Monthly Archives: June 2013

Vanilla

Vilified in death to such an extent that his bones have been moved on a number of occasions to prevent attempts at desecration, Hernando (Fernando) Cortes was one of the most successful conquistadors of the 16th century.

The man who conquered the Aztecs in Mexico winning vast tracts of that country for the Spanish empire, once said to the Spanish Emperor who had demanded to know who he was that ” I am a man who has given you more provinces than your ancestors left you cities.”

What is less well known is that he introduced vanilla to the Old World where it had previously been unknown. Continue reading

Murray and Stokes v Neil Dowlman Architecture Limited

In the flurry of articles and general excitement over the introduction of the Jackson reforms, I appear to have overlooked a case which was decided by Mr Justice Coulson sitting in the Technology and Construction Court in March this year.

Although the hearing took place on March 27th, the judgment in Murray and Stokes v Neil Dowlman Architecture Limited [2013] EWHC 872 (TCC) was delivered on April 16th.

The judgment is only 25 short paragraphs and indicates that cost budgeting needs to be accurate.

It also tends to show that if you do not consider the ambit and broad range of costs of disclosure and e-disclosure before the CMC, you will have little chance to rectify your mistakes.

Without doubt, estimating the costs of disclosure and e-disclosure is going to be of great importance to vendors and those with responsibility for compiling budgets alike.

There is an obvious need for both to work closely together and Millnet is here to help.

 

 

Two steps forward

 I am an avid reader of the Sunday broadsheets. Try as I might, I cannot bring myself to read them electronically. The enjoyment gained from a stack of newsprint on a Sunday morning outweighs the irritationof the newsprint coming off on my fingers particularly when there is nothing better to do but eat my poached eggs on toast with Marmite and sit in the sun sipping a long cool drink.

Not that I have been doing much sitting in the sun recently as our indifferent, not to say perverse, weather continues to conspire against all of us enjoying the so called summer; and yet, the papers still carry an allure. Not for me the endless scanning and scrolling of an IPad or Nexus.

Not everyone considers me to be an optimist! Continue reading

Hats off to the High Court

 
 Some years ago now, I was involved in two major public inquiries which were much in the news. One was the Savile Inquiry into the events in Londonderry in Northern Ireland on Sunday January 30th 1972, known as Bloody Sunday, and the other was an inquiry chaired by Dame Janet Smith into the activities of the Manchester based doctor, Harold Shipman.
 
Over time, I have also been involved in inquiries as disparate as an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the fire which caused the death of fifty people at an indoor pleasure beach in Douglas, Isle of Man, known as Summerland and the incidence of 26 murders committed in London by mentally ill patients who had been released into the community after treatment. This last inquiry was set up under prevailing NHS legislation and Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights requiring the state to hold an independent inquiry into the death of anyone who dies in state custody or where the state is involved. (I paraphrase, but hope you get the picture.) Continue reading

Protection from Prism

Data privacy is not necessarily a subject which quickens the pulse, unless, of course, it is your data which is under threat.

However, the subject has acquired a whole new significance in recent days following the revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden who leaked sensitive information about US surveillance programmes to the Guardian here in the UK. Continue reading

Slick as a Whistle

In 1848, a certain John Russell Bartlett published a Dictionary of Americanisms. Mr Bartlett has it that the phrase slick as a whistle is “a proverbial simile, in common use throughout the United States. To do anything as slick as a whistle, is to do it very smoothly, perfectly, adroitly.”

Possibly because I do not listen hard enough, I have never come across this phrase either written or spoken, but that is in no way to impugn Mr Bartlett’s definition.

Mr Bartlett will have had absolutely no knowledge of e-discovery. Indeed, how could he? He was compiling his dictionary some 150 years before the idea was invented.

However, the recent case of Slick Seating and Anor v Adams and Others [2013] EWHC B8 (Mercantile) heard in the Birmingham Mercantile Court by His Honour Judge Simon Brown QC might have been in his mind had he lived in the present day.

The outcome of the case both on liability and damages was highly satisfactory for the claimants, despite the fact that the defendants took virtually no part in the proceedings, leaving the claimants with the burden of proving their loss from scratch.

But the important part of the case concerns costs. The judge awarded indemnity costs because of the conduct of the defendants and the extra burden which that placed upon the claimants. He awarded costs in accordance with the bill of costs submitted at the trial. There was no need for a detailed asessment. The judge concluded that, having case managed the case throughout, against a costs budget of £359,710.35 and a final bill of £351,267.35 there was no problem in awarding the whole of the sum claimed. Further the judge commended the claimants for controlling their budget throughout.

If that cannot be described as slick as a whistle, I am not sure what can. The whole case seems to have been run to fit Mr Bartlett’s description, smoothly, perfectly, adroitly. I feel sure we will be seeing more in this vein in the future.

 

 

We have lift off!

Do you remember Major Tom (David Bowie)?

More of him later, but Captain Ron?! 

To be honest, I have not actually met Captain Ron. However, I know about him because I was having dinner recently in Santa Monica, California at The Galley Restaurant and Bar and found myself being served by one of Captain Ron’s staff in the form of waitress Jonquil Goode. The restaurant is gaudily decorated like the inside of a Christmas tree which I am not sure would go down in the more staid parts of the UK but which did not seem at all out of place in the US. The food was excellent, my dinner companion delightful and our conversation with Jonquil was inspiring. If you want somewhere to eat in Santa Monica, you could hardly do better, particularly if you are lucky enough to be served by Jonquil!

But back to Major Tom. For months, commentators have been talking about the changes to the rules (CPR) which finally came into force on April 1st this year. For those of you coming to this blog for the first time or who have been on a trip to the planet Mars over the past few years, this may come as a surprise.

For those of you who have kept up with developments you may have been wondering  if I was going to put together a comprehensive summary of the changes. Frankly, I have to confess thatI have been put off by the piecemeal way in which the rules were introduced and the plethora of comment elsewhere in the legal press and online.

Pure laziness on my part, you may think, but help is at hand! Continue reading

The Famous Five

In the most striking example to date of  how seriously the judiciary intends to get to grips with the changes to the rules inspired by Lord Justice Jackson, the Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, has appointed five Court of Appeal judges to hear all appeals arising out of the reforms.

Rupert Jackson had in fact recommended that two Appeal Court judges be designated to hear such appeals but Lord Dyson has appointed five, presumably to allow for speedier listing of appeals and to drive home the message that the judges intend to make the new rules work as soon and as consistently as possible.

I had the good fortune some years ago to accompany a team of consultants on a visit to Singapore to study the introduction of the all electronic filing of civil cases. Initially this was met with horror by litigants and professionals alike but before too long practitioners came to accept the new rules and it is clearly intended that the same shall happen here.

The judges form a strong team. Apart from the Master of the Rolls himself, they are the Deputy Head of Civil Justice, Stephen Richards LJ and Lewison, Davis and Jackson LJJ.