Complete Counsel wishes to engage a paralegal

Complete Counsel wishes to engage a paralegal to assist barristers using the service and in the management of the service. Tasks will include:-
1 Research of legal authorities and literature for use in litigation .
2 Research for articles and training events.
3 Management of web based activity and blogs.
4 Assistance in planning and organisation of seminars and other marketing events .
5 Attendance at conferences and court for note taking and support.
6 Other research and assistance in the management of Complete Counsel and parallel brands.
Law graduate or equivalent. Strong academic record and genuine interest in the law needed.
remuneration negotiable and hours flexible. Applications by email in the first instance to:

The Shed: The First Six Months

When I announced at the beginning of this year that I was going to practise from my shed, it created some surprise, in particular amongst those credulous enough to believe it.

So how has it gone? Well, overall I feel quite liberated and close to nature. There have been some downsides, in particular a few spats with the gardener when I got in his way as he has tried to remove tools. Also I have had some terse emails from members of the Bar who do actually work from their shed and thought that I was mocking them.

As many have now realised, “the shed” was essentially a metaphor for the remote and flexible way of working now possible in the digital age.

So how has the metaphorical shed gone? From a personal perspective, I feel quite liberated but not necessarily close to nature (actually, I generally work indoors).IMG_0328

Having spent many years working in traditional Chambers in traditional buildings, it never really occurred to me that this was in some way psychologically inhibiting. Shed working, even at the metaphorical level, is much less routine or structure driven and I have the feeling that within reasonable limits, I can do what I want, when I want and how I want.

When Barristers ask me about Complete Counsel, their initial impression is that it is a virtual Chambers or an alternative Chambers. However, it is not a Chambers at all; it is a different way of supporting a Barrister’s practice.

We are developing parallel digital brands. I think of parallel brands rather like the Gremlins in the Spielberg film. Once you have one, it seems you can multiply them very quickly.

Complete Counsel was set up as a sister business to Document Direct. Once Complete Counsel was established, it became possible at really minimal cost to develop parallel brands. We have now launched Complete Mediation. We are in the process of developing two further parallel brands; one focusing on HR and Employment and another more generally on litigation.

Whilst the terms synergy and strategy are vogue expressions now widely used with scant regard for their meaning, they can be used to describe the development of parallel brands which could be considered to be either strategically synergistic or possibly synergistically strategic. Each brand will create opportunities and contact which can be fed through to the other brands. Digitalisation and deregulation are changing the market for legal services beyond recognition. It is apparent that there are those who are seeking to adapt existing structures and practice to these challenges, but others who realise that in reality, they have to operate in a different way. The latter group appear to have a much more positive attitude and understand the real opportunities being presented. It is conspicuous that we are able to form informal alliances with similar minded individuals and practices to our mutual advantage. These alliances carry with them none of the psychological baggage of a Practice or Chambers, or even require formal agreement.

So perhaps the thought of an inevitable improvement in the weather and a summer in the shed is making me too sanguine.IMG_0338

The town shed has amazing views.

A final thought. The modern Bar emerged from the 18th Century, that is from the date Barristers rode behind the Judge and his retinue literally on a circuit. The individuals who followed this way of life inevitably had to be robust and independent. They had to take what work they could find. The Defendants were often illiterate and incapable of giving meaningful instructions. Capital punishment was the usual outcome. The Judges of those days did not have the benefit of a Judicial College to advise them of appropriate behaviour in court. The tradition of a robust and independent Bar was forged by these early Barristers. A Barrister in reality needed only one essential item, that is a horse. Now, a Barrister only needs one essential item, that is a laptop. So perhaps the changes now afoot will act as a backdrop to the recrudescence of a robust and independent Bar.

Event: Too much information

1/10/2015 @ 4pm-6pm, Weightmans Liverpool

A seminar exploring the recent cases of Montgomerie and Spencer and the issues involved in reasonable consent to medical treatment. The current state of the law will be discussed but also the speakers will consider the broader clinical, practical , and psychological perspectives in determining the appropriate information to be given to a patient.

Speakers include:

• Professor Graeme Poston, Consultant Surgeon;

• Professor Gus Baker, Neuro-Psychologist; and

• Charles Feeny, barrister

For further information please contact

Event: Bright White Line Law

16/9/2015 @ 4.45pm-7.00pm

Royal College of Surgeons, London.

4.45pm registration for a 5.15pm start.

The symposium will look at specific cases considering whether the supposed control mechanisms of breach and causation in clinical negligence operate reasonably and effectively in the context of the vast difference in outcome between those who succeed as a claimant as opposed to those of similar disabilities who rely upon the state.

Confirmed speakers include:

• Charles Feeny, Barrister;

• Professor Sandy Steel, The University of Oxford;

• Professor Derek Tuffnell, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist; and

• Dr David Levy, Consultant Anaesthetist.

The symposium will look at two decisions of the Court of Appeal; Sutcliffe v Aintree Hospitals and Popple v Birmingham NHS Trust, where Defendants were unsuccessful in appeals against findings of liability. There will be in depth analysis of each case with the assistance of a relevant expert and legal input. For further information please contact

IEG v Zurich: Insurance Law for the Digital Age?

The rules for the division of a prize, that is a captured Vessel in 18th Century Maritime custom, were elaborate and precise. In Patrick O’Brian’s, “Master and Commander”, Captain Jack Aubrey contemplates his share of the prize, the Danish ship, “DORTHE ENGELBRECHTSDATTER”, as follows:

As he let himself sink on to the long cushioned locker, he found that he was in the act of saying “Carry Three” for his mind was busy working out three eighths of £3,500 – it had now fixed upon the sum as the worth of the “DORTHE ENGELBRECHTSDATTER. For three-eighths (less one of them for the Admiral) was to be his share of the proceeds. Nor was his the only mind to be busy with figures, by any means, for every other man on the Sophie’s books was entitled to share – Dillon and the Master, an eighth between them; the surgeon (if Sophie had officially borne one on her books) bosun, carpenter and master’s mates, another eighth, then the midshipmen, the inferior warrant officers and the marine sergeant another eighth, while the rest of the ship’s company shared the remaining quarter. And it was wonderful to see how briskly minds not given to abstract thought rattled these figures, these symbols, up and down, coming out with the acting yeoman of the sheets’ share correct to the nearest farthing.”

Unfortunately for Jack Aubrey and his crew, all these calculations were pointless as the crew of the Danish ship who had been assumed to have been killed by Corsair pirates were found in a secret hiding place within the Vessel, which then was no longer deemed a prize.

Such precise calculations and customs were common in the 18th Century at the time when insurance law began to emerge in its present form. It is instructive to consider what a different commercial world existed in the 18th Century when business was conducted through arcane ledgers, when communication beyond the immediate face to face was difficult, often impossible, and when the opportunities for real wealth were so infrequent and slight, that great precision was required when it arose. This is to be contrasted with the emerging digital age, where process is seamless through software, when communication is instant and worldwide, and there are seemingly limitless business opportunities.

Reading the speeches of the Supreme Court in IEG v Zurich, it is striking how all the justices attempt to fit what can be perceived as an obviously fair and reasonable solution into the historic rubric of insurance law, even though such law developed in very different times and commercial practices.

The advantages of the digital age will only be fully exploited if it is understood that digital process is not a means of supporting a traditional approach, but rather a different approach in itself reflecting the need for much greater speed and flexibility in the exchange of information.

An obvious problem emerged in insurance law when the creation of the Fairchild exception in mesothelioma claims created a situation in which policies underwritten for single events such as accidents had to be interpreted in the context of liability reflecting the risk of an event occurring, as opposed to causation proved on a traditional basis. The Fairchild exception created rights to indemnity under policies underwritten successively and the same would not have been contemplated at the time that the policies were incepted. In Phillips v Gunner Limited [2003] EWHC 1084 (Comm), I attempted a simple argument that if indemnity was working in a way not anticipated at the time that the policies were underwritten, it would be reasonable if the concept of double insurance was modified so as to reflect this situation . In particular, the historic application of double insurance only to policies underwritten at the same moment in time should be modified. This argument, however, was met with a rigid and conservative approach and the principle of double insurance remains as originally cast. A decade of insurance litigation has followed since Phillips and it is reasonable to reflect on how much of this might have been avoided had a simple and pragmatic approach been taken at the outset. It is interesting to see in the Supreme Court speeches, reference to the Australian approach which has been more liberal. Australia is a younger country and has a noticeable judicial creativity which appears to produce more reasonable and contemporary results.

Whilst traditional insurance law no doubt has an intellectual fascination for those who engage in it, those who need to use such law in their commercial transactions are increasingly likely to want an approach that is comprehensible, leading to swift and reasonable resolution of disputes.