Book recommendation: Just Law by Helena Kennedy QC

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?

Available from Amazon.

September 24, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Crying wolf

OldSmoothie was moaning about insurance companies today. ‘There’s one out there at the moment which is haemorrhaging losses so fast that it’s pretty much gone into meltdown. Simply stopped paying any claims and spuriously claiming that they’re investigating the possibility of fraud on each one.’

‘Can they get away with that?’ I asked.

‘It’ll probably buy them about three months. After that, word will get around about them crying wolf and judges will just stop believing them even when the cases really are fraudulent.’

‘But don’t you need some evidence to be arguing fraud?’

‘Now you’re talking, BabyB,’ he smiled. ‘That’s where the fun starts. You see they’ve instructed UpTights to try and filibuster their files at court and although she’s not actually making any positive allegations of fraud, we’re still going to go after her personally for the costs wasted by these delays. Should certainly add a little spice to the next few months.’

‘What does UpTights think of that?’

‘We both know she’s usually so cautious she wouldn’t even break wind without passing it by the Bar Standards. But the problem for her is that this particular insurer pays about three quarters of her fees and if she doesn’t play along they’ll dump her in an instant.’

‘Ouch.’

‘Exactly so. Particularly when she’ll also be worried that if the insurer ends up going bust, she could lose the last two years of her earnings that they still owe her.’

‘Completely trapped.’

‘Don’t you just love it, BabyB. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning and skipping to work filled with a spirit of goodwill to all.’

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister practising at the English Bar, written by barrister and writer Tim Kevan. For more information and to read posts from the last few years visit babybarista.com. Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

September 23, 2014 · Tim Kevan · No Comments
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Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons

qccartoon
This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including The Queen’s Counsel Lawyer’s Omnibus. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

September 22, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Weekend video: Interview with Lord Bingham, Part 1 of 4

September 20, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Book recommendation: The Children Act by Ian McEwan

Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge, presiding over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now, her marriage of thirty years is in crisis. At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents share his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely held faith? In the course of reaching a decision Fiona visits Adam in hospital – an encounter which stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.

Available from Amazon.

September 17, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Clothes make the man

‘I assume that you don’t intend to go to court like that BabyBarista?’ It was HeadofChambers.

‘Er, yes, that’s exactly what I’m about to do. Is there something wrong?’

‘Is there something wrong? Hmm, where to start?’ He took a deep breath and went on, ‘BabyBarista, I had the benefit of having been born looking like a barrister…’ You couldn’t be more right there, I thought. He then waved his hand theatrically and continued, ‘…but you on the other hand didn’t.’ He gave me one of his particularly patronising smiles before continuing, ‘However, fortunately for you, I intend to help.’

‘Hmm, help in dressing me up like like a pompous old fool stuck in the nineteenth century when believe it or not court hearings are now being tweeted and even the Tory Prime Minister knows what Converse trainers are…’ is what I’d have liked to have said. Instead I simply replied, ‘Oh.’

‘Yes, I’ve already talked to you about getting rid of that rucksack of yours and investing in a leather pilot bag. Clients will never respect a man with a rucksack.’

‘Oh.’

‘Then I see that recently you’ve taken to wearing shirts without double cuffs.’
‘It avoids the need for cufflinks,’ I replied.

‘That may be so but no opponent is ever going to take you seriously with cheap cuffs.’

‘Oh.’

‘And as for your slip on shoes and off the peg suit…’ He was at this point literally lost for words.

‘BabyBarista if you’re not careful, you’ll have fallen so low that people will…’ he hesitated as if he was going to deliver a terrible blow for which somehow I needed to be braced, ‘…people will think…’ another hesitation and then he spat out the words with an expression I imagine he has when he’s just sipped a wine which has gone off, ‘…people will think BabyBarista that you’re a solicitor.’

‘What was it Mark Twain said?’ smiled OldRuin. ‘Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.’

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister practising at the English Bar, written by barrister and writer Tim Kevan. For more information and to read posts from the last few years visit babybarista.com. Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

September 16, 2014 · Tim Kevan · No Comments
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Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons

qccartoon
This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including The Queen’s Counsel Lawyer’s Omnibus. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

September 15, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Weekend video: John Mortimer South Bank Show

September 13, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Book recommendation: The Law Machine by Marcel Berlins and Clare Dyer

The authors explain and discuss how the justice system evolved, the way it operates – including vivid descriptions of the trial process – and how lawyers work. Revised and updated throughout for this fifth edition, THE LAW MACHINE surveys recent developments in the workings of justice and the outlook for the future.

Available from Amazon.

September 10, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Honour among er, barristers

With wars, terrorism, government cuts and warnings of imminent economic collapse, there’s at least one constant in this fragile world: that lawyers will always be arguing about their costs. Not just arguing but passionately putting forward their cases in a way rarely seen when their own cash isn’t involved.

Greed for lawyers is certainly good, particularly where they’ve perfected the modern form of alchemy by magically turning two human hours into six billable hours with the help of some new and sophisticated billing software designed with only one thing in mind: to stick it to the client.

But today, even this little bit of certainty in the world crumbled to nothing. You see, I was up against quite an old-fashioned barrister from another chambers and we’d argued tooth and nail about the outrageous sums being claimed by my solicitor SlipperySlope and his team of paralegals. The irony is that neither of us actually knows what goes on in a solicitors’ firm and so for all our jumping up and down in outrage and indignation respectively, we didn’t really have anything serious to offer. Just how Slippery likes it, he tells me.

But then we moved on to my own fee, which I’ll admit was ridiculously high for the type of case we were doing. Now this was something my opponent was utterly qualified to be questioning. The judge turned to him and said, ‘What do you have to say about MrBabyBarista’s er, generous fee?’ raising an eyebrow as he said this.

My opponent looked over to me and then directly at the judge and said simply, ‘Your Honour, in all my years at the Bar I have prided myself in never yet having questioned the reasonableness of the fee of a fellow member of the Bar. Quite ungentlemanly in my view.’

The judge at first looked surprised and then beamed a huge smile. ‘Quite right too. I always found it a terrible bore when people tried to chip away at my fees when I was practising. It’s hard enough for barristers these days without trying to do each other down at every opportunity. I’m heartened to see that such an enlightened approach being taken.’

I was heartened too although I doubt very much that his privately paying client will feel the same way when he receives the final order in the post.

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister practising at the English Bar, written by barrister and writer Tim Kevan. For more information and to read posts from the last few years visit babybarista.com. Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

September 9, 2014 · Tim Kevan · No Comments
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