Thomas Jervis, associate solicitor, Leigh Day.
Who? Thomas Jervis, associate solicitor, Leigh Day.
Why is he in the news? The firm secured the first court direction related to coronavirus in a civil case. The High Court handed down the ‘Covid-19 direction’, displacing the rule for time extensions under civil procedure rules. The ruling was made as a direct result of potential practice disruptions that could be caused by the pandemic, and is believed to be the first occasion a civil court responded to the crisis.
Thoughts on the case: ‘This is an important case involving a man who suffered life-changing injuries following an accident caused by a defective Bianchi road bicycle he was riding while he was taking part in the Wales Velothon.
‘I decided to ask the court for such a direction in light of the fact that there is a very complex and full case management timetable in place in the lead-up to trial over the coming year. There are 14 experts across the case, and it is highly conceivable that the Covid-19 pandemic might cause delays to the case management process. The courts have not been equipped with an updated practice direction from the Ministry of Justice as to how their case management powers might be used to navigate cases through these times. I therefore decided to call this the “Covid-19 Direction” and it is hoped that it will help other litigants and the courts during these uncertain times.
‘This is an important decision that is likely to be used as a precedent in the civil courts across the UK.’
Dealing with the media: ‘The media seems to be wall-to-wall with coronavirus stories at the moment, so I thought this was likely to be of interest as a different angle on the issue. The media who have been interested have mainly just needed me to explain the situation and how it is different to the way the courts normally operate.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘Growing up I was a carer for my severely disabled brother, who passed away in 2011. He is my inspiration. I helped bring a public law case against the local authority, which made a big difference to his life. I want my cases to make a difference to people’s lives.’
Career high: ‘Representing the families of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse and Owen Carey in the high-profile anaphylaxis inquests into their deaths, which involved Pret a Manger and Byron. These cases have changed food law in the UK.’
Career low: ‘Witnessing the government continue to erode the rights of the most vulnerable in our society.’