Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Recommendation: John Macnab by John Buchan

In 1925, John Buchan published his second most famous novel, "John MacNab"; three high-flying men - a barrister, a cabinet minister and a banker - are suffering from boredom. They concoct a plan to cure it. They inform three Scottish estates that they will poach from each two stags and a salmon in a given time. They sign collectively as 'John McNab' and await the responses. This novel is a light interlude within the "Leithen Stories" series - an evocative look at the hunting, shooting and fishing lifestyle in Highland Scotland.

Available from Amazon

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New article on private parking...

I've just done an article for a blog I write for a firm of solicitors on private parking and in particular the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. You can read it here.

Braunton surf shops now have petitions opposing the Atlantic Array

Tim Heyland of Tiki International has now organised a petition to stop the Atlantic Array which is in all of Braunton's surf shops. Please sign it either today or tomorrow so that he can deliver it to Nick Harvey MP before the consultation closes on 31 August. For more information, click here.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Pea Green Boat cafe and restaurant in Sidmouth

Heads-up for a wonderful cafe and restaurant in Sidmouth called The Pea Green Boat. We had breakfast there last Sunday and it was absolutely delicious. The picture on the left shows the Salmon Benedict and for my part I had a fantastic breakfast of sausage, bacon, fried egg, black pudding and beans and was as good a cooked breakfast as you will find anywhere in the country. Absolutely top quality food cooked to perfection and with a really lovely atmosphere. What's more, it's right on the sea front. What more could you ask! Highly recommended.

Friday, August 24, 2012

CJC publish guidance on experts in civil cases

The Civil Justice Council has recently published guidance for the instruction of experts to give evidence in civil claims. It's a revised version of what is currently an annex to Pratice Direction 35. There are a few small changes including at paragraph 3.10.4 that: "The joint statement should also include an express statement the experts have not been instructed to avoid reaching agreement (or otherwise defer from doing so) on any matter within the experts’ competence." Makes you wonder what sort of instructions experts have been receiving for that to need to be spelled out!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Civil Justice Council publishes report on contingency fees

A big heads up for a report by the Civil Justice Council on contingency fees. It concluded, among many other things, that for Damages-based Agreements (DBAs) in personal injury cases the contingency fee should be capped at a maximum of 25% and that damages from which the contingency fees can be taken should not be limited (eg by the cost of future care). They also concluded that base costs recovered between the parties should be deducted from the contingency fee.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Recommendation: A Legal History of the English Landscape

A Legal History of the English Landscape is an engaging account of how the law has played a pivotal role in shaping the English landscape through the ages. Adopting a broadly chronological approach, the book begins with prehistory and continues through Roman and Anglo-Saxon times. It examines the foundations of English land law as laid down by the Normans and developed throughout the Middle Ages. The author explores how landed property became seen as the focus of society by the seventeenth century and how ownership rights were protected to such an extent that they inhibited change. As society evolved, once important laws became obsolete and the author shows how later generations were able to adapt or circumvent them for their own needs. The book describes how Parliament intervened to rearrange the landscape in the Enclosure Movement, authorised the buildings of roads, canals and railways and encouraged the development of industry and towns. The account concludes with a view of the modern law in an era of public access to land, environmental protection and European legislation. By setting land law in the wider context of changes in society, A Legal History of the English Landscape will appeal not just to lawyers and historians, but to the general reader with an interest in the English landscape.

Available from Amazon

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Article on how an unfair discount rate has been hitting claimants

I've just done an article for a blog I write for a firm of solicitors explaining how the discount rate of 2.5% when calculating future loss in personal injury cases affects claimants. You can read it here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Atlantic Array - No Way: Various groups speak out

Following on from my last post on the Atlantic Array, it's worth highlighting a few groups which have already raised their concerns about the project:
The National Trust (also mentioned by The Telegraph)
The Landmark Trust
North Devon Area of Outstand Natural Beauty (AONB)
Cornwall Seal Group

There are also a number of websites which either have more information or are positively campaigning against the project:
Swansea Matters
Slay the Array
Artists Against Windfarms (which also links to other protest groups against wind farms)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Two weeks to save Lundy Island by opposing the Atlantic Array!

For those of you who don't know about Lundy Island, it lies in the Bristol Channel, just off the North Devon coast and is one of the most beautiful and untouched places in the country. It belongs to the National Trust and is run by the Landmark Trust and is a stunning haven for wildlife. It's also one of the few places left that you can feel absolutely cut off from the rest of the world and can experience real peace. Except that's all about to change if the government continues to press ahead with its plans to blight Lundy's horizon with a giant offshore windfarm nearby called The Atlantic Array.

If turbines which are 220 metres in height are allowed to be built the risks are manifold including destroying the tranquility of the island, horribly affecting the views and potentially affecting the wildlife both in the building and afterwards. The is all the more so when wind power still hasn't proven itself as a particularly effective alternative form of energy production. You can read more in The North Devon Gazette. The irony is that most of the people who would oppose this wind farm would consider themselves good environmentalists who would be keen to encourage alternative energy generally. But not when the consequences are potentially so destructive to one of our few remaining wildernesses in this country.

Take action
There is currently a consultation going on which consists of consultation documents and a form which you can fill out setting out any objections. This has to be returned by 31 August so time is of the essence. Please do respond and also forward the link. Alternatively, you might consider emailing North Devon's Liberal Democrat MP Nick Harvey who at least in the past  has said that he is a "keen supporter" of the project which he described as "an economic bonanza". The email on his website is You can also join the Facebook group Atlantic Array - No Way which already has 1,750 members.

Finally, let me declare an interest: I love Lundy and even went there on my honeymoon only recently (when these photos were taken). Please don't let it be destroyed by short term commercial interests. (Click on any of the photos to enlarge.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Article on the so-called compensation culture

I've just done an article attacking the label of the compensation culture over at the blog I'm now writing for a firm of solicitors. You can read it here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Surf films and Bing Copeland at the Museum of British Surfing @britsurfmuseum

The Museum of British Surfing will be showing three films in Croyde Village Hall along with hosting the legendary Bing Copeland. Click on the link for each event: 
19/8: The Endless Winter
30/8: Going Vertical
15/9: Bing Copeland & Boardroom

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Personal injury discount rate consultation finally here

The Government has finally launched a consultation on the appropriate discount rate for assessing personal injury cases and specifically what should be the underlying basis for its calculation.

Book recommendation: Defending the Guilty by Alex McBride

Every day, criminal barrister Alex McBride stands up in court and attempts to save people from conviction, prison, even a lifetime behind bars. Sometimes it's a hopeless case. Sometimes he has the chance to right a wrong. But mostly his clients are just plain guilty.
In Defending the Guilty, McBride takes us behind the scenes of Britain's criminal justice system. He introduces us to its extraordinary characters and arcane eccentricities, and tells astonishing stories of courtroom triumph and defeat. Whether he's defending hapless teenagers at Harlow Youth Court or prosecuting gold bullion robbers at the Old Bailey, these hair-raising tales reveal that justice rarely operates in quite the way we expect. Throughout, McBride grapples with that most important of questions: how do we ensure that the guilty are convicted and the innocent walk free?

Available from

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Legal Terrier Blog

I've recently started writing a new blog for a firm of solicitors which is called The Legal Terrier Blog. It's sub-title is 'Digging out the issues that matter in law' and the first three articles should give a flavour of what's to come:

Why state appointed medical panels are not a good idea

Why increasing the small claims limit for personal injury claims would be a disaster

The referral fee ban is a complete fiasco

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Doubts over the referral fee ban

I see that The Telegraph has reported that even the Solicitors Regulations Authority has cast doubt on how effective be the ban on paying referral fees for cases from next April on its intended outcome. It really does beg the question as to the whole point of bringing in the ban in the first place.

Weekend video: The Power of Simple Words by TED Education

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book recommendation: The Path to Pupillage by Georgina Woolf and Alexander Robson

The Path to Pupillage: A Guide for the Aspiring Barrister is the essential guide for anyone considering a career as a barrister, from the sixth former to those at the final stage of the BPTC. This book considers each step of the route to pupillage, the final and most competitive stage of a barrister’s training, offering detailed advice on everything from choosing the Bar as a career to succeeding in pupillage interviews. Drawing on the authors own recent experiences as well as interviews with over 50 experts law students, barristers from leading chambers, pupillage committee members and senior judges this unique insider view removes the mystery from an increasingly competitive and daunting process. Its aim is to equip the reader, regardless of background, with the knowledge and the skills necessary for success.

Available from