Blawg Review #304 – A very good one

Blawg Review #304 – A very good one


You don’t need to be a US lawyer to enjoy this excellent Blawg Review

Six years ago today, on March 28, 2005, a major earthquake registering 8.7 on the Richter Scale occurred off the coast of Sumatra, in Indonesia.  It came little more than three months following the horrific 9.1 quake and tsunami of December 24, 2003, and stood as the second strongest quake of the new century until it was surpassed by the Chilean earthquake of February, 2010 (8.8) and,  of course, the 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that struck northeastern Japan on March 11 of this year.  In the midst of the unimaginable devastation of the quake and tsunami, enormous attention has also been turned toward the damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and the resulting releases of radioactive material.

It is that nuclear element that provides our theme today for the 304th edition of Blawg Review, because March 28 is a date of some significance in relation of Our Friend, the Atom, and to both the military and civilian uses of the power of nuclear fission……..

Muttley Dastardly LLP (Episode) 19: Retention of staff and human capital maximisation


To:  The Partners

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

RE: Retention of staff and human capital maximisation


1. I am reviewing currently our human operational asset base for the purpose of refreshing the stock. This also ties in with an assessment of productivity of junior associate staff.  I was much taken by an article in the Law Society Gazette of 30th inst by Tessa Armstrong, a Careers and Performance Coach, amusingly titled: Junior solicitors create more value, and make firms happier places.

2. Ms Armstrong clearly has the right attitude. She writes: “Increasing profitability is currently a number one priority. Everyone is pulling out all the stops to bring in work – and junior solicitors are an important resource who can help too, if attention is paid to their performance and motivation.”

Ms Armstrong then goes for it with this wonderful sentiment:

Through improving the productivity of junior solicitors, firms can achieve some great things including:

  • Accelerated progression of junior solicitors through increased resilience.
  • Increased commitment from staff.
  • Increased profitability through reduced risk of poor performance.

All that’s needed is to ensure the challenges your junior solicitors face are identified and resolved straightaway.

3.  Losing just an hour a day of a solicitor’s time at only £150 per hour for four years costs approximately £135,000. This caught my eye.  Our charge out rate is, of course, rather more generous to us, but the idea of such a loss over the four years we aim to retain newly qualified staff for, before assessing how ‘sticky’ they are in our terms, is a matter of some concern.   Ms Armstrong rehearses issues of feedback to staff and comes up with a list of stratagems for success: The usual guff about making lists, doing the least attractive task first, turning off mobiles etc etc etc.  This advice  is counter to our Blackops on twitter where we are  encouraging as many of our competitors as possible to waste industrial amounts of billable time by tweeting and faffing around on Linked In;  let alone our encouragement and promotion of – a wonderful resource, where young lawyers can really be distracted and, in some cases, even lose their sanity.   Ms Armstrong does, however, show qualities worthy of Muttley Dastardly LLP where she states “The outcome should be that junior solicitors will be happy, motivated and focused, the number of chargeable hours recorded will increase, and profits will rise.”

4. Retention of staff:  We have 12 associates in PQE4 coming up for review. Unfortunately, all of them are showing promise, all are performing to targets – our stratagem of having a P45 blown up to poster size, framed, and placed in the PQE4 Bunker, seems to have had a subliminal effect in these ‘difficult days’.  I plan, therefore, with your blessing, to cull this down to 8; to allow us to bring fresh and less expensive blood in by using a device (pictured above) which I recall using at school as a child.  To ensure fairness I shall make four such devices, to accommodate the names of the twelve associates, and I shall pick, at random, passages from Lord  Denning’s judgment in Hightrees, and when I get to the end of the passage – using one word for each hand manipulation of the aforementioned device –  for each of the four ‘devices’,  the name on the left quartile shall be the one chosen for dispersal to the legal diaspora. To ensure that this process is even more random, I shall close my eyes when I pick the device up to start the process of selection.

5.  May I remind Partners that we meet this Friday to consider our policy on No Win No fee in the light of the shocking news yesterday.  In case you missed it, here is an article in The Guardian which explains all: The cost of clamping down on ‘no win, no fee’ legal arrangements

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

Strength & Profits


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Law Review: The Right to Protest – Free Press – No Win No fee

The fall out from the demonstrations last Saturday continues. The Guardian reported on the extraordinary behaviour of the Police dealing with the UKUncut protesters at Fortnum & Mason.  It may well be that a charge of trespass will be upheld – Fortnum & Mason, it is reported, lost £80,000 in trade, but, so far, of the 149 charges brought against protesters, 139 charges  are from the Fortnum & Mason arrests and only 11 from those who committed assaults and acts of criminal damage outside and at other locations. MPs asked the Police for an explanation.

A lawyer at a leading civil liberties firm has expressed fears for the future of direct action protest after the mass arrest of UK Uncut activists during last Saturday’s anti-cuts demonstrations in London.

Matt Foot, a criminal defence solicitor at Birnberg Pierce, said the detention of 145 activists during an occupation of luxury food store Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly was “unprecedented”. He has questioned the police’s motivation.

The Guardian

It is clear from video footage that the police misled the Fortnum & Mason protesters by telling them they were free to leave and would not be ‘kettled’.  It may have been easier for the Police to arrest the protesters outside the ship, rather than inside, but I suspect this action will be a PR disaster for the police in terms of trust from those who protest peacefully?

Mr Raj Chada, a solicitor representing some of the protesters said: “The manner in which these arrests were carried out raises a number of serious questions. Is the act of conducting a peaceful sit-in protest now being treated as a criminal act? ….”

A fair point?

Independent press crucial to the administration of justice, says lord chief justice

Joshua Rozenberg, writing in The Guardian reports: An independent press is crucial to the administration of justice, the lord chief justice of England and Wales said during a lecture in Israel on Monday night. Lord Judge is known to be concerned at the risk of totalitarian governments being voted into power, a view reinforced by his visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the victims of Nazi Germany.

“In a democratic society,” he said in an aside, “who knows what the will of the electorate may produce at any election?”

He added: “The independence of the judiciary and the independence of the media are both fundamental to the continued exercise – and, indeed, to the survival – of the liberties which we sometimes take for granted.”

I cannot imagine that many would disagree with this view.  It was interesting to read in The Sun this morning the continuing campaign of bile against lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Ken Clarke,.  The Sun has decided (along with The Daily Mail) that the war on drugs has to be won and is vilifying Clarke and The Sentencing Council for the soft approach being taken on sentencing drug dealers with ‘modest’ amounts of drugs;  preferring to concentrate on the producers and big dealers.

This prompted Matthew Norman in The Independent to ask if the right wing tabloids are running the country and if ministers will run scared – as they have often done in the past of offending the interests and wishes of the right wing press.

The primary issue here is one of political courage, or rather, its absence under fire. Any politician who dares to stand against the tabloids quickly undares

AND.. I am delighted to give a plug to this conference at the request of fellow twitter user @SundeepBhatia2, who is a pleasure to tweet with.

Minority Lawyers Conference & Awards 2011 “Diversity – Embracing change”

Details of the conference

The cost of clamping down on ‘no win, no fee’ legal arrangements

Neil Rose writes in The Guardian: Reform of the litigation system could see claimants lose significant portions of their awards and solicitors reluctant to take on complex cases

Ken Clarke’s announcement on Tuesday that the government is to reform the costs of civil litigation has been portrayed as a crackdown on lawyers’ fees. That always makes a pleasing headline but the reality is that the justice secretary wants the public to do it for him.

The main problem identified by the government and Lord Justice Jackson – the appeal court judge whose report underlies these proposals – is that the current “no win, no fee” system of conditional fee agreements (CFAs) means the client has no interest in how much their lawyer charges, because they will never have to pay any of it.

By making the lawyer’s success fee payable by the client rather than the losing defendant, that will clearly change, and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) expects competition to drive down prices.
I thought it not inappropriate, given the above, to thank one of my sponsors – who helps pay for all the free materials for students,  provided on my online magazine Insite Law – Thanks to Accident Advice Helpline

Nonsense du Jour: I have no problem with… “principled thought-through political ‘violence’..” @PennyRed !

Like many, I am delighted that I live in a country which permits freedom of speech, protest and dissent. I don’t, like most, care for the mindless violence (or, indeed, any form of violence on the part of protestors or the state) as a means of persuasion to a view.

Today I had the misfortune to read on my twitter timeline some very curious views by @PennyRed – Laurie Penny – who writes for The New Statesman, a magazine I enjoy reading.

The tweets I read – most recent at top – from @PennyRed are here…

I was surprised to read the third tweet above on my timeline and sent a tweet addressed to @PennyRed (She does not follow me – but she would have seen my tweet in her *mentions*?)  Although, to be scrupulously fair…many celebrity tweeters don’t respond to questions put to them and only read their *mentions* for self aggrandisement and  twitteronanism (to see how well they are doing on twitter.)

I did think, however, that  a serious statement by Laurie Penny  and my not unreasonable question merited a reply. I didn’t get one. By the way… the ‘thought through political ‘violence’ was probably in relation to another deleted tweet from Laurie Penny about how the suffragettes used ‘violence’ to achieve their aims.   I can’t say… I have no idea what she meant by principled thought through political ‘violence’...which is why I asked her to answer what I  thought was a perfectly reasonable question.  As it happens, I am fairly sure she saw my series of tweets ( honest and reasonable belief!)…given her open replies on twitter – some of which have been deleted!.

This was my question:

Then this nonsense turned up on twitter….. (I replied):

And then this……

We are living in very difficult times.  A lot of people will lose their livelihoods. A lot of people will suffer.  I am not rehearsing here the faults of our politicians – and they are legion on this issue.  A lot of people protested peacefully on Saturday.  The so called ‘ordinary people’…whatever that means in SKYBBC speak.  They did not trash Trafalgar Square.  They did not occupy Fortnum & Mason and smear the front of the building with absurd slogans.  Many took their children with them. They wanted to protest peacefully.  Instead of being able to listen to reasoned protest by listening to radio or watching TV reports from the main peaceful protest, we were treated to endless coverage of mindless buffoons trashing parts of London.  The BBC and Sky really did not need to overdo that?

@PennyRed – Writes for a respected magazine – The New Statesman.  She  describes herself as a journalist. Objectivity and fairness are what we reasonably expect from journalists – a bit of bias and perspective is acceptable.  We understand this.  I do not expect to read nonsense about *Violence* on twitter from a ‘respected journalist’.  There are plenty of people on twitter talking wonderful bollocks if I want to read what they say.  The difference with @PennyRed?  She gets onto national TV.  She gets to write on a  leading political journal.

It is simply not good enough for @PennyRed to respond to many who were being criticial of her now deleted tweets (above) on twitter by saying that she was ‘confusing people’ and will get back to the issue when she has had more sleep.  I write in terse terms because I happen to believe that peaceful protest is a right and that violent protest is a crime.  I take that view because I want to live in a civilised country where reasoned debate is more powerful than hooded thugs and buffoons (some, it would appear.. middle class buffoons on a Gap Yah!)  trashing other people’s property as a means of ‘persuasion’.   The political process in our country may not be without faults.  But it is all we have for the moment….and the Rule of Law is even more important.  The violence on Saturday broke the ‘Rules of Law’.  Violence is against the law…and it should be… in all its forms… including ‘smashing a window’.

I leave readers with three tweets…to lighten the mood….

I hope that @PennyRed has a good sleep…  but… to be fair…she did have a chance to do this tweet which I have just seen on her timeline….

Hopefully…those who ‘protest’ in future… will stop flinging shit about on our buildings, monuments and streets.  That ain’t the way to protest in a mature democracy?


Oh… and I have always voted Labour…. so I may be a leftie…. although one can’t be sure about that with the Labour Party in recent years 🙂



Happy to give a link to this article by @PennyRed / Laurie Penny in the New Statesman….


What really happened in Trafalgar Square

Guest Post: Any complaints? Why the IPCC is failing us all

Any complaints?  Why the IPCC is failing us all
Kevin Donoghue is a solicitor at Donoghue Solicitors, specializing in actions against the police compensation claims

The IPCC has recently published its police complaint statistics for 2009/2010.

Since the IPCC’s formation in 2004, every police force in the UK has recorded a rise in the number of complaints made against it. The largest increase was recorded in Northamptonshire, a staggering 425% rise in 6 years. The average increase was 113%. The IPCC’s interim Chair Len Jackson thinks that this universal increase in complaints is a credit to the IPCC themselves, saying that ‘improved confidence and access has encouraged those who previously were not inclined to complain that making a complaint is worthwhile.’ While this may be so, as an actions against the police solicitor, a more telling statistic is the fact that only 10% of these cases proved ‘misconduct’ on the part of the officers concerned.

So while (in Len Jackson’s opinion), it may have never been easier to make a complaint, it is extremely hard to prove misconduct against the police within the complaints process, as two recent cases prove.

The anti-war protester

Audrey White was a prominent anti-war protester, and a founding member of the Merseyside branch of the Stop the War Coalition. During a peaceful protest at the Labour Party Conference in 2008, Greater Manchester Police officers forcibly removed a Gordon Brown facemask she was wearing, injuring her in the process. Mrs. White’s complaint to GMP fell on deaf ears. The police denied it saying that their actions were ‘reasonable, necessary and proportionate’.

Two years and significant legal costs later they formally apologized and paid her significant compensation.

The concerned partner

51 year old Karim Allison tried to intervene when his partner was being booked for a minor traffic offence. The police officer involved took exception to Mr. Allison’s attempted involvement and produced evidence which was used to obtain a criminal prosecution against him. After a jury trial it was found that, on the balance of probabilities, Mr. Allison’s convictions were obtained using fabricated evidence.

Again, Mr. Allison’s complaints to Cleveland Police and appeal to the IPCC fell on deaf ears.

Three years later after the initial incident Mr. Allison obtained substantial compensation and the apology he ought to have received at the outset.

Spinning around

Prof. Aaron Levenstein once said, ‘statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.’

The IPCC’s press release reports that nearly 50% of complaints relate to incivility or neglecting duties. This neatly side-steps the fact that the majority of complaints relate to other, more important, things: assaults; malicious prosecution; discrimination; and harassment, telling examples of which are described in the above cases. It strikes me that the IPCC’s slant on the statistics produced benefit no one, especially themselves as an independent body. The police’s failure to apologise is usually vindicated by the IPCC (less than a third of all appeals to the IPCC are upheld). For the public, this leads to the perception that the police can aggressively deny complaints as more often than not they will be supported by their regulator.

Contrary to the IPCC’s press release spin, the above cases are not unusual in my experience. Granted I deal with a great many complaints and claims against the police. My services have never been more in demand. However, clients often come to me after the police have already rejected their complaints or unsuccessfully used the simplified local investigations process. By that point the police have usually already lost whatever goodwill they may have had.

The police, and the IPCC, should be more willing to accept responsibility for failures at the outset. As legal costs are not paid for dealing with complaints, I have no doubt that a great many people would happily accept a heartfelt apology early on, along with a promise to learn from mistakes.  This would save time, money and for the innocent victims of police misconduct, a great deal of unnecessary stress. In these straightened times, isn’t that what the IPCC and police should work to achieve?

Postcard from the Staterooms: RITZKRIEG!

I see a lot of weird stuff on the net every day…..  (I am on twitter)  but this was excellent: “Walcome tae the Scottish Pairlament wabsite”
Being  A Scot – albeit one who has lived in London and other parts of England for thirty years – I rather liked this initiative from The Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Pairlament is here for tae represent aw Scotlan’s folk.

We want tae mak siccar that as mony folk as possible can finn oot aboot the Scottish Pairlament. Information anent whit we can dae tae help ye engaige wi the Pairlament gin ye arenae fluent in English can be haen at Langage assistance providit by the Scottish Pairlament (22.2KB pdf).

This pairt o the wabsite hauds information anent the Scottish Pairlament that we hae producit in Scots. Uise the link aneath tae find oot mair.

Wonderful. Hat Tip to @loveandgarbage for alerting me to this use of public money…and also for this!  Can you speak Scots?

A surreal day…

I watched the unfolding demonstration in London – and some of the footage when the BBC cut away (gleefully) to middle class protesters trying to trash the Ritz and then doing a sit-in at Fortnum & Mason on the basis that this organisation is ‘avoiding’ tax.  There is, of course, a difference between ‘evading’ tax (unlawful) and ‘avoiding’ tax (lawful).  It was also pointed out on twitter that the owners of Fortnum & Mason are well known for making charitable donations. I have no idea whether this is or is not the case – but it would be ironic if it was true.

Today was also Boat Race day. So… we had middle class anarchists trashing The Ritz and Fortnum & Mason while other middle class people amused pissed-up middle classes on the Thames by rowing boats… a  truly surreal afternoon.

And then…. I decided to ignore the calls on twitter to turn all my lights off for #Earthhour…

I’m afraid that I did not add to the incisiveness of the debate on twitter this afternoon on the demonstration and #Ukuncut  by tweeting….

A quick rendition of The Eton Boating song… a la 2011 CUTS and *Big Society* ?

Jolly protesting weather,
And a fay anarchist wheeze,
Blade on the feather,
Paint all over the trees,
Trash trash together,
With your iPads between your knees,
Trash trash together,
With your iPads between your knees.

The tabloids will, of course, be full of coverage about anarchists on the morrow. This pic from The Daily Mail will give you a foretaste… as will this…

Pink Floyd star’s son Charlie Gilmour sports clean-cut look as he faces judge over royal attack

The Daily Mail reports: Fresh faced, with a short, neat haircut and a collared shirt, the Charlie Gilmour who appeared in court today bore little resemblance to the long-haired, combat boot-wearing protester who took part in a student fees riot in central London. 

I do wonder if judges and juries are even vaguely impressed when defendants turn up in court all scrubbed up and wearing ties. Perhaps they get a certain pleasure at the schadenfreude and hypocrisy?
Meanwhile… The Daily Mail front cover for tomorrow (right). Pity the sensible, peaceful, protest didn’t get more coverage today in the meedja.

And so… on to other things… continues at the cutting edge of amusing journalism by revealing.. gleefully…

Exclusive: College of Law screws up exam results. Again

The College of Law has allayed fears that it could be losing its competitive edge this week, by proving that it remains untouchable when it comes to cocking up exam results.



An interesting article by Jon Robins in The Guardian….

Website that has become the scourge of all lawyers, good and bad

Rick Kordowski remains unapologetic over the website he set up after his experience with lawyers

Worth reading….

Katy Dowell reports in The Lawyer: Over a year into his tenure as Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger is proving to be a popular choice.

Famed for his straight talking and practical thinking, here is a judge who wants the judiciary to become more familiar to the public it serves.

This is becoming a common theme at the top of the judiciary. Supreme Court president Lord Phillips is becoming something of  a television personality given his smiling appearances on several recent court documentaries.

I can certainly recommend an excellent documentary from the BBC on the workings of The Supreme Court. Catch it on iPlayer while you can!

AND…finally… I watched the BBC News coverage on the Trafalgar Square element of the protest late tonight…. dreadful.  Why no/few live pictures?

Well.. there we are.  Have a good weekend.

Best, as always




Law Review: The Highest Court in the Land – Justice Makers

May I recommend this excellent (and fascinating programme) from the BBC.  Available, for the moment, on iPlayer.

The Highest Court in the Land – Justice Makers

You don’t need to be a lawyer to find this interesting.  I enjoyed it.

A very interesting illustration of the principle in my tweet, below, came in the bank overdraft case where the Supreme Court ruled, according to the law governing the Office of Fair Trading, that  the OFT could not look into the fairness of bank overdraft charges.  Lord Phillips expressed a personal view that it would probably have been a good thing for the OFT to do, but the law precluded this.  Lord Phillips did not have freedom to decide that way.

Non-lawyers may not always appreciate, or choose to appreciate, the subtlety of the role of judges (or the restrictions on their freedom to dispense ‘justice’) ……. as was exemplified in the programme when a well known finance and money campaigner (who ought to have known better?) said to the TV cameras that  ‘The big institutions of the Law had backed up the big institutions of the  banking world”. Judges can’t always deliver fairness….because of  precedent and the way our laws are drafted by MPs.  MPs, however, can ensure that our laws are fair?

Ah… the joys of the ‘saying’  that we get the governments we deserve.


Without being simplistic… I am, for one,  delighted that the TV cameras have captured the views of our Supreme Court Justices on this wonderful film which reveals what we all know… our own imperfections and fallibility.

The narrator concludes: “Those who make the law…should be answerable to the law”.  Yes.  I agree. Who would not?

Perhaps… Tony Blair and Charlie Falconer, ridiculed for designing the Supreme Court on the back of a fag packet,  got this one right: The Separation of Powers and The Independence of the Judiciary ?


Law Book News:


I have decided to start doing regular features on new law books: Here are the new books from Oxford University Press for February 2011

Rive Gauche: Lord McNally advises Albanians on ‘Rule of Law’

I smiled wryly when I read this report from The Ministry of Justice website this evening. I smiled with some difficulty as problems from a very old head injury came home to roost this week and made it difficult for me to talk, let alone smile…  (Hence no ‘Without Prejudice’ podcast this week.  We shall resume next week.

Justice Minister Lord McNally is in Albania to formally launch an EU-funded twinning project between the countries’ probation services.

During the visit Lord McNally will emphasise the UK’s support for Albania’s ambitions to join the EU, but will stress that a strong, independent judicial system and respect for the rule of law are needed before this can happen.

I suspect that Lord McNally did not refer to the fact that to have a strong legal system a country needs to have a fairly strong base of legal aid – No fee, No win, can only do so much.  I suspect that Lord McNally did not refer to the fact that prisoner votes;  a matter of our government complying with a judgment of the ECtHR, made our prime minister ‘sick to his stomach’, and I suspect that Lord McNally did not refer to the difficulties his fellow minister, Mr Djanogly, is having – gleefully reported in Obiter in the Law Society Gazette.  (A rather amusing story) But…at least this ‘expedition’ was EU funded…..which will please the euro sceptics.  Perhaps a viewing of the latest drama from the BBC, Silk, would be in order… just to get things in apple pie order in legal terms?  (pic above left from Silk)

The Wikipedia entry provides an insight into Lord McNally’s background. As far as I can see from that – and I accept that Wikipedia is not an ‘authoritative source’ – Lord McNally does not appear to have much by way of political experience in the law, but that, in these ‘dark days’,  may NOT be a disadvantage when it comes to government policy –  as The Sun keeps on telling its readers when Ken Clarke comes out with a sensible proposal on reform which does not involve hanging, flogging, detention for life…etc etc.”.

Supreme Court New Appointments: Sumption and Wilson

Twitter was ablaze (at least in my time line) this evening with tweets about Jonathan Sumption QC leap frogging judges to ‘make legal history’ by being appointed direct to the Supreme Court from the Bar.  I can’t see that this is a bad thing – but on the matter of history –  the excellent UK Supreme Court blog points out that John Reid KC, a Scot, was appointed as a Lord of Appeal in 1948, having been the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and the Solicitor General for Scotland.  ( Sir Edward Carson KC and Cyril Radcliffe KC were appointed to the House of Lords direct from the Bar.)  Still no confirmation of the story as I write – but Joshua Rozenberg who did the first tweet this afternoon usually get its right.)

I did a brief post earlier about the BSB and the SRA wanting to bring in aptitude tests to ensure that students who are taken on by law schools at the LPC and BPTC stage are actually ‘apt’. I’m not going to rush into a response.  I want to think about this initiative.  The comments on the The Law Society Gazette article are most interesting and well worth a read.

The Law Society Gazette reported in February… “Lady Deech, chair of the Bar Standards Board, said the BSB would press ahead with its plans to introduce aptitude and English language tests for students before they can undertake the BPTC.

Deech said: ‘There are too many people on the course who shouldn’t be there. We need to give a signal to those who aren’t up to it that they’re wasting their money.’

Deech said language is a tool of the trade at the bar, and it is wrong to ‘let people loose on the public’ if they do not have sufficient English language skills.

She said: ‘If you’re tone deaf, don’t go to music school; if y­ou have two left feet don’t go to ballet school.’

I am doing a podcast with Baroness Deech in early April…. so there is a fair amount to discuss.

And… I did enjoy this from Charles Fincher Esq – a US lawyer and artist….

Law Review: SRA and BSB want aptitude tests – an excellent opportunity for law schools to run yet more courses?

Aptitude tests would be a positive step for BPTC and LPC students

The Law Society Gazette’s Rachell Rothwell reports….

“Earlier today, the Bar Standards Board announced a new timetable for its plans to introduce an aptitude test for the Bar Profession Training Course (BPTC), to give time for the results of its second pilot to be compared with actual BPTC results. A compulsory aptitude test will not be brought in until autumn 2012.

The Law Society’s training and education committee is also currently assessing the merits of an aptitude test for students on the LPC course….”

I am thinking about my sensible response to these proposals.  I shall do so and write shortly. I did think that a 1st class or upper second class  law degree ‘may’ be an indication of ‘aptitude’ – but, clearly, I am wrong on that. In the meantime….

Dr Strangelove of Muttley, Director of Education, Strategy and Psyops at Muttley Dastardly LLP said this today

“We welcome this initiative.  We have been reviewing, with some care, the astonishing articles on ‘diversity initiatives from the profession and press releases published with little adaptation(?)’ in the legal press recently, and the even more astonishing commentary from people who know little or absolutely nothing about the subject.  We have come to the conclusion that this could be a welcome fee earning opportunity.  After all…how difficult can it be to set up a course of instruction to teach people to pass an aptitude test?   I rather suspect that the legal education sector is salivating at the prospect?”

Law Review: Budget summary for lawyers – and …extraordinary City attitudes to diversity?

Corporate lawyers are up in arms about a shift in the profession’s graduate recruitment strategy that could see them forced to mix with “riffraff”.

“I did not study at Oxford and the LSE to end up working with people who graduated from Leicester or Queen Mary,” wrote one person on in response to the news last week that magic circle outfit Freshfields is extending the number of universities from which it recruits…..”

Alex Aldridge, writing in The Guardianan extraordinary article about (some) City attitudes to diversity?

The Budget:  A summary

Cassons for Counsel: A summary of particular relevance to barristers and solicitors

Law Review: This… is why we need the Rule of Law

Photos show US soldiers in Afghanistan posing with dead civilians

The Guardian: ‘Trophy’ pictures show US soldiers posing with corpses of Afghan civilians they are accused of killing for sport.

The face of Jeremy Morlock, a young US soldier, grins at the camera, his hand holding up the head of the dead and bloodied youth he and his colleagues have just killed in an act military prosecutors say was premeditated murder.

I don’t need to comment.


BUT… do have a look at…Hersch from New Yorker


The “Kill Team” Photographs


Thanks to @OldHoborn for the link today.  I can’t remember what OH said precisely… but it was something along the lines that *We have a problem when states start behaving like this*…. He is right.

And… on the theme of war….and violence…

Blawg Review #303

The peaceful march resulted in the death of 17 unarmed civilians at the hands of the Insular Police, in addition to some 235 wounded civilians, including women and children…….

Law Review: No bar to the Bar – a good website from The Bar Council

While debate will continue on the chances of getting a tenancy (and this is to be encouraged)  – the Bar has  always been a competitive profession (certainly in my time in legal education of 30 years) – this new initiative following Lord Neuberger’s Diversity report is a good one.

I am interested in becoming a barrister. Do you have more information?

This site is for you and anyone interested in a career at the Bar. A barrister is one of the most exciting and challenging careers you can find. However, it is competitive and requires hard work and intelligence, but anyone with these skills can succeed. There are barristers from all backgrounds and ethnicities in practice and you can find out more about this in the film – the Bar is open to all.

I enjoyed watching the films.  I hope this new website will succeed in persuading prospective law students – from all backgrounds – to think about a career at the Bar.

Have a look at the new Bar Council website for prospective barristers!

Professor Richard Moorhead has written on this issue. We have exchanged thoughts in the comments section.  I do hope the Bar Council puts the statistics (which are available on the main site) on this site.  I can see no reason for the Bar Council not to do so.

I do appreciate  Richard Moorhead’s point and it is a fair one – and the perspective of others on twitter this afternoon.  Be that as it may;   I am pleased to see an initiative which encourages students to have a look at the Bar as a career – it is not as it ‘may’ once have been.   It continues to be a very competitive profession. It is difficult to get in.. but at least the message is being put out that the difficulties do not include ‘background’.  I am happy to write a blog post in favour of that sentiment.

I also take the view, having enjoyed teaching students for many years, that students are not daft. Far from it.  If students don’t pick up on warnings on the Bar Council site, the law school sites and elsewhere, I would be surprised.  I can say that I did  have the pleasure of meeting a few lazy students but they weren’t daft either.   I suspect that some of them went into investment banking or showbiz!   It wouldn’t surprise me. 🙂

So secret… you would not have been able to read about this but for…… an MP and a blogger


On Thursday afternoon, in a back room of Parliament, history was made.  A few MPs found themselves a backbone; they found a way in which they could exercise their Freedom of Speech and perform their ancient duty, drawn from the Bill of Rights 1688, of redressing the grievances of the citizens who rely on them.

Anna Raccoon,  Saturday 19th March

As Anna Raccoon said…. Google the Parliamentary report – no mention…. although, hopefully, Google will pick it up after Anna Raccoon’s blog post.

I will extract Anna Raccoon’s opening text...and ask you to read her post..and then invest a bit of time in reading the full Hansard report

Mr John Hemming, MP for Yardley in Birmingham, rose to his feet and used parliamentary privilege to list some of the secret prisoners, the people who have lost their liberty in the UK behind closed doors; the court orders which detail the secret injunctions – not for the benefit of footballers or bankers, (although it was the issue of Fred Goodwin’s secret injunction that allowed the debate to be heard), but the injunctions, not mere ‘super-injunctions’ that the media could not mention, but ‘hyper-injunctions’ which even prevented the aggrieved citizen from appealing to their MP for help.

Because we are allowed to speak of that which has been in Hansard, we can today speak of the misery of those whose lives have been turned upside down, in secret, with the added bonus of a special injunction from the judge which prevented them even turning to their MP.

The issue of superinjunctions (and hyperinjunctions) is important to the system of open justice we should enjoy in our country.

Ironically…The Master of The Rolls, Lord Neuberger, made a speech on this issue last week and is, fortunately, about to report on the whole issue of superinjunctions. Hopefully, the proceedings of parliament on The Bill of Rights and Mr John Hemming MP’s statements, recorded in Hansard, will be germane to his enquiry and report.  The issue is, of course, more complex than the debate reveals – and raises the issue of whether MPs should be above the laws while in Parliament. They may, of course, change the laws; but having made a law, is it right to evade it through use of privilege?  Surely, consideration should be given to changing that law?  This is noted in the report on the debate.  There may well be perfectly good reasons for protecting privacy and maintaining secrecy. Lord Neuberger’s speech is well worth reading.

See the full text of Lord Neuberger’s  speech: Open Justice Unbound?

The UK Human Rights blog has also commented…

…. as has the always precise Obiter J

Law Review: Commission on a UK Bill of Rights …..and a mixed bag of law news

Commission on a UK Bill of Rights launched

The Ministry of Justice announced today that an independent Commission to investigate the case for a UK Bill of Rights has been launched today by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Secretary of State for Justice Kenneth Clarke.

The Guardian responded to this news with: Move for British bill of rights faces deadlock: “Government commission exploring the case for a British bill of rights is divided between human rights act supporters and critics”

The analysis in The Guardian is interesting – but I do wonder why we actually need this review.  As the Commission is unlikely to report for some time (2012?) we will have to wait to see if anything of real value comes of this.

Adam Wagner in The UK Human Rights blog has this to say….

Who are the Bill of Rights Commission “human rights experts”?

I am hoping to do a quick podcast with Adam Wagner soon to look at this and other topical human rights issues.

Lawyers…Have you joined Shpoonkle?!!!

Will it only be a matter of time before UK lawyers…. hyperventilating with excitement from the opportunities offered by twitter and other social meedja… get into Shpoonkle?

A New York Law School student has founded Shpoonkle, a playfully named website that allows attorneys and law firms to bid on legal requests submitted by clients. The service is free for now, but attorneys may be charged membership fees in the future.

Fortunately… a fellow blogger I respect has a strong view…

“On his New York criminal defense blog Simple Justice, Scott Greenfield said, “Any lawyer who signs up for this service should be immediately disbarred, then tarred and feathered, then publicly humiliated.” Calling the site the “eBay of lawyering,” Greenfield argues the service will lower the integrity of the legal profession.…College of Law admits low recruitment qualifications

In an unguarded moment, the director of business development at the College of Law has admitted that only 60% of the institution’s students have a 2:1. So that means the CoL taking large numbers of students who don’t have the widely recognised minimum requirement for a training contract at the end of the course.

Read the full post….

The law schools are going to have to consider their position on taking on students who have no realistic prospect of being employed in the present market.  They won’t enjoy doing so.  This story is not going to go away.

LSB lacks understanding, judgement and willingness to listen, says Bar Council

An excellent article from Legal Futures

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has shown a lack of understanding and judgement, and an unwillingness to listen to the approved regulators, the Bar Council has claimed.

In a move that will fuel questions about the current role of the LSB, the Bar Council also expressed surprise at plans to increase LSB staff costs at a time of public sector cuts – saying it should take a “Big Society” approach to its work – and also questioned whether the board is overextending its remit….

Read the full article…

I will be doing a podcast with the Chair of The Bar Standards Board, Baroness Deech, in April – and regulation of the legal profession and legal education will be among the topics to be discussed.

The draft libel reform bill is a good thing

David Allen Green, writing in the New Statesman….

The draft libel reform bill, published two days ago, has had a mixed reception. Those in favour of libel reform have broadly welcomed it, though some do not think it goes far enough; and many established libel practitioners have sought to minimise the draft bill’s importance and novelty. Some libel veterans even say it will make no difference: it is almost as if they are discouraging the government from taking the draft bill forward at all.

However, as a practising media defence lawyer, I would say that there is a lot of good in the draft bill, and that if it were to pass into legislation in its present form it would make a marked difference to the nature of libel litigation. That is not to say that the draft bill could not be improved; but it is to say that it is misconceived and illiberal to dismiss the bill completely.

I am sure we will find time to discuss this bill in the Without Prejudice podcast this coming Thursday.

University threatens MP with libel case over Gaddafi criticism

Index on Censorship has a good report….

This is a rather interesting libel action… in the early stages. It is curious that a University, a public body, is suing an MP who was critical about their links with Libya?  The LSE took a lot of criticism last week about their ‘ties’ with Libya.  The Director of the school resigned – honourably.  David Allen Green’s firm Preiskel is acting… as this twitter post indicates.  Ironic in a week when the government is keen to reform the libel laws to stop institutions and people suppressing reasonable and public interest  criticism by using our libel laws?

Preiskel Preiskel & Co LLP 

by DavidAllenGreen
We are instructed to defend Robert Halfon MP against libel threat by Liverpool John Moores University re criticism of Libyan commercial ties

It is not all bad news for lawyers and laws schools… The Daily Mail reports: 

Oxford graduate who sued college for after it ‘failed to prepare her for exams’ loses bid for £100,000 damages

Law Review: The Times engages with law bloggers – Transparency in Law

Pat Long in The Times has written a good piece on law blogging. I am in it… but more importantly…so are many others and the sentiment is encouraging.  Pleasingly, the  mainstream legal papers  (Guardian, Times, Legal Week, Law Society Gazette, The Lawyer) seem happy to engage with bloggers.  This can only benefit all.  The article is behind the Times paywall… but if you have access, it is worth a read.

I was fascinated to read on twitter earlier that Bar Standards Board meetings are open to the public. I will enjoy observing one of their meetings and I shall certainly try and organise this for a future meeting.  Transparency in law and legal matters can only benefit all.  The BSB is on Twitter: @barstandards

And on that theme. Lord Neuberger MR seems quite open to the idea of televising civil proceedings.  The BBC reports: In a speech to the Judicial Studies Board, Lord Neuberger revisited proposals for televising courts which were last raised in 2004.

Lord Neuberger said it was a long-standing legal principle that justice should be done in public – but it also had to be understandable to the public.

“If we wish to increase public confidence in the justice system, transparency and engagement, there is undoubtedly something to be said for televising some hearings, provided that there were proper safeguards to ensure that this increased access did not undermine the proper administration of justice,” he said.

And finally…

Lex2011tweetup: All the leading tweeting lawyers in a bar. How could it not be fun?

Sadly, I could not make it – I was doing a rather long video conference which ended just after 9.00.  (I do sensible work occasionally!)

Great blog article…..

Would anyone like to give some money to Comic Relief for this self portrait?

Charon Self Portrait (In Three Colours) 2010
Acrylics on canvas board
20 x 16

Charon, with new tache,  goes to a field in a yellow shirt and jeans on a sunny windy day in May and paints a glass of red wine.  That is all


All you have to to do is undertake to give some money to Comic Relief.… you choose the amount  (I don’t mind how much you give – £1 or £1 million !)  and the first person to email me can have this bizarre self portrait from my F*ckArt series

Note: I will need your address to post the painting in a jiffy bag to you!


Law Review: Bradley Manning torture? – Fined for telling the truth – Cherie Booth QC

PFC Bradley Manning – Torture?

On the 18 December 2010 Manning’s lawyer David E. Coombs, a former Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army who served in Iraq (pictured), wrote a very clear and to the point blog post…

A Typical Day for PFC Bradley Manning

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

Today, in The Guardian Daniel Ellsberg, a man who knows a thing or twowrites:

President Obama tells us that he’s asked the Pentagon whether the conditions of confinement of Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with leaking state secrets, “are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are.”

If Obama believes that, he’ll believe anything. I would hope he would know better than to ask the perpetrators whether they’ve been behaving appropriately. I can just hear President Nixon saying to a press conference the same thing: “I was assured by the the White House Plumbers that their burglary of the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s doctor in Los Angeles was appropriate and met basic standards.”


The full article is worth reading. I have a fair number of friends in the US law blogging world,  but I have no experience of US law or politics.  If these facts are as stated, it seems to me that the conditions under which PFC Bradley Manning is held could come within the definition of ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ in any human rights jurisdiction.  I would welcome comment and ‘elucidation’ from American lawyers on this issue.  I shall email my friends in America for their thoughts.

It is, of course, important to remember that Bradley Manning has not been tried yet……

It is also important not to conflate Manning with the Assange issue(s)….

New York Times Editorial 15th March 2011:

The Abuse of Private Manning


UPDATE: Scott Greenfield , a US defense lawyer and author of the Simple Justice blog,  was kind enough to respond:

Ellsberg has been a bit of an hysteric about the whole Wikileaks thing, perhaps because it’s the first time he’s been relevant in two generations.  It was one thing for him to come out screaming in support of Assange, but Manning is an entirely different story.  He was a US soldier who betrayed his duty and oath.  Assange had no duty to protect the USA.  Manning chose to be an American soldier, to take that road on his own  Manning has neither right nor moral authority to betray the trust that came with the uniform.
Aside from the problem that Manning’s motives are dubious, his conduct was inexcusable and unjustifiable. He wasn’t doing this to save a life or prevent political catastrophe, but merely dumping a ton of classified content on the internet.  Whether we believe in Assange’s right to publish it, the justification for Assange provides no protection for Manning.  He was a traitor to his country. When you put on the uniform, you give up the right to do things just because you feel like it, and that includes disclosing classified information.

As for Manning’s prison conditions, they aren’t significantly different than max/protective custody for many, both pre and post conviction.  While I’m unaware of any rationale that would explain some of his confinement conditions, especially requiring him to be naked, it’s clearly pretty weird but it’s not exactly torture either.  I won’t assume there’s some great reason for the bizarre conditions, though there might be, but it’s hardly as bad as many, like Hope Steffy in Ohio, suffered, and appears to fall at the outer edge of lawful custodial conditions.
See also: Colin Samuels, a US lawyer and author of Infamy or Praise,  in the comments section

One of my US lawyer blogging friends is Scott Greenfield,  who writes each day about matters which interest him. He is a New York defense lawyer who has a very good understanding of the legal blogosphere in the US (and over here) and his blog, even if you aren’t interested in law, is worth reading for the humour and incisive analysis.

Scott Greenfield writes….

Niki Black: Blogging Is Dead, Dead, Dead (Update)

And..while we are on the subject of blogging…

Blogger Fined $60,000 For Telling The Truth

A Minneapolis blogger was ordered on Friday to pay $60,000 in damages to an ex-community leader who lost his job because of the blogger’s reporting — even though that reporting was accurate.


I’ve been doing a series of podcasts on legal education recently and I am doing a podcast tomorrow with a man in his mid-thirties who made a career change into law in his thirties – taking the full financial burden and risk which this entails.  This article from Legal Week, therefore, is of some interest to me..and is worth a read:

A fresh start – the growing band of professionals targeting law as a second career

I have noticed, with pleasure, that there are quite a few lawyers in the UK using twitter…not to broadcast, not to pump out bulletins about how good they or their firms are, but to take part.  David Allen Green, writing in The Lawyer today, has an interesting piece on Twitter…. Opinion: Twitter is more than just a fad, so don’t miss the boat

(I enjoyed being described as ‘sometimes surreal’.  Fair..and, probably, true..given the nonsense I sometimes write on twitter.)

And finally… I did enjoy this article by Alex Aldridge in The Guardian

Cherie Blair seeks ways to open up the law to working-class students

The Guardian: Widening access to the legal profession is not easy, but Blair has a message to convey: ‘If I can do it, so can you’

Well.. not quite finally… this rather unpleasant banker is worth a look at….

On the subject of bankers you may find this peice from Cory Doctorow interesting….

The Monster: the fraud and depraved indifference that caused the subprime meltdown

Banker suspended after Sunday Mirror challenges Deutsche Bank over £10 taunt to nurses and doctors

The Mirror: Mistaking medics chanting “Save Our NHS” and “No More Cuts” for an ­unemployed mob, he ­sneeringly mouths: “Get a job.” A laughing friend shares his sick joke.Last night the smirk was wiped off the banker’s face after the Sunday Mirror showed the picture to ­German giant Deutsche Bank in London.

Law Review: I appear to have committed a criminal offence in relation to the Census

I received the Census 2011 form through the post last week. Rather than waste even more time on this I decided to use the online form – which was extremely quick and far easier than faffing with the paper version which newspapers were reporting this morning had baffled 61% of the population.

Relying on the advice given on the Census 2011 online page…

You will be able to complete your census online questionnaire any time between 4 March and 6 May 2011

I completed my Census form online before Census Day on 27th March 2011.   (The paper form does state that one should fill the form in “on the 27th or as soon as possible afterwards.”)  It would appear that this advice is also wrong…. see:   Census (England) Regulations 2010, regulation 10)

Francis Davey, a practising barrister,  I now discover, is advising today in a blog post…

Don’t return your census form early

Briefly…I won’t bore you with the minutiae of Census law…. life is just too short… save for this….

10.—(1) Every prescribed person to whom a household pack has been delivered or on whose behalf delivery was taken under these Regulations must, on the day after census day or as soon after as is reasonably practicable—

Davey states:  ONS is simply wrong to suggest that early return is OK.  (This Census is governed by the Census (England) Regulations 2010, regulation 10)

Technically, filling in the Census form early  is a criminal offence under section 8 of the Census Act 1920.  Davey notes:  “There doesn’t appear to be, in the regulations or the act, any power for the ONS to disapply these provisions or vary when the census returns may be made.”


Have I been duped by The Office of National Statistics into committing a criminal offence by the advice given on their website? It would appear so.

What a curious state of affairs…. even more curious, arguably, than arranging for Lockheed Martin, an arms manufacturer, to conduct it on behalf of the government.

Am I bothered about being prosecuted? No.  Will I be prosecuted?  Surely not!   What if I am prosecuted…along with countless others?

Hahaha…. I think it would be a most amusing morning in court.  I shall arrange for Dr Erasmus Strangelove of leading City niche boutique firm Muttley Dastardly LLP to represent me.




EXCELLENT….  This from The United States…via @Windypundit

Census Form! Entrapment! Beware!

Postcard From The Staterooms: Chili con carne edition…..

I have taken to eating an excellent Chili con carne at Mazar, my  caff / restaurant of choice for breakfast and lunch,  in Battersea Square.  The problem I have is that when I find a meal I enjoy I tend to eat it to death until I can face no more.  I had some Chili con carne for breakfast the other morning – which raised a few eyebrows, but there we are.

I have no theme this week, so I shall write as I find….

How I Became a Fake Lawyer

This article from Big Legal Brain in the United States is my pick of the week.  Not only does it parody the social meedja law mavens beautifully, it addresses a very interesting issue about lawyers who use twitter to push a persona for the purpose of their professional work which may not be entirely ‘accurate’.  I urge you to read it, if only to enjoy some good writing and, if you can fit it into your billable day, allow yourself a laugh.

Flawging and other legal matters…
I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours this afternoon doing a podcast
with Antonin Pribetic, a Canadian trial lawyer and author of The Trial Warrior blog.  At the end of the podcast we talked about Twitter and the use by lawyers of social media generally and the issue of anonymity on the web. We shall return to theme theme of “Flawging” (as Antonin puts it) in a  future podcast.  In the meantime… read this if you want to know about “Flawging”: My Gift to the Social Media Law Marketers: The Flawg

On the subject of podcasts – I have done several this week and plan to podcast twice a week going forward during law term time.

#Without Prejudice – The Law Podcast 2: ECJ Insurance case – Women in the law – Sexism – Contempt of Court – Libel reform

This is the second of our new fortnightly Without Prejudice (recorded at The Staterooms with wine to improve our thinking?) series with Carl Gardner and David Allen Green.  Our guest this week was Catrin Griffiths, editor of The Lawyer.  David Allen Green managed to knock over a 400 year old Chinese bowl – a slight crashing sound was picked up by the microphone towards the end of the podcast.   The bowl didn’t break.  I could not resist telling him that it was a priceless Ming dynasty bowl of considerable value. (It was 400 years old, but not of considerable value)   Being an academic lawyer, my mind then turned to nervous shock litigation – but both bowl and David survived.

Other podcasts this week…

Legal Profession Lawcast (3): Suzanne Dibble, founder of Law4mumpreneurs

Legal Profession Lawcast (2): Neil Rose on ABS – Jackson – Funding – Regulation and the state of the profession today

UK lawyer admits in US trial to bribing Nigerian officials

The Guardian: Jeffrey Tesler pleaded guilty to two counts related to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a court in Houston, Texas

A London lawyer pleaded guilty on Friday to taking part in a huge international bribery conspiracy that lasted a decade.

Jeffrey Tesler, 62, who operated from shabby offices in Tottenham, north London, admitted helping to steer bribes worth more than $130m (£80m) to Nigerian officials and politicians to land big energy contracts.

He pleaded guilty to two counts related to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act when he appeared in a courtroom in Houston, Texas, on Friday.

The description ‘shabby’ in relation to offices caught my eye.

Unfortunately…I am not able to tell you about my quote of the week…

John Hemming MP used parliamentary privilege to reveal that Fred ‘The Shred’ Goodwin, late of the people’s favourite partly owned bank, RBS,  had obtained an injunction which was reported as preventing even the fact that he was a banker being reported on.  I have no idea if this is true.  I haven’t seen a copy of the ‘superinjunction’.  This allowed The Telegraph to use qualified privilege to report on ‘a proceeding of parliament’ and blow the secret.  Twitter then ran riot with Fred the Shred jokes (Fred ‘The Trended’ Goodwin?)  and some bloggers were unwise enough (arguably) to comment or speculate on the reasons for the injunction, it was reported.  I shall confine myself to simply reporting the fact that John Hemming MP did what he did and The Telegraph did what they did.

The Telegraph has gone for broke, however, with this….

Gagging order by Sir Fred cannot stop net chatter

The Telegraph: Judges are facing growing pressure to lift a super-injunction obtained by Sir Fred Goodwin amid speculation on the internet about the nature of the information he is trying to protect.

With libel reform coming (discussed in the Without Prejudice podcast this week) an a report on superinjunctions from Master of The Rolls, Lord Neuberger, on the immediate horizon these issues will, no doubt, be addressed.

Joshua Rozenberg weighs in…

When you can’t call Fred Goodwin a banker, whatever next?

The Guardian: Goodwin’s injunction to prevent him being identified as a banker raises questions about how much we should protect privacy

Briefly…before I go off on a ‘frolic of my own’ to less serious matters… this story in The Guardian is important on #metgate.  The net is closing in?

Murder trial collapse exposes News of the World links to police corruption

The Guardian: David Cameron hired Andy Coulson despite knowing that as editor he employed Jonathan Rees, who paid police for stories

I am a fan of all the legal newspapers. James Dean of The Law Society Gazette often comes up with stories which I enjoy reading and this story was a ‘Go to the top of the class and hand out the pencils job’….the comments are also amusing….

Lawyers are not just motivated by money

I extract one comment which I particularly enjoyed – extracting about half of the comment…

Ha ha!!

Submitted by Andrew Murphy on Fri, 11/03/2011 – 12:01.

Well thirty years working as a Conveyancer in a number of firms tells me something different. The Lawyers I have had the misfortune to come across have been very much motivated by money. They thought nothing of customer service. To them the clients they were buying houses for were just file numbers.

And I just had to end with this story from tomorrow’s Mail on Sunday….

Spending watchdog’s £4k travel expenses for a one minute walk from his hotel

The Mail on Sunday reports: The Quango chief charged with curbing wasteful public spending is being paid a £4,070-a-year ‘travel allowance’ – even though his daily commute is a one-minute walk between his office and a four-star hotel.

Have a good one…
Best, as always

Lawcast 180: Antonin Pribetic on Libel tourism, Freedom of Speech and social media

Today I am talking to Antonin Pribetic a Canadian trial and appellate  lawyer. Antonin Pribetic is committed to the Rule of Law and pursuit of Equal Access to Justice and combines practice with academe  teaching Advanced Legal Process at the University of Toronto.  Antonin is  the author of The Trial Warrior blog – a blog which I read regularly because of the bincisive and thought provoking analysis of legal issues common to the Canadian and English legal systems.

Topics covered: Quick overview of the Canadian legal system – Libel tourism – Freedom of Speech – Social Media and anonymity issues



And…thank you to Cassons For and  David Phillips & Partners Solicitors for sponsoring the podcast

Rive Gauche: Govt interference with legal profession and other matters…..

James Dean reports in the Law Society Gazette

Baroness Hayter said that the Legal Services Board, LSCP and Legal Ombudsman (LeO) have been told by the Ministry of Justice to take their websites offline and replace them with government-approved sites by 31 March.

Hayter said that the three bodies had been informed by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude of the move in October last year, sparking criticism from those involved. She said that LeO chair Elizabeth France complained to Maude, saying that ‘there was no justification for an ombudsman, set up to demonstrate independence from government regulation and the profession and spending no government money’, being forced to use the government’s .gov web address.

I was under the impression, wholly unjustified it would seem now, that the Tory-led farrago running our country was not in favour of top down control, was not in favour of the nanny state and wanted Big Society.  What possible justification can the government have, therefore, for encroaching on the independence of the Legal Ombudsman and other law quangos by requiring them to toe the line to the rather dull style and content of the government websites?  Why don’t these independent bodies demonstrate their independence by refusing to comply?  Or would that not be that handy when it comes to the annual dishing out the gongs ceremony?

Bad start for bill of rights

Afua Hirsch in The Guardian: If the Tories really want public engagement in the new review, why did they bury the last one?

Afua Hirsch’s article is interesting and worth a read. Another example of government lack of attention to detail?

The seven supposed members of this new commission, including Lib Dem peer Lord Anthony Lester, deny any knowledge of their appointment

The Prince’s Speech

Prince Andrew urged to undergo human rights awareness training

The Guardian: Foreign Office adviser says Duke of York’s close ties with autocracies ‘a classic case of unjoined-up government’

I would have thought that Prince Andrew could do with some Human awareness training.  I can’t remember which newspaper I saw it in… but there was a marvellous cartoon yesterday showing Prince Andrew at his computer looking at his Facebook page with the caption… “You have two new despots”

#Without Prejudice – The Law Podcast 2: ECJ Insurance case – Women in the law – Sexism – Contempt of Court – Libel reform

Tonight’s discussion: An analysis of the implications of the ECJ Insurance case – Women in the Law – Sexism – Contempt of Court – Libel Reform – And Catrin Griffiths talking about The Lawyer and new media, blogs and Twitter



You may find these blog posts and articles of interest for further analysis of the topics discussed.


Contempt of Court:

Libel reform:

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.

Legal Profession Lawcast (3): Suzanne Dibble, founder of Law4mumpreneurs

Today I am talking to Suzanne Dibble, a former City lawyer who has branched out on her own to set up Lawyers4mumpreneurs

I am an ex City lawyer who wants to enjoy flexibility of working whilst bringing up a young family. Does that sound familiar?

So after 12 years of working for a top City law firm and blue chip companies, I decided to set up my own legal services practice which allows me to work from home and plan my work to fit around my family. As a result of this process, I am passionate about helping other mothers in the same position as me, namely mums who have decided to set up their own business for the very same reasons. Hence Lawyers4Mumpreneurs was born!

We talk about Suzanne’s background as a City lawyer and then as an in0house lawyer before looking at her new venture running a virtual law firm using online technology and social media. We also discuss the reality of  ‘glass ceiling’ for women in the law.



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

Law Review: Judges in the news – Judges have to tackle difficult issues…and people

I would have thought that defaming a senior judge is not one of the more sensible activities for a newspaper editor to engage in but The Telegraph has apologised to Lord Justice Sedley….

The Lawyer reports:

The Daily Telegraph is to issue a formal apology to Lord Justice Sedley over a series of “professionally damaging” allegations which appeared in the paper last year.

The Daily Telegraph is to issue a formal apology to Lord Justice Sedley over a series of “professionally damaging” allegations which appeared in the paper last year.

It is extremely rare for a judge to launch libel proceedings, but this is the second time Sedley LJ has secured a newspaper apology. In 1996 The Independent was forced to public apologise to the then-High Court judge after it accused him of being politically partisan.

@Afuahirch of The Guardian has the link to the apology:

“popular Court of Appeal judge Stephen Sedley accepts apology from Telegraph 4 defamatory story″

Never let is be said that out judges simply sit all day in court…

Old Bailey hears how judge wrestled defendant to the floor

The Guardian: Court hears how Paul Reid’s alleged escape bid was thwarted by a double rugby-tackle from judge Douglas Marks Moore

Legal Profession Lawcast (2): Neil Rose on ABS – Jackson – Funding – Regulation and the state of the profession today

Today I am talking to Neil Rose of Legal Futures about the changing legal landscape in 2011. Legal Futures is the brainchild of Neil Rose, who has been writing about the Legal Services Act since its genesis in the OFT report of 2001. Neil is a highly experienced legal journalist, having spent 12 years working on the Law Society’s Gazette, latterly as Deputy Editor and including a lengthy spell as Acting Editor in 2007. A qualified solicitor, he went freelance in January 2008.



The Legal Futures Conference will take the temperature of the legal market as it hurtles towards its biggest ever shake-up. Almost exactly six months before the introduction of alternative business structures and outcomes-focused regulation, are lawyers striding into a brave new world, or going to hell in a handcart?
We have assembled an unparalleled line-up of regulators, practitioners, innovators and thinkers so that delegates can hear first-hand the opportunities and threats for the profession as a whole, practices and individual lawyers.

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

Postcard From The Staterooms: Sheikh Charon bin Quaffer Al-Charon reports……

Dear Reader,

I write this week from The Burj Al-Charon (as I have re-named my Staterooms for this report), probably the finest location in Battersea Square, but feet from the River Thames, with stunning views over the water to Chelski, owned, largely these days (I am told),  by Russian oligarchs and escaping North African dictators and their extended families.

Schadenfreude – the hypocrisy of the traditional academic establishment!
I’ve been involved in public and  private sector  legal education since 1979.  I remember only too well the lofty pronouncements of ‘leading academics’ from what are now called Russell Group universities, being critical of private education, expressing distaste that anyone would have to travel to foreign countries to drum up business.  As it happens, along with my then co-directors, my law school was given a Queen’s Award for Exports in 1982 and I spent an amusing and surreal evening at Buckingham Palace drinking Gin and Tonic with HM The Queen for about ten minutes. The Queen was astonishingly well informed, friendly and very easy to talk with, and I then had five minutes with the  then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who started talking about Roman-Dutch law on hearing that I was there because of our law school. This, I found rather curious given that Thatcher had qualified as a lawyer here under the common law system.

I also had a very surreal conversation with Willie Whitelaw who thought I made ejector seats for aircraft. Younger readers may like to see who he was? He didn’t seem to mind when I told him that I knew nothing about ejector seats.  Perhaps he thought it was par for the course for managing directors of Queen’s Award for Export winning companies to know nothing about their products? He kept on saying ‘well done, well done’ to me, laughing and saying he hoped no-one would ever actually need to use my product.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him, again, that we trained lawyers.   (I am pleased to be able to report that Whitelaw did, eventually, manage to find the arms dealers who were  at the Palace to collect their Queen’s Award for selling ejector seats.  God knows what he talked to them about.)

But… as Margaret Thatcher is reputed to have said… Everyone needs a Willie

Anyway…I digress. Today, you cannot travel to any country, repressive regime or just mildly corrupt regime like our own (See Bribery Act revisions and guidelines), without falling over academics rushing to get money from seriously rich plutocrats and self made dictators.  While I admire Sir Howard Davies, late of The Libya School of Economics, for ‘jumping’ the other morning; the truth of the matter is that most of our universities are up to their arm pits in financial dealings with people who, with hindsight, it may be better they weren’t in bed with.  The reason for this is remarkably simple.  We don’t (a) value education enough in this country to fund it through the tax payer entirely or (b) we are no longer a serious world power, a major world economy and we have, simply, not got the money to go it alone – so why not do as the rest of the world does and buy a long spoon and sup with the devil?  We can, at least, afford to design fund and manufacture a long spoon?

The Independent sums it up rather neatly…

Despots and academia: more scandals ‘likely’

And talking of despots and scandals….. I have written about Bradley Manning before and Wikileaks (and there may be no connection) and while I can’t fact check this report, Manning’s lawyer has reported in similar vein before.  This is rather disturbing… from the land of the free: Bradley Manning’s forced nudity to occur daily

Could you defend yourself in court?

In the wake of the BBC programme Silk and the Ministry of Justice’s best endeavours to minimise the inconvenient process of proper legal representation before imprisoning criminals (or not actually bothering to) by cutting legal aid – the BBC asks…….if you could defend yourself in court? You may well have to if you can’t pay the lawyers. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, is most exercised by this and has already pointed out that this could actually cost our country more because it will slow the whole process down and put even more pressure on judges who will, in effect, have to help litigants in person – who often haven’t a clue what they are doing, despite watching Silk, Rumpole et al. (and if they watch Silk… they could be in even bigger trouble on evidential and procedural issues – let alone cocaine use and nicking wigs from robe suppliers in Chancery Lane?).

The President’s Speech

If you haven’t seen this… it is definitely funnier than The King’s Speech...which wasn’t……

It is very good…..

Even though it is the weekend and I am exercising my rights under The European Convention to have free movement in bars and my right to drink as much as I wish… I did find this article from The Guardian of interest…..

Judges’ pensions: a matter of constitutional principle?

The Guardian: Judges pay nothing towards their comfortable retirement, as cost-cutting ministers are aware. But would change compromise their independence?

Foreign SecretaryWilliam Vague, The Duke of Edinburgh and HBH The Duke of Pork on a recent trip to The Gulf

On Russell Group universities… THINK £9000 p.a. ++  – they’ll all be in on the act soon… even, gawd help us…  those not in the elite group of universities like Exeter last week :-

This…is Exeter reports!

University playing down links to Gaddafi regime

UNIVERSITY of Exeter chiefs have sought to play down their links with Colonel Gaddafi and his regime in Libya in the wake of an uprising in the troubled country.

It has emerged that the university’s vice-chancellor Steve Smith met Gaddafi in 2003 in a bid to set up a £75m deal which would see British universities educate the next generation of Libya’s academics.

It also saw the two shake hands on a deal to set up the Exeter Centre for English in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

But the university has insisted that no money ever changed hands and plans for the centre were never followed up.

Taking the piss?

Well… I think it best to leave it there for this week… I shall write soon.

Best, as ever


Dr Erasmus Strangelove of Muttley Dastardly LLP is interviewed by LegalBrick Road… (It was billable)

Dr Erasmus Strangelove, Partner and Director of Education, Strategy and Psyops at Muttley Dastardly LLP is interviewed by Just Go Direct’s Legal Brick Road…. do not fear… it was chargeable….

“Law is a business like any other these days. We have the knowledge. You have the money. You give us the money. We give you the knowledge.”


Muttley Dastardly LLP (Episode 18): No repudiatory breaches with our client engagement letters


From:  Matt Muttley, managing partner

To:  Partners and fee earners


1. Perusing The Law Society Gazette this morning,  I came across a report of the ‘utmost importance’ and I write to ask all partners and fee earners to ensure that clients are ‘fully appraised’ of our terms and conditions in the letter of engagement.  I have asked Dr Erasmus Strangelove to address the issues raised by Mr Justice Cranston’s attack on our branch of the legal profession with the utmost haste.  I am advised that a revised ‘Letter of Engagement’ will be ready to send out to clients today enabling us to unilaterally vary our original terms of engagement with immediate effect.  Fortunately, we had the presence of mind to slip into Paragraph 4128(1)(c)(iii) of our Standard Terms of Engagement a right to unilaterally vary our contracts with clients at will and, even, on a whim.

2.  Mr Justice Cranston’s judgment

I urge you to read the report in The Law Society Gazette immediately (Another advantage is that this may well count for CPD points).  I quote from the most important and salient sections of this report:

Mr Justice Cranston dismissed an appeal brought by north London firm Cawdery Kaye Fireman & Taylor (CKFT), against a costs judge’s ruling that no fees were payable by their former client Gary Minkin after the firm refused to carry out more work until he had paid his bill.

The costs judge held that the firm’s refusal to continue to act without payment was a repudiatory breach of contract. He said the firm was not entitled to any costs, and had to refund all the fees that Minkin had paid so far, except for counsel’s fees.

Dismissing the firm’s appeal, Cranston said: ‘The outcome may seem harsh. But the fact is that it should have been made clearer in [the] retainer letter as to the nature of the engagement.’

He said the firm should have complied with the terms in its retainer letter and standard terms of business, and informed the client in writing that the costs estimate may be exceeded.

3.  You will note that some comfort may be taken from the passage “and informed the client in writing that the costs estimate may be exceeded.”

As we always plan to exceed our estimates, even under the new Platinum Service scheme where we take 150% of our fee on account, we are unlikely to run into ‘problematic issues’;  but it is our practice to be most observant on the matter of fees and cover the position and all eventualities, including force majeure and exclusion of act of god, death or other incapacity, when it comes to fulfilment by the client of the obligation to pay fees, disbursements and ‘uplifts’.

The idea that  refusal to carry out further work until fees are paid could amount to a repudiatory breach of contract on our part – and worse, having to repay fees –  is not just ‘harsh’, it is too awful to contemplate.

4.  The firm expects you to do your duty, this day

Matt Muttley

Strength & Honour

PS: has a most excellent piece on claiming CPD points by going skiing.  Taking the Piss or what?


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

Rive Gauche: “Sexual encounters have their ups and downs, their ebbs and flows” – Geoffrey Roberston QC at the Assange extradition.

Let’s kick off with Private Eye’s QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Sexual encounters have their ups and downs, their ebbs and flows.” – Geoffrey Robertson QC, speaking (for the defence) at Julian Assange’s extradition hearing

And then let’s really go dark…with Alex Aldridge’s piece in The Guardian:

Is there a cocaine culture at the criminal bar?

BBC drama Silk implies cocaine use is rife in the legal profession. But how accurate is that view?

I have, as it happens, watched both episodes of the BBC’s new drama about M’learned friends… Silk.  I have, to be honest, enjoyed the lawyers tweeting away on twitter (adversely, it has to be said) more than the drama itself.

Hat Tip to @BillfromBendigo

Cocaine rife? Bar humbug, say lawyers


(The pic on the left is from my F**kART series of paintings and other oddities.)

I shall leave the reviews of Silk to others.  Pink Tape has rather a good piece…. SILK – Purse or Sow’s Ear?

All I will say on this matter is that I did attend a meeting at 11.00 am some years ago where a young partner in a London  law firm did appear to talk remarkably quickly and seemed to be pleasingly receptive to a proposal which I was putting to him. He only had one biscuit – and it was fascinating to watch him eat it…chomping quickly.

And now… to more serious matters… potentially very serious!

Warning for bloggers and tweeters as newspapers found guilty of contempt of court

Adam Wagner, writing in the UK Human Rights blog, makes a few rather important points…

Attorney General v Associated Newspapers Ltd & Anor [2011] EWHC 418 (Admin) – Read judgmentFor the first time  a court in England has convicted two newspapers, the Daily Mail and the Sun, of contempt of court in breach of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, for the publication of a photograph relating to an ongoing criminal trial  on their websites.

The judgment contains an important warning for bloggers, tweeters and journalists who use instant news to report on criminal trials: ”instant news requires instant and effective protection for the integrity of a criminal trial“.

Continue Reading »

BPP Law School Fees announcement: From September 2011, BPP is giving its home students more flexibility around how they can pay for their studies. The following changes will be made to its law school programmes payment methods….

And it isn’t even Friday……

Who knows what tomorrow may bring..?  But I do rather fancy one of these golf carts…..

Law Review : Queens’ Council?! – Flipping burgers can make you a better lawyer?

I see, from Joshua Rozenberg’s article in The Guardian today, that our Ministry of Justice disgraced itself on the matter of the QC appointments.  Perhaps they were too busy slashing away with their machetes at legal aid practitioners storming the barricades to get it right….?

Rozenberg has the story...”The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) found itself pretty much at sea on Tuesday when it named the newly appointed Queen’s counsel. It described them as “Queens’ council”, thus spelling both words wrongly. This was corrected after I had pointed it out on Twitter. But the ministry still listed the new senior lawyers alphabetically rather than in order of seniority, thus diminishing the achievements of those at the very bottom of the list who – having achieved the coveted rank early in their careers – must now be tipped for the very top of their profession.

The MoJ also failed to indicate which of the successful applicants for silk were barristers and which were solicitors. Nor did it list the inns of court of which the new barristers were members, making it harder to draw up the traditional league tables.

There but for the grace of god go I…. Swearing sailor who launched foul-mouthed rants at TV’s Question Time is jailed for upsetting neighbours

The Bizzle writes: How flipping burgers can make you a better lawyer


Lawcast 179: Peter Groves talks with me about his new Dictionary of Intellectual Property Law

Did you know what a Trundlehumper is? No, nor did I….but I do know now because it is one of over 1000 terms defined in Dr Peter Groves’ excellent new Dictionary of Intellectual Property Law.

Today I am talking to solicitor and law blogger Dr Peter Groves, an intellectual property specialist,  about his extraordinary new dictionary on intellectual property and his thoughts on the ever changing legal landscape for IP lawyers.


Peter Groves has his own website Ipso Jure – worth a read if you are in the intellectual property field (or thinking of going into it)

You may, of course, buy the book from Wildy & Sons.  If they don’t have it in stock (Amazon was already out of stock when I looked) Wildy’s are very efficient at ordering and sending out.

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd (28 Feb 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1849807779
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849807777

And…thank you to for sponsoring the podcast

Law Review: Bravo! The Indie didn’t break this story – Anna Raccoon did !

Peeking Behind the Curtain.

The Independent has ‘a’ story… but it is NOT their story.  It is Anna Raccoon’s story…

Mea Culpa! I have long been guilty of boring you all to a state of near death with my tales of the Court of Protection. There was method in my cruelty. I shall not make you suffer much longer – my task is almost complete.

The task I had set myself was to campaign effectively for the Court of Protection to open its doors to public scrutiny, for justice to be seen to be done. More than that, for the legal profession to have adequate access to the ratio that lay behind prior decisions to be able to competently contest those decisions. Our entire legal system rests on lawyers understanding how and why the law has developed in the hands of judges. Without that knowledge they are blindfolded – and without informed legal advice there can be no effective representation in any court….

If you have time.. please read what Anna Raccoon said and go back in her posts….. She did it and she is right to have done so. It really is an important legal story.


Update: I have decided to provide the link to The Indie story..… but it would have been  better if the journalist had Googled ‘Stephen Neary’ before writing his piece..  he may just have found out that others had done some spade work before his story yesterday?  Acknowledgement costs nothing..and attribution is all?

Anna Raccoon states clearly in her blog post: “The court was told that the Uxbridge Gazette, Private Eye, and ‘other publicity’ had already raised the profile of the case. No other media outlet had been prepared to touch it.”

Am I being unfair to the journo? My email address is here if I am

I covered Anna Raccoon’s story at the time: Law Review: Words fail me – a truly shocking story – please read and publicise

Rive Gauche: Aujourd’hui, je suis français et je suis fumeur de Gauloises et de boire du vin rouge… bien sur…beaucoup!

Bonjour dans Les Staterooms … aujourd’hui, je suis français et je suis fumeur de Gauloises et de boire du vin rouge… bien sur…beaucoup!

I rather lost the will to live today after reading the judgment of The European Court of Justice on the insurance gender issue.  Fortunately, there is sensible coverage of this on The UK Human Rights Blog.

I am very happy to write without fee about almost anything .. but even I must draw a line in the sand somewhere….so I won’t be covering it..and will leave it to others (supra)…..(whether they describe the judgment as ‘bonkers’ or not)……save to shoehorn in a bit of whiplash claim and Injury claims for a friendly client who is sponsoring my free materials for students on Insite Law – which I do appreciate.

I spent part of my afternoon,  before self prescribing some quite enjoyable claret,  pondering on Monsieur Assange’s forthcoming trade mark application to protect the use of the word ‘Assange’.

And this led me…given how my mind works on occasion… to put this question on twitter….

Has anyone put in an application to trade mark the word *Fuckwit*? I’m not that busy at the moment.. time on my hands 🙂

@db1957 caused me to reflect with his response…which…I feel sure has much merit:

@Charonqc *Fuckwit* can you trademark a word when 650 prats at Westminster could claim prior use?

Anyway…. inspired by another tweet response.… before I make a complete assange of myself… on to other matters….

James Dean, writing in the Law Society Gazette, reports: Olympic pro bono service launches

Solicitors and barristers are being asked to provide free legal advice to participants in The London 2012 Olympic Games, as a new pro bono service was unveiled today.

The Law Society, the Bar Council and the British Association for Sport and Law have launched The London 2012 Pro Bono Legal Advice and Representation Service, which will provide advice to accredited athletes, coaches, team officials, National Olympic Committees, National Paralympic Committees and International Federations participating in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

So… when some hapless runner completes the 100 metres final in 4 seconds, fuelled on ecstasy or some other banned substance, it will be good to know that  Gold winning lawyers in England & Wales  will be available to assist by way of representation…… and don’t forget the *injury claims*….

AND…for there must be an end.. this excellent piece highlighting a conversation which Assange had with the Editor of Private Eye… – a very interesting read.

Assange goes off deep end – blaming Jews and Guardian in Private Eye

au revoir

Le Charon (Patent pending)

Law Blog Review: New QCs – Scottish Criminal appeals to the UK Supreme Court? – Libya

The UK Human Rights Blog from 1 Crown Office Row continues to provide good analysis of human rights law with their recent round up:  Even the judges are getting angry

A very comprehensive review of recent caselaw and discussion in blogs, podcasts and the press.

“I hear the QC appointments are due out at the beginning of March,” said TheCreep at chambers tea yesterday.

“Do you think they’ll finally take sympathy on UpTights?” said OldSmoothie.

“It’s about time,” said BusyBody. “She’s been applying for years.”

BabyBarista wonders about Abolishing QCs on this day when the new QCs are announced.  The Lawyer reports: Clifford Chance’s Popham becomes honorary QC as 120 take silk

The judges are worried….Queen’s Counsel experienced in criminal law diminish and ultimately disappear, it will have serious implications at both ends of the profession. Those with ambition and talent who are seeking to enter the profession are likely to avoid criminal work and to look to specialise in other areas.”

Exclusive: Secret attempt to end appeals in Scots courts

The HeraldScotland reports: ” THE Scottish Government has expressed concern after Advocate General Lord Wallace secretly tabled clauses to the Scotland Bill to move appeals for Scottish criminal cases to the UK Supreme Court. The move could end centuries of tradition of appeals being held in Edinburgh.”

While civil matters in Scotland may be heard by way of final appeal in the UK Supreme Court, criminal appeals have been heard in Scotland and the UK Supreme Court does not deal with these appeals.  The HeraldScotland notes: “The Coalition Government is expected to unveil plans that may usurp the High Court of Justiciary as the ultimate court of appeal in criminal cases.”

Scots judges, of course, sit as Justices of The UK Supreme Court and many Scots judges, Lord Reid, to name but one, made a significant contribution to the law of the United Kingdom in The House of Lords. I have fond memories of Dorset Yacht Co Ltd v Home Office [1970] AC 1004 from my days as a law student. The Wikipedia entry notes…”He was one of very few men to be appointed a Law Lord straight from the Bar, without any intervening judicial experience.”

The Scots won’t like this idea…but is it such a bad idea? Perhaps my Scots lawyer friends and fellow bloggers and tweeters can cast light to my English law based darkness on this matter?

The HeraldScotland reports: Former High Court judge Lord McCluskey said: “This is a substantial constitutional issue. Generations of lawyers have practised Scots law in the belief that Scottish courts were the final court of appeal.”

However, Paul McBride QC, a member of the working group that examined the proposals, said: “It is a very sensible move. If people do not want appeals being heard outside Scotland, then they should not support the European Convention on Human Rights. It is also important to note that Scottish judges sit on the UK Supreme Court.”

Lallands Peat Worrier is on the money with this observation on the ‘issue’…

There are a number of stratagems which the villainous might devise to trample over the integrity of ancient Scottish institutions and impose Union-uniformity where once flourished independence and diversity. Making those plans generally available by publishing them freely online does not, I dare say, cut a particularly Machiavellian caper when it comes to the sensitive art of Union statecraft.  It robs the mischief of all finesse. It suspends suspense.

Justiciary? Supreme? Hyslop’s is/ought guddle…

And another one… Eighth resignation in day of turmoil: McGovern resigns over Society “gagging”

While English lawyers question the value of The Law Society of England & Wales (I shall return to this issue at another time) members of The Scottish Law Society Council appear to be resigning on a regular basis….

The Firm has the story.

AND finally…  The Guardian…

Libya’s rulers must know crimes against humanity will be punished

While Cameron, using prose more suited to an American politician, called for Gaddafi to go…and threatens military action – action which may well not be supported by his Lib-Dem chums? – I cannot help but wonder why we don’t take the same stance, for example, with the Chinese in Tibet, Mugabe in Zimbabwe, The Iranians….. and quite a few more regimes around the world……

The Americans, of course, are not keen for the mercenaries killing people in Libya to be indicted and sent to the ICC.  That would set a very awkward precedent.

US’ immunity for Libya mercenaries aim to protect American war criminals

Law Review: The judges do have a lot to say……


What we have said about the value of leading counsel leads on to a further and deeper concern. There is a reluctance among junior advocates practising in criminal law to apply for silk. The reason given by them is that they see no future for Queen’s Counsel in publicly funded criminal work. This is a serious problem. There needs to be sufficient incentive for Queen’s Counsel to undertake such work, since otherwise there will be insufficient incentive for junior barristers and solicitor advocates with higher court rights in the field of criminal law to apply for appointment as Queen’s Counsel. If the ranks of

Queen’s Counsel experienced in criminal law diminish and ultimately disappear, it will have serious implications at both ends of the profession. Those with ambition and talent who are seeking to enter the profession are likely to avoid criminal work and to look to specialise in other areas. Over time, this will have adverse effects on the availability of skilled representation for prosecutors, defendants and on the efficiency of the trial process. Just as worryingly, it will reduce the pool of candidates suitable for appointment to the bench as criminal judges.



A most interesting document….. I don’t really need to comment on this.  Some lawyers will read it…. but will anyone else?  Will Government bother to read it?  Yes… but will they take any notice of it? Only time will tell….and there was a time when I would have been able to say… that government probably would take notice rather than leave the answer to the ‘effluxion of time’ to find out the answer.


There is a lot more in this paper than the extract on Criminal Law above…. far more…and all of it of value to the legal landscape of our future ….

Document Dated 11 February 2011.