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Rainbow view over the Keeper's Pond above Blaenavon to the "Sugar Loaf" mountain, Y Fâl. The pond, a 19th century iron industry supply pond for the Garnddyrys foundry, was dug by local men including my great-great and great-great-great grandfathers, who were father and son successive Keepers of the Llanover estate and the Blorenge grouse moor.

 

 

Home life and education

I grew up in Blaenavon, a small though historically significant mining town in (old) Monmouthshire, whose "industrial revolution landscape" was later designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site - in large part through the efforts of the group led by my cousin Neil Lewis, a long time councillor and leader of the town council. 

 

I went to a local state grammar school in Pontypool, West Mon. School, and obtained BA, MA and LLM law degrees from Jesus College, Cambridge, where I was a 1st XV and 1st VIII colour and briefly played university rugby. After studying for the Bar at the Inns of Court School of Law in London, I was called to the Bar by Lincoln's Inn as both Hardwicke Scholar and Denning Scholar, and in 1986-7 I began in practice as a barrister from chambers in Cardiff.

Career

I practised throughout England & Wales, initially as a "general common lawyer" covering all types of case, and later specialising in personal injury, industrial disease and clinical disputes, working from Cardiff at 30 and 33 Park Place Chambers and, from 2008, as a founder member of Civitas Chambers.  I had "taken silk" to become a QC in 2011, when I was almost immediately appointed by the Queen as Counsel General for Wales, the Welsh Government's Law Officer. 

I served as Counsel General for the full term of government during the "Fourth Assembly", until May 2016, when I returned to full-time private practice, then primarily from Doughty Street Chambers in London though remaining a "door tenant" (ie. an associate member) of Apex Chambers in Cardiff.  I am pleased to remain an Associate Member of Doughty Street since moving to sole practice from St David's Day 2021.

 

During my service as Counsel General, I led for Welsh Government in four cases in the UK Supreme Court, the first of the devolution constitutional cases heard there, notably leading Lord Justice Lewis and Lady Justice Laing (as they later became).  Altogether I have made submissions in the Supreme Court five times, and many times in the Court of Appeal, so that appellate work has become a significant part of my practice.

In 2012 I was elected a Master of the Bench ("Bencher") of my Inn of Court, Lincoln's Inn, and I regularly contribute to the Inn's Education Programme, delivering speeches and lectures.  And sometimes meeting famous people...

 
 
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7 September 2015 - Meeting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at Lincoln's Inn and discussing the impact of US Supreme Court Justices of Welsh extraction on the 1930s New Deal constitutional battles with President Roosevelt.


I have been recommended by the leading legal directories for many years. Latest editions include the following comments, which we think cover it reasonably well ... 

A charismatic, clear calm and compelling advocate who can be trusted entirely to do a brilliant job.

An amazingly erudite and skilful advocate.
 


His attention to detail is second to none and he is excellent with clients.

An astute tactician. 

An irrepressible advocate who really pushes his opponents around with his intellect and knowledge.

(I should say that I'm not entirely happy with the expression 'pushes his opponents around' as it may suggest bullying which I can assure I would never do, but I am grateful for the main sentiment that I use my abilities to fight hard for my clients. 😉
You can find testimonials here.


I have regularly been shortlisted for industry awards, including Personal Injury Awards Barrister of the Year 2011/2012/2013, Legal 500 Personal Injury Silk of the Year 2014, Personal Injury Awards Claimant Lawyer of the Year 2017/2018/2019 and Personal Injury Awards Case of the Year 2019.  I was Times Lawyer of the Week in December 2016.

 
 
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Academic and Publishing

In 2016 I became a Visiting Professor of Law at the King's College, London's School of Law, and General Editor of Lexis Nexis Butterworths' flagship title in UK personal injury law, the Butterworths Personal Injury Litigation Service.  


I wrote the first practitioner's guide to the "new" Periodical Payments system (Future Loss in Practice, Butterworths, 2007), I co-write the APIL Guide to Noise Claims (2016, to republish 2021) and Munkman on Employer's Liability (17th ed. 2019), and I have over many years been a regular contributor to the leading legal periodicals.  


In 2019 I became the Consulting Editor for the Damages division of Halsbury's Laws (Vol.29) and, early in 2020, was commissioned to write for one of the principle legal professional journals on the legal effects of Brexit in EU/UK law upon employment and employer's liability in the UK: Brexit for Employer's Liability lawyers – the story so far​ - JPIL [2020] 77-92.

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Lecturing as Visiting Professor to the amused students of King's College London.

 

2020 "Lockdown webinar" lecture for Doughty Street:

Contributory Fault in Employer's Liability Cases

 

2020 "Lockdown webinar" lecture for Doughty Street:

Material Contribution

 

2020 "Lockdown webinar" lecture for Doughty Street:

Current issues in commencing proceedings

 

Professional & Community

Aside from service as Law Officer for Wales, I have always undertaken voluntary roles for my profession and community, including as Circuit Junior of the Wales & Chester Circuit, member of the Bar Council for nearly 20 years, Executive Member of the Personal Injuries Bar Association for >20 years, lecturer member of the Bar Council's 1998-9 Human Rights Act Education Programme, and pro bono panel advisor for Bar Pro Bono.

 

Currently I am delighted to be a member of the Board of Advocate (Bar Pro Bono's successor) and was during 2016-21 a member of the Board of JUSTICE (Justice.org.uk).

 

I am a keen sculler and enthusiast for the lifetime wellbeing benefits of rowing, so am delighted to be the current Chair of Welsh Rowing.  During 2020 I was  honoured to serve as Home Nations Director on the Board of British Rowing. We are thrilled to have the World Coastal Rowing and Beach Sprints Championships coming to Wales at Saundersfoot in 2022. Something to look forward to!

I am a Life Member of The Howard League for Penal Reform, and a subscribing supporter of The Wallich (Homelessness Support), Amnesty International, Justice, Reprieve, Cancer Research, Prostate Cancer UK, Alzheimer's Society, Macmillan and Médecins Sans Frontières.  

Socio-Economic Diversity & Social Mobility

I do not forget and am proud of my background.  I am particularly interested in encouraging and improving social mobility - in particular in relation to the need for the legal professions to reflect, and so retain the confidence of, the public they serve. I also try to encourage aspiration in children, and very much enjoy my role as a regular speaker for Speakers4Schools.com. See the recently recorded "lockdown episode" below. 

 

Speakers for Schools Lockdown recording.

 

Wellbeing
I was honoured to be asked to take over as Chair of the Bar Council's specialist Wellbeing At The Bar Working Group from January 2021.  Our website is one of the best resources available for Wellbeing support, and much of it is applicable whether you are a barrister, or other lawyer, or anyone really.  I can thoroughly recommend it. See especially the superb introductory animation.

Home, health, hobbies
I live near Newport with my wife and four daughters. Apart from my interests in 20th C history, sculpture, music, skiing, (now watching) rugby and rowing (as an administrator and still a sculler), I recently climbed Ben Nevis on my birthday, and completed the daunting Big Welsh Swim at Llyn Padarn in the foothills of Snowdon. Post Covid plans include the Lake Bala swim (done September 2021🏊🏼‍♂️☑️) and the 10k “Hurly Burly” swim at Barmouth, before (I hope!) a well-deserved retirement from open-water swimming in good time to prepare to host the 2022 FISA Coastal Rowing and Beach Sprints World Championships at Saundersfoot. And consistent with my interest in Wellbeing, I am also an increasingly keen student of Iyengar yoga... 🙏🏻🧘🏼‍♂️.

Evidence provided below in case of doubts about the rowing stuff... I spare you the photos of headstands, handstands and lotus position. 😉

 
 
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And finally... indulging my interest in sculpture at the Royal Academy's Antony Gormley retrospective exhibition in late 2019.