President's Letter (April 2014)    

Beginning the President’s Letter was much easier before I became aware that people would actually read it. Now I need to take a little care in what I say!

It has been a busy two months, culminating in a very convivial Annual Dinner. On 1 March I was pleased to attend as a guest at the 10th Annual CILEx Dinner at the Hilton Hotel. St David’s Day was a long day as it began at 06:00 French time in Alpe D’Huez, at the end of a most enjoyable week’s skiing.  I find that skiing is one of those holiday activities that leaves you more tired at the end of the week than when you arrive in the resort, but more relaxed. After a mercifully painless journey home, I just had time to don the dinner suit for what was a very pleasant evening. A number of awards were given out to deserving members, and it is clear that the future for CILEx in South Wales is in good hands.

I next attended a round table discussion about the civil justice reforms, hosted by the Law Society. Present were litigators from both sides of the divide, including old friends/adversaries such as Mark Harvey and Cenric Clement-Evans. The discussion was interesting and opinions were expressed strongly. As “Chatham House Rules” applied, I cannot divulge what was said - save that there was universal dissatisfaction with the present state of play.

The Law Society held a Reception at the National Museum of Art on 1 April in conjunction with the holding of their Council meeting in Cardiff. Any opportunity to visit the galleries at the Museum is time well spent, and there can be few better venues for such an occasion. It was good to catch up with various members of the legal fraternity in such a relaxed atmosphere. The formalities were concluded with a presentation to Wynford Charles, marking 50 years as a practising Solicitor, an achievement few of us are likely to match.

The Annual Dinner, held on 4 April, was a success and I think enjoyed by all. I thought the food was very good and, for once, the post dinner entertainment was not so loud as to make conversation almost impossible. I much enjoyed Mr Justice Wyn Williams’ “musings”, though had not appreciated that I had my wife to thank for the fact that he had accepted the invitation! During dinner, I reminded Wyn that he acted for the Plaintiff, as she then was, in my first JSM (“joint settlement meeting”). I had instructed Mr John Charles Rees QC to represent my client, who had travelled all the way across country from Ipswich.  We duly made an offer and awaited a response. Sometime later, a somewhat embarrassed Plaintiff’s Counsel appeared to inform us that the offer was rejected and that, though the plaintiff had in mind a figure she would be prepared to accept, she was not prepared to share it with anyone, including her legal team. And that was that. You can imagine how unhappy my client was, having come all that way! Happily, that experience has never been repeated.

I admit to being a little nervous about giving a speech. Not so much because I was talking to a large audience (I could not legitimately have begun with “Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking…”), but because I have only ever delivered seminars and lectures on training topics, where the material had to be informative rather than entertaining. It is also many years since I spoke without the assistance of a Powerpoint presentation! And then I probably had an overhead projector. Our children begged me not to tell jokes, because I am not very good at it so I would embarrass them even though they would not be there. I did not think that a good reason not to tell a joke (apparently, I have only to open my mouth to embarrass our children) but the absence of a suitable joke was. My father lent me a book called “The World’s Best Legal Jokes”. All I can say is that, if they were the best legal jokes, we lawyers are a very sorry and sad lot! Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed the Dinner as much as I did. I look forward to seeing everyone at the next social event for members, the race meeting and Jools Holland concert at Chepstow on 13 June. 

Simon Cradick


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