Charon appears to have a Clawbie!

I am a fan of Canadian blogs and draw your attention to many in my forthcoming Blawg Review #292 which I will publish sometime on Sunday, in advance of Monday – my being a Lord of Misrule – Ed of Blawg Review would be surprised if I didn’t….

I am delighted to receive this award – because there is no voting, no bizarre algorithms and no nonsense.  The Clawbies promote Canadian blogs, they don’t take awards too seriously and I am pleased to receive the award this year.  Also… they are fellow bloggers and awards from fellow bloggers are fine by me…….  So… Thank you!

EuroCan Connection Award – This award recognizes European law blog friends who highlight and link to Canadian law blogs. For the third straight year, this award goes to Mike Semple Piggot, better known in the blawgosphere as Charon QC. Charon’s readership includes many Canadians, and the content continues to mix provocative, quirky, and investigative in equal measures, making it a must-read both inside and outside Canada’s borders.

15-Love to Matt Cooke of BBC Breakfast News!

New Year’s Eve hysteria set in a bit early for me and I enjoyed sitting at my desk between 6.30 am – 7.00 am watching BBC Breakfast.  I was in a surreal mood and observed on twitter that I had been watching BBC London News read by a Thunderbird Puppet.

Matt Cooke came back very quickly….. he wins!

Happy New Year, indeed.

Law Review: Jump? How high?

I came across this fascinating article by James Dean  in The Law Society Gazette this afternoon – the attractions of enforced abstinence from law over the Christmas shut down were wearing thin…

Students lured by City-style work

Prospective lawyers are most interested in pursuing careers in City-style law, figures from legal careers website All About Law seen exclusively by the Gazette have suggested.

An analysis of the advice pages viewed by the 10,000 students registered on the site indicates a preference for corporate and commercial work.

Some 1,335 site users accessed pages on the site relating to careers in commercial law, and 1,250 viewed pages on corporate law jobs, compared with just 349 for personal injury law.

Human rights law (1,093 users), criminal law (1,078), and private client charity law (1,054) were the next most popular fields….

Read more….

Does this comment on The Gazette site sum it up?

don’t be so naive

Submitted by Mike on Thu, 30/12/2010 – 14:46.

the typical student dreams of the riches of commercial law, magic circle firm, 6 figure salaries, selling ones soul etc its nothing to do with the cost of the LPA. its materialism every time.

I can understand the wish, need and economic necessity of some students to secure work in a City law firm – those who are not in the fortunate position of being sponsored have to pay off a significant and substantial debt.

This led me to speculate about the career advice being given by the leading law schools – academic and vocational.  The College of Law and BPP Law School are well positioned in the City law firm world; both law schools providing exclusive offerings to leading City and commercial law firms.  Their gearing is probably more City-Commercial oriented than others. I plan to look at at career advice in the new year and talk to some some university and law school; careers people in podcasts.  Unfortunately, not everyone can become a City lawyer… there are simply not enough openings. In any event, surely there is a much wider range of law practice out there? Of course there is… but do students get much information about the opportunities?   I am a bit out of touch with the advice law schools give to students – but I am keen to find out.

There is no doubt that the legal landscape is changing in 2011 and I have already mapped out a series of podcasts with practitioners on what will be a fascinating year of change.

I would be very interested in hearing from law students about their plans for a career in law. You may email me here and if you would be interested in doing a podcast with me – anonymously if you wish – I would be delighted in talking to you about doing a podcast with you.

Law Review: Contempt of Court and twitter – Police want new powers of stop and search

Contempt of Court: Twitter was ablaze with speculation on the Yeates murder investigation and the arrest of a potential suspect; with some tweets potentially veering towards publication of material deemed likely to jeopardize a fair trial.

 

UPDATE: FRIDAY 31 JANUARY 2010

The coverage by The Daily Mirror, Daily Mail and The Sun has been astonishing….

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Newspapers warned over contempt law

The Independent: The Attorney General warned newspapers today to be mindful of the contempt of court laws in their coverage of Joanna Yeates murder suspect Chris Jefferies. Dominic Grieve indicated he was considering what action he should take to ensure that the course of justice was not impeded in any way.

“We need to avoid a situation where trials cannot take place or are prejudiced as a result of irrelevant or improper material being published, whether in print form or on the internet, in such a way that a trial becomes impossible,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One.

Asked whether he was preparing to issue an advisory notice to newspapers, he said: “Clearly, we are considering what I have seen in the newspapers today and we will try to take such action, and it is right to ensure that the course of justice is not in any way impeded.”

Mr Grieve stressed that there was “freedom of the press”, but newspapers have to comply with the Contempt of Court Act to avoid prejudicing possible future trials.

 

The CPS provides guidance on the matter:

Strict Liability Contempt under the Contempt of Court Act 1981

Strict liability contempt (refer to the law earlier in this chapter) applies to publications (including broadcasts) addressed to the public at large or any section of the public, which create a substantial risk that the course of public justice will be seriously impeded or prejudiced. The strict liability rule only applies to legal proceedings that are “active” at the time of the publication, and may render the publication a contempt regardless of any intent to interfere with the course of justice in the proceedings. (Archbold 28-59 to 28-61).

The absence of the requirement to prove intention distinguishes it from the common law variant. Common law contempt may be committed where proceedings are pending or imminent (albeit not necessarily active for the purposes of the 1981 Act), and where there is actual intent to interfere with the administration of justice in those proceedings.

“Active”, for the purposes of section 2(3) of the 1981 Act, is defined in Schedule 1 of the Act as including the issue of a summons or the arrest without warrant of a defendant (Archbold 28-62). Proceedings cease to be active for the purposes of the Act where they conclude by, inter alia, acquittal/sentence, any other order bringing proceedings to an end, or by discontinuance/operation of law. Where a warrant has been issued, proceedings cease to be active once twelve months’ have elapsed without the suspect’s arrest, and – where there has been an arrest – when the suspect is released without charge otherwise than on bail.

Whether the publication creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice is judged at the time of publication. The longer the gap between publication and the trial (‘the fade factor’), the less the substantial risk of serious prejudice is likely to be. (Archbold 28-74 to 28-76).

A number of lawyers on twitter, and one MP,  pointed out the dangers of tweeting about the matter, referring to the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and the CPS guidance,  and while we could be accused of being pompous or po faced – there is a very real issue that publicity and speculation could prejudice a fair trial.  Another difficulty of the modern internet age?  It is very difficult to argue against the ideal of fair trials.  In an extreme case it is possible to envisage a situation where, if a suspect is released without charge, that a tweet could amount to a libel? One for the libel specialists?

Police demand new powers to stop and search terror suspects

Guardian: Top officers tell government they want to replace section 44 law that was scrapped by human rights ruling

Most people will be able to accept and understand the need for Police to have power to combat terrorism.  The problem lies in the use of that power.  It became clear that Police abused s.44 powers.

The Guardian noted: “A previous law allowing counter-terrorism stops without suspicion, section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, was scrapped this year by the home secretary, Theresa May, after European judges struck it down for breaching human rights.

This extract focuses the mind on the key issue:

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said that with the right safeguards her organisation might not oppose the new power: “The devil will be in the detail. What safeguards will there be, who can trigger the power, what is the threshold for turning it on, what public scrutiny will there be?”Under the old power all of London was designated for months on end as a place where police could stop people without suspicion. Chakrabarti said: “The geographical area can’t be an entire county or all of London as it was before, but an area no greater than a square mile. It must not be for months on end but for a specific period of 24 to 48 hours.

“It must target specific places, not classes of people, on the basis of intelligence and risk for narrow windows of time, with adequate authorisation and transparency. Then it will satisfy proportionality and equal treatment whilst providing a rational, flexible aid to anti-terror policing.”

Ben Bowling, a professor of criminology at King’s College London and founder member of Stopwatch, which campaigns against alleged police abuses of stop and search powers, warned the new power could be used to discriminate against ethnic minority Britons: “Where officers have the maximum discretion, that is where you have the greatest racial discrimination in the way police have used their powers. We would want to be absolutely certain that police are not targeting ethnic minority communities for unfair stops and searches.”

The debate about the proposed new power will be shaped by the memory of section 44.

F**kART: Dark Tuscan Sky 2010

Dark Tuscan Sky 2010
Charon
Acrylics and Dulux paint on Board

I went to Tuscany several times in the 1990s.  I enjoyed visiting this part of Italy – but I would have enjoyed it more had the skies been dark and slightly surreal.  I found an old photograph, drank some of Infobunny’s Damson Gin and some wine and painted.  Still not quite finished….. as I may make the sky even darker.  Doing the poppies was fun…. applied  with a cake icing bag full of undiluted Crimson RED as I wanted them to stand out on the board surface!  (Sky was Dulux paint mixed up applied with spray gun  – Obviously had to do that first. So.. if I want darker sky… a lot of brushwork ahead of me…. time consuming)

Charon QC Blogging & Drinking for BIG SOCIETY Awards!

Many of you won’t be getting awards this year. Most of us will not get a Knighthood…or even the  MBE…. despite all we do for our country.  There are so many absurd awards at this time of year… so why be left out?!

Help yourself to *THE CHARON QC Drinking & Blogging Award 2010*. The good news?  You don’t need to be a blogger… but I would be pleased if you had the occasional glass of what you fancy.  Feel free to exhibit on your blog…or even print it out and show people down at the pub…. all yours!

I have even awarded one to myself… but regular readers will know that I award myself honours and awards when I feel like it.

 

****

 

Delighted that Barbed Wire Bouquet has taken a Charon QC Award!

 

And a fair few others….. go on…. help yourself!

Onanism in the Blawgosphere

While some like honours and awards, I do not care for them. I like even less, organisations riding off the back of the work of others with their idiotic ranking systems. I came across Wikio tonight.    I despise ranking systems for blogs and I will have no part of it.  I will, however, do all I can to encourage blog writing… but not blog *anking.  (Many excellent serious Law blogs are NOT on Wikio…thankfully)  I do not include fun awards from fellow bloggers in my criticism….

I value those who take time to read and comment, whether they agree with my thoughts  and views or not.  I have learned much from reader comments and from other bloggers. The only award I have on my blog is one I gave to myself – and even then, modestly, only awarded myself second place…. The Totally Pissed Blog award – a homage to Total Politics!

There we are….this blog is and always will be… a Wikio free zone…..

I am looking forward to seeing Vince Cable’s *Command* performance on Strictly Come Dancing on iPlayer. @Loveandgarbage on twitter tells me that he jumped out of a box in a tuxedo and observed… “A curious thing for a Minister of The Crown to do”.  Can’t argue with that.

Not to be outdone… Gordon Brown came into my mind….

Christmas at The Staterooms 2010 and a bit of ‘Urbi et Orbi’

I sat in my Staterooms at midday alone, listening to Church bells.  I had to my right, a glass of Rioja. The Archbishop of Canterbury was calling for the rich to help;  a speech which I am sure was followed closely by HMRC and The Treasury,  and he was suggesting that the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton would bind the very fabric of Britain together again.  I have no idea what planet he is on, but it seems a harmless enough activity in these dark days to wander about in medieval robes with a shepherds staff and try to communicate with what is largely a ‘mammonic’ heathen state.  His ‘oppo’ in Rome,  Papa Ratzi, called for an end to conflicts – ironic, given history,  since Popes of old seemed to start most of them or sanction them.

Unfortunately, because I was rather busy qua Chef Charon preparing an exquisite haute cuisine lunch for one – a creazione of roast lamb slices built into an absurd display, complete with smeared nonsense, on the plate and a Claridge’s Chicken pie a la Ramsay, complete with Marsala wine…….I missed HM The Queen auditioning for a spot on BBC Sport at 3.00.  I shall pick it up on MonarchyTube later.

I enjoyed looking at tweeted pictures of burnt potatoes and ‘unusual’ christmas lunches on Flickr for a few minutes and had a most enjoyable Skype call with a fellow blawger and friend, Cathy Gellis, a US lawyer in California.  It was 8.00 am her time, so she was not drinking.  This would not, of course, have stopped me on a holiday day, but I was well into the vino rosso and continued as we talked about a pleasingly wide  range of interesting issues.  Skype video is a remarkable invention.  And talking of inventions – it is the 20th anniversary of the founding of WWW by Tim Berners-Lee

Wikipedia notes: Sir Timothy John “Tim” Berners-Lee, OM, KBE, FRS, FREng, FRSA (born 8 June 1955,[1] also known as “TimBL“), is a British engineer and computer scientist and MIT professor credited with inventing the World Wide Web, making the first proposal for it in March 1989.[2] On 25 December 1990, with the help of Robert Cailliau and a young student at CERN, he implemented the first successful communication between an HTTP client and server via the Internet.

I decided that I would not watch any TV today – so, thankfully, I missed the One Ronnie and a host of programmes dug from the mists of telly time.  This decision improved my life and mood.

For a picture of Vince Cable, Business Secretary, dressed up as Santaplease click here.

As I only had one Christmas present to open this year – opened early (naturally) – I had plenty of time to do other things.  My Christmas present was from a good friend (and former user of twitter as @infobunny):   Home made Damson GINS, excellent chocolate truffles and two packets of dried insects, which I am particularly partial to.  These weren’t any old dried insects…. one pack contained *Dried BBQ Flavour Worm Crisps*  and the other *Thai Green Curry Crickets*.  Both delicious as a pre-prandial snack.  I am quite relaxed about eating locusts, ants and other creepy crawlies after my time in Africa.  Locusts are but flying King Prawns.

I have also started several paintings. This year, rather than do all the F**kArt paintings in 20-30 minutes, I am taking a bit longer.  Whether this will result in any improvement remains to be seen.

Tomorrow is Boxing Day… and the caff is open… so the *Seige of The Staterooms* is over…thankfully…for another year…. and I can get back to enjoying the 364 days of the year I actually do enjoy.  I may even shoehorn a bit of law in to my blog on the morrow.  Hope you enjoyed your day.

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day 25 – the last one….

I have enjoyed doing Charon’s Advent calendar – a  suggestion from a friend.  I appear to have cocked up the days… so this may or may not be Day 25..not that it matters.  I wish all readers a Happy Christmas, An Excellent Isaac Newton Day and a Good New Year.  I shall be at my post, blogging, tweeting and, ineluctably, with two days of sybaritic pleasure ahead, I shall be taking of the wine of the gods.  Thanks for coming to the blog this year – it does make blogging a bit more fun when people read and…. thank you also to the many who comment.  One of the problems with twitter is that there are, now,  fewer blog comments as debate and  comment now tends to happen more on twitter.  Unfortunately, not everyone who reads the blog is on twitter…so some excellent observations and comments from readers who post on twitter are missed by some  blog readers… but we can’t have everything.

I plan to do many more podcasts and up the Law Review content in 2011.  On January 3rd I shall be hosting Blawg Review (My sixth) and it will be UK centric…..

Have a good one… back on the morrow… inevitably.  If you have time and the inclination…. I wrote a Christmas Carol story last night (below).  I am never knowingly under refreshed when I blog at night.

Muttley Dastardly LLP Episode 10: RE – A Christmas Carol

MEMORANDUM TO PARTNERS / EYES ONLY

From: Matt Muttley, Managing Partner

Date: 25th December 2010

RE: A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Gentlemen,
I appreciate that we have scheduled four hours on Christmas Day to attend to matters of family but, as you know, our firm is a 24/7/365 operation and I wish to confirm that we have full cover.  I did, however, last night, have a rather strange experience which I wish to record for the file.

1.  As you know our esteemed co-founding partner, Dastardly, died some time ago.  I use the term ‘died’ in the law firm sense of having retired, but I understand that he has in fact died in real life as well.

2.  I was working late tonight.  It was a dark and cold night.  An associate, Tiny Tim, was working late and he rang me, as instructed, to inform me that snow was falling so that I could hedge our power interests while the US markets were still open.

3. At approximately 10.32, I was visited by the ghost of our former Partner.  The meeting, unfortunately, can’t be billed as the Ghost of Dastardly told me that his Amex card did not work ‘where he now was’. I reminded the Ghost of Dastardly that we are not big on pro bono and as the legal press had closed down for two weeks I couldn’t get any leverage on releasing a story about doing pro bono work on Christmas Eve. He understood this (old habits die hard even for ghosts of former partners)  and briefed me quickly on various episodes from my childhood. Fortunately, I was not that innocent when I was a child and I was not moved by his advocacy and plea that we, as a firm, show more compassion.

4. At approximately 11.04, I was visited for a second time by the Ghost of Dastardly.  I misunderstood what he was saying and thought he had returned to give me a present.  This was not the case.  He told me that he was now a Ghost of Christmas Present. He asked me to accompany him to Waitrose where people were buying food for Christmas Day.  I told him that I had an iPad and we could go onto the Waitrose website instead.  Time is money. Dastardly Ghost of Christmas Present then asked me to look at a blog written by one of our former associates who ‘we had to let go’. You may remember him – Rob Cratchit. It would appear that Rob Cratchit was not able to get a job after we fired him and now lives in ‘diminished circumstances’. I asked Dastardly Ghost of Christmas Present if he would kindly get to the point. He told me that we needed to develop a sense of responsibility for our fellow man.  I was able to confirm that we do not take a stance on the political issues of the day, our amoral apolitical stance, means that we can stand above David Cameron’s notions of ‘Big Society’ and retain the clinical objectivity so prized by our client base.

5.  At approximately 12.05 am  on Christmas Day, I was visited by the  Ghost of Dastardly again. He had a copy of The Guardian.  He placed it on my desk and pointed to a story about the dire future which lay ahead of us and a rather curious story about an Australian who has developed a ‘Messiah’ complex and is leaking secrets all over the place. To my astonishment, he then placed a picture on my desk of a grave in a  rather badly tended cemetery, and told me that it was my grave.  I was able to re-assure Ghost of Dastardly of Christmas Yet To Come, as he was now calling himself, that it was highly improbable that a Partner of our firm would be buried in such a run down place and that he really should not watch so much Sky TV given that the future owners of that television station are Australian. Keeping to an Australian theme, I did say that I had been placing fairly substantial investments with ‘our friends’ in Pakistan on The Ashes and on the evidence of the Third Test in Perth, when England collapsed in a rather improbable way, that we could look forward to additional tax free revenue early in the New Year when England did not simply retain The Ashes, but win them.  The Ghost of Dastardly did not  seem to be impressed by this statement.

6.  Finally, I am pleased to report, when I woke on Christmas morning, I felt no particular desire to spend any time whatsoever with my nephew’s family and had no side effects of feelings of love or affection for our fellow man.

7.  We have a Partner’s meeting at 3.00 today to discuss our bonuses.  It will, gentlemen, be a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year

Matt Muttley

Strength & Profits

***

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Charon’s Advent calendar: Day 24

I appear to have got up to Day 24 a day early… but strange things happen on this blog, so I’ll have to have another Day 24 tomorrow or be really radical and have a Day 25…

Never let is be said that Charon is not relentless – even on the eve of the eve of Christmas – in bringing to you legal news…..

When filling judges’ benches, we need to solicit more solicitors

Neil Rose in The Guardian: Much can be done to encourage solicitors to apply for posts in the judiciary, a sector historically dominated by barristers.

Neil Rose reports that “1,071 solicitors applied for the 193 deputy district judgeships available in its most recent selection exercise – the biggest the JAC has ever run – and just 9% (94) made it through to appointment. By comparison, 284 barristers applied for this junior judicial role and 28% (80) were successful.”

What I did enjoy was this from Neil’s article…. “The lord chief justice, Lord Judge, recognised this last week when he admitted that he had failed to encourage City lawyers to apply.”

James Dean in The Law Society Gazette noted “Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge told the Lords Constitution Committee yesterday that, if he could persuade City lawyers and their firms that a judicial career is a plausible option, ‘we would have a more diverse judiciary’.”

Lord Judge will, of course, be aware that City lawyers at the top tend to earn truly fantastic sums of money – often going  into seven figures, they say,  at the very top end of the top end. Judges don’t do too badly but it is probably about one tenth the remuneration of the City lawyers at the very top.  The relative modesty of judicial salaries may, of course, be an entirely irrelevant consideration for City lawyers and it may be that they are truly dedicated to their high end corporate clients and feel a sense of public duty to serve beyond the call of duty…. who am I to even think anything else?

Well….there we are… I shall be back on the morrow with Day 25 of my Advent calendar…

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day 23 – Fools in The City edition

As Christmas draws ever closer so too does the end of  my Christmas Advent calendar. Today I have a few interesting law snippets of general interest – and, an Assange free day.

I shall start with an irritant… the ‘Class’ system which I despise – a plague in our country which still appears to wreak havoc in terms of benefit being given to the undeserving from the middle classes at the expense of a young man or woman from a less privileged background.  It still goes on and today an interesting article in The Law Society Gazette warns that we should not ‘judge a book by its cover’…

Firms reject candidates on the basis of their accents, research suggests

James Dean, in The Law Society Gazette, writes:

Top London law firms are hiring graduates with ‘smart’ accents and public school backgrounds because they think they are better for their image than working-class candidates, new research has suggested.

Suitable white working-class applicants are being passed over for jobs in favour of middle-class graduates of all ethnicities from elite universities, according to a study of 130 staff at five prominent London firms by City University’s Centre for Professional Service Firms at Cass Business School.

The five firms all had diversity policies, and had successfully recruited ethnic minority candidates, but rejected able working-class students because their appearance or accent was not thought ‘smart’ enough, the research found.

Dr Louise Ashley, leading the study, said that the firms want to preserve their ‘upmarket brand’.

She said: ‘Focusing on ethnicity enables law firms to boast excellence, or at the very least improve diversity outcomes, despite the fact that they have continued to recruit using precisely the same types of class privilege that have always been in operation.’

Ashley said that one partner told her: ‘There was one guy who came to interviews who was a real Essex barrow boy, and he had a very good CV, he was a clever chap, but we just felt that there’s no way we could employ him. I just thought: putting him in front of a client – you just couldn’t do it. I do know though that if you’re really pursuing a diversity policy you shouldn’t see him as rough round the edges, I should just see him as different.’

The rest of the article is worth a read

Was the Telegraph sting illegal?

The Telegraph journalists who posed as constituents to entrap MPs may have committed a criminal offence

While I think Vince Cable (and other MPs recorded) may have some difficulty with civil breach of confidence actions and using copyright law, David Howarth, a former shadow solicitor general and Lib Dem MP for Cambridge between 2005 and 2010, has made a useful point under criminal law…

Section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006 makes it a criminal offence, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to dishonestly make a false representation with the intention of putting someone at risk of pecuniary loss or with the intention of making a pecuniary gain for another.Unlike in the civil law, what counts is the defendants’ intention to cause harm, rather than the actual result. Did the journalists and their editors intend through dishonest false statements to put ministers at risk of losing their jobs? Did they intend to make money for their paper? If either is true, a criminal offence has taken place. There is no free-standing public interest defence. Perhaps the journalists involved should now be preparing their answers to those questions.

Journalists often misreport on legal matters.  As a reminder of this, you may like to read this post from the UK Human Rights blog:

Failure to deport Philip Lawrence killer was not about human rights

And, since I am interested in human rights, here is a useful round up of recent judgments as the courts wind up the calendar year….

Bite-size human rights case law

And, as I am on a roll with misreporting, this analysis of the Cable / BSB Sky issue by Carl Gardner is worth a read to get it right: Taking Vince Cable off the BSkyB case

Bye… until tomorrow….

Law Review: The legal recruitment process is changing…

I like innovative ideas. I like ideas that approach practical problems in a different way and, I have to admit, I like Just Go Direct.  I received an email from Catherine Naylor, the brains behind Just Go Direct yesterday,  asking if she could advertise on my online magazine to promote her new business.  I telephoned Catherine and had a fairly long chat.

The legal newspapers and periodicals advertise jobs regularly.  More often than not the jobs are advertised not by the law firms or organisations themselves but by recruitment agencies. I did not use recruitment agencies when I recruited for lecturers and administrators at BPP Law School when I was the CEO back in the 90s.  There were two reasons.  First, it was an expensive way of going about things and, secondly, I wanted to have control of ‘the process’, as Lord Sugar now calls it on The Apprentice.  I did not want a recruitment consultant filtering or shaping my recruitment strategy.  In today’s internet age, there really is no need to go through an agency – so long as there is an online medium to go through with good traffic.  Just Go Direct, which opens in early 2011,  has the potential to provide just such a vehicle;  allowing law firms to advertise their vacancies and candidates to apply direct.

Just Go Direct is different. They advertise the jobs available, clearly identifying the employer and candidates apply direct.  Firms may tailor their package with Just Go Direct (Download the brochure here for details).

Catherine Naylor explained the rationale to me…

“The light bulb moment came randomly one day whilst interviewing a lawyer for a potential opportunity.  I asked as all recruiters do whether she had put herself forward to any firms via other agencies.  She replied that she hadn’t but had gone direct to a number of firms.  That’s when I realised there was an opportunity.  To post jobs directly from the employer online in one place, giving candidates transparency and choice.  I knew most legal job boards were filled with agency jobs and that it was frustrating for job seekers when looking at these jobs because you couldn’t see who the employer was, you had to go through the agency. I spent the next few months researching the concept, spoke to lawyers finding out whether they would use such a site……”

Due to launch early in 2011, the website is taking email details from those who wish to receive information when it opens.  I have no doubt at all that this concept will work.  It seems to me that law firms will find the process easier and it must be a benefit, surely, for candidates to be able to contact a law firm direct without having to go through some ‘target billables hungry’ recruitment consultant?

As Catherine Naylor says… “This is an online tool for candidates who are actively looking for a new role and those that want to take control of their own career moves Just Go Direct is certainly for them.  For a start law firms want you to apply direct, many say it makes for a better relationships and a truer fit between employer and candidate.  It’s a smoother ride for all involved…Power to the Candidate, I say.”

Register your interest?

PS:  I am, obviously, delighted that Catherine Naylor is sponsoring my FREE online materials for law students

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day 22

Christmas Day is but a few days away… but as I have never been good at deferred gratification and can see aboslutely no reason to wait, or, indeed, in having several Christmas days…. I have started.  I wish you a good Christmas and New Year….

Lord Judge’s interventions in politics have not overstepped the line

If the lord chief justice is a thorn in the government’s side, it is one of parliament’s making

I particularly enjoyed this thought provoking piece from Joshua Rozenberg… I quote a few paragraphs to entice you into reading the rest of it…

Ministers could be forgiven for thinking that Lord Judge, the lord chief justice of England and Wales, had gone too far last week, overstepping the invisible line that separates the judicial from the injudicious.

There he was, introducing his annual report on criminal appeals and complaining about the “continuing burden of comprehending and applying impenetrable legislation, primarily but not exclusively in relation to sentencing”.

And there he was again, giving evidence to the Lords constitution committee about the “extraordinary” effect of the government’s public bodies bill, which gives ministers so-called Henry VIII powers to modify, merge or abolish a huge range of quangos. His concern that an “astonishing” number of acts now allowed ministers to repeal primary legislation will come as no surprise to the lord chancellor: Judge said as much to Ken Clarke at the judges’ dinner in the summer.

But what really worries Judge is the threat posed by the public bodies bill to the independence of the judiciary.

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day 20

I began the day, reduced to watching the banality that is BBC Breakfast.  Most of the programme was about SNOW…with pictures of people,  like plague victims, lying on the airport concourse, wearing what appeared to be bacofoil…. prompting me to tweet that if “You want to get the full HEATHROW experience….at home… sit on your floor… get the bacofoil out and wait for a BBC film crew to turn up.”

Then along came Mr Hammond, the TORY Transport Minister, who decided he didn’t need to read an experts’ report on SNOW commissioned by the previous government,  but would consult his own expert so ‘lessons could be learned…yada yada blah.’   Iain Dale (who appears to have blogged more since his retirement from blogging than he did in the weeks preceding his Moses Moment on twitter when he announced his ‘departure from Blogging Gate 20’) …. mused on twitter…that Mr Hammond had the makings of a future Prime Minister.    I do…so… love pantomime and comic opera at this time of year.

I could not help myself with the tweet above…. The Tory-led Coalition has blamed Labour for  everything else since grasping power with the running dog Kim Il Clegg…. and his sidekick Vince CableTV … that I thought it only fair that the previous Labour government should be blamed for the fiasco that is Heathrow today…

That is all. I shall return tomorrow with Day 21….. ineluctably.

Law Review: Pre-Christmas look at key news and law blogs

Immigration cap overturned by high court judges

Guardian: Theresa May, the home secretary, illegally bypassed parliament to bring in temporary limit on non-EU workers, judges rule. Two senior judges have ruled that the temporary limit imposed from 28 June on skilled migrants from outside the European Union is unlawful because ministers sidestepped proper parliamentary approval when it was introduced.

UK Human Rights Blog : This blog just gets better and better and is a ‘must read’ if you are a practitioner, academic or student interested in the field.  While quite a few members of 1 Crown Office Row are involved in the blog and post regularly – and Rosalind English and Angus McCullough QC are editors with Adam Wagner (Pictured),  Adam Wagner seems to be tireless in his coverage of the important human rights issues of our times – and long may that continue.

UK Human Rights Blog is written by members of 1 Crown Office Row barristers’ chambers. Subscription is free.

Court of appeal rejects prisoner vote plea, government announces plans

Carl Gardner, Author of the Head of Legal blog has a useful analysis of the prisoner votes controversy…

Prisoners’ votes: the government triangulates

More muscular parliament would make for better lawmaking

Joshua Rozenberg has in interesting piece in The Guardian: In the face of the government’s desire to legislate, MPs need to be able to scrutinise prospective laws more thoroughly

Parliament should be less supine in the face of the government’s desire to legislate. So says the Hansard Society, the UK’s leading independent political research charity, in an analysis of lawmaking launched at the House of Commons on Tuesday night.

Lawcast 175: Professor Gary Slapper on the reform of legal education

Today I am talking to Professor Gary Slapper, Director of The Open University Law School.  Legal education is under review by the profession and this podcast is the fourth in a series of eight on this the reform of legal education

Listen to the podcast

***

Other podcasts in the legal education reform series

Lawcast 172: On the reform of legal education with Scott Slorach, College of Law

Lawcast 171:  Nigel Savage, CEO of The College of Law

Lawcast 170: professor Richard Moorehead, Cardiff Law School, University of Cardiff

MPs warned they will be ‘overloaded’ due to legal aid cuts

The Law Society Gazette: A group campaigning against the government’s legal aid cuts has sent Christmas cards to MPs warning them that they could be overwhelmed with constituents’ problems.

Justice for All, a coalition of legal and advice agencies, politicians, trade unions, community groups and members of the public, said that the £350m cutbacks ‘will leave thousands of people with nowhere to turn for help with serious and urgent problems’. The card sent to MPs shows a picture of Father Christmas carrying a sack of constituents’ problems to a local MP’s surgery……..

I have little doubt that MPs will be deluged with constituents seeking help.  MPs may well come to rue the day that the government has decided to save a relatively modest amount of money (in the grand scheme of things) by cutting back on access to law and justice. I doubt that MPs will be equal to the task of giving legal advice to constituents even if the MPs  are lawyers themselves.  We shall see.

 

No naps, and no clothes in bed: Manning’s cell life

The Independent: The harsh prison detention conditions endured by Bradley Manning – the US soldier who is alleged to have supplied classified government documents to WikiLeaks – have emerged. For the last seven months, Private Manning, 23, has been kept in a cell six feet wide and 12 feet long, in solitary confinement at a maximum security military jail at Quantico, Virginia.

Lieutenant Colonel David Coombes, the lawyer defending him, provides a rather graphic description of the conditions. It makes our detention without charge rules look amateur.  If the Americans can do this to one of their own – just imagine what they could do to others caught up in the legal system on this and other related issues?

And finally a quick look at a few blogs if you happen to be short of something to do in the week leading up to Christmas.  I know I am…. and these are worth reading….

Dan Hull, a US lawyer, writes the eclectic WhatAboutClients? blog. While he does cover law and client service issues on his blog, there are always interesting snippets…gems of random information.  I always enjoy visiting WAC?

Obiter J, author of Law and Lawyers, has a detailed piece on PFC Bradley Manning…

Plea bargains or plea discussions?

A quick way of keep abreast of the blogging of our American friends in lawColin Samuels of Infamy or Praise does a week Round Tuit – always worth a read.

David Allen Green, aka the blogger Jack of Kent, is well known on Twitter for his handling of the Paul Chambers #twitterjoketrial case and other serious cases.  His blog, if you are not already a reader, is a good one to follow.

On Family Law matters…. a good daily starting point must be John Bolch’s excellent Family Lore

A must read for daily law news: Inner Temple’s Current Awareness blog

And… a bit of lighter reading….. amusing and perceptive: Babybarista blog | Anonymous Assistant | Magic Circle Minx

And… a bit of Charles Fincher Esq…


Postcard from The Staterooms: Christmas 2010 edition

Dear Reader,

This will be my last Postcard From the Staterooms before Christmas, so I thought I would start with a picture of me and Vince Cable.  Can you tell the difference? Have you ever seen us in the same room together?

I am, as it happens, looking forward to Christmas.  I shall spend it alone, through choice…and I shall paint and write.  It is quite possible that I shall also tweet.  Last  Christmas Day I painted a Charonasso as part of my F**kArt series….

I have no idea what painting I shall do on Christmas day this year… but, I suspect, it will be mildly surreal.

They say it will be a White Christmas this year.  A quick look outside the window and the hysteria on the news channels confirms that this may be so.  Fortunately, I do not need to travel anywhere – all supplies needed are but a hundred yards away and I have a spade. I am quite handy with a spade, given my experience as a gravedigger when I dug graves to assist with my bar and legal education bill when I was reading law all those years ago.

The Assange coverage continues unabated and while I have taken the view, not unreasonably, that due process should take its course, the news coverage continues unabated. There is, of course, a certain irony in this…..from The Australian.

Lawyers cry foul over leak of Julian Assange sex-case papers

And The Guardian / Observer has covered all bases by being critical of Mr Assange : Julian Assange furore deepens as new details emerge of sex crime allegations and here: 10 days in Sweden: the full allegations against Julian Assange

I can only repeat my view that trial by twitter/press or television is just not acceptable and repeat that I have absolutely no view on whether Assange is or is not guilty of the rape allegations (however defined)  – for one can only be guilty in terms of the prosecution of crime when found to be so by a court.

The blogger formerly known as Iain Dale has waded into / climbed aboard the Assange bandwagon by writing for Middle England by turning it into a political issue…as, of course, others have done. Iain Dale flagged his Mail on Sunday story on twitter several times  suggesting that he may ‘upset’ a few people. Here is the Dale piece…

He preaches openness but demands privacy. He reveals ‘secrets’ but 99% are prurient gossip. He’s accused of rape but won’t face his accusers. Why do the Left worship the WikiLeaks ‘God’?

I am pleased to report on a matter of far greater importance than Mr Dale’s views on Assange that The White Rabbit is back in London. This means …. drinks with Charon…soon.  The White Rabbit’s blog is always worth a visit.  The White Rabbit reports…..

Finally… a very interesting article in The Independent…

Who’s afraid of the interweb? Judges to rule on Twitter in court

The Independent: Should journalists be allowed to tweet from court?

It’s become a question of some urgency since Tuesday, when district judge Howard Riddle gave the nod for reporters to tweet proceedings from inside Westminster Magistrates’ Court during Julian Assange’s bail hearing. It is a matter of such importance that the Lord Chief Justice has already announced there is to be a consultation on live reporting.

Tuesday’s ruling prompted some commentators to hail the dawn of a new era. By Thursday, however, journalists, bloggers and others interested in reporting how justice was being done in Assange’s case were back to good old-fashioned pen and paper after Mr Justice Ouseley ruled against posting to Twitter from court. Too distracting, he said.

Too distracting? In my experience, courtrooms can be uniquely distracting places. Silence in court, while an irreproachable instruction, is hellishly difficult to achieve. Courts have to contend with a cacophony of sneezing, coughing, whispering, endless standing up and sitting down, heavy things being dropped, paper shuffled, possessions ordered and reordered, quietly dramatic entrances and exits, muttered remonstrations, water being poured, gulped and spilt, prodding, tapping, snorting and grunting, and that’s just the lawyers.

Any “disturbance” caused by people tweeting is arguably minor by contrast. After all, electronic devices can be switched to silent.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no statutory ban on tweeting in court. While the pre-digital age Contempt of Court Act 1981 does not allow sound recordings to be made without the court’s permission, and prevents photographs being taken or sketches made in court, it doesn’t prohibit creating text using electronic devices. Judges do, however, have the power to set the rules for behaviour in the courtroom and that is why Mr Justice Ouseley was able to rule against tweeting in the High Court last week.

Judging by some of the tweeting I see late at night – and participate in…. I suspect that the judicial rules on tweeting from court should contain a requirement that the tweeter be sober.

Have a good week..and, of course, a good Christmas.

Best, as always

Charon

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day 19 – Chef Charon présente

When I start ze restaurant Maison Charon, I specify that ze entrance must have ze big glass doors, pas de valeur architecturale… zut alors!… non!…. mais… so my maître d‘ can see ze punters coming in more ways than one.

You English have ze saying… less is more… I take zis to my heart….so in Maison Charon…. we are, how you say…. minimaliste…. minimal decoration, minimal service and ze minimal portions pour la haute gastronomie.  You English have been watching too much of ze Masterchef avec Chef Michel Roux, so I am more than happy to, how you say, fart about with your food and construct ze tours absurde on ze plate and smear ze sauce avec merit artistique. Zis allows me to give you less and charge more…. you see?… I am anglophile!

It is also important… pour ze clientele who frequente Maison Charon zat I ensure there is bollocks complète on ze menu, so I hire l’expert en marketing to write ze bollocks complète to describe ze dishes I prepare.  Zis is one exception to ze ‘less is more’ rule.. here… more description means we can serve less…..

I give un exemple of how less is a lot more.  Zere is a chef in Denmark… Chef Rene Redzepi of Noma…. amusingly ze best restaurant in ze world… mon dieu!…… and he collects ze seaweed, berries, grasses and other delectations du nature, serves zem up on a plate and… Voila!….. ze hyperventilation of ze clientele est superbe!.

I do zis at Maison Charon..only se ozzer day. I send a sous chef to Wandsworth Roundabout and Hyde Park  avec a book on  foraging and say I want grass, berries, anything edible…..   I get anuzzer sous chef to go to B&Q to buy some Welsh slate roof tiles et Voila!…. ze Cuisine naturelle a La Suède. I wanted to put ze description a La Pseuede… mais…. maître d‘ he says to me…. “Chef Charon… you have eighteen Michelin stars to your name…. even though you give them to yourself… this is a step too far….. to mock ze punter is Le Sport… to ridicule ze punter is not good business.”  So… with free ingredients from Wandsworth Roundabout, a few absurd smears of sauces, berries arranged at each corner of ze welsh slate from B& Q and much pantomime from maître d‘… we serve three tiles of grass, and edible leaves and berries and charge £38.50 per portion…. who needs an amuse-bouche when one can do zat?!

Ze best part?…. when I come from le cuisine...to le salon de la gastronomie….avec mon chapeau de chef on my head to take ze adulation of ze punters…. and tell zem how much they have enjoyed l’experience du Maison Charon.….. and tell zem we take ze  AMEX.   Aussi… I try very hard not to drop my fake  accent français

I wish you all a Joyeux Noël

Chef Charon


Law Review: The United States is not too keen on foreign legal systems – an ‘irritant’ ?

The United States appears to have a few ‘issues’ with judicial systems that do not fall within their control.

WikiLeaks cables lay bare US hostility to international criminal court

Guardian: US embassy dispatches reveal American preoccupation with discerning court’s views on Iraq

The international criminal court has proved one of the most controversial international institutions since its creation in 2002, drawing fire from some for its exclusive focus on Africa, and accused by others of pursuing the policy objectives of America and Europe. But America has also been hostile to the court, refusing to join it for fear its own citizens could be put on trial for war crimes.

US criticises court that may decide on Julian Assange extradition, WikiLeaks cables show

Guardian: Leaked dispatches reveal diplomats’ disdain for Council of Europe’s stance against extraditions to US and secret renditions

US officials regard European human rights standards as an “irritant”, secret cables show, and have strongly objected to the safeguards which could protect WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from extradition. In a confidential cable from the US embassy in Strasbourg, US consul general Vincent Carver criticised the Council of Europe, the most authoritative human-rights body for European countries, for its stance against extraditions to America, as well as secret renditions and prisons used to hold terrorist suspects.

And these posts may be of interest to you…

Joe Biden v. Joe Biden on WikiLeaks

Glenn Greenwald from Salon.com

It’s really not an overstatement to say that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are the new Iraqi WMDs because the government and establishment media are jointly manufacturing and disseminating an endless stream of fear-mongering falsehoods designed to depict them as scary villains threatening the security of The American People and who must therefore be stopped at any cost……..

Assange begins mansion arrest, but his ‘source’ feels the heat

The Independent: Bradley Manning spent yesterday, his birthday, alone in a tiny, bare prison cell, without a pillow or sheets on his bed, in weak health and wracked with anxiety at the prospect of a prison sentence of 52 years.

The young American soldier has faded into the background as international ructions continue over the hundreds of thousands of pieces of classified material from the US government that he is supposed to have supplied to WikiLeaks.

Now the fate of the whistleblowing website’s founder, Julian Assange, who has very much held the centre-stage, lies in the hands of the 23-year-old former army intelligence analyst.

Yesterday US sources revealed that prosecutors are awaiting a decision from the American Attorney-General, Eric Holder, on what form of plea bargaining they should offer to Manning in return for him incriminating Mr Assange as a fellow conspirator in disseminating the classified information.

Officials at the US Justice Department, who are under acute pressure to prosecute, privately acknowledge that a conviction against Mr Assange would be extremely difficult if he was simply the passive recipient of the material disseminated by Private Manning. Any evidence that he had actively facilitated the leak, however, would make extradition and a successful case much more feasible.

A typical day for PFC Manning

The US lawyer representing (? – I saw a twitter reference to this) Bradley Manning writes on his blog today…

PFC Manning is currently being held in maximum custody. Since arriving at the Quantico Confinement Facility in July of 2010, he has been held under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch. 

His cell is approximately six feet wide and twelve feet in length.

The cell has a bed, a drinking fountain, and a toilet……

Wikileaks and Freedom of Speech: Can self regulation work?

LSE Media Policy Project Blog: Mark Stephens is right when he says that the current controversy around Wikileaks marks a key moment in the evolution of media responsibility and freedom. Legal matters – starting with the extradition hearing of Julian Assange this week – will move rather quickly even though it is going to take some time to work through the broader implications. Stephens says that the case engages article 10 of the European Convention – the right to free speech – but it remains to be seen how and if such a freedom could be invoked in Assange’s defence. Ultimately, there will be a question of balancing Assange’s speech rights (along with our right to know) and the rights of others such as citizens and soldiers that may have been endangered.

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day 18 #ICEAGE Battersea Square

I write from The Staterooms in #ICEAGE Battersea Square….

A glacier is moving slowly down Vicarage Crescent towards The Square and I have not seen snow like this since the early 1960s when I was a kid. The snow is white, cold and it has a satisfying feel to it when rolled into a ball which can then be lobbed, in meaningless protest, at passing Ferraris and Bentleys reduced, humiliatingly, to doing a very cautious 5 mph.  I do love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning.  I neither confirm nor deny that I lobbed aforementioned snowball nor, indeed, do I admit to even having such a projectile about my person at any time.

I took the view that as I was unable to travel anywhere – save to Mazar, my local caff of choice, and unable, therefore, to do ANY Christmas shopping, I would send a picture of a wrapped Christmas present nicked from Google images to potential recipients by email.   I spent a few moments on Twitter marvelling at the #UKuncut protest tweets in my twitter timeline.  Apparently these brave foot soldiers of the modern era were able to generate a great deal of public support for their CUTS cause by farking up the busiest shopping day before Christmas.

I understand that the main focus of these #UKuncut protesters was the fact that large companies have been able to structure their tax affairs within the laws of England & Wales in such a manner as to minimise their tax liability. As I took a draught of the drink of the gods,  I wondered if the #UKuncut protesters would try to break in to H M Revenue & Customs to declare their support for taxation by filing their tax returns early.  I have seen nothing on the News to suggest that such a protest occurred.

This tweet, being a smoker, did amuse….

Non smokers… how can you live with yourselves… avoiding all that tax and living to absurd ages and putting pressure on dwindling Government pension resources?

Tomorrow is another day… and there may be more SNOW… and the Battersea Square glacier may have moved across the bridge to Chelsea.  I am only sorry that The Thames has not frozen.  It would have been fun to amuse the Archbishop of Canterbury by tap dancing on the river opposite Lambeth Palace.. but there we are… perhaps after Christmas?

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day 17 – Snowmageddon issue

I appear to have started the Christmas holiday period earlier than I intended. This is fine by me as I plan to start my F**kART paintings for 2010 tomorrow and enjoy two weeks of solitude.  It snowed in Battersea today while I was sitting outside at Mazar, my caff of choice in Battersea Square.   The owner of Mazar, Marlon, a very amusing Lebanese man , has provided an outside sitting area now protected from the elements with an awning and transparent  ‘nylon’ (as he calls it) sheets.  These are ‘smoking legal’ because of the cunning construction of gaps to come within the ‘No Smoking’ laws.  I always sit outside, even in appalling weather. There are wall heaters. It took approximately 15 minutes for Battersea Square to be converted into a winter wonderland this morning.  More snow is on the way – but I have a spade and I shall do my duty and make the 65 yard journey from my ‘riverview’ apartment to the caff each day for an excellent breakfast and Marlboros and excellent conversation with regulars.  If you find yourself in Battersea Square – Mazar really is a very good cafe / restaurant.  The Lebanese red is most acceptable…. not that I drink wine at breakfast that often.

The Christmas tree – provided by the businesses and others of  Battersea Square  – is far more impressive than my mobile phone pic reveals.  It has white lights and is quite dramatic at night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After seeing an extraordinary exchange between the blogger formerly known as Iain Dale ( @Iaindale – who has given up blogging )  and David Allen Green ( @davidallengreen ), who veers between several alternative egos on Twitter aka Jack of Kent, today on the issue of RT (Re-Tweeting other people’s tweets’) I came up with a ‘plan’.

Re-Tweeting other people’s tweets on twitter is quite common.  Unfortunately it carries a few dangers. It could be seen to be a ‘mark of approval’.  If another tweeter, OUTRAGED by someone else doing an RT, assumed  same to be an approval, it is possible that a twitter bitchfight could ensue.  It did between Dale and David Allen Green today.  I believe the two gentlemen have virtually hugged and made up and I assume that tweets made on both sides have now been deleted.  (They may still be there…if you are quick)  I did, as it happens, take screen grabs from both, and I shall be sending these to Wikileaks later today!  Freedom of information is all…. natch! (I won’t do that).

I often RT other people’s tweets.  This does not mean that I approve. It may be because I find them interesting, because I do approve, because I wish others to look at a different point of view,  or because I find the tweet amusing or in wonderfully bad taste.

So… I came up with a plan for RTs by suggesting a symbol format and tweeted same: RT+  (approval) |  RT- (disapproval)  | RT0 (Neutral)….then I had a drink and I now have a fourth category RT**** (Wonderful Bollocks)

Have a good weekend..and try not to get into too many bitchfights on twitter… it is Christmas…after all.

Lawcast 175: Professor Gary Slapper on the reform of legal education

Lawcast 175: Professor Gary Slapper on the reform of legal education

Today I am talking to Professor Gary Slapper, Director of The Open University Law School.  Legal education is under review by the profession and this podcast is the fourth in a series of eight on this the reform of legal education

 

Listen to the podcast

***

Other podcasts in the legal education reform series

Lawcast 172: On the reform of legal education with Scott Slorach, College of Law

Lawcast 171:  Nigel Savage, CEO of The College of Law

Lawcast 170: professor Richard Moorehead, Cardiff Law School, University of Cardiff

My position on the Assange rape allegations

I am rather concerned that a lot of tweeters and bloggers, some who ought to know better, are pumping out congratulatory messages to bloggers et al  who are writing about the rape allegations in the Assange case.

I have no idea whether Assange is or is not guilty of anything. As I write, he has not been charged with anything.  The Swedish prosecutor wishes to interrogate him on the allegations being put to determine whether charges should be brought.  I am advised, having talked to a Swedish lawyer this afternoon, that they have a fair and liberal legal system in Sweden which operates much like our own.  The prosecution has to put a case and prove it. A verdict will be reached.  If a person is convicted, punishment will follow as prescribed by their laws. If a person is not guilty, they are released.

Until the  Swedish courts determine this issue, should they be called upon to do so – I would rather let due process take its part in the matter of the entirely separate matter of rape allegations in relation to Mr Assange.  Wikileaks is a separate matter.  As yet, the United States has not put any charges to Mr Assange.  They may well not be able to do so.  We shall see.

So… comforting though it may be to be seen to support Mr Assange by heaping adulation on bloggers and journalists who are outraged about matters in relation to Mr Assange – I would venture to suggest, at the risk of being pilloried, that it is best to let due process proceed?

 

Of course, I accept that this attitude may be so last century as to be risible… but there we are….

Charon’s Advent Calendar: Day 16 – Hide behind the sofa edition!

It is Christmas…. so I suppose we should show good cheer to all men and women. First up for your delectation and delight is this truly astonishing flash mob ‘production’…. [ Hat Tip to @Legal_Week ]

On December 15, 2010 at 1:30 p.m., a group made primarily of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP (Blakes) articling students, and a few partners, associates and staff, performed a Flash Mob dance at the Commerce Court food court in Toronto, to the song “I’ve Got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas!

You may watch the video here – if nothing else it could be a most useful warning to practitioners who think they have better ideas than their marketing professionals !

Fellow law blogger Legal Bizzle has an excellent Christmas story for you…

A jar of humbugs: an in house lawyer’s Christmas

And….Lord Sugar does it again. I do like @Lord_Sugar… The Apprentice has been excellent this year and his bitchfight with Piers Morgan on twitter over followers and his truly relentless plugging of his book is amusing.  Apparently there is a spoof Lord Sugar.  Unfortunately, Lord Sugar appeared to send this message to himself!  I checked the link.  He did!

AND…since I am here… I rather liked this story…..from a newspaper that you may not read that often or at all…

Need CPD? – Peter Groves can help you out with Intellectual Property CPD

Every month, the IPso Jure podcast brings you the latest developments across the whole of intellectual property in the UK, the European Union and often elsewhere too. Listeners seem to like it: patent attorney Nia Roberts wrote:

It’s not like listening to a lecture at all, more like sitting having a conversation with a very knowledgeable (and funny) friend … You have a very clear way of putting things and a very reassuring voice, and I like the way you maintain your enthusiasm throughout.

Accredited by the SRA, each programme is worth an hour’s CPD. Barristers can count it as unaccredited CPD – BSB approval would break the bank.
***
Visit www.ipsojure.co.uk to download a sample programme and to order a subscription (£240 per year plus VAT).

Charon’s Advent Calendar: Day 15 – Jack of Kent to be Britain’s Got Talent judge?

Friend and fellow blogger, David Allen Green (who writes the Jack of Kent blog), has been on a pilot for a C4 News programme.  I have a face for radio, so harbour no desires to appear on telly myself – but then, as I had another Christmas Party on my own earlier this afternoon, the thought came to me, given David Allen Green’s excellent blogging and incisive analysis of legal issues…. that he could have a pop at Britain’s Got Talent as well.  I’d pay good money to see that… in fact… I’d even audition with a leprous dog with a pirate patch over one eye to see if I could get at least one vote….

OK…. I’d better run now… before Jack of Kent visits the wrath of justice on me…. well… it is Christmas….at least it is here, at The Staterooms.

Being serious – if you have not read David Allen Green’s Jack of Kent blog – it will be well worth your while.

And…back to nonsense…..

The Sun reported this morning…

A PERVERT was caught pleasuring himself in a public library — while reading Alan Sugar’s autobiography.

That was amusing enough… but Lord Sugar’s tweet was funnier.  He has been having an amusing ‘bitchfight’ with Piers Morgan on Twitter to see who can get the most followers and betting sustantial sums of money – the loser to donate to Great ormond Street Hospital… here is the tweet…

Law Review: No Win No fee reforms

BY Richard Craig, Accident Advice Helpline
No win, no fee reforms

Let’s take a brief look at the effect that Ken Clarke’s no win no fee reforms will have on personal injury claimants.

The most common type of PI case in the UK is an RTA-related whiplash claim. Legal fees, on average, amount to £1540 or thereabouts for each case. The mean value of a successful compensation package is £2500. If victims now have to pay their own counsel’s fees, this means that Joe Bloggs will now take home £960. Is this fair?
Mr Clarke’s 25% cap on fees, an apparent act of benevolence, actually makes it the case that a PI claimant would have to be awarded compensation of £6200 before the cap would ‘cut in.’ Most RTA cases do not meet this threshold unless a fairly serious injury is sustained.

The Justice Minister also says that compensation should be raised by 10% to offset this downturn. But again, this will not do much. Say a worker breaks his finger at the factory and is awarded £2000. Under the new system, he will lose £500 of that to his lawyer and then regain 10% of the total sum, leaving him with £1650. Essentially, he has been charged VAT on top of his claim.

These new proposals risk taking the most from those with the least, and need serious reappraisal before they are enshrined in the law.

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day Fourteen

It being a law blog, I should shoehorn a bit of law into the Advent calendar – so, first up, legal history in the making as the judge in the Assange bail application today permits live tweeting of the proceedings. Freelance troublemaker, reporter, author, Heather Brooke (her description of herself on Twitter!) is live tweeting from the Assange bail application today, as is Times correspondent  Alexi Mostrous

Head of Legal blogger, Carl Gardner, notes that I did a podcast with him on Assange yesterday.

Convicted judge swears and walks out of court

The Independent: A judge swore and stormed out of court today when she was convicted of failing to control her dangerous dog.

Judge Beatrice Bolton, of Rothbury, Northumberland, strode out when the verdict was announced, branding the decision “a f****** travesty”.

The 57-year-old was found guilty by a judge sitting at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court of allowing her pet German Shepherd to bite 20-year-old Frederick Becker, her neighbour.

Judge Bolton was heard yelling “I’ll never set foot in a court again” from outside the courtroom.

Judge Bolton, who was asked by the court usher during the two-day-trial to stop chewing gum, had denied a single charge under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Well well…. somewhat unusual behaviour by a judge – chewing gum?…in court?  Whatever next?

The floggers, hangers and honourable members who probably cannot wait for water cannons to be deployed against sundry students and anarchists are not happy with Ken Clarke, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice….

 

Tory pack rounds on Ken Clarke

You don’t always have to agree with people to recognise their value. And if Tory sectarians can’t see the point of Clarke, they will be in trouble sooner rather than later…..

UK’s first Twitter law firm launched

One of the country’s top legal entrepreneurs has launched the UK’s first Twitter Law firm, giving free legal advice on individual cases that have been tweeted to him in just 140 characters.

Nicholas Jervis, who was a solicitor for 14 years before founding marketing firm Loyalty Law, set up Twitter Firm @thelegaloracle, in a bid to make the law accessible to thousands of Brits who find the legal process too complicated and intimidating.

Student fees protest: lawyers launch legal challenge to kettling

Guardian: Kettling breaches human rights, lawyers for five student fees demonstrators tell Metropolitan police commissioner

Apparently, there are plans for students to kettle police in their lair at Scotland Yard… or did I just take too much of the juice of the gods last night and imagine or dream this?

Youth crime has fallen, report suggests

The Law Society Gazette reports….. I don’t watch X Factor, but I do enjoy the manic tweets on Twitter about it under the #xfactor hashtag and have come to the conclusion that it would be interesting to know if the crime rate dropped during the X Factor show…nothing would surprise me.

And here is a cartoon I like from Charles Fincher a talented US lawyer and fellow artist. We tweet on Twitter.

And… if you are not Assanged out…. do have a listen to the two podcasts I have done on Assange and Wikileaks with Mark Stephens (Julian Assange’s lawyer) and Carl Gardner.

My Thanks to Accident Advice Helpline who are now sponsoring my free law materials for students on Insite Law magazine

And Bail is granted to Assange on conditions… next hearing 11th January. Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor, tweets that prosecutors have two hours to appeal bail decision…

Read Guardian coverage


Law Review:Legal Week welcomes law bloggers!

I am a fan of Legal Week and did some writing for their Legal Village section last year. Now Alex Novarese, the editor, is inviting law bloggers to participate (and get a wider audience for their writing) by getting involved in Legal Village.   I think this is great – we are not in competition with each other as bloggers and we are certainly not in competition with the major legal news journals like Legal Week.

I did like this… from Alex Novarese…

For me it started in a waiting room at Kingston Crown Court. Having been called up for jury service just before Christmas last year, I was forced to spend nine days in wintry February shuttling between a room that looked like a small airport departure lounge and a courtroom. I know a lot of people see the idea of jury service as fascinating, but personally I found being lawfully detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure as a captive audience for a bunch of lawyers about as welcome as a root canal procedure. The court stuff is fine, but all that hanging around…

Anyway, as the mind-numbing boredom set in, I started whiling away the hours reading legal blogs on a BlackBerry, while also discovering the weird and compulsive world of the Twitterverse. That starting point led to a growing interest in legal bloggers, not to mention an unhealthy obsession with what Charon QC was doing at three in the morning.

Say what you like about bloggers, but to a world-weary journalist, they sound fresh in comparison to the bland diction of traditional media.

 

Alex Novarese is looking for bloggers… read the article in Legal Week and get in touch with him.

Lawcast 174: Carl Gardner on the Assange / Wikileaks Extradition

Lawcast 174: Carl Gardner on the Assange Extradition

Today, by way of further analysis and to complement the podcast I did with Julian Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens, last Friday, I am talking to Carl Gardner and  look at the law in more detail on the bail and extradition aspects of the case and examine the position under European law.

Listen to Podcast 174 with Carl Gardner

***

Lawcast 173: Mark Stephens, Julian Assange’s lawyer, on the rape allegations, Extradition and Wikileaks generally

THE RAPE ALLEGATIONS
THE EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANT
THE BAIL ISSUE
EXTRADITION
HOW JULIAN ASSANGE CAME BY THE WIKILEAKS INFORMATION
HAS JULIAN ASSANGE COMMITTED ANY CRIME UNDER US LAW
THE ATTACK ON WIKILEAKS BY AMAZON, PAYPAL, VISA  AND OTHERS
POSSIBLE ACTION FOR INDUCEMENT TO BREACH OF CONTRACT

Listen to the podcast with Mark Stephens

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day Twelve

It is always a pleasure to see student law societies taking their law studies seriously by looking at law in different ways and it gives me pleasure to give some modest publicity to law students at Birkbeck College, University of London for inviting a film director over to talk to them about The Specialist.

“The Specialist” comes at an interesting time in the culture. The producer and director, Eyal Sivan, has compiled and assembled black-and-white footage of the trial of the SS officer and war criminal Adolf Eichmann, and his film is the grimmest possible precursor to the occasionally frivolous “Court TV,” which plays on the current fascination with watching the judicial process grind exceedingly slow, and exceedingly fine. {The New York Times, April 12, 2000}

When: 17th of December 2010 (Friday), 6.45 pm
Where: Birkbeck Cinema (click here for map and directions)

Special Guest : The Producer & Director – Eyal Sivan

Bonus: Workshop and discussion materials for all attendees All Law/Human Rights/Film Students: A must!

Registration desirable to avoid disappointment BBK Law Society Members: Free admission

Non-members: £3.50 – Free drinks and snacks For bookings please contact: Neil MacKinnon: nmacki01@students.bbk.ac.uk
Other Enquiries: Despina Dokoupilova: dntoko01@students.bbk.ac.uk

And… News from the law schools

 

Title: BPP appoints Kate Hayes as Admissions Director
Summary: BPP University College today announced the appointment of Kate Hayes as Admissions Director.

Kate joins BPP after nine years as Director of Marketing at The College of Law, where she was responsible for a multitude of services geared towards ensuring excellent student satisfaction – including the Admissions department, Marketing, Customer Insight and the college’s Customer Contact Centre.


First for Leeds law firm John Delaney & Co as all its future trainees to be recruited from BPP law school

Summary: BPP Law School and John Delaney & Co have announced that that all of the firm’s future trainees will be recruited exclusively from BPP Law School ’s Legal Practice Course (LPC) students. High Street firm John Delaney & Co is a Criminal and Family Legal Aid practice, based on Park Row. As part of its relationship with BPP, the firm recently recruited 3 students who successfully graduated from the Law School ’s centre in Whitehall Quays.

http://www.bpp.com/about-bpp/news/bpp-news/first-for-leeds-law-firm-john.aspx

Lawcast 173: Mark Stephens, Julian Assange’s lawyer, on the rape allegations, Extradition and Wikileaks generally

Today I am talking to Mark Stephens, Julian Assange’s lawyer. A great deal has been written about the rape allegation, the bail issue and, of course, the Wikileaks revelations themselves.    It is not hyperbole to say that this is probably the most famous legal issue in the world at the moment.

Mark Stephen’s is quoted in The Daily Mail …as saying says his client, WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange, is accused of ‘sex by surprise’ in Sweden.

‘Whatever “sex by surprise” is, it’s only an offence in Sweden,’ says Stephens.

Mark Stephens told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: ”It is quite bizarre, because the chief prosecutor in Sweden dropped the entire case against him, saying there was absolutely nothing for him to find back in September, and then a few weeks later on – after the intervention of a Swedish politician – a new prosecutor, not in Stockholm where Julian and these women had been, but in Gothenburg, began a new case which has resulted in these warrants and the Interpol Red Notice being put out.

”It does seem to be a political stunt.

”I have, and his Swedish lawyer has, been trying to get in touch with the prosecutor since August. Usually it is the prosecutor who does the pursuing, not the pursued..”
The Telegraph reported …”Mark Stephens said Mr Assange would ”certainly” fight deportation to Sweden on the grounds that it could lead to him being handed over to the US, where senior politicians have called for him to be executed.”

To put some structure into to this complex subject I have divided the podcast into the following key sections:

THE RAPE ALLEGATIONS
THE EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANT
THE BAIL ISSUE
EXTRADITION
HOW JULIAN ASSANGE CAME BY THE WIKILEAKS INFORMATION
HAS JULIAN ASSANGE COMMITTED ANY CRIME UNDER US LAW
THE ATTACK ON WIKILEAKS BY AMAZON, PAYPAL, VISA  AND OTHERS
POSSIBLE ACTION FOR INDUCEMENT TO BREACH OF CONTRACT

Listen to the podcast

I am grateful to Carl Gardner, ex government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal blog,  who assisted me in focusing on the salient issues.  I am doing a further detailed podcast with Carl Gardner on these issues tomorrow.

 

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day Eight

A few interesting links today….. and if you are into legal education reform – scroll down for the latest podcast with Scott Slorach of The College of Law.

Bailing Assange

Scott Greenfield, a US defense lawyer, has an interesting take on this issue.

Wikileaks and the arrest of Julian Assange

The UK Human Rights blog from 1 Crown Office Row has a very considered view.

The Real Lessons of WikiLeaks for Lawyers: Non-Social Media Version

Antonin . Pribetic, a Canadian lawyer is well worth reading on this and starts his post with a bit of Shakespeare….

Marcus Antonius:
And Caesar’s spirit, raging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war,
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.

Julius Caesar Act 3, scene 1, 270–275

Law Review: Words fail me – a truly shocking story – please read and publicise

The Orwellian Present – Never Mind the Future.

Stephen Neary is a 20 year old man with Autism trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare.

It is a story that should be trumpeted from the front page of every main stream newspaper – but it won’t be. They will keep silent.

Autism is a ‘broad’ word, describing a wide spectrum of conditions with defining characteristics involving a difficulty in communicating with other people, and a restricted range of activities and interests. It can range from the mild to the profound. It is most definitely NOT a mental illness.

This is a truly shocking story – I am not going to write about it, because a very well regarded blogger, Anna Raccoon,  has done so far better than I could.  Please take time to read her post – and the many comments.  If you can help by publicising this, please do so.

Thank you

Please read Anna Raccoon’s account of the plight of Stephen Neary

I am, of course, relying on the fact that the facts stated are true and I will certainly try to investigate further by contacting those who may be able to dig further.

I understand that Nadine Dorries MP is trying to assist by providing information or contact to local MP.  Obviously – I can only report on the issue in terms of what  Anna Raccoon has written.  The authorities may well have a different view of the issue but highlighting the issue may well lead to clarity?

***

This piece from law blogger Obiter J  (Law & Lawyers) is excellent with some very useful links to solid information

Deprivation of Liberty: the worrying case of Stephen Neary

Lawcast 172: On the reform of legal education with Scott Slorach, College of Law

Today I am talking to Scott Slorach of The College of Law about the reform of legal education and his view on the need for useful learning.

In my last podcast the chief executive of The College of Law , Nigel Savage, he said that the law degree syllabus had not changed much since World War II – but this, of course, is not entirely accurate as most law degrees now offer a range of modern subjects including European law, Human Rights, Civil Liberties, Competition Law, Intellectual Property, to name but a few….

We focus on:

1.  The need for useful learning: for students, employers, professions, consumers and society
Usefulness is defined by the ability to apply that learning to some benefit.  Can we provide for the greatest good?  Would this be assisted by different approaches in undergraduate learning.  Yes – see below.

2. Who decided that academic and vocational are mutually exclusive?

3. The need for development in and therefore development of law degrees

4. Henry Ford’s customers would have asked for faster horses: what does the profession mean when it asks for “more black    letter law”?  Is this what it actually wants or needs?

Listen to the podcast

***

Other podcasts in this series on legal education

Lawcast 171:  Nigel Savage, CEO of The College of Law

Lawcast 170: professor Richard Moorehead, Cardiff Law School, University of Cardiff

Postcard From The Staterooms: Heavily Redacted Edition

Dear Reader,

It has been a couple of weeks since I last wrote.  It has been a busy period and events have conspired to lead me to think that I should spend more time on art, literature and the decent…or , as @CarlGardner suggested to me on Twitter tonight – ‘indecent’ things in life and spend less time writing  about the venal, the foolish and the unpleasant.

I’ve been blogging or writing about law for a long time and not just since 2006 when this WordPress version started. I enjoy doing so and do so for enjoyment. WordPress tells me that I have written 2586 blog posts since 2006. Mon dieu…. tilting at windmills or what?  I’ve probably written more words than those million mythical  monkeys on typewriters with less result… but it matters not a jot because all blogging and tweeting is blown to the wind very quickly. I care not at all for stat porn, honours, awards or the ephemeral pleasures of fame which some lawyers seem to seek on twitter and elsewhere.  I believe that lawyers, whether academic or practitioner,  should be ruthlessly independent and neither court nor give ‘adulation’ – for, otherwise, how can they do their work without fear or favour or ‘fear of getting favour’?  I do not *do* heroes. I respect and like many and that works for me.

I spend a lot of time on twitter and barely a day goes by without some lawyer or law firm (many from the US but, increasingly, from the UK as well) pushing themselves or their ‘product’ and some do it so badly by ‘broadcasting’  that it verges on the risible.

AND then, of course, there are those who, with little experience themselves of the medium in a social sense, run courses or write books or vacuous articles on how lawyers can use ‘social media’.  I shall be writing about these denizens of twitter soon… probably in the context of Muttley Dastardly LLP posts. I shall, of course, ensure that I set up 500 + mirror sites, encrypt the file to 256, and give the key to a mate so that if ‘anything happens to me’, this ‘thermonuclear’ file can be read as my body explodes in the crematorium due to excess alcohol from wine at my funeral.

Well.. there we are…..  I am fairly certain that this post does not contravene the US Espionage Act 1917 and as I have no plans to visit any European countries in the near future,  there is little prospect of being extradited via those countries to face the wrath and justice of Mr Huckabee-Finn, Sarah Palin and other assorted nutjobs for ‘treason’.

Back tomorrow with some vaguely sensible stuff on law…

Have a good week and try not to have nightmares about Wikileaks or European Extradition Warrants.

Best, as always

Charon

PS.. if you are worried about European Extradition Warrants and the events today in relation to Assange’s arrest and the judge refusing bail.. this excellent post from Carl Gardner may be reassuring.  I am doing a podcast on this issue with Carl Gardner on Friday afternoon.

Extradition proceedings against Julian Assange

Clegg walks through fire for power!

All Lib Dem ministers will back rise in tuition fees

BBC: All Liberal Democrat government ministers will vote to raise the cap on university tuition fees in England, party leader Nick Clegg has said.There had been speculation some could abstain from a vote over the controversial policy, which has prompted weeks of student protests.

But Deputy PM Mr Clegg said ministers were “as one on this” and would vote “as a team” on Thursday.

Former leaders Charles Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell will oppose the plans.

Walk through fire’

Earlier Mr Clegg confirmed to his MPs he would vote for the plans. At a meeting ahead of Thursday’s vote on the proposals, Mr Clegg said he had hoped they could “walk through the fire” together – but he now accepted a collective position was not possible.

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day Seven

I find quite a few politicians a bit baffling – but this latest nonsense from John Hemming MP, who has a reputation for being quite bright, is just daft….

Political Scrapbook reports….

“Millionaire Liberal Democrat John “three homes” Hemming has told Radio 4 he would vote for  a rise in tuition fees to punish students who occupied his constituency office. His extraordinary exchange with Eddie Mair came after an embarassing argument with a protester live on local radio……”

The global Assange / Wikileaks circus continues today with police arresting Assange when he walked into a London police station this morning.  It appears that the judge refused bail – despite the paucity of evidence(*), it is asserted, but Mark Stephens, Assange’s lawyer,  has the ‘thermonuclear 256 bit encryption code to decode thousands of documents now transmitted to thousands worldwide should anything untoward happen to Assange…like him being killed, for example…or, presumably, extradited from Sweden to the United States?

(*) Gerard Batten, a UKIP MEP, said the Assange case highlighted the dangers of the European arrest warrant, because the judge has no power to listen to the evidence to judge if there is a prime facie case.

Mark Stephens has suggested that the Swedish prosecutor  should question Assange in London – a perfectly sensible suggestion on the face of it, but I won’t be holding my breath. We shall see.

A rather ironic postscript: Mark Stephens, not surprisingly, is concerned that the security and others services are watching him and that client confidentiality may be breached and leaked to the world at large.  The attempt by US lawyers to elide the lawyers with Assange and implicate them is just primitive and should be easily resisted.

Read The Legal Week report

Charon QC commentates at the case of R v Kevin Pieterlag and Johnny ‘Robbers’ Robber – first televised five day test Trial

A TRANSCRIPT OF THE COMMENTARY IN THE FIRST TELEVISED UK TRIAL

R V KEVIN PIETERLAG AND JOHNNY ‘ROBBERS’ ROBBER

Charon QC: Good morning everybody…Welcome to The Old Bailey on day one of a five day trial in the case of  R v Kevin Pieterlag and Johnny ‘Robbers’ Robbers.  Mr Justice Blackcap is presiding….. a few words first about the trial judge.  Educated at Balliol Oxford, by way of Harrow and The Inns of Court School of Law.  A largely undistinguished career dealing with tax and other Chancery matters led to Silk some 20 years after call, a few successful prosecutions for HMRC or as it then was… HM Customs & Excise…  and Blackcap J found himself sitting as a red judge, almost as bemused as many in his Chambers at his leaving party. But there we are…in these dark dark days, with judges being paid as badly as BBC London news readers… it isn’t quite like the old days of Judge Jeffries and Lord Chief Justice Goddard who, they say, used to ejaculate into his trousers when passing the death sentence or ordering the flogging of young men.

I can also tell you that the weather is set fair so we won’t see the embarrassing spectacle of the prosecution doing rain dances here today… unlike in another place – well… Adelaide, if you really want me to be honest, where the Aussies are praying for rain under a withering England prosecution  out there in The Ashes test.

*Charon speaking in a hushed and reverential voice*:  Leading counsel and their juniors are taking their positions…. and I notice that the solicitor for the defence is taking up a position at Silly mid-off…which is rather unusual at this stage in a trial.
And here we go… The judge has arrived….All Rise.…. a Mexican wave  has been started in the stands by a man called @LoveandGarbage ….. the Barmy Army is about to be sworn in and then we are off…  I’m sitting here in the commentator’s box with one of the true greats of criminal prosecution….  Dicky Punter QC….. an Australian lawyer of international reputation whose trademark, when he lost a case, was to say that that even amateurs deserved a break sometimes…..

Punter QC: G’day Charon….. I see that you have your Rioja and Marlboro ready…bring any tinnies?

Charon QC: The opening criminals are taking their position in the box now….. both looking confident and  Kevin Pieterlag will face the first ball from Simply Brilliant QC,  leading seamer for the prosecution

Mr Justice Blackcap: Members of The Barmy Army…. I thought you would like to know that the position  at the start of Day Five of The Ashes is England 620 for 5 and Australia – after their pitiful first innings of 245 all out – has managed to score some runs and they are standing at 238/4.  I shall, of course… *Mr Justice Blackcap beams at the Barmy Army*… keep you fully informed

*The Courtroom is hushed…. Simply Brilliant QC rises and leaning forward, delivers the first question…*
Simply Brilliant QC: So… I put it to you that YOU did it? Yes?

Kevin Pieterlag: Yes, Guvnor… it was a fair cop… I did it… and may god have mercy on my soul….. can I be transported back to my homeland…South Africa?

Charon QC: He’s caught behind, first ball…!! Oh, the first ball of this session. Kevin Pieterlag is caught behind by John Sniveller, the junior,  off the bowling of Simply Brilliant QC and it’s all over. Up goes the judge’s finger…. OUT…. Kevin Pieterlag  is out and he is not even asking for a review.

And in goes Robbers… a regular here at the Old Bailey and one of my favourite opening criminals…….I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him here many times… he always gets sent down the wicket……. but he’s a game old boy and comes back for more every eighteen months or so…. Punters… fancy some lemon cake to give your expression a slightly more citric look…?

Simply Brilliant QC: You’ve been here before haven’t you?

Robbers *Beaming to The Barmy Army*: I have… …. you didn’t get me last time.. and you won’t get me this time… I’m ready….. I know all about your Doosras and googling information……. and by the way…. I had a great lunch with your girlfriend yesterday… she’s HOT….. and she told me that you find it easy to rise to the occasion in court… but this is not so in the bedroom….

Mr Justice Blackcap: The prisoner will confine himself to answering the questions….*Turning to the Barmy Army in the Jury Box*… Members of The Barmy Army…. it is your job to ensure that this man is convicted fairly…. you will ignore unsolicited comments from the dock…amusing though they may be.. and may I take this opportunity to say that I do not want any of you consulting Wisden,  Archbold,  law reports or Google on your iPads…and if any of you go on twitter while this case is in progress you will be deported to Sweden along with Mr Assange when we finally catch him….and you could find yourself on death row in the United States….who knows..? …. anything is possible under the US Espionage Act 1917…some say…   and certainly there are some serious fruitloops over there…. Someone called Mick Huckleberry-Finn seems to think people involved in Wicketleaks should be executed… because anything less would be unkind.

It was at this point that we lost transmission from The Old Bailey.  We believe that the mention of Mr Assange by Mr Justice Blackcap may have triggered a major DDOS attack from the US State Department  or China or even FIFA, to block all further transmission….. so, with regret, we are not able to report further in our quest to see Justice be done….

And…so it remains to be seen…still..whether the televising of trials will be a useful thing or not….

Law Review: Courts to be televised! Lag-Factor or ‘I’m an egotist…get me into there’?

While I like the idea of Justice being seen to be done etc etc… the fact of the matter is that most court proceedings are lengthy and, at times, astonishingly dull. I can’t see many watching extended televised cases in courts.  I can see some merit in edited highlights and it would be fascinating to see more of justice being done… but it will take a great deal of skill to present it in a watchable way – and, therein, lies the part of the problem – editing.

I’d pay good money, of course, to see barristers trying to jazz up a truly fascinating tax appeal or a Trusts case. Perhaps a dancing dog could be employed as junior counsel?

Adam Wagner of 1 Crown Office Row and an editor of the UK Human Rights blog , writing in Legal Week this week, has a very interesting article.

I’ll leave it to Adam Wagner to do the sensible stuff….worth a read.

Should justice be televised?

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day Six – C**TGate

Today… and it was on the Today programme – it is a very easy choice for the ‘morsel’.

James Naughtie on  BBC Radio 4 the Today programme managed to do a ‘classic spoonerism’ when trailing that he was going to be talking to Jeremy Hunt MP

And then…Andrew Marr, managed to repeat it…

Wonderful start to the day.  It may get taken down… I do hope not!

It hasn’t been a good day for Radio 4 – here they are interviewing  person who impersonated a Lib-Dem MP.  I heard the interview.  It was a bit bizarre….

Guardian Source

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day Five

It is not that long ago when a fresh faced youthful man who, hitherto, had been largely ignored and mocked by prime minister and leader of the opposition alike, stood behind a lectern on television between two giants of the political stage and told us…“You want to know the great political story of our generation? It isn’t new Labour. It isn’t New Conservatives. Those are just the dying sparks of a fire that’s running out of fuel.”

Well… Clegg didn’t actually say that in the leadership debates… he said it a couple of years before.  Now, even Sepp Blatter is more popular than Kim Il Clegg.  I suspect the great political story of our generation is that, soon, Lib-Dem MPs will be able to go to work in a Smart car….. all of them……. in just one Smart car.

Nick Clegg’s unexpectedly swift journey from idol to hate figure

Rawnsley, in The Observer, does the analysis….

And…just when you thought it was safe to consider the possibility that politicians may be acting in the ‘national interest’The Mail on Sunday would like to disabuse you of this idea…

Ed Miliband’s statement that the fees rise is an ‘Act of vandalism’... prompted me on twitter last night to suggest that the election of  Ed Miliband as leader may be the act of vandalism.  For my part, I cannot really summon the enthusiasm to either listen to or read anything he has to say. After 30 years of voting Labour I no longer subscribe to any form of tribal politics, preferring instead to look at the  ‘real politik’ of options open to us in the context of the times we live in.  Miliband Minor is not going down that well.  Clegg is going down very badly.  Vince Cable is spinning so fast with mind changes that he may have a future after politics working for Shell again, but this time as a drill.  This leaves us with Cameron who admits that he is more of a Chairman than a CEO; presiding over a party where the more extreme element are sitting on the backbenches wearing togas, sharpening their knives on the stones of vested self interest and asking each other when they will be able to kill foxes again. Apparently the 1922 Committee chairman is asking them not to rock the boat, otherwise the next two years will be about killing foxes and not the recession.
At least there is some good news… The Mail on Sunday reports“Boris Johnson has taken revenge on Sepp Blatter and the other FIFA delegates who destroyed England’s bid to host the World Cup by kicking them out of London’s Dorchester hotel for the 2012 Olympic Games.”
It has taken a while, but the mainstream tabloids, now that X-Factory and I’m a Tosser Get Me Out of Here are coming to an end, have finally worked out that our investment in the BANKS could be a good thing and we might actually make a profit out of selling the bank shares over the next two years.  City experts believe that we will make a profit.
And some even more surreal political news….

MP’s Commons aide is accused of being a Russian spy: Woman, 25, fighting deportation on suspicion of espionage

The Mail reports…“An MP today denied his Russian assistant was a spy after security services arrested her on suspicion of espionage.

Home Secretary Theresa May had approved the removal of Katia Zatuliveter after being briefed by MI5 about her alleged activities, according to the Sunday Times.

Ms Zatuliveter, was working for Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock, who confirmed that she had been taken into detention and was fighting deportation from the UK.

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day Four

In the wake of the ‘seriously pissed Santa’ of yesterday’s advent calendar post, I am pleased to be able to report that stupidity is not unknown on our shores. I spent nearly a year living in Chatham Maritime, overlooking the old naval basins and near the dockyard where HMS Victory was built.  I am not, however, surprised to read that a woman in Chatham telephoned 999 to report to Police that someone had stolen her snowman.

I am thoroughly enjoying #Ashes – sitting up watching the cricket, and reading the tweets of fellow cricket fans under the #Ashes hashtag .  Last night, being possessed of a real cricket ball, I chalked some stumps on the inside of my front door and took to bowling at those chalked stumps from the drawing room, down the short hall. No neighbours were harmed, nor was the door, by this rather curious activity.   I am pleased to report that I got a hat trick.  England are in a comfortable position of 317/2 having bowled the Aussies out for 245 on Day One. Punter…has a problem….so life is not all bad!

Always a pleasure to see a serious writer – Alex Massie of The Spectator – writing in such an august journal about other ‘important’ things in life…cricket.  An enjoyable article

Being that this is supposed to be a law blog… I am more than happy, even on a Saturday, to shoehorn a bit of law in…

Legal aid lawyers were struggling even before the cuts

But.. I won’t overdo it… so here is a choice morsel for your delectation and delight… from..where else?…RollonFriday:

Scottish courts to open on Saturdays to deal with piss-heads

And finally… this is a very enjoyable film!

Warning… not office safe!  🙂  Barking!

Matt Whistler’s Merry Christmas 2010 Southover Street Brighton

Back tomorrow… have a good weekend…

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day Three

I thought I would kick off with two sporting matters – first, a remarkable first over in The Ashes match last night  – I am one of many staying up much of the night watching and tweeting – when three of Australia’s top batsmen were out within but 3-4 balls showing a remarkable scoreline which could have been 12-4 had a catch not been dropped shortly after.  England are ahead.

This prompted me to tweet…

I am a bit worried.. if we don’t get a wicket soon… #Wicketleaks will start leaking adverse information about our cricket skills #ashes

The second, of course, was the decision of a corrupt FIFA to award the games to Russia, outed as a ‘Mafia state’ by Wikileaks earlier in the day.  Well… they do say that birds of a feather flock together.

I would, however, to echo the sentiment of many, prefer to have a free media than kow-tow to FIFA.  Full marks to Cameron, Prince William, Becks et al for trying.  The Sun raged…..this morning about FIFA BUNGS games to Russia.   It doesn’t bother me personally – I don’t follow football, but I do know many were disappointed… or “Gutted and sick as a parrot”…as the old saying goes.

Guido Fawkes notes…

+ + + Chaytor Pleads Guilty + + +

The second former Labour MP in court today has pleaded guilty to false accounting for a sum of around £13,000 in mortgage interest.

UPDATE: Guido smells a plea bargain, he will be sentenced on January 7th. When considering sentencing let’s not forget the Fees Office clerk who “came up with a “carefully executed fraud” for £6,000 and was sent down for nine months. One rule for us…

And, as a warning to MPs to clean up election campaigns – to at least the point of being able to distinguish insult for lies and misrepresentation…. Phil Woolas says legal fight has hit ‘end of the road’

Hopefully, we won’t have another round of MPs and kneejerking political bloggers complaining that democracy is being undermined by ‘unelected judges’.  Judges apply the laws put in front of them.  Laws are made by Parliament.  Sometimes MPs manage to get into Parliament without resorting to lies and serious misrepresentation.  I am not holding my breath.  There does seem to be a tendency for conservative (and Labour)  political bloggers to be the first to scream about being tough on Law & Order and then rant about unelected judges… we shall see.  Perhaps they have something else to occupy them today…

UK Human Rights Blog has an excellent and  sensible analysis:

Analysis: Woolas loses election court challenge, court clarifies constitutional role

It would not be Christmas without a ‘Pissed Santa’ story….

Drunk Santa caught on CCTV urinating and falling over repeatedly

One Santa in Germany must now be regretting indulging in a few too many festive drinks, as a video has emerged on the internet showing him urinating in a car park and falling over.

The Metro does warn about not showing the excellent video to ‘younger people’. Not being a ‘younger person’ I did find it very amusing…truly astonishing!

Lawcast 171: Nigel Savage, CEO of The College of Law on the need to reform legal education

Today I am talking to Nigel Savage, chief executive of the College of Law. Nigel Savage has been in legal education for over 30 years and, in earlier years, was a law teacher and co-author of a well regarded textbook… so he is by no means just a corporate CEO running a law school – his experience of legal education is founded in both camps –  academe and the effective running of the largest law school in Europe.

Listen to the podcast

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This is the second podcast in a series of 6-8 podcasts on legal educationOther podcasts in the series:

1. Lawcast 170: Professor Moorhead on the state of UK legal Education

[Picture: From The Lawyer article on Nigel Savage and The College of Law]

Charon’s Advent calendar: Day Two

Two choice morsels for you today… the first one I enjoyed very much on the subject of how the Americans and the British can stop Assange and Wikileaks…

1. Lilian Edwards, UK cyberlawyer, has a great post on the issue. I won’t spoil your pleasure with any extracts… do read it if you have time..

Veni Vidi Wikileaks

2.  A Labour supporter speaks without forked tongue. It is good to see a well known Labour man writing sense on a very difficult issue – Labour opposition policies and attitudes…

Over to Peter Watt with…. We don’t see it, but our arrogance stops us from listening

Law Review: Libel reform

Supreme court changes fair comment defence in libel cases

Guardian: Lord Phillips says that key test for defending libel cases should be changed to ‘honest comment’ in light of new technology

Spiller and another (Appellants) v Joseph and others (Respondents) [2010] UKSC 53
On appeal from the Court of Appeal [2009] EWCA Civ 1075
JUSTICES: Lord Phillips (President), Lord Rodger, Lord Walker, Lord Brown and Sir John Dyson
SCJ

JUDGMENT
The Supreme Court unanimously allows the appeal and holds that the defence of fair comment should be open to the appellants. The substantive judgment is given by Lord Phillips (President), with some additional comments from Lord Walker.

REASONS FOR THE JUDGMENT
The elements of the defence of fair comment had been set out by Lord Nicholls in the Hong Kong case of Tse Wai Chun Paul v Albert Cheng [2001] EMLR 777. His fourth proposition, namely that the comment must indicate in general terms the facts on which the comment is based, so that the reader was in a position to judge for himself how far the comment was well founded, had attracted criticism and was challenged by the appellants in this appeal [para 70].

The defence had originated in respect of comments about work products such as books and plays, which necessarily identified the product. It had been complicated by developments which extended the defence to cover the conduct of individuals, where this was of public interest. Sometimes the facts underlying the comment were notorious; at other times they might be only known to the person making the comment. The only defence to a bare comment which implied the existence of unidentified discreditable conduct was justification [para 89]. Fair comment could however be raised where the comment identified the subject matter general terms. Particulars could then be given in the defence which identified the features which led to the formation of the view expressed [para 96]. Lord Nicholls’ requirement, that readers should be in a position to evaluate the comments for themselves, could not be reconciled with the authorities [para 98]. This was so, even where the subject matter was not within the public domain. Today many people take advantage of the internet to make public comments and the defence would be robbed of much of its efficacy if readers had to be given detailed information to enable evaluation of the comment [para 99]. The fourth proposition should be re-written as follows:

‘Next, the comment must explicitly or implicitly indicate, at least in general terms, the facts on which it is based.’

The Supreme Court agreed that there was a case for reform of a number of aspects of the defence of fair comment which did not arise directly in this case [paras 112-116]. The whole area merited consideration by the Law Commission or an expert committee. The only more general reform being made by this judgment was the re-naming of the defence from ‘fair comment’ to ‘honest comment [para 117].

Applying the law to the facts of this case, the posting by the appellants referred to the breach of contract relating to the Bibis restaurant, and to the respondents’ email, and these facts could be relied on. The email arguably evidenced a contemptuous approach to the respondents’ contractual obligations to the appellants. The email as quoted arguably evidenced a contemptuous attitude to contracts in general. It would be a matter for the jury to decide whether the inaccuracy in the
quotation made a significant difference [para 124]. The defence should therefore be reinstated.

 

The full judgment may be read here: Read judgment

Boob Job cream manufacturer ‘using libel laws to silence critics’

Guardian: Rodial has violated legal principles by threatening to sue plastic surgeon who questioned product’s efficacy, Commons told

The company that produces Boob Job cream has been accused of being a “charlatan and a bully” for using libel laws to silence a plastic surgeon who criticised its product.

Rodial, which claims its cosmetic cream can increase a woman’s breast size by up to 8%, threatened to sue Dalia Nield after she said the product’s claim was “highly unlikely”.

But speaking in the house of commons yesterday, Conservative MP David Davis said that the ability of companies such as Rodial to use libel law against critics was a violation of ancient principles of English law.

“[Rodial’s threat] would be ludicrous, bordering on the farcical, were it not so serious in its wider implications,” said Davis.

“It is a disgraceful tactic, and it should not be possible under a decently balanced judicial system.”

The debate on libel reform represents the latest use by MPs of parliamentary privilege to bypass the threat of a lawsuit for speaking out about individual cases.

The debate in Parliament on reform of the libel laws is due next year.  Given the very modest reform in the Supreme Court judgment and a desire in Parliament and elsewhere for structured and sensible form of the law on this tort, it seems that this debate and reform cannot come soon enough.

Amazon – The Braveheart of the Internet sellers ? :-)

I am sure that my addition to this tweet is a bit frivolous… but hey… do I care?  Nope. Why did Amazon take Wikileaks business in the first place if they were going to cave in at the first bit of pressure…… from The US Govt…as people say they have on the #Wikileaks issue?

I also prefer buying books from people who are book sellers…from real bookshops…. the internet is fine… but do I really want my life to become any more lacking in soul because of the net than it already is… (Twitter / blogs and news information excepted) I shall also use my legs to go shopping for food…. at places called shops and supermarkets…   I believe that I am still allowed to express such dangerous sentiments……?

I refuse to buy any goods from the internet…. when I can buy them locally… even if it costs me more money and effort – unless…  it is a local shop with an online capability.  Daft?  Probably… but do I care?  Nope.

(I have had Wildy & Sons send me a book through their online service … but they are local and I like Wildy’s

After a rather sad day in terms of news of a friend … I have decided to get back to awarding myself an astonishing array of honours….and why not?

The Rt Hon Admiral The Lord Charon KCMG, KG, LLB BCL, PH.d & Bar, Emeritus Professor Lakeside Thurrock University,  QC,
Admiral of The Red
Wikileaks Manor
Amazon Street
Chelsea
London SW 10

Law Review: Has Assange of Wikileaks actually committed a crime?

One of the problems the Americans face – unless they adopt the stealth bullet in the back of the head approach being suggested by some in the US and Canada, call in an air strike or ‘use a drone’ to hunt him down  – is proving that Assange has actually committed a crime for which he can be tried and then executed punished.

1.  There does not appear to be a crime on the US statute books which Assange can be tried under – unless they invoke the Espionage Act of 1917,  and for this to work the prosecution would have to prove Assange encouraged the leak and conspired with his inside source to disgorge the documents.

2.  If there is a ‘hole’ in the prosecution menu – the First Amendment prevents the US from plugging the gap retrospectively. “New laws can’t criminalize past conduct. The Constitution clearly bans so-called ex post facto laws so that the government can’t toss someone in jail for something that was legal at the time it was done.”  [I am grateful to US criminal defense lawyer Mark Bennett who took the time to comment for this update:  The ex post facto clause is found not in the First Amendment but in Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution.”]

3.  So…probably best to leave it to the Allies to cook something up and arrest him for that… hang on… is there talk of a sex or rape charge?

Please read this excellent article… WikiLeaks Founder Lurks Beyond Grip of U.S. Law: Ann Woolner

Which I summarised in points 1 and 2 above. Point 3 was an appalling thought that just happened to cross my mind.  No civilised country would concoct evidence against Assange, would they?

Meanwhile.. The Guardian continues to publish..and for so long as they do, I shall read it.

British police seek Julian Assange over rape claims

Guardian: Serious Organised Crime Agency flags up Interpol ‘red notice’ over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s whereabouts

US embassy cables culprit should be executed, says Mike Huckabee

Guardian: Republican presidential hopeful wants the person responsible for the WikiLeaks cables to face capital punishment for treason

Huckabee said: “Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason, and I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty.”

Treason? Doesn’t one have to be a US citizen to be guilty of treason  under US law?  Rather curious, if not.

I do realise that Huckabee was not himself calling for Assange to be executed for treason (and this has been pointed out to me in the comments below)  – Assange is Australian… but this guy certainly wants action!

“It is not just the Americans who are demanding blood. Tom Flanagan, a senior adviser to the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, issued what has been described as a fatwa against Assange, on the Canadian TV station CBC.

“I think Assange should be assassinated, actually,” he said. “I think Obama should put out a contract and maybe use a drone or something.” Flanagan chuckled as he made the comment but did not retract it when questioned, adding: “I wouldn’t feel unhappy if Assange does disappear.”

 

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SkyNewsBreak

US Homeland Security: Amazon agrees to stop hosting WikiLeaks documents.

Charon’s Advent Calendar: Day One….

A friend of mine on Twitter – @TheDreamSociety – put the thought into my head that I should do a daily Advent calendar – with some choice item each day.  Whether I will be able to find ‘choice’ items is another thing.  Sometimes they will be serious items and sometimes they won’t.  We’ll see how it goes.  Some days there may even be more than one item…

Today, I have two items of interest:

1.  DavidAllen Green’s article in The New Statesman that liberals ought to be concerned about Wikileaks – the core point being that Wikileaks is accountable to no-one and a secondary point about the legality of using information which may have been obtained through illegal means.

WikiLeaks and the liberal mind

2. And Carl Gardner, author of the Head of Legal blog, considers the Supreme Court judgment in the case of the troughing MPs who claimed parliamentary privilege to argue that they should be dealt with by Parliament and not tried as common criminals and held in the bowels of some Garrow’s Law style gaol before walking up the stairs to face the sword of English justice.  Read more….

Well… I may as well give you some nonsense as well…..

University Of Calgary Professor And Senior Advisor To Canadian PM Calls For Julian Assange Assassination On National TV

“It is not a good week for Wikileaks. Following yesterday’s Interpol arrest warrant, also yesterday, Tom Flanagan, a senior advisor and strategist to the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, called for the assassination of Wikileaks director Julian Assange. On CBS News. On Live TV. As the video notes, “it is believed to be the first ever televised “fatwa” since the edict by the Iranian leadership of the late Ayatollah Khomeini against British writer Salman Rushdie in February 1989…..”

Read more….

And… some truly marvellous nonsense… as a commenter says… it is a pity Kevin Pietersen can’t do this without a blindfold!  Wonderful short film

Kevin Pietersen Blindfold Cricket

Watch….