I have just returned from covering an 11 day trial at the Royal Courts of Justice (the courts you often see on TV, although we used the less grand back entrance).
The case concerned a breach of contract claim. The claimants claimed that the defendants (who we were acting for) had breached the contract as they had removed residents from a care home when there was not an immediate and significant risk of harm.
I am pleased to report that we were successful in defending the claim and the judge found in our favour i.e. that there was an immediate and significant risk of harm and the defendants were entitled to terminate the contract.
I had been working on the case since the beginning of my seat in March and it was really nice to see the trial and conclusion, as the majority of claims settle before trial.
During the trial by role involved assisting the barrister and the other lawyers within the team with any morning preparation such as finding examples of poor practice within the 41 bundles. I then attended court and took verbatim (or as close to verbatim as I could) notes as the trial progressed. During the evenings I typed up my notes, and highlighted points our witnesses agreed with, points we wanted to ask other witnesses later in the week to clarify and key points to be used within the closing submission. I was also on hand to assist with any queries which cropped up during the trial such as finding documentation, meeting with witnesses and liaising with the Exeter office.
The trial finished on a Tuesday and the judge gave his judgment on a Thursday which meant we found out the result very quickly. When I was typing the note of the judgment I was just waiting for the words ‘claim dismissed’, and it was very exciting when this happened.
After the judgment we transported the judge’s, the witnesses’ and our bundles back to the London office which is 10 minutes from the RCJ, and I became a dab hand with a trolley!
On the afternoon of the same day I attended the RCJ with a solicitor to get an order granted. It was different to going to the Exeter court, as the RCJ is like a maze. The receptionist just said to us that the room is through the Bear Garden, and we both looked at her with blank faces upon which she gave us a map. We managed to find the fees room and then the admin office and finally the room where the duty Master was sitting. We were unsure whether to knock on the door or not, luckily a clerk walked past and informed us that as the green light was on above the door we could enter! We sat in a room which contained the Master, a massive desk, computer and many other homely features whilst the master read the order and witness statement. The extension was granted and we left (after getting lost in the maze again).