The lives we are now leading….

 

All a bit embarrassing that the Libyan School of Economics took the money….. but hey…. still time to fund other more peaceful organisations?

Bit busy on a project… back later…..

And… just as you thought it was Assange to go back into the water…… Julian Assange is, allegedly, reputedly and, possibly – indubitably…trade marking *Assange*… at least…. according to this report in The Register….

And… David Allen Green has a very good post in the New Statesman on why Assange lost last week… it is worth reading…

 

We discussed the judgment in our first “Without Prejudice” podcast if you haven’t heard it David Allen Green, Carl Gardner and Joanne Cash discuss the verdict  in robust terms.

 

And… Twitter does throw up some wonderful nonsense….. this from my fellow tweeter… @Wibblenut… who, like me, keeps unusual hours.

 

And…these…

anne_f_ Anne Fay…asks….
@Charonqc Will I be allowed to assange if he gets his trademark? Am making no claims that I *want* to, it’s a theoretical question.
BillfromBendigo Bill from Bendigo
@Charonqc What about the legendary egg and bacon Assange!
@chuzzlit Alison Charlton…responded by saying….
@Charonqc I Assange you in the name of the law.
Meanwhile…as our Tory-led Coalition government wonder if they should hire ships and planes from Weapons R US…… I do think they may need to  re-consider the resources  (Harriers / aircraft carriers etc)  available to this country for his plans to go to war in North Africa….. but..hey… what do we know….?
Watched BBC Newsnight…..
AND… I love the fact that twitter is truly international… this> ……..
GADDAFIDUST…
And… of course….no sooner do I do this tweet……  the talent on the net has got the picture before me and everyone else   (via @Wibblenut)….. this  from those lovely people at b3ta.com.

The Royals – Lex2011 Tweet Up – Over supply of LPC students – Lawman swings

The White rabbit has excelled himself this last week with this….

Sort of Rabbit Review – The Royals

High-flying married lawyer joins sleazy £40-a-head swingers’ party

Scotland’s Daily Record reports: “ONE of Scotland’s top criminal lawyers was caught in a mansion’s sex dungeon during a Sunday Mail probe into sordid swingers’ parties. The married lawman, who often appears in the High Court, took part in a £40-a-head bash where strangers, couples and transvestites had tawdry sex…..”

The report continued to provide sufficient salacious detail, without revealing the identity of the ‘lawman’ – because of privacy laws – to satisfy readers; but what I particularly enjoyed was this piece….“An eyewitness said: “It was depraved – only a handful of women were in the house and it was full of blokes.”

An eye witness…? Good grief…whatever next.  Hat Tip to fellow tweeter @loveandgarbage for drawing my attention to this important legal development in social meedja.

Study to examine oversupply of LPC graduates

The Law Society Gazette has the story: Following on from recent coverage on the over supply of Bar students…. the SRA is coming under pressure from The Legal Services Board to look into the issue.  There may be an issue of Competition Law? I understand that competition law issues have been raised before in aptitude tests and other ideas for restricting entry.

Blawg Review #300

The Battle for Blawg Review of the Year. A very thorough review of all the Blawg Reviews of 201o.

Lex 2011 + The #Lex2011Tweetup

Brian Inkster and others have organised a tweet up for those on twitter and other lawyers who wish to attend…

Where: All Bar One, 58 Kingsway, Holborn, London, WC2 B6DX |When: Wednesday 16 March 2011 from 6.30pm onwards |Who: Legals who tweet (Twegals): Anyone who is interested in or associated with the law and who tweets. You don’t need to be attending Lex 2011 to come to the #Lex2011Tweetup.

I hope to attend. It will be a pleasure to meet fellow bloggers and tweeters.

Postcard from The Staterooms-on-Thames: Kafka edition

Dear Reader,

“The Trial (German: Der Process) is a novel by Franz Kafka, first published in 1925. One of Kafka’s best-known works, it tells the story of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime never revealed either to him or the reader.”

Demand open justice for Julian Assange

Mark Stephens, in The Guardian: Our high court should refuse extradition when the trial in prospect is likely to be unfair – as it is in this case

Mark Stephen, Assange’s lawyer in the UK, writes…”Julian Assange will, according to the judge’s finding of fact, be held in prison in solitary confinement when he is returned to Sweden and will then be interrogated, held without bail and later subjected to a secret trial on accusations that have been bruited around the world, not least by this newspaper. He has a complete answer to these charges, which he considers false and baseless. Even if acquitted, however, the mud will stick and, if convicted, the public will never be able to able to assess whether justice has miscarried. This country, which has given to the world the most basic principles of a fair trial – that justice must be seen to be done – denies that basic liberty for those that are extradited to Sweden. How come our courts abandon our cherished principles in deference to European systems and prosecutors?……..

I interviewed Mark Stephens in a podcast before Christmas.  In our first “Without Prejudice” podcast David Allen Green, Carl Gardner and Joanne Cash  reviewed the decision of District Judge Riddle handed down on Thursday.

There is, of course, another side to Mark Stephens which I enjoyed reading about in the Financial Times.  He is allergic to bees – but he has lots of them in his garden.

Meanwhile in modern Britain…..

Phone-hacking libel claim contested by Metropolitan police

The Guardian: Scotland Yard applies to strike out lawsuit by solicitor representing victims of phone hacking

Scotland Yard is to contest a lawsuit that could establish the true number of victims in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

Mark Lewis, a solicitor who has acted for people suing the newspaper, contends that a senior figure in the Metropolitan police, Detective Sergeant Mark Maberly, told him in 2008 that as many as 6,000 phones may have been hacked.

We are certainly living in strange times….. and I cannot help but wonder, given that there appears to be an even greater need now for lawyers and judges to keep a close eye on what government does in our name, whether those who complain about The Human Rights Act, complain about the ECHR, the interventions of third parties in Europe, may have a preference for allowing their view of the rule of law to prevail without the inconvenience of independent and objective analysis and critique.  I cannot resist the line from The House of Cards by Michael Dobbs….“You may think that….I could not possibly comment’.

I shall leave it there for today…and return to happier things later in the day

Best, as always

Charon

#Without Prejudice – The Law Podcast 1: Assange, EAW, British Bill of Rights, Oversupply of lawyers and Silk

We covered a great deal of ground in this first episode of this round the table podcast: Assange verdict on extradition, European Arrest Warrants – The British Bill of Rights and the ECHR – The oversupply of lawyers …and we even had time to consider Garrow’s Law and Silk the BBC tv dramas on law and lawyers.

We can tweak the sound next time…..

Listen to the podcast (Running time 1 hour)


NOW AVAILABLE on iTunes (Free)

***

I’d like to thank Lawtel, WestlawCassons For Counsel, City University Law School David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Inksters SolicitorsIken, LBC Wise Counsel, Carrs Solicitors,  JMW Solicitors – Manchester, Pannone and Cellmark for sponsoring the podcast  – and the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.

Muttley Dastardly LLP (Episode 17): Dr Erasmus Strangelove reveals… his plan for domination of the legal market.

Can you imagine a situation where there are so many lawyers qualifying  each year through the law schools that we have an endless supply of ‘enthusiastic and able’ young freelance lawyers clamouring not to get into the profession – there is is no room at the Inn or in the big City firms – but to join  our new paralegal division, branded under a quite different and non-attributable name.

Can you imagine a situation where the rates we charge are so low, through volume and efficiency, that we can drive down costs in the profession and then disseminate information through the trade and related press and subtle advertising on the GoCompare model that prices in the traditional profession are, shall we say, ‘pacy’?.  And, what if we were to set up our specialist division of solicitor-advocates; perhaps even luring a few renegade silks to front it?  It would not be that difficult to build a ‘Stable’ (they call barristers chambers ‘stables’ in Scotland, I understand) of say 1000 solicitor-advocates, specialist in a very wide range of legal disciplines, and undercut the market.  We could take on The Bar, and we could take on some of these enthusiastic and able young people who can’t get work in the traditional profession and we could grow to perhaps 10,000 solicitor-advocates in a few years and take over the entire legal profession’s representation in the courts of this country.  In time, some of our Partners will be judges…who knows…perhaps, one day, even Supreme Court justices……”

Dr Erasmus Strangelove, Partner and Director of Education, Strategy and Psyops, Muttley Dastardly LLP,  speaking at a recent meeting of The Partners.

Truth is often stranger than fiction… because, curiously enough…… the rise in power of the paralegals was being discussed by former Bar chair, Nicholas Green QC,  and the idea of solicitors taking on the Bar by setting up solicitor-advocates on the chambers model was being mooted by Guy Berenger QC, a solicitor and a former senior partner at Allen & Overy,  only last Saturday…as reported in an excellent article in the Law Society Gazette.

***

With thanks to the following for sponsoring the free materials for students on Insite Law magazine: 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.

Law Review: The Legal Brick Road – Nice Picture, Horrible Odds – The Age of ‘NO bar to The Bar’ has arrived!

Justgodirect are doing a series of interviews with lawyers and bloggers on their The Legal Brick Road section of the website. First up is Tim Kevan, barrister and author of Babybarista.  I am pleased to report that Dr Erasmus Strangelove of Muttley Dastardly LLP has been invited to respond and do an interview.

Read Tim’s interview

An excellent article by Professor Richard Moorhead of Cardiff Law School:

Nice Pictures, Horrible Odds

It is interesting for a number of reasons including the much talked about gap between pupillages and BPTC graduates. The slides show that gap has been creeping slowly up, with the gap widening dramatically about three years ago, before closing somewhat. This makes me wonder why the controversy is particularly acute now, but that’s not to deny it’s not a significant problem. It clearly is and the overall trend seems to be continuing upwards.

A useful read for anyone contemplating a career at the Bar.

And, while we are talking about The Bar…. The Pupillage Blog has an interesting story about The Bar’s latest initiative on access to a career in the legal profession.

The age of ‘No Bar to the Bar’ has arrived!

The Bar Council has launched a new website today called ‘No bar to the Bar‘, which is designed to provide career information for all those who aspire to became practicing barristers.  The website also seeks to actively promote social mobility within the profession, which is supported with online videos that provide students from both school and university a greater intuitive understanding of the workings of the Bar.

The website has been made with the co-operation of Gray’s Inn, Lincoln’s Inn, Inner Temple and Middle Temple and is driven by the proposals of Lord Neuberger, who produced 57 recommendations for the promotion of social mobility at the Bar…..

Bahrain Grand Prix to go ahead….

Pic from twitter!

Legal Profession Lawcast (1): The Naked Lawyer on the future of the legal profession

Welcome to the first in a series of 20 podcasts on the legal profession in 2011. I’m going to look at the changing legal landscape in the light of the impact of The Legal Services Act and current trading conditions through the eyes of practitioners at the bar and from law firms large and small , commentators and regulators.

Today I am talking to The Naked Lawyer or, to be more accurate, Chrissie Lightfoot, a non-practising solicitor and  author of The Naked Lawyer…… a great woman to do business with” –  according to Jules Wyman., recently voted Britain’s top woman coach and  owner of Positive Belief.

To give you a flavour of The Naked Lawyer… a few quotes from the many reviews Chrissie has received….

“…the Karma Sutra of client care.”
Paul Brennan. Commercial Lawyer. Australia.
“…it’s practical, funny, inspirational and down-to-earth…”
Steve Kuncewicz. Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Lawyer. UK.
“…simply a MUST read for the student who is considering a career in the law… to the senior partner who is trying to run a business in 2010 and beyond.”
Jim Diamond. Costs Lawyer. UK.

Chrissie Lightfoot’s  Entrepreneur Lawyer website

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

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My thanks to BPP Law School / BPP University College for sponsoring this series of podcasts

Law Review: Law in Action BBC Radio 4 on Assange/EAWs/Tweeting from court – excellent.

If you have not listened – I can recommend this week’s Law in Action episode with Joshua Rozenberg. Wikileaks / Assange case – European Arrest warrant – The view of a US spokeswoman on extraditing Assange – Tweeting from court.  BBC Radio 4

Restorative Justice, Policing and the Big Society

I’ve also waded through this speech by Nick Herbert MP, Minister for Policing & Justice. Wading is the ‘operative word’.     Oh dear!   I shall do some thinking on this….that is not to suggest, of course, that Mr Herbert hasn’t…. he’s done enough to at least allow the speech parts of the human brain to kick in and  enable him to make a speech on these matters.  I wonder what professional criminal lawyers and other professionals in this field of ‘criminal justice’  will make of this? I found it rather thin and, to be frank, a bit of a waffle.

A taster….from Mr Herbert’s speech…….

The Big Society

This is about taking justice out of the narrow confines of the courts and putting it into the community. That is why I think the notion of the Big Society is so relevant and so important here.

This is a week where the Big Society has been talked about a lot, but I am passionate in the belief that the Big Society is a truly big idea. It is a big idea because it is an answer to the problems of the broken society, and it is those problems that have of course caused the high crime that we heard about.

Read….

Prime Minister Cameron reassures Egyptians that he is not in Cairo to wreck their health service

David Cameron faces criticism for ‘arms trade’ trip to Middle East

Metro: David Cameron is facing criticism for going on a trade mission to the Middle East with six arms manufacturers.

My Tweet of the Week… so far… has to go to US lawyer Brian Tannebaum and fellow tweeter… He writes a good Blawg Review as well….

 

And then US criminal defense lawyer  and blogger Mark W Bennett came up with this sardonic tweet….

 

 

Followed by…this RT on Twitter from Canadian lawyer and blogger Antonin Pribetic…

RT @mirriam71: RT @avinunu: The last leader to order such barbaric air attacks killing civilians in Libya was Ronald Reagan.

Law Blog Review: Diversity, Cricket, The future of blogging and lawyers…and more…..

Time for a quick look at some of the law blogs…

Simon Myerson QC, writing in his Pupillage and How to Get it blog considers Diversity…

Counsel Magazine has an interesting article by Andrew Neish QC, dealing with the lack of diversity at the so called ‘magic-circle’ sets. I’d like to link to it but Lexis-Nexis thinks I should pay to do so and, as I get my paper copy anyway, I won’t. If  you or your institution has an account then this is the link to the click-on.

The proposal is not one I like – to choose additional random candidates for interview. It strikes me that this is not so much diversity as tokenism. But at least the problem is being looked at, which is better than ignoring it, and an email address is provided for comments and contributions. However a more focussed, more interesting and more thoughtful examination of the same issue is Lawminx’s letter to a pupillage committee. Minx’s idiosyncratic style isn’t to everyone’s taste, but the Bar ought to read decent points made by non-traditional students. We might learn something.

Read…..

I considered this issue en passant yesterday in my weekly PostcardThe Legal Services Board has announced a proposal to quiz lawyers on whether their parents went to university in an attempt to monitor the level of social mobility across the profession.  I remain unconvinced as to whether this proposal is anything other than intrusive and, possibly,  patronising.  But I am, of course, happy to be convinced that it is a good idea.

“Building a growing army of enemies”

Neil Rose provides an excellent write up of the Inner Temple legal Education Conference…

Nigel Savage
Though not present at the seminar, the name of the College of Law’s chief executive was frequently bandied around, and not usually in a complimentary way. It is fair to say that the noble Savage has become something of an Aunt Sally.

Why is this? Perhaps it is continued talk of the size of his salary – an issue raised on Friday by Advocacy Training Council chairman Charles Haddon-Cave QC – or just his bluff, uncompromising style.

The College has gone from strength to strength under his leadership, but its aggressive expansion in various directions means the cost has arguably been diminution of the College’s reputation among some lawyers.

I’ve known Nigel Savage for over twenty years.  He is direct and to the point – but I have no hesitation in saying (even though he was a competitor when I was running BPP Law School in the early 1990s) that The College of Law was a bit of a ‘basket case’ before he took over:  They lost the support of the Magic Circle firms in the LPC stakes (I know this – I did the report for the Magic Circle firms on the LPC review at the end of the 90s which led to a few changes) and I believe, whatever Savage’s salary, that he has been instrumental in bringing good people in and building up the College of Law’s reputation and range of courses.  We have a horrible tendency in this country to build people up and then knock them down.  I won’t be part of that thinking. I don’t always agree with Savage’s ideas.  I am more than happy to be critical of his views  when the need arises  – This is what debate is about –  but we need a few rough diamonds and people who think out of the box and who do not toe the line. Savage does not toe the line.

The good news is that Charles Haddon-Cave QC is…”… fabulously good on his feet…” (Chambers UK 2008 Directory)..and…“has the Midas touch; he has almost a supernatural ability to win cases.”(Chambers UK 2007 Directory). I rather suspect that pot and kettle on the matter of remuneration or ‘compensation’ (as we now call earnings) is not an unfair comment to make in the context of comments about Mr Savage’s ‘compensation’ ?

Ben Wheway of Legal Week reviews last week’s Future of Legal Blogging conference at 1 Crown Office Row – an event which I had to miss, sadly, because of injury: Blogging – can it help your legal career?

Nearly Legal on No admittance :

Sharon Horie v the United Kingdom – 31845/10 [2011] ECHR 289. Back at the end of 2009 we reported the Supreme Court case of Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs v Meier and another, which upheld the use of a quia timet injunction – a prospective possession order – against a group of new travellers, preventing them from occupying any land owned by the Forestry Commission in the area. Sharon Horie, one of the new travellers, applied to the European Court of Human Rights. This is the decision on the admissibility of the application.

For those of you in the intellectual property world, IPKat needs no introduction, but the team’s More Monday Miscellany is worth a read to keep you on the money.  “They thought it was a bicycle — but it was just a great ruse for importing Bauhaus chairs across the Italy-Germany border” I liked the graphic.

And… a quick Happy Birthday to Law Actually – 4 yesterday!

Futurology is very much on the minds of many practitioners at the moment, given the times we live in and the impact of The Legal Services Act.  John Bolch of Family Lore asks… Is there a future for family lawyers?

The newspapers have been full of prisoner votes, ‘perverts’ (The Sun, Daily Mail et al)  being allowed to come off the sex offender register and now, to inflame the blazer wearers of middle England, the outrage of leading murderers and rapists using the ‘hated European Human Rights laws’ to get benefits while in prison.  Carl Gardner, author of The Head of Legal blog brings analysis to the fore with his question and blog post… Have lawyers really “cleared” the government to defy Strasbourg over prisoners’ votes?

I enjoyed Lallands Peat Worrier on... Judicial quotation of the week…

Eccentric litigants seem to have been keeping their futile but entertaining petitions from the doors of Scotland’s appeal courts of late. The dearth may now be lifting. Idly fumbling through the electronic annals of Parliament House, the humble case of Daniel Cox v. Procurator Fiscal, Aberdeen caught my eye. The details themselves are perfectly quotidian. Mr Cox was convicted of driving at 49 miles an hour in 30 mile per hour zone by the Aberdeen Justices of the Peace Court. He received three pips on his driving licence and was fined £250. Clearly not a fellow to pinch his nose and swallow his legal medicine, Cox appealed his conviction on the basis that old peculiar of Scottish evidentiary jurisprudence, the corroboration rule.

The Bizzle muses…. “There are days (and I’m sure that every in house lawyer has them) when it seems like nobody is listening to me. When my client nods politely as I advise on the problems with their project, and then goes off and does exactly what they were going to do anyway. Or, even worse, when people don’t want to hear my advice in the first place.  The Bizzle has a solution: Give ‘em the hard word; and other influencing strategies

I enjoy Test Cricket….. and so does Ashley Connick who has managed to find a way of combining his passion for cricket and law within one blog post: Contempt of Caught? How the ICC upheld the Rule of Law

GC Tom Kilroy, who has joined the blogging world, writes: “Imagine yourself back in the Spring of 2007. Everyone was feeling pleased with themselves. The problems with our system of capitalism had been solved. We’d outsmarted all the generations that preceded us, even the brainy ones who thought they understood the dismal science of Economics.”

Tom has a solution… Principles Based Regulation – let’s not do that again

PODCASTS!

Starting this week there are two series of podcasts which you may like to listen to. I am about to begin a series of 20+ podcasts looking closely at the legal profession in 2011 in the light of the credit crunch, The Legal Services Act and generally through the eyes of sole practitioners, managing partners, barristers, BIG LAW, The Magic Circle and, of course, the regulators. BPP Law School / BPP University College has kindly agreed to sponsor these podcasts to assist with the production and bandwidth costs.  I record the first tomorrow with The Naked Lawyer, Chrissie Lightfoot

And….

“Without Prejudice” – a new fortnightly lawblogpodcast starting this Thursday 24th February 2011

And… a little bit of Charles Fincher to finish…


Postcard from The Staterooms-on-Thames: US arms manufacturer Census of Britain edition

My quote of the week….without question... has to be from Ken Clarke, Secretary of State for Justice and  Lord Chancellor (unless Michael Howard replaces him).  The Guardian has the the story…

It would be startling if we had a British government which said we aren’t going to comply with legal judgments…..

“I used to be a practising lawyer myself, and trying to give legal advice to a litigant who doesn’t want to be told what the law is and wishes it was something else is always difficult..”

Ken Clarke was telling  fearless interviewer Andrew Marr this morning that he plans to look to reform the European Court of Human Rights when Britain takes the chair of The Council of Europe this year.  I read with horror in the Mail on Sunday (not a paper I ever read in the ‘flesh’ so to speak, but one I dip into occasionally online to see what the ravening horde are thinking, or being told what to think, in the early hours of Sunday morning) that there is talk of the former great reforming Home Secretary Michael Howard, now Lord Howard of Panopticon, taking over from Clarke as Lord Chancellor.

I thought one of the benefits of having a House of Lords is that we take dangerous politicians out of society, without having to tag them electronically, and keep them occupied with tom foolery in the unelected second chamber, the House of Lords?  The last thing we want, surely, having pensioned these buggers orf, is to see them rising from the grave when darkness descends to walk among us once again?

If such an appointment is made, I might be tempted to occupy Battersea Square single handed and call for the overthrow of ….well….something… I’ll think about it..and come back to you later on my thinking.  I would certainly be tempted to leave the country and meet some interesting bankers; which would be infinitely preferable to staying here to watch Lord Howard of Panopticon visiting old naval ship breaking yards to rescue aircraft carriers for use as prison hulks.

Boycott the UK census over links to Lockheed Martin, protesters say

Guardian: We’re ready to face £1,000 fine, declare anti-war protesters in row over role of US arms firm Lockheed Martin in data gathering

It may be old news, but I am genuinely astonished that the British government has handed a contract to a US arms manufacturer to carry out the Census.  Apart from the fact that we should, in these dark days, be giving our own tech companies these contracts, I do understand the concerns of those who may wish to boycott the census on conscientious grounds and also raise my eyebrows that the Office of National Statistics can so glibly state that the information collected will be safe and not fall into the hands of the US State Department which may, under the US Patriot Act,  compel all american companies to hand over ‘useful information’.

Does the government have a credible explanation for this?  Can the government be absolutely certain the information will be safe – after the fiasco of the loss of 25 million records by HM Revenue & Customs..and, indeed, other information going AWOL at the DVLA and the odd military laptop left in the back of a minicab?

RollonFriday.com notes…“The Legal Services Board has announced a proposal to quiz lawyers on whether their parents went to university in an attempt to monitor the level of social mobility across the profession.”

While I applaud all initiatives to promote wider access to the profession for those who wish to be lawyers, I can’t help but feel that this latest initiative from the Legal Services Board is not only intrusive, it is almost patronising.  I am quite sure they do not intend these effects, however.

In my well spent youth – the days when students were able to combine hard living with hard study fitted in around more important commitments and still be fully paid up members of the awkward squad – I was asked where my father went to school at an interview at a well known investment bank (when I was misguided enough to think soon after graduating that I might actually find  the idea of working in The City interesting).  The interviewer had been a huge fromage at the Monopolies Commission.  I told him, politely,  that it was none of his business; which, of course, it wasn’t.   He seemed a bit put out by this reply and asked if my ‘family had any connections in banking’. I was really irritated by this question. Two advantages of having had the good fortune to go to a good school and having enjoyed the social satire The Ruling Class with Peter O’Toole, was that I was not ‘awed’ even at that young age by anyone (The only advice I would ever pass on to a law student is – don’t ever be ‘awed’ by anyone!) and I had a reasonable command of language.  I told him that my father did not, as far as I was aware,  keep his money in a tin box or stash it under the mattress and that it was quite probable that he had connections in the banking world. The interview did not go well. I did then, and to this day do, have manners.  I thanked the panel for their time, said that I was withdrawing my application, and left.   Unfortunately, I still meet people of this attitude and type to this day…. but, equally fortunately, they are a dying breed.

I lost my taste for (and being part of) the ‘traditional establishment’,  instilled and drilled in at school,  while in Africa before I went to university.  University compounded this and I decided to plough a different furrow…but at least is was my own furrow. Now I am like one of those ranters in the street;  except I don’t do it in the street…  I have my  ‘blawg’.

AND FINALLY… on the theme of the dangers of privilege and ‘background’….

I am delighted to see – via The Mail on Sunday….

“David Cameron is to ban internships with top City firms being sold for thousands of pounds to wealthy Conservative supporters for their children after the practice was exposed by The Mail on Sunday.

This newspaper’s report last week about the ‘cash for internships’ auction at the Tories’ glittering Black and White Party attended by the Prime Minister and his wife Samantha left the Conservatives deeply embarrassed.

A senior Tory aide said: ‘You can rest assured that this kind of auction will not be part of next year’s event. It was badly misjudged.

The worrying thing, of course, is that ‘they’ thought it was a good enough idea to hold the party and auction in the first place and that Prime Minister Camerondirect saw this, presumably, as ‘Big Society’ in action and attended the event?!

Have a good week.

Best, as always

Charon

“Without Prejudice” – a new fortnightly lawblogpodcast starting this Thursday 24th February 2011

Welcome to Without Prejudice – the fortnightly law podcast which examines the law issues of our times.  Solicitor, New Statesman columnist, author of the Jack of Kent blog, David Allen Green and Carl Gardner, barrister,  ex government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal blog, are at the table. We will have guests… news, topical analysis and discussion…and wine…and I get to ask the questions.  We will record at 7.30 pm each alternate Thursday and publish late on Thursday evening ready for Friday and the weekend.  We start this coming week on the 24th.

This week..the Assange judgment is out on Thursday and will, inevitably, be one of our topics for discussion…

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There will be an RSS feed for these podcasts and we’ll get it into iTunes.

Muttley Dastardly LLP (Episode 16): Partners [Eyes Only] General Counsel taking an interest in how law firms manage their firms

MEMORANDUM – EYES ONLY

To:  The Partners

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

Gentlemen,

In keeping with our tradition and work best practice ethic,  I am assuming that you will all have been too busy to read the legal press this week. My earlier memorandum on competitor activity this week, not unduly alarming, revealed a few possibilities for proactive approaches.  There were, however, two articles in the legal press this week, one of which is so potentially dangerous in its thinking that it could threaten the very foundation of our great firm. I shall deal with this matter first.

1.  I refer you to an article by Legal Week editor Alex Novarese dated 18th February 2011: Mind your own business – should clients be telling law firms how to run their shop?

2.  Briefly: Mr Novarese is putting into the minds of general counsel some fairly dangerous and subversive thinking when he states: “A recent article on Legal Week about an adviser review at Deutsche Bank reminded me of a concept that has gained traction in recent years: the notion that clients should get actively involved in the business model and inner workings of their external counsel.” I have added italics to draw attention to the salient point of concern.

3.  Even in these dark days when general counsel are taking work away from firms in The City, I am advised that many still have time and the inclination to read The Lawyer and Legal Week and, I am advised, some have even taken to tweeting away on twitter – something which our Pysops unit (See: Operation Twitter Storm of October last) is particularly proud of on the premise that they may become addicted and, ergo, have less time to do valuable legal work themselves and pass it back to us.

4. Mr Novarese continues with a further subversive notion: “On one level, such a stance is taken as a sign that clients are finally taking a proactive approach to securing value from their advisers. And, to a point, there are good reasons to go down this road. For a client to insist on something as cosmetic as moving their work to fixed fees by implication will force changes to law firms because the industry’s infrastructure is so wedded to time-based billing.”

5.  We do not have any issues with our clients on hourly billing since we moved to our Platinum Value Bill service with 150% of our carefully judged ‘bunce’ being paid on account, but it is the first part of the paragraph which is of concern: It would be most awkward if clients started to investigate our workings to determine whether they were getting value.  The whole idea behind value billing is that we get value, not the client,  and for the editor of a respected legal weekly to put these ideas out into the public domain is, frankly,  (borrowing from the style of our revered leader, Prime Minister Camerondirect) ‘absolutely appalling’  and, almost certainly, a breach of our human rights.

6.  Mr Novarese continues his crusade to demystify the dark secrets of our glorious profession with this remarkable statement: “And it would be ludicrous to suggest that clients shouldn’t take any interest in how law firms run their business. You would want to know that your go-to adviser had rigorous systems to maintain quality and solid standards of ethical behaviour because major short-comings in this respect would probably impact on you as the client.” I really do not need to add comment to this.  Res ipsa loquitur. The man is absolutely right, of course, but being right doesn’t mean he should tell everyone? I shall agenda this for dissection at our next Partner’s meeting.

7. I turn now to an absolutely splendid article in The Lawyer from David Mandell, founder, Mandell Corporate: Opinion: Private clients may be profession’s new sugar daddies.

Unfortunately, The Lawyer, is also widely read in the profession and there is a danger that competitors will pick this up.  I extract and quote the most dangerous idea:

But after a recession more horrible than any other recent example, the dotcom bubble included, what is today’s big puzzle for our profession, ­specifically in relation to the positioning of private client work? For years lawyers have been weaned on a business vocabulary comprising ’core and non-core’, ’objectives and ­strategies’ and ’key performance indicators’. The mantra of grow or shrivel; merge or ­meander; or go small, niche and powerful is ingrained. Private client teams have become second cousins and non-core to the ­corporate focus, and shed.

I never fully understood that reasoning. Why send your firm’s best private clients to another firm when they get ’the Knock’ (or, more likely, divorce papers), which is exactly when you want you and your business to look after them.

Distress buying is where client relationships are formed (and broken). And it is not a revelation to say that the most durable client relationships are borne out of crisis purchases where there was no beauty parade or ­presentation- probably no more than a phone call and a recommendation to the client along the lines of, “See this lawyer – they won’t be cheap but they’re seriously good and will look after you”.

8.  We have, of course, formulated much of our growth on aggressive poaching and by doing our best to create distress to allow us into the distress buying market –  with some success, I add, mindful of my part in the bonus discussions – item 1 on the agenda for Sunday.

Gentlemen, we meet at 1.00 on Sunday to consider our bonuses and stratagems for the following week.

Dr Erasmus Strangelove

Strength & Profits

***

With thanks to the following for sponsoring the free materials for students on Insite Law magazine: Inksters Solicitors, Cellmark, OnlineWill.co.uk, BPP University College, David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Wildy & Sons, Camps Solicitors accident claims

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Rive Gauche: Dressing for SUCCESS in The Law…and #lawblog

As I rose this morning, recovering further from a nasty foot injury and the meds, news reached me from RollonFriday.com that College of Law staff in Chester are going on a makeover and learn how to ‘dress for success’.

RollonFriday with their customary (and pleasing) acerbic style note… “Staff at the College of Law’s outpost in Chester are to be beautified (“taken on a journey of discovery”) by House of Colour, which will be providing them with image consultations and make up lessons. The staff are to be given the Gok Wan treatment, which is all very charitable of the legal world’s favourite charity. Well, when you’ve paid £10,000 for your LPC, the very least you can expect is a fragrant tutor, right?….”

It occurred to me that I could usefully use up some of my time by going into the legal fashion business and my sketches above give an indication of my preliminary thinking on the matter.  I note the increasing tendency for men to turn up in suits without ties and, even, mon dieu, to team up a pair of faded jeans with a pinstripe suit jacket.  The legal profession is, on past form, unlikely to give up their stiff and formal fancy dress or pinstripes – so my thinking is…why fight it?  Let us, as a profession, celebrate diversity and colour…. which are ‘very of the moment’ in Bar Council and Law Society think tank rooms…

For corporate commercial lawyers, hinting at expertise in drafting, I have gone for the black coat and stockings look with a gold buckle on the shoes to hint subtly at considerable wealth.  You will note that our 21st century facing commercial lawyer eschews the iPad accessory for a hand made quill pen and parchment for added exclusivity and disbursements. Litigators tend to be the jack the lads of the legal world.  A red coat, tricorn hat – hinting at the triad of litigation: plaintiff, defendant and judge (noting the use of ‘plaintiff’) will give the modern litigator an edge and strike fear into the hearts of those new No Fee, No Win companies.  For partners, a  look being studied at Muttley Dastardly LLP by Dr Erasmus Strangelove, an understated elegant bit of haute couture.

For counsel…. I have really pushed the boat out with this very of the moment, very 21st Century Lady Gaga look… accessorized with a horsehair wig. I think it may catch on.

#LAWBLOG

I was not able to be on the panel at #lawblog last night and had to pull out, sadly, because of a nasty foot injury and the associated medications. I was disappointed.  It would have been a pleasure to meet all who attended.  I did enjoy the #lawblog tweets and, I understand, Adam Wagner of 1 Crown Office Row is planning to write it up and post a podcast recording.  It is good to see that blogging is alive and well.

See Adam’s post:

That was the future of legal blogging

Adam Wagner has followed up his earlier post with this….

A sense of doom is gripping the legal profession in the face of significant cuts to the justice system. Amongst other consequences, legal aid may soon be reformed almost out of existence, meaning that lawyers will face the double jeopardy of fewer clients and more nightmarish cases against litigants in person.

I was musing last night that I am not really a law blogger.  I blog about law, politics and anything that comes into my head, sober and over refreshed. I have no idea why I do… save that I do it for pleasure and hope that readers enjoy a mix.  I have decided that I may be (at times)  more of a hooligan law blogger.… I like to run onto the pitch and chuck the odd metaphorical bog roll at the profession or the crowd.  I may even take up streaking……

Law Review: What is the government’s agenda on human rights?

We have had the wisdom of Parliament in the form of 234 MPs voting against proposals to comply with the European Court of Human Rights judgment on prisoner votes. We have had a rather surprising intervention from the leading judge of that court, Jean-Paul Costa, stating that  Britain will be resorting to the tactics of the Greek colonels in 1967 if it does not comply with ECHR ruling and now we have Home Secretary Theresa May stating that the  Government is “appalled” by sex offender ruling.”   British politicians have now attacked the European Court of Human Rights and our own judiciary and, it would seem, they are going for the triple crown by setting up a Commission to look into the establishment of a British Bill of Rights.

Obiter J has a considered view on this matter which is worth reading and The UK Human Rights blog, also.

What is of interest to me in this post is the public perception being built up that we are at the mercy of ‘unelected judges’, European and home grown, and that somehow that these laws we signed up to are being foisted on us by dark forces elsewhere. This is not the case and it is worrying that public statements by politicians, all of whom should know better, are becoming increasingly ‘economical with the truth’ in the race to win hearts and minds of voters.

Obiter J makes the valid (and important) point: “Even allowing for political rhetoric, such an inaccurate statement about the role of the courts is disappointing.  There is no question that it is Parliament which makes the law.  Parliament has told the judges to apply the European Convention and Parliament has permitted judges to make a declaration that a legislative provision is incompatible with the Convention.  The judges have not granted themselves such powers and such powers do not exist in the English common law system.”

I have made the point before, a point well known to all lawyers and many non-lawyers, that Parliament is at the pinnacle of law making in this country and is supreme in the sense that it may legislate to come out of the European Convention and even the European Union itself if it so chooses.

In the meantime a degree of honesty in public statements and briefings to the press, and responsible and accurate reporting by the press, is not an unreasonable request to make given the importance of these issues.  We do have a right to be told the truth?

I hope regular readers will forgive me for repeating ‘the bleedin obvious’,  but it appears that some politicians don’t really know what they are talking about and if they do, they are misleading the public on the true position.  Unfortunately, I suspect, politicians are too busy briefing the press to let mere law get in the way, let alone finding time to read the many law blogs and articles written by experienced legal journalists out there which address these issues carefully. Here endeth…today’s rant.

British political populism risks conflict with Europe over human rights court

Dr Cian Murphy, King’s College London in The Guardian: Parliament is resurgent and a British bill of rights would be welcome, but ‘constitutional chauvinism’ will hurt Britain as well as the human rights convention

To defend the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998) it is necessary to counter the falsehoods and distortions of those who misrepresent it…

The New Law Journal reports: Geoffrey Bindman calls on the government to defend the Human Rights Act

To defend the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998) it is necessary to counter the falsehoods and distortions of those who misrepresent it. Regrettably the prime minister himself is among those who have done so, as well as more predictable elements of the media, particularly the Daily Mail.

AND FINALLY…. this from The Daily Mail

Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley said: ‘After votes for prisoners, we now have the potential for human rights legislation to give sex offenders the opportunity to come off the sex offenders register.

‘Is the Prime Minister aware that my constituents are sick to the back teeth of the human rights of criminals and prisoners being put before the rights of law-abiding citizens in this country?

‘Is it not time that we scrapped the Human Rights Act and, if necessary, withdrew from the European convention on human rights?’ Spot on.

Cameron replied: ‘My hon. Friend speaks for many people in saying how completely offensive it is, once again, to have a ruling by a court that flies in the face of common sense. Requiring serious sexual offenders to sign the register for life, as they now do, has broad support across this House and across the country.

‘I am appalled by the Supreme Court ruling. We will take the minimum possible approach to this ruling and use the opportunity to close some loopholes in the sex offenders register.

‘I can also tell my hon. Friend that a commission will be established imminently to look at a British Bill of Rights, because it is about time we ensured that decisions are made in this Parliament rather than in the courts.’

Mon dieu…. whatever next?  – just let the Police sort everything out and not bother about courts?  Or… a bit more political grandstanding?

Law Review: UK Govt reponse on European Contract Law – British Bill of Rights – Britain a dictatorship?

It is not often, having taught Contract for 30 years, that I get the pleasure or opportunity of writing about Contract or noting an excellent blog post on Contract Law.
Hector L MacQueen, Eric Clive and Laura Macgregor, writing in European Private Law News have written an incisive critique …

The UK Ministry of Justice has published a disappointing response to the European Commission’s Green paper on European Contract Law. It is disappointing because it misdiagnoses the problem and favours options which would do nothing for British businesses or consumers.

The seven page, undated, paper has the title “UK Government response to a green paper from the European commission on policy options for progress towards a European contract law for consumers and business”. It can be found at
http://www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/docs/eu-contract-law-call-for-evidence-response.pdf.

The blog post is a good read for anyone involved in Contract Law

Legal Week’s blogroll – the five most-read and five tips to be the most read

Please excuse the fact that I am mentioned in this Legal Week piece – but I note it because I am pleased that the mainstream legal press continues to pick up on the work of bloggers (and Legal Week are asking for more bloggers to put posts up for their Village Week section).  We aren’t in competition with each other as bloggers and nor are we in competition with The Guardian, The Times, The Lawyer, Legal Week or The Law Society Gazette. So…. if you would like to read Ben Wheway’s article in Legal Weekhere it is. Ben has a few useful tips – 5 tips in fact! – which may help all bloggers attract attention to their posts.

Prisoner vote refusal against European court ruling ‘would be like dictatorship’

In a statement almost certain to inflame those who have had enough of Europe generally and the European Court of Human Rights in particular – Jean-Paul Costa says Britain will be resorting to the tactics of the Greek colonels in 1967 if it does not comply with ECHR ruling

But… there can be little doubt that the forces of British sovereignty in all things to do with Britain are banging the drums…

The president of the Strasbourg court spoke out as Downing Street sources said that David Cameron‘s hopes of limiting the powers of the ECHR will be postponed until after the general election in 2015.

The prime minister told MPs that a commission to examine the creation of a British Bill of Rights – promised in the coalition agreement – will be launched soon.

No 10 sources said the commission would be limited because there are “red lines” which cannot be crossed under the Tories’ coalition agreement with the pro-European Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dem red lines are not amending Britain’s human rights act and not pulling out of the ECHR.

Cameron will reach out to Tory eurosceptics by establishing a separate body that will draw up proposals on how to limit the powers of the court that will be included in the Conservative manifesto for the 2015 general election. “These issues are difficult in the coalition,” one Tory government source said. “It is not realistic to introduce these changes before 2015. It is quite a complicated area so we will draw up our own proposals that will be bulletproof.”

Muttley Dastardly LLP (Episode 15): Vultures in Togas and ‘the cattle of the courtroom’

MEMORANDUM

To: All Associates

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

RE: VULTURES IN TOGAS

Obiter, writing in  in The Law Society Gazette, refers to a speech by the Master of The Rolls, Lord Neuberger, where he considers, inter alia, the topic of why lawyers are so unpopular.

Lord Neuberger stated:

‘I don’t intend to try to discuss the correctness of that analysis or to answer that question… [but] whatever they have been getting wrong, lawyers have apparently been getting it wrong for quite some time.

‘Around the second century AD, Apulieus, having referred to lawyers as “cattle of the courtroom”, then expressed the view that they were no more than “vultures in togas”. While Ammianus Marcellinus, two centuries later, took the view that lawyers were “a greedy and debased lot, who conspired with judges to rob the people of justice”.’

1. Associates with Muttley Dastardly LLP, as you know from your own induction, are put through a series of ‘desensitisation exercises’ of my devising based on my ‘consultancy’ work for our more secretive cousins across the pond some years ago, to handle negative imaging and stereotyping. The result of this programming is that we feel no slight, angst, guilt or tension when faced with the chatter of the chatterati of Hampstead dinner parties or, in more recent times, the liberal twitterati.  We do not rise to the bait. We are trained to be impassive in the face of criticism of our profession and to respond with the principle based response  that it is not the lawyers who are bad, it is the clients. We, the lawyers, are merely the architects of the client’s desire.

2.  Recently, this firm, as with many others in The City, participated indirectly in trashing the entire global economy with our skillful drafting of new instruments of securitisation for our most favoured investment banking clients. In fact,  so skillful were we at this firm, and law firms in The City generally (it has to be said), in drafting instruments for ‘Toxic Debt’ et al,  that the bankers have taken the hit in the public mind and we have escaped free of legal liability, public opprobium and moral obloquy. We were merely ‘obeying orders’.

3.  In our highly successful new Drive-thru Divorce Lawyer division, a service delivered under our MegaladonLLPdontcompare.com online brand  – it is not we, the lawyers, who are the villains. It is those who choose to get married where one or both of the parties fail to sort out their affairs in a civilised manner. I seem to recall a case where the Court of Appeal expressed consternation that there was no money left for further appeals work or, indeed, left for the parties themselves, because such money as the parties had enjoyed in their marriage had been consumed by the legal process.

4. I need not labour the point.  The principle holds true for many spheres of human behaviour, fortunately. We know that it is the clients who are ‘cattle of the courtroom’.  We are, however, too discreet, professional and polite, to let on;  save in the exceptional circumstance where a client should ‘wilfully, negligently, recklessly or with malice aforethought’ (Clause 1782(a)(ii) of our Standard Terms & Conditions), fail to settle their bill promptly and in timely fashion.  This latter ‘difficulty’ is rare at Muttley Dastardly LLP, of course.  Our policy of taking at least 150% of estimated costs on account gives us the flexibility to ensure we are compensated for the work that we do and award ourselves a little bonus without all the fuss that bankers are getting in the national press at the present time.

I trust that you will take comfort from my memorandum should you find recidivism and liberal tendencies creeping back into your psyche after reading the always excellent Obiter in The Law Society Gazette on this matter.

Dr Erasmus Strangelove

Strength & Profits

***

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The Lib-Dematem Magna Carta is OUT!!! (It is NOT one of those Paper.Li dailies)

Having a bit of time on my hands, I am wading through the Great Reform Bill.  I shall comment in due course.  I rather liked this take on matters from Dr Cian Murphy of King’s College London – re-published in the UK Human Rights Blog… I quote….

It’s no Magna Carta. Those of us who teach public law in British universities will certainly  have to grapple with the Protection of Freedoms Bill. But will it, like the that earlier constitutional text, echo through the centuries into the classrooms of 2311? I doubt it. Although the Bill’s 107 sections will give Messrs Cameron and Clegg a long list of reforms to rattle off at party conferences it does little to coherently explain the coalition’s view of the appropriate relationship between the state and the citizen. The Government does not know what freedom is, but it knows freedom isn’t having your car immobilised without lawful authority (see section 54).

Protection of Freedoms Bill ‘disappointing’, says Law Society

The Law Society Gazette...thunders….

The new Protection of Freedoms Bill fails to live up to government promises and instead hints at a ‘growth of the surveillance society’, the Law Society has warned.

The Society said the legislation, which the coalition claims will scale back on Labour’s ‘intrusive’ policies, will take power away from the public.

Law Society president Linda Lee said that while attempts to reduce the apparent erosion of civil liberties are commendable, it does not tackle the way CCTV is regulated.

‘The Bill as a whole fails to measure up to the government’s grand rhetoric. Proposals for CCTV regulation are limited to local authorities and the police,’ she said.

Law Review: The legal profession is over regulated. Discuss

Jesus Chases the Merchants and Money Changers from the Temple, thus Cleansing the Temple

Painting: James Jacques Tissot (French painter and illustrator, 1836-1902)

Some would say that the legal profession is becoming over regulated. We have the Solicitors Regluation Authority, The Bar Standards Board, The Legal Services Board – the regulator of regulators – and The Legal Ombudsman. We also have, of course, courts of law in which to call lawyers to account and an army of professional negligence lawyers to do the business should doing the business need to be done. In this latter case, it has to be admitted, that only wealthier clients will be able to afford recourse to law.

Neil Rose of Legal Futures argues the question – “Do we actually need the Legal Services Board?” – given that two thirds of its work is now complete and the third part is likely to be complete within eight months.

Professor John Flood weighs in on the issue with this rather dry observation: “Of course as comes clear in Neil’s article is that the Law Society and by extension, the Bar Council, would love to see the LSB disappear. Why? The LSB is finally holding the legal profession to account, something which has been needed for many years. Moreover, the professional associations haven’t been able to regulate their own groups with any great success for the public or consumer interest.”

And… just to make sure the SRA and BSB roll their collective eyes…. John Flood administers the coup de foie gras“The legal profession has shown itself to be dangerously complacent at times. It is too important to permit that to occur so we need institutions whose task it is to rattle a few cages.”

From the perspective of a legal educator, I am all for the SRA and BSB spending part of their time keeping a close eye on the legal educators – and, I add with a degree of sardonic scepticism,….beef up their powers in relation to the regulation of educators?

The issue would make a fine examination question.  I shall sell the idea to my brother Professor R.D. Charon.  He is often short of inspiration when it comes to matters academic.

And finally… just an observation:

David Beckham’s $25m claim for libel and slander rejected by US judge

Ironic that The United States may need #libelreform to make it easier for celebrities to sue for libel while we in the UK need #libel reform to make it more difficult for them to sue.

As ever on this issue… David Allen Green (author of the Jack of Kent blog) is on the case with a piece in The New Statesman:

David Beckham and a lack of malice

AND FINALLY… a very good Blawg Review from US lawyer Brian Tannebaum – scourge of social meedja experts on twitter

Blaw Review #298

I quote from the opening to his very Valentine’s day Blawg Review – with some excellent asides and pics – and, of course, links to some good law blogging…

ADVANCE WARNING: To those social media marketers and shiny toy evangelists who check blawg review weekly to see if you are mentioned so you can promote it to death and make lawyers think you have some relevance to the profession, you are not here. There is no link love for you in this week’s Blawg Review. Nothing to promote you, nothing to retweet on twitter. No SEO juice for you to prop yourself up on Google. Try back next week when some other author may buy in to the charade. (Love and Kisses!)

Law Review: Something for housing lawyers – Inner Temple’s Judicial Proceedings transcripts guide now available

Just a quick reminder – The Inner Temple Transcripts of Judicial Proceedings guide is now available

Transcripts of Judicial Proceedings in England and Wales: a Guide to Sources

A revised edition of the Inner Temple Library’s 2006 guide to sources of transcripts is now available as a 165-page PDF document.

The guide is intended primarily for those who may need to obtain, or assist others to obtain, transcripts of the proceedings of courts and tribunals in England and Wales.

A major feature of this new edition is its greatly expanded coverage of tribunals. It is hoped that users of the guide may find this particularly useful at a time of change and transition in tribunal administration.

The guide will be available at the special price of £12.99 until March 31st, after which it will be priced at £19.99. These prices are for single-use only.

Further information and details of how to order the guide can be found here

Arden Davies Publishing has an offer for housing and property lawyers:

“With an editorial team comprised of leading housing and property barristers, 30 to 40 cases are analysed every month in the HOUSING & PROPERTY LAW REVIEW. From service charges to rights of way and homelessness to village greens, each issue is full of practical insight

The Review covers the following topics:

– landlord and tenant (residential and commercial)
– homelessness
– housing benefit
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For a no strings three month trial subscription by email: click here

Hanuman Chalisa – Jai ram jai ram jai jai ram

Listening to Radio 4 the other night my mind was captured for a moment by one of the most compelling sounds I have heard in a long time. I heard it again tonight when Mark Tulley’s programme was repeated.  This time I got up to do some research.  I extracted a short section from Mark Tulley’s Radio 4 programme to let you listen as well, should you have missed the programme and wish to hear what I heard tonight.  (I hope the BBC doesn’t mind – but it is a very beautiful piece of music.)  Mark Tulley explains in the brief extract below – and if you wish to find out more about Hanuman – Wikipedia has a fairly detailed piece.

I haven’t been on top form recently following a nasty foot injury and ongoing treatment for another ‘issue’. This programme and the chant by Krishna Das lifted my spirits.  I shall investigate further.

Short extract of Krishna Das Hanuman Chalisa

Here is a link to a YouTube video for a much longer version.

  1. Krishna Das — Sri Ram Chalisa

    From the album ‘Flow of Grace’

    Sounds True (2007), ISBN-10: 1591795494

Postcard from The Staterooms (2) – The Writer with Bits Dropping Orf and other matters….

Dear Reader,

I got up at 3.30 am this morning and enjoyed a few hours watching two fascinating films on iPlayer:  Human Planet – Jungles – People of The trees and A History of Ancient Britain.

I went to breakfast at my cafe of choice in Battersea Square as usual this morning – black coffee, bacon, two eggs, baked beans and toast.  The plate, as ever, I turned to ensure that the eggs are in the right place to satisfy my aesthetic and practical needs.  A gentleman, late fifties, walked in to the outside covered area. He had a walking stick. As I have a nasty foot injury at present, I found myself coveting his walking stick.  “Do they come out, or should I pop in to order?” a voice boomed.

I raised my head from the remarkably dull story in the News of The Screws about Jordan and her cross-dressing cagefighter ex-husband holed up in a hotel.  I advised,  on a pro bono basis,  that he should make his presence known to management, who were exercising their human rights under self imposed ‘control orders’  inside…. if he was even vaguely interested in having something to eat or drink.

The gentleman came back out to take a table two distant from my own.  I returned to Jordan and the aforementioned cross-dressing cagefighter.    “Are you a writer?” the gentleman asked.  It is true that I looked, this morn, like an extra from King Lear…hair slightly wild, tache thick and absurd and a week’s growth of salt and pepper beardage… because I can’t make up my mind as to the issue of tache only or go for a full Scott of The Antarctic on a bad day look. [ A quick F**kArt representation is to the left….. I am calling it ‘The Writer with Bits Dropping Orf’. ]

I rather liked the idea that my unusual appearance this morning put me down in his mind as a writer. I told him that I was a writer…..of sorts.  We chatted for a while about the various bits that were falling off our bodies as the chickens came home to roost – in a way, I have found, that only some people seem able to do sardonically without the need to get out their medical records.  He won.  He had more chickens coming home to roost…. but we both sat there smoking Marlboros (he was, I noted with approval, on the fully leaded Red Marlboros), enjoying a few moments of conversation and talked of village London.  He lives in the village of Chelsea.  I told him that I had done my time on the houseboats next to Battersea Bridge.  I enjoyed the meet…random… slightly surreal…

I bought two newspapers this morning.  I like to know what those who live in a  different Britain to mine think. I had The Observer and The News of Screws. The Sunday Mail, however, had been left by a previous occupant of the table next to mine…and I saw this…… horrendous story……

Cash for internships: Tory backers pay party £2,000 a time to buy their children work experience at top City banks and hedge funds

I found this rather unpleasing…. but entirely typical of some who live in our country and who are enjoying the pleasures of living under a Tory led coalition.  They will, no doubt, satisfy their need to show solidarity with Dave’s new Egyptian friends by holidaying soon in Shark el-Sheikh to assist the peoples of Egypt… or…some of them at least…. well.. those who own the resort.
Back to sensible stuff tomorrow….. but if you scroll down…you will find some sensible stuff
Have a good week….
Best, as always
Charon

Postcard From The Staterooms – in ‘liberated’ Battersea Square (1)

I report this week from The Staterooms in Battersea Square.

At 8.30 this morning Battersea Square was quiet…. not a single newly minted Egyptologist or iPad using pundit about and…..speaking to one of the residents, there seemed to be  little enthusiasm for overthrowing the regime which looks after bins and other local services.  I did, however, speak to one regular at Mazar (an excellent establishment, owned by Marlon, a Lebanese gentlemen with the right attitude to life) and he looked as if he was about to throw up after his drinking of the night before.  I am pleased to report, however, that I was able to speak to a real Egyptian – Karam – who runs the front of house each day at Mazar and  who sometimes cooks the excellent breakfast I eat every day if no chef is ‘abite’ when I fall in the door the moment the cafe opens. Karam was delighted with events in Egypt,  but expressed concern at what may now follow.

My Tweet of the week must go to…..

The bandwagon rolls on and news agencies are reporting that huge convoys of buses and air-conditioned SUVs are now heading west across the searing heat of the desert to Algeria…. and the pundits on twitter are now gearing up to claim another dictator’s scalp as they hyperventilate from their armchairs and desks in Tory led coalition Britain.

Holman J rules Gove’s BSF decision was ‘unlawful’

The Lawyer reports…. “Mr Justice Holman has ordered the Government to review its plans to scrap the Building Schools for Future programme. The decision, handed down this morning, gives victory to six local authorities that brought the judicial review proceedings. In his judgment Holman J held that the  decision taken by the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove MP to halt investment in refurbishing every school in the country was taken without consultation.

This of itself is extraordinary enough… but the good news is the truly fantastic number of lawyers kept busy and employed by this litigation….. the report in The Lawyer reveals the extent of the army of lawyers involved.  Libertarians, sundry ranters and others who want to have a pop at the legal profession and government in one hit,  are invited to take medical advice before reading this…..  SIX QCs involved (and many other lawyers)…. report is here.

I am going to do another Postcard…tomorrow…. I did manage to do some sensible stuff recently… not least my podcast with Carl Gardner on Prisoner Votes… – scroll down if you are interested.

BBCTimWhewell Tim Whewell 

by BBCNewsnight
#Egypt Freedom has triumphed in our hotel as Mubarak’s portrait is discreetly removed

AND… the really good news?  Dave Cameron is going to ‘come out fighting’ on Monday to talk about Big Society again… this will, I have no doubt, make Monday morning even better for all of us.

Cameron to declare the Big Society does exist

Independent


 

OK… OK… I’ll get my coat….. dreadful Hegel pun ……Back tomorrow…

Best

Charon

 

Prime Minister Cameron recycles Egypt speech for Britain…

David Cameron welcomes Egypt’s ‘precious moment’ after Hosni Mubarak’s exit

Metro reports…where else?: David Cameron has welcomed President Hosni Mubarak’s decision to step down and told Egypt that the UK is ready to help its transition to democracy.  (Pic photoshopped by me…. Cameron would never flick a V sign at the people of Britain)

And on this momentous day for Egypt… Lord Sugar tweets away…. you..really…could not make it up…

I haven’t even got the will to use Lord Sugar’s catchphrase in a post mubarka-ironic way….

Lawcast 178: Carl Gardner on the prisoner votes issue and where we go now

Lawcast 178:  Carl Gardner on the prisoner votes issue and where we go now

Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, ex government lawyer, barrister, and author of  The Head of Legal blog about the vote in the House of Commons yesterday on prisoner votes.

The Sun’s headline screamed this morning… IT’S UP EURS!….and we had the spectacle yesterday of 234 lawmakers voting to break the law (the European convention law that is….and defy the European Court of Justice)….as The Sun said…. “REMEMBER the date. Thursday, February 10, 2011 was the day Britain’s Parliament finally stood up to Europe over human rights madness.”

We look at the vote, what the government could do now and the reality of ‘thinking the unthinkable’ and come out of The European Convention and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights

Listen to the podcast

***

Useful links:

Carl Gardner’s blog post: MPs vote on prisoners’ votes: how to square the circle

Rosalind English of 1 Crown Office Row writing in The Guardian:

Withdrawal from the European court of human rights is not a legal problem

Criticisms of the Policy Exchange report distracts from legitimate points made in a political debate masquerading as a legal one

Lawcast 169: Prisoner votes – An analysis of Hirst and Frodl with Carl Gardner

Listen to the podcast

 

***

 

All podcasts are free to download –  but bandwidth charges and production costs are quite high. The podcasts get a great many downloads, I am grateful to JustgoDirect for sponsoring the bandwidth/production costs on a few of my general Lawcasts going forward.  It all helps to keep student materials and lawcasts free!

Charon’s Film Noir Review: Re-make of *The Man in The Iron Mask*

The Man in the Iron Mask (French: L’Homme au Masque de Fer) is the name given to an ‘unknown prisoner’ who British prime minister Dave Cameron spoke to while wandering about randomly in Notting Hill, Chelsea and Battersea  trying to engage people in his Big Society project. 

The Man in The Iron Mask, this character of modern real politik, had been  held in a number of jails and was the only  prisoner who actually quite liked the idea of voting while he was in prison… the rest were more concerned about their human rights to enjoy mobile phone access, drugs, and their dreams of freedom and possible business ventures, involving re-distribution of wealth,  when their time was up.

The twist in the plot …or the dénouement …as we film reviewers call it… came when Cameron, sick to his stomach at the thought of meeting any more prisoners…let alone giving them the vote and, thereby, kow-towing to the hated villain of the film, Judge Europa – the leading European Court of Human Rights judge,  tasked his back-bench MPs with the mission  to say NO to lawbreakers having the right to elect law makers and to vote to break the hated European Convention laws handed down by Judge Europa and his lick spittle minions.

The film opens with a touch of film noir irony…footage from the BBC of quite a few ex-MPs being led away in tumbrils to begin their sentences for expenses fiddling and a ‘jump cut’ to The Daily Politics studio where Andrew Neil interviews a number of peers of the realm, who had been convicted of crimes and sentenced to terms of imprisonment, as to why they were involved in the law making process.

The film will be available on DAVE….soon.

Director: Frank ‘Ford Open Prison’ Copulator (2011)

Tory back bench MPs on their way to Parliament…. did anyone remember to bring a lighter?

 

and…. the unsurprising result of the day…. voted in Parliament at 18:02 tonight…

And… my last observation on the matter for tonight…. because I quite fancy a glass of vino after all this… responding to a tweet by @garydunion but running out of space on twitter to accredit original tweeter…..


 

 

Rosalind English: Withdrawal from the European court of human rights is not a legal problem

Withdrawal from the European court of human rights is not a legal problem

Rosalind English in The Guardian: Criticisms of the Policy Exchange report distracts from legitimate points made in a political debate masquerading as a legal one

An analysis of the The European Convention and the ECHR from an experienced lawyer…well worth reading.

And this piece from Carl Gardner, author of The Head of Legal blog is also worth reading…

MPs vote on prisoners’ votes: how to square the circle

Carl Gardner writes….

An interesting afternoon ahead to see what our MPs do….. some, Lord Prescott chips in on Daily Politics, want to abolish the Human Rights Act?

Will Tory MPs be revolting tomorrow… or just on the prisoner votes issue?

David Cameron hopes MPs will oppose court ruling on prisoners’ votes

Guardian: MPs to vote on motion which says ‘democratically elected lawmakers’ should have final say on who gets vote

David Cameron has invited Conservative MPs to deliver a clear signal on Thursday of their opposition to a ruling from the European court of human rights that Britain should lift a blanket ban that prevents prisoners from voting.

Parliament is supreme… in the sense that it can do as it pleases. If we wish to refuse to comply with a treaty, in this case The European Convention and a judgment of the ECHR, we may do so… but…. and it is a big but.. is it not….?  We can’t really claim to be upholders of the international rule of law then…can we?  What will be the worth of Britain’s word in other international treaties  when we enter into them or when, in future, we don’t like the adjudication or judgments in relation to treaties we have already signed?

Of course… this is/may be just too simple minded a viewpoint, easily dismissed  by the real politikerrati of Westminster…there, they take a broad, geo-politico-economic view…and then they read The Sun and The Daily Mail to see what their readers think and do what they think…. democracy…DONTCHA LUV IT?

Meanwhile…. so long as the ravening horde of backbenchers are happy and British Bankers are mollified by having a modest tax levy of £800 million added, bringing the tax take, they say, to £2.5 billion…. we’re all happy and bankers can close in for the kill on the £7 billion pot (higher in some newspapers) available for bonuses.

 

Archbishop backs axe killer: Dr Rowan Williams says prisoners should get the right to vote after campaigner John Hirst’s boasts

The Daily Mail… if you really feel the need to…… bone up further on anger and let Mr Hirst’s more unusual pronouncements cloud the issue….. and judgement….. as opposed to the judgment.

Law Review: Independence of the judiciary

Lord Phillips offers to cut number of Supreme Court justices to save money

Solicitors Journal: “Lord Phillips, president of the Supreme Court, has suggested a change in the law to cut the number of Supreme Court justices. In a speech at UCL last night, Lord Phillips said the court could not be insulated from the need to cut costs and faced a “significant reduction” in its budget. He said that for many years the judicial committee of the House of Lords and the Supreme Court had managed with 11 rather than the statutory 12 justices because of the absence of Lord Saville at the Bloody Sunday enquiry.”

I am no expert in Constitutional law but I have a number of observations and invite the views of other lawyers, experts in the field or otherwise..or, indeed, any reader of my blog.

1.  The UKSC: The United Kingdom Supreme Court blog – If you are not familiar with this excellent resource, here it is.  The UKSC blog analyses the decisions of the Supreme Court and is invaluable in adding to the light being cast on open justice by the Supreme Court’s own initiative in providing press summaries – to ensure that some sections of  mainstream press and media  have a sporting chance of reporting on the important decisions of our times accurately.

Editors: Dan Tench, Oliver Gayner, Anna Caddick & Laura Coogan (Olswang)
Hugh Tomlinson QC, Matthew Ryder & Anthony Fairclough (Matrix)
Administrator: Anita Davies

UKSC Blog

2.  Deficit reduction cuts: While I can appreciate Lord Phillips’ preparedness to assist in the deficit reduction needed in the country in present times, he makes a number of points which are important to ensure that our courts, and The Supreme Court itself, do not become outposts of The Ministry of Justice.  The establishment of The Supreme Court, separating the final appellate court in this country from Parliament in fact and in law was not welcomed by all, but, for my part, it was a step forward in bringing depth and worth to the ideal of the rule of law in this country.  One only needs to look at the decisions handed down last year in the first year of operation of the new Supreme Court to get a feel for the importance of the issues being dealt with and, dare I say it, a continuing demonstration by the judges to hold government to account and not be ciphers to government policy as Lord Bingham observed drily some time ago was the case in times gone by.

Lord Phillips has suggested that the number of justices be reduced from 12 to 11 but warns ““It would regrettable if we were to come under pressure to reduce our number below that needed to cater properly with our workload in order to accommodate budgetary constraints.”

It is unusual, in our long history,  for a senior judge to be critical of government and the words Lord Phillips used in his speech were carefully chosen;  but made the point well that an independent judiciary has to be independent.

“In the course of negotiating these I received a letter from the Lord Chancellor indicating the scale of the economies that he expected the Supreme Court to make in terms that I can only describe as peremptory.

“It was also suggested that to save money our administration could be amalgamated with the Courts Service of England and Wales, a suggestion that was totally unacceptable.”

“My conclusion is that our present funding arrangements do not satisfactorily guarantee our institutional independence,” Lord Phillips said.

“We are, in reality, dependant each year upon what we can persuade the Ministry of Justice of England and Wales to give us by way of ‘contribution’. This is not a satisfactory situation for the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

“It is already leading to a tendency on the part of the Ministry of Justice to try to gain the Supreme Court as an outlying part of its empire.”

Parliament may well be supreme – but subject to obligations entered into in terms of international treaties signed up to – The European Convention being one. If the Rule of Law is to have any meaning and respect and be perceived by all to be independent, given that our Supreme Court cannot strike law down (its function is to apply the law of the land, laws which, of course, apply to the governments of the day until Parliament changes those laws), the courts must, surely, be founded upon a statutory footing whereby the running costs are determined and covered by Parliament on behalf of the country (perhaps on the advice of an independent agency?)  and not be  subject to the political agenda or needs of any particular government.  To ensure this the courts cannot be a part or ‘outpost’ of the Ministry of Justice and ‘peremptory’ dictats should not be given by a serving member of the Cabinet (‘be he ever so high’)  of any government to an independent judiciary.

Tomorrow, Parliament will debate the issue of whether, in effect,  to comply with a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the prisoners’ votes issue. Parliament may, in its wisdom or lack thereof, decide to withdraw from The Convention and jurisdiction of the ECHR – which may, in turn, have implications for membership of the European Union – but, for my part, chucking babies out with the bathwater is never a good thing and it would damage our international standing and erode the real value of our rule of law ideals.

Over to you…should you wish to comment….

***

See also:

UK Human Rights blog – excellent piece:

Justice in the age of insecurity

Carl Gardner who writes the Head of Legal blog disagrees with Lord Phillips in a thought provoking post. I don’t always agree with Carl -I do favour a wholly independent and fixed budget, perhaps controlled by an IPSA like body?   Carl has analysed this issue with his usual thoroughness and directness.. and he is an expert in this field having worked as a government lawyer for ten years.

Lord Phillips doubts his own independence

Law Review: Inside The Supreme Court – ‘Get Real’ says LSC CEO on legal aid – A Valentine card from Muttley Dastardly LLP .

Britain’s Supreme Court (72 mins) 

Channel 4: This gripping, feature-length documentary charts the first year in the life of Britain’s new Supreme Court – the highest court in the land – now available on Channel 4 OD

I was up earlier than usual  this morning at 3.30 and, with Broadband working perfectly now, I watched this most enjoyable programme.  It covered a lot of ground and gave a good insight into the working of the Supreme Court and some of the leading judges – including some fine footage of Lord Phillips swimming each morning rain or shine, summer and winter.  I was particularly taken with Lord Clarke’s rather dry comment on the high costs of litigation and the demise of legal aid…which I wrote down.. as best I could…“There is no point in having a right unless you can afford to exercise it”.

I have no hesitation in recommending the Channel 4 film to you.

And..on the subject of the costs of going to law..this rather sobering statement…

LSC chair says legal aid practitioners need to “be realistic”

Jordans Family Law: The chair of the Legal Services Commission, Sir Bill Callaghan, has said everyone working in legal aid needs to think about their “responsibilities, be realistic and show imagination,”

In an address to the Westminster Legal Policy Forum in London yesterday, Sir Bill said responsibility means “accepting the need for dialogue and working together as the government presses ahead with difficult choices”.

He stressed the need to be “realistic given what is happening in other areas of public spending across government and within the Ministry of Justice”.

Sir Bill said: “Even with our existing budget we would need to find improvements in the legal aid system. This isn’t a job with an end date.

“Those improvements must be ongoing to build respect from the taxpayer and ensure the legal aid fund continues to be valued.”

Assange lawyer admits he was wrong over interview

The Guardian: Julian Assange’s lawyer told a court yesterday that prosecutors attempted to interview the WikiLeaks founder over sexual assault allegations while he was still in Sweden.

Bjorn Hurtig’s admission contradicts his previous claim that the Swedish authorities had only asked to speak with Mr Assange after he had left the country. The lawyer admitted under cross-examination that he was mistaken to suggest that he had heard nothing from prosecutor Marianne Ny until after Mr Assange had left the country.

The Assange case continues on Friday…. always best to wait until the fat lady sings… or, in this case, all the evidence is put before the court..or not….if you forgive the irony…. in a case involving the operation of the European Arrest Warrant.

More later….. I have some catching up to do.

Law Review: Blawg Review #297 – George Bush nowhere to run – “Hamlet without the princess””

Blawg Review #297: The Hair Shirt Edition

Today marks the 514th anniversary of the notorious Bonfire of the Vanities, when the followers of Dominican Friar Giralamo Savonarola burned a bunch of extraneous stuff in Florence, like books and art. Oh, and cosmetics, lewd pictures, mirrors, nude sculptures, and a few people. Savonarola was one severe dude, who railed against excesses and told “lustful people to put on a hair shirt and do penance, because you need it.”

 

Most enjoyable…. read it?

A very interesting article in The Guardian:

George Bush: no escaping torture charges

The Guardian: Sooner or later, Bush will step into a country where he will be prosecuted for authorising the abuses of the ‘war on terror’

Late last year, former US President George W Bush recounted in his memoir, Decision Points, that when he was asked in 2002 if it was permissible to waterboard a detainee held in secret CIA custody outside the United States, he answered “damn right”. This “decision point” led to the waterboarding of that person 183 times in one month. Others were waterboarded, as well.

Waterboarding is torture. In the past, the US prosecuted and convicted Japanese officials who waterboarded US and allied prisoners. US Attorney General Eric Holder has unequivocally stated that waterboarding is torture.

 

Sauce for the goose is sauce for the….?

Paul Waugh is referring to Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens.  The coverage of the extradition hearing continues….

Law Society launches legal aid campaign for the public

The Law Society Gazette reports: “The Law Society is to launch a high-profile campaign, ‘Sound off for justice’, this week – aimed at harnessing public opposition to legal aid cuts. The initiative will seek to raise awareness of what the cuts could mean for members of the public, in advance of the 14 February deadline for responses to the government’s legal aid green paper, which will slash £350m from the legal aid budget.A specially designed website for the campaign will go live today, with a wider launch on Friday.

Members of the public will be invited to ‘sound off’ by signing up to the campaign via the website.

Doesn’t appear to be giving the ‘public’ a great deal of time?  Maybe I am missing something.. but February 14th is on Monday next?  I can’t see Chancery Lane being filled with protesters?  We shall see.   So… if you want to “sound off”…whatever that means….. do feel free to do so on The Law Society website…..

 

Inner Temple: Transcripts of Judicial Proceedings in England and Wales: a Guide to Sources

I am, as many are, a fan of Inner Temple’s excellent Current Awareness News Service which I use daily.  It is therefore a pleasure to do some small thing in return and let readers know about…..

Transcripts of Judicial Proceedings in England and Wales: a Guide to Sources

A revised edition of the Inner Temple Library’s 2006 guide to sources of transcripts is now available as a 165-page PDF document.

The guide is intended primarily for those who may need to obtain, or assist others to obtain, transcripts of the proceedings of courts and tribunals in England and Wales.

A major feature of this new edition is its greatly expanded coverage of tribunals. It is hoped that users of the guide may find this particularly useful at a time of change and transition in tribunal administration.

The guide will be available at the special price of £12.99 until March 31st, after which it will be priced at £19.99. These prices are for single-use only.

Further information and details of how to order the guide can be found here

And… here is the hat I shall wear when I start *Live Tweeting* from court

And… here is the hat I shall wear when I start *Live Tweeting* from court… it is a *Fascinator*...and while live tweeting from courts could be fascinating… I have some reservations about trial by twitter and, I suspect, there will be a lot of disappointment when the district judge or jury disagrees with the ravening twitterati… but there you are… I am going to ESCAPE soon…. from London and this will, hopefully, refresh my interest in law, life and the universe generally.

Below… I have another hat and plan to go into production soon, so that others may enjoy what I have……. could be BIG.. may even get some meedja mogul to buy my entire stock….. or, better, do a licensing arrangement for the future!

Law Review: I have designed a *hat* for people to wear when punditing on European Convention / Human Rights

Here is a hat…or..to be more accurate…half a hat: It is carefully crafted by me, now an ‘expert certified pundit milliner’,  to allow the pundit, anti-European specialist, Tory led Coalitionist etc etc etc….  to talk about prisoner votes and any other decision we don’t like from the European Court of Human Rights through the top of his or her head and be sure in the knowledge that his or her views will get out there onto the meedja and twittersphere…while keeping at least half of his/her head vaguely dry so they can come up with even more nonsense on the corrosive effect of the unelected European judges (and, indeed, our own judges)  on the sovereignty and workings of our increasingly rather intolerant and unpleasing nation.

Meanwhile…something rather more sensible from Obiter J in an excellent post today…..
Think Tank calls for UK withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights

Quite apart from a number of complex European Law matters relating to ‘membership of the EU’ if we do come out of Europe…  (I am told by my EU lawyer friends that it is a condition of membership of the EU to sign up to the ECHR et al) and don’t forget we can always point to the fact that we need not bother complying with judgments because so many ECHR judgments aren’t complied with …. this quote from Obiter J may be of interest…

This is heady and dangerous stuff which is cleverly and persuasively presented so as to appeal to those who dislike various decisions which have gone against the U.K.  It will also appeal to power-seeking politicians for who Parliamentary Supremacy is a “power-sustaining device.”  The time is coming for people to weigh in the balance the real consequences of allowing Parliamentary Sovereignty full sway – (given how demonstrably authoritarian it has been) – and the check on Parliamentary activity which is provided by the European Court of Human Rights.  Would a U.K. Supreme Court packed with Judges who are to the liking of the politicians meet the bill?  Somehow, for all the siren voices, I doubt it.

Fellow tweeter…@loveandgarbage says this…

The first factual error I can find in this Policy Exchange paper on human rights is on p 5 http://bit.ly/eVZg1y Is it worth going on then?
I’m orf to the caff… read about Jordan and her cross-dressing cage fighting ex-husband in The Sun… like another 5 million of our brilliantly democratic nation’s  voters… it is probably better for my state of mind this morning… back later when I refresh my taste for commenting on the law of our sceptred isle more sensibly…
Explanation
I should explain
1.  We are signatories to The European Convention
2.  This means that we have to abide by… or comply with… as we used to say….  judgments of the ECHR
3.  We are still working on the premise that we observe the ideals of the rule of law in this country?
4.  We may, of course, come out of the The European Convention, Europe and do absolutely anything else which our sovereign parliament decides.  We can even interfere in the sovereign affairs of other nations, wage wars… etc etc….. without any legal impediment…… as, indeed, we appear to have done in recent years?
That is…as they say… the law !

Ministry of Justice: Applications now open for the post of Judicial Community Commissioners

001jcc/01/5/11 – Judicial Community Commissioner

Closing date: 08 February 2011

Location: Big Society

Salary: Starting at £1,935 with the potential to rise to £2,529 in time.  Successful Judicial Community Commissoners will be rewarded in the New Year Honours List…possibly.

Reference: oo1jcc/2011/bigsociety

The new Judicial Community Commissioners are an integral part of the new Big Society drive to bring policing and justice direct to the community. Judicial Community Commisioners will be  assigned to dispense a variety of good old fashioned “British Values” Justice  in their community.  Whilst the post holder will be allocated to a specific office base, there may be a need for flexibility to work on an ad hoc basis at other local community spots.
Duties may include:

1. Ducking yobbos and other sundry undesirables
2. Encouraging the local community to throw fruit and vegetables at aforementioned yobbos and undesirables
3. Trial by Ordeal for more serious offences
4. Dispatching post.
5. Ordering stationery.
6. General ad hoc office duties, including preparation of MP expense forms for IPSA
Candidates must possess a minimum of 1 GCSE and this must include English Language to comply, after a fashion, with European Convention and Human Rights Act  laws on guilt, should it transpire that offenders are actually not guilty.  Following the Prime Minister’s seminal speech on Saturday 5th February on Multiculturalism;  jihadis, extremists and others who do not wish to subscribe to the new British Big Society way of life will not be considered.  This is a full time/fixed term position until May 2015 when we win the next election on the new AV electoral voting system. Liberal-Democrats are, of course, welcome to apply, should there be any left to so apply.

NOTE: You should note that all successful applicants will be subject to a  criminal record check (because we certainly won’t be letting you vote, let alone do this important job, if you are a prisoner)  if we still have the capability to do these checks after the Chancellor has implemented his prudent and considered policy to cut the deficit which we inherited from the last government led by the recidivist and economic revisionist Gordon Brown.

Please note that we do not accept any applications by CV or External application forms returned via e-mail.  The reason for this is that we are a government department and we appear not to have the ability to implement any sensible or workable computer based systems.

Cameron promotes British values of bigotry, bellicosity, greed for which we are revered the world over

I am, I suspect,  one of many who are completely baffled by the increasing tendency for prime minister David Cameron to talk through a hole in the top of his head in a  stream of polspeak platitudes.  It is difficult enough trying to fathom out what he means by ‘Big Society’. We can forgive ourselves for being unable to work out what he means – most of his conservative MPs and policy advisers don’t seem to understand it either.

Cameron: My war on multiculturalism

Independent: No funding for Muslim groups that fail to back women’s rights

Today’s foray into multi-culturalism, prompted no doubt by Angela Merkal’s decision that multi-cultural Germany is a disaster, was equally bemusing;  not so much for the content of the speech (one understands the basic idea but it does appear to be one of his more simplistic expositions) but in the implications. Has he really thought things through or is this just another instant bit of kneejerkitis to pacify the ravening horde of backbench MPs and the more extreme wing of the The Sun and Daily Mail readership? Before we know it, someone will rise from the Tory backbenches and say that the Mexicans are all flatulent and lazy…and then where will we be?

I’m orf for a large glass of wine to refresh my interest in living in Britain under this lot… or, indeed, any lot of professional politicians who seem to have lost touch with who we British really are…as it happens, a remarkable mix of people and ideas…probably incapable of sensible definition…as it should be in an intelligent and interesting and largely ungovernable society.

Anyway… who cares what I think (or what anyone on twitter thinks) on a windy Saturday morning…? We’d all be better off tilting at windmills…preferably after a good dose of binge drinking. What do I know…?   I am not a professional politician…. thankfully.

Rive Gauche: The well bred City lawyer brings up white wine after the fish course

I shall start my Friday Rive Gauche post with a sensible comment and let it go downhill from there….

While it may make David Cameron ‘sick to the stomach’ and irritate many in this country who feel that those who have committed criminal offences (some extremely serious and denying the human right to life, freedom from assault and rape to the victims) should be denied the right to vote –  do we, as a country wish to inflict an eye for an eye, behaving in like manner as those who commit serious crimes,  and continue to refuse to comply with the judgment of the ECHR, a court which applies The European Convention, which not only did we sign up to, but which we were instrumental in drafting after World War II?

Thomas Hammarberg, Europe’s commissioner for human rights, points out in The Guardian today:

Prisoner voting: Convicts are human beings, with human rights

Most other member states of the Council of Europe already allow prisoners to vote – and this has caused no real problems

I believe that we should comply with the judgment for three reasons: Firstly, we are a civilised nation.  Secondly, we signed up to The European Convention and thirdly, if we are to build our country going forward and deal with other nations not by waging war, but by working with them, a strong record on human rights and fairness can only help that ideal.

Well…. if we are going to go downhill…we may as well do it in style.  RollonFriday.com reports today in their News section…always worth a read on a Friday…

Debevoise London office in vomiting party shame

RollonFriday reports: A leaving party for a Debevoise & Plimpton lawyer has not gone well, with one member of staff chucking up and rumours of another being knocked unconscious.

The party was held at the Pacific Oriental bar on Threadneedle Street. An insider said that the attendees were completely smashed, and behaved sufficiently badly for the bar staff to ask them repeatedly to calm down. And one member of the Debevoise team was so wrecked that he threw up on the entrance steps.

I am grateful to my old friends Mick & Nick Nosh of The Nosh Brothers (anarchic celeb chefs, hooligans and gourmandisers – I was even a shareholder in the now defunct Nosh Brothers restaurant, late of Notting Hill. Those were the days!)  for the inspiration for the caption below……  I have ‘nicked’ their wonderful introduction to a chapter in one of their books.)

Law Review: Tweet away says UK Supreme Court – and a few other matters

Immigration Officer Puts Wife on the No-Fly List

From Lowering the Bar: According to the Daily Mail Online, an immigration officer who worked for the UK Border Agency managed to get his wife out of his hair for three years by putting her name on the no-fly list while she was visiting the in-laws overseas.

Unfortunately, when the Immigration officer applied for promotion, background checks revealed that he was married to “somebody on a terrorist watch list. That raised some eyebrows, and the officer then admitted he had tampered with the list.”

Astonishing.

Supreme Court welcomes tweeters

UK HumanRights blog: The UK Supreme Court has released guidance on the use of “live text-based communications” from the court. Put simply, tweeting will be allowed in most cases.

The UK’s highest court of appeal has sensibly said that since its cases do not involve interaction with witnesses or jurors, subject to limited exceptions “any member of a legal team or member of the public is free to use text-based communications from court, providing (i) these are silent; and (ii) there is no disruption to the proceedings in court“.

Daily Mail and Sun accused of contempt over online photos

Guardian: Attorney general argues pictures of murder trial defendant ‘posing with a gun’ created risk of prejudice in court case

Better late than never, I suppose, for the A-G to rein in the more objectionable activities of the press in relation to criminal proceedings.  He appears to have overlooked press transgressions, however, in relation to the disgraceful coverage in the Yeates murder case…at least, for the time being.

Back later…. after a check up with a different type of doctor.

Guest Post: Professor R.D. Charon – The conceits of the ‘Johnny Come Latelies’ in legal education

The conceits of the “Johnny Come Latelies”

BY Professor R.D. Charon LLB (Cantab), BCL, Ph.d,  FRSA
Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence, University of The Rive Gauche, London Faculty, London
Author of the world class bestseller: “Legal Nihilism: A Random Theory of Law”, Maninahat Press, 2009

It is always a pleasure to be invited to ‘Guest’ by my brother Charon QC, whose interest in matters legalo-philosophical and the rigours of academe is, to be generous, probably well past its sell by date; an end hastened, ineluctably,  by his taste for the grape, gin & mango juice and Marlboro cigarettes – hijacking his mind and  his interests to the absurdities of the tabloids and the antics of academics and practitioners in what practitioners are still pleased to call the ‘legal profession’.  I overlook, with some distaste, his use of a noun as a verb in his badly typed email of 2.45 am this morning. I am a guest.  I do not ‘guest’.

But, be that as it may.  I have forgiven him for sending in a review of my best-selling Legal Nihilism: A Random Theory of Law to The Law Quarterly Review –  which comprised of three brief sentences: “I wept with laughter from start to well into the third page. What was the commissioning editor drinking, because I’d like to  speak to his vintner?  Has this book been legalled for compliance under academic terrorism legislation?

To the matter in hand: The issue of the two year law degrees being rushed to market by the providers of vocational stage courses.

It is fair to observe that purveyors of courses leading to qualification as a solicitor or barrister in England & Wales have done rather well out of their ventures;  in one case, attracting the interest of venture capitalists and extremely wealthy american entrepreneurs. It would be churlish not to admit that these same providers have added to the architectural splendours of legal London with their well equipped luxurious buildings and, while some may call for a judicial inquiry into why we have so many students chasing so few jobs, they have provided some good courses. Some students may not agree with this assessment and RollonFriday, an online publication of interest to people like my brother Charon QC, enjoys reminding its readers of the bulging bank accounts of one CEO and his cabal of co-conspirators.

“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….

By way of digression; my attention was caught by an article in a newspaper I happened to find on the train:

OXFORD GRADUATE EXAM-FLOP STUDENT SUING FOR £100,000

One could argue that the new universities (and, I have to say with some regret, even Russell Group universities) have only themselves to blame for admitting students who really aren’t up to the mark in some cases.  I do admit to a certain frisson of morning schadenfreude when I read that a law student is suing OXILP for failing to prepare her adequately in examination technique.  There will, of course, with the rise in fees coming, be a great deal more of this.  I am boning up on my Education Law and I would recommend any practitioner who isn’t getting nearly enough conveyancing or personal injury work, to do the same.  My advice is to focus on the Tort of Negligence and to do some serious research into terms of the contract, breach and damages; paying particular attention to ‘remoteness of damage’ in both contract and tort.

From reading the article in The Express, but without having access to the file, it would not be reasonable for me to comment further, save to observe that issues of causation and remoteness could well be a ‘problem’.  We shall see.  The lawyers, after all, have access to the facts.  The journalists, I suspect, are observing that fine tradition of the English amateur and writing without possession of the full facts but giving it some ‘wellie’ for the ‘delectation and delight’ of their readers.

Ah… yes… where was I? I do tend to digress, a habit born of having to do most of the talking in tutorials when my students turned up with hangovers or, in the case of the more adventurous ones, still drunk and still stupid.

I was much taken with a blog post written by Professor Richard Moorhead who is head of department at a ‘real university’, a Russell Group university,  and not one of these more modern creations of increasingly desperate Education ministers from governments Tory and Labour.

Two Years or Not Two years: That’s Not the Question

The article was both informative and subtle in its oblique undertones. I particularly savoured this rather fine passage:

A large part of the College’s claim to be different is built on a parody of ‘traditional’ law schools.

In just those few words, pregnant with meaning, Professor Moorhead hints at dark deeds, lack of intellectual rigour in the PR pronouncements of the new law schools and,  with the skill of a master of the rapier, delivers the coup de gras, the killing insult, that their thinking is ‘built on a parody of ‘traditional’ law schools’. One can almost see the new providers eating their popcorn in the middle of a  planning and strategy meeting  while watching The Paper Chase and the antics of Professor Kingsfield and then ‘brainstorming’ with their wretched flip charts.

It has been a pleasure to ‘Guest’.  I may do it again.  Unfortunately, I do not get a fee for writing these guest posts and there is rarely a drop left to drink when I turn up in Charon QC’s office. I would add, however, that Charon is not a selfish man, far from it.  He just drinks quickly when he hears me coming. This was his explanation last time I made a visit.  I am, however, used to that.

3 Old Men and a few other matters…..

3 Old Men

I came across Frontline Hackney- A day in the life of the Law on Twitter. There are many shades of legal practice and the legal aid cuts are going to bite and leave vulnerable people unrepresented.Pro bono can only go so far.

I quote from the 3 Old men opening paragraph…

Dealing with piss stained old men and blind people can be disconcerting. Someone else should have to do with that. Perhaps a nurse or a social worker. For many this is a common reaction. For us in legal aid it can be another day at the office……

May I recommend that you read the rest of the post?  It is stark…and is worth the time to read.

Brian Simpson obituary

The Guardian: Leading academic lawyer in the field of legal history, legal philosophy and human rights

Brian Simpson, who has died aged 79, was one of the greatest academic lawyers of his generation in the fields of legal history, legal philosophy and – more recently – human rights. His commitment to excellence in scholarship combined with his gift for a good story to make him a superb teacher and raconteur.

I covered the JIH Case briefly yesterday with the key extract from the judgment of the Master of The Rolls, Lord Neuberger, on the guidelines for anonymity and open justice

 

The Sun… inevitably…. was more prosaic…

Charter for cheats

THE more a cheating celebrity drops his trousers, the more the law will cover up for him.

That is the disgraceful outcome of yesterday’s Appeal Court ruling allowing a well-known sportsman accused of cheating on his partner with two different women to keep his identity secret.

It also creates two-tier justice. If you can afford top lawyers you can buy secrecy denied to others.Yesterday was the day Britain became a judicial banana republic.

The nation that created the rule of law bent its knee to a sportsman who fornicates his way through life like a dung hill rooster.

Once a nation starts down the road to secret justice, there is no telling where it will end.

 

Indeed not… perhaps it could lead to secretly hacking into mobile telephones?

 

Law Review: SRA blocks Kaplan aptitude test plans – Crime maps – Bribery – Legal humour

SRA puts kibosh on Kaplan’s aptitude test for admissions

The Lawyer reports: Kaplan Law School’s plan to introduce an admissions test for the LPC has been dashed after the SRA blocked the move.

“The law school’s controversial proposal, announced in October 2010, coincided with the Law Society launching an investigation into the viability of an aptitude test to make the application process fairer and reduce numbers of candidates taking the course.

In a statement the SRA said: “The SRA has not validated any LPC proposals which feature aptitude testing as part of the admissions arrangements. The SRA is aware that the Law Society is presently carrying out research into the possible merits of such tests and we await their findings with interest.”

College of Law chief executive Nigel Savage said: “It doesn’t surprise me that this has been turned down as it all seemed rather pointless and a bit of a gimmick.”

While I think that Kaplan’s idea is a good one – probably also in the interests of students who would have been able to take some comfort from an early assessment of their potential to do well in legal education? – I can see why this controversial plan may have been  viewed as potentially discriminatory or unfairly selective in an era of open access to education, if that was indeed the objection.”

The fact of the matter is that there are too many students chasing too few training opportunities for the present.  It may well be, in a more competitive legal environment in the future, competition from China and the East comes to mind,  that the leading London and regional commercial law firms will not need so many lawyers in future and with changes to the legal landscape coming,  some legal work will be carried out by paralegal staff and not by full qualified lawyers.

This, from  the comments section… raised a wry smile:

Anonymous | 31-Jan-2011 12:01 pm

By “a bit of a gimmick” I assume he really means: “the reduction in numbers due to aptitude testing will be bad for business”.

Crime maps – frighten yourself to death… or a good thing?

I could not resist, after reading of these new crime maps in the papers this morning, to check on whether I lived in an area ridden with crime or if Battersea Square was an oasis of civil and criminal ‘Big Societyness’.  I do know that my local newsagent has been robbed at knifepoint several times by a group of ‘youths’ – which must have been a rather frightening experience for the staff.

The statistics were fascinating.  You, too, can check out your crime zone rating here. Is this a good idea?  I think it is, on balance.

British firms face bribery blacklist, warns corruption watchdog

The Guardian reports: Attempts to limit Bribery Act weaken competitiveness, says Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.  British companies may face international blacklisting as a result of the government’s attempts to water down the Bribery Act, the chairman of an international anti-corruption watchdog warned.

There has been much comment on The Bribery Act proposals, not least from lawyers unclear of the scope and extent of the provisions.  Is there here an agenda of international competitiveness in these rather difficult days.  What if other nations’ companies are not subject to the same structures when trading from their national bases?

A bit of lighter relief….

I enjoy writing parody and I also enjoy reading it.  Three of the best known proponents of the art in the UK are Babybarista, Anonymous Assistant and now, Magic Circle Minx.  Here is a selection of their latest offerings:

Babybarista wins two Oscars from John Bolch at Family Lore.  Having had the pleasure of receiving a few of John’s Oscars myself (which I appreciate) I can say that Babybarista thoroughly deserves two for these posts…. January Post(s) of the Month

Magic Circle Minx says…. My Case Is Better Than Your Case

And…. Anonymous Assistant considers… The Trials of Life

While not a parodist as such… the White Rabbit’s blog, from barrister Andrew Keogh who deals with blood splatter patterns  and other criminal matters (And civil work),  is always a pleasure to visit. This week………

Meanwhile in a Dutch cell…

And finally…. I do enjoy Charles Fincher, a US lawyer and artist’s Bitcher & Prickman… from his Law Comix website