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Book reviews

18 February 13

Reviews of Personal Injury Practice in the Sheriff Court (Conway), Knowledge Management Handbook (Russell)

by Mhairi Stephen, Ann Stewart (Book review editor: David J Dickson)

Personal Injury Practice in the Sheriff Court

3rd edition

Ronald E Conway

PUBLISHER: W GREEN
ISBN: 9780414018372
PRICE: £84

It is noteworthy that as I write this in September 2012, the personal injury rules for actions raised in the Scottish courts have only now become aligned with the commencement of the new summary cause personal injury procedure in the sheriff court. Judges, sheriffs and practitioners will operate and apply a uniform set of procedural rules. Personal injury solicitors will have systems for preparing and progressing personal injury actions which are apt for summary cause procedure in the sheriff court right through to the Court of Session. There should now be no impediment to injured claimants being given predictable and reliable advice as to the passage of the case through court and how long that will take – the outcome however will depend on a kaleidoscope of factors, but particularly the skill and experience of the solicitor.

Ronnie Conway’s excellent vade mecum for personal injury practitioners is particularly directed to solicitors who act for pursuers – the “one shotters” as described by Marc Galanter.

Writing about personal injury practice has always been tricky, due to the subject being a synergy of law, procedure, rigorous systems and tactical nous. Ronnie Conway is, however, uniquely qualified and experienced to illuminate the subject, and he shares that considerable experience in a manner which makes this book both accessible and valuable to practitioners of all levels of experience.

The author does not shy away from making suggestions as to what may constitute good practice. The “tickler” enters the lexicon of PI procedure!

The third edition is updated and uprated for the arrival of Coulsfield procedures in the sheriff court. At last the undoubted success of the Chapter 43 procedure in the Court of Session has been cascaded down into the sheriff court. The train of reform emerging from the Scottish Civil Court Review is on the track, and post-reform personal injury litigation will be concentrated in the sheriff court. Free from the shackles of over-elaborate and over-technical pleading, practitioners in personal injury cases, in particular, will already recognise why the Coulsfield procedure was a success in the Court of Session and will bring the same benefits to the sheriff court. Similar procedures have now been introduced for summary cause actions, and it is a huge step forward for practitioners to be able to advise clients with confidence that their personal injury action should commence and conclude within six months. The reforms underscore the importance and value of this book.

The author has skilfully and comprehensively reviewed recent decisions on appeal, from Thomson v Kvaerner to Wilson v Dunbar, and there is a very helpful analysis of recent discussion of “knowledge” in the chapter on prescription and limitation. The chapter on occupational illness and disease or process injury is, in my view, a succinct and important guide to this labyrinthine area of personal injury practice.

The sheriff court is in essence the people's court and all solicitors engaged in this area of practice will be informed and relieved to have the benefit of the author’s first rate and deft handling of the trio of popular causes – slips and falls; road traffic accidents and holiday claims.

I commend the author’s advice to practitioners to observe carefully the procedural rules which provide the practitioner with a ready made timetable and check list; to be prepared and negotiate from strength – and I commend this book to all engaged in personal injury litigation, not only the one shotters but the repeat players.

Sheriff Principal Mhairi Stephen

                                                                             


Knowledge Management Handbook

Hélène Russell

PUBLISHER: LAW SOCIETY OF ENGLAND & WALES
ISBN: 9781907698118
PRICE: £79.95

I am always excited when I find something calling itself a "Handbook" or a "Toolkit". I imagine that here will reside all that I need to transform my knowledge of whatever the subject matter happens to be. And if I was new to knowledge management, the target audience for this book, then Hélène Russell's Knowledge Management Handbook would not disappoint. More than that, however, there is much in this power-packed little book that seasoned knowledge professionals will find of interest and value, too.

This is a comprehensive, and yet accessible starter guide to the theory and, more importantly, practice of KM in law firms, which sets out, in clear and straightforward language, key concepts and issues for new KM practitioners to think about and know about, with plenty of practical examples, checklists, tips and techniques. There are probing questions to ask, as you consider and devise your KM strategy; and step-by-step guides to help you get started, keep going, develop systems and processes, and recognise and harness those that undoubtedly already exist.

The chapters are short, with lots of lists and bullet points, distilling what can sometimes be challenging concepts into intellectually manageable chunks. The book progresses from early scene-setting chapters that explain the concepts, and types, of knowledge management and knowledge, through dealing with knowledge in practice in your organisation, and in particular the vital importance of, and inescapable interconnectedness with, training and learning, to using knowledge to enhance and develop relationships with existing and new clients.

Each chapter contains a wealth of suggestions, identifies and explains the essential elements of particular stages of the KM process, is open and upfront about likely hurdles and pitfalls along the way, and no-nonsense about ways to tackle these. Each chapter provides examples and, as the book's theme develops, case studies (but not too many) to illustrate what success can look like, and finishes with a summary of "the least you need to know", to assist the reader in reflecting on applying the techniques to your own business, before moving on to the next chapter. The final chapter – "The future" – recognises that in today's (and tomorrow's) challenging and changing markets, the ability of lawyers to be agile and dynamic is increasingly essential, making effective KM strategy more crucial than ever before.

The theory of KM, and references to seminal texts and key KM influencers, are woven throughout the text of the handbook, but in a way that supports rather than detracts from the author's own forthright, practical approach. Russell suggests that readers are likely to dip in and out of this book, finding what they are looking for on a need-to-know basis, or browsing on a less imperative basis. While the format of the book readily lends itself to both of these approaches, I suspect the newcomer to KM will find this book hard to put down.

Ann Stewart, Shepherd and Wedderburn WS

 

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