This… from The White Rabbit.. I like!

The rabbit was hopping down High Holborn this lunchtime after returning from a visit to the Big House aka Her Majesty’s Prison Feltham when he spotted the above young lady with her billboard. Just in case it’s not clear to all from the pic it reads:
ARE YOU LOOKING
FOR A MOTIVATED
AMBITIOUS, TALENTED
LEGALLY TRAINED
EMPLOYEE?
APPLY HERE TODAY
It struck me that for a qualified lawyer (her name is Annie and she is an Australian qualified lawyer who spent a number of years in the New South Wales Attorney-General’s Office) to be standing in the street with a billboard looking for work is (a) a sign of the times (b) a sign of optimism and (c) shows guts.

Soooooo …. A rabbit appeal is in order. Any lawyer reading this and needing a  paralegal should get in touch with Annie at e-mail annie_sobby@live.com.au – she said it was okay for me to put her e-mail addy up here. Or contact the rabbit via e-mail addy on my profile page. I have a cv for her that can be scanned and e-mailed. Like all sensible people she is presently based in Croydon. And no, I have never met her before and do not expect to meet her again.

Read more…. at The White Rabbit…. in fact…. always a good idea to read The White Rabbit!

Letter from The Staterooms

Dear Reader

The clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in and we head towards the season I enjoy most – Winter.

RollonFriday.com runs with the story this week: Exclusive: bids thought to be in for College of Law, and MBO on the cards
28 October 2011: Rumours are circulating that the College of Law is about to be flogged off to its own management.

While RollonFriday runs amok with a mocked up pic of CEO, Nigel Savage – no doubt to the amusement of BPP law School et al – I am not sure that RoF is right on this one.  A management buyout of a law school said to have an annual turnover of £75 million will command a fairly hefty acquisition price.  I covered this story some time ago.  The College of Law, as RollonFriday reported, continues to assert ““the situation has not changed since our statement was issued and the College’s strategic review is still ongoing

We shall see, but I suspect that it will be private equity or one of the big publishers in the frame to acquire if The College of Law decides on a sale – Pearson?  Thomson Reuters ?  Lexis-Nexis?.  It will be interesting to see what happens.

In the meantime – someone is keeping themselves amused with a spoof @ProfNigelSavage on twitter.  Now… I wonder who that could be?  I have my suspicions.

Before I head off into other realms- I thought it worth referring to two interesting posts from the UK Human Rights blog:  Is the Attorney General right on prisoner votes and subsidiarity? – Dr Ed Bates  | A grown-up speech on human rights reform

And.. it being a Sunday, that is probably enough hard law for today.

And, talking of ‘other realms’ – this wonderful nonsense from The Guardian caught my eye…

MI5 inquiry into Russian ‘spy’ was ‘Inspector Clouseau not George Smiley’

The Guardian: Lawyer for Katia Zatuliveter, the former lover of MP Mike Hancock, tells Siac hearing Home Office case was ‘amateurish’

As I head, inexorably…ineluctably even, towards 60 – I was amused by a story in The Observer this morning that Britons regard old age as starting at 59.  I have worked on the principle that while we may well grow older, we don’t necessarily grow wiser.  The Greeks take the view that old age starts at 68.  I shall continue with the delusion that I shall  only be old when I am dead – it seems to work for me and, I suspect, for many.

I used the word Vapid on twitter last night and a fellow tweeter responded…

I have another three words beginning with *V* which may usefully be employed to those who have watched the film Wall Street too many times…. Venal, Vacuous and Vulpine.

While I have found it difficult to grasp a coherent theme among the protesters at St Paul’s (at times) in the #OccupyLsx protest – I did enjoy Andrew Rawnsley’s piece in The Observer today and agree that they are certainly drawing attention to a widely held feeling of anger and irritation directed at the irresponsibility of bankers – and government to regulate bankers – and the insensitivity of some companies in declaring substantial pay rises for CEOs of companies which aren’t actually performing that well.

The protesters seem more adult than politicians and plutocrats

Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer: With a few nylon tents and some amateurish banners, the Occupy movement has rattled the establishment

Matthew 21:12

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves…

And… I leave you this week with this from The Daily Mail

BBC staff are trained on correct way to announce death of Queen in bid to avoid another embarrassing gaffe

Best, as always
Charon

Rive Gauche: Rants and What fills that awkward hour between evensong and cocktails?

Life can get in the way of amusement and blogging on occasion – but, fortunately, I now have time to have a look about and see what is happening in the legal world.

I am not a fan of mavenry, “Top this and that lists” and awards on social media – A ‘painting’ I did some time back in my F*ckart series sums up my attitude to awards dispensed for legal blogging et al.   I’m all for promoting law blogging – and both Legal Week and The Lawyer are doing this well –  but I see no need to have prizes.  I had a minor  rant on twitter this morning about the  “Blog Post of the Week” feature in the weekly round up of blogs done by David Allen Green in The Lawyer.  David’s review this week draws attention to some interesting blogs.  Legal Cheek puts iron into irony  – rightly taking the mickey about my rant   – with this post.  15-Love to Mr Aldridge!

Dr Erasmus Strangelove, senior partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP emailed me this morning….

Charon…

I am pleased to announce that Muttley Dastardly LLP will be launching a new award – Maven of The Week.  As I am too busy billing (indeed we are all too busy at MD LLP) would you be kind enough to keep an eye on things…. for a fee, naturally, which we will be more than happy to satisfy after a suitable 75% ‘haircut’ and re-schedule to 2017 for settlement.

Best

Dr Erasmus Strangelove LLB, BCL, Ph.D, DAGCMG (and Bar)

Senior Partner, Muttley Dastardly LLP
Quondam legal meedja correspondent for The Loftlagger’s Weekly

I was reminded by a fellow tweeter about a post I did some time ago in relation to ‘reviews’….I shall quote the relevant section:

I happened to be on Twitter exchanging tweets with @ntheowl who was complaining about having to do a book review.  I suggested that he use Sir Maurice Bowra’s famous aphorism which I paraphrase…“Be sure… I shall lose no time at all in doing so” when asked to review a colleague’s latest work.  @ntheowl responded with… “‘I cannot begin to say how useful this book is …’ This prompted me to look up Sir  Maurice Bowra in Wikipedia.  He was known for his wit…. I particularly like this aphorism which resonates with “Englishness”… “Buggery was invented to fill that awkward hour between evensong and cocktails.”

Anyway… all done in the best possible taste and not to be taken seriously…. so to more sensible matters – albeit briefly.. and as I was unable to Eyes Only yesterday – put a few blog posts and newspaper articles  I have enjoyed reading this week before you:

Legal Week:  ‘He’s a human rights lawyer, you know’ – barrister Adam Wagner on what drew him to a career in human rights law

Anna Raccoon casts a caustic eye over the OccupyLsx occupation at St Pauls:

The Occupy UK shower have done their best, there was always a delicious irony in their making their bed in the guest accommodation of the wealthiest ‘corporation’ in Britain and certainly the one that pays the lowest rate of taxation, whilst protesting against ‘capitalism’; but all credit to them for forcing the caring sharing happy clappy Church of England to reveal that their concern for equality and the poor ‘they are very welcome to stay’ only lasted until the moment that worship at the altar of Mammon, in the form of the temple traders, shop and restaurant, was suffering a downturn in projected profits. ‘It is with great regret’ etc…

Read: Lord of the Flies Beds Down in Animal Farm.

And I did enjoy Lucy Reid’s review of The UK Supreme Court : Super Supreme – and The Guardian’s short film interview with five of the Supreme Court Justices.

Apart from Legal Week, The Lawyer and The Law Society Gazette, Neil Rose’s Legal Futures is another good source for keeping up to date with developments in the legal profession: Clients “will head to brands” but independent lawyers can still forge a future

Dominic Grieve takes on the European court of human rights

The Guardian: Under government plans, countries would not only implement human rights law but interpret it – and decide if they complied

I’m doing a Without Prejudice ‘Special’ with Carl Gardner of Head of Legal blog over the weekend to cover some fascinating developments in the law – including the proposals for mandatory sentences.  I’ll pop back later this evening, hopefully, with some more Rive Gauche….

AND Finally.. this is extraordinary…

Barrister ‘sent sexy texts to client’s girlfriend during case’

The Telegraph: A criminal appealed his conviction after he discovered that the barrister defending him was sending “sexual” text messages to his girlfriend during the case.


Not enough people are catching Eboli… so NHS waiting times for that are down !

The rains came to London today.  I enjoy rainy grey days.   I also enjoy wasting time by watching Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday and the analysis on Daily Politics.

I sometimes wonder why I enjoy it.  Simple pleasures? Today’s PMQs was particularly simple – and Mr Miliband was invisible – as he often is.

But… I am not a political pundit… for that you need to do a search on Google under *Beserkers* or *Shield Munchers*… that should sort a few links for you to follow.

Back later with some law….

Law Review: No rooms at The Inn and what makes a good lawyer?

“The number of students who want to become barristers shows little sign of diminishing with 3,100 applicants to the Bar Professional Training Course (BTPC) in 2010/2011 and 3,016 in 2011/2012. In 2010/2011 1,618 students successfully enrolled on the BTPC”

With a steady downward trend in the number of pupillages over the past ten year – 456 first six pupillages recorded for October 2010-September 2011 – it is surprising that the number of BPTC enrolments remains so high. Interestingly, The Guardian reports that UK university applicants drop by 12% before tuition fee rise. Will this trend feed through to law?  I suspect not.

As Zoe Saunders, a family barrister at St John’s Chambers, notes in a most interesting article in The Lawyer today…

I presume that any student who signs up to the swingeing BTPC course fees really does want to become barrister rather than using the BPTC as a bizarrely expensive way of moving on to do something else.

The article is a good read if you are considering a career at the Bar.

Paul Gilbert has a subtle article in The Lawyer today – a very interesting perspective on What makes a great lawyer?

This is hard…after all, after the law degree, law school, training, qualifying, trying to make your way, putting up with partners behaving like four-year-olds and working your socks off…of course it should be about you!

…But it isn’t.

It’s not really even about what you know. Obviously you have to know a great deal about the law; your technical skill set is precious and important and is your ticket to play; but it doesn’t make you a great lawyer.

It’s not about who you work for either…having a successful letterhead to write on is an advantage, might open doors, might do some of the early hard yards in helping you build your personal credentials – but at the end of the day it is just a letterhead and does not make you a great lawyer.

So what does?…

Read more to find out…

 

Viscount Monckton – funniest thing Lord Shagger has seen all weekend…

shagger24oct11Charon

I know you are busy planning your absurd Van Rouge tour – but… please… take a minute or two out of your busy schedule to watch this marvellous satire film from Australia about fellow peer Lord Monckton, a UKIP chap (apparently head of research – whatever that means in UKIP terms) …..most amusing.

Aussie film clip where Lord Monckton is mistaken for Sacha Baron Cohen !  CLASS!  A must watch.. if you have the time

And, it would appear that  The House of Lords is none too keen on him saying he is a member of the House of Lords…. he is not, they say.  Mind you… nor am I.  I got my peerage for services… well… too modest to say…

Best

Shagger

***

I posted this some years ago – but I thought I should and would ‘revive it’.

The Lawyer Blog Review #1 with David Allen Green is out!

David Allen Green writes in The Lawyer: “Why should you bother with legal blogging?  Why not just stick with the trade journals, case reports, Westlaw updates, free promotional emails, and any legal news in the newspapers?  Why add to the burden of reading?  Surely there is enough legal information?…”

As always with DAG – a good read

 

I am delighted that The Lawyer and Legal Week are taking an interest in law blogging – bringing blogs to the attention of a wider (and professional) audience.

I have enjoyed doing a review of law blogs this week. Good to see so many blogs on law in an excellent state of health… long may it continue.

Part 1 and Part 2 | Part 3

I’ll be  having a look at law blogs each week in *Eyes Only* – but not at the same scale as this week’s ‘monsters’.

Eyes Only – What the law blogs are up to this week (Part 3)…

The Law Society Gazette: Private equity buys into QualitySolicitors

“QualitySolicitors has agreed a funding deal which marks the first major investment by private equity in the high street legal market, the Gazette can reveal.

Pan-European private equity house Palamon Capital Partners has invested a ‘significant’ sum in QS. The agreement will see it gain a majority shareholding in the company, though it will not have a stake in the law firms which are franchise members….”

Read more…

Dr Erasmus Strangelove, senior partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP,  was much taken by the news today that private investors are buying into Quality Solicitors;  so much so – not one to miss an opportunity to add to the prosperity of The Partners – he will launch a new ‘Brand’ on Monday:  The SS – SeriousSolicitors.

And so… back to the world of the law blogs.

First up a new blog by Paul Bernal Lecturer in Information Technology, Intellectual Property and Media Law at the University of East Anglia: The Symbiotic Web blog – a blog specialising in privacy, autonomy human rights and the web. I am not anonymous.  I may be pseudonymous.. but Paul Bernal draws attention to important issues in his latest blog post – Privacy is personal…

With my surreal plan to tour the UK next year in a van and live in a tent, I won’t have too much need to consider the finer points of housing law – but for those who do, Nearly Legal – a specialist Housing Law blog – is a very useful resource: Turning up is usually the best idea.

Not housing law, but Landlord & Tenant law, long time blogger, solicitor Tessa Shepperton, provides insight into an issue which may well come to be a problem for many landlords as the financial gloom continues: How can I evict my non paying tenants?

OF LAW AND LIBERTY

“Every law is an infraction of liberty.”
Jeremy Bentham

It always struck me as ironic when I was teaching Jurisprudence some years ago that Jeremy Bentham – Exhibit A and stuffed in a glass case at University College London – English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer, enjoyed a sideline in prison design.

Wikipedia informs: “The Panopticon is a type of building designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late eighteenth century. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without them being able to tell whether or not they are being watched.”

And with that… a smooth segue to The Panopticon blog: A blog about Information Law, maintained by 11 KBW’s  Information Law Practice Group, led Timothy Pitt-Payne QC and Anya Proops.  I like the style of using a ‘ripping header’ to attract attention.  The Panopticon blog does just that with this post and admits to the ‘wheeze’ : THE IDENTITY OF JACK THE RIPPER

And since I am a segue kind of a guy…. over to Inforrm’s blog – a very useful port of call on media law  – where they consider this week: News: “Press Regulation” – the Lord Chief Justice steps into the debate and Judgment: Trafigura v Guardian News and Media

Former practising barrister Amanda Bancroft insists that she is not a law blogger.  Could have fooled me – because her Beneath The Wig blog does a pretty good job of dissecting some of the more troublesome legal issues.  I’ll provide an example to support my case: It’s not just ‘them’, it’s you and me too. I’m delighted that Amanda will be a regular on our Without Prejudice podcasts.

Continuing obliquely with the information theme, solicitor Michael Scutt has an employment law blog (Jobsworth)  – but he is also the founder of UK Blawg Roundup – a quarterly review of UK law blogs.

Nothing Like The Sun is a new law blog by Francis FitzGibbon QC of Doughty Street Chambers.  It is good to see more practising lawyers taking up law blogging.  This can only add to the richness and variety of FREE analytical material for lawyers and non-lawyers available on the web.   In the light of recent riots, I enjoyed reading his blog post: The Scarman Report – 30 Years On

Alex Aldridge, a journalist specialising in law and education, has his own blog and, pleasingly, has taken up podcasting – Round my kitchen table: Tesco law – stacking shelves by night, giving legal advice by day?
David Allen Green, a practising solicitor, blogger and a journalist who writes for The New Statesman and The Lawyer on a weekly basis is particularly analytical when it comes of dissecting troublesome legal issues.  An  amusing example of the genre from his Jack of Kent blog :Breaking the law alone in a room

INDEPENDENCE

A spirit, breathing the language of independence, is natural to Englishmen, few of whom are disposed to brook compulsion, or submit to the dictates of others, when not softened by reason, or tempered with kindness.
Joseph Lancaster

One of the advantages of law blogging is speed.  Bloggers can often get onto a topic more quickly than traditional media.  We can also provide an independent perspective, particularly bloggers writing in a private capacity.  We are not constrained by the dictates of a law firm’s ethos or a newspaper’s political inclination.

As to the quotation above – being a Scot, I do not regard ‘the language of independence’ as the sole prerogative of ‘The Englishman’: Nor, indeed, would Alec Salmond.

So with that said… time to look at a few blogs from the land where the Romans did not dare go… for long.

ALBA: Alba is the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland.

While the blue and white saltire is the first flag of Scotland  – “There is a second flag which is associated with Scotland, the “Rampant Lion”, or Royal Flag of Scotland. Although based on an older Scottish flag than the St. Andrew’s Cross, it should, strictly speaking, now only be used by the monarch in relation to her capacity as Queen in Scotland¹. However, it is widely used as a second national flag.”

I like both flags.. and, in fact, have a Saltire to hand at the Staterooms should I have the need to wave it at any ‘Englishmen‘  who get ‘above their station’ with me!

A few (more to come in future weekly editions of Eyes Only) blogs from Scotland…

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

Ian Hamilton QC  – ‘a drunk man looks at the thistle’ is always worth a read even if you know nothing about law…. Typical of the genre: LAZARUS COLLEGE OXON

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

And from a previous Blawg Review I did.. these blogs from Scotland are also of interest…

Technollama has this warning! The Internet is dangerous

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

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

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

Well, let me help…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General updating on Scots Law: Casecheck

I mentioned Lallands Peat Worrier in Part 1 – but that does not mean I cannot mention his enjoyable blog again!

And.. if you need to know everything about SNOW and the correct pronunciation of SCONE… there is, frankly, not better place than LoveandGarbage.

BREAKING: Snow White fails to name all of dwarves

And.. on that high note… I shall end Part 3… which gives me a chance tomorrow morning to do Part 4…

Fear not if I have not mentioned your blog.  I am doing a weekly Eyes Only and I will, ineluctably, cover your blog in time.  If you think that i am not aware of your blog – please do not hesitate to contact me by email

***

Part 1 and Part 2 of Eyes Only – What the law blogs are up to this week…

Eyes Only – What the law blogs are up to this week (Part 2)…

“It would help if government ministers did not cheer when they agreed with a judicial decision or boo when they disagreed with it. That I think is damaging.”

Lord Judge, Lord Chief Justice
The Guardian 19th October 2012

It has always struck me as rather odd when  politicians, frequently Home Secretaries, say they are ‘disappointed’ with a judgment.   More of this later.

In the meantime… Dr Erasmus Strangelove, senior partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP, has written to me asking if he may express a few thoughts on this second part of my review of UK law blogs.  It would be most inelegant to refuse his request, particularly as the handwritten note was accompanied by a rather pleasing case of Rioja.  Unlike Mr Djanogly  (See Part 1 Eyes Only below), I make full disclosure on this blog….when I remember to.

STATEMENT FROM DR ERASMUS STRANGELOVE
SENIOR PARTNER MUTTLEY DASTARDLY LLP

1.  Following the tragic death of Matt Muttley  in July when he demonstrated to some high net worth clients how tough the glass was in his fifth floor office by crashing through it to his death, I take great pleasure in being able to address the law bloggers of the British Isles.

2.  The legal profession is going through a period of great change.  The high streets are soon to be overrun by  lawyers wearing McDonalds style branded uniforms seeking legal work.  People will marvel at how easy it is to sue their fellow man when they can nip into the Co-op, pick up their tins of beans at one end of the shop and find a lawyer by the checkout holding an iPad and asking “Would you like to try one of our wills?  Perhaps, a quick divorce would suit you, Sir? Fancy a bit of whiplash action… No Fee, No Win?”

3.  We at Muttley Dastardly LLP will continue to offer our bespoke service, blending the elegance expected of City lawyers with an opacity in relation to fees which many marvel at. There may well be many opportunities under the Legal Services Act that will appeal to many; especially those commentators, pundits, mavens and gurus who get off on ‘commoditisation of legal services’, ‘engaging on social media’ but secretly hoping that twitter followers will suffer some unfortunate tragedy requiring their services and the few who spend their nights dreaming of ‘procurecos and ABS opportunities’. We shall not be joining them

4. I am pleased to announce that I spent two months learning Mandarin so that I will be able to lead Muttley Dastardly LLP into partnership with our new best friends in China.  Frankly, the Yanks have become a bit of a liability with their whackjob Tea Party nonsense and Europe is rapidly turning into a basket case.  As we say in our Corporate division – ‘Beware of Greeks bearing IOUs’. All our new trainees are required to be fluent in Mandarin, or even better, actually be Mandarins. Our presence in China will give our friends in the Middle Kingdom an opportunity to blend their own cunning with ours to the advantage of both parties.

I propose a toast to our new opportunities in Cathay and to the health of our prosperous new clients out there… in Mandarin…  yĭn drink + shèng victory, success.. and for our other new best friends in Hong Kong… we haven’t forgotten you… in Cantonese 饮 胜
Dr Erasmus Strangelove
Senior Partner, Muttley Dastardly
London – Beijing

Strength & Profits

***

I fear that it would be inelegant to include any law bloggers with Dr Erasmus Strangelove’s contribution lest they feel slighted – so I shall publish it as a stand alone contribution to the world of law blogging

Back on the morrow with Part 3 of EYES Only – What the law blogs are up to this week…

(See Part 1 Eyes Only below)

Eyes Only – What the law blogs are up to this week (Part1)…

I thought I would start with something for all the Apple fanbois out there. 

I am grateful to John Bolch at Family Lore for bringing this excellent nonsense to my attention.    Siri – where can I find a blow job

As this is supposed to be a review of law blogs in the UK and Ireland, it is probably a good idea for me to shoehorn some prefatory law into the blog post, if only to set the context.

Many of us have been entertained in recent weeks by the Tory shield munchers (or beserkers as I now refer to them) who rule over us.  Theresa  May’s #Catflapgate earned the derision of Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke who described her example of the Human Rights Act in operation – and she was not making it up – as ‘laughable and childlike’.  We have just seen GOD – or Gus O’Donnell as he is sometimes known, having to remind government ministers that there are rules about conflict of interest which have to be followed and the departure of Liam Fox.   A damoclean sword hangs over Chris Huhne as he awaits the result of an inquiry into his alleged  ‘speeding offence’ antics.

And just when I thought that the next stunt  our revered Prime Minister Camcorderdirect would pull out of the hat  would be raising Chris ‘Kill a Burglar’ Grayling from the political dead to amuse those of us in the stalls  …along comes Mr Djanogly, Minister of Justice responsible for failing to understand the rules:

Justice minister stripped of powers

The Guardian reports: Ken Clarke to take charge after Djanogly failed to declare family interest in claims management companies

Taxi for Mr Djanogly?: Not content with this… it now appears that Mr Djanogly has lost his memory.  The Guardian reported yesterday:  “Minister failed to register brother-in-law’s firm under his jurisdiction.  Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly criticised for not declaring relative’s company which supplied staff to industry he regulates…

So with this legal context in mind… I present a Hogarthian romp through the law blogs… 

HUMAN RIGHTS

The UK Human Rights blog notes:  Court of Appeal upholds 7 of 10 riot sentencing appeals, including Facebook cases – Obiter J

Obiter J, who has his own blog Law and Lawyers, states : “The Lord Chief Justice (LCJ) said that the courts had an overwhelming obligation to protect the public and sentencing could not ignore the context in which the offending occurred. Context can both mitigate and aggravate offending. The offenders dealt with in these appeals knew what they were doing – they were not children or mentally ill….”

Est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres?
Admiral Byng
was taken out and shot many years ago.  The Facebook Two had their sentences of four years upheld.

Matthew Taylor also considers the riots appeals: Riot sentencing – Appeal Judgement

Bystander JP of The Magistrates’s Blog writes about  sense of relief on the riot cases appeal: Decision From The Top

Carl Gardner over at Head of Legal is always a good read.  Without Prejudice special on my Arctic Break.  I had the pleasure of doing a podcast with him last week to hear about his trip to “Nowhere Island”.  Fascinating.  The podcast is worth a listen.

The UK Supreme Court blog is a good resource for all. A recent post asks –  Roger Masterman and Jo Murkens: What Kind of a Court is the UK Supreme Court?

It cannot be conceived as the ‘ultimate guardian of the constitution’, but it clearly discharges a range of constitutional functions which are in many ways approximate to those carried out by top courts elsewhere.

I’m  not a family lawyer – but Natasha Phillips is and her Researching Reform blog often ‘Questions it’ and provides insight into the rights and wrongs of our family justice system.

Conflict of Laws is a complex subject – a specialist subject.  There is, fortunately, a very comprehensive blog on the subject called, unsurprisingly, Conflict of Laws.net.  This week: United States Supreme Court to Again Consider the Alien Tort Statute

And… if you fancy an insight from Ireland – there is Cearta.ie – the irish for rights. This week, I enjoyed reading Philosophical questions about fascism and free speech

And from Scotland… Lallands Peat Worrier states: “Immanuel Kant should be banned…” Lallands Peat Worrier often hits the nail on the head and I am a regular reader –  often late at night with a glass of the vino rosso to hand and a woodbine in my mouth.

Perhaps not human rights law… in fact… not a lot of law… but The White Rabbit is a very good read…..  This week: spooky huh? will give you a good flavour of the insights from the White Rabbit – and his invention Hiram J Whackjob may give you nightmares.

A spot of Family Law…human rights….

Lucy Reed at Pink Tape considers a problem which can only get worse: Courts Hit By Disillusioned Litigants?
John Bolch, whose Family Lore blog is more often than not practical and serious, does find time to hunt down the more surreal posts.  Not being a family lawyer, the surreal posts are the ones I read.  I enjoyed this: The website for Divorced Women who got EVEN!
The more serious analysis from John Bolch : A few more thoughts on litigants in person “As litigants in person seems to be the subject of the moment, I thought I would return briefly to S v AG, the case I reported yesterday, to point out a couple of things mentioned by Mr Justice Mostyn, typical of cases where parties are not professionally represented.”

THE WORLD OF LEGAL PRACTICE (1)

Tom Kilroy, a GC – General Counsel or, as they used to be known – in-house lawyer,  writes: It’s criminal on the 07:43 from Woking.  Tom Kilroy writes “To operate effectively as a lawyer, you need to be unimpeachable when it comes to keeping secrets.”

It is not a good idea, therefore, for lawyers to work on confidential matters on a train where others can see.  You never know.  You could be sitting next to me – and I can read  papers even if they are  upside down.

Tom states: If you think that a secret is something you tell one person at a time, you’re in the wrong job. If you’ve got work life problems, resolve them. If you’re on the train working on my file on your laptop, you’re a criminal and you’re fired.

He’s right!

And how hip is this? : Barristers instructed online through groundbreaking motoring offence website

Neil Rose’s blog Legal Futures is a ‘go to’  blog for the latest on developments in our legal system – or, more specifically, for news and analysis of developments in legal practice and the opportunities under the Legal Services Act.

No review of law blogs involving legal practice could be comprehensive without referring to the world of Babybarista who, this week, writes of Truths and half-truths

or… for that matter…. Anonymous Assistant: The Attractiveness Scale

Or Venal & Grabbit: Refer-A-Friend

Now.. back to the serious stuff from Clerkingwell.co.uk : The Legal Services Act – what now for Chambers ?

@legalbizzle on his blog writes:The Angry Pencil: a pathology of customer complaints

“There are people who can’t let a bandwagon go unjumped on. I imagine them sitting in front of the TV, laptop and printer at the ready, waiting for the merest hint of a legal loophole or compensation-worthy scandal to be broadcast.”

Indeed.

I am unburdened by the responsibilities of a big salary or, for that matter, BIG Law… but Tim Bratton, GC of the FT, considers:  Big Law Salaries – can we have a pep talk?

Professor Richard Moorhead from Cardiff University covers a wide range of matters on his blog Lawyer Watch.  In this section : Millionaire Lawyers: Are they worth it? is worth a look!

ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE

#twitteratigate dominated a small section of my twitter timeline recently. Brian Inkster at The Time Blawg had the edge : The Lawyer excludes Scotland and top Twegals from UK Legal Twitter list! #Twitteratigate2. 15-Love to Brian Inkster methinks.

But.. back to the nitty gritty world of real law.

The keys rattled and the big blue door swung open as @crimsolicitor was let into the custody block for what was the fifth time that day.   The smell always caught him as he came round the corner.  Every custody block has its own special blend of a very familiar smell; unwashed people, smelly shoes, microwave curries and the cheap air freshener they use to hide all the smells.

Crimsolicitor writes: The Abandonment and Abduction of Hansel & Gretel – Part 2

AND… if you wish to be kept up to date with daily legal news – The Inner Temple Current Awareness blog is the place to go – very comprehensive.

Professor John Flood at RATs gave this salutory warning in: Lawyers on Tap or Lawyers’ Water Torture

It is a truth seldom told to students, but the legal profession is facing its most profound changes. As the recent UCL debate on legal education showed, legal academics are frightened by the future. So much so, they refuse to acknowledge it. Life will continue the same.

It won’t.

Although October 6 was meant to be Legal Big Bang it turned out to be Unheard Whimper. This is frequently allied to the steady drip. All so subtle, it is virtually unnoticed.

Read more…

The BPP Legal Awareness blog picked up on the same conference: #UCLLawDebate: Do lawyers need to be scholars? Panel discussion on 11 October 2011

On the subject of education..

Pupillage advice is at hand from Justin Time at the Pupillage blog: A question of pupillage – a cautionary tale  and from Simon Myerson QC at Pupillage and How To Get It – an essential read for prospective barristers.

Professor Richard Moorehead on Lawyer Watch often has comment and analysis on legal education.

I find that one can never have too much education.. and when it comes to bribery – Barrister James Vine’s TheBungBlog is a fine resource! : THE BRIBERY ACT. RICHARD ALDERMAN GOES WEST

THE WORLD OF LEGAL PRACTICE (2)

Ms TS provides an insight into the world of the trainee solicitor: A bit of a rant: how not to be a good trainee

“Now, the new trainees have only been in the office for 6 weeks. so I wasn’t expecting miracles. I handed over the easier bits that needed doing – a bit of client research, article ideas – the type of marketing that trainees usually get involved with. Unfortunately I didn’t get the quality level I was expecting….”

WardblawgG considers the vexed question: Ranking Law Firms on Twitter by Klout: When will it end?

I’ll pop back tomorrow and have a look at some more blogs.  I’m not the only one having a look at UK law blogs.  Vic Moffat did a very comprehensive review at the end of September: UK Blawg Roundup #8 – Change! and David Allen Green plans to do a review of blogs each Friday in The Lawyer

The good news is that law blogging in the UK seems to be alive and kicking….

Back on the morrow with more.

EYES ONLY! – Review of UK law blogs…weekly on Thursdays…

Is law blogging an art?  No, I don’t think so. Most of the law bloggers I read – seem to blog for pleasure and they do it well… with many varied styles.

Even if I had a dog… I would not take it to Crufts.  The pleasure in the dog is the dog. The pleasure in the blog is the blog?  I am not a judge… so I shall not judge.  There will be no ‘doyening’… there will be no ranking… no metrics…there will be no critique from me… nor faint or other praise – just interesting blog posts I have found each week.  You  will decide if you think a blog is worth looking at.  I shall just do my best to hunt down some interesting law  blogs each week and there is NO need to send me a blog post for inclusion.

I shall resist to my last breath – I am still winning the daily tennis match with The Grim Reaper thus far – any attempt to categorise, classify or even metrically assess  law blogging.

Be you ever so high…. law blogging is above you… as a famous judge once did not say… I shall do this every Thursday and see how it goes…

 

Update to the “Van Rouge” UK Tour.

Just a quick post to update on my plan to tour the UK in a ‘van’ and talk law.

Concept:  To tour the UK and Northern Ireland in a van – well, an old landrover or other off road vehicle  and live in a tent –  and talk to lawyers and non-lawyers, including politicians, about our legal system.  I will also visit a number of law schools en route and talk to the academics and the students.

I plan to do detailed audio podcasts with the lawyers and short televised  vox pops with non-lawyers to hear their views. I also plan to write regular bulletins each week to  provide structure and context for the podcasts and consider a number of legal themes.  I will, also, write from ‘left field’ about my experiences on the road – the countryside, the caffs, and anything else which takes my fancy at the time.  Photographs, film clips and maybe even the odd water colour or acrylics painting will provide a bit of graphical interest.

Planning continues – but it is beginning to develop into a ‘Legal Domesday Book’!

Timing:  January – October 2012

To do this properly, I estimate that it will take at least nine months, possibly more, if I am to cover the country from Land’s End to John O’Groats and nip over to Ireland.

Why a ‘van’?:  This one is easy to answer.  I’ve spent far too many nights in hotels in my younger life and I thought by adding an element of ‘Road Trip’ it would be more amusing to live in a tent. I am becoming an expert in winter camping and campsites.  To train for this, I may pitch a tent in my spare bedroom, turn the heating off and open the windows wide!

Sponsorship:  While I can afford through work I can do on the road to cover many of the costs, I won’t be able to do other work in London or other points close, so I am approaching sponsors.  Thus far, I have been delighted by the response of some ‘serious players’ in the legal world (and corporates) who want to be involved. Obviously, a fairly ambitious plan of this nature can only become a reality if I can cover all the costs.


Interested in taking part as a podcastee?:  If you are interested in taking part by being interviewed for a podcast – please let me know. Please contact me by email AND mark your email Van Rouge Tour in the subject line to ensure I keep track of all emails.

 

***

UPDATE

I am delighted to report that @BrianInkster of Scots law firm Inksters has offered by way of sponsorship  to ship me from Aberdeen to The Shetland Islands  (and back!)  – a kind offer which I have ‘jumped at!’.  Brian tells me that there are many interesting people to interview – including a man from Bromley who has set up an independent Crown dependency on Forvik!

#WithoutPrejudice 13: Carl Gardner on his trip to Nowhere Island in The Arctic!

Welcome to Without Prejudice – a special Without Prejudice – where I talk with Carl Gardner about his recent trip to Nowhere Island  a new island in the Arctic.  Next Thursday we will resume our fortnightly Without Prejudice podcasts with the panel, a slight change in format and structure. Sadly, David Allen Green can’t be a regular panelist because of increasing legal and journalism commitments.  Amanda Bancroft will be a regular and we have some very interesting people lined up to take us through to Christmas.

We also take fifteen minutes at the end to discuss some topical Constitutional Law matters relating to the Human Rights Act, The UK Supreme Court and the British Bill of Rights  in a very ‘impressionistic’ way.

Listen to the podcast

Nowhere Island website

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In association with The Lawyer

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.

The whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts – a new marketing initiative for lawyers.

The whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts – a new marketing initiative for lawyers.

Government plans to ban referral fees in personal injury claims on grounds  that they fuel compensation culture and have led to a rise in insurance costs will put pressure on law firms to up their marketing.  These firms will no longer be able to rely on leads being passed on under the old referral scheme and may not be in a position themselves to compete with the new wave of legal services providers coming into the market with big marketing budgets.

Personal injury, whether caused by a motoring accident or otherwise, will continue to happen and the victim will still need good legal representation to make the claim for compensation.   For a large number of law firms, following a ban on referral fees, the problem of visibility  to potential clients will become an even more  serious problem unless they develop their profile on the web and other media to put their expertise and services before the potential client.  Most people do not routinely have a ‘family solicitor’ and may well have had no cause to consult a solicitor before an accident happens. When an injury occurs they will, inevitably, seek advice on a local solicitor or search google. Some larger law firms and the new breed of legal services provider will have the budgets for television and other media advertising and will dominate the media, however most may not even get a nibble if they aren’t on the first page of google?

Accidents Direct are developing a co-operative where leading regional law firms, specialist personal injury practices, high street firms and sole practitioner solicitors can become a member of the Accidents Direct ‘co-operative’ and invest  in the national marketing provided by Accidents Direct which will include television and other media. By buying a share in the co-operative  members will be able to benefit from the national reach of the annual media campaigns and benefit by taking their share of the clients coming through Accidents Direct on a pro rata basis.
The whole being greater than the sum of the individual parts concept has worked well in other co-operatives and this initiative by Accidents Direct, who do have national reach, must be an option well worth considering for law practices that do not have the budget or expertise to compete with some larger firms or legal services providers.

Listen to podcast with Adam Stocker

If you would like to find out morecontact Adam Stocker

Accidents Direct website

Law Review: #Twitteratigate ! A response to The Lawyer list of top legal tweeters….

I am not a fan of ludicrous lists of top tweeters, top bloggers blah blah blah. Invariably (Inevitably – for no-one can know all the tweeters or bloggers?) they are inaccurate or, if subjective, based on whim.  The Lawyer published a list of ‘Top Legal Tweeters’ written by fellow blogger David Allen Green last week.  It was inaccurate and, rightly, Brian Inkster has taken David Allen Green to task – not simply for failing to note that Scotland is still part of the United Kingdom but also for getting his facts wrong on the top legal tweeters in England as well.

Brian Inkster of The Time Blawg puts the fact into fact and then puts the boots in… both of them!

The Lawyer excludes Scotland and top Twegals from UK Legal Twitter list! #Twitteratigate2

Scotland no more

No Scots Law Twegals (legals who tweet) amongst those unless we include @Charonqc who whilst now living in London hails originally from the north side of Hadrian’s Wall

Once bitten, twice shy – Not The Lawyer!

The Lawyer has, in the past, published law firm Twitter lists produced by PR agencies/marketers that were less than credible. I have already looked at these on The Time Blawg in ‘Law Firm Twitteratigate – The Whole Story’ #Twitteratigate and ‘UK Law Firms with Klout – A Clearer Picture’ #Kloutgate. In the latter of those two posts I commented that “one would have thought that The Lawyer would have learned a lesson from Law Firm Twitteratigate”. Clearly not, as they are now actually creating such stories themselves! #Twitteratigate2

Will we someday actually see a well researched, comprehensive and objective look at the state of legal tweeting in the UK?

For my part – I do hope no-one has the time to waste on  research on tweeting…. I prefer to tweet.  I cannot imagine that David Allen Green intended to exclude anyone – but there is more to twitter than meets anyone’s eye….Perhaps best to stick with ‘evidence based factual analysis’ ?

I do agree, however, with Brian Inkster’s response to my tweet pouring friendly scorn on these meedja lists:  He tweeted that it is important for legal newspapers not to mislead.  Indeed.  For the avoidance of doubt – I do not blame anyone for this… twitter is just a social meedja tool and supposed to be fun… and David’s article was done in that context.. as, I am sure, is Brian’s!

We must not take twitter or ourselves on twitter too seriously… that would be an error!

Rive Gauche: Flawger, Flâneur and Friday frippery….

David Allen Green, solicitor, blogger, tweeter, legal correspondent for The New Statesman and now media correspondent for The Lawyer,  considers tweeting lawyers… and puts the boot in, indirectly, to the ‘flawgers’ by not mentioning them..

Twitter provides a poor “return on investment” for cynical lawyers and related professionals who just want to expand their internet presence as a commercial end in itself.  Indeed, such folk should probably do other things than waste time in trying to develop a Twitter account which then languishes with a few dozen followers at best….

Read…

For my part, I enjoy twitter I appear to have managed to find time over the last two to three years to rack up over 90,000 tweets. I enjoy the social interaction. I have met some great people through twitter – real life and virtually – and I enjoy the often interesting and amusing exchange of ideas and views.  I particularly enjoy ‘engaging’ with the more surreal tweeters, the un-reconstructed and the ‘pissed tweeters’ late at night.  I don’t take it too seriously and while WordPress posts my blog posts to twitter and I do the occasional follow up tweet, there is no doubt that twitter has brought visitors to my blog.  I had a look at the stats on that.  It would appear that about 5% of my visitors come through twitter.  Most of my readers don’t seem to tweet. I have little interest in lawyers or law firms (or any other tweeters) who simply broadcast their news or services…. in the syle… “Great shame about that Volcano erupting killing thousands… meanwhile, if we can help with your personal injury claim. 0898 1234567” and I have little interest in the “Flawgers” – a term coined by Antonin Pribetic of The Trial Warrior blog –  or snake oil social meedja gurus and mavens.  There is a great deal of comment and useful information, across a wide range of topics and subjects, out there on twitter – and long may that continue.

Although David Allen Green was kind enough to describe me as a ‘doyen of legal blogging’ – that is not how I would describe myself.  I think Antonin Pribetic’s description of me as a flâneur is more amusing…and probably more accurate….

Wikipedia notes: The term flâneur comes from the French masculine noun flâneur—which has the basic meanings of “stroller”, “lounger”, “saunterer”, “loafer”—which itself comes from the French verb flâner, which means “to stroll”. Charles Baudelaire developed a derived meaning of flâneur—that of “a person who walks the city in order to experience it”.

I have a Facebook page which I never use.  I deported myself from Linked In because I described myself as CEO of Charon Inc, money launderer and short seller of bank shares,  and some did not appear to understand that I do not actually exist.  They kept on sending me messages to get Linked In.   Charon QC is a figment of my imagination – as my ‘About’ section makes clear.   I lost the will to live after trying Google + for half an hour… I kept going round in ‘circles’.  I also appear to have broken Google ‘Terms of Service’ by using a fake name… “Charon QC’.  When I last looked, Google appears to think Charon QC is real and does exist.  Result!

Scots solicitor Brian Inkster has written extensively on the subject of law blogging and his thoughts (and the many comments) are worth reading: I Blawg. You Flawg. Period?

And so to…. this story from RollonFriday.com: Clients bare their bums in support of campaigning solicitor

“The clients of a legal aid lawyer have recreated a John Lennon and Yoko Ono magazine cover to support her fight to keep her practice.

Yvonne Hossack has dedicated her legal career to helping vulnerable people and, in particular, is known for her work on behalf of care home residents facing eviction. She’s acted for over 2,000 clients, saved care homes from closure and taken cases to Strasbourg. But it’s not been an easy ride: her firm has lost over £100,000 in the last year and she’s been fighting a battle against the Legal Services Commission which refused Hossack’s application for a legal aid contract (citing incorrectly filled out forms).

Therefore former clients Roger Kinsey, 66, and his wife Chris, 58 – whose disabled daughter was represented by Hossack – have decided to draw some attention to her plight by recreating Lennon and Ono’s 1968 Rolling Stone cover.”

Read more…

WITHOUT PREJUDICE

The Without Prejudice podcast this coming Thursday will be on Human Rights.  We hope that Hugh Tomlinson QC, a leading light on privacy and other legal matters, and Adam Wagner of 1 Crown Office Row and The UK Human Rights blog – will be able to join us – work permitting.

I am delighted that our audience is growing for these podcasts – and I very much appreciate that experienced lawyers are prepared to give of their time – free – to come down to The Staterooms at Battersea to record the podcasts.   I am also delighted to report that The Lawyer has become a sponsor and will be covering the fortnightly podcasts on The Lawyer website going forward helping us to reach a wider audience of lawyers – who don’t read blogs or tweet.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE LEGAL OMBUDSMAN

I enjoyed Neil Rose’s article in The Guardian: So far so good: the Legal Ombudsman celebrates a smooth first year

“It’s not often that public sector projects come in under budget and go live with no discernible hiccups, but the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) seems to have done just that.

A year old on Thursday, the organisation – an independent body dealing with complaints against lawyers – has had a remarkably smooth first 12 months, at least to judge by the positive reaction of the legal profession, which had feared being at the wrong end of some rough justice (although LeO has had to take three solicitors to court to force them to comply with various directions)…..”

Kenneth Clarke prepares for ‘enforced retirement’ following cat spat with May

The Guardian reports: Justice secretary unlikely to survive next reshuffle as No 10 backs home secretary in fall out over Human Rights Act

I am not a Tory – but Ken Clarke is one of few Tory MPs I like and understand.  He entered parliament when PM Camcorderdirect was three.  I do hope that he survives.  He was right on #Catflapgate and Theresa May was wrong.  I commented on this earlier in the day in the post below…

Orf now to write some more Chapters of my novel, ‘noir’.  Back with a Postcard From The Staterooms on te morrow.. or Sunday.  Enjoy the weekend.. and don’t let the Tory Beserkers get to you…

Law Review on #Catflapgate: As the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland said…”We’re all mad here”.

I’m with Ken Clarke on the ludicrous statement of The Home Secretary the other day on the #HumanCatRights issue. 

Theresa May got the law wrong on the cat example she used at the Tory Conference – as this statement from Wesley Gryk LLP, the lawyers involved in the case, makes clear.

While Ken Clarke  described Theresa May’s comments on the Human Rights Act as ‘laughable and childlike’ – I suspect that many others would have been less complimentary. Law and Order is a serious matter and we don’t really need a Home Secretary who gets her law wrong, nor do we need a Home Secretary to think she is a panellist on Mock the Week or Have I Got News For YouFortunately, the Judiciary put the record right.

I do hope that PM Camcorderdirect is not daft enough to re-shuffle Ken Clarke away from The Ministry of Justice.  I have no problem with Mr Djanogly, Justice Minister,  being re-shuffled to be our Ambassador in Mongolia after his lamentable performance at the MoJ and his recent ‘unfortunate’ failure to disclose business interests.

For a sensible analysis of the issue – pop over to Adam Wagner on the UK Human Rights blog.  He gets it right….as one would expect.

***

I just have to update this post with this bit of twitter genius…

RT+10 Love it @x_v_o [name withheld] @Charonqc I saw this lady outside my house this morning… any idea who she is? http://twitpic.com/6v7vby

Sponsored law review: How does employment law protect me from discrimination in the workplace?

How does employment law protect me from discrimination in the workplace?
BY Contact Law

There were various statutes under employment law which protect employees against discrimination in the workplace – The Equality Act 2010 now applicable. These Acts mean laws exists to prevent behaviour which puts a person, or group of people, at a disadvantage at work. Thus, employment law prohibits discrimination, which can be described as treating a person or group of people in a ‘less favourable’ manner than others.

More specifically, under employment law, employers are not allowed to discriminate against an employee for a wide range of reasons, including: age; race; religion or belief; gender re-assignment; gender; disability; marriage or civil partnership; ethnicity; or nationality.

Discrimination in the workplace can be direct or indirect. Direct discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee or group of employees less favourably because of one of the above reasons. For example, direct discrimination would occur if an employer refused to promote you because of your gender or your racial group.

Indirect discrimination is less obvious discrimination. It occurs when a practice or rule disadvantages one group of employees disproportionately. The rule or practice may not be intended to discriminate against that group; however, indirect discrimination is unlawful whether or not it was intentional. For example, if a company applies a blanket ‘no headwear’ policy to all employees because hats or caps do not fit the company image; then this may disadvantage a Sikh employee, who is required to wear a turban for religious reasons.

Employment law can also protect you from the form of discrimination known as harassment. Harassment can be described as offensive or intimidating behaviour, such as homophobic language or racial abuse. For example, if another worker addresses you, using an offensive nickname, this could be interpreted as harassment.

In addition, it is unlawful to victimise employees in the workplace. Victimisation means that you are treated less favourably than other workers because you want to make, or have made, a complaint about discrimination. For example, victimisation could include being excluded from company events.

If you think you have suffered discrimination in the workplace, you should consult an employment solicitor without delay, as there is a three-month time-limitation for bringing a claim before an Employment Tribunal. Your employment solicitor can give you legal advice about your options, including claiming for constructive dismissal.

Charon’s ‘Van Rouge’ Law Tour of Britain – Good / Bad idea?

After 30+ years in legal education – and, to be honest, a bit bored with living in London – I have come up with a mildly surreal idea of touring Britain for 3-6 months doing podcasts with lawyers and non-lawyers as I go –  with a detailed commentary on law, life and other matters as I find them…

IN A VAN… in fact… thanks to @Robert_HM on twitter…. I have a strapline.. “Van Rouge Tour”.

I lost interest in the luxuries of life over ten years ago and having spent a lot of time in my early life living under canvas in Africa…. and sometimes… no canvas…. the idea of a spartan 3-6 months in a camper van appeals to me.  It would also be a real pleasure to get out and talk to lawyers and non-lawyers all over the country to see what they think about our legal system.

A mix of podcasts, blog posts, tweets, photos, and even the odd video – with me behind the camera?  Good idea / Bad idea?

Logistics are an issue but I rather like the idea of doing a podcast from Van Rouge on Christmas day from some remote part of our country. Do let me know what you think – positive or negative by commenting on this post.

(Without Prejudice podcasts would not be affected as I would be able to do them over Skype conference and even nip back in the van to do them in person for the fortnightly Thursday slot!)

Babybarista strikes again… and well! It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver. Niccolo Machiavelli

It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver.
Niccolo Machiavelli

I’ll begin with full disclosure.  Tim Kevan is a good friend but, in the honour between parodists – as Dr Strangelove of Muttley Dastardly would say – let’s not let friendship get in the way of a good review.

BabyBarista continues to drive his career to an inexorable end many years hence – as a Red judge in the High Court (and if I live long enough to read BabyBarista J’s judgments many years hence, I will, I am sure, enjoy their piquancy).

Law and Peace is a very good read and builds upon the amusement of Tim Kevan’s regular BabyBarista column in The Guardian and the first book BabyBarista and The Art of War.(now renamed Law and Disorder)

BabyBarista is populated with wonderful characters – few a credit to the legal profession, it has to be said – each with their own perspective on the changing legal landscape.

I enjoy the regular column and I have enjoyed both of the BabyBarista books published so far.  I leave you with this extract from a recent BabyBarista post… to give you a flavour of the parodic content…

Have you heard that UpTights, OldSmoothie and HeadofChambers have all applied to be judges?” said TheCreep.

“Why on earth would anyone want to be a judge?” said BusyBody. “I can’t think of anything worse than having to sit around listening to barristers self-indulgently wittering on all day.”

“Not forgetting the nervous meanderings of witnesses,” said Teflon.

“And then there’s the laborious litigants-in-person with their fifty-page long arguments and reams of irrelevant evidence,” said TheCreep.

“Which is a little rich coming from a barrister who sometimes resembles a litigant-in-person,” said TheVamp.

“So why on earth do they want to do it?” asked BusyBody.

“Pensions, of course,” said OldSmoothie. “What little pension I had left after two divorces has now been destroyed in the financial crisis and I hardly think things are going to improve. I mean, it’s not as if there are even any quangos left to sit out one’s days in some degree of comfort.”

And.. if you wish to keep up to speed with BabyBarista or order the book…. no better place than BabyBarista’s own website.

While Abraham Lincoln once said…“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.”  This would not be an aphorism acceptable to BabyBarista.  I hope you enjoy reading…..

Sponsored Law Review: Agency workers regulations – time to comply

Agency workers regulations:  time to comply
Ian Pettifer, Employment Law Solicitor at Tayntons LLP, explains the scope of the new law covering agency workers’ rights and its implications for employers.

After nearly 30 years of debate and disagreement in Europe over whether or not to have an EU-wide law based on the principle of treating agency workers equally, the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 are due to come into force at the start of this month (October).

The debate has often been polarised between those who see agency workers as suffering ill-treatment, and those who see the system as beneficial to all and vital to the economy.

Do businesses treat this group unfairly in comparison with their permanent staff?  On the other hand, is not agency work, especially in the UK, a personal choice, giving these workers and the businesses they work for, greater flexibility?

Whatever your viewpoint on the subject, now is the time to ensure you understand the new rules, which become enforceable in a matter of weeks.
The regulations apply to ‘agency workers’ who are assigned to do the temporary work for ‘hirers’ through ‘temporary work agencies’.  There are new rights for agency workers from day one, and further rights that are granted after 12 weeks on assignment.

Under the regulations all agency workers must be able to access a hirer’s collective facilities and amenities (things like the canteen, the crèche and the car park) from the first day of their assignment.

The hirer’s must also let agency workers have access to information about job vacancies from the first day.  These are known as the ‘day one rights’.
After completion of a 12-week qualifying period, agency workers are entitled to the same ‘basic working and employment conditions’ that they would have been entitled to had they been recruited directly by the hirer.  This includes a right to be paid equally with directly engaged employees or workers.

But the 12-week qualifying period can be hard to calculate, because there are a series of different events which pause the clock, without resetting it to zero, including: any break of not more than 6 calendar weeks; sickness or injury, up to 28 weeks; and any legal entitlement to time off, such as holiday.  In these instances, the clock starts again once the worker is able to resume the contract.

Maternity and paternity absences mean that the clock keeps ticking.  For example: A woman is given a 10-week agency work assignment.  After 5 weeks, she goes on maternity leave.

The clock would keep ticking to the end of the 10 weeks.  After her maternity leave, she is supplied (either by the same agency or by a different agency) to the same hirer for a job, which is not substantively different.

In that case, the absence on maternity leave is disregarded, and two weeks into the new assignment, she becomes entitled to equality in pay with the hirer’s directly recruited workers.

Bonus payments are a possible area of difficulty.  Bonuses paid to all directly engaged workers do not count for the comparison with agency workers (like Christmas bonus).

But, bonuses linked to individual performance over a given period (for example a year) will form part of ‘pay’ for the purposes of the regulations.  If an agency worker fulfils the eligibility criteria, then they are entitled to participate.

Agency workers do not have to be fully integrated into the performance management systems for the permanent staff of the hirer.  Simpler systems are allowed for tracking and agency worker’s performance, and this could be no more than relying on existing feedback mechanisms used to work with the agency.  But the lack of a performance system is not an excuse.

There are also rules to stop businesses from trying to evade the regulations plus a £5,000 penalty for each agency worker deprived of their rights.
New regulations are always controversial, but these rules represent the lighter touch in the UK than elsewhere in Europe, and do no more than stop some of the worst abuses of agency workers, without taking away the clear commercial advantages.

***

Sponsored Guest post
For further information and advice, contact Ian Pettifer on 01452 509080 or email ian.pettifer@tayntons.co.uk

Postcard from The Staterooms: *MARK THAT FEE BILL UP* edition

Dear Reader,

In an act of selfless bravery in the face of the enemy worthy of Dr Strangelove of Muttley Dastardly LLP, I bring you news of world class lawyering from Payne Hicks Beach partner, Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia – she of the high value  divorce client fame who had a jug of water poured over her head by Sir Paul’s less than amused ex-wife.  I am more than prepared to accept that the article I refer to in The Telegraph below may not (entirely) accurately reflect the ‘actualité’ – for it is not unknown for newspapers to get their facts wrong when it comes to reporting on M’learned friends – but it does refer to direct contact with the firm and prints their responses.

The Telegraph reports: Baroness Shackleton, Britain’s highest-profile divorce lawyer, has increased the bills of celebrity clients beyond the time she recorded having spent on their cases, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

“Madonna and Sir Paul McCartney appear to have been charged hundreds of thousands of pounds more than the hourly rate would have demanded, documents show, a practice known as “marking up”…..The sheets, seen by The Daily Telegraph appear to show that a six-figure sum was added to bills of both Madonna and Sir Paul, as well as at least seven other clients in a column headed ”mark up’’.

It would appear that the law firm – and it may well be an industry wide practice – agree an hourly fee with the client and, presumably, dissatisfied with the amount of revenue generated by the work actually done or recorded, add a bit of extra bunce?  The Telegraph notes : “Lady Shackleton’s law firm, Payne Hicks Beach, came under investigation in 2009, but the Solicitors Regulatory Authority closed the case less than a year later without ordering any sanctions. The authority interviewed her about her practice of marking up bills and asked her to explain if there was any “scientific” basis for calculating the sums she added.”

What I particularly enjoyed about this story – the irony of the front page of the  Payne Hicks Beach website this afternoon entirely relevant to the context of this Telegraph story – were these wonderful quotes….

In one case a £14,000 bill for work on the former Beatle’s divorce from Heather Mills shows a “mark up” to £150,000. Both Madonna and Sir Paul have confirmed that they were happy with Lady Shackleton’s representation and satisfied with the billing.

The disclosure will give rise to concerns about the transparency of solicitors’ billing practices.

AND THIS… is truly world class…in the context of a bill presented to Madonna…

In a private email to a colleague she wrote: “This is good news as I was worried that they were cross about the bill,” she wrote, adding: “We obviously shd have asked for more?!!!!! F x.”

Payne Hicks Beach said the email was a joke. “We would have thought it is obvious that the internal email dated 15 December 2008 was intended to be humorous, from its punctuation alone.” Last night a spokesman for the law firm said all the clients had confirmed they were happy with their bills.

The problem is, clearly, one of administration and transparency.  It would seem that some solicitors do not accurately record all the work done (which is a bit worrying) and come to a view with ‘mark up’ later.  Well… all I can say is this… if the client is daft enough to accept such a procedure, they have more money than sense and it is their loss – BUT  if they are ‘too in awe’ of lawyers, it is time for the regulators to get tough.  Payne Hicks Beach certainly appear to have demonstrated their website ‘mission statement’  – Independent thinking and cost effective solutions – to their own satisfaction and benefit?  (And… I just love the gushing well of plenty metaphor on the PHB website front page – CLASS!)

On that note, if it transpires that The Telegraph story is another example of inaccurate press reporting, I will be more than happy to update my post accordingly with a statement from Payne Hicks Beach.

Meanwhile… on the HOTTEST 2nd October since the dinosaurs were wiped out…The Beserkers in the Tory party ‘gather’ in Manchester to talk at each other…

It can only be a matter of hours before some Tory politician provides a statement rich in satirical opportunity… I am eating popcorn and watching the BBC Parliament channel in anticipaaaaaation…… as they say in The Rocky Horror Show.

I may be back later.

Best, as ever

Charon