Boom time expected for lawyers as Pokémon Go sweeps nation, with legal actions multiplying in its wake

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By Will Buckley on

Will the ‘augmented reality’ game be the new Article 50?


‘Get a niche, get ahead’ has long been a lawyer’s maxim, with the best legal brains perennially on the look-out for new areas in which to specialise.

One can only imagine the scale of the profession’s delight then when not one but two areas of potential practice opened up in the last few weeks.

First there was Article 50, which had constitutional lawyers chuckling to themselves with a merriment unmatched since Magna Carta.

Now along comes a game which could make Article 50 look like child’s play. This is Pokémon Go — which has seen humans all over the world take to the streets, not to man the barricades, but to catch imaginary cartoon creatures on their phones. Welcome to the ‘augmented reality’ world.

So absorbing is the game, and so distracted have the players become, that all manner of accidents have been taking place.

In Posavina, Bosnia, a number of gamers wandered witlessly through a minefield in pursuit of imaginary characters. In Cirebon, Jakarta, a man found himself slap bang in the middle of a military base while pursuing the little devils. And at Holocaust museums signs have had to be erected asking people to try and show some respect.

The only people happy are the Church of England who have registered a huge increase in young people attending their churches, albeit young people staring at their phones rather than their hymnals or rosary beads.

It is the accidents, though, that are predominating. It’s been estimated there’s one Pokémon Go-related incident occurring every minute somewhere in the world. And where there are accidents there are… Andrew Castle and his film crew, obviously… but also lawyers.

Already, a number of firms in the US specialising in ambulance chasing have branched out into Pokémon Go player chasing. Instead of looking for clients in ambulances, these sharpies are pursuing Pokemon Go players who are — after all — little more than accidents waiting to happen. The only question that needs resolving is whether they will injure themselves by walking headlong, and headfirst, into rivers or concrete lamp-posts or double-decker buses or, pinball style, some horrible and malign combination of all three.

As with the game itself, this has had the benign side-effect of some desk-bound lawyers losing a bit of weight as they track the Pokies. While ambulance chasing is very much a driver’s sport, the Pokémon-player-chasing lawyer must travel on foot.

Anyway, at a stroke, the clever people at Nintendo, in a peerless example of client development, have created a ‘significant uptick’ in the number of global clients and as any half-decent lawyer will attest: “Give me a client and I will find him a case for which I can bill him.”

What that case might be is likely to lead to a flurry of lucrative litigation involving Article 50 levels of complexity. Principally, of course, what cause of action might a Pokémon Go player have against Nintendo for conniving him into playing an app which pretty much guarantees that sooner rather than later he will walk, at pace, into a lamppost. Can their lawyers really weasel their way out of this one? And as the class actions come rolling in perhaps those clever people at Nintendo may not seem quite so clever after all.

To learn more from an unlikely source (a survey discovered that people who only watched Fox News knew less about current affairs than people who watched no news) click here.