What’s the biggest development you’ve seen in the legal world during your career?
The judiciary’s departure from the traditional technical, legalistic approach to deciding cases – which would usually reward the party who could afford the cleverest (and therefore the most expensive) lawyers – to deciding them on the basis of which of the parties actually has justice on their side.
What law would you like to see changed?
The law in relation to recovery of litigation costs. The courts will still not penalise litigants who treat the civil justice system as a means of taking some kind of commercial advantage, and or/the lawyers who help them do it whilst making it a profitable business for themselves. This reluctance, along with the effective abolition of legal aid for almost all civil litigation, is depriving more and more people of access to justice. Civil justice is an expensive, taxpayer-funded system which should be used solely for the purpose of resolving genuine disputes which cannot reasonably resolved any other way.
What is the most exciting work you’ve ever done?
Helping clients achieve a sensible commercial outcome to seemingly intractable and bitter disputes so as to preserve valuable commercial relationships, or at least without damaging them too much.
The real value of civil litigation experience (at least to me) is in making me realise just how destructive it can be: In 26 years’ experience, I have never known a case which went to trial which could not have been resolved in a far better way.
Who in the legal world do you most admire?
David Neuberger, aka Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, the Master of the Rolls. He is as legally brilliant as one would expect but is also kind, courteous, humane, and seemingly free of the kind of the ego which all too often accompanies great intellect.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the profession?
Do not go into it just for the money. Have a think about what you are likely to find satisfying.