President's Letter (October 2013)    

So, there we were 20 feet away from a pride of lions, sitting in an open sided vehicle, protected by nothing more than the guide’s assurance that we were seen neither as a threat nor as lunch. Fortunately, the lions appeared to agree with this analysis and paid us little attention as they groomed each other and basked in the sun, looking like oversized domestic cats wanting to be stroked. Shortly afterwards, they revealed an entirely different character as we watched them hunt, catch and devour a warthog. Not one of nature’s more attractive creatures but even so... The whole episode was nature at its rawest. Not pleasant viewing but utterly compelling.

As we move into Autumn, and the reality of work in the increasingly difficult legal market, it’s good to think back to the better times last Summer. The safari holiday in South Africa fulfilled a life’s ambition and ticked one off the bucket list! Seeing sparring rhinos, fighting zebra, marauding elephants, extraordinarily graceful giraffes, assorted antelopes and various other beats exceeded expectations. Another ticked off the bucket list was whale watching. Great experience for the most part, by which I mean the first 90 minutes or so. After that, the five metre swell got the better of me and the remainder of the trip was spent wishing I was anywhere but on that boat! Another highlight was climbing Table Mountain, the long way round. Definitely to be recommended if in the area.

It all seems an awful long time ago now, especially as, shortly after our return, a very close friend of my younger son died. Such a tragic loss has hit us hard, as it has the many others who knew Owen. Things like that put a different perspective on the vicissitudes of normal life.

On a more cheerful note, I was unfortunately unable to attend the Society’s visit to Chepstow Racecourse a couple of weeks ago. It was by all accounts (and I have seen various emails) a really good day out, and I understand the bookies were especially pleased to see us! Keep an eye out for the next social event.

I was honoured to be invited as a guest to the Monmouthshire Incorporated Law Society Ball, held at the Celtic Manor Lodge on Friday 20 September. It was a splendid occasion and a magnificent way to celebrate the resurrection of the Monmouthshire Incorporated Law Society. The sparkling evening was hosted with enthusiasm by President Keith Evans, who was both amusing and, when speaking about the challenges facing the profession, passionate. A good time was had by all, so Helen and I would like to offer our thanks to the Monmouth Law Society and, in particular, the organisers.

Earlier that week, I chaired and spoke at the Civil Law Update seminar hosted by the Confederation of South Wales Law Societies. The event was arranged with the usual efficiency by Michael Walters, who was not even phased by the theft of a laptop and projector the previous night, which meant urgently hiring alternatives. My thanks to Kevin Greer for his help in retrieving my slides from the ether - I would have been a bit lost without them. It was good to renew old acquaintances and spar again with Cenric Clement-Evans and Mark Harvey, who both delivered important and informative talks, as indeed did Wayne Williams, Steve Averill and Anne-Louise Ferguson. The quality of the speakers who attended made up for the absence of the nameless AM who found himself double booked. Cenric and Mark effortlessly filled in the additional time!

Finally, many of you will have read that Chris Grayling has taken on board the almost universal objections to his proposals for price competitive tendering, which would have had the effect of removing client choice as regards legal representation. He has announced that, though it is still the Government’s intention to cut the legal aid budget by £220m, the plans for PCT have been abandoned. Among those vociferously objecting to PCT was the Society’s own Trudy McBride, who was one of three representatives who met Mr Grayling to highlight the problems his reforms would cause in Wales. On behalf of the Society’s members practising in criminal law, I would like to record our thanks to Trudy for her efforts.

Simon Cradick

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