Autumn....the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness when our thoughts turn to Halloween, Bonfire night, comfort food, mulled wine and evenings wrapped up in front of the television watching box sets.
In my case Jude Law pontificating in the beautiful surroundings of the Vatican and Venice (with which I feel that I have a personal relationship as a result of recent visits) and wafting around investments made by Giorgio Armani. Bliss! I accept that I may be a little too shallow for some of our readers but what the heck?! Life is too short.
I should have mentioned that this season also heralds in the panic when we discover that All Hallows’ Eve is the final day of the CPD year. There is an associated clamour for places on courses which will make us compliant with the regulations. This is where the Confederation of South Wales Law Societies comes in handy. Yet again this year I had the honour to chair the annual and final Criminal Law Update course held at the excellent venue of the Chairman’s Suite at CARDIFF City Stadium.
This course has gone from strength to strength over the years and has seen the venue move from the University of GLAMORGAN to the football stadium in CARDIFF which is far more luxurious and less Spartan. Unfortunately this year the chairman’s heated loo seats were not available for our comfort as the doors were locked! I knew that I ought to have kept the secret!
I always feel that this event has a very “end of term” party feel to it and this one was no exception. The delegates were in fine form and the camaraderie was palpable.
We were treated to a star- studded cast providing us with a wealth of topics delivered so well .There was no time for boredom to set in and despite a delicious lunch the speakers kept our attention right up to “home time”
His Honour Judge Richard Twomlow kicked - off (that is one football term that I am familiar with) with a fascinating lecture on vulnerable witnesses and the ever-changing requirements for lawyers. The Judge spoke without ceasing until he had to leave to return to his heavy schedule in the Crown Court.
We then had the pleasure of listening to WAYNE Williams of CPM 21. Some of us are senior (read old,) enough to remember him in his previous incarnation at the Legal Aid Board, the LSC and the LAA... all the same organisation by different names. Being a solicitor he always had a grasp of the issues presenting themselves to practitioners and this made him a very approachable face. When he became an adviser to the profession opening his own company, he segued very easily into the person we all go to for help in the face of adversity. In other words to help with all efforts to obtain and retain LegalAid contracts. He did not baulk when I referred to him (in the spirit of the season) as the “Ghostbuster of Legal Aid” and managed to make a very dry topic interesting to the end.
Jonathan Rees of, Apex Chambers CARDIFF then shared his expertise and knowledge with us on two quite divers topics .The first was on Cyber Crime and was truly mind -blowing. He dealt with the Law surrounding the topic but this was interspersed with examples of how our own worlds can be devastated by hackers. Be very afraid as there are expert hackers out there who could very easily bring the whole country to its knees ...not only the commercial world but the courts too. Just at the flick of a switch or, more aptly, the push of a button.
After a short respite Jonathan then launched into the fascinating topic of Joint Enterprise which was the subject of a recent appeal judgement stretching to over 60 pages in the case of Jogee and others. Jonathan’s ability to analyse what the judges actually held in a rather circumluitous text was a feat in itself and we all benefitted.
Finally much thanks to Ian Kolvin of the CPS who, stepped into the breach at the last moment and gave a very polished and instructive performance .How time flies... I remember Ian as an articled clerk and now he is a distinguished Higher Courts Advocate, so perhaps the time has come for me to hang up my wig and gown... only joking!
On a more melancholy note the course was tinged with sadness. As you are all aware, the SRA has decreed that continuing professional development will be monitored in different ways. What was wrong with time-honoured and tested courses giving CPD Points I do not know. However there is a glimmer of hope as always as the continuing professional development undertaken has to be PROVED AND EVIDENCED. What better proof than by going on a Confederation course!
So watch this space as we are planning a year of late afternoon and evening courses tailored to the requirements of our members with a star studded cast of speakers and a little light refreshment. All suggestions to our tireless administrator Michael Walters please. On that note I would like to thank Michael for organising everything and for attending on the day despite the fact that he was discharged from hospital only a day or two prior. Such devotion to duty.
Another reason for the sadness was that with the demise of CPD points as we know them, our thoughts turned to our dear friend Simon Mumford who pioneered these courses. We took a moment to remember him and he can rest assured that his legacy will continue in one form or another.
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Michael Walters - Administrator
Cardiff & District Law Society
34 Ty Fry Gardens
DX: 33029 Cardiff 1
T/F: 029 2045 3334
Mobile 07774 756 297
Steve Roberts - Membership Secretary
Cardiff & District Law Society
6 Castle Court
DX: 33029 Cardiff