Tuesday, July 31, 2012

General damages in personal injury cases to rise by 10% on 1 April 2013

I see that the Lord Chief Justice has just announced in the case of Simmons v Castle that general damages in personal injury and other cases will rise by 10% from 1 April 2013. Specifically, he said: "Accordingly, we take this opportunity to declare that, with effect from 1 April 2013, the proper level of general damages for (i) pain, suffering and loss of amenity in respect of personal injury, (ii) nuisance, (iii) defamation and (iv) all other torts which cause suffering, inconvenience or distress  to individuals, will be 10% higher than previously."

Monday, July 30, 2012

North Devon artist Dominic Johnson

A big heads-up for local artist Dominic Johnson who really does manage to capture in a picture the feeling that so many of us get when going to our local beaches and Saunton Sands in particular. A graduate of Cheltenham College of Art and Bristol University he has been a professional artist since 1996 and has exhibited in a number of group shows and solo exhibitions. If you'd like to see more of his wonderful work and to learn about it, visit http://johnsonsarts.blogspot.co.uk. Alternatively, you can contact him on  Johnsonarts@gmail.com or 07800 815797 or you can find his work at www.mymodernmet.com/profile/DominicJohnson

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book Recommendation: Citadel by Kate Mosse

From the No.1 internationally bestselling author comes the third heart-stopping adventure exploring the incredible history, legends and hidden secrets of Carcassonne and the Languedoc. Set during World War II in the far south of France, CITADEL is a powerful, action-packed mystery that reveals the secrets of the resistance under Nazi occupation. While war blazed in the trenches at the front, back at home a different battle is waged, full of clandestine bravery, treachery and secrets. And as a cell of Maquis resistance fighters, codenamed CITADEL, fight for everything they hold dear, their struggle will reveal an older, darker combat being fought in the shadows. Combining the rugged action of LABYRINTH with the haunting mystery of SEPULCHRE, CITADEL is a story of daring and courage, of lives risked for beliefs and of astonishing secrets buried in time.

Available from Amazon

Weekend video: President Obama does standup comedy

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Book recommendation: 21st Century Solicitor by Steve Weiner

This might be news: success as a twenty-first century solicitor is not dependent on your technical aptitude alone. Sorry. As well as the basic requirements of understanding and applying the law superbly, you are also now expected to master a whole suite of so-called soft skills -- communicating empathetically, acting commercially, writing carefully, presenting brilliantly, networking sensibly and building relationships enthusiastically. These skills might be called soft by our industry, but the reality is that they are both incredibly hard and vitally important -- especially as a junior commercial lawyer keen to make a likeable, professional, commercial and lasting positive impression on those in control of your embryonic career. Written by a lawyer with unique experience as a commercial practitioner, trainer and law-firm voyeur, this no-nonsense how to guide is an honest, punchy and modern look at all the skills you don t get taught at law school, yet are absolutely critical to achieving success from day one of your life as a twenty-first century solicitor.

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Monday, July 23, 2012

What are McKenzie Friends?

A little known part of the litigation process is the role of people who are called McKenzie Friends. They assist litigants-in-person and their role derives originally from the case of McKenzie v McKenzie [1971] P33. An introduction to the topic can be found on wikipedia. Beyond that, The Law Society mentions them in their Practice Notes on Litigants-in-Person and in October 2008 the President of the Family Division gave specific guidance on McKenzie Friends.

Braunton Countryside Centre Walks and Talks

Heads up for a series of walks and talks organised by the Braunton Countryside Centre. They include some incredible guided walks by local nature author Mary Breeds and her husband John Breeds who was the Warden of Braunton Burrows for around 30 years. There are also a series of talks every Wednesday from 1st August until 3rd October feature a host of interesting speakers including one by Mary Herself on 1st August. For more information, click here. The picture on the left is an early marsh orchid taken on one such walk on Friday. You can buy a copy of Mary's excellent and very accessible book Wild Flowers of Braunton Burrows either in the Countryside Centre or by clicking the link.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book recommendation: The Queen's Counsel Official Lawyers' Handbook by Daniel R.White and Alex Williams

The Queen's Counsel is a cartoon satire on law and lawyers appearing on Thursdays in the law pages of The Times. Collecting together the very best of the cartoon strip with the sagest of lawyerly advice The Queen's Counsel Official Lawyer's Handbook is the ultimate guide to surviving a legal career. Tips include: How to get into a top law firm and stay there Racking up billable hours the easy way Partnership you can make it, if you know what to kiss, and whose Understanding what lawyers do and how to stop them doing it to you.

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why is car insurance so high?

That's a question addressed by The Express today in which they suggest that fake claims add £50 to premiums. But despite the headlines, most people in the industry knows that the answer is far more complicated than that. Yes, I'm sure fraud does add to the cost of car insurance as does credit hire and also general personal injury claims. But on the other hand, you also have to remember that insurers have been at least to some extent shooting themselves in the foot by having lived off the profits of referral fees for so long. It will be very interesting to see whether the ban on referral fees which is to come into force next year will raise or lower the cost of premiums.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Recent blog on the topic of making a claim

Here's a recent blog that I wrote on the topic of making a claim.

This post is brought to you by my friends at Bartletts Solicitors.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book recommendation: Just Law by Helena Kennedy

Acute, questioning, humane and passionately concerned for justice, Helena Kennedy is one of the most powerful voices in legal circles in Britain today. Here she roundly challenges the record of modern governments over the fundamental values of equality, fairness and respect for human dignity. She argues that in the last twenty years we have seen a steady erosion of civil liberties, culminating today in extraordinary legislation, which undermines long established freedoms. Are these moves a crude political response to demands for law and order? Or is the relationship between citizens and the state being covertly reframed and redefined? (20040624)

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Saturday, July 7, 2012

North Devon bird update: Taw estuary, near Braunton Inn

Taw estuary, near Braunton Inn, 7 July 2012
2 bar-tailed godwit, 2 little egret, 2 shag, buzzard, several curlew, black-headed gulls, white doves. (Picture of little egret from March 2012)

For anyone who is interested, there is a fantastic blog on Devon bird sightings at devonbirdnews.blogspot.co.uk.

Weekend video: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out by Richard Feynman

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Book recommendation: The Art of the Advocate by Richard Du Cann

Every day, in every court and tribunal, advocates represent us all - Crown and defendant, landlord and tenant, rich and poor, honest and false alike. What are the duties to court and client? This book surveys the role of advocates at every stage of their work.

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Article at The Radcliffe Club - Law for Non Law

Heads-up for an article I wrote a while back and which has now been posted up at The Radcliffe Club - Law for Non Law. It covers in particular my second novel Law and Peace. Please note that the mass market edition of this book is now available at amazon. You can read the text of the article either here or below.

Writer Tim Kevan tells us about his second BabyBarista novel ‘Law and Peace’

Back in 2007 I had been practising as a barrister at what is now Temple Garden Chambers for some nine years and was enjoying the life of aLondon common law barrister. But I’d always dreamt of living by the sea and the surf and maybe even writing a novel. I just couldn’t quite see how it could be done. At that time I’d just finished co-writing a motivational book entitled Why Lawyers Should Surf with Dr Michelle Tempest, a book which encouraged people to look for inspiration outside of law and used surfing and the power of the ocean as metaphors for living the day to day. Next I wanted to sit down and write a legal thriller. But instead what popped out was a legal comedy about a fictional young barrister doing pupillage. I called him BabyBarista which was a play on words based on his first impression being that his coffee-making skills were probably as important to that year as any forensic legal abilities he may have. It’s a strange thing to say but I discovered that this bold, irreverent and mischievous voice along with a collection of colourful characters had simply jumped into my head and the words started pouring onto the page.

Since then I was lucky enough to get the first book Law and Disorder published by Harry Potter’s publisher Bloomsbury in 2009. It followed BabyBarista’s first year in chambers where he was fighting his fellow pupils for the coveted prize of a permanent tenancy. It was a fictional caricature of life at the Bar and included characters that probably exist in most workplaces such as UpTights, OldRuin, BusyBody, Worrier and even JudgeJewellery and her penchant for stealing cheap jewellery.  Alongside the pupillage race was an altogether different battle with BabyB’s corrupt pupilmaster TheBoss whose dishonest fiddling of chambers’ records to avoid a negligence action all started to unravel and threatened to embroil BabyB’s entire career.
Thankfully, the book seemed to be well-received with The Times calling it “a cross between The Talented Mr Ripley, Rumpole and Bridget Jones’s Diary”. It also continues to be published as a blog, having been picked up early on by The Times and more recently by The Guardian. All of which helped to lead Bloombury to commission book two in the series. 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 which was published by Bloomsbury this May and which thankfully has garnered some decent reviews with The Daily Mail describing 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 new 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 which 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 and write the BabyBarista books as well as publishing free legal email newsletters written by barristers (see eg 
www.lawbriefupdate.com/  and www.pibriefupdate.com).

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. But 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.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Support the Great Big Monster Sea Swim! @gbmss

Help us celebrate the 10th birthday of our personal injury newsletter by supporting The Great Big Monster Sea Swim!

On 28th July we will be celebrating the 10th birthday of our free personal injury newsletter. If you've found these bulletins useful over the years, I'd like to ask a small favour by way of appreciation through supporting my good friend Paul Irwin who is taking part in The Great Big Monster Sea Swim for the really excellent charity the Teenage Cancer TrustPaul is part of a team of five ordinary blokes who in August will be attempting an all-time first: an 81 mile relay swim across the English Channel from Guernsey to Dartmouth in South Devon in under 48 hours. Olympic swimmer Mark Foster says, "The Great Big Monster Sea Swim is an incredibly ambitious task and I wish the team all the best. Through their training, preparation and hard work I'm sure they'll complete the challenge, set a world record and earn themselves a fair few miles!" What's more the challenge is for a truly great charity: the Teenage Cancer Trust which you can read about hereYou can follow their progress on Twitter and Facebook and then sponsor them (even if it's just £1) at either Just Giving or by texting "GBMS 81" to 70070 (and then following the instructions).

As for our newsletter, we've gone from a small regular bulletin back in 2002 to an established free monthly email newsletter which goes out to over 13,000 people in the personal injury world. We've also built up our subscription-based Personal Injury Brief Update Law Journal over the last six years. Written by over 50 barristers and solicitors, it now has an archive of over 600 articles which can be accessed by the whole office for one low fee of £175+VAT. For more information, visit www.pibriefupdate.com