Breaking News: Clegg announces a new type of Boy Band

NICK CLEGG TALKS TO ZAPPA ‘SLOWHAND’ CHARON, MUSIC EDITOR, TIME ORF

Zappa ‘Slowhand’ Charon: OK…Nick…. Take it away….coooooooool and easy……… go buddy…..

Clegg: We have formed a new band

More importantly than anything else, we have formed a new kind of boy band

I hope this is the start of a new kind of band I have always believed in.

Diverse, plural, where good looking young hot guys with different points of view find a way to work together to provide the good entertainment  the whole country deserves.

That was what we were asked to do by the people of Britain in the Final of Britain’s Got Talent and that is what we will deliver.

I want to thank David for the very open, constructive and workmanlike way in which we have come together to make this happen and how we can make music  together in this coalition band.

We are obviously good looking hot guys from different parties

I believe we are now united in seeking to meet the immense challenges that now face the country and to deliver a fairer, better entertainment for  Britain.

Of course there will be problems along the way; of course there will be glitches.  Simon Hughes….sorry… Simon  Cowell may desert us….. we might not get a record deal, or, indeed, anything out of any value in time for Christmas.

But I will always do my best to prove that new music isn’t just possible – it is also better than watching a dancing dog with leprosy on the make to get your votes…

I’d like to say something directly to the nearly seven million people who supported my last band The Liberal Democrats in the run up to the Final last week……  hahaha… you took it hook line and sinker… and now I am Deputy Prime Minister in the biggest Boy Band in the Britain….

I am now acutely aware that I carry your hopes and aspirations and that Beaker and Vince will always be backing singers

I am sure you have many questions, maybe many doubts.

But I can assure you I would not have joined this Boy Band unless I was genuinely convinced it was a unique opportunity to deliver the changes you and I believe that I fully deserve…

Law Review: Human Rights of soldiers – and end to Democracy Village or an end to democracy?

Supreme court quashes troops’ human rights ruling

The Independent: The Supreme Court quashed a landmark ruling that British soldiers serving abroad are protected by human rights laws at all times. Six of the nine justices who heard the case in March at the Supreme Court overturned High Court and Court of Appeal judgments over the death of Private Jason Smith in Iraq while serving with the Territorial Army. The court was asked to rule on whether a British soldier on military service in Iraq is subject to UK jurisdiction and covered by human rights laws not only when on a British military base or hospital.

R (Smith) v Secretary of State for Defence & Anor [2010] UKSC 29

JUDGMENT
The Supreme Court allowed the appeal on the jurisdiction issue (Lady Hale, Lord Mance and Lord Kerr dissenting) and unanimously dismissed the appeal on the inquest issue. It held that it was not necessary in every case of a death of a serviceman abroad to carry out an investigation which examined whether there was fault on the part of the state because (a) the Human Rights Act 1998 did not apply to armed forces on foreign soil and (b) in any event, there was no such automatic right. The type of investigation would depend on the circumstances of the case.

The jurisdiction issue
Lord Phillips stated that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg had held that ‘jurisdiction’ within the meaning of article 1 was essentially territorial but extended in exceptional circumstances requiring special justification to other bases of jurisdiction. The difficulty lay in defining those exceptions [para 11].    It was unlikely that the Contracting States, when they agreed the ECHR in 1951 in the aftermath of a global conflict in which millions of troops had been deployed, regarded it as desirable or practicable to extend the protection of article 2 to troop operations abroad [para 58]. It was a novel suggestion that a state’s armed forces by reason of their personal status fell within the jurisdiction of the state when on foreign soil and the proper tribunal to resolve the issue was the Strasbourg Court itself [para 60]. Lord Mance, dissenting, considered that as an occupying power in Iraq, the UK had under international law an almost absolute power over the safety of its forces.

The inquest issue
Lord Phillips stated that where there was reason to suspect a substantive breach by the state of the article 2 right to life, it was established that the state of its own motion should carry out an investigation into the death which had certain features: a sufficient element of public scrutiny, conducted by an independent tribunal, involving the relatives of the deceased and which was prompt and effective [para 64].    There was no automatic right to such an investigation whenever a member of the armed forces died on active service [para 84]….

James Eadie QC, representing the Ministry of Defence, had told the March hearing it would never be possible to guarantee rights under the European Convention to soldiers on duty wherever they are in the world.

“Effective and faithful application of the Convention means that not only must the State have exclusive legal and physical control over persons who benefit from it but also legal and physical control over both the area of its application and over those other persons within that area

Per Lord Collins, jurisdiction could not be established simply on the basis of the UK’s authority and control, nor where there policy grounds for extending the scope of the ECHR to armed forces, which would involve the court in issues relating to the conduct of armed hostilities which were essentially non-justiciable.

The decision is bound to attract a degree of comment.  A key difficulty identified is the practical difficulty that application of the HRA to warfare situations would be the restrictive effect it may have on decisions of field commanders on the ground.

Boris Johnson wins court order to evict Parliament Square protesters

Guardian: London mayor’s move welcomed by Westminster council as end to ‘hijacking of one of London’s historic public spaces’

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, today won a high court order evicting protesters who have turned Parliament Square into a makeshift encampment.

Mr Justice Griffith Williams said the mayor had “directed himself correctly, considered all the relevant matters and reached a reasoned decision which cannot be criticised”.

Importantly, the judgment does not affect  the activist Brian Haw, who has been protesting on the pavement by the square, opposite the Houses of Parliament, for the past nine years. Haw first set up camp in June 2001 in a one-man protest against war and foreign policy – initially the sanctions against Iraq.

When I popped over to have a look a couple of weeks ago, I noted the absence of a Police presence but did see a lot of people drinking heavily, not doing a huge amount of protesting or, indeed, anything at all and could not really see much point to what those people were doing.  But there we are.   The decision may well attract negative comment from many.  I shall not be joining the negative comment – because it is clear from the decision that rights to protest are being maintained. Indeed, May Johnson has stated that it returns Parliament Square not only to people who wish to view Parliament but also to those who wish to protest. However, The Guardian noted, the Green party GLA member Jenny Jones said it was “a bad day for democracy in London”.  I’m not so sure I see this decision in quite that light.  If people wish to protest, they will do so.    We shall see what transpires.

Cabinet to go on the road!

With the costs reputed to have been £100,000 a time when Brown took his Cabinet on the road, it was surprising to read in The Independent today that Cameron plans to do the same.  The Coalition government is always asking members of BIG SOCIETY for ideas on cost savings.  Here is one – if they are hell bent on  carrying out this nonsense – after all, how many Brummies, Mancunians and Liverpudlians are going to meet the Cabinet…or, indeed, would wish to?

My suggestion:  use a secure Prison Van – spacious, room for the entire Cabinet and secure.  We have quite a few of them already in this country so no need for further capital expenditure.  I accept that the windows will have to be changed from Black to clear glass so that we can see our Cabinet at work and wave to them.  They can also see what ordinary people look like and wave at us.

I may have to award myself another OBE for this idea.

Law Review: Baroness Hale on human rights – The inefficiency of the European Court of Human Rights: Justice delayed is justice debied

Baroness Hale: Human Rights Act hampered by constitutional problems

Guardian: UK’s most senior female judge laments lack of time spent applying essence of the Act

Baroness Hale has made an insightful speech criticising the time spent on constitutional wrangling rather than on the essence of the Act. The Guardian notes: “Lady Hale suggested that the tension between the Government and the courts arising from such cases is preventing judges from doing their job”

It seems a shame that an Act, which appeared to be so clearly drafted and was trying to do such an important but radical thing, has given rise to so many difficult constitutional issues on which we have had to spend so much of our time. Maybe the previous mind-set of the practitioners and the courts is more to blame than Parliament and the Parliamentary draftsmen.

Tan Tench, Olswang,  provides a very good analysis of Hale’s speech. I can thoroughly recommend the UKSC | Blog as a first port of call on matters relating o The Supreme Court and the usual high standard is applied in this summary.

Dan Tench writes: “In her conclusion, Lady Hale regrets that the Act “has given rise to so many difficult constitutional issues”, although that was perhaps inevitable.  It is pretty clear that she would like the courts to take a bolder line, being prepared where necessary to intervene more and get ahead of the Strasbourg line and simply introduce words into statutes to provide compatibility with the Convention.  These would certainly be steps in a radical direction.”

UK bill of rights plan a ‘bad idea’, warns head of European court

Guardian: Senior judge’s remarks that human rights could be hit if act repealed threatens to inflame row over power of Strasbourg.

Plans to create a British bill of rights have been strongly criticised by one of Europe’s most senior judges, in a stance which could create further conflict between the government and the European court of human rights.

Jean-Paul Costa, the president of the court, has said that repealing the current human rights act would be a “bad idea” and could jeopardise the protection given by the European convention on human rights.

“The project of returning the court to British rule is a bad idea,” he said, in an interview with the Guardian. “The human rights act has made a big difference to the protection of rights in the UK. People have started to be acquainted with the European convention on human rights.”

After the second world war there was a clear need to re-build and prevent further European conflict.  There can be no doubt that the creation of the European Union has achieved much – but it is equally clear, with the growth of the Union, the different pace of the economies, the problems of the Eurozone and Greece in particular that the road to a European super state has been stalled.  The European Convention on Human Rights was largely a creature of British design.

The President of the European court is in danger not only of venturing into areas which should be no concern of the court or the judiciary, but of committing the sin of legal hubris. Lord Hoffmann, a former law lord,  said. “It considers itself the equivalent of the supreme court of the United States, laying down a federal law of Europe.” Hoffman added that is also guilty of self aggrandisement.
It also appears that the court is astonishingly inefficient. Justice delayed is justice denied.  The Guardian notes: “A number of senior UK judges have voiced strong criticisms of the court, which currently has a backlog of around 120,000 cases – a workload which it is estimated would take at least three years to clear even if no new cases were brought.”

It might be a good idea for Judge Costa to concentrate on his own back yard before he irritates judges, practitioners and commentators in this country further. His remarks and thinking  on British plans do not seem to have been fully worked out.  Perhaps this is a result of the astonishing backlog of cases?   And what is the cause of the backlog?  I shall have to look further into that.  I assume someone at the ECHR will be prepared to tell me if I telephone and ask politely?  I suspect that Judge Costa will be a bit busy preparing his 120,000 judgments or procrastinating with further thoughts on British plans.  As the man says, the European Convention gives protection but with a backlog of 120,000 cases, taking three years to clear, it isn’t doing a particularly good job of actually delivering protection.  Perhaps I need some alka seltzer – too much acid in the system this morning.  Breakfast calls.


While I appreciate the history and the drafting of the relevant law – I am beginning to wonder why we even need a European Court of Human Rights. On the not unreasonable assumption, these days, that all European nations are civilised – why can’t national supreme courts deal with human rights issues in relation to Britain?.  If we suddenly find that our Supreme Court runs amok and starts implementing government policy and ignoring the law – which is unlikely – why can’t our Supreme Court deal with all ECHR matters for UK and the same principle for all the other signatories?

European Union Law is, of course, an entirely different basket case.

Postcard from The Staterooms: Ingerland fail edition

Dear Reader,

It occurs to me, being a Scot, that Rabbie Burns’ famous poem To a Mouse would be appropriate to celebrate the panache, style, elan and passion demonstrated by the Ingerland team as they disappointed, yet again, a nation of optimists.  The English translation follows…

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murdering pattle.

[Small, sleek, cowering, timorous beast,
O, what a panic is in your breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With hurrying scamper!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering plough-staff.]

The good news is that all the hyperventilation and hyperbole about ‘OUR BOYS’ will die down.  I have enjoyed the World Cup – the tweets, the hubris….. the schadenfreude  (Particularly the Schadenfreude – a rather good German word)  It’s just a pity that Ingerland aren’t very good at playing football as a team.  When the German goal keeper kicked the ball up field and a German player ran after it, unchallenged in any meaningful way by defenders,  and kicked it into the Ingerland goal, I marvelled. It just got more and more surreal after that. Someone on Twitter said that a Labour MP blamed the Coalition CUTS for the lack in the English defence.

I do feel sorry for the fans – especially those who spent a lot of money getting out to South Africa.  I think there should be a class action to sue the English FA for misrepresentation, deception, passing off and, indeed, badly and perhaps we could even chuck in a bit of nervous shock mixed with  Rylands v Fletcher.  Some of those German players who escaped were pretty dangerous.   That would be new law, but good law!

I even put my Admiral avatar on for the occasion.  I end my coverage of this lamentable World Cup with this…

Back to law tomorrow……

Not all bad though.  England Cricket Team beat Australia in the One Day International and win the series 3-0.  Perhaps The Ashes in Australia is a realistic proposition?

Best, as always

Charon

From our man on The Terraces with the VUVUZELA! – SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER!!!

WIN or LOSE in tomorrow’s Ingerland v Germany game… we can always look on the Bright Side of Life. I know nothing about Football but Twitter, this year, has been brilliant – with plenty of gallows humour about England – so much so that I have been watching all the England games.   It was great to see Ghana win tonight. I was born in Ghana and I have known some very amusing Ghanaians in my time. Great stuff.

I was particularly pleased when I put up a Tweet about the England v Germany match and cited the GREAT ESCAPE theme tune, modified the famous line in the film… “Give up your hopeless attempt to escape.”  (and wondered what marvellous nonsense our Tabloids would come up with for tomorrow’s front pages) .. to see that FIFA responded to my Tweet!   One would have thought they had more important matters to do than monitor Twitter – but, hey, I am NOT complaining. I’m now getting into the football

I am also delighted that Clegg and Cameron took time out of their busy schedules to make a cameo appearance at Glastonbury – GO WEST!!! which, I understand from friends on twitter, was covered by BBC Glasto.

And I had a wonderful and surreal exchange with Tom Watson MP on twitter. Saturday night nonsense… no more than that…. but amusing nevertheless.  It started when I Re-Tweeted a poll result  about the standing of the parties in the polls.  This was then Re-tweeted by a few others, including John Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister  (whose own tweets are usually amusing).

And then came this wonderful exchange. I am not a fan of Nick Clegg’s recent change in principles.  Nor would it seem are many, judging by the polls.   Tom Watson MP, who is a keen user of twitter and does engage with a lot of people (not just his voters) on Twitter,  then sent out this tweet….

This prompted Labour’s ex-Twitter Czar, @KerryMP to tweet…

And… gloriously… and in my view… rightly…. this tweet!

Tom Watson MP did clarify…. and I have to say…. it made my evening….. political commentary  does not have to be serious (The polbloggers are very good at the humour) …. and it is good to see a bit of gallows humour in these dark days……

I have broken no confidences with these tweets. They were public – and, frankly, it won’t do Inspector Cleggeau any harm to know that his Party  poll rating has dropped to 16 points and not everyone is as impressed with him as he is with himself.

WORLD CUP SPECIAL

Link to footage

Link to Tunes….

Link 1 above

Link 2 above

Link 3 above


AND FINALLY……… THE GREAT ESCAPE THEME TUNE... you can even download it to your iPhone!  –  I have it on my iCharonphone... naturally.


Rive Gauche: Lords a leaping – Schadenfreude and VUVUZELAS!!

Behold… the most senior judges in the United Kingdom…The Supremes – distinguished men all, bar one, a very distinguished lady lawyer, Baroness Hale. They deal with the most pressing legal issues of the day and one would have thought, would have more on their collective minds than worrying about titles.  It would appear not. Let me say at once, that I admire our sense of nationhood, I enjoy our not always glorious history and I would prefer us to remain one nation.  I am persuaded by the sentiment behind independence and I am certainly attracted, in good time, by a Republic.  It matters not what I think – for I am going to change nothing by tilting at windmills.

I do, however, think that the establishment of The Supreme Court was a good thing.  I do like the separation of the judiciary from the executive and I do like the fact that new justices to the Supreme Court will not be made peers.  I am, therefore, a bit surprised to find that The Supremes are pressing for Sir John Dyson, newly elevated, to be given a courtesy title on the ground that Scottish judges can wander about – some quite junior judges – calling themselves Lord This and Lord That. Joshua Rozenberg writes of these matters in the Guardian. To my mind Ken Clarke, The new Lord Chancellor who, I assume, has not given himself a peerage or courtesy title, must resist this call and, thereby ensure that the judiciary is kept separate from the geegaws and baubles (and influences?) of State.  I appreciate that I am in the minority on this – but I would like to see all judges separated from their titles in time believing, as I do, that their appointment and distinction comes from their experience and not because they are given the titles of a bygone age.  I don’t suppose it really matters at the end of the day….but, that is my view… for what it is worth.

It is always good to see schadenfreude and hypocrisy in action. RollonFriday continues to give College of Law CEO, Nigel Savage, a going over...“RollOnFriday can reveal an email sent by the College of Law Chief Executive Nigel Savage to his staff to explain why they’d been awarded a 2% pay rise. Which contrasts very interestingly with the 40% bonus that he trousered himself.” I rather suspect that many of those I knew when RollonFriday first appeared in the early 2000s (I enjoyed posting  myself and, indeed, meeting many as Brigadier Grappa) are probably doing rather nicely.  Some of them WERE partners in law firms then – many now will be.  The generation now using RollonFriday, or a percentage, can look forward to very nice PEPs in future.    Law is a business like everything else.  If you don’t like the terms and conditions, and collective action cannot force change – do something else.  I don’t know the detail of lecturer salaries at the College of Law.  When I ran BPP Law School we certainly paid well above the public sector norm at universities.  That may have changed.    Hey ho!.  I suspect the owners of RollonFriday are trousering a few bob – and why not?!

And if you don’t believe me that law is a very SERIOUS business to some.. this marvellous nonsense from RollonFriday:


A tax partner at Freshfields’ Madrid office has published an article in the Spanish economic publication “Negocio” criticising her colleagues for watching football.
At 9:45 at night.Silvia Paternain gives vent to her irritation at the male lawyers in her department watching the Spain v Honduras match, while her female colleagues – who have no interest in the beautiful game – are toiling away at their desks. She argues that it doesn’t matter if it’s late in the evening – there’s still work to be done………

They talk about work / life balance at law firms… perhaps they you talk more about getting a life?

I am puzzled as to why there is so much interest in the PEP figures (profits) published by law firms. I was always brought up to believe that discussing money was impolite.  Now law firms are almost vying to get the news out on Twitter, Facebook groups and in the legal press.  I am all for open information, but need we be subjected to press releases about it?  Do lawyers really want more vilification and ridicule  from the public?

I bring you news that the Germans do not like the VUVUZELA. This may well be an opportunity to give ‘Der Kaiser’ as Beckenbauer, the ageing German soccer ace, is known in Germany, a stuffing.  He has been less than polite about ‘OUR BOYS’.

I shall be on the terraces…in Battersea… with my Vuvuzela on Sunday… count on it.

This Week’s finest hour? Hardly!

I watched This Week (I have watched it for a long time.) – and found Andrew Neil’s treatment of Diane Abbott not to my taste. This Week was a good  programme.  It is not a ‘serious’ political programme. It is done for laughs and, to be fair, has provided many of those.  Tonight, in my ‘honest opinion’  – Andrew Neil demonstrated an ugly side to politics and political interviewing.  I have no problem with politicians being held to account on serious programmes.  I felt very uncomfortable watching Brillo tearing Diane Abbott apart.  He should not have done it on This Week – particularly as Diane Abbott has been a pundit for some time on this ‘light political parody programme’.

Andrew Neil would have been perfectly justified doing it on Daily Politics – although (Again, expressing a personal ‘honest opinion’ should Brillo and This Week producers be feeling litigious) serious analysis should be left to those who are truly good at it like Paxo, Jon Snow , Radio 4 Today presenters,  Dimbleby et al – and, to be fair,  Neil on DP. They do it fairly and with style.    A lot of people enjoyed the cruelty of Brillo ripping Diane Abbott apart – I saw the tweets on Twitter.  If you want to see cruelty watch a reality TV show.   I did not.  I don’t know anyone of any decency who  could enjoy the spectacle of what we saw on This Week tonight.

Not very British, I thought! In fact.. rather cowardly.  It was a bit like a host inviting  a guest to a dinner party to provide amusement  for the other guests.   That, of course, is a personal view.  I assume we are allowed to have personal views these days….?  I know it was touch and go in the dying days of Labour… but now that Clegg is running the country with Dave …. we should be OK on expressing personal views?

Tear politicians apart on Radio 4, Channel 4, Newsnight by all means   – Marr…..? Well… that is more Heat magazine meets Sunday GMTV sofa advertising colour supplement schtik ….. but don’t do it on a lightweight late Thursday night political parody programme.  It was ugly.  I hope Diane Abbot’s votes go up after that. I believe she increased her majority in the last election.  Quite unusual for a Labour MP, I would have thought?

Perhaps someone else could present This Week?

Tilting at windmills? Yes… what is the point?  🙂

[None.. that is the point about Titling at Windmills  (as they would say on  BBC Springwatch to keep up  a fine tradition of innuendo and sex on BBC) – I shall continue to do so until I am worked to death by the present government as they raise the pension age to 98]

Budget 2010

I’m sorry that you have to read them, if you care to, in reverse order…….  That’s Twitter for you and screen grabs!

I am sure… when I wake up… I shall take everything a lot more seriously…. anything, after all, is possible with the new government. Who would have thought that two world class and senior Lib-Dems would be nodding away like Churchill the Dog during a budget saying… *Oh Yes!*.

Two months ago I would have gone to see a doctor if I imagined that…….

And on that note… to bring a flavour of the World Cup into this analysis…

Law Review: Cherie Booth QC cover up? – The usual tired old white middle class Oxbridge cliches being run up the flagpole again!

Tacheless

I had a bit of fun growing another absurd tache to confuse visiting tourists – who did stare at me.  I was even photographed while reading my newspapers by a couple of elderly Canadians who asked me directions and told me that I had a ‘cute accent’…whatever that is. Perhaps I shouldn’t have told them that I was descended from Vercingetorix (I’m not) and the tache was a family trait.  I enjoy talking to people who come and talk to me – even if I cannot always guarantee that I will talk sense.  Anyway – tacheless until Winter comes upon us again when I may go for a Scott of The Antarctic look.  Now… a bit of Law…

Results of Cherie Blair inquiry ‘were covered up’

The Independent reports: The body which investigates complaints against judges has been accused of covering up the full extent of an investigation into Cherie Blair over her decision to hand down a lenient sentence to a convicted man because he was “a religious person”. An investigation into Mrs Blair, who is a devout Roman Catholic, was launched earlier this year by the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC) following a request from the National Secular Society (NSS), which argued that a person’s religious conviction should not be used as a mitigating factor during sentencing.

….Mrs Blair explained that she was giving Mr Miah a two-year suspended sentence, instead of a six-month jail term, because he was “a religious person” who had not been in trouble before.

Following the NSS’s complaint, the OJC released a two-paragraph statement on 10 June stating that an investigation by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice had concluded that Mrs Blair’s “observations did not constitute judicial misconduct” and that “no disciplinary action” was necessary.

But in a separate letter to the NSS, obtained by The Independent, a caseworker from the OJC admitted that the complaint had in fact been “partially substantiated” and that, while no disciplinary action was needed, Mrs Blair would receive “informal advice from a senior judge.”

Others have noted on blogs and in online newspaper comments that Cherie Booth QC acted within sentencing guidelines in terms of the specifics of the case, it being argued that it is unlikely the defendant’s religious views would have made any difference.  That may well be the case. I make no comment on that.  I have not read all the evidence.  The issue as I see it is straightforward and I would simply make two points:

(a) The OJC should have given clear reasons for their findings when they announced the result.  This lack of transparency is part of the ‘secrecy’ malaise which blights much of the executive in this country and we do not need it in the judiciary or, rather The Office for Judicial Complaints. As the old saying goes… ‘Justice must not only be done, but needs to be seen to be done.’

(b) I can see absolutely no reason why a person’s religion or faith, whatever form that should take, should impact on sentencing.

The Independent notes: Mr Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society said the OJC should still have released a more detailed statement which would have informed the public that two senior judges had shown concern over Mrs Blair’s sentencing decision and that she had been spoken to as a result. “It should be noted that the facts we alleged in our complaint are not disputed and that the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice have shared our concerns over this case,” he said. “We welcome them stating their concern that remarks should not be made in court that could be thought to imply that defendants should be treated differently because of their religion or belief. This is a timely reiteration of the fundamental of justice that everyone should be treated equally by the courts, whatever their religion, or lack of it.”

I’m with the NSS on this and not simply because I share the secular state views.

Neuberger report: more solicitor judges wanted

Not, unfortunately Lord Neuberger MR but another distinguished Neuberger – Baroness Neuberger.

The Lawyer reports: The Law Society has long stated its belief that the judiciary should better reflect the diversity of the society it serves rather than being the preserve of the white, heterosexual, Oxbridge-­educated, male barrister.  Last week (15 June) it held a reception to coincide with its response to Baroness Neuberger’s recent report on judicial diversity and to highlight the contribution of solicitor judges, who remain in the minority among the higher echelons of the judiciary. The report proposes 53 recommendations to attract underrepresented groups, including engaging with schools and colleges and promoting part-time ­positions, in acknowledgement that, despite the best efforts of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC), women, ethnic minorities and those from working class backgrounds remain underrepresented.

One is almost tempted to say Yada Yada Yada… but I won’t. It is a serious issue – but the last thing people are going to say at a public reception is that we don’t want diversity in the judiciary because we could end up with a  judiciary which, frankly, is not very good at the job because of lack of experience.

The Bar may have  its problems.. There may still be a few walking cliches of the classic ‘white, heterosexual, Oxbridge-­educated, male barrister’ type harrumphing in Chambers and talking about suiting, shooting and solicitor-inadequates.  Frankly, I have not met that many of prejudiced disposition and puffing their innate superiority in 30 years of meeting barristers. Such people are buffoons and deserve to be ridiculed and parodied  when they pop their tailored haircuts above the parapet.   Oxbridge produces good young law students, but so do many other universities and students from diverse backgrounds are rising in the profession.     I am tired of lazy thinking and cliches. Professor Griffith’s book ‘The Politics of The Judiciary’ was written many many years ago – a fun read when I was a mildly radical law student, with much sense in it – but things have changed in 40 years. We’re not there yet – but I do think it fair to say that the profession is trying to move in the right direction and attract a more diverse social group into the the law.

The way to get diversity into our legal profession and judiciary is to promote good quality education to a wider social group and invest in it.  The sad fact is that it is easier for the children of the middle classes to get into law and many of these have been white.  Things are changing slowly – and diversity will come.  I can’t imagine there are tens of  thousands of lawyers saying we don’t want diversity in the profession or the judiciary.

The last thing we need is positive discrimination and a pile of useless inexperienced judges – of whatever colour, creed or social background.  We must resist the temptation to be seduced by the social benefits of positive discrimination or, as I prefer to put it tonight – because I am feeling sardonic – positive patronisation.

As I used to say when I set examination questions – Discuss.

An American cartoonist (and lawyer and artist) friend,  Charles Fincher,  does excellent cartoons.

Always worth looking at both Scribble-in-Law and Bitcher & Prickman

Muttley Dastardly LLP instructs Babybarista and Charon for Government wine drinking Tzar?!

It being a Sunday, I don’t feel any sense of angst or the need to wring hands about not writing seriously about law. That can wait until Monday, when I shall do so.  I am pleased to be able to report that my mate Tim Kevan, author of Babybarista,  and I came up with an idea unfuelled by copious amounts of Rioja.  We plan to involve my entirely fictional law firm Muttley Dastardly LLP with Babybarista from time to time.  I have penned the first such guest post on his blog.  “Instructions to Counsel” from Matt Mattley, CEO and managing partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP.  Although the idea to do this was unfuelled by Rioja… I cannot lie.  I was serendipitously overrefreshed  when I wrote the instructions to counsel.

SCHADENFREUDE CORNER

Red Rag reports: Red Rag – Clegg begs Sheffield for forgiveness…..Sheffield starts a petition against Clegg

Oh Dear.  First Laws, then the wonderfully surreal appointment of Beaker as Treasury Secretary. Today, Huhne and his marital difficulties – which, frankly, as I don’t believe Huhne made ‘family’ a central plank of his campaign (although he  did say it was important, as Guido reports)  – is none of our business.

Government spends £17,500 on wine

The BBC reports: “More than £17,500 has been spent topping up the government wine cellar since the election, it has emerged.

It brings the total value of fine wine stored for VIP functions to £864,000, a Commons answer by Foreign Office minister Henry Bellingham revealed.

Labour’s Tom Watson said the Tory-Lib Dem coalition should sell the wine to boost the public finances, quoting Tory slogan “we’re all in this together”.

The government says it buys wine young to ensure the best value for taxpayers.

Tom Watson MP is a bit of a whizz on the IT, Information and FOI side – so I was delighted to read of his story aboput government wine expenditure.  I am a patriot.  I try to do what I can for my country as the tweets below reveal.  At least Tom has a sense of humour in these dark days of opposition.

Postcard from our man on The Terraces with a VUVUZELA!

I am not a football fan – I rarely watch football, but I am a fan of the human condition.  So last night, a bottle of Rioja and Marlboros to hand, a Panama hat on my head and a Saltire draped over my shoulders, I settled down to watch a command performance from England’s Best! The tweets I read ranged from irate to hilarious.  I contributed a few thoughts of my own on Twitter – becoming progressively more surreal, it has to be said, as the wine was consumed.

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Important Notice: BEFORE you go any further please click here – a new window will open (which you can then close… you will probably wish to do so!)

F**kArt: Assertive Banana

I was a bit irritated this morning after phoning five accounts departments to see why they hadn’t dealt with my invoices as requested.  Two didn’t even have the invoice.  One said that the department had my invoice but had forgotten to deal with it and two of the departments were in India.  Dealing with accounts departments in India – outsourcing they call it – is wonderful for the organisation’s cashflow.  For the supplier who expects to be paid it is sheer hell dealing with them.  I gave up and reached into my fruit bowl for a banana.

It was at this point, as I peeled the banana, that I thought to myself…“If this banana could speak… what would it have said to the accounts departments?”  It was but a short leap to get my clay and paints out and make a talking banana.

What would the talking banana have said?   I can tell you… it would have said this….

“Get your farkin ass in gear and pay the man…. or the other bananas get it….Capische?!!”

Breaking News: Clegg auditions for Britain’s Got Talent – Christmas Special

Clegg seems to be unveiling a lot of plans these days – or perhaps it is just the latest cliche from the mainstream media?  Anyway – here is a totally preposterous plan unveiled by the Beloved Dear Deputy Leader Clegg Il Sung… as reported in The Guardian…..

Nick Clegg unveils plan to give Lib Dems independence from government

Guardian: Proposals include committees to scrutinise departments, allowing chairs to ask questions autonomous from coalition

I thought the Lib-Dems were in the government?  How can they be both in it and out of it.?

Frankly… I’d like to see Clegg and iCam, Britain’s favourite App,  do a Sand Dance… I’d pay money to see that.  It can only be a matter of time…. and I have time on my side!

Here is some rare footage of Dave & Cam auditioning.  Captured on an iPad 2.0 they tell me.

I probably spend too much time on Twitter… but Obama is beginning to get on my nerves.

And George Osborne gave his speech at the Mansion House… and abolished the FSA, gave power to Merv, who is probably now the most powerful central banker in Europe…and he saw that it was good.  I always enjoy chatting to mates on twitter and @ENomates always has something interesting  to say!

As with all tweet grabs… you have to start at the bottom and work up… a bit like life, really.

Emily NoMates asks… has the market found its ‘W’ Bottom?

The FSA will cease to exist in its current form

Selected highlights from Chancellor’s Mansion House speech:

Mansion House speech: Supping with bankers

Guardian: The Tories were always ahead of Labour when it came to reform, but George Osborne has still not gone far enough

I’m like a dog with a bone, sometimes…..

Muttley Dastardly LLP: Done with your wife or your husband?

Dr Wolfgang Becker,  Rechtsanwalt, solicitor and a partner in Muttley Dastardly LLP, was originally admitted to The Partnership to leverage the value of marriage failure among the seriously rich business and celebrity sectors. In but two months he  has billed ‘comfortably into seven figures’.  For reasons of taste, discretion and taxation, The Partners of Muttley Dastardly LPP never reveal financial information to the Press.

Today, I met with Dr Wolffgang Becker in his well appointed office on the fifth floor. I was surprised by the design of the office which  comprises of two staircases leading down to a central hall.  Two high backed Chippendale chairs were placed opposite each other by the wall facing a vase of flowers.  There was no sign of any office paraphernalia, no computers, nothing to give the impression that I was in a leading family lawyer’s office.

Dr Becker appeared from the left hand staircase, dressed in a black linen Nehru suit and a pair of  tassled black suede loafers.  He wore yellow socks.  Clipped and precise, he shook my hand, asked for my Amex card and then remembered that I was not a client, but was visiting for the purpose of an interview to gain an insight into the mind of a man who was at the very forefront of the world of family law in the new era of the Legal Services Act.

“Old habits die hard” he said laconically as he invited me to take the chair opposite.  “Would you like some champagne or coffee?  Tea perhaps?  We have many types of tea here.  It is not a drink I care for myself, but many of our clients are English and they often find  solace in taking tea while they brief me on their ideas for divorce and, more importantly for them and ourselves, the financial arrangements.”

I accepted his offer of a glass of champagne. Within ten seconds a butler arrived with two glasses of champagne. He seemed to appear from nowhere, but in fact entered through the door at the end of the central hall beyond the flowers.

“I’m impressed” I said. “You didn’t appear to give any instructions.”

Dr Becker smiled and waved his hand dismissively. “Everything is recorded here.  My staff are listening in.  It is so much easier to have a precise record on digital file, wouldn’t you agree?

“Your record with high value clients is impressive Dr Becker”  I said, rising to the occasion by not referring to any of the notes I had made earlier. “But tell me, why is Muttley Dastardly LLP entering the mass divorce market at a time when family lawyers are feeling the pinch, when legal aid is being cut, when family law barristers say they can no longer afford to take on cases?”

“You have answered your own question Herr Professor Doctor Charon.” Dr Becker replied, clearly mistaking me for my rather tedious brother, Professor RD Charon PHD, FRSA “It is precisely because the general practitioner in this country is abandoning this sector that we feel we can …. shall we say….. hoover it all up and by using the internet, call centres in India and cheap but highly effective lawyers in India,  who are becoming more and more expert in English Law….maximise the profit.”

“Do you have a brand name for this new divorce service?” I asked, draining my glass.  Within seconds the butler appeared with a second glass of champagne on a silver tray.  I took it without demurring and thanked the butler for his attentiveness.

“Ja!  Of course. Megaladon is the vehicle we use for all our mass market law operations, personal injury, negligence, conveyancing….  I wanted to call it  Megaladon with your wife or husband?, but Matt Muttley, our CEO, thought the humour was just too black even for us.  He was probably right.”

I managed to suppress the hysteria rising from the very core of my being, drained the second glass in one and asked “And how do you make your money?”

“We accept a range of credit cards Herr Professor.  Do you have any other questions?”
Before I could reply, the butler appeared with a bill for £52 + 12.5% service.  He handed me the portable credit card machine and smiled.  There is no need to leave a gratuity, Sir.  Service is included.”

Dr Becker smiled “Good champagne, Ja….? I’m sure you will be able to get it back on expenses.   There are no free lunches in life, Herr Professor Dr Charon,  and certainly there aren’t at Muttley Dastardly LLP. As there is not an opportunity to bill for your time with me today, we have to cover the costs.  £52 for three and a half minutes is well below what I would ordinarily charge, of course – but it has been a pleasure to meet you.  Give my regards to your brother Charon QC… Tell him that I was so fascinated with his new iCharonphone and the iDNA app which I saw on his blog only this afternoon that I have downloaded Cellmark’s application.  Most useful.  It will be most useful for our work here and, quite possibly for personal use also.  It has been a pleasure to meet you.”

With that, Dr Becker was gone.  He seemed to glide, rather than walk.  I smiled as he went up the staircase on the right and thought to myself… “How marvellously  Germanic… one staircase for down, one for up.”  The £52 I paid for the champagne was worth every penny.  I should be able to recover this ‘disbursement’  from Matt Muttley when we meet as Ascot later this week.  I, too, have one of those portable credit card reading devices. I shall be taking it with me to Ascot.  One must, after all, be prepared.

***


Cellmark supports the Insite Law free student resource, so I am more than happy to punt their new iDNA app!  If you are a family lawyer – it could be most useful! I’m going to download one myself and see what happens!

,

Legal Round up: DNA app – The Mongoliers – Lawtel Pending Actions

My paternity has, on occasion, been called into question during my increasingly (pleasingly) long life – but now, should I be minded to, or have to, prove it there is information to hand with iDNA. DNA by Cellmark. iDNA “is designed to provide you with the information you need before you decide to undergo DNA relationship testing”, and includes a facility that “offers existing customers the opportunity to check the progress of their DNA testing case”, whether they be lawyers, doctors or private individuals. It also includes “details of the wide range of different types of DNA relationship testing that Cellmark offers”.

Cellmark Marketing Manager Paul West says: “The key thing for the legal community is that it provides an aide memoire about DNA testing – offering advice on the effectiveness of each type of testing and also provides videos about the key issues and for existing customers of Cellmark they can quickly and simply check on the progress of a case.”

iDNA is available from the iTunes Store for NOTHING!  This means you will be able to buy a Vuvuzela after all! =========<0 BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

THE MONGOLIERS – AN UPDATE

Some time ago I wrote about The Mongoliers… two intrepid souls.  Here is an update on the story so far!
With The Two Mongoleers (Laura Over and her friend Paul Evans) due to set off in only six weeks we thought it an apt time to bring you another update on their rally shenanigans. The pair will be taking part in The Mongol Rally 2010, and spending five weeks driving over 10,000 miles from Brighton to Mongolia in an effort to raise money for charity.
Amongst many difficult obstacles, they’ll be attempting to cross 14 countries and the fourth largest desert in the world (The Gobi).  Not an easy task in a 1 litre Polo (donated by Jefferies Farm, Crawley)!  The two have poured their heart and soul into the adventure for the last year – fundraising, researching, sourcing a vehicle, getting injections and arranging visas and equipment. They even rolled up their sleeves and completed a two day intensive mechanics course so they have a hope of fixing their car (and getting themselves out of a whole heap of trouble!) if and when they break down in the middle of absolutely no-where.  Laura (who is in her fourth year of training as a legal executive and works for asb law LLP in Crawley) says “With no back or support team to assist us, completing the rally will be no easy task, but we’re up for the challenge! We’ve worked hard and can’t wait.”

The pair have so far raised over £1,100 for their three charities – The Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, Cancer Research and The Neurofibromatosis Association.  Whilst they offer a big thank you to all those who have shown their support so far by providing equipment and charitable donations they still need some help getting to their target of £2,000. For any of my readers who would  like to lend a much needed hand, do check out their website www.thetwomongoleers.co.uk

The teams are due to set off on 24th July from Goodwood – The Festival of Slow! It will be a great day out with food stalls, performers and musicians. Plus, it will be a good chance to wish The Two Mongoleers a safe journey as they (and the other 299 teams) set off on this quite daunting adventure.  It’s a free event and all are welcome.  Bon Voyage!

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Please make sure you’ve got your volume turned on.

Muttley Dastardly LLP: Black is the *New Black*

On the third floor of the Muttley Dastardly LLP building in the City is a suite where five highly paid specialists, two men and three women, are paid to think.  Sometimes they think the unthinkable conceptually.  Sometimes they think about doing the unthinkable to get an edge on the competition. For the remainder of the time they  think carefully about the politico-economic drivers which affect our national interest, for this is the interest of The Partners. The Head of the *Unit*, Massimo Charles Lutyens Rutland, graduated with First Class honours in Economics  from Cambridge, went on to INSEAD,  and after a spell at Lehman Brothers – he was fortunate enough to get out intact before the crash – went in for his own interest and joined Muttley Dastardly LLP.

Rutland was admitted to The Partnership, following successful completion of the GDL, which he completed in two months of detailed study while commuting from his Surrey home to the City;  going on then to qualify as a solicitor via the New York Bar examination, the latter taking him but a month to memorise sufficient data to satisfy the examiners. Rutland has the grace, at least, to say to those who ask about his legal background that ‘It is fortunate indeed, that I do not wish to practise as a lawyer in England… the truth is I know very little about English Law… or for that matter…any law…. mind you…they say that this is true of some who actually hold themselves out as practising lawyers.”

His associates, (they are not lawyers)  are never identified by name, not even within the firm.  Their identity is known only to Rutland and the CEO and managing partner, Matt Muttley. The *Unit* works closely with partner and director of education, Dr Strangelove, on psyops – on a project of ‘limited visibility’ with the filename DOH!  This stands for Dissimulation, Obfuscation and Hegemony;  a subtle joke, if of questionable taste, thought up by Dr Strangelove.

***

Below is a transcript of a brief iPhone conversation between Rutland and Matt Muttley

Muttley: Massimo – your thoughts on Osborne’s problem?  Fraser Nelson is saying in relation to the economy ‘things are going disastrously right’.

Rutland: Sure, but that was fairly predictable. Darling is no fool.  He hid £6Bn from Brown’s eyes during the election period to stop Brown spending it. Legacy, however limited, is a powerful driver for all politicians. Even a miserable scrap like that can be worth basing an entire book around.  Osborne has set up the OBR.  This could be a cuckoo that flew over Osborne’s nest and takes a dump on him en route to Tuscany before too long.  Osborne has no room to say that some things are worse than we thought, because the OBR says the economy is doing rather better than Darling predicted.  Sure, there are spending atrocities which The Sun will push out to their readership, but these are not structural.  They make good copy.  The problem is growth.  The OBR says that growth forecasts are lower than Labour forecast.  Osborne will therefore be able to use that to justify cuts.  There is every prospect, reading the press, that Osborne will make cuts to keep the cavalry twill wearers of Surrey and backbenchers who have been released back into the community happy, but it is unlikely that he will be daft enough to do a Roosevelt and drop us into double dip.  Osborne, and Labour, or whatever they are calling themselves these days,whether they like it or not,  is far from stupid.  In fact, he must be rubbing his hands that Laws has gone and Beaker is his Chief Treasury.  Alexander is expendable and it is a blessing that he is a Lib-Dem.  Yes… the Coalition agreement requires that ‘One out, one in’ but the Lib-Dems only have 50 odd MPs and they are running out of people who can count, let alone run the Treasury.

Muttley: So things are looking good?  I watched the five Labour candidates on Newsnight tonight.  I can’t say that there is much there to discuss?

Rutland: Nothing.  Irrelevant for the moment. Christ… the election runs until the Autumn.  This is good for the government, because there isn’t an opposition now that the Lib-Dems are part of government, and won’t be until the Self Aggrandisement conference season is over in September.

Muttley: Budget next week?

Rutland: Unfortunately, the new government is unlikely to leave it on the back seat of a taxi.  I’m thinking.  I’ll get back to you

Muttley: Anything to trouble us?

Rutland: No.  All looking good.  There is a developing shambles.  Parliament Square being cleared will cause even more confusion.  House prices dropped today by 5%.  BP looks as if it won’t pay the dividend.  That means less money for the pension funds.  This will irritate the cavalry twill wearers and dawn on many others as a ‘bad thing’. Yes… I think we can safely say that there will be plenty of work for us.  Dr Strangelove has started buying BP shares again in a modest way.  I think we should get out of wind farm stock.

Muttley: Ok. Thanks Massimo…. we’ll talk at 6.30 tomorrow morning.  Helpful.

Rutland: Ok…what time will you be getting to The Groucho?

Muttley: I’ve just pulled up outside.  See you in thirty.  Strength and profits.

Rutland: Strength and profits, Brother Matt!

Law Review: Bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday: the Saville report live

• Saville inquiry strongly condemns behaviour of soldiers who opened fire and exonerates victims
• David Cameron issues apology on behalf of government
• PM will not say whether he thinks soldiers should be prosecuted
Read the Bloody Sunday report in full

And here is the section of the report with the principal conclusions – ie the 60-page summary.

I’m not going to comment about this for the simple reason that there were 40 years of troubles – rooted in many years of history before that – with the prospect now of peace in Northern Ireland.  I do feel that Lord Saville’s report is a remarkable undertaking and it is right that The Widgery Report is consigned, thereby, to history as a falsehood.  I do think it right that David Cameron apologised.  Our forces do much good, but it must be right, when they err and break the rules that they are held to account – whatever that form may or may not take in Northern Ireland.   They say both sides were forgiven in the Good Friday agreement.  We shall see if all sides are prepared to admit truth, apologise and move forward in peace.

Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, said about the publication of the report.

I think it’s a wonderful day for Ireland, and can also be a wonderful day for Britain, and for people everywhere who want truth and who want peace and who want justice.

I can see no point to going back  if there is hope for the future – but I am not from Northern Ireland and cannot hope to understand even the barest outline of what has been and what could be.  I hope that it is possible for all involved to find a future of hope rather than a future of fearful and horrific memories and discord.  What can anyone who didn’t exprience it say other than to express the wish of hope for the future?

The Lawyer notes…

Saville Report: the lawyers involved

The release of the Saville Report into the events around the Bloody Sunday shootings in Londonderry in 1972 has signalled the end of involvement for dozens of law firms and barristers.

Law Review: Bloody Sunday report due – Democracy Village – Referral fees

Bloody Sunday findings due to be published

While undoubtedly  a building block in the route to peace in Northern Ireland, the Bloody Sunday report chaired by Lord Saville, a distinguished law lord, has taken a considerable time to produce, exceeding the estimates given by Lord Saville himself by some margin.  The cost has also been remarkably high.  There is a risk, of course, that this report will bring conflict back to the forefront, not least should allocation of responsibility and guilt not be to the taste of those most affected by the troubles in Northern Ireland. The BBC notes: “Eight years after he wrote an enthusiastic article about the Bloody Sunday Tribunal and its legal implications, Professor Dermot Walsh is now disillusioned, believing that Saville’s findings have been “seriously diminished” by the length of time it has taken to compile them.”

And further down in the BBC report: In any case, Professor Walsh believes that the Saville Tribunals will be the last of its kind and that, he argues, will be no bad thing. Public inquiries, he says, should be “rare” and a “last resort” as a proliferation shows that something is wrong with the normal judicial system. “Normally when conflict or public concern arises over some aspect of government, it would be resolved through the courts or the democratic process…..If we are calling for inquiries more repeatedly, then we really need to ask what is so wrong with our courts, what is wrong with our democratic process that persuades us we need inquiries every time something goes wrong?”

Parliament Square eviction case a ‘collision of rights’

The BBC reports: The High Court has heard the Mayor of London’s attempt to evict Parliament Square protesters is a “collision of rights”. Over the past weeks tents and flags have transformed the green into what demonstrators call Democracy Village. Mayor Boris Johnson said he wants to “safeguard the rights of the majority to use and enjoy Parliament Square”. Protesters claims only the Queen has the right to bring such proceedings in relation to the central London square. Mr Johnson said he has a right, as the Greater London Authority owns the green space. The mayor’s counsel, Ashley Underwood QC, told Mr Justice Griffith Williams: “This is a case that deals with a collision of the rights of the minority to exercise free speech and assembly and protest in a public place and of the rights of others to use that same public place for that and other uses.”

I had a look at The Democracy Village blog. It was an interesting way to spend a few moments.  There appears to be another one.  This announces… “We are a group of concerned citizens who have gathered on Parliament Square to let the world know that we are deeply troubled by the way our taxes and resources are wasted on illegal and inhuman wars.” I rather lost interested in going further when I read this from the same blog…

Mass Pickets

Democracy Village

The Democracy Village currently occupying Parliament Square sends greetings to British Airways Cabin Crew currently out on strike.

Forward to Victory!

In comradeship

I’m obviously getting old – an initial preparedness to examine the issue and perspective on that blog laid waste by the mixed message and bollocks  about British Airways cabin crew on strike.  Hardly a matter of life and death and worthy of support in the same breath as the very important right to free speech, the right to protest peacefully and the serious issues facing this country in relation to the war in Afghanistan.  I have some sympathy with those who say that Parliament Square should be for all.  We shall see what the High Court makes of it all.  The case continues.

What will the Legal Services Board do about referral fees?

The legal profession seems to be in a bit of a mess on this issue – with what seems to be a bit of premature ejaculation in terms of the rush to ban them. The Law Society Gazette has an an article which is worth read if you absolutely must have your fix on referral fees. Neil Rose writes…“Is the referral fee debate over? Two reports submitted recently to the Legal Services Board (LSB) would make one think that it is, even though the board itself has still to reach a final decision.”

Anti-paedophile database halted weeks before launch for ‘commonsense’ reasons

Plans for a database of adults who want to work with children have been halted following a wave of criticism.  Ministers feared the Vetting and Barring scheme, designed to protect children from paedophiles and which was due to be introduced in England and Wales next month, would drive a “wedge” between adults and children. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, will say on Tuesday that the scheme is being stopped, and will be redesigned along “common sense” lines.  (Telegraph)

Seems to be a start to the rolling back of the more excessive ‘knee jerk’ laws.  I gather that plans to get rid of the more ludicrous and oppressive laws of ‘Past Labour’ are now well under way.  This is good.

Postcard from The Staterooms-on-Thames: Dystopia Edition!

Dear Reader,

I had not considered Danny Alexander a deadringer for “Beaker” until I saw the reference and pic on Guido Fawkes – so Hat Tip to Guido. This was largely because I didn’t even know, much less care about, who Danny Alexander was until the Tree Huggers found themselves lining up with fully paid up members of The Genghis Khan Fanciers Society after the election.  I can now see the resemblance all too clearly  I have to say, his public appearances on television have not been impressive.

Lord Phillips defends Human Rights Act

Reading the Law Society Gazette online I was interested in the report of Lord Phillips’ speech where he asserted that The Human Rights Act 1998 is ‘a vital part of the foundation of our fight against terrorism’.

The Gazette went on to report:

In a speech last week, the former lord chief justice said that senior judges were criticised by Charles Clarke when he was home secretary because, in Clarke’s words, ‘the judiciary bear not the slightest responsibility for protecting the public and sometimes seem utterly unaware of the implications of their decisions for our society’.

Defending the judges, Phillips told an audience at Gresham College last week that ‘Charles Clarke failed to appreciate that it is the duty of the judiciary to apply the laws that have been enacted by parliament. It was parliament that decreed that judges should apply the Human Rights Convention and, when doing so, to take account of the judgments of the Strasbourg Court’.

He added: ‘In my opinion, the enactment of the Human Rights Act by the previous administration was an outstanding contribution to the upholding of the rule of law in this country and one for which it deserves great credit.’

Discussing the cause of terrorism in Britain, Lord Phillips remarked that the so-called ‘war on terrorism’ was ‘not so much a military as an ideological battle’. He said: ‘Respect for human rights is a key weapon in that ideological battle.

I think Lord Phillips is right. We are in the midst of war which at best can, some experts say, only produce a temporary command and control over the Taleban and Al Qaeda.  The Taleban have often been quoted as saying that time is on their side.  Are we to wage a permanent war in Afghanistan at present rates of death and injury to our armed forces and those of our allies? – or should we press for more emphasis on talking, more emphasis on listening to why those who wage war against us wage such war?  One thing is for certain – a country without the human rights our law seeks to promote and protect is not a country that I would wish to live in.  Nor would I wish our country to engage in atrocity, to engage in torture, and if we do, I would expect our government not to sanction or condone it and bring those who engage in it to justice.  But there again, our  country would never do such things…would it?

I’m beginning to wonder if a preferred course of action would be to withdraw our troops, deploy our forces along the lines of a defence force , contain the problem here and start what will a long process, with others, to find a peaceful solution that is not reliant on the killing of so many… on all sides.   Hey… I’m talking rubbish.  The gung ho brigade would rather torture the bastards, electrocute their genitals and waterboard them until we get the truth, carpet bomb the fuckers back into the stone age and show them who is boss and sing Jerusalem… oh.. what a lovely war… oh what wonderful irony in the title of our so called ‘national’ song.  Utopia will never happen…. Rule Dystopia…Dystopia rules the f**cking waves.

I don’t really want to write more tonight.

best as ever

Charon

Law Review: The Future for The Bar, prisons and prisoner rights

Bar must step up competition with solicitors, chairman warns

The Law Society Gazette reports: “The bar must embrace direct access to the public to compete in a system that has been ‘calibrated and designed to hand the entire legal aid pot to solicitors’, the Bar Council chairman said last week. Speaking at a symposium last week to discuss the paper The Future of the Bar, Nick Green QC also suggested that it should be open to solicitor-advocates to join the bar. Green said the bar, and particularly the publicly funded bar, needs to modernise and adopt new business structures to cope with the rapidly evolving market, and challenging economic environment.”

Pundits have been predicting the demise of the bar since 1189, or time immemorial as academics like to call it in the history books. Looking at the trend, speaking to younger members of the Bar, it is clear that legal aid budgets being cut is affecting the work flow and the living of some young barristers is by no means lavish – with many waiting disgraceful amounts of time for solicitors to pay their fees.  With the Chief Justice calling for all advocates appearing before the higher courts to be governed by the same professional standards it must be only a matter of time before solicitor-advocates are invited to join the Bar.  Things are, indeed, changing in the legal landscape.

College of Law Inside Track Podcast: Nicholas Green QC – Chairman of the Bar on the future of the legal profession
Nicholas Green QC outlines his vision for the future of the Bar, his optimism that it will continue to develop and grow and his belief in the need for it to become more commercial, while holding on to the highest professional standards. He discusses the impact of the Legal Services Act, including the ability of barristers to go into partnership with solicitors, the issue of direct access to the Bar plus the increasing flexibility of career routes into the profession.

Bar Council Chairman Sets Out ‘Radical and Progressive Vision’ for the Future of the Bar

Publishing a new blueprint for the profession – The future of the Bar – the Chairman called, amongst other things, for the Bar to:

  • Embrace new business structures that enable it to capitalise upon the opportunities presented by the Legal Services Act 2007
  • Work constructively with the Government on ways and means to save money which do not harm the administration of justice
  • See the Inns play a more prominent role in training for advocacy across the entire profession

Ken Clarke signals ‘more sensible’ prison sentencing policy

Guardian: Prison reformers welcome justice secretary’s claim that short prison sentences are ineffective in cutting reoffending rates

Prison reformers today welcomed what appeared to be a major shift in the approach to penal policy outlined by the new justice secretary, Ken Clarke, over the weekend. The lord chancellor questioned why the prison population – at 85,000 – was nearly double what it was when he was home secretary in the early 1990s. Clarke confirmed that he is looking for cuts in the £2.2bn prison budget and seemed to indicate that he did not regard short prison sentences as effective in cutting reoffending rates. He acknowledged that members of the public were still “very, very worried about lawlessness” but said that their “fear of crime” is probably out of proportion to what they actually face.

It is quite remarkable that the prison population has doubled in a matter of just under twenty years.  Are we, perhaps, putting people into prisons who shouldn’t really be there?  Do we have 85,000 people who are so dangerous they have to be ‘banged up’?  Would not some other method of penalty be more appropriate… perhaps very substantial property confiscation or fines which would have the merit of bringing in revenue rather than  costing us the £40,000 pa sum current estimates say it costs the taxpayer? By way of example:  Lord Archer was sent to prison some time ago for perjury.  What a complete waste of taxpayer money.  A substantial fine would have penalised him and brought substantial revenue in.  He did his time, wrote three excellent books about the system, and because he did his time a lot more people respected him when he came out  than did before he went down.  I count myself among that number. Vindictiveness and retribution  should not be part of our criminal process in all cases – although understandable in cases of serious offences of violence, child molestation, rape et al.

Prisoner rights to vote – time for the government to implement the decision ofd the European Court.

While it may well stick in the craw of many (particularly readers of tabloids and mania newsprint)  that prisoners should have the right to vote, the fact of the matter is that we are in breach of a European Court decision which declares the right to vote a basic human right.

I do not agree with Jailhouse Lawyer on many issues – and I would doubt that refusing to give prisoners access to the internet be regarded as a human right (a privilege to be earned, possibly?) – but he has argued consistently on the theme of prisoner voting rights and has taken our government to court and won.  Worth a read

The Sun wades in bringing Lord Pannick QC along for credibility and the ride…

TAXPAYERS could face a £60million bill as prisoners appeal against Britain’s refusal to let them vote.

Sixty cons are currently battling to force the Government to give them a say at the ballot box. But experts warn thousands of others could follow suit and file claims for compensation. One barrister estimated each claimant could receive as much as £750 – and there are 85,000 people in UK prisons. Lord David Pannick, QC, an expert in European law, forecast: “The bill, which taxpayers will be meeting, may be a large one.”
The Sun gives a bit of spin on this designed, no doubt, to make people throughout the land splutter onto their ‘Full English’ breakfasts…
“But a lag in one of the UK’s biggest jails told The Sun: “You can’t get hold of an Argos catalogue in here because everyone’s already choosing how to spend their cash.”

Muttley Dastardly LLP: Dr Strangelove briefs the Partners on Wind Energy.

MEMORANDUM

EYES ONLY PARTNERS

1. Wind Energy: It is unfortunate that none of our all male partnership is married to Nick Clegg or, indeed, any member of the Coalition largely all male Cabinet.  I can report that Miriam González Durántez, wife of the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has been appointed to join a leading wind-farm company.  There is, obviously, no connection between her being wife of the Deputy Prime Minister and the, reportedly, lucrative appointment with Acciona.  I was talking to a friendly MP the other day and he observed that Miriam González Durántez is into wind in a big way and living with Nick Clegg gives her an opportunity to study the many different and subtle qualities of wind on a daily basis – which, no doubt, is of considerable, but purely coincidental and ‘unintended consequentially’,  value to Acciona.

Be that as it may – wind energy is the future, not in terms of the energy it generates (25% operational value at best, experts say), but in terms of the work which it will provide for lawyers. Iain Dale, writing in his affluential blog today makes a compelling case for tearing down all the wind farms and he quotes Andrew Gilligan’s seminal article on the issue in the Telegraph.   Those who wish to erect wind farms – and they are legion and are being encouraged by wish-washy tree huggery of the best kind by the Lib-Dem members of the coalition –  will need highly complex legal advice.  There are many and varied issues – environment, planning permission, European Law, tax write-offs. I do not need to labour the point.

1.2. Those who wish to tear down wind farms – and they are legion – will also need legal advice. There are many and varied issues – environment, planning permission, European Law, tax write-offs. I do not need to labour the point.

1.3.  I have deployed three associates to examine this issue and to report back. If we need to do a lateral hire, I am sure that it will not be an insurmountable difficulty to find a partner at a competitor firm of sufficient standing to meet our world leading standard of venality and personal greed.

2. The Labour Leadership contest: I have advised The Partners on this issue using classic SWOT analysis. It seems that Diane Abbot has been fed into the mix by ‘ways and means’ which Partners of this firm will approve and, indeed, practice regularly when dissimulating with our own employees. I refer Partners to the many revisions of the Employees Handbook in the last three months, all of which, by inclusion of an expertly drafted provision,  are designed to take effect and be incorporated into the contract (and agreed to)  as if they had been present in the contract when the employee was originally engaged. Freedom of Contract is a wonderful concept.  On this, I am sure we are all agreed. There is little prospect of Diane Abbot becoming the next Leader of the Labour Party.  If there was, I am fairly sure that Mr Fawkes would be mounting a ‘Diane Abbot for Leader’ campaign.  (See below – or as I prefer, infra)

2.1 The difficulty we face is that if David Miliband is elected as Leader of the Labour Party there is every chance that Labour will be able to re-form under sensible, intelligent, and thoughtful leadership and be able to present to the country an entirely credible alternative government.  This would not be in the short to medium term interest of The Partners.  We must do all that we can to ensure that Britain continues to be governed by a curious mixture of members of The Genghis Khan Appreciation Society and Tree Huggers Anonymous.

2.1  Fortunately, assistance is available at absolutely no cost to ourselves: Guido Fawkes has started a ‘Vote for Ed Balls for Leader’ campaign.  I have every confidence, given his significant readership figures – some of which is made up of  Tourettes sufferers – that efforts on our part to promote this are simply redundant. I am, of course, aware of the ‘tastes and interests’ of all The Partners.  Some of our members may find the picture on Mr Fawkes’ blog post of particular interest.  Because of the curious voting methods of The Labour Party, the first past the post does not usually win.  It is, more often than not, the second or third placed candidate who ends up winning the coveted post of ‘Beloved Leader’. I am, therefore, confident, that we shall have no effective Opposition for some time to come yet, and certainly not until the Autumn.

2.2  This will allow Danny Alexander to demonstrate beyond peradventure that he should have paid more attention to his economics studies and he may well be replaced. Theresa May is already struggling with the Gary Mackinnon case.  One minute the government is saying that nothing can be done.  Today the government is saying that Cameron can intercede.  This gives them the worst of all worlds, of course.  Do nothing and they will be seen as ineffective and pusillanimous – especially after Clegg stood shoulder to shoulder with the Asperger sufferer’s Mother and said it was simply not good enough that Alan Johnson could do nothing to stop the planned extradition.  If Cameron intercedes it risks the possibility that Obama will kick off  and start calling ‘Bungling Petroelum’, ‘British Petroleum’ again.  My assessment is that The Partners will win either way.

2.3 Further to my last briefing memorandum, The Firm will be proud owners of BP shares again very soon and a decent return on our recent naked short selling.

Dr Erasmus Copernicus Strangelove
Partner and Director of Education, Muttley Dastardly LLP

Strength & Profits

Regular readers of Muttley Dastardly LLP briefings will be aware that there is no similarity whatsoever between Dr Strangelove of Muttley Dastardly LLP and the Dr  Strangelove of ‘Dr Strangelove’ the film.  It is pure coincidence that our Dr Strangelove looks like the Dr Strangelove character in the Dr Strangelove film. .

Readers coming across these posts from the internet should be advised that Muttley Dastardly LLP never gives any legal advice for free on their blog, or at all, and if you wish to get legal advice that works, pay for it.   We are very selective in the clients we take on.  If you are rich, we will take you on . If you are not fortunate enough to be sufficiently rich to seek our counsel – and those we hire in – please accept our condolences and  contact your local Law Society.

F**kART: Smokedo – Elephant with attitude

Regular readers will be familiar with the fact that I am a 30adayDan in Smokedo. I still continue to practise the arcane art of smoking while I do weights and press-ups et al.  Now, a recycled elephant is in on the action.  Discerning viewers will note the subtle touch of using a match with the tip painted red for a Marlboro.

To be honest… I was a bit bored this afternoon.  There is only so much writing about Tort a man can stand.

Legal Education Special – College of Law!

Although I always enjoy reading RollonFriday their story on the salaries being paid to The College of Law Chief Executive and others on the College Board does deserve a fair comment and reply on another medium.

Let me just say this – because of my past history founding BPP Law School with BPP Holdings years ago and having been asked by The Magic Circle firms in the early 2000s to do a report on the LPC and providers – I am surprised that the College of Law doesn’t pay them more.

I have no hesitation at all in saying this – that if Nigel Savage and the team that he put together had not gone into the College of Law those 12 or so years ago, I don’t think The College of Law would be the institution it is today – an innovative College which has the courage to try new ideas, admit errors, put them right and do their best for students – it would, quite possibly, have been a basket case.

* Disclosure.

I do podcasts for the College of Law. I am delighted to do so and I’m not even tempted to charge more than the very modest fee they pay to cover my time.  Had it been another institution… I would now  put in a deficit CUTS  busting tender for my next series, if asked to do one!  I won’t!

The podcasts I do for The College of Law – do listen – they are relevant to our profession!

***

And… another thing… RollonFriday reports…

And RollOnFriday can reveal he gets four times the pay of the chief executive of a certain leading private law school.

Excellent!  All I can say –  if this is true AND IF the certain leading private law school is BPP Law School –  is that Peter Crisp needs to go on a Negotiation course and speak to the Americans who now own BPP. I can’t remember what Peter got when I took him on at BPP when I was CEO (It was not peanuts)  – but if this report refers to Peter  Crisp at BPP… I’m most terribly sorry that Peter wasn’t able to leverage his position to greater effect over the past 15 years given the fantastic fees BPP charges their students.  I would also be very surprised if Carl Lygo, the Principal of The Law School et al, is struggling to get by on a salary less than that paid to the Prime Minister of The United Kingdom.  BPP doesn’t do Freedom of Information requests – so we will never know. On the other hand, Peter Crisp is a very fair man –  Carl Lygo also – so they may just refute this story, without revealing their private salaries, of their own accord!

Come on chaps….This is the legal profession we are talking about... Not many poor City Lawyers.

Rive Gauche: #WorldCup Special – sponsored by Haliburton and BP

So there I was, sitting at a table on Battersea Bridge Road, outside… at a cafe I go to, drinking coffee. Many cars went by with Ingerland flags on them.  Seated two tables to my left,  a group of builders…. getting over excited at the prospect of the World Cup.   To hear them talk… Ingerland had already won. I was almost tempted to take my VUVUZELA out of my jacket pocket….  but as I know absolutely nothing about football, I didn’t.

I will watch in the later stages, I am sure… but I will say this… that I do not share the desire shown by some of my fellow Scots (and other ‘celtic’ regions of Britain) to support *Anyone but England*.   That England was good enough to get into a World tournament – and other countries within our isle were not – is a pity for those who didn’t but the anti-English ‘thing’ (which I have seen all too often in the land of my childhood) is not something I will ever approve of.  I’m interested in history, but I’m not interested in bigotry and intolerance rooted in the history of many years ago.

It is unlikely that I shall be doing a commentary on the World Cup – largely because I don’t know anything about football… mind you… that doesn’t stop me commenting on other areas of human endeavour, including Law… so you never know.  For those of you who do enjoy football… enjoy… just remember… Family Lawyers do very well during World Cups as irate partners get bored with the lack of attention.

And… on that note… I shall leave you with some breaking news that I made up on Twitter…

Law Review: Parliamentary privilege – The future of the legal profession

Ex Labour MPs and Tory peer lose expenses ruling

The BBC reports: Three former Labour MPs and a Tory peer are set to stand trial over expenses fraud allegations after a judge ruled they could not claim parliamentary privilege to stop prosecution.

Mr Justice Saunders rejected arguments by Elliott Morley, David Chaytor, Jim Devine and Lord Hanningfield that only Parliament could hear their case. There was no bar to a trial, he said. The four, who all deny charges of false accounting over their expenses, are to appeal against the decision.

Mr Justice Saunders  held that while the expenses procedure was covered by parliamentary privilege, the individual claim forms submitted were not covered. The Guardian noted: “The judge said the argument that submitting an expenses form was part of the proceedings of parliament, and therefore protected by privilege, was akin to saying that the coin used in a slot machine was part of its machinery.

“The decision that I have had to make has not been easy,” he said. “If the question of parliamentary privilege had not been raised, I would have initiated this inquiry myself, as I would have had to satisfy myself that the allegations to be investigated at trial were not covered by privilege.”

He added that the privilege was that of parliament, and not of any individual member, so the defendants would not have been able to waive it even if they had wanted to. He said the “extreme suggestion in some quarters that the fact that the defendants have raised this issue is some indication of guilt is not only misconceived but also unfair”.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Saunders said parliament does not have an effective procedure for investigating and deciding guilt, and the range of penalties open to parliament was “considerably smaller” than that available to the criminal courts. “If possible, it is preferable for criminal allegations to be decided by criminal courts who are equipped to deal with them,” he said.

The men charged are to appeal.  I’m not a specialist in constitutional law but I suspect that such an appeal is unlikely to succeed.  I haven’t had a chance to read the judgment of Saunders J – relying only on Guardian and BBC reports for the above.   If upon reading the full judgment I come to a different view I shall post on the issue.  The judge made an important point in reminding the media tyhat all charged before the criminal courts are innocent until proven guilty.  That, is at should be.

Thousands detained unlawfully in police stop-and-search blunder

The Times reports “that  Fourteen police forces have unlawfully stopped and searched thousands of people on the streets under controversial counter terror powers, the Home Office disclosed yesterday. The blunder occurred when police detained people without having permission to do so from a Home Office minister. On other occasions police continued to stop and search people for longer than they had been given authorisation under the law.”

This is likely to result in many claims for compensation being brought – and, in all probability, won.  More waste.  Hopefully, the need to cut costs will result in a considerable tightening up on the misuse of powers and those who do misuse powers being brought to account for it?  Baroness Neville-Jones, the Security Minister, said: “I am very concerned by these historical administrative errors. To maintain public confidence in our counter-terrorism powers, it is absolutely crucial all those responsible for exercising them do so properly.”

Given Baroness Neville-Jones’ background in security, her remarks are worth noting for future reference.

Deregulating the law profession

A conference on the future of the bar in England and Wales needs to ensure that those working in law can keep their independence

Joshua Rozenberg writes:

Lawyers are not alone in wondering whether they’ll keep their jobs when the cuts begin to bite. But, unlike most professionals, they have little idea what state their profession will be in by the time of the next general election in 2015.

Tonight barristers’ leaders are holding a major symposium on the future of the bar in England and Wales. The chairman of the bar council, Nicholas Green QC, will report back on changes the bar has made to meet the new regulatory requirements imposed by Labour.

“Our task is to modernise the bar and to ensure that it emerges from the recession all the stronger,” Green is expected to say. “I have no doubt that we can do this.”

His counterpart at the Law Society, the solicitors’ leader Robert Heslett, fears that the planned reforms will deprive the legal profession of the independence that has given it a “sky-high reputation across the world”.


I have done a number of podcasts on this subject which you may find of interest, if you haven’t already listened to them.

College of Law Inside Track Podcast: Chris Kenny, Chief Executive of the Legal Services Board
Today I talk to Chris Kenny, CEO of the Legal Services Board. Chris Kenny discusses the role and the function of the Legal Services Board and whether there is a need for it.  He talks about the opportunities and threats to lawyers and legal services over the next five years.  He looks at the impact on the Rule of Law given the proposed cuts to civil and criminal legal aid.  He discusses the globalisation of legal services and international regulatory standards.  Lastly, a bit of futurology, Chris discusses the likely legal landscape in the next five years.

Listen to the podcast

College of Law Inside Track Podcast: Nicholas Green QC – Chairman of the Bar on the future of the legal profession
Nicholas Green QC outlines his vision for the future of the Bar, his optimism that it will continue to develop and grow and his belief in the need for it to become more commercial, while holding on to the highest professional standards. He discusses the impact of the Legal Services Act, including the ability of barristers to go into partnership with solicitors, the issue of direct access to the Bar plus the increasing flexibility of career routes into the profession.

Listen to the podcast

Podcast for Inside Track: Ted Burke, CEO, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer – The Future of The Legal Profession
Today I am talking to Ted Burke about  the prospects for Freshfields and the legal sector in the short to medium term.  He looks at the increasing globalisation of legal work and the knock-on effect for younger lawyers going to work in the City.  He discusses emerging economies such as India, China and Russia and considers opportunities for lawyers to outsource.  As a US qualified lawyer, Ted gives his view on the value of young City lawyers being US/UK dual-qualified.  He considers how the Legal Services Act will impact Freshfields and the other City and commercial law firms.  He ends with a look at the Eurozone and the role of lawyers in clearing up the ‘mess’ and the future global regulation of banking.
Listen to The College of Law Inside Track podcast

Law Society Gazette Podcast: Robert Heslett, President of The Law Society Today I am talking To Robert Heslett. We cover a wide range of topics from the rule of law, the opportunities and threats to the solicitors profession, human rights and Twitter and other forms of social media and how they could be of benefit to lawyers.

Listen to the podcast

College of Law Inside Track podcast: Professor Stephen Mayson on the legal landscape.

Today I talk to Professor Stephen Mayson. He considers the future of the legal profession and the legal landscape following the opportunities for alternate business structures and the opportunities for young lawyers coming into the profession over the next few years.
Listen to the podcast

Professor Richard Susskind OBE – Professor Richard Susskind paints a fascinating and vivid picture of the way the legal profession is likely to develop, based on his research and his best-selling book The End of Lawyers? This is a must listen to for all lawyers, prospective, newly qualified and experienced.Listen to the podcast

Muttley Dastardly LLP: Weekly Briefing to Partners from Matt Muttley

MEMORANDUM

PARTNERS / EYES ONLY

From: Matt Muttley, CEO and Managing Partner

To: Partners

WEEKLY BRIEFING
1.  America: The BP saga continues and with it I am pleased to report that  our growth will continue on the back of this most unfortunate and tragic man-made disaster.  The CFO, Dr Hans Calculus, advises that our holdings in BP were sold at a pleasing price and on behalf of the partners I have sanctioned a naked short sell on the BP position which should net further profits, allowing us to increase our holding in BP at a future date – which I suspect will not be long in coming. President Obama appears to share the confusion which many Americans have about England, Britain and United Kingdom.  He now appears to be confusing BP with Britain.  Anti-British sentiment in the United States can only serve our interests at the firm however and our psyops unit will continue to ferment discord on twitter to further improve this position.  I have written to President Obama to this effect…

Dear Mr President,

BP is an oil company.  Britain is the schmUK  helping you with your war mongering in Iraq and Afghanistan.  You will note, being a lawyer yourself, that the words ‘helping’ and  ‘with’ predicate that we are your ally.   Our country is next to Europe on Google Maps. You may recall our former prime minister, Mr Gordon Brown,  referred to Obama Beach at a recent memorial  to celebrate the memory of those who fell in battle on D-Day.  You were there. That is Europe.

Kind regards

Matt Mattley,
CEO and Managing Partner, Muttley Dastardly LLP

Strength & Profits

2.  Government: I note with pleasure that Mr Cameron gave short shrift to President Rumplestiltskin of Europe on the matter of our European friends having a look at our budgets in advance.  I am pleased to report that consultancy advice we gave to the Prime Minister – for which we charged a deficit friendly fee, by which I mean the same fee but dressed up to look like a discount – went down well and that Europe is now to see the budget the moment the Chancellor stands up in Parliament.  The fact that everyone in Britain will be able to do the same on  BBC television  did not occur to The President of Europe, so Mr Cameron was particularly pleased at the humour in our advice and promises to consult again when he is troubled by the Europeans.

3. Law & Order: There have been some pleasing developments.  It is always a pleasure when government starts looking into Law & Order.  With the Human Rights issue being kicked into the long grass with a Commission, and confusion reigning at the Home Office and The Ministry of Justice on the ‘Kill a Burglar’ project it shouldn’t be difficult to ferment some discord on the issue of legal aid, extradition, rendition and the like to force some good old fashioned knee jerking changes in the law to benefit us and the legal profession generally.   I have asked our esteemed Director of Education, Dr Strangelove, to distribute some articles throughout the blogs and post on twitter about US use of torture, rendition and other matters which can only lead to further advice being requested of us by government ministries; impacting as it does on the role of our own government in such matters in the past.

4.  Politics: The Labour Party has saved itself from general ridicule by coming up with a plan to bring it further ridicule – by manipulating the rules and persuading MPs to nominate Diane Abbott so there is at least someone who doesn’t wear a navy suit, a white shirt and a red tie, standing for leader.  It would be most advantageous to us if Diane Abbott became shadow home secretary.  She knows a great deal about civil liberties and is better placed than anyone else on the Labour opposition front bench to give the government a hard time on civil liberties reform and secret evidence and the like.  Partners may have missed the election of Simon Hughes as deputy leader of what is still, bafflingly, called the Liberal-Democrat Party.  The implications are that Hughes will be a de-stabilising influence in the coalition.  This together with the ever simmering Vince Cable can only ensure a gradual parting of the ways and the beginning of the end for the coalition.  It is likely that an election will be fought not in the early part of 2011, but in the Autumn.  Labour may well be in a position to take advantage of the general ridicule of the electorate for the flawed policies of the present government as they start to reveal very real pain to many and general dissent and alarm in the land.

Partners will be interested in this observation by Guido Fawkes….in connection with Mr Hughes:

It looks like tuition fees, which Willets is less than subtly hinting are rising, will be the first coaliton dividing battle. Funny how obvious the correlation is between being disgruntled and being a failed former leadership contender. Ming, Kennedy and Hughes could whip up quite a yellow rage about this one, and many more to come…

I look forward to our lunch in the partners dining room at 1300 hours.  Eva Braun is laying on some entertainment for us.   I believe that she has found a dog which can sing Italian Opera and dance at the same time.

That is all.

MM

Strength & Profits

Muttley Dastardly LLP: Dr Strangelove, Director of Education asks….Diversity – an exercise in global hand wringing and waffle?

MEMORANDUM

EYES ONLY PARTNERS

To: Partners

From: Dr Strangelove, Director of Education

RE: DIVERSITY – OUR POSITION

1.  I have been asked to provide a position paper on Diversity, the need for it and, in particular, the public PR stance to be taken by Muttley Dastardly LLP.  There is also the matter of the present government’s softening up of the British public as a prelude to Operation Blitzkrieg to close down some universities and raise the fees to sensible and acceptable levels. This will be considered, in preliminary form, in a further memorandum.

2.  I shall also take opportunity in my next memorandum to update partners on progress in relation to our discussions with law schools on the matter of a tailored LPC for our next intake of cannon fodder.

DIVERSITY

1.1  Clearly, we are not at all interested in diversity.  Our view has always been to recruit the best; over recruiting to take the very best out of the gene pool and, thereby, inconvenience other law firms.   Prudence dictates that our private practices remain private and, indeed, all trainees sign a marvellously incomprehensible non-disclosure document when they join which takes care of any ‘leakage’ to the press.   We have had no resistance to this NDA;  the trainees are easily bribed with  an extra £2000 and the prospect of a lunch with the managing partner at some point during their period of training.   We do have to have a public statement on diversity which will satisfy hacks from the law magazines and the more serious law bloggers.

1.2 Consistent with our practice of getting others to work for the greater good of our partnership, I would like to refer you to a piece I found on Lawyerwatch only this morning, while I was dissumulating and putting “psyops black tweets” out on twitter – a daily routine agreed at the last partner’s meeting…

The Bar Standards Board has “adopted” (their interesting turn of phrase) and published the report of a major review of pupillage training for the Bar The press release marking this occasion trumpets pupillage as the “best and fairest way of preparation for the profession and there are no plans to change its fundamental nature.”  Much is made of its fairness on the basis that

  • The numbers of men and women undertaking pupillage are nearly equal. Sometimes the proportion of women slightly exceeds that of men.
  • 22.4% of pupils were drawn from a very wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, exceeding the proportion of ethnic minorities found in other professions.

To be sure to ram the point home the press release further adds, “The Bar is proud of the diverse nature of the new entrants and the fact that access to pupillage appears based on ability and merit.”

The Lawyerwatch post goes on, interestingly, to make this point…

The report’s own research makes the point rather more clearly than the BSB appeared inclined to do(at p. 37):

  • “The profile of pupils tends to be less diverse than the profile of university students, with a significant drop in representation of working-class students.
  • “There are proportionately fewer female pupil barristers than there are female university graduates.”

A little ‘adjustment’ of the above, replacing ‘pupillage’ for ‘training’ and ‘trainees’ for ‘pupils’ should do the trick…and, after all, how long is a piece of string? and, as for the definition of ‘nearly’?!

We are, of course, ‘immensely proud of the diverse nature of new entrants and the fact that access to Muttley Dastardly LLP is based entirely on merit and ability’.  Only schmuks hire losers.  Fortunately, there are a few law schmuks out there. The fact that there are more women than men graduating makes it fairly clear that it is more difficult for women to get pupillages if the numbers are roughly equal, and it would appear that those from working class backgrounds continue to have a problem fitting in at the Bar.  I suspect the same is true for many City Law firms.  Fortunately, we could not care less here, so long as they have a work ethic and understand that they work for the greater good of the partners and not their self aggrandisement or career advancement.  The latter comes (in time), of course,  if they are made of the ‘right stuff’.

1.3  I think that addresses the diversity issue.   I can have this printed up, distributed and get it out on the usual press guff run.  Consistent with our ‘best practice’, I shall assume that if I do not hear from you, I am authorised, as a partner with you, to issue this on our collective behalf.

Dr Strangelove
Partner Muttley Dastardly LLP, Director of Education

Strength & Profits

War! [Oh What a Lovely War?!]

Two fascinating articles on the Afghanistan war today. I think Simon Jenkins has rather a good point. (Below)  The Times is covering the ‘Lions led by Donkeys’ theme.  I seem to recall, from my old history lessons,  that Alan Clark… he of The Diaries… wrote a book called The Donkeys.  (A good book… even if vilified by relations of Earl Haig and Michael Howard (Really?) as were his excellent diaries)

The Times coverage was interesting and thought provoking.  I have no idea, of course, if they are right…. who does?  I’m sure some out there know the true position or enough to give an objective view?  I can’t give you a link of course… because they are going behind a paywall.

My once-in-a-generation cut? The armed forces. All of them

Simon Jenkins in The Guardian: We are safer than at any time since the Norman conquest. Yet £45bn is spent defending Britain against fantasy enemies.

I really enjoyed reading this article.  It is not often I say that about serious newspaper coverage.

PS… do you like my new tache?  It is getting more absurd by the day. That is all.

F**kART: F**k Nose?

F**K Nose?
Charon
Green nose, and playing card cut into a ? mark shape.
2010

I appear to be having a *Nose* period… and to complement my recent Who Nose?... here is another…. more subtle… a sense of scale being provided by a pint glass nicked from a pub, possibly, and a bottle of orange squash – empty.  The 1960s retro kitchen tiles provide an element of kitsch… but they aren’t mine… sadly.  The King of Clubs playing card (cut into the shape of a ? mark)  – from the 1960s –  was a deliberate choice… but I won’t say why.

I’d like to be able to say that amusement at recent Coalition government pronouncements on Justice  prompted the thought ‘Who knows?”and inspired the ‘piece’ … but that would just be silly… of course our new government knows what it is doing…..

Law Review: Does the government just plan to repeal all Law?

Far be it for  me to be cynical about governments and law, governments and  interference with the judiciary, governments and  their scant regard for the rule of law – I suspect those charged with the administration of justice at the Ministry of Justice and The Home Office find it most inconvenient when journalists and bloggers question their ‘efforts’.

The Coalition agreement trumpets a desire to get civil liberties back on track and repeal the hideously wasteful and repressive laws introduced by Labour.  While I am in full agreement that there is a raft of laws which need to be repealed, I had no idea the government planned to repeal *Law* per se…. and just take decisions without regard to the inconvenience of complying with law.

The government hasn’t got off to a very good start. The Guardian reports today….

Don’t delay deportation flight, government warns judges

Treasury Solicitor’s Department moves to head off last-minute judicial review calls that could hold up Baghdad-bound plane

Government lawyers have warned high court judges that last-minute legal challenges should not be allowed to “disrupt or delay” a special deportation flight to Bagdhad due to leave Britain early tomorrow.

A letter from the Treasury Solicitor’s Department asks high court judges to facilitate the scheduled charter flight by refusing to consider last-minute judicial review applications by detainees due for deportation. The flight is only the second of its kind ever to Baghdad.

In a letter dated 2 June, Andrea McMahon of the department says: “Because of the complexities, practicalities and costs involved in arranging charter flights, it is essential that these removals are not disrupted or delayed by large numbers of last-minute claims for permission to seek judicial review.”

While the letter was worded ‘respectfully’, we can disregard such nonsense.  This is a clear attempt to pressurise the junior judiciary. The Guardian notes…

The Treasury Solictor’s Department letter says that to “ensure the viability of this latest operation to Iraq” the usual rules, under which a judicial review will normally result in a removal being deferred, may not apply and the deportation will still go ahead.

Not a very good idea to try to influence the judiciary. They guard their independence jealously – thankfully.   If the government wishes to repeal existing laws it may do so.  Parliament may not bind it successors but is bound by the law of its predecessors until repealed.  If the government wishes to remove rights of deportees (or for that matter any law)  repeal the right, but by due process  – then, because law is public, we can see the cut of the jib of the government which governs in our ‘Big Society’ name.  This is not the way to go about it.  Shoddy or at the very least, incompetent.

Our Court service is creaking at the seams, legal aid is about to be cut back again, family lawyers just can’t afford to provide a service.  There is a danger that people charged with criminal offences will not be properly represented because of a desire to cut costs. (Please note that I do not say ‘criminals charged with criminal offences’.  There is a reason for this – we call it the ‘presumption of innocence’, a concept which those in government  and editors of tabloids often find most inconvenient.

And.. Damien Green MP (above and below?)  should really know better – he got a lot of support from civil liberties organisations and bloggers when he was put through an ordeal some time ago by the police

Sir Mark Potter: children in danger due to court service crisis

Guardian: Former president of the family division claims ‘poorly funded and overburdened system’ leaves children in violent environments

This is perhaps a more worrying story.  I am not a family lawyer , so I won’t make any comment.  Do have a read of it.  If Sir Mark Potter, known for his measured stance,  is worried, I think we should all be concerned.  This is a serious issue.

It is early days, but the new government seems to be making a bit of a hash of their law reform planning already. The proposal to increase the age of criminal responsibility does not seem, as yet, to be particularly well thought out or ‘baked’  and the ‘Kill a burglar’ nonsense does seem to be all over the place as well – the government, no doubt, does not wish to be seen to be taking a different line now from pre-election nonsense.

Fortunately, there is evidence of sense emerging… and I certainly won’t criticise the Tories for quietly burying this plan or refining it to be roughly what the law is today.  None to keen on licensed vigilantes in the street either!

Minister plays down quick change to self-defence law

And finally… some sense at last… a Commission to kick this particular half baked football into the long grass from whence it shall, hopefully, never emerge.  (BBC)

Human rights cave-in: Cameron pledged to scrap Act… now Clegg champions it under ANOTHER coalition compromise

Daily Mail

I await The Great Repeal Bill with interest – hopefully, there will be enough sanity and money to actually pay for it.?

Observations at the end of a grey day on T’Square – The World Cup

I haven’t become a Mason over the weekend – being on T’Square in this instance is a reference to Battersea Square.

At the end of a cold grey day, I went off to sit in the  Square with some paper to make a ‘to do’ list over a cup of coffee and a few Marlboros.  I soon got bored with my ‘to do’ list after solemnly heading it “To Do List” and underlining it in black felt tip. I crumpled it up and stuffed it into my ‘man bag’ – a rough canvas thing which allows me to transport all the essential of my life should I leave my Staterooms.  And then, at a table nearby, I heard a  couple of blokes chatting about football over a beer.  When I say chatting… it was more guttural;  a language and style I enjoy listening to but not wholly familiar with in terms of its finer points. Listening discreetly, and drawing on years of forensic nosiness experience,  I came to the conclusion that both men were suffering from terminal Tourettes.   There was mention of Lampard, Rooney, Ferdinand (this was accompanied by the commentary…“What a f**king wanker… wussy f**king f**ker for getting f**king injured….f**ker and the response… “Yeah… what a f**king f**ker.”) and Fabio… or Eyetieman as one of the blokes was calling him in a spirit of European co-operation and gratitude.

I am, of course used to this language – Chelsea and Chelsea FC being just across the bridge and….  being involved in the law, the nouns and adjectives used are  those I have heard in more august surroundings and Inn dinners and, indeed, in Leith’s at The Law Society.

I got my felt tip pen and biro out and a sheet of A4. The drawing of two blokes talking bollocks is too cruel for publication, so I crumpled that up as well.  I drew a Munch parody instead (with a twist of law … this being a law blog and that) – mustering as much detail as I could remember from my private study of ‘Fine Art’ many years ago – and there’s another racket if ever I saw one.

I’ve been studying minimalism over the weekend – I think I shall turn this into a very large painting… won’t take long. It’s not an original concept, of course – this style is used in fashion art, where I drew the influence from.  It could look quite striking on white canvas about 6ft x 3ft?

I do, however, have to try my idea of making a life size torso and head of a barrister out of wire coat hangers (my earlier post) first.  I suspect that this may prove beyond me… we shall soon find out.  I have to buy some wire clippers and solder.  This will give me an opportunity to buy one of those welding torches…. which could be interesting if I decide that I have to make ‘things’ with it later on in the evening.

Podcast: Neil Kinsella, Chief Executive and Managing Partner of Russell Jones and Walker

Inside Track Podcast: Neil Kinsella, Chief Executive and Managing Partner of Russell Jones and Walker

Today I am talking to Neil Kinsella, Chief Executive and Managing Partner of Russell Jones and Walker.  Neil  reflects on the way his firm weathered the recession and discusses whether they are a full service law firm or specialists, before considering the impact of The Legal Services Act.  Neil discusses the importance of outsourcing, the increasing power of big clients and in-house or general counsel.  Neil gives a candid view of the opportunities for young lawyers at his firm. We discuss the impact of the new government and its intention to repeal laws, examine employment law and simplify tax and how this will provide many opportunities for law firms in the short term. He ends by looking at the likely legal landscape in five years time.

Listen to the podcast

Other podcasts in the Inside Track podcasts which I did with The College of Law

Law Review: Awards and a levy on the profession for legal education and use of law?

Michael Mansfield QC awarded outstanding achievement prize

The Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards honour Michael Mansfield QC and other lawyers who show a commitment to publicly-funded work.

“Awards ceremonies can be tedious, but last week’s Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards proved to be inspiring and surprising, with the winners all demonstrating great commitment to their clients and an instant government response to a legal question.” Thus, started a report in The Guardian today on the award given to Michael Mansfield QC

The profession should pay for legal education and use of laws?  Discuss

I put forward the idea yesterday in my weekend musing that if we are to maintain the very high quality of education at the top of the university league table, we may have to cut costs at the bottom end.  This is, in all likelihood, something being considered by Vince Cable and his team across the university sector in all subjects.

I also out forward the idea that as law firms – especially the larger law firms – do well out of running their law businesses using publicly funded laws they should, perhaps, pay a levy on top of taxation for use of intellectual property in those laws and cases.  That law firms already pay lexis-Nexis / Westlaw et all does not address the benefit to the public, save in taxation.

Out of this came an idea that the legal profession could contribute more than it does already. Students invest heavily in paying for their university degrees in law. Law firms tend not, in the main, to sponsor students at degree level.  Many law firms do at LPC post degree level.   If they are lucky, students may well be able to get generous allowances and their fees for the LPC and Bar course paid by the firm.  I suspect that few, if any Chambers pay for students to do the BVC directly.

The more I think about this idea – the more compelling it becomes.  Significant profits are earned by law firms (I appreciate that the idea can apply to all sectors) and law firms are the recipients of the high quality of education provided by our leading universities.  Would it not be an idea to ‘think the unthinkable’ and get law firms to contribute to the cost of student education when they recruit law students?  It would be a relatively simple matter for them to take over the student debt as Carl Gardner argued in the comments section to my previous post and repay it to the government a responsibility linked to the length of time the law firm employs the student for, rather than the student having to out of earned income?

Only an idea – it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the fairness, practicalities etc. Over to you?

Age of criminal responsibility should be raised, says leading barrister

The Telegraph: The age of criminal responsibility should be raised to 14 to better protect the “truly young”, one of the country’s leading barristers has said.

Paul Mendelle QC, the chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said the current limit of ten is “awfully young” and runs the risk of a child being prosecuting for crimes they are too immature to understand. Mr Mendelle said the issue of children in adult courts also needs to be re-examined.

Postcard From The Staterooms-on-Thames: iPad Edition

Dear Reader

I took a short break from Laws and Law this week to spend time with my wine bottles, paints and clay – it being half-term week and, it would seem, advertisers and others being away.  Normal service on some sensible analysis of law and legal events and ‘phenomena’ will resume this week.

I have seen some very smug people with their new iPads this week.  In fact, I had the pleasure of sitting near a table, outside a cafe I frequent, only the other morning and saw three people all with iPads propped up in front of them.  There they were, tapping away at the screen, not talking to each other – I can only assume they were emailing each other…. and one even went and had a look at a newspaper and announced to no-one in particular …. “Yeah!… look!…. The Times iPad edition…. “ I was reading The Times Non-iPad edition…. a paper thing which I had on the table in front of me.

I did find it amusing when one of the iPaddies had finished sending an email… which he could have done from his iPhone, solemnly took his iPhone out its case and made a phone call to tell his friend that he’d just “sent an email from the iPad”  I suppose we could have been on a train and I was… at least… saved from that… “I’m on a train” schtik. He managed to look even more smug as he said it.

This has inspired me, as a ‘homage’ to Dali, to superglue an old, but working,  Nokia to the bottom of a plastic lobster I have had for years.  I now have a very exclusive iCharonphone 5..  I did get a few unusual looks as I called a friend on it at the cafe this morning…. I shall be using it a lot, I suspect…

A quick Hat Tip to a few fellow law  bloggers >>>>>

Simple Justice: Through The Eyes of Scott Greenfield

I like Scott Greenfield… I like his Simple Justice blog (not that he would give a damn, rightly, if I didn’t…) and he always writes incisively with analysis and sometimes a bit of elegant rant to season.  Do take a look if you don’t already. I agree with his attitude to blogging…

I’d also like to mention two other friends of mine who do law blogs serious  (and I have done podcasts with these two law bloggers as well):  Carl Gardner, who writes The Head of Legal blog and JackofKent – whose law blog is a must read for anyone interest in Bad law, Libel and on privacy issues. And for a bit of subtle and mildly anarchic stuff… you have to see The White Rabbit… no law in it usually, though!

I shall be reviewing quite a few UK and other law bloggers this week.  Been a while since I did that… so that is enough for now.

I am beginning to develop a completely irrational antipathy to Mr Clegg – partly based on his perpetual smugness, partly – as Suzanne Moore of The Daily Mail and twitter observed – because he always sounds as if he is in a Leadership debate and partly because I can’t help feel that he is on the make for himself.  I far prefer the simmering curmudgeon Dr Vince Cable, a man of 67 years, who knows a few things who I very much hope will become the next leader of the Real Liberals, when Clegg and his dapper navy suit wearing cronies finally come out of the closet and admit that they are really Tories.

Cuts in the Law sector….

Talking of Dr Cable…. it seems that it falls to him to consider cuts for the University sector.  I have had a long and not always happy association with the public university sector when it comes to law schools.  There are some superb public sector law schools and there are some not so good ones.

I suggested at a conference some years ago that we might be well served if we closed down a few of the poor law schools at the bottom end of the league table and gave the money to the better law schools.  Well, as we don’t need any more law students at the moment, why not just close down a few bottom enders and be done with it.  Cutting from the top really doesn’t make sense.  Students from bottom end universities rarely make the cut when it comes to jobs – the LPC and BVC providers and the law firms and other employers want the best students they can get.  Rightly.   It is important that we provide education of high quality for our future – but I am, fairly certain, having looked at this sector for 30+ years that we could make cuts in the short term without damaging the very best universities or, indeed, the long term health of our country.

And while we are at it, ‘thinking the unthinkable’: Given that public money at the better universities is used to train students to go into this most wonderful and rapacious of professions, why not do a ‘levy’ on big law firms who get the benefit of well educated students coming from our better universities at no cost.  Yes – the law firms do have to pay for LPC  (and some sponsor the GDL stage) – they rarely do so for university students – and as these law firms are making significant profits from their associates and partners, why not run a ‘special education levy’! The big law firms make a great deal of money out of their capital – human capital, much of which is an asset they did not have to fund directly.   This, of course, is an argument which could be extended to other ‘commercial’ users of university graduates! If big business wants the best, why shouldn’t they pay a bit to get it?  I’ll get my coat…. anther lead balloon from Charon.

OK.. and here’s another idea…. The public pay for new laws, we pay for Courts and the entire justice system.  This is a major intellectual property asset.  We aren’t maximising the value. Why stop at levies in the criminal sector to help pay for the criminal justice system?  Why not charge ALL civil lawyers a levy each time they use ‘our law’ – a sort of performing rights society idea?  Yes, it will be passed on to the client because the law is, after all, a business, but it would certainly be one way of providing money to plough back into both civil and criminal legal aid?  Fortunately, I have two coats, so I’ll take both of them.

Moving on to less important matters….

Two days of heat, followed by a quick bit of thunder and lightning last night.  I sat at my desk last night, looking out over The Thames,  and saw some very pissed people on a Disco Boat.  No sign of the Israeli Navy though… unfortunately, in this instance.

It has been an enjoyable week…. a bit of work, a bit of ‘F**kART’ and a fairly relaxed time…. back to work next week…


Best, as always

Charon

F**kART: Bingethinking CSI (2010)

It may be that I have lost the plot… but if there is one there… why not go and lose it?  Made a change from painting. Took a bit longer too. I’ve now got superglue and clay stuck all over my hands… and, a bit of blue and orange paint.  Classy!

***

It might help to explain that I enjoy science programmes where people dig up a skeleton from 2000 years ago, wear weird coloured pullovers  and make the skull look like Nick Clegg with clay… they use a lot of matchsticks when they do these *reconstructions*.

I would also like to put in a word for my *Green* credentials:  I wore those black reading  glasses for four years.  I stood on them when I was a bit over refreshed a couple of weeks ago.  I am pleased to recycle.  That is all.

F**kART: Charon’s brain – Neurones!

Neurones!
Charon
2010
Acrylic and white pen on board

Inspired by a science programme on BBC2 last night about who we are and  a section on neurons, I decided that I should do a painting of my own brain.  Inevitably, this did not take long.

The red wine flooding through my brain is picked up subtly with a lot of red paint.  The Mad Hatter Tea Party an entirely appropriate metaphor for part of my life

A larger version may be viewed here.

Other paintings in my F**kART series may be viewed here

PS… I am calling my neurons neurones…. OK with that?

Podcast: Chris Kenny, Chief Executive of the Legal Services Board

College of Law Inside Track Podcast: Chris Kenny, Chief Executive of the Legal Services Board

Today I talk to Chris Kenny, CEO of the Legal Services Board. Chris Kenny discusses the role and the function of the Legal Services Board and whether there is a need for it.  He talks about the opportunities and threats to lawyers and legal services over the next five years.  He looks at the impact on the Rule of Law given the proposed cuts to civil and criminal legal aid.  He discusses the globalisation of legal services and international regulatory standards.  Lastly, a bit of futurology, Chris discusses the likely legal landscape in the next five years.

Listen to the podcast

Other podcasts in the Inside Track podcasts which I did with The College of Law

Muttley Dastardly LLP: This game’s in the refrigerator! The door’s closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard and the Jell-O is jiggling …

Matt Muttley, managing partner of Muttley Dastardly, has returned from from a two week business trip to America.  In the partner’s boardroom at their City offices are ten partners and 25 senior associates.  The partners are seated at the boardroom table on a raised dais. Muttley sits in the only chair with arm rests, an affectation he designed into the furniture after being shown The Cabinet Room when Tony Blair was prime minister. This chair is in the centre of the  black polished ebony boardroom table.  The associates stand by the wall facing the partners. Muttley’s PA, Eva Braun stands behind Muttley dressed in a black skirt suit, white silk camisole and five inch heels, her expression impassive.

“Listen up. This game’s in the refrigerator! The door’s closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard and the Jell-O is jiggling … I’m pleased to report that the partners have had a good year. In fact we have managed the quite remarkable feat of increasing our profit per partner by 28.5% despite a downturn in revenue of 18.2%.  This is, in part, due to the great cull of last Summer and in part to increasing your billable hours requirement.  Two of you have failed to meet those targets and your desks are being cleared by security now. Levison and Edmondson, I’d be grateful if you would make your way to reception… the game is over for you.”

Muttley paused while the two shocked associates left the boardroom. No-one spoke.

“We’ve had a change of government and the new clowns have already lost one guy who couldn’t read the rules, or chose not to, or chose to give the rules a different spin to others. This is what happens when people don’t check with lawyers about rules. The new clowns are going to slash budgets, slash spending and in all likelihood there will be strikes ahead.  We’re beefing the Employment division.  There will be some fairly spectacular business failures as well… football clubs and airlines are worth a look and don’t be surprised if BP litigation comes our way.  I’ve been Stateside and I can tell you… it is going to be a turkey shoot.  Big Law are alternately wetting and crapping themselves. One CEO…. their ‘word’ for managing partner, I spoke to was calling for oxygen at one point so excited was he at the prospect of work when he took a call from The White House while I was there.”

Muttley sipped some Perrier from a glass to his right, put his hands together and continued.

Let’s take a look at the markets.  I’ve been doing some key reading, a guy called Paul B. Farrell of MarketWatch.  Let me summarise, using his rather colourful language.   Are we heading for the bear or is the bull going to run? I quote...“…you decide: As you stare from high up in the nose-bleed bleachers watching the game, staring at a Dow that not long ago was above 11,000 and heading for 12,000. Now the Dow’s sitting on the bench, ready for the showers, weak after a couple air balls around 10,000. No more timeouts. “This game’s in the refrigerator……

Main Street lost 20% last decade … yet like sheep keep going back. Yes, if you’re channeling Chick, here’s your “mixed metaphor” cue card: “This game’s in the refrigerator … Wall Street won (proof, Goldman’s $100-million-profit trading days and Blankfein’s $68 million bonus) … Main Street’s headed for another losing streak … Congress’ lights are out … the refrigerator door’s closing on financial reforms … the lobbyists are laying some rotten eggs, poisoning capitalism … the Tea Party-of-No-No ideologies are hardening … the bull’s Jell-O is jiggling to a flat line … and this market’s going into hibernation, with the bears … run, don’t walk, to the exits, folks.”But will Main Street exit? Will we ever learn? No……

Economist Gary Shilling said price-to-earnings ratios are at a “nosebleed 22.5 level.” The Dow was around 11,000. Money manager Jeremy Grantham recently said the market’s overvalued 40%. That could mean a collapse to 6,600. Last week in Reuters’ “Markets Could Be Derailed Again,” George Soros echoed a “game over” warning with a “stark warning … that the financial world is on the wrong track and that we may be hurtling towards an even bigger boom and bust than in the credit crisis.”

Now Dow Theory’s Richard Russell is warning the public of an imminent crash: “Sell … get liquid … by the end of this year they won’t recognize the country.”

So… are you feeling confident that Danny Alexander, a man who has absolutely no experience apart from sending PR bull out about somewhere in Scotland For fuck’s sake and negotiating a coalition with a group of grasping, desperate, politicians who would short-sell their mothers if they hadn’t already done it while in opposition?!  Cable is simmering like a tin of beans on the back burner with about as much effect.  We know nothing about Osborne.  The good news is that they are going to cut legal aid budgets to buggery, slash spending on the courts, and encourage Tesco and the Coop to package and commoditise legal services.  It’ll be a car crash… we’re probably looking at the equivalent of Emmerdale Farm or Pot Noodle… an emollient but hardly exciting.

Muttley paused to look at the sleek iPad beside him.  He looked up and spoke in lowered tones, forcing the associates to lean forward slightly, expectant.

“What does this mean for us..and when I say us, I mean of course the partners of this firm? We gear up on insolvency and taxation – the clowns are going to ‘simplify’ the system.  When governments say that there is always work for lawyers.   We talk to a few senior barristers and get them into our version of a Procureco. Where there’s money there’s barristers as my father used to say.

We’re going to look at buying a few small regional firms, or rather, turn them into an alternate business structure and go for the very lucrative personal injury market.  We’ll use our Megaladon Direct brand for that.   The good news is the idea of banning referral fees has been kicked into touch.  This will give us an edge. This will also irritate the hell out of The Law Society and The Bar Council who have both been pressing for abolition.  This could keep both these august bodies frothing for months. Again, good for us because their eyes will not be on point on other reforms to ‘suggest’ to government.  Our black psyops unit is putting out articles on blogs and in the legal media about  the future of the legal profession…. lawyers love this stuff and it is always good to get our competitors a little worked up and frothing.  I’m pleased to report that our Twitter presence will soon sow dissent in the profession so we may reap the rewards of keeping lawyers busy responding to our nonsense.  It is amazing how lawyers like to engage on twitter when they should be at the coal face digging coal for their partners. We won’t need to trouble any of you with this.  Eva Braun has found five or six people to put the word out and stir things up a bit.

Finally… let’s put the squeeze on the law schools. We are hiring 125 trainees next year.  50 will make the cut, 20 may even survive the first year PQE.  We are paying far too much for our LPC training.  The law schools are getting greedy.  This is fine for law firms, but most inelegant in the public consciousness when it comes to legal education.  We’ll place some psyops about the fact that we’re looking to partner with a law school for our LPC training.  The water should froth a bit at that and then we’ll send in a team to have a look at the facilities, the staff, do a bit of teeth sucking and promise a three year deal on our terms.  As you know, we are specialists in shark repellent, exactitude and ‘zone of uncertainty’ clauses which will deter any law school from suing if we want out.  I would hope for at least a 40% discount against their published rate her head on the LPC.  This saving will, of course, go towards the partner bonuses.

You know what you have to do.  Same time next week. Oh… and remember…. “Sell … get liquid … by the end of this year the clowns won’t recognize the country. That is all.

***

I would like to point out, for members of the public who are fortunate enough not to need the services of  Muttley Dastardly LLP or Megaladon Direct that the event described above was, in ‘its entirety’, a fiction.

Princess Diana was killed because she was about to reveal…..

The Independent reports:

Diana, Princess of Wales was killed because she planned to expose senior members of the British arms trade involved with land mines, a leading lawyer claimed today.

Michael Mansfield QC, who represented Mohamed al-Fayed in the inquest into the death of his son Dodi and the former royal, said Diana claimed she had an “exposure diary” in which she was going to unmask the people most closely involved with the British manufacturing of land mines.

He told the Hay Festival in mid Wales: “I think everyone remembers she raised the profile of the land mines.

I don’t have a problem with a senior, respected, lawyer making serious allegations of this nature – provided he has proof.  I read the article carefully.  I can see no proof in that article.  Perhaps Mr Mansfield QC will be making further revelations?

Did I see that he made this statement at Hay?  Is that not a book selling festival?  Didn’t Mansfield have a biography out recently?

Law Review: Laws redux – free speech – The Court of Protection

In our rush for pragmatism and to see the new coalition work, tinged with  sympathy for a man doing an important job for the country and his personal affairs, we may have pushed aside the fact that former Chief Secretary to The Treasury David  Laws may be found to have committed an act of fraud – which is usually regarded as a disqualifying act for high office, not a requirement (HT The Fat Bigot – below)

This possibility has been put forward by The Fat Bigot, a retired barrister, with his usual clear and effective style.

….Indirectly Mr Laws did deny his homosexuality by claiming reimbursement of rent because rent paid to a sexual partner could not be claimed under the rules as they were at the time. (I refuse to sink so low as to refer to any such partner as a rent boy.) By claiming reimbursement of rent he was asserting that the person to whom it was paid was his landlord and not his “partner”. That was untrue. He obtained money by asserting a falsehood. That is fraud. That he might have been entitled to claim the same or more money by telling the truth mitigates the offence. Indeed it might be such strong mitigation that no fair minded prosecutor would think it sensible to pursue criminal proceedings against him. It might even be such strong mitigation that a return to a senior position in government will be possible within a short period of time although I hope not, a propensity to fraud should be a disqualification for office not a requirement as it has been for the last decade.

Mr Laws’ choice was to preserve his privacy and forgo money or to forgo his privacy and receive money. Preserving his privacy and receiving money was not an option without acting fraudulently and jeopardising his whole career. It is a shame he chose the corrupt option but he has now done the right thing and resigned. And all for £40,000 he now has to repay.

It may be difficult, as Mr Laws himself admitted that his conduct left him no option but to resign, for the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to come to a finding other than fraud.  Will Mr Laws be charged if this is made out.  Unlikely?  Should he be, if fraud is established?  Yes, if the rule of law is to have any meaning for the activities of those involved  in Parliament?

Free speech – the gloves are off

Times: Lord Lester QC has tried to win libel reform with high-profile cases for this newspaper. Now he’s going in for the kill

Lord Lester writes: “In the 1960s, when I began to practise law, there was no positive right to free speech in English law. Free speech was a strong British political value, but as a matter of English law it was merely the space left by the criminal and civil law — official secrecy, fair trials, contract, confidentiality, copyright, defamation and the rest.

The full article is worth reading providing, as it does, powerful argument for the need for reform of libel law to balance the needs of reputation and free speech more effectrively than the present law does.

Family death ends insider dealing trial of City lawyer

The Times reports: A lawyer on trial for alleged insider dealing was excused from prosecution yesterday after his brother was killed in an assault. Andrew Rimmington, 40, who is accused of making a £40,000 profit buying shares in NeuTec Pharma after a tip-off from another lawyer, was discharged at Southwark Crown Court. His two co-defendants remain on trial. Judge Peter Testar told the jury that Mr Rimmington’s brother had died on Wednesday after an attack on May 15. The judge said he had concluded that it would be “unfair to expect Mr Rimmington to continue” and ordered the jury to discharge him.

It is still open for the FSA to seek a re-trial because Mr Rimmington has been discharged, not acquitted.

Officer charged with child sex offences

Independent: A police officer who headed a child abuse investigation unit has been charged with six child sex offences.Detective Inspector Glen Boulton, of West Midlands Police, is accused of offences involving two girls aged under 16, which were allegedly committed when he was aged between 12 and 17.

NHS trust may operate on cancer patient by force.

Times: A leading judge gave an NHS trust permission yesterday to sedate a cancer patient with a phobia of hospitals and needles and perform a hysterectomy considered necessary to save her life. The most senior family judge, Sir Nicholas Wall, granted the unnamed trust a declaration allowing it to use force if necessary to treat the 55-year-old woman, named only as PS. Sir Nicholas, who as President of the High Court Family Division also heads the Court of Protection, said that the trust sought permission “to ensure that PS undergoes necessary surgery”.