Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Riding the Magic Carpet (Part 1)

This book review was published in Issue 58 of The Surfer's Path in December 2006. A different review of the same book can be found here.

'Riding the Magic Carpet' by Tom Anderson (Summersdale Publishing) tells the story of a guy from South Wales who dreams of riding the right hand point break at Jeffrey's Bay in South Africa. This in itself might seem peculiar since these days one might expect grommets to be dreaming of perhaps Pipeline or Mavericks. A little bit like dreaming of climbing Mont Blanc or Kilimanjaro rather than Everest. Worthy and undoubtedly a wonderful thing to do, but an unusual dream. However, the early 1990s were unusual times and the combination of the release of Nelson Mandela, the ending of apartheid and the best surfer in the world was simply too much. The images of Tom Curren taking his first ride at J-Bay were forever etched in the author’s mind and associated with the ending of tyranny, indeed with freedom itself. The metaphor of South Africa’s waves opening up their faces to the world is both original and resonates on many levels.

The journey takes him from the beach breaks of France to the cold water of the Orkneys and Scotland's famous right hander at Thurso East. Further afield, he earns his spurs on waves ranging from Sri Lanka to Uluwatu in Indonesia.

There are many stories of obsession down the ages. Examples include Ahab's search for Moby Dick or Marlow's journey up the Congo in search of the charismatic Kurz in Heart of Darkness. However, this book doesn't contain the depth of horror often seen in such works and those inspired by them like Apocalypse Now or more recently The Beach and for those looking for emotional gore, there may be disappointment.

Instead, this book is more akin to the epic adventure stories. In these, the traditional hero hears the call to adventure and in answering it embarks upon a journey which ultimately rewards him with enlightenment. These range from the travels of Odysseus to those described in The Alchemist and The Little Prince. The two most interesting parts of the book come when the writer is facing one of his greatest fears: inability to surf. So, in Mundaka, it takes him a number of trips to even see a single wave and when it finally does happen, he smashes his board. This was all the more so when the writer broke his leg and ended up supporting his girlfriend on a surf trip which included Pavones in Costa Rica. It was here that the real enlightenment came and for me, the best bit of the book, when he described how he came to understand the value of the gifts his father's generation had given him through the hours they had spent teaching him about surf lore and wisdom: “These patient characters had sat there for hours on end, without needing an injury to keep them from wanting to surf themselves, filming kids for no other reason than handing the gift of wave knowledge on through the generations.” In this respect, it is similar to that which makes Fever Pitch such a great football story in that it highlights the fact that it is in the difficult times that the real character of the surfer or the football fan takes its form. A small point is that it is perhaps a shame that the issue of the son taking on the father’s mantle and the relationship to the preceding generation was not explored in more detail.

As for the arrival at J-Bay, the ending is possibly a little too perfect and rose-tinted although given the honesty with which the obsession had thus far been set out, the author may understandably be forgiven. However, these are quibbles. The stories are thoughtfully told with a light humour that makes them interesting both for surfers and non-surfers alike. The broken leg and the months of contemplation add the necessary grit to the oyster to take it beyond merely a good travelogue and to inspiring thoughts as to what it is about this sport which touches our souls. It was a real pleasure to read and a welcome addition to an area with very few well written books.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The ethical lawyer

This article was the editorial for the Personal Injury Brief Update Law Journal in December 2006. You can listen to it as a podcast by clicking here.

With the new year upon us, we not only take stock of the work we have been doing but also make our plans for the future. As personal injury lawyers, part of those plans will no doubt include reviewing our sources of work and perhaps promising ourselves to make more of an effort to expand this yet further. However, the start of the year is also a good time to take stick of our position as lawyers, and personal injury lawyers in particular, in society as a whole. Whether one is working for claimants or for insurance companies it is hardly in dispute that such lawyers are not held in terribly high esteem by every sector of society. Certainly, satisfied clients and former clients will extol the virtues of those that have helped them. However, beyond that both sides of the industry to some extend are caricatured unkindly both in the media and more widely by the public. Claimant lawyers are often said to be fuelling the so-called compensation culture whilst insurance lawyers may find themselves criticised for being overly aggressive and fighting against perfectly worthy claims.

Whilst both sides within the industry know the caricature is not an accurate one, the truth is that it sticks. Indeed, it is hardly dissimilar to the more general negative view that many people hold of lawyers in general. The question is not whether these prejudices are wrong but how they are to be dealt with. One way is to repeat arguments which have failed to convince in the past. Another might be to take a completely fresh approach and make a resolution to contribute to other areas of society outside of the law. This is no quick fix, but a few examples may help to stimulate ideas.

The first relates to charitable work and is highlighted by the efforts of employment law barrister Daniel Barnett who sends out an employment law newsletter (http://www.danielbarnett.co.uk/). He has recently encouraged his readership to make a small donation to children’s charity Dreams Come True (see www.justgiving.com/danielbarnett). We are supporting his efforts and hope also that it will inspire others along similar lines.

Another example is the contribution that we as lawyers might be able to make to reducing our impact on the environment. This will come from lots of people making small contributions. Examples might include law firms organising schemes where transport needs are shared or where they decide to go paperless for as much of their work as possible. It might be that firms decide to change to a green electricity provider or simply change their systems in order to minimise energy usage. Other examples might be more imaginative, such as the use of green businesses like online CPD provider CPD Webinars (http://www.cpdwebinars.com/). Whatever it is, it would provide another example of lawyers having a positive impact on society and our environment and may also have the added effect bonus of potentially even at least slightly changing people’s perceptions of lawyers as a whole.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Trial by media

Recent press coverage of the Ipswich muder case gives real cause for concern. Given the amount of material which has been published about each of the two men arrested, it would seem near impossible that any potential trial would not be prejudiced. Newspapers may answer that much of the material may be already available on internet sites and blogs. However, this is no reason to turn a blind eye to the consequences of their own actions.

Another aspect of these cases is that the Contempt of Court Act 1981 which applies here is policed by the Attorney General. At the very least one has to question why he has not yet intervened in the face of what looks like almost blatant breaches of the Act. Without any explanation, it will leave others to conclude that there be other factors at play such as the fact that he is already under pressure for having dropped an investigation into fraud allegations against the Saudis and that he will be under even closer scrutiny when it comes to making a decision on whether prosecutions should be pursued in the cash for honours cases.

As well damaging any potential defendant's right to a fair trial, this coverage will also have destroyed the life of a potentially innocent man. If neither or both of these men were actually involved, then at least one innocent man will have wrongly been found guilty in the court of media innuendo and that of public opinion which follows in its wake. If trial by media continues to undermine due process, defendants may be well advised to turn to PR advisers rather than lawyers for the best advice.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Life at the Bar: Chambers (part 1)

In John Mortimer’s Rumpole of the Bailey, Guthrie Featherstone states that, “The glory of the advocate is to be opinionated, brash, fearless, partisan, hectoring, rude, cunning and unfair.” This begs the question as to how it is possible that the Chambers system manages to bring together collections of such self-employed individuals and gets them to work together.

The answer may well be represented by the pink ribbon which ties up their briefs. Over the centuries, barristers’ roles have become defined as providing advocacy in court and specialist advice outside. Like any referral profession, they are generally only brought into the frame when there is a problem to solve. The papers arrive tied in pink ribbon (or white-coloured if it’s government work). The correspondence, the documents and the witness statements have all been prepared. Counsel is then asked either to review the papers and provide his advice or alternatively to argue the case in court. When all this is done, the brief is re-tied and returned.

What the ribbon symbolises is the ability of a barrister emotionally to detach himself from any particular case or argument. One day he may be prosecuting a case. The next day, he may be defending something very similar. In neither has he invested any emotional capital over and above that associated with the task at hand. Instead, he is instructed specifically because of his independence and objectivity. With the problem solved, the papers go back. This can also be seen in the ability of members of the same Chambers to be up against each other in court without any risk of conflict of interest or prejudice to either side.

It may well be argued that this ability to detach and compartmentalise strays into other areas of life. Indeed, even the location of those chambers in the Inns of Court is physically detached from the rest of the world. It would certainly help to explain why people who on the face of it are overtly in competition with each other as self-employed specialists in particular areas can come together and not only co-operate but positively share their resources. The other reason undoubtedly is due to the rich cultural heritage of the Bar which has been passed down the generations. For every pupil and new tenant building up a practice and paying little if any rent, there is a senior barrister in effect subsidising them and well aware that he is re-paying the investment made in him by generations now passed. The result is an ethos based upon the sharing of resources, seen most clearly in the Chambers system but also prevalent between members of the bar in general.

This is not to say that Chambers don’t have their problems and the irony is that with the increasing commercialisation and financial success of the bar these have in many ways increased. The biggest difficulty is perhaps stopping people from moving elsewhere. Whilst some Chambers’ constitutions have almost punitive provisions in terms of rent claw backs for those who leave, it hasn’t stopped an increasing number from moving Chambers, something which was almost unheard of thirty years ago. Another problem arises out of this issue and it concerns getting rid of those who become unwelcome. This is rarely if ever done by a vote of chambers but instead by a quiet word from the head of chambers or even perhaps the clerks failing to recommend that person for work. Another issue which can arise concerns the liabilities of the members of Chambers if it collapses. Generally, these will be distributed between its members and this could potentially act as a disincentive to some Chambers taking on too large a financial commitment into the future without knowing what it holds.

Overall, though, life at the Bar remains a very good one and despite the many challenges it has faced, it continues to prosper.

This is the second in a series of articles on Life at the Bar. The others can be found at:

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hate Laws Under Scrutiny

This article was published as the lead comment piece in the New Law Journal on 8 December 2006.

The recent conviction of Danish embassy protestor Mizanur Rahman followed by the acquittal of BNP leader Nick Griffin and his associate have raised important questions as to the effectiveness of the race hate laws in this country and led to politicians such as Gordon Brown to call for a review of current legislation. The problem is not a new one and reflects the inherent tension between the conflicting rights of freedom of speech and freedom from acts of violence and hostility. Chomsky neatly summarised the difficulty when he said, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” The real problem that these cases raise is whether the laws as they currently stand are working for or against those they were designed to protect.

The issue finds its roots in the common law crime of sedition and as long ago as 1732 a newspaper was found guilty of this having published scurrilous allegations against Portugese Jewish immigrants resulting in violence against Jews. The article was found “to raise tumults and disorders among the people, and inflame them with a spirit of universal barbarity against a whole body of men, as if guilty of crimes scarce practicable, and totally incredible”. The current law was originally inspired by the calls for stronger legislation which followed the acquittal of a newspaper owner James Caunt in 1947 over his publication of an anti-Semitic editorial on the basis that the article was not intended to promote violence.

That case highlighted one of the major problems with the race hate laws which is that the successful cases often appear to be disproportionately against those they were ostensibly designed to protect. For example, the first person to be charged under the Race Relations Act in 1967 was Michael Abdul Malik (Michael X), the leader of the Black Power movement, for stirring up racial hatred against white people. In that same year, four members of the Universal Coloured People's Association were also successfully prosecuted. This presented a stark contrast to the acquittal the following year of four members of the Racial Preservation Society after they claimed that they were not intending to stir up racial hatred, but were educating the people about the problems of coloured immigration and attacking politicians for their inaction. The acquittal was despite the fact that in the course of the trial they espoused theories on the purity of races, genetic inequality of the races and the impact of immigration upon the crime rate.

Another problem with these cases is the catch 22 situation in which prosecutors find themselves. A successful prosecution potentially allows a bigot to claim to be a martyr of the civil liberties movement. On the other hand, a finding of innocence results in the accused claiming that the court had in some way given respectability and legitimacy to their views. Indeed, those acquitted in 1968 even reprinted a 'Souvenir edition' of the offending article.

The legal difficulties of the 1960s provide a powerful analogy with the two cases which have been decided this month. What the BNP case highlights in particular is the need to take account of such factors before making a decision to proceed with a prosecution. In particular, prosecutors should be extremely careful in ensuring the strength of the case before giving it the oxygen of publicity. Many may well point out that the failure to secure a prosecution the first time around should have sounded a warning bell that there might be difficulties ahead.

The government’s reaction to this was encapsulated by Mr Brown suggesting that the race hate laws need to be reviewed. Perhaps Mr Brown had been pre-occupied with the effects of the interest rate rise at the time. Whatever the reason, he appears to have overlooked the fact that the government did just this when they passed the Racial and Religious Hatred Act in February of this year and introduced new provisions to cover the stirring up of religious hatred. What is inexplicable is why the government has not yet brought this into effect. Indeed, though next February has been hinted at in the press, not even this has been confirmed.However, even when the new law comes in, it is to be hoped that the lessons of the past are borne in mind. In particular, it should not be forgotten that a major justification for the new provisions was the ending of the loophole that had left Muslims as a group unprotected by the race hate laws since, unlike Jews and Sikhs, their community did not have any racial foundations. Whilst one would not want to discourage the authorities from invoking the incitement laws for those preaching violence, it is to be hoped that the authorities are sensitive enough not to end up using the new law religious hatred laws against the very community it was designed to protect.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Corfu case exposes fatal flaws

This article was the front page article for the Solicitor's Journal on 8 December 2006. You can also listen to a similar version of it as a podcast here.

The tragic deaths of the two children Christianne and Robert Shepherd in their holiday bungalow at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel in Corfu has raised much comment on the potential liabilities of the hotel and the tour operator. In particular, it has been said that manslaughter charges are being considered against the hotel by the Greek authorities. Others have pointed to the operation of the Package Holiday Regulations in relation to tour operators. However, there are wider issues which the debate has not yet touched.

The first concerns whether the Corporate Manslaughter Bill currently going through Parliament should ensure that the new offence of corporate manslaughter covers British companies who cause deaths abroad. Although individual British nationals can be prosecuted for manslaughter committed abroad, in its current form the Bill leaves a serious loophole in respect of companies in that it only covers those deaths which occur in this country. This is despite the fact that it is quite possible in the case of companies that many of the actions that lead to a death may take place in this country. For example, whilst there is no suggestion of this in the present case, the question arises as to what would happen if it became clear in such a situation that the management in a British tour operator in fact knew that a particular hotel was having problems with carbon monoxide leaks but turned a blind eye in the interests of maintaining their profits. Or what if there was a repeat of the 1984 Bhopal disaster, in which a Union Carbide plant in central India leaked 40 tons of toxic gas and killed more than 3,000 people, but with a British company responsible and the deaths being its British workers? Add to this the fact that it is perfectly possible for inquests to be held in this country in relation to deaths abroad and further that such a hearing could well reveal serious management failures having been made on domestic soil. It seems unlikely that in circumstances such as these, there would not be many who may then regret that the Bill’s jurisdiction had not been wider. Perhaps this case may at least prompt the government into amending the Bill before it enters the statute books.

The other issue which these tragic deaths highlights is the level of damages which are awarded in many fatal accident cases. Even without commenting on the merits of this specific case, if a tour operator were found liable for the deaths of two small children the most likely award would be for £10,000 “bereavement damages” per child and a few funeral expenses. Compare this to the millions of pounds which are often awarded in personal injury claims where the victim has lived and there are claims for continuing loss of earnings and any cost of care. This highlights the little known anomaly that in English law it is often cheaper in terms of civil liability to kill someone than it is to maim them.

The reason for this is the so-called compensatory principle which only allows claims for actual financial loss and takes no account of the wider circumstances of the case. So, if a young City banker on half a million pounds a year and with no dependants is injured and therefore unable to work for the rest of his life, he could claim for his lifetime’s loss of earnings and potentially the cost of any care he might need. However, he clearly doesn’t have any such losses if he’s dead. In order to remedy this injustice, it might be argued that perhaps there should be some sort of punitive element built into awards for fatal accidents. Such an approach is all he more so in the case of companies. So, too, for infant deaths where dependency claims are unlikely.

There would be many ways of implanting a system of punitive or exemplary damages. For example, there might be a claim by the estate for the present value of an average lifetime’s loss of earnings for the deceased although questions might then be raised as to why a rich man’s death should be worth more. If not, it might be a standard tariff. In effect this is what the bereavement element of the damages is at the moment and the objection is not to the principle but to its current derisory and potentially insulting level. Alternatively, it could be a jury award which is left to the discretion of the judge taking account of the seriousness of the wrong and the wealth of the wrongdoer. Not only would this facilitate more specific justice it would also give the court the ability to hit companies, in particular, where it hurts. However it’s done, it’s time that this anomaly is rectified.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Tainted by fraud arguments

This article appeared in the the Personal Injury Brief Update Law Journal in December 2006.

Introduction
It seems to many odd that a party to a contract might have the whole of a claim under that contract dismissed for breach of a term of the contract; often a misrepresentation about the risk to underwriters at the proposal of the policy, or falsification or exaggeration within the process of a claim itself, even if the claim is essentially ‘genuine’. This position, which comes from the operation of the doctrine of utmost good faith contrasts with the general position of claims in tort which on the whole result in a Claimant being compensated for that part of his claim which is genuine even if he has exaggerated or even made up another part of it. It is correct to say that in a claim against a tortfeasor there is no contract and no such duty of utmost good faith. The injured party owes no relevant duty of care to the tortfeasor; the injured party’s claim will thus be governed by the rules of court. For the most part, the penalty tends only to be in costs, if at all. This general position is now being challenged in a growing number of cases.

Tainted by fraud
Defendants may try and resurrect the old Privy Council authority of Hip Foong Hong v H Neotia and Company [1918] AC 889 in which Lord Buckmaster comments on the issue of tainting in the following way:
A Judgment that is tainted and effected by fraudulent conduct is tainted throughout and the whole must fail …

However, that case dealt with the opium trade and was an appeal from a decision in the Shanghai Supreme Court and is arguments along these lines is probably unlikely to find favour at first instance in English law by itself.

Defendants may also try to draw an analogy not only with the insurance line of cases but also with cases in which the courts as a matter of public policy have refused to enforce contracts tainted by illegality (e.g. an illegal purpose). An example is that of Birkett v Acorn Business Machines Ltd [1999] 2 All ER (Comm) 429 in which the Court of Appeal held that the court would not assist the enforcement of a contract tainted by illegality, even where illegality was not pleaded by either of the parties.

Abuse of process
Another potential argument is that the claim should be struck out under CPR 3.4(2)(b) on the basis that arguing that the statement of case is an abuse of process and also limb (c) referring back to CPR 1.1 (the overriding objective) and 1.3, which requires the parties to help the Court to further the overriding objective. In support, a Defendant may also cite Arrow Nominees Inc v Blackledge [2000] 2 BCLC 709 and advance two arguments:
a. It is impossible to have a fair trial of the issues and/or;
b. The Claimant’s conduct amounts to an abuse of the Court’s process; paragraphs 54 & 55 of Arrow Nominees state:
... the object of the Rules is to secure the fair Trial of the accident in accordance with the due process of the Court and that accordingly a party is not to be deprived of its rights to a proper Trial as a penalty for disobedience of those Rules, even if such disobedience amounts to contempt for or defiance of the Court……….. But, where a litigants’ conduct puts the fairness of the Trial in jeopardy where it is such that any Judgment in favour of the litigant would have to be regarded as unsafe, or amounts to such abuse of the process of this Court as to render further Proceedings unsatisfactory, and to prevent the Court from doing justice, the Court is entitled, indeed I would hold bound, to refuse that litigant to take part in the Proceedings and (where appropriate), to determine the Proceedings against him.

The Court may consider, in such cases, two issues in particular:
a. To what extent a Claimant has failed to help the Court to further the overriding objective; and
b. Whether to exercise the discretion to strike out statements of case under CPR 3.4.

Claimants may argue that the appropriate penalty (if any at all) is in costs if the Court accepts that part of the claim is false or exaggerated - see Painting v University of Oxford [2005] EWCA Civ.161 also Molloy v Shell UK Limited [2000] PIQR 56. The Defendants may argue that this might encourage people to use the Court’s process to ‘try it on’ and then still to succeed in part of a claim even if another part of it is presented fraudulently; as Ward LJ put it in Arrow Nominees:

… the attempted perversion of justice is the very antithesis of the parties coming before the Court on an equal footing

An interesting comment from the Court of Appeal on this issue was made by Laws LJ in the case of Molloy v Shell UK Ltd [2001] EWCA Civ 1272 in the Court held that in a claim for damages for personal injury arising out of an accident at work, where a Claimant had deceived the court by exaggerating the extent of those injuries, the judge's discretion had to be exercised so as to award the Defendant its costs in full. However, Laws LJ went further when he stated:

For my part I entertain considerable qualms as to whether, faced with manipulation of the civil justice system on so grand a scale, the court should, once it knows the facts entertain the case at all save to make the dishonest Claimant pay the Defendant’s costs.

The Claimant's position
The Claimant will argue that a conduct point should not influence the Court’s decision in the award of damages and that an overstatement or fabrication of a small part of an otherwise genuine claim, should only result in that part being struck out. The result of the strike out may be that the Defendant succeeds on that issue in costs, though not necessarily. Indeed a Claimant may be entirely innocent in the fraud and in those circumstances his argument becomes even stronger. Further, there may be human rights arguments such as the right to a fair trial if the tainted with fraud argument were to succeed. There may also be more imaginative arguments which may develop. A good example of litigation in which imaginative human rights arguments went all the way to the House of Lords is that of Wilson v Secretary of State for Trade & Industry [2003] 3 WLR 568.

Credibility
Ultimately, this whole issue may boil down to one of the Claimant’s credibility. If one part of a claim is fraudulent, it is likely to affect the credibility of the rest of the Claimant’s claim. Faced with a fraudulent part of a claim the courts can either dismiss just that part or they can knock down the rest of the claim. The easiest way is through finding that the Claimant’s credibility was so affected that the rest of his claim was not believable. Alternatively, a court may decide to strike out the claim as an abuse of the process of the court. Beyond this, it remains to be seen whether the courts decide to extend the effect of tainting further, by analogy either with insurance contracts, illegal contracts or old Privy Council authority.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Riding the Free Market

This article was published in The Times Online on Alex Wade's 'Surf Nation' blog on 29 November 2006.

Adam Smith once used the metaphor of the invisible hand to illustrate his argument that those who seek wealth by following their individual self-interest also inadvertently stimulate the economy and thereby assist the poor. With the recent death of another advocate of the free market, Milton Friedman, the question of whether so tangible - albeit invisible - an influence flows in surfing’s increasingly commercial wake is a timely one.

One man better placed than most to deliver a verdict is surfer, shaper and businessman Tim Heyland, of Tiki fame. Tiki not only manufactures boards and wetsuits but has also recently extended its shop in Braunton, North Devon to offer the largest range of surfboards in Europe. This is a remarkable achievement on any level, but is all the more impressive given Tiki’s humble beginnings. Heyland was one of the first British surfers to take on the might of Sunset beach and other breaks on the north shore of Oahu, and recalls arriving in North Devon “with £5 in my pocket, a dog on a piece of string and a home-made wetsuit. I had to sleep on the beach in the early days.”

The early days were in the winter of 1963, when there were no surf shops, let alone labels and brands. If you wanted to surf, you had to make your own board, and Heyland became one of the first people in the UK to do so. He launched Tiki with Dave Smith in 1967, and by 1968 the company was up and running from its North Devon base. However, this was no big commercial enterprise at the time. Heyland, a man of imposing physical presence and an almost military demeanour, puts it thus: “In the first twenty years it was virtually all word of mouth with hardly any advertising.” Now, though, things are rather different. “These days it’s a commercial whirlpool with the big five brands dominating the market and anyone able to enter it just by setting up a website.”

Heyland appears to lament some of the changes. “People have got it made today,” he says. “The sense of adventure has gone and kids don’t know anything about the history.” There’s a sense in the way Heyland talks of what the sociologist Max Weber called anomie. Weber adopted this to describe the breakdown of social norms and values when Europe moved from a rural to an industrial society, uprooting its people and transforming them from family units to alienated individuals fending for themselves in the big cities.

John Milius illustrated this tension in Big Wednesday. The protagonist Matt Johnson has become an alcoholic as he watches surfing descend into what he sees as a dark pit of commercialism. This is most vividly illustrated by his childhood mentor, Bear, setting up a surf shop to cater for the skateboarders and trendsetters of the day. But even though Matt’s decline is absolute, he is still seen as the hero, romantically defending the old values, refusing to sell his soul. When Bear offers him a board to endorse, he replies: “I just surf because it’s good to go out and ride with your friends.” Later, exasperated, he cries, “You oughta know what I mean, Bear!”

So does Tim Heyland think commercialism has been good or bad for surfing? “Good”. Despite his general comments he has no reservations and there are echoes of Adam Smith’s invisible hand in his answer. “I don’t think surfing would be where it is now if you didn’t have it. Without it, we’d still be riding tree trunks. Balsa wood.” Not to mention the obvious developments which have been made in wetsuit design. “People take the benefits for granted. Kids have everything these days.” He likens the complaints about commercialism to those made in the name of localism. “It’s the most hypocritical thing I’ve ever heard in my life”.

Bear sidesteps a reply, but Heyland is not one to shy away from giving his opinion. So, does he think commercialism has been good or bad for surfing? “Good,” he says unhesitatingly. Despite some of his comments he has no reservations and there are echoes of Smith’s invisible hand as he amplifies his answer. “I don’t think surfing would be where it is now without commercialism. Without it, we’d still be riding tree trunks. Balsa wood.” Not to mention the obvious developments which have been made in wetsuit design: “People take the benefits for granted. Kids have everything these days.” He likens the complaints about commercialism to those made in the name of localism – “the most hypocritical thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”

The voice is that of an authentic waterman, someone who has just returned from double-overhead Ireland and who can still be found in North Devon barrels whenever the swell is on. This is the thing about Heyland. Whether he is riding big waves or the free market, he has total commitment and shows no fear.

It is this, above all else, which distinguishes Tim Heyland from his peers.

Photographs © Dr Michelle Tempest

Monday, November 27, 2006

Time's Dominion










Mountain,
silent warrior,
bearing time’s scars
in its noble crags.

Ocean,
mountain’s mirror,
refusing time’s ravage,
without form and void.

Mountain,
decayed, honest,
embracing time
with dignity.

Ocean,
time’s subconscious,
internalising
polluted memories.

Tide,
ocean’s heartbeat
on the shoreline,
outside of time.

Mountain,
living.

Ocean,
dying.

Its soul unfurling
to time’s dominion.

Photograph © Dr Michelle Tempest

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Surf clips

In addition to the surf sources mentioned previously, here are a few surf clips: Riding Giants, Teahupoo, Jaws (he survived), Puerto Escondido, Kelly Slater, Rip Curl clips, Endless Summer, Tubes, Hebrides, more Hebrides, Mundaka, Surf's Up Penguin cartoon and Surfing in Wales.

The picture (above) is the copyright of my girlfriend Dr Michelle Tempest and was taken in the Outer Hebrides last month.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Legal blogs

It has taken some time for the blogosphere to really take hold in the field of UK law. However, there have been some trailblazers which are now coming into the mainstream. One of the best of these is the blog of the self-styled Charon QC which provides an eclectic mix of law, humour and contemporary interest ranging from politicis to sport. It's run by Mike Semple-Piggott's team at the online student magazine Consilio and the CPD training for lawyers The Legal Practitioner. It really is highly recommended.

Bringing blogging firmly into the mainstream of legal comment, The Times Newspaper Online provides a blog from Alex Wade entitled A Legal Life. Alex is a media lawyer and writer whose topics range from hard-hitting legal issues to his hobbies of boxing, surfing and poker. He's surrently writing a book about surfing in Britain and he also writes a blog in this respect which can be found at Surf Nation.

If you're after a more general look at legal blogs in this country, then look at Blawgle which is a tailoured search engine for this area provided by Nick Holmes at Info Law. Nick himself also runs an excellent blog which can be found at Binary Law.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Don't drop the NHS

The article was published at ConservativeHome.com on 10 October 2006.

First it was Gordon Brown and now it’s David Cameron. Everyone wants to set the NHS free, to take it out of politician’s hands. The idea is that this will restore faith in politicians ironically by taking the day to day decision-making away from them and allowing it to be run by professionals uninterested by short term political gain. This approach is partially supported by a recent You Gov which followed the publication of a book The Future of the NHS which showed a two to one majority in favour of the government withdrawing from the NHS.

However, what both the Chancellor and David Cameron seem to have missed is that the frustration with the NHS in its present form is based upon ever more distant decision-making from the people those decisions affect and his solution will only serve to exacerbate this problem. It reflects the very real democratic deficit which exists in the NHS. For example, when the people of Kidderminster objected to the closure of facilities at their local hospital they started a campaign which eventually led them to winning a majority of their local council seats and even the local parliamentary constituency. However, despite all of these efforts, they remained disenfranchised. They were unable to exert any direct control over the decision-making process which remained entirely in the hands of the Secretary of State for Health. The introduction of an independent body is hardly going to empower people such as those from Kidderminster. Instead, it will take decision-making one step further away.

One solution to this problem is to introduce democracy directly into the NHS. This could immediately be done by changing the structure of the NHS and in particular primary care trusts and other health organisations so that their boundaries coincide with local authorities. Once this has been done, decision-making power can be handed over to locally elected politicians who can respond directly to the needs of local communities, failing which they will be accountable at the ballot box. This would not only invigorate the NHS but it would also empower the PCTs and health authorities through the extra legitimacy.

On a wider level, it is to be hoped that this is not the direction in which the Cameron Conservatives intend to go more generally. It was also reported only recently that the country now has 882 different independent governmental bodies or quangoes, each of them not only taking power further away from the people but costing those people a total of £124 billion for the privilege. If the Conservative Party wants a radical proposal for their first day in office, perhaps they could promise to abolish all quangos in their present form within 2 years and instead to hand over the regulatory functions to locally and nationally elected bodies.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Life at the Bar: Wigs and Gowns

This article was published in The Times on 31 October 2006. You can listen to a similar version of it as a podcast here.

TIME TO END THE SYRUP AND FIGS
Wigs have their place but it is not in the courts
OCTOBER is the month for all those barristers and solicitors who have been given the title of Queen’s Counsel to have it officially bestowed on them in the Houses of Parliament. The pomp and circumstance of the ceremonial dress is a wonderful thing to behold and reminds us all of the noble history of the English system of law that has inspired so many others around the world.

But beyond this little piece of living history it is extraordinary that wigs (or syrups, as they are known in Cockney rhyming slang) continue to be worn in our courts. The law represents the balance of freedoms and obligations worked out over centuries and it works because it has adapted to the fresh challenges of the times. It is something to which the population as a whole should feel a connection at a very basic level. Yet the ancient regalia serves only to distance the dispensing of justice from the people it serves and to some extent entrenches a “them and us” mentality between litigants and lawyers. Besides this, many barristers would agree that wigs can be uncomfortable, particularly on hot days.

Of course, some say that it is essential to ensure the anonymity of the Bar. This is simply unrealistic in these days of the internet and access to profiles within clicks of a mouse. Others say that the dress enhances the authority of the lawyers. Even without the obvious question as to how the wearing of a horse-hair wig can increase one’s authority, there remains the point as to why, if this is such a formidable tool, no other profession uses anything remotely similar. Then there are solicitor-advocates, who argue that court dress should be uniform and that they should not be barred from wearing wigs while their barrister counterparts do so.

It is perhaps worth remembering that the reason that wigs were introduced had nothing to do with high principle. They simply reflected what polite society was wearing in the reign of Charles II, with fashion-conscious courtiers trying to outdo each other with the size of their wigs (hence the name “bigwig”). Interesting, yes — but no reason for this anomaly to continue. By all means let the judicial ceremonies remain. But please, let the law be for the people and by the people, rather than by lawyers in outdated attire.

This is the first in a series of articles on Life at the Bar. The others can be found at:
Barristers' clerks

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Surfing the Hebrides

This article was published on The Times Online on 30 October 2006 on Alex Wade's 'Surf Nation' blog.

Thomas Malthus, back in the eighteenth century, made a name for himself with his “Principle of Population.” The English demographer contended that the population would eventually outrun its food supply. There are many in the surfing world who might find the Malthus world-view congenial. Just as improvements in public health helped fuel an explosion in the general population, so advances in wetsuit and board design are now contributing to the over-population of many of our best beaches all year round. If Malthus is right, the inevitable consequence is that there will be a catastrophic decrease in waves per person. The evidence is persuasive, from the ultra-crowded beaches of North Devon and Cornwall to the once-deserted, and now all too populous, cold-water havens of Easky and Thurso East. Even the Algarve resembles a building site with new apartments being built to accommodate the surf tourists. It is with all this in mind that the Outer Hebrides looked alluring even in late October.


The journey there is one reason that keeps people away. Getting to Stornaway, the main town on the wave-rich Isle of Lewis, is both expensive and time-consuming, taking the better part of a day. The other alternative is to drive up and then take the ferry, weather permitting. Once you’re there, you realise that everything is weather permitting, particularly as you get into Autumn. Just a cursory look at the map makes it clear that Lewis will pretty much be hit by any of the swell which is generated in the Atlantic. However, it’s the wind that matters most on this barren island where the distinct lack of trees provides physical evidence of its ravages. If you’re wanting guaranteed waves and an easy time, this is not the place to go as the surf can be ruined for long periods by the ferocities of the wind. However, if you’re of the view that much of a surfer’s soul is carved in the time waiting for the right conditions - and you’re able to adopt a little of the stoicism and patience of the locals - the rides are all the sweeter for the wait.


The main beach break on Lewis is Europie, on the north-west tip. It feels like the edge of the world but such is its quality that it has seen world class surfers such as Tom Curren and Derek Hynd riding it on a big day. It tends to pick up most of the swell and the sandbanks provide powerful hollow waves on even medium-sized days. Further south, there’s the friendly reef break of Barvas which tends to work on all times of the tide. It sits opposite a point break at Bru and an appropriately-named wave in the middle called Bus Stops. Following the coast further, there’s a long left hander at Braggar and the beach breaks of Dalbeg, Dalmore and Cliff. If the swell’s from the south, then it’s down to Mangestra. If it’s from the north then the east coast might also be working, particularly at the beach break of Tolsta. In addition to these, there is also the inevitable secret(ish) spot or two including an incredible right hand reef break that it would be unwise to describe further.


These world class waves are coupled with a backdrop of truly outstanding natural beauty. The landscape ranges from the rugged moors of Lewis to the Caribbean-style white sandy beaches of Harris further south. Added to this is one of the richest sources of birdlife in Britain where golden eagles soar over the lochs, heron fish the kelp reefs, oyster catchers skuttle from the incoming tide and curlew take their pickings in the marshes just off the coast.


As for accommodation, the west of the island is more convenient for the surf and probably the best located is Rock Villa in Barvas which is a peaceful, surf friendly bed and breakfast run by Mrs Kristeen Macdonald. If you want to avoid the airport staff manhandling your board then you can hire one from local legend Derek McLeod (telephone 07881 435915) who will also act as your surf guide and tutor. This is invaluable given the massive number of breaks and variables in the weather. When the conditions are right there is something for everyone from the most experienced to the near beginner and the feast of quality waves which is served up is enough to leave everyone sated throughout the next inevitable bout of high winds.


To top it all, the locals are friendly – something not always guaranteed given the ever-increasing crowds at so many breaks around the world. While some might expect them to be overly protective of their liquid jewels, this is not the case. As local surfer Rodney “Cheggs” Jamieson says: “We just want to treat people in a way that we’d want to be treated ourselves.” Such generosity of spirit sums up this old-fashioned, traditional and under-stated rural community whose roots are firmly embedded in its Christian history. However, while it still seems relatively untouched by the twenty-first century there are some signs of the encroaching of modernity and the challenges it may have to face in the years to come. Perhaps the most symbolic of these is the debate which is currently raging as to whether wind farms should be allowed on the island. Whilst most might agree that alternative sustainable sources of fuel are a good thing, the idea of packing them into this natural wilderness has sparked heated debate.


Time will tell how the Outer Hebrides copes with its own burgeoning surf community and greater numbers of visiting surfers. For now, this is one place where surfing with just a seal in the line-up for company is still a reality.


The photographs in this article were also published in The Times Online and were taken by and are copyright of my girlfriend Dr Michelle Tempest.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Green innovations in business

As governments continue to fail us on the environment, it is private enterprise which is leading the way. This doesn't just involve the massive initiatives such as Richard Branson's recent committment to investing in alternative fuel research. The real work is in the small everyday choices which we all make. Businesses which help facilitate more green choices are therefore of the utmost importance.

One such business is launched today, that of CPD Webinars which will provide online lectures for lawyers to gain their CPD hours. This means that lawyers will be able to watch lectures from the comfort of their own offices. As part of the launch, they're offering access to one of their seminars for free which will give the viewer two hours of CPD accreditation. Not only does this forego the need for hundreds of enormous hard copy handouts but they also mean that delegates avoid having to use carbon-emitting cars and trains to attend the lectures.

I also stumbled upon another green business recently when I was copied into an email from inventor Simon Daniel who mentioned his new green USB battery. It is rare to come across something which actually changes the way you look at an issue. For a small battery to cause such a paradign shift is even less likely. However, this one certainly does just that. It's one of those products that's so good that as soon as you've seen it you believe it must have been out there for years. Well, it hasn't, it's brand new and promises to change the way we go about powering our gadgets.

Nor is it likely to rest there. It's been produced by Simon's green energy company Moixa Energy Ltd. As they say on their website: "Our belief is that Modern homes and offices need a new power supply - A low power and voltage supply - sitting alongside and ultimately largely replacing the traditional AC 110/240v mains supply for many modern applications. It's safer, greener, less wasteful and more convenient for consumers than filling houses with large adaptors, plugs and cables. This could have a significant impact on reducing energy consumption." It's inventors and businessmen with the vision of people like Simon who are going to lead the green revolution which this world so dearly needs. I wish him every success.

Monday, October 9, 2006

WHY LAWYERS SHOULD SURF

Why Lawyers Should Surf (co-authored with Dr Michelle Tempest) is now available on amazon (for £7.99 incl p&p). Extracts from the book can be found below this post. To read reviews of the book, click on the following links or see below.







The Independent, 9/1/08: "makes a strong case for [surfing] being a productive metaphor of our immersion in time and space...give[s] you the mental equivalent of a perfect day at Sunset Beach, Hawaii", Andy Martin, author of Stealing the Wave.

The Times Online, 12/8/08: "a song for the modern age which could well become a cult classic like perhaps Anne Morrow Lindbergh Gift From the Sea", Tom Anderson, author of Riding the Magic Carpet.

The Times Online, 28/3/08: "a passionate call for professionals to de-stress themselves by gliding on a few turquoise walls", Alex Wade, author, Surf Nation.

Irish Independent, 28/8/08: "We drown out our inner voice with noise - from the office, the high street, the internet, TV. Out on the waves there is no noise, just you and the sea." Marie Boran, Marie Boran, Irish Net Visionary Awards Journalist of the Year 2008.

Drift Magazine, issue 5, 2008: "If you want to get excited about life, discover your own power and find peace of mind, then give this a go. Oh, and it's not one of those books about blaming your mother."

Slide Magazine, 2008: "Kevan and Tempest use the metaphor of surfing and the ocean throughout this book to discuss methods in which they can better communicate and improve their lives through employing the glass 'half-full' approach." Alison Aprhys, journalist.

DailyStoke.com, 27/9/08: "I was hooked from the get go...essential reading not simply for lawyers or other professionals but for surfers of every stripe who are seeking to understand how to better live their lives."

Swordplay, 3/8/08: "A motivational and erudite read with plenty of esoteric material on surfing"

NSW Law Society Journal, 8/08: "one does not need to be a surfer, or a lawyer, to appreciate and enjoy the well-written, humorous and enjoyable examples and suggestions the authors make...The book makes you feel like working smarter and going surfing, or whatever activity provides a release for you." Stephen Titus, solicitor.

YouClaim News, 2008: "uplifting, inspirational stuff, and well-informed, too"

ITV Local, 27/8/08: "Everybody wants to live the dream - but very few of us actually achieve it...Not so Tim Kevan, who at...36 retired from his barrister job, moved to North Devon to surf, and got a book deal with Bloomsbury. Nice work! Tim Kevan, we...salute you as Meridian Blog Pillar of the Community!"

Legal Week, 8/1/07: "With its thousands-strong cast of colourful characters, there is no shortage of distinctive voices at the Bar...One of the more unique voices [sic] is that of One Temple Gardens personal injury specialist and chronicler of our times Tim Kevan, prolific author and mastermind behind The Barrister Blog...Kevan's online journal offers an unlikely but strangely captivating blend of legal analysis and quasi-philosophical musings on his other great passion...surfing."


The Independent, 9/1/08
Why Lawyers Should Surf, by Tim Kevan and Michelle Tempest
How riding the waves can be the ultimate stress-buster
Reviewed by Andy Martin

If anyone had asked me before I read this book why lawyers should surf, I would have said that they would feel right at home with the sharks. The more enlightened and benevolent logic of Tim Kevan and Michelle Tempest is that lawyers and other stressed-out souls can get an infusion of wisdom by imitating the spirit of God and "moving upon the face of the waters".

Surfing is so difficult that it's hard to think of anything else while you're doing it. It's virtually impossible to worry about taxes as a monster wave comes hurtling towards you (although the question of death does arise). It concentrates the mind wonderfully. I suspect that there is something in the neurochemistry of surfing that induces a more contemplative, even transcendental, outlook.

Kevan, a London-based barrister, has truly seen the light and gone off to live and surf in Devon. The clever thing about the book he has written with his psychiatrist co-author, Tempest, is that even if it doesn't persuade you, in the middle of winter, to whip off your kit and get wet, it does give you the mental equivalent of a perfect day at Sunset Beach, Hawaii. I am generally averse to motivational books, probably because they reduce me to a sort of Pavlovian dog that can be easily trained. The beauty of this book is that, even as it suggests ways of fixing my "neuro-linguistic programming", it subtly restores a sense of poetry and enables me to "hear the mighty waters rolling evermore". Kevan and Tempest, like Wordsworth, address the soul-surfer in us all.

Jean Baudrillard, philosopher of the media age, assumed that all surfing was virtual – a product of the internet – and anything else just a Hollywood-engineered myth. Why Lawyers Should Surf not only reminds us that surfing is real, and feasible, but makes a strong case for it being a productive metaphor of our immersion in time and space. I don't know if it is going to make me a better surfer (it may be too late), but I am hopeful that I could become a better human being. And if the waters keep on rising, our souls really will have sight of Wordsworth's immortal sea, "though inland far we be", and surfing could turn out to be the key to survival.


The Times Online, 12/8/08
by Alex Wade and Tom Anderson

Meanwhile, why should lawyers surf? Having been one, I'd say that the answer is that if they don't, when they finally return to live once again by the coast they'll be condemned to languish forever in the intermediate zone, sometimes getting it right, sometimes getting it wrong. But Tim Kevan, author of a book cunningly entitled Why Lawyers Should Surf, begs to differ. He's quit briefs in the City for clean lines at Lynemouth, and his book is reviewed below by Tom Anderson, a Welshman who had many scrapes with the lawyers (not least, a night out with me which we somehow both survived) but never became one. Instead he leapt straight to being a writer and surfer, penning the much-acclaimed Riding the Magic Carpet. I'm not jealous, honest, so without further ado, here's Tom review.

From the days of the Hawaiian kings to the present, surfing has always captured people's imagination and managed to take them out of their day to day lives. It is uplifting and spiritual and provides a connection with nature and forces greater than ourselves. So it seems only natural when the authors point to surfing as a way of helping cope with the stresses of modern living and of re-gaining some balance in life.

Why Lawyers Should Surf is written by a former barrister and a psychiatrist. I particularly liked the way they avoided the cheesy, self-satisfied tone that instantly puts me off most motivational books, which too often come across as some sort of instruction booklet for life but which forget the art and lose sight of the soul. This book on the other hand not only provides an extremely clear and accessible introduction to cutting-edge techniques for getting one's mind into shape but it also provides a context. It stresses the need to feed the soul and listen to your own heart just as surfers monitor the movements of the ocean.

The use of the metaphor of surfing works surprisingly well. It not only taps into the inherent power of the sea but also has the benefit of resonating with those who have perhaps previously only ever surfed the internet. What's more, the book subtly introduces the reader to a wide mix of literary, scientific and spiritual sources. As a surfer I particularly liked the enormous range of the quotations and reflections on the meaning of surfing itself and our almost primeval connection with the sea. (In many ways it is a song for the modern age which could well become a cult classic like perhaps Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea.

As for the reference to lawyers, it is clear that they are simply being used as an example of the work-shackled majority who perhaps yearn for something more in their lives. Certainly it applies across the board to anyone looking for inspiration. The tone throughout is authentic and a nice footnote is that since co-writing the book Tim Kevan has indeed walked the talk and given up the trappings of the bar for the surf of North Devon. He is now living in Braunton and writing a novel for Bloomsbury Publishing. That's what I'm talking about!

Spot on for surfers, lawyers and anyone else looking for inspiration.


The Times Online, 28/3/08
by Alex Wade

During my Wrecking Machine phase, I was a lawyer (that's two plugs of your first book. I'll let you off because it's your birthday. Ed.). This was a profession whose intellectual aspects always intrigued me but whose rigmarole wasn't my thing. At all. Today I'm off to interview a lawyer I met in the line-up at Freights yesterday, this for a weekly slot on lawyers with interests outside the law (which today features sometime contributor to this blog and Perranporth surfboat rower Andy Cox). The Bajan lawyer's name is Barry Gale and watching him surf yesterday put me in mind of Tim Kevan's book, 'Why Lawyers Should Surf'. Kevan's book is a passionate call for professionals to destress themselves by gliding on a few turquoise walls. Kevan, with co-author Michelle Tempest, makes more than a few nods to the Romantic notion of the sublime, a trait that he shares with many writers on surfing (though to my knowledge, Kevan is the first writer to co-opt TS Eliot - arch-modernist and poet of despair - in favour of surfing). While avowedly a motivational book Why Lawyers Should Surf contains many fascinating curios on surfing and makes me wonder whether, if I'd been surfing as much as I'd wanted to do during my legal (illegal) days, I might have avoided the Wrecking Machine phase.


Irish Independent, 28/8/08
Blog Digest
By Marie Boran

Stop. Breathe. Relax. It’s summertime and everywhere I look people are working hard and not stopping to smell the roses (well, come to think of it, the roses are soggy given all the rain we’ve been having). So this week we’re looking at blogs which celebrate slowing down and living in the moment.

The (ex)Barrister Blog
http://timkevan.blogspot.com/
THIS guy was a successful, high-powered barrister for 10 years and then one day simply decided to retire early and spend his days surfing. He even wrote a book about it: Why Lawyers Should Surf.
One thing blogger, Tim Kevan, feels is missing from our modern lives is silence. We drown out our inner voice with noise – from the office, the high street, the internet, TV. Out on the waves there is no noise, just you and the sea.
So, if you’re looking to escape from it all, catch a wave.


Drift Magazine, issue 5, 2008
Why Lawyers Should Surf

Practically written and laid out, this is not a novel but a simple set of rules about how to live your life, using surfing as a metaphor with which to spell out the basics.Whether you live the high life or the slow life, you'll find plenty of information jammed into this comprehensive read. Chicken Soup it isn't; easy to understand guidance in a world of fast-paced technical wizadry it is. Subjects range from how to visualise your goals to tips to building rapport and improving your communcation skills. If you want to get excited about life, discover your own power and find peace of mind, then give this a go. Oh, and it's not one of those books about blaming your mother.


Slide Magazine, 2008
by Alison Aprhys

Written by a barrister and a psychiatrist and with an introduction by a champion boxer, Why Lawyers Should Surf (WLSS) appears to be the love-child of a self-help motivational guide for success in work and life and a marketing exercise to encourage waveriding. Crimewriter P.D.James once said, "Lawyers are intelligent people whose profession is argument", and authors Kevan and Tempest seem to agree. They quote a John Hopkins University study, which found that lawyers in the US suffered four times the average depression rate. deciding that the cynicism that lawyers use so successfully in their professional lives was too often pouring into their private time, causing unnecessary stress, unhappiness and depression, Kevan and Tempest use the metaphor of surfing and the ocean throughout this book to discuss methods in which they can better communicate and improve their lives through employing the glass 'half-full' approach. This is often referred to be surfers as, 'there'll be another wave in a minute mate'. Recently Australian chapters of Surfing Lawyers which bills itself as 'a non-profit organization of attorneys who promote and preserve the lifestyle, causes and concerns of surfers around the world', so there's probably a market in Australia for the book. But if groups like this can change life for the legal profession as we know it, or whether WLSS will cause a flood of solicitors and barrister forgoing golf and buying up longboards is debatable.


DailyStoke.com, 27/9/08
Why Lawyers Should Surf - Book Review
by Mike Arnot

I’ve recently stumbled upon a very interesting and unique book where surfing is a…err…groundswell…throughout. The book, titled Why Lawyers Should Surf is written by Tim Kevan, a British surfer (and lawyer, to boot) and Dr. Michelle Tempest, a British shrink. As the title so clearly and un-lawyer-like suggests, the book is less about surfing and more about life. It is a welcome contribution to bookshelves at your local shop filled with tales of “making the drop at Pipeline in the mid-1980s” etc. (As an aside, I think I did a double take the first time I saw the truly beautiful cover, reading it to be Why Lawyers Shouldn’t Surf. There’s your sequel, Mr. Kevan!)

To give readers some context, the book is divided into parts that delve into psychology. The first is Mind Power - which explores how thoughts and visualization determine how we end up living our lives. The second is Communication - which explores ways for more effective communication in all aspects of life, but particularly for those where effective communication is very important. (Notice I haven’t mentioned aerials just yet.) The third is Taking Action - which, to use a surfing metaphor of my own - is the transition from surfing in theory to getting out and paddling for some waves. The final section is about the Work-life balance (perhaps one of the easiest part for a surfer to contemplate, given that even the surfing-lawyers out there must all be working in order to surf. I won’t comment on that.) The strongest part of the book is the first part about Mind Power. This book will help anyone understand how our thoughts and words control of our day to day lives and our own approach to living. How we live is directly correlated with how we choose to think, speak, and believe. It would be impossible for me to cover the complexities of this book in this review - and it is not light reading. That said, I was hooked from the get go. All of those elements in surfing that surfers might take for granted - such as paddling out or waiting in the lineup for seemingly endless minutes - are good metaphors for the times where we can’t get to the beach and are chained to our desk. The book couples the surfing metaphors with inspirational quotes and stories of surfers and non-surfers alike.

Why Lawyers Should Surf is essential reading not simply for lawyers or other professionals but for surfers of every stripe who are seeking to understand how to better live their liges. ”Don’t fight against the rip” might have more to do with your life than you had ever thought. Read the book and judge for yourselves. For surfing fanatics and those interested in improving themselves, you can pick up the book here.


Swordplay, 3/8/08

Surfing and the law go together about as well as Formula 1 and Chelsea basements. Right? Well, no. According to barrister turned blogger/writer Tim Kevan, today’s stressed out lawyers would do well to immerse themselves in what the Hawaiians call ‘the sport of kings’. For Kevan, surfing has a spiritual essence which is the perfect antidote to the high levels of stress and depression found among lawyers. He should know - Kevan recently quit his life as a London personal injury barrister to live by the sea in North Devon, where he regularly surfs. Not many lawyers will necessarily be able to make quite such a radical move, but they might well find themselves inspired by Kevan’s recently published book, Why Lawyers Should Surf. A motivational and erudite read with plenty of esoteric material on surfing and some well-researched pieces on the reality of life as a lawyer.


NSW Law Society Journal, 8/08
A surfing fan says catch a wave
By Stephen Titus (solicitor)

TIM KEVAN IS AN ENGLISH BARRISTER, writer and surfer, and Dr Michelle Tempest is a psychiatrist with a graduate law degree. Their book, aimed at lawyers, legal students and anyone interested in improving their working life with passion, uses the metaphor of surfing to show how to improve their work and achieve a balance with other interests. it succeeds.
All those who surf know the pleasure, connection with nature and sense of timelessness of surfing: the surfer's routine of waiting for the right weather conditiond, being in the right place at the right time, practising, utilising a rip to get out more easily, considering where the waves are breaking, choosing a wave, committing to it and getting the reward.

The authors apply this to the work environment, comparing surfing with preparation for a court case: the perseverance, patience and timely commitment, knowing the facts and law, being bold and committed where necessary, enjoying the process, the rewards and the exhilaration of a job well done.

The legal linkage works well. But one does not need to be a surfer, or a lawyer, to appreciate and enjoy the well-written, humourous and enjoyable examples and suggestions the authors make.

They provide helpful examples for self-improvement and mind power. They advise setting the right course, covering the groundwork, getting into as good a position as possible and making the right choices. They suggest living life with a passion, and balancing the natural world and work.
There are helpful tips on advocacy techniques, body language and the power of words. They talk about utilising communication skills, visualisation, setting goals and building rapport. They make suggestions on dealing with stress and emotions, time management and business development and maintaining a balance with health and leisure.

There are quotes and vignettes from Lou Reed, Thomas Edison, Rudyard Kipling, Rosa Parks and conservationist Rachel Carson, among others. All are thoughtful, some inspiring. Phil Edwards, iconic surfer, is quoted on not fearing the unknown: "To rise to the challenge and see the benefits of taking some risks. To feel alive. To realise that through acts of courage, facing fear, insight can flourish. There are uncounted millions of people who now go through life without any sort of real, vibrant kick ... the answer is surfing."

And Gregory peck, in the role of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird: "You have to dream, you have to have a vision, then you have to set a goal for yourself that might even scare you a little because sometimes that seems far beyond your reach. Then I think you have to develop a kind of resistance to rejections and to the disappointments that are sure to come your way."

The book makes you feel like working smarter and going surfing, or whatever activity provides a release for you. I have always felt more focused at work after a morning surf. Going surfing gives a clarity to life that other people yearn for.


YouClaim News 2008
Surfing may solve a personal injury lawyer's problems

The life of a personal injury lawyer is a high-pressure one, with the compensation claims under your wing being highly important things in the lives of the claimants who are making them. Perhaps, then, it's no surprise that one highly successful barrister swapped a ten-year career for a surfer's life on the Devon coast.

It's the story of Tim Kevan's book, Why Lawyers Should Surf. Even without knowing his life history, it's easy to guess his opinions on the matter from that title. Then, once you move into the text of the book itself, you get phrases like "The human connection with the ocean is primeval and touches the very depths of our souls", moving into this:
"Surfing is far more than pleasure. It is a connection with nature, the world, with God. Some might say it is love itself. It is a sense of timelessness, of other worldliness yet at the same time as connected to this world as it is possible to be."

This is uplifting, inspirational stuff, and well-informed, too; he brings in Goethe, Eliot and Captain Cook to support his argument, as well as psychology - the last, perhaps, as the book is co-written with an aptly named doctor of psychology for watersports, Dr Michelle Tempest.

Surfing isn't always taken as the simple activity, but as a metaphor for motivation itself for all personal injury lawyers - the sense of self-motivation that is central to any profession is powerfully supported here, and that means it's probably transferable to jobs beyond the law.

There's material on communication skills, goal setting, work-life balance and how to change your life. Not everyone need change their life so profoundly as Kevan, but thinking about how your life could change for the better can often be a good thing.

Andy Martin's review in the Independent begins with a joke - "If anyone had asked me before I read this book why lawyers should surf, I would have said that they would feel right at home with the sharks." But he, too, comes round to the book's persuasive message.

But there's more to the choice of lawyers being the ones that need to surf than it having been one author's profession; the other author argues from her psychological perspective that the personality traits of a successful personal injury lawyer can, in fact, be harmful in life outside the world of compensation claims.

These include a tendency to pessimism, which can help perceive the weak points that opposing lawyers may attack in, say, a work accident claim, but may not go down so well in the pub after work. Similarly, their 'high-dominance' characteristics are very useful in the verbal battle of a claim, but less so in the friendlier world outside. However, it's true that characteristics like these can be found outside the profession.

If you're interested in reading more about the book, there are excerpts on Kevan's blog, where the book is also available for purchase. Or you could simply skip that part and go surfing.


ITV Local, 27/8/08
Pillar of the Community – Tim Kevan
Written by Jack

Everybody wants to live the dream – but very few of us actually achieve it, and so often spend weeks/months/years grumbling about how things should change – without actually doing anything about it. Not so Tim Kevan, who at the relatively tender age of 36 retired from his barrister job, moved to North Devon to surf, and got a book deal with Bloomsbury.

Nice work!

His first literary outing, ‘Why Lawyer’s should Surf: Inspiration for Lawyers at work’, is a collection of inspirational writings that examine a variety of areas of the mind and body.

Receiving a number of positive reviews from the press, you can read a whole heap of extracts from the book over on Tim’s blog. Of which the snippet below is one of my favourites.

“Billy Hamilton, one of the great surfers of the 1960s and step-father of big wave surfer Laird Hamilton said, “To become the energy of the waves, that’s the main idea. You take when the water gives, and you give when the water takes.”

Now he is working on his second book, a novel, and despite much probing from our good selves, he has convinced us that Bloomsbury are keeping everything under wraps, and can’t send even a snippet - even though it’s now in the final stages of tidying up. A shame indeed, but fear not literary fans, as we shall certainly keep you up to date with Tim’s progress.

Meanwhile – he’ll be spending his days at the beach, riding the waves and generally having a great time… Sickening isn’t it!

Tim Kevan, we nevertheless salute you as Meridian Blog’s Pillar of the Community!

Legal Week, 8/1/07
Daily DiaryYour one-stop gossip shop
Surfin' DLA at the great barrister reef

Posted by legalweekblogs.com SU

With its thousands-strong cast of colourful characters, there is no shortage of distinctive voices at the Bar - albeit most of them sharing the same Harrovian elocution and more than a hint of the Home Counties.

One of the more unique voices is that of One Temple Gardens personal injury specialist and chronicler of our times Tim Kevan, prolific author and mastermind behind The Barrister Blog, which you can find here.

Kevan's online journal offers an unlikely but strangely captivating blend of legal analysis and quasi-philosophical musings on his other great passion (along with getting crocked sportsmen a contribution to their Tubigrip) - surfing.

Certainly there are few other places where an in-depth discussion of class in the Bar's esoteric clerking system appears side by side with deeply personal jottings on the "timelessness" and "otherworldliness" of the wave-chasing existence.

In a post co-authored by his magnificently-named fiancé, Dr Michelle Tempest (who The Diary had previously thought was the love-interest in a Bond movie), Kevan outlines how surfing can broaden the mind and, by extension, improve advocacy. The essay will appear as part of the duo's forthcoming opus, 'Why Lawyers Should Surf'.

Noble stuff indeed, although the title does rather call to mind the old joke that begins 'What do you call 4,000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?'.

Extracts from 'Why Lawyers Should Surf'

For specific extracts, click on the following links or continue reading below:

Metaphor of surfing
Learning from mistakes
Power of words
Taking risks
Power of metaphor
Emotions: heartbeat of soul
Limitations of goal-setting
Concepts of time
Ideas of happiness
Effect of natural world
Role of silence
Environment: dancing on the brink of the world
Our relationship to the ocean
Why Lawyers are in danger

This is what the publishers say: "Lawyers need motivating. As with all intelligent human beings, the best motivation is self-motivation. After many years without an original and empathetic book, we now have a strikingly original one written for practitioners. With the metaphor of surfing and the ocean flowing throughout, the authors have drawn on their collective experience and brought together not only some powerful psychological tools but a beautiful collection of ideas and images which will continue to inspire long after the first reading. The first section deals with the power of the mind and examines visualizations, underlying beliefs and one’s own internal language. It then goes on to examine communication skills ranging from the building of rapport and body language to advocacy techniques. This is followed by a section on goal setting, values and ways in which positive changes can be made fast and effectively in all areas of one’s life. Finally, there is a section on work/life balance focusing on various aspects of health and leisure. Why Lawyers Should Surf is aimed at lawyers, legal students, staff working in legal offices and anyone interested in improving their lot and living their lives with passion."

Metaphor of surfing

This is an extract from Why Lawyers Should Surf co-authored with Dr Michelle Tempest which is now available on Waterstone's website here or can be ordered from XPL Publishing on 0870 079 8897 (p&p is included). Further extracts can be found here. To see a review of the book in The Independent click here.

As to the title why lawyers should surf, it is hoped that this metaphor will help to illustrate some of the points made in a way which is outside of the lawyer’s day to day experience. Its use has obviously become particularly prevalent in the modern world as a result of its association with computers and internet surfing. However, the connection to surfing, waves and the deep ocean beyond goes far beyond such modern inventions.

The human connection with the ocean is primeval and touches the very depths of our souls. Evolutionists might suggest that it has something to do with the fact that all species originated in the sea. Biblical references might be made to the first paragraph of the Bible which says “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”, to Noah and the great flood, Moses and the parting of the Red Sea, Jonah and the whale and even Jesus himself walking on water. Psychologists on the other hand might suggest that it is due to our time in the womb or the fact perhaps that like the surface of the earth itself we are made mostly of water. As Goethe put it, “All is born of water; all is sustained by water.” In The Book of Waves, Drew Kampion suggested that we are all drawn to the meeting of the land and the ocean because of the release of energy which happens there: “…where ocean wave meets solid ground and gives up its accumulated life force in a powerful expression of consummation”.

It is not to suggest that any of these reasons are necessarily correct, but simply that there is an almost inexplicable connection. Something which you can’t quite put your finger on, yet is utterly fundamental. This connection may underlie the feeling a surfer gets when riding a wave. However, as with the connection with the ocean, the feeling in many ways diminished when one attempts to put it into words. As far back as 1777, canoe surfing was described in an account of the voyages of Captain James Cook in the following way, “I could not help concluding that this man felt the most supreme pleasure while he was driven on so fast and so smoothly by the sea”.

Surfing is far more than pleasure. It is a connection with nature, the world, with God. Some might say it is love itself. It is a sense of timelessness, of other worldliness yet at the same time as connected to this world as it is possible to be. Daniel Duane describes it in Caught Inside as “a small occurrence outside the linear march of time”.

In The Four Quartets, T.S.Eliot describes “the still point of the turning world… [w]here past and future are gathered” and it is perhaps only in poetry and the evocation of life’s mysteries that one can approach the essence of surfing with any accuracy. He goes on, “Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance…surrounded / By a grace of sense…In the completion of its partial ecstasy.”


However inexplicable it might be, the harnessing of the ocean and the mighty waves it throws shorewards provides a very powerful metaphor for the harnessing of life and everything that it throws at each one of us. On a more everyday level, it is also a sport which is away from worldly cares and to that extent contrasts with the sometimes stuffy image of the law. It is hoped that this may help to inspire the reader into seeing particular issues from a new perspective. Of course, it might also have the side effect of inspiring the occasional reader into paddling out into the waves themselves.

Learning from mistakes

This is an extract from Why Lawyers Should Surf co-authored with Dr Michelle Tempest which is now available on Waterstone's website here or can be ordered from XPL Publishing on 0870 079 8897 (p&p is included). Further extracts can be found here. To see a review of the book in The Independent click here.

Perhaps even more important than having a sense of direction is how to deal with the problems which life can throw up. The way problems or setbacks are approached can mean the difference between success and failure. Surfers know their place in the ocean. They know that however good they are, the waves can be mightier. Wiping out (when a surfer gets thrown from the wave) is as much a part of surfing as gliding along the face of a perfect wave. This humility in the face of such enormous sea forces means that surfers are prepared for the worst. They know the value of the English proverb that “A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner”. The value of Confucius, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” and of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”

This was vividly illustrated by Allan C. Weisbecker in In Search of Captain Zero when he describes experiencing his worst wipe out in thirty years of surfing. The next day, still dripping blood from his wounds from the day before, he paddled out once again into the vicious reef break, describing not only the usual fear but always second time around, the “fear of fear”. It was in facing this down and committing to continue his odyssey which showed his character and ultimately gained the respect of the local surf crew.
Ernest Hemingway knew this when he said that, “The world breaks everyone and afterward some are strong at the broken places...” Rather than wipe outs being seen as failures, they are quite properly seen as the times when most is learnt by a surfer. Perhaps they got into the wave just a little too late and went ‘over the falls’. Or perhaps they were leaning too far forward on take off and the nose pitched into the face of the wave sending them head over heels. Maybe they just misjudged the size of the wave. Whatever it was, the experience always brings another small distinction which can be made. It is the full collection of these distinctions or lessons which ultimately lead to expertise. As Buckminster Fuller once wrote, “Whatever humans have learned had to be learned as a consequence of trial and error experience. Humans have learned through mistakes.”