We found out a bit more about Darren for our MASS Insight Magazine Spring 2021 edition ….
The majority of my work over the years has been in RTA law. After a brief spell working in defence work I settled in claimant work and have seen the changes roll through over the years. I remember being part of the MASS RTA Protocol many years ago, back when I was a lot greener, and remember thinking ‘what a great idea’. MASS has for many years campaigned for (and against) changes in relation to RTA law and process, to enshrine access to justice and use their expertise and knowledge to bring many different firms and practitioners together in one voice to achieve that change. I am honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to the agenda and make a difference for victims and practitioners alike.
Why the law?
Because the alternative was accountancy!
I have always tried to do something that allowed me to help those in need and give back. I volunteered as a youth worker and was elected as an NUS Student Officer. Law seemed like a good fit.
Best win in Court/most important win to date
A tough one, but I would have to say that it was a two day fraud trial on a really low value whiplash claim. The defendant insurer threw the kitchen sink at it. Damages were less than £5,000 total for the two claimants. The claim was allocated to the multi-track and costs escalated massively. I am pleased to say that the Court was with us despite many dirty tricks and if anything this solidified my resolve not to be or allow claimants to be bullied out of pursuing their legitimate claims.
Thoughts on the implications of the Civil Liability Act
Good question. The Civil Liability Act makes many sweeping changes that will change the legal landscape significantly. I don’t think that it would be wrong to say that these changes will hugely change the way that claimant practitioners run their business and has significantly diluted the damages position for claimants. The system of redress has been used to paint the victims as perpetrators of fraud because of a lack of ‘objective evidence’.
The system proposed now is complex and convoluted. Designed for the lay person but really, I think that there will be a lot of issues and a huge effect upon the judiciary if there are any number of Litigants In Person who attempt to bring claims.
As the matter can go to court for liability or damages I expect to see many cases yo-yoing in and out of a court system that is neither structured to deal with this nor funded sufficiently to address the potential number of cases.
We have all had the client who insists that they are correct despite all case law showing the alternative. Without appropriate access to legal advice, I envisage that many cases will come before the courts.
That being said, given the value of damages in many of these cases, it is entirely possible that we will see the claims simply being settled. Only time will tell how the insurers behave.
What 3 items would you take to a desert island?
I was going to choose my partner and daughter, but having been with them all through lockdown, I’ll give that a swerve!
My Spotify playlist and something to play it on, my kindle and my dog.
What’s your claim to fame?
I played in bands for many years. I was, when younger, signed to an independent record label and played all over the UK.
What’s the best and worst piece of advice you have ever received?
Best – We all make mistakes; that’s normal. Mistakes are our teachers; it’s how we learn from them that counts.
Worst – £300.00 for a car is a bargain. Buy it!
What would be your first question after waking up from being cryogenically frozen for 100 years?
Did Sheffield Wednesday ever make it back into the Premier League?
I am not really superstitious but …..magpies….there is something about them. I am always really polite to them, just in case. “Good morning Mr Magpie”.
Best ever holiday or place you have visited?
Rome. My daughter had been studying Roman civilisation at school and her look of wonderment as she sat in the Roman Forum, looking at the ruins, the Palatine Hill and the House of the Senate where the shape of the modern world was founded, is something that I will never forget.
This may want to go before the advice point for context! – Ford Fiesta 950.
I saved up and paid £300 for the car. Tw0 weeks later I crashed into a petrol pump and I rear ended a Rover. I couldn’t afford to drive for a further four years. It was later found that the brakes were faulty and the car was a death trap.
This is really tough.
The best gig I attended was Def Leppard at 16. It was brilliant, in Sheffield their hometown and I loved it.
Favourite song, Spotify suggests my most played song is ‘The Whole of the Moon’ by The Waterboys. Not sure it’s my favourite but it is a very good.
I read loads. The problem is, nothing will ever come close to the first time that I read The Hobbit. Back as a child I loved this and was whisked away on adventures to Middle Earth with Tolkien’s writing.
I have read many more interesting and ‘better’ books but the joy of this at that time was amazing and something that I have not experienced since.
From a non-fiction perspective, “Black Box thinking” is a fantastic book for anyone to read by Matthew Syed. Met him too, really nice guy.
Best TV boxset or movie?
Again a tough one. I am going for two here. So ‘Game of Thrones’ (everything apart from the awful last season) and the amazing ‘Band of Brothers’.
I drink wine or beer usually but there is something about a gin and tonic on a sunny day. It really just says to me that summer is here. I also collect whisky. I drink some too, but I like to collect some of the distillery editions.
I love all sorts of food. We tend to eat a lot of vegetarian food at home but when I eat out, I love to eat Asian Cuisine. I love the spices and flavours. Cannot choose between curry or the dry dishes. It’s all so tasty!
What is the first thing you like to do with your free time?
I live just outside of Sheffield, it is amazing for being out and about. I love it. Just get into the Peak District and wander.
What annoys you?
Bad and dangerous parking. Just because you can stop there, doesn’t mean you should. Every day the ‘school run’ is a gauntlet of angry drivers and crazy parking.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Take the red pill (sorry, it’s a reference from The Matrix).
What I mean though is, focus on what is real and important to you and those around you. The rest of it really doesn’t matter.