week.

Monday, 30 July 2012


The perennial problem of categorising a person working for you has just been visited, again , by the Court of Appeal in HOSPITAL MEDICAL GROUP V WESTWOOD.Here , a doctor undertook surgery for a private hospital and was found to be a worker .
What caught my eye was the dual specialisms of the doctor , namely , hair restoration and trans -gender issues. Odd bedmates.I am sure Dr Westwood is exemplary but it did strike me that someone less proficent could get confused.Imagine saying to the patient as they came round "I'm sorry but you aren't going to have anymore hair on your head than before. On the positive side you have a fabulous new vagina.Do you have any questions at all , Mr Rooney ?".


I forgot to mention Camilla Church at 39 Essex st who is highly regarded  by Clyde and Co  . David P

Thursday, 26 July 2012


Mr Assange has instructed yet another legal team. I cannot recall one person burning through so many in so short a period to deal with one issue. ' The Wall Street Journal' today reports that the latest lawyer is a Spaniard , Mr Garzon. I do recall that Mark Stephens was first instructed and he is a sound litigator.


Each year I list those barristers and Judges who are on their way up.When I first mentioned Sean Jones he was a junior. He is now a silk and employment Judge . Stuart Mackechnie has become the youngest member of the Judicial College working on pi damages guidelines. Erica Bedford is a costs barrister who is just about to start work at the Bar but she has a first class pedigree having qualified as a solicitor and her mentor is Dr Mark Friston , surely next in line to take silk as a costs specialist. Louise Green and Ed Pepperall are both barristers who have had real success in heavy employment law disputes . The latter is also on the committee looking at Part 36. Sean Jones QC is a cert for the Bench whilst Stuart Mackechnie and Simon Butler both shine in complex injury claims. Shantanu Majumdar is superb in Chancery and Commercial disputes . Nicholas Bacon QC is involved , rightly , in every significant costs dispute going. Turning to the Judiciary , the world has caught up with HHJ Simon Brown QC who has been training the Bench on how to manage costs through budgeting . Macduff J. ought to be in the Court of Appeal or else promoted to a position as High Court costs supremo. His decisions on both champerty and vicarious liability have received ringing endorsements from the Court of Appeal. Rix LJ and Elias LJ deserve a seat in the Supreme Court and I fully expect Jackson LJ to become MR at some point. Finally , a barrister is nothing without a good clerk. The team at Deans Court are widely praised as is Lucy Barbet and Mike Goodridge .Nothing is too much trouble for him whether it be borrowing a room in case of emergency or disposing of a body. I have never asked him to lend me a room , mind.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


Claims in this area are legion . Claims management companies , typically taking a cut of 25% , are bombarding lenders seeking repayment . The allegation is that the borrower was not told that the cover was optional.In a typically punchy judgment HHJ Simon Brown QC , the one Mercantile Judge that everyone has heard of , has slung out a claim and awarded indemnity costs against the claimants . There was a welter of contemporaneous evidence to show that the lender , Central Capital Ltd , had advised the claimants , Mr and Mrs Goodman , that cover was optional.A bad bargain perhaps but a lawful one . It beggars belief that it could ever have been issued yet alone taken to trial.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012


On the assumption that you are about to leave the country here are a few thoughts.
1. Best High St exchange rate is Debenhams rather than M and S.
2. Buy pharmaceuticals and toiletries here. Ibuprofen 33p Superdrug , £8 in Venice.
3. Some shops and restaurants give you the option of paying by card in pounds rather than euros or dollars.Don't do it. It seems sensible but the catch is that the vendor will convert into local currency at a rate of their choosing which will not be favourable. Pay in euros or whatever and you get the mainstream bank exchange rate which is better for you.
4.If off to Paris on the beloved Eurostar you can buy French Metro  tickets with English money or euros at St Pancras customer services on the right after security. Do it. The queues to buy at Gare Du Nord are long and some dubious types lurk there.
5.If taking a taxi from Gare Du Nord ignore the taxi sign telling you to go right .Instead , turn left and exit the station via the enormous glass doors near platform 16. There is a rank opposite without any queues.
6. Dont drink a flagon of red wine in Provence all by yourself. It will scar you for life.


My special adviser on Italian wine back safe and well . We just need to wait for the Chianti to wear off and top tips will no doubt oooze out.
Meanwhile i at last met Annette Machin who got me through security and into Scotland Yard.
And a kind note from barrister Louise Green who gave me the idea for a whole article on dubious employees which is in the New Law Journal this week.
Last but not least ace info from a distinguished gentleman who gave me the lowdown about this ABS blah blah.I thought it a mess , now i know it is.An application for ABS status was submitted by this eminent litigator on January 3rd.Nearly 7 months later and nothing. Hopeless.

Monday, 23 July 2012


There is a sudden awareness that the almighty development over the brow of the hill is not the ABS but the Jackson reforms or those which are being implemented ( some have been abandoned). I am now advising law firms , insurers , local authorities and some boomerang bearing boys on what is really going to happen and how they should prepare for a very big bang.
Interestingly , one large insurer client is looking at the ABS path but i have urged them to hold tight until the reforms are implemented.


The Spanish El Guia wine which i praised last month was the top buy and headlined in ' The Times ' last saturday. There is red, white and rose. I would go for the red but all are a steal at £3-99.


The Court of Appeal has handed down a very important decision which anticipates extending the duty of care in negligence. The claimant was a social worker who was badly injured by a mental patient.She asserted that not only her employer owed her a duty of care but also that 2 NHS Trusts did as well.Plainly , she was not an employee of either trust.Her case against them was that they knew the patient had uttered threats of violence and so to release him from care was culpable as was the failure to warn her of the risk he posed.Caparo was distinguished; this was not an argument about owing a duty to the world at large but rather a clearly identifiable potential victim.Thorpe LJ made the point that in care work it is very much about inter-disciplinary skills being applied and co-ordinated. Social workers are vulnerable and deserve protection.The attempt by Beachcroft to have the claim , brought by Thompsons , failed.

Saturday, 21 July 2012


I went with Michael Bacon to this enormous event. I caught up with Camilla Church who is a great injury talent and Hefin Rees who specialises in Barbados litigation .The shock news was that Jef Mitchell , head of claims at the MOD, is going to leave next June. I do not know how they can replace him. The surprise news was that Graham Dickinson is going to be a father again, 28 years after the last one.
Robert Jay QC was mellow with that inquiry soon to finish. How long before he is on the High Court bench ? Frock of the evening for 2 years in a row went to Susan Rodway QC.


Here is a man to admire. He works very hard dealing with ghastly criminal cases and is high up in the Chimpanzee Society ( whether he is high up in chimpanzee society is another matter but he is ace at peeling bananas).
Anyway, i have word from a decent person in the MOJ that the Judge has been called in to see the Lord Chancellor. The 'problem' is that in a hearing the Judge considered the advocates so bad that , understandably , he began to gently bang his head on the bench.Note that he did not do what Peter Smith J. did which provoked a recent rebuke from the Court of Appeal and that  was to make his mind up on the documents without wanting to hear argument. On the contrary, HH Judge Carr was listening . It was what he heard that caused him to hurt himself and no one else.


Well he has now taken up his seat in the Supreme Court and indeed wrote the unanimous judgment in ORACLE V M-TECH which declared that Lord Neuberger and his gang in the Court of Appeal were wrong.On 1st October Lord N is sworn in as the new head of the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


In a wonderful collaboration the soaring ACL and indeed the soaring HHJ Simon Brown QC are to produce a film demonstrating costs management and budgeting in practice . A priceless idea. The Judiciary undergo a day of Jackson training in January . The innovative Birmingham Court also now sees some DJs using I pads . Unlike the hype of ABS and Tesco Law this is actually happening and is beneficial to all.


He has written a superb piece in the latest 'New Law Journal'attacking the use of dumb terminology and in particular the attempt to call clients customers . The special fiduciary duty , the bond of trust and privilege , between solicitor and client is undermined by meddling with clear , established labels. One eminent member of the Court of Appeal is rightly driven to distraction by the inane but ubiquitous "inappropriate " which embraces anything from sexual misconduct to buying someone a book they didn't expect .
Today the Daily Mail has managed to refer to both plaintiffs and industrial tribunals ; see my rant of yesterday .

Monday, 16 July 2012


Welcome back to the best in the country , Nick Lander, who writes on saturday for the FT. He is miles ahead of the crowd. Poor Michael Winner , as depicted in the Sunday Times, looked like he should be in bed with a Lucozade.


They were abolished on 26th April 1999.Perhaps the next time Leigh Day brief 'The Times' on a piece of their litigation , as is evident on page 3 today, they will point  this out to the journalist concerned .The BBC is no better and it  fondly talks of industrial tribunals , also redundant.

Saturday, 14 July 2012


Fact. Lord Neuberger was only the Master of the Rolls until he attended the ACL conference last month. He is now , rightly , the new President of the Supreme Court.


The superb decision of MacDuff J. in the Portsmouth church/child abuse case has been affirmed by the Court of Appeal. On july 23rd the Supreme Court will address the question of whether vicarious liability reaches beyond the narrow confines of employer/employee in another depressing case about perverts .


There are 2 stunners on special offer right now , both of which are dead ringers for serious French bottles.
The white is the 2011 Australian Wolf Blass chardonnay at £6-66 rather than the usual £9-99.It is Burgundian and should be decanted ! The 2010 threw half the people taking the evil Master of Wine exam last year , who thought it from Burgundy. The exam is so difficult ; it would be like sitting the Accounts exam in Chinese.
The red is in classic Bordeaux style but from South Africa.Rustenberg John Merriman and is under a tenner right now.
Jancis Robinson who suggested the decanting tip above has a list of good value wines in the FT today.My special adviser has been despatched to Italy to look for good bottles as Sean Jones QC and i are soon to put together our Christmas list.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


The Minister has produced a written answer which shows an outbreak of common sense . Financial restrictions will not apply so anyone can use QOWCS. The proposed threat to award costs where a claim was unreasonable has been jettisoned . Costs can , rightly , be awarded if the claim is dishonest .There is also mention of a possible Practice Direction on the new proportionality test which I consider essential if we are to avoid yet another wave of satellite litigation.
Whoever is advising on QOWCS has done a good job and is to be congratulated.


I have written before that I believe , contrary to others , that litigation will grow and work will not evaporate.
In the latest spat between Russian oligarchs , Cherney v Deripaska , which began in the High Court yesterday we have a claimant suing here even though he cannot even enter the country ( the Spanish have an arrest warrant for him ). There is something risible about the Spaniards and law enforcement since Barcelona is populated by thieves galore who rob visitors with impunity and target mothers with young children knowing they cannot give chase.

Monday, 9 July 2012


Shrewd VAT investigators smelt a rat when a company that declared sales of £2.2 billion paid a total of £17-74 in VAT ( Guardian page 18 today ).
Meanwhile , 'The Daily Mail' , which Mrs P is trying to stop me reading , reports that Demi Moore is addicted to laughing gas . If you see a Hollywood legend lugging a large canister about giggling uncontrollably then you know who it is .


Swift J. is hearing Raggatt , a case of alleged child abuse going back decades. Meanwhile, more rich Russians kick off in the Commercial Court and John Terry is in the dock.

Friday, 6 July 2012


As ever this was a spectacular do hosted by joint senior clerk , Lucy Barbet, at her London house.It was the 30th birthday of Chambers . Sadly , Anthony Blair , as he was at the Bar , did not attend . The great employment silks were there -Goudie , Jeans and Jones. Great fun .

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


You will find, free to view, on the epiqsystems website a webcast of the panel discussion staged by them last week and featuring a host of legal brains from both sides of the Atlantic. The topic was , inevitably and rightly , electronic disclosure considerations and where we are going. The topic is fundamental to all litigators even though some do not yet recognise this.

Monday, 2 July 2012


I would not be best pleased if someone were to steal my penis.This fate befell both Napoleon and Tutankhamen . Souvenir hunters took their bits . It now emerges that a grave robber has stolen the teeth of both Brahms and Strauss .Strange but true.