News and Insights
4 January 2022
To say Charles Thacker is a valued member of Viberts does not fully express the gratitude and esteem the firm holds for him.
His professional knowledge and unstinting dedication to his clients has been steadfast during his 50 years of service to the firm.
To mark the occasion of his 50th year at Viberts, we caught up with Charles to gain an insight into his career and also life in Jersey during the past 50 years.
Charles was born and educated in Jersey and despite a brief time in the UK studying Jurisprudence at Oxford University and qualifying for the BAR, he has lived in Jersey his entire life.
Upon returning to the island, he joined Viberts – starting at the firm on Monday 3rd January 1972.
To provide a background to what life was like in 1972 – the internet didn’t exist, legal research was carried out in law libraries and lawyers dictated their work to legal secretaries for whom shorthand was an important job skill. Necessities such as a loaf of bread cost 9p, a pint of beer was 20p and a bottle of milk was 5p. The population of Jersey was 69,000 and when Charles joined the firm Benny Hill was still topping the charts with his Christmas hit ‘Ernie the fastest Milkman in the west’.
Charles’ first position was as a Legal Assistant working in the Property department and in, what was then known as, the Personal Injury department. He mainly worked on dealing with claims where people had been injured in industrial accidents due to the firm acting for the transport and general workers union at the time.
During his 50 years he has seen the firm grow & change extensively - not only in respect of the number of employees but also the focus and breadth of the areas of practice conducted by the firm.
He explains that the current style of law practice is one of the most significant changes he has seen since working at Viberts: “It is different nowadays people tend to specialise pretty well throughout their career regarding their professional work, that wasn’t an option in those days when I first joined. You had to be able to work in several different departments.”
Although the biggest change, he feels, is the shift in the island’s social and economic focus. The island primarily concentrated on tourism when Charles started his working life – however, that quickly changed with a shift in Jersey’s economy to offshore finance becoming paramount and the legal work conducted by the firm adapting to reflect this:
“I think the major change has been the islands focus shifting to commercial work in offshore finance, which was beginning in the 1970’s but it hadn’t developed to the extent that it has now, the islands economy was heavily oriented towards tourism. Meaning you would get work that you wouldn’t now such as the buying and selling of hotels and a high amount of licencing work. Licensing was quite a significant part of the firms work due to the amount of tourist premises there were on the island.”
Property law continues to be a fascinating subject for Charles, with some of his most notable legal work being property matters. One such case he recalls his involvement in is Symes v Couch 1978 JLR 119:
“Property law in Jersey has some very particular rules about enforcing an agreement to purchase a property, the conveyancing system is quite different from that of the UK. It can be quite difficult if two people reach an agreement to buy and sell a property to enforce the sale if one party tries to withdraw. My work on Symes v Couch took this a step further by providing a course of action with a series of documents and correspondence which all together provided sufficient information for an enforceable agreement when accessed in the court.”
Charles’s cites several key factors that have contributed to his long, successful career. One is “The support of the Viberts brothers, Ralph and Bob in the early years”. “Another,” he said, “is the challenging and intellectually stimulating work.” The final factor is “The helpful environment at Viberts. I’m very proud of our team’s approach to things,”
He concluded. “Viberts has provided me a great place to work and develop my interest in the law.”
Zoe Blomfield, Viberts’ Managing Partner, has worked with Charles for almost eighteen years at the firm:
“Charles continues to be a formidable lawyer and I am delighted that notwithstanding his 50 years in law, he remains working with us. He is well known throughout the firm as being a port in every storm, and the font of all legal knowledge, however weird and wonderful the issue may be. His door is always open, and he is the most gracious individual who puts the firm and its clients before himself. On a personal level, he is of great support to me, and continues to sit aside me as a partner in the Personal Law team.
Long may that continue.”