Cuttings

On this page you can see:

  • A selection of press cuttings;
  • A series of short films I made with the Guardian; and
  • An archive of my articles going back to 2000.

Articles are listed according to publication and then in date order:

  • Guardian
  • Observer
  • Times
  • Independent
  • Independent on Sunday
  • Express
  • Sunday Express
  • Financial Times
  • New Statesman

 Cuttings

 

 


Guardian’s JusticeGap series

Over the course of 2009 The Guardian commissioned me to make a series of short films on the 60th anniversary of legal aid with video producers Shehani Fernando – see  its Justice Gap page.

Sally’s story

Sally was a drug addict for seven years before she managed to get clean and re-establish contact with her children.

The Battle of ‘Poohaven
Residents of Peacehaven have been fighting the development of a £300m waste treatment plant being built on a local greenfield site. Jon Robins investigates

Suzanne Holdsworth on her wrongful conviction

Suzanne Holdsworth was wrongly convicted of the murder of two-year-old Kyle Fisher. Her fight for freedom was funded by legal aid, but pressure on the system means other people may not be so lucky

Community justice in Liverpool

Jon Robins visits a radical experiment in criminal justice in Liverpool, which the government has announced will not be rolled out despite its success

Repossession

As the credit crunch takes its toll on borrowers and homeowners, Citizens Advice bureaux are much in demand. Jon Robins spent a day with Jacqui O’Carroll to see how she is helping to save people from debt and eviction


Archive

 

Between 2010 and 2014 I blogged most weeks for the Guardian Law. You can see recent articles at www.guardian.co.uk/profile/jonrobins.

April 10 2010

Toy guns and teacups

How would two sets of parents – one with girls and one with boys – cope if they swapped children for a weekend. Would they need to alter their childcare tactics? And how much blood would be spilled? By Jon Robins and Bibi van der Zee.

December 13 2009

The budding Alan Sugars who need a risk assessor

Whether delivering papers or performing on stage, children who work face hazards. Jon Robins looks at the guidelines and who is held responsible
A Parent’s Guide to the Law by Jon Robins is out next week (£ 9.99, published by Lawpack). You can order a copy at www.lawpack.co.uk

December 6, 2009

Total holding fire on payout to Buncefield blast victims: Lawyers say oil company has settled few of the 275 claims after four years, writes Jon Robins

Four years on from the Buncefield oil depot explosion, reckoned to be the largest peacetime fire in Europe, lawyers representing 275 locals say only “between 15 and 20” of their claims have been fully settled by the oil company responsible.

November 29, 2009

Clock is ticking to reclaim NHS care fees in Wales: Thousands of families who were wrongly charged risk missing Friday’s deadline, says Jon Robins

Thousands of families who argue that their elderly relatives have been wrongly charged care home fees in Wales risk missing this week’s deadline for backdated claims.

October 17th, 2009

The justice gap: Community justice in Liverpool

Jon Robins visits a radical experiment in criminal justice in Liverpool, which the government has announced will not be rolled out despite its success. You can watch a film made by Jon with video producer John Domokos, www.guardian.co.uk/money/video/2009/oct/13/community-justice-liverpool.

You can also read a feature about the Liverpool court written by Jon in in the October/ November 2009 issue of Red Pepper, www.redpepper.org.uk

September 2nd 2009

The justice gap: Suzanne Holdsworth on her wrongful conviction

Suzanne Holdsworth was wrongly convicted of the murder of two-year-old Kyle Fisher. Her fight for freedom was funded by legal aid, but pressure on the system means other people may not be so lucky.

To watch the a film made by Jon and Shehani Fernando, www.guardian.co.uk/money/video/2009/aug/03/suzanne-holdsworth-wrongly-convicted

March 30, 2009

G2: What to do when your boss asks you to take a pay cut

What rights do you have? Check your employment contract, says Ann Jay, a senior employment adviser at Cheshire Citizens Advice, to ensure there is no provision for a cut. Assuming there isn’t, you have options…

January 12, 2009

G2: Don’t panic: A million British people could lose their jobs this year. How would you cope with the blow? In this practical guide, Jon Robins offers emotional, financial and legal advice on surviving redundancy

Remember you’re not alone Redundancy can be a devastating, sometimes brutal, experience but it’s not your fault. “You aren’t responsible for the vagaries of the western economic cycle. You didn’t start the credit crunch in your own backyard,” says Phillip Hodson, a fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy…

guardian jan 12, 2009

June 19, 2008 Thursday

G2: HOW TO SAVE MONEY: The definitive guide: 6: PROPERTY: Meet the DIY house-sellers: Why pay an estate agent when you can save thousands by cutting out the middle-man? Jon Robins talks to some who’ve done just that

Let’s face it, one group of people who won’t get much sympathy no matter how bad the housing market gets are estate agents. After all, even those of us who sell our home and have a perfectly good experience are still left with a nagging doubt about quite what the agent has done to deserve his or her couple of per cent.

June 19, 2008 Thursday

HEADLINE: HOW TO SAVE MONEY: The definitive guide: 6: PROPERTY: Can you do your own legal work, too?

Conveyancing is often perceived by the public as money for old rope, with lawyers shuffling paperwork with scant regard for anyone else’s timetable. So is it possible to do your own legal work? The answer is yes – but whether it is wise to do so is another matter.

March 10, 2008 Monday

Music: File sharing: In the dock

In 2007 the Recording Industry Association of America prosecuted a 30-year-old single mother, Jammie Thomas (pictured above, with counsel), who made 24 songs available for illegal download via the Kazaa file-sharing program. A jury found she should pay $9,250 per song (including the prophetically titled Rhythm is Gonna Get You by Gloria Estefan), making for a total of $222,000.

December 10, 2007

Digital media law: Rights and wrongs of music downloads

Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, went all John Lennon recently when he delivered his vision of music industry nirvana. “Imagine a world,” he wrote, “where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players.”

 

 

December 10, 2007

HEADLINE: Digital media law: Back story: Digital rights management

Many online stores use DRM to restrict the usage of downloadable music to a sole purchaser. Apple’s iTunes Store allows users to purchase a track online for $0US.99, using Apple’s Fairplay DRM system. But from October 17, Apple users could also download DRM-free music. Over at Napster there is a subscription-based approach to DRM running alongside permanent purchases, while Sony and Wal-Mart music downloads also use DRM technology.

 

September 17, 2007 Monday

Media law: Privacy: Which parts of your life really are private?: ‘Popping out to buy a bottle of milk’ used to be a reliable paparazzi benchmark for taking a photo – but no longer. Jon Robins reports on how celebrities are turning to the evolving privacy law to safeguard their private lives

What price a pint of milk? The question looms after the failure of JK Rowling’s high court privacy claim last month. The creator of Harry Potter is assiduous in her efforts to protect her private life but was unable to block the media from using a picture taken of herself, her husband and their 20-month-old son in a buggy as they walked along a street.

September 17, 2007

HEADLINE: Media law: Privacy: Publish and be damned… then jailed: Unless it is in the public interest, procuring an individual’s ‘personal data’ is illegal, but will the threat of a prison sentence stifle investigative journalism?

The evolution of a privacy law under the Human Rights Act (HRA) has grabbed the headlines because of its stellar cast, but it isn’t the only game in town. There are the echoes of HRA protection of family and private life in both the Ofcom and Press Complaints Commission (PCC) codes, but privacy is on the statute books elsewhere, too.

May 12, 2007

HEADLINE: The Guardian guide to camping: Best sites: Scenic: Norman’s Bay East Sussex

Norman’s Bay is a one-off; there’s just the site and then the very long, lovely beach that it owns, so you get amazingly uninterrupted views of the sea. Plus the area is steeped in history: the Normans landed here in 1066, as you may or may not have guessed from the name.

January 6, 2007 Saturday

GUARDIAN MAGAZINE: The Guardian guide to free stuff: Free Guide: Access: Rough justice?: Access to legal support has become a minefield

Free access to justice is one of the pillars of our modern welfare state. It’s a wonderful idea but, sadly, the reality can be pretty grim. Securing legal aid these days is, frankly, a minefield.

July 19, 2005

G2: Law: Enter the scan van: As insurers try once again to deny liability for asbestos-related lawsuits, they are braced for an avalanche of claims prompted by US-style mobile screening. Jon Robins reports

George Broughton left the army in 1948 and returned to Sheffield with no qualifications and no idea what he was going to do. So he started work as a lagger with Darlington Insulation (now Cape Darlington) lining the pipes of Neepsend power station in Sheffield. “I’d mix between 20 and 40 bags of lagging a day,” he recalls. “We’d empty the sacks straight out on to the floor, add the water and use a shovel to make a thick paste. There would be this dry dust everywhere. The air would be thick with it.”

July 5, 2005

G2: Law: ‘All our money has gone to lawyers’: Mediation is far cheaper than litigation and has an 80% success rate. So why are people like the Bullard family still paying a fortune in costs?

‘It’s almost like a debilitating disease,” reflects Nicholas Burchell. The 63-year-old builder from Poole is describing what it feels like to be trapped for years in a legal nightmare deemed “horrific” in the measured language of an appeal court judge. “You start to feel bad, and then when you believe that you couldn’t feel any worse, you do. You never know where things are going because you’re totally in someone else’s hands.”

June 7, 2005

G2: Asbo aggro: Some say they are not enforced toughly enough. Others claim they represent summary justice meted out on the cheap. So are Asbos really working, asks Jon Robins

‘We are living under siege,” says Indya Hemp. “I am scared about my kids going down the road or getting on the bus. They’re always telling me to stop worrying but it’s going to give me a heart attack.” The 32-year-old single mother, who is half-Kashmiri, her terminally-ill daughter, and her three teenage sons, have been the victims of a 10-month racist campaign by a gang of youths near their home in Kingstanding, Birmingham.

guardian jul 7, 2005

 

April 12, 2005

HEADLINE: G2: Law: ‘It feels like a living bereavement’: Grandparents are mounting a new campaign to make it easier for them to keep in contact with their grandchildren when families split. Jon Robins reports

Susan Stamper is the proud grandmother of Isobel May who recently turned 10 years of age. “I sent her a birthday card to an address in Nottingham that I have, just like I do every year. Every birthday, Christmas and Easter I send her a card without fail. I never miss.” It is almost seven years since Susan, a 56-year-old learning support assistant from Northamptonshire and her husband John, 57, a decorator, have seen Isobel.

October 26, 2004

G2: ‘I hear my clients sobbing’: A campaign against care home closures has cost solicitor Yvonne Hossack her marriage and her home. Now, she claims, the body running legal aid is trying to put her out of business. Jon Robins reports

Last week Yvonne Hossack, a solicitor who has campaigned for seven years against care home closures, had to sell her much-loved Y-reg Vauxhall Astra to keep her Northamptonshire-based law firm afloat. “It’s no Porsche but I’m going to miss it,” she says. When it comes to totting up her personal sacrifices, that one is strictly minor league. Hossack reckons she is now facing bankruptcy. She is also splitting up from her husband and selling her share in the family house.

July 27, 2004

G2: Anarchists’ roadshow: The McLibel Two are preparing for a new legal fight in Europe, where they hope to prove that multinationals should not be able to sue individuals for libel. By Jon Robins

Auberon Waugh once declared that the McLibel trial was “the best free entertainment in London”. In September the show is back for a limited run, but this time in Strasbourg. Self-styled anarchists Helen Steel and Dave Morris are to appear before the European court of human rights some 14 years after the fast-food giant sued them for distributing a handful of leaflets titled: “What’s wrong with McDonald’s”.


 


 

June 14, 2009

Expecting a baby? Congratulations – pick up your P45 at the door: Some employers are using maternity leave as a convenient excuse to make staff redundant, says Jon Robins

Out of sight, out of mind. That seems to be the case for mothers returning from maternity leave who, according to reports, are increasingly being singled out for redundancy in the economic downturn.

April 26, 2009

COHABIT AT YOUR PERIL

Almost one in four unmarried people living with a partner risks being left homeless should their relationship end, according to the Ministry of Justice’s Living Together campaign.

March 8, 2009

Prepare to put up a fight if jobs axe falls unfairly: Employment tribunals are handling a record number of cases – and many claimants are having to go it alone. Jon Robins reports

Employment tribunals face record numbers of unfair dismissal claims from sacked workers as companies hunt for ways to keep a lid on the costs of making staff redundant.

February 22, 2009

HEADLINE: Cash: Energy providers turn up the heat: Customers behind with their bills are being forced to switch to expensive meters and losing out on savings that are offered to direct debit payers Lisa Bachelor and Jon Robins report

Increasing numbers of people are being forced into costly ways of paying for their gas and electricity that will see them miss out on the recent round of energy price cuts.

February 1, 2009

‘After all we’ve lost, at least we’re still together’: Bankruptcy is on the rise – but should it be seen as an easy option?

Declaring yourself bankrupt is the most drastic financial option anyone can take. Nonetheless it is an escape route increasingly used by people overwhelmed by money troubles.

January 18, 2009

Signing on? Give it the full monty: Having to go to the dole office was once seen as a a grim and belittling experience. Now, as the downturn takes its toll, more of us will have to make that journey. Jon Robins sets out to see what has changed and if the new-look jobcentres can deliver

Many who face redundancy in the current downturn will be making their first visit to a jobcentre since they were students signing on over the holidays. Will they notice the difference between the old dole queue and today’s plush offices?

Emphatically, “yes”.

January 4, 2009

For the real spirit of Christmas past don’t let your rubbish go to waste: That drooping tree, leftover food and acres of wrapping paper should not end up in landfill – and there are better homes for presents you did not want. Jon Robins on the alternatives

For many of us, it’s back to work  tomorrow . All that’s left of the festivities is a hangover and bulging bin-liners piled at the back door. According to environmental charity Wasteonline, we generate about 3m tonnes of rubbish in less than two weeks of partying and some of that could be heading to a landfill near you. But whether it’s food, the tree or those unwanted presents, there is a better way than dumping it all in the bin.

December 21, 2008

Amazon’s budget MP3s give Apple food for thought

Last month Amazon kickstarted an online music price war when it launched its MP3 store. Some of this year’s top-selling albums are available for download for just £ 3, including Guns N’ Roses’s Chinese Democracy, Elbow’s Seldom Seen Kid. Tracks are on sale from 59p, undercutting iTunes’s 79p-a-track pricing structure.

December 14, 2008

Social Security: Yes, we cheat the system, but give us help to stop: Jon Robins meets parents who admit that they claim benefits while doing cash-in-hand jobs, but insist ‘need rather than greed’ is their motivation

‘I was telling my kids this morning: you always get what you need but, this year, you mightn’t get what you want,’ says 33-year-old single mother Kelly. And what do her seven- and nine-year-old boys want for Christmas? ‘An Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 – everything every other kid wants,’ she says.

November 30, 2008

No work, no money, no security – what would life be like if I lost my job?: For Jon Robins it’s a hypothetical question, but what he learns about that possible future reveals the devastating situation that an increasing number of credit crunch victims and their families are facing

THE SMALL waiting room at Brighton and Hove Citizens Advice bureau, based in Hove town hall, is heaving. The network of bureaux is at the sharp end of the credit crunch and reports a 52 per cent rise in the number of inquiries relating to redundancy in the past six months.

November 16, 2008

Patients who pay for cancer care still face NHS costs: The government’s policy change over ‘top-up’ treatment is not all it seems

THE BRITISH government’s U-turn on funding NHS treatment for cancer sufferers who have paid for private treatment will not help them as much as many expect, says a cancer campaigning group.

November 2, 2008

The fight goes on for fairer bank charges: Almost a year after it began, the legal debate over the cost of overdrafts and bounced cheques has reached the Court of Appeal. Jon Robins reports

BANK CUSTOMERS’ epic legal battle to try to recover unfair charges for bouncing cheques and exceeding overdrafts has reached the Court of Appeal.

October 26, 2008

When losing your job can be a career opportunity: Redundancy didn’t faze Jim Fisher: he leapt at the chance to start his own firm

IT MIGHT not feel like it now, but there is life after redundancy. Jim Fisher, a 48-year-old from Tipton, West Midlands, lost his job six weeks ago at the Firth Cleveland steel works after 31 years of service. ‘I was down for a couple of weeks,’ admits the father of two, who was let go along with more than 50 of his colleagues. ‘But it’s also an exciting time for me. If I don’t do make a go of things now, I’ll never get another opportunity.’

October 19

Where you need to start if the pay packet stops: Redundancies are becoming a frightening reality as the crisis grows. Jon Robins explains what to do, and what to expect, if you’re shown the door

The number of people losing their jobs is rising faster than at any time since the recession of the early 1990s. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, the total number of jobless is 1.8 million, rising by 164,000 in the three months to August, the most rapid increase since June 1991. Those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance rose by 31,800 over the past month, and it is being predicted that the number of unemployed could break the two million mark by Christmas.

October 5, 2008

Debt Samaritans in high demand: A free helpline is braced for 200,000 calls from consumers at their wits’ end over repayments

‘I’M WORRIED and I can’t sleep,’ says Steve Marks. ‘The stress really isn’t helping my health.’

September 28, 2008

If you want to save your house from repossession, you need to stay calm: Think clearly and act logically when you face court

IT DIDN’T take long for the credit crunch to make its way to the courts. The latest statistics from the Ministry of Justice show that repossession actions in the last quarter rose by a huge 24 per cent as banks and building societies pursued struggling homeowners through the legal process. And the National Debtline reports a 30 per cent increase over the last 12 months in callers seeking help because they fear they will fall into arrears. So what can you do if your mortgage lender tries to take your home away?

August 31, 2008

The high price of finding someone to care: Choosing a home to look after an elderly relative involves emotion as well as cost

‘THE STRAIN became a huge drain on me. It brought me to my knees,’ recalls Vivienne Lacey of the period spent sorting out care for her elderly mother.

August 24, 2008

Unions under renewed attack for failing low-paid women members: Female workers angry at the GMB for selling them short in a compensation deal have triumphed in court

THE COURTS have lambasted trade unions for misleading their low-paid women members and settling their equal pay claims for too little in recent landmark judgments.

August 3, 2008

Blind, immobilised, diabetic – but the NHS doesn’t care: New state guidelines on paying for treatment in nursing homes have done little to ease the plight of many sick elderly people, reports Jon Robins

EILEEN PUC has lived in a nursing home in Cardiff for the past three years after a stroke – her second – left her immobile, doubly incontinent, and only able to eat pureed food. Eileen has severe diabetes and needs four insulin injections a day. She is also registered blind. Her family is fighting to prove that she has ‘health needs’ to qualify for fully funded NHS continuing care to cover the £ 1,825 that the home charges every month.

‘My question is: how ill do you have to b

August 3, 2008

From dodging Nazi U-boats to a more comfortable anchorage in Eastbourne: Retirement used to mean either sheltered housing or a care home. Now a US company is offering five-star hotel accommodation

AT THE AGE of 97, Lettie Lesser has written her memoirs at the request of friends, including those at the Hawthorns retirement home in Eastbourne, for publication.

 

July 20, 2008

A threat to legal help in the town that needs it most: Hull, struggling with floods and poverty, faces the loss of its Citizens Advice bureau

MORE THAN 10,000 people in Hull have pledged their support to prevent the closure of their local Citizens Advice bureau after it lost a huge chunk of its funding.

July 13, 2008

Lord fights to give legal rights to cohabitees: Baron Lester is to lead a campaign to help protect siblings and unmarried couples

A CAMPAIGN TO give two million unmarried couples similar legal and financial protection to that of husbands and wives was launched last week. Baron Lester of Herne Hill, the Liberal Democrat peer, is to head the initiative with a view to introducing a bill in Parliament later this year.

July 6, 2008

How much will we be able to rely on supermarkets’ own-brand lawyers?: So-called ‘Tesco Law’ – legal services from consumer brand names offering an alternative to the high-street solicitor – is already available through Which?, the Halifax and the Co-op, but critics question the quality of advice available. Jon Robins investigates

Companies including the Co-op, AA, insurers and consumer rights group Which? are set to offer legal advice to consumers as an alternative to high-street law firms ahead of liberalisation of the legal profession. The idea behind ‘Tesco Law’ – shorthand for reforms that will enable supermarkets, banks and insurers to own law firms – is to make buying legal services as straightforward as buying a can of beans.

June 22, 2008

House doctor who cures bad design: A new service offers advice from an architect-led team on how to unleash potential in your home – free of planning permission. Jon Robins reports

‘THIS IS where the best view should be,’ says Simon Smith, an architect who specialises in realising that most elusive of qualities: ‘potential’. We’re standing in the doorway of our Edwardian terrace in Brighton. In Smith’s mind, he is walking through our house to an artfully decked, bijou – yet tasteful – back garden via a Jamie Oliver-approved, expansive kitchen. Outdoor and indoor areas are ‘integrated’ into a seamless space.

June 15, 2008

Apartment in the Rockies or Newfoundland log cabin? Beautiful, remote and offering a quirky line in hospitality, the island of Newfoundland has the British firmly in its sights. Jon Robins tours the hot tubs and the breathtaking views

Flying into Deer Lake airport in Newfoundland, you are struck by the remoteness of this Canadian island, which is as big as Japan, covering 400,000 square miles but with a population of only 500,000. First impressions from the plane, descending in the early evening, are of a bleak fir-clad landscape with isolated clusters of houses on the banks of frozen rivers and lakes. It seems an unlikely candidate for the next property hotspot.

May 25, 2008

Gordon gives at a low inflation rate, and takes away with the higher one: Pay rises in the public sector are outstripped by the interest on student loans – currently at 4.8 per cent – creating a financial gap that means it is increasingly difficult for new employees of Brown’s government to make ends meet, writes Jon Robins

RECENT GRADUATES working in the public sector are coming under increasing financial pressure as the rate of interest charged on their student loans looks likely to outstrip their salary increases.

May 25, 2008

Young doctors feel the bite of 2.2 per cent pay deal

‘IT IS a real kick in the teeth to doctors, teachers and nurses,’ says Dr Philip Smith of the recent 2.2 per cent for doctors. ‘[It] equates to a pay cut.’

May 18, 2008

Shared ownership opened up to many more first-time buyers

ALL FIRST-TIME buyers earning under £ 60,000 will now be eligible for the government’s low cost shared-ownership scheme, Open Market HomeBuy – with the Prime Minister promising an extra £ 200m to extend eligibility for it and to buy homes for social renting.

May 11, 2008

Best way to travel is on a credit card: If you arrange your own holiday, you won’t be Atol protected if you use a debit card, says Jon Robins

UP TO nine million British travellers who put together their own ‘DIY’ holiday breaks this year run the risk of losing their money if their travel company goes under – because they have paid for their flights and hotels by debit card, cash or cheque.

April 27, 2008

Battle of the Bulbs shows locals are switching on to people power: It is possible for residents to defeat planning applications, says Jon Robins, but you must be vigilant

THE LOCAL press call it the ‘Battle of the Bulbs’ but, frankly, it’s more like an Ealing comedy: local authority workers deployed to remove 55 antique Victorian lampposts from four roads around Hanwell in west London were forced to down tools this month following a peaceful protest by 50 incensed locals.

April 13, 2008

This is Jacqui: she’s here to save you from eviction: Jon Robins meets the woman who steps in to help indebted homeowners at the door of the court

JACQUI O’CARROLL probably saved five people from losing their homes the last time she was in court, and is likely to do the same this week. A money adviser with Shepway Citizens Advice in Kent who runs an advice desk in Dover Magistrates Court on ‘possession days’, O’Carroll often provides the only help homeowners get when facing repossession.

April 13, 2008

Why your car insurance may not travel well: The small print in your policy and different rules in Europe could mean that even a minor bump may prove expensive

IF YOU are planning to drive abroad during the school holidays you should check exactly what cover your car insurance provides.

March 23, 2008

Pitfalls of leaving a legacy for just £ 4.99: A DIY pack can provide you with a legally binding will, but may also create problems, writes Jon Robins

IF YOU are overcome by a sense of your own mortality as you buy your local paper, don’t panic – you could be in the right place to do something about it. You can now get a DIY ‘will pack’ in shops across the country, including more than 7,000 newsagents, for less than £ 5.

March 9, 2008

With the support of this pre-nup, I thee wed: Paul McCartney thought it was ‘unromantic’, but couples are increasingly adding a legal agreement to their wedding to-do list

‘All you need is love,’ a famous divorcee once sang. Well, yeah – that and a watertight pre-nup, is the chorus from divorce lawyers as they survey the wreckage of the McCartney/Mills marriage.

March 2, 2008

DIY child support deals will hurt lone parents, warn campaigners: Allowing separated parents to make their own maintenance arrangements has alarmed support groups

SEPARATED PARENTS could miss out on adequate child maintenance if plans enabling them to strike their own deals on post-split finances go ahead, warn family campaigners.

February 17, 2008

Insurers ‘put pressure on claimants to settle for less’: Evidence that accident victims are being urged to accept payouts before they can obtain legal advice has sparked an inquiry, reports Jon Robins

THE CONDUCT of insurers who deal directly with accident victims will be investigated following accusations that they put pressure on victims to waive their right to compensation or to settle claims for less than they should.

February 17, 2008

Insurers ‘put pressure on claimants to settle for less’: Evidence that accident victims are being urged to accept payouts before they can obtain legal advice has sparked an inquiry, reports Jon Robins

THE CONDUCT of insurers who deal directly with accident victims will be investigated following accusations that they put pressure on victims to waive their right to compensation or to settle claims for less than they should.

January 20, 2008

Schools face a caning for breaking places code: With admission rules repeatedly being flouted a year after they were introduced, the government is threatening to crack down, writes Jon Robins

THE SCHOOLS minister, Jim Knight, last week called for an end to ‘covert practices’ in schools admissions, which are perceived to be exploited by middle-class parents to secure the school of choice for their children.

 

January 20, 2008

Investment website lets music fans give new bands a few valuable notes: Now you can put money behind fresh pop talent, writes Jon Robins

‘WHEN I was younger I used to covet the bands that I was into – and as soon as they got into the charts I started to hate them,’ confesses Paul Gill who, when not doing his day job in IT, is a wannabe Harvey Goldsmith scouring the pop scene for talent. He is one of 40,000 registered users of the website Slicethepie (www.slicethepie.com), which claims to be a ‘virtual trading exchange’, matching new bands with investor-fans who want a piece of the action.

 

January 20, 2008

…but why buy at all when you could just share?: Car clubs used to be for eco-warriors. Now, says Jon Robins , they make powerful financial sense

ONE OF the few happy consequences of any impending property crash might be an end to the sight of estate agents tearing around our major cities in Mini Coopers festooned with corporate graphics. If that’s the case, Bonett’s, a busy estate agency in Brighton, is a long way ahead of the curve: it flogged off its four company cars two years ago and joined a car club.

January 13, 2008

Why your insurer doesn’t like your tone of voice: Claimants are having their sincerity analysed by new telephone ‘stress tests’, reports Jon Robins

‘I DID not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. . .’. The computer screen, as the clip is played of Bill Clinton intoning these words in a monotone, is going ballistic. In the 18 seconds it takes for the former president to deliver his infamous denial, the voice risk analysis (VRA) programme used every week on thousands of UK citizens making insurance claims flashes 12 different messages on the screen, such as ‘stress’; ‘excitement’; ‘high tension’; and finally, in red: ‘high risk’.

January 6, 2008

Now the season of overindulgence is over, give a present to the planet: Put your heap of Christmas debris to good use

IT’S OVER at last. Today is the twelfth day of Christmas and, if you haven’t already got around to it, it’s time for the final seasonal clear-out. Campaigning group Recycle Now reckons that on average each household in the UK generates an extra five bulging bin bags during this season of excessive consumption – that’s a total of 736,571 tonnes of debris accumulated over the past two weeks heading to a landfill near you.

January 6, 2008

Turkey with all the trimmings: Property on the attractive Bodrum peninsula has been enticingly cheap. Now there’s something for the upmarket buyer too

THE WHITEWASHED sugar-cube apartments that increasingly dot the rocky outcrops of the hills overlooking the Aegean on the Bodrum peninsula are testament to Turkey’s success in attracting foreign property buyers.

December 30, 2007

At last: a divorce process for adults: Ending a marriage often means a bitter battle in the courts. But a new scheme could ease the emotional and financial pain, says Jon Robins

HERE’S AN un-festive thought for you: on Wednesday, the phones of divorce lawyers across the land will be ringing off their hooks as thousands of unhappy couples who have been forced to spend the best part of a fortnight in each other’s company realise that they can take it no more.

December 23, 2007

In the know: Thanks for your present… what can I do with it?: Oh dear, Santa socks… Jon Robins offers some suggestions for gifts you could have lived without

DO ANY WORDS encapsulate the spirit of Christmas today more than ‘I’ve got the receipt if you need it’? According to research by eBay and YouGov, we spend £ 31 on average per gift but more than a third of us (34 per cent) can’t even remember what our partners bought us last year, let alone anyone else.

December 9, 2007

Victims of asbestos fight payout ‘apartheid’: A family haunted by industrial disease now faces losing out in a postcode lottery.

PEOPLE SUFFERING from pleural plaques through exposure to asbestos will soon be facing a postcode lottery to determine whether they qualify for compensation.

December 2, 2007

WHAT’S IN THE BOX?

Jon Robins puts his recycling out every week in Brighton, where he lives.

December 2, 2007

How we got recycling all mixed up: Unsorted, ‘commingled’ waste is bringing Britain’s reprocessors to a grinding halt, warns Jon Robins

THERE’S NOTHING like recycling to give us a virtuous glow: we’re saving the planet, and we don’t have to go further than the kerb. We diligently sort beer and wine bottles from plastics, cardboards from paper. But then what happens?

November 25, 2007

Brits put tiny Cape Verde on the map: Ten dots in the ocean are gearing up to cash in on the second-home market, reports Jon Robins

INTREPID European sailors are thought to have discovered Cape Verde in 1456, but it is only since Channel 4’s Amanda Lamb bestowed her blessings on this former Portuguese colony a couple of years ago that the Brits have been able to find it on the map. In case you’re still not in the know, Cape Verde is 10 dots of land 460km off the west coast of Africa.

November 18, 2007

Divorcee faces ruin in ‘clean break’ test case: A mother may lose tens of thousands of £ – because her ex went bankrupt. Jon Robins reports

A DIVORCEE IS is fighting her bankrupt ex-husband’s creditors in a bid to hold on to matrimonial assets she received in her divorce settlement. If she fails, it could mean the end of the ‘clean break’ divorce.

November 4, 2007

Download dads lead the iPod generation: Forget teenagers: it’s thirtysomethings who spend most on digital music, writes Jon Robins. And there’s plenty of competition for their business

FROM THE obsessive indie record collector flicking through the 12-inch racks, to the much-derided figure of ’50-quid man’ (the middle-of-the-road fiftysomething bloke with plenty to spend in HMV), music fans have always been addicted to ‘product’, from vinyl to CDs.

October 7, 2007

Does an extra 17p an hour offer anything except more hardship?: The recent increase to the minimum wage is the smallest yet. Jon Robins finds out if it will make much difference to the lowest-paid professions

THE MINIMUM wage was raised by 3 per cent last week – the least generous increase since its inception in 1999 – putting a smile on the face of employers and a mere 17p an hour extra into the pockets of almost two million workers. But what kind of wage is £ 5.52 an hour (£ 4.60 if you are aged 18 to 21 and £ 3.40 if you are 16 or 17), and who are the ‘minimum wage workers’?

September 16, 2007

Fight for justice on holiday misery: Complaints about overseas breaks rose this summer, but the battle for compensation could leave you feeling even more bitter. Jon Robins reports

F or those of us who have endured a bleak British summer, it could have been worse – apparently, for holidaymakers who left these shores, it often was. ‘This has to be one of the worst summers for complaints about holidays since the mid-1990s,’ says Frank Brehany, managing director of consumer group Holiday Travel Watch. During the 10-week summer holiday period, the HTW helplines have taken up to 60 calls a day. So far, the group has issued 22 ‘alerts’ to returning holidaymakers enabling them to use evidence to promote their own claims or join forces with others making similar complaints.

September 16, 2007

Fight for justice on holiday misery: Complaints about overseas breaks rose this summer, but the battle for compensation could leave you feeling even more bitter. Jon Robins reports

For those of us who have endured a bleak British summer, it could have been worse – apparently, for holidaymakers who left these shores, it often was. ‘This has to be one of the worst summers for complaints about holidays since the mid-1990s,’ says Frank Brehany, managing director of consumer group Holiday Travel Watch. During the 10-week summer holiday period, the HTW helplines have taken up to 60 calls a day. So far, the group has issued 22 ‘alerts’ to returning holidaymakers enabling them to use evidence to promote their own claims or join forces with others making similar complaints.

September 9, 2007

Warning on ‘mortgage rescue’ firms: Debt-ridden homeowners sell up to companies and rent their property back – but they can then face eviction

HOMEOWNERS STRUGGLING with spiralling mortgage costs have been warned to beware of companies which promise a quick way out of debt but could cost them their houses.

August 12, 2007

Who’s best at getting equal pay for women?: Unions face allegations of negligence, but claim they are still better than lawyers, says Jon Robins

THOUSANDS OF women began legal proceedings against trade unions last week, claiming they have been negligent in handling equal pay claims.

August 5, 2007

Plea to help grandparents bringing up babies again: Charities want more financial support given to people taking on the care of their grandchildren

‘IT WAS AS if we had just turned the clock back 22 years to when we were first married and had our own kids,’ says Pru Enfield (not her real name), a 51-year-old grandmother from Doncaster. ‘For the first few years there was a sense of: we can’t do the things that we would because we are, again, responsible for two young children.’

July 22, 2007

Catch the best fares before they go: As train operators raise ticket prices, rail travellers need to be smarter than ever, says Jon Robins

TENS OF thousands of rail passengers face the prospect of years of inflation-busting price rises, following the news that Arriva has seen off Richard Branson’s Virgin to win the Cross Country franchise. For the first time, a new operator has made it clear that the price for a series of improvements to the service will be paid at the ticket barrier: an average increase in unregulated fares of 3.4 per cent above inflation per year.

July 8, 2007

The strange case of the Morecambe Bay racers: Steven Wells wants to get illegal bikes off his beach. Why would a council oppose him?

A MAN HAS been forced to spend more than £ 20,000 in a battle with a neighbouring council to protect the land at Morecambe Bay he owns from being used illegally to race motorcycles, quad bikes, hovercraft and even microlites.

June 24, 2007

Law Lords leave elderly out in cold: A ruling leaves elderly and vulnerable people in private care homes with no protection from eviction or ill-treatment

FAMILIES WITH relatives in care suffered a blow this week when the House of Lords ruled that human rights legislation did not protect the elderly or vulnerable placed by local authorities in private care homes from eviction or neglect.

June 17, 2007

Demand for legal aid soars as scheme faces cutback: The government says help is at a record high, but lawyers argue it’s close to collapse.

THE GOVERNMENT claimed last week that the number of people receiving publicly funded legal advice has hit a record high, with more than 800,000 people being helped with debt problems, disputes with landlords and bosses and other issues. In terms of debt advice, which has been an increasing focus for legal aid, the number of people helped rose by 15 per cent on last year, it said.

June 10, 2007

Dr Irving, I presume? No – that’s the problem: Jon Robins on the credit reference error that linked an innocent Briton to a wanted man

A YEAR AGO John Irving, a management consultant from Norwich, and his wife Jill were passing through immigration at Victoria ferry station in British Columbia, travelling from Canada to the US. ‘The officer tapped my name into the computer. It immediately went into meltdown and the screen began to glow red,’ Irving says. ‘At which point two beefy armed guards appeared, wearing flak jackets and carrying guns. They were very polite, but it wasn’t nice.’

June 3, 2007

Shopping? They just don’t buy it: More than 8,000 people are helping the planet by curbing consumerism

‘I’M kind of worried about what to get my mum. Her birthday’s coming up,’ admits Rachel Kesel, a 26-year-old geography student at San Francisco State University. The reason for the anxiety is that she is six months into a one-year pledge not to buy anything new – underwear and a few other essentials aside.

May 27, 2007

Lofts at risk under new planning proposals: ‘Relaxed’ regulations would actually make converting your attic harder, writes Jon Robins

RADICAL REFORMS of the planning system that are that are supposed to make it easier for homeowners to carry out building work such as extensions or conservatories without planning permission could spell the end for loft extensions.

May 20, 2007

Don’t get left up in the air when booking your flights: The web revolution in DIY holidays is eroding travel industry guarantee schemes, warns Jon Robins

AS MANY as 18 million holidaymakers this summer who have arranged their own ‘DIY’ breaks run the risk of being seriously out of pocket – not to mention stranded at foreign airports – if any of the companies they book with go bust.

May 6, 2007

Drug threat faces victims of asbestos: Families who are fighting for compensation over work-related cancers now fear withdrawal of NHS funding for a new treatment, writes Jon Robins

FORMER WORKERS suffering from asbestos-related cancer are facing medical bills of £ 24,000 and the prospect of having to remortgage their homes, pending a final decision by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) to withdraw approval from the only drug licensed to help sufferers.

May 6, 2007

Bribery scandal blows a hole in Britons’ Spanish home dreams: Hundreds of expats have learned their new houses have been built illegally and may now have to be bulldozed. Jon Robins reports

‘I’VE SOLD up in the UK, invested my life savings in this piece of ground, and the house that stands on it,’ says Bob Naya, a 62-year-old British man living in Almeria in the south-east corner of Spain. ‘Now my home faces demolition.’

May 6, 2007

Drug threat faces victims of asbestos: Families who are fighting for compensation over work-related cancers now fear withdrawal of NHS funding for a new treatment, writes Jon Robins

FORMER WORKERS suffering from asbestos-related cancer are facing medical bills of £ 24,000 and the prospect of having to remortgage their homes, pending a final decision by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) to withdraw approval from the only drug licensed to help sufferers.

May 6, 2007

Bribery scandal blows a hole in Britons’ Spanish home dreams: Hundreds of expats have learned their new houses have been built illegally and may now have to be bulldozed. Jon Robins reports

‘I’VE SOLD up in the UK, invested my life savings in this piece of ground, and the house that stands on it,’ says Bob Naya, a 62-year-old British man living in Almeria in the south-east corner of Spain. ‘Now my home faces demolition.’

April 22, 2007

Mind the hype over online phones: It’s easy to cut your conventional telephone bill by making internet calls – but let the prices do the talking, not the technology

THE JOY of Skype

 

April 1, 2007

How Glastonbury is bringing the curtain down on the ticket touts: As the festival season nears, Jon Robins reports on tough new measures to foil the ‘secondary market’ for sought-after events

SO YOU’RE absentmindedly flicking through The Observer , coffee in hand and maybe The Archers on in the background. But niggling at the back of your mind, there’s something that you meant to do. If that something was to book tickets for Glastonbury Festival, which went on sale today, you’re probably too late.

March 18, 2007

Councils face a legal challenge over forcing vulnerable elderly people to move

CAMPAIGNERS FIGHTING a decision by Staffordshire County Council to axe 22 care homes and nine day centres won a respite earlier this month, after securing an emergency injunction stopping the authority from moving residents.

March 18, 2007

Coping with the costs of dementia: Alzheimer’s sufferers face bills of up to £ 25,000 a year for care, but careful financial and legal planning can protect your home and savings

A NEW report from the Alzheimer’s Society has put the cost of care for people suffering from dementia at £ 17bn a year – and families of sufferers are bearing the bulk of this cost.

March 11, 2007

Make your school appeal a class act: No room at your first choice? Think hard about how to put your case, says Jon Robins

TENS OF thousands of anxious families are this month considering appeals against local authority decisions not to give their child a place at the school of their choice. According to the Department for Education and Skills, 85 per cent of children were given a place at their first-choice school. This means 90,000 families were not, and they now face months of uncertainty.

February 25, 2007

Last chance to be a face in the crowd at Glastonbury

LAST SHOUT for mud-lovers: you have until midnight on Wednesday to ‘register’ (with photo) to be eligible to apply for tickets to this year’s Glastonbury festival. The measure has been introduced to stop ticket touts from obtaining and selling tickets and to prevent the mayhem of 2004 when the computers crashed. In 2005, tickets that went on sale at 8am had sold out by lunchtime.

February 25, 2007

February 25, 2007

‘Clairvoyant’ conmen reap millions by preying on weak and vulnerable: Mailshots from bogus psychics sucked 170,000 people into their scams last year. Jon Robins tells the tragic story of one of their elderly victims

MULVIE WRIGHT, a 76-year-old widow from St Agnes, Cornwall, died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage last month. It was a terrible shock for her family, and their grief was compounded when they made a disturbing discovery after going through her effects in the annexe of her daughter’s house, where she lived.

February 25, 2007

Build your brand new piece of old Italy: For many of those seeking a second home in Italy, the unspoilt olive-growing region of Puglia is the answer to their dreams. Jon Robins finds out how to get a custom-built piece of ‘the new Tuscany’

In the brilliant sunshine of a clear winter’s day in an ancient olive grove in Salento, four weather-beaten Italian craftsmen are building a masseria, a type of fortified farmhouse. If it weren’t for the clunking presence of a generator, one might suspect the scene had changed little over the past hundred years. The workers, well into their fifties, are puffing away on cigarettes and crafting rough-hewn building blocks from locally quarried sandstone with the most basic of stonecutters, finishing off their handiwork with primitive axes. It is highly skilled work, captivating to watch, and would almost certainly be in breach of UK building regulations.

February 4, 2007

How car drivers are taking on traffic wardens – and winning: If you’ve got a parking ticket, check it before paying up, writes Jon Robins – a High Court ruling has just made thousands invalid

THOUSANDS OF motorists around the country are having their parking fines overturned following a precedent-setting High Court case which determined that tickets issued by one London council were invalid.

January 28, 2007

Beat the out-of-guarantee blues: If you have an electronic device that’s on the blink after only a couple of years, don’t bin it, writes Jon Robins – you’ve got rights

WE LIVE in a throwaway society where it is accepted that electrical goods have a shelf life measured in months rather than years. But does it have to be that way? What can you do when your beloved iPod expires on the wrong side of its guarantee or your bargain DVD player from Asda plays its last film?

December 24, 2006

‘Tis the season – to get divorced: Christmas puts untold strain on relationships – but it’s easier if you see a mediator, writes Jon Robins

CHRISTMAS MIGHT be the season of goodwill, but for many families it can be the final straw. According to new research, more than four in five of us experiencing family problems fear that they will ruin Christmas. The poll was run by the government-funded advice service advicenow.org.uk, which has chosen to launch a guide on the anything-but-festive subject of mediation.

December 24, 2006

Warning: may contain nutty claims: It could be the end for the compensation culture that has gripped Britain – there’s a new lawman in town, writes Jon Robins

IT’S THE end of an era. A new watchdog is about to clean up the excesses of the hitherto unregulated claims farming industry.

December 17, 2006

Buncefield fallout still smouldering: A year after the fire, families whose houses were damaged continue to wait for the oil companies to pay up

PEOPLE living near Buncefield are still waiting for compensation one year on from the oil depot explosion that wrecked their homes.

December 17, 2006

Why shouldn’t Gehry be allowed to Brighton up the neighbourhood?: The trendies love it, but many Hove locals feel a renowned architect’s new scheme for its Regency seafront is too big and bold

HERE’S A NO-brainer for you: a council stuck with an unloved, rundown 1960s-era recreation centre at the end of an otherwise attractive Regency promenade and a world-class architect eager to transform it into an iconic residential complex, complete with state-of-the-art sports facilities paid for by the developers. So where’s the problem?

December 3, 2006

Deck the halls – but don’t get wreathed with debts: In the new year, thousands of people will be ringing helplines because they forgot to be careful with money over Christmas

DEBT ADVICE services are predicting record numbers of calls for help in the new year as Christmas shoppers open their credit card bills.

November 26, 2006

Anger at plan to axe CSA debts: The Child Support Agency is finally to be replaced by a new agency, but its problems remain. Concern is mounting at proposals to write off as much as £ 1bn of the money that it failed to collect from the former partners of lone parents

THIS MONTH the government effectively announced that the beleaguered Child Support Agency is finally to be put out of its misery with the promise of the Child Support Bill in the Queen’s Speech. A white paper is due, setting out plans to replace the CSA with a new body.

November 5, 2006

War breaks out on the home front as old and new estate agents clash: Businesses offering to save sellers thousands of £ in fees complain they are being kept off websites, writes Jon Robins

THE FUTURE of new low-cost online estate agencies, which could save home sellers thousands of £ in commission, is being jeopardised by questionable tactics used by the traditional estate agency chains.

November 5, 2006

‘Hello, is it really me you’re looking for?’: Jon Robins advises on what you should do if, like him, you are the victim of a telephone scam

AS A PERSONAL finance journalist, I am ever-vigilant in the war on scams, so let’s agree to put the following episode down to a lapse in concentration.

October 29, 2006

What if it’s in your back yard?: People power can beat unpopular development, but only if campaigners arm themselves with expert advice

DISMAYED BY plans for a second runway in your back garden? Horrified by the idea of a prison being built in your idyllic village? Open the pages of any regional paper and you will find stories about locals protesting about schemes by developers or councils.

October 8, 2006

Legal aid in crisis as clients are abandoned: Urgent cases are being turned away from centres that are struggling to cope

A 62-YEAR-OLD man from Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, on income support and facing eviction from his home of 50 years, was forced repeatedly to travel by public transport to west London to find a lawyer to advise him on legal aid.

September 24, 2006

Army widows battle MoD on ‘immunity’: The days when the military could avoid legal action by bereaved relatives over reckless actions could be numbered

‘I FEEL AS though a weight has been lifted from my shoulders,’ says Samantha Roberts. Her husband, Steve, was the first soldier to die in action in the Iraq war, but it has taken three-and-a-half years of legal wrangling for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to admit liability. A confidential out-of-court settlement was agreed this month.

September 24, 2006

Army widows battle MoD on ‘immunity’: The days when the military could avoid legal action by bereaved relatives over reckless actions could be numbered

‘I FEEL AS though a weight has been lifted from my shoulders,’ says Samantha Roberts. Her husband, Steve, was the first soldier to die in action in the Iraq war, but it has taken three-and-a-half years of legal wrangling for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to admit liability. A confidential out-of-court settlement was agreed this month.

September 10, 2006

Insisting on the school of your choice? Be ready for a battle: More than 80,000 secondary school places went to appeal last year, writes Jon Robins , but little more than a third were successful

‘IT’S SO frustrating. Rosie can’t have a place at the school she can see from her bedroom window,’ says Marie Foale, whose 11-year-old daughter was refused a place at Bradley Stoke Community School, which is less than 10 minutes’ walk from their home in Bristol.

September 10, 2006

Clubs play touts at their own game: A new website backed by top clubs is aiming to forestall the black market by reselling unwanted match tickets – at a mark-up, writes Jon Robins

A NEW online ticket exchange that has struck ground-breaking deals with Manchester United and Chelsea football clubs has come under fire from fans.

September 3, 2006

Learning to live with your low-paid job: Few students have it easy, but part-timers make particularly hard choices. Jon Robins digs deep

‘IT’S BREAKING my heart to have to consider giving up college at this stage,’ says John Shah, a 30-year-old part-time student at the University of London’s Birkbeck College.

August 13, 2006

Getting divorced is no time for a ‘quickie’: But there are ways to put your break-up on the fast track, says Jon Robins

‘GARY LINEKER’S 20-year marriage is over in 70 seconds’ ran the tabloid headline. It was reported that the wife of the face of Walker’s crisps was granted a ‘quickie’ divorce ‘after claiming the Match of the Day host caused her stress and anxiety’.

August 6, 2006

Rough justice fears over helpline: Callers seeking legal aid or advice are getting short shrift from a new government telephone service, according to a detailed new study, reports Jon Robins

CALLERS TO a government helpline that forms one of the major planks of the legal aid scheme are being left in limbo, according to new research.

August 6, 2006

Giving Brighton back its pomp: The resort’s Embassy Court was just another ‘decayed relic’ until residents stepped in to save it. Jon Robins looks at its history

THERE WAS a time when Embassy Court, the recently restored modernist masterpiece on Brighton’s seafront, made the charred remains of the derelict West Pier opposite seem a des-res by contrast.

July 30, 2006

Discover your own deal in the New World: UK buyers are turning to the Dominican Republic, first ‘discovered’ by Columbus, says Jon Robins

THERE ARE endless ways for British investors to buy property abroad – from a timeshare in the Algarve to doing up an old farmhouse in Bulgaria – so why buy an apartment in the Dominican Republic that hasn’t actually been built?

July 16, 2006

Holiday operator gone belly up?: If you thought your travel agent’s bond covered you, you’d be wrong – unless a High Court decision is reversed. Jon Robins reports

AS BRITISH holidaymakers prepare for their summer escape, consumer groups fear that the travel industry has been undermining basic consumer rights in the run-up to the holiday season.

June 18, 2006

Sorry, I don’t love you any more – but how can we afford a divorce?: For many unhappy couples, what was the tender trap can end up becoming a financial one

BIG MONEY divorces have made big headlines since the law lords ruled that Melissa Miller was entitled to £ 5m when her marriage to her multimillionaire fund manager husband collapsed.

June 4, 2006

Policy fee of £ 15 ‘rips off’ drivers: Legal expenses cover sold to motorists is unnecessary and just makes insurers richer, say campaigners. Jon Robins reports

INSURANCE COMPANIES are ‘ripping off’ Britain’s motorists by up to £ 270m a year over ‘completely unnecessary’ legal expenses insurance (LEI), a controversial new campaign claims.

June 4, 2006

So is equity release really that bad?: Maybe not, says Jon Robins, but it pays to think carefully before unlocking the money in your home

AT A time of overstretched pensions and low interest rates, it is hardly surprising that many older homeowners are planning to cash in some of the equity in their homes to make their golden years more comfortable. It is reckoned that Britain’s over-65s are sitting on £ 460bn worth of bricks and mortar, so more’s the pity that equity release – the principal mechanism for unlocking that cash – consistently receives such a bad press.

May 28, 2006

Landmark divorce rulings strengthen women’s financial case

THE LAW Lords ruled last week on two big money divorce cases in a landmark judgment that will strengthen the position of mothers who sacrificed careers for family – and may give Paul McCartney a few sleepless nights over his impending multi-million £ split.

May 21, 2006

Mother challenges CSA ‘negligence’: Following years of complaints, a woman has decided to take legal action against the Child Support Agency, writes Jon Robins

A GROUNDBREAKING legal action has begun against the Child Support Agency over its failure to pursue maintenance arrears owed to lone parents. The agency has accumulated £ 3.4bn in unrecovered payments in its 13-year history, but has yet to be sued for negligence.

May 7, 2006

If sex offenders live in a hostel in your street, how do you find out?: Angry villagers want answers after claims paedophiles have been rehoused among them

IT IS every young family’s worst nightmare to discover that the old pub at the end of street has been converted into a hostel for sex offenders.

April 23, 2006

Warring couples lose chance to make partner pay for divorce: New rules mean that both sides will now be expected to cover their own legal costs, reducing the need to go to court

DIVORCE COURTS have adopted a new regime in a bid to put an end to warring spouses running up massive legal bills in the expectation the other side will foot them.

April 2, 2006

At last, holiday insurance that dares to take on the risk of terrorism: New policy will also pay if travellers fall victim to pre-existing health problems

A TRAVEL insurance product without any of the usual exemptions for terror strikes or pre-existing health conditions has been launched this week to help families of British travellers who die abroad.

April 2, 2006

At last, holiday insurance that dares to take on the risk of terrorism: New policy will also pay if travellers fall victim to pre-existing health problems

A TRAVEL insurance product without any of the usual exemptions for terror strikes or pre-existing health conditions has been launched this week to help families of British travellers who die abroad.

March 26, 2006

‘Poisoned’ worker to sue law firm: A former chemical employee is complaining of poor treatment from lawyers employed by his union to fight his case

A GROUP OF chemical workers say that they may have to abandon compensation claims worth hundreds of thousands of £ because their trade union refused to back some of their claims that they were poisoned.

March 19, 2006

Who should pay for nursing at the end of life, the NHS or the patient?: Following Panorama’s exposure of a scandal in the NHS, Jon Robins looks at the heartache and financial burdens that families can suffer

THOUSANDS OF anxious relatives have inundated the BBC following a programme on long-term care for the elderly which claimed that about 40,000 homes a year are sold to pay for care. In the week after the Panorama programme ‘The National Homes Swindle’ was broadcast, the BBC’s helpline received 2,700 calls and 1,800 emails from concerned relatives. Help the Aged, which runs a care fees advice service, has been receiving up to 150 calls a day.

 

March 12, 2006

How to draw death’s financial sting : You don’t need to pay a lawyer thousands of £ for probate. Jon Robins finds a few simple rules that allow you to do it yourself

MICHAEL PAGE is competent and confident at DIY. However, his expertise lies not in putting up shelves or sorting out dodgy electrics, but in handling the affairs of the deceased.

March 5, 2006

Dying asbestos victims fear new court challenge will slash payouts: Workers could lose out in French firm’s legal bid to share responsibility between all employers. Jon Robins reports

A LANDMARK legal challenge starts in the House of Lords on 13 March in an attempt to limit payouts for the most deadly form of asbestos-related cancer.

February 19, 2006

Father’s bid to force CSA into action: A legal challenge to force the sale of an absent mother’s house is seen as a measure of the agency’s ‘get tough’ commitment

A FATHER – OF-TWO is taking legal action to force the Child Support Agency to sell the house of his former wife to recover £ 52,000 in outstanding maintenance arrears. If successful, it is believed that this will be the first time that the CSA has required a defaulting parent to sell their home to meet their commitments to their children.

February 12, 2006

Gig-goers rebel against the cyber-touts: Music fans are sick of paying eBay mark-ups for hot tickets, says Jon Robins

HEAVEN KNOWS they’re miserable now. . . Morrissey fans were left with good reason for depression at the end of last month, when his long-awaited spring tour sold out in hours, leaving thousands ticketless.

February 5, 2006

The camera can lie (but you’ll need to prove it): Jon Robins meets the motorcyclist clocked for riding at 46mph in a 30 zone who fought back – and found he was actually doing 18mph

IF THE speed camera flashes and the Notice of Intended Prosecution arrives, how many motorists can swear they were under the limit?

January 29, 2006

Who’s to blame for the big bang?: As families suffering from the multiple effects of the Buncefield oil depot blast wait for compensation, no one is accepting responsibility, reports Jon Robins

SIXTY FAMILIES who were injured or suffered damage to their homes in the Buncefield fuel depot explosion have begun legal action in the High Court against one of the oil companies operating from the site.

January 22, 2006

Flat-hunters fall victim to costly rent deposit scam: A London landlord is ripping off prospective tenants by taking deposits – and then charging a fortune to check references

‘STUNNING, SPACIOUS one double-bedroom flat, separate lounge and bathroom, fully fitted kitchen, wooden floorboards, recently refurbished, two minutes from tube, available 9 January,’ ran the ad on http://www.gumtree.com, the classified ads website.

January 22, 2006

Flat-hunters fall victim to costly rent deposit scam: A London landlord is ripping off prospective tenants by taking deposits – and then charging a fortune to check references

‘STUNNING, SPACIOUS one double-bedroom flat, separate lounge and bathroom, fully fitted kitchen, wooden floorboards, recently refurbished, two minutes from tube, available 9 January,’ ran the ad on http://www.gumtree.com, the classified ads website.

January 15, 2006

Why lawyers want couples to make up after the break-up: Resolving issues with a series of round-the-table meetings can save heartache as well as money. Jon Robins on the rise of ‘collaborative law’, and right, a woman left out of pocket by her ex-partner gets some expert advice

DIVORCES ARE traumatic at the best of times and can destroy whatever might be left of failing relationships, turn children against parents, devour much-needed cash and drag on for years. Breaking up is hard to do, but does it have to be hell?

January 15, 2006

Divorce: A Lawyer’s View

Duane Plant, a family law expert at Greene and Greene solicitors in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, advises on the lessons to be learnt from our anonymous case study’s tale of woe:

January 15, 2006

Why lawyers want couples to make up after the break-up: Resolving issues with a series of round-the-table meetings can save heartache as well as money. Jon Robins on the rise of ‘collaborative law’, and right, a woman left out of pocket by her ex-partner gets some expert advice

DIVORCES ARE traumatic at the best of times and can destroy whatever might be left of failing relationships, turn children against parents, devour much-needed cash and drag on for years. Breaking up is hard to do, but does it have to be hell?

January 8, 2006

Porridge with a legal rate of pay: Giving prisoners the chance to earn the minimum wage could be a way to help them to escape from a life of endless crime, writes Jon Robins

Inmates of a British prison are, for the first time, being paid the national minimum wage as part of an experiment to reduce the rate of reoffending.

December 18, 2005

Partners, but not for pensions: Jon Robins looks at where unmarried couples lose out

IF YOU are one of the 4 million unmarried people who live with a partner across England and Wales, now could be a good time to brace yourself and read the small print in your pension plan and that of and your partner.

December 11, 2005

TERROR SURVIVORS LEFT TO COPE ALONE: NEW RULES GOVERNING COMPENSATION FOR CRIMINAL ACTS OFFER NOTHING TO THOSE INJURED ABROAD

PROPOSED changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme would fail to help those injured or killed by terrorist acts abroad. Under the plans announced last week, people who suffer minor injuries would no longer qualify for compensation, but would receive practical help and counselling. The money saved would be used to increase payments to those who are seriously debilitated, and the previous maximum of £500,000 would be axed.

December 4, 2005

‘All I want is for this firm to be brought to justice’: Jon Robins reports on how the legal action of Victor Thomas against the maker of Vioxx could go to the US

‘I USED to say that I’m 68 years old going on 35,’ says Victor Thomas, a retired builder from Gloucester. However, the past few months have been hard-going for Victor, who suffered two heart attacks in September 2004 which brought his active life to an abrupt end, including four decades’ service with his local football team, Brockworth Village. He has since had a heart bypass operation and was told last week by his doctor that he probably has diabetes.

December 4, 2005

‘The reality of our lives will be more public’: Jon Robins meets Tess and Sarah, among the first to get hitched

‘I met Tess and never went home,’ says Sarah Bourke, a 33-year-old barrister who works at Brent Law Centre. As of tomorrow, the Civil Partnership Act will become law and Sarah and her partner of 11 years, Tess Joseph, will be one of the first couples to get hitched, at Camden Town Hall on 21 December. Gay and lesbian couples must give 15 days’ notice before they can tie the knot.

November 27, 2005

INSURANCE LEVY PLEA FOR TERROR VICTIMS: LEAVE BRITAIN AND YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN, EVEN WHEN THE WORST POSSIBLE THING HAPPENS, WRITES JON ROBINS

AN EXTRA charge could be levied on travel insurance policies to help tourists caught up in acts of terrorism abroad after growing concerns that those affected by bombs are being abandoned.

November 20, 2005

Fighting low pay: Has Britain’s minimum wage made a maximum difference?: Not everyone is convinced, yet Labour’s reform of the law has many converts. Jon Robins assesses its impact and talks to some low-paid workers about their experiences

LIFE on the minimum wage in Britain today means different things to different workers. For Anne Meacock (see opposite page), a Swansea barmaid, it means self-respect. ‘You can hold your head up high and say that you are earning £5 an hour,’ she says.

November 20, 2005

Dealing with debt: New lifeline offers escape for victims of loan sharks: Jon Robins hears how one city is helping people facing debt interest rates of up to 900 per cent

NOT long ago, Tracey Laming, a 32-year-old single mother from Park Hill, Sheffield, hid behind her sofa with her two children when the loan sharks knocked on her door. Not that it did her any good. ‘They just come back three or four times a day then the day after,’ she recalls.

November 20, 2005

Sailing in search of the spirit of Christmas: UK supermarkets are offering cost-cutting deals, ferry prices are up, but the booze cruise goes on. Jon Robins joins cross-Channel shoppers stocking up for the festive season

STEVE and Michelle, a couple in their early forties from near York, are on the deck of the P&O ferry the Pride of Kent gazing at the white cliffs of Dover disappearing into the distance and revising their plan of attack for a busy day ahead.

November 13, 2005

BATTLEFRONT OF THE DEADLY DUST: FIRMS FIGHTING TO AVOID PAYING COMPENSATION TO ASBESTOS VICTIMS ARE BACK IN COURT, WRITES JON ROBINS

A LANDMARK test case will appear in the Court of Appeal tomorrow in which the insurance industry, on behalf of employers, will argue that a potentially fatal condition caused by exposure to asbestos should not be compensated.

October 30, 2005

Conflict resolution: See you in court… or maybe we could just talk about this: Mediation is the smart way to settle disputes that can otherwise involve the expense and stress of going to law, says Jon Robins

‘THE problem with going through the courts is that one minute you’re having a chat with your lawyers and next minute it’s pistols at dawn,’ says 37-year-old Steve, a Manchester businessman.

October 16, 2005

CASH WRITER SCOOPS REPORTING PRIZE

JON ROBINS, a regular contributor to Cash, has won the prestigious Bar Council Legal Reporting award for print media with an article published in the section earlier this year. The judges were ‘particularly impressed by Jon’s very human account of the dangers of using unregulated middle men in personal injury claims’. Previous winners of the prize include Mary Riddell, Joshua Rozenberg and Duncan Campbell. You can read Jon’s winning article on the Observer website at http:/observer.guardian.co.uk/cash/story/0,6903,1426011,00.html

October 16, 2005

Claim game targets children: As the accident compensation industry faces a crackdown, it is taking a last pot shot at the young, writes Jon Robins

CHILDREN who have spent any time in hospitals or GPs’ surgeries recently might have chanced upon a ‘brain-teaser’ in the waiting room with which to while away a few anxious moments. It’s a word-search puzzle inviting them to ring words in a box of jumbled-up letters.

October 9, 2005

Why we’re losing interest in union credit cards: The best reasons for signing up remain better security at work, higher pay and legal advice, rather than the financial services on offer, says Jon Robins

‘MODERNISE or die’ was Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s gloomy message to Britain’s trade unions at last month’s TUC conference. Card-carrying members will know that their unions have moved with the times, in one respect at least – their enthusiastic embrace of consumerism.

October 2, 2005

Disaster planning: If the worst happens, will everything break down?: Jon Robins looks at how our financial institutions cope with catastrophe

PLAN for the worst and hope for the best has long been the mantra of the business community in our post-9/11 world.

September 11, 2005

Worthy of their hire: Doing God’s work, but denied rights as employees: The sort of legal job security enjoyed by millions still does not cover many clergy. Jon Robins investigates

PETER Andrews is employed in what could be called a caring profession, where he has worked for the same boss for 13 years. The year before last, a 14-year-old girl in one of the youth groups he ran claimed to have been sexually abused by her father. He immediately contacted social services.

August 28, 2005

BOMB SCANDAL: THE FAMILIES OF LONDON BOMBING VICTIMS COULD WAIT YEARS FOR FULL COMPENSATION FROM A ‘PENNY-PINCHING, RIGID’ STATE SCHEME. JON ROBINS REPORTS

BASIC payouts to grieving families of people killed in the London bombings which are likely to total just £11,000 are being condemned by lawyers, victims and their support groups as too little too late.

August 28, 2005

Australia needs you!: With 20,000 places to fill, Oz has launched a drive to attract skilled workers, writes Jon Robins, while, below, Barbara Oaff looks at the best UK careers for a new start

‘ THERE’S an abiding image in my mind of a typical January morning. It’s freezing, you’re stamping your feet, scraping the ice from the windscreen and then get in your car to spend the next half-hour sitting in a traffic jam,’ says Darren Pitt, a 34-year-old teacher.

August 7, 2005

FURY AS CLAIMS FIRMS TARGET BOMB VICTIMS: ‘NO WIN, NO FEE’ DEALS COULD ERODE COMPENSATION FOR PEOPLE HURT IN THE LONDON ATTACKS

L EGAL claims companies have been criticised for trying to profit from the London bombings, with one firm, 1st Class Legal, offering its services for a fee of 22 per cent of any compensation paid out to victims.

July 24, 2005

SECRETS REVEALED: Free to find out all you want?: Jon Robins on how the Freedom of Information Act can be used to find out everything from MRSA levels in your hospital to planned air traffic over your home

‘I GUESS many people might regard where I live as being the back of beyond,’ reflects Steve Charlish, of his home in Kings Norton, Leicestershire. ‘But I chose to live here because I wanted splendid isolation. We might only be six miles from Leicester but there’s no industry, no major roads, no trains and in the middle of the night there is a dead silence and then all of a sudden. . .’

June 12, 2005

It’s a trial: Rough justice for jurors when the call-up comes: Some see it as a important and rewarding civic duty, but serving on a jury can be a heavy financial burden to carry, writes Jon Robins

WE MIGHT like to think of ourselves as good citizens willing to do our bit – until that moment when an envelope drops on to our doormats containing a jury summons.

May 29, 2005

THE GRANDPARENT TRAP: The patter of tiny feet could ruin your retirement plans: Many elderly people find themselves raising their grandchildren – against all expectation. Yet, as Jon Robins reports, they do so with little financial or emotional support

THE great myth of being a grandparent is that it’s a time when you can spoil the kids and dole out sweets free of the responsibilities of parenthood. ‘I have always idolised my grandchildren because they’re special,’ says Sarah, a 67-year-old from Worthing, West Sussex. ‘The great thing about them is you can love them and give them back to their parents after a couple of hours. Well, that’s the idea.’

May 15, 2005

Case Study 2: From heroin to a habit of success

ENTREPRENEUR Ian Wills is sitting in the elegant bar of the Hotel du Vin, Brighton, as he recalls, in a broad estuary accent, how a trip to the seaside used to mean first stealing a car then sleeping rough under the west pier.

May 15, 2005

Case study 1: The spy who broke free of his chains

P AUL GRECIAN is managing director of an events-staging company, Gallowglass, with a £4.5 million turnover and 30 permanent staff.

May 1, 2005

BBC lifts lid on lawyers playing the blame game: A new documentary sheds light on the new generation of no win, no fee lawyers, writes Jon Robins

THE CHANCES of being shot by a cannon are pretty slim these days but, alas, not impossibly so. Carol Watson, a Country and Western singer from Newcastle, bears the scars of just such an injury from a gig last year.

March 27, 2005

Glastonbury fights pyramid selling as festival season nears: Moves are afoot to put an end to overpriced resold concert and festival tickets, says Jon Robins

THIS TIME next week hundreds of thousands of music fans will be glued to their phones or computer screens – or both – credit card in one hand and a strong coffee in the other, praying they will strike it lucky in the annual Glastonbury Festival ticket lottery.

March 13, 2005

Don’t cut up rough: You may be splitting up, but things don’t have to fall apart: The end of a marriage need not cost the earth. Jon Robins looks at a new alternative to punishing litigation

THERE is never going to be such a thing as ‘a good divorce’ but Suzanne, a 39-year old from East Anglia, reckons hers was ‘probably as good as it gets’. Her decree nisi arrived two weeks ago and her main feelings were of relief and sadness in equal measures.

February 27, 2005

Insult to injury: Insult added to injury in no-win situation: Victims of accidents are losing chunks of their compensation to claims middlemen, says Jon Robins

SEVEN years ago twins Ben and Sam Boreham from Ruislip, Middlesex set off for Old Trafford, home of Manchester United. It was just a couple of days before their eighth birthday, and they were travelling with big brother Dean, their mum Jane, and her best friend Debbie.

February 13, 2005

Forget pillow talk – sign a contract: Many unwed couples still believe in the myth of the common law marriage, warns Jon Robins

‘ EVERYTHING couldn’t have been rosier,’ says Amanda, a 36-year-old business consultant, of her life with her former boyfriend Martyn. ‘Or so it appeared.’

January 30, 2005

Fighting for the home front: ‘I lost my husband in the war but now I’ve found a lifeline’: Jon Robins on a group that aims to get army widows back on their feet by giving vital information and support

‘LOOKING BACK now I don’t know if I was really coping with my grief or not,’ recalls Samantha Roberts. ‘But at the time, I don’t believe you even think about whether you are coping or not.’

November 21, 2004

Fresh battle for asbestos case workers: Jon Robins on how insurers are fighting claims of people who fear they have cancer-related condition

‘ YOU would walk through the factory and it was always covered in this thick layer of dust,’ recalls John Grieves, a 65-year-old machine engineer, of his workplace from 1964 and 1969. ‘As the sun shone through the windows you could see the dust hanging in the air.’

November 7, 2004

I saw booze ships come sailing in: Eurocrats are promising an early Christmas for those stocking up on festive supplies

CHRISTMAS started early for passengers boarding the P&O ferry, the Pride of Provence, for the 9.15am Dover-to-Calais trip last Saturday. For many ‘le channel-hop’ has become as important a fixture in the festive countdown as the office party or decorating the tree.

October 17, 2004

The Flaw Society: A law unto themselves: The Law Society wants us to love our solicitors, but the number of complaints means it is a difficult case to prove

‘MY HERO , my solicitor’ is the unlikely slogan for a poster campaign designed to impress upon an uncaring British public just how wonderful lawyers are. ‘Hero’ certainly isn’t the word that David Smith would choose to sum up his feelings towards his lawyer. ‘His opinion turned out not to be worth the paper it was written on.’

September 19, 2004

Nailing a living from the virtual hammer: Selling stuff on the web’s most successful auction site can net a tidy profit and even become a full-time job, say Guy Clapperton and Jon Robins

EBAY IS the website that can find a global market for your cottage industry. If you fancy turning your weekend pottery passion into a money-spinner, or if your second-hand bike shop is on the skids, the online auction could be the answer to your prayers.

September 12, 2004

Rip-off landlords welcome new prey: New students about to enter the rental market should step cautiously, says Jon Robins

AS A new generation of students looks forward to living away from home for the first time, many are about to fall for one of the oldest scams in the book.

August 29, 2004

Holiday in ruins: If your away days were awful, why not bring home a payout?: Had the holiday from hell? Compensation is at hand, reports Jon Robins

SUMMER is fading and you’re now left with the fond memories of a happy, sun-soaked fortnight away from the relentless grind of everyday life – or maybe not.

July 4, 2004

Folk Law: Going to court? You needn’t settle for ‘no win, no fee’: If you’re thinking of taking action against a cowboy builder or resolving a dispute with a neighbour, you may already have the legal expenses insurance you need, writes Jon Robins

WHEN the builders arrived at Tarlochan Kainth’s home in Gomersal, West Yorkshire, to install a new toilet, washbasin and radiator in his upstairs bathroom last February, they didn’t get off to a flying start.

June 13, 2004

Florist, cake, dress – and pre-nup: Couples young and old are tying up their contract before they tie the knot. Jon Robins reports on a growing trend

WHEN Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark married Mary Donaldson, a former estate agent from Australia, it did wonders for his democratic credentials. However, Frederick was taking no financial chances. Crown Princess Mary, as she is now called, had to sign a hefty pre-nuptial agreement – otherwise, under Danish law, she would get half of everything he owned if their relationship fell apart.

May 23, 2004

Heads you lose, tails you lose in ‘no win, no fee’: As women in a sexual assault case have discovered, no fee doesn’t mean no cost. The system to replace legal aid often ends up with demands to pay huge bills whatever the outcome of your day in court, says Jon Robins

FOR SOME of the woman claiming to have been sexually assaulted by disgraced gynaecologist Rodney Ledward, the misery was compounded by the recent and, they claim, unexpected arrival of legal bills for the cost of their failed action.


Times

November 12, 2009

Whatever happened to the radical lawyers?

Michael Mansfield’s autobiography is called Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer. For many, the juxtaposition of the two words “radical” and “lawyer” is a contradiction in terms, possibly, even a bit of a joke. But if anyone can carry off that tricky 1960s label, then Mansfield can.

January 21, 2009

Let’s not be too misty eyed about legal aid, but it is at a crossroads

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949 — and lawyers will not need reminding that legal aid was conceived as a cornerstone of the welfare state.

October 16

Miscarriages of justice: are the bad old days returning?

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has a 70 per cent success rate and yet its funding is being cut. Jon Robins reports

August 14, 2008

‘The smell hits the back of your throat and brings tears to the eyes’

Frank Morgan can’t afford to stop the expansion of a nearby composting site. Jon Robins reports

April 29

Law on the front line at risk

All over the country Citizens Advice Bureaux and law centres are in financial meltdown. Can anything be done, asks Jon Robins

 

April 1 2008

‘No one can make any sense of it’

One autumn day, Richard Chapman a happily married man, went for a walk. So how did he die in police custody? Jon Robins reports

October 16

Miscarriage case is a ‘virility test’

Anthony Stock has the dubious honour of having his case referred by the CCRC to the Appeal Court for a second time. Jon Robins reports

April 17 2007

Forced to sign on the dotted line

Their lawyer advised against it, their trade union said no, so why did the protest by legal aid lawyers over their new contract fizzle out? Jon Robins reports

 

January 23 2007

Don’t give up the Saturday job…

Firms cannot afford to take on trainees but will go out of business if they don’t. Jon Robins reports

 

January 23 2007

Primetime drama -the verdict on TV lawyers

Viewers love crusaders, schedulers hate moral ambivalence -Jon Robins examines legal fictions

News that the BBC One’s flagship legal drama The Innocence Project has been axed provokes a worrying question: are television lawyers losing their appeal? Reruns of This Life and its recent one-off tenth anniversary show seem to hark back to a golden age when a houseful of young lawyers was the most exciting thing on the box. Now, it looks as though the fictional legal profession -once dominated by Leo McKern’s Rumpole of the Bailey or John Thaw’s Kavanagh, QC -is in crisis.

 

January 23 2007

Mortimer: ASBOs, Reid and handing away our civil rights

Rumpole’s alter ego tells Jon Robins why he is so furious about criminal justice policies

Sir John Mortimer reveals that Rumpole’s relationship with his colleagues at 4 Equity Court is about to reach an all-time low. His fellow barristers are taking to the law to curb our hero. “They’re trying to get an ASBO on him,” Mortimer says in a sneak preview of the next instalment of Rumpole-related adventures. Why? “He drinks wine, eats in chambers and smokes his little cigars, generally causing harm to the environment.”

 

October 10 2006

‘Peer review for a profession is not unreasonable’

Carolyn Regan is no stranger to wholesale change. First it was doctors, now it’s lawyers. Interview: Jon Robins

HOW is it that the public regards the National Health Service as a national treasure but see legal aid as a gravy train?

September 12 2006

Legal aid is getting scarcer for the young

Jon Robins examines the problems of young people who badly need advice and assistance

“YOUNG PEOPLE need to talk to someone they can trust. There’s often no one there to pay attention,” says 18-year-old Jo, who is clearly indebted to Canvey Island Youth Project. She used to be at the community centre “every day, all the time” and, even though she is back at work, she still goes every week.

July 4, 2006

Are advice centres a cover for cuts?

New proposals for a network of centres might ‘devastate the present system’. Jon Robins reports

THE NEW Legal Aid Minister has been hitting the headlines with a vengeance but not always over her new portfolio. On that topic, Vera Baird, QC had her first public outing at a meeting last May at the House of Commons held by the the Access to Justice Alliance.

June 6 2006

Pro bono: do lawyers now have compassion fatigue?

The response to the July bombings showed that all is not lost, Jon Robins reports

“MY LAWYER has been fantastic -and that’s not something I’d expect to find myself saying,” says Jodie Ayre, an Australian who was a passenger on the No 30 bus blown apart at Tavistock Square on July 7 last year. Jodie, 26, was lucky to escape with a burst eardrum. “It’s all hazy, but I remember looking at the back of the bus and seeing two rows and then nothing else,” she recalls.

May 23 2006

Please don’t try this at the office…

1. BE UNLUCKY. It is late on Friday afternoon and Steve, a 25-year-old trainee solicitor, is on his way to the Royal Courts of Justice just three weeks into his career at one of the most prestigious City firms. The wind catches a single piece of paper and detaches it from the court bundle. It is a cheque, or, to be more precise, it is the payment into court in a huge commercial litigation and it was the last day that payment could be made. It vanished, much like Steve’s prospects.

January 24 2006

Does it matter to others what the UK does?

While the Terrorism Bill enters its final stages in the House of Lords, a committee of MPs has asked for fresh evidence in its inquiry into counter-terrorism policy. Once, Britain’s human rights record was the envy of world. Do leading judges and lawyers from abroad still look to Britain to set a example? Jon Robins reports.

January 10 2006

Removing the high stakes of ‘no win, no fee’

Will the public ever understand the rules of conditional fee agreements, asks Jon Robins

“No win, no fee” might be linked in the public’s mind with slips, trips and rear-end shunts, but the case of David Whitaker illustrates how versatile conditional fee agreements (CFAs) can be. Fourteen years ago the businessman who advised budding entrepreneurs on marketing their products helped Pam and Philip Richardson with one of their inventions, a specially designed surgeons’ glove.

November 22 2006

Trade unions? They’re just so last century

Sir Digby Jones tells Jon Robins why the old employment contracts have to be rewritten

CARD-CARRYING union members who plan to pitch up at the Employment Lawyers’ Association (ELA) annual lecture tonight should be warned: the speaker is Sir Digby Jones, and the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is in typically combative form. “Trade unions in the private sector in the 21st century,” he proclaims, “will become largely irrelevant.”

November 8 2006

Are teenagers really mature enough to serve as magistrates?

New regulations allow 18-year-olds to be magistrates, but not everybody sees this as a good thing, says Jon Robins.

THE Lord Chancellor has been keen to emphasise that being a magistrate should be more than a hobby for middle-class white men of pensionable age. The North Sussex bench recently provided him with a powerful symbol for a modern, more representative magistracy when it appointed the youngest-ever magistrate -a 20-year-old man described in the press as “a disc jockey of Asian origin”.

October 25 2005

At a mediator near you -cheap and quick solutions

A botched double-glazing job was the first case handled by the National Mediation Helpline. Jon Robins reports on the outcome.

IT WAS 12 months ago that Mark Tennent, 52, from Worthing in Sussex, was reluctantly about to embark on legal proceedings over a botched double-glazing job on a house renovation. “It was the last thing I wanted to do. All I wanted was my money back and to move on,” he recalls. But the graphic designer felt that he was faced with no choice other than to take the case through the small claims court.

October 11, 2005

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s super-lawyer, a hero for today

Role models range from characters in films to stars of case law. Jon Robins canvasses some barristers on their favourites.

September 27, 2005

How should you price sympathy?

Criminal-injuries compensation payouts are under attack. Jon Robins investigates

September 13, 2005

How different legal systems take care of business

COMPANY LAW: Jon Robins on the influence of Commonwealth law on corporate governance across the globe.

September 13, 2005

Death row: some states simply can’t stop killing

DEATH PENALTY: Twenty-three countries still execute their citizens. Jon Robins on some of the lawyers who are pleading for mercy.

August 16, 2005

Did Euro ‘yobbos’ get a fair hearing?

Doubts have been cast over their fast-track trial conducted in Portuguese, says Jon Robins.

THIS time last year Peter Barwick was a household name in his home town of Hartlepool -but it was not the kind of celebrity that most people would welcome.

July 26, 2005, Tuesday

Should the Army be on this charge?

For the first time war crimes are alleged against the British Army. But how did this come about, asks Jon Robins

July 12, 2005

Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t …

What happens to prisoners who always argue their innocence, asks Jon Robins.

July 5, 2005, Tuesday

Legal aid cuts deny protection to victims of Mugabe

Asylum-seekers are finding it impossible to get legal representation, Jon Robins reports.

June 7, 2005

What’s in it for you?

It’s Pro Bono Week again. Jon Robins wonders if public-spirited lawyers aren’t simply letting the Government off the hook

This week lawyers put modesty to one side and crank up the PR machine. At one Berkshire firm alone, 14 solicitors undertook 2,400 hours of loss-making work in the past year for clients who would otherwise almost certainly be left without access to justice, such as the homeless and victims of domestic violence.

May 24, 2005, Tuesday

Prosecution lawyers defend new regime

Jon Robins visits a police station to see how the CPS charging system is working

May 24, 2005

Who still wants to be a legal aid lawyer?

Jon Robins on why publicly funded work is not attracting enough students and what the profession is doing about it.

March 22, 2005, Tuesday

Riot? Soon even peaceful protest will be restricted

Alistair Mitchell fell foul of the police and in love with the law, writes Jon Robins.

January 25, 2005, Tuesday

Cannings case shows need for a fair system of redress

Criminal lawyers argue that compensation schemes for the wrongfully convicted are in urgent need of reform. Jon Robins reports

January 25, 2005, Tuesday

Should solicitors drag clients out of the gutter?

Jon Robins meets a former herion addict whose Public Defender lawyer did just that

January 25, 2005, Tuesday

A working alternative to putting offenders in prison

Community punishment is not a soft option, but it is an effective one, writes Jon Robins

 

January 11, 2005, Tuesday

Family courts under fire from angry parents and protesters

Jon Robins reports on how Cafcass is coping with some hostile campaigners

January 11, 2005

Lawyers find the MoD a formidable adversary

Jon Robins on the culture of secrecy said to be frustrating litigation over the deaths of young soldiers

November 23, 2004

Feeling lucky? You’ll need to be to take on the police

Legal aid may soon be withdrawn for key areas of advice, Jon Robins reports.

“ROUGHED UP by the police on Saturday night? If so, ring the number below for ‘no win, no fee’ advice …”

November 9, 2004

Asbestos case that could stop ‘scan van’ in its tracks

The insurance industry is challenging a legal action that it fears will have far-reaching consequences. Jon Robins reports

November 2, 2004, Tuesday

A pair of lawyers who could change the world

America: home of the brave, land of the ‘no win, no fee’ litigator. Jon Robins looks at today’s election from a legal angle

September 28, 2004

Should business pay for apartheid?

Michael Hausfeld, a US lawyer, is bringing a case through the American courts against multinationals that did business in South Africa, Jon Robins reports

September 14, 2004, Tuesday

Solicitors struggle to believe in campaign superhero

Will the Law Society’s posters inspire public admiration, or expose the profession to mockery and derision? Jon Robins reports

September 7, 2004, Tuesday

Is fox hunting a human right or just wrong?

Emotions at the ready…there are some surprising last-minute arguments against the Hunting Bill, Jon Robins reports

August 10, 2004

Prison works and pays

PRISONERS ARE BEING GIVEN ‘REAL’ JOBS -AND THEY ARE BEING TAXED ON THEIR EARNINGS, WRITES JON ROBINS

August 10, 2004, Tuesday

Suits made to measure

“PRISON builders sued after serial killer’s suicide.” The story, which appeared recently in the American newspaper, St Louis Post-Dispatch, was every bit as bizarre as its headline suggests. The mother of Maury Travis, an accused serial killer whose death by hanging in the St Louis County Justice Centre was ruled a suicide, was taking legal action. She was not only suing the county authority, but the architects who designed the jail and the contractors who built it.

July 27, 2004, Tuesday

Build it yourself – on a sound legal footing

You know that you’ll need help with your DIY home from the construction experts, but what about a solicitor? Jon Robins reports

June 8, 2004, Tuesday

Free, gratis and for nothing: help for those in need

It’s not too good to be true -more lawyers are doing pro bono work. Jon Robins reports

April 27, 2004, Tuesday

Sets swap rented grandeur for a home of their own

Financial prudence is increasingly helping barristers to break their sentimental attachment to the Inns of Court, writes Jon Robins.

April 27, 2004, Tuesday

Mugabe can be stopped, says Bar chief

THE Chairman of the Bar Council pleaded last week for a campaign of international pressure to prevent President Robert Mugabe from abusing Zimbabwe’s legal system at next year’s elections.

April 20, 2004, Tuesday

Publishers want school copyright cheats to face music

Teachers are trying to save money on their textbook budgets, but can they break the law with impunity? Jon Robins reports.

March 9, 2004, Tuesday

A dreadful way to turn young people into citizens

It’s macabre but fun – and it works. Jon Robins takes a trip around the Galleries of Justice, a truly educational visitor attraction

February 3, 2004, Tuesday

Best read with Cole Porter on the turntable

When Harvey McGregor says he is updating his book on damages, he really means he is rewriting it. Jon Robins reports

November 25, 2003

Making business sense of a better world

Jon Robins speaks to a lawyer who has a vision of more responsible employers and low insurance costs

November 11, 2003, Tuesday

A sweeping sense of emergency

Civil rights groups are alarmed by plans for new state powers. Jon Robins reports

November 4, 2003, Tuesday

Courage of the woman lawyer that Iran failed to silence

The country’s president may dismiss Shirin Ebadi’s Nobel Peace Prize as unimportant, but ordinary Iranians take a different view. Jon Robins reports

September 16, 2003, Tuesday

Is the tabloid press right about immigration lawyers?

Nearly half the firms helping asylum-seekers are planning to stop, deterred by the hate mail and the struggle to make the work pay. Jon Robins report.

August 5, 2003, Tuesday

Hedge of darkness

Trees and hedges cause a host of legal problems from subsidence to blocking light, says Jon Robins

April 22, 2003

The final legal frontier

The law has failed to keep up with such extraterrestrial developments as space tourism, says Jon Robins

April 22, 2003

Information highwayman

The Old Bailey project is putting historic transcripts of trials on the internet. Jon Robins reports

The recent movie Plunkett & Macleane, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle, retold the exploits of James Macleane, the 18th-century “gentleman highwayman”, and his sidekick. In October 1750 almost 3,000 people crowded into Newgate Prison to watch the 26-year-old criminal go to the gallows.

February 18, 2003

Tsvangirai trial: a test of justice in Zimbabwe

The leader of the Movement for Democratic Change is appearing in court for treason. Jon Robins asks if the judiciary can demonstrate its independence

February 11, 2003

Insuring against legal costs: a new life for an old idea

An alternative to ‘no win, no fee’ has been overlooked, says Jon Robins

November 5, 2002, Tuesday

Sorry may not be the sweetest word

What happens when the media get their facts wrong? Jon Robins on the history of the correction

No one likes to say they are sorry, least of all newspaper editors and their lawyers. Piers Morgan and the Daily Mirror appear to have pulled off the least convincing act of contrition to grace the national press with the apology to the “philanthropist and humanitarian” Steve Bing, better known as the father of Liz Hurley’s baby.

October 22, 2002

A tale of two cities and their fight to beat crime

Police and community workers in Bradford and Medellin have formed an unlikely partnership. Jon Robins reports on a novel approach to law enforcement

August 20, 2002

A triumph that cost us dear

Bookshops are celebrating a moral victory over right-wing activists they claim are using the libel laws as a form of ‘legal intimidation’. But it could be at a high price, says Jon Robins

July 2, 2002

Legal costs: extravagantly high or value for money?

The price of going to law is spiralling out of control, say some lawyers. Nothing could be farther from the truth, retort others. Jon Robins reports

May 21, 2002, Tuesday

Why it’s wrong to stamp on postcode justice

There is often a good reason for regional variations in sentencing, says Jon Robins

March 12, 2002, Tuesday

Papers face checks on chequebook journalism

Paying witnesses for exclusives is as old as newspapers themselves, but in the wake of the Amy Gehring trial the Government aims to criminalise the practice. Jon Robins reports

December 11, 2001, Tuesday

Simanowitz honoured

ARNOLD SIMANOWITZ was appointed OBE by the Queen at Buckingham Palace for his groundbreaking work with the charity Action for Victims of Medical Accidents (AVMA) last week.

November 6, 2001, Tuesday

Treason and the Taleban

Will British citizens who take up arms or lend indirect support to the enemy face treason charges? Penny Lewis and Jon Robins report

October 2, 2001

Rights and wrongs of terrorism legislation

THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT: ONE YEAR ON

 

March 13, 2001

It’s just another hard day’s fight

A day in the life of Jackie Knights, a duty solicitor and partner at the York firm Harrowell Shaftoe.

November 14, 2000, Tuesday

Disabled let down by the law

Earlier this year a known paedophile walked free from a Crown Court after the second legal action against him in 12 months collapsed on the ground that the victim was not considered a “reliable witness”. In that instance the alleged victim, a young man, was 18 years old at the time of the assault. So what was the problem? He suffers from severe learning difficulties and has the mental age of a 12-year-old child.

November 7, 2000, Tuesday

Fingerprints system that needs a helping hand

IT HAS taken the case of Detective Constable Shirley McKie, wrongly identified at the scene of a murder by her own force, to convince the prosecuting authorities to take a fresh look at the reliability of fingerprint evidence.

August 15, 2000, Tuesday

Ulster‘s police watchdog plans to keep the peace

Nuala O’Loan, a former City lawyer, has taken on the thankless task of dealing with complaints about the RUC. Interview by Jon Robins

July 11, 2000, Tuesday

Need advice on asylum? Come back next month

Immigration lawyers are being swamped by asylum-seekers and many firms can no longer cope, says Jon Robins

May 16, 2000, Tuesday

A watchdog with no bite?

Northern Ireland‘s human rights chief fears that the Government may not listen. Jon Robins reports


Independent

March 9, 2007

Weapons face High Court showdown

Government plans to replace the £65bn Trident nuclear weapons system face a legal challenge in the High Court that could force a rethink of Britain’s policy on its nuclear deterrent…

July 1, 2006 Saturday

New Lords ruling could put asbestos claims at risk;

Workers who develop cancer from asbestos exposure wil have to fight harder to prove liability

Thousands of former manual workers with asbestos-related cancer have been left in limbo by a legal ruling that could prevent them, and their families, from claiming compensation…

 

April 23, 2005

BECOME A LEGAL EAGLE TO TIP THE COST OF JUSTICE IN YOUR FAVOUR;

FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE CAN BE CHEAPER AND EASIER THAN YOU THINK, SAY

Britain‘s legal system can take an age to deliver justice. The Equitable Life trial, which began two weeks ago, is expected to last until the end of the year ” only then will policyholders find out whether they will benefit from the action. Other cases take even longer ” legal action following the collapse of BCCI in 1991 began six months ago and is only half way through…

May 10, 2004

LET ME IN, I’M A LAWYER

So where were all the lawyers then? The oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell boasts the largest legal department of any UK company but when it came down to the company’s staggering failure to disclose the extent of its oil reserves, not one of its 623 lawyers was anywhere to be seen. The explosive report by the US law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell revealed that Shell’s disastrous disclosure strategy was signed off at meetings of the company’s committee of managing directors without legal advice…

November 25, 2003

THE RIGHT TO KNOW; THE DEATHS AT DEEPCUT BARRACKS REMAIN MYSTERIOUS

“What we want is a Hutton-style inquiry where everything is brought out into the open and, for the first time, there will be transparency,” declares Geoff Gray. Gray’s 17-year-old son, also Geoff, was one of four young soldiers since 1995 to have died in mysterious circumstances at the notorious Deepcut barracks in Surrey. This month the Surrey police is expected to publish its final report, after an investigation that cost pounds 1m and called on 900 witnesses, but is expected to confirm its preliminary conclusion that there are “no grounds” for a criminal prosecution…

 

September 23, 2003

WHY HAVE THEY LET US DOWN?’;

“How can they pull the rug from under us in this way when we are so close to trial?” asks Jackie Eckton, of this month’s decision to remove public funding for the legal action by more than 1,000 claimants against the makers of the controversial measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab. Her eight-year-old son, Daniel, developed autism shortly after receiving the triple vaccination and ever since then Eckton has put her faith in the courts to prove a link that the Government has refused to investigate…

August 5, 2003

JUSTICE DROUGHT

Jenny, 21, from Chatham in Kent, recently fell behind with the rent. One day in February her sister went round to her house to check on Jenny’s two sickly dogs and discovered that her landlord had gutted the house and was boarding it up, dogs and all. Jenny lives in a “legal-aid advice desert” – one of those increasing areas of the UK where publicly funded legal advice has withered and died.

 

 

June 10, 2003

AN ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN;

The boss of The Accident Group, Mark Langford, achieved tabloid “bogeyman” status last week when he was discovered teeing off on a Marbella golf course (near to his pounds 3m villa in Spain) shortly before his company took corporate insensitivity to a new low with the now infamous text message: “Unfortunately salaries not paid – please do not contact office – full details to follow later today.” But it was not just those 2,700 staff dispensed with by mobile phone that the claims giant left in the lurch but – yet again – thousands of accident victims…

May 27, 2003

LOOKING FOR ANSWERS; PAT FINUCANE WAS SEEN AS AN UPPITY FENIAN LAWYER’

“One of the first times I saw my Dad on telly, he was being interviewed on the Six O’Clock News acting for the hunger strikers,” recalls the son of the murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane. “It was one of the first occasions in Northern Ireland’s history where there was a lawyer talking about human rights and saying that these men have inherent dignities that were being denied them.” Michael Finucane admits the significance was lost on the 10-year-old boy he was then, but it is not on the 30-year- old lawyer he is now…

April 15, 2003

THE WAR I’M STILL FIGHTING; PAUL GRECIAN LOST HIS HOME, HIS FAMILY AND HIS CAREER AFTER BEING

You might think that government ministers owed a considerable debt of gratitude to Paul Grecian, a former arms-dealer who was once credited with being the source of about half of our intelligence on Saddam’s arms build-up immediately before the 1991 Gulf War. If so, it has been a long time coming…

January 21, 2003

THE FIGHT THAT CAN’T BE WON

“Trying science in a court of law is doomed to failure,” The Lancet concluded in a despairing editorial after the recent collapse of a legal action by nearly 100 women against the manufacturers of the oral contraceptive pill (OCP). For 4,000 people who claim to be hooked on new-wave antidepressants, the prospect of even getting into the courtroom seemed more remote after a decision by the Legal Services Commission to remove public funding at the end of last year…

 

October 1, 2002

WHERE THERE’S BLAME…;

There will have been few tears shed by lawyers at the news that the receivers were finally called in to Claims Direct last month – perhaps, a few pangs of regret from those 300-odd law firms that advised it in its heyday. But what about those 40,000-odd accident victims, left in limbo and without money, by the claims giant? “It’s good news because they have now been exposed for what they are,” says Elroy Hogan, who is still waiting for damages of pounds 1,400 following a car crash over two years ago…

July 30, 2002

LAWYERS IN THE LINE OF FIRE;

Further shocking allegations of state collusion in the death of the Belfast solicitor, Pat Finucane, were revealed in a recent BBC Panorama documentary. However, it still remains something of a mystery as to how solicitors came to be targeted during the Troubles in the first place…

June 25, 2002, Tuesday

HEADLINE: LAW: WHO WILL DEFEND THEM?;

While defendants are always innocent until proven otherwise, the men and women who represent them in court appear to be afforded no such right. Last week, Lord Falconer QC became the latest Home Office minister to lead the case for the knee-jerk prosecution, when he accused lawyers of stretching out trials to maximise fees and let cases “slip through the cracks”. The former minister of the Dome let rip about “the utterly outrageous” cross-examination of defendants in trials and, in particular, rape cases. He was joined by Sir John Stevens, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Force, who accused solicitors of “scandalous” tactics to “delay or frustrate trials”…

June 11, 2002, Tuesday

GULF VETERANS WIN A SKIRMISH;

Shaun Rusling, a former sergeant in the parachute regiment who served in the Gulf war, is struggling to explain what it is like to suffer from a medical condition that doesn’t officially exist. He offers a guided tour of the contents of his medicine cabinet as tangible evidence of what “Gulf War Syndrome” means to him…

April 23, 2002, Tuesday

ALL BAR NONE?;

Dissent is not necessarily a bad thing,” reflects Peter Herbert, the outspoken barrister and vice-chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers. One of the Bar’s more vociferous critics, Herbert was made a recorder last week and joined that rarified body of people that he believes – and never misses an opportunity to point out – fails to reflect people like him…

April 16, 2002, Tuesday

DAYLIGHT ROBBERY?;

The seemingly intractable row over the return of the Elgin marbles to Athens seems to be forever locked in diplomatic stalemate – until now, that is. A group of UK lawyers – including a distant relative of Lord Elgin, and backed by a powerful collection of Greek shipping bosses – believe that a legal action could force the British government to return the famous marbles to the Greeks…

March 5, 2002

LAST CHANCE FOR LAW AND ORDER;

Zimbabwe faces a mass exodus of lawyers if Robert Mugabe emerges victorious from this weekend’s elections. And if anyone needs any more convincing of a possible meltdown of Zimbabwe’s legal system, they need look no further than a recent report by the Amani trust, a coalition of human-rights groups. The trust records acts of political violence and its latest instalment logs 159 instances of torture, four rapes and eight murders in the first two weeks of February alone…

February 22, 2002, Friday

HEADLINE: THYSSEN VS THYSSEN: END OF A SUPERFIGHT;

LAWYERS ARE certainly going to miss the “Thyssen” case, which settled this week. If not the most expensive case ever, it’s certainly one of the barmiest, and it won’t be easy for the sizeable army of top QCs and City lawyers that have been basking in the Bermudan heat for the past three years to return to a drizzly February in London. But all those who have followed the Byzantine twists and turns of the case will miss the sheer entertainment value that the squabblings of an aristocratic Swiss family have generated…

 

November 27, 2001

WHY FOOTBALLERS ARE PLAYING TO WIN;

The first industrial action in soccer was averted last week, in a season that has already raised the profile of lawyers in the game to unprecedented heights. Following weeks of acrimony, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) struck a deal with football’s bosses as to their share of television money. The agreement means that the player’s union will receive pounds 52.2m over the next three years, having turned down pounds 50 million last Tuesday…

November 13, 2001, Tuesday

FORTY YEARS OLD AND FIGHTING FIT;

The 40th-birthday celebrations of Private Eye went ahead last week with added swing, after an unprecedented triumph in the libel courts. A thrilled Ian Hislop, the magazine’s editor, described the decision by the accountant John Stuart Condliffe to end his legal action against the satirical magazine as the “high point” of his career…

August 28, 2001

WHO WILL TRY THE MASS MURDERERS?

A defiant Slobodan Milosevic glowering from the dock at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague last month was a striking but ambivalent image for the global justice movement. No doubt it was – as the chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte said – an “important milestone for international justice”. But del Ponte pointed out that Milosevic’s 12-minute court appearance was only the beginning. A conviction is a long way off (if it comes at all), and the creation of a permanent international court to put other war criminals on trial is a slow process…

June 26, 2001

JUSTICE THAT NEVER SLEEPS;

The night courts in lower Manhattan have always attracted the curious, and once they were even regarded by New Yorkers as a “cheap date”. “It was almost like a social event,” recalls Judge John Walsh, the supervising judge of New York City Arraignments, who now runs the courts. “People would bring their partners, have dinner in Little Italy, walk over to the criminal courts and watch the goings-on…

May 29, 2001, Tuesday

INNOCENCE IS ALL IN THE GENES;

Kenneth Waters recently walked out of a Massachusetts prison a free man, after serving almost two decades for a crime that he didn’t commit. His story is a familiar one, with a few novel twists. He was released after new DNA evidence was unearthed, clearing him of the murder of a 48-year-old housewife, Katharina Brow, in 1980…

April 24, 2001, Tuesday

SUN, SEA AND SAND: IT’S HELL OUT HERE;

A career in the law is rarely regarded as a soft option but every now and again lawyers do get their day in the sun. In the case of the Thyssen litigation, it has been two years basking in the Bermudan heat – and still no end in sight.

January 9, 2001

WHAT IS THE REAL PRICE OF JUSTICE?

“Defence lawyers stand between state and the citizen. They serve a vital interest in democracy under the rule of law.” So declared the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine in a parliamentary debate only a couple of years ago…

 

June 6, 2000, Tuesday

IN SEARCH OF JUSTICE WITHOUT TIERS;

Next to nothing had been heard from Lord Justice Auld and his team of 11 consultants currently reviewing the criminal courts, until last month when – halfway through the review – they offered an insight into their thinking…

May 21, 2000

COOK’S TOUR OF EVIL: COURT ARTIST OPENS HER GALLERY OF GUILT

A “ROGUES GALLERY” of criminals standing trial, including Rose West, Harold Shipman and Jonathan Aitken, is to be opened to the public…

April 4, 2000, Tuesday

ROSEMARY IS DEAD. WHO WILL BE NEXT?;

It is chilling to hear Padraigan Drinan talking of how she believes her life is in danger. She is the lawyer who has taken over the work of solicitor Rosemary Nelson who was murdered little more than a year ago…

March 28, 2000, Tuesday

‘ABUSE STORIES NEARLY FINISHED ME’;

The first trial of the victims of abuse in children’s homes in North Wales begins this week, only five weeks after the publication of the report revealing the full horror of 20 years of systematic abuse of children supposedly under the care of the state. Sir Ronald Waterhouse’s report, Lost in Care, made for a deeply disturbing read. The tribunal sat for 203 days, heard 159 complainants allege sexual and physical abuse in 40 children’s homes and made 72 recommendations. The former High Court judge and his team called for a Children’s Commissioner for Wales, children’s complaints officers for every social services authority, and clearer whistle- blowing procedures…

February 22, 2000, Tuesday

IT’S BEEN A YEAR SINCE THE MACPHERSON REPORT ACCUSED THE MET OF INSTITUTIONAL RACISM. BELOW, JON ROBINS CONDEMNS THE PAINFUL LACK OF PROGRESS SINCE THEN, WHILE GRANIA LANGDON-DOWN EXAMINES PROPOSALS FOR CHANGES TO THE POLICE COMPLAINTS ‘INDUSTRY’

“Betrayal” is a strong word, but it was one that was heard many times at the conference organised by a collection of anti-racist pressure groups this weekend to mark the first anniversary of the inquiry into the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence…


Daily Express

December 8, 2004

TAKING STING OUT OF NET CONMEN; YOUR MONEY – FRAUDSTERS ARE TARGETING EBAY BUT SHOPPERS CAN HELP PULL THE PLUG ON SHADY TRADERS, WRITES JON ROBINS

BRITAIN is a nation of eBay shopaholics, with 8million people snapping up bargains in the online marketplace. But while the site insists it offers a safe place to trade – with problems on just one in 10,000 deals – not everyone is convinced…

 

November 10, 2004

MAKING THE RIGHT MOVE; YOUR MONEY – WITH A FACTPACK FOR HOMEBUYERS FINALLY ON THE WAY, SUPPORT IS NOT UNIVERSAL, WARNS JON ROBINS

MINISTERS last weekend vowed to press ahead with plans aimed at making house moves a great deal easier. After much wrangling between the Government and industry – including a House of Lords defeat – the proposals will be forced through the Commons next month…

September 15, 2004

DRIVER FACING BAN DISPUTES CLAIMS, SAYS JON ROBINS; CAMERA VICTIM READY TO SNAP

TONY KELLY’S employer thought he was having a nervous breakdown when the 35-year-old computer engineer team leader picked up seven speeding tickets in just five weeks…

April 7, 2004

CRISIS FOR THE PLAINTIFFS WHO PLEAD POVERTY

Whether you’re taking on a former employer or fighting for a roof over your head, free legal advice is becoming almost impossible to track down, writes JON ROBINS

September 17, 2003

DEPOSIT SCAM HITS STUDENTS IN THE POCKET

AS STUDENTS contemplate the start of a new academic year and the joys of independent living, dodgy landlords will no doubt be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of a cash windfall. Every year thousands of students lose some or all of their deposits as unscrupulous landlords unfairly hold on to them…

May 21, 2003

REFORM OF CONDITIONAL-FEE DEALS SET TO MAKE IT HARDER FOR UNSCRUPULOUS LAWYERS TO RIP OFF PEOPLE CLAIMING COMPENSATION; NOW ‘NO -WIN NO-FEE’ WILL REALLY MEAN WHAT IT SAYS

IT HAS been four years since dinner lady Audrey Edwards slipped on a wet canteen floor and damaged her knee. For 18 months the 67-year-old school dinner lady from Manchester was barely able to walk and her doctor said she would never work again at Moorside


Sunday Express

September 4, 2005

MAKE THE BOSS PAY FOR NEGLIGENCE; FINANCIAL EXPRESS – YOUR MONEY

Jon Robins explains how to claim over job-related injuries

IF YOU suffer an injury at work or develop an illness because of your working conditions, you may be entitled to compensation from your employer…

April 17, 2005

FRIENDLY DIVORCE THAT DOESN’T COST THE EARTH; FINANCIAL EXPRESS – YOUR MONEY

US system could ’empty our courts’, Jon Robins reports

AN American-style divorce system aimed at taking some of the acrimony and expense out of marriage breakdowns is being introduced in Britain…

March 20, 2005

COUPLES COME IN FROM THE COLD; FINANCIAL EXPRESS – YOUR MONEY

Unwed partners could be about to win the same next-of-kin rights as their married counterparts enjoy, writes Jon Robins…

December 12, 2004

MARRIAGES CAN BE MADE IN THE LAWYER’S OFFICE; FINANCIAL EXPRESS YOUR MONEY FAMILY SOLICITORS WANT PRE-NUPTIAL AGREEMENTS TO BE MADE LEGALLY BINDING, WRITES JON ROBINS

AN INFLUENTIAL group of lawyers is this month calling on the Government to make the type of prenuptial agreement (pre-nup) favoured by Hollywood stars such as Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones legally binding in Britain.

October 17, 2004

AVOIDING A WILL COULD BE YOUR WORST LEGACY; FINANCIAL EXPRESS – YOUR MONEY

Contemplating our mortality isn’t easy but the alternative of dying intestate may be devastating, warns Jon Robins

ONE IN three people dies without leaving a valid will explaining how they want their possessions to be shared out, research released by Remember A Charity this weekend reveals…

August 22, 2004

MAKE SURE THERE ARE NO GAPS IN YOUR TRAVEL COVER

Beware policies that could leave you naked in court, says Jon Robins

THERE IS still plenty of time to organise a summer holiday or consider an autumn or winter break.

July 11, 2004

WIN THE BATTLE AGAINST ONLINE FRAUDSTERS

Take precautions to make Internet shopping safe. Jon Robins and Chris Torney report

WHEN Cherie Blair successfully bid on the online auction website eBay for her “gorgeous, retro, vintage, discodiva, 80s, bright red” Roland Cartier high heels, how did she know they were the real deal and not just another tacky fake?

January 11, 2004

BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO

Britney had it easy, says Jon Robins. But hiring a lawyer can help ease the trauma of divorce.  MARRIAGES don’t get much briefer than Britney Spears’ Las Vegas partnership with childhood friend Jason Alexander. The pair annulled their union after just 55 hours amid speculation it had been a prank that went too far…

 

December 15, 2002

WIN JUSTICE THROUGH YOUR ‘HIDDEN’ COVER

THOUSANDS of people may be missing out on compensation for all sorts of mishaps and mistreatment because they have failed to realise their insurers will help them take legal action…

27 March 2000


Financial Times

September 12 2004

Apartheid haunts business

They are victims of what could be viewed as one of the greatest corporate, accounting, banking, financial services and pension and benefit fund frauds in history.” So says Ed Fagan, a controversial US lawyer, about his latest clients. He was not describing the employees of a corrupt company, but black South Africans who suffered under the brutal apartheid regime.

March 24 2005

Europe seeks single contract law

Brussels policymakers eager to see a single contract law for a single market will be encouraged by a Clifford Chance survey that shows European business supporting the idea.

February 3 2005

Trial lawyers are put on trial

In the recent Hollywood box-office hit The Incredibles, superheroes are forced into hiding by the threat of lawsuits and seek refuge in normal life where they live under aliases.


New Statesman

27 March 2000

The assassin and the tapeworm

The killer of Verwoerd, architect of apartheid, remains unhonoured in South Africa even now. Jon Robins asks why

 

 

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