Monday, April 30, 2012

Person of the Week: John Bolch

Name: John Bolch of the Family Lore blog 
Occupation: Solicitor (non-practising)

1. Briefly describe what your job involves.
I now spend my time writing, both for my blog Family Lore and for Family Lore Focus, which links to family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts.

2. What do you like about your work?
Writing something creative (like Bleak Spouse), even if no one else likes it!

3. What would be your dream job?
Mission controller for a manned mission to Mars.

4. What are your favourite things beyond work?
Wine, astronomy, wine, chess, wine, computer games, wine, music, wine, films. Did I mention wine?

5. What are your favourite books and films?
It would be impossible to have one favourite of either. Candidates include:
Books - God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Vanity Fair, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and, of course, the BabyBarista books!
Films: The Graduate, Apocalypse Now, Life of Brian.

6. What changes would you like to see in the law?
Property rights for cohabitees, gay marriage.

7. What advice would you give to aspiring lawyers? 
That's easy: "Don't do it!"

Is the injury element of the small claims track limit about to be increased?

I see that Professor Dominic Regan has asked the question as to whether an increase in the small claims track limit will be the government's answer to whiplash claims. Now that's the sort of thing which really could put the cat among the pigeons. Though normally the big debate centres around whether the limit should rise to say £10,000 or £15,000. However, this only applies to special damages and the real issue for whiplash claims is the limit for the personal injury element. This is currently £1,000. If they decided to raise that to say £2,000 this might exclude many of those whiplash claims that are predicted to last for three to six months. It might also give an incentive to insurers to test the evidence of real life claimants at court as to exactly how long their symptoms in fact lasted. This is because at present many cases settle on the basis of a medical report predicting the symptoms settling within that sort of a period. The bigger question would then be how would claimants be expected to provide objective proof of their injuries and to fight their cases on that basis when they're only getting back small claims track costs? Interesting times... 

Whiplash cases once again under attack by the government

This post is brought to you by our friends at 1st Claims and Loyalty Law

The news at the weekend seemed to be full of reports that the government is about to crack down on whiplash claims. It's like a broken record year after year with change after change being introduced to crack down on fraud, on the compensation culture and even on specific claims such as that for whiplash. It's all very laudable but my concern is that when you start making change upon change without a detailed analysis the only winners will be the lawyers as they pick holes in both the drafting and sometimes even the substance of the new legislation. In this particular case, the Transport Committee published a report a few months ago which in my view completely failed to look at the problem of whiplash injuries in sufficient detail. In particular the report said that the Committee was "not convinced that a diagnosis [of whiplash] unsupported by further evidence of injury or personal inconvenience arising from the injury should be sufficient for a claim to be settled. In our view the bar to receiving compensation in whiplash cases should be raised." It also said that if the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Bill did not reduce the number of claims then "there would be a strong case to consider primary legislation to require objective evidence of a whiplash injury". But specifically what evidence are they talking about? Whiplash injuries are notoriously difficult to identify objectively. Furthermore, medical evidence is already required to prove a claim. So it will be very interesting indeed to see what sort of tinkering the government in fact decides to undertake this time round and if indeed they can improve the system for anyone other than the lawyers.

Free Personal Injury Claims Advice From UK Accident Solicitors, 1stClaims

Loyalty Law, Whiplash and Personal Injury Claims Expert

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Practice Direction on the Citation of Authorities

A big heads-up for a new Practice Direction from the Lord Chief Justice on the Citation of Authorities. It continues to stress the importance of the ICLR as well as interestingly mentioning BAILLI in the context of unreported judgments.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book recommendation: 'A Week in December' by Sebastian Faulks

"A vicious satire on modern life." -- Daily Telegraph, review in the best of the recent financial fiction

"The novel is cleverly plotted and eminently readable..." --The Sunday Times

"Faulks never writes a hackneyed or lazy sentence, polishing each with care" -- Independent on Sunday

"a zeitgeisty novel about the effects of greed, celebrity, the electronic age and the fragmentation of urban life." -- Cath Kidston Magazine

"It's gripping stuff [...] Sweeping and satirical, A Week in December is a thrilling state-of-the-nation novel."
-- Cath Kidston Magazine

"This intriguing book... takes the reader on a whistle-stop tour of society..." --Waterstone's Books Quarterly, November 2010

"One can't mistake Faulk's ambition, and his take on the contemporary life is never less than readable" --Sunday Herald

Available from

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Book recommendation: 'The Path to Pupillage: A Guide for the Aspiring Barrister' by Georgina Woolf and Alexander Robson

"This is a great little book, most informative." Phillip Taylor MBE, Richmond Court Chambers

" invaluable compass for any budding pupil andits publication could not be timelier." Counsel

"Anyone aspiring to practise at the Bar will wish to purchase this invaluable book" From the Foreword by the Right Honourable the Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers,the President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

Available from

Thursday, April 12, 2012

North Devon's very own Blue Fizz Events @bluefizzevents

If you're looking for an event management company look no further than North Devon's very own Blue Fizz Events. Run by Tracy Edwards, Sue Mills and Bridget Scott they'll sort you out whether it's weddings, corporate events or simply a party you want help with. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

North Devon People: Alexandra Melanie Dahl @Kooksurfer

It's always great to see new local businesses taking off and one such is run by Alexandra Melanie Dahl (pictured) who publishes the Highs and Lows Tidebook which not only has the North Devon tide times but also a bunch of wonderful local pictures as well. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book recommendation: 'Starter for Ten' by David Nicholls

"Is David Nicholls' Starter for Tena throwback? Many readers look back with nostalgia to a recent golden age of comic writing, when David Lodge, Malcolm Bradbury and Tom Sharpe were producing some achingly funny work, with brilliantly realised characters. But Nicholls' sharp-as-nails novel has all the comic acumen of his great predecessors (along with their frequently-utilised university campus milieu) and, like Lodge and co., Nicholls writes real characters, not just boobies suitable only for pratfalls and sexual embarrassment. So even though the situations may often be ridiculous, we're still engaged by the protagonists.

Here, they are university student Brian Jackson and aspiring actress Alice Harbinson. Brian has arrived at his place of learning with a stronger desire than the acquisition of knowledge: he's going to be a star of TV's hottest quiz. But his progress on "The Challenge" is somewhat stymied by his growing desire for the beguiling Alice, struggling to make her mark as an actress. And as obstacles impede their affair, Brian becomes more and more convinced that only overwhelming success on the quiz show will win her.

What makes this novel such a delight, apart from the strongly drawn characters (both major and minor) is the coruscating dialogue: Nicholls writes comic dialogue like a dream, and his targets are many and varied: the idiocies of love and sex, the ludicrous pursuit of meaningless TV celebrity, fat cat businessmen lining their pockets--you name it, and it's probably here; Starter for Ten is a panoply of modern Britain with all its glories and excesses writ large. Nicholls wrote the third series of the hit TV series Cold Feet, which is as good a demonstration of his credentials as one could wish for. But Starter for Ten is his best work; there are no false notes struck by miscast actors, just prose that has a comic energy not often encountered these days."

Available from

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Surf Museum hits front page of Guardian website!

Fantastic to see that the Museum of British Surfing and its founder Pete Robinson have hit the front page of The Guardian website (click to enlarge image). The article coincides with the opening of the museum tomorrow and provides exclusive pictures of the future King Edward VIII riding a wave in Hawaii in 1920. The museum will be officially opened tomorrow by North Devon's finest Andrew Cotton and fellow top[ surfer Ben Skinner with music by the excellent Neil Halstead. The inaugural exhibition is ‘The Art of Surf’ – displaying 200 years of art in surfing from the sketches of early explorers through to works by contemporary British surfing artists. The first dedicated surfing museum in Europe was started by Pete in 2003, running successful touring exhibitions before it relocated to North Devon in 2009. Pete has since spent the last 3 years securing the building and funding, completing the design work, and so far creating two new jobs. While ‘The Art of Surf’ exhibition will be the main feature, there’s also a section on British surfing history, North Devon surfing and the local environment, and a timeline of British surfboards  – displaying about a quarter of the museum’s collection.

Book recommendation: 'Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?' by Michael Sandel

One of the world's most interesting political philosophers (Guardian )

Justice is a lucid and compelling analysis of our current moral dilemmas, which argues for a new commitment to citizenship and the common good (Shirley Williams )

In the beautifully concise explanations of American philosopher Michael Sandel, I see great insight into our current predicaments. If any political reckoning is on its way . . . then perhaps it might come from the philosophy department of Harvard (Madeleine Bunting )

Michael Sandel, perhaps the most prominent college professor in America,...practices the best kind of academic populism, managing to simplify John Stuart Mill and John Rawls without being simplistic. But Sandel is best at what he calls bringing 'moral clarity to the alternatives we confront as democratic citizens'.... He ends up clarifying a basic political divide - not between left and right, but between those who recognize nothing greater than individual rights and choices, and those who affirm a 'politics of the common good,' rooted in moral beliefs that can't be ignored (Michael Gerson Washington Post )
Michael Sandel transforms moral philosophy by putting it at the heart of civic debate....Sandel's insistence on the inescapably ethical character of political debate is enormously refreshing (Edward Skidelsky New Statesman )

A spellbinding philosopher.... For Michael Sandel, justice is not a spectator sport.... He is calling for nothing less than a reinvigoration of citizenship (Samuel Moyn The Nation )

An ambitious and an appealing idea. Intriguingly, I find myself persuaded that it might well be worth a try (Lisa Jardine, The Times )

More than exhilarating; exciting in its ability to persuade this student/reader, time and again, that the principle now being invoked-on this page, in this chapter-is the one to deliver the sufficiently inclusive guide to the making of a decent life (Vivien Gornick Boston Review )

Sandel explains theories of justice...with clarity and immediacy; the ideas of Aristotle, Jeremy Bentham, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Robert Nozick and John Rawls have rarely, if ever, been set out as accessibly... In terms we can all understand, Justice confronts us with the concepts that lurk, so often unacknowledged, beneath our conflicts (Jonathan Rauch New York Times )

Available from