Greed is good?

Legal Week reports that three London law schools are raising their tuition fees

The Legal Week article states: Three of London’s law schools have considerably increased their Legal Practice Course (LPC), despite the widespread cost-cutting measures currently being implemented across the profession. BPP Law School has hiked annual fees for its London LPC students by more than 9% to £12,500, a move that means it remains the country’s most expensive law school. The college’s branches in Leeds and Manchester will see a more modest increase of 4.7%, from from £9,550 up to £9,995. Meanwhile, arch-rival The College of Law is set to introduce a fee increase of 8.8% as of September, meaning the LPC will set back a trainee lawyer £11,250, up from £10,340….”

I am particularly interested in your comments and views on this issue.  Let me put a number of points to reflect my own thoughts on this.

1.  Inflation is coming down and is set to be at the 2% mark fairly shortly.

2. Law firms are set to cut around 10%, possibly more, of their headcount – partners, associates and support staff – when the 2009 figures are compared with 2008.  This has been well reported in the press and need not be rehearsed further here.

3.  Britain and the rest of the world is facing possibly the worst recession since the 1930s.

4.  There is a general re-structuring of pricing in the profession, legal aid is being cut back severely and lawyers who practice in the fields of crime, family law and general common law, particularly,  are facing a severe reduction in fee income from public and privately funded work.

Against this background it is extraordinary, verging on unconscionable, that the leading law schools are hiking their fees so high. They cannot possibly be facing inflationary pressure from their teaching and support staff in these days when jobs are at a premium.  It is unlikely that they need significant bank funding, or any bank funding.  The accounts for  BPP Holdings PLC (owner of BPP law School) show strong growth.  Thompson Financial reported in August of last year: “BPP Holdings Plc. reported a 10 percent rise in pretax profits for the first half on brisk revenue growth across divisions and said momentum in the business remains strong and that it expects to report a good full-year result despite uncertain economic conditions.”

The College of Law is a registered charity and one assumes, not unreasonably given their success and market penetration that they too are showing growth in revenue and are well run and well funded.  Kaplan Law School is part of the very successful Kaplan group in the States.

It may be that these law schools, offering high quality courses, deserve their success and should not be penalised now just because the financial world has gone into meltdown because of the greed, venality and stupidity of the banking sector and a failure of governments to regulate. However, that being said, the fee rise proposed by these schools may well stick in the craw of the consumer… the students, let alone the City, Magic Circle and other large law firms who pay for their trainees to do the GDL and LPC.  I cannot for one moment imagine that law firm managing partners, who are currently shedding staff with the enthusiasm of a hungry rice farmer in a padi field, will embrace  these fee hikes with quite the same enthusiasm as the law school directors.

Giles Proctor at Kaplan has this to say: “I do not think we will see discounting, because students are increasingly demanding higher quality in their course provision. Students are customers, so should act like customers, and know exactly what they are getting in terms of higher quality offerings.”

Yes… students are customers and should be treated like customers – but they don’t have much bargaining power, they don’t have a great deal of choice of provision because even the traditional universities are in on the wonderful game of raising high revenues from law courses in these difficult days of government funding – so they have to pay the piper’s fees or go without.

LPC and BVC fees are soft targets for fee rises. For my part?… I think this round of fee hikes needs a bit more justification and explanation  than bland PR pushed out by these law schools. It may well be, of course, that there is a perfectly plausible and credible reason why these law schools have to increase their fees susbtantially above prevailing inflation each year and, of course, they too are welcome to comment on this post.

Over to you – I am definitely interested in what you have to say… in the comments section below…

27th February: Daily law news and news podcast up on Insite Law

27th February: Daily law news and news podcast up on Insite Law – and it is a big update on the UK blawgs section.

See also the Insite Law Blog – where all the news items, podcasts, and UK blog posts featured on Insite Law each week are archived.  The value of the Insite Law Blog lies in the searchability of the news and blog items. So if you want to catch up on the weekly news or what has happening in the UK blawgosphere – the Insite Law blog will be of some use, hopefully.  Have a look?

WEEKLY FREE NEWSWIRE

You may want to get the weekly legal news, law reports, blog posts, news from the Bar, the Law Society and The Ministry of Justice delievered straight to your in-box.  If so, then sign up for my free weekly newswire.  Have a look at Issue #4 from last week to get a feel for what is offered.

Sign up for the free weekly newswire?

A number of enthusiasts have given a great deal of time to covering developments in the law and discussing the issues of the day. Have a look – and if you feel like contributing with posts or discussion – they will welcome your contribution. Visit the board

Blawg Review: An Institution reaches 200th edition….

Blawg Review, set up by the anonymous and mysterious Ed is an institution, a carnival of law bloggers with a different blawger hosting it each week.  This week Ed celebrated the 200th edition and wondered if the end was nigh?  I can’t see the death of Blawg Review imminent or otherwise.  It is a wonderful resource and while US centric to some extent, this is changing.  A number of bloggers from the UK, Canada, Australia and elsewhere have hosted.  I’ve enjoyed doing two:  #141 at the beginning of 2008 and #193 at the beginning of 2009 (The Lord of Misrule)

While children sleep in their beds and lawyers pore over their briefs and papers…. the Prince of Darkness himself will host Blawg Review on March 16th… the theme day of my favourite god, Bacchus.  Lawyers in the American mid-west ‘may’ tremble at the prospect after the Prince revealed himself in Blawg Review #666 last year – a truly astonishing peroration on no theme at all by the holder of the Tourette Chair of Legal Blogging at F%$chester University.   This year… who knows what GEEKLAWYER will do.   I cannot wait!

I interviewed Geeklawyer who likes to remain anonymous. This explains his Ninja outfit.  He has just been in Canada for a month, living high on the proceeds of fees from his grateful punters.

Watch the movie to see what he has to say about his forthcoming Blawg Review.

PS: Colin Samuels, author of the Infamy or Praise Blawg picked up his fourth Blawg Review of The Year title (in succession) for his excellent Blawg Review on the theme of The Ancient Mariner. His previous Blawg Reviews took Dante’s Inferno as the theme. I am pleased to say that Colin Samuels is now my co-author for the West London Man series of social satires modelled (loosely) on Hogarth’s Rake’s Progress.


Watch the movie to see what he has to say about his forthcoming Blawg Review.

Love is in the lair?….

Ageing middle aged roue, lawyer, blogger and professional Rioja drinker seeks attractive, amusing woman who does not spend her leisure hours reading Rayden on Divorce or stripping newsagent shelves of Bride Monthly.  Tax and Trust lawyers or those with off-shore expertise need not apply. Smokers encouraged and drinking is compulsory.

Despite the fact that I have been married  so many times I now have an ASBO prohibiting me from going within 200 yards of a Church, Register Office or other licensed place for the purpose of committing libertarian suicide, I am not, contrary to the *advert* above, looking for love or a shag.

No… I am assisting my good friends over at LawandMore with their latest idea, cooked up possibly after work at a decent wine bar.  Their idea?  The Dating Game…

This is what I received from the most amusing editor (she who set fire accidentally to my chest hair while I was a guest of LawandMore  at an excellent lunch last summer)

Are you single? Is the person sitting next to you single? Is James from IP single?

Law and More, after numerous requests, has finally got round to introducing
Lawandmore Dating. The section will work much as you find in The London Paper/Metro but, obviously, we’ll be sending out hot lawyers out on various escapades around the capital – wine tasting, slap up meal for two, dancing lesson etc ( also happy to organise any requests)  (all expenses paid, naturally) . All we require you to do is a. have fun b. to write up a smart and sassy review of the evening and any intricacies that evolve! You can, of course, remain anonymous should you so wish. All we require is the name of your firm/chamber/practice and a few photographs of the evening which can be altered to preserve confidentiality. Of course, as this section is totally new, we are very much open to any ideas you may have to make this section fly.

We are currently inviting all singletons that work within the legal profession (and would like to go on a date with a foxy peer) to submit a very short resume stating: Sex,  Age, Orientation, Interests, Position within firm,Looking for/interest/ideal partner, Recent photo, Ideal date/ activity

We’ll than match you, hopefully, with your kindred spirit and send you on an all expenses paid date in the Capital (regional to follow) Please forward this email on to any of your single peers that could do with a fabulous night out and someone to call their ‘own’.

Please submit entries/requests/feedback/ideas to Vwozniak@lawandmore.co.uk and Sabreena@lawandmore.co. – all material will be handled with the utmost discretion.

Editorial Note: Having said that… if anyone would like….. no….. no…. enjoy yourselves.

Coming soon… lawcast with Steve Hynes, Director of LAG…

I am doing a podcast soon with Steve Hynes, Director of The Legal Action Group (LAG) as part of my current series of podcasts on civil liberties and human rights.  We plan to focus on Legal Aid (or the lack of it) in civil cases and access to justice issues.  LAG has a book on Legal Aid coming out in mid-March and e’ll certainly mention that in our podcast.

Steve is the director of the Legal Action Group (LAG). LAG is a charity that through its publishing and training services plays an important role in increasing lawyers’ and advisers’ knowledge of the law. It also carries out policy and campaigning work mainly focused on publicly funded legal services, advocating for the voice of the end-user to be heard.

Other Lawcasts on Civil Liberties in the series so far :

Roger Smith, Director of Justice on civil liberties and human rights

Michael Burdett, Unbalancing the Scales of Justice

Carl Gardner, on the Qatada judgement

Carl Gardner on Freedom of Speech – the Geert Wilders exclusion

Ian  Parker-Jospeh, Leader of the UK Libertarian Party

Lawcast 108: Michael Burdett – Unbalancing the Scales of Justice

Lawcast 108: Michael Burdett

Today I am talking to Michael Burdett, a solicitor and consultant with HCL Hanne & Co in London. He is a past-president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association and founder committee member of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association.

In last week’s Law Society Gazette, Michael Burdett wrote an article entitled UNBALANCING THE SCALES OF JUSTICE –  the sub headline for which was “The Legal Services Commission is colluding with ministers to undermine the the rights of suspects and defendants….”

Listen to the podcast with Michael Burdett

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Podcast version for iTunes

24th February: Daily legal news and podcast up on Insite Law

24th February: Daily legal news and podcast up on Insite Law

Round up:

Lawcast 106: Roger Smith, Director of Justice, on the erosion of civil liberties.

Lawcast 107: Peter Crisp, CEO of BPP, on the new LPC and legal education.

Lawcast.net: A new website dedicated to podcasts.  If you are a law podcaster and wish to be included in the listings and have your podcasts promoted on Lawcasts – please email me

Free Email newswire delivered weekly

Lawcast 107: Peter Crisp. CEO of BPP Law School on the LPC and legal education

Lawcast 107: Peter Crisp, Dean and CEO of BPP Law School on the LPC and legal education today.

Today I am talking to Peter Crisp, Dean and Chief Executive of BPP Law School and Alison Wells, Director of the LPC programme, about BPP’s new LPC plans and the state of legal education in these recessionary times generally.

Listen to the podcast with Peter Crisp and Alison Wells

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Podcast version for iTunes

Lawcast 106: Roger Smith, Director of Justice, on civil liberties and human rights.

Lawcast 106: Roger Smith, Director of Justice, on civil liberties and human rights.

Today I am talking to Roger Smith OBE a solicitor who has been director of JUSTICE since November 2001. He has been director of legal education and training at the Law Society; director of the Legal Action Group; solicitor to the Child Poverty Action Group and director of West Hampstead Community Law Centre. He is an honorary professor at the University of Kent and a visiting professor at London South Bank University.

Roger Smith explains what Justice does… but we then discuss the concerns raised by Lord Phillips, the former Chief Justice and now senior Law Lord, and the concerns of Sir Ken McDonald, David Davies, former MI5 Chief Stella Rimington and even David Blunkett, a former Home secretary only today,  that our liberties are being eroded needlessly.

Listen to the podcast with Roger Smith

Justice Website

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Podcast version for iTunes

23rd February: Daily Legal News up on Insite Law

23rd February: Daily Legal News up on Insite Law – large news update and addition of a new Ministry of Justice news section on Insite.

The latest issue of The Insite Weekly Newswire is up on Insite Law (If you would like your copy to be emailed to you weekly, please sign up – top right Insite Law front page).I have added a new Law Reports section at the foot of the front page of Insite Law.

Charon interviewed by Natasha Phillips of Divorce Manual blog:

NEW: LAWCASTS.net. I have set up a new website to focus on law podcasts – my own and others from around the world.  If you would like to be listed, please contact me

Congratulations to Blawg Review for reaching 200th Edition
It is a good one written by the mysterious Mr Ed himself. Congratulations also to Colin Samuels for getting Blawg Review of The Year 2008 – his fourth straight win. Read Blawg Review #200

Letter from London: 22 February 2009

I began my day early this morning, well before the sun was up and, as is often the case, went on to Twitter after clearing the work side of my life. My first post on Twitter came as dawn was breaking.  It read: “Bonjour…another day begins in London… not many people about. All is quiet. Waiting for the sea gulls and cormorants to fly by.”

The gulls did come… many hundreds, possibly over a thousand of them, like wave after wave of bombers from the war over British skies, save that their mission was peaceful.  They were on their way towards the West to have their breakfast on the river further upstream. I watched them, sipping a mug of hot tea and smoked a few cigarettes.  It was a good way to spend fifteen minutes or so. Breakfast for me was a toasted chicken sandwich – a rather bizarre choice you may think and you would be right to think that.  I am now on a chicken sandwich obsession.  Months ago I depleted the seas of smoked mackerel fillets until I could not face another mackerel for months to come. Soon, I shall tire of chicken sandwiches and move on to some other fad.

Be that as it may… there are serious matters to report in my letter to you this week.

I don’t give interviews very often, not that I get asked that often. I suffer from cyber-schizophrenia… never entirely sure whether I am my alter ago and pseudonym Charon QC or the other bloke.  But.. tonight I was interviewed by Natasha Phillips of the Divorce Manual Blog and I managed to try and be sensible for part of it, at least.  If you would like to listen to me be being *Tango’d* – Natasha did a very good job.

In defence of our Civil Liberties…

Where does one start? Like many, I have had enough of the erosion of civil liberties which continues remorselessly under Prime Mentalist Brown’s unlected tenure of the office of Prime Minister and First Lord of the Empty Treasury. So… I have started doing a series of podcasts (or Lawcasts as I like to call them now after my early morning Rioja.. more of this later)… on civil liberties. I began with  *Lawcast* with Ian Parker-Joseph, leader of the UK Libertarian Party and tomorrow I do a lawcast with Roger Smith, Director of Justice, the human rights and law reform organisation.  I intend to invite othe commentators with a view on Civil Liberties and who knows… maybe a politician or two may be prepared to be interviewed?  One can but ask.

Today, I set up a spin-off website to my Insite Law mag siteLAWCASTS.net as a site for my own “Lawcasts” and podcasts from other bloggers and lawyers.  If you are a blogger, academic or lawyer and you would like to promote your podcasts – please let me know and I will give you your own space/link on Lawcasts.net

On the subject of podcasts… the modern Rake’s progress continues in West London Man with George in custody at La Guardia airport, New Yoork. He is visited by his lawyer who turns out to be a serious real criminal defense lawyer, Scott Greenfield, author of the excellent Simple Justice Blog. Lawyer Greenfield puts up with no nonsense from George.  The script was largely written for this episode by Colin Samuels of the Infamy of Praise blog with advice and guidance being given by Scott and ‘Charon’. Gonzo journalism gone mad?  Possibly. Listen to West London Man 25: The La Guardia Archipelago

Insite Law newswire

My weekly newswire seems to be of some use to users.  Although I publish it each week on both Insite Law and the Insite Law Blog – you may find it useful to have your own copy by email.  If you would like a copy of the newswire delivered to your in-box – please sign up here. If you would like to see what #4 contained – click here

I’m orf for a chicken sandwich. I may be back later.  Have a good week.

Regards as always,


West London Man 25: The La Guardia Archipelago

West London Man 25: The La Guardia Archipelago

Following his arrest at La Guardia Airport  in New York City (Episode 24), George has been relieved  of the diamonds and jewellery he received from financier Bernard Madoff and is now a guest of the American authorities in a nearby detention center. As an Englishman with refined cultural and culinary sensibilities, George considers these austere surroundings akin to an outer circle of Dante’s Inferno or perhaps to Scotland. His defense counsel, the well-known New York lawyer Scott Greenfield, shepherds him through the American legal system while his wife, Caroline, secures matters on the home front.  Although storm clouds continue to gather, George has resolved that he will not be broken by his present circumstances. Allowed writing materials by his captors, he has begun to compose an epic memoir….

To find out what happened you’ll have to listen to the podcast or download the script. The podcast has great music and sound effects as well as some pretty ‘classy’ acting!

Listen to the podcast (14 mins 21 secs)

Download the script in pdf format

Notes:
West London Man 25 was written by Colin Samuels, Scott Greenfield and Charon.  Colin Samuels and Diane Jankiewicz played the parts of the La Guardia Detention Centre guards.  Lawyer Greenfield was played by Scott Greenfield, a well known criminal defense lawyer in New York and author of the Simple Justice blog

Other episodes of West London Man

Podcast 105: Ronald J Baker on Value Pricing, Value Billing and The Billable Hour

Today I am talking to Ronald J. Baker who started  his accounting career in 1984 with KPMG Peat Marwick’s Private Business Advisory Services in San Francisco. Today, he is the founder of VeraSage Institute, a think tank dedicated to teaching Value Pricing to professionals around the world

Listen to the podcast with Ron Baker

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Podcast Version for iTunes

Podcast 104: Ian Parker-Joseph, Leader, UK Libertarian Party

Podcast 104: With Ian Parker-Joseph, Leader of The UK Libertarian Party

Today I am talking to Ian Parker-Joseph MD of Parker-Joseph Consulting, crisis management, and elected NCC member of the Libertarian Party, UK which he now leads.

Listen to the podcast with Ian Parker-Joseph

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Podcast version for iTunes

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References:

Ian Parker-Joseph Journal/Blog

UK Libertarian Party website

Binge drinking is part of our national Zeitgeist

I am grateful to fellow blogger and Twitterer Diane Levin of The Mediation Channel in the US for drawing my attention to a seminal article about the work of academic  Binge drinking mavens at Teeside University – a seat of learning in the North of England.  (Overseas readers and Londoners may find this geographical referencing of some value)

Are there positive aspects to Binge-drinking? Professor Anna van Wersch asks the people of our sodden isle. I quote from the article: “Prof van Wersch explained that while official data tends to quantify binge drinking as five consecutive standard drinks in one sitting for men and four for women….”

I suspect that I speak for many in our profession when I suggest that researchers and government busybodies confuse official definitions of binge-drinking in quantitative terms with what many of us regard as merely ‘opening the batting’ for a decent evening out. Although, to be fair, the researchers did qualify their remarks… ” the researchers explained to participants they were using the term ‘binge- drinking’ to mean ‘a drinking occasion leading to intoxication’.”

To an experienced top order drinker, two bottles not out is, of course, a perfectly respectable score, but it has to be said that some of the greatest batsmen and batswomen of the  “beautiful game of drinking’ often go on to a higher score before being stumped, declared leg before wicket or clean bowled.  Now that Sir Allen Stanford has been arrested by the FBI and sundry other law enforcement agencies for alleged Ponzi style activities in Texas, we cannot really hope for any sponsorship for the Olympic Binge Drinking Games in 2012 – a side event being organised by enthusiastic topers as an anti-dote to  the Olympic games – an event of little interest to many in this country… since the authorities got shirty about banning performance enhancing drugs.

Prof van Wersch, whose findings are published in the Journal of Health Psychology, says we are more inclined to “drink to get drunk” while our continental cousins “simply enjoy the taste of a glass of wine”. She said: “People in England are more high achievers than the Dutch. The quality of their work has to be perfect and their performance is much higher. “There’s a lot of pressure to do well and to behave appropriately and control one’s emotions and that can be stressful..”

While I am delighted by Professor Van Wesrch’s findings, which, for the most part I accept and shall be encouraged by – there is also an element of monumental bollocks in them.   The British,  high achievers, under-achievers and the terminally cool simply like to get pissed.  It is one of our skills, part of our history, our tradition and goes with our disdain for authority and over government….. May I have a government research grant please?  A large one, if you please?   I think this subject needs further analysis.

Terms of reference for Further research
I extract one of Professor van Wesrch’s findings for further analysis: “There is a marked contrast to drinking alcohol in a ‘dry culture’ like Britain, where many people do not drink during the week because they have got work next day and don’t want to suffer from a hangover.”

This latter finding is clearly a fallacy and, viewing it from the legal perspective, verging on defamatory of the people of this over-governed isle….  and  could, if this gets out, lead to 10,000 drinkers on the streets with flaming torches demanding  an apology.

Who are you going to call?… Sleazebusters! Jackboot Jacqui on the ropes?

The saga of The Home Secretary’s whereabouts of a night continues to excite the ravening horde and now Mr and Mrs Taplin of 22 Acacia Avenue are in on the act;  twitching their curtains and demanding the truth about Jacqui Smith’s living arrangements. (BBC report) Apparently Mr & Mrs Curtain Twitcher live next door to Jacqui Smith’s sister and are fully aware of our Home Secretary’s comings and goings and are not at all happy with her explanation.  They want to know – as is their right in what is left of our free democracy.  They took their careful observations to The Tories.  the Tories told them to contact a national newspaper as it was in the ‘public interest’.  So they did… and now Hapless Jacqui has to explain where she does live.

Given that she is Home Secretary and therefore guarded, one presumes, by the Police for much of the time… surely a quick call to the Metropolitan Police SO 51 Psyops & Leaks Unit would illicit this information if Sir John *The Sleazebuster* Lyons is unable to get the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to return his calls?

All will, no doubt, be revealed by our Fourth Estate Dogs of War jihadis… in time…

Liberty and libertarianism…

First up this morning was the Convention on Modern Liberty, noted below. Then along comes the House of Lords judgment in Qatada.  Carl Gardner, as ever, is on the money with this and his post dissects the issue thoroughly and with elegance. See Head of Legal blog post.

Thirdly… I had the pleasure of talking with Ian Parker-Joseph, Leader of the UK Libertarian Party.  Ian is on twitter. In fact, I was one of his first *Followers* and *Followees*.   I’m doing a Podcast with Ian on Friday… to give you a taste of what we will be discussing here is a link to Ian’s blog and the UK Libertarian Party.

I was particularly taken with this piece of information… a masterly way to make a point:

A COPY OF ORWELL’S ‘NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR’ SENT TO EVERY MP

An Internet grass-roots campaign will this week deliver a copy of George
Orwell’s prophetic novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ to every Member of
Parliament.

The books will be inscribed with the words, ‘This book was a warning, not a
blueprint’, and will arrive at Parliament on or before November 5th — a
date of well known historical significance for that building.

—————

Outraged by the continual attack upon civil liberties within our nation, a
fortnight ago the Libertarian Party proposed reminding those in Westminster
who they were elected to serve, and in whose interests the laws that they
pass are meant to function.

Spread purely by word of mouth, a campaign to send each Member of Parliament
their own copy of Orwell’s dystopian classic met with overwhelming support
on the Internet, with many more books pledged than the 646 required to
ensure that every one of our elected representatives receive a personal
copy. The Libertarian Party contributed just 75 books itself, with the
remainder coming (directly, or via campaign donations) from people of all
political parties, and of none.

The UK Libertarian Party leader, Ian Parker-Joseph, explained, “As the
people of Britain become ever more spied upon and ever more heavily taxed,
as the government attempts to control how much we should smoke, eat and
drink, as the state legislates to regulate ever more the minutiae of our
lives, the Libertarian Party want to remind people that we have the power,
and that our elected representatives work for us.”

Extract from the Blogofbile

Yes… right up my street.  I shall look forward to this podcast.

Carry on Submariners…..

I am baffled (as most will be)  as to how two highly trained naval submarine captains – one, Royal Navy, the other French Navy – managed to crash their submarines into each other, with advanced technology at their disposal, in the middle of the Atlantic, a huge ocean.  Captain Bligh would not have been amused…. It is like something out Carry on Submarining,

The Independent reports that the submarines had enough nuclear material on board for 1248 Hiroshima bombs.

The good news though is… that stealth technology is clearly improving. ”

The Independent reports: “Naval experts, who underlined that the two nuclear submarines were built with hulls designed to withstand huge pressures, expressed surprise that the sonar arrays of both had failed to detect either vessel. Sonar technology is now so sophisticated manufacturers boast it can recognise a small fish. That it does not seem to have been able to pick out a submarine nearly the length of two football pitches and the height of a three-storey building could be explained by the development of stealth technology, making the submarines less visible to other vessels.”

Sunday 15th February: Postcard from The Moon

Curiously, I was at a loss for something to do this morning so I took a trip to the Moon, fully reported on Twitter – where else! Frankly, we would all probably be more free  if we were on the Moon these days given the taste of the present government for CCTV cameras, ID cards, promulgating new criminal offences and Robocop thinking when it comes to controlling the British people.

The latest stunt being pulled by the government in the dying days of their 12 year “Protectorate” ( taste precluded me from using the rather more emotive “Reich”)  is the plan in the Welfare Reform Bill in the House of Commons committee stage this to week to allow the newly renamed Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission to take away the driving licences and passports of parents who refuse to pay for their children – without a court order. As The Law Society Gazette reported: ” Justice Director Roger Smith described the ‘disproportionate’ sanctions as the thin end of the wedge.  They are sure to creep into others areas of dispute once the link between the method of enforcement and what’s at stake is broken.”

Another stunt pulled by the government was to jail parents for the truancy of their children. The BBC reported this week: “A parent is jailed for their child’s truancy once a fortnight every school term in England and Wales, analysis of court statistics shows.”

This plan was a big FAIL. One wonders if this idea was dreamed up when half the Cabinet were smoking cannabis. Child doesn’t go to school. Jail parent.  Child goes into care if from a one parent family, possibly brutalised by the experience and less receptive to school than before and taxpayer picks up bill for high cost of imprisoning parents. Clever stuff. The BBC dredges up ex-minister Estelle Smith and sundry Lib-Dems to wring their hands and undergo ritual atonement and exculpation.  I can’t even be bothered to quote from the report.

I’m with the ex-Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, on this one.  We have far too many criminal laws, far too much political interference with the Judiciary, way too many CCTV cameras, irritating regulations, cash raising fine schemes and interferences in our lives in this once green and pleasant land.

So…pouring a libation to my taste… on to the other matters of the week…

At a loss for something to do this Sunday morning, I decided to make a moon landing. This was reported fully on Twitter of course – where else?

I was also able to do my 100th podcast with my friend Dan Hull, a lawyer in the United States, who can be relied upon to be robust, controversial and to the point. We talked of many things including the future of lawyers post recession.

Geert Wilders tried to hit our shores to show his film to a group of peers in The House of Lords. He was frustrated in this endeavour by the Home Secretary who banned him from entry on grounds, inter alia, that Lord Ahmed had indicated there would be 10,000 muslims on the streets.  Wilders ignored the letter and arrived at Heathrow to be excluded by Immigration and Border Agency officers. I did a podcast with Carl Gardner who believes that the Home Secretary acted unlawfully.  I agree with his analysis.  Rather more worrying….  this exclusion was yet another example of our government believing they know best.  It was a shameful decision;  riding roughshod, whatever one may think of Wilders, over the reputation of this country to handle difficulty with debate, with reason, with parody, ridicule and mockery – rather than the blunt bludgeon of the law – misunderstood, possibly, in this case.  10,000 muslims did not turn up at Heathrow or stampede on our streets –  possibly because they are more rational than Lord Ahmed.

It is not Thunderbirds are GO for Alistair Darling on the banks lending front, nor, it would seem, on the issue of his own expenses.  Guido Fawkes jumps on the story with his usual enthusiasm.

I quote: “When the man in charge of the nation’s finances, Alistair Darling, has been caught fiddling his expenses, and Jacqui Smith, the woman who is in charge of crime prevention is accused of corruption, you have a government which is a kleptocracy. The New Labour promise to be “whiter than white” is like a sick joke now.”

Another week begins tomorrow.  I shall be at my post, watching our shores, checking the Thames for U-Boats and French Ships of the Line… I shall be back.  Have a good one.

Regards as always


Podcast 102: Usefully Employed on developments in Employment Law

Podcast 102: Usefully Employed on developments in Employment Law
Today I’m talking to solicitor turned barrister, the author of the Usefully Employed blog about developments in Employment Law.

We discuss:

Redundancy generally given the downturn, collective consultation and the impact on law firms

The British jobs issue at the oil refinery and, now, at Radcliffe power station

The imminent repeal in April of the dispute resolution procedures, the replacement provisions & the resulting new Acas codes of practice.

Listen to Podcast 102

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Podcast version for iTunes

Charon reports: From The Moon….

I woke this morning and lost the will to live after reading in the News of The World that Peaches Geldof has many bizarre tattoos and Alistair Darling has apparently been re-furbishing his £1.2 million Edinburgh *not his main residence* home at tax payer expense… more of which later.  The question formulating in my mind as I smoked a woodbine was… ‘what to do on this rather dull Sunday morning’.  I watched the gulls and the cormorants enjoying their breakfast and had a Damascus moment.

I would make a moon landing… guided the necessary 270,000 miles by my iMac laptop – with very much more computing power than the original astronauts had when they landed on the moon 40 years ago.. or didn’t if you are an Area 51, UFO/ conspiracy theory fan/nutcase etc etc….

I am not able to reveal how I got to the moon… because I already get a fair number of emails from assorted nutcases and fruitcakes and I do not wish to encourage them.  Suffice it to say that the trip was most enjoyable and I was able to continue making posts on Twitter for much of the journey…  such are the advances in technology from the days when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins made their historic trip. My trip was not entirely for selfish gratification.  I did a bit of science up there… or over there as we Charononauts like to say.

I landed on the moon at approximately 11.08 GMT and reported on Twitter (I was able to get a very faint signal)

Ever mindful of *Evidence*, I took particular care to kick a bit of moon dust around to ensure that the ground under my spacecraft looked as if it had actually landed on the moon, planted a couple of flags to get the shadows right and discovered the essential truth that while we do see stars from earth, there aren’t any visible from the moon at certain times.  My trip happened to coincide with one of those ‘starless sky’ times.

It would have been most inelegant not to have done some science. I carried out two brief experiments and shall be sending my findings to NASA , Scientific American, The Royal Geographical Society and Hello magazine.  The first experiment involved cracking open a bottle of Rioja.  When I finally caught the bubbles of wine that formed in the zero gravity they tasted good… I had a specially built straw for this purpose.  My second experiment proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is possible to smoke a cigarette on the moon – and it is lawful to do so as well, there being no busybodies over there to stop me.

Podcast 100: Podcast 100: Dan Hull the credit-crunch, law firms and the future

Welcome to my 100th Podcast interview with movers, shakers, practitioners and pundits from  the wonderful world of law… practice and academe.

Today I am talking to Dan Hull, founder of Hull McGuire PC with Julie McGuire. Dan, A litigator and lobbyist with life-long professional ties to Washington, D.C practices in the areas of commercial litigation (primarily U.S. federal courts and ADR abroad), environmental law, employment practices law, and legislative affairs.  He is also the founder of the well known and well regarded WhatAbout Clients? Blog which, at weekends turns itself into the WhatAboutParis? Blog.

We talk about The credit-crunch – law firm redundancies – the ‘knowledge gap’ – the Billable hour v Flat fee controversy and even talk about Geeklawyer.

Listen to Podcast 100

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Podcast version for iTunes

Podcast 101: Charon Reports on the Geert Wilders affair…

Charon Reports on the Geert Wilders affair…

Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, barrister, writer, ex government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal blog about the (possibly)  unlawful exclusion of Geert Wilders.

Wilders has been excluded under regulations 19(1) and 21 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, which faithfully copy out and implement the requirements of article 27 of Directive 2004/38 on the rights of EU citizens to move freely.

Listen to the podcast report with Carl Gardner

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UPDATE 14TH FEBRUARY

BBC Any Questions Radio 4: David Davies MP speaks on Free Speech issue – says Government wrong to ban Wilders.
(At about 28 minutes in to the 50 minute programme)

No sign, as far as I can see (yet) of Liberty response. Will continue to look.  If anyone finds a response before I do – please put comment in and I’ll publicise Liberty response.

Podcast version for iTunes

“I fucking warned you beforehand that I would not be very good on details.”

MPs shocked by Boris Johnson expletives…

The Independent: “Boris Johnson launched an expletive-laden attack on the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee after he was criticised for giving confused evidence, it was revealed today.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson cycled through the snow and ice last week  to appear before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.  Apparently the members were not impressed…. The Independent reports: “Tom Brake, a Lib Dem member of the cross-party committee, said they had all been struck by Mr Johnson’s lack of preparation for the evidence session. “When he came to give evidence he was completely unprepared. He was less prepared than some 18-year-old Scouts who came to see us the week before,” Mr Brake said.”It was almost as if he had fallen out of bed 10 minutes before.”

Well… there we are. Brings a bit of colour to life and  at least he didn’t sit before a Select Committee wringing his hands and say how unreservedly sorry he was to have headed a once great bank, now reduced to being a chattel of the State,  and stating with the false gravity of a funeral director on a busy day that he could not be more sorry he had not received a single penny in cash and, as a result, had lost £5 million when the shares in the bank fell through the floor.

Podcast 99: Bonfire of more vanities…Charon reports…

Listen to Podcast 99: Bonfire of more vanities…Charon reports…

Yesterday the Select Committee in The Commons grilled the HBOS and RBS mob and ran amok to great effect; illiciting expressions of ‘profound and unreserved regret’…. with one exquisitely groomed and suave titled banker saying that he could not ‘be more sorry’.  All this is well covered by the BBC and others and I referred to it yesterday.

Today, Prime Minister’s Questions was a cross between Richard III and a Brian Rix Farce. Gordon Brown shuffled to his feet in a manner, to me at least, as if he was reprising Olivier’s introduction to Richard III… “And now is the winter of my discontent made gloriously worse by this ex Chairman of HBOS…”

The saga began when The Daily Mail alleged that Sir James Crosby (adviser to Gordon Brown and knighted by Brown for services to Banking) when head of HBOS, sacked senior manager Paul Moore for raising concerns the bank was open to too much risk.  The BBC reports ” Sir James, who led HBOS from 2001 to 2006, said there was “no substance to the allegations” But Paul Moore said he stood “firmly and confidently” behind his allegations against Sir James.”

With absolutely no ministerial contact whatsoever, apparently,  between Downing Street and The Financial services Authority this morning, Sir James Crosby threw himself onto his sword and resigned as deputy chairman of City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) – conveniently, before Prime Minister’s Questions at 12.00 today.

The BBC’s Maven of Mavens on Economic Matters, Robert Peston, said that he “understood that Sir James had stood down to protect the FSA from controversy.”

The BBC  report states: “The Treasury told the BBC it was Sir James’ personal decision to resign from the FSA”  This of course, is almost guaranteed to send the slavering hacks into a frenzy of “But was he pushed?” speculation and so it proved today on the BBC’s Daily Politics show presided over by Andrew Neil.

David Cameron, fresh out of the oven as Pillsbury Doughboy incarnate, launched into the Prime Mentalist with the fervour of a hunstman on Boxing Day trying to find a fox to slaughter;  accusing the Prime Minister of incompetence, lack of judgement, failing to get his facts right and, noting that the Banking mobsters had apologised, for not having the decency to do likewise for mismanaging Britain. All good stuff… allowing sundry front benchers from both sides to nod wisely, laugh, roar, nod their heads vigorously or, in Harriet Harman’s case do her Nigella Lawson impersonation and smile seductively, but meaninglessly.

The story became even more amusing when it was discovered that Sir James Crosby had been Chairman of HBOS and Deputy Chairman of the Financial Services Authority for some time at the same time, prompting Andrew Neil to the inevitable comment that this was tantamount to putting the lunatics in charge of the asylum.  There was much huffing and puffing by Hazel Blears and the Chairman of the Tory Party, Eric Pickles – with Pickles even asking Andrew Neil if he knew about the conflict of interest and had complained about it at the time.  Farcical, really, but ineluctably British… and hey.. look on the bright side…. if these banking mobsters had pulled this stunt in China they would probably be shot at the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing.

Finally… let’s go over to the Maven of Mavens, Robert Peston on why Sir James Crosby resigned…


I can barely wait for more revelations and developments on this sorry saga – but turning now to another form of vanity – the vanity of The Home Secretary and her expenses claim.  Well… it all turns out that she has done absolutely nothing wrong, everything is above board, the complaint has not been upheld and Chief Political pundit from the BBC Nick Robinson hyperventilated on the Daily Politics show  today that the truth of the matter is…. that she was telling the truth and has not broken the law… so there we are… another storm in a second home tea cup.  She is, therefore, fully entitled to continue to be a hapless Home Secretary and spend the next year of her time as Britain’s worst Home secretary in recent years – an opinion I am still entitled to hold even under this government, until Team Brown face the flaming torches of the electorate when Brown has no option but to call an election.

And finally, if you haven’t already seen this and want a laugh… have a look at this excellent nonsense from The Onion…Sony Releases New Stupid Piece of Shit That Doesn’t Fucking Work..

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Listen to Podcast 99: Bonfire of more vanities…Charon reports…

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UPDATE 11th February 7.30 pm

Email from David Cameron (To all who signed up for the original WebCameron)

Dear Charon,

This morning we learnt that Sir James Crosby had resigned from his position as Deputy Chairman of the City watchdog – the Financial Services Authority. This was because of an allegation made about his time as Chief Executive of HBOS. A former employee claims Sir James Crosby sacked him for saying that the bank was taking on too much risk.

Why is all this so important? For three reasons. First, because it raises questions about Gordon Brown’s judgement. Sir James Crosby is one of his trusted economic advisers and the man he put in place to oversee the regulation of our banks. The turn of events now shows Gordon Brown’s misjudgement in putting him in such an important role.

Second, it raises questions about Gordon Brown’s character. In the House of Commons today, I asked the Prime Minister to apologise for getting this judgement call wrong. But, as ever, he refused. Be it for claiming to end boom or bust, failing to regulate our banks, or now this, the Prime Minister is simply unable to admit when he’s got things wrong – so I don’t believe he can be the man to put things right.

And third, it raises questions about the way this Government works. The immediate events leading up to Sir James Crosby’s resignation are still not clear. Was it his decision? Or was he pushed in order to make life easier for the Government? Whatever happened, I suspect this will not be the last of the resignations we see to save this Government’s political skin.


11th February: Daily News and podcast up on Insite Law

11th February: Daily legal news, blogs and podcast up on Insite Law

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Do you want my FREE newswire?  Filled with useful stuff!
Sign up for Free weekly email newswire | Read Issue #2 of the Newswire. | Series of Podcasts for Bar students.

The Times reports that A senior female executive at a City bank headed by the new Trade Minister was a victim of sexism in a department where meetings ended up in strip clubs, an employment tribunal was told yesterday.Anna Atkins said that she was passed over for promotion at Standard Chartered because of a macho culture where late-night drinking was encouraged…. see Insite Law for more details of late night lap ancing and cigar smoking in the news section of the front page…

Podcast 98: Neville Hobson on Communication, PR, Twitter and other social media.

Podcast 98: Neville Hobson on Communication, PR, Twitter and other social media.

Today I am talking to Neville Hobson, a communicator, blogger and podcaster, one of the leading European early adopters and influencers in social media communication for business. He is an IABC-accredited communication practitioner with over 25 years’ experience in public and media relations, marketing communication, employee, compensation and benefits communication as well as investor and financial relations. He helps companies use effective communication to achieve their business goals.

I’m going to ask him how communication can help companies and law firms in today’s climate. We talk about Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in and the future…

Listen to Podcast 98

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Podcast version for iTunes

Podcast 97: Ella Shaw, pupil at 4 Brick Court, London on her experience of Family Law pupillage

Podcast 97: Ella Shaw, pupil at 4 Brick Court, London on her experience of Family Law pupillage

Today I am talking to Ella Shaw a pupil barrister with Jacqui Gilliatt, a well known member of the Bar  at 4 Brick Court, a leading Family Law set.  We are going to talk about what she has discovered during her pupillage and her hopes for tenancy and beyond.

Listen to Podcast  97

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Podcast version for iTunes

UPDATE: John Bolch Podcast with Jacqui Gilliatt

Postcard from a London Bus 7th February: Pro-God buses for London streets

You may have seen the press reports about  Richard Dawkins and the atheist bus advert “There probably is no God: so stop worrying and enjoy your life”  The BBC reports that these adverts prompted complaints from the group Christian Voice and from individuals. The BBC report continues….

‘Spurred on’  Three separate pro-God advert campaigns on the sides of London buses are set to hit city streets. Buses adorned with the slogan “There definitely is a God” are from the Christian Party, while the Trinitarian Bible Society chose a Biblical verse. The Russian Orthodox Church is also preparing bus adverts.

Not to be left out … I am toying with the idea of having my own adverts on a London bus and have mocked up how the adverts may look and showing the regalia I may hire from my local joke  and fancy dress shop

Fellow atheist and antitheist John Bolch of the Family Lore blog made the point, when I discussed the idea with him, that the Advertising Standards Board may well take a different view of the pro-God advert use of the words ‘there definitely is a God’ on grounds that objective proof should be available to back up claims …. which is certainly required for health, beauty and other products making definite claims.

I know that it is an offence to impersonate a policeman or a lawyer, doctor etc, but as I won’t be carrying out marriage ceremonies, baptising anyone or preaching,  I should be OK to wander around London on ‘my bus’ dressed in robes and a pointy hat.   I shall have to remember not to do any exorcisms or castigate bankers and money changers as I pass through London if this project ever takes off.

So… what else has been happening in the surreal world of UK blawgers?…
Last night, at a loss for something to do, I decided to have a Macbeth evening on Twitter.  It started mildly enough with a Macbeth adapted  tweet…Is this a wine glass which I see before me. The lip toward my mouth? Come, let me drink thee.” but it was not long before other Twitterers joined in and a quote from @gjacqui appeared…Pour out the wine without restraint or stay, Pour not by cups, but by the bellyful, Pour out to all that wull.” (Spenser).. to which I had to reply (from the same work) ” And sprinkle all the posts and walls with wine,  that they may sweat, and drunken be withall.”

@carlgardner, making a rare State Visit to Twitter (and perhaps concerned that I may be having a winter of discontent)  chipped in with an excellent film link to the famous soliloquy by Olivier at the beginning of Richard III (which just happens to be my favourite Shakespeare play).  @MisterRo asked if I happened to know my Catullus.  He was looking for suitable latin maxims or aphorisms on the subject of ‘Love’ and then….  I had an exchange of Tweets with the exceptionally well read @infobunny (whose knowledge of literature and film is wide, eclectic and deep) on Kafka and his seminal books The Trial and The Castle.  This is proof (if proof be needed) that twitter for lawyers isn’t all about ambulance chasing, serious law,  marketing, the race to secure the most followers or drunken, but amusing, nonsense.  We shoehorned a bit of culture in …. and you don’t always get that down at The Dog & Duck gastropub!

T’was fun.  Although I am pleased to be able to report that my friend MIAMICRIMLAW asked…. @Charonqc I’m being followed by @thirstforrioja is this your stage name?

I shall return for Postcard from a London Bus Part II later in the day….. time for a glass of vino and a woodbine or two…

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UPDATE: Colin Samuels of  the Infamy or Praise blog has this to say (from the Comments)….

For thousands of years, individuals, tribes, and civilizations have struggled against one another over the existence and nature of a higher being. After all that time and struggle, while religious conflict continues to dominate daily life in many parts of the world, we are all fortunate that the existence or non-existence of God will be finally and definitively resolved by the British advertising standards board. We owe you lot a debt of gratitude, certainly. British public transport: a force for international peace!”

Podcast 96: Alexander Learmonth, Chairman, Young Barristers Committee of The Bar Council

Today I am talking to Alexander Learmonth, Chairman of The Young Barristers Committee of the Bar Council.
Called in 2000, Alex is a member of NewSquare Chambers. I talk to Alex about the realities facing  young members of the bar and his advice for students contemplating a career at the bar or who are doing the BVC now and the prospects for pupillage and tenancy. [Pic: Marcus Lyon]

Listen to Podcast 96: Alexander Learmonth, Chairman, Young Barristers Committee of The Bar Council

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Podcast 96 link for iTunes

A bit of Friday nonsense….

While I am delighted for those who believe in what to me is frankly unbelievable, I found Tony Blair’s statement on Faith and Faiths when he met Obamassiah (ahead of Gordon Brown)… when most of the world’s political nutters seem to speak directly to some form of god or say they are doing some god’s will…  not to my taste this morning.  What did amuse me was the fact that Blair managed to tweak The Prime Mentalist’s tail yet again by being the first world statesman (sic) to meet the new President.

Meanwhile… it being a Friday… I am grateful to fellow Twitterer @infobunny for drawing my attention to a story about a man being arrested for kissing two blow-up dolls in his car while parked outside the Publix shop in Cape Coral, Florida.  Perhaps more interesting was the fact this story was reported by The TelegraphMon dieu!… what will the good people of middle minded England be thinking… Outraged of Seven Oaks must be having great difficulty dressing in his cravat and blazer this fine wet morning.

It being Friday… it is always worth nipping over to RollonFriday.com to see what is in their weekly news round up.  Amusement is usually on the agenda.

Today they have another of those “You don’t know your arse from your elbow” moments. This time the College of Law comes under the spotlight…

College of Law mistakenly tells students they’ve failed

“The College of Law has  yet more egg on its face after a number of firm-sponsored LPC students were erroneously informed that they had failed every single one of their first round papers. Students at the Chester branch logged onto the College’s intranet as instructed last Thursday only to be greeted with the news that they had failed Business Accounts, Advocacy and their Practical Legal Research project. Given that the students face having their training contracts withdrawn if they fail to pass their assessments at the first attempt there was a collective browning of trousers. Students who telephoned the College to find out what was going on were asked for their candidate numbers – before being given a cryptic message. If they had passed, they were told that whilst they couldn’t get their results over the phone they had nothing to worry about. If they had failed a module, they were told to come in to the College.” It would appear to have been an error….  Story

6th February: News up and Jeremy Clarkson starts state visit to Australia…

Daily news update and news podcast up on Insite Law.

Well… it is unlikely to be *Sir* Jeremy Clarkson at any time in the near future after Clarkson began his State Visit to Australia by slagging off the Prime Mentalist, Gordon Brown.  Clarkson, a national treasure who drives fast cars like a hooligan on too many e-numbers (to the delight of the nation’s petrol heads), described Brown as a “one eyed Scottish idiot” and accused him of lying to the British public about the world economy.  Various Scots MPs were pulled from their beds/offices etc to express outrage.  All this… and more is covered today on Insite Law’s news update…. Read

I am able to report that I had a great lunch yesterday with John Bolch, Jacqui Gilliat from 4 Brick Court and her pupil Ella Shaw yesterday in Maidstone. The meet up – or should I say *Tweet Up* was arranged over Twitter.  It was a civilised affair.  Jacqui (Author of the Bloody Relations blog) , having completed her court case at the Maidstone Law Courts, suggested that we might take of the wines of the Gods.  It will come as no surprise to readers that I was easily persuaded to this course of action and Rioja arived, as if by magic, at our table… several bottles of the stuff, as it happens.

I am doing a podcast at high noon today with Alexander Learmonth, Chairman of The Young Barrister’s Committee to talk about the realities facing young barristers in today’s financial climate and to talk about prospects for students seeking pupillage and tenancies over the next couple of years.  With this in mind, I invited Jacqui Gilliatt’s pupil, Ella Shaw, to do a podcast on this very theme.  I’m pleased to report that she accepted the invitation and I will record the podcast with her on Sunday.

And finally… I’ve got my accounts sorted… by using an excellent accounts package I found online called KashFlow. It works on both Mac and PC, works online for Mac users (Important for me) and is astonishingly easy to use – even for a law blogger.  So… if you are a lawyer, blogger, freelance lecturer or just a bon viveur whose accounts are in a  black plastic bin bag – may I encourage you to try the 60 day FREE trial and get your accounts sorted to professional standards.  It also has a most useful *Email the invoice* function – joy!.  I make no apology for being an opportunist.  Noticing that the CEO of Kashflow is on Twitter, I asked Duane Jackson  if he would care to sponsor my daily news podcasts and support my free online magazine by buying a small, modestly priced, advert.  I work on the principle for my free onlne mag that if *You don’t ask, you don’t get*.  Duane Jackson was prepared to do this – which I appreciate. If you need to sort your acounts – I have no hesitation in commending Kashflow to you – and did so on Twitter even before I came up with the idea of asking Duane to sponsor my daily news podcasts! Try Kashflow FREE for 60 days?

5th February: News up on Insite and the #legalitshow tag!…

Daily legal news, blog update and news podcast up on Insite Law.
A raft fascinating legal news and excellent posts from UK bloggers is noted / linked to on Insite Law today. Remember to sign up to the weekly newswire if you would like an email summary of the week’s news / blog posts, law reports just past.  Details on Insite Law.

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Nick Holmes, writing in Binary Law discusses Twitter and whether anyone will be using the #legalitshow tag.

I just had to comment on his post and did so as follows:

Nick – Re the #legalitshow

It won’t take off for the following reasons:

(a) UK Bloggers, the main UK lawyer users of Twitter, tend to use / abuse Twitter for their own chat and occasionally to promote blog posts.

(b) UK lawyers are not avid users of blogs or Twitter (There are, in fact, very few UK lawyers on Twitter)

(c) UK lawyers are behind the curve generally when it comes to blogs, Twitter and other social media – perhaps because they have not embraced IT with much enthusiasm compared to US, Canadian and other lawyers?

(d) UK lawyers are too busy making money or worrying about their jobs to be bothered with blogs et al.

(And one may add that UK lawyers are not that interested in legal IT and tend to leave this to the IT/Library/Information services  gurus at their firms?)

I think that UK lawyers are missing a lot by not engaging with the blog world (Twitter is less important for hard content) because there is a wealth of excellent knowledge and information out there on the blawgosphere, UK – particularly from the States, and in Canada, Australia etc of relevance and value to UK lawyers.

Their loss? Yes.

You and others do their best to promote blogs and inform – but if UK lawyers want to continue to read out of date news in Trade journals or continue to fill their minds with who is doing deals with whom… and keep their noses firmly to the insular grindstone of UK legal work – you can’t really force them to do otherwise.

Very few of my friends at the Bar or in legal academia even know what a blog is, let alone Twitter. I find it astonishing that legal academics, in the main, are completely unaware of the blog world and the value (to their students at the very least) of the content in the many excellent legal blogs out there.

What can be done? Very little, I suspect. I’m not that impressed by the insularity of the academic world on this. They bleat about not being able to publish to advance their careers (because of the diminishing number of legal publishers), yet are not prepared (as some do to great effect) to lift their eyes off their limited horizon and actually self publish or, perhaps, form a collective blog and work with other academics of a like mind in the same field. Conflict of Laws.net and IPKat come to mind as excellent examples of collaboration and authoritative peer reviewed legal analysis.

Legal education, I fear, to go slightly off point, is becoming more and more of a factory for the profession – and some universities appear to be joining the “Let’s dumb it down and process the meat school of thought”.

There we are….. I have not advanced the cause of human knowledge one iota by this comment – but I feel better and it is now time for coffee.

British Government diagnosed with PAS – Political Asperger Syndrome…

I have just been at The Institute of Political Psychiatry in London listening to a most interesting paper.

I wasn’t able to tweet the entire conference but I was able to record Professor Strangelove’s extraordinary statement on my mobile phone.

Statement from Dr Strangelove MB, CH, FRCP, FRSA Emeritus Professor,  Institite of Political Psychiatry, London

“I have come to ze conclusion, after many years of research, to conclude that zis government is ill, sick in ze head and has Political Asperger Syndrome.  I define zis in ze traditional way, but with ze variants… it is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Governments with PAS therefore show difficulties in social interaction and have restricted, stereotyped patterns of behavior and interests. Governments suffering from this syndrome also tend to believe that they are unassailable and have a tendency to wish to over regulate the lives of those they govern. One of the unfortunate side effects of PAS is memory loss and this often presents by a total inability to recall the manifesto on which they were elected in the first place. We have noted, in a study of dictatorial regimes in other parts of the world, zat some patient governments also exhibit a tendency to forget where data is or lose it. There is also a tendency to blame others for failure.  Zat is all I haff to say on ze subject today. More research is needed.  There is no cure.”

All go in the real and unreal world….

Now that Britain is returning, slowly, to some semblance of normality after the marvellous snow storm yesterday two news items caught my attention:

Guido Fawkes reports on his blog: Met Police Have Received MP’s Complaint Re Gordon Brown’s Leaks from 1985

“Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson has, Guido understands, had in his in-tray since early December a letter of complaint over this. Legally there is no “statute of limitations” for the offence of “Procuring Misconduct in Public Office”, so Brown could theoretically still be prosecuted. Perhaps the Met have been preparing for nine weeks to raid his offices, more likely they are in a bit of a quandary about what to do until Damian Green is dealt with.” Guido reproduces television footage from the time.

A tricky ‘political’ issue for Brown et al to deal with and a bit of a thorn in the flesh for the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner.  Perhaps it might be best just to sweep both the Damien Green and Gordon Brown ‘procurement’ issues under the carpet?  Are we going to see another  bit of soft ‘British fudge”?  Is it a ‘storm in a tea cup”?  Or do we just have some laws that are more important than others?  Perhaps they could both be given an £80 fixed penalty ticket – or… what about an ASBO? Perhaps there won’t be enough evidence?

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Then we have the curious matter of former President Bush being ‘indicted for War Crimes’? – water boarding, torture, detention without trial et al. This is considered by The Huffington Post.

I like to imagine that George Bush, after having this read to him, called President Obama

Bush: Hey Barack… how goes it?.. found all those laws that I rushed through just before I left?

Obama: Good morning, George.  Yes… got them all. Kept me busy. What can I do for you?

Bush: You see that piece in Huffington? They want to get me, try me as a war criminal.

Obama: Yes.  I saw it.

Bush: I may need you to pardonify me.

Obama: George, your enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so am I. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm you and neither do I.”

Bush: Yeah?  I heard that said before. My answer is bring them on.

Obama: Yeah?  So why do you want a pardon?

Bush: I wish you’d have given me this  question ahead of time so I could plan for it…I’m sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this telephone conversation, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hasn’t yet….maybe I should call you tomorrow.  I’m a bit confusified at the moment with nothing to do.

Obama: Ok.. George… any time… I promise you I will listen to what you say here, even though I won’t be here when you call.

3rd February: Daily Legal news and podcast on Insite law

Daily Legal news and podcast up on Insite Law

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Future Use of Counsel’s Opinion by Solicitors in Other Cases
30 January 2009

The Bar Council has been informed of the following situation. A barrister has received instructions from a firm of solicitors which state at the end of the instructions that it is the solicitors’ intention to store the opinion received from Counsel electronically, and to make future use of it in other cases as they see fit. This is an issue which has been considered by the Bar Standards Board in consultation with the Law Society, and the link to the appropriate guidance is available on this website.

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If you would like to receive my weekly Insite Law newswire by email (summarising events of the week just gone) please sign up here | Have a look at the first issue?

Charon reports on Snow Crisis Britain….

Last night, as Britain braced itself to come to a complete and grinding halt today, I was able to cover the action LIVE on Twitter... these are the tweets as they happened.  I had, it has to be said, ignored the advice of HM Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Busybody and was at the juice – a very enjoyable Rioja as it happens.

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Snow reduces Britain to a complete and utter shambles
The night of Sunday 1st February… as it happened… live on Twitter…
10.30 – 11.15  pm GMT London

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10.30 pm GMT London

Heavy snow coming down Thames estuary… rather enjoyable. I’m standing outside with a glass of wine, cold but fun to watch. off out again …
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@gjacqui Buona sera… have been watching snow outside… Britain’s transport will collapse tomorrow? I shall be at my post though! about 10 hours ago from web in reply to gjacqui
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@Geeklawyer I think you may have delays… the storm is getting worse… and much more predicted overnight 6-8 inches London area? about 10 hours ago from web in reply to Geeklawyer
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@Geeklawyer Runways closed at gatwick…. 8 snowflakes closed M25… great film from BBC … about 10 hours ago from web in reply to Geeklawyer
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@Geeklawyer I’ll go and take a look. I’m hallucinating at the moment.. snow blindness….can’t even see my wine glass. “I may be some time” about 10 hours ago from web in reply to Geeklawyer
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@ManxStef Hi… snow has stopped for the moment… I can’t wait to watch BBC breakfast – it will be chaotic as usual here when it snows. about 10 hours ago from web in reply to ManxStef
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British Cabinet is convened to discuss global plan to deal with snow… Home Secretary wants snow detained for 90 days until Spring comes about 10 hours ago from web
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Chancellor of Exchequer says “The Snow is not of our doing… it came from Russia” and is a *global* problem.. we need to act together about 10 hours ago from web
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Britain put on *SNOW FOOTING*… I am joining *Dad’s Army* immediately… I’ve got my WWII helmet out already… watching for snow. about 10 hours ago from web
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HM The Queen is ready to tour London in the snow…. to show that even Royals get snow and empathise with us peasants. about 10 hours ago from web
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@kittieskrafts Under control? You have to be joking… We have 9 flakes of snow… National Crisis. about 10 hours ago from web in reply to kittieskrafts
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The TV weather people are hyperventilating… they haven’t seen this much white stuff since the Christmas Party. about 10 hours ago from web
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#SNOWCRISISHITBRITAIN The British Government is ready. Our Prime Minister pledges that he will lead us through to Tuesday thaw. about 10 hours ago from web
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PM has just telephoned me to ask me to stop my Tweet bulletins. I could bring the economy down, apparently. I told him “I snow, PM,” about 10 hours ago from web
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Bulletin from No 10 Downing Street: @carnalis looking forward to 8 inches. about 10 hours ago from web
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I may not be able to hold out much longer.. the snow is making it difficult for me to drink my Rioja and keep my cigarette lit #SnowcrisisUK about 10 hours ago from web
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Breaking News from Downing Street: “The snow we are currently experiencing, as with the credit-crunch, cd not have been foreseen.” #Snow about 10 hours ago from web
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Ageing rockstar reports: Snow, snow everywhere and not a drop to snort” #SnowcrisihitUK about 10 hours ago from web
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@ManxStef This snow is a global problem and we have to have a global solution. We are leading the world with our snow about 9 hours ago from web in reply to ManxStef
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House of Lords Peer says “There will have to be a lot more snow to whet my interest.” #snowcrisisuk about 9 hours ago from web
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This link (via @ManxStef) is just PERFECT to sum up UK snow crisis. Not safe for work but funny  about 9 hours ago from web
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I’ve got to hit the hay… snow blind, frost bitten, snowed under with the effort of living in the new ice age. Global warming.. ? about 9 hours ago from web
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@dialogicmed CALL OUT THE ARMY? – FANTASTIC.. ours is abroad invading other countries. I’ll be at my post… tomorrow.. Dread nought! about 9 hours ago from web in reply to dialogicmed
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Monday 2nd February 2009
9.00 am

I am pleased to report, despite the SNOW, that I managed to get to work. Got out of bed, walked five yards to desk, after shower… VOILA! 22 minutes ago from web

And finally… you just have to have a quick look at this remarkable  BBC report / pic... sums it all up, really!

(Hat Tip to @ManxStef for the link to that great story/pic)

I’m orf for a coffee… a bit snowed under with it all….


2nd February: Daily news up on Insite Law… snow report to follow

Daily legal news and podcast up on Insite Law

1. I have replaced the Pageflakes pages for News, blogs, law reports as Pageflakes appears to have disappeared. I shall replace the US, Canada, Australia and other jurisdiction Pageflake pages with Netvibe page shortly.
Have a look at the new Netvibe RSS feed pages – a lot of news, blog,s law reports (top five posts) at a glance.

2. If you would like to receive my weekly Insite Law newswire by email (summarising events of the week just gone) please sign up here | Have a look at the first issue?

Podcast 95: Podcast 95: Law Girl’s quest for pupillage and a career at The Bar

Today I am talking to a prospective barrister who blogs under the name LAWGIRL. She has completed her undergraduate degree, has an LLM and is currently doing an MA in legal & political theory. She is due to do the Bar Vocational Course in September at the Inns of Court School of Law and is, no doubt, gearing up her finances to pay for what is now a fairly expensive course!  We’re going to talk about her thoughts on legal education and the prospects for young barristers.  This is most timely, because next week, I am going to be doing a podcast with Alexander Learmonth, Chairman of The Young Barristers Committee at the Bar Council about the very same issues.

Listen Podcast 95: Law Girl’s quest for pupillage and a career at The Bar

LawGirl’s Blog

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Podcast version for iTunes

1st February – Postcard from London (2): Lords a Leaping… the continuing saga….

I was chatting to John Bolch, Family Lore, earlier in the day as he embarks on his new career as a podcaster in matters of Family Law – and he told me that one of the reasons why he voted Labour all those years ago, when Tony Blair descended from heaven to lead us, was because Labour promised to reform The Lords.  They didn’t, so he didn’t vote for them again. They still haven’t and their lordships (or a growing number of them) are running amok and rioting at taxpayer expense.

Lord Jailbird Archer and Lord Jailhouse Rock Conrad Black are both experienced in matters of prison.  We have ex-copper and FBI graduate Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate attracting the attention of the News of The World today (See Postcard 1) and we have a whole raft of non-elected Peers rushing around consulting for vast amounts of money and suggesting – allegedly and apparently – *adjustments* to legislation.  This is well reported in The Sunday Times.

The rot has got to stop. It is no use having ex-Archbishops wringing their hands.  We need positive and direct action and we need it now.  Lord Oakeshott, Liberal Democrat peer, summed it up with a wonderful quote, reported in the press this morning:

” Tax-dodgers, bung-takers, fraudsters and perjurers must be cleared out of parliament now.”

The Sunday Times reported this morning: “PEERS who avoid tax or have criminal convictions – such as Lord Archer and Lord Black – are to be expelled from the House of Lords in the wake of the lords for hire scandal. The reforms are being drawn up by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, in an attempt to restore the Lords’ battered reputation after last weekend’s revelations in The Sunday Times.”

Frankly, I would go further and get rid of The House of Lords altogether. This isn’t going to happen and, in any event, I am just a blogger and have no desire to go into politics,  even if I was competent enough to do so.  We need a *Senate*, an elected upper house of experienced people prepared to work in the interests of our country- as, it has to be said, many peers do currently without dipping snouts into the trough.

On a slightly different note, because I am a laid back republican… perhaps we should go the whole hog and get rid of  titles –   these absurd “Geegaws and baubles” (A Glaswegian phrase of which I am fond)?  How can any sensible man or woman in the 21st Century want to be called Lord this or Lady that, Sir ‘X” or Dame ‘Y”?  It is absurd and merely serves to pander to pretension and social division. It is, I suppose, harmless enough when holders of these titles do not use them for personal gain –  and I am not advocating that we should all go around calling ourselves “Citizen”.   I shall, however, choose to call myself Citizen for today… and on that note I am ‘orf’ to have a spot of Rioja, despite the early hour.  The early bird catches the worm… and, it would appear, there may be a fair few worms sitting in our Upper House to catch.

Adieu… until we meet again… on the field of the cloth of Gold…

Citizen Charon.

1st February: Postcard from London (1)

So... here we are on 1st February… Obama installed in The White House, The Prime Mentalist yet to have his first Obamagasm, the financial world crumbling about our ears…. and our non-elected Peers are dipping their snouts in whatever troughs they can find – apparently and allegedly. The News of The World continues the fun started by The Sunday Times last week with the wonderful headline…

Peer’s £600k secret payout

Greed in ermine: Fugitive Russian has a Lord on the payroll

The News of The World reports: “A TOP Labour Lord has secretly banked more than £600,000 from a company owned by a Russian oligarch wanted by the Kremlin. The News of the World can reveal that Lord MacKenzie of Framwellgate — who was linked with a prostitute in 2003 — was paid £616,000 by Inter TV.”

The story is worth reading.. usual smut and dark dealings, oligarchs fleeing Russia after upsetting Putin… the usual guff.  The NOTW reports, also,  that fellow Labour peer  Lord Cunningham (Formerly Jack CunningBastard MP – a Private Eye soubriquet, I understand) will also face questions over his links with outside groups. NOTW notes…“The House of Lords is reeling after four Labour peers were accused of offering to help change laws in exchange for cash…”

Lord Truscott, Lord Taylor, Lord Moonie and Lord Snape discussed helping to secure amendments with undercover reporters posing as lobbyists. A House of Lords investigation has been launched. All four deny wrongdoing.

The News of The World then gives Lord Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, a man who presided over yet another surreal institution, the oportunity to do a bit of moralising (as it happens from Davos in Swittzerland where he just happens to be attending the World Economic Forum where the theme is the “post-crisis world”.

I have absolutely no idea what an  Archbishop can contribute to a World Economic Forum after a career devoted to praying to a probably non existent entity and quaffing communion wine each Sunday… but there we are… he is in Davos, Switzerland and he is speaking to you… the people of Britain… in the News of The World.  Not even Moses managed Davos in Switzerland.

It is too early for me to hit the juice… so I shall have breakfast and compose Postcard from London 2 later in the day… Have a good Sunday… mind how you go and….  if you see a member of The House of Lords… JUST SAY “NO”!

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Wikipedia notes: ” Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate (an ex-copper) : “In March 2003, while chairman of the Lords Home Affairs Committee and having spoken out against prostitution and drugs, he was forced to apologise to the House after a newspaper published claims that he had sex with an Algerian prostitute who worked as a barmaid in the House of Commons – Mackenzie denied having sex with the girl, but accepted he had brought the House in disrepute.[1]”