Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book recommendation: 'A Married Man' by Piers Paul Read

Every August, barrister John Strickland leaves London for the annual holiday at his wife Clare's family home in Norfolk. This year, on a lazy summer s afternoon Strickland, reads something that changes his life for good. All that Strickland has accepted as the way things are, for good or bad, is turned on its head. In a few short months he turns from middle-class lawyer into socialist MP, from loving husband to adulterer and more. Until one of his more cruel mid-life fantasies is brought to life - and John Strickland finds that despite everything he is and always will be a married man.

Available from

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sponsored blog post: Is my employer going to pay for an employment lawyer if they offer me a compromise agreement?

A compromise agreement between an employee and their employer is a legally binding agreement, regarding the termination of employment. Compromise agreements may be used in relation to unfair or wrongful dismissal, where the employer will offer severance pay in return for the non-pursuance of a legal claim. Increasingly, they are also used in cases of redundancy.

An employer may want to avoid a claim against them being pursued in a tribunal. They can engage an employment lawyer and negotiate a compromise agreement that will constitute a full and final settlement with the employee. The terms may include:
·       A statement of the sum of money the employee will receive
·       Confidentiality terms for both the employer and employee
·       A stipulation that the employee is prevented from making a future claim

It is standard practice that the employer will pay for an employment lawyer if they offer you a compromise agreement. This is because defending such legal claims against could be expensive and bad PR; and thus, a compromise agreement could benefit the employer. In addition, you must receive independent legal advice from an employment lawyer, before you sign the compromise agreement, in order to make it legally binding. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book recommendation: 'Flashman' by George MacDonald Fraser

The first instalment of the Flashman Papers sees the fag-roasting rotter from Tom Brown's Schooldays commence his military career as a reluctant secret agent in Afghanistan. Expelled from Rugby for drunkenness, and none too welcome at home after seducing his father's mistress, the young Flashman embarks on a military career with Lord Cardigan's Hussars. En route to Afghanistan, our hero hones his skills as a soldier, duellist, imposter, coward and amorist (mastering all 97 ways of Hindu love-making during a brief sojourn in Calcutta), before being pressed into reluctant service as a secret agent. His Afghan adventures culminate in a starring role in that great historic disaster, the Retreat from Kabul.

Available from

Friday, August 19, 2011

Article on

Very many thanks to TotallyLegal for letting me talk about my new book Law and Peace. You can read it here or below, and you can buy the book on Amazon.

Having written my first BabyBarista novel Law and Disorder a little while back, last year I was faced with the task of writing book two. This came as more of a challenge than the first given that I couldn’t simply use the stresses and strains of pupillage to drive the plot along and instead had to look to other themes and stories. In the end, I did just what I’d done in book one and let the characters loose to tell their own stories.

What eventually came out was Law and Peace, published by Bloomsbury this May and which thankfully has garnered some decent reviews with The Daily Maildescribing it as “highly recommended” and a “funny, sharp account of backstabbing Bar life” and broadcaster Jeremy Vine calling it “a novel bursting with invention”.

The book follows BabyBarista’s second year in chambers in which as the newest tenant in chambers, he must face down old enemies, try to win compensation for a group of ASBO-attracting pensioners and unravel the complicated knots of his love life, not to mention his mother's finances.

Under the wise and watchful eye of OldRuin, he tries to keep his nose (and his wig) clean, but when SlipperySlope, an unscrupulous solicitor offers him a quick way out of his financial difficulties he soon becomes embroiled in blackmail, dodgy share-dealing and the dark arts of litigation.

With his old adversary TopFirst out for revenge and the chance to be awarded a coveted ‘red bag’ at stake, BabyB has to use all the tricks of his trade to extricate himself from his legal quagmire, win the case for his mad old clients, and somehow convince his best friend to fall in love with him.

One of the themes that comes out of the book is BabyBarista’s preoccupation with work and his failing to give enough time to his friends, family and other things which make him happy. In the end, it’s the example of others who show him the way with the old people taking him skateboarding and a friend of theirs introducing him to surfing as well as OldRuin, Claire and his mother emphasising the importance of love and friendship.

It’s something which I’ve had time to reflect on myself having spent ten years at the Bar in London before taking what has become a prolonged break to move down to the sea in North Devon. This has allowed me to return to the much simpler country way of life that I had known as a child with time to get out into the surf and the countryside as well as to settle into the local community.

I guess the thing about legal life is that it doesn’t necessarily need to end up being over-worked and stressful. But in a profession that bills itself out by the hour, there’s an inherent risk of it producing a tendency to commoditise what might be our most precious possession, that of time itself. As BabyBarista discovers, it certainly doesn’t have to be like that and during the course of the book he slowly starts to return to the things that really matter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book recommendation: 'Anatomy of a Murder' by Imogen Robertson

The streets of London seethe with rumour and conspiracy as the King's navy battles the French at sea. And while the banks of the Thamesswarm with life, a body is dragged from its murky waters. In another part of town, where the air seems sweeter, the privileged enjoy a brighter world of complacent wealth and intoxicating celebrity. But as society revels in its pleasures, a darker plot is played out.
Yet some are willing to look below the surface to the unsavoury depths. Mrs Harriet Westerman believes passionately in justice. Reclusive anatomist Gabriel Crowther is fascinated by the bones beneath the skin. Invited to seek the true nature of the dead man, they risk censure for an unnatural interest in murder. But when the safety of a nation is at stake, personal reputation must give way to the pursuit of reason and truth.

Available from

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book recommendation: 'Bleak House' by Charles Dickens

With an Introduction and Notes by Doreen Roberts, University of Kent at Canterbury and illustrations by Hablot K. Browne (Phiz), "Bleak House" is one of Dickens' finest achievements, establishing his reputation as a serious and mature novelist, as well as a brilliant comic writer. It is at once a complex mystery story that fully engages the reader in the work of detection, and an unforgettable indictment of an indifferent society. Its representations of a great city's underworld, and of the law's corruption and delay, draw upon the author's personal knowledge and experience. But it is his symbolic art that projects these things in a vision that embraces black comedy, cosmic farce, and tragic ruin. In a unique creative experiment, Dickens divides the narrative between his heroine, Esther Summerson, who is psychologically interesting in her own right, and an unnamed narrator whose perspective both complements and challenges hers.

Available from

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sponsored blog post: Falls at work – stairway accidents

Falling accidents at work are amongst the most common type of accident in the workplace. According to work injury statistics published by the Health and Safety Executive, in recent years stairs were the second most common feature of low fall accidents (falls of less than two metres), just behind ladders. There are around 1000 major accidents on sets of stairs within workplaces in the UK every year. The construction of sets of stairs in a building has a large influence on the likelihood that an accident will take place upon them.  For example, some older buildings may have handrails, but these may not meet the standards set out in current regulations for height and construction. There are a number of laws covering the safe design and construction of stairs within the workplace, including the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.  If regulations have been breached, either because of the poor initial design of the stairs in your workplace, or by the presence of hazards on the stairs such as loose wires or other objects, then an employer may be liable for any injuries that occur to staff who trip or falls whilst using the stairs.

Claiming compensation after a fall on a stairway
Our work accident solicitors can help you to claim work injury compensation if you have suffered a fall at work. It might be that the stairway was not fitted with handrails for you to hold, a liquid was spilled on the steps or the steps themselves were poorly constructed. Whatever the reason for your accident, provided it was not your fault then you could be entitled to make a work compensation claim.

Author: Neil Worrall

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Book recommendation: 'The Case of the Velvet Claws' by Erle Stanley Gardner

Thanks to a bungled robbery at a fancy hotel, the already-married Eva Griffin has been caught in the company of a prominent congressman. To protect the politico, Eva's ready to pay the editor of a sleazy tabloid his hush money. But Perry Mason has other plans. He tracks down the phantom fat cat who secretly runs the blackmailing tabloid -- only to discover a shocking scoop.

By the time Mason's comely client finally comes clean, her husband has taken a bullet in the heart. Now Perry Mason has two choices: represent the cunning widow in her wrangle for the dead man's money -- or take the rap for murder.

Available from

Monday, August 1, 2011

Court Funds claimants losing out to effect of tax and inflation

Interesting article in The Guardian which says that: "Compensation claimants who deposited their awards with the Court Funds Office suffered a £140m erosion in value last year as inflation ate into their money." The special account rate used to be 6% but dropped to 0.5% in 2009. The basic rate is only 0.3%. It will be interesting to see how this will develop as inflation continues to erode these funds.

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