Research Shows You Can Learn to Be Lucky

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreIf you think you’re unlucky, you should change your outlook in order to generate more good fortune, according to psychologist Richard Wiseman.Findings have revealed that the thoughts and behavior of unlucky people are responsible for much of their misfortune.A decade ago, I set out to investigate luck.I wanted to examine the impact on people’s lives of chance opportunities, lucky breaks, and being in the right place at the right time. After many experiments, I believe that I now understand why some people are luckier than others and that it is possible to become luckier.To launch my study, I placed advertisements in national newspapers and magazines, asking for people who felt consistently lucky or unlucky to contact me. Over the years, 400 extraordinary men and women volunteered for my research from all walks of life: the youngest is an 18-year-old student, the oldest an 84-year-old retired accountant.Jessica, a 42-year-old forensic scientist, is typical of the lucky group. As she explained: “I have my dream job, two wonderful children and a great guy whom I love very much. It’s amazing; when I look back at my life, I realise I have been lucky in just about every area.” In contrast, Carolyn, a 34-year-old care assistant, is typical of the unlucky group. She is accident-prone. In one week, she twisted her ankle in a pothole, injured her back in another fall and reversed her car into a tree during a driving lesson. She was also unlucky in love and felt she was always in the wrong place at the wrong time.Over the years, I interviewed these volunteers, asked them to complete diaries, questionnaires and intelligence tests, and invited them to participate in experiments. The findings have revealed that although unlucky people have almost no insight into the real causes of their good and bad luck, their thoughts and behaviour are responsible for much of their fortune.Experiments Reveal the DifferenceTake the case of chance opportunities. Lucky people consistently encounter such opportunities, whereas unlucky people do not. I carried out a simple experiment to discover whether this was due to differences in their ability to spot such opportunities.I gave both lucky and unlucky people a newspaper, and asked them to look through it and tell me how many photographs were inside. On average, the unlucky people took about two minutes to count the photographs, whereas the lucky people took just seconds. Why? Because the second page of the newspaper contained the message: “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” This message took up half of the page and was written in type that was more than 2in high. It was staring everyone straight in the face, but the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people tended to spot it.For fun, I placed a second large message halfway through the newspaper: “Stop counting. Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win £250.” Again, the unlucky people missed the opportunity because they were still too busy looking for photographs.Personality tests revealed that unlucky people are generally much more tense than lucky people, and research has shown that anxiety disrupts people’s ability to notice the unexpected. In one experiment, people were asked to watch a moving dot in the centre of a computer screen. Without warning, large dots would occasionally be flashed at the edges of the screen. Nearly all participants noticed these large dots.The experiment was then repeated with a second group of people, who were offered a large financial reward for accurately watching the centre dot, creating more anxiety. They became focused on the centre dot and more than a third of them missed the large dots when they appeared on the screen. The harder they looked, the less they saw.And so it is with luck – unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner and so miss opportunities to make good friends. They look through newspapers determined to find certain types of job advertisements and as a result miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there rather than just what they are looking for.My research revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.I wondered whether these four principles could be used to increase the amount of good luck that people encounter in their lives. To find out, I created a “luck school” – a simple experiment that examined whether people’s luck can be enhanced by getting them to think and behave like a lucky person.I asked a group of lucky and unlucky volunteers to spend a month carrying out exercises designed to help them think and behave like a lucky person. These exercises helped them spot chance opportunities, listen to their intuition, expect to be lucky, and be more resilient to bad luck.One month later, the volunteers returned and described what had happened. The results were dramatic: 80 percent of people were now happier, more satisfied with their lives and, perhaps most important of all, luckier. While lucky people became luckier, the unlucky had become lucky. Take Carolyn, whom I introduced at the start of this article. After graduating from “luck school”, she has passed her driving test after three years of trying, was no longer accident-prone and became more confident.In the wake of these studies, I think there are three easy techniques that can help to maximize good fortune:Unlucky people often fail to follow their intuition when making a choice, whereas lucky people tend to respect hunches. Lucky people are interested in how they both think and feel about the various options, rather than simply looking at the rational side of the situation. I think this helps them because gut feelings act as an alarm bell – a reason to consider a decision carefully.Unlucky people tend to be creatures of routine. They tend to take the same route to and from work and talk to the same types of people at parties. In contrast, many lucky people try to introduce variety into their lives. For example, one person described how he thought of a colour before arriving at a party and then introduced himself to people wearing that colour. This kind of behaviour boosts the likelihood of chance opportunities by introducing variety.Lucky people tend to see the positive side of their ill fortune. They imagine how things could have been worse. In one interview, a lucky volunteer arrived with his leg in a plaster cast and described how he had fallen down a flight of stairs. I asked him whether he still felt lucky and he cheerfully explained that he felt luckier than before. As he pointed out, he could have broken his neck.Richard Wiseman is a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire. His book, The Luck Factor contains real-life stories and research data from his eight-year study of luck. Read more at www.richardwiseman.com.AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

Read More →

UVM Study: Elephant poaching costs Africa $25 million a year in lost tourism

first_imgAn elephant observes zebras and other animals in Namibia’s Etosha National Park. A new study shows that elephant poaching costs African economies $25 million per year in lost tourism revenue. (Photo: Robin Naidoo, WWF)by Joshua E. Brown, UVM (link sends e-mail)In Africa, tens of thousands of elephants are killed by poachers each year. Now a new study shows that this poaching crisis costs African countries around $25 million annually in lost tourism revenue. The research was published November 1 in the journal Nature Communications. The research, undertaken by scientists at the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and the University of Cambridge, represents the first continent-wide assessment of the economic losses that the current elephant poaching surge is inflicting on nature-based tourism economies in Africa.“Conservation is often seen as a luxury,” says Brendan Fisher an economist at the University of Vermont who co-led the new study, “but our work shows that it pays big to protect elephants.”Comparing this lost revenue with the cost of halting declines in elephant populations due to poaching, the study(link is external) determines that investment in elephant conservation is economically favorable across the majority of African elephants’ range.”While there have always been strong moral and ethical reasons for conserving elephants, not everyone shares this viewpoint. Our research now shows that investing in elephant conservation is actually smart economic policy for many African countries,” said study author Robin Naidoo, lead wildlife scientist at WWF and an affiliate of UVM’s Gund Institute.Poaching problemsPoachers kill between 20,000-30,000 African elephants each year for the illegal ivory trade, funded by global organized crime syndicates and fueled largely by demand in China and elsewhere in Asia. In just the past ten years, Africa’s elephants have declined by more than 20 percent.”We know that within parks, tourism suffers when elephant poaching ramps up. This work provides a first estimate of the scale of that loss, and shows pretty convincingly that stronger conservation efforts usually make sound economic sense even when looking at just this one benefit stream,” said study co-author Andrew Balmford, a professor in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology and an affiliate of UVM’s Gund Institute.“If you close your eyes and think about Africa, there’s an elephant in that picture,” says Fisher. “So it makes perfect sense that as elephants disappear off a landscape tourists are less likely to visit those places.”The research—using statistical modelling—shows that tourism revenue lost to the current poaching crisis exceeds the anti-poaching costs necessary to stop the decline of elephants in east, southern, and west Africa. Rates of return on elephant conservation in these regions are positive, signaling strong economic incentive for countries to protect elephant populations.”The average rate of return on elephant conservation in east, west, and south Africa compares favorably with rates of return on investments in areas like education, food security and electricity,” said UVM’s Fisher, associate professor in UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources(link is external) and Gund Institute(link is external). “For example, for every dollar invested in protecting elephants in East Africa, you get about $1.78 back. That’s a great deal.”However, for countries in central Africa, the study finds that elephant-based tourism cannot currently be expected to contribute substantially to elephant conservation. In these remote, forested areas where tourism levels are lower and elephants are typically more difficult to see, different mechanisms will be necessary to halt elephant declines.“The economic argument is helpful,” says UVM’s Brendan Fisher, “but only if we have a clear ethical foundation that we should not be slaughtering elephants. Period.”last_img read more

Read More →

Former SMSD board member Craig Denny receives top honor from Iowa State Alumni Association

first_imgDr. Craig Denny, center, received the Iowa State University Alumni Association Medal Award last month. Photo courtesy Iowa State Alumni Association.The Iowa State University Alumni Association recently bestowed one of the college community’s top honors to Lenexa’s Craig Denny, who served as the SM West representative on the Shawnee Mission Board of Education for more than two decades.Denny, who holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Iowa State, was back in Ames in October to receive the Iowa State University Alumni Association Medal Award. Given each year since 1948, the medal honors a former Iowa State student “for long, loyal,and outstanding service to the university through alumni-related activities.”A native of Des Moines, Denny arrive in Ames not particularly focused on his classes.“You could safely claim that my greatest interest the first couple years was in social activity, not academics,” Denny recalls.But somewhere along the line, things clicked for him at Iowa State. Under the mentorship of a professor named James Hoover, he developed a keen interest in the field of civil engineering. He signed on with the firm Terracon in 1973, and did stints in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines before being tapped to head up the geotechnical engineering division of the operation at its new Lenexa office in 1985.When they moved to Johnson County, Denny’s wife Terry, who passed away in 2014, started working as a para in Shawnee Mission Schools, which started the couples’ involvement with the district. Denny ran for school board for the first time in 1997. As the SM West rep on the board, he had the privilege of handing high school diplomas to his two eldest daughters as they crossed the stage.With his early involvement in Terracon, Denny had been able to purchase company stock that had grown significantly in value by the 2000s. When Hoover, his college mentor, died suddenly of a stroke, Craig and Terry decided they wanted to do something to honor his legacy. They endowed a professorship, the James M. Hoover Chair in Geotechnical Engineering. “And one of our requirements for that seat is that it goes to someone who believes strongly that mentoring students is important,” Denny said.They also created scholarship opportunities in the college of human sciences that are available to students who either have learning disabilities or who want to go on to teach students with learning disabilities, a nod to Terry’s work with such students in Shawnee Mission.Those generous gifts, and several more, were among the good works the association cited in giving Denny the honor this year. He was accompanied by his three daughters, fiancée and Terry’s brother-in-law, among others, for the ceremony.“I think astonished is probably the word that comes to mind when I learned I had been named for the award,” Denny said. “I started my life and professional career there, but so did thousands of other people. There have been so many alums who have gone on to do great things. To be considered among that group was really amazing for me.”last_img read more

Read More →

News Scan for Jul 23, 2015

first_imgSaudi MERS total grows by fourMiddle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has sickened four more people in Saudi Arabia in the past 2 days, one of them fatally, according to reports from the country’s Ministry of Health (MOH).Three of the patients are from Riyadh, and one is a 60-year-old woman from Rania-Altaif in the southwestern part of Saudi Arabia. Patients in Riyadh include a 52-year-old Saudi woman who died from her illness. The others are a 54-year-old foreign man and a 56-year-old Saudi man.None are healthcare workers, and three of them had no known contact with a suspected or confirmed case in the community in the hospital. Possible links to contacts for the foreign man are still under investigation.Saudi health officials also announced three deaths in previously reported cases, all of whom had preexisting medical conditions. One more patient has recovered from his MERS-CoV illness, a 93-year-old man.The new developments lift Saudi Arabia’s overall disease totals to 1,053 cases, 465 deaths, and 581 recoveries. Seven people are still being treated for their infections.Jul 22 Saudi MOH update Jul 23 Saudi MOH update USDA chief says new H5N2 vaccine works well in chickensThe head of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said yesterday that a vaccine his department developed for H5N2 avian influenza has tested “100% effective” in chickens and is now being tested in turkeys, according to the Associated Press (AP).If the vaccine also works well in turkeys, the USDA plans to quickly license it for production, and the agency is seeking funding from the Office of Management and Budget to stockpile it, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the House Agriculture Committee.The H5N2 virus and resulting culling of flocks killed 48 million poultry during the spring and early summer, mostly in Iowa and Minnesota. No more outbreaks have been reported since mid-June, but experts are concerned that the virus may return in the fall, when migratory birds, which can carry it without getting visibly sick, head south.”Hopefully we’ll be able to get a lot of folks working collaboratively together and we stockpile enough [vaccine] so that if this does hit and hits us hard we’re in a position to respond quickly,” Vilsack said, according to the AP.If the virus does return, use of the vaccine isn’t a given, because it could badly hurt US poultry exports. As noted in the story, many countries refuse to accept poultry from nations using an avian flu vaccine because it can be difficult to discern through testing whether birds were infected or vaccinated. Sometimes vaccinated birds can become infected without getting sick, and thus can spread the virus silently.The AP story noted that poultry farmers don’t all agree on whether to use a vaccine. Turkey producers tend to favor vaccination to protect flocks because turkeys appear more vulnerable to viruses, but egg producers and farmers who raise broiler chickens often resist vaccination programs because of the possible impact on export markets.Vilsack said any vaccination program would not begin until the USDA, consulting with affected states, decided it was necessary to control an outbreak, according to the AP.Jul 22 AP story Related Jul 8 CIDRAP News story Study finds experimental Marburg drug protective in monkeysAn experimental antiviral drug protected monkeys against Marburg virus—a close relative of Ebola—and was shown safe in a phase 1 human trial, according to a study today in the New England Journal of Medicine.The research was conducted by the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) and the biotechnology firm Sarepta Therapeutics, Inc., using a compound known as AVI-7288.Researchers exposed cynomolgus macaques to Marburg virus and then administered one of three treatments: AVI-7288 in varying doses, an inactive placebo, or a saline control.Survival was 0%, 30%, 59%, 87%, 100%, and 100% at AVI-7288 doses of 0 milligram (mg), 3.75 mg, 7.5 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, and 30 mg per kilogram of body weight, respectively. None of the monkeys treated with a placebo or the saline control survived.In addition, a dose of 15 mg per kilogram per day for 14 days starting at 24, 48, and 96 hours after viral challenge provided 83%, 100%, and 83% protection, respectively. Those findings demonstrated effectiveness even if drug administration was delayed.The phase 1 clinical trial involved 40 healthy people who received AVI-7288 at up to 16 mg per kilogram per day. The researchers noted no significant safety concerns or dose-dependent side effects.”These results have allowed for detailed modeling to predict a human dose of AVI-7288 that could reasonably be expected to protect humans exposed to Marburg virus,” said senior author and USAMRIID Science Director Sina Bavari, PhD, in a USAMRIID press release.Jul 23 N Engl J Med studyJul 22 USAMRIID press release Study indicates Klebsiella may be significant foodborne pathogenAlmost half of retail chicken, turkey, and pork products tested positive for Klebsiella pneumoniae, a common cause of gastrointestinal illness, the first indication that the bacterium may be a significant foodborne pathogen, according to a study yesterday in Clinical Infectious Diseases.US researchers sampled products sold in nine major grocery stores in Flagstaff, Ariz., in 2012 and also analyzed urine and blood samples taken from Flagstaff-area patients in 2011 and 2012. They found that 47% of the 508 meat products harbored Klebsiella—and many of the strains were resistant to antibiotics. They also determined that 10% of the 1,728 positive cultures from patients were Klebsiella, including drug-resistant strains.Whole-genome sequencing revealed that isolate pairs from the meat and from patients were nearly identical.”This study is the first to suggest that consumers can be exposed to potentially dangerous Klebsiella from contaminated meat,” Lance B. Price, PhD, lead author of the study, said in a George Washington University news release.He added, “Now we have another drug-resistant pathogen in the food supply, underscoring the public health concern regarding antibiotic use in food animal production,” referring to the problem of overuse of such drugs in animals causing resistant strains of bacteria.Jul 22 Clin Infect Dis abstract Jul 23 George Washington University news release Poll reveals epidemic, preparedness concernsA survey commissioned by the World Bank of people in five developed countries found that many believe the world isn’t prepared for another global epidemic like Ebola and strongly support investments in developing countries to curb future threats.The poll included 4,000 people in France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The online survey was conducted from Jun 14 to Jun 24 and included 600 people from each country and an oversampling in each nation of 172 to 200 opinion elites—people who hold a college degree or higher and follow global news events closely.Twice as many people thought another global epidemic will occur in the next decade—40% versus 19%, with 40% being neutral on the topic. And less than half (45%) thought their own country was prepared.Almost 80% responded that investing in healthcare workers and clinics in developing countries can help prevent epidemics from spreading to other countries. The poll also revealed strong support for policy changes that will protect the world from global epidemics and that related investments will help save the world money.Jim Yong Kim, MD, PhD, World Bank president, said in a press release that the survey shows that the public sees global infectious disease outbreaks as a serious threat and that they want their leaders to take steps to become better prepared. “This heightened concern also translates into strong support for investments to strengthen health systems in vulnerable countries, as any country with a weak health system puts both its own citizens and the entire world at risk.”Jul 23 World Bank press release Jul 23 World Bank brief, with links to full results Test accurately, quickly identifies EV-D68Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have developed a diagnostic test to quickly identify enterovirus D-68 (EV-D68) that outperforms other tests, according to a study in the August issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.The researchers isolated segments of viral DNA sequences that are common to every D68 subtype but to no other virus and developed a computer program that compares many sequences simultaneously. This technique led to a test that identifies every known subtype of enterovirus D68 while excluding all other known viruses.The new test is more effective than others for EV-D68, including one developed by the US Centers for Disease Control in October 2014 that was deployed quickly in response to the EV-D68 outbreak last year that involved more than 1,000 cases in children and 14 deaths, according to a Washington University press release.To validate the new test, the investigators examined panels of rhinoviruses and enteroviruses. The test did not miss any known samples of EV-D68, and it did not falsely identify EV-D68 in samples that were known to be other viruses. The test retained its accuracy even with tiny amounts of the virus, according to the authors.”These kinds of tests help treatment decisions because it is important to know that the patient doesn’t have influenza or another disease that might require a specific treatment,” said senior author Gregory A. Storch, MD.August J Clin Microbiol abstract Jul 22 Washington University press releaselast_img read more

Read More →

HFT designs range of smallest Weld Trailing Shields

first_imgSubscribe Get instant access to must-read content today!To access hundreds of features, subscribe today! At a time when the world is forced to go digital more than ever before just to stay connected, discover the in-depth content our subscribers receive every month by subscribing to gasworld.Don’t just stay connected, stay at the forefront – join gasworld and become a subscriber to access all of our must-read content online from just $270.last_img

Read More →

Energinet.dk Seeks Contractor for UXO Survey

first_imgEnerginet.dk has invited potential contractors to prequalify for an unexploded ordnance (UXO) survey to be carried out in 2015 at the Horns Rev 3 offshore wind farm site. The Danish transmission system operator (TSO) Energinet.dk is preparing the installation of a 33 km export cable from the planned offshore wind farm Horns Rev 3. The cable extends from the planned transformer station to the west coast of Jutland, Denmark.The cable route traverses areas with varying risk of encountering UXO and it has thus been decided that a multi-purpose UXO survey shall be performed to meticulously investigate the installation corridor and quantify the UXO risk.With respect to survey methodologies, the installation corridor can be divided into the following zones:1. Offshore section with a sporadic risk of encountering British air-delivered sea mines, jettisoned aerial bombs, anchored sea mines that have lost the anchor and sunk, UXO from a target practice area.2. Offshore section with the same risk as above plus the risk of encountering German aluminum ground mines presumed to be laid in a mine field crossed by the installation corridor.3. Near shore section extending across a zone extending 1 nm from the coast where there is an elevated risk of encountering anti-invasion mines.Offshore WIND Staff; Image: Energinet.dklast_img read more

Read More →

IOG takes over Blythe discovery. Considers unmanned platform for development

first_imgIndependent Oil and Gas plc (IOG), a development and production focused oil and gas company, is expanding its UK North Sea foothold.The company has signed a deal to buy from Alpha Petroleum Resources Limited the 50% of Blocks 48/22b and 48/23a in the Southern North Sea not already owned by the company. These blocks contain the Blythe gas discovery.Under the agreement signed on April 18, IOG will initially pay £1.5 million, with deferred consideration of a further $5 million to be paid at first gas.According to IOG, the Blythe gas discovery does not need further appraisal and this transaction will immediately double IOG’s independently verified 2P reserves by 17.2 BCF to 34.3 BCF or 6.1 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMBoe).Upon completion of the acquisition and the approval from the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), IOG will become Operator and will own 100% of the licence.Mark Routh CEO of IOG said: “We are delighted to announce the signing of the SPA (Sales and Purchase Agreement) to acquire the remainder of the highly attractive Blythe gas discovery. This transaction not only adds material 2P reserves of 17.2 BCF at a very low cost equivalent to $2.31/Boe but also more importantly gives the Company 100% ownership and full control of the future development of Blythe. We can now move ahead to co-develop Blythe with our other assets in surrounding licences which are 100% owned by IOG in line with our hub strategy. Our next task will be to deliver the Field Development Plan for Blythe to the OGA and work on that has already commenced.“Upon completion of this Blythe acquisition, the Company’s combined estimate of 2P reserves in Blythe and 2C resources in Skipper will be 40.2 MMBoe. When we add the 2C resource estimates in the Cronx, Elgood and Harvey discoveries, which should be co-developed with Blythe, this 2P plus 2C number rises by 8.6 MMBoe to 48.8 MMBoe.“Crucially, owning 100% of Blythe now allows us to optimize the wider Blythe Hub development concept. IOG’s initial plan is to install a small unmanned platform at Blythe with pre-installed risers to tie-back nearby discoveries making Blythe the center of a new hub. In addition it allows us to evaluate further the discovered gas in the Carboniferous beneath Blythe and the oil discovery above Blythe in the Zechstein fractured carbonates.”last_img read more

Read More →

Firms should consider alternatives to traditional funding sources

first_img Damien Welch is director of SHF Legal Funding Ltd Business analysts report that poor management is a principal reason for business failure, while managing cashflow is critical and one of the most frequent stumbling blocks. One of the major challenges the legal sector faces, with which all practitioners will be overwhelmingly familiar, is that often, despite cases being concluded and settled, on many occasions these fail to generate income for a significant period of time. Law firms are businesses and a successful business needs the cashflow to invest to drive forward. Historically, law firms have turned to banks and other traditional sources of funding to bridge the cash outflow/cash inflow gap. However, this facility comes at a cost and has many limitations. The lending decisions of banks are based primarily on the law firm’s covenant and the value of the individual partners’ personal assets within the firm. Banks do not always understand or recognise the value of work in progress as collateral and they will generally not issue law firms with loans based solely on the value of their pending case inventory. Compounding the frustration, the economic downturn has led to a number of major lenders either closing their doors or quietly reducing their willingness to extend existing facilities – further squeezing the availability of funding to the legal profession. A major hurdle for law firms is proving repayment timescales and, when considering working capital facilities, banks will look at a company’s expected cashflow. Owing to law firms business cycles, a delay of several months can often be experienced prior to fees being generated and/or received. It is therefore very difficult for banks, and indeed the law firms themselves, to put a definitive timescale on repayments. This leads to banks becoming extremely conservative in their lending and only providing modest facilities. With banks only willing to lend a limited amount and these loans frequently being tied into expensive insurance products, law firms are facing an increasingly difficult challenge. Bank loans are often inadequate sources to support firm’s objectives, meaning they need supplementing with other sources of capital. In practice, this often entails partners contributing their own personal finances and further shouldering the financial burden. A brief examination of the prevailing funding methods raises the question ‘why has the industry not moved with the times?’ Lawyers are certainly not unworldly, but they appear hesitant or simply too busy to look for alternative funding methods. A funding alternative is one option, but a quantum leap is needed. Having been involved in the legal industry and experienced the changing funding issues facing the legal sector, it was a pleasant surprise to be introduced to an innovative option that provides the majority of the anticipated costs within a short period of time, and does not involve a lengthy application process, scrutiny of the law firm’s accounting, financial and/or personal information. Furthermore, it does not compromise bank or existing finance facilities as it is essentially self-financing. So what is the solution? Costs in advance CIA schemes, designed to act as an additional and supplementary service to the other funding methods, are already being successfully implemented and utilised. Such CIA schemes enable the early realisation of solicitors’ costs and help avoid unnecessarily low settlement agreements being entered into in the interest of speeding up payment. When a bill is drawn up by costs draftsmen, a CIA provider will usually advance a large percentage of the value of the bill within 24 hours to the law firm. This allows solicitors to maintain a healthy financial position, rather than constantly playing ‘catch up’ with the potential axe of a personal guarantee hanging over them. While some funding providers currently offer forms of disbursement funding that allow for prepayments to be advanced, of key importance to many partners is that they also require the guarantee of their personal assets, wherein lies the crucial differentiating factor. SHF Legal Funding Ltd is a new firm that specialises in the provision of cash advances to firms of solicitors purely on the basis of the settled litigation claim for which the costs have been assessed by the costs draftsmen, and/or agreed by the judge/court but still remain outstanding. The ambition is to provide law firms with a new alternative funding model that will revolutionise litigation funding and bring an end to the era in which law firms are handicapped by poor cashflows, the need for security and personal guarantees, and their dependence on the traditional and increasingly scarce bank funding models. Andrew Thomas of Civil & Commercial Costs Lawyers, a provider of costs litigation services, told me: ‘These are uneasy times for the legal profession both in terms of the economic climate and proposed changes to regulations; the profession will need to be careful, both in terms of maximising their inter-parties costs recoveries and releasing cash. In my view, a schemes which offer solicitors the ability to release cash funds against unquantified costs orders, without the need for applications to the court or rigorous paperwork with lenders, will change the landscape of the legal funding industry.’ The demand resonating from the legal industry is clear; what is needed is a simple, quick and effective funding mechanism that enables law firms to seek new business without the handicap of chasing cashflow while negotiating over historic costs incurred. Will CIA schemes be the solution to law firms’ financial woes? Time will tell. last_img read more

Read More →

Contract

first_img Neil Kitchener QC and David Caplan (instructed by Pinsent Masons) for the claimant; Robert Miles QC and Richard Hill (instructed by Herbert Smith) for the defendant. The claimant and the defendant reached a settlement agreement on the first day of a trial of an action between them and associated parties. The trial had arisen out of the provision by the claimant of part of the finance needed to enable the commercial exploitation of certain innovative technologies developed by the defendant. Finance had also been provided by a third individual (G), and companies owned or controlled by him, resulting in tripartite agreements between the claimant, defendant and G. The settlement agreement had been between the claimant and defendant, and had provided that settlement had been entered in full and final settlement of all and any claims that the claimant had or might have had against the defendant, whether past, present or future and whether or not known or contemplated at that date of the settlement ‘arising under or in any way connected’ with the action. Subsequently, G, and a company controlled by him, had executed a deed of assignment in favour of the claimant, under which they had transferred to the claimant all their rights against the defendant and his companies. The claimant commenced proceedings as assignee of G’s rights. The defendant applied to have those proceedings struck out on the grounds that the rights that the claimant had been seeking to enforce had been compromised by the settlement agreement. That application had been refused on the grounds that the context in which the settlement agreement had been made pointed to the conclusion that it had been concerned with rights arising only between the claimant and the defendant, and had not been intended to extend to rights that the claimant might, in the future, have acquired from third parties, including G. The defendant appealed. The defendant submitted that the clear intention of the parties of the settlement agreement had been to capture every possible claim that the claimant might have had against the defendant then, or at any time in the future, and that the parties had chosen the particular language of the settlement agreement as a means of ensuring that the defendant would never need to fear another claim from the claimant in relation to the technology in question. The claimant submitted that the parties had not turned their minds to the rights of third parties, over which they had had no control, or to the possibility that the claimant might have acquired from a third party rights which he might then have sought to enforce against the defendant. The appeal would be dismissed. There could be no doubt that both parties had been well aware that G had been in a position to make similar claims against the defendant based upon the same agreements as those which the claimant had been claiming. However, the defendant had not sought to join G as a party to the proceedings or to draw him into the settlement negotiations. It had to have been obvious, therefore, that the settlement agreement could not have affected G’s rights, which he had remained free to enforce in his own name or transfer to third parties as he wished. The defendant had to have been aware of that, but no attempt had been made in the settlement agreement to provide for the possibility that G might have chosen to assign his rights to the claimant, which had not been surprising given that it would have been very unusual to provide for such an eventuality in an agreement of that kind. However, if that possibility had occurred to the defendant, one would have expected him to have ensured that the settlement agreement had provided for it in the terms. The fact that it had not, had suggested that the parties had not envisaged it as a possibility and that they had been directing their minds solely to claims arising between them as original parties. Moreover, since it had not been suggested that the amount paid to the claimant under the settlement agreement had reflected to any extent the value of G’s claims, as well as those of his own, the defendant would have obtained a significant windfall should they have come into the claimant’s hands. There had been no reason to think that the parties had had such an eventuality in mind. The scope of the critical phrase ‘in any way connected’ had been potentially so wide that its meaning in the case had to be determined by the context in which it had been used. Although the broad language of the settlement agreement had supported the conclusion that the parties had wanted to spread the net wide, it had not followed that they had intended to spread it so wide as to compromise claims that the claimant would have been in a position to make only if he had acquired rights from G (see [11]-[13] of the judgment). Construction – Compromise agreement – Parties reaching settlement of action arising out of tripartite agreementscenter_img Kazeminy v Siddiqi and others: CA (Civ Div) (Lord Justices Mummery, Moore-Bick, Lady Justice Black): 2 April 2012last_img read more

Read More →