Helen Blog Post

Message from Helen Fitzsimons

I am delighted to be your President for the next 12 months. For those of you who do not know me…

President’s Blog – Autumn 2015

THE PRESIDENT’S BLOG – Autumn 2015

I will be handing over my position as President of Chichester & District Law Society to Maria Monan, my Vice President, on 20 November 2015. I therefore just wanted to first of all thank all the Chichester & District Law Society Committee for their help and support over this last year.

It has been extremely busy and in particular there have been lots of events that have occurred since my last blog to you this summer.

We had a tremendously successful summer drinks event organised by Dominic Ryan at George Bell House this year on 18 June 2015. A beautiful setting on a wonderful summer’s day. I know that all those that attended had a thoroughly enjoyable time so thank you Dominic.

Once again this year thank you to everybody that attended the Legal Walk on 8 September 2015. Thank you in particular for our President of the Law Society, Jonathan Smithers, and Mr Justice Knowles QC CBE for taking time out of their very busy schedules to attend our Chichester walk. Everybody who supported the walk should be congratulated as we raised almost £5,000 for local legal advice agencies.

It has been a particularly busy month for me with the Ministry of Justice announcement in July for the closure of 91 Courts and Tribunals across the country which included the Chichester Combined Court and Magistrates Court. The consultation for this closed on 8 October and I am pleased to say that we had a huge response to this consultation. We also managed to get three articles in the Chichester Observer on consecutive weeks expressing grave concern over the impact that the closure will have upon the community’s access to justice. We also had a front page article in the Law Society Gazette pointing out that Chichester is one of the busiest Courts on the list of the 91 Courts earmarked for closure. I wanted to particularly thank Bill Emerson from Pallant Chambers for his excellent report to the consultation and work that he has done in opposing the closure. Also Justin Lees and Edward Cooke on behalf of Resolution for their report.

I had a meeting with Andrew Tyrie, our MP, together with Bill Emerson from Pallant Chambers and Edward Cooke on behalf of Resolution which has now lead to further questions over the consultation. Mr Tyrie’s view is there is a complete lack of budgetary evidence in the proposed cuts or any clear analysis on budget methodology provided by the Ministry of Justice justifying the proposals. I am writing to Jonathan Smithers, President of the Law Society, for him to make further representations in relation to this to the Ministry of Justice.

I had the great pleasure also of attending the Opening of the Legal Year on 1 October which initially started at Middle Temple then onto Westminster Abbey where we processed into the Houses of Parliament. It was a truly spectacular day but importantly it also gave me the opportunity at the Houses of Parliament to speak at length to Shailesh Vara, the parliamentary Under Secretary, concerning the issues of the closure of Chichester Combined Court. He assured me that it was a true consultation and that he had already had his ear bent by Andrew Tyrie in relation to Chichester Combined Court.

I am also delighted that we had the re-launch for the Private Client Sub-Committee Group. Thank you to Margaret Windram for being co-opted onto the Law Society Committee to head up this group.

We also had another combined event with CILEX through the London Legal Support Trust for a quiz night held on 4 November 2015. Thank you to all those that attended this event.

I hand over the reins as President of Chichester & District Law Society to Maria Monan, my Vice President at our AGM on 21 November 2015. This will be followed by our annual dinner which is always very well attended by the whole society. This year the event is to take place at Chichester Yacht Club and it looks like it is going to be another great evening with dinner and entertainment provided in this beautiful setting overlooking the estuary. I therefore take this opportunity of wishing the Vice President every success as she embarks on her new position.

Sara Fildes
President

MURDER MOST FOUL! By Caroline De Vries, Thomas Eggar LLP

MURDER MOST FOUL!

(Advisory: Persons of sensibility may find this article distressing and liability for any ensuing fits of the vapours and the like is excluded.)

Sir John Jervis Handbook on The Office and Duties of Coroners (Sweet and Maxwell 1866) contains this helpful guidance:

It is not only such acts as obviously tend to cause death that constitute murder, but also all such as may endanger the life of another and ultimately occasion his death if wilful and deliberately committed.

Such was the case:
Of him who carried his sick father, against his will, in a severe season, from one town to another, by reason whereof he died;
Of the harlot who, being delivered of a child, left it in an orchard covered only with leaves so a kite killed it;
Of another who hid her child in a hog stye, where it was devoured;
Of the husband who with his beatings and threats to throw his wife out of the window, so terrified her that she jumped out of the window in apprehension of his violence, he was answerable for the consequences of his acts as much as if he had thrown her out of the window himself

But there are many nice distinctions upon the subject of malice and the circumstances of every case are peculiar to itself. Where death occurs without malice and imputably to human infirmity, the offence will be manslaughter.

Such was the case:
Where a man, on words of provocation, threw a broomstick at a woman from a distance which unfortunately killed her;
Where a master struck his servant with a clog, because he had not cleaned it, and death ensued was holden to be manslaughter because a clog be very unlikely to cause death;
Where a mother, being angry with her child, took up a poker and, running to the door of the room, threw it out after him and killed another child who was entering the room at the time;
Where a man, finding a pistol in the street and imagining (from having tried it with the ramrod) that it was not loaded, presented it in sport at his wife, drew the trigger and unfortunately killed her, this was ruled to be manslaughter

Remember, the acts and circumstances you have read about here are very rare so please, don’t have nightmares……….

Caroline De Vries – Thomas Eggar LLP

President’s Blog – Summer 2015

As President of Chichester & District Law Society I have been kept extremely busy over the last few months since my last blog.

Firstly, I attend the Worthing District Law Society Annual Dinner on 6 March. This was a lovely event hosted by Ian Macara at The Dome, Worthing. A very enjoyable evening was had by everybody that attended.

Also I attended at the Sussex Law Society Annual Dinner hosted by Jane Wells at The Grand Hotel in Brighton. A fantastic event again this year with a number of District Judges and Circuit Judges attending at the top table and entertainment afterwards with a live band followed by a disco.

The great thing in attending at these annual dinners is that it forges great communication with the other local Law Societies to see what they are doing within their society. In particular we are now looking at a combined training event in criminal law with Worthing Law Society. I am hoping to be able to put in place a training day, possibly in the Worthing area, and once I have more information available on this I will be able to provide this to all members.

Both Jo Andrews (Secretary of Chichester & District Law Society) and myself attended this year’s Presidents and Secretaries Conference on 8 and 9 May. The theme this year very much for the Law Society was that of Access to Justice. Everybody will be thoroughly aware of the cuts made by the Government to legal aid. Further announcements of cuts of 8.75% for solicitors representing those accused of wrong doing together with a number of contracts for solicitors providing 24 hour cover at police stations and local communities reduced to 527 from 1,600 which would leave people without representation. The abolition for legal aid in family (except in certain cases of domestic violence) has, of course, had a huge impact on the ability to have any representation for those of limited income in divorce, ancillary relief matters and children matters. The implications of this has meant that there has been a huge increase in litigants in person through the Court system which has created a backlog of matters, putting a huge strain on what is already a busy Court listing. At a time when things could not be more difficult for litigants in person we see a wide spread closure of the front desk help in Courts. This is leading many people to simply be unable to have any access to justice. The Law Society is looking at ways in which they can lobby the Government concerning all these issues surrounding access to justice and they are putting out a nationwide call to solicitors who can provide specific details they have come across of clients who have experienced a complete failure in the system to provide them with that very much needed access to justice. If you have any case studies that you can provide the Law Society with please do send them in and these can assist them in their specific representations to the Government.

I also wanted to specifically thank all the members of CILEX for putting on and hosting the Combined CILEX and Chichester & District Law Society Quiz that was held on 16 April at The Old Cross. This was extremely well attended and was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Very well done to Quizzy Rascals for their win.

Thank you for all those that have sent in articles for the Law Society website. I am very pleased to announce this month that Caroline de Vries is the winner of the bottle of champagne and you will see her article on the website. Please do continue to send in any articles that you would like us to put on the website and if we do publish your article you will be the proud winner of a bottle of champagne.

As you will all know, we have our social summer drinks on Thursday 18 June at George Bell House. If you haven’t already bought tickets I would urge you all to buy tickets to what is going to be a wonderful evening. Thank you to Dominic Ryan again for organising everything this year.

I was also very pleased to meet Bhavnia Fowler who is currently our regional manager stepping in for Kim Seth during maternity leave. She has attended at our recent Chichester & District Law Society meeting to meet all members of the Committee and to introduce herself to everybody. She has circulated amongst you all the South East Regional Law Society monthly report. She has also extended an invite to all members of our District Law Society who would like to meet with her to discuss any issues you have that are dealt with or handled by the Law Society. If anybody would wish to meet with her do contact myself or Jo Andrews and we will see if we can arrange a date and venue.

Some of you may also be aware that on 9 July 2015 Mr Jonathan Smithers of Cooper Burnett Solicitors will become President of the Law Society for England and Wales. I am sure you will join me in congratulating him on this forthcoming position. As you will be aware, Jonathan Smithers gave a talk at our Law Society dinner.

I am also extremely pleased to announce that again this year we will have the Legal Walk in Chichester held on 8 September 2015 lead by Jonathan Smithers President of the Law Society and Mr Justice Knowles QC CBE. Details of the walk are on the Chichester & District Law Society website and have been circulated.

Sara Fildes
President
Chichester & District Law Society

President’s Blog – New Year 2015

For a New Year update it seems that an awful lot of happened within such a short period of time following the start of 2015.

Firstly, thank you to everybody who helped with organising the Law Society Annual Dinner at the end of November. Thank you also for the wonderful feedback following the change of the evening’s format with the introduction of music. It seems that members enjoyed the more informal entertainment towards the end of the evening. A big thank you to Mr Jonathan Smithers for a wonderful after dinner speech which I know many members found interesting.

We have now had our first Committee Meeting of the year on 14 January 2015. The Committee Meeting was very well attended and we are all very much looking forward to lots of events for the Law Society in the forthcoming year.

Soon we will be sending out notifications of the joint Quiz Night with CILEX. We are hoping this is going to be held at the beginning of April.

This year I am very much wishing to extend our membership and encourage solicitors that currently work for Chichester District Council and Chichester County Council to come and be part of their District Law Society here in Chichester.

Honorary Secretary, Jo Andrews, and myself has also attended the Combined Sussex Law Society Meeting on 26 January 2015. Council Member, Rodney Warren, provided an update. He has advised that the recruitment process for the new Executive of the Law Society has been completed after an interim appointment. Catherine Dixon has been appointed as the new Chief Executive who is very effective in her role and has already made her mark. He also gave an opportunity to meet and speak with fellow Presidents around Sussex.

I have been invited to the Annual Dinner of the Worthing Law Society to be held in March. Also both the Honorary Secretary and myself will be attending the Presidents and Secretaries Conference which is going to be held on 8 and 9 May this year.

Those who attended the Law Society Dinner this year will know that I am looking at members to providing feedback on the work undertaken by the Committee of Chichester and District Law Society. In particular whether there is anything that members feel that we should be doing or become involved with. I do wish to continue to encourage people to email myself or any of the Committee members in relation to this.

In order to encourage members to take an active role in the Law Society and utilise as much as possible our extremely informative website we are hoping to be able to provide a prize for members who would like to write articles for the website. Any article chosen to be published on the website would receive a prize for their work. This also gives a great opportunity for those wanting to promote their area of expertise or to inform others of events they may be getting involved in.

Sara Fildes
President of the Chichester & District Law Society

President’s Blog – November 2014

Autumn Update

I will pass over the reigns and presidency to my Vice President, Sara Fildes on 21st November at our Society’s AGM.  This is followed by our annual dinner which is usually very well attended.  This has been organised by Sara and looks to be a great evening, with dinner and entertainment within the cathedral setting.

I have really enjoyed my time as President over the last year.  It has been great to see so many more members getting involved in the society. We have welcomed several new committee members and have continued with the forums for conveyancing and private client.  These forums provide a way for members to engage with one another in important issues facing their area of the profession.  I would like to thank Georgina and Laura for all their work in the Junior Division which has really taken off this year.

A thank you to Jonathan Smithers who was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to attend the most recent conveyancing forum as guest speaker.  He provided a presentation on the Law Society’s new Conveyancing Portal.  Unfortunately I was unable to attend but the feedback has confirmed that it was a very informative evening.  Thank you to Thomas Eggar for hosting and allowing the Society to use their facilities.

I take this opportunity to wish my Vice President every success as she embarks on this very same journey. Best wishes Sara and good luck (not that you will need it).

Summer update

Since my last blog both the private client and conveyancing forums have met and discussed topical issues in their area.

The Honorary Secretary and I attended the Combined Sussex Law Societies meeting in Lewes on 27th June.  It was an opportunity to follow up on the previous meeting.  It is the turn of Chichester to chair next time.

The Secretary and I attended the Presidents and Secretaries conference on 9th and 10th May which was a great opportunity to meet fellow Presidents and Secretaries from other local law societies and compare notes.  Almost 60 local law societies were represented and the conference focused on topics ranging from access to justice to communication between the national and local societies.  Jo and I gathered lots of information and ideas of how to progress the society and make improvements for our members.

The Society hosted its Summer Social drinks on 19th June 2014 and it was very well attended.  This year the event was held at Marco’s in the sunshine.  Thank you for Dominic for organising everything.

I will be attending the first annual CILEX dinner with some of the other committee members on 27th June which I am looking forward too as it should be a great evening at Chichester Yacht Club.

Sarah Evans

Spring Update

Further to my previous blog the Chief Executive of the Law Society, Desmond Hudson has announced his retirement later this year.  I will let you have further news when I hear.

The private client and conveyancing sub-committees will be meeting shortly and have social events planned for later in the year.  The Society is hoping to have its Summer Social drinks on 19th June 2014 and the time and details of the venue will be circulated when known.

I attended the annual dinner of Worthing Law Society in March which was an enjoyable evening and very well attended.  The Vice President is currently in the process of making the initial preparations for our own annual dinner to be held in November.

The Secretary and I are attending the Presidents and Secretaries conference on 9th and 10th May and I will let you know how it goes.

Sarah Evans

New Year Update

The committee have already had their first meeting of the year on 21st January reviewing the AGM and annual dinner and planning for the year ahead.  I would like to encourage all junior lawyers to get involved with the Junior Division.  Other sub-committees have worked well and it really is a great opportunity to meet other people in the same position as you.

The private client and conveyancing sub-committees will be meeting shortly and have social events planned for later in the year.

Following the SGM at Chancery Lane at the end of 2013, the President and Chief Executive of the Law Society lost a vote of no confidence.  As a result, the Law Society has re-examined their approach to member engagement.  A series of Magistrates roadshows have been held around the Country.  I am also receiving weekly newsletters of updates and additional information and I will share the main points with you as they are received.

The Honorary Secretary and I attended the Combined Sussex Law Societies meeting in Lewes on 27th January.  It was a good opportunity to speak to fellow presidents as well as Kim Seth (our regional manager) and Jonathan Smithers (Deputy Vice President of the Law Society).  Full details of the meeting will follow.

I have been invited to the annual dinner of Worthing Law Society to be held in March and, also the Honorary Secretary and I are looking to attend the Presidents and Secretaries Conference in May.  Updates will follow.

Sarah Evans

The Chichester and District Law Society year 2012

As I prepare to chair the final committee meeting of the year, I cannot quite believe how fast the year has gone by. It has been an eventful year.

Over the course of the last twelve months, a lot has been achieved. At the start of the year, we held a very successful annual dinner at Chichester Cathedral, where the guest speakers were Andrew Tyrie, our local MP and the retiring Circuit Judge, Judge Robin Barratt QC. We were very pleased also to raise the fantastic sum of £1805 on the night in aid of Chestnut Tree House, the children’s hospice for West Sussex. This was the first time in recent times that we have run the annual dinner in aid of a local charity and it was very pleasing to see so many members supporting this wonderful cause.

It has been very pleasing over the last twelve months to see so many more members getting involved in the society. We have welcomed several new committee members and this year has also marked the start of two sub-committees within the society, a conveyancing sub-committee and a private client sub-committee. The latter committee will have its first meeting on 21st November 2012. I should like to thank my Vice-President, Dominic Ryan and Janette Luker for starting up the conveyancing sub-committee and Stephen Sampson for taking the initiative in relation to the private client sub-committee. One of my goals this year was to establish sub-committees in relevant subject areas, so as to provide a forum for members to engage with one another in important issues facing their area of the profession.

During the year, we have continued to run professional training events for our members and I should like to thank Julian Bobak for his continuing hard work in setting up these events. Latterly, we have started to run events with the Worthing Law Society on top of our existing programme with Central Law Training.

We have, during the year, also continued to organise events for our members of a social nature. In the summer, there was a squash match between a team of Chichester and District Law Society Lawyers and a team of doctors from St Richard’s hospital. The society came out on top. We also had a summer social event at Number 12 Bar in Chichester, which was very well attended.

Within the wider profession, it has been a year of great change. We have seen the introduction of alternative business structures, enabling ownership of law firms for the first time by non-solicitors. To reflect these changing times, we have now put forward proposals for opening the membership of the society to non-solicitor managers within firms. This motion will come before a Special General Meeting on 30th November 2012, shortly before our annual dinner.

I have greatly enjoyed my year as President and it has been a privilege to serve the society in this capacity. I would like to thank all the committee for their very hard work in what has been a very busy and enjoyable year and to wish my Vice President, Dominic Ryan all the very best as he prepares to take over from me on 30th November.