Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

BabyBarista says that the paywall will be a disaster for The Times

In his most recent post, BabyBarista says that the paywall will be a disaster for the Law Section of The Times in particular and suggests that The Guardian's Law Section might be about to trump it.

Sponsored blog post: Problems with new claims portal delay introduction of “quicker claims”

The new road traffic accident claims process, intended to bring about a faster accident claims process for low value RTA claims has so-far proved anything but successful. The new process was introduced by the Ministry of Justice at the start of May and has been hampered by “teething troubles” affecting solicitors and insurers who try to log in through the online “portal”. Problems with the new process might mean delays for some of the hundreds of thousands of cases it was expected to deal with each year.
Low value accident claims, where the injury compensation is valued at between £1,000 and £10,000 form the bulk of the road traffic accident caseload for most personal injury lawyers. The new process, announced back in 2009, is an attempt to streamline the investigation and resolution of these types of claims.
From April 30th this year, all low value RTA claims will be made using a 2 or 3 stage process. This process aims to make the business of establishing liability and finalising payments to be made to the accident victim much faster. Most claims will go through at least the first two stages of the new process, although if there is a disagreement on the level of compensation to be paid out, then there is a third stage to the process, involving either a written or oral hearing to decide the quantum.
What does this mean for claimants?
If you have been unfortunate enough to be involved in a road traffic accident which has left you with minor or moderate injuries, then in theory at least, the new system should mean you receive your injury compensation cheque much more quickly than in the past. This is thanks to the strict deadlines for many of the stages in the new process (typical examples include a 15-day time limit for insurers to decide to admit or deny liability).
However, problems with the online “portal” – a website set up to allow insurers and solicitors to exchange details of claims – have been reported by various law firms since before the system went live on 30th April. These problems have seen some law firms unable to login in to upload details of their clients’ injury claims, whilst others yet to receive the passwords and codes needed to access the portal. Even those firms that have been able to log in to the online service have found that frequent crashes and interruptions of service are the norm.
With lots of hopes riding on the new software and the new process itself, it remains to be seen how quickly the problems of the past few weeks will be sorted out. After all, it is the injured accident victims who stand to lose the most from any delays to their claims.
Author: Neil Worrall

Friday, May 28, 2010

Press release: BabyBarista resigns from The Times over their decision to charge

For immediate release

Barrister and writer Tim Kevan has withdrawn the BabyBarista Blog from The Times in reaction to their plans to hide it away behind a subscription-based paywall. He commented: “I didn’t start this blog for it to be the exclusive preserve of a limited few subscribers. I wrote it to entertain whosoever wishes to read it.” In a further post he said, "I think the decision will prove to be a disaster. There are so many innovative ways of making cash online and the decision to plump for an across-the-board blanket subscription over the whole of their content makes them look like a big lumbering giant...Canute-like in their determination to stop the tide of free content and using a top down strategy which makes even the Post Office look dynamic."

The re-launched site is at and includes numerous cartoons of the blog’s characters by Times cartoonist Alex Williams. By way of background, BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister at the English Bar. The stories he tells appeared on The Times for over three years and they also led to him getting two book deals with Harry Potter's publisher Bloomsbury. BabyBarista and the Art of War was published as a trade paperback last year and was described by broadcaster Jeremy Vine as “a wonderful racing read - well-drawn, smartly plotted and laugh out loud” and by The Times as “a cross between the talented Mr Ripley, Rumpole and Bridget Jones's Diary”. A mass market edition with the new title Law and Disorder is due out in August. Book Two of the BabyBarista Files will also be published by Bloomsbury. The provisional title is Law and Peace and although a date hasn't been finalised it is likely to be published in 2011.

Online response to this story

This story has caused an enormous response from newspapers, bloggers and tweeters and the following are links to around seventy of them: Vanity FairThe Guardian, New Statesman, Media WeekThe Bar CouncilThe New Lawyer, American Bar Association Journal, Michael Wolff @ NewserEstates GazetteProf George BrockCharon QCGeeklawyer, PhanceeBusiness InsiderInfamy or PraiseEditors Weblogle monde, LawDentFamily Lore, Android's Reminiscences, Delia Venables, f/k/a, Jobsworth, Binary Law, slaw, Broadcast Journalism, Tech DirtThe, Criminal Law and Evidence, Memex 1.1Practice Source, Felix Salmon at Reuters, Media Gazer, White Rabbit, Trainee Lawyer, Exile On Moan Street, Malice in Wonderland, The Latest on PPC, Media BistroLegal NewsMartin Stabe, CyclothymicMusings, You Get The Info, Cyber CulturalistAlexandre Gamela, Whyte Wolf, It's Digital PR News, J Source, A-Z of Global Warming Of Interest to Lawyers Medie Varlden (Swedish)De Jaap (Dutch)Ger Timmer (Dutch)Media Facts (Dutch), I Love Media (Dutch), Media Ned (Dutch), ABC Spain (Spanish)233 Grados (Spanish)Lola Como Mola (Spanish), The Protocol Droid (Spanish)LaInformacion (Spanish)FayerWayer (Spanish), Direnet (Spanish), Golpedegato (Spanish) (Spanish), El Otro Juan (Spanish)Dziennik Internautów (Polish), Alternative Blog (Japanese) and finally tweets.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

CPD Webinars - CPD the easy way

I've been running a company called CPD Webinars for a few years now. It which provides online training in personal injury and employment law from some of the country's leading experts. For more information click here. To receive a FREE webinar which will give two CPD hours, click here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Article on BabyBarista in The Circuiteer Magazine of the Bar's South Eastern Circuit (click to enlarge)

'Scribblings from the Surf' - Devon Life 6/10: Waveskiing for England

The twelfth in a series entitled 'Scribblings from the Surf'. For more information on Devon Life, click here. To read the article, see the text below or click to enlarge the pictures of the original article below that. To see the whole series, click here.


Barrister and writer Tim Kevan meets a world champion waveskier and a shaper

Waveskis are the surf canoes that you sometimes see catching waves in the surf. It’s a less well-known sport than surfing and those that take it up are sometimes disparagingly called ‘goat-boaters’. But there are two waveskiers in North Devon who are held in equally if not higher regard than many surfers. One is a bona fide world champion and the other is an experienced and highly respected shaper.

Kieron Davies – The world champion
It’s not often that you get to meet a world champion, particularly in a remote location like North Devon. But Kieron Davies is not only a former World Masters Champion at waveski but also fourteen (yes, 14!) times British Open Champion, five times European Champion and the current Irish Open Champion as well as having placed fifth in the world open in Brazil. Phew, and that’s before you even look at his numerous other Welsh and Scottish titles. Yet when you meet him, you’ll find one of the most understated men you could imagine. That’s probably because he’s got nothing to prove to anyone. It’s probably also due to his thirteen years in the RAF during which time he sometimes got flown around the world to compete internationally at this sport in which he has excelled. He’s happy if you want to call him a goat-boater. You can call him whatever you like as far as he’s concerned. A man who trains pretty much every day and who’ll charge with the best of them. He really isn’t going to worry what pre-conceptions people might be starting off with.

Yet it wasn’t waveskiing which made me first sit up and notice Kieron Davies. It was simple enough. I wanted to put some sisal carpet down in my house but when I visited an established local shop I was told that it was just too difficult, for which I read, ‘not worth their while’. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve since realised that given the difficulties involved with such tough material it probably wasn’t worth their while. But despite this I was told to ring Kieron at K2 Carpets and sure enough his can-do, nothing’s a problem attitude prevailed without the slightest whinge.

Originally from Plymouth, Kieron started with canoeing when he was six or seven and then progressed through from a surf shoe to white water paddling, rock-hopping and then finally paddling a ski when he was around eighteen. But it was perhaps the RAF and specifically the waveski trainer Paul Beak that really inspired what has become a lifelong passion for the sport along with numerous skis being shaped for him by Alan Neighbour of Pro Design. That, and the fact that he spent six years in West Wales (being one of the first to surf a break called The Pole just off Freshwater West) and later eight years at the Chivenor RAF Base (as it then was) just outside Braunton in North Devon where he also gained his major sponsorship deal from a local company with international reach, Saltrock Surfwear. Yet despite all of his achievements, he’s a man who is very happy with where he is in life, still skiing competitively but also longboarding and kayaking when the mood takes him.

Gareth Harrison – The shaper
Gareth Harrison is a little like the top golfer who was competing when Tiger Woods was at his peak in that coming second to Kieron would in any other era have left him with the top spot and were it not for the great man, he’d have been a national champion. But that’s not to diminish the years of high level competition which he has also been through.

Originally from Exeter, he’s been in Braunton since he was very young and first rode a waveski when he was about eleven. Then when he was about eighteen he got his own ski for around £200 and was a regular at Saunton Sands before moving on to Croyde. Originally there was the Golden Coast Waveski Club at the Thatch in Croyde run by Steve Cox, the headmaster of Challacombe School. Then there were local competitions which progressed to national ones ranging from Cornwall to Wales and Scotland. He’s won more than his fair share of trophies finishing second behind Kieron in the national championships and in the top eight in Europe at a competition held at La Torche and the top twelve in a competition held at Les Sables d’Olonne, both in France. He’s also represented Great Britain at three world championships, in Cornwall, Bakio in Spain and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.

He’s a carpenter and joiner by trade and by all accounts a top one at that whose work has appeared in Country Home Magazine. But whilst he’s self-employed these days, he started out working in a furniture factory in which he had a hand in manufacturing the Kuwaiti University Library and Royal Palace which in 1990 appeared on the television at the end of the first Gulf War. It was his creative skills which then led him to making his first waveski in the Winter of 2001. Having produced one for himself, Kieron was not slow to spot the quality and ordered one too and his shaping has progressed from there.

But above all Gareth is a character who’s not only larger than life but like Kieron is positive and can-do. Someone who they call ‘The Knowledge’ for the breadth of his opinions. A family man who is always talking about his daughter Madalaine and his wife Jane. A local who knows everything that’s going on. Someone with a love for life. As for the mention of goat-boats and people making ‘baa’ noises as he paddles out, he too doesn’t care and says he enjoys the banter and specifically like doing something that is different.

But the reality is that in Kieron and Gareth they’re not just being a little bit different. They’re achieving great things abroad whilst at the same time remaining utterly true to their roots.

Tim Kevan is the author of the comic novel ‘BabyBarista and the Art of War’ (Bloomsbury) and the co-author of ‘Why Lawyers Should Surf’ (with Dr Michelle Tempest).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Book recommendation: 'The Wavewatcher's Companion' by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

A very big heads up for a wonderful book called The Wavewatcher's Companion by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, the best-selling author of The Cloudspotter's Guide and co-founder of The Idler which I previously referred to here. This book is a wonderful guide to waves everywhere from those that surfers ride which originate mid-ocean to the ones that have travelled for millions of years through the dark reaches of time and space. It's both a comprehensive guide to the science whilst at the same time it's a song to the beauty of waves wherever they are and as the author waxes lyrical it is at times both poetic and extremely thought-provoking. The way in which he manages to surf (as it were) from one big idea to another almost seamlessly as well as the subject matter itself reminds me of two books by Andy Martin: his surfing odyssey Walking on Water and his adventure into the world of high science Beware Invisible Cows. Highly recommended and available to buy now at amazon.

GoldCoast Ocean Fest on 18-20 June

The Goldcoast Oceanfest, celebrating its twelfth year fromises to turn the Summer's longest days into the most exciting, adrenaline-fuelled, educational and inspirational weekend of the year. This year the music line-up is all time with The Magic Numbers, Joshua Radin, Joe Brooks, Alan Pownall, Goldhawks, Lauren Pritchard, Jonny Taylor, Little Fish, Matthew P, Backbeat Soundsystem, Gideon Conn, The Universe Inspectors, The Quails, Peter Grant, Jim Jones, Peter Bruntnell, Central Casting, The Communicators, Rachel Brand, Jonny Black, Pickpockets & Skyrockets, Slick Licks & Harry Fricker. Over 20 bands, over 3 days... it's like music to your ears when it comes to fantastic family value! On the sporting front, there's Beach soccer, volleyball, surf aquathon, big boy paddle races, nipper surf life saving and the ironman and diamond lady competitions, which'll leave you breathless and inspired. And first time youngsters get to play too – with our famous toe dipper grass roots surf school. Many of those inspired by previous years spent spectating will be on the starting line, or on court for the first match as the winters training is put to the test. The lifestyle sports events, workshops, have-a-go's and demonstrations are designed to encourage the next generation of budding athletes to visualise themselves as the future stars!

Book recommendation: 'The Devil's Casino' by Vicky Ward

I can't recommend more highly a book by Vanity Fair contributing editor Vicky Ward entitled The Devil's Casino. It tracks the rise and ultimate fall of the investment bank Lehman Brothers which was seen as symbolic of all that was wrong when the credit crunch eventually took hold. It's a story not just of hubris but one filled also with pathos, particularly the first half of the book which covers characters such as Chris Pettit, a man who comes across as a kind of Canute-like figure trying to stem the tide of excess and determined that wealth will not change his values. Following his premature death, the author quotes Yeats' The Second Coming to introduce the second half of the book and it is worth quoting in full:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

This is a gripping, brilliantly told page-turner of a read that you'll find difficult to put down. Liar's Poker in real life. You can buy it now on amazon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bloomsbury buy Book Two of BabyBarista

I'm delighted to announce that Bloomsbury Publishing (of Harry Potter fame) have now agreed to publish Book Two of the BabyBarista Files. It is is a sequel to BabyBarista and the Art of War and is provisionally entitled 'Law and Peace'. It will follow BabyB's progress during his second year in chambers and the various shenanigans which inevitably arise. It will be published in May 2011.

Sponsored blog post: No-win no-fee cases

Personal injury claims receive plenty of media coverage nowadays, notably in the form of television advertisements. As such, it is arguably the case that the public is now more aware than ever as to the legal rights pertaining to negligence law. The pursuit of personal injury claims has been rendered more cost-effective after the introduction of the so-called no win no fee service, which is officially known as the conditional fee arrangement (CFA). The CFA has improved the general public's access to justice by de-risking the process in the context of potential costs when bringing compensation claims before the courts.

The CFA has provided greater financial certainty to those who wish to pursue claims for compensation than had been offered under the old legal system. Where compensation claims are won, CFA solicitors (injury lawyers) would normally recover their costs from the losing parties. In fact, even where cases are lost, claimants are not usually required to pay the costs of their legal advisors under no win no fee arrangements. The CFA does not, however, enable the claimant to avoid all costs.Therefore, most solicitors will take out ATE (after-the-event) policies on their clients' behalf. ATE insurance provides cover in the event that a case is lost, covering the costs of the winning party, which may include court fees and medical expenses.

CFA solicitors will usually only take cases that are likely to succeed, which is of benefit to prospective clients. Claims that have little merit are not worth taking under the CFA, whereas those that have a good chance of succeeding are worth the risk. If a case has been turned down by a no win no fee solicitor, it does not mean that it is guaranteed to fail but the chances of success are not held to be strong. In such cases, the client would be unlikely to benefit from pursuing the claim through alternative funding mechanisms.

Jack looking cheeky

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book recommendations: 'How to be Idle' and 'How to be Free' by Tom Hodgkinson

Two books which I'd highly recommend are How to be Idle and How to be Free by Tom Hodgkinson, the editor of The Idler. They're not just wonderful excuses for lazing around and enjoying the finer things in life but are fantastic guides to modern living and reminders of some of the things which the nine to five grind can wash away. Above all, they are manifestos in support of personal freedom, away from the shackles of either employers or a nanny state. Having myself taken an extended break from the Bar in order to follow my dream of going surfing and writing a novel, they not only resonate with some of the things that have occurred to me along the way but also go much further and stimulate all sorts of other ideas both for further reading and for ways of languidly mooching through a most enjoyable life. What comes as perhaps no surprise is that the books are written by another resident of that area most conducive to idling, North Devon. Oh, and it reminds me a little of a great speech by Owen Wilson in the film 'Me, You and Dupree' about career advice for languishers which you can read here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Voters in North Devon failing to receive polling cards

Having just voted today I found it extraordinary to discover that it wasn't just me who didn't receive a polling card. It seems it was the case for much of my area and after a quick google search I see that the story was even confirmed by the BBC back on Tuesday here. The story says the following:

Voters are still being urged to go to the polls in North Devon on Thursday despite a large batch of polling cards in the area being lost. People living in parts of Barnstaple, as well as many rural villages have not received their polling cards. North Devon Council has admitted that an unspecified number of cards have not been delivered. But it said voters who are on the electoral register will still be able to vote. Don Pratt, the acting returning officer, said: "Our principal aim at the moment is to give reassurance to voters to ensure they're not put off voting by not received a poll card. "When this election's over, I'll conduct an investigation into what happened." Liz Birch, who runs the Black Venus pub in Challacombe, near Barnstaple, described it as "ironic" that she had not received her polling card - even though the pool room of her pub is the local polling station. "I don't think anyone in the village has got their cards - certainly not my neighbours," she told BBC News. "I know I can still vote, but it's bothering me a little because if they're just using the electoral roll, you could say you're anybody."...The council said it sent out more than 65,000 cards two weeks ago via Royal Mail, but the Royal Mail said a number of cards were not issued. "The vast majority of voters will have received polling cards, but we are aware that a small number was not issued to us from the council," a Royal Mail spokesman said. "We have contacted the council to ask them to reissue these cards, so they can be delivered in time for Thursday." Other areas where cards appear to be missing include: West Yelland, Rackenford, Atherington, George and Queen's Nympton and East Worlington.

It's bad enough that the polling cards weren't sent out in the first place. But then simply to confirm that this is the case without taking any further remedial action other than confirming people were eligible to vote is even worse. No mention for example of sending the cards out late or even hand-delivering. Given that this is an extremely marginal seat in the closest election for years I can't imagine that the lawyers aren't already sharpening their swords ready for action if the result is close. Not quite U.S. style hanging chads but potentially a scandal nonetheless. What was also strange was the lack of ID that was required. I went along weighed down with a variety of potential ID that I thought they might demand but they wanted none of it and just waved the electoral list in front of me and asked for my address like some slack night club bouncer with a guest list. As a friend has pointed out on Facebook, kind of strange that there are more checks when collecting a parcel from the Post Office.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sponsored Blog Post: Choosing a Wetsuit

A wetsuit is an essential piece of kit if you’ve going surfing, kayaking or windsurfing in the UK. Taking a dip in the sea or a lake is an entirely more pleasurable experience when wearing a wetsuit. The cost of wetsuits varies considerably, so before you buy, you should ask yourself where and when are you most likely to use it.
A shortie wetsuit might be just the ticket if you’re only going to use it in the summer or pack it in your suitcase when jetting off to warmer climes. However if you’re a hardened surfer, and intend to ride the waves in the middle of winter, you will need to invest in a full-length wetsuit. The wetsuit also needs to be thicker so that you can stay in the waves for longer. Wetsuits, which are made out of neoprene, an elastic rubber material, come in various thickness. In general the higher the number, the greater the thickness (measured in millimetres).
The wetsuit works by catching a thick layer of water between you and the neoprene. Your body heat warms this layer of water and as long as the wetsuit is a snug fit, you should stay warm. An ill-fitting wetsuit will allow a constant trickle of cold water to enter the wetsuit. When trying on a wetsuit it should feel tight all over. Once it’s wet it will feel bigger. Most wetsuits have zips so that you can get in and out of the suit. Long zips make it easier to get the wetsuit on and off. Short zips, however, help keep the suit warmer as there will be fewer stitch holes to let cold water in.
Another feature you might want to consider when choosing a wetsuit is the type of stitching. Overlock stitching can be uncomfortable and cause skin irritation. Much better is flatlock stitching or blind stitching. Look for the term ‘steamer’ to indicate a wetsuit where the stitches are ‘waterproof’. This prevents water flooding in, which has a positive effect on the warmth of the suit. Expect to pay more for liquid taping. This is where special rubber is used, sealing the stitches for greater strength and warmth.
Chelston Direct stocks a range of mens, ladies and kids wetsuits and rash vests from established manufactures including Gul, Typhoon, Body Glove and Osprey.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Idyllic farm and treehouse for rent in South West Portugal

Heads up for an idyllic farm and treehouse which are both for rent in South West Portugal. It is owned and has been developed by a good friend of mine Richard Waddams and is perfect for a quiet retreat and also for surf holidays, being near to the beaches of south-west Portugal such as Arrifana and Carrapateira. For more details and to see prices, visit Walnut Tree Farm.