For legal regulators who take twitter too seriously: My Xmas podcast with a fictional lawyer called @Geeklawyer

For legal regulators and others  who take twitter too seriously:  My podcast with a fictional lawyer called @Geeklawyer

Listen to the podcast:  A surreal and most enjoyable chat with a fellow parodist….

I did this a couple of years ago – when everyone knew that @Geeklawyer was a satirist…. but hadn’t turned themselves into Sherlocks to discover the identity behind :-)

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My post on Geeklawyergate and The Time Blawg’s analysis: Lawyers cannot hide on Twitter

Muttley Dastardly LLP: Abusus non tollit usum… Abuse of a right does not invalidate use

The Partners of Muttley Dastardly LLP meet in closed session each Friday at 10.00 am. 

Following the unfortunate departure from the firm of managing partner Matt Muttley in the summer of 2011, Dr Erasmus Strangelove has taken over the leadership of the firm as CEO and Senior Partner.

A transcript of Dr Strangelove’s speech follows….

Gentlemen,

Good morning. Six months has passed since Matt Muttley’s unfortunate demonstration to a group of RBS Bankers of the toughness of the glass encasing our building and his subsequent departure from the firm abiit ad maiores….he has gone to the ancestors…or by virtue of death,  as our Partnership agreement provides in Paragraph 48 (a)(iii) and The Schedule of Terminating Events. As Quintillian observed… deficit omne quod nasciture …Everything that is born passes away.

I know three of you saw him plummet to the ground from his office as you sat in your offices.  I am pleased to announce that our litigation department has been able to bring successful claims in damages for nervous shock against Muttley’s estate for the three partners affected ….and, most pleasingly, in negligence, Rylands v Fletcher  and economic loss,  for losses sustained by the firm in relation to the repair of the glass and lost billings for our attendance at his funeral.  The claims brought by the three visiting bankers from RBS against the firm have been kicked into the long grass by a most ingenious use of the European Convention and our very own Human Rights Act….  by an associate in the litigation department.  She tells me that Article  8 of The European Convention gives us a right to privacy – which is rather pleasing for our affairs generally – and that her 7400 page opinion on this highly complex matter will tax lawyers acting for RBS for some time…. abusus non tollit usum… or as we say in the modern parlance…. Abuse of a right does not invalidate use .

Turning now to matters of import and our future.  I sent you all a copy of Professor Richard Moorhead’s excellent article in Legal WeekThe minimum salary for trainees: in real trouble this time.  Professor Moorhead is a professor at Cardiff University.  Cardiff is in Wales.   I quote the opening passage for your consideration…

Every time there is a recession, the solicitors’ profession likes to reconsider minimum salaries for its trainees. For a while this was a kind of annual sport. Chairs of the Trainee Solicitors’ Group and the Young Solicitors’ Group Lawyers (I did both jobs back in the days when the Law Society Council was busy tearing itself apart) would be invited into the Law Society equivalent of smoke-filled rooms (biscuits and too-strong, rather rank coffee) to be told that they were standing between hundreds of new training contract places and they should allow the abolition of minimum salaries.

At some point (usually at the then well-lubricated Council dinners) they would be approached by the Law Society Council member they were most friendly with to be told: don’t ask for an increase and everything will be alright. They duly, usually, did that and everyone claimed common sense had prevailed. We know what both Len McCluskey and Ed Milliband would say.

Gentlemen, please cast your votes to approve my memorandum to all trainees: Don’t ask for an increase and everything will be alright.

(The Partners vote using electronic keypads)

Thank you Gentlemen for your unanimous support.

I turn now to the second item on the agenda which will be of particular reference to our Corporate partners.  Legal Week reports this morning that former Mishcon de Reya property partner Kevin Steele has been sentenced to five and a half years in jail after being found guilty of forgery and fraud offences in a €22m (£18.5m) loan scam.  Given the current agitation on twitter about bankers’ bonuses, government cutting legal aid and a 36% reduction in government  legal spend – adroitly seeded by our Social Media Psyops unit -  it may be an idea for corporate partners to pass this information on to clients with a complimentary copy of our Briefing Paper on The Bribery Act and suggest a client site visit to enable us to do a thorough compliance audit. If you approve, I shall draw up a suitably frightening client letter… pour encourager les punters…as I like to call these communications.

(The Partners vote using electronic keypads)

Thank you Gentlemen for your unanimous support.

Finally…. a bit of light relief.  RollonFriday.com reports…. Norton Rose sends clients home after training cock-up… I quote…

There were red faces at Norton Rose this week when clients who had turned up for a training session were left waiting around before finally being sent home.

It seems no one had told the firm’s admin staff that the event had been cancelled before Christmas. So they had sent emails to the clients reminding them to come along, and a group of around 20 of them arrived at the firm’s London Bridge offices on Tuesday morning, looking forward to a briefing on contract terms. Usually clients would be ushered into a swish conference room and fed coffee and bacon rolls before a sales pitch masquerading as a training session. But instead they were left waiting for half an hour until a shame-faced member of security staff finally ushered them out.

I would like to reference this story as an “And finally”  in the firm’s weekly newsletter to corporate clients.

(The Partners vote using electronic keypads)

Thank you Gentlemen for your unanimous support.  That concludes the business for today’s meeting.  Strength & Profits.

(The Partners rise and respond….”Strength & Profits”)

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

Rive Gauche: A Command Performance from a Barrister now disbarred for unprofessional behaviour on twitter.

A Command Performance….

Court News reports: “A barrister who called opposing lawyers ‘slimebags’ in a series of insulting tweets from court was today (Thurs) thrown out of the profession.  David Harris was wrongly acting for an internet piracy company he owned.

He bragged that ‘whoring and drinking’ would begin after he finished the trial and described an opposing lawyer as a ‘p***k.’….”

Well… as it happens… I know @Geeklawyer well (and like him)  – an amusing figment of his own imagination who,  taking of mead and his favoured strawberry beer libations in sufficient quantities,  tweets nonsense late at night.  It would appear that he has managed to get himself disbarred for LIFE according to the Court News report.

As yet, the BSB – The Bar Standards Board -  has not posted the decision on the website nor, indeed,  managed to inform Mr Geeklawyer / Harris about  his exit from Bar Departure Gate 1 when I contacted him for his thoughts on the matter. I spend a fair bit of time thinking about “Fair” treatment of people in my reclusion these days. Fair that  Court News got “info” before Geeklawyer / David Harris?

Geeklawyer and I talked over the phone this afternoon and he was more than happy for me to write about the matter – not that I had any plans to do so when I contacted him.   I suspect that failing to disclose things to a high court judge and other unusual practice behaviour at the trial may well have had a significant bearing on the decision to disbar – I have no information on this as at the time of writing.

Assuming that the charge of bringing the profession into disrepute was one of the issues behind the decision to disbar – Mr Geeklawyer / Harris confirmed that he was indeed charged with same; I thought it would be interesting to ask what defence he put forward.  [ Mr Geeklawyer / Harris is perfectly entitled to tell me about his defence, as I am entitled to write about his account (with his blessing), given the publicity which the disbarment has attracted thus far in the press.]

The Geeklawyer / Harris  defence may be summarised as follows:

1.  It wasn’t him qua David Harris, a practising barrister – it was Geeklawyer wot dun it.   Geeklawyer doesn’t exist and is not a practising barrister recognised by The Bar Council

2. The tweets were not communications made in the course of professional practice.  They were social.

3. Social conduct does not, save in extreme cases such as criminal behaviour, form a lawful basis for sanctions by professional conduct committees as it transgresses both the right to a private life and the right to private correspondence under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Geeklawyer was able to tell me – as I wiped tears of laughter from my eyes: “Geeklawyer has the Article 8 Convention rights mentioned before. This charge is a disproportionate and meritless interference with that right to converse flippantly. To say that Geeklawyer is not able to tell his friend @XXXXX that he has a hangover because somehow the faith of the public in the Bar would be shaken to their core to learn that barristers drink is absurd. We are rarely confused with monks. The tweets are between friends and colleagues however uncouth. They are not unprofessional simply because they were made socially and outside work. It is hard to imagine that any member of the modern, as opposed to Victorian, public would be shaken by the revelation that barristers use words like ‘prick’ ‘fuck’ and make jokes about colleagues.”

Please note – for newshounds who may wish to consider this report when writing  (or, indeed, as their own – by nicking it) that -  The Court News report discloses “Harris owned Newzbin, a website which allowed users to download films illegally before the company was sued by major film companies including 20th Century Fox. He did not disclose his interest to the High Court was forced to stand down eight days into the hearing when his link to the firm was discovered.”

I’ve been tweeting for many years now with Geeklawyer.  His tweets are absurd, outrageous at times, more often than not amusing – if one accepts and understands (as most sane people do)  that Geeklawyer doesn’t exist.  I have never, as it happens, been “whoring, taking cocaine, bribing judges, calling lawyers slimeballs and pricks” with Geeklawyer.  I am certain that Mr David Harris hasn’t been doing these things either.

It will be interesting to see what weight The  Bar Standards Board gave to the twitter performances of Geeklawyer in their decision to disbar – if any. The Court News report was fairly unequivocal….and, no doubt, most useful in raising their ‘Profile and Farkin Klout rating’ – ?  “HARRIS: BARRISTER HANDED LIFETIME BAN OVER TWITTER ABUSE.”   I suspect the other unfortunate matter of not disclosing a matter to a High Court judge has caused what will be a minor inconvenience to David Harris.  I understand he has other amusements planned for his future.

Well.. there we are…. Friday tomorrow…. and it may be that we’ll see some barristers on twitter – and, indeed, some very well known solicitor lawyers -  considering their behaviour and rushing for the delete button on twitter!  (Some make a habit of deleting tweets – Bless!  I won’t be offering this post – or any of my posts … up for the Schnorvitz Prize… Pets Win Prizes ?)

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A further thought… added later… It is just as well The Bar Standards Board is not claiming jurisdiction over fictional lawyers… Sir John Mortimer QC’s …”Rumpole”  … or even … others ?  :-)   I am confident… hopefully… that the BSB is not claiming such jurisdiction.

I am informed – and this will no doubt be confirmed or not by the BSB judgment / decision on Geeklawyer / Mr Harris when they publish it – that a fine was levied for the @Geeklawyer tweets. I really… do hope not.  That would be most interesting given that Geeklawyer does not exist?  We shall see in due course… as they say … in the new era of transparency.

After all.. how can one disbar or fine  a ‘fictional barrister’ for tweeting… or blogging ?

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Dr Strangelove …. CEO of Muttley Dastardly LLP. is acting for me  ( I am a figment of my imagination) … and he always does the biz… always…. (I have never known Dr Ersasmus Strangelove  to lose a case …. extraordinary record… No FEE.. NO WIN.. he ain’t daft)

Friday Update… The Telegraph reports:  Barrister who Tweeted insults struck off

Harris disbarred for conduct of  a case -  and fined for the tweets…the latter interesting given that few in the profession, let alone the wider ‘public’, would have known David Harris was tweeting as Geeklawyer.  I would suggest that a fair amount of investigation work would be needed to link Geeklawyer to David Harris…. over the last four years…very few knew!

One assumes that Rumpole need not fear an investigation into bringing the profession into disrepute by drinking too much Chateau Thames Embankment at Pomeroy’s wine bar?  Mind you – it would not take sterling detective work to work out that Rumpole was the creation of Sir John Mortimer QC, so who knows?

Law Review – a new weekly look at law and lawyers…..

From next week – I’ll be publishing a very detailed weekly review about law and lawyers…with some arts matters which have caught my eye. I’m not sure what day – but it is likely to be Fridays.

(a) Professional news from Law Society / Bar / Ilex
(b) Legal Education news
(c) Podcast with a practitioner covering current perceptions of the legal sectors
(d) Law reports – important cases from the week – brief comment and analysis
(e) Review from the law blogs + comment
(f) Commentary on key legal issues from the week
(g) Accounting and tax news relevant to the legal profession
(h) A lighter look at the law….
(i)  Arts review
If you would like to suggest blog posts – or other items for inclusion – please do not hesitate to contact me by email
[If you can remember to put Law Review in the subject header on the email - it will help me keep track!]

Sponsored guest post: “Is it more difficult for women with mesothelioma to claim compensation?

“Is it more difficult for women with mesothelioma to claim compensation?
BY John Pickering and Partners LLP

At a National Lung Cancer conference 3 or 4 years ago, a solicitor speaker was asked whether it was worth women with mesothelioma making a claim.  The obvious answer to that is ‘yes, of course,’ but the questioner had highlighted a perceived problem for women who have mesothelioma and want to claim compensation.

We are likely to see more women with mesothelioma over the next decade.  According to the 2008 HSE study, the number of annual deaths amongst women has increased more rapidly than the increase amongst men over the last 10 years. Although increasing, the number of women with mesothelioma is not yet 20% of the total number in the UK.

How do women with mesothelioma fare under the litigation process compared with men?  Many of the women that I see with mesothelioma come from a group of women who have had slight or intermittent exposure.  Some examples of those who have had slight or intermittent exposure are those who work in offices or factories where asbestos has been used or in buildings where asbestos had been part of the construction or makeup of the building. For example I have seen nurses, teachers, office workers, caterers and process workers.  Some are unaware initially as to where they have had exposure.

The UK Benefits System favours those who recollect exposure to asbestos dust during their work.  Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit is only there for those who have had exposure during work.  This is a payment of £150.30 per week which can mount up to a substantial sum.

Under the civil system of litigation, it is often more difficult for women to claim successfully.  I think that this is partly because men have multiple sources of exposure to asbestos. I have seen situations where siblings have developed asbestos disease having had exposure to asbestos dust from their father’s clothing in the 1950’s.  The boys have been able to claim compensation from their employers because they have gone to work in industries where they have had further asbestos exposure whereas the girls have not been able to claim because there is no legal liability for family members if the exposure took place in the 1950’s.

In terms of evidence of exposure, men are more likely to have handled asbestos directly themselves and are more likely to recall exposure to it.

A French study which was published last year in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine showed that the incidence of mesothelioma without any identified asbestos exposure (IAE) is usually higher among women, while male incidence is mainly attributed to IAE.  The study concluded that mesothelioma mortality incidence showed that female cases occur in the same geographical areas as male cases suggesting asbestos has a major influence on female mesothelioma, most likely through environmental exposure. It makes it more unfair that women have a harder struggle to claim.

A decision from the Supreme Court in March gives some hope to women. The case concerned 2 women who had been exposed to asbestos dust. One lady had worked in a factory and another was a school pupil whom I represented. Both had had comparatively light exposure to asbestos. Despite this, both succeeded.

So, it is possible through persistence to be able to claim compensation for women who have very little recollection of asbestos exposure through obtaining witness evidence and documentation to support the claim.

For more information about claiming compensation it is advised to seek advice from a Mesothelioma solicitor.”

#WithoutPrejudice 17: The Jury – European judges meddling – More weird cases

Welcome to the Without Prejudice special with Professor Gary Slapper, Director of  New York University, London and Global Professor at NYU.  We look at the Jury and proposals to restrict the right to trial by jury, meddling European judges and Gary Slapper’s most entertaining new book…. “More weird cases”.

Listen to the podcast

If you wish to purchase Gary Slapper’s book – you may do so from Amazon or Wildy’s

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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.

#WithoutPrejudice 16: Justice & Security – Abu Qatada – Contempt – Occupy – Scotland referendum

Welcome to the first Without Prejudice of 2012.  We plan to resume the fortnightly series on Thursday 2nd February with a full panel – but tonight  I am going to review some topical issues with Carl Gardner (Head of Legal blog)

The Justice & Security Green Paper – Abu Qatada – The Occupy judgment  – Contempt of court and a quick look at the legal issues involved in the Scotland Independence referendum proposed by Alex Salmond.

Listen to the podcast

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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 clearest way to show what the rule of law means to us in everyday life is to recall what has happened when there is no rule of law.

The clearest way to show what the rule of law means to us in everyday life is to recall what has happened when there is no rule of law.
Dwight D Eisenhower

The Bloody Assizes were a series of trials started at Winchester on 25 August 1685 in the aftermath of the Battle of Sedgemoor, which ended the Monmouth Rebellion in England.  At the risk of understatement – not a particularly creditable part of our long and rich legal history.

Henry Porter, writing in The Guardian, notes:  “Kenneth Clarke, the secretary of state for justice, the man who set up the commission last spring to investigate a new bill of rights – no doubt with half an eye on the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in 2015 – is also responsible for the justice and security green paper, which threatens to deprive us of one of the vital traditions of common law, guaranteed by Magna Carta.”

Porter notes that the key proposal will  “provide a magic cloak of protection for any minister or government agency that wishes to cover up a wrong, most significantly for members of the intelligence services.”

Justice isn’t blind.  Justice isn’t the tool of the State.  Justice is a concept of laws to underpin a fair and democratic society; prosecuted, in the case of criminal trials, by lawyers with no interest in the outcome and administered by judges who are independent of the executive, according to the laws made  by our elected representatives. And therein lies the rub – for it is within the power of government to bring in laws which then have to be applied by the judges, subject, thankfully, to the dictates of The European Convention – in particular, the right to a fair trial set out in Article 6:

Article 6 provides a detailed right to a fair trial, including the right to a public hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal within reasonable time, the presumption of innocence, and other minimum rights for those charged with a criminal offence (adequate time and facilities to prepare their defence, access to legal representation, right to examine witnesses against them or have them examined, right to the free assistance of an interpreter).

The proposal being put forward by The Secretary of State for Justice strikes at the very heart of our rule of law – a rule of law based on open trials, where guilt or innocence is determined by a jury.

Porter notes: “Dinah Rose QC summarised the obvious advantage to ministers in her Atkin Memorial lecture last year. The legislation would, she said, “permit courts to try common law claims for damages using a closed material procedure, whenever a government minister, who is, of course, likely to be party to the action, decides that disclosure of particular material would be damaging to national security”.

… We are following America, where the state secrets privilege results in the exclusion of evidence from the proceedings simply on the basis of affidavits delivered to a court by the government, and this is going to make life very difficult for serious journalism in Britain.”

So much for the much vaunted Bill of Rights…talked of by Nick Clegg and others which, as far as I can see, has not appeared as yet in any meaningful form.

On the theme of The Rule of Law – Rosalind English provides an excellent note in the UK Human Rights blog on a decision which will, no doubt, be an irritant for the present government: Suspected terrorist may not be deported to Jordan – Strasbourg rules

And.. if you need further evidence of the slow erosion of our rights..under Magna Carta.. or otherwise.. this from Michael Mansfield QC is worth reading:

Bashing trial by jury is pathetically predictable

The Guardian: Governments needing a facelift often attempt to curtail jury trial. Quick-fix supermarket justice must be resisted

And… a bit more?  Obiter J notes: “Extradition is in the news again.  The USA is seeking the extradition of Sheffield student Richard O’Dwyer and a judge, sitting at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, has ruled that there is no bar to his extradition – see Daily Mail 14th January.  The US authorities allege that Mr O’Dwyer listed on a website places from where pirated films and TV programmes could be downloaded.  This case – like that of Gary McKinnon – brings into focus the Extradition Act 2003…”

[ PS... Happy Second Birthday to Obiter J and his excellent blog - many happy returns to come! ]

While the McKinnon case and the O’Dwyer case may be distinguished – McKinnon is alleged to have hacked into Pentagon computers.  O’Dwyer set up a website linking to copyrighted material – in a manner not dissimilar to a search engine… Google, for example – it is clear to many that our extradition arrangements with the USA, designed to combat terrorism, are both one sided and are, arguably, being misused in the O’Dwyer case for purely commercial ends.  For my part, at first blush – without a deep understanding of the background to the O’Dwyer case as yet, perhaps our government should be more protective of the rights of citizens when it comes to handing them over to the Americans?

Without Prejudice podcasts resume this Thursday!

Well… there we are.  British justice.. being created by a democratically elected government – with a weak opposition which seems more concerned with party leadership issues and train fare prices than issues of civil liberties.

Mind you… Ken Clarke, apparently, thinks that bloggers are just a load of nutters and extremists.  I don’t think we are.  I wonder if Ken has actually read some of the leading Human Rights and Civil Liberties blogs… has he read Carl Gardner’s Head of Legal?  Has he read Jack of Kent?  Has he read the  UK Human Rights Blog ? Has he read Obiter J?

More to come as the week progresses.

Rive Gauche – Theft, drink driving and an outbreak of festive hooliganism at law firm Christmas party…

“A lawyer with a briefcase can steal more than a thousand men with guns.”
Mario Puzo

And today there is news of a barrister facing jail after admitting stealing £81,500 from his Chambers in Manchester. Manchester-based lawyer David Friesner, 46, admitted theft when he appeared at Leeds Crown Court for the start of his trial today – Manchester Evening News

And RollonFriday.com has news of another Manchester barrister up to no good: Top barrister done for drink driving

Unusual behaviour from M’learned friends is not confined to Manchester barristers.  RollonFriday writes about an outbreak of festive hooliganism at a law firm Christmas party: Exclusive: Fight erupts at DLA Piper Christmas celebration

A pre-Christmas night out for DLA Piper staff turned into a brawl, with a senior member of staff hospitalised.

Members of the firm’s marketing department were having a few festive pints at The Gables on Moorgate when a pissed-up reveller (with no connection to the firm) tried to crash the party. After making repeated advances to female members of the group, which were ignored, he announced that “one of you is going to get my cock“. The silver tongued charmer.

And… the judges get in on the act as well…

Judge publicly reprimanded over driving ban

Lord Justice Thorpe did not tell judicial authorities when he was banned for eight weeks after going through a red light

 

In the wake of my astonishment (reported below and here)  at the new logo being sported by BPP Law School earlier in the week, Alex Aldridge picks up the baton, inspiring some amusing comments in his Guardian piece: Law schools should focus on student job prospects, not new logos.

After commenting on BPP’s new ‘Lion’ logo, Alex Aldridge goes on to dissect the performance of a few of the law schools taking extracts from recent Bar Standards Board reports.   I have read all the BSB reports now and they make interesting reading.  I plan to do an analysis next week in some detail.

Solicitor and journalist  David Allen Green  has an interesting piece on the recent fisting Obscenity trial: Obscenity victory

The jury at Southwark Crown Court has returned unanimous Not Guilty verdicts on each of the six charges under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 against Michael Peacock.

The prosecution failed to convince a single juror that any of the DVD material distributed by Peacock was “depraving and corrupting” under the 1959 Act. The DVDs contained sexual practices such as fisting, BDSM, and so-called “watersports” depicted between consenting adults.

It is an important case – one where the jury revealed the flaws in an out of date Obscenity act and took a more tolerant attitude to sexual behaviour among consenting adults.

Law blogger Obiter J asks the question in a thoughtful piece in Legal Week: Do we need the Obscene Publications Acts?

The UK Human Rights blog also reports: Making a Fist of It: The Law and Obscenity

The internet has become an important work and social tool for many.   Adam Wagner considers the issue:  Is internet access a human right?

And finally – a useful round up of some of the UK Law blogs from Shireen Smith: UK Blawg Roundup #9 – Legal Services Act and Alternative Business Structures

BPP hit the 21st century with new logo….. hard!

I had to uncork the hip flask after discovering the new BPP ‘Lion’ logo this afternoon.  I was running BPP Law School when BPP Holdings PLC Chairman Richard Price revealed the last logo.  I thought the last logo was a bit dull – but this new one is, to my eye, simply astonishing… as is the reputed £300,000 price tag.

I shall spend the afternoon on clipart sites, knock a few logos together…and see if I can flawg them orf to The College of Law and other providers.  I suspect I shall be given the ‘V’ if I do ring the other providers.

RollonFriday.com – as ever – are on the case, with an amusing ‘assessment’.

The students at BPP have given their verdict on BPP Law School’s Facebook page…

I particularly liked this comment…

“Emily Gardner What a waste of £300,000. It’s almost as bad as the new tagline “Where legal eagles come to hatch”.”

I have no idea what the marketing department is smoking…. but if they would be kind enough to let me know where I can get some… be sure, I shall do so.

Rive Gauche: Foul-mouthed judge resigns rather than face the music…and other matters…

With the new year well under way and showing some early promise of demonstrations of the dark side of the human condition, I thought I would start Rive Gauche this week with a story picked up by RollonFriday.com….

Foul-mouthed judge resigns rather than face the music
RollonFriday.com reports: “A crown court judge who turned the air blue after appearing in court on a dangerous dog charge has resigned. Judge Beatrice Woodcock-Bolton hit the headlines a year ago when her German Shepherd, Georgina, bit one of her neighbours in the leg. Woodcock-Bolton was hauled before Carlisle Magistrates Court where she chewed gum, described the verdict against her as a “f**king travesty” and complained that she would “never sit in a court of law again“…..”

Rather than face the inevitable sack, Judge Woodcock-Bolton resigned on medical grounds…”The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice have decided no further disciplinary action is required.”

And then there was #Abbottgate – allowing twitter to explode in a frenzy of some real and largely imagined offence-taking. It was, perhaps, unfortunate timing but a day after the verdict and sentencing in the Stephen Lawrence trial for her to tweet “White people love playing divide and rule. We should not play their game,’ and referring to ‘tactics as old  as colonialism’. I gather that Diane Abbott, after Ed Miliband gave her a ‘dressing down’, then remarked on the tendency for London cabbies to drive past black people.

For my part, whatever it is worth, I don’t think that Diane Abbott MP is a racist.  Her tweet was a bit careless.  But not as careless as Ed Miliband’s wonderful tweet on hearing of the death of Blockbusters game show host Bob Holness:

@Ed_Miliband
Sad to hear that Bob Holness has died.  A generation will remember him fondly from Blackbusters.

I understand that the tweet was deleted fairly sharpish and replaced with one without the typo – but The Sun, ever keen to pick up on the the political faux pas of labour politicians caught the tweet just in time.  While I have voted Labour for thirty years, I am not keen on Ed Miliband as a future PM.  I tweeted this morning that he reminded me of a Police Community Support Officer keen to inspect car tax discs.

This week also brought ‘Fisting’ to the fore on twitter: Obscenity trial – the law is not suitable for a digital age

Myles Jackman in the Guardian: “I welcome the jury’s verdict but the OPA means the state is still capable of acting as a voyeur in the bedroom”

I need not trouble you with the facts of R v Peacock.  The coverage has been extensive in the press.  I have no doubt that meedja lawyers and others will blog about it.  Suffice it to say two things:  (1) That I can’t for the life of me see what business it is of the State’s to get involved in private matters between consenting adults and (2)  I have not managed to get around to this particular activity in my 50+ years on the planet. It is unlikely that I will need to develop skill with this technique.  It doesn’t appeal.

Obiter J, in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence trial has an interesting blog post: A look at racial murder, hate crime and the criminal offences available.

Professor Richard Moorhead, Cardiff University Law School asks: Does the legal profession need scholars?

“If we leave the question at ‘do lawyers need to be scholars?’ it is a relatively simple answer of no. We do not need practising lawyers to be devoted purely to the pursuit of knowledge. We cannot expect it of them, nor would it be in their client’s best interests. Lots of lawyers do not have to think or learn in the scholarly sense. They understand, research, diagnose, advise, act.

We should also understand that much of what legal education does is filter students. What firms are really interested in is the best candidates. They go to the universities they regard as the best, and those universities pick whom they regards as the best students. There are flaws in the judgements of universities and firms, but the reputation and quality of UK universities is a key part of the reputation of UK firms. And the ability of UK universities to attract the best students – which will be an increasingly global not national competition – will be a key part of that.”

Bitcher & Prickman cartoons are always worth a look – from US lawyer Charles Fincher Esq

A pleasure to see that family lawyer John Bolch is continuing to provide a remarkable online resource with his coverage of family law matters in Family Lore….@familylaw: Three thousand followers can’t be wrong…

Professor John Flood over at his RATs blog… continues to probe the legal profession’s future with his latest post:  PI(I)GS Might Fly!

The Troika is upsetting big bar associations because it is demanding the liberalization of professions in countries it is bailing out. Key complainers are the American Bar Association and the CCBE. (Thanks to Peter Lederer for the H/T).

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reported that the ABA and CCBE have written a letter to Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund and former head of the world’s largest law firm, Baker & McKenzie, asking her to pass on their concerns at the end of independence of the bar to the heads of the European Union and the European Central Bank…..

AND finally… The White Rabbit could not help himself….

“American born but long term UK resident photographer Eve Arnold has died aged 99. She spent a lot of time photographing Marilyn Monroe. As – erm – can be seen. I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself…..”

Read more…..

The Sale of Goods – a free online text with Q&As

The Sale of Goods

A fascinating subject and one I enjoyed teaching for many years.  I have published my textbook with Q&A examples online.  I am updating it to bring in the latest law and case law for mid 2010 – 2011.

My text and lectures on the  Law of Contract – a useful revision for those studying Sale of Goods may be found here.

You may read and download FREE.

1. The Contract of Sale

2. Terms of the contract

3. Exclusion Clauses

4. Title and Passing of Property

5. Retention of Title

6. Nemo Dat

7. Performance of the Contract

8. Remedies of the Seller

9. Remedies of the Buyer

10. Articles on Sale of Goods and Contract issues

11. Drafting Sale Contracts and specimen sale contract

Law of Contract online book & recorded lectures

Law of Contract

I have published my Law of Contract text online for some years.  I am updating it now to include some caselaw from 2010 -2011 and plan to complete the series of recorded lectures for each chapter shortly.

It is FREE to read and download. The lecture widget takes about 20 seconds to load where there is a lecture for the topic.

Contents

1. What is a Contract

2. Intention to create legal relations

3. Offer

4, Acceptance

5. Consideration

6. Promissory Estoppel

7. Terms of the Contract

8. Exclusion Clauses and the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977

9. Remedies for Breach of Contract

10. Misrepresentation

11. Product Liability

12. Mistake

13. Illegality and Restraint of trade

14. Discharge of Contracts by Breach, agreement, Frustration

15. Waiver and Promissory Estoppel

16. Duress and Undue Influence

17. Key cases

Law Review: Stephen Lawrence – Short sentences?

Guilty of murder

Inevitably, there was a hint of knee-jerking on twitter  at the ‘short’ sentences handed down to Dobson and Norris for their part in the murder of Stephen Lawrence.  One can understand the views expressed by some that the sentences were too short.

A number of points arise:  (1) The judge made it clear that he was constrained by Parliament. (2) The judge had to sentence on the basis of their juvenile status when the murder was committed (c) Article 7 European Convention on Human Rights  prohibits retrospective punishment, that is punishment using law which was not applicable at the time of the crime. – the sentences had to reflect the law prior to the change in 2003.

Mr Justice Treacy made it clear that he was obliged to give reduced sentences reflecting the juvenile status of Dobson and Norris,  applying the law applicable at the time of the murder 19 years ago and  noting that no discount could be given for contrition, no contrition being shown.

It is important to note that the sentences are ‘life sentences’ – or ‘detained at her Majesty’s Pleasure’ in the case of juveniles. This means that the sentences of 14-15 years to be served as a minimum (lower than the minimum of  30 for an adult under the law today for a racially aggravated murder) while apparently short, may not prove to be in practice.  Commentators have observed that automatic parole will not be applicable because of the lack of contrition. They have also noted that it is rare for parole to be given at the first opportunity.  Further, the Parole Board will not release a prisoner on licence if they form the view that the prisoner continues to be a danger to the public. It is argued that the racism of Dobson and Norris is embedded in their personalities and this will be a significant factor for the Parole Board.  It is likely that Dobson and Norris will serve more than the minimum sentences handed down – perhaps significantly more?

Adam Wagner, writing in the Guardian, has an excellent analysis.

Mr Justice Treacy’s sentencing remarks

Change in double jeopardy law led to Gary Dobson’s retrial

Joshua Rozenberg explains the change to the double jeopardy law: Change to rule allowed Dobson to be retried for Stephen Lawrence’s murder

Stephen Lawrence murder: reaction to sentencing of Gary Dobson and David Norris

Sponsored Post: Metal Company Prosecuted after Worker Loses Hand

Metal Company Prosecuted after Worker Loses Hand
BY first4lawyers.com

RDB Fabrication and Engineering Limited, a metal fabrication firm based in Bradford, has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive, following an accident at work involving one of its employees.

Appearing at Halifax Magistrates’ Court, the company was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,000, after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, which states: “Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken which are effective (a) to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or (b) to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.”

The accident occurred when 22-year-old worker, Jamie Raynor, was operating a hydraulic press brake when the top pressing tool came crashing down on his arm. The tool sliced through Mr Raynor’s wrist and completely severed his hand. The casual worker suffered the accident after the firm requested he attend work on the Saturday in order to maintain productivity levels.

An investigation by the medical negligence executive, revealed that RDB Fabrication and Engineering Limited had failed to ensure that an electronic motion guard, designed to stop the movement of the machine in the event of a person entering the danger zone, was working properly. In the event, the guard failed to operate correctly as Mr Raynor extended his arm into the machine.

Personal injury claims involving accidents in the manufacturing industry are common in the UK, with many such accident claims arising after employees have been exposed to dangerous or moving components of machinery. Until employers take their health and safety obligations more seriously, accidents of the kind endured by Mr Raynor will continue to occur.

Paul Newton, an inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, said: “A young man has had his life changed forever by a terrible, avoidable accident. The dangers of working with press brakes are well known in the industry and there have been many instances of workers being seriously injured.”

Mr Newton added: “That’s why these machines are fitted with guards to prevent access to the danger zone. In this case, the company’s failure to ensure these guards were effective had tragic consequences. Contact with moving machinery is one of the main causes of fatal injuries to workers and the third highest cause of major injuries. I hope this serves as a reminder to employers of the importance of safeguarding their employees.”

Guest Law Review – Parental Child Abduction

Guest Law Review – Parental Child Abduction
BY Cara Nuttall, Associate at Pannone. 

I have been considering the latest parental child abduction statistics following the release of one of the most comprehensive surveys of child abduction since the Hague Convention -the treaty on international co-operation in cases of child abduction – came into force.

The survey was conducted by the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference and Cardiff University and considered all worldwide applications made for the return of children in 2008.

The reports show that in 2008, there were 2,460 applications made, marking an increase of approximately 45% since 2003.  69% of international abductions were undertaken by mothers, the majority of whom were the primary carer of the children.

The Central Authority in England and Wales was the second busiest, with the US having the most number of cases.  Cases of child abduction involving England and Wales increased by 33% from 2003.  The report also showed that the courts in England and Wales generally deal with child abduction cases far quicker than the global average.

The contents of the report mirror our experience in the department over the last few years, and we are now increasingly consulted by parents who are involved in disputes about children which span international boundaries.  Many people do not understand the law regarding moving children between countries, and often think that if they are the children’s primary carer, they can choose where the children live.  Moving without the relevant authority either of the court or the other parent can lead to complex and expensive legal proceedings which usually end in an order that the child be returned to the original country.  This can be avoided if arrangements are addressed properly before the departure takes place.

Anyone who has children with international links and is concerned about where they will live in the future, arrangements for contact or even issues surrounding temporary visits to see family or friends abroad is advised to seek specialist advice from a family law solicitor before making any arrangements.

This was a guest article written by Cara Nuttall, Associate at Pannone. 

The Ducks wish all…..HNY 2012

The Ducks are benign… for the most part… but there is a big BUT….

HNY…2012

And… I can only add this for added absurdity…. in these dark days…

But.. if you have time on your hands as a law blogger… do remember… there is always the fame of The Orwell Prize.. (which you have to put yourself up for!)…  not that Orwell would have wanted one… as he said…

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.

The last winner.. was a man called Hari... didn’t end up well..  sorry… I should have said.., *Upwell*

An Orwell quote worth remembering….

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

AND finally on this ludicrous issue of The Orwell Prize….

I wish you well if you do… BUT…..do you  really need a PRIZE as an independent blogger… ?

If you are into the #Leveson Inquiry… this is worth watching to get an idea of what may happen to freedom of the press…possibly.

And… a tweet exchange which I enjoyed…

I explain my comment about law being the nadir of human achievement in this way – If we were truly civilised… we would have no need of law…or regulation.  It is absurd, therefore, to think that we are truly civilised yet… for there are many laws and the world is crawling with lawyers.  Ipso facto… we have not evolved far enough yet?

This is not a criticism of the BSB/ SRA/ Law Society / Bar Council /Legal Ombudsman Johnny et al or any other august body corporate or temporal individual legal practitioner, current or pending  …. but a statement of my belief that Darwin was right… evolution has some way to go yet!

AND… finally.. @legaltwo hits the nail on the head….with these two tweets…