The hunt for the perfect suitcase, Chapter 3…

IMG_0407This is a product review, arising from my never ending quest for the perfect suitcase*. Whilst there is talk of e-bundles, and much berating of us for exceeding the 350 page bundle limit, in my day to day travels to and from court this is nothing but a distant dream. I am perpetually exceeding my own personal baggage allowance (as my back, knees and elbows would tell you if on they could talk). So the bar will still be needing a regular supply of not-knackered new suitcases for the forseeable future.

So. After my last suitcase fiasco I went back to the old style Tripp basic suitcases available from Debenhams, plus a similar one that I got from a Tesco offer. No Mulberry handbags round here Missus.

But then, I saw a colleague’s latest acquisition and I wanted one. A super dooper bomb proof rain proof affair so secure you could lock a whole information commissioner inside and he’d never get out. With its own padlock to stop anyone nicking your papers whilst you are distracted rooting around in the bottom of your handbag looking for your train ticket. This was a Peli case. And the lovely people at Peli were kind enough to let me have one to test out (a Peli 1440 to be precise), just so I could write this review.

So, what’s my expert opinion?

IMG_0408Well. It IS super dooper. It is robust if not unbreakable, has a waterproof rubber seal and perfectly protects whatever is inside. But they aren’t cheap, and would be an investment.

It provokes an interesting reaction from clients, colleagues and security staff, largely because it looks from the outside like it might be full of fishing tackle or spanners.

Because it is a robust beast, made of some sort of toughened resin it is also very heavy. I would say that when empty it is equivalent to pulling a lightweight suitcase with a PD27 compliant 349 page bundle and a red book. By the time it is full of the 3 lever arch files, red book and a pair of shoes that I usually fill it with it is like trying to drag your granny along the ground on a sack (Although why you would be doing that I don’t know).

It has good wheels, although it is a tad noisy on cobbles. Due to its rather low chassis it can scrape along or get caught on cobbles or uneven paving slabs, but basically ploughs through uneven mud. It is utterly lethal if you do let the handle slip and it drops on your leg and suprisingly easy to pulverise a toe with. If you were toting it fully laden with bundles and accidentally swiped a passer by you may be very unpopular. I wouldn’t fancy it on the tube.

IMG_0406I have found in practice that this suitcase is just too heavy for little old me, and although it has some fantastic features the sheer effort required outweighs the benefits. For others the balance may be different, so I think it is worth considering. There are a whole range of sizes and dimensions – my colleague has one that holds 5 lever arches, but that for me is just too heavy altogether. Due to the wide and low briefcase shape I selected it is difficult to neatly chicane around people without knocking your own leg out from under you as you turn the suitcase – the wheelbase is quite wide, so it doesn’t easily spin round to be tucked into the corner of a lift as you get in, and you can’t easily flip it around on its axis to reverse out of a tight spot.

IMG_0409So, whilst I do use my suitcase and will continue to do so I will not be ditching my trusty Tripp just yet.

I imagine it would not be too difficult for this company to modify this range so that they produced something a bit lighter and a bit less “toolbox” but which still kept the best features. If they did I would be the first to buy it.

 

*I haven’t been paid anything for this post, although I have got a free suitcase out of it.

Statistical Release – exceptional legal aid

New stats are out for Legal Aid and Family Courts here.

For the period Oct – Dec 2014 the proportion of s10 exceptional legal aid applications that were granted is much improved, and is now at approximately 25% (previously under 4% for the period April 13 – Mar 14 and only c1% for family cases).

But dig a bit deeper and the improvement is not anything like as marked as it at first appears. The 25% figure is for s10 applications in all areas, not just family. A significantly better rate of approval for inquests in particular masks the fact that in family only 13 of 104 applications were granted. So the rate is something more like 12%.

More worryingly the number of applications (all types overall) is down 31% on the same period last year, according to the release. However, rather unhelpfully I can’t locate the statistics for the same period last year on the gov.uk website (try as I might). The best I can do is to make a comparison with the period Apr 13 – Mar 14. In that period there were an average of 379 applications per quarter of which 204 (54%) were family. By contrast family applications now make up only 37% of all applications. And the total number of applications is down by 26% compared with the average per quarter in that earlier period, whilst family applications are now 48% lower than than in the earlier period.

So it looks to me as if the picture for exceptional legal aid is improving in some areas post the Gudanaviciene appeal, but that people are not bothering to apply for exceptional funding in family cases in such great numbers as they initially were, and that whilst the hit rate is better, it is not by much.