Justice minister Lord Faulks will have approached his keynote address at the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers conference with the enthusiasm of a hangman engaging in small talk with his next victim.

Faulks was in no mood for turning and moved to pre-empt the brickbats by saying he would accept comments ‘unaccompanied by missiles’.

As it was, any fears the minister may have had as to his personal safety were unfounded. Delegates listened intently to his address, interrupting only to laugh sardonically at his assertion that insurers will pass on savings from reform to their customers.

So would Faulks escape without a mark? Not entirely. It was left to the final questioner to have a dig, telling the minister he was a big fan of Faulks’ books, especially Birdsong. While Sebastian (pictured) Faulks’ novel does indeed have a personal injury storyline, Obiter understands that confusing the two brothers is not a way to curry favour with either.