Anthony Hughes took some time off before the latest mediation session
It’s been another interesting month as FOIL President and the newly-installed chief executive of Horwich Farrelly.
Such hard work, in fact, that I needed time off. I headed for Ibiza for a week of sunshine and stress with my wife and children - a reminder that work is often the easier option!
I couldn’t resist taking my Blackberry to keep up to date with the goings on back home, including May’s MOJ mediation. An update from former FOIL President, Henry Bermingham, revealed a tortuous mediation with little or no progress being made. Both parties were poles apart on fees, a fear I’ve expressed before. The thought of attending the final June mediation filled me with dread.
I hope my spirits would be lifted by an English team winning the European Cup; despite being a lifelong Manchester City supporter I did actually want United to beat Barcelona. But no!
A couple of days after my return I attended the final mediation on the MOJ process review. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. Credit must go to the mediation team headed by Tim Wallace and Michael Napier who quickly identified that a detailed line-for-line approach of the arguments could take forever and achieve very little and so steered the parties towards a commercial-type mediation.
We worked late into the night on day one, planning to finish at about 4pm the next day. There was a lot of jockeying for position and developing of arguments. As with all good mediations a deal came closer and closer but, inevitably, 4pm came and went. Mediators scurried between rooms. Posturing eventually came to a conclusion with the parties reaching a deal they were happy for the CJC to recommend to the MOJ.
On this particular occasion I had promised, on pain of death, to be home for 7.30pm and had made meticulous plans to get from Essex to Euston to board the 5.40pm Manchester train. Just like the famous Steven Martin film Planes, Trains & Automobiles, a conspiracy of circumstances took over. Firstly, someone ran off with my taxi, then I missed my connection on the first train, and then the tube was stuck outside Kings Cross station. Despite sprinting up from the tube to the mainline station, arms and legs flailing, commuters propelled out of my way, I reached the platform only to see my train edging away from platform 5. Imagine my joy then when the guard informed me, “Oh, your ticket only allows you to get on that train, it’s an advanced single”. My retort was less than Presidential!
After all that I just hope that Jack Straw accepts the recommendations.
In FOIL terms, I was delighted with the organisation and outcome of our seminar where Lord Hunt spoke on regulatory proposals and Lord Justice Jackson outlined his report. My thanks to all those involved in the organisation, particularly our executive director, Carmela Clarke.
Lord Hunt raised some interesting points about potential changes to regulation and indeed the deregulation of the industry. Practitioners must engage with him in his review, otherwise we risk receiving a regime which is wholly unsatisfactory!
Lord Justice Jackson was his usual direct self. He has a clear vision of where he wants to get to. He concentrated on personal injury issues. My only concern is that he would still rather see the MOJ process delayed until he makes his recommendations. I’m against this. I believe he should acknowledge that one part of the personal injury process had been reformed. Indeed, his report could be timed to deal with expansion of that covering issues over and above road traffic accidents, possibly including a process to deal with matters such as contributory negligence. I would urge him to develop fixed fees on the fast track and remedy the opportunity missed by Lord Woolf in 1999.
Anthony Hughes is president of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL) and chief executive at Horwich Farrelly.