Irritation…..

Perhaps it is the heat, perhaps it is just me, perhaps it is living in Britain in these credit-crunch times – but I have noticed that a number of really quite trivial and unimportant things irritate me.  I do not get angry – I just get irritated.  So… I thought I would start an ‘Irritation” section on my blog to share my ‘pet irritations’ and invite those of you who are so inclined –  (a) to be irritating or (b) share your pet irritations when I publish “Irritation” posts.

1.  The BBC weather forecast for London on the BBC website

I read weather forecasts regularly – it is a minor impediment to an otherwise relatively insane life.  I don’t actually care what the weather is or does – but I do take the most irrational and grave exception when the BBC tells me that there is going to be rain and then we get a heatwave. I  take an implausibly grave exception when the converse happens.

Today, the BBC has changed their assessment of the weather no less than five times; at times representing a forecast on their website at odds with the radio and television bulletins – and what is going on outside my window.  I know – because, again, perhaps irrationally’, I have turned on the radio and television to check.  This may well appear, to the casual observer, to be symptomatic of a mild form of obsessive compulsive disorder or the onset of some dementia bloggerensis and you may well be right.  I will be on my roof deck tonight at midnight checking the  sky, the web, the radio and the television to see if there is any accuracy in the BBC forecasts.  I may well chuck a few chicken feathers and entrails  about to do my own forecast. I appreciate that weather changes – but how can it go from a Met Office “Severe Weather” warning to heatwave in half a f*****g hour?  This is the problem I have today.  I am told that I will be OK once the pills kick in.

Frankly, I have a suspicion that the BBC just wait to see what the weather is actually doing outside the London office and adjust it… which is about as much use to anyone as a one legged pace bowler in a test match.

Please feel free to tell me your “irritations” in the comments section – I may well prefer yours to mine – in which case I may email you (but not if you are a barrister who is hostile to emails – see below)  and propose a swap.

IRRITATION UPDATE / Wednesday 30 July 10.15 pm

It has been a rather irritating day for Cricket fans.  Our batsmen decided that they did not know how to bat today.

I am grateful to The Chief, a visitor to this blog, for sending me an EXCELLENT picture of the weather forecast for Birmingham .  It is from the BBC and gives me comfort both for the weather and the cricket.  It is worth a look!

Bar Council to harness the power of information super highway …thingy…

On a day when The Lords ruled that the Serious Fraud Office acted lawfully in halting the investigation into BAe and nearly forty years after the invention of email (which pre-dated the invention of the internet), the Bar Council has decided to harness the power of the digitial information era to communicate with members.

I am grateful to a particularly switched on law librarian for providing the text of the article from Counsel magazine: The Email Initiative – proving, yet again, that law librarians are vital even in the age of electronic information.

The article in Counsel  magazine throws up some surprising points.

1.  Any professional body worthy of its name needs to communicate effectively with its members.  The Bar Council is contacting members to inform them of the Email Initiative.  They hope, soon, to have harvested 75% of the profession’s email addresses.  Interestingly – “Many expressed surprise that the Bar Council did not have their email address already.  Others were sceptical about disclosing personal email addresses:  a few were hostile.”

2.  This is a time of increasing change in the legal services sector… effective interest representation and regulation depends on efficient communication, ‘but communicating directly with 15,000 individual members of the Bar is currently a challenge’.

3. The initiative is not intended ‘to deluge’ the Bar with messages or clutter up in-boxes. The Bar Council does understand how ‘frequent email blasts’ can induce communication fatigue…. but the Bar Council wishes ‘to harness the power of technology’ to put them in touch with developments etc etc… consistent with the “one Bar’ approach… The Bar Council notes that its website contains a wealth of information ….. but ‘busy practitioners may not have the time to browse the site to search for material’.

4. Direct email would have several advantages…. better communication etc etc etc.  There were also ‘regulatory’ benefits.

5.  “What stands in the way of this direct communication is the simple absence of a comprehensive set of personal email addresses for the profession. Only half of the profession has provided email addresses.  The plan is (a) to require disclosure – but this has disciplinary implications in the event of failure to disclose or (b) to encourage more members to provide email addresses voluntarily.

Well… there we are. The Bar may be thirty plus years later than other early adopters of information super highway benefits – but….. a new dawn may soon rise in the sky and in-boxes will ping in Chambers throughout the land and barristers….  may not, as the old saying goes, be wiser, but at least they will be better informed.

I suspect that the voluntary approach may not bear much fruit – barrristers being the independently minded lot they are – and… some were ‘hostile’ to the idea, after all!.  Some say… that some barristers do not have email addresses.  I know one barrister who says that he doesn’t get any emails at all – a source of pleasure to him – because he does not have an email address.

West London Man (19) : A short holiday in Padstow, Cornwall

West London Man (19): A short holiday in Padstow, Cornwall

Produced:  In West London

Run Time:  5.37 minutes
Music:  I do love to be beside the seaside
Wardrobe: Boden (left)

The part of Caroline was played by Joanna Le Huquet.  Charon took the parts of George and David Cameron

Listen to the Audio version of West London Man (19)

George and Caroline usually take a summer vacation in Southern France or Tuscany. Conscious, this year, that they should be seen by fellow West Londoners to be doing the right thing, they too are going to have a ‘British’ holiday quickly and then go on their real holiday to Tuscany in early August.  The Boden catalogue arrived and George has purchased some rather fetching outfits for the Padstow trip.  The children, Peregrine and Jocasta are looking forward to playing at the seaside.  George has arranged for a local nanny to look after the children during the day for the short week’s holiday.

George, to irritate one of his Chiswick friends who has an Audi Quattro TT, bought himself an Aston Martin DB9 and he and Caroline went down to Cornwall in the Aston.  The children followed later in the family’s BMW 4 x 4 with Caroline’s Mother who would help look after the children during the week’s holiday.

It was the first day of the holiday.  George and Caroline went for a walk on the beach – George dressed casually in navy shorts and a dark gray polo shirt.  Caroline wore a long floral print skirt and a soft black sleeveless top.

Caroline: George?…. isn’t that David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, sitting on the beach over there?

George brought his Zeiss binoculars up to his eyes and scanned the horizon.  It was not necessary to use binoculars because the Camerons were only fifty or so yards away.

George: I think you’re right, darling… yes…. it is Dave and Samantha?

Caroline: Dave?… do you know Cameron?

George: Well…. not exactly…. I joined WebCameron some time ago and get emails from him regularly.

Caroline: But doesn’t everyone who joins WebCameron get an email from him regularly?

George: welll… yes… yes… I suppose they do.

Caroline: So… you don’t actually know Dave and Samantha then?

George: No…. not as such…. no.

Caroline started laughing and said: Have you noticed that ‘Dave’ and Samantha are wearing exactly the same clothes as we are wearing.

George brought his binoculars up t his eyes again and paused.

George: Bloody hell… you’re right…. how could that happen…?

Caroline: Well they can’t be using a catalogue….. maybe they went to the same shop in West London?

George: Yes… possibly.

Caroline: I wonder if he has brought his bicycle with him?  He got it back you know.

George and Caroline strolled along the beach.  George waved casually at the Cameron’s who were about to be photographed for the newspapers and waved.

George: Hi Dave!… having a good break?  You gave Brown a good fisting in the Commons last week…. keep it up…

Cameron: Thank you… enjoy your holiday too.

George: Absolutely Dave…  gather you got your bike back… some hoodie made off with it is the word on the street….  quite amusing really.

Cameron: It wasn’t amusing at the time. Well… if you will excuse me…. I’ve got to get these pics done.

George: Well Dave… keep it up… you’ll be in Number 10 before Christmas…. and that Vince Cable bloke who called Brown ‘Mr Bean’ will be an excellent Chancellor of The Exchequer.  Good man, Cable….. you made a good choice there.

Cameron smiling wearily:  Mr Cable is a Liberal-Democrat.

George: Absolutely… well… it takes all sorts….. have a great vacation… I’ll be voting for you.  Bye.

Caroline dragged George quickly by the arm, laughing.  The Cameron’s laughed and Caroline was absolutely certain she heard Samantha say “What a strange man…. do you know him?”

Caroline: Well that was a command performance, George…. brilliant in fact.  Instead of saying ‘beasting’, which is probably just acceptable parliamentary language, you used ‘fisting’ and you did not appear to Cameron to know much about politics because Vince Cable is not a Tory…. but who cares… that was funny… very funny in fact… now take me for lunch, then take me to bed and take me..  It has been a while…

***

Listen to the Audio version of West London Man (19)

The great Lancashire hot-plot, “For Idiocy” and other matters…

The newspapers stagger like binge drinkers on a hot Friday night in Brighton – some, it has to be said, from the white stiletto high heeled shoes school of journalism –  between feeding on pictures of politicians on holiday to the frenzy about whether Gordon Brown should or should not stand down / be sacked as prime minister.

Yesterday we were treated to a picture of David Cameron and his wife Samantha enjoying a holiday in Cornwall; prompting a journalist to comment that they looked as if they were straight out of a Boden catalogue.  By contrast, Gordon Brown looked as if he had been dressing in the dark again from Primark in what appeared to be  a pair of navy suit trousers, black brogues, an open neck shirt and a very beige jacket. Gordon was clearly at pains, or in pain, to demonstrate that he can look like a holidaymaker by demonstrating his rictus-like smile.  I am certain, but cannot be sure, that he was saying ‘I want a gottle of geer’.  It is said that MPs from Lancashire want Gordon Brown to fire himself.

Meanwhile, in today’s Evening Standard I discovered that arch feminist Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour Party – but not Deputy Prime Minister – was at the helm demanding to hold meetings sitting in the prime minister’s chair in the Cabinet Room at 7.30 am.  Apparently, the ‘team’ are none to enamoured with Ms Harman – she, herself, we are told, finds it perplexing that she is not particularly popular as a politician both within and without Westminster. Mind you, she is another one who has a predilection for curious jackets.  She looked as if she was wearing one made of giraffe skin when filmed by the BBC today for the lunchtime Harmannews – a very curious jacket indeed.  I found it difficult to concentrate on the turkey slices I am eating this week, after a week on Omega 3 providing mackerel.

For what it is worth – I think that Brown is a disaster, Harman would be worse and that we need the eminence gris, the Richard III of the Labour Party – Jack “The Lad Chancellor” Straw – to part the Red Sea and steer us to the promised land where all is good. Fortunately, I do not make my living from political punditry – so I am entitled to hold bizarre views of this nature without fear of having a pay cut…. and talking of which….

The silly season is upon us…. August approaches. I covered the extraordinary case of a ‘woman betrayed’ in my ‘Postcard from The Staterooms’ – but I almost had to give myself a Heimlich manoeuvre when I looked at The Mirror yesterday morning over an espresso to find the headline “Countdown Meltdown”.  Inside, it was worse.  We were treated to a ‘possibly post-tears style’ photograph of Ms Vorderman and a host of rather ‘mature celebrities’ from a time gone by, who entertain the coffin dodgers in the late afternoon on Countdown,  telling us that it was a ‘disgrace’ the way Ms Vorderman had been treated by Channel 4 and if she wasn’t going to be on Countdown…. then neither were they.  Excellent – we need to encourage younger people – men and women in their early fifties.  Our time has come. Jesus… it is only a bloody television programme and while I accept that it provided good and enjoyable  entertainment for millions (well… under a million in recent months) – it is hardly deserving of all this pathos tinged, asininely British, coverage.

And now… it is time for a “Medal Ceremony” :  FOR IDIOCY – RYEDALE DISTRICT COUNCIL
Regular readers may recall that I have started awarding medals For Idiocy beyond the call of duty.  Blogger, White Rabbit, has drawn my attention to a quite remarkabe story where a ‘Yorkshire Patriot’….. “A local patriot by the name of Andrew Wainwright took to flying the white rose flag. The result: a summons by Ryedale District Council. The ‘reason’ was that the flag supposedly constituted advertising (advertising of what remains obscure) and was thus subject to a planning charge. The result was general uproar, ridicule and the mass ordering of Yorkshire flags by Mr Wainwright’s fellow villagers.  For the full story – and there is more… please visit White Rabbit’s account.

I have started a “For Idiocy beyond the call of duty” category  on my blog – so please do not hesitate to nominate when you come across conduct from one of our unsung heros meriting an award.  I have noticed that the first two awards I have ‘bestowed’ are both local Council.  This could be a pattern?

Available for “lingerie, glamour and topless” services..

I hasten to add… not me. There I was, this very afternoon just before 6.00, enjoying a glass of chilled Beaujolais and enjoying an exchange of nonsense with Infobunny on Twitter – when Infobunny sent me news of a CPS lawyer who is doing part-time work as a nude model. Full Telegraph Story

Clifford Allison, 56, from the CPS Special Crime Division, has diversified –  advertising his services online.  He is up for ‘lingerie, glamour, implied nude (whatever that is), adult and topless’.  Mr Allison has been off work  and his doctor views this sideline as ‘therapeutic’ – and this may well be the case. The Telegraph reports that Mr Allison had been earning £80,000 and had been a former treasurer of the Bar Council

It has to be said that his peers at the CPS regard his new career path with astonishment and, The Telegraph reports:  “A CPS spokesman said: “CPS employees must seek written permission before seeking secondary employment. We will be contacting him to seek some clarification around this issue.”

I fear, that while I am open to offers for voice overs (disaster movies horror movies, news reading, weather reporting and cricket corresponding – as well as adverts for things people do not need) I do not feel I am quite ready, at this point, to branch out in this way.  Mr Allison is in the vanguard.  He boldly goes….. who will be next from the legal profession to follow this trail blazer ?

But… Hat Tip to Clifford Allison – seems to enjoy life.  Have a look at the website entry

***

UPDATE Monday 28th July – Jailhouselawyer goes for it… you will, I am sure, appreciate his sense of humour..  The pic says it all – go see.

26-27 July: Postcard from the Staterooms – In medias res…

***

Audio version for those who have done enough reading – with music etc…

***

I am not, of course, in Suffolk – but that is not to say that I would not enjoy being so.  It has been a curious week:  First we had the Wood Report on the reform of legal education for barristers.  I enjoyed doing three podcasts on this topic – (1) Jon Mcleod on behalf of the Bar Standards Board (2) Richard de Friend for The College of Law response and (3) Stuart Sime for the Inns of Court School of Law / City Law School response.

Then on Thursday we had the judgment of Eady J to enjoy in the Max Mosley case. My podcast with Head of Legal explores the developing law of privacy and avoids the more salacious elements in the report – although, I cannot resist drawing attention to a couple of dry comments of Eady J:

At para 53…. “…The claimant, for reasons best known to himself, enjoyed having his bottom shaved – apparently for its own sake rather than because of any Nazi connotation.  He explained to me that while this service was being performed he was (no doubt unwisely) “shaking with laughter”.  I naturally could not check from the DVD, as it was not his face that was on display.”

At para 70… “It is also clear that there was nothing spoken by the Claimant on this occasion which reflected Nazi terminology or attitudes.  There is no reason to suppose that it (“We are the Aryan race – blondes”) was other than a spontaneous squeal by Woman A in medias res.”

***

Mosley judgment Podcast
Podcast 75:  Carl Gardner of Head of Legal blog on the Eady J Mosley judgment et al…

The in medias res bit prompted prolific housing law blogger, Nearly Legal, to remark on Twitter last night “Congrats to Justice Eady for the campest line incorporating legal latin ever.” For a sanguine view on the Mosely case and a view on Eady J’s judgment – The Barrister Bard offers it straight.

The News of The World continues with lurid coverage of the Mosley case, exhorting us all to believe that Press freedom is endangered and Carole Mallone succumbs to the British summer heat by saying (of Max Mosley’s predilection) … ” Where I come from—and I’m not just talking location here, but mindset—people who indulge in that kind of deviancy would be written off as ‘sick in the head’, depraved, morally bankrupt.”

But moving on… to the heart rending story of a woman betrayed…. Carol Vorderman’s resignation from Countdown. Countdown, a television programme loved by millions of coffin dodgers, idle students and the work shy, has has been running, as far as I can see, since the Middle Ages – but not for very much longer. Des O’Connor, a spritely 72 year old,  has had enough and follows Des Lynam into standing down as host.  Carol Vorderman has also resigned – although she says that she would do Countdown for free (Excellent bit of spin) she is, curiously for an expert mathematician, not prepared to do it for a 90% cut in her (reputed) £900,000 salary – which is, of course, more than ‘nothing / free’.  All good things have to come to an end.  Perhaps the Secretary of State for Pensions is behind this ? – get rid of Countdown, get the pensioners to exercise more so they can keep warm instead of worrying about their gas bills and get the work shy off their backsides.  Who knows?

With six podcasts done last week, I began to worry that this blawg was in danger of having far too much law on it. I am, therefore, writing from my roof terrace in West London, after a rather good lunch of smoked mackerel, king prawns and salad, washed down with chilled Beaujolais ( a non binge drinking 12.5% Vol), to say that I shall write no more, this day, of law…

I am thinking of moving to Brighton… the sea air, different bars… and I shall be able to keep an eye on the French.  Thirty years in London is quite enough…. and, after all, there is no need for me to be in London.  It is not as if I am going to be helping Mayor Boris out, I don’t ever get invited to pop into the Palace and I can read the news each morning and blog just as easily in Brighton as I can from West London…. with the added advantage that I shall not ( I hope) have to endure the spectacle of men carrying their baby in a sling attached to their chests and couples being outraged when they can’t find a parking space for their shiny 4 x 4s.  I shall investigate the possibilities. I need to see the sea again…. and be by the side of the sea.  My body is a temple… I am sure that I shall find it more satisfying to smoke in Brighton where the air has more ozone. I am also told that there are some very amusing people to be found in Brighton.  Further, I would be able to indulge my nautical side.  I have the perfect outfit.  Yes… it could be most enjoyable… and… a plentiful supply of fish.  I am very keen on Omega 3 at the moment.

So what are they up to?

Regular readers, who have a taste for a bit of law, will know that my alter ego has a more sensible online magazine and, therein, profiles law based posts from UK and other bloggers. Here, on ‘Postcard’, I note the comings and goings of UK and other bloggers who share my taste for non-law posts.  I am pleased, therefore, to be able to report that Geeklawyer has climbed Mount Fuji in Japan.  He has some excellent photographs, including one of himself standing on top of Mount Fuji holding what appears to be a World War II version of the japanese flag.  He is wearing a balaclava to protect his identity.  Rather implausibly, there is also a rear view of Geeklawyer praying at a shrine. To my jaded eye it looks as if he is helping himself to the Sake left as an offering to the gods.  I could, of course, be wrong. I rely, however, on the developing law of privacy (and exceptions thereto) to intrude and investigate on grounds of responsible journalism and the public interest.   The Geeklawyer harem are much in evidence on the comments section.  There is talk of moobs, buttocks and going into saunas.   But.. hey… that will not surprise regular readers of Geeklawyer’s blog.

White Rabbit is off for a few days but he is musing about Talula does the hula from Hawaii and wanders if we are being invaded by stealh by the Agentines given the number of blokes wandering around in Agentinian rugby shirts.

John Bolch, of Family Lore, deftly weaves a bit of law into a post about a man with a chain saw: “With this chainsaw, I thee divorce”.

And with that… I put my pen down for this week.  There is a chilled bottle of Beaujolais, half full, in the fridge.  It is time for a glass.  It is the heat.  The rains will come soon to purge our land of depravity and corruption of the soul.

Until next weekend

Have a good one

Podcast 76: Wood Report on BVC – City Law School response

Today I am talking to Stuart Sime, Barrister and Director of the BVC at The City Law School (Inns of Court School of Law) about his view of The Wood Report.

We discuss the content of the proposed Bar Professional Training Course and the way The City Law School approaches the training of bar students.

***

Listen to Podcast 76:  Wood Report – City Law School response.

Podcast 75: Carl Gardner on the Mosley judgment, privacy and exemplary damages

Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, barrister and author of the Head of  Legal blog, about the judgment of Mr Justice Eady in Mosley.  We examine the developing law on privacy, exemplary damages and question whether the decision was in fact a ‘landmark’ decision in some aspect, including, as a side effect, the law on consent generally after R v Brown.

Carl has also done a short post on the Eady J judgment

***

Listen to Podcast 75:  Carl Gardner on the Mosley judgment, privacy and exemplary damages

Britain’s unsung heroes – a medal is deserved

There are men and women in Britain who, each day, go about their business unrecognised by the media and their peer group – the unsung heroes of our land. It is time, as Barack Obama would say, for us to recognise their heroism in making Britain a more interesting place to live.  I have instituted a “For Idiocy” medal and, from this day, will award the medal where I find it appropriate to do so.

At the same time I am also establishing “**** Corner”. Being inclusive and keen to foster equal opportunity interraction on this blog, I am also instituting a section of the blawg for behaviour that merits inclusion in “**** Corner”.  You, the reader, are invited (a) to provide your own four letter epithet for “**** Corner” and (b) to write in with examples of behaviour meriting inclusion in “**** Corner”.

I am awarding my first “For Idiocy” medal to Ceredigion Council for fining  a painter £30 for smoking in his own van. Decorator Gordon Williams was fined because council officials said it counted as smoking in the workplace.  Gordon Willaims was ‘dumbfounded’,  only uses the van to get to work,  and said ” It is not my place of work.  I paint and decorate houses not vans.”  Story from The Mirror

***

Ceredigion Council’s inclusion in “**** Corner” is also confirmed by this remarkable work going beyond the call of duty.

Podcast 73: Stephen Mason, Barrister – Electronic signatures

Today I am talking to Stephen Mason, barrister, author and expert on digital evidence – about electronic signatures.

***

Listen to Podcast 73:  Stephen Mason on electronic signatures

***

Stephen Mason websiteStephen Mason televised course on electronic signatures for the CPD Channel

(Apologies for minor sound interference in parts of the podcast – a net transmission issue beyond my control.)

Mackerel, Omega 23 and other mattters…

Perhaps it was the image of Dawn Primarolo MP, Matron-in-Chief, in a newspaper today telling us that she is going to stop our world leading olympic medal winning binge drinkers from practising their craft  – but I have decided that a bit of Omega 3 to supplement the beneficial effects of red wine is probably useful.  I have decided to take up eating smoked mackerel. It is my new hobby.  I have a fridge full of smoked mackerel.  To ward off scurvy, I have also purchased some lemon and limes. There is more than enough water in wine and the odd glass of water to ensure that I am fully hydrated… tap water, of course..

Podcast 72: The Wood Report on the changes to the BVC – College of Law response

Today I am talking to Richard de Friend, director of the Bloomsbury centre of The College of Law. Richard has had a long and distinguished career in legal education as pro Vice Chancellor of Kent University and, in recent years, with the College of Law.

The Wood report is – rather like a cornetto… soft and imaginative  in parts  in terms of changes to  syllabus but with a hard outer covering in terms of the proposed exam structure…aptitude test and their concerns about fees. We discuss the implications of The Wood report on Bar legal education and assess how the proposed changes to bar education will affect the College.

***

Listen to Podcast 72

***

The Wood Report on the BVC

Podcast 71: Wood Report – The proposed changes to the BVC

Today I am talking to Jon McLeod, Chairman, Public Affairs – Weber Shandwick who acted for the Bar Standards Board in the recent report of the Working Group in relation to Review of The Bar Vocational Course.
Jon McLeod went into public affairs in 1994, having spent six years in financial and legal journalism. His specialisms include: Parliamentary and lobbying campaigns, coalition building, national media relations, litigation and legal communications, and strategic counsel.

The Bar Vocational Course is set to be renamed as the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). The Working Party report chaired by Derek Wood QC makes a number of important recommendations and the detail in the report itself provides a fascinating insight into the need for reform and the quality of provision at the various accredited providers – albeit without identifying the providers.

.I am going to talk to Jon as part of a short series of podcasts covering this topic about the report itself and the changes proposed.

***

Listen to Podcast 71: Wood Report – The proposed changes to the BVC

***

The Wood Report on the BVC

***

Jon McLeod, Chairman of Public Affairs, Weber Chandwick

Insitelaw makeover stage 1….

I have started to revise the look and content of Insitelaw. I have a section on the main homepage to feature law blogs each day – and will do so each day.  If you would like to draw my attention to any blog posts you would like featured – please email me through insitelaw.   I tend to pick most blog posts up… but it does assist if my attention is drawn to a post!

More to follow in terms of function, content and usability – including the development of various chatrooms.

Have a look? |  You may need to refresh your browser.

22 July: Daily news and podcast

22 July:  Daily news and podcast now up on Insitelaw magazine

I’m doing a general revision of Insitelaw over the next few days – new layout, new sections and more content.  I plan to highlight legal content on law blogs on a regular basis.  If any blogger wants to draw attention to their latest posts for inclusion in the highlight section of Insitelaw – please get in touch through Insitelaw.

On this day… and dragons…

On this day in 1588: The Armada – an invasion fleet sent by Philip II of Spain – is sighted off the coast of Cornwall.  I know this because I have History selected on my BBC webpage.  I do not need to know this, but it distracts me in the early hours of an evening to know what happened on this day of note many years ago.  As it happens…. on this day in 1969: US astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon, stepping down from Apollo 11.

Well… on this day this year: The England Test Cricket team managed to play extremely badly and were slaughtered by the South Africans.  Compared to moon walking and invading countries – today this year, it seems, was rather dull…. unless you were gripped by Gordon Brown’s plans to solve the Middle East war / crisis / call it whatever you will… and the news that SAS are training Alsatian dogs to jump out of planes with them and fight the Taliban.

I have wasted yet another hour from the sands of time by watching “The Dragon’s Den”. I am not sure I like this programme, but rather as a snake watches a mongoose, I find myself compelled to watch.  But as I do not work for a Bank,  I have to get a dose of  greed, self-obsession, pompousity, self importance, smugness, venality and complete idiocy wherever I can. As you know, I do not practise law.. I merely comment, write and teach.

Tonight there were only two investments in The Den – perfectly sensible and The Dragons were rather more sophisticated in terms of their presentation of themselves than in previous series. The nutters were however out and about.  I particularly liked the guy who invented a non’slip device to put on car, train or aircraft window and allow the user to have a kip.  The Dragons called it a pillow and told him to F*** off.  He did.

20 July: Postcard from the Staterooms

My weekend started, as most do, on a Friday evening. I was on Twitter to see if other twitterers – to wit Geeklawyer, Infobunny and Jaffne – were about, and discovered that Infobunny of the very useful Lo-fi blog was making raspberry jam.  Twitter provides the opportunity to engage in conversation of a sort, but, perhaps, when Rioja is taken, of a surreal nature.  Infobunny was not just making jam, she appeared to be obsessed by it and had even taken to taking pictures of the various versions of labels she had made up for her jam – including iJam.

The week past brought little of cheer in terms of Test cricket. South Africa plodded away to frustrate an England team high, for the first three days, on a significant lead.   Today, I notice that South Africa have the lead and, no doubt, England will plod away trying not to be bowled out for two days to secure a draw.  Such is cricket.

Geeklawyer has flown to Japan. I have no reason to suppose that this was a flight from justice, angry husbands or members of his growing group of women readers – ‘The Harem’ and “reserve harem’.  But be that as it may, we know that Geeklawyer is in Japan for he has been taking photographs of himself out there – face blanked out, naturally.

I was moved by his account of a visit to the Hiroshima bomb site.  He wrote:

“If you are in Hiroshima the Bomb Museum is well worth a visit with some pathetic and very poignant exhibits; regrettably Geeklawyer was rather appalled at the pacifist bias and the, frankly, rather over-priced t-shirts. Mass slaughter is never an excuse for losing objectivity or price gouging. A blot on an otherwise rather good visit.”

And so we return from the Land of The Rising Sun back to our shores; credit-crunched Britain, where The Treasury is about to re-write Gordon Brown’s ‘golden rule’ on government borrowing because the country is…. well, being frank, a bit f****d in terms of money in the piggy bank.

I have absolutely no interest in football. Overpaid footballers, paid in excess of £130,000 a week, complaining that they are being treated like slaves because the unexpired portion of their very lucrative contract prevents them from working for another club  cuts little ice I’m afraid at any time, let alone a time when thousands of people are losing their jobs.  Fortunately, I was saved the bother of having to think up a suitable rant by Simon Jordan, Chairman of Crystal Palace, who “fired both barrels at Cristiano Ronaldo, Frank Lampard, Coleen Rooney, Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini, greedy agents and even long-suffering football fans.”  The News of The World has the story.  The only interesting thing I have ever read about football.  I’ll give you a taste:

BRANDED Ronaldo a ‘silly little boy’ who should be made to do as he’s told. | INSISTED Chelsea star Lampard is not worth £150,000 a week. | ACCUSED FIFA president Sepp Blatter of being a ‘bloody idiot’. UEFA chief Michel Platini’s incredible arrogance. | BLASTED | SLAUGHTERED Wayne Rooney’s showbiz WAG Coleen McLoughlin’s image as a role model, claiming she is just a plain little girl from Liverpool. | VILIFIED soccer agents as being ‘nasty, evil, pointless scum’.

“The reality is that football is a bulls*** world – an insidious, insipid, egotistical, greedy, self-motivated game,” stormed Jordan.

I could not have put it better myself – even after a long session on the juice.

HNT… or the internet phenomenon ‘Half Nekkid Thursday’ has many practitioners and, indeed, recent non-law visitors to my blawg-  Knitting with only one needle, May contain nuts and Barbed Wire Boudoir – are all experts now at this new artform.  The idea is, on Thursday, to take a photograph of oneself ‘half nekkid’ and publish it on the blog.  I have been thinking about taking this up myself – but after the ICC indicted the president of Sudan for  war crimes, I do not want to tempt them into further indictments for infringing the human rights of blog readers in this and other countries.  So I shall simply sit about half nekkid in Staterooms of a Thursday evening writing blog posts and support them in spirit.   I am advised that the trick is to click on the pictures in the HNT posts.

Curiously, it was while doing a Google search for HNT that I came across ‘edible anus’ chocolates, the brainchild of a Belgian chocmaker. It may, of course, be a spoof.  I have no need to spend my time eating anus shaped chocolates so it is unlikely that I shall ever find out – unless… of course, a reader cares to take this research on?

They say….. “These chocolates are created with one thing on our mind: to produce a combination of taste and touch that takes you to chocolate anus heaven.” The Incredible Edible Anus

And so I move on to a very quick survey of the UK blawgers and what they are up to.

Family Lore has stepped up the pace of coverage of family law matters in recent weeks covering a wide range of topics – including a review of a game called ‘family Lore’. Head of Legal has also been prolific in his coverage of serious mattters – human rights and constitutional issues.

But, lest I am charged with corrupting public morals by shoehorning too much law into my blawg, I shall do a survey of the serious UK law blogs over the course of the coming week in Insitelaw magazine.

So to be fairly sure of finding absolutely no law on a law blog, my first visit for this section must be to White Rabbit.  There, I discover that Andrew Keogh has been amusing himself with the dog’s bollocks and has been sampling and musing on Beers.  The consumption of life giving booze is to be encouraged among consenting adults.  The hoodies, totally irresponsible ASBO louts, and under age middle class ‘hoorays’,  who are engaging in unlawful acts of binge drinking have fucked it up for topers and other adults; allowing HM Drinkfinder General, Sir Liam Donaldson and his pet Gremlin,  Dawn Primarolo, to legislate.  Gas is going up, petrol is going up, electricity is going up, everything is going up… and now they want to stop our local supermarkets, which have been selflessly driving the price of lager and other alcohol down for the benefit of society, from doing so and plan to a have a minimum price per unit of alcohol. That is not “dog’s bollocks”.  Maybe we should start a panic buying epidemic?

***

While quite a number of the law student bloggers are away at this time of the year, some are managing to continue posting.  Law Girl reports that she is ‘Half Dead’, LawMinx, having completed her BVC, continues with her Ph.D and her search for pupillage.  She had her blog hijacked, but is out and about commenting on blogs.  Asp Bites reports that he doesn’t do political correctness, and BarMaid realises that it is not lon now until the BVC begins.

I shall spend a bit of time this coming week profiling serious and not so serious blog posts on Insitelaw magazine – but now I must return to my ‘Postcard from The Staterooms.’ I decided upon this ridiculous name, partly as a pastiche of the “Letter from America” genre (which I enjoyed) and partly because I decided in a ‘Damascus’ moment t’other evening as I consumed rioja that “Weekend Review” was just too dull a name.  It also gave me an opportunity to waste yet another hour of what is left of my life designing a header, complete with postage stamp and bizarre postmark – inspired by a real one I saw on the net. The postmark may well vary each week.

I was sitting outside one of three cafes in Chiswick High Road I frequent – La Mirage – this morning.  After I had eaten my usual breakfast, turning the plate around so the egg was on the right as usual, I buttered some toast, placed the egg on the toast, and began to eat.  Breakfast consumed, I ordered another espresso, lit a cigarette and sat back to watch the world.  A couple walked by; the man carrying a baby in a sling on his front, his wife paddling along beside him carrying a bag full of baby bottles, nappies, rattles and other baby parapernalia.  They were off to sit on Turnham Green nearby; a small patch of grass where in days gone by they played cricket.  I knew this because they were having a very earnest conversation about doing so; the man expressing concern that the wind may be too strong for the baby. The man was  wearing those baggy trousers (with pockets) cut off half way up the calf.  He was also wearing sandals… with black socks.  It was then that thoughts of moving from West London (maturing in my mind for some time) hardened.  It is time to move.  I shall, of course, continue to write my West London Man soap opera.  I do not need to be in West London to do that.

I heard the unmistakeable sound of hyperventilation. I turned my head and saw a man in his late forties to early fifties, defying the laws of science and common sense at the same time, running along the pavement towards me.  He did not look well.  Sweat poured from his forehead and from under his arms.  He was fairly fat, thin white legs poking out from under implausibly tight running shorts, his belly assisting in forward locomotion through gravity.  As he drew nearer, his head rolling alarmingly, I noted that his eyes had the look of a startled horse on Grand National day as Becher’s Brook looms.  I felt like clapping as he went by, but it was not London Marathon Day and he may have misunderstood my intentions.  Nothing in moderation, I thought to myself as he staggered along the pavement, and some things, not at all. I lit another cigarette and settled down to read The Observer. Apart from stories about knife crime, political incompetence, possible nuclear war, credit-crunch, falling house prices, and middle class angst about cooking recipes… I saw that all was good and it remained so as I wasted the morning.

I returned to my Staterooms, put my japanese kimono on, went up to my small eerie where I do my podcasts, logged in to Skype, opened a bottle of Rioja and called a very good friend in Australia. It was just after midday.  We talked for two and a half hours of many things and I found myself mildly inebriated at 3.00.  It was alright for her, for she too had been drinking, because it was after midnight for her and she could go to bed.  I thought of having a coffee in Chiswick High Road, but staggering about outside cafes, overrefreshed,  at 3.00 in the afternoon is not always appropriate.

I shall write again

Bon voyage..

Podcast 70: Stephen Mason, barrister, on Digital Evidence

Today I am talking to barrister and author Stephen Mayson. Stephen is an expert in the field of electronic and digital evidence.  The author of several books on digital evidence and electronic signatures, his website is a useful resource for  lawyers and students alike.  Stephen Mason website

To give you a foretaste of what we are going to talk about, I quote from the preface of Stephen Mayson’s book Electronic Evidence: Disclosure, Discovery & Admissibility  (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2007)

“Lawyers and judges now deal with digital evidence regularly, even if it mainly in the form of email correspondence, the authenticity of which may not be in question… ”

But…as the preface shows, the issue of digital evidence is far more complex and appears to be badly understood in some quarters… and, surprisingly, is not a formal part of current vocational legal education – at least in terms of depth of study.

Contents:
The nature of digital evidence – what it is, distinguish between digital and analogue evidence [very important to help understand] – Why digital evidence is different to any other form of evidence [characteristics] – An example of what has gone wrong [both lawyers, judge and digital evidence specialists: the Julie Amero case]
– Suggestions about education

***

Listen to Podcast 70: Stephen Mayson on Digital Evidence

***

Stephen Mayson website | General Editor, Digital Evidence and Electronic Signature Law Review

***

CPD Channel are presenting a course on electronic signatures with Stephen Mayson.

Owner!…leave the tips alone…

Think Pink Floyd – Another brick in the wall etc etc. I have decided to spend a bit of time this summer, while others take their vacation  at a British seaside resort ( or, as Frankie Boyle described UK seaside resorts on Mock the Week“a holding pen for the Jeremy Kyle Show”) … following up on this business of restaurant owners keeping tips.  The Mirror (I think) is putting a campaign together… but I feel that it is quite wrong for restaurant owners to pay minimal wages and make money up through tips / service.  Pay cash if you like the service provided by your waiter/ress.  Refuse to pay discretionary service charge !

I have a feeling, however, that some restaurant owners / gastropub owners will not be that keen to take my calls.  We shall see.

Random…

I had a quick look through my email inbox about half an hour ago to discover that i had been selected at random to win a competition – a free T-shirt with my picture on it.  Of course, the hope is that I’ll order substantial numbers of these glorified vests.  I have sent off my design and hope, soon, to be the proud possessor of a vest with my picture on it.  I was going to add the text “Are you looking at me?” below the image – but this was ‘verboten’.

Tips in restaurants
Reading my tabloid of choice over breakfast this morning I discovered that there are a number of very greedy restaurant chains who are paying waiting staff below the minimum charge and using tips to make up their wages – or worse, keeping the discretionary service charge or cash tips for themselves.  There are, to be fair, good restaurant owners who pay a decent wage and allow staff to keep tips or share in the collective tip box.

Frankly, it is a disgrace that restaurants and gastropubs rely on tips to pay staff and I do not approve at all of any restaurant or chain keeping discretionary service charge or tips for themselves.

So, armed with the knowledge provided by the tabloid I have called several restaurants up to enquire if they keep tips. It was an interesting way to spend half an hour. My enquiry was not always met with enthusiasm… it has to be said.  I am toying with the idea of doing a detailed article on this issue and, perhaps, doing some podcasts with restauranteurs who do / who don’t keep tips for themselves.  Perhaps I could take my television camera with me when I go to restaurants locally where the restaurant keeps the tips and see if the manager would like to do a Vidcast?

I feel like a mini crusade. Save me going off to the coast with my bucket and spade later in the summer. Your thoughts on this would be most welcome…

Podcast 69: Andrew Goodman, barrister, on mediation advocacy and the SCMA

Today I am talking to barrister, Andrew Goodman. Andrew, of 1 Chancery Lane, is the Convener of the Standing Conference of Mediation Advocates (SCMA)

We look at mediation advocacy and the work of the Standing Conference of Mediation Advocates:
How does the role of the advocate fit in the current mediation market? – Is representation in mediation really necessary – doesn ‘t it undermine the idea of party autonomy? – Can mediation representation properly be called ‘advocacy’? – What is the SCMA and how did it come into being? – What is your role / How many members does it have/ What activities does it conduct/ who is involved with it?

***

Listen to Podcast 69: Andrew Goodman, barrister, on Mediation Advocacy and the SCMA

***

Andrew Goodman Chambers contact

Standing Conference of Mediation Advocates (SCMA)

Podcast 68: Ms R – a Woman of Experience

Tonight I am talking to Ms Robinson, the author of the Woman of Experience blog.  I am not entirely sure if this podcast should be in my ‘podcast’ series’ or be one of my “Charon After Dark” podcasts.  What I can tell you is that Ms R is a good writer, has a great blog (non-law) and this is the first podcast where I have done (a) absolutely no research (other than having been a regular reader of her blog) and (b) where I had several glasses of Rioja while I did the podcast.  It is about 35 minutes long – but… Ms R covers a great deal of ground.  I did my best to ask questions!  I enjoyed doing the podcast.

Listen to Podcast 68: Ms R – a Woman of Experience

[Pic provided by Ms R – naturally!]

West London Man (18): Der Peitsche…

Audio Version: WLM 18 – Der Peitsche
With sound effects and some good music

It was 8.30 on Saturday morning when George had a phonecall from a friend of his. Mr ‘X’, as he prefers to be known, had been telephoned by a journalist from a Sunday tabloid to ask if he, Mr ‘X’, thought it was in the public interest for his “credit-crunch” themed SM orgy, filmed secretly by “Ms ‘W’ on Thursday, should be published in the Sunday edition of the newspaper.  The journalist described the hidden camera footage the newspaper had.  Mr ‘X’, a respected director of a London estate agency, slammed the phone down on the journalist and, in a state of panic, called George.

Ring…Ring…Ring…Ring

George: Hi…what you up to?

Mr ‘X’: I’m about to be outed by a Sunday newspaper….

George: Excellent…..

Mr ‘X’: No… it’s not bloody excellent… I’ve been filmed at an orgy… S&M…

George: Even better… tell me more…

Mr ‘X’ took George through the story.  On Thursday afternoon, Mr ‘X’ had visited a professional dominatrix… Ms W.

Mr ‘X’ explained the ‘scenario’ to George.  Mr ‘X’ had arranged for the dominatrix, Ms W, to invite two of her friends in ‘the scene’ to attend.  The scenario was “Crime and Punishment”.  The film had shown Mr X being ordered to strip naked by three women dressed like bank managers. The video footage went on to show Ms W, an attractive blonde dressed in a navy blue skirt suit, complete with an identity badge on her jacket lapel with the logo of a bank and marketing strapline “We’ll whip your finances into shape”, shouting at Mr ‘X’ in a faux Birmingham accent.

Ms W shouted.. “I want you to read those files and tell me why you thought these clients of yours were suitable for mortgage applications to this bank.”  The film then cut to a naked Mr ‘X’  saying… “They are not suitable, Madam Bank Manager.  I erred, Madam Bank Manager.  They had no prospect whatsoever of paying off their mortgage. We were being greedy, Madam Bank Manager. I have sinned… punish me”.

The video was a bit fuzzy at this point, but, nevertheless, showed Ms W putting on a judicial wig and black dressing gown;  the latter as it transpires,  purchased by Mr ‘X’ from M&S for the occasion. Ms W provided the judicial wig from her ‘dressing up’ box; a gift from a grateful client of hers who had, in his day, served in a minor judicial capacity. There followed a short passage where Ms W sentenced Mr ‘X’ for his crimes against West London society.

A transcript of this footage reveals the following dialogue:

“You have been a very naughty estate agent and you are now going to pay for your crimes against this bank.  You will be taken from here and be strapped to a B&Q workbench and your bottom will be caned until it is very pink and you repent of your sins.”

Discretion requires that we draw a veil over this very private performance of Le Vice Anglais and English haut-culture…. save to say that Mr ‘X’ was caned by each of the three women dressed as high street bank managers.  While no Bank has complained, nor been informed,  about this footage…  nor has there been any FSA or Bank of England interest, Mr ‘X’ is worried that publication of the film may well prejudice his reputation as a ‘hard closer’ and prejudice his chain of estate agencies in an already depressed housing market. George telephones his City lawyer friend Hugo, who calls  a friend of his, a specialist in libel and privacy law, who in turn arranges for Mr ‘X’ to have an immediate consultation with Ralph Gomorrah QC, one of the most famous barristers in the country, whose earnings were not reported in The Times today…. (£1.175m, exluding VAT)

***

Gomorrah QC: Good.  Well… let me say at once that I see every prospect of success here.  As you know, there is a famous case going through the courts at this very moment… the case of Max Mosley.  We don’t know the result yet, but Mr Justice Eady is not known for his empathy with the press and has form when it comes to issues of privacy.  The problem we have is that there is no right to privacy in England & Wales.  Lest you wonder if you may have been better off carrying out these erotic entertainments of yours in Scotland, I am not able to comment on (a) what they get up to in Scotland, apart from deep frying Mars bars and other exotic foods,  and (b) they have a separate legal system.

Mr ‘X’: I wasn’t in Scotland.

Gomorrah QC: Good… just as well.  I would not have been able to act for you if you had been. Be that as it may… the essence of the case is this:  It is a balance between your rights as a private individual to enjoy your leisure time and engage in sexual acts without interference or unwarranted intrusion and the right of the public to know that those who are in the public eye, in positions of responsibility,  are not all off their heads and engaging in activities likely to harm the interests of, inter alia, (a) The fabric of the British nation, (b) to put god fearing members of the British public in fear of harm and corruption to themselves and (c) and this is the difficult one… activities of concern to HM Government likely to pervert… sorry… divert… the attention of the state from interfering in the lives of the citizens of the United Kingdom and good governance etc etc. The law is complex.  You will appreciate this.  This is why, I’m afraid, our expertise comes at a high price.

Mr ‘X’: Don’t worry about the money

Gomorrah QC: Thank you, I won’t.  There is, as it happens, an interesting article in The Times tomorrow (Max Mosley case: bend over, free speech, this is going to hurt), curiously, available on Pageflakes today, where the received wisdom is that Mr Justice Eady in the Mosley case may well come down in favour of Mosley and extend the right of privacy law.  We will not know until Monday… but I have every confidence, given that this tabloid alerted you in advance to publication…and they do not always do this… that we can get an injunction, buy some time, and even prevent the newspaper from mentioning that they are subject to an injunction and see what the lie of the land is when Eady J pronounces.  You will, therefore, have an opportunity to visit these wonderful Inns of Court and me again. How does that sound?

Mr ‘X’: Sounds good… may I have another..?

Gomorrah QC: Another what?

Mr ‘X’: Another consultation.

Ralph Gomorrah QC relaxed, clearly relieved that Mr ‘X’ was asking for another consultation and not something else.

***

Audio Version: WLM 18 – Der Peitsche
With sound effects and some good music

Weekend Review 12-13 July: We are not aroused…

A rather startling story in The Telegraph about the fact that Queen Victoria wore bloomers with a 55 inch waist.  She was only five feet tall and The Telegraph reports (in unnecessary detail for my breakfast reading) “Like other ladies of the late-Victorian era, the Queen wore open-crotch knickers whose separate legs were joined by a draw-string at the waist.”

Tora! Tora! Tora!

Geeklawyer announces that he is on a three week trip to Japan… no doubt with saki vouchers and various tech kit to report from Nippon. He plans, inter alia, to speak japanese to real Japanese people and, presumably, take them by surprise.  A brief trip to Wikipedia to bone up on my knowledge of japanese provided me with a very useful japanese phrase.  I have imparted this knowledge to Geeklawyer:

Zō-wa hana-ga nagai (desu) – “As for elephants, (their) noses are long”.

Reading The Mirror at 6.30 am this morning as I drank coffee outside my cafe of choice, I read “Somebody should have told Sergei Shmolik football is meant to be a game of two halves…[These pictures] show the top international referee earning himself a red card as he staggers around “like a clown” following an alleged vodka binge. The 43-year-old later claimed he was suffering back pain – but was in fact so bladdered during the Belarus premier league match he could barely move at all.”

Update: I managed to find a video of this command performance

Greedy, grasping, duplicitous, self-serving, silver-tongued, slimy, pompous… and that’s being diplomatic.

Dominic Carman, writing in the Sunday Times, asks if top lawyers are worth their huge fees, lists the Top 50, providing information on how much they earn / how greedy they are (?) and seems to conclude that the Top 50 are worth it. You may find it interesting to see how much they earn and either be depressed by the information or delight in the fact that they aren’t making quite as much as you are / you thought they were making!

I did, however, enjoy the cameo on Nigel Boardman (“the best-known lawyer in the City… Slaughter and May’s star dealmaker”) where Carman related the tale…. “He personifies the strong work ethos of the firm. One story tells of the trainee who shared his office getting up to leave at 8pm. As he reached for his coat, Boardman asked, “Are you cold?”

Well… that is quite enough about lawyers, greedy, rapacious, or otherwise.  I am in danger of losing my reputation for not actually having any law in my blawg.

Moving on…

LAWMINX UPDATE…

I received a comment to this post from lawMinx: “horrendous problems with my blog – its been hijacked by a guy called Paul Masterson, and for the moment I can do nothing about it; my url has therefore changed – it is no longer lawminx.blogspot.com but minx610.blogspot.com, so you’ll have to ammend your link to me, Im afraid!!”

So what are they are to?…
Quite a bit, as it happens. Family Lore continues to survey the realm of marital breakdown and this week reports on “Mammon before Love” revealing that slumping city bonuses due to the credit crunch are driving wives of city high earners to take legal advice upon how to protect their own interests.

Andrew Keogh, author of The White Rabbit blog took time out in a busy week to give a detailed analysis of R v Davis and The Civil Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Bill in a podcast with me – allowing him, deservedly, to claim that he had shoehorned a bit of law into his law blog (a man after my own heart).  White Rabbit also reported on the poetry of the Shipping forecast, even if it did interrupt the radio cricket coverage. White Rabbit is right – there is something remarkably British about the shipping forecast – always enjoyable to listen to.

Dan Hull of What About Clients?, who also did a podcast with me this week on his views on client service and lay Generation x / Generation Y types – has explained the mystery of why WAC? sometimes becomes What About Paris? – the name changes at weekends.

Head of Legal comments on the absurd case of Ladele v Islington: “The other court case that has attracted massive interest this week has of course been that of Lillian Ladele, who, an Employment Tribunal has found, was both directly and indirectly discriminated against on grounds of her religion, and was harassed on religious grounds, too, by disciplining her for her refusal, as a Christian, to perform civil partnership ceremonies.”

To my jaded eye, this is nonsense and, as Head of Legal pointed out: “if as the Tribunal says, Ms. Ladele’s stance is based on her belief that marriage is a life-long bond between a man and a woman, why didn’t she kick up this fuss about marrying divorcees?”

Binary Law comments on the issue of Unlocking the power of information. If you have a hankering for a peerage in the post cash-for-honours era and would like to know what arcane and mysterious ceremonial is performed on introduction to the Lords – The Lords of the Blog blog has the answer.

Phit for Phucking?
The irrepressible and amusing Ms R, author of the Woman of Experience blog asks: “Vaginal tune up anyone? “

And… the judges?  Have they been keeping us amused this week?

Well, apart from the inevitable “Judge Judge become Lord Chief Judge” type headlines – on the appointment of Sir Igor Judge as Lord Chief Justice – we had Sir Mark Potter, President of the Family Division, defending the closed system by saying that families do not want the “washing of dirty linen and the exploring of deeply emotional and personal issues in public”.

We also had the extraordinary case, reported in The Times: “The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) suffered a major blow today after a judge threw out a price-fixing case against five drug companies, leaving an eight-year investigation that cost an estimated £25 million in tatters”

And finally…. Gaffe of the Week?

Gordon Brown reels from gaffe to crisis to gaffe. Gordon Brown attends the G8 meeting after lecturing the great British public about wasting food and then sits down to a huge dinner; reported as being 6-10 courses, depending on the newspapeer one was reading. Showing G8 leaders photographs of atrocities in Zimbabwe, Brown appeared to secure commitment from other G8 leaders to impose sanctions against the buffoon, Mugabe, and a number of other named Zimbabwe government  cyphers, only to return in triumph to the United Kingdom to find, en route to the Commons, that President Medvedev of Russia had resiled and Bush was doing a one man comedy show by saying goodbye “from the World’s biggest polluter’ and waving his arms in the air.  Brown had no triumph on sanctions or global warming to report.  The shadowy figures continue to circle.  How long will Brown last?

Podcast 67: R v Davis – Witness Anonymity with Andrew Keogh

On the 18th June the House of Lords handed down their opinions
IN THE CAUSE
R v Davies (Appellant) (On appeal from the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division))

I quote from the speech of Lord Bingham, the senior law lord at paragraph 5 : It is a long-established principle of the English common law that, subject to certain exceptions and statutory qualifications, the defendant in a criminal trial should be confronted by his accusers in order that he may cross-examine them and challenge their evidence.”

Today I am talking to Andrew Keogh, a barrister, published author and author of the White Rabbit blog about the case and the proposed anonymity legislation

***

Listen to Podcast 67:  R v Davis – Witness Anonymity with Andrew Keogh

***

R v Davis [2008]

Jack Straw’s statement

The Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 3 July 2008.

Podcast 66: Dan Hull, US Attorney, author of WAC?, on client service and other matters

Today I am talking to Dan Hull, US Attorney, founder of Hull McGuire PC and the What About Clients? blog.

We talk about the meaning of client service – the difference in attitude between Babyboomers and Generation X / Geneneration Y to law – Legalese or “Lawyer-speak” – review Geeklawyer’s Blawg Review 166 – and if Dan is coming to UK LawBlog 2008 in September 2008.

Listen to Podcast 66: Dan Hull, US attorney, author of WAC? on client service and other matters.

***

What About Clients? blog

Ostentatious smoking…

Carl Gardner alerted me to this comment on his blog…. I’m afraid I am far too much of a libertine to resist….

Nicholas

said…

I have never heard such ostentatious smoking on a podcast before. It was Charon rather than you I think. Overall effect, presumably as intended, was kind of louche and libertarian.

10:17 PM, July 07, 2008
Head of Legal said…
You’re right, Nicholas, it certainly was Charon. I’m far, far too now to smoke, but that chap… he’s a shocker. And you have him BANG to rights as louche and libertarian. Louche and libertine, is my suspicion.

West London Man (17): Jolly snorting weather…

Audio version of West London Man (17): Jolly snorting weather

“Henley Royal Regatta was first held in 1839 and has been held annually ever since, except during the two world wars.  Originally staged by the Mayor and the people of Henley as a public attraction….” …. zzzzzzzz…

George yawned as he read the information on  the Henley Regatta website to find out where Henley was and groaned at the prospect of having to go there.  He was beginning to regret having invited the minor Sheik and one of his near neighbours.  George had absolutely no interest in rowing and the thought of spending hours by a glorified canal watching hoorays rowing up and down did not appeal one bit.

Caroline wandered into his small study and asked what time he was planning to leave for Henley.

“About 10.30, darling” George replied, turning to look at his wife who stood in the door way smiling.

“I suppose you’ll be drunk when you get back?”

“It is a possibility…thankfully the Sheik has to go to a dinner… but god knows how I’ll lose Buzz Lightyear.”

Caroline laughed…  “Your problem.  He is rather dull, but I did warn you. I’ll lend you one of my hand mirrors.  If you give it to him it will keep him amused for hours, apart from using it as a chopping board. Don’t worry if you are late.  Helen is coming round and we’re going to watch a DVD.”

***

As it happened George and his two guests did get to Henley in a hired limousine but found it rather dull. “Buzz Lightyear”, who managed to get through half a wrap of charlie on the way to Henley, did not help matters by stripping down to his Armani  underwear and swimming across the river in the middle of one of the races; causing some alarm as the Cox on each boat altered course fairly rapidly to avoid him. The decision was taken to return to London, partly dictated by the social opprobium visited on the three men as a result of the swimming episode,  and spend the afternoon at a pub in Chelsea.  The Sheik decided to go back to The Dorchester and rest.

George: So, Charles… bravo performance!

Charles: Yeah…. thought I could swim faster.

George: Well your legs were certainly thrashing away… and it was quite amusing when you grabbed one of the oars and nearly overturned the boat.  I don’t, however, think I’ll be going back to Henley after that tour de farce.

Charles: Got any gear? Mine got wet.

George: Jesus…. you are not telling me you keep your stash in your underwear are you?

Charles: Yes.

George: The mind boggles.  Remind me not to have any of yours next time you offer.

George took out his wallet and slipped it under a copy of The Guardian that was on the table.  Charles glanced from left and then to right, picked up the wallet and walked in to the pub.  He returned a few moments later, slipped the wallet back under the newspaper and hailed a passing waitress to order some Champagne.

Charles: good… good… so, mate… how are things?

George: Well, apart from the fact that you have asked me eight times already today, and not much has changed, they are OK.  Caroline has started working again. Business is getting a bit tight and the kids are fine… you?

Charles: Good… very good.

Cosmo reached into his jacket, took out his mobile, pressed a few buttons and held the mobile towards George.

Charles: What do you think?

George: Charles… I think you are showing me a picture of breasts… rather blurred…

Charles: Yeah…. from Latvia…

George: So you went to Latvia to take a picture of some breasts?

Charles: No… I met her the other night….

George: Charles… put your mobile away…. I’ll be right back.

George went to the Bar, ordered another bottle of champagne, and nipped off to the lavatory. As he was walking back to the bar his iphone rang

ring…ring…ring..ring.

George: Hello Katja… where are you?

Katja: In Henley, as I said I would be. You?

George: I was at Henley… we still meeting tomorrow?

Katja: Of course…. were you there when that weird guy swam across river?

George: Yep… in fact… I took him to Henley… I’m in Chelsea with him now. He’s flying.

Katja: OK… so it is problem for you, not for me.  I will meet you 1.00 tomorrow. I will text place to meet.

***

Audio version of West London Man (17): Jolly snorting weather

Podcast 65: The right of prisoners to vote with Carl Gardner

Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, author of the Head of Legal blog, barrister, former government lawyer and commentator on Human Rights Law, about the case of Hirst v United Kingdom No (2) heard at the ECHR in 2005.

Yesterday, I did a podcast with John Hirst, author of the Jailhouse Lawyer blog about his experience of prison life and during that conversation we talked about John’s case against the British government about the right of prisoners to vote – which he won.

Carl Gardner analyses the Hirst case and we talk about the practical implications of the judgment.  We also talk about Lord Phillip’s attitude to Sharia Law and his support for Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Listen to Podcast 65: The right of prisoners to vote with Carl Gardner

***

John Hirst has posted on his Jailhouse Lawyer’s blog: “The Government’s proposed options for changing the law in relation to prisoner voting rights”.

Podcast 64: With John Hirst – author of Jailhouse Lawyer’s blog

Today I am talking to John Hirst, author of  the Jailhouse Lawyer’s blog.  John has spent 35 of his 57 years in prison.

John  was sent to prison for life after being convicted of the manslaughter of his landlady, in 1979. “He received a tariff of 15 years, but served a total of 25 before being released in October last year. He believes his activities as a litigant against the Prison Service and Home Office are the main reason he had to serve the extra years. John proved to be the most prolific prisoner litigant of modern times – and, he says, like Perry Mason and Rumpole of the Bailey, he never lost a case against the Prison Service.” [Guardian article – below]

Listen to Podcast 64: With John Hirst – author of Jailhouse Lawyer’s blog.

***

Guardian article: The Devilish Advocate

***

Follow up 7th July

As a follow up to Podcast 64 with John Hirst, I talk to Carl Gardner, author of the Head of Legal blog, barrister, former government lawyer and commentator on Human Rights Law, about the case of Hirst v United Kingdom No (2) heard at the ECHR in 2005.

Listen to Podcast 65: Carl Gardner on the ECHR case, Hirst v United Kingdom No 2.

John Hirst has published a useful note of the government approach

4th July: Declaration of Independence…

Perhaps overcome at the celebrations our brothers and sister from America are enjoying this day – but, being honest, mildly over refreshed with the quite excellent Rioja I am consuming with enthusiasm… I have taken the theme of Independence to heart this day. Earlier, I posted  a short piece on “Cry Freedom – say NO to awards”. (Infra)  To this I add a short speech… I shall call it “A declaration of Independence”… nothing pretentious, nothing trite… a simple statement.

4th July:  10.30 pm – A Declaration of Independence

Listen to the speech in gloriously British technicolour with excellent music.

(I was wearing a dinner jacket, of course)

Nearly Legal on Twitter said he was up for mounting barricades.  As he suggested… let the rallying cry be “Obscure but Free” !

Excellent… I’m having another glass.  Have a good weekend.

Cry freedom!… for UK Blawging…. SAY NO to awards…

Not that any industry magazine is proposing an award for UK Blawgs…. but I thought, given that it is a bit quiet on a Friday afternoon, that I would  crack open a bottle of Rioja and see if anyone may be interested in joining a protest movement to stop industry magazines having an award competition and ceremony for UK BLAWGING.

My thoughts on this were prompted when I saw a post on Twitter about a magazine giving awards to blawgs in another sector. The thought of industry magazines giving awards to UK Blawgs is preposterous…and given the nature of some, a positively dangerous thing to do – mercifully.

But… we must be on our guard lest mammon be tempted, lest the lure of lucre in the form of hits distorts our minds, fuels our lust for glory, our greed, our venality.  Let us make do with Google ads, as Geeklawyer does,… let us march now… to dissuade with persuasion and then, if that should fail… let us take to the barricades of intellectual freedom, purity and dignity etc etc.

I say only this to my fellow bloggers (With quite a lot of help from Shakespeare and Churchill)  as we are about to gather in a London pub to have our conference later this summer:

Once more unto the breach, dear blawgers, once more.  Or close the wall up with our blogging dead.  In peace there’s nothing so becomes a blogger as modest stillness and humility…. BUT when the blast of industry mammon blows in our ears… Then imitate the action of the tiger.

I have, myself, full confidence that if all blawgers do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made for a meeting in a London pub in August, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island blawging, to ride out the storm of corporate vanity, and to outlive the menace of legal mammon, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.

Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood. I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips… straining upon the start:  The game’s afoot.  Follow your spirit, and upon this charge…. CRY God for Blawging, Purity and Insanity.”

We stand at the barricades… united… burning bras…  [L0-fi reminded me about this bit of protest etiquette: See Comment section].

Exeunt.  Alarum and off to crack a bottle open.

Any takers?… or should we just write to The Lawyer and Legal Week and see if they would like to set up a UK Blawgs Awards Competition and we can all get pissed in dinner jackets and / or fancy frocks at their expense on awards night?

West London Man (16): “I busted a mirror and got seven years bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five.”

Audio Podcast version: West London Man (16)

I busted a mirror and got seven years bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five.
Stephen Wright, American actor and writer.

Wimbledon ticket prices plummeted when Andy Murray crashed out of Wimbledon after his straight sets defeat at the hands of the incredible hulk. Caroline has returned to work with her ex-boss Rod, and George is at home watching Criminal Justice, the new BBC five part drama. The children are staying with Caroline’s parents in Surrey for a week.

George had read that Bar Council Chairman Timothy Dutton QC had objected to the portrayal of barristers in the drama, written by former barrister Peter Moffat – issuing a press release to this effect on Monday 30th June.  Timothy Dutton QC stated: “The drama shows barristers acting in breach of their professional obligations. In episode two a QC encourages a client to provide a false defence to a Court. Such conduct constitutes a grave breach of professional conduct and would be grounds for the barrister to be struck off. The Bar Council is very concerned at the portrayal in this way of a profession which works to the highest ethical standards.”

George had watched the first two episodes on BBC iPlayer, but was at home to watch the third episode.  He rather liked the look of the female QC, Alison Slaughter. George, who had enjoyed nigh on a half bottle of Jack Daniels and several lines of cocaine, decided to ring his City lawyer friend Hugo. It was just after 10.00 pm

Ring…ring….ring…ring….

Hugo: Hello

George: Hugo…George here… how are you? I’ve been at the Jack a bit…. but have you been watching this BBC drama, Criminal Justice?

Hugo: I work until 11.00 at night, George.  I do not watch television dramas and certainly not dramas about criminal lawyers… I see quite enough law being done criminally each day… by other firms, of course.

George: Right.  Your profession doesn’t come out too well… very dodgy in fact…. lawyers trying to encourage their clients to put false defences.  Top banana at The Bar Council is none too pleased.  Been banging off letters to all the papers. Even the Evening Standard got it – although it was exactly the same story as the one in the Daily Mail.

Hugo: And your point is…. George?

George: This Dutton guy… he has a point.  Can’t have the legal profession being portrayed in an unfavourable light….. not good for values, for the economy… for society… respect for the law.

Hugo sighed, put his pen down, took off his expensive platinum frame glasses, put them on the desk and started laughing.

Hugo: Values?…. good to hear you know what they are…. I’d have thought if you were up on a charge you would want a barrister who bent the rules a bit?

George: Well…. you may have a point… but… hypothetically…. doesn’t Dutton have a point?

Hugo: Yes… Dutton has a point.  Whether he will achieve anything in terms of changing public perception by making this point is quite another thing.  The fact is that lawyers rank behind traffic wardens and estate agents in the affections of the public.  This has some benefits.  We are known to be rapacious, greedy, venal, bastards that no-one, apart from shrewd bankers, is surprised by the fee levels we charge… but, be that as it may,  the BBC must be delighted that Dutton has waded in.  Acres of news coverage for their drama.  Moffat replies, quite sensibly (a) that it is drama and, rather more pointedly,  said in the press today… and I quote from The Guardian… (b) “It is absolutely common practice for defendants to be prodded towards giving instructions which suit the best available defence.”

George: So Duttton is wrong?

Hugo: No… Dutton is right.  Moffat did, however also point out, as the Daily Mail reported, and I quote: “Timothy Dutton … seeks to reassure us that defence practitioners act to the highest standards. Does this include the barrister disciplined recently for punching his opponent in court? Or the defence practitioner who sent documentary ‘evidence’ (in fact invented and drafted by himself) from an internet cafe in Oxford Street to his opponent?

‘It is about time the Bar faced the fact that like every other profession it has brilliant and fair-minded practitioners, those of average ability and the violent, dishonest and stupid working within it.’

George: So there are bent barristers?

Hugo: You must reach your own conclusions on these matters, George.  On the other hand…. if you would like a professional opinion on the matter… I take AMEX, Visa and Mastercard…. do you have your card with you?… I need the 16 digit code and the three digit security number… and, as you are pissed, I may as well take your PIN number as well.

George: OK…OK….It’s only a drama…. and… yeah…. you don’t get many lawyers admitting to being lawyers down at Mahiki.  Fancy going to Mahiki tomorrow night?

Hugo: No… but we could try another bar or go over to Brinkley’s. By the way…  have you seen Katja again?

George: No… we had a quick shag at Ascot…. but she’s due over here again for Henley?  You going to Henley?

Hugo: Yes I am.  Why are you going to Henley, George?  You know nothing about rowing.

George:  Bit of business.  Day out… bit of drinking… the usual….networking…and tax deductible… got a minor Arab Sheik coming from Qatar or some other Emirate…. who likes to break free while he is over here… and, f course, Katja is coming over…. Oh… and I’m taking one of my near neighbours… an Audi Quattro TT driving prat who finds himself fascinating.

Hugo: I may see you there.  I must now return to my paperwork… time is money…. Profits per equity partner are rather important here.

***

Audio Podcast version: West London Man (16)

One stop for news…

I have re-done the Pageflakes page for InsiteLaw. Now… on one page…  all the RSS law oriented news feeds from Times, BBC, LawTweet, Inner Temple Current Awareness, Ministry of Justice, Legal Week, Guardian, Independent, Financial Times – and even Charon’s posts and podcasts.

The daily news podcasts will continue – as will my daily selection of useful law news.

On InsiteLaw now and here

(Link to InsiteLaw news pageflakes also in blogroll – right)