Insights / News
Insights / News
Practice Director Paul Barton is the clerking driving force behind our International Injury and Travel Group.
Paul has been instrumental in developing the team for over ten years and has proven to be a vital bridge between our valued clients and our barristers. He has a keen understanding of the travel law market and is an active PEOPIL member. He has been taking the time to get to know his colleagues better during lockdown. this month he chats to Cheryl Palmer-Hughes, Partner at Irwin Mitchell (Manchester).
In the summer of 2007 I secured an informal work experience placement with Irwin Mitchell in Birmingham where I spent two weeks working with the travel law team. I had studied and worked in France with a view to returning to England to complete a training contract and, as a French speaker, it was suggested that travel law might be suited to my skillset.
I already had some insight into personal injury litigation from a previous admin job and I was keen to work with clients directly on a day to day basis, and which also involved litigation. Travel law had the added benefit of providing an outlet for my academic interest in conflict of laws as well. In fact, I think it is one of the few areas of law I have experienced where my academic studies are directly applicable to the day job.
I successfully applied for a training contract with Irwin Mitchell later that summer and I haven’t looked back.
I am fortunate to have been in a position to help a number of seriously injured people and I am proud of each and every settlement and success that we have achieved. However, I will never forget the feeling of settling my first case.
We were approaching a full trial on liability and quantum for a lady who suffered complex regional pain syndrome as a result of an injury she had sustained on holiday. We had a joint settlement meeting just two days before the trial start date and, after a gruelling day, secured a significant settlement for my client who was absolutely delighted that she had security for her and her young family without having to go through the stress of a trial. I think the combination of it being my first case to settle, the hard work preparing for trial, and the fact that the client was thrilled means it is a day that will be forever etched in my memory.
Travelling to new and exciting places is definitely one of the perks of being a travel lawyer. I have been all over Europe and the UK and I recently attended my first ever American Association for Justice conference in New Orleans, a place that I had always wanted to visit. While the conference programme was intense, I took a few days of annual leave while I was out there to really go and explore the vibrant city and even caught the beginning of the main Mardi Gras festivals.
We went into lockdown just a month after and I feel even more fortunate now that I was able to tick New Orleans off my bucket list.
In travel law, I think it’s safe to say that all cases are interesting. No two cases are alike and they often involve interesting facts as well as consideration of complex, technical aspects of cross border law. You need to be agile minded and to consider various elements of foreign and European law.
A case where these skills were relevant was my recent case of ‘Hutchinson v MAPFRE’. Sarah Crowther QC and I represented a Claimant who suffered spinal cord injury in an incident at a well-known club in Ibiza. The issues before the Court largely related to provisions within an insurance contract, and how they fitted in with European Regulations. It was a hearing which really drew on all aspects of travel law that I enjoy: the need for a sound technical understanding of cross border law issues, learning about technical areas of foreign law (in this case Spanish insurance law), and the satisfaction of defeating an opponent’s argument on behalf of a Claimant whose life has been completely changed by his injuries.
No two days are the same.
If I wasn’t a travel lawyer I don’t think I’d be a lawyer at all. Prior to qualifying as a solicitor I had worked as a sales person in the south of France
selling static caravans and I would perhaps return to work in the holiday industry as long as I could do it in a sunny destination such as the Montpellier region of France!
If you would like to contact Cheryl you can find her details here.