REVIEW OF CIVIL PROCEDURE IN 2020 2: BEST WRITING ON CIVIL PROCEDURE DURING THE YEAR: TWO WISE KINGS
This year saw a explosion of legal writing as everyone had to get to grips with the procedural mayhem that resulted in lockdown. This is an appropriate time to pay tribute to all those who wrote. Some of the best material found its way to this blog, I think we should thank all of these who contributed to keeping the legal system going throughout that difficult early period (and afterwards). I have chosen two pieces which encapsulate the very best of legal writing.
The writer of the second piece mentioned here, Edmund King QC, died on the 24th December 2020. His colleagues at Essex Court state “Chambers has lost a superb lawyer and a dear friend and colleague”.
Keiden Harrison LLP writing on Linked In paid a tribute to Edmund, referring to his article.
“What it lacks in formality normally associated with articles written by leading counsel it makes up for with the practical advice that it oozes in abundance. The “short points” are powerfully delivered and will no doubt become a seminal text for practitioners up there with some of the best judgments of Lord Denning.”
His family, friends, colleagues and the entire legal profession have clearly lost a man of enormous talent. I am sure that we will all wish to pass on our condolences.
ANDREW KING: THE VIRTUAL WORKSPACE
I reviewed this guide in April 2020. It was a remarkable piece of work done remarkably quickly. Following his experience of being involved in a remote hearing Andrew wrote and published a book which contained numerous tips for effective video conferencing. This was at a time when everyone was trying to come to grips with remote hearings and conferences. In that short of time Andrew managed to complete a highly useful book. He also managed to have prefaces from the Secret Barrister, Richard Susskind and Susan Ackland Hood. I don’t think I belonged in that august company, however I also wrote a short preface and have no hesitation in repeating what I said.
“One thing that the past month has shown is that the legal community, or certain parts of it, has the ability to act with speed and adapt remarkably quickly to the problems caused by remote hearings and remote working. The past month has also shown a remarkable generosity of spirit within the profession, with people sharing information and guidance on all the issues affecting litigators during the coronavirus pandemic.
Andrew’s book is very much part of that spirit of generosity. It does that wonderful trick of passing on the benefit of (hard won) experience so as to both help the reader and prevent problems and mistakes. Anyone involved in litigation (litigator, client or judge) will benefit from reading it.”
The book was, initially, free and after the first week all the proceeds went to NHS Charities.
EDMUND KING QC: HOW TO LOSE A CASE
The one article I most enjoyed reading this year is How to Lose a Case is a post by Edmund King QC on the Essex Court Chambers website. There are 14 individual points which provide invaluable assistance you if you really want to lose a case (and may,perhaps, be of some help f you don’t want to lose). This is fun to read and uses that humour to make for example important points. For example point 6.
“6. Be too grand to worry about bundles
Bundles are not glamorous. They are prepared by junior people who have a very difficult job: to work out what documents will turn out to be relevant at trial. Typically the person doing it has never even seen a trial before. Typically the silks and judge can see only after weeks of evidence what the few critical documents are. So if you don’t keep an eye on it, it’s pretty much luck what goes in and how it’s ordered. Get involved in the bundle preparation process. You need them early.”
A MASSIVE INPUT FROM THE LEGAL COMMUNITY
I have chosen two works from hundreds, if not thousands. As I have said it is a year when there was a generosity of spirit about in the sharing of information. With the problems of the pandemic far from over this will still be needed.