What a grey day it is in Caerphilly. The Christmas bubble has well and truly burst. The jet set life of the travel industry is a distant memory.
There are of course meeting and eating places in the Caerphilly town centre. Indeed it is not usual to meet and greet other Lawyers at such venues. I recently bumped in to a fellow practitioner who specialises in Crime at Lewis Whittle who like myself was sampling the delights of the local fish bar in Bartlett Street. Fish chips and mushy peas were the order of the day together with a strong cup of tea. It is a far cry from the Ritz restaurant but, in this profession, it pays to be adaptable.
It was of course not fish and chips that were the subject of conversation but the plight of Criminal Lawyers “save our criminal justice” campaign and the rates of pay for criminal defence lawyers were discussed and my topic of conversation was that damned and dastardly Mitchell case.
We have been bombarded by bulletins stating that there is already an anticipated reduction in the Legal Aid bill of £84,000,000.00 by 2018/2019. Also recent statistics indicate that crime levels are at an all-time low. Surely enough is enough, Mr Grayling. The feeling of discontent is such at the Criminal Bar that strike action was called and effected on Monday 6 January 2014, an unprecedented step. Perhaps Civil Lawyers should follow suite in protest against the draconian and disproportionate measures upheld by the Court of Appeal in the decision in Andrew Mitchell MP -v- News Group Newspapers Ltd (‘the Mitchell case’).
This case, of course, dealt with the interpretation and implementation of CPR 3.9 (1) post-Jackson relating to relief against sanctions resulting from failure to comply with Orders/rules of the Court with reference to CPR 1.1 and the overriding objective.
It was, of course, decided that non-compliance with the rules would not be tolerated. Consequently failure to adhere strictly to the timetable can and does result in witness evidence not being adduced. Presumably this extends to Expert evidence also.
It seems that this “most robust approach to rule compliance and relief from sanctions is intended to ensure that justice can be done in the majority of cases”. How justice can be done when Litigants are denied the right to adduce evidence perplexes me. Indeed one raises the question is this a denial of litigants’ right to a fair trial contrary to article 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998. It is understood that there will be no appeal to the Supreme Court by the Partners of Atkin Brown, who fell foul of the rules relating to failure to file costs budget by way of Precedent H. Accordingly, unless the Law Society are prepared to appeal the decision on behalf of its members the only advice available is to keep a close watch on the very efficient diary system.
Locally Davies Sully Wilkins is no longer. The practice is now known as Glamorgan Law incorporating Davies Sully Wilkins, this since 2 FEBRUARY 2014 and indeed will be moving from the premises of 3 Station Terrace, Caerphilly, where I have practiced as a Civil Litigation Solicitor / Partner since July 1992 – a long long time ago.
There is a very different legal landscape today since such time. In particular I note with sadness that the smaller Law Societies are disappearing. Indeed, unfortunately even the Rhymney Valley Law Society Dinner did not proceed. The Rhymney Valley has traditionally been well supported and an active and friendly Law Society.
Glamorgan Law will be incorporating Charles Crookes & Jones as from 1 February 2014. Glamorgan Law incorporating Davies Sully Wilkins and Charles Crookes & Jones will then practice at their Caerphilly branch office at the Bluebell, Market Street, Caerphilly, CF83 1NX.
It has been and continues to be a very busy time but, it is hoped that the presence of a larger Firm in the area will assist in revitalising the Rhymney Valley Law Society. In addition it is hoped that the National Law Society itself will encourage and help in the rejuvenation of other Law Societies in the area which are in danger of or are becoming moribund.
Anyway for this particular practitioner a new dawn arises.
Gaynor McCann Davies
President of the Confederation
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