Welcome from the chair

Paul Nicholls, chairman of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society

Hello and a huge welcome to the 2021 Personal Injury Awards.

Last year, we all had to do this virtually by watching our phones, tablets and computers, like bloody teenagers. This year, we get to be in 3D with edges! We can knock elbows with the person next to you, they’re real!

It has been my privilege to chair the awards this year with some great people. Thanks to the Barker Brooks team for organising this, and to my esteemed fellow judges. This is a fantastic evening—in Leeds of all places, brilliant!

The awards give an opportunity to members of the legal community to showcase their fantastic talent and hard work in the field of personal injury. Let’s face it, we’re not going to be honouring conveyancers are we? ‘Neatest Filled-in TR1’ and ‘Easiest to Understand Declaration of Trust’? No. Not really game changers, eh?

The judging panel have had to work through the equivalent of about 35 telephone books of entries, reading and viewing all of the entries.

The standard of entries has been exceptional, and in some categories there has only been a cigarette paper between the winner and runner-up, so we really would like to say thank you for the time taken, for sending your entries to us.

This is the 14th year that these awards have been held, and each year has seen the number of people enter and attend grow. We are still officially in the pandemic, so only demonstrates the importance and quality of what these awards mean. Thank you very much indeed for coming along and show your support—and very good luck to all the finalists.

The pandemic has been savage, but the legal community has remained largely resilient. Just for good measure, we’ve had the Civil Liability Act reforms and the introduction of the Official Injury Claim portal. We recently had one third of our court buildings sold, have massive delays in the court system, yet another increase in court fees, and now face the introduction of fixed costs with comments from older lawyers no longer in practice telling us all how expensive we are, probably largely forgetting the eye watering brief fees we were paying to them, not that long ago.

In the words of Elton John, the legal community can sing along with his ditty, “I’m still standing”—we may metaphorically have arthritic knees, a bad back, rattling with tablets and wondering whether we’ll make it to the loo in time, but we’re going nowhere at the moment other than onwards and upwards, and we’re still standing…just about. You can’t kick an old lawyer when they’re down, God alone knows circumstances and others in government have tried.

These awards show us that despite all of our challenges, we still have some fantastic talent and hardworking people out there ready to make us all proud.