In the Matter of: Criminals on probation committed 120 murders in two years

Audio podcast version: Mr Justice X (2): In the Matter of: Criminals on probation committed 120 murders in two years

1. The Telegraph reports that “between April 2006 and April this year, offenders serving community sentences and suspended sentences were convicted of a total of 121 murders. There were a total of 1,004 serious crimes committed by offenders being supervised by the Probation Service, including 22 attempted murders, 103 rapes and 682 other serious violent or sexual offences. Another 374 alleged offences committed by criminals in the community have yet to come to trial.”

2. It would appear, from Ministry of Justice figures, that there has been a rise in the number of offenders being spared jail and given community-based sentences instead.

3. It has been some years, of course, since I sat as a judge but it seems to me that the present Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, who isn’t a lord because of Charlie Falconer’s jiggery pokery with the Constitution some years ago, has got a fair amount of work on his hands.  Fortunately, for the Justice Secretary, The Sun and other newspapers of appeal to the majority of English readers in this country, are more concerned with what Jonathan Ross and Willy Brand are up to, but it won’t be long before their attention is engaged by these remarkable figures and readers, as they eat their full English breakfasts in the cafes of our beautiful island, will be able to rant about prison, transportation, hanging, PCSOs, congestion charging, traffic wardens and anything else that comes into their heads at the time – possibly punctuated with appropriate words derived from Anglo-Saxon.

Old habits die hard… but I think it is time to depart from the strictures of the English judgment writing style and break out…..

It is a pleasure to be invited to be a columnist on this blog and I shall take advantage of the invitation, freed as I am from the need to sit in judgement, freed from the need to insert unusual bits of Da Vinci style code into my judgments to keep up with Mr Justice Peter Smith and his magnificent black moustache worthy of a Victorian beadle, and enjoy what is happening in the legal world.

I haven’t worked out quite how I am going to play this. Charon simply asked me to keep to the rules of late night blogging and hit the juice while I blogged.  This, I am finding remarkably easy to do – and the convenience of an Oddbins, but 45 yards from my present lodgings will, no doubt, assist.

I keep my hand in by reading the usual stuff and I note today that LawandMore have a list of ten legal blogs and Charon’s blog is on it.  I also noted the rather unusual editorial reference, a salutation to Charon from the Editor.. and I quote: ” Charon, we salute you and sorry for setting your chest hair on fire.”

Charon explained that he had been to a lunch at the LawandMore offices earlier in the year – and had enjoyed the experience immensely.  He declined to comment as to how his chest hair came to be set alight… he merely muttered res ipsa loquitur as he left to buy a bottle at the bar.

I hope to be able to write once a week or so,  provided the Grim Reaper does not get tooled up with a new Googlephone (as Geeklawyer seems to have done) and finds out where I am.  I have taken the precaution of not taking foreign holidays so I do not need one of these new passports with antennae built allowing the government to track my whereabouts at all times.  I shall be back, hopefully at the weekend.  Do call me Henry – it is the name I am now using.

Have a good one….

***

Audio podcast version: Mr Justice X (2): In the Matter of: Criminals on probation committed 120 murders in two years


.

Mr Justice X….the beginning

Audio Podcast: Mr Justice X (1) – The Beginning

Allow me to introduce you to Mr Justice X.  He has retired, of course – but he is still thinking, still watching and still has JUDGMENT.

I met Mr Justice X some time ago in the most curious circumstances.  I happened to be having a drink down at El Vino’s in Fleet Street, sitting at the back.  The “Ties Mandatory” rule had gone, and ladies, of course, had been allowed through the hallowed portal.  As it happens, I was wearing a tie…  a drinking society tie… rather exclusive.  I was reading The Times Law section, naturally, when they did a proper law section on Tuesdays.

“Anyone sitting there?”  I heard this deep sonorous voice.  The voice appeared to come from above.  I turned to find the craggy features of a gentleman wearing a pinstripe suit, stiff collar, silk tie.  His black Church’s brogues were over thirty years old but were highly polished.  He had a white handerchief folded in his top pocket.  A distinguished gentleman.

“No… please do sit down”  I replied.

“What are you drinking?” the gentleman asked.

“A Rioja.”

“What?”

“A Rioja.”

“Good grief… Bourbon wine… very well.”

He got up, walked over to the bar and returned with a bottle of Rioja and two glasses.  I was both delighted and baffled when he poured both glasses.  I enjoy a drink, but I tend not to set one up in advance as a spare.

The gentleman pushed the glass towards me…  “To the King of bloody Spain!” and drained half the glass.  It was then I realised that the second glass was for me.  I picked my glass up, made a circular motion with the glass, and said “To the King across the water… Jacobus.”

The gentleman laughed “You’re a Scot.  Don’t sound like one.  Sound like a bloody news reader… are you a news reader?”

“No, I am not a news reader… I am a blogger… Charon QC.”

“You are a QC?”

“No.. I’m a blogger.  I gave myself silk when The Lord Chancellor stopped dishing them out a few years ago.”

“Excellent… good idea.” the gentleman said, laughing and draining the remainder of the wine from his glass.  “Drink up… we have much to talk about and, I notice from your tie, that you are a Toper.”  With that my drinking companion, as I now viewed him, poured the rest of the bottle into my glass and then his.

“I was a judge many years ago… Henry is the name I use now.  High Court.  Too stupid and too difficult and too often appealed to get any further.  I keep up of course by reading the odd bit of gossip… been looking at all this talk of wigs and gowns… ridiculous, really…. but as my old friend Lord Donaldson said years ago… ” I cannot see the point now of discarding something which has been out of date for at least a century.”

And that is how I met Mr Justice X  … Henry, as he likes to be known, is going to be an occasional columnist.  I have absolutely no idea what he is going to write about.  He promises to write only after a few glasses but may shoehorn in a bit of law. A kindred spirit.

Audio Podcast: Mr Justice X (1) – The Beginning

Restaurant Review: Kensington Place

Some time ago , at the invitation of an editor at LawandMore I went to Kensington Place – a good restaurant in Notting Hill (area).  Fun evening.  I wrote a review.  Here it is.

A small quote: ” On my first visit, I was greeted by a charming lady who smiled. I was taken to my table by the window and was then greeted by Letitia – a waitress – who also smiled.  Smiling is good in the service sector provided it is natural – and these were natural, relaxed and welcoming smiles.  I asked for a glass of house red.”

(I made two visits – second even more incognito than first)

30th October: Daily Legal news and podcast

Daily Legal News and podcast up on Insitelaw

Delighted to see a small rise in listening figures for my daily news podcasts.  They last for about 5-6 minutes, cover all the main legal and business stories and I usually end up going over to The Sun to see what is happening in the parallel universe covered by that great British institution… Some days I speak like a BBC news reader… I am working on a Channel 4 style…. and if figures rise I may be encouraged to go off piste and start phoning people to see if they would like to go drinking with me.   I shall leave requests to sleep with their daughters or grand daughters to the professionals.

I was a bit late this morning – simply because I had to do something else – but normally the news and podcast is done by 7.00 am or, at the latest, by 9.00 am.

1.  Stlll time to collect one free hour of CPD from The CPD Channel… see Insitelaw right hand column for details (scroll down)

2.  There is a lot of really very good analysis in the UK law and financial blogs – much of it superior to the commercial stuff produced by the more traditional media.  I am concentrating more and more attention on UK, US and International blogs in my daily updates on Insitelaw and starting to include blogs in my daily news podcast.  Have a look – it really is very good the analysis by UK and other bloggers

3. GOOD NEWS: Australia getting stuffed by India in the cricket. Love Aussies as I do, I still can’t help smiling at a score line: Third Test, Delhi: India 613-7d v Australia 50-0 (day two, stumps)  Ashes next year? England could be in a goood position under KP… we shall see…

Brand resigns… Ross apologises…. but hey….

The Telegraph reports 10.49 GMT 29th October: “Ross has 18 months to run of his three year £18 million contract which is the most expensive in the history of the BBC. All his shows for the BBC are made by his own production company, Hot Sauce. The contract includes a clause which gives the BBC the right to terminate the agreement, at short notice, if the corporation is brought into disrepute by his actions. Even though Mark Thompson, the director-general, has accused Ross of a “gross lapse in taste”, his lawyers would sue the corporation if he is fired.”

I enjoyed this bit in the Telegraph story… ” The BBC is anxious to avoid an expensive and damaging legal row with Ross who Mark Thompson regards as “genuine talent”.

Meanwhile… the Visigoths are at the gates of Rome and  are out in force having fun, as usual, on Guido Fawkes’ blog…. Tourettes anyone…?

The Telegraph also reports: “Because of Mr Ross’s suspension, the BBC has decided to pull Friday Night With Jonathan Ross and replace it with the film Speed. However, there are growing calls for the corporation to screen an episode of the classic 1970s comedy series in which Mr Sachs played the role of the blundering Spanish waiter Manuel.”

At least a bit of law shoehorned into the blog tonight… and on that note…. just as well we are not, as a country, going through a major financial crisis, recession and chaos…..

But… there is some serious news… The Independent runs with a story on ID cards:

“Claims that ID cards will help the fight against terrorism have been dismissed as “absolute bunkum” by a senior Government security expert linked to GCHQ. Ministers faced embarrassment after Harvey Mattinson, a senior consultant at the information security arm of the intelligence listening station, spoke out at a technology conference……”

So far as I can gather, there is no indication that Gordon Brown has waded in, as yet, to demand an *investigation* into why a senior government expert is indulging in … to borrow from his outburst in the Ross/Brand fiasco… ““inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour”.

And so… October 29th ended…

Weird wide world….

It snowed in London and elsewhere – although none on the Boat down on the the Embankment.  Mind you, I got a seat outside the cafe at 7.00 this morning at a cafe – and sat there in splendid isolation drinking espresso, smoking a few fags and reading the newspapers.

Then, of course, the extraordinary story about Jonathan Ross and Brand covered by the BBC and pretty well every media organisation – so I need not dwell on it other than  to say, apart from the astonishing behaviour of these two blokes, for me, the most extraordinary thing was to see a British prime minister, in the midst of the most severe financial crisis since 1929, taking time to wade in demanding investigations.  Brown, clearly, is obsessed by investigations.  Perhaps, thwarted by constitutional law from having Osborne investigated last week, he saw an opportunity to get an investigation here.  Bizarre. Anyway…. apologies have or are being made and Brand has fallen on his sword by resigning from his BBC show, showing resolution not always shared by politicians when things go pear shaped.  Bill Quango MP, a contributor to the Capitalists@Work blog – has a very amusing parody of whole Brown / Ross / Brand fiasco… definitely worth a read.

So… what else happened today?

The US has cut interest rates to 1%, stock exchanges are moving up, Darling is relaxing fiscal rules, BMI is being taken over by Lufthansa, Debbie Purdy has lost her High Court case to clarify the law on assisted suicide and a man has been shot dead by police in London.  Quite a day.  I shall leave comment on these to my alter ego, to write about on Insitelaw.

Tonight, after a long and busy day it is time to turn my mind to less serious matters….

Dan Hull of WhatAboutClients? friend, US attorney, man of letters, zealot for client service and a man with no time for shirkers sent me an email alerting me to a very subtle ‘report” – here it is. Make of it what you will. There is a message… and I am going to sit down later with a bottle of burgundy and decipher the hidden text.

Always amused when blogs pop up on legal journals or via law firms… BarBoy, who is a mature student doing the BVC has a most amusing piece…. What’s in a name” – “At Lawyer 2Be, there is a blog by a BVC student. Looks to me like a piece of thinly veiled product placement by BPP, but I am cynical about these things. In any event, the author is certainly right in comparing BPP to primary school; the materials have pretty pictures and you get talked to as though you are, indeed, 7 years old. All that’s missing are the one-third pint bottles of luke warm milk that Thatcher snatched away. Oh, and a sand pit.”

There are some good student law blogs out there – hopefully most of them are in my blogroll to the right or on the Insitelaw blogs Pageflakes. Barmaid, Law Actually, Barboy, LawGirl, Swiss Tony  are but a few….

An amusing video of a US judge ‘shredding a law student who appeared at The People’s Court.… he got ripped apart by the judge.  Preparation is all and not always a good idea to argue with the judge when your law is bad. .  Hat Tip to LawandMore for the link.

And a quick trip over to RonKnee’s produced as always, a laugh: “I call this an unsocial worker. He comes to me with suggestions as to how I can improve my life. He reckons that I can do myself a favour by stopping the drink. FECK! NO FECKIN’ WAY! Feckin’ Unsocial, if you ask me…”

The unique Ms R “A woman of experience” is away in Australia, where she comes from – but on business.  She has time, however, to report on Man Drought.. I liked this passage: “Of course the term ‘shortage’ is all relevant. After all, how many men is enough? Are we simply referring to members of the male sex who are technically alive? Or are we talking shortage of high quality, top shelf stock? Also should we make an assumption that every woman in the market for a man is only looking for one?”

Time for a bite to eat… no steak pie tonight…. perhaps an omelette with some tomato and a few flakes of chilli to give it a lift?  I may be back and post later…


Muttley Dastardly LLP: Credit-crunch is for wimps….

Matt Dastardly, managing partner of leading City boutique law firm Muttley Dastardly LLP, is working late in his office in the City. His PA, Eva Braun, has chosen an elegant pair of Charles Jourdan high heeled shoes for the meeting this evening and is, as always, dressed in a well cut black skirt suit.

***

“So… I see from the Lawyer that yet more law firms are re-structuring, declaring redundancies and ditching cost centre oriented associates and partners and that there is the usual journo guff about law firm mergers.?”

Eva Braun looked at her notepad and said briskly “Yeah…. Clarke Willmott Chief executive David Sedgwick said in The Lawyer today“These steps are being taken in direct response to lower demand for legal services being felt by all firms at the moment and we don’t take them lightly.” Apparently they are juicing 40 fee earners and support earners.”

“Usual commercial prop or is it wider?” Muttley asked, his eyes flicking between three computer screens on his desk and the bank of CCTV monitors on the wall to his right.

“Wider.” Eva Braun replied “Although the CEO went on to say ‘The numbers of people affected by this programme represent a very small proportion of the firm, and our priority must be to safeguard the long-term interests of Clarke Willmott.’

Matt Muttley sat back in his chair, laughed and said “Hey… at least the guy understands the need to protect the firm.  How many associates are we saying “Ciao” to this week?”

“Two who didn’t make the cut at last review and one guy you felt was not made of the ‘right stuff’ because he was critical of The Bullingdon Club.”

“Ah… yeah… I listened in on one of his calls to a client…. for training purposes, of course, and heard him say that he thought that the guys in the Osborne Bullingdon Club photo were all tossers.  Well I’m sorry, Eva…. six of the eight senior partners on our special executive board are members, as indeed was I, so….. if we’re not good enough for him… he can bugger off and work elsewhere. I’ve half a mind to trash his room with Dastardly later.”

“Yet another of your good ideas, Matt….. save it for your next trip to Corfu…. we don’t need the publicity”

Muttley laughed, lit a cuban cigar, downed a shot of ice cold Absolut vodka and said “Cameron was a member of the club you know. No idea whether he did the drugs.  He never comments on his  post Eton spliffing days…. but, in any event, The Bullingdon didn’t really approve of cannabis and other happy drugs… interfered with the desire of the chaps to trash restaurants….. so not ‘de rigeur’.”

“So… Matt.. how do you think we are shaping up with the credit-crunch?”

“Good, Eva…. good.  We’re picking up CDS stuff, good quality Lehman fallout, a high level of good quality insolvency work, our banking partners are working their associates into the ground….. and we got out of property and low end private client work some time ago.  Need to build up litigation for a few years… but some good lateral hires coming out of New York… so no problem.”

Matt tapped the keyboard for the computer screen on the right, read intently and said “Eva…. this is is great…. Law Schools are being flooded with bankers… and finance people re-qualifying.  Didn’t Dr Strangelove tell us that law schools could be in trouble in the next few years… doesn’t look like it from this.”

“The crazy Dr did say that and he’s right…. this is just the GDL, Matt… the BVC is a different matter altogether… and there is no way the profession can sustain present levels of recruitment in the short to medium term…. so  young lawyers are going to be flipping burgers again soon.”

“Excellent” Muttley shouted…. “Bloody marvellous….. maybe we should look at setting up a law school  ourselves? Some law schools are raking it in.”

“No, Matt… that is another of your not so good ideas…. I’ve already called several law schools to look at their pricing structures.  They seem a bit high to me….. buyer’s market now…. we pay the piper, so they can play our tune… and our tune is “Birdie, birdie, Cheap cheap.”

“Jesus… Eva… you are right.  We should make you a partner.”

“I am a partner, Matt. I do banking work here and that includes our banking. I know every detail of the finances here, as do you.”

” Eva…. only joking…”

“We understand one another, then…” Eva said with an amused smile

“We do.  Fancy dinner in The City…somewhere exuding style, sophistication and dribblingly delicious concoctions?  See if anyone is jumping tonight?”

“Let’s go.”

A night in with the blog

As the sun set over The Thames and the BBC promised ‘heavy showers’ did not arrive, I decided that a night away from the recession, writing  law book chapters, or anything connected with the serious business of law, was in order.  It is Tuesday;  a little too early in the week to run amok in a wine bar or gastropub.  So it is a night in.

With all the talk recently on Twitter about steak pies (which I am partly responsible for) I appear to have developed a taste for them.  I shall not go into any detail here, but I do seem to get into various food fads.  For a month in July-August I was obsessed by mackerel, smoked mackerel. I recall, two years ago at The Bollo, eating well done calves liver and mash every lunchtime for nearly eight weeks.  Chef, I was told, liked to cook it ‘medium rare’.  My response to the manager, who knew me well, was “Please ask Chef not to be such an idle sod…. and to cook mine well done.”  I did, of course, know the chef quite well;  for otherwise such a remark would have been rude.  He was quite happy to ‘cremate’ my calves liver for me. There came a point, inevitably, when it was no longer possible for my id, my ego, my psyche or my stomach, to cope with any more calves liver and the search was on for a new food fad.  For the moment… it is STEAK PIES… or, as the French like to call them… Filet De Boeuf En Croûte.  The French can call them whatever they like.  I shall ask for BEEF WELLINGTON when next I am in Paris – and see what happens. There is, of course, a subtle difference in style between a good steak pie and a ponced up Beef Wellington.

I was fascinated to read in The Lawyer that investment bankers and others from the financial sector are piling onto GDL courses to re-qualify as lawyers.

The Lawyer reports: The number of students enrolling on the GDL at the UK’s biggest law schools has rocketed, with graduates seeking shelter in the safe haven of the legal sector as the global financial crisis continues to rage.

“CoL chief executive Nigel Savage said: “I saw the same thing happen in the last recession, whereby graduates from other sectors such as banking and finance decided to convert to law. A great surge in people will mean even more competition for training contracts – especially because firms have kept their vacancy numbers virtually static over the past few years.”

Nigel Savage is an astute man and is well aware of the severe downturn expected in the legal sector.  The newspapers and legal press are full of reports of redundancies, re-structuring, law firm mergers et al.  At least the law schools are doing well – eh?

More later…… just off to buy another steak pie….. these are ‘ard times we live in…. need to make sure there is a spare steak pie in the larder…  back soon.

UPDATE:  It appears that the BBC forecasters were right. The heavy showers have just arrived.  Fortunately, I appear to have a black umbrella from Claridges on board so I shall venture forth suitably protected.  The Claridges Chicken Pie cooked by Gordon Ramsay, by the way,  is excellent.  One of his cookbooks has the recipe.  I have cooked it for guests on several occasions.  Good pie.

26th October: Postcard from the Boat

***

I write this week from the island of Corfu. I write with the reassuring news that George Osborne, despite being a member of The Bullingdon Club, despite his unfortunate embarrassment over meetings with Oleg the Oligarch, despite David Cameron allegedly saying that he had been a bit of prat…. likes rubber underwear and dog leads.  This information I came by through the News of The World at 3.30 this morning when I got up to see if the clocks had gone back.

The NOTW obligingly told us that a ‘dominatrix vice queen’ had known George for some time when he was younger and gave us a photo to show a ‘Shadow Chancellor of The Future’ (pic right) There is no suggestion that Osborne smoked the greenery covering ‘Natalie’s’ face.  Natalie told us that he was not into drugs.  The Bullingdon Club does not, in fact, approve of drugs like cannabis… largely because it interferes, apparently, with the desire of members to smash restaurants and other things up –

I felt a degree of sympathy for Osborne as NOTW related the statement from vice queen Natalie: “The others picked on him. He hadn’t gone to Eton, he wasn’t really one of them. He didn’t have blue blood, that’s why he didn’t quite fit in.They were all snobs. They called his dad a ‘curtain maker’. Because he was overweight they called him Jelly Belly and Georgie Porgy. He used to wear baggy jumpers to hide the flab”

Inevitably, Guido Fawkes carried the story and the commenters gathered in droves to comment.  Personally I could not give a damn what people get up to in their private lives provided it is consensual – and there is no suggestion that Osborne, if he does find himself Chancellor in some future government, will be wandering about in rubber underwear with a dog lead around his neck while managing the complex affairs of our sceptred isle… so good on him.  Yet another non story.  So… he had a good time when he was a student. Good. Reminds me of the bad old joke… when Jesus is talking to  people about sin and says “Those who are without sin… cast the first stone’.  There is a crash and the sound of broken glass… and Jesus says…  “Mother…. I asked you not to come to this meeting.”

The NOTW article reveals more about the mores, attitudes and values of the people Osborne hung out with then – ‘nice’ people…. clearly.

Moving on….

I’ll be back later…. possibly.  I am going to have a glass of wine with a mate… a piu tarde…

regards, as always

“You wouldn’t want him at your wedding, would you?”…

Many things make me laugh – and some out loud to a point where people start staring at me wondering if I am a nutter… This excellent post by Hugo Rifkind in The Times today… gets my “Piece of the week award”…

Hugo Rifkind, The Times – 24th October 2008

He’s Back

“Remarkable how British politics has changed in the few short weeks since Peter Mandelson crawled back out from under his Euro-rock.  You wouldn’t want him at your wedding, would you?  Fights would break out. The marquee would fall down and the bride would punch you in the mouth.  Mandelson would just sit there, radiating evil and cologne, placidly showing you his teeth.  He’s the opposite of King Midas.  Everything he touches turns to dirt.

I doubt that he can be blamed for whatever George Osborne may or may not have done in Corfu, and it probably sounds a bit odd to blame him for us all knowing about it.  But the tone of everything has suddenly changed.  It’s him, all him, all him. The man is like sugar in an engine.  His influence is so malign.  I wish that he’d stayed away.”

Excellent…. as it happens, I find politics all the more interesting for Mandelson being back.  Just waiting to see, as others are, what he will be resigning for next time….

I rather liked this device: a necklace to attach a wine glass to – keeping it close at hand while one does other things with the hands.  I may have to get one….

On that note… I shall return to my real work….

The English Gentleman….

On a day when Nat Rothschild told Osborne not to mess with him any further, on a day when all seems to have gone mysteriously quiet on the Osborne story – The Guardian has a great story about George Osborne’s boorish behaviour on holiday this summer in Greece.  It is worth a read for a viewpoint on how the educated, apparently well mannered, Englishman with aspirations to high office behaves.  Candida Jones has the story (My thanks to Ro for tipping me off.)

Maybe it is the end of the story – we shall see.  Certainly, I think the prime minister needs to brush up on his constitutional and administrative law if he is to suggest any more *investigations*.

Anyway… moving on…..

I went up to The King’s Road for a coffee after a meeting this afternoon.  I sat outside the cafe so that I could smoke and read my newspaper in peace without the usual background chatter of builders and scaffolders shouting at each other…”Hey, Dave… bleeding hell… have you seen this effing…” etc etc.

The coffee arrived… black and piping hot…. all was good.  I had The Independent open in front of me. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a chap, mid to late fifties, suited and wearing a hat, staggering slightly towards me.

“Good afternoon… fine day is it not?”

I looked up and replied “It is a fine day… good to see the sun out.”

“What!”

“I said it is good to see the sun out.”

“You read The Sun?”

“No… I said”… pointing to the sky.. “It is good to see the sun is out… shining… in the sky.”

The gentleman looked up and then looked back at me.  By this stage he was standing right opposite my table.  He was mildly over refreshed.

“I’ve had a bit of a lunch. May have overdone it.  Don’t tell the wife.”

I sat back in my chair. Always good to see a gentleman mid-afternoon exercising his liver. He was tapping his nose.

“You don’t know my wife do you?”

“I don’t know your wife, No.” I replied.  It was true and seemed to be a sensible thing to say.  The gentleman smiled in the mysterious way seriously pissed people do when they are  having conversations with themselves.

“Ah… you are reading a newspaper…. bit late for a morning paper isn’t it?”

I tried to explain that I had read two newspapers earlier in the day but… to no avail.

“Always like to get my reading of newspapers out of the way before 9.00.  Sets me up for the rest of the day.”

I smiled.  I had decided that this particular gentlemen did not need to be encouraged.

“Do they serve gin and tonic here?”

“They serve alcohol, but you have to eat?”

“I have to eat? Why do I have to eat?  I’m not hungry.  I just want a G&T.”

“This is a licensed cafe…. it is policy…. you have to have a meal with alcohol.”

“Bloody ridiculous… I shall find somewhere more sensible.  Good to talk…”

The man shuffled off….  I have no doubt at all that he found a Gin and tonic.  I made a mental note to myself to avoid making eye contact with suited gentlemen wearing hats mid-afternoon.

I oligarch… do you?…..

The tale of Osborne, The Oligarch and The Wardrobe continues to grind on. Gordon Brown has now called for an investigation.  Into what, precisely, is another question.  There is some doubt as to whether any act is capable of being investigated in this matter as yet.

Anyway… the story continues… and Guido Fawkes notes that The Times appears to be running a poill to see if “Osborne should go”…. Guido, as ever, has provided a platform for his band of commenters…

BBC: Brown calls for investigation

BBC: PM’s Osborne remark ‘desperate’

BBC: Osborne affair is about judgement

Perhaps the commenters on Guido will provide a more amusing read than these rather turgid BBC articles.

***

The Independent has come up with an amusing (perhaps, unintentionally) article about “Yachtgate…. some gems from the article:

“Gordon Brown has called for an official investigation into George Osborne’s dealings with a Russian billionaire and his motive may be revenge.”….

“…the Prime Minister has a visceral, tribal dislike of Conservatives. And David Cameron and George Osborne are the two Conservatives he probably dislikes most of all, partly because he regards them as “Tory toffs” who adopt a patronising attitude towards him”

“Mr Osborne has described Mr Brown as “weak”, “brutal”, “unpleasant”, “a phoney” and “a failure” and was rebuked in the Commons for declaring that “Brown will make an effing awful Prime Minister”. He was even criticised by a charity for appearing to suggest Mr Brown could be “faintly autistic”.

So… all in all.. our politicians are still behaving as we expect them to behave… with dignity, courtesy and manage the affairs of this country in a measured way – rather important at the moment, one would have thought.

Update: Thursday 23rd October
The Guardian reports:

Don’t cross me again, warns Tory’s accuser

Millionaire banker puts Osborne on notice not to challenge his account

George Osborne… a GONER within the week?  Any bets?

Oligarchy… and other matters….

There was an interesting leader in the Times this morning suggesting that Russian oligarchs need to raise $120 billion to enable them to meet margin calls.  Putin, in all but name president of Russia, The Times suggests, is waiting in the wings to offer aid and, thereby, bring back under state control assets sold off in the early days of Russian capitalism.

Interesting…. and I haven’t seen quite as many Russians wandering about as usual.  Mind you, it used to be easy to recognise them…  but since they have given up dressing in the dark it has become more difficult to spot them.

It is the old story… you wait for a story about an oligarch and then they come in in threes…. George Osborne is in the news.  The Times ran the headline “The Tories, the oligarch and a £50,000 question.”

Guido Fawkes writes:Mandelson’s ability to get Nathan Rothschild, a Tory donor, to counter-attack Osborne over the “pouring poison” line is widely seen as a tribute to his powers of persuasion.”

Osborne at Bay… The Guardian – we shall see what happens when The Times reports tomorrow?

An interesting post from The Spy Blog…. “Home Secretary Jacqui Smith – EU G6 plus USA Ministers discussing “remote searches of computer hard drives.”

Spyblogs states: “This United Kingdom based blog attempts to draw public attention to, and comments on, some of the current trends in ever cheaper and more widespread surveillance technology being deployed to satisfy the rapacious demand by state and corporate bureaucracies and criminals for your private details, and the technological ignorance of our politicians and civil servants who frame our legal systems.”

You may also be interested in Spy Blog’s Freedom of Information website – interesting reading.

I have just read Mervyn King’s assessment for Britain as we head into recession. He talks of a Long March which, inevitably, conjured up in my febrile mind at least, images of the The Great Protector leading us…. I may have overdone the juice for a Tuesday night. The Times reports: “Mervyn King admitted for the first time that “it now seems likely that the economy is entering a recession”. He steeled struggling families and firms for a protracted stretch of tough times.

“We now face a long, slow haul to restore lending to the real economy, and hence growth of our economy, to more normal conditions,” he said.

He warned that a harsh squeeze on take-home pay, soaring living costs, and scarce access to loans for consumers, “poses the risk of a sharp and prolonged slowdown…”

Just a quick post for now….. curiously I am reading about human rights abuses in the UK…. not very pleasant reading….

18th October: Postcard from the Boat

So there I was, woodbine in one hand, a glass of red in the other and I was thinking about cottaging and dogging. I wasn’t thinking about doing either of these activities myself, of course – but, for some curious reason, they came into my mind.  Some senior plod earlier in the week had caused mass outrage among the outrageable classes by suggesting that when police officers went for a rare walk in the park together they should walk on by if they saw men shagging each other or groups of men standing outside a parked car watching the sex going on within.

In fact, so obsessed by these wonderfully British sporting activities was I,  I had to bring it up on TwitterInfobunny and Geeklawyer just happened, purely by chance, to be on Twitter at the time and the exchange went like this:

Charonqc @Geeklawyer May go out and look for cottagers and doggers….now that Police couldn’t care less….

Charonqc @Geeklawyer Not for me… you understand…. Just wd like to see what doggers get up to…. apparently they stand outside cars watching sex.

Charonqc @Geeklawyer Dogging seems most bizarre… watching chavs f***ing each other in a dark carpark… seriously crazy….

Geeklawyer @Charonqc wouldn’t be better to rap on the steamy window & say “Hey! That’s my wife!” and run away?

Charonqc @Geeklawyer Or… knock on window… “You need some Viagra, mate…”

infobunny @Geeklawyer @Charonqc or even better, knock on the window and say: “Hey, that’s my car!”

I’m afraid I tend not to use Twitter for serious research, networking or communication.  It would seem that a few UK blawgers abuse Twitter as well.

RollonFriday reports that Clifford Chance is laying off 20 litigators from their New York office. This is rather curious given the ‘Tsunami of litigation’ currently washing through the legal profession in the wake of the banking collapse.  RoF suggest that CC may just not be cutting it at the top of the US league of white shoe firms in New York?

Always being open to the human species’ ability to do strange and unusual things, my eye was caught by a story about a drumming cab driver on the News of The World websiteI had a look.  I played the video.  He wasn’t a very good drummer and looked even more bizarre, clad in denim with a homburg hat on, when he climbed out of his cab and started vandalising his own cab with his drum sticks.  If he goes on Britain’s Got Talent, I’d advise him to find a dog with a brain tumour and only five days to live.

***

And so to the world of politics…. I have declared my blawg a PESTO FREE ZONE at weekends… so no talk tonight from Mr Pesto, Global Editor, Financial panic and hubris section, The British Broadcasting Corporation about PANIC and MELTDOWN… that can wait for post 21 October Lehman situation.  It ain’t over yet….. but just in case you haven’t read it…. house prices are set to fall again this month.  Look on the bright side if you bought a house at the top of the market and are married….. it means you can stay married.  On that topic, I read the other day that meedja savvy journalists, with no time to follow the current financial situation, politics, war, global recession, human rights abuses et al…. are telling their readers to cope with the coming cold winter and rising fuel bills to make babies.

The tabloids may, take up this theme, but I suspect they will be less demure.  “”COR WHAT A SHAGGER” as they report on the credit-crunch, global warming, immigration, energy prices” in one deftly crafted piece of journalism.  [I am a great admirer of tabloid journalism.  It takes real skill to simplify complex ideas and issues and make them understandable by people too hungover, self obsessed, thick, right wing, politically unaware to an absurd level and geezers who eat the same breakfast every day at their local caff.

If you are in the market to get married or divorced then I always recommend John Bolch over at Family Lore – who knows a thing or two.  In fact… he has worked out how to film himself from his webcam and put these films on YouTube!  His first sensible vidcast is about Family Law.. “The Week in View”.  I shall leave you to discover his first….. most enjoyable… first vidcast.”

Two good articles in the press today – Lynn Barber interviewing Boris – and Rawnsley of The Observer. Barber’s article, if you are a Londoner and have not read it – is worth a read in full.  Good stuff.

But it was Andrew Rawnsley, who I always read first as I light my Sunday woodbine at the caff, who entertained more, for me. Full Rawnsley article: “When a politician claims that he always saw the storm on the horizon, it is often more informative to read what he was saying when the sun was still shining.”

Rawnsley then provides some rather good examples: referring to Gordon Brown’s speeches at The Mansion House to The Great and The Greedy” …. Rawnsley writes: “Having hosed them with adulation every time he visited the City, Gordon Brown surpassed himself when he returned in 2007 to deliver his final Mansion House speech as Chancellor before he moved into Number 10. ‘A new world order has been created,’ he proclaimed. Britain was ‘a new world leader’ thanks to ‘your efforts, ingenuity and creativity’. He congratulated himself for ‘resisting pressure’ to toughen up regulation of their activities. Everyone needed to follow the City’s ‘great example’, emulate this ‘high value-added, talent-driven industry’. ‘Britain needs more of the vigour, ingenuity and aspiration that you already demonstrate.’ Thanks to their ‘remarkable achievements’, we had the huge privilege to live in ‘an era that history will record as the beginning of a new Golden Age’.

Yep…. goood stuff.

And finally for this weekend’s postcard – a short one, I know – but I did not have as much free time as is normal this weekend….

The 42 day victory hasn’t won the war

But the government’s attack on civil liberties is finally driving ordinary citizens to protest

Henry Porter has an interesting article…

Who knows what will happen on the stock exchange, house prices, recession, when the Christmas lights will be turned on.. oor if they will be turned on at all….  we shall find out as the week enfolds…

Regards as always

Forecast for law schools for the next three years…

Unusually… I’m going to write about something sensible. I’m going to write and explain why I think law schools in England & Wales could run into some quite serious and severe problems over the next two to three years and why there should be some ‘rationalisation’.

There are, essentially, four things for law schools to consider: (1) The current financial situation and almost inevitable recession, (2) The outsourcing of legal work abroad,  (3) pressure from regulators and (4) the fact that there are just too many law schools – some of indifferent quality.

(1) The current financial situation and almost inevitable recession

It is unlikely that the economy will turn rapidly and the UK, if not already in recession, is likely to experience recessionary pressures for between 12-24 months if current expert thinking (and past experience) is correct.  This will lead to a reduction in demand for a range of legal services and while City firms enjoy a ‘banking and insolvency dividend’, this high end work is unlikely to filter through to more than 50 or so of the top law firms in this country sufficient to stave off significant reduction in firm revenue.  Other corporate-commercial work requires a degree of growth in the economy, the availability of credit and, rather important,  risk averse business thinking.  The property market, both commercial and residential, is experiencing a downturn, prices are falling and are likely to continue to fall over the next six to twelve months. I need not labour this point – there is, in any event, a wealth of expert opinion out there in the press and on the net. It is inevitable that there will be further contraction of law firms, redundancies and, of course, recruitment of trainee lawyers.

(2) The outsourcing of legal work abroad

We have already seen major law firms contracting work out to to India. It is likely that other legal, quasi-legal and paralegal work will  go the same way as law firms find ways to cut costs. Soft budgets like training and education will, I suspect, form part of this outsourcing.  The big firms will continue to employ training professionals, but what merit is there in a smaller firm retaining the cost burden of a sophisticated training and education team when high quality provision is available at an increasingly competitive price in the open market?

(3) Pressure from regulators

We have already seen that the Bar Standards Board plans to make it more difficult for young people to qualify at the bar.  There are, in anyone’s logic, far too many trainee barristers chasing far too few pupillages, let alone tenancies.  The figures quoted seem to be 3200 chasing 450 pupillages (and, presumably fewer tenancies) in each year. The high cost of reading for the Bar must weigh heavily now on the mind of a student contemplating a career at the Bar.

There is no indication of this at present, but it is quite possible that the Solicitors Regulatory Authority will begin to look at over supply of student lawyers in the market.  This apparent over supply may correct naturally with the coming recession.  Loans from Banks to students may be more difficult to come by and, again, students will need to consider most carefully whether they are suited to a career in law where only the best survive, or should survive, irrespective of background, creed or race.

(4) There are too many law schools – some of indifferent quality

This, of course, is the most contentious and difficult part of this post.  The best way to deal with the issue is to break it into sections:  (a) There are too many law schools to sustain a declining student market (b) There are too many BVC providers for a predictable decline in student numbers and (c) There are just too many law schools.

(a) There are too many law schools to sustain a declining student market

With over 80 law schools in England & Wales providing law degrees (and some providing the LPC and BVC) it is inevitable, with the decline in student numbers predicted, they will experience financial difficulties if not serious financial loss in terms of revenue – against an inflationary background of rising cost and a likely government reluctance to increase education budgets to universities.

(b) There are too many BVC providers for a predictable decline in student numbers

There are eight providers of the BVC (College of Law and BPP have two centres each) with ten law school choices available for approximately 1700 students at present.  Given the Wood ‘root and branch’ review, the new test, the general uncertain economic climate, it is possible that we will see a fairly significant reduction in numbers.

University based law schools may argue that they provide a ‘full service’ and they are less concerned with ‘profits’.  This is a specious argument in some respects, given the fees charged for the LPC and BVC – far higher than degree courses, because they are permitted to charge higher fees. Presumably universities have to run to recognised budgetary rules and not run heavily loss making courses?

I would suspect, but have no direct knowledge, that BPP and The College of Law tend to be the BVC providers of choice for many if not most students. If this premise is correct, and there is a downturn in numbers, it is likely that those students intending to read for the bar, are likely to continue to choose BPP and The College with an inevitable reduction in demand for places at other providers – perhaps even despite geographical benefits?

The location of a branch of The College of Law in Birmingham and a branch of BPP in Leeds could, in any event, negate geographical advantage for providers outside London.

We could, of course, see fee competition.  Fees for the BVC are high, arguably higher than they need be. We shall see. University providers of the BVC are going to have to take a long hard look at the books and the trends if they are to avoid difficulty going forward if demand does drop for the reasons given above.

(c) There are just too many law schools

Given the logic and reasoning above, if correct, it is clear that we have (a) an over supply of law students and (b) we probably have too many law schools.  Why the need for every university or technical college to run a law degree programme?  The reality is that employers, in the main, tend to prefer the older traditional universities over the newer universities and, without going into recondite detail here, I think it is reasonably well established that there is a qualitative difference between the education delivered by a top university and some in the bottom ten per cent of the league table.

Vice Chancellors have long regarded law degree programmes as a favoured ‘cash cow’.  They are comparatively inexpensive compared to medicine, the sciences and even some of the arts based subjects – requiring only teaching / research staff, accommodation, classrooms and a relatively inexpensive law library.  Demand for law has been high for the last ten to fifteen years and it cannot have escaped anyone’s attention that class sizes have risen dramatically as the old tutorial of 3-5 people has given way to ‘seminars’ with larger group numbers, some as high as 25 per seminar.  Universities like the money that regular or even growing demand brings in.

Legal academe guards jealously the right to award degrees, the right to provide courses – but is there really a need to replicate what is essentially a ‘core knowledge course’, dictated in part by the needs of the profession, in quite so many universities?  Might it not be a good idea to cut the number of universities offering law courses and invest the money in the better universities?

We may not need to.  The market may do that for us if numbers decline in the short to medium term.

Caveat

I have spent 25+ years in legal education, often in the van,  and I have for the last 6 months been quietly researching into the economics of law provision, supply and demand.  The above is but a simple distillation of the information I have had access to.  Economic models, as with any forecasting tool, can be wrong.  I feel, however, having survived two recessions, having seen what happened in the past,  that the situation could be as bad, if not worse, this time – simply because there has to be added this time – a significant over supply of students to the needs the market.  That seems to have been the case for some time and is recognised by the Bar Standards Board at least and may be a factor to be considered for the future by the SRA.  Again, we shall see.

I welcome debate, comment, information etc etc…. and remember, I am only the mesenger and my view is entirely personal as I have no agenda other than to write as I see the situation at present.

God cannot be served….. with legal papers…

I am sitting at my desk on the lower deck of the boat. The sun has gone down.  It is early evening and I can hear the tide withdrawing. I have opened a bottle and I shall drink all of it.  I may even open another one after that.  Sometimes… it is good to have the extra glass or two.

***
A judge has thrown out a case against God – as the Almighty doesn’t have an official address and legal papers can’t be served. Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers filed the lawsuit last year seeking a permanent injunction against God who he said made terrorist threats against him and his Omaha constituents. Additionally, he said God inspired fear and caused “widespread death, destruction and terrorisation of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants”.

BUT… Senator Chambers, a law school graduate, thinks he’s found a hole in the judge’s ruling. He said: “The court itself acknowledges the existence of God. A consequence of that acknowledgement is a recognition of God’s omniscience. “Since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit.”

Senator Chambers, who has served a record 38 years in the Nebraska Legislature, has 30 days to decide whether to appeal. Yahoo News

Big shake up in the training of barristers…

Frances Gibb  of The Times reports: “All aspiring barristers will soon have to take a special aptitude test before they can sit the one-year vocational training course, a move that could weed out hundreds of applicants a year. The move comes after a report by a working party under Derek Wood, QC, to the Bar Standards Board.”

With 1700 + students registering to do the BVC each year and over 3000 chasing only 450 pupillages (and, presumably even less tenancies?) it is high time something was done given that findings indicate that a number of people given places on BVC courses had absolutely no chance of getting a pupillage let alone a tenancy.

The law schools are not going to like it.  Having been involved in setting up a very large law school some years ago I know the investment needed and the operating cost structures required.  If numbers decline so, too will the number of providers.  I can’t see The City Law School (ICSL), BPP or The College of Law suffering overly, given their position in the legal training firmament – so it will be the universities who will have to look over their shoulders.  We shall see.  Universities argue that they are full service providers and are not in it for profit.  I do hope, at the very least, they give some thought to breaking even or not losing too much taxpayer money, however fashionable it is to throw it about at the moment. The other very positive step taken by Woods is the setting of a central exam paper – an essential reform to give control over quality and consistency.  The same should happen, in examinations, for solicitors.

Mind you, I believe that we have too many law schools already and it would be better to close the weaker ones and give the money to the better ones to improve their resources.  This view, as you can imagine, goes down like a corpse sitting on the next seat in Business Class on a long haul flight.

And… on that note…. I am off to read and, perhaps, Twitter…  Buona notte.

Majesty of the law II and….Is there a bear around?….

It is embarrassing for the legal process in this country that a woman has to take the ashes of her dead son to a Magistrates’ Court to prove that he could not have committed a minor administrative offence. The Daily Mail reports: “Grieving mother brings son’s ashes to court after the DVLA insist on prosecuting him TWO YEARS after he died.”

Not content with the plan to monitor all our emails, skype and other VOIP calls, visits to internet sites and telephone calls, the government seems now to want to deploy airport style scanners capable of showing our naked bodies.  The good news is – the government will blur our faces (to cover the eventuality that when they lose all this data as is almost inevitable, no-one will be recognisable.  The bad news is that they won’t be blurring genitalia.)

The Daily Mail has the story: “Cheryl Johnson, general manager of the Office of Transport Security, said:’ It will show the private parts of people, but what we’ve decided is that we’re not going to blur those out, because it severely limits the detection  capabilities.”

It looks as if the hyperventilators will be back on our TV screens.  Shares fell through the floor.  Banks may be sorted, but now the biger problem is, of course, the recession – and investors are moving out.  BBC It won’t be long, some say, before house prices face a further 15-20% fall and Insurance companies need bailing out.

And… we can’t even afford a Hamlet cigar in a public place to soothe our furrowed brows….  Ah well.  Back to the future.

And finally….. a thought from the world of finance and economics – Bearwatch:Bear market rallies… where pros sell to amateurs who then panic, allowing pros to pick up at an even lower price.”

***

There is some good news: “A drunk pony was rescued from a swimming pool after gorging on fermented apples and falling into the water. The pony, called Fat Boy, broke in to Sarah Penhaligon’s garden in Newquay, Cornwall, to get to the fruit, which had fallen from trees.He ate so many apples that he became confused.”

More to law than The City – The majesty of the law…

The magic circle and other top firms are raking it in in the wake of the collapse of the financial sector – so I decided to spend a bit of time over lunch looking at the burning issues of the day occupying lawyers other than financial stuff and related litigation.

First up.. we have a petition to pardon witches.

Unbelievable though it may be, Minister of Justice Jack Straw is going to have his time wasted by Emma Angel, from the Angel family who run fancy dress and film industry prop supplies. She wants witches executed some years ago to be pardoned.  All perfectly laudable I suppose – but I suspect that Mr Straw’s time could be better employed.  The Telegraph reports on this nonsense: The campaign aims to make people realise that witches never really existed, and the fears of the past – such as criticism of Hallowe’en as a sinister celebration of the occult – deserve no place in the present. The petition, officially launched tomorrow, will be presented to the Ministry of Justice and its Scottish counterpart on Hallowe’en. If you too want to waste your time and that of Mr Straw – www.pardonthewitches.com is the place to go.

One hopes, at the very least, that some lawyer will be briefed to act on the petition.

While we are on this topic, I came across this on YouTube: Sarah Palin gets protection from witches.

At last… something vaguely resembling the application of common sense
The Telegraph reports: “Criminals are being allowed to advise the police on how to carry out investigations into murders, terrorist attacks and rapes under guidelines from top police chiefs.”

And now for a bit more F***wittery… “A vodka maker is suing a radio station over its use of the name ‘absolute’. Virgin Radio was recently renamed Absolute Radio, but V&S Vin & Spirit, which is behind vodka brand Absolut, claims that the use of the name is a trade mark violation.” It is getting very tiresome when greedy, rapacious, commercial organisations want to Trade Mark words from language.  Our language should belong to all.

OUT-LAW has the story: “We think the two are completely different, ours is a music and entertainment brand, theirs is a vodka drinks brand, and we are confident that our listeners recognise the difference between the two, as would Absolut’s drinkers,” said the Absolute Radio spokeswoman.”

I suppose that it is just possible that someone off their tits with Absolut Vodka or,indeed, any booze could mistake the difference between a Vodka and a radio station.  One would have through the likelihood of this happening to be statistically ‘insignificant’.  Still… all good work for lawyers…. so….. bon chance is what I say on that score to the lawyers involved…. way to go!.

Perhaps we should nip off to RBS, get a loan and  start making C**t Vodka and trademark the word C**t?.. It is important to note the use of asterisks – for one would not wish to deprive the English speaking world of using the full word by trade marking it.

Even more irritatingly annoying is that V&S Vin & Spirit, the people who make Absolut Vodka and who are bringing this action,  have a website which requires one to input date of birth – as only those over 21 can enter… how wonderfully socially responsible. As they did not have the Jurassic period covered I was not able to gain entry.  I shall make a point of never buying Absolut Vodka again … mind you, if we get an RBS or HBOS loan, we won’t have to… we’ll be able to get orf our heads on our own vodka.

DISCLAIMER

Before you think about reading this post, please seriously consider the environment.
Charon QC is a figment of a febrile imagination and has actively supported professionals to achieve their aspirations for over 30 years. This message, its contents and any attachments are private, confidential and may contain information that is subject to copyright…. but I’m quite happy for you to read it so long as you don’t act on it.  I’m liable for absolutely nothing, should you decide, after reading it, to go binge drinking and commit social atrocities in your local town centre.

And it came to pass…. again…

And it came to pass… again… that the markets stabilised and the US bought into The Cyclops Plan to save the known financial world.  The US reluctantly pumped $25 billion into buying share sin US banks. Fatcats in the US will also have their pay curbed according to The Times.

Guido Fawkes notes the ‘upcoming’ – such a crap word – Glenrothes election. One of his band of commenters has this contribution – which, I’m afraid to admit, made me laugh… “I am a professional hand writing expert and after examining Gordon Brown’s signature, it is my considered professional opinion that he is a fucking bell end and is probably gay.”

Where do these commenters come from? – it is a pleasure to sip a glass of Rioja and read the  comments on Guido….. industrial strength nutters seem to pop in from time to time. This is good.

And so The Lords threw out the idea of 42 days detention without trial….

While I am pleased that Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty is pleased and while I am also pleased that David Davis is pleased to have been ‘vindicated’ – of far greater importance is the fact that The Lords did something to rein in an out of control Labour government on the issue of detention without trial.  Predictably, Jacqui Smith, a home secretary of limited appeal to me as I write on The Boat, has a one line law up her sleeve to permit extension of terror powers should it be necessary – but it does seem that the government has backed down from a fight with the Lords and the invocation of The Parliament Act.  Also noted – the government seems to have abandoned plans to hold inquests in secret without a jury. At least the credit-crunch crisis has had some unexpected benefits.

BUT…. Still time to PANIC!!! – Just when you thought it was safe to back to your bank….

“Another great plot” is being investigated by the authorities, counter-terrorism minister Lord West warned today……There is another great (terrorist) plot building up again and we are monitoring this,” he told peers during a debate on new security laws…. Lord West, the former head of the Royal Navy, revealed the existence of the plot as the House of Lords continued debating the Counter Terrorism Bill.   He gave no more details of the threat….His warning came less than 24 hours after peers forced the Government to abandon plans to extend maximum pre-charge detention for terror suspects to 42 days.”

Jacqui Smith confirms, after losing 42 day terror detention law issue, that the terror threat is at the “severe end of severe”.

Now that 42 days is a goner… perhaps we ought to look more closely at the need to detain people for 28 days without trial. If there is a terror atrocity and our elected representatives need to act quickly – then fair enough – but do we need a 28 day detention without trial law on the books of our once libertarian isle?

Charon Reports 13: The People’s Banks….

Audio podcast: Charon reports (13) – The People’s banks…

I report today from the steps of The Treasury in London. The British people woke this morning to find that Gordon Brown has finally managed to push forward a socialist plan to control the banks.  We, you…..are now shareholders in a number of major banks and the Labour government is calling the shots on pay, bonuses and dividends.

On my way here, wearing a baseball cap I knocked up at a local print shop, I popped into my local RBS branch.  I don’t suppose the manager there was that happy when I asked if all his staff had arrived at work that morning on time and if he had enough money in the safe to satisfy his customer shareholders, British taxpayers.

I did let him know that it was unlikely he would be attending the leaving party for CEO Fred Goodwin who was quitting with immediate effect – without a severance payoff – because there would not be a leaving party. I also suggested that he might like to audit the biscuits as tighter controls on expenditure would have to looked at.   I thought I might also nip off down the road to see how the local HBOS manager was doing now that HBOS chief executive Andy Hornby and chairman Lord Dennis Stevenson said they would stand down from their posts.But then I thought better of the idea.  It seems likely that we, the people of Britain, will be shareholders in these stricken banks for some time to come, perhaps even for ever, so I could fit this in at my leisure.

It is likely that shares of banks who take the Cyclops shilling will find their share price depressed for a while – but the markets do seem to be coping with the news in a vaguely rational manner so far.  BBC News 24 autocuties, male and female, seem to be coping without hyperventilating and scratching around for something to say.   It could, of course, be a dead cat bounce….. who knows?  Even some of the pundits haven’t got a clue and I certainly don’t have a clue.

So…. they’ve sorted the Banks?  Insurance companies next, I suspect. Any laws on short selling of shares in the insurance sector?  I think I’d quite like to have a barbecue tonight….. or an early bonfire night…. Bonfire of The Vanities… anyone?

***

Audio podcast: Charon reports (13) – The People’s banks…

12th October: Postcard fromThe Boat (2)

And so here is PC from The Boat (2) for this weekend.  (PC 1 is here or the next post below)

***

I decided the postcard stamp frank should be a ‘homage’ to the final journey of The QE2 given that it has left Liverpool for the last time without being jacked up on bricks.  I have, of course, altered the logo to reflect my own identity. I particularly liked the “Carried Aboard” from the original postmark used on QE2 letters.

This postcard shall be free (possibly)  of all finance, reference to hyperventilating autocuties, banks and sundry other vanities who are now burning in the bonfire flames of social outrage and opprobium.

On the other hand, a bit of law… or, to be more sanguine…. the idiocy of law. The Telegraph reports: “A judge has ordered the Crown prosecution Service to make a public apology to a gardener who was arrested for carrying a scythe (in his enclosed van) which he said he needed for work.”  Judge Paul Darlow freed Mr Drew and said: “I want to find out why we have got to the start of the trial and the CPS is suddenly saying ‘Oops’.

I have no idea about the pressures the Police and lawyers at the CPS work under – but even I would have been able to work out that a gardener carrying a scythe in his van, with other gardening tools, was not a knifed up geezer or hoodie about to run amok in public. Clients of the gardener were ready to give evidence that he did use the scythe to prune their gardens. The judge was right to rebuke and demand a public apology here.

Regular readers will know that I got a notice earlier in the year, when I lived in a house,  to cut my hedge from PCSOs who were most concerned that criminals might hide behind my hedge and not be visible.  These men were “The Untouchables”, crime fighters in a different league, working unceasingly to protect, in this case, the wonderful people of Chiswick, West London. This may explain why I am writing about gardners and scythes at 1.00 am on a Saturday night.  I’m like Gordon Brown, according to a psychologist on BBCs Politics Today prog, I’m obsessed by hedges, even hedges I no longer have, and am into a cycle of repetitive behaviour, self harm and general nuttery, by continually bringing up the orders from PCSOs to cut my hedge in my blog posts… I’m fine… really… I’ll just have a tablet.

I know that I said that this postcard would be free of greedy bankers, but I just could not resist this story from The News of The Word:

FATCATS at a crippled insurance company bailed out by £50billion of public money have laughed in the faces of taxpayers . . . by splashing out £50,000 on a SHOOTING PARTY.

The story continues…“The bosses who guided Man United sponsors AIG to financial disaster frittered away a fortune on fine wines and lavish food. And the group of just EIGHT swapped pinstripe trousers for aristocratic PLUS FOURS as they BAGGED PARTRIDGE while the world money markets crashed last week”  It was the AIG insurance company rescued from oblivion by the US only a week or so ago.

The good news is…. when Gordon Brown and Alistair Brown, assisted by assorted hyperventilating traders, investors who do and don’t know their arse from their elbow, and the possible misuse of leaked information by TV and other pundits, nationalise all the banks in Britain – we will ensure that there will be no more fatcatting going on in the banking sector.  Is it possible that the people of Britain will own most of the major banks in a few weeks time?  I have no idea….. but…

The Sunday Times is reporting today that: “THE government will launch the biggest rescue of Britain’s high-street banks tomorrow when the UK’s four biggest institutions ask for a £35 billion financial lifeline.” The unprecedented move will make the government the biggest shareholder in at least two banks.

Newspapers are all going to be gunning for ‘Fatcats’ for some time. The broadsheets will talk in subtle terms of reward, open markets (the focus will change from finance to economics shortly) and the reality that bankers are still prime beef in a global market.  The Tabloid headlines will be more concerned with jollies to Italy, fatcats shooting pheasants and the change in circumstance’ of those who lost millions on the stock markets, the out of work bankers and the insecurity of the house / flat to let buying community – I give it another three to four days before stories start to appear in earnest.  The Times did run a story on saturday about Russian billionaire oligarchs losing billions.

So… what are the law bloggers up to?…

Well… in a quite extraordinary change in UK blogging terms…  all those who blog about law, without mentioning the law, and have a surreal take on life, are either working or spending a fair amount of time on Twitter…. so, in keeping with the spirit of this blog at weekends, I have to report that all the UK Law blogs I follow, save for the aforementioned surreal bloggers, appear to be writing quite sensibly about law – so they will appear in Insitelaw next week.

So… moving on….

And so… I end this postcard… commemorative edition.. with a rather good quote: ” By nationalising only two banks, NR and B&B, Darling has effectvely undermined the others. If he now buys their shares cheap, he must be guilty of shorting them. – Simon Jenkins

Hat tip to Capitalists@Work for the link.

Well… as ever…. good to write to you… even if I don’t make sense…

Best regards

Update Sunday 12 Oct 2.28 am: It is great to learn from NOTW that the Ingerland footer team beat Kazakhstan 5 – 1.  Great pic of Rooney.  Not interested in football – but with the news that British banks are now ranked 44th in the world behind Senegal (33rd)  and El Salvador (43rd)  I am doing my best to find news that is good in Britain… this is it for tonight.

11th October: Postcard from The Boat (1)

I just had to nip over to Iceland to see how all the local authority, hospital, university and other British money held on deposit in Icelandic banks was doing. Not very well which is why Gordon Brown in a “Dr Strangelove” moment invoked the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and the The Landsbanki Freezing Order 2008.

I am grateful to Liadnan for explaining so clearly what the exercise by global leader Brown means. So there I was, in Reykjavik, drinking a spot of Rioja from my hip flask, an island described by The Times as ‘an island on the outer fringe of Europe with sheep, haddock and an orthopaedic limb factory.’ The Icelandic prime minister Mr Haarde, who spoke yesterday to Chancellor Alistair Darling by telephone, said Britain’s use of the anti-terror laws to freeze the assets of Icelandic banks in the UK was a “completely unfriendly act…. I told the Chancellor that we were not pleased with that, that they could not regard us in any way as the people that this Act is supposed to apply to – terrorists. I think he agreed,” he said.”

It is quite possible that thoughts of the 1975-1976 Cod War with Iceland were not far from Brown’s elephantine mind when he pressed the Treasury nuclear button – who knows?… anything is possible in these turbulent times. It is, however, wonderfully ironic that local government, the NHS, our universities are all popping into Iceland to deposit taxpayer money instead of putting it into UK banks. On that note, I read in The Times yesterday: “If savers are still doubtful about the safety of their money in British banks they may like to brush up on their Setswana. Confidence in Britain’s banking system has fallen to such depths that it now ranks below Botswana in a league table compiled by the World Economic Forum. British banks, which two years ago were considered the safest in the world, have sunk to 44th position in a survey of banks across 134 countries. Botswana has risen to 38th. It would also be safer to deposit your savings in Namibia (17th), Chile (18th), Brazil (24th), Senegal (33rd), Peru (42nd) or El Salvador (43rd), according to a survey of 12,000 executives based around the world.”

(Pic inspired by a cartoon I saw in one of the broadsheets.)

Well… if being rogered by the stock markets, taken over by ultra conservative Lloyds TSB, and the trashing of banking stocks generally by the market doesn’t wipe the inane grin off Howard’s HBOS face, their falling share price certainly will.  It is also, some say, quite possible that Brown may end up having to nationalize most British Banks if the current bail out plans don’t work.

Anyway… enough of all this financial talk.  You can get back to PANIC!!! on Monday when the markets open and BBC News autocuties and reporters start hyperventilating again.

And… I just love the quotation from a recent marketing campaign by HBOS for their “I want Extra” campaign: “We’re looking to ‘wow’ customers with extra value products and extra special service. Sales are soaring, business is booming and we’re achieving stunning results. And the best is yet to come….”

The sun is shining… it is time for lunch.  I shall return with Postcard 2… later…

Best wishes…. wish you were Iceland with me etc.. etc…

Brown is insecure says psychologist on BBC Daily Politics…

Psychologist Lucy Beresford tells BBC Daily Politics Gordon Brown is ‘deeply insecure’ and bringing Peter Mandelson back was “Freudian” bordering on “self-mutilating behaviour”.

I watched, rather as a snake watches a mongoose, as Lucy Bresford went on to tell us that Brown seemed a lot more confident – no fiddling with hair et al – and seemed to put it all down to insecurity and a need of self love, that he has ‘quite a great inferiority complex’ ….’which habitually he has compensated for by over spending… by compulsive spending… often with money he doesn’t have’ and suggests that we collude with a ‘lot of his dysfunctional behaviour’  and then delivered the coup de gras by saying that to give him love may be what he wants but may not be what he needs.  The interviewer looked astonished.  The other two guests did their best to analyse the return of Mandelson in a rather more ‘positive’ light.

Good to know, as we toss about in the eye of a financial maelstrom, that Brown is striding the earth like a colossus, telling everyone that the world should follow his ideas on how to deal with the crisis, that the country is being run by a dysfunctional prime minister and that all will be well.  I gather that it was Mental Health Week last week…. well… there we are.

Until the stock markets open again on Monday with their daily diet of PANIC!!! here is a picture of yet another man on the telephone doing trades with two phones to keep you going…

Update Saturday 03.11 am:  Charon is in The Diary Room

Palin abused her power | G7 agrees global rescue plan | Call it a crash, call it a rout, but please don’t describe yesterday’s selling as irrational.

Or… if you need something different…after a week of turmoil… nip over to RollonFriday.com for a story: “Thick lawyer and foul mouthed defendant apologise

Update Saturday 03.41 am: Fatcat conference for bankers in Italy

The Sun reports:

TOP Tory William Hague joined a sunshine bash for City bankers in Italy — just days after the Government announced a £500billion bank bail-out using taxpayers’ cash.

And on that note it may be sensible if I hit the futon – although there appears to be a party going on in a nearby boat – this is good. They are playing some good music.

And so the crisis continues…

***

A strange day… a strange day, indeed. I’ve absolutely no idea if the Royals, World War II London Blitz style, are sharing our pain – but we do know that one man is sharing our pain, Cyclops…. Prime Minister and… now… First Lord of The Usurers – newly confident after his performance at PMQs yesterday. International Rescue Thunderbird and Chancellor of The Exchequer, Alistair Darling (See previous post) is flying to the United States to discuss the problems of the world. Unfortunately, it appears that local councils have all been stuffing money into Icelandic banks (on advice from the Treasury?) and seem to be in a bit of a state about it. Estimates vary wildly from hyperventilating report to hyperventilating report.  It seems to be about £1 Billion in all and local government officials would like to have a word with the Chancellor.

Incidentally, a snippet I picked up on Guido Fawkes…..The Financial Times reports: “Anti-terrorism powers were used on Wednesday to recoup money owed to UK depositors in a failed Icelandic bank in a move that risked sending Britain’s relations with Reykjavik to their lowest since the 1970s “cod wars”. UK taxpayers are likely to pay out at least £2.4bn as part of a £4.6bn scheme to compensate hundreds of thousands of account holders at Landsbanki, the Icelandic lender, according to Whitehall sources.”

It is probably convenient to the government that this legislation was drafted so loosely as to allow deployment in this case against a friendly country.

Robert Peston, who has held court on BBC to speak nation unto nation to the peoples of Britain about the credit-crunch is in a spot of ‘bovver’. Guido Fawkes reports: “City outrage over Peston’s reporting (BBC) has been voiced by Michael Howard. He has written to the FSA to ask for an investigation into the leaking of intensely market sensitive information to Pesto-Wire. Good.

We live in curious times, times where the law seems to be on the back burner as far as competition, Europe and financial regulation is concerned. As it happens, in my day job I am preparing a paper on Hart’s Concept of Law – a book read quickly by countless generations of law students in the past but no longer because Jurisprudence is deemed unnecessary into today’s SRA and BSB regulated world of legal academe.

Legal positivists, you may recall, are / were concerned with the pattern, content and effect of judicial norms on the laws promulgated by the state. Morality and ephemeral concepts of religion, however defined, have no place in strict positivism.  There were times in my youth when I wondered if Hart did not so much as have a concept of law, but a concept of self… himself

The Sun speaks to the nation…

I rose early this morning and found myself doing the daily news podcast for Insitelawe at about 4.00 am, reading fairly serious pieces in Times, FT, Indie et al so it was with some astonishment when I went for breakfast to find myself staring at Alistair Darling mocked up as a Thunderbird puppet on the front page of The Sun.

One of the builders having a substantial breakfast asked me why I was taking a photograph of the front page of The Sun with my mobile phone. I wanted to tell him that it made it more challenging for me to photograph the pages and read them later, but my explanation that I wrote a blog (A what?) was probably safer.

Readers who listen to my almost daily legal news podcasts will be familiar with the fact that i usuyally end the 5-6 minutes news podcast with a trip to The Suyn.  This morning I couldn’t actually find much news – apart from a Sun Style coverage of the financial crisis – but did learn that a mutant catfish has developed a taste for human flesh and has been ‘coffing humans’, John Terry is injured so won’t be playing footer when Ingerland next attempt to get chucked out of / qualify for the World Cup and a lesbian police officer has been having 4 letter word rants with another police officer.

Oh.,… and kelvin Mackenzie had a financial report from Japan.  I quote: “…yesterday the Origami Bank folded, the Sumo Bank went belly-up and the Bonsai Bank had to cut branches.  The karaoke Bank is going for a song while shares in the Kamikaze Bank have nosedived.  Five hundred staff at the Karate Bank got the chop and there is something fishy going on at the Sushi Bank.”

Well… there we are.  It is enough to drive a man to drink.  I may wel be drivcen there later and hit the juice.  Finally, Kelvin Mackenzie, who predicted that Bradford & Bingley would go bust as far back as January of this year – says… Don’t buy a house.  He expects house prices to drop a further 20 per cent from today’s values.  So… some good news then for first time buyers and for those of us who got bored rigid by people telling us how rich they were when their house value was rocketing on the “Great Greed Bubble” of 2 years ago.

On the rocks….

The day started with high winds, rain and the boat and pontoon rocking on a stormy Thames.  The financial maelstrom continued with the BBC’s Robert Peston being blamed for the collapse of RBS and other banking shares.

As I write the Dow Jones is even further down at 9719.98…. and Iceland, the country (as opposed to the supermarket),  may well go down.

Guido has a plan to stabilise the situation – it involves sticking plaster.

Capitalists@Work – a blog I have been encouraging lawyer visitors to read – has been predicting and covering the current situation with precision…. The end game is nigh?

I quote from Capitalists@Work: “RBS is now on the critical list. Either the Government ‘does an HBOS/Northern Wreck’ or we have a failed bank on our hands which will push the UK over a cliff and probably mangle our financial services business for ever.”

So… a bit rocky…. better have a glass of wine before investors start seeing wine as a safe haven and the juice price goes skywards.

7th October: Daily Legal News and podcast

Daily Legal news and podcast is up on Insitelaw

If you are still looking for CPD – Insitelaw has arranged for you to do a one hour online course FREE of charge to see if you like the online experience as a method of doing CPD.  To get your FREE access – visit Insitelaw.

I am developing Insitelaw rapidly now – archiving daily editorial coverage of blogs and news each day on the Insitelaw blog.  I  plan to start doing more detailed analysis of developments in the law now that the legal year has begun.  These will be posted on Insitelaw and on the Insitelaw blog.  You may access both the magazine and blog by using the links to the right.

If any reader wishes to profile a blog post or an event or, indeed, contribute by writing on law for publication on Insitelaw (c17,000+ subscribers) please email me – email on the Insitelaw blog.

What a gay day….

The Press had a field day over the weekend with the Return of The Prince of Darkness to government. Innuendo flowed like water about Brown and Mandelson and “Gay Labour”. Guido published a picture of the new deputy leader of the house, Chris Bryant, in his underpants, The News of The World published a picture of Mandelson and Brown from some years ago with the caption “The Look of Love” and even Rawnsley of The Observer wrote “(Mandelson) will not win back the trust of his colleagues or the respect of his party until he has ‘worked his passage’ ” and “because (Brown) and Peter had previously been so intensely intimate” – allowing Guido Fawkes’ band of commentators to run amok ….

We have, today, a quite remarkable story.

The Reverend Peter Mullen faces a disciplinary hearing for making homophobic remarks on his blog which have been condemned by the Bishop of London. The Evening Standard covered the story – pictured right, reporting ” Mr Mullen, 66, wrote on his blog: “It is time that religious believers began to recommend… discouragements of homosexual practices after the style of warnings on cigarette paclets.

“Let us make it obligatory for homosexuals to have their backsides tattoed with the slogan SODOMY CAN SERIOUSLY DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH and their chins with FELLATIO KILLS.”

Apparently, The Rev. Mullen decided to compose a poem… it read… ” The Bishop of London is in a high huff. Because Dr Dudley has married a puff.  And not just one puff – he’s married another: Two priests, two puffs and either to other.”

Well.. there we are… that is a demonstration of christianity for you… tolerance, wisdom, compassion,…. and a dose of absolute bollocks.. if you will forgive the metaphor.

The Prince of Darkness returns (2008)…..

The Prince of Darkness returns… a CharonCorp Film filmed in Charonvision (TM)  for the times we live in….

THE PLOT

Gordon Brown invites David Miliband and a small group of Cabinet Ministers to investigate a mysterious cylinder in the basement of Number 10. The Head of M15 and Admiral Lord West are also present. The cylinder appears to contain a green liquid. As the evening passes into night and darkness descends over London,  it begins to possess the prime minister and those present one by one and uses them against the more skeptical Brownites present. After researching the typed memorandum from The European Commission found next to the cylinder, it is discovered that the liquid is actually Peter Mandelson himself.

The memorandum also reveals that Peter Mandelson is the protege of an even more powerful force of evil, an Anti-Brown, who is trapped in another dimension…. trying to unite the faiths of the world after converting to catholicism earlier in the year in a masterstroke of deception. Peter Mandelson possesses Gordon Brown and attempts to bring his Mentor through a dimensional portal, using a mirror.  Briefly, but only briefly, the smiling figure of Tony Blair was seen in the Cabinet Room…

At the climax of the evening, Des Browne, soon to be replaced as Minister of Defence (by necessity) in the re-shuffle,  stops Blair from returning as prime minister by tackling Blair, and both of them fall through the portal – sacrificing himself in the fashion of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the Prince of Darkness remained in the portal…. smiling, all too aware that once again he would stride the earth as a Cabinet Minister in a Labour government.

Although filmed as a dream sequence, it was not a dream. Gordon Brown appears to awaken, and rolls over to find Satan, in the form of Peter Mandelson, lying in bed with him. Brown then awakens fully… screaming, recovers, and approaches his bedroom mirror, hand outstretched in friendship and says “Peter… you shall go to the Lords and be among us once again.”

***

With apologies to John Carpenter’s Film (1987)

5th October: Postcard from The Boat

And so the rains came.  I felt like Noah, but thankfully Chelsea FC football supporters did not feel the need to file two by two onto the boat.  Staying with biblical references just for the present – a hat tip to James Higham of Nourishing Obscurity for the link – but it seems that the godbotherers have decided to issue Ten Commandments on Blogging. Normally, of course, I only need to see the words religion, christian and islam to reach for the bottle,  but on this occasion I decided to have a look. After trudging through dessicated prose I finally got to the section where they state ‘tongue in cheek’ that they were drafting Ten Commandments…”The commandments are intended to cause bloggers to consider the social impact of their blogging.”.  I won’t bore you with all Ten… but there were a few that appealed to me:

2. You shall not make an idol of your blog.
3. You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin.
6. You shall not murder someone else’s honour, reputation or feelings.
7. You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind.
10. You shall not covet your neighbour’s blog ranking. Be content with your own content.

Not content with this, the mumbo jumbo merchants have also come up with A Blogging Relationship Commitment: “We urge Christians to pray as Christ prayed, that we may be one in the Father and the Son, and so by the Spirit promote personal relationships of love, peace and fellowship within Christ’s universal Church, both online and offline.”

They do cover the sabbath by urging godbloggers in Commandment 4: Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog.”

Rather takes all the fun out of blogging… so I shall be ignoring these Ten Commandments.

Resisting the urge to say “And on the third day the website came back online”… I move on to thank a good friend of mine, a former London barrister now living in Australia, for sending in the pic to the left. She has a good eye for the surreal!.

And so it came to pass as I poured some communion wine into my glass that I thought of other things…

Gordon Brown has re-shuffled his Cabinet and, to the astonishment of the media has brought back the Prince of Darkness, Peter Mandelson and revived the political career of Margaret Beckett. Perhaps inspired by this, I appear to have spent of my weekend re-shuffling my drinks cabinet, removing several junior bottles and a vintage performer.  It is good to prune one’s cellar ruthlessly at the weekends. In fact, as I write, I have summoned another junior bottle.  I just had to be open with it.

So what have the bloggers been up to in a week when the financial meltdown continued? As I tend to profile serious law blogs in Insitelaw mag during the week, I am free to have a look at the less serious and bizarre on this blog.

So we go over now to Never Mind The Bollix, the blog building up again gradually after a recent drunken deletion of the entire work, to learn that Jimmy Bastard’s wife – a barrister who sometimes has to work in Edinburgh, needs a Taser. Jimmy Bastard, it appears, bought such a device. I shall give you a taste… in the bard’s own words…“What happened next is almost beyond description, but I’ll do my best…I’m sitting there alone, the mutt looking on with his head cocked to one side as if to say, “don’t do it you silly bastard,” reasoning that a one-second burst from such a tiny little thing couldn’t hurt all that bad. I decided to give myself a one-second burst just for the hell of it.I touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!” For the rest of the story…..

Puts my sticking dental crowns back in with superglue well into the shade.  Excellent performance.

Ms R, a Woman of Experience, as ever writes with passion…Ok, no more bailouts. No more rescue packages. Having recently watched Ms R get the man/ dating thing wrong again, her girlfriends can no longer stand by.”

What About Clients? revives one of their earlier posts “The 7 habits of highly useless corporate lawyers”.  Apart from being amusing… it has instructional value.  Worth a click… definitely.

I visit Bystander JP’s The Magistrate’s Blog most days – for an insight into what is going on the world of crime.Bystander has a rather amusing post today. Oops…. I quote:Any advocate will be aware of the golden rule – never ask a question in court unless you already know the answer. Here’s an example from the other day:-

Barrister to police officer:- “Officer, are you familiar with car engines, and how they warm up and cool down?”
PC: “Yes, Ma’am. Before my present post I was a traffic officer for six years.” (30-love)
Barrister: “Does that make you a technical expert?”
PC: “Not completely, but I did serve seven years in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, where I was a motor vehicle specialist”. (Game, set, and match)
Barrister: “Right. Let’s move on”.

It has been a curious weekend…. a lot of rain. Need to fix something to eat…. may be back later.

As ever, best regards

Dixon of Dock Green talks to the people of London

Evening all. It is many years since I pounded the beat in Dock Green, but tonight I have to tell you the sad news that The Commissioner of The Metropolitan Police, Sir Iain Blair, has resigned to spend more time with his truncheon.

Policing has changed in the last fifty years.  In my day, we had villains, bank robbers with shotguns and The Krays, of course,  but we didn’t have the problems of today with hoodies. We’d give the young rascals on our beat a clip around the ear or hang them if we caught them shooting a copper.  Today, of course, the bank robbers work down at Canary Wharf and don’t use shotguns.  They use Blackberries.  Today we use Tasers and, unfortunately, we have to shoot people for their own good from time to time – even a barrister who was taking potshots at his neighbours in a very rich residential area of London.  We can’t have that, but nor can we have a situation where beat officers, rank and file and our new Asian colleagues, have little or no regard for the top man. Things have changed.  Now we have a stand up comedian, journalist, editor, sometime MP, shagger and relation to George II, running London and he wants to run the Police with someone who is more in tune with the Tories than New Labour.

So it is good bye Sir Iain… mind how you go… and the search is on for the new Commissioner of The Metropolitan Police. Will it be ‘Buggins’ turn’, an internal appointee, subtly appointed or will there be a selection process?  If it is a selection process will it be like the good old days, a chat here, a word there, a secret handshake, a quick consultation with the hanging Home Secretary of the day?  No… times have changed…. today it will be slick… some have suggested that there be an ‘X’ Factor style process or “Strictly Come Nicking” with telephone voting from the public.  Others have suggested there could be a quiz style format “The Weakest Cop” with that Anne Robinson woman who hasn’t changed in years or, perhaps “Who wants to be a Metropolitan Police Commissioner” with Chris Tarrant in the chair.  Ridiculous of course.  But London needs firm policing so a new man or woman will have to take on the privilege of being responsible for the wellbeing, safety and security of the people of London.

It has been a pleasure to talk to you tonight.  Mind how you go.

***

STOP PRESS!

London Mayor Boris Johnson has been named joker of the year at the Loaded Lafta awards.

“He beat fellow nominees Balthazar Getty, Calum Best, Fern Britton and canoe couple John and Anne Darwin. Other winners at the London event included Henry Enfield, who was named Loaded legend and Gavin and Stacey star Ruth Jones, who picked up the funniest woman award.”

Charon Reports (11): A man with a plan…

Audio podcast: Charon Report (11) – A man with a plan

I glanced around the conference hall. The faithful were waiting, the zeal clear in their eyes, for soon their leader would lead them through the parted waves of financial meltdown to safety, security and power. He would speak to them of government from which they had been excluded for over ten long years.

To be honest, as I have no newspaper readers to pander to and please, no proprietor, a hidden menacing figure in the background, to satisfy – I found the speech slick, well presented in a serious and grave way, but lacking in depth, in substance, in detail.  The gentlemen of the press seemed satisfied and a cursory reading of today’s efforts from the Fourth Estate, summarised so helpfully in The Evening Standard, ranged from “Yesterday we got the measure of the man…. he evinced a gravitas that belies his youth…. a Prime Minister in waiting – Telegraph” to the wonderfully surreal comment from the Guardian “Often the Tory project has seemed soft and empty.  Yesterday he encased it in a glassy sphere: hard, bright and clear; though the fear of a void at the centre remains.”

All very good… but what did our friends from the Tabloids have to say?… that is what I wanted to hear as I listened to builders saying eff this, eff that, I’ll have an effing fried egg on some effing toast when I had breakfast this morning.  The Tabloids did not disappoint.  The Sun headline, showing Cameron mocked up as Bob The Builder…. “Can we fix it… Yes we Cam”. I groaned.  I lit a cigarette (I was complying with the laws of our law ridden isle by sitting outside), sipped my espresso and wandered if Brown could survive his own party’s efforts, let alone the seemingly inevitable final drive to Downing Street now being mounted by the almost teutonically efficient Tory panzer divisions from Central Office.

My favourite quote from his speech, picked up by everyone, as intended by the Tory PR machine, was “I’m a man with a plan – not a miracle cure.” I also enjoyed the fact that Cameron, dressed in blue, and his wife, dressed in green, mirrored the colours of the new time for a change Tory logo.  The only thing missing was the goddam tree.  Slick?… Yes… subtle…No?…. effective?  I suspect so.

I couldn’t see the point in reporting on the speech itself – so I went off to a bar to talk to some people of other things…. I was a man with a plan as I waved goodbye to the Tory faithful and made my way back to London from Britain’s second city, a city it is unlikely that I shall have cause to visit again in my lifetime.  The interesting thing is, that I didn’t see anything of Birmingham, so I have no idea how it has changed since I was last there many years ago.

This is Charon, a man with a plan, reporting on Cameron’s greatest speech ever, from The Boat.

***

Audio podcast: Charon Report (11) – A man with a plan

West London Man (22): It is crunch time….

Podcast version: West London Man (22): It is crunch time…

George and Caroline had what may be their last foreign holiday in Tuscany for some time during the latter part of August until mid-September and George returned to the gathering financial storm. George is flicking through the financial press and chatting idly to a mate of his after a long day at work.

Dave: What do mean you are going to phone the Archbishop of York and see if he can lend you some mining shares to short sell?  How much have you been drinking

George: I’ve only had half a bottle, Dave….The Archbishop of York has accused us all of being bank robbers and asset strippers for short selling …. but the real laugh is that the Church  Commissioners, who manage the Church of England’s investments, set up a currency hedging programme, in effect short-selling sterling to guard against rises in other currencies…. and according to mumbo jumbo think tank Ekklesia the C of E has shares in mining and oil companies.

Dave: But isn’t that what we do all the time… weren’t you selling Lloyds TSB shares only the other day?

George: Ah…. yes…..  but can’t do that anymore…. verboten… hanging offence.  Government has banned it because they don’t want to have to buy up every bank in Britain just yet… may have to keep their powder dry for that if the bozos in the Republican party don’t get their act together and vote for the bail out.

Dave: Shame about Peter… I was talking to him earlier… he’s not taking his sacking very well.

George: Peter couldn’t cut it at a major league bank, went secondary… now the secondary banks can get prime beef from Lehman at a good price… cheaper to fire the veggie bankers and bring in the carnivores.  That’s the way it is.

Dave: Well…. it just goes to show that greed doesn’t always work….. bet you are glad you didn’t go into investment banking…. you could have been in the same boat.

George laughed: Yep…. too greedy I was told at the interview… too much of a risk…. ironic.

George flicked open his laptop and started looking at some blogs.

George… laughing: Excellent… some guy called The Fat Bigot has been writing about short selling…. “As for those who engage in short selling being “bank robbers and asset strippers”, that comment merely shows the Archbishop of York to be ludicrously naive. Like so many men who spend their working lives in fancy frocks, he is best kept well away from the real world.”  I couldn’t agree more.

George spent another five minutes or so picking up on blogs he enjoyed reading and then picked up his mobile phone to call his City lawyer friend Hugo..  Ring…. ring…. ring… ring….

Hugo: Hello

George: Hi Hugo…. George here… still got a job?  The word on the street is that law firms are carrying out mass sackings all over the place…. streets are full of lawyers selling matches and shoelaces….

Hugo: Very funny, George… No… I haven’t been sacked.  I’m not a property lawyer.  As it happens we are rolling in it after being called in to sort out the mess you financial boys have made of the known universe.

George: Fancy coming down for a beer?

Hugo: George… it is 7.00.  I am unlikely to finish here until well after 11.00.  We are working closely with the government.  I do not think that they would take kindly to having to go through legal structures with me while I am sitting in the Dog & Duck with you.

George: So… that’ll be a ‘No’ then?

Hugo: Yes… it is a No.  Bye.

George goes back to looking at blogs….

George: Fuck…. Dave… have you see what City Unslicker has written on his blog now?

Dave: No

George: He says that US plan to buy toxics is wrong … I quote: ” But what is needed is for banks to have enough capital to be able to write-down the bad loans now and not go insolvent. To that end, a better plan is to re-capitalise banks and the Government to take a charge on the money, maybe even in the form of shares.”… JESUS… he’s saying that shares could soar and the government could even make a profit….. We’d better get our skates on…. what do you fancy shorting tomorrow….. oil again?

Dave: Yeah… oil is good…. let’s do oil.

***

Podcast version: West London Man (22): It is crunch time…

Palin not qualified to be President of the US of A…

Famed conservative columnist George Will told a gathering of Senate aides on Monday that Gov. Sarah Palin is “obviously” not prepared to assume the presidency if necessary, two event attendees told the Huffington Post.

Appearing at a Senate Press Secretaries Association reception at the Cornerstone Government Affairs office, Will offered a harsh assessment of John McCain’s running mate. Palin is “obviously not qualified to be President,” he remarked, describing her interview on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric as a “disaster.”

Interesting article….. US politics is a bit more brutal than our own….. and is fascinating.   It also, whether we like it or not, impacts on how this country is run…. good stuff on the ‘old git’ McCain as well.

And… for lawyers, the reassuring news: Latest Palin Gaffe – Can’t name Supreme Court Case other then Roe v Wade

it is quite possible… that some in the US are beginning to realise that having a rather thick Vice President to back up an old guy may not be such a good idea. We shall see.

All is not lost….

The current financial crisis is not bad news for everyone, it seems. The Lawyer reports that a number of enterprising law firms have set up ’emergency special groups’ to help with the present troubles.

And… if you are a lawyer who is actually interested in becoming more knowledgeable about the present situation…  then I can thoroughly recommend Capitalists@Work and this piece in Labour and Capital by Nick Drew of Capitalists@Work.

Interesting piece on the realities of life from Capitalists@Work… Will the current crisis affect the ‘real economy?” ….they really should teach this financial stuff properly to young lawyers on the LPC and BVC….