Sunday, 29 January 2012

Francesca Kaye

Francesca Kaye is a woman with a lot of very challenging things to say about reform of the UK's litigation system.  And being head of commercial litigation at 'Contemporary London' firm Russell-Cooke, not to mention Vice President of the London Solicitors Litigation Association (LSLA), she certainly knows how to put a strong argument across. Lord Justice Jackson has been listening carefully to what she has to say.

"The trouble with the present round of reforms" she says, "is that really they are focussed on only one half of the issue - ie the recoverability of litigation costs, whereas equally pressing is the need to reduce inefficiencies and excessive costs inherent in the court process itself.  IT infrastructure is particularly key here for example - and to be frank, Government rhetoric about the progress of computerisation in our courts is at best hollow.  The Jackson Review has been our one big chance to focus minds on litigation reform, reduce costs and really improve access to justice - a very real and pressing issue in my view - and the opportunity is in danger of being wasted."
So the right solution to the wrong problem?

"I do think the reforms hit smaller law firms and their clients unduly hard, and impact very little on the large firms and businesses that are much better positioned to afford them. If the cost-cutting is going to focus pretty much exclusively on lawyers' fees, rather than savings that could be made in the court system or process itself, this seems particularly unfair.

"The UK has a very privileged position in being the world's favourite centre for international litigation. Our system is more certain, transparent, our judges more consistent and their judgments more easily enforced than arguably anywhere in the world.  Yes of course we need to move with the times, to evolve, and as we do this we need to make the right judgements (with an 'e'!) to be sure of maintaining our lead position in the market for international litigation, without adversely affecting access to justice for all. It's critical to get these points right." 

Well, with Francesca and the LSLA focussing minds on the right issues, I'm confident we will.

An unusual degree of emotion was displayed this week by the normally very dispassionate BBC News 24 presenter Chris Eakin this Thursday, as he talked through the next day's broadsheet headlines with guest David Davies. He couldn't quite believe that hardly any of the papers were choosing to lead with the story about Royal Bank of Scotland Chief Exec Stephen Hester's controversial £963,000 bonus on their front pages, singling out The Mirror and The Times in  particular. Not usually one to express a personal opinion on the news, his transparent exasperation rather gave him away.

The debate quite rightly rages on, demanding why the Government allowed the bonus to be paid given British taxpayers own 84% of the bank's shares. But we don't expect our newsreaders to show quite such a degree of passion.  This controversial decision clearly stirs up a lot of emotion. I wonder why...?

Excited about V&A's new exhibition: Hollywood Costumefive years in the making and now scheduled to open later this year. The exhibit will display over 100 of the most iconic costumes in film, from Audrey Hepburn's little black dress from Breakfast at Tiffany's, to Judy Garland's gingham dress from The Wizard of Oz. Curator and Hollywood costumier Deborah Nadoolman Landis was interviewed on Radio 4 this week, talking about the exhibits and her own work.  She is probably most famous for the costumes she created in Raiders of the Lost Ark, in Michael Jackson's Thriller and also in The Blues Brothers.  On this last point, laughed out loud to hear her comment that she was "...proud to be the brains behind the most popular budget fancy dress costume in the entire world!"

The exhibition runs from 20 October 2012 until 27 January 2013. To book tickets now, click here.

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