A wander ‘abite’ the legal and political web with a glass of decent claret

I have dreams… we all do…and some as surreal as this rather fine print which I found on the net: ‘The Barrister’s Dream’ by Henry Holiday.

With little enthusiasm for television or much else tonight after a frustrating day dealing with the admin of life and people not doing what they promised to do, I poured a glass of a decent claret and wandered about on the web…. which is always a pleasure….

I have tired of the armchair Egyptologists on Twitter……. Muttley Dastardly LLP seem to have the right idea: Muttley Dastardly LLP (Episode 14): Operation Pharaoh – Positioning for the new Egypt – but I did enjoy Canadian lawyer Antonin Probetic’s analysis: A Few “Burning Questions” About The Egyptian Revolt

Before you go off to have a look at some of my ‘finds’ in the great electronic archeological matrix, I thought I would let you know that I was thinking about the four stages of life according to Hinduism late last night.  The Fourth  Stage – the ascetic stage – requires an older person to live a life apart, reclusive and ascetic.  This appeals to me – but I would need wifi…and a purveyor of wine, cigarettes and decent food within a reasonable distance of a few miles or so. I didn’t fancy the holy bit either,  being an atheist.  The hut would not worry me.    I lived under canvas for some time in my ‘yoof’ in Africa.  I don’t suppose  I would be allowed to shoot my food or use explosives to arrange fish supplies though.  I may have to continue in Battersea Square a while yet…. but, reclusively, save for a morning visit to Mazar for breakfast, as I do.

The internet can be a dangerous place…especially when it comes to recording the detail and minutiae of our daily lives. When it comes to a legal requirement to store information for years, modern technology can be a very dangerous thing…

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News International finds ‘lost’ emails that could provide evidence in phone-hacking case

A “lost” hoard of emails sent by senior executives in Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper empire at the height of the phone-hacking scandal has been found, The Independent has learnt…..

It would be funny… if it wasn’t so funny…. and, it may not  have been just the ‘Axis of Evil Murdoch Empire’ at it….Loveandgarbage has a very interesting letter to The Observer which is worth a read: Correspondence to Readers’ Editor of The Observer regarding Operation Motorman

I had the pleasure last year of interviewing Tom Kilroy, GC at a leading software house, for a series of podcasts.  He has appeared on twitter and has a new blog…and he has rather an interesting blog post: If your GC reports to the CFO, your company doesn’t understand what Legal does

Listen to the podcast Life as an in-house lawyer and how to get ahead with Tom Kilroy –  one I particularly enjoyed doing

And… while I am on the topic of General Counsel or in-house lawyers The Bizzle has this most enjoyable post: What lawyers can learn from call centres

What today’s charter of workers’ rights looks like

The Guardian: Vince Cable should be ashamed of his ’employer’s charter’, which incites bosses to take advantage of workers’ vulnerability

An Englishman, an Irishman, a Scotsman and a woman were called to the Bar…

“That, more or less, is that starting point of BBC 4’s documentary, The Highest Court in the Land: Justice Makers, available on the iPlayer until the 7th of February. The piece is structured around interviews with, domestic footage following and court shorts showing  four Justices of the United Kingdom Supreme Court at work. It’s certainly worth seeing…. ” an excellent review from Lallands Peat Worrier

Law Review: Responsible reporting – Open justice and the need for restraint – MPs want to ban naming of suspects

The UKSC blog addresses the issue of responsible reporting which I commented on the other day.  It is a cause for concern.

The UKSC Blog: Coverage of Yemshaw judgment raises questions of responsible legal reporting

MPs want to ban the naming of suspects to avoid media feeding frenzies

The Guardian: Bad press behaviour leads inevitably to politicians pushing for laws to curb press freedom. The flouting of the law of contempt (in the Joanna Yeates murder case, for example) has had an inevitable result.

As the attorney-general stood back from the last feeding frenzy of the tabloid and other sharks in the Yeates case – but now supports this action by MPs,  I suppose the best that can be said is,  better late than never.  Freedom of speech comes at a price where issues of a fair trial are concerned.  I would rather have the fair trial.  Comment (and newspaper and media profits will just have to wait until the jury or magistrates apply due process.

An interesting clarification of open justice and the need for restraint from the Court of Appeal in JIH – and – NEWS GROUP NEWSPAPERS LIMITED [2011] EWCA Civ 42

The Master of The Rolls

Open justice and the need for restraint

19. The cardinal importance of open justice is demonstrated by what is stated in Article 6 of the Convention. But it has long been a feature of the common law. It was famously articulated in the speeches in Scott v Scott [1913] AC 417 – see particularly at [1913] AC 417, 438, 463 and 477, per Lord Haldane LC, Lord Atkinson, and Lord Shaw of Dunfermline respectively. The point was perhaps most pithily made by Lord Atkinson when he said “in public trial is to be found, on the whole, the best security for the pure, impartial, and efficient administration of justice, the best means for winning for it public confidence and respect.” For a more recent affirmation of the principle, see R(Binyam Mohamed) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2010] EWCA Civ 65, paras 38-42, per Lord Judge CJ.

20. However, as with almost all fundamental principles, the open justice rule is not absolute: as is clear from Article 6, there will be individual cases, even types of cases, where it has to be qualified. In a case involving the grant of an injunction to restrain the publication of allegedly private information, it is, as I have indicated, rightly common ground that, where the court concludes that it is right to grant an injunction (whether on an interim or final basis) restraining the publication of private information, the court may then have to consider how far it is necessary to impose restrictions on the reporting of the proceedings in order not to deprive the injunction of its effect.

21. In a case such as this, where the protection sought by the claimant is an anonymity order or other restraint on publication of details of a case which are normally in the public domain, certain principles were identified by the Judge, and which, together with principles contained in valuable written observations to which I have referred, I would summarise as follows:

(1) The general rule is that the names of the parties to an action are included in orders and judgments of the court.

(2) There is no general exception for cases where private matters are in issue.

(3) An order for anonymity or any other order restraining the publication of the normally reportable details of a case is a derogation from the principle of open justice and an interference with the Article 10 rights of the public at large.

(4) Accordingly, where the court is asked to make any such order, it should only do so after closely scrutinising the application, and considering whether a degree of restraint on publication is necessary, and, if it is, whether there is any less restrictive or more acceptable alternative than that which is sought.

(5) Where the court is asked to restrain the publication of the names of the parties and/or the subject matter of the claim, on the ground that such restraint is necessary under Article 8, the question is whether there is sufficient general, public interest in publishing a report of the proceedings which identifies a party and/or the normally reportable details to justify any resulting curtailment of his right and his family’s right to respect for their private and family life.

(6) On any such application, no special treatment should be accorded to public figures or celebrities: in principle, they are entitled to the same protection as others, no more and no less.

(7) An order for anonymity or for reporting restrictions should not be made simply because the parties consent: parties cannot waive the rights of the public.

(8) An anonymity order or any other order restraining publication made by a Judge at an interlocutory stage of an injunction application does not last for the duration of the proceedings but must be reviewed at the return date.

(9) Whether or not an anonymity order or an order restraining publication of normally reportable details is made, then, at least where a judgment is or would normally be given, a publicly available judgment should normally be given, and a copy of the consequential court order should also be publicly available, although some editing of the judgment or order may be necessary.

(10) Notice of any hearing should be given to the defendant unless there is a good reason not to do so, in which case the court should be told of the absence of notice and the reason for it, and should be satisfied that the reason is a good one.

Muttley Dastardly LLP (Episode 14): Operation Pharaoh – Positioning for the new Egypt

TOP SECRET / PARTNERS ONLY

BRIEFING PAPER

From: Dr Erasmus Strangelove, Partner, Director of Education, Strategy and Psyops


RE: OPERATION PHARAOH – POSITIONING LEGAL SERVICES IN THE NEW EGYPT

1.  In the wake of events unfolding in Egypt in the last week, from intelligence received from the many, varied and newly minted Egyptologists now broadcasting their views, opinions and thoughts about developments in Egypt on Twitter, I have employed a specialist in information dissimulation and he will be deployed ‘undercover on our behalf’ (Pictured right)  to offer advice to US and UK law firms in London  on the opportunities available to lawyers in what may well turn out to be a new Egypt.  The reasoning behind this deployment is straightforward: The less well informed other law firms are about Egypt, the more likely our own offerings to the Government of Egypt, however constituted, will, be.   We have been fortunate in being able to take advice from an ex-television station reporter  on the traits, knowledge and, most importantly, the dress effected by expert media Egyptologists,  to ensure that managing partners of London firms will feel ‘comfortable’ with their decision to take advice from our operative on matters relating to Egypt. At the moment, we are calling our operative Jamie Ramses; the ‘Jamie’ element providing the right class note and, ‘Ramses’ providing that subtle  Egypt credibility touch.

2.  At this stage, our Psyops unit has not been able to determine (a) whether President Hosni Mubarak will be turning up in Knightsbridge to open a department store with the $25 Billion he is reputed,  by the United Kingdom  free Press,  to have salted away or (b) will continue to govern.  Curiously, not even the United States State Department or, indeed, our own Foreign & Commonwealth Office, were able to give any guidance on this – although The Foreign Office spokesperson at their outsourced call centre in India, who had a very curious nasal Yorkshire accent, did tell us that the prime minister said it was not in anyone’s interest that people are being killed in Egypt ( which they discovered via @Piersmorgan on twitter – a verified personage) and that we should not travel to Egypt unless it was absolutely necessary for us to do so to interfere in the sovereign affairs of an emerging democracy.

3.  Partners may find some comfort, in terms of our dealings with US law firm competitors here in London, that our cousins across the seas do not have a particularly strong grasp of geography according to a Fox News map from 2009 – so we shall do all we can to encourage our competitors to go to Egypt, as depicted on this map, so they can enjoy a warm welcome from the Iraqis. While I appreciate that Partners will be well aware of Egypt’s geographical location, I do like to leaven my Briefing Papers with a bit of light relief,  and the Fox News map is pictured below.  It may be a hoax net post, of course, but I hope that some of our competitors will accept the provenance.

4.  Events continue to unfold.  I don’t think we will see, however, a repeat of the British Government response to The Suez Crisis in 1956.  That would be too much to hope for.  I shall keep you informed

Dr Erasmus Strangelove

Strength & Profits

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Laziness, ignorance of the law, manipulation for political purpose or intellectual deficiency? – Modern law reporting …

I wonder sometimes whether it is laziness, ignorance of the law, manipulation of information for a political purpose or intellectual deficiency, or perhaps a combination of the four, which leads to poor reporting of law in the media.

The King’s Speech is said to be a remarkable film.  That it contains several historical inaccuracies – perhaps not to the point that the only accurate piece of information being that George VI was King, matters not in a drama…or does it?  Christopher Hitchens argues, in times where knowledge of history for many is at best sketchy, that films of this calibre may well distort popular perception of history. I’m happy (up to a point)  to let drama be drama and accept that most seeing the film will understand that it is drama.

The same distortion of perception of law and legal events is arguably true of the power of media in the reporting of law and legal events.

Unfortunately for the media, in the matter of law, if we are to have a credible rule of law of any meaning, it is important that law and legal events, judgments and the like, are reported accurately and fairly. One could add to this the old fashioned concept of responsible reporting.  The disgraceful coverage of the Yeates murder case and the smearing of the reputation of the landlord – who, presumably, will be cleared and released from police bail soon, given that the police have found another suspect to arrest? – is illustrative of a creeping modern trend.

It is bad enough when journalists, many without any formal legal training, misreport on the law – but when weight is added by so called pundits and experts to an erroneous report, the offence to accurate and fair reporting is compounded. When those experts are lawyers – it is, frankly, unacceptable.

Nearly Legal has a fascinating post on this very issue – and I encourage and urge you to read it in full.

On the naughty step – a bag of wind

Nearly Legal has deployed ‘The Naughty Step’ for conduct following on from The Daily Mail’s report on the Supreme Court decision in Yemshaw v LB Hounslow. I agree with Nearly Legal’s dry summation that few would regard the Daily Mail as a newspaper of record…and certainly not for legal matters. The Daily Mail carried the story under the headline:  “Shout at your spouse and risk losing your home: It’s just the same as domestic violence, warns woman judge“.

Nearly Legal puts it very neatly….

“….you may be surprised to learn that it is not the Mail on the naughty step (or perhaps the Mail should be considered to always have been on the step). The Mail is of course a cynical, amoral panderer to a certain petit bourgeois weltanshauung, but it is frankly a bit gauche to be surprised by the depths to which Paul Dacre’s organ will stoop.

No, for the person to be put on the step, we must look to the surprising fact that in its article on Yemshaw the Mail managed to find a supportive quote from a ‘Family Law Expert’, who said:

The judiciary are taking the Humpty Dumpty view, and it risks undermining confidence in the legal system

Nearly Legal notes: [Update: The excellent  UK Human Rights blog has picked up on this post and drawn it together with its own criticisms of reporting of human rights cases – a thoughtful and interesting post. They include a link to the Press Complaints Commission form. What a good idea, and here it is.]

Please do read the rest. Hopefully ‘legal experts’ will keep to their own sphere of expertise, assuming they have any in the first place, before….pronouncing.  I think it best that legal experts themselves do not take a Humpty Dumpty view…lest they undermine faith in the legal system.

In the meantime, of course….. I shall continue to parody through Muttley Dastardly LLP …when I think it appropriate to do so… but that is parody... not legal expertise.

Postcard From The Staterooms: Judicial edition!

Regular readers will know that I try to write once a week from The Staterooms… a more relaxed review of the week than the more clinical Law Reviews I trot out during the working week.

While Twitter was ablaze with newly minted  Egyptian experts last night… and even this morning at 5.30 am when I got up, I spent an amusing half hour reading The Sun online… more of which later… but so profound was the effect on me of reading about Jordan and her cross-dressing cagefighter ex-husband and sundry other showbiz celebs, I decided to make myself some asparagus steamed with molten butter and garlic salt poured over them to add to the pleasure.  I then decided it would be an amusing idea to pour some Gordon’s gin into my mango juice.  I don’t tend to drink at breakfast, but I do remember the late great Sir John Mortimer QC telling my law students some years ago that a glass of champagne at 6.30 am daily…  did remarkable things for the mood.  The gin and mango juice did the business..and after faffing around on twitter for a while I enjoyed a long walk down the Thames tow path, and went back to World’s End for a coffee… passing the boat I used to live on at the moorings at Cheyne Walk, Chelsea by Battersea Bridge – hence the nautical flavour of the postcard header  above.

The boats are pictured here at low tide.  When the tide came in, there was much rocking and wine bottles on the table had to be picked up and secured when the suction from the hull in the mud broke free suddenly from the force of the incoming tide.

I thought that part of my postcard this week should have a judicial theme….

First up..an interesting post from John Bolch at Family Lore on the work of Mr Justice Charles, the Family Division’s most appealed judge, apparently.

I quote from John’s excellent blog post – the full post is well worth reading:

Joshua Rosenberg has pointed out the Court of Appeal’s criticisms of Mr Justice Charles, who is apparently “the most appealed-against judge in the High Court Family Division and the one whose judgments are overturned the most”. Lord Justice Wilson said that he had spent days trying to understand the 484-paragraph judgment delivered by Mr Justice Charles, and quoted barrister Ashley Murray who had said in Family Law:

“There are certain challenges each of us should attempt in our lifetime and for most these involve a particular jump, a mountain climb, etc. Akin to these in the legal world would be reading from first to last a judgment of Mr Justice Charles.”
To which Lord Justice Wilson commented: “Mr Murray’s introductory sentences were witty and brave. In respect at any rate of the judgment in the present case, they were also, I am sorry to say, apposite.” Excellent stuff.

And then a wonderful story from The Sun…

A JUDGE let rip at “soft” Britain yesterday after he was unable to jail a burglar caught red-handed.

Seething Judge Julian Lambert hit the roof over sentencing guidelines he claimed left him hamstrung.

He said of a probation report that reflected guidance that the raider should go free: “I’ve never seen anything so wet in all my life – 80 hours community work for burgling someone’s house.”

The judge told Daniel Rogers, 25: “I very much regret sentencing guidelines which say I should not send you straight to prison. We live in soft times now.”

…. He then TRIPLED the amount of community work to 240 hours, slapped a six-month CURFEW on the crook and imposed an 18-month SUPERVISION order.

Rogers was caught trying to raid a Bristol house by the man who lived there.

Judge Lambert told him at Bristol Crown Court, where he admitted burglary: “You’ve got the lot. It may be easier for you to do the time.”

But… it is not just The Sun with the judicial stories. The Times got in on the action with no less a personage than Lord David Pannick QC having a pop at the judge who recently disgraced herself when up before the magistrates herself….

How temper tantrums and loss of judgment can dog a legal career

Lord Pannick QC writes…behind The Times paywall... but I have succumbed and subscribed…I missed The Times columnists and it isn’t that expensive even though I also buy the paper edition.

Last month a circuit judge, Beatrice Bolton, swore and stormed out of Carlisle Magistrates’ Court after being convicted of failing to control her alsatian.

It had attacked a neighbour’s sunbathing son, biting him on the leg. The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice, who are now considering Bolton’s future on the Bench, should make sure that her new year’s resolution — “I will never sit in a court of law again” — is fulfilled.

Bolton, who sits at Newcastle Crown Court, walked out of the magistrates’ court when the verdict was announced, shouting: “I’m going. It’s a f***ing travesty”.

Moving away from the judges… I did enjoy this article from Joshua Rozenburg in The Guardian…..

DPP’s power to block war crimes arrests is in the public interest

Critics who allege that arrest decisions would be liable to political interference are deliberately misunderstanding the case

While it may appeal to Richard Dawkins and others to arrest Popes when they visit here… or Israeli government officials.. or, indeed anyone who can come within the definition of a war criminal….some would say, the odd president of the United States, former British prime ministers returning from important business counting their lecturing fees etc etc etc.. it does seem to me, at 6.35 pm on a lazy Saturday evening, a glass of Rioja to my left, that the ability to prosecute such matters should be placed in the hands of the DPP rather than left to sundry libertarians etc etc  to issue proceedings before a magistrate to obtain an arrest warrant… Rozenburg noting…“a warrant may be obtained by a private prosecutor on little more than a bare allegation that a named individual is guilty of an offence under English law.”.

The Guardian covers the story: “The director of public prosecutions has disclosed how he proposes to use unique new powers enabling him to block the arrest of visiting foreigners accused of war crimes abroad….. “

And… while Egypt blazes…according to The Sun…they did have time, today, to scream…

NEARLY 2,000 jailed thugs and perverts will get the vote under the latest Government plans, it has emerged.

I really do think that it is time for the government to implement the ECHR judgments and move on.  The alternative is that we come out of the European Convention or seek amendments. It would be rather ironic, given that British lawyers after WWII were instrumental in drafting the European Convention,  for us to say now that we don’t actually want to abide by it.

On that note… have a good weekend and a good week to come.

Best, as always

Charon

Rive Gauche: Legal Ombudsman – ‘Unaccountable and unelected judges’ – Cancel passports – Rollonfriday takes pop at CofL

It sometimes takes me by surprise how quickly Fridays come round – so time for another look from left field from Rive Gauche.

 

Ombudsman refers complaint to CCRC over fear that poor work led to wrongful conviction

This, from Legal Futures, did interest me… “The Legal Ombudsman (LeO) has passed a complaint to the Criminal Cases Review Commission after a solicitor and a barrister’s errors potentially led to a man’s conviction for theft, in one of 365 cases that the service has informally resolved so far, it has emerged.” Well worth a read.

RollonFriday continues to remind its readers about the high salary being taken by College of Law supremo, Nigel Savage, while covering a story on The College of Law’s new two year law degree programme:

“A spokeswoman for the CoL told RollOnFriday that the eye-watering cost hadn’t yet been finalised, but would be “up to £9,000 per year“. She justified this on the basis that students would get 11 hours a week of “face to face teaching” (and definitely not the need to pay its Chief Exec the thick end of half a million quid a year).  More….

On the subject of the two year law degree, which I have offered a view on in an earlier post [Law Review: College of Law to offer two year law degree] –  Alex Aldridge writes : Students weigh up the two-year law degree

British terror suspects banned from returning to UK

In the wake of re-branding Control Orders to TPIMs – which even Rumpelstiltskin couldn’t arrange for anyone to spin into golden PR for Clegg, the government has come up with another wheeze.  When undesirables leave the country (hopefully MI5 will let the government know) the government will cancel their passports and refuse to let them back in.

The Guardian reports: Lawyers condemn increased use of deprivation of citizenship orders, as eight people are served notices while out of the country

With apologies to the silks pictured above.  They were not on a Tunisian style democracy protest march.  I suspect they were on their way to breakfast.  But… it was such a good picture I really could not stop myself!

The UKSC Blog has a fascinating post on…

Do ‘unaccountable and unelected’ judges have too much power?

Legal Week picked it up… and well worth a read…even on a Friday afternoon.

Michael Howard, the former leader of the Conservative Party, this week claimed that “more and more decisions are being made by unaccountable judges”. Essentially making the ‘green light’ argument that judicial intereference with politicians’ decisions should be limited in scope, Lord Howard said: “Judges are unaccountable and unelected and ought to be very reluctant indeed to set aside decisions of this kind”. He was speaking as a group of local authorities were launching a High Court challenge against the Government’s controversial decision to axe Labour’s multibillion-pound Building Schools for the Future secondary school rebuilding scheme.

 

Hat Tip to RollonFriday for publicising this: One-off gig to raise money for the Queensland Flood Relief Benefit – LexisNexis have organised a gig this Sunday, 30 January, to raise funds for all those who’ve been affected by the severe flooding in Australia. Details…

Vince Cable, after a tour de farce on Strictly Come Dancing has taken up stand up comedy. His joke about bankers and skid marks on the road is unlikely to attract any employers apart from reality TV producers who want to go one better than George Galloway dressed in red spandex  saying “Do you want me to be the cat?” on Big Brother – but, surprisingly, he is still a Secretary of State and making some quite important decisions:.  Here he is setting out proposals to reform employment tribunals – a rather illiberal reform from the point of view of the employee but ….SUPER… for employers.

AND finally…… Free Kintish webinar for barristers only 31.1.11

Cassons for Counsel extend to you an invitation from Will Kintish to attend a webinar from the comfort of your own office on Monday 31 January 2011 at 6pm. The session is entitled ‘The Secrets of Great Networkers’ and will last for 45 minutes. Please note that this webinar is completely free of charge!

Details

Cameron calls for ‘reform’ in Egypt

We live in strange times…. and this report from Yahoo.…. makes me wonder ……

Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday that “reform” was needed in Egypt as protests against President Hosni Mubarak’s rule escalated.”What we need is reform in Egypt,” Cameron, who has been at the Davos summit of political and business leaders in Switzerland, told CNN television.

“I mean we support reform and progress in the greater strengthening of their democracy and civil rights and the rule of law. Clearly there are grievances that people have and they need to be met and matched.

Excellent… perhaps we could have some of that in Battersea Square?

I have this image of David Cameron phoning protestors in Egypt to talk about ‘Big Society’ and the Egyptian protests ceasing immediately……  but it is now Friday night…and the Burgundy is rather good…..

Muttley Dastardly LLP (13): MD are hiring and Dr Strangelove is in the chair – The Trainee Contract Interview

Muttley Dastardly LLP interview once each year for eight trainees.  One will make the cut. Retention rates published in the legal press are of no concern to the firm’s enigmatic Director of Education, Training, Strategy and Psyops – Dr Erasmus Strangelove LLB, JD, BCL, MBA,  Ph.D, Barrister

Dr Strangelove took his seat in The Partner’s boardroom,  positioning himself not at the centre of the twenty-five feet long black polished marble table, but at the head of the table on the left hand side of the room. Five of the more senior partners had gathered in the boardroom to witness the interview. They stood, as is the practice at Muttley Dastardly LLP should Partners wish to observe, behind Dr Strangelove; their features reduced to  silhouette by the dim and carefully constructed lighting. It was still dark outside, the dawn just breaking over The City of London.

Eva Braun, the managing partner’s PA, elegant in a black tailored suit and black high heeled shoes,  walked into the darkened boardroom followed by the first interviewee of the morning, a young man with glasses who peered, slightly nervously, down the length of the  twenty-five foot long black marble table at Dr Strangelove.

“Please take a seat Mr Cholmondely-Rotherhythe… I had the opportunity of watching and hearing you….on our high definition security cameras…  introduce yourself in reception to Ms Braun when you arrived, so I trust that I am pronouncing your name correctly….in the English manner…. Chumley?”

Cholmondely-Rotherhythe sat down in the high backed Charles Rennie Mackintosh chair at the opposite end of the table.

“Yes…Rather!”  Cholmondely-Rotherhythe replied, with the enthusiasm of youth unburdened by the cares of modern legal practice.

“You have made a good start Mr Cholmondely-Rotherhythe by not making any inappropriate sexual advances to Ms Braun on arrival, you were on time and you were sober.  You would be surprised what some who apply here do at interview.”   Strangelove said, drily, tapping on his iPad to bring up Cholmondely-Rotherhythe’s Facebook page.

Cholmondely-Rotherhythe said nothing, but was clearly flustered by the question…or was it a statement?

Strangelove looked up and smiled “On the 24th December 2010, at 03.15 hours GMT, you uploaded a number of photographs of yourself onto your Facebook page.  Is it a hobby of yours to dress as Dr Frankenfurter from The Rocky Horror Show or was this just a social event where you wished to express your inner rebel?”

Cholmondely-Rotherhythe shifted in the chair, his mouth dry.  He hesitated for a moment “Ah!  That was a Christmas Eve party…the theme was Rocky Horror.  It was my only evening off from studying law all year.”

“Excellent… that you cast yourself as a principal in that wonderful show demonstrates leadership, confidence, style, elan and……. a disregard for the mores and conventions of conservatism.  I note you went to Winchester, took a First at Oxford…you would not be here had you not….and endured the Legal Practice Course, coming first in your year at your provider of choice..and all without trying to persuade a City firm to sponsor you.  This, we take as a positive at Muttley Dastardly.  Now…tell me…. what is your view on the Court of Appeal, yesterday, removing Peter Smith J from the Mills & Reeve negligence case?  Peter Smith J fears nought…or should I say dreadsnought…. but this is not the first time he has got himself into difficulty?”

Cholmondely-Rotherhythe smiled.  He had read about the case that very morning when he got up at 3.00 am to do some final preparation on the legal news of the day.   “Fascinating case and, indeed, I believe his last tussle with a law firm was in relation to Addleshaws.  I was reading The Lawyer earlier and as far as I recall with my eidetic memory..”Peter Smith J made an unfortunate remark about abuse of process and, The Lawyer reported: “Lord Justice Lloyd made it clear that any comments made about the firm’s alleged abuse of power were “altogether unjustified” and that the firm’s “application cannot fairly be regarded as having been launched only in order to delay the resumption of the trial…..When the trial resumes, Lloyd LJ stated, it should do so under a different judge and directions should be also provided by a chancery judge other than Peter Smith J.”

Two of The Partners standing behind Dr Strangelove broke into applause and one observed “Bravo….. not to you for recalling a report in The Lawyer, young man…we expect that… but bravo to the Court of Appeal.”

Strangelove looked up at the young man twenty-five feet away. “Know any law?  At least you have been taught by people who have Ph.ds and academic experience in their subject…the modern tendency is to fill undergraduate minds with practice and business contextualisation…whatever that is,  from people who may not have actually done any business themselves or, indeed, have practised at the cutting edge of modern legal practice in a top City firm.”

“Yes, I know a fair bit of law.” Cholmondely-Rotherhythe replied confidently.

“Good.” Strangelove said with a smile “You will have an opportunity to demonstrate this to two of our Partners shortly.  They will be most interested to hear of your observations on the new Bribery Act…. a statute of some importance in The City and, certainly, to some of our more adventurous clients.  My final questions are these…. do you understand the culture of our firm? Do you understand the meaning behind our motto…Strength & Profits… in other words, do you feel you have what we will happily take from you for ten years with a view to your joining the Partners one day and enjoying those profits which form the latter part of our motto?  We insist that all our trainees join us knowing what is ahead of them….as  my Tort colleagues…. in those dim distant days when I taught law… would say… are you Volens?”

***

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Make a legally valid will from the comfort of your own home.

Law Review: #Metgate – ‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello….what we have we got here then…… a SIM pin?

#Metgate (or the phone ‘hacking’) scandal continues with Gordon Brown complaining, as some tweeter suggested the other day,  that his phone may NOT have been hacked.  The Telegraph reports today that ‘someone’ may still be at it…….Tessa Jowell alerts police to fresh attempt to hack her mobile phone voicemail last week

David Allen Green, on his Jack of Kent blog, picked this up last September: Why Metgate Matters MetGate: the law relating to interception of telephone calls and voicemail MetGate: why an inquiry is not a party matter

It seems rather surprising that the Metropolitan Police, having declared that the matter had been dealt with some time back, are now speeding into action with the latest revelations, handing the investigation over to a different division within the force.  Surely, another Police force should investigate this?  I observed, as did many, back in September last that this wasn’t going to go away.  Coulson may have resigned and it may well be that he and the prime minister (in terms of his judgment in appointing Coulson)   have nothing to fear… time will tell.

And The Guardian today…

News of the World faces new allegation of phone hacking within last year

Kelly Hoppen, Sienna Miller’s stepmother, is suing the NoW for ‘accessing or attempting to access her voicemail’

And this tweet from: John_Cooper_QC

Congrats to civil lawyers in phone hacking case doing the job of the police. How often are lawyers sniped at? Time to be proud of what we do

Rogering in Chambers and the naming and shaming of lawyers……

While there is no provision, as yet, for continuing personal development (CPD) points to cover the activity  pictured left, it is good to see the legal profession attracting this type of publicity in The Secret Diary of a Call Girl…soon to be on our screens.  The Sun, inevitably, carried the story with the caption…”Billie Piper takes down her briefs”.

On the other hand, on a more serious note, Neil Rose, writing in The Guardian, suggests…

Why lawyers who fall foul of the legal watchdog should be named

The Guardian: Despite arguments for anonymity, telling the public which lawyers have been found to be at fault will help the profession

I have a feeling that The Legal Ombudsman may be biting off a lot of chewable litigation if he does decide to name and shame lawyers.  The Law Society, not surprisingly, is against the idea of lawyers being named when customers complain.  Mind you…. it could provide a fair bit of work for other lawyers do act for the lawyers being complained about?

Neil Rose states that 15-20,000 complaints are likely to flood through The Legal Ombudsman’s door this year. I suspect the naming and shaming issue – despite the value of transparency – may give Legal Ombudsman, Adam Sampson…pause for considerable thought?

Charon goes to a restaurant run by East European border guards?

I wrote this ‘restaurant review’ pastiche three years ago and remembered it while I  was tweeting about bloggers being sued for doing dodgy reviews with @BillfromBendigo in the wake of Duncan Bannatyne’s complaints about one of his hotels getting a poor review ( which I wrote about yesterday).

I thought I’d dig it out again…. I remember the restaurant which inspired it…. to this day! As it happens, I did three real restaurant reviews for LawandMore some years back.  Enjoyed doing them.

 

A Bar & Dining Room
Somewhere in London
Meal for two with wine: £90
Nil points

 


“Have you booked?” asked the black silk shirted Maitre D’ guarding the entrance. The abruptness of the greeting took me by surprise.

“I have not booked. Do you have a table?” Blackshirt’s eyes narrowed as he flicked open the diary. The page had one entry. Blackshirt looked up, eyes darting. “How many of you are there?” It may seem to the casual observer that I suffer from dissociative identity disorder, but I was alone. I heard Sir Alec Guinness in the recess of my mind: “Charon” he said, “Use the Force….”

“I am one.”

The Maitre D’ surveyed the dining room. It was that sort of place… Not a restaurant, but a Bar and Dining Room. It was 12.30. Only two tables were occupied. “Do you smoke?” Blackshirt snapped.

“For England.” I replied.

I was escorted to a table in the corner of the room – a table for two. An East European border guard, dressed as a waitress, appeared with a menu. I selected a bottle of Claret and asked for two espressos and a glass of tap water, no ice. “You want espresso?” the waitress asked, unsmiling. “Now?”

“Yes please.” I watched her walk towards the bar. Well it was more of a march… more Red Square than Sandhurst. I was not invited to taste the wine when it arrived.

The menu was fairly typical of many gastros – a mix of “Confu**tion cooking” with a bit of thai/vietnamese nonsense thrown in. I enjoy reading Anthony Bourdain… but his books, do on occasion, get into the wrong hands… and so it was, today. Couscous and polenta featured heavily. One day I am sure that I will find a gastro pub with a dish called “Irish tagine”.

A couple were seated at a table nearby – both late twenties, both City professionals. I know this because they managed to tell me, indirectly, by relating events to each other of their successes during the week. They talked at each other; he admiring himself repeatedly in the mirrors lining the walls on our side of the restaurant. They obviously knew each other well – at least one assumes so, because, later, declining the offer of pudding, they started eating each other.

I have no idea why nutters on trains, tubes, buses and restaurants gravitate towards me – but it happend again today. The East European border guard escorted another customer to the adjacent table – a man in his early sixties, blazered, highly polished Oxford shoes, grey trousers, Turnbull & Asser shirt, silk tie and a traditional ‘British’ haircut. One could almost smell the George Trumper cologne.

“Good day to you.”

“And to you.” I replied.

“Writer?” the man asked, pointing at my laptop. I learned long ago not to answer that question.

“Just doing a bit of surfing.”

“Surfing Eh?…. yes… I used to surf when I was a junior partner with X&Y in Hong Kong…. on trips to Australia…. tied up a few M&A deals, I can tell you… out there…. those were the days…”

God in heaven. I know I drank a bottle of cider in Church once when I was at Prep school… but I had no idea, then, that I would continue to be punished for that sin nearly 40 odd years later on Easter Sunday 2007… in the form of a retired City lawyer, from the days of Tai Pan, sitting at the next table.

“Really…? good stuff.. ” I replied, affably, but with what I hoped was the correct tone to indicate that I wished ‘to be alone’. It was too late to pretend I was Bulgarian and could not speak English.

So there I was… a couple of young professionals, but a few tables away, talking at each other and Mr Drone, to my right.

“Been to Church?”

I was looking intently at my laptop screen. The words appeared to come from above. I looked at the ceiling. I looked at my bottle of Claret. I had only had one glass.

“The Vicar had a few of us back for a glass of sherry after the service”

“Really…?”

“Yes… quite a few actually. Have to splice the mainbrace after sitting through all that without being able to charge fees at the end of it! ” a statement which provoked so much laughter from the speaker that I was concerned I may have to do a Heimlich manoeuvre on him.

“Oh Yes… Vicar did us a good sermon today…”

Mr Drone told me at length that he would have been in New York to advise on a merger but the US firm had ‘cocked up’ on timing… adding that he liked to take on important cases on a consultancy basis from time to time…

“Ah….”

I drained my glass, re-filled and lit a cigarette.

“Smoker Eh?…yes… used to smoke until the Doc said to me ‘My dear chap, unless you pack in the gaspers now you won’t be able to get it up when you are 65′.” Another burst of self satisfied laughter, gave me the opportunity to wave at the waitress and explain to the gentleman seated at the next table that I needed to concentrate on my work. He made a curious signal, tapping his finger against his nose and said “Got it…Roger… mustn’t stop a chap from his work “

“You are ready with your orders?”

I smiled at the waitress, trying not to look as if I had something to declare, and ordered a main course. I justified my lack of a first course, when questioned, by explaining that I may have a pudding. She seemed satisfied with my explanation and marched off.

It takes a rare talent to cook roast lamb badly, but only inhalation of super strength cannabis would suggest beetroot risotto and chilli jam is a sensible, or even suitable, accompaniment to lamb. The waitress looked at my plate, barely touched. The lemon meringue pie had the merit of being bought in. The wine was more than drinkable and, after negotiating my release without the aid of the Foreign Office, I returned to familiar surroundings.

Home Secretary announces new TPIM control orders!

In a re-branding of the Control Order regime (They are, according to reports on Twitter, to be called TPIMs  – Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures) – it was amusing to note that much of the response on Twitter seemed to be about Theresa May’s jacket.  (I quite like it, as it happens – a bit of colour and art!)

I am not sure whether this sartorial elegance was envisaged by British MP and lawyer Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe  when he drafted what is now called  The European Convention on Human Rights.

Meanwhile…over to to Lord MacDonald QC, a former DPP:

Lord Macdonald: UK ‘over-reacted after 9/11 attacks’

Lord Macdonald told the BBC: “I think we saw some powers, some laws, enacted which did go too far.”

***

And here they are… the new powers…from a tweet:

UKHumanRightsB UK Human Rights Blog
Review of counter-terrorism and security powers – Home Office – http://icio.us/aLOWAr
AND BREAKING NEWS ON TWITTER TONIGHT…

The Law as seen by Charon from a very large glass of Rioja this Burn’s night…..

With a bit of time on my hands tonight, and in the mood to wander about the net looking at law blogs and the legal press, I thought I would bring you a few interesting stories I found….

Warming the bench for solicitors – from the Law Society Gazette: Frances Kirkham, a senior circuit judge and JAC commissioner writes about a joint plan to support more solicitors who wish to join the judiciary.  She notes – “What is disappointing is that the analysis also shows there has been little difference in the percentage of solicitors applying for most roles over the past 10 years.” Read….

I can understand that City lawyers may not be attracted by a judicial post (and would they really be that good in the broad nature of Circuit judge cases, given the highly specialist nature of their work?) but it must be in our interests to draw judges from a wider pool than we have done in the past?

And I did enjoy reading about lawyers sinning…. Legal professionals reveal ‘sins’ in survey.  Unfortunately, it was not salacious….. “One in four lawyers and legal professionals does online shopping at work, while one in eight confesses to doing something at an office party that they later regretted, a recent survey of 500 members of the profession has revealed. Research by twosteps online job board also found that 50% of legal professionals said they would be ‘helpless’ without their iPhone or Blackberry.”

Helpless without their iPhones or Blackberry?….. Indeed.

MI5 and MI6 secrecy move ‘threatens press freedoms’

A rather more serious topic from Guardian Media: “Lawyers representing media outlets argue against government efforts to bring ‘special advocate procedures’ to civil trials. Proposals by MI5 and MI6 to extend courtroom secrecy to civil trials would unfairly restrict the right of the media to act as the “eyes and ears” of the public, the supreme court heard today.”

And… on the subject of….Obiter J has a fascinating post…..

Secrecy in Civil Cases … (Mis)use of Libel actions … Law Commission report

And above is Bentham in all his glory stuffed in a glass case at UCL ….complete with head at his feet.

And… over to the UKSC Blog – an excellent  resource for analysis of Supreme Court decisions

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The former leader of the Conservative Party has claimed today that “more and more decisions are being made by unaccountable judges”. Essentially making the ‘green light’ argument that judicial intereference with politicians’ decisions should be limited in scope, Lord Howard said: “Judges are unaccountable and unelected and ought to be very reluctant indeed to set aside decisions of this kind”.

I’m afraid I always conjure up this wonderful cartoon by Steve Bell when I read about Michael Howard.

Tachetastic….?

After nearly 30 years of suit and brogue wearing while I carried out life in a previous incarnation…. I took to growing taches a couple of years ago.  I get bored soon enough and shave them off… but at Christmas last, given that it was snowing… snow on an apocalyptic scale, snow that Chancellor Osbore would reveal today on BBC Radio 4 and sundry other media outlets…was the wrong kind of snow for the 0.5% contracting British economy…. I grew a tache.  This picture (in fact taken by @Geeklawyer eighteen months or so back – which I fiddled with in Photoshop to get that film noir look ) – shows the tache roughly as it is today.   I think I shall keep it for a while…. I am speaking on a few panel discussion group evenings…and a blawger needs a tache to do that…. trust me.

I didn’t have time to blog yesterday. Work got in the way… although it was enjoyable work. Done a bit more today…below… so… on to the morrow.

Sláinte – for Burn’s night…..

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm.

Some hae meat and cannae eat. Some would eat that want it. But we hae meat and we can eat. Sae let the Lord be thankit

Lord Taylor of Warwick guilty

The BBC reports: Ex-Tory peer Lord Taylor of Warwick has been found guilty of making £11,277 in false parliamentary expenses claims. The 58-year-old peer claimed travel costs between his Oxford home and Westminster, as well as subsistence for staying in London. He claimed he had made the false claims “in lieu of a salary”, and had been acting on the advice of colleagues. But a jury at Southwark Crown Court found him guilty by an 11-1 majority verdict. He has been released on bail pending sentencing at a date to be confirmed.

 

I did find this quote from the BBC report astonishing: “Lord Taylor said it had been a common practice among peers to claim for fake journeys and enter expenses claims with a false address as a main residence, and he believed it was acceptable to do this provided there was a “family connection” with the property.”

David Allen Green writes in The New Statesman:

I’m not a criminal lawyer – will Taylor be jailed?  I suspect so, given the circumstances and the guidelines. How long?  Any criminal lawyers prepared to offer a view?

Law Review: Duncan Bannatyne goes to war against Tripadvisor?

No one could accuse Duncan Bannatyne on Burn’s Night (or, indeed, any other night) of being a ‘wee sleekit cowrin tim’rous beastie’… in his business dealings, although some may take the view that he can be a beastie on Twitter: here and here.

Bannatyne, or Duncan Genocide as Harry & Paul parody him on Dragon’s Den,  has another fight on his hands and on this issue I have some sympathy for him.

Duncan Bannatyne considers legal action against TripAdvisor

The Firm reports: “Dragon’s Den panellist and fitness and leisure entrepreneur, Duncan Bannatyne has launched an outspoken attack on the website TripAdvisor, which he described as ‘despicable and cowardly’.  Bannatyne said he was considering spearheading a campaign against the website, as well as suing it, after it compared one of his own hotels to Fawlty Towers.”

Briefly: Tripadviser (40 million hits a month) allows people to publish reviews of hotels etc on their website.  Itb is clearly influential.  Bannatyne took exception to a review which compared one of his hotels to Fawlty Towers and is reported as stating…” TripAdvisor, he said, should commit to removing fraudulent or defamatory reviews, rather than simply giving management a right of reply.”

As the UKSC Blog notes in their review of The Supreme Court in 2010: Joseph v Spiller [2010] UKSC 53.  Another first: this time the Supreme Court’s first defamation case. The Court considered and expanded the scope of the “fair comment in the public interest” defence – now re-named by Lord Phillips as the “honest comment” defence.

The Drum contacted Campbell Deane, partner in law firm Bannatyne Kirkwood France & Co (no relation) to get a legal perspective on the situation – worth a read.

Bannatyne may well have a more difficult task in defamation. There are dangers, however, with successful businesses and disgruntled customers.  We do have a tall poppy syndrome in this country – it is a national sport to build people up only to cut them down and few successful organisations will have a 100% satisfaction rate.  A bad review can be damaging – and while  a review may be ‘honest’ under the law of defamation,  it may well be written with other motives – a refund for example. While I prefer to pay people to go to the gym for me these days so that I can keep fatuous New Year resolutions, I am told by friends that Bannatyne’s gyms are good so I can sympathise with Bannatyne and his irritation here.  Bannatyne does a lot of good work for Charity, is resident in Britain and he hasn’t built up solid businesses by providing a bad service.  I might find him abrasive on Twitter but he has been good value in the past on Dragon’s Den – if a bit too direct for some of the contenders. Publicity can be unfair sometimes.

There are, however, dangers in taking successful websites onThe Streisand effect; comment on twitter et al, some accurate, some perhaps not so, can have a far more damaging effect.  At least Tripadvisor appears to give a right of reply unlike the Solicitorsfromhell website which, if I recall, offered to remove reviews for money!

Sometimes, discretion be the better part of valour….or, indeed… the old aphorism…never apologise, never explain may be valuable on occasion.

Law Review: College of Law to offer two year law degree

College of Law to offer two-year undergraduate law degree

Interestingly, both BPP Law School and The College of Law are now going head to head with leading Russell Group universities by providing law degrees.  The College of Law LLB degree will run initially in the College’s London, Birmingham and Chester offices from September 2012.  The Lawyer reports that the fees will be £18,000 – right at the upper point of fees which may be charged by traditional universities in the new post-Brownian era.

CoL chief Nigel Savage told The Lawyer: “I’ve said consistently that the undergraduate law degree is no longer fit for purpose and should be more in line with medical degrees by combining the right amount of law with the right amount of context.”

I have my reservations about the current craze for describing law degrees as ‘not fit for purpose’ and await the results of the review by the legal profession regulators to see how their vision of legal education pans out.

Both BPP and The College of Law run sophisticated offerings for the LPC and BPTC, with equally hefty fees, so it will be interesting to see how they compete with traditional universities who have far more experience in running undergraduate and postgraduate law degrees and a very different research based ethic. Both law schools have the financial muscle to invest in high quality education and both are well aware of the need to be client focused.  They don’t always achieve this, judging by some of the comments on the various student forums on the net, but no institution can please all the people all of the time.  Nevertheless, it would be folly to discount or ignore criticism from fee paying customers – and these customers are paying a lot of money for their legal education.  The traditional universities will also start to feel the bright light of student fee payer power when their fees rise.

BPP and The College of Law have enjoyed primacy at  the vocational stage of legal education.  They will have to start at the bottom of the reputation ladder when it comes to competing with the top UK universities offering law degree programmes.   For my part?  I would say that it is not unreasonable to suggest that the deans of traditional Russell Group universities will have to keep an eye on their backs and up their game to stay ahead.

I am doing a series of podcasts on legal education – which is ongoing.  You may be interested in hearing the views of those I have interviewed thus far?

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

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

Par Avion from The Staterooms: Twitteratigate and other absurd *Twuffoonery*

I really could not give a damn about twitter rankings and all the self aggrandising puffery which goes with social meedja. Brian Inkster has a very thorough piece on the twitter nonsense which I have commented on myself only recently.  Brian Inkster’s very thorough review of this nonsense and twuffoonery is worth a read.


And… while I am it…..

Have a good week…

Best, as always

Charon

Lord Shagger calls on Lords to be responsible from his Monaco tax haven

Bizarre… but this is what The Sunday Mirror is reporting tonight…. these politicians….they lead unusual lives….. Coulson gone….Johnson gone….. Police investigation into what close protection means…. TB at Chilcot….. what next?

Lord Strathclyde’s affair with single mum

Read?

One can always rely on twitter to bring a sense of objectivity and proportion….



 

# Phonegateschmonegate #Metgate etc etc etc – Coulson a goner!

An interesting news day with Blair at Chilcot and Andy Coulson a goner. The ravening horde are now asking… Why Oh Why did David Cameron appoint him in the first place? ..question of judgement….blah…blah…..

David Allen Green….. (aka JackofKent) may have a SCOOP!

What did Dominic Mohan say in 2002?

Dominic Mohan is now editor of the Sun, and in 2002 he was editing its showbusiness column.

In the Guardian on 1 May 2002, there appeared an intriguing paragraph in a report about “showbusiness journalism’s most glamorous event, the Princess Margaret Awards – aka the Shaftas“….

You’ll have to go to The Staggers to read the rest….. !

Law Review: Coulson resignation – Regulatory Ambush – Client Care (but not how we know it) – Have lawyers escaped culpability for credit-crunch et al…?

It’s client care, but not as we know it – do law firms need professional account managers?

Tim Bratton is general counsel of the Financial Times and blogs at thelegalbratblawg. Click here to follow Tim on Twitter

An interesting article by Tim published by Legal Week:  Read

Warning over ‘regulatory ambush’

The regulators and the regulator of regulators are busy… but The Law Society is expressing concern….

The Law Society Gazette reports:

Lawyers could face a ‘regulatory ambush’ if a radical overhaul of the solicitors’ rulebook goes ahead without a ‘change in culture’ at the profession’s regulator, the Law Society has warned.

In a response to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Architecture of Change consultation, which closed last week, Chancery Lane said it has ‘substantial concerns’ about the proposals and the regulator’s capacity to introduce them on such a short timescale.

The SRA is planning to introduce so-called ‘outcomes-focused regulation’ to coincide with the next phase of Legal Services Act 2007 reforms this October. The new regime will be based on broad principles rather than the current detailed rulebook, and is intended to give firms greater freedom in how they comply with their regulatory obligations, with the onus on self-reporting.

While the diamond geezer who runs Barclays Bank told a Commons Select Committee that it was time for banks to stop apologising (and then, promptly, had to apologise for his Bank misselling products and take a hit with a large fine) I have often wondered how lawyers managed to escape censure in the great recession toxic banking products scandal which wrecked the global economy.  John Flood has an interesting blog post on this very topic:

How Have the Lawyers Escaped Culpability?

Obiter J writes…. “It has been an interesting few days in London.  Protesters in Parliament Square have been given letters stating that legal action will be taken against them if they continue to obstruct pavements – see  BBC 17th January.  Of course, Ministers are on record as saying that these protesters have to be cleared away so that they do not spoil the Royal wedding procession (Telegraph 25th November 2010).  Meanwhile, it seems that peers of the realm have been camping within the House of Lords – see BBC 18th January.  Peers allied to the Labour Party have opposed the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill which seeks to reduce the number of Parliamentary Constituencies from 650 to 600 and to change to the “Alternative Vote” (AV) system. …

Read: Campers in Parliament Square and in Parliament … Sentencing of Edward Woollard … Prisoners voting

And… in Breaking Labour Party news……. Alan Johnson resigns and the press speculate about his Police protection officer having an affair with Johnson’s wife. Close protection taking on an altogether different meaning if true…

Coulson’s resignation must not be seen as the end of the hacking scandal

The Guardian Greenslade blog states: “So, the drip-drip-drip of revelations has finally led Andy Coulson to resign as the prime minister’s director of communications. It is regarded as such big news that it has displaced the planned TV coverage of the Chilton inquiry on both Sky News and the BBC News.”

In David Cameron‘s statement, he said it was due to “pressures” on Coulson……
It is Friday… so it is RollonFriday.com time for the more bizarre news from our profession… this time from the United States…
Pants-dropping lawyer charged with public indecency
An Ohio lawyer who decided to drop his trousers (US: pants) and pants (US: grundles) in a counselling session for teenagers has found himself facing two misdemeanour counts of public indecency……  (The lawyer claimed it was part of an educational programme)
As RoF comments….”Quite what the educational benefits might be of seeing the junk in Walkley’s trunk remains unclear.”

Rive Gauche: City partners in 50 hours a week minimum commitment to the firm shock!

It has been some time since I did a Rive Gauche posting – a view from slightly left of field… but a number of things have caught my eye today meriting a bit of coverage without, perhaps, the more serious analysis of my Law Review posts which are designed give readers a quick overview of interesting legal issues of the day.

Ashurst ushers in 50-hour week benchmark for partners

Legal Week reports: Ashurst partner targets and steps to retain female lawyers assessed

Ashurst has upped the number of hours partners must commit to the firm, with all partners now formally obliged to carry out at least 50 hours of firm-related work each week. Partners must spend the equivalent of 10 hours each weekday on either billable client work or other firm-related activities – over 40% more than was previously required. The quota, which is measured on time sheets, is significantly higher than the 35-hour minimum weekly requirement previously in place…

Senior partner Charlie Geffen  commented: “This is an attempt to set a clear standard among partners – it is important that they set a positive example for all lawyers and non-lawyers across the firm.”

While I suspect that 50 hours is fairly normal for some in City firms – friends tell me that this is so – I cannot help but wonder if ambitious female associates (and more women than men are qualifying as lawyers now) who also want a family, quite reasonably, may find this 50 hour a week minimum culture less attractive than employment in other sectors in the City where hours are, they say, more flexible?   It would be interesting to hear from any women readers who practice in The City on this point.

I did enjoy this comment on the Legal Week article…

eh?

“This is an attempt to set a clear standard among partners – it is important that they set a positive example for all lawyers and non-lawyers across the firm.”

The “positive” example presumably being ignoring your family and friends so that you can spend more time chained to your desk. Oh dear. I think Mr Geffen and his partners might need some counselling on life priorities.

jack dee

I wasn’t able to get an audience or even a phonecall with Matt Muttley, managing partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP, but his PA, Eva Braun,  did phone me back to tell me that The Partners at Muttley Dastardly LLP did not disclose information relating to billing, rates or, indeed, anything, to members of the Press or itinerant blawgers. Eva Braun was able to tell me that if an associate at Muttley Dastardly LLP only managed 50 hours a week, an appointment with the in-house physician would be arranged in the first instance;  and if this ‘difficulty’ continued or was repeated, the associate would be provided with a black plastic bag and a career information pack from the Metropolitan Police Community Support Officer’s scheme.

IN OTHER NEWS….

Theresa May allows 28-day limit on detaining terror suspects without charge to lapse

The Guardian: Home secretary faces embarrassment as power to detain suspects without charge to revert from 28 days to 14 from midnight on Monday

“The home secretary, Theresa May, faces fresh embarrassment over the much-delayed review of counter-terrorism powers after the Home Office confirmed that the police power to detain terror suspects for up to 28 days without charge will lapse on midnight on Monday.”

The much vaunted reform of civil liberties laws seems to be on slow speed and, it would appear, that 28 day detention without charge has been replaced by 14 days by default rather than with a fanfare. No doubt, legislation will be forthcoming to provide a 28 day power for emergencies and….. the much vaunted reform of all those Labour government laws?

Parliament is a sausage-machine: the world according to Kenneth Clarke

Afua Hirsch, writing in the Guardian, reports: The balance of power in the constitution is no joke, but it’s still hard to take the lord chancellor seriously

Watching Kenneth Clarke give evidence to the House of Lords constitutional committee this week was an almost surreal experience. The lord chancellor has a level of confidence that can only come with such a seasoned career in politics. He never refers to any notes, declines to do anything that would involve extra work (opening and closing remarks were far too arduous), and was on incredibly chummy terms with the rest of the committee, his mates in the Lords, the inns of court, and doubtless various gentlemen’s clubs as well.

But what really sticks out about Clarke is that he manages to pull off both being the government’s senior minister in charge of justice, and appearing to think much of its work is a waste of time.

At the risk of putting a dissenting view, I am a fan of Ken Clarke; a politician of considerable experience and charm (although, as we know from Einstein, everything is ‘relative’), tasked with the unpalatable task of contributing cuts to the greater good of Cameron and Osbore’s vision of a Big Society and repayment of the deficit. While I have grave doubts about the wisdom of cutting legal aid for reasons I have given in earlier blog posts, I do feel that Clarke’s preparedness to look at the real politik of the prison system and punishment is to be welcomed.

Afua Hirsch commented…

The only thing Clarke did appear to take seriously, in fact, was the demise of parliament, whilst the judiciary has continued to gain power apace.

“Parliament has been made too weak vis-à-vis the modern executive and parliament should be strengthened,” Clarke said, in what felt like the most serious moment of the whole hearing.

“In my time in politics what has happened is the courts have become much more courageous and much more powerful and have invented and expanded judicial review to a quite astonishing extent.”

“Parliament has been very timorous towards the executive and has steadily allowed all its powers to be eroded and allowed the institution to be turned into a bit of a sausage machine,” he finished.

It seems Kenneth Clarke can only sound serious for so long.

Is this such a bad thing?  Given the sofa government of Blair, a very murky background to the waging of a war in Iraq, the growth of power of a cabal or coterie of ‘inner circle’ ministers (in both Labour and Coalition) I would have thought that strengthening the powers of Parliament and the  judiciary’s willingness to hold government to the rule of law is a good thing? ( And, I do think that the establishment of a UK Supreme Court – and separation from Parliament – is a good thing.)

Far fewer prisoners will now get the right to vote

The Guardian: Faced by a backbench rebellion, the government is to slash the number of prisoners to be given the right to vote, even though it is likely to increase the risk of successful compensation claims against the government in court.

While it may may David Cameron sick at heart to give convicted rapists, murders and sundry other criminals the right to vote, I can’t help but wonder if continuing resistance – appeasement to The Sun and ‘Middle Britain / Alarm Clock Britain The Squeezed Middle (take your pick) – to European Copurt of Human Rights judgments is a clever strategy.

Others have debated this issue in detail – notably The UK Human Rights blog and Carl Gardner.

Adam Wagner, of UK Human Rights blog has an interesting analysis: Prisoner voting and the £160m question

Adam Wagner notes: ” The Council of Europe is taking the issue seriously, and if the UK fails to comply it may seek to flex its muscles. And more claims may then follow, from the other 70,000 or so serving prisoners, which would cost the UK more. We shall see.

This is all fiendishly complex, and it is unsurprising that nobody, including the government, is quite sure what would happen once it has changed the law. Many, including legal blogger Carl Gardner, argue that the European court keeps moving the goalposts. That criticism has some force. But unless the current government swallows the bitter pill of prisoner voting reform now, it will simply delay the pain until later.

I tend to agree with Adam Wagner’s take on the matter.  I am also a pragmatist.  How many prisoners will actually bother to vote?  What percentage of the prison population will be ‘bovvered’?   There are, in my view, far more important and pressing human rights issues than resisting ECHR judgments on this.

The Legal Future by Legal Futures

I am developing a series of podcasts on the legal profession to be run from early February through to April.  I enjoy Neil Rose’s writing in The Guardian and on Legal Futures (His brainchild).

As a foretaste, if you haven’t read any of Neil’s writing, may I suggest you have a look at two recent posts?:

The themes of 2011, part 1

It is hard to resist the journalist’s natural inclination at this time of the year to fill space with predictions for the year ahead. But 2011 is a hard year to predict ….

The themes of 2011, part 2

Last week I highlighted alternative business structures, the Legal Services Board and diversity as three of the key themes I expect to pervade Legal Futures’ coverage of the market in 2011. Here are three more, again in no particular order: the Legal Ombudsman, professional indemnity insurance, and outcomes-focused regulation/the new Solicitors Handbook.

And..finally… some Charles Pugsley Fincher Esq for you…always worth a look…..

AND… IN LATE BREAKING NEWS FROM WESTMINSTER…ALAN JOHNSON RESIGNS AS SHADOW CHANCELLOR….


Honourable members may not tweet in the Chamber of The House of Commons!

While the judges are permitting  people to tweet from court – the Deputy Speaker today announced that tweeting was not permitted in the Chamber of The House of Commons…

For the life of me, I can’t see why MPs should not be permitted to tweet.  We can watch the proceedings on television.  It is our Parliament. The MPs serve our interests and the national interest – possibly.  I follow quite a few MPs on twitter and enjoy their tweets.  What harm can possibly arise?  The decision is daft.

No Twitter for MPs in Commons, says Deputy Speaker

BBC: MPs have been told they should not use Twitter while sitting in the the House of Commons.

Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said they ought not to “be tweeting from the chamber to let the outside world know what is going on”.

Not let the outside world know what is going on?!  Bizarre…. truly bizarre. I thought the whole idea of televising Parliament was so we would know what is going on?   I suspect that Deputy Speaker Hoyle may find that advancement is not for him?  More than 100 MPs use Twitter to communicate with their constituents and other followers.

Hat Tip to @Pam_nAshes for alerting me to this. I like Tom Harris MP and his humour and directness on Twitter.  Pity he gave up blogging.  His blog was good.  I had the very real pleasure of doing a podcast with Tom last year before the election.  I enjoyed the podcast.  If you didn’t listen – well worth a listen.

AND… just when I didn’t think the day could not get more surreal… this…..

Tory MP sorry after novelty tie breaks into speech

BBC: A Conservative MP has apologised after inadvertently turning on his musical tie while making a speech in the House of Commons.

Nadhim Zahawi’s red neckpiece – worn as part of an anti-cancer campaign – started playing a tinny tune during a debate on education funding.

Deputy Speaker Dawn Primarolo urged him to be “more selective” in future in his choice of ties.

Mr Zahawi agreed to abide by her “words of wisdom” from now on.

TWITTER can be a force for good and pleasure… I love it.  Hat Tip to @Loveandgarbage for alerting me to this…. as @loveandgarbage said to me in a tweet… beyond parody!

***

BREAKING NEWS!  Hat Tip to@zevans23

British MPs told they can use Twitter after temporary ban imposed

British MPs had been told earlier this afternoon that they should not be using Twitter while they sit in the House of Commons. But that decision has been retracted.
The Deputy Speaker of the house, Lindsay Hoyle, warned MPs they cannot tweet from the chamber allowing the world outside knowledge of what was going on. However, in the last few hours, this decision appears to be reversed, reports in the Press Association say, with a reprieve handed to the members allowing them to carry on tweeting.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/302731#ixzz1BWXynEyB

***

AND  a bit of law… one for the Constitutional Law specialists…

Statements and speeches made in the Chamber of The House of Commons are privileged.  No defamation suit may follow unless privilege is waived.  What about Tweets from the Chamber? 🙂

LATEST!…. From The Telegraph…

Commons Twitter ban was ‘just a joke’

MPs have been given the green light to post messages on Twitter from the Commons chamber after an apparent ban on tweeting during debates.

Tom Watson, the Labour MP, and another prolific tweeter, went straight to Mr Hoyle for clarification and was told the remarks were tongue-in-cheek.

He then tweeted: “The Deputy Speaker cracked a gag, fair play to him for trying, at least.

“He’s told me he didn’t ban Twitter.”

Read….

Ah well….. it was amusing while it lasted….

Taking “Taking Rights Seriously” seriously

In my thirty years of teaching law, I have taught Contract, Sale, International Trade, Tort, Equity, Roman Law and……. Jurisprudence, now a subject (sadly) not often to be found on the syllabus in the modern law schools.

It was, therefore, with some interest that I read James Dean’s excellent short piece in The Law Society Gazette on the the case of the devout Christian hoteliers who have to pay damages to a gay couple for discriminating against them. James Dean extracts the wonderful opening of Judge Andrew Rutherford’s judgment…. I extract, but a small part.  It is worth reading in full.

In 1882 Her Majesty Queen Victoria opened a new court building. It is in the Strand just at the entrance to the City of London. It was built to house the superior courts of this land with the exception of the House of Lords. No one who enters can fail to be struck by the similarity of the great hall with the interior of those gothic cathedrals with which this kingdom is so richly endowed. But if, before entering, you gaze upon the façade of the building you will notice four statues……

James Dean asks the question: Are the law’s Judaeo-Christian roots withering?

Given that Britain leans ever more to secularism, given that the Church of England and,  is no longer at the very heart of many families’  lives  and given that we are an eclectic peoples of many faiths, for those who do believe, I rather suspect our Judaeo-Christian legal roots (if indeed our laws were actually based on a deep understanding of those mores – a complex issue)  are withering in favour of the positivist norm of law – a human construct – beset with all the frailties of the human condition, yet one, I would argue, more rational than the social engineering and control of religion used by the rulers and the state in our lands in days long gone, but still convenient to the rulers and law makers of other lands.

Judge Rutherford did make the point that modern laws do cut across religious beliefs. Times have changed.  The  laws have to address many interests and, of course, are the product of the values and agenda of those who hold power in governments of the day.

It is an interesting issue. I won’t, however, launch upon a lengthy exposition or disquisition on the legalo-philosophic base of our laws in the 21st century.  I shall leave that to my rather dull brother, Professor RD Charon (pictured right), an embittered academic who wrote many books and articles which few read.  I recall that he gave me a signed copy of his magnum opus…. The moralo-ethical construct – in praise of natural law and rebuttal of Hart’s Concept of Law. It is no longer in print – mercifully. He could only afford to self publish ten copies.

Anyway… back to Judge Andrew Rutherford.  Good to see a judge doing a bit of writing in judgments. Lord Denning MR  was rather good at it, of course and often leavened rather dry judgments on commercial and contract matters with a bit of colourful prose and observation of the human condition.

I particularly liked this quote…. rather appropriate in these dark days…

The House of Commons starts its proceedings with a prayer. The chaplain looks at the assembled members with their varied intelligence and then prays for the country. 

Lord Denning

Law Review : Afua Hirsch is speechless – No Win no Fee blow –

Afua Hirsch… editor of Guardian Law… is speechless! Hat Tip @loveandgarbage

Libel reform closer after Campbell ruling

Greenslade blog Guardian: The European Court of Human Rights has dealt a mighty blow to no-win, no-fee arrangements (CFAs) with the ruling on the Naomi Campbell case in favour of Mirror Group Newspapers. It is sure to bolster those bodies pushing for libel law reform, but as I argue in my London Evening Standard column today, conditional fee arrangements should not be eliminated altogether. It is the way they operate that requires attention.”

The UK HUman Rights blog considers this issue in detail: Analysis: Costs Regime in Peril after Strasbourg Naomi Campbell Ruling and  “Blackmail” costs system violated Daily Mirror’s freedom of expression rights in Naomi Campbell case

And finally… Richard Craig writes in to the blog:

What a pity that the Telegraph chose to report the findings of a recent  meeting of Transport Select Committee in such a one-sided manner, not even pausing to perhaps let anyone who isn’t a spokesperson for the insurance industry get a word in edgeways.

Advertising: the insurance companies are aggrieved by the ‘aggressive television marketing campaigns’ run by claims specialists. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of the last time I saw a PI company advert on television, whereas you can’t move for meerkats, Iggy Pop or that blasted opera singer (thank the Lord his most recent advert takes the form of a silent movie). A well-placed source whispers in my ear that the insurance industry spent £285m on advertising last year. Bit of a case of the insurers’ pot calling the lawyers’ kettle black. Lord Young, who was appointed by the government to see what all the ‘compensation culture’ fuss was about last year, upon publishing his findings then admitted he had no problem with the nature of PI advertising at all.

Costs: Insurers complain that costs incurred contesting car crash claims and other PI cases have driven up consumers’ premiums by about 30% in the last year. But somebody’s being diddled because legal costs for RTA personal injury cases where the compensation award is below £10,000 have been fixed since October 2003. Such cases make up well over two-thirds of all vehicle-related PI cases. Never mind the adoption of the RTA portal last year, which served to lower costs yet again. These savings are not being passed on to the consumer.

Fraud control: Esure have obviously had their spirit broken by employing Michael Winner all those years ago. They say that, in a certain area of Birmingham, they are now paying out compensation to three times more ‘injury claimants’ than they were a year ago, and yet mysteriously the number of accident damage cases has remained the same. Is it too simple to suggest that maybe some people are being a little teensy bit dishonest? And maybe Esure should improve their fraud detection instead of blaming personal injury companies? It’s not our fault there are criminals out there.

Incentives: The PI industry was then lambasted for offering incentives for claimants to tell their friends and colleagues about their company. It is to be assumed that insurance companies have never offered anything similar in their lives. Insurance companies and PI firms are both businesses that make money from either peoples’ legal obligations or their use of a legal service. For one industry to accuse the other of below-the-belt behaviour when it is arguably more flagrantly extravagant in the same areas is nothing short of ridiculous.

Law Review: Another nail in in the coffin of rapacious libel lawyers

European court deals blow to no win, no fee deals in Naomi Campbell case

Guardian: Judgment provides boost for press freedom following marathon legal battle by Daily Mirror over privacy ruling

The European court of human rights today unanimously ruled that the recovery of success fees by lawyers in privacy and defamation cases represents a significant violation of freedom of expression, in a case brought by the publisher of the Daily Mirror.

In a judgment that is likely to have significant ramifications for future privacy and libel cases in the UK, the Strasbourg court ruled in favour of Mirror Group Newspapers, finding that the “depth and nature of the flaws” in the no win, no fee payments system is in breach of the European convention on human rights.

Mark Stephens, the media lawyer who drafted a submission on behalf of the organisations, told the Guardian that today is a “very good day for justice in this country”.

“This is a stunningly good result,” Stephens said. “I put a brief in on behalf of NGOs [non-governmental organisations] who are being threatened by these rapacious claimant libel lawyers.

“Today the claimant libel lawyers’ train has hit the buffers – this is a very good day for justice in this country. Our legal costs are 140 times more expensive than in many countries in Europe. I hope this is a clarion call to judges in the high court to keep costs low.”

This is a good result for freedom of expression.  It will be interesting to see what the European Court of Human Rights makes of Max Mosley’s claim for privacy.  Joshua Rozenberg, writing in The Guardian recently,  noted…” No journalist wants to see an enhanced law of privacy – especially at a time when the government may be willing to restore some of the balance to libel law. But when the Strasbourg judges deliver their ruling later in the year, we may well find that a prior notification requirement is what the court has imposed on us.”

It is  unfortunate, on the same day, that the Cabinet Secretary has prevented The Chilcot Inquiry from publishing notes of discussions between Tony Blair and George Bush.

The Independent reports: ” The head of the civil service has refused to allow the official inquiry into the Iraq War to publish notes sent by Tony Blair to former US president George Bush. Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell denied requests for exchanges between the former prime minister and Mr Bush about Iraq to be declassified and released……..”

Inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot said: “The inquiry is disappointed that the Cabinet Secretary was not willing to accede to its request….This means that in a narrow but important area the inquiry may not always be able to publish as fully as it would wish the evidential basis for some of its comments and conclusions.”

Sir Menzies Campbell MP noted on BBC radio 4 earlier this evening that the rules of our system allow a civil servant to dictate in this instance, that changes to our system are needed and that there was little David Cameron or Nick Clegg could do. Ming Campbell expressed the view that even, at this late stage, the matter should be re-considered by the Cabinet Secretary.  Is this decision of the Cabinet Secretary perhaps unwise? Comment and conclusions will be put by Chilcott and, inevitably, comment and conclusions will be drawn by readers and commentators when the Chilcot Inquiry reports.  The absence of certain information on a ‘narrow but important area’ may be more damaging in terms of speculation and opinion than the actual information itself?

Gus O’Donnell is right

John Rentoul, writing in The Independent opposes Sir John Chilcot’s view and provides a very interesting quotation:

“….there is only one way to interpret this, which is that the dreadful secret of how Blair signed Britain up in blood and oil to do whatever the idiot Bush wanted is being concealed”Well, not concealed exactly, because, as the excellent Andrew Sparrow reports, we know what one of the notes said, at the end of June 2002, because it was in Andrew Rawnsley’s book:

You know, George, whatever you decide to do, I’m with you.”

And finally… on the theme of expression…. freedom of expression is a vital and important freedom…. but it is a freedom circumscribed by a need for fairness and accurate reporting.  Adam Wagner of 1 Crown Office Row and the UK Human Rights blog reports: Inaccurate human rights reporting will not help either side of the debate

Law Review: Courtesy titles for Supreme Court Justices

The Guardian reports that United Kingdom Supreme Court justices are to receive courtesy titles in future.  A row had developed over Sir John Dyson’s recent appointment – the first justice to be appointed without a peerage.  The Supreme Court has now been separated geographically and constitutionally from The House of Lords and is no longer the Judicial Committee of The House of Lordsergo, no peerages.

The Queen will be granting courtesy titles to all future Supreme Court justices.  The Guardian continues with a rather dull debate on the unfairness inherent in the male and female versions of the courtesy title.

As Sir Geoffrey Bindman, founder of Bindmans law firm said. “But if you are going to call them lord, why not give them a peerage. It seems a bit anomalous not to do so.”

For my part, this is a missed opportunity to place the United Kingdom Supreme Court apart from the geegaws and baubles of a bygone age; to set it apart politically, philosophically and morally from the  patronage of parliament, government, executive or monarch.  I rather suspect that the justices would have been able to carry out their task at the pinnacle of the appellate judiciary without titles of any sort – save for the most important title of all –  ‘Justice’ – before their name.

I don’t suppose it matters that much…. The House of Lords isn’t what it was……. although it does seem to have quite a few brigands, thugs, and thieves, perjurers and expense fiddlers… rather as of the days of old… as members  still.

Law Review:650 green bottles hanging on the wall? – and other matters…..

With one former MP in prison, another about to be sentenced to a stretch (probably),  and trials coming up for several more MPs and a peer, The Sunday Times reported this morning that the CPS has a few more files to deal with…including a file on the expenses of Nadine Dorries MP.  Ms Dorries denies any wrongdoing.

Six MPs face new fraud allegations

A disgraced Labour MP is understood to have highlighted expenses claims by other members which he believes were similar to his own

Sunday Times reports… (subscription required)

News of the World phone hacking: now Paul Gascoigne is ready to sue

The Observer: “Tabloid newspaper’s actions said to have hindered recovery of vulnerable footballer as he deals with alcohol and drug problems”

The net may well be closing in on the truth behind the News of The World #Metgate phone hacking issue.

News Corporation braces itself for fresh phone-hacking lawsuits

Media Guardian: Paul Gascoigne among celebrities planning to sue as Met police release extracts from private investigator’s notebooks

The political pressure is likely to intensify on Tuesday when Labour MP Tom Watson asks the government’s top legal adviser, attorney general Dominic Grieve, to make a statement to parliament about his department’s handling of the phone-hacking affair.

European law needs parliament’s approval, but MPs want to spell it out

Joshua Rozenberg in The Guardian: Time is spent debating the obvious because the government suspects judges might try to erode parliamentary sovereignty.

An interesting article, but I do have sympathy with the position Rozenberg adopts. As Rozenberg stated in his article..“If parliament is sovereign, there is no need to reaffirm it. If it is not, then reaffirming it will not make it so.”

A FEW INTERESTING SNIPPETS, BLOG POSTS  AND ARTICLES

David Allen Green, on his Jack of Kent blog, has an interesting post on The Nuremberg trial of Goering

Interestingly…After the war, and to his credit, Maxwell-Fyfe helped write the European Convention on Human Rights.  Sadly, however, he then became one of the most illiberal Home Secretaries and Lord Chancellors in modern British history.” Read more….

What to do with your law intern

Alex Aldridge in The Guardian: Employers are under pressure to up their game when it comes to temporary placements

When courts and politics collide

Michael White in The Guardian: The case that triggered the Oldham byelection highlights the way in which courts are now getting involved in all sorts of matters that were once the exclusive domain of politics

Is Michael White right in his subtle, implicit, assertion that the courts and parliament are about to enter a period of ‘conflict’….

“Disgraced MPs were clearly wrong to try and use parliamentary privilege to escape criminal charges over expenses. But courts are getting involved in all sorts of matters which were once the exclusive domain of politics, including the power to trigger (or deny) a general election if the coalition’s five-year fixed-term parliament bill becomes law. This week’s Tory-led revolt over the EU referendum bill was also one of parliament versus the courts.”

Interesting article and well worth a read.

I missed this interesting article in The Lawyer Top judges to take centre stage in busy year for the Supreme Court. Here is The Lawyer’s pick of the trials to watch out for in the ­coming months.

And..finally… I have no hesitation in recommending an excellent blog / website for those of you interested in analysis of judgments from The United Kingdom Supreme Court: The UKSC Blog

It must be a first port of call for analysis of Supreme Court judgments…..

Postcard From The Staterooms: A bit of a mixed bag this week…….

I rose on the fourth day, after facing the very jaws of some tedious winter bug which limited my enthusiasm for all but the most essential of matters, to be returned to rude health and the hope that those who go to public places with colds or flu do not attend at places I go to again this winter.

My enthusiasm for the legal profession returned, in fact, mid afternoon on Friday as the rains lashed Battersea Square. It may be a childhood influence, or years of schooling in the desolate glens of Perthshire, but I do seem to work better in wet and stormy weather and my mood is always better when it rains than when the sun shines.  Perversity in this may be a blessing, given our climate.

The legal profession provided me with the opportunity to wheel out Muttley Dastardly LLP a couple of times. The Director of Marketing, Henry Offthewall, sent a memorandum to The Partners with a proposal for a new wills drafting division: Muttley Dastardly LLP Episode 11: Not Dead yet? We have the Will for you! and,  earlier this afternoon,  Matt Muttley sent a memorandum to All Staff on the matter of age after reading an interesting article in Legal Week written by Alex Novarese the editor:Muttley Dastardly LLP Episode 12: Age is not a factor at The Firm.

On the matter of age…. Carl Gardner, author of the Head of legal blog,  has this analysis of this week’s case célèbre (sic): Employment Tribunal ruling: O’Reilly v BBC and Adam Wagner of 1 Crown Office Row, writing on their UK Human Rights blog, stated…Still almost impossible to sue the police in negligence

Desmond v The Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police 2011] EWCA Civ 3 (12 January 2011)- Read judgment

The Court of Appeal has ruled that it is not possible to sue the police in negligence for not filling in an Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate (ECRC). The ruling shows that the courts are still reluctant to allow negligence claims against the police, and provides useful guidance as to the duty of care of public authorities towards the general public.

I am delighted to say Happy Birthday to Obiter J – The Law and Lawyers blog is one year old – hence the little birthday card. And..some good news for readers who think that Britain is going soft on serious crime…Obiter J writes:  A Year On …. Yorkshire Ripper to serve “whole life” … more on the climate change case

In one of those post-ironic twists of fate – after I amused myself satirising Intendance for their survey on top tweeting law firms – some of whom ranked highly without even so much as tweeting [The Lawyer reports: A&O most successful among law firm Twitterati – hahaha! Absurd nonsense] – The Times produced a list of *Top* legal tweeters and I was on that list…..  the cunning part, of course, was that we had to go and subscribe to The Times online,  behind their paywall,  to find out what they said about us…..  It was great to see that many of the individuals who tweet about law were on the same list! The *£* sign in the tweet above indicated, I assumed, that one had to pay to read, rather than a subtle hint at some PRIZE!

To be fair… I have missed Times Law. Although I read the print version of The Times most days, I used to enjoy the online version as well.  Guardian Law is excellent, but I wonder if they would have enjoyed such support and following had Times Law not gone behind the paywall.  This is not to denigrate Guardian law – quite the opposite…it is excellent.  I am now reading Times Law again online… and paying my £8 a month to do so..even though I already pay for my print version. The Times article, if you wish to read it (and if not subscribing, subscribe) ...is here.

The Queensland floods have been both devastating and on an extraordinary scale. I have a very good friend in Brisbane.  She lives on one of the more hilly parts and is fine.  Others were not so lucky.  I am full of admiration for the calm way (at least as far as reports I have seen reveal) Australians have reacted to it. Hopefully loss of life will not increase significantly, or at all.  Fellow blogger and tweeter Peter Black, a university law lecturer in Queensland, tweeted about the floods regularly and provided some astonishing pictures.  Hat tip to Peter. Google has an information page and if you wish to donate to the flood fund, you may do so from here. Other Australians managed to retain their humour saying that Brisvegas has changed to BrisVenice.

And just to lift your spirits a bit… RollonFriday.com reports….

Man in court over defective penis pump

A Canadian man appeared in court last Friday after suing the manufacturers of a penis pump. The claimant, who is wisely remaining anonymous, said that he was an amateur body builder, and “my body grew and I wanted the rest to follow“. So he spent $262 on an X4 Extender Deluxe Edition enlarger, which promised to “increase penis length and girth“…… More?

Well… at least those who teach Contract and Sale of Goods…will have a rather different example to use for illustrating the possible application of express terms and implied terms under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 as amended…should we have any cases involving the membrum virilis over here.

And something to cheer up lawyer bashers…. RollonFriday reports…

Exclusive: Herbert Smith to pay lawyers £10 an hour
Herbert Smith’s new Belfast outpost is rumoured to be paying its lawyers as little as £10 per hour.

The firm is due to open the office in April, where its lawyers will crunch through large numbers of litigation documents on the cheap – last year Herbies said that it would have a significantly lower cost base than London. And it’s clearly much, much lower. Sources tell RollOnFriday that pay for qualified solicitors is pitched at £10-£11 an hour, and “legal assistants” (that’s paralegals to everyone else) will pocket a mere £7.

Mocking politicians is a perfectly acceptable sport for all… particularly in these Coalition government times.  The White Rabbit has an amusing piece…called….

Mocking Politicians……

Dan Hull..from WhatAboutClients?, a US lawyer and polymath, is always worth a visit…. I enjoyed this post… a very different perspective on legal education,  and well worth a read. I’ll give you a taster…

Why Are You Paying New Law Hires? Law Profs Don’t Pay Students To Learn.

He’s saying he didn’t want to be President of the United States so he could stay home and be “Daddy”? Give me a fucking break.

–Billy Bob Thornton’s Carville-like character in Primary Colors

and here is a little bit more…

It is no secret that law professors and law schools are too wimpy/lazy/out-to-lunch/greedy to teach them anything, and loyalty to commercial institutions is at an all time low. If marginal or even very good hires get the greatest benefit in the first 2 to 3 years from the firm-associate relationship–and they almost always do–don’t be chumps. Pay only a few of them; let the rest pay your firm. Law school professors do not pay students to learn. Why should you?

More…

My good friend and fellow blogger, John Bolch of Family Lore, … has a blunt and to the point blog post this week:

Justice for All campaign: Pissing into the wind?

And…. Babybarista…

Car crash barrister

And… a bit of gratuitous politics…. not that it matters until 2015…

The BBC reports: Ed Miliband said he’s pleased many Liberal Democrats see Labour “as the main vehicle for their hopes in the future”

I just wish that more Labour supporters saw Ed Miliband in the same way…. not the choice of members, not the choice of MPs, Miliband holds office by virtue of Union votes. That’s fine….those are the rules.  That’s democracy.  I find him rather dull.  I don’t see him as an inspiring prime minister in waiting…. he would probably make quite a good Maitre D’

Well… there we are….

Best, as always

Charon

Muttley Dastardly LLP Episode 12: Age is not a factor at The Firm

STATEMENT FROM MATT MUTTLEY
Managing Partner, Muttley Dastardly LLP

To:  All staff

RE: AGE

1.  The government is planning to abolish the retirement age of 65.  As with many things the government does, this will not affect us.  Partners may retire when they wish.  If they haven’t retired by the time they get to 50, they haven’t been billing hard enough and, in the highly unlikely event that such a faux pas should be made (and it has not happened to date in the glorious history of this firm),  the individual will be invited to visit the library or leave.

2. My attention was drawn to an article in Legal Week by the editor, Alex Novarese:

Locking out older partners? The least-defended minority in the Square Mile

Given the level of debate generated by law firms’ treatment of gays, ethnic minorities and women, a neutral observer wandering into the Square Mile might wonder why there is so little comment on the deal dished out to older lawyers.

After all, many City firms have hardly any partners over 55, law firms are notoriously lax at implementing the employment laws they lecture clients about and the long-hours culture of commercial practice is hardly conducive to career longevity.

Yet it’s hard to see how the status quo is sustainable. The forces pushing for reform are too many and too fundamental. Aging Western populations, longer life-spans, later retirements, tougher employment laws and changing attitudes to age – it’s all pointing in one direction……

3. While it is always of interest to me to read and listen to reports of travail, angst and difficulties at other City firms, we simply do not have an issue at this firm with age. Associates destined to join The Partners are selected most carefully and those who do not make the cut, on closer inspection of their own contract of employment with us – what we call a contrat d’adhesion – will discover, if they were not already aware, that they do not enjoy many rights in the event of termination of the relationship.  If they did not realise the one sided nature of the contract, this merely serves as evidence of their unfitness to continue as a member of the firm.   For particularly recidivistic associates who have managed to find a copy of a book on employment law, they will face the arcane and complex and obscure world of ‘restructuring’ will stand in their path for a successful prosecution of a claim.

4.  As this memorandum raises issues of age and termination of the employment relationship, I would like to take this opportunity of reminding associates about Clause 482 (1) (b) (x1) The Faustian Pact.. the contents of which, were inspired by a note I found on Faustian pacts on Wikipedia

You undertake, by this pact,  to kill children or consecrate them to the Devil at the moment of birth ,  take part in Sabbaths, have sexual relations with demons, and sometimes engender children from a succubus, or incubus in the case of women. The pact can be oral or written. An oral pact is made by means of invocations, conjurations, or rituals to attract the demon; once the conjurer thinks the demon is present, he/she asks for the wanted favour and offers his/her soul in exchange, and no evidence is left of the pact; but according to some witch trials and inquisitions that were performed, even the oral pact left evidence, namely the diabolical mark, an indelible mark where the marked person had been touched by the devil to seal the pact. The mark will be used as a proof to determine that the pact was made. “

5. Clearly, we do not believe in any form of superstition here. There is no question of the devil, or indeed ourselves sui generis,  exacting enforcement, should same even be possible in an English Court of Law.  I cannot speak for some courts in other countries, but our contracts are governed by English Law.

6.  Just see how successful you are at getting a job in The City, if you try and sue us and we make it known to potential employers that you signed a contract which included clauses, inter alia,  whereby you promised “to kill children or consecrate them to the Devil at the moment of birth ,  take part in Sabbaths, have sexual relations with demons, and sometimes engender children from a succubus, or incubus in the case of women.” I rather suspect that this takes care of any age related discussions?

7.  That is all

Matt Muttley
Managing Partner, Muttley Dastardly LLP

Strength & Profits

***

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Law Review: 2011 – A Law Odyssey (1)… Also Sprach Zarathustra…..

You may be interested in this analysis by Richard Moorhead….. a rather more sensible analysis than the above…. probably…..

Too many lawyers – does the profession’s growth ‘defy gravity’?

Professor Moorhead writes….

“The number of practising solicitors in England and Wales has risen sharply to more than 120,000, with their ranks growing at an accelerated rate despite the economic pressures faced by the profession, the latest figures have shown.

“One leading industry commentator claimed that the rise ‘defies gravity’.

“Figures from the Solicitors Regulation Authority revealed that there were 120,847 solicitors with practising certificates on 31 December, up 7% on the end of 2009. This represents a faster rate of expansion than in previous years, with the profession having grown by only 2% in 2009 and 2008, and 3% in 2007…….

Muttley Dastardly LLP Episode 11: Not Dead yet? We have the Will for you!

MEMORANDUM

From:  Henry Offthewall, Director of Marketing

To: The Partners

RE:  OPERATION MORITURI TE SALUTANT – WILLS: THE NEW PARADIGM IN DEATH

1.  Please find attached a draft advertisement to attract a new client base. 

2.  I read this in The Law Society Gazette and I quote it in full for your attention and perusal

Good will hunting

Law Society Gazette: Thursday 13 January 2011As any wills and probate solicitor knows only too well, a shocking proportion of the population has never made a will (two-thirds of Britons do not have a valid will according to a recent survey by unbiased.co.uk). So law firms will be only too pleased that a new BBC documentary fronted by a City solicitor is set to raise the profile of this issue. Withers partner Sue Medder (pictured) will be presenting Can’t Take It With You, with business expert Sir Gerry Robinson (also pictured), a six-part series revealing the emotional human stories stemming from intestacy. The first episode will be aired tomorrow on BBC2; solicitors can expect the phone to start ringing in the wills and probate department next week.

3.  I understand that The Firm does not have a general will drafting department; but having spoken to James Rutland-Cayman of our Monaco office, who heads the Tax Planning Unit for The Astonishingly Wealthy,  it does seem that there may be opportunities for The Firm to provide a general service to members of the public who are thinking of dying in the not too distant future.

4.  It seems that the matter or Wills (and/or lack of) is attracting interest at the highest levels in the legal profession and, indeed, from the Regulator of regulators for the legal profession, The Legal Standards Board.  I quote from this snippet of intelligence from The Law Society Gazette dated Thursday 09 December 2010 by James Dean:

Mystery shoppers to test will-writers

Mystery shoppers will test the service provided by will-writers early next year, as part of a Legal Services Board project.

Research agency IFF Research has been commissioned by the LSB, the Legal Services Consumer Panel and the Office of Fair Trading to recruit individuals to report back on their experience of getting a will, which will then be assessed by a panel of solicitors and will-writers.

IFF will select 100 consumers looking to obtain a will. Of these, 40 will use a solicitor, 40 will use a will-writer, and 20 will write their own will using an online provider or paper-based DIY will.

5.  With all the free publicity being generated by television, radio shows and even sundry and  itinerant law bloggers, it seems to me that we could outsource much of this work to an agent, brand it under our general purpose vehicle Megaladon LLP and make a killing, if you forgive the metaphor.  There are opportunities for a Death Planning Black Card service for high net worth individuals who, as yet, have not drafted their will because they believe that they can ‘take it with them’.

6.  I welcome your thoughts on the matter

Henryoffthewall, Director of Marketing

Strength & Profits

***

With thanks to Inksters Solicitors, Cellmark, OnlineWill.co.uk, BPP University College, David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Wildy & Sons, Camps Solicitors accident claims, Just Go Direct

Suffered an accident at work? Contact us
for free expert compensation advice.

Making a will is simple with diy will packs.
Make a legally valid will from the comfort of your own home.

If you are contesting a will we can help.
We are the wills and probate dispute specialists.

Lawcast 177: Ashley Connick on his experiences on the Postgraduate Diploma in Law

Today, as part of my series on legal education, I am talking to Ashley Connick who is on the Postgraduate Diploma in Law course at The College of Law.

Listen to the podcast

Ashley Connick law blog

***

Other podcasts in the legal education reform series

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

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

Friends, Mavens, Gurus…lend me your ears…they come to bury law…not to praise it.

We face an uncertain future in the wake of savage cuts to legal aid, to the ‘reform’ of civil liberties law, and a government which appears to be  more concerned with business than the protection of a fair justice system and the rule of law.

2011 is going to be a year of significant change for the legal profession.  I am designing a series of podcasts on the legal profession which will be wide ranging.  The series will comprise of 15 or more podcasts with practising solicitors and barristers, with regulators and a few well known mavens and prognosticators.

Looking to 2020: growth of global law firms is just beginning, says report

This article from Legal Futures is excellent

International law firms face growing threats to their share of the global legal market over the next decade, with likely challenges from Chinese firms, future market crashes and protectionism high on the agenda.

And this, from Duncan Finlayson is an excellent read….

Stay away from Delphi – and self-fulfilling prophesies

AND… some useful advice if you are thinking of applying for a job in the legal profession….

DonT wriTe LIK3 thiss: the Bizzle guide to CV basics

 

And here… The Bizzle provides Part II….

Flattery gets you nowhere: the Bizzle guide to making a credible job application

The Lawyer reports: A&O most successful among law firm Twitterati – hahaha! Absurd nonsense

It is not often that I get to laugh when I read stories about major law firms in the legal press… but this report from The Lawyer must be a parody….surely?

The Lawyer reports….

PLEASE look at the comments on this article… they are more amusing!

A&O most successful among law firm Twitterati

Allen & Overy’s (A&O) Twitter account has emerged as the most successful in the legal sector, according to a recent survey.

The survey, published last month (December) by Intendance, gave A&O a rating of 99. The magic circle firm was followed closely by DLA Piper, which scored 98 and Eversheds at 97.

Intendance allocated points using a formula that considers the number of followers and firms’ commitment to their own Twitter accounts, the number of updates (which counts for more if the time elapsed between tweets is low), the ratio of followers to following and the number of retweets of their posts.

I have never heard of Intendance…… but I did start to think of #filmnamesbasedondaftnessontwitter (The hashtag # – A reference to a popular word game on Twitter where film titles are used as the basis for amusing tweets).  I doubt whether Intendance would have heard of this meme phenomenon…… Butch Twitterati and The Intendance Kid #daftsurveyfilms ?

I could not give a damn who is or who is not more influential on twitter….nor who has more KLOUT or other nonsense…. As it happens… I appear to have scored 100/100 on Twittergrader after some 70,000 ++ tweets… mostly nonsense….(Thanks to @TMT_Lawyer for tipping me off on this wonderful nonsense….) and….on KLOUT  (A&O got 30, apparently!) … or should that be SNOUT?…. I have….

Nothing like a load of old bollocks on a wet, rainy, January afternoon.  Frankly, the Klout analysis would have been better to describe me…. not as a *Thought Leader*… but as a *Gentleman Toper* who writes vinicultural nonsense on Twitter.

I just LOVED these quotes from The Lawyer article…..

Despite having zero tweets Norton Rose’s account, which ranked number 10, scored 88 points in the survey, only two points below Olwsang, which has posted over 100 tweets. Other firms that made it into the top 10 were Withers (fourth place), Clifford Chance, DLA Piper (real estate group), Shoosmiths, (joint fifth place with Olswang) and Taylor Wessing (sixth place).

AND THIS!!…..

The magic circle firm’s website manager Christian Walsh said: “This is nice recognition of our efforts over the past two years and our intent is to continue to embed social media into A&O’s communications. Twitter helps us shape the debate around key issues, and also to listen to the feedback and respond to it.”

Christ knows what the A&O webmaster would do or write if he got one of my Charon QC Drinking & Blogging Awards….free to ALL (See right hand blog panel)….

AND…finally… if you would like to read a rather clever and interesting article about law practice for modern law firms…… this from Jordan Furlong of Law21.ca is very enjoyable…and interesting…

Lawyers and the red balloon

Like many parents of small children, I’ve gotten to know Thomas The Tank Engine, and the peculiar universe he inhabits, far too well. As an example, I’ve now read the story James and the Red Balloon so often that I’ve begun to draw lessons for the legal profession from it…….

Alarm Cock Britain

As I rose from my deathbed today after suffering from a bout of Blawgerflu Complexiter, I read an article in The Sun written by Nick Clegg calling for the heroes who get up and go to work every day to make Britain great again…. I have no idea how Mr Clegg manages to make a complete mess of everything he touches… Midas in Reverse?

The Guardian asks….

Will ‘alarm clock Britain’ catch on?

Nick Clegg, the deputy PM, is speaking up for ‘alarm clock Britain‘ – people on middle and low incomes who work long hours and are anxious about their standard of living. Do you think his counterpart to Ed Miliband’s ‘squeezed middle’ will catch on as a phrase?

Law Review: Reprieve – Control Orders to be replaced – Student fee protests

Lord Ken Macdonald QC to become Reprieve’s new Chair

Reprieve: “Reprieve is delighted to announce that Lord Ken Macdonald QC, co-founder of Matrix Chambers and former Director of Public Prosecutions, is to be our new Chair, in succession to Lord Bingham of Cornhill.”

Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith and a team of lawyers deserve support from all who are opposed to the death penalty and abuse of power and law.  In their own words…

Reprieve uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.

We investigate, we litigate and we educate, working on the frontline, providing legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. We promote the rule of law around the world, and secure each person’s right to a fair trial. And in doing so, we save lives.

The appointment of Lord MacDonald QC will, I hope, raise their profile even further.

Control orders: BBC learns detail of replacement

BBC: The coalition is planning to replace control orders with a new package of restrictions to keep terror suspects under surveillance. One working title for the new curbs are “surveillance orders”. They would restrict suspects’ movements but end overnight curfews.

Read more…

When we have more detail and time to look at the detail I’ll invite Carl Gardner to do am podcast with me on this if he is free to do so.

Student fee protests and human rights protections

The UK Human Rights blog: “Today MPs will vote on whether to increase the maximum amount universities can charge to £9,000. Contrary to many commentators’ predictions, the student protests against the increase on 10 November have not been an isolated occurrence, but the beginning of a settled campaign. But would the students be able to rely on human rights arguments to resist eviction?”

Read more…

Student protester jailed for throwing fire extinguisher

BBC: A student who admitted throwing a fire extinguisher from the roof of a central London building during the student fees protests has been jailed. Edward Woollard, 18, from Hampshire, was among protesters who broke into the Tory party headquarters and emerged on the roof on 10 November. He was jailed for two years and eight months after admitting at an earlier hearing to committing violent disorder….

Law Review: Fast Track LPC – Contempt of Court Act toothless… it would seem

BPP set to make fast-track LPC available to all of its students

Legal Week reports: “BPP Law School is set to become the first Legal Practice Course (LPC) provider to offer the fast-track LPC to all students, according to its chief executive Peter Crisp.”

Peter Crisp is reported as saying: “Offering seven-month LPC programmes only to trainees can be seen as unfair and elitist – especially as the potential saving on living costs are particularly beneficial to self-funded students. At BPP we feel it is important to give all students who are capable of handling the workload a chance to choose between the fast-track or full length LPC, irrespective of whether they have secured a training contract or not.”

Offering two seven month courses in a 12 month year will, one assumes, also be beneficial to BBP Law School?  Will others follow suit? Lower fees?  A review of legal education is underway.

I am doing a series of podcasts on the state of legal education. You may find the podcasts to date of some interest? More to come.

Coverage of Joanna Yeates killing has left Contempt of Court Act in disarray

 

The Guardian: Attorney general’s warning over Christopher Jefferies stories ‘had little or no effect’ on media

Trial by twitter, trial by mainstream and other media, seems to be an increasing trend and a trend, inevitably,  which will demean the principle of fairness and justice. With the advent of twitter and the reality that the geographical writ and power  of legal systems only runs within the jurisdiction of national boundaries for the most part,  enforcement of rules designed to ensure fair trials is almost impossible. It is ironic that ideals of free speech now undermine fairness and the ideals of justice.

As the authors of The Guardian particle state: “Meanwhile Jefferies, and many others before him, are privately left to pick up the pieces of their tarnished reputations.”

Shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and the limits of free speech

The UK Human Rights Blog has an interesting analysis….

Obiter J….considers:

Climate change protest – No. 2 – Undercover police officer

Despicable crimes

“Two men – Abid Saddique and Mohammed Liaqat – have been sentenced by the Crown Court at Nottingham to indefinite detention in relation to serious offences involving “grooming” and subsequent sexual offending against teenage girls – BBC News 7th January 2011. ”

The Innocence Project: the court of last resort

“In the US, the Innocence Project has freed 260 people imprisoned for crimes they did not commit – and inspired a new film starring Hilary Swank. In the UK the work is just beginning, but the lawyers who only take the most desperate cases of injustice have a first victory in their sights…”

An interesting article from The Guardian

And…from Richard Craig from the world of Health & Safety…

Despite all the howls of derision and the inflated stories that persist in trying to shoot it down, the wider world of health and safety had the last laugh in 2010. In Northern Ireland, where deaths on the roads used to be an almost daily occurrence, fatalities dropped by more than 50% from 2009, giving the province its safest ever year, officially, since records began in 1931.

And away from the roads, the Health and Safety Executive has declared that, in the North-West of England, work-related deaths also plummeted to their lowest ever tally last year. While the ministers and other officials involved must be privately quite pleased with themselves, the matter remains serious: people still died as the result of preventable, avoidable accidents. 19 people still died in NW England as the result of being fatally injured at work.  55 people still died in road accidents in Northern Ireland

It must be said, however, I think that this shows that ‘health and safety’ law is more than just a fish in a barrel, with the under-informed press and their salivating readership taking aim once again. It is to be congratulated.

Lawcast 176: Catherine Naylor on how Just Go Direct Works

Today I am talking to Catherine Naylor, founder of Just Go Direct, on her innovative idea to enable law firms to advertise positions which applicants may then apply directly for to the law firm. Catherine explains how her website will work when it launches soon.  You may register your interest at the website now.

This is the first podcast in a series of podcasts which I am doing on the legal profession during January and February to examine opportunities and threats in the light of the changes coming when The Legal Services Act starts to have an impact on the legal landscape.

I like the idea – anything which makes it easier for people to apply for jobs with employers must be a good thing in the current climate and generally.

Listen to the podcast

Just Go Direct website

Law Review: On Her Majesty’s Very Secret Service and The Nadine Dorries MP statement to the Press

Royal Family granted new right of secrecy

Independent: Special exemptions to be written into Freedom of Information Act

While I can understand a politically neutral Monarchy should enjoy the same rights to privacy enjoyed by private individuals in relation to  private family matters, the latest reform to FOI, which may have been influenced by Prince Charles’ desire to keep his letters to Ministers secret according to The Independent, I can see no justification for exemption in relation to the more public duties and affairs of the Monarch – particularly if they are funded through the public purse.

The Independent reports…

Ian Davidson, a former member of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), told The Independent: “I’m astonished that the Government should find time to seek to cover up royal finances. When I was on the PAC what we wanted was more disclosure not less.

“Every time we examined royal finances we found extravagance and indulgence as well as abuse of expenses by junior royals.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said that the change to the law was necessary because the Freedom of Information Act had failed to protect the constitutional position of the monarch and the heir to the throne. He explained that the sovereign has the right and duty to be consulted, to encourage and warn the government, and by extension, the heir to the throne had the constitutional right and duty to prepare himself for the role of King.

“This constitutional position relies on confidentiality, so that all such correspondence remains confidential,” he said.

But he said that change would also mean that correspondence not covered by the absolute exemption would be made public 10 years earlier than under the current disclosure rules.

The Palace’s position was backed by Professor Vernon Bogdanor, research professor at King’s College London.

He told The Independent: “The essence of constitutional monarchy is that the Queen and other members of the Royal Family remain politically neutral.

The right to privacy is to some extent protected by law under Human Rights legislation and The Data Protection Act.  Nadine Dorries MP in her blog yesterday may well have overstepped the mark… but has she broken the law?

Personal statement to press

It’s been a tricksy day at the office today – best explained via the email to my members and statements to the press. I do understand that as an MP I am not really entitled to any privacy, however, I am concerned that any story is reported accurately and therefore, I have blogged the press statements issued today…..

Ms Dorries then goes on to reveal very private information about matters unconnected with her duties as an MP.

Andrew Sharpe, a partner at Charles Russell, writes in CRITique:our commercial law blog:

Domestic purposes abuse?

“…Having decided that the publication of a third party’s medical condition, if it is without explicit consent, is unlawful, raises the question of the consequences. We will deal with this in our next post….”

Nadine Dorries Press Statement: enforcement and remedy

“In our previous post we reviewed in the context of yesterday’s personal statement to the press by Nadine Dorries MP, whether the publication of a person’s medical condition on a website could be unlawful under the Data Protection Act 1998 (the “DPA”). If our view that there has been a breach of the DPA is supported, what are the potential consequences for Nadine Dorries MP and what remedies are available to her partner’s wife (“W”), under the DPA?

Firstly, breach of a data protection principle is not of itself a criminal offence. Nothing Nadine Dorries has done appears to be within the scope of any of the criminal offences under the DPA. The disclosures she made in her blog are even within the scope of her notification properly made to the Information Commissioner’s Office (“notification” is the accurate term for the registration of a data controller’s processing purposes required under section 17 of the DPA). So any enforcement action taken by the Information Commissioner against the MP will not include prosecution at this stage.

Nadine Dorries could still be prosecuted if she fails to comply with an enforcement notice made by the Information Commissioner, but as the nature of any enforcement notice would be an order by the Information Commissioner not to breach the relevant data protection principle again, this is unlikely…..

…… This leads to the uncomfortable conclusion that W may have no direct DPA remedy herself, and must rely on the Information Commissioner to take action to give her some redress for the distress she may have suffered as a result of details of her alcoholism being published in breach of the DPA.  However, the development of a right to privacy under cases such as Max Mosely v News of the World [2008] EWHC 1777 (QB) or Naomi Campbell v Mirror Group Newspapers [2004] UKHL 22 show that a privacy remedy made be available as a result of judicial intervention where no statutory remedy under the DPA is provided.”

Read the remainder of the blog post

An extraordinary situation and well worth examining by reading Andrew Sharpe’s blog post. Damned if you do…damned if you don’t?  Was that Nadine Dorries MP’s view and position?  An awkward one.

Our Political Masters Define (1): Apostasy

First in a series I plan to do in 2011 on definitions in the English language from the World of Politics – From the man who PLEDGED not to increase student fees before the election and who did not even have the political virility to vote for or against….but now an Education Tsar / Czar/ Kaizer / Caesar…take your pic……

Editorial Note: Mr Simon Hughes is now the deputy leader of The Liberal-Democratic Party – enjoying a…what is the opposite of *Resurgence*?.. in the polls.  [YouGov et al show Lib-Dem support at 7-11%]

Universities must cut private schools intake, says Simon Hughes

Guardian: Colleges are ‘failing miserably’ to reflect society, according to the Liberal Democrat deputy leader

The Guardian notes… and I find this neo-ironic… “His unpaid role will involve challenging “misinformation” which might deter young people from poorer backgrounds from applying to university.”

I think education is best left to the professionals and not politicians…… but hey… what do our views count for in these dark days?

Postcard From The Staterooms: Ashes to Ashes but not dust to dust….

As we waited last night for England to go 3-1 up in The Ashes there were some amusing jokes about our cousins from OZ...who don’t enjoy losing at anything, but particularly not cricket against England.  “What do you call an Aussie with a bottle of champagne at The Ashes?…. A waiter”….”What do you call an Aussie holding The Urn? …… An undertaker”…and so it went on…

I shall miss the ‘allnighters’ and the pleasure this year was definitely enhanced by being able to watch/listen and tweet with others on twitter.

hu·bris

[hyoo-bris, hoo-]

–noun

excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance.
There are dangers and pride does often come before a fall as is well demonstrated by Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister of The United Kingdom….now enjoying a 7% poll for support for his Lib-Dem party and the general opprobium of a very mixed group of people throughout the country. A question put on Any Questions tonight was interesting…..”Are control orders being repealed because of necessity or to bolster the standing of Nick Clegg.”

For my part, control orders as they presently stand are a blight on our legal system but we are not privy to the real needs of the security services and I don’t have any immediate answer to the problem of detaining known terrorists without compromising security service sources or methods in court through prosecutions.  The UK Human Rights blog considers: Control orders: what are they and why do they matter?

‘Virtual house arrest’ to go but control orders for terrorists will stay

The Guardian: Nick Clegg admits that government will retain restrictions for terror suspects who cannot be prosecuted in British courts

From MP to HMP

David Chaytor, former MP….or now prisoner No1223456789…  has gone down for 18 months , sentenced by Mr Justice Saunders after pleading guilty to three charges of false accounting in relation to his Parliamentary expenses. The UK Human Rights blog observes… “Three other men – Elliot Morley, James Devine and Lord Hanningfield (Paul White) – are still awaiting trial for similar offences under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 (false accounting), and will take little solace from the sentencing.”

If they do not plead guilty….they may well go down for longer if convicted.

What can David Chaytor expect now he has been sentenced?

Guardian: Editor of prisoners’ newspaper ConVerse, Mark Leech, gives a taste of what life will be like inside for the former MP

But… will he find GOD?  Will a book be coming out in time for Christmas next year?

I understand that other files have been sent to the DPP and it may be that some MPs who overdid the flipping and raiding of the John Lewis catalogue were lucky not to face the same fate.

Hat Tip to fellow tweeter @Taxbod for drawing attention to this classic from Peter Cook….

Peter Cook’s biased judge sketch (complete)

Watch the movie… it is still a wonderful piece of satire….. superb

Would the fountain of your mind were clear again, that I might water an ass at it.

Troilus and Cressida

I rather liked this internet gizmo from 1996….a Shakespearian *Insult generator*

While avoiding specifics, Nick Clegg makes the right sounds on libel reform

The Guardian: Lib Dem leader’s promise to publish a draft defamation bill shows recognition that free speech has been curtailed in the UK
There is no doubt that libel law does need to be reformed… but as Nick Clegg appears to have reprised The Ancient mariner and shot the albatross… I suspect that he is not the best person to front this…I would be most interested to hear from libel lawyers on this…… and you won’t get an email from me referring you to Pressdram v Arkell. (David Allen Green in his Jack of Kent blog explains the reference to Pressdram v Arkell if you are not aware of the meaning.)

Delighted to see that RollonFriday has returned after the great British shut down over Christmas and is leading the 24 hour rolling news carnival with…

Law firm bans pooing at work, it’s claimed

A law firm in Leeds has been accused of banning its staff from doing number twos at work after a pipe burst in the recent cold snap.

And excellent news…. which may well keep me busy for a while in 2011…

MoJ to extend Freedom of Information Act

The Law Society Gazette reports….. “More public bodies are to be opened up to public scrutiny under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), the Ministry of Justice announced today.

The MoJ said it will extend the scope of the FOI to make it easier for people to find and use information about the public bodies they rely on. Bodies such as the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Financial Services Ombudsman and higher education admissions body UCAS are to be brought within the scope of the FOI, as are companies wholly owned by public authorities.”

FINALLY… if you are not prognosticated out…..this from the Law Society Gazette

Prominent legal figures give their predictions for 2011

And..that is enough from me….

Best, as always

Charon

Law Review: UK Law Blog Round up by Paul Hajek

Delighted to see the 5th UK Law Blog Round up – this edition by Paul Hajek of Clutton Cox, Solicitors

This is a very comprehensive and interesting round up of UK law blogs – and draws attention to some excellent new practitioner blogs as well as the old stalwarts… [Delighted, also…that Paul has given himself my Drinking & Blogging Award….. free to all…! ]

 

Do read…

Law Review: Back to legal work

The UK Human Rights blog has an interesting post on Employment Law and, in particular, Employment Tribunals: “Legal parasites feeding on small businesses” or protectors of rights?

The future of the employment tribunal system is under review by the coalition government, and the players who are to win and lose from the changes are setting out their positions.

Depending on where you stand, the employment tribunal system is either a refuge for greedy lawyers and scurrilous claimants, or an essential bulwark against workplace abuses. In reality, like the rest of the court system, it can be both but is usually something in between. As such, the coalition should consider its options carefully, and listen to both sides of the debate, before making any decisions on reform.

The employers have been putting their case this week. In a debate on this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today program (listen here), the Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) John Cridland said that the current system of employment tribunals is “broken” and that “everybody other than the lawyers lose”……”

Professor Richard Moorhead responds to points made on Radio 4 this morning….

Employment Tribunals: Weighted Against Employers?

The Today programme on Radio 4 ran a story this morning dealing with whether employment tribunals are used to extort settlements from employers. Adam Wagner has already posted a thoughtful response here. Some of the assumptions relied on in the programme were questionable. Having conducted some research in the area (see here, here and here), I share some of the important facts as I see them…

Read more

Congratulations to David Allen Green, lawyer and author of the Jack of Kent blog. David is one of the Hot 100 in The Lawyer. There are some interesting lawyers mentioned in this list and it is worth a read…and so is this thought provoking piece by David Allen Green: Ten years of the “War on Terror”

Chris Dale of the E-Disclosure project picks up on Richard Susskind’s predictions for 2011: Richard Susskind’s law firm technology predictions for 2011

Judicial Assistant

The Ministry of Justice: Applications are invited for Judicial Assistants to Lords Justices of Appeal.  Judicial Assistants assist Lords Justices in the preparation and analysis of appeals and applications in the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice, London. The posts involve working closely with members of the Court of Appeal and provide an opportunity for lawyers showing potential and at an early stage of their careers, to observe and assist in significant cases….

This post may well be of great interest to a recently qualified solicitor or barrister and, I would have thought, a fascinating experience.  remuneration isn’t bad either at £11.00 per day.

Nick Clegg may have to back down on scrapping control orders

Guardian: Lib Dem leader said to be willing to compromise after failing to strike deal with Theresa May on detention of suspected terrorists

AND… it is goodbye….

….to asbos

The Guardian: Antisocial behaviour orders are no more. It’s a real loss for fans of daft stories in newspapers

And… if you are thinking of moving.. or a career change in the not to distant future…. may I draw your attention to an interesting new service……

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. Have a look…..


Law Review: Legal Services Board has Brilliant EUREKA moment! True story!

I am not sure if Christmas is over yet at The Legal Services Board… this article from The Law Society Gazette is rather good!….particularly the comment about Bankruptcy and risk averse investors!

Alternative business structures face fines of up to £150m

The Law Society Gazette: “Alternative business structures could be fined up to £150m and individuals working in them up to £50m, under plans outlined by the Legal Services Board.”

Blawg Review #292

It is always a pleasure to hear from Lord Shagger, a former Partner at Muttley Dastardly LLP. Made a working peer by a Labour government some years back, he appears to have done little work on behalf of the government, other than to tender advice on how to improve the tax laws of the United Kingdom from his Monaco tax haven lair.

The Knighthoods and other honours and awards are upon us yet again. The nation is up in arms that, yet again, Brucie Forsyth has been passed over for a Knighthood.   This year, a raft of people few have heard of have run off with the bulk of the loot and the Chairman of Centrica, which owns British Gas, a man who presided over the sale of Cadbury’s to the Americans and  substantial gas bill rises, has been shown the sword of glory.  I am sure it will be put to good use when making restaurant reservations.

I enjoyed Private Eye’s take on this…. “Arise, Sir Gas Bill”.

As I said, only the other day, if you feel left out – please help yourself to the *Charon QC 2010 Blogging & Drinking* award (Top Right). Believe me… you will have earned it by the time you reach the end (if you do) of this Blawg Review. If you simply want to check this Blawg Review to see if you are in it – you will find the search engine box at the top of my blog should do the business for you.

By the way.. you can always buy your own ‘Peerage’… for £21.95...online.. here. Fill yer boots.  I’ve got one.

And… one learns something every day… I discovered this from Twitter….

2011 is a prime number/sum of 11 consecutive primes  2011=157+163+167+173+179+181+191+193+197+199+211

So… on to Blawg Review #292…

PROLOGUE

Some say that twitter is killing blogging.  Judging by the evidence below, this is not the case.  Friend and fellow law blogger and skeptic,  Jack of Kent, might say that such a statement is ‘misconceived’  and, possibly, ‘illiberal’.   Some say that twitter is micro-blogging.  That is not just misconceived, it is nonsense. Judging by the evidence from the many blogs I visited to do this review, blogging takes time and effort and enthusiasm.  Twitter is great… but apart from the laboured efforts of  a very few twittersthetes… most tweets take no effort at all…and twitter provides a very different function from blogs….to inform, comment, natter,  amuse and, sometimes….. debate, argue, bicker and  fight…. a closer approximation to pub discussion than can be achieved on a blog and with a higher degree of immediacy.

 

 

This is my sixth Blawg Review (One co-hosted with Colin Samuels of Infamy or Praise). I said that I would not do another last year – but it is quiet at this time of year, I enjoy writing Blawg Review, and I want to push British and Irish law blogging!  So I emailed Ed of Blawg Review and asked if my usual slot – the first Blawg Review of the year – was still free.  It was…so here I am.  It is, of course, the time of The Lord of Misrule, the theme of my Blawg Review two years ago, and I see no reason not to run riot… so I shall… and I shall be giving a lot of prominence to British law blogs.

As these rather long Blawg Reviews of mine take a bit of time to put together, there will be moments of lucidity – one cannot drink Rioja all day – so there will be a mix of sense and insensibility… nay, even nonsense.  I won’t necessarily pick the most recent post from a blogger – I shall pick interesting posts to give you a flavour of the style and approach of the bloggers featured. [Lord of Misrule Rules – Rule 1.1]

It is also, apropos of nothing,  Cicero’s Birthday on the 3rd January… so as an artifice  I may well refer to Cicero throughout the Blawg Review.  This should go some way to explaining why there are random Cicero quotations dotted about the place. “Cicero was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist.  He liked a bit of ‘Greek’ and, in fact, he introduced the Romans to the chief schools of Greek philosophy and created a Latin philosophical vocabulary (with neologisms such as humanitas, qualitas, quantitas, and essentia).”

If you have a garden and an iPad, you have everything you need. ~ Cicero

I studied Latin at a detention centre called Trinity College Glenalmond in Perthshire and spent many happy hours pointlessly (as I thought at the time), construing Latin into English. I always enjoyed the idea of ‘going into winter quarters’.  As it happens, in later life I found it most useful. My ex-wife used to roll her eyes when I said, as one does, non haec in foedera veni [Lord Radcliffe in Davis Contractors Ltd v. Fareham Urban District Council [1956] A.C. 696] in response to a suggestion that we go shopping. The maxim means… it was not this that I agreed to do.  Much better in Latin.  I am fairly sure that Cicero would have approved.

The issue of pronunciation of Latin provided some light relief.. Cicero: pronounced /ˈsɪsɨroʊ/; Classical Latin: /ˈkikeroː/.  The Latin master was a modern and was very easy to wind up by adopting classical latin pronunciation.  When asked why we were pronouncing Cicero as Kikero and Caeser and Keezar…. we would say that we were merely being classicists.  This was not the unpleasant teasing of a teacher.  The Latin master was a fine man with a wry sense of humour, who had the gift of illuminating with interest rather than resorting to the tactics of the mathematics master who used blackboard dusters as projectiles and the sharp end of a divider  to din basic theorems into dense/unwilling 13 and 14 year old heads. The Human Rights Act had not been passed when I was at school and I did not know any law, so an application to the International Criminal Court was out of the question.  At least he had not heard of waterboarding.

Neither can embellishments of language be found without arrangement and expression of thoughts, nor can thoughts be made to shine without the light of language. ~ Cicero

What follows may well confirm Cicero’s aphorism…..

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I’m going to start with the land of my ancestors – Scotland….

MANY A MICKLE MAKS A MUCKLE

‘Many a mickle makes (or ‘maks’) a muckle’ is a curious Scottish saying of antiquity, although it is also common in the North of England and not entirely unknown elsewhere. It is derived from ‘A wheen o’ mickles mak’s a muckle’, and means ‘many of one thing make another, larger, thing’. A simple lesson, but one which needs restating; one must always look after the pennies. Source

Over the year, tweeting with Scots lawyers @loveandgarbage and @PeatWorrier – which can be a (pleasingly)  surreal experience – I have started to take a keen interest in Scots Law and, from there, the writings of many good Scots law bloggers from the very experienced practitioners and academics to the keen and knowledgeable law students…

. . . that of all the propensities which teach mankind to torment themselves, that of causeless fear is the most irritating, busy, painful, and pitiable.

Sir Walter Scott

This famous quotation seems, to my eye, to be as good a way of introducing the Scots law blogs as any…apart from this great photograph which I could not resist

Lallands Peat Worrier considers the Sheridan perjury case…

On the perjuries of a satsuma socialist…

Law’s great brutality, and in many respects, its great achievement, is its artificial finality. Judge and jury cannot shrug. They can fail to be convinced, but they cannot avoid making a decision.

LoveandGarbage veers  between the sane and surreal – writing in depth about serious issues and then going off piste on the SNOW, one of his favourite topics in recent weeks… How politics works: Weather hysteria

And then LoveandGarbage was able to report from The Cabinet Rooms at Cowley Street… Cable speaks to the nation: Declaration of war on Rupert Murdoch

SCOTS LAW NEWS is a very good starting point to be kept abreast of law issues and topical matters… from Edinburgh University.

Megrahi update: “As 2010 comes to an end, with tales of Mr Megrahi’s imminent demise apparently somewhat exaggerated, time for an update on the rush of other stories on the subject that became public during December 2010……”

Ian Hamilton QC  – ‘a drunk man looks at the thistle’ is always worth a read even if you know nothing about law….

Her Majesty’s Advocate against Mr & Mrs Sheridan

The News of the World has at last won its vendetta against a left wing politician. It has done so with the connivance of the Lord Advocate. If at first you don’t succeed keep trying. Scottish justice has notched up another political miscarriage of justice alongside that of Al Megrahi and Muir of Huntershill.

This remains to be said. For the Lord Advocate to bring this case was a prostitution of Scots law. The Lord Advocate is a member of the Scottish government and the government was the pimp. The aim was not to seek justice but to placate Rupert Murdoch and the News of the World.

The Lockerbie Case

And if you really want to get to grips with The Lockerbie case…and it may be a good idea for US Senators to do so… then you can’t do much better than this… blog by Robert Black QC FRSE who became Professor of Scots Law in the University of Edinburgh in 1981 having previously been in practice at the Scots Bar.

Jonathan Mitchell QC considers… Judicial conduct and complaints: “Last month, the Scottish judiciary launched an excellent new website (even the reliably-bilious Peter Cherbi described it as ‘quite good’!). It has a great deal of material which was previously inaccessible, ranging from all travel and subsistence expenses claimed by individual salaried judicial office holders to summaries of significant sentencing statements in the courts; even a Twitter feed, for the benefit of journalists rather than lawyers or the public…..”

I am impressed that senior experienced practitioners and academics are writing about Injustice. A Diary of Injustice in Scotland (by Peter Cerbi) addresses this head on. Review of 2010 : Scots legal system ‘remains Victorian’, party litigants, court users & consumers face a continued battle for access to justice

Technollama has this warning! The Internet is dangerous

The Firm (Scots law magazine) focuses on topical issues and news.  For another useful resource on topical law matters: Absolvitor (Scots law magazine)

Jennie Law (by a self-styled “Library Monkey” from a law firm in Edinburgh) provides a sometimes acerbic view…

A latey, librariany, stereotypey shopping treasury

You! Yes, you! So you know a librarian? And you like stereotypes? And you want to buy them something for Christmas that fits in nicely to that stereotype?*

Well, let me help…

AND FROM FUTURE LAWYERS….

WardBlawgG has a look at law studies with: How to study law using mindmaps.

Scots Law Student (life and trials of learning law in Scotland) Life of a Scots Law Student (at Stirling)

Legaleaglemhm’s Blog Does what it says on the tin…. “Recording history as it happens – A paradigm shift in communications a new world of Law – help me to document it.”

And a few more excellent blogs for you to read from Scotland…

Alan Tench Public Law and Devolution: The constitutional provisions of the Scotland bill

Legal History blog: Scottish Chief Justice of Jamaica (18th Century) and his Court Reports

Eric Clive’s European Private Law News: Response by Federation of Small Businesses on European contract law

Edinburgh Commercial Law blog: Elf and Safety? A Christmas Data Protection Thought

General updating on Scots Law: Casecheck

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@INFOBUNNY LIVES ON>>> IN ANOTHER GUISE

I have her permission to link…. and I very much hope you will go and have a good look at her series of 365 pics – one pic a day for a year.  Many of the photographs are wonderful to look at.. others are surreal…. there are too many to pick a favourite… but I laughed when I saw the horsehead pics..and the blue plastic lad with the baseball bat hitting the raspberry appealed to my sense of the Dada and absurd.

View the picks here

 

 

 

 

***

AND SO… TO ENGLAND & WALES

Blogging lives…and, in fact, seems to be growing….


Being a keen fan of Test cricket, I could not let pass the fact that England retained The Ashes at The Melbourne Cricket Ground  last week and as this Blawg Review comes out I hope that we will win the series 3-1, defeating the Australians 3-1.  We shall have to see… cricket is a complex game.  The Fifth Test starts tonight….but The Aussies can’t win The Ashes, they can only square the series.  We haven’t retained The Ashes on Australian soil for 24 years.  Judging by reports in the Australian press…they are none to pleased with that and are laying into their own cricketers….

I don’t have too much sympathy for the Aussies about the cricket and my fellow blogger Peter Black  in Australia owes me a second virtual bottle of Rioja!  The picture above shows the victorious England cricket team doing The Sprinkler dance!

Australian Law Blogs a directory of blogs related to Australian law, the legal profession, Australian law firms or legal studies

Soldier, former banker, blogger and now training to be a lawyer…Oedipus Lex has a very fine blog. He wrote a guest post for my blog on Remembrance Sunday. Beautifully written and powerful. Remembrance Day – a guest post from OedipusLex

He is also a cricket fanatic.

To read The Sun, The Daily Mail and the banal utterings of some of our more right wing politicians one could be forgiven for thinking that The Human Rights Act is an unwelcome barrier to the administration of a good lynching. Fortunately, we have The UK Human Rights Blog to remind us with regular, informed, posts just why we need the Human Rights Act

Here is a selection of their Top 20 posts for 2010 from the members of 1 Crown Office Row on human rights

Obiter J is always on the button with his observations on topical legal issues : A Jewel Beyond Price … the Magistracy of England and Wales

And..talking of human rights… and the ideal of fair trials, presumption of innocence... Bystander JP of The Magistrates Blog makes a very good point with this…

Just A Minute…..

The police are dealing with the horrible Bristol murder, and we ought to let them get on with their job. A man is in custody, and investigations continue. If there is enough evidence the CPS will authorise charge, and the justice system will take its course….

A number of lawyers on twitter drew attention to The Contempt of Court Act 1981 and the CPS Guidelines on Thursday 30th December 2010 – only for some to deride us and talk about their right to freedom of speech.  Trial by twitter is worse than trial by mainstream media. At least with mainstream media there is recourse.  How can The Contempt of Court Act be enforced against thousands of tweeters who have made their minds up on guilt or innocence? We saw the same ‘trial by twitter and ‘meedja’ with Assange on the rape issue. I would rather see the rule of law and due process observed than give people the right to potentially prejudice a fair trial.  Old fashioned?

Another magistrate oriented blog, The Justice of The Peace blog, asks…..The Office for Judicial Complaints or The Spannish Inquisition?

Human Rights in Ireland is well worth reading.  The issues are similar and a broad perspective is always valuable. Another irish blog I enjoy…Cearta.ie – Irish for Rights… Legal Requirements of Christmas Cheer

Carl Gardner, ex government lawyer and author of The Head of Legal blog,  is always tough on detail and analysis when it comes to human rights and constitutional issues: LibCon: is the process fair to Julian Assange?

I did a podcast with Carl before Christmas on the Assange affair – and one with Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens.  This was analysis of the issues to date and did not prejudge the issue of guilt or innocence.  Lawcast 174: Carl Gardner on the Assange / Wikileaks Extradition

Garrulous Law has some interesting coverage: The Julian Assange Case: Frequently Asked Questions

Solicitor Art Li...in Art Li’s Mumblings considers the matter of student protests in Up the Creek?

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A BIT OF LIGHT RELIEF….

Justice is the set and constant purpose which gives every man his due ~ Cicero

And here… it has to be BabyBarista first up…Tim Kevan’s wonderfully duplicitous creazione

“Earlier this week it was TheVamp suffering judicial ignorance. Today I had the pleasure of being subjected to the following judgment:

‘Mr BabyBarista tells me there is clear court of appeal authority to say that I cannot find for the proposition put forward by the other side. That may well be so. But this is the small claims court and we all know full well that in reality Mr BabyBarista’s insurance company is never going to appeal such a small case.’ He gave me a cruel smile before continuing, ‘Which of course means that I am not only completely free to disregard such high-minded authorities but very much intend to do so.’…..

From Kangaroo court

And then… there is Anonymous Assistant… the Diary of a down trodden solicitor: Party Politics : “The firm has reinstated the Christmas party.   I haven’t mentioned it before because I thought it was like the Coalition promising to retain universal Child Benefit: I never really thought it would happen.”  (I thoroughly enjoyed doing a podcast with AA some time ago… she put on a wonderful fake voice.  We did a fair bit of laughing in that podcast)

And… new blogger on the block…Magic Circle Minx… using the wonderful movie tool which  I enjoyed using some time back… Tis The Season To Train As A Lawyer

And… you just have to read The White Rabbit – written by a serious lawyer who rarely manages to even shoehorn a bit of law into his excellent blog – picking up on the ‘unusual’ things in life. This will give you a flavour… Okay I said ‘normal’ service…

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MEEDJA, LIBEL AND SUPERINJUNCTIONS….

In a year when sundry footballers and tedious celebrities have been misusing law to suppress publication of their antics….and corporates have been using libel laws to suppress and oppress…. thankfully, we have some excellent bloggers to keep us abreast of these ‘goings on’.

David Allen Green, aka Jack of Kent, is doing a series of posts on Libel and, hopefully reform is on the way…. Libel Reform Part I: the purpose of defamation law . The main page for this series on libel is here.

Inforrm – Top Posts of 2010

This blog will give you a very clear picture on media matters.  Essential reading if you are interested in this field.

Legal Bizzle gives a perspective on commercial law generally and writes: Dear Santa, please can I have some clients that don’t shout at me?

The Fat Bigot cannot be classified in any category – a retired barrister, he writes as he finds…. with precision and a degree of sardonic humour; Resigned or frustrated : “I find it hard to write anything these days. It’s not that there is nothing to write about, just in the last couple of weeks we’ve had the EU bullying Ireland at the behest of Germany, a multi-million pound talking shop farce in Mexico, the first guilty plea from a former MP who defrauded the public purse, the strengthening of the food police and people rioting about nothing in London. Yet I haven’t been stirred to action. I’m trying to work out why….”

Geeklawyer – whose blog was down for ‘essential maintenance’ when I visited, rather than being accidentally erased after several jugs of Mead, spends much of his time on Twitter these days.  When he does blog...always a laugh and by no means office safe.

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FAMILY LAW

After tastelessly tweeting that they could not believe that “Two people bought a #divorce from divorce-online.co.uk on Christmas Day”…. these chaps have gone one better and are now having a competition to let people WIN a divorce.

I suspect that the leading Family Law bloggers may be rather surprised at this.

“MARRIED couples facing the heartbreak of splitting up are being urged to enter a controversial competition – to win a divorce. Husbands and wives who have decided to go their separate ways are being invited to enter the contest by one of the UK’s leading do-it-yourself divorce experts. Divorce Online has organised the competition to highlight that ending your marriage does not have to be an unpleasant experience and should not cost couples thousands of pounds in solicitors’ fees.”  More….

Hat Tip to Brian Inkster of Scots law firm Inksters for tipping me off on this wondrous plan. Brian does a fair bit of tweeting – and provides useful information through twitter.

John Bolch of Family Lore, day in day out, come rain or shine, is at his post providing an excellent service to family lawyers with his blog, updates and podcasts (which he does with Natasha Philips of Researching Reform).  John Bolch also has a very comprehensive list of Family Law bloggers and commentators. As I now have a self awarded ASBO prohibiting me from going within 200 yards of a Register office, Church or other premises licensed to marriage, I tend not to spend a great deal of time reading family law blogs.

So while Divorce Online is holding competitions so people can get divorced free, the government is pushing people to stay married…

News Brief: Shock treatment: “The Telegraph reports the latest wheeze of Iain Duncan Smith in his on-going campaign to cure all of society’s ills by making couples stay together:

“Parents who are on the brink of splitting up could be told to “walk through” the impact that divorce would have on their children under a radical plan being considered by ministers.”

Pink Tape has a sharp incisive style to her blogging : Legal Aid Reforms – It’s Not Rocket Science Boys. Pink Tape writes: “I could spout on and on about all the things wrong with the Legal Aid reforms set out in the Green Paper published last month (and indeed I already have), but in fact Polly Curtis has already done it for me, in this recent article in The Guardian.

Jacqui Gilliat of ‘Bloody Relations’ doesn’t blog as often as she did on her own blog – but when she does it is a good read. The Dangers of Technology

***

COMMERCIAL  LAW

I enjoy looking at old prints of judges and barristers from the past. I have several of these prints in The Staterooms.  This came from Collectorsprints.com.

UK Blawg Round Up celebrates its first birthday this week and Paul Hajek of Clutton Cox solicitors (with blog) will host the 5th edition…this coming week.   UK Blawg Round up is to be welcomed, providing a regular review of UK law blogging.

Melanie Hatton, an in-house lawyer, did the 4th Roundup: A Halloween Hoot.

Shireen Smith of Azrights has a look at the very topical issue of Wikileaks: Wikileaks: Technical sanctions by Service Providers.

Solicitor Peter Groves has a good look at domain name leasing and is now providing high quality CPD online: Domain name leasing. Peter is also bringing out a Dictionary of Intellectual Property. The dictionary  will be published in or about February 2011 by Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.

Is this some new, unnecessary, dodgy activity? That was my first thought when a client asked me for my advice the other day. How do you lease something so nebulous as a domain name? The very idea of it brought out the grumpy old man in me….

The IPKat, produced by leading IP Prof Jeremy Phillips and his colleagues, is a remarkable resource for those who have an interest in Intellectual property: A tale for our time: Princess Ilonka and the Landeshauptmann

Barrister Jane Lambert’s NIPCLAW blog is a valuable resource for IP matters: Practice: More from Media CAT

Peninsulawyer asks...”Why would I spend my last post of 2010 writing about Baz Luhrmann’s song Everybody’s free (to wear sunscreen)? and exhorts … Class of 2011 (encrypt your data)

Andrew Sharpe of Charles Russel CRITique | Our Commercial Law blog :#TwitterJokeTrial: a Deconstruction of a Statutory Provision – a sharp observation on a difficult issue (mea culpa) and also uses twitter to engage and make useful comments on a range of topical issues.

If you have a conflict of laws interest, Conflict of Law.net will be a good place to look to keep up to date with developments in this field.

Clarinette – French and English intellectual property specialist discusses… Wikileaks and Freedom of internet

Lilian Edwards of Pangloss, a specialist in commercial matters digital,writes:  Wikileaks drips on: some responses.

Cyberpanda: A blog by Asma Vranaki which analyses important legal developments in the field of cyberspace including privacy, defamation, intellectual property, e-commerce and online property in the UK, EU, USA and the Far East.

Lex Ferenda: The regulation of video games: past, present and future

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And now for some student and student oriented blogs…

Regular readers may be familiar with my Muttley Dastardly LLP posts.  I am advised, by some in the know, that fiction is pretty close to the truth….sometimes.

If you are thinking of a career in law, or are currently studying with a view to a career in law….you may wish to read…..

A MESSAGE FROM DR ERASMUS STRANGELOVE
Partner and Director of Education, Muttley Dastardly LLP

On the other hand…. you will be better served, if you plan a career at the Bar, by reading two excellent blogs…

Simon Myerson QC and his Pupillage and How to get it: I won’t extract a particular post.  If you are thinking of going to the Bar – please read ALL of it. You will be both wiser and better informed.

You will also find this…most useful: The Pupillage Blog Returns

No longer a student… but with an excellent blog which he started while studying law…. Law Actually asks… Is the iPad culture killing blogging?

Another blog started while the blogger was studying – but still going strong…Android’s Reminiscences: Rejected QLTT Applications submitted before 31 August.

Travis The Trout has an interesting perspective on….Mentoring Schemes – another viable route to a job?

Alan Plawtridge chucks his hat into the ring with…. My two pennies on Legal Education

Not a blog, more of a resource and guide for law students – from City University Law School – LawBore

Future lawyer and cricket fanatic – who can teach Iain Dale a thing or two about cricket (as he demonstrated on Twitter the other night when Dale was being a bit ‘lofty’) –  Ashley Connick, writes about his remarkable experience at Christmas: In the bleak midwinter…a ray of sunshine

Former Bar student and supporter of many law blog…LAWMINX has returned to the fray… Minx and the Goblet Chariot of Fire…….

Barmaid’s hair has turned white:My Hair Turned White!

Lateforlawschool: In which we consider the future.

One of my biggest worries when I started my degree was whether I had left it too late to become a solicitor. I will be 36 when I finish, and 37 when I’ve done either of the vocational qualifications. Would I be too long in the tooth for someone to take on? Would I be doing an expensive degree only to find out the market had no use for me? In the end, I decided that this was something I’do always wanted to do, and even if it didn’t lead to anything, a good quality degree never hurts. Besides, I was doing this to prove to myself that I could. So I got on with it.

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THE PROFESSION

When you wish to instruct, be brief; that men’s minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind. ~ Cicero

2011 will be a year of significant change for the legal profession. A number of bloggers focus on these reforms and changes and, of course, mainstream legal media: Legal Week, The Law Society Gazette and The Lawyer.

Professor Richard Moorhead of Cardiff University Law School keeps a close watch on developments in the profession and, most recently, writes: Business as usual? What next for the LSB?

Professor John Flood is another blogger who writes well on this topic.  His blog, Random Academic Thoughts (RATs) also goes off piste with amusing observations. This is not surprising.  John has a sideline as a stand up comedian.  True story!  A brave man!. A recent post:  Research Does Have Impact considers the issue of diversity in the profession.

Lawyers should be aware of a wide range of issues, including business, finance, politics and the economy.  Here are a couple of blogs which I read regularly and which I hope will be of value to you:  Pragmatist and Capitalists At Work.

And for up to date coverage of legal matters on the net and newsNick Holmes’ Infolaw and The Inner Temple Current Awareness service are essential references. Nick Holmes also writes the Binary Law blog: The hype cycle

Nick writes…“Apropos my social meeja blues I consulted the web. Turns out I can plot my disillusionment on Gartner’s hype cycle representing the maturity, adoption and social application of specific technologies.”

If you need to be briefed on the latest developments on technology for lawyersCharles Christian’s Legal Technology Insider is the place to go.

And no resource review is complete without Delia Venableswebsite on web resources.

Chrissie Lightfoot…not a blogger, but an enthusiastic tweeter, has a direct approach to marketing and innovation for lawyers…..

The Naked Lawyer

RIP to XXX

Julian Summerhayes says….Your Biggest Competitive Threat for 2011 (and it isn’t ‘Tesco law’)

If you are a bit ‘Hazy’ still on The Legal Services Act, solicitor Michael Scutt has just what you need.

And… for a very interesting viewpoint on the Irish economy from an Irish lawyer, Fergus O’Rourke…. It Was The Lending

The Time Blawg – The past, present and future of legal practice has landed: “A New Day, a New Year and a New Blawg materialises… The Time Blawg [The past, present and future practice of law], brought to you by Brian Inkster. Why Blawg? My interest in blogging has grown from my use of Twitter [@BrianInkster] which brought to my attention the many great blogs that are out there.

The Legal Brat writes: Why US lawyers don’t want their boss’s job

Informationoverlord is always worth a visit for …well….information: Free law book chapters

Combining law and medicine Dr Shibley Rahman has produced a useful blog:  Academic Law and Medicine

AND… the contribution of The Guardian to law news is very welcome and a must read and Afua Hirsch’s blog also

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GENERAL PRACTICE

I’ve followed Nearly Legal since NL was ‘nearly legal’.  The blog is a very sophisticated resource now in housing law and related matters: Janus.

And this quote from the Janus post sums up much of what is good about the blogosphere generally… “While on thanks, a particular debt of gratitude is owed to Tessa Shepperson of landlordlaw, whose help and support in providing new server space has been invaluable for the last year and for the future. We do this for the love of it, but Tessa stepped in with material assistance when it was needed and that support has been hugely helpful.”

Tessa Shepperson’s Landlordlaw blog must be a first port of call for anyone practising in this field, let alone members of the public who need information: TRO Confidential – The case of catch me if you can

On conveyancing matters Paul Hajek of Cluttons Cox covers the ground…. thoroughly.

If you happen to be a bit worried about murder and evidence…you may find the Murder and Evidence blog of interest: Changes in the Defences to Murder

 

I enjoy reading…The law, as seen from the cheap seats…

And now… something for lawyer topers… The Jack Of Kent Drinking Game

From @Gaijinsan21… another reason why Twitter can be a very fruitful way of wasting industrial amounts of time… I do… I am up to nearly 70,000 tweets in just over two years…

BASIC RULES
The basis of the game is to drink the appropriate forfeit each time @DavidAllenGreen (aka Jack of Kent)mentions certain phrases. The basic phrases are as follows:
Illiberal – drink one shot / one finger of Chianti
Extraordinary – drink a large whisky
Misconceived – drink a double vodka (thanks to @andromedababe)
Illiberal and Misconceived – finish any and all drinks you have.

It must be time for a Cicero quote….

Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Obviously… on this occasion, I am not able to support, condone or agree with such a ‘misconceived and illiberal’ statement from Cicero. Sláinte.

I am able, however, to attest to the fact the Gaijin-San has some penetrating analysis of more serious matters legal on the blog.

In the spirit of the ‘Drinking Game’… it must be time for another Cicero quote…

No sane man will dance.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Returning to more complex legal matters…

Obiter J has two excellent posts written over the New Year celebrations: New Year 2011 – What lies ahead and a Toast to Health and Peace and Detention without charge

Barrister Bard writes on the important subject of Anonymity in criminal matters: ANONYMITY

It is obviously a quiet time for the Press and Media.  The snow and ice have gone, at least for the time being, and life is returning to some sort of normality.  The obvious exception is Northern Ireland, where burst pipes have reduced the flow of water to a trickle, but if they managed to survive thirty years of the IRA and the UDF, bombing and shooting their way to the negotiating table, they can survive anything. To fill the quiet time, the Press and Media have targeted the violent death of Joanna Yeates, a Bristol girl found strangled and dumped in woodlands over Christmas.  In the normal course of events, this would hardly merit a by-line, but with little else to report, it has become headline news……

I can recommend an excellent blog on matters relating to The Supreme Court and analysis of judgments: The UKSC blog: Lord Judge and the Public Bodies Bill

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THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

In a republic this rule ought to be observed: that the majority should not have the predominant power.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Blawg Review has been running for five years. It is the creation of  Ed of Blawg Review and a raft of American law bloggers. Bloggers from other jurisdictions have been invited to host,  but most weeks the Blawg Review tends to focus on US law blogs which is understandable.

I have read most of the 291 Blawg Reviews and I have no hesitation in recommending that you dip into the blogs listed on Blawg Review if you wish to gain an insight into the quality of writing, the issues taken by bloggers, and the US legal system.

This week I have chosen to feature British blogs, a few Irish blogs I read regularly,  and draw your attention to the many Canadian blogs available.  My coverage of US blogs in this issue is limited, simply through time and concern that  my review may  already be  longer than a cricket wicket.

I am, therefore, going to draw attention to a few US blogs I read regularly, not because of their coverage of US Law, but because they are thought provoking, direct and address issues which are of universal application to all lawyers – and leave you to explore, should you wish to, the many excellent law blogs in the Blawg Review listing #1-291.

WhatAboutClients?, written by Dan Hull, a blog which transmogrifies into WhatAboutParis? at weekends, is quirky, provocative and eclectic – and very much focused on client service. Note to “Publius”: In 2011, resolve to grow a pair and use your real name on the Internet. “This blog’s policy is no-name no-publish. We’ve written about it a lot. Because, among other things, we need to know exactly how to address that summons or subpoena, you know?” (I am not within this rule because I am not anonymous, as my About Section makes clear)

Above The Law describes itself as a legal tabloid.  It really is worth reading, as is Overlawyered (Chronicling the high cost of (The US) legal system) ) – a wonderful mix of…shall we say… the ‘unusual aspects’ of the legal world.

AND…. if you really want some in depth analysis of what is going on in US blogs weekly – you just have to read Colin Samuels’ Infamy or Praise *Round Tuits*. Colin took a short break in December but he has notched up his 50 and can wave his bat towards the ‘barmy army’ and the dressing room.  The most recent RoundTuit from 1 December will give you a flavour.  Colin won all the annual awards for Blawg Review and is a pleasure to work with on my social satire West London Man – which returns in January.

US lawyer and artist Charles Fincher’s cartoons are always worth a view…and the Bitcher & Prickman, particularly relevant to modern legal practice.

Scott Greenfield, a US defense lawyer, writes regularly on his blog Simple Justice.

Social Media Trends For 2011

Being a cutting edge blawger, and therefore infallibly knowledgeable about all things social media, it struck me as critical that I keep abreast of trends in the coming year. After all, did I not move from LPs to 8 tracks almost immediately? 

My journey began at Social Media Today, which bills itself as the “web’s best thinkers on social media.”  I want to hear from the best thinkers, so I turned to Eric Rice….

Scott Greenfield can always be relied on to be amusing and provocative about social media ‘experts’…..rightly.


There are many excellent Canadian Law blogs.  We share many values in terms of the rule of law and common law and a visit to these blogs may well throw up an insight into how things are done in a different jurisdiction which will have to address issues with which we are familiar…. Rather than make a specific selection in this Blawg Review…. I thought it best to give you the list on the Lawblog.ca website…there are almost certainly more… have a look at the blogrolls on some of the blogs below for more.

I am, however, more than happy to draw your specific attention to three Canadian blogs I read regularly: Antonin Pribetic:  The Trial Warrior | Law21.ca (Jordan Furlong) with many insightful analyses on matters affecting the profession of general application | Slaw – an excellent and thoughtful blog run by Professor Simon Fodden and his colleagues.

I hope that my fellow bloggers from The United States will forgive that I did not highlight US blogs to any extent in this Blawg Review. I gave my reasons above.  It has been a pleasure to have been part of Blawg Review and I hope that the many US law bloggers will enjoy visiting some of the excellent blogs I have featured here.  I know that I will have missed other good blogs.  There is only so much time in a holiday period over Christmas and New Year and not appearing in this long review does not connote lack of interest on my part…simply that I ran out of time.
Have a good New Year…
I end with a quote from Cicero…. “I prefer tongue-tied knowledge to ignorant loquacity.” but I am not so sure I can agree with Cicero when he said…”Laws should be interpreted in a liberal sense so that their intention may be preserved.”  Parliament must learn to be precise in drafting laws, so that we know exactly what they mean and can, as an electorate, respond accordingly. Until then, thankfully, we have our Supreme Court to ensure that Parliament is clear in its intention and that governments comply with the rule of law.
Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.
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Charon has an OSCAR?!

Awards from good friend and fellow blogger, John Bolch of Family Lore, I accept with pleasure. John writes….

“When I began to read Muttley Dastardly LLP Episode 10: RE – A Christmas Carol, I feared that the mercenary Matt Muttley may have succumbed to the nauseating sentimentality of Christmas, but thankfully my fears were assuaged. There is, of course, no place for sentimentality when one is the Managing Partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP, and happily Matt comes through his ordeal with “no side effects of feelings of love or affection for our fellow man”.

It is a wonderful morality tale, with a truly modern message.

My award for the December Post of the Month therefore goes to Charon QC, for his heart-warming reworking of the Dickens classic.

Strength and Profits!”

I am writing a rather long Blawg Review for the Blawg Review carnival.  It is, in fact, my sixth.  They take a bit of time to put together….so no blogging by me until publication tomorrow.  I am supposed to post it on Monday… but I am “The Lord of Misrule” … or, in Scotland, ‘The Abbott of Unreason”…. (All will be revealed in the Blawg Review #292 when it goes up)….so I am not very good with non-legal rules!

AND… I do have to get on with equally important matters… The Fifth Test…in Sydney as part of The Ashes which…we have retained…now…hopefully…to WIN them and the series.