Monthly Archives: January 2010

Weapons of Mass Discovery

Two matters caught my eye last weekend which I would like to share with readers of this blog.

The first was the announcement that former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, will give evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry on January 29th 2010. In particular, the former PM will face questions about his government’s use of intelligence which was later found to be flawed.

This blog is, of course, strictly apolitical, but the announcement that Tony Blair is to become only the third PM and the first Labour PM in modern times to face a public inquiry (Margaret Thatcher gave evidence to the Franks Inquiry set up after the Falklands War and Edward Heath gave evidence to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry) is certainly noteworthy and caused me to recall the debacle over weapons of mass destruction, as to which see more below.

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Motherhood and apple pie

Each of us will recognise a seminal moment in our personal and professional lives. In our personal lives these moments often relate to family: the birth of a child, a wedding or the death of a close family member or friend.

In our professional lives as lawyers it may be the day you qualify, the day you retire, the day you become a partner or the day you have your first big success in court or the boardroom.

In a wider sphere, lawyers may regard the property reforms of 1925 as a seminal moment in the development of the law, or the introduction of the Human Rights Act or the day you discover (if in fact you ever did!) that Lord Denning was not invented to be the curse of the law student for his controversial judgments but actually had something interesting to say about the law of estoppel.

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Jackson: key recommendations

Key recommendations from the Review of Civil Litigation Costs Final Report of Lord Justice Jackson, published 14th January, 2010

A resumé of the key recommendations may be found on page 463 of the 584 page report [click here to view the report in PDF format]. However, here is a selection of the most important ones:

  1. Success fees and ATE insurance premiums should cease to be recoverable.
  2. Increase in general damages to compensate.
  3. Referral fees should be disallowed.
  4. Qualified one way costs shifting ( i.e. losing claimant will not pay defendant’s costs but losing defendant will pay claimant’s costs). Continue reading

Gunfight at the OK Corral

At approximately 3pm on Wednesday October 26th 1881, a gun battle took place in Tombstone, Arizona involving the legendary Earp brothers and “Doc” Holliday. The fact that the fight did not actually take place in the OK Corral did not prevent it becoming known by that name nor does it detract from its notoriety even some 129 years later.

When I was about 7 years old my Canadian godfather, who lived in Calgary, sent me a pair of cap and ball guns with silver plate and ivory handles engraved with the name Wild Bill Hickok and the holster and leathers to go with them (sadly all imitation). Incidentally, I suspect that this would now be regarded as a wholly inappropriate and un-PC present today. More’s the pity!

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The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley

Gang aft agley?

The last three words of this quotation from To A Mouse by Robert Burns may be better known in the Anglicised version of “often go awry”, but the point is clear.

The poem is also widely known for its first line describing the mouse as the “wee sleeket cowrin’ tim’rous beastie” but events over Christmas and the New Year had me thinking not so much of the mice and men but more about how often our most cherished ideas come to nothing because of unforeseen circumstances.

Asked by a journalist what was most likely to blow governments off course, Harold Macmillan famously replied “Events dear boy, events”. Or to use the more common vernacular these days, “Stuff happens!”

What were the events which took place over the past few weeks which were most remarked upon?

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It’s the strategy, stupid!

Let me remind you of the hoary old statistic often trotted out, namely that some 90% of corporate documentation is now created electronically rather than on paper, and over 90% of that is NEVER turned into paper.

Whether the statistics are accurate or not, there can be no doubt that vast amounts of information are now held in electronic form. This leads to questions about the way companies deal with the storage of such information and what arrangements they have for its retrieval when faced with litigation, a regulatory investigation, an arbitration or a Freedom of Information application.

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