Inksters shortlisted for three awards at the Law Awards of Scotland

Inksters shortlisted for three awards at the Law Awards of Scotland

Inksters Solicitors have been shortlisted for Litigation Firm of the Year at this year’s Law Awards of Scotland. In addition Brian Inkster has been shortlisted for Solicitor of the Year and Alistair Sloan for Trainee of the Year.

The past year has seen Inksters’ litigators involved in a number of high profile and significant legal decisions. This included WF v The Scottish Ministers where it was held that medical records are protected under the right to privacy given by the ECHR, and any disclosure must be restricted to the minimum necessary for a specific purpose to balance the interests of justice for one person against the privacy of another. Also of significance was The Firm of Johnson, Thomas & Thomas and others v Thomas Smith and others where it was successfully argued that the principles set down in Moncrieff v Jamieson (in which Inksters also acted) could extend to an independent free-standing servitude right and not just one ancillary to a right of access.

Brian Inkster’s nomination for Solicitor of the Year recognises his endeavours in crofting law over the past year and in particular his quest to see justice done over the alleged abuse of power within the Crofting Commission over the sacking of three grazings committees. Brian has been very vocal in the press, radio and on TV over the issue. He has written 96 blog posts on this topic alone over the past six months. The Crofting Commission recently issued an apology to the crofters affected by their decisions which they have accepted as being wrong. However, conflict continues within the Crofting Commission with a clear divide between their convener and the other commissioners. 

Alistair Sloan has demonstrated skill, dedication and the assumption of responsibility in a wide variety of litigation cases beyond what would normally be experienced by a Trainee. During the course of his traineeship Alistair has studied for and obtained his Masters in Law with his specialism in Data Protection.

Ronnie Murison, director of Sheriff Officer Services, Stirling Park, offered his congratulations to every firm that has been shortlisted across all categories, in particular, those in both the Litigation and Debt Recovery awards, which Stirling Park is sponsoring this year. He said:-

“The quality of entry has been extremely high, which is testament to the high standards within the legal sector throughout Scotland. The final will be a real celebration of the achievements in 2016 and we are very much looking forward to the evening”.

The winners will be announced on 24 November at a gala dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Glasgow.

Rive Gauche: Politics in SNP anti-Brexit Scotland

Sitting here on a wet night in Scone, Perth & Kinross in a soon to be Independent Scotland if Nicola gets her way after the Brexit fiasco, I regret the death of The Labour Party in Scotland. They will recover eventually.  Scotland is a One Party State – and One Party states tend not to do well from that system.

3rdrunwaydoshI did see a Tory campaigner in Perth.  Nice chap.  Asked if he had ‘done any business’.  He laughed and he said…”This is Nicola Country.  We are extinct.  I just do this for a laugh and to get out.  Would you like a free Tory Blue Balloon?”  I was delighted to accept his gift. I had the bad manners to ask if he had any free Tory Blue pens.  He smiled ruefully and said…”No pens, Unfortunately.”  Then added..”I like your tweed deerstalker hat!” 

roluprollupThe Blue balloon was a pale gift compared to the Bright Yellow Nicola SNP Pens, key rings etc handed out at similar Party stalls in the High Street.  Even Scottish Labour managed a plastic pen, a Red Plastic star and red balloons with the Scottish Labour logo printed on them.  I have a drawer full of these gifts at the desk I am writing at now.  I like ‘Free’ gifts.

And finally…I enjoyed doing this drawing some years back… still holds true of some advocates, I suspect.


After Trump, an American National Front

After Trump, an American National Front

by Michael Cavendish

In the space of twelve months, major party nominee Donald J. Trump has moved from Republican primary disruptor and bedeviler of Jeb Bush, to one of two choices for the 48th President of the United States.

The Donald, as he was un-affectionately named by his first wife Ivana and his press pack admirers even prior to his television-boss epoch, has approached to within five to ten polling points of the American Presidency by, first, politically assassinating each of his serious RNC primary rivals, from Bush, to Rubio, to Cruz, and second, by unleashing a torrent of opinion and invective all summer and fall, nominally aimed at Hillary Clinton but squarely aimed at America’s hitherto ignored racist, misogynist, ultranationalist, and conspiracist sub-cultures.

It does look, one week away from the vote, as though Donald Trump will lose the election. After The Donald personally moves on from the campaign and into his next industry, it does not appear that his most strident core of followers will retire from their new political lives.

Trump started his campaign with a focus on stopping illegal immigration from Mexico and his pledge to “build a big, beautiful wall,” both as a practical barrier and as a replacement for the Statue of Liberty as America’s symbol.

He has used the dog whistle technique of campaign speech, signaling barely-concealed concerns about Latinos (job theft, rape, corruption), blacks (violence, sloth), and Muslims (terrorists in waiting). On the stump he has offered anecdotes of “amazing” or “fantastic” victims or survivors, of ordinary crimes committed by members of the racial and ethnic groups he rings his warnings out about.

And he pulls no punches against supposed political allies, same-party Republicans not supporting him or his views. In this way, he campaigned in perfect alignment with the most xenophobic, reactionary individual members of the former Tea Party, and in broad sympathy with some self-described “ordinary” or “working class” Republicans everywhere, folk who had long felt utterly ignored by the Republican Party’s “country club” elites.

Sometime in 2016, at some point during Trump’s general election campaign, the hard right or far right element of the Tea Party—the movement that first elevated and then dumped Marco Rubio as a candidate of national stature, the group that Ted Cruz went all out to capture all spring—forgot about the Tea Party and its post-2007 economic concerns, and became something somewhat confusingly labeled the “Alt-Right.”

Currently, at this moment, one week out from the vote, the U.S. “Alt-Right” is a very small (relative to America’s 300 million people), uncounted, non-organized jumble of activists and would-be opinion shapers who pump out memes, hashtags, Facebook slides, and “think pieces” on conservative web media championing the anti-immigrant, anti-crime-against-whites, and anti-Obamacist vision The Donald’s debate and speech points paint as the new path for a broken America.

These Alt-Right activists are concerned with, purvey, and are refining a uniquely Americanized version of identity politics.

To be an identity politician is to begin political thought from the view that ‘my country is for people who look like me, have DNA and ancestry like me, speak my language, join me in my religion, and respect, if not revere, all of my political traditions.’

In Europe, this kind of political thought was long ago organized into formal political parties of substantial size called national fronts. The most oft-cited example is the French National Front, long faced by the Le Pen family. Some of the earliest specimens of these parties were also the most successful. Recall that some of them started that thing that many American Gen Xers’ grandfathers fought in; yeah, the Second World War.

While center-right or mainstream conservative parties all over Europe and in other places of the world concern themselves with limiting government, lowering taxes, minding military affairs, and finding a slower, more tradition-laden approach to allowing cultural mores and values to evolve, national fronts follow the brutally binary and scare-based approach inhering in Trump’s “wall.”

Their message always is, either you are a nation, or you aren’t, and if you are a nation, it is only because everyone has the same skin tint, hair, family history, religion, and respect for that group’s cultural hegemony, which must be permanent.

Old Germany’s National Socialism, aka the Nazis, and Mussolini’s Italian blackshirts of the 1930s were extreme examples of national fronts. In contrast, most recent examples of national front-type parties making election bids may have resulted in the turnover of some provincial legislative seats, but not in any kind of significant or lasting national success. And these days they are de-militarized. So far.

America has never had a national front. It certainly looks as though one is arriving very soon.

If, and more likely when, a national front arrives in America (and by “arrive” I mean that point in time when any American adult is able to drive to their local Supervisor of Elections to change their voting registration to “National Front,” or whatever party name its organizers ultimately settle on), it will change how our political process looks and feels to us.

Modern day national fronts typically do not win elections. Rather, they threaten to destabilize the larger mainstream conservative party by siphoning votes away. Or they succeed by provoking the mainstream liberal party into some reaction that will cause the progressive causes to lose votes or influence. To do all of this, to threaten and thus gain concessions or capitulations on issues, or to provoke reactions from their mainstream prey, a national front needs voters’ attention.

National fronts get the attention needed to draw the interest of voters—who may not share their activism or even their core beliefs—by marching, confronting, accusing, name-calling, circulating real looking “shock” news stories, and attacking all “non-pure” political targets.

The favored negative label Alt-Right activists give to normcore Republicans, “cuck,” or “cuckservative,” a crap portmanteau borrowing “cuckold,” is very national-fronty stuff, tactically speaking.

At the top of a national front party pyramid, the leaders are expected to continue to insert themselves into media coverage, making unsettling policy proposals, victimizing the plight of their ideal base voter at the hands of an actually less-powerful minority group, and of course, keeping up Twitter-able personal attacks.

Donald Trump’s “Lyin’ Ted” and “Little Marco” campaign names for Senators Cruz and Rubio epitomize the constant  stream of cheap shot devaluation that political minds drawn to national fronts accept and even enjoy from their leaders, the world over.

Because they are small, national fronts need to be loud. Because they are fueled by anger, suspicion of “the other,” and resentment at being ignored by the mainstream, national fronts are caustic.

They blithely take the most extreme positions because those positions are, if you don’t suffer embarrassment from being, for example, a willing racist, the easiest to defend, and the simplest to remember. And anyway, who needs nuance to govern the not-at-all-complex civilization that is America?

What would a soon-arriving American version of a national front look like?

Please, must we preview our own nightmares? Are bad dreams not rotten enough to endure once they actually arrive? In truth, I can’t, even as a seventh-rate de Tocqueville, as a pop political anthropologist, or as a lawyer psychically flaneuring a path through the sounds and smells of “America’s Choice 2016,” predict with any confidence or even entertainment factor what might actually arrive.

What I can say with clairvoyance is this.

There are enough American voters uncovered by Trump’s 2016 campaign who want immigrants out, who don’t want to live near or have to hear from blacks, Latinos, or Asians, and who certainly do not want any such folk—or their women, or, maybe, any women!— in the White House or on the Supreme Court, and who otherwise want to “take back their country,” whatever that means to them, to form a third or splinter party out of the old-growth ashes of the RNC’s voter and donor rolls.

There are highly motivated, energized, blood-in-the-water smelling would-be leaders of these newfound American identity voters, leaders in waiting like this guy, and also this other guy, any of whom would like to be America’s Marine Le Pen (think of the book deals, your likeness on an arm band), or at least the person who sits behind her chair (think of the power lunches, the hotel points) in case our Madame Le Pen is someone like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, or, indeed, Ivanka Trump.

Willing followers and willing leaders, exposed to one another like coordinates within precise star maps, courtesy of the cynical foibles of “Trump/Pence 2016” and the viral power of social media. What could possibly keep them apart and away from becoming, through each other, the political planet’s next national front, leaving a traumatized Republican party to get on with repairs and reshaping? Perhaps nothing can.

A more profound, and I think, more Tocquevillian question to ask is, how will what is left of the American professional news media cover such a group once corporeality is achieved?

Because the American media has made billions from the Trump news cyclotron.

Ratings on televised news channels have been sky high, while even the slightest of The Donald’s speeches, passing comments, and late-night Twitter takedowns, always ending with a sardonic “Sad.”, have elbowed in front of typically more newsworthy content like The Fed, the empty Supreme Court chair, life with the Affordable Care Act, and much of U.S. foreign policy.

Trump, the Alt-Right candidate with a Republican running mate, holding the golden ticket that is a major party’s nomination, took much of America’s Fourth Estate, if the journalism industry still merits honorific, by surprise. No legitimate candidate in memory has ever acted like this, and said so many … things.

But then, as the surprise tingled through their news rooms and editorial conferences, the American media prioritized their coverage of him. One estimate calculated Trump had been given two billion dollars of media exposure through press coverage by March, before the primaries had even ended.

Surely a Donald-less American national front party will not be gifted with anything near that type of editorial preference in 2017 and beyond.

But the question for newsrooms is, will what coverage the media extends to the whither-ings of an “American ultranationalist establishment” comport with their actual levels of membership, support, and influence?

Or will their novelty and noise still earn them reporting that principles of journalistic probity and the Tocquevillian tradition—of looking for evidence of civics within America’s townships and cities—would cut to an editor’s waste bin?

If chronicling the passions of tiny but loud groups of racist demagogues with no policy proposals other than reprisal, arrests, and deportation is the new sure path to quarterly media profits, the blistered psyches of the rest of the viewership and readership be damned, then America’s new national front, when it fully arrives, is going to fester in our midst, quite away from the cure of the public’s studied indifference.

Michael Cavendish is an American trial lawyer in Florida writing specially for Charon QC.

Muttley Dastardly LLP: Law firm overcharged by 1000%


To:  The Partners

From: Dr Strangleove, Senior Partner

Monday 24th October 2016


We have a competitor.  I read today in the excellent Legal Futures website that “SDT strikes off partner who faked ledger and “overcharged by nearly 1,000%”

The partner made an error, of course, in getting struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and thereby is not able to do any more billing.  An Amateur.

Dr Strangleove

Strength & Profits


Rive Gauche: A fine Sunday…. sunny in Scone

I did my usual walk from Scone to Perth and back – about 10 miles today in all.  It was a cold morning.  I went in to see if The Clowns who run the Co-Operative Bank, where I have the misfortune to have an account, had sorted the mess out on my account resulting in my being unable to draw my money out or allow clients to pay into it.  They had not done so. I am taking it further and hope to organise an account at a ‘real bank’ in Perth this Thursday, the earliest time I can get a new account.

Fortunately, a good friend, Simon Castell of East Park Communications whose magazines I feature regularly was able to have food and wine supplies delivered to me by ASDA,  so I could eat.  I had only had sugar to eat for two days. I am irritated by the Co-Op Bank and I am going all the way with it remedy wise.  They have still not sent me the statements I asked for.  The clowns who re-designed their websites did so without realising that some customers use iMac computers and I cannot now access my account online to see what is going on.  I am surprised, frankly, that the Co-Op Bank continues to hold a banking licence.  I preferred the days when The Clown Chairman, reverend Flowers was caught snorting coke and doing weird stuff.  At least that was amusing.

And here I am on a trip to Florence many years ago with a BBC newsreader, a lovely ex-girlfriend doing my bit for art, as always.  In retrospect, I think that my life would have been more amusing had I stayed with art and gone to The Glasgow School of Art.  I was advised by a careers officer at school, who knew absolutely nothing about anything, let alone careers, that there was no money in art.  Tell that to the geezer who puts dead sheep in tanks – Damien Hurst.  Met him at The Groucho Club,  a private members club in Soho, London, one drunken evening many years ago with my friend Nick Nosh of the Nosh Brothers fame. (I was a shareholder in their restaurant in Notting Hill back in the day – a venture which collapsed after a year because the directors appeared to have drunk all the profits and didn’t pay for their meals, apparently.  None of the rest cared.  I think I was the only shareholder who did pay the bill each time I dined there.   Damien Hurst is a nice guy.  He declined the opportunity to embalm my plastic lobster which I had with me for some reason I can’t remember, in perspex.  He said he would do it – but not sign it.  Can’t blame him.  I’d probably have left The Groucho Club  more pissed but £50,000 richer had he signed it and I had sold it to some gullible art collector in Knightsbridge.  I still have the plastic lobster.  It hangs on the wall of my bedroom to this day.




Sarah Fox writes: Can We Win The Battle of Forms?

Can We Win the Battle of the Forms?

Although the English Court of Chancery started to interfere in and comment on contracts about 150 years ago, the contents of those contracts as well as the process by which they are formed and then used remains something of a mystery. The judges have described contract processes as ‘haphazard’, our agreement to specific terms ‘cavalier’, and risk management is too often driven by price not consequences. The battle of the forms is a common visitor to our courts and we still haven’t found a clear answer!

One way to resolve some of the legal and practical problems is simplify and organise the process of contracting. A Contract Process Maturity Model (CPMM) can help guide businesses towards more effective contracting and contracts.  As a contract expert, who focuses on trust and simplicity, I am particularly interested in how a CPMM framework could foster simplified and more trustworthy contract processes and contracts.

Three Ages of Contracts

As a process, contracting covers:

  1. Contract inception: from idea to choosing a supplier
  2. Contract creation: from which contract to signing on the dotted line
  3. Contract operation: from first call to happy client (or dispute management).

During the contract inception age, businesses struggle with an almost overwhelming choice. In the UK construction industry there more than 100 standard forms from 10 publishers (and counting). In the land of Google there are nearly 1bn pages devoted to terms and conditions. There are hundreds of sites offering downloadable contracts of often dubious quality.

Each tasks, purchase, or project requires the paying client (who decides the contract) to balance issues such as payment, responsibilities for selection, potential risks and task management… and then choose the best contract to meet its business’ needs and brief. More often than not, the client chooses the contract it is most familiar with, or the last one it used on a similar project, or recycles something from its computer, rather than one that really meets its strategic objectives.

Businesses need to have processes which make decision-making easier, including a range of contract options depending on the types of tasks, purchases and projects they get involved with.

During contract creation, the client’s contract choice may be overtaken by commercial pressures. Who has the time to write, negotiate and agree specific terms each time we do business? There are considerable benefits to a one-size-fits-all ‘standard’ contract or T&C – but at the cost of creating a monster.

Standard contracts avoid decision paralysis, but encourage poor contract analysis.

Things may be even worse when we are faced with T&C from the company with whom we want to do business. The figures show a startlingly small percentage of users read the T&C for software they download, merrily clicking ‘I agree’ before discovering whether Apple can delete their favoured tracks or signing a lease without realising they have a provide an annual birthday cake for their tenants… These habits leak into our business lives and you may end up signing catastrophically one-sided contracts just for an easy life, or because you don’t really believe you can change a thing.

Under English law, freedom to contract means you can decide with whom and on what terms you do business.

Businesses need to take back control and create contracts that help them do business.

As the contract is operated and the project proceeds, the terms of the contract are rarely implemented effectively. In the construction industry, the annual ARCADIS Global Disputes Surveys repeatedly highlight that the major causes of disputes are failures of the supply chain to read, understand and properly use those contracts (no matter where you live).

Once a dispute arises, the culture within an organisation is rarely one of ‘what can we learn from this’ and becomes one of ‘who is to blame’? Businesses need to review complaints, disputes and near-misses to learn from those transactions and decide how to do things better. For example, I worked for a company who had received a bruising multi-million pound law suit (largely paid by their insurers) but who were still using essentially the same processes and contracts that had got them into that mess.

Businesses can take gradual steps to read, understand and use their existing contracts, and learn how those contracts could be changed to make their lives easier, without losing their legal impact.

Next Steps

With scope for improvement in each of the three ages of contracting, a Contract Process Maturity Model is a tool designed to future-proof contracting. It will encompass smart and intelligent contracts. It will adopt technology, software and new ideas. It is evolutionary, as progress can be made and measured in small steps towards more mature contracting.

Although a fully-developed CPMM includes a framework of levels and an assessment tool, this article only covers the framework. It applies to all styles of business, from those with an immature contract process to those with a mature contract process, in all types of industry. These are the general features of the five levels:

Reactive: processes are ad hoc and chaotic

Developing: processes are established and can be repeated

Efficient: processes are documented, standardised and integrated

Measured: processes are understood, measured and controlled

Proactive: there is continuous process improvement

To move towards a more mature level, your business will need to implement both strategic and tactical changes. Each higher level creates greater trust and transparency in the supply chain, clearer contract processes designed to avoid disputes, and a measurable strategy to meet your business’ needs.

Which level best represents your business and what can you do to make contracting simpler and more effective for you?


Sarah Fox
Author of How to Write Simple and Effective Letters of Intent in Just 500 Words

skype: sarahjvfox


September 2016

Dr Strangleove of Muttley Dastardly LLP has a ‘Billable’ conversation with an Associate at the firm

Dr Strangleove has a billable  conversation with an Associate solicitor at the firm, a young man in his late twenties..


Dr Strangleove:  Good morning, young man.  I’m sorry…well not that sorry…but I can’t remember your name.  I tend only to remember the names of partners. Don’t bother telling me your name because I haven’t got my iPad with me to type it down.  Send me an email with your name in it.  Thank you.

Now what do you think about this proposition?  The proposition is this: “I’m not interested in where you come from, whether your father is a QC or a senior partner at another law firm… if, however, your parents are connected with a leading PLC or multinational, we would like to know that.”

The Associate hesitated before reply, conscious that his answer would not meet with Dr Strangleove’s approval.  “I’m sorry Dr Strangleove, my father is a barrister, a Silk as it happens, My Mother is also a Barrister and will be applying for Silk next year.  She has a good chance, she thinks.”

“Good grief, young man.  I wish them both well, of course. May God – a Member of The Law Society and a Past President, I understand, have mercy upon your soul.   The future in law is solicitor led I’m afraid.  We even have solicitors who can perform badly in court as solicitor advocates, particularly in civil courts.  The only real advocates are those who ply their gruesome, but necessary, trade in the Criminal Courts to ensure that we meet International Human Rights standards in relation to the prosecution of guilty people in our criminal courts. ”

Dr Strangleive paused for a moment.  “Can you get yourself adopted by a childless couple in their early fitties who are connected with a leading PLC or multinational?  if you can, your path to partnership will be, shall we say, enhanced…. particularly if we can grab them as clients.  Come back to me young man.  Managed to do 25 billable hours today, yet?”
With that Dr Strangleove repaired to his firm’s large boardroom to make a call to Lord Sugar. to ask him if he could fire US Presidential Hopeless/ful Donald J Trumpenstein for a laugh. He needed a laugh.  It had been a hard morning.



Law Review: Brexit Lies

The Metro reports: :

Theresa May is facing a challenge from a group of MPs who insist that parliament must have a say on the EU referendum result.

Six years ago, former Prime Minister David Cameron’s government agreed that referendums are advisory only and ‘cannot be legally binding’.


Now senior Conservative MPs have seized on the pledge and argue that parliament should decide ‘whether or not to take action’ on Brexit.

Mrs May is reportedly in a legal battle over the right for her government – and not parliament as a whole – to trigger Article 50, according to The Independent.

But an inquiry by a House of Lords committee in 2010 found that ‘because of the sovereignty of parliament, referendums cannot be legally binding in the UK, and are therefore advisory’…..”
Read more:

Ministry of Justice “can get house in order” on Brexit, says top mandarin

Legal Futures reports: “The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) can get its “house in order” on Brexit, permanent secretary Richard Heaton has promised MPs.

The comment came as Mr Heaton told the justice select committee the MoJ hoped to raise £300m from its latest round of 86 court closures, in an attempt to meet further budget cuts.

Giving evidence on the MoJ’s annual report, he said the main elements of a “pretty solid Brexit workload” were the network of treaties for enforcing civil and family judgments, agreements on choice of jurisdiction and promoting UK legal services….”

Read more by Nick Hilborne…