London Associate Robert Dougans has been named Assistant Solicitor of the Year 2010 in this year’s Lawyer Awards. More than 1,000 solicitors, barristers and in-house lawyers attended the June 22 ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel to see the industry’s most prestigious awards handed out.
Dougans, an associate with Bryan Cave’s Dispute Resolution Team, won the award from a short list of seven nominees for his recent accomplishments on two libel cases in the English courts – one in which he represented noted science writer Simon Singh, the other journalist and blogger David Osler.
“Robert Dougans steered my libel case through two years of the most tortuous legal wrangling imaginable, including an adverse ruling at a preliminary hearing, two failed applications to appeal, one successful application and eventually a successful Court of Appeal decision,” Simon Singh said. “His legal mind is undoubtedly brilliant, but his diligence, persistence, determination, level-headedness, good humour and charm are equally important. His recognition at this week's Lawyer Awards is much deserved.”
In the first libel case, the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) accused Singh of libel over an opinion piece he wrote for the Guardian in April 2008 challenging the BCA’s claim that chiropractic treatment can remedy a wide range of childhood medical problems. The BCA dropped its claim in April 2010, shortly after the court of appeal overturned an earlier ruling that would have meant Singh had to prove in court that his comments about chiropractors were factually correct, rather than opinion.
“Robert recognized the importance of the issues raised by the Singh case and brought his usual enthusiasm, energy and ingenuity to bear in support of his client’s case,” said William McCormick QC, Ely Place Chambers.
In the other case, a pro bono matter, the High Court ruled a claim brought against Osler by East London political activist Johanna Kaschke was an abuse of process and should be struck out. This significant case clarifies the position of bloggers and the online media regarding the liability they face with regard to old postings still available in online archives.
As a result of these wins, Dougans has been named as one of London’s most talented and promising lawyers by The Lawyer. He also was named Lawyer of the Week in a recent issue of The Times newspaper and has received significant media coverage related to both cases.
“Robert’s win was very well deserved,” said David Allen Green, of counsel, Preiskel & Co LLP and writer of Jack of Kent blog. “He is now establishing himself as one of the leading media defence lawyers in the City. His work on both the Simon Singh and Dave Osler cases was simply outstanding.”
“As the former convenor of the parliamentary campaign for libel reform it was a pleasure both to see Robert in action and to be the beneficiary of the very clear briefings that he supplied; and so it was very pleasing to witness his deserved accolade at The Lawyer Awards this week,” said Dr. Evan Harris.