Confederation Report (August 2012)

 

It seems that my views as to the devolution process and the development of a separate Welsh Legal Jurisdiction have been a little controversial. Indeed one or two of our readers have felt so strongly that they have put pen to paper to express their views.

At this moment opinion is evenly divided with 50% supporting the status quo and 50% strongly supporting a move to a separate jurisdiction. Indeed the examples of Northern Ireland and the Scottish separate Legal System have been cited in support of the move to a separate jurisdiction.

The Scottish Legal System is long established and it has been indicated that Northern Ireland system is far from ideal – but then again what system is?

Having been married twice, once to Anthony John McCann of Barrhead  near Glasgow and secondly to Mr Aden Davies of Cockle picking stock from Penclawdd  Gower,  also ,of course, being Welsh myself I do appreciate the minority view.

However, inevitably the move towards a separate legal jurisdiction is another step towards independence for Wales and that, essentially is a political debate.

In any event I cannot help but be saddened by the impoverishment of many formerly wealthy and vibrant areas in South Wales since devolution.

The view of many is that all finances available are “sucked up ‘’by Cardiff and very little finds its way to the South Wales Valleys and other areas of Wales”. Decline is inevitably coupled with other economic factors and the current economic situation and cannot be attributed solely to devolution. However, there are many who do see it as a factor.

In any event, your views are appreciated. Particularly the Practitioner from Swansea who noted that devolution and the issue of a separate jurisdiction were not the only point raised. Indeed it was commented that his grammar school days left him with a love of cricket and all things sporty. As a grammar school girl myself I recall that our role was generally confined to making the sandwiches for the cricket and rugby teams on a Saturday morning. We did have our netball and hockey of course but there were no male counterparts making our sandwiches in the Club House. The point being that things do change usually as a result of people expressing their views and taking the time to make them known. Although I suspect that there is very little sandwich making going on in the Club House for netball and hockey teams by their male counterparts even in those enlightened times. I am of course aware that all these sporting activities are now open to members of both sexes.

Inevitably the debate as to the development of separate Welsh Jurisdiction will continue. In my view if there is an overwhelming need for the same then it will develop. However, there is little evidence to support that this is the case at this moment in time.

As President of the Confederation I attended at the Summer Reception held on 14th June 2012 at the Roald Dahl Suite, St David’s Hotel, Cardiff Bay hosted by The Law Society. The Cardiff Bay development is an undoubted success story in my view and brings an international flavour to the City. Unfortunately, like most things this Summer the weather was gloomy and grey. The views as to the Vice President of The Law Society Mr Nick Fluck as to the future of the profession was in similar vein.

He discussed the challenges facing the profession generally. As a High Street Practitioner I have little knowledge of the difficulties facing the larger Firms. However, I am aware that Mortgage and Insurance Panels generally are of the view that big is beautiful, with many High Street Practitioners being denied Panel Memberships simply because of size and the level of instruction received. Inevitably this results in a vicious circle. No Panel Membership – less instruction.

However, many High Street Practitioners have developed enormous skills and knowledge and interpersonal skills in actually dealing with clients over the years. Unfortunately this is a factor which increasingly fails to be taken in to account. These moves will inevitably result in the reduction of Practitioners in the High Street and the further impoverishment of such areas. As a PI Lawyer who stubbornly refuses to pay referral fees (with a resulting decrease in workload and instruction) I am pleased to note that there is a move to ban referral fees in this area and that it is now well established that qualified one way costs shifting will apply to all Claimants regardless of their means. It seems that a Claimant who loses his case will not have to contribute to minimum sum towards the Defendants’ costs, a Jackson reform.

Of course, inevitably there are certain exceptions and QOCS protection will be lost if a claim is found to be fraudulent, if a claim fails to beat a Part 36 Offer or if a case is struck out. This information was provided in the APIL weekly news on 12th July 2012.

It is hoped that this measure will be an inducement for Defendants to enter in to negotiations early and settle claims.

On a lighter note the Confederation Summer Party is to be held at the New House Hotel on 28th September 2012. This will provide an opportunity to dispel the economic blues. Tickets are very reasonably priced at £30.00 per head.

Why not take a table or book a ticket yourself? There will be eating singing and dancing and the opportunity to fantasize that you too can win a fortune at the Roulette Tables – Monopoly money will be used of course.

Alternatively you have the opportunity to combine business with pleasure and attend the very reasonably priced local Law Society Conference to be held on 19th April 2013 in Cardiff to commence with a Gala Dinner at the Civic Hall, Cardiff.

It is hoped that Practitioners from all areas of Wales will attend and support this event. In addition opportunity to obtain CPD points will be available by course attendance at an extensive programme of courses which are to be held by the Confederation in the Autumn of this year conveniently situated at the Village Hotel. More information is readily available in this edition.

I cannot pass the opportunity to comment on the case being pursued in the progressive Northern Ireland Jurisdiction where former Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Haine MP is defending claims that he has “scandalised a Judge”. Is this possible? It seems that it may well be.

The outcome is uncertain however it has raised issues as to whether “the archaic offence” is still existing and if it does still exist there remains a question as to whether it complies with the European Convention of freedom of expression. It seems that Peter Hayne MP took the revolutionary step of criticising a Lord Justice in his memoirs.

It has been noted that “the fair criticism of Judges and Judicial decisions is not only quite clearly a right, there are also occasions when there may be a duty to do so” perhaps a view that we should all bear in mind.  In any event, the matter was listed for hearing on 19th June so I suspect many readers will be aware of the decision.

For my part I am currently preparing for holiday and wonder, like many other Practitioners, is it really worth it dealing with the impending Court applications and contemplating the backlog of work on my return. However, the prospect of some sun, tapas bars and complete freedom for two weeks persuades me that – it sure is!

Gaynor McCann Davies

President

g.davies@daviessullywilkins.co.uk

 

 

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