Breaking Law: The Inside Guide to Your Legal Rights & Winning in Court or Losing Well

Breaking Law: The Inside Guide to Your Legal Rights & Winning in Court or Losing Well
Gold, S
Bath Publishing
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An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

Anybody who has appeared in front of Stephen Gold will have remembered such an experience and this book will prolong the memory (it does for us)! His delightful new title “Breaking Law” is written now in his capacity “as a former judge”.

It is his specific points and views in the book which will carry much weight for the modern practitioner because Gold shares with us much of the difficulties and problems which all participants in the civil justice process face. And he does it (as is to be expected) with a certain amount of wry humour for those of us who know where to look for it!

So, what is “Breaking Law” all about- just that, but not ‘breaking the law’ - and do visit his website for additional illumination and the blogging! We are told the book is “a unique, inside guide to the law which is irreverent, entertaining and bulges with advice on what the law can do for you in countless situations”. And it is again just that when you read the easy flowing passages.

The catalogue of legal problems cover some of the following areas which may well have an interest for you: whether you have been overcharged at a supermarket, overlooked in a relative’s will, sold “duff” goods, sued for repossession by a mortgage lender or landlord or threatened to be left penniless after a divorce, you can find help here because it is very much the mission of the man and what he has been doing for so long as a judge: to give us advice.

Readers will discover with delight the rights you never knew you had or which existed; or how to avoid getting involved in a court case in the first place (very important for unrepresented parties); or how to cope with proceedings should they be started, whether you are bringing them or defending them. And the book is a darned good read for those who must go to court for the first time without a lawyer to help them.

We found the template letters and court documents very helpful for this is most certainly a book for laymen as well as lawyers. Examples which Gold gives such good advice on are important issues such as “if you want to protect yourself before setting up home or marrying your partner”, then he goes on to give you cohabitation and prenuptial agreements at your fingertips making “Breaking Law” as much a legal manual as well as a cheerful autobiography.

And Stephen does not stop there. He even includes a template agreement on what happens to the pets should the relationship breakdown- and you would be quite surprised at how much wrangling takes place over such ownership because you actually have to see it in court to believe it - sometimes because what happens seems so far-fetched, yet Gold is ‘down to earth’ throughout. And he has judged most of the time with the bare minimum of backup help which many of us are very familiar with- something we hope will be addressed as digitisation hits us with the Fourth Industrial Revolution on top of us all.

Throughout the text, keeping it lively as always, Gold describes some of his own legal “tussles” (more than you would imagine here!) so you have a picture of “his own inimitable style when pursuing and protecting his rights and those of his clients”, and we particularly liked the bit about the Krays.

Gold says that this book is “for you if you are forced to go it alone without a lawyer” and that is true to a point for the lower courts. Where you need to be represented he describes how you can find out about getting representation before releasing any cash. He concludes that “all of which means that, if you thought there was no way you would ever be able to get your case through court, this book may prove you wrong”. It does and is a cracking good read for all!

A most useful Foreword has been offered to us by the celebrity financial adviser, Martin Lewis, who is the “Money Saving Expert”. Lewis, as always. gives us very sensible advice on money for the most vulnerable in this area, posing the question: “what would a judge say?” Always the best question to ask before you undertake any form of legal action in the view of many.

This just about sums up “the joy of this book” because it reveals what someone who, “until very recently” dispensed justice at Kingston upon Thames, thinks and how he would approach “an enormous compendium of problems”.

Not all the answers are here, of course, but it is refreshing to hear from a man, recently retired from the Bench, with such honesty and openness about the problems we face daily as legal advisers.

Thank you, Stephen, and a very happy retirement to you!