Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Book recommendation: The Law's Strangest Cases by Peter Seddon

Author Peter Seddon gives life to over five centuries of bizarre, macabre and sometimes hilarious criminal cases. You'll be gripped by tales of murder, intrigue, crime, punishment and the pursuit of justice. Despite how unbelievable the stories banged up inside these pages may seem, Law's Strangest Cases promises to tell the truth, the whole truthand nothing but the truth about the most ludicrous criminal cases in legal history. Full of riotous and entertaining stories, this book is perfect for anyone who is doing time on a long stretch. Just don't try to steal it, or you may end up inside! Inside you'll encounter: * The only dead parrot ever to give evidence in a court of law * One of the most indigestible dilemmas - if you'd been shipwrecked 2,000 miles from home, would you have eaten Parker the cabin boy? * The doctor with the worst bedside manner of all time * The murderess who collected money from her mummified victim for 21 years.

Available from Amazon.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Your child and divorce

Brought to you by our friends at Slater Heelis LLP

The expert solicitors at Slater Heelis LLP provide advice for you, your family, and especially your child through the emotional difficulties of a divorce.

You’re already going through a separation from your long term partner, potentially feeling hurt, angry and the whole range of emotions in between, then you have to explain to your child why this is all happening.
How your family copes with your separation is dependent on the context, if you are coming to the end of an emotionally abusive or violent relationship then you may be facing some short term turbulence as you move from a family unit to a single parent family. In this instance it is vital that you protect any children involved from any upsetting behaviour. This includes arguments between you and your former partner, hurtful words about the other parent to family and friends in front of your child and influencing the way your child views either parent.
Protecting your child’s perception of their parent remains crucial even if that parent has proven to be a danger, or a highly disruptive figure in their lives, as far as the child is concerned they are still their parent. In cases like this it may result in that parent being withheld visitation rights, and perhaps the adult involved does not want to see the child, either of which can have a detrimental effect on the child. Children have a right to a relationship with both parents, but it is always up to the parent with parental responsibility to determine what is in the best interest of the child.


If your child is younger they may not have realised what is happening in your relationship, however, if they are older it is likely that they have and it is important to respect them by having an open and honest discussion about what comes next; particularly if one parent will be moving out of the family home or even further afield.
Each family is different, and however you cope with child custody arrangements the child’s best interests must be at the forefront of your decision making. As discussed there will be cases where having a relationship with both parents is not possible either because a parent is not safe, or because they do not wish to be present in their child’s life.
If you and your former partner both want to be involved, it is important that you make the following issues are resolved together from as early on in proceedings as possible:
  • That the child be raised by both parents; this usually entails the child having a permanent residence with both parents, even if they only stay with one of the parents for one or two nights a week.
  • Both parents are supportive of the child’s positive relationship with the other parent.
  • Children, especially young ones, understand the living arrangements and have an established routine as to when they spend time with each parent that the routine is disrupted as little as possible.
  • Parents protect their child from any ongoing conflicts between the two of them.
  • Any new partner is complicit and understanding of all child custody arrangements.
Discussing these subjects in an open manner is the often the quickest route to a successful resolution, as each partner will have an understanding of the other’s feelings and wishes.

Who has parental responsibility?

All mothers and most fathers have legal parental responsibility. From the birth of her child the mother is automatically responsible, whereas a father has parental responsibility if he is either married to the child’s mother or listed on the birth certificate. If either parent does not automatically have parental responsibility, in the instance of adoption or a civil partnership, it can be applied for.
If you have parental responsibility you must fulfil the following roles on behalf of your child:
  • Provide a home
  • Protect and maintain the child
  • Discipline them
  • Choose and provide their education
  • Agree to any medical treatment
  • Naming the child and agreeing to any name changes
  • Looking after the child’s home
While you have responsibility for a child, you will not be granted a divorce or a dissolution of a civil partnership unless you are able to prove that you have arranged how the child will be financially and physically taken care of, as well as when the child will see each parent.


If your family is currently going through a separation and you and your former partner are struggling to come to an agreement over child custody arrangements, an alternative method of dispute resolution such as mediation could increase your chance of reaching a compromise that you can both be happy with.
The mediation process involves both parties discussing their problems with an impartial third party over three to five sessions. It is therefore dependent on your personal situation as to whether this approach is suitable for you. During mediation you are each free to consult your own solicitor for legal advice, then when you have come to an agreement this can be approved by your solicitor who will complete the legal formalities.
We have a specialist team of family law solicitors at Manchester based firm Slater Heelis, provide supportive and clear advice, using a pragmatic yet understanding approach to our clients. We will help you deal with the legal formalities of your divorce or dissolution while you focus on the future of your family.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book recommendation: Sober As A Judge by Henry Cecil

Roger Thursby, the hero of Brothers in Law and Friends at Court, continues his career as a High Court judge. He presides over a series of unusual cases, including a professional debtor and an action about a consignment of oranges which turned to juice before delivery. There is a delightful succession of eccentric witnesses as the reader views proceedings from the bench. Available from Amazon.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

ATE Insurance: A Guide for Litigants

Brought to you by our friends at Vannin Capital PCC Ltd

All litigation is expensive. In addition to the calculable costs of lawyers’ fees and disbursements, there is the additional cost of risk. This risk is usually in the form of losing the case. Not only are one’s own fees still payable for work undertaken, but costs might be awarded against a losing party. No wonder that litigation insurance is available. Since much litigation cannot be foreseen, it is this after-the-event insurance which is now such an important aspect of civil litigation.
Essentially ATE insurance is where an insurance company provides an indemnity for legal costs in the event that a client loses a piece of litigation. Unlike traditional or before-the event insurance ATE insurance is only available to litigants already involved in a legal claim. (It is usually claimants who make use of ATE insurance, although it might be used by defendants.) For the litigant, ATE insurance can be seen as not only a safety net against an adverse outcome, but as an essential component in funding the litigation. Few litigants would be able to afford adverse costs. Also some ATE policies will provide peace of mind in meeting one’s own legal fees and disbursements.
The ATE insurance market is a relatively new and growing phenomenon. As big commercial disputes often include claims for millions and indeed billions of pounds or dollars, it has become increasingly necessary as a way of affording litigation. The growth of ATE insurance availability is witnessed by the fact that twenty three companies offering policies are listed in Litigation Funding Magazine. Although most will offer standard ATE policies in relatively low cost claims (£100,000 - £500,000) in areas of litigation such as Road Traffic Accidents, Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence, some ATE policies will be for commercial claims. Typical commercial claims might be for patent infringements, fraud, investment disputes, international arbitration and construction claims. For such commercial, large claims, ATE insurance policies tend to be bespoke, unique policies. It is part of a solicitor’s professional duties nowadays to ensure that clients are advised of all risks associated with litigating, of all insurance options to mitigate those risks and of all options of funding the litigation. Applying for and securing insurance and funding will usually be undertaken by the solicitor.
The whole business of affording and funding litigation is an increasingly complex and expanding field. Alongside the development of ATE insurance cover there has been the growth of third party litigation funding companies. (To date twenty such companies are listed in Litigation Funding Magazine.) Essentially these litigation funding companies are prepared to invest in litigation disputes in return for a proportion of the successful claim. Such investment is risky; funders reject all but sound cases (usually those with at least a 60% chance of winning.)  If cases they have funded lose, third party funders lose their investment and might also incur heavy costs from the winning side. Thus, litigation funders have also encouraged the development of ATE insurance, as a means of insuring against their own risk. Few litigation funders would enter into a funding agreement where ATE insurance was absent. Obviously ATE insurance providers and litigation funders are assessing the strength of a case from a common perspective. Any client unable to secure ATE insurance and/or third party funding should quickly get the message that they have a very weak case, probably one not worth pursuing.
So for anyone involved in a litigation dispute the message is clear: apply for and secure ATE insurance as quickly as possible. Ensure your solicitor explores this option and that all avenues of funding the cases are investigated. Should the case fail, at least the ATE policy can help reduce the financial loss. The best ATE policies would cover adverse costs, disbursements such as court fees and expert’s fees, counsel’s and solicitor’s fees. No ATE cover? Then litigate at your peril.    
This article was written on behalf of Vannin Capital. Visit their website to learn more about business litigation. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Book recommendation: Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

Twice-widowed, alone, and in her late 70s, Hannah Coulter sorts through her memories and contemplates the deterioration of community. Available from Amazon.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Top 10 Universities in the UK for Studying Law: Examining Student Satisfaction

Brought to you by our friends at Jefferies Solicitors

It is apparent that the subject of Law is continuing to be of great interest to students in the UK, despite the competitive nature of acquiring the top jobs after completing university and further education. There are many areas of Law that appeal to students, whether it is to do with criminal cases, or even injuries sustained in the workplace (you can read more about that topic here).

Therefore it is quite interesting to have a look at the universities in the UK that are ranked highest for Law courses. What is surprising about the 2013 statistics is that the top 10 aren’t all awarded the highest levels for student satisfaction. You can see the overall results on the website of The Completer University Guide which has, for example, Cambridge in first place and Strathclyde in tenth.

What helps all of these universities to score so highly is the fact that they boast very good graduate prospects, something that is clearly important to many students once they have completed their studies. University College London was awarded the most points in this area, with 89 out of 100.

Yet if you take the time to look at the chart on the website you will notice that Edinburgh, Glasgow, King’s College London and Strathclyde do not score quite so high for student satisfaction levels. In fact, the UK universities that achieved the highest points in this area were Greenwich, Nottingham and Newcastle - two of which didn’t even make it into the top ten list overall.

The measure of student satisfaction comes from the National Student Survey, which is handed out to final year students at the end of the academic calendar. It is effectively a measure of the teaching quality at the university, as decided by the students who have just done the course themselves. However it is worth noting that the survey is only an opinion, and is not a direct measure of quality.

One belief is that the most well-known universities could end up being scored lower purely down to the fact that expectations are often higher. Some lower ranked universities can outperform the UK’s finest institutions in this area if students are surprised at the good quality of their seminars and lectures.

What you should keep in mind if you want to study Law:
If you are looking to get involved with Law by studying at a UK university, it is wise to use these league tables as a guide instead of only applying to those that have top marks in every area. Ultimately you will know what it is important for you to achieve your end goals, so graduate prospects might be the area you want to focus on the most.

You should aim to attend your chosen university with an open mind and without too many expectations. By working hard at any institution, you will get the most out of your course as possible. Remember, each student has a different experience so don’t let ‘low’ student satisfaction points put you off too much.