Law Review Weekly #3 Part I – U-Turns and fraudulent bankers

In a week where Chancellor Osbore has performed yet another U-turn (Government tally: 40+ and counting so far),  we wake to news of yet more greed and fraud from the bankers – this time, fiddling LIBOR…

On the matter of Osbore’s U-turns – I watched the Paxman interview with treasury minister Chloe Smith MP who was ripped apart for the edification on the Newsnight watching horde the other evening – Guardian: Jeremy Paxman interviews Chloe Smith: the full transcript | The Car crash interview with Paxo. However, Chancellor Osbore comes out of this debacle with his reputation as a ‘coward’ intact… so some good news for CCHQ.

As to the banker LIBOR fiddling: It would seem that the Barclays ‘Big Society’ initiative to provide work experience for disadvantaged looters hasn’t gone too well.

Curiously – while imprisonment faced the young looters and rioters of last summer – Barclays (and other banks soon to follow) face only a fine.  in the US, Barclays is believed to have secured immunity from criminal prosecution – paying only a hefty fine of £220 to the US authorities and £50 million (ish) to the FSA who seem to regard the matter as a purely ‘civil action’.  Ironically, the fine will be used to reduce the fees for other banks – other than other British banks yet to be caught out in the LIBOR fraud.

But all in the world is good – our prime minister has said, with his usual acuity and precision..or, some might say, his usual vacuity and imprecision.”I think the whole management team have got some serious questions to answer. Let them answer those questions first.”  (BBC)

City Unslicker writes: How did Barclays make it through that dark days of 2009?

By whistle-blowing Barclays are probably covered against future investigations and the other Banks will soon get their own place in the limelight of shame. It’s a sad story though and shows that even the heart of the markets cannot be trusted, a sad day for financial capitalism and the reputation of London - but a better day hopefully as it lead to positive changes at the Banks (or their regulators keeping a better watch).

Perhaps the CPS, when they have finished wasting court time with the prosecution of Paul Chambers in the #TwitterJokeTrial case, will be able to turn their minds to the possibility that bankers may have committed criminal offences?  If no suitable criminal offences can be found in the HUGE database of UK wide crime laws – perhaps Parliament could address attention to remedying this for the future?

Anyway.. there we are: A further ‘dark’ thought occurred to me – which I tweeted…“If I rent a Barclays *Boris bicycle*.. can I be sure that someone at Barclays hasn’t fiddled with the settings or gearing?”

The Twitter Joke Trial has been in the news again with the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, presiding at a hearing yesterday.  I did a podcast on the issue with Paul Chambers’ solicitor David Allen Green on the eve before the hearing: #WithoutPrejudice Special: #Twitterjoketrial with David Allen Green -  and Carl Gardner did an interview with David Allen Green and counsel John Copper QC after the hearing: “Twitter joke” appeal: interview with John Cooper QC and David Allen Green

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Recent Lawcasts…

Lawcast 210: Barbara Hamilton Bruce on CILEX and the changing legal world…

Today I am talking to Barbara Hamilton-Bruce who describes herself as “Mother, wife, friend, worker bee, FILEX, social drinker and occasional disco dancer” on twitter where she tweets enthusiastically as @bhamiltonbruce

Barbara also has a blog – The Red Files - and one of her recent posts caught my attention and amused me: Law Tourism

Listen to the podcast

Twitter Joke Trial

#WithoutPrejudice Special: #Twitterjoketrial with David Allen Green

Lawcast 209:  Francis FitzGibbon QC on the Assange asylum bid

Julian Assange walked into the  Ecuador Embassy in London on Tuesday evening to claim political asylum.  The President of Ecuador is shortly to make a statement on Assange’s application.  Today I am talking to Francis FitzGibbon QC about the law relating to asylum and the legal consequences of Assange’s extraordinary decision to seek asylum – a decision which surprised several of his supporters who put up the bail money and which they are possibly in danger of forfeiting.

Listen to the podcast

Read – Francis FitzGibbon QC article: Julian the Asylum Seeker

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Legal education news sponsored by BPP Law School

Beautician turned barrister GEORGINA BLACKWELL awarded a First in law at BPP

 Georgina Blackwell, the former beautician who made national headlines in 2009 when she won a High Court case with Bellway Homes has achieved a first class honours, the highest level of degree that can be awarded, from privately owned BPP University College. Georgina, aged 26, from Colchester, Essex who completed the LLB Law (Hons) in 2 years at BPP’s London Waterloo centre, is on her way to becoming a barrister following her examination results published this week. Peter Crisp, Dean of BPP Law School wrote to Georgina in November 2009, offering her a scholarship, having read about her court case, where she defeated the property developer in a dispute over access to her family’s garden, despite having had no legal training.

And Legal Cheek hones in on a current problem issue for legal education…

Restricting The BPTC To Students Who’ve Already Bagged a Pupillage Wouldn’t Breach Competition Law…

The plight of thousands of aspiring barristers who invest large sums of money to undertake the BPTC, but are increasingly unlikely to secure pupillage, has encouraged a lively debate in and around the profession (see, for instance, contributions from The Law Horse, Alex Aldridge and BPP Law School CEO Peter Crisp).

In this debate competition law looms like a spectre; often being referred to but rarely being discussed.

Worth a read…read more…

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New books from Oxford University Press

Highlights

New Edition
International Co-operation in Civil and Criminal Matters
Third Edition
David McClean

Charting the Divide Between Common and Civil Law
Thomas Lundmark

From Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime
Criminal Careers, Justice Policy and Prevention
Edited by Rolf Loeber and David P. FarringtonPaperback | 416 pages

From Single Market to Economic Union
Essays in Memory of John A. Usher
Edited by Niamh Nic Shuibhne and Laurence W. Gormley

Infrastructure
The Social Value of Shared Resources
Brett M. Frischmann

Negotiating Spaces
Legal Domains, Gender Concerns, and Community Constructs
Edited by Flavia Agnes, Edited by Shoba Venkatesh Ghosh, and Edited by Majlis

New Edition
The Future of Human Rights
Third Edition
Upendra Baxi

Creation without Restraint
Promoting Liberty and Rivalry in Innovation
Christina Bohannan and Herbert Hovenkamp

New Edition
Covert Investigation
Third Edition
Clive Harfield and Karen Harfield

Part II Law Review Weekly – later today or first thing Friday morning…

Lawcast 210: Barbara Hamilton Bruce on CILEX and the changing legal world…


Lawcast 210: Barbara Hamilton Bruce on CILEX and the changing legal world…

Today I am talking to Barbara Hamilton-Bruce who describes herself as “Mother, wife, friend, worker bee, FILEX, social drinker and occasional disco dancer” on twitter where she tweets enthusiastically as @bhamiltonbruce

Barbara also has a blog – The Red Files - and one of her recent posts caught my attention and amused me: Law Tourism

Listen to the podcast

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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, BPP Law School and Cellmark for sponsoring the  the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.

In association with The Lawyer

With thanks to the Law Society for sponsoring the  Law Review Weekl and my Lawcasts

#WithoutPrejudice Special: #Twitterjoketrial with David Allen Green

Welcome to this Without Prejudice Special on the Twitter Joke Trial with solicitor David Allen Green

The background to the Twitter Joke Trial is set out admirably by David Allen Green in a recent article in The New Statesman and here for some useful links to other coverage and legal analysis.

Also well worth reading from Heresy Corner : The Turing Joke Test

The appeal tomorrow, by way of Case Stated,  will be on points of law only.  Paul has appealed already to the Crown Court, which upheld his conviction.  A previous hearing at the High Court was inconclusive.  Tomorrow will be Paul’s seventh day in court on this case, which has lasted two-and-a-half years.

Listen to the podcast

Guest post: Professor R.D. Charon on the vicissitudes of a career in Law

From time to time I allow my brother, Professor R.D. Charon, to express his more strident views on legal academe by inviting him to do a guest post. Well to the right of Mr Genghis Khan and embittered by an almost invisible career in the back rooms of a university – the worthy professor has advice in plenty for the aspirant law student.  I accept no liability whatsoever for any injury to mind or body (or at all) which may be sustained by the reader who is minded to take Professor Charon’s advice.  Caveat emptor… as we say down at The Old Duck and Dog.

The Vicissitude of a career in Law

BY Professor R.D. Charon LLB (Cantab), BCL, Ph.d,  FRSA
Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence, University of The Rive Gauche, London Faculty, London

Author: “Legal Nihilism: Taking Rights Seriously, seriously”, Maninahat Press, 2009

I can do no better than reprise my annual address to the new intake of vestal virgins who present themselves at my university each October, their burden of wealth lightened by the accounts department, eager to begin their ‘journey of discovery’ in the Law.

Gentlemen and Ladies, Good morning.

Professor RD Charon plays the opening song   from Cabaret to the audience

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!
Fremde, etranger, stranger.
Gluklich zu sehen, je suis enchante,
Happy to see you, bleibe, reste, stay.

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome
Im Cabaret, au Cabaret, to Cabaret

Meine Damen und Herren, Mesdames et Messieurs,
Ladies and Gentlemen! Guden Abend, bon soir,
We geht’s? Comment ca va? Do you feel good?
I bet you do!
Ich bin euer Confrecier; je suis votre compere…
I am your host!

Well.. there we are… you few, you happy few, you band of brothers who, despite the endeavours of Mr Michael Gove, a political Colossus who strides the empire of his own vanity, have arrived at our university to begin your studies in the Laws of England & Wales with a soupçon of European law woven pervasively through the syllabus to equip you to deal with Johnny Foreigner’s issues across The Channel, should you have the misfortune to be involved in same.

A few words to encourage you. Approximately two percent of you gathered here today will defeat the examiners – and make no mistake, at this university, we are out to get you – you will secure First Class Honours.  Given the reputation of our university, such an award, maxima cum laude, will provide a most satisfactory start to your career. Fifteen per cent of you will secure honours at Upper Second, giving you a sporting chance with the leading firms and chambers, and 40 per cent will have to do what you can in the legal world with a Lower Second.  For the gentlemen and gentleladies among you who regard your lives as a crime in progress, as Hunter S. Thompson would say, and secure a Third – this is a Certificate of Incompetence and it may be best that you leave your alma mater and head off , post haste, to the Police Community Support Officer’s recruitment centre – the address to which is helpfully provided by us in your ‘Welcome Pack’.  The Law will not be for you.

The exigencies of modern life, with universities cast into the cauldron of commerce by Two Brains Willett’s and left to fund for themselves, have forced us against the very fabric of our collective wills, to levy a fee for your education well north of the £9000 per annum charged by lesser institutions.  On the upside – you will not be required to sit through a battery hen two year ‘new style’ law degree favoured by some parvenu institutions where black letter law is regarded as an inconvenience and the syllabus is brimming with the practice skills of stapling, creating PDFs, bundling et al and a fair bit of financial mumbo-jumbery cobbled together from the vaults of a US inspired MBA program (sic). Nor will you be taught by sundry gurus, prognosticators and modern day legal profession Messiahs. You will be taught by distinguished men and women who have devoted their lives to the study of law in their field and who, through benefit of reflection, are able to shape the laws of our country by sharing their opinions through learned journals.  Indeed, my own magnum opus, “Legal Nihilism: Taking Rights Seriously, seriously”, Maninahat Press, 2009 was, I am advised, quoted with approval by a High Court judge only yesterday in a complex matter.

As to your future.  From this university a career at the commerical bar or a leading City law firm awaits those who reach the top of the mountain first.  You will be able to writhe with pleasure in the cess pit of mammon for about thirty years before the inevitable decline at the age of 50 and you are de-equitised by your partners at the firm of your choosing or, in the alternative, the senior clerk of your Chambers asks if he may have a ‘quiet word’ and hands you a copy of the latest Saga holiday brochure.

Gentlemen and ladies – the future is bright… the future is in your hands.  Tomorrow belongs to you.  I wish you well.

Professor Charon nods to the students and plays Tomorrow Belongs To Me from Cabaret to inspire the students.

Podcast version – with music

Lawcast 209: Francis FitzGibbon QC on the Assange asylum bid

Lawcast 209:  Francis FitzGibbon QC on the Assange asylum bid

Julian Assange walked into the  Ecuador Embassy in London on Tuesday evening to claim political asylum.  The President of Ecuador is shortly to make a statement on Assange’s application.  Today I am talking to Francis FitzGibbon QC about the law relating to asylum and the legal consequences of Assange’s extraordinary decision to seek asylum – a decision which surprised several of his supporters who put up the bail money and which they are possibly in danger of forfeiting.

Listen to the podcast

Read – Francis FitzGibbon QC article: Julian the Asylum Seeker

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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, BPP Law School and Cellmark for sponsoring the  the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.

In association with The Lawyer

With thanks to the Law Society for sponsoring the  Law Review Weekl and my Lawcasts

Law Review Weekly #2: 10th – 19th June 2012

It is difficult to know where to start this week.  The law just keeps giving. 
Tax law seems to be in the news with the Times revelations about comedian Jimmy Carr who manages to salt away, apparently, £3 million yearly for his ‘produce’. Apparently Carr is having the last laugh having reduced his tax exposure to 1% with the K2 scheme. Tax evasion is illegal.  Tax avoidance is not.

There appears, however, to be some form of ‘aggressive tax avoidance’ which chancellor Osborne and prime minister Cameron regard as ‘morally repugnant’.  It now seems that Mr Gary Barlow, recently elevated to OBE, may be a participant in – a  perfectly legal tax avoidance tactic – as well,  though with a different consultancy who don’t name their schemes after mountains.

The answer seems to be relatively straightforward.  The government hold all the aces.  They have the power to draft tax laws clearly – to minimise or even stop tax avoidance schemes.  Of course, it cannot possibly be as simple as that or the government would have done it.  Or would they?

Blogger LoveandGarbage doesn’t mess about on this issue – a good read.  He analyses the matter with precision: Spartacus restored scene – starring David Cameron

Julian Assange, facing extradition to Sweden to answer questions about his sexual conduct, took refuge in the London embassy of Ecuador on Tuesday evening.
Apart from Ecuador, not noted for human rights or freedom of the press, is a a rather curious choice for the ‘champion of free speech’ – Assange may well fail in this latest tactic to avoid extradition to the USA via Sweden.  Francis Fitzgibbon QC analyses the legal issues in a very clear blog post -  Julian the Asylum Seeker - pointing out, that in any event, Sweden would not be able to extradite Assange to the USA without the consent of the British home secretary until any charges put are proved in court, at which time Sweden would not be permitted by the European Convention to order authorisation to the USA if there was any prospect of Assange facing the death penalty.

And… it is not often that we see cases of judges being subject to judicial review which are successful.
Nearly Legal, a leading housing law blog, comments on such a case: Judicial review of a closed minded appeal.

“This is by any measure an unusual case. It is a judicial review of the conduct of an appeal to a circuit judge in an unlawful eviction and harassment claim. What is more, it is a successful claim for judicial review (sorry to spoil the tension)…

Read more…

Tony Nicklinson wants to die.  Unfortunately, he is ‘locked-in’ and needs a compassionate third party to kill him.  Will the law go so far as to include ‘necessity’ as a defence to murder or somehow find a solution to this awful situation for Mr Nicklinson?  Given that Parliament is unlikely to sanction euthanasia – and even Lord Falconer, a keen supporter of assisted suicide, does not go so far as to accept Mr Nicklinson’s proposition, it is unlikely that the court will find in Mr Nicklinson’s favour. The legal argument has been put to the judges. We await their decision.

I wrote about the issue in broad terms – covering suicide, assisted suicide and Mr Nicklinson’s predicament earlier in the week: The right to sign our own ‘death sentence’. The right to die and to refuse medical treatment or intervention.

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Recent Lawcasts with members of the profession

Natasha Phillips of Researching Reform on topical family law issues
Natasha Phillips is a non-practising barrister and author of the Researching Reform blog – an excellent and  thoughtfully constructed resource for practitioners and others interested in the field of family law.  We look at gay marriage – problem families – no-fault divorce – forced marriages.

Listen to the podcast

Legal Cheek podcast: PODCAST: Be Yourself, Not Some ‘Made In Chelsea’ Clone

The quality of advocacy – BBC Law in Action

“As the lines blur between the work of solicitors and barristers , Joshua Rozenberg asks whether a cheaper service provides better value for money or is it leading to poor representation in court and ultimately miscarriages of justice? He discusses the issues with Baroness Deech of the Bar Standards Board, a solicitor advocate Sundeep Bhatia and Elisabeth Davies, Chair of the Consumer panel at the Legal Services Board. He also speaks to senior appeal court judge Lord Justice Moses and asks about the best way to assess quality and what dangers lie ahead if suffers.”

Listen

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The Law blogs…

The UK Human Rights blog from 1 Crown Office Row produces yet another thoughtful piece – this time from the pen of Adam Wagner.

There is a democratic deficit in the courts… here’s how to fill it

The current Government often complains about a “democratic deficit” in the courts. It seems that  ”unelected judges” are making important decisions on social policy without any kind of democratic mandate, particularly in controversial human rights cases.

I agree that there is a democratic deficit in the courts. But it isn’t about elections. It is about access.

Read more…

I agree with Adam Wagner’s viewpoint – but I would go a bit further and push the discussion to include wider access  to the ranks of the judiciary. Most of the judges come from the Bar.  That is a historical fact.  Increasingly, judges are being selected from the solicitors and legal executives sides of the profession.  In the recent round of judicial appointments – women fared better, but ethnic minorites not so well.

While a legal academic would not be qualified to sit at first instance or, possibly, on appeal to the Court of Appeal  – unless they were practising as well – there is a case to be made for eminent legal academics to be appointed to the UK Supreme Court where issues of law, rather than fact and evidence, dominate the discussion. Academic reflection and study of the law (and the skills which such deep study brings) seems to me to be a most useful qualification to have when considering the difficult issues faced by the UKSC.  I certainly believe that our judiciary should reflect better the changing mores of our times and the constituent peoples of our nation.  It will take time – but progress does seem to be rather slow.  I can see no reason, in the changing legal landscape with solicitor-advocates taking on more court work – for the bench to be an exclusive sinecure for or preserve of the barrister.

Inner Temple Library wins award for ‘Current Awareness’

I was delighted to see that Inner Temple Library’s hard work over the past years with their excellent Current Awareness service has been recognised with BIALL’s Wallace Breem Award 2012.

Obiter J provides an insightful look into: Justice and Security Bill ~ second reading in Lords

Obiter J notes

Liberty believes that the proposals are dangerous and unnecessary. They will not only overturn centuries of common law fair trial protections for those seeking to challenge the actions of the State, but also undermine the vital constitutional principle that no one is above the law, including the Government.

“LIBERTY” – Campaign “For their eyes only” and see their briefing paper on the bill. 

So, what do others have to say?

Read more…

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The Guardian

Offering Julian Assange asylum in Ecuador could be an empty gesture

Julian Assange asylum: questions and answers

Secret court plans ‘address genuine problem in disproportionate way’

‘As hard as it gets’: the case of anorexic E and the right to die
Daniel Sokol: The judge in this challenging case relied on intuition. In such a dilemma, can law or ethics ever yield a single right answer

Officer accused of Ian Tomlinson killing appears in court

Legal Week: Ex-Dewey partners offered settlement deal to avoid future liability

The Lawyer: Mishcon unveils turbo-charged results as turnover leaps 20 per cent

The Lawyer: SJ Berwin turnover flatlines after year of “consolidation”

The Lawyer: Court of Appeal in key corporate veil ruling

Sponsored by the Law Society

Professional Update Thursday 14 June 2012
This week’s issue features equal civil marriage, new CML instructions, member offers, and more.

Excellence Awards are now open for nominations

Ambush marketing: join the debate

Sponsored by CILEx

VQ Day 2012
CILEx is supporting VQ Day, which is being held today, 20 June 2012.

Bar Council news

Bar Council Responds to Consultation on Separate Legal Jurisdiction for Wales

“The Bar Council has responded to the Welsh Government’s consultation on whether there should be a separate legal jurisdiction for Wales. The Bar Council does not express a view on this matter, which is essentially a political question, but it seeks to identify a number of practical issues relevant to arguments for and against the proposition.

It argues that, even if a decision was taken to create a separate legal jurisdiction for Wales, it is in the public as well as the UK national interest that there is free movement of legal professionals within the UK by assisting the administration of justice. It also argues that there would be no need to create any separate institutions for the legal professions in Wales.”

Please click here to read the Bar Council’s full response.

BAILII: Recent Decisions

Recent case summaries from ICLR

XX (Ethiopia) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (JUSTICE intervening) – WLR Daily
IMMIGRATION — Deportation — Conducive to public good

Hutton and others v Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority [2012] EWCA Civ 806; [2012] WLR (D) 176
CRIME — Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority — Application for compensation — Application made outside prescribed time period

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A look at the surreal and possibly bizarre side of the legal world…

The Bar’s tricks have been revealed... hat tip to @legalaware on twitter.

Fraud Prevention Services have provided a nifty guide for cons and others likely to end up in a court of law: Tricks barristers often use and how to overcome them

The Yes/No You Lie Trick - The Keep Talking Trick – Play Around the Borders Trick - Irrelevant Technical Point TrickProvoking Anger Trick - Questions with Assumptions Trick

All rather tricky?  Oui?

Legal Cheek weighs into the sea of ignorance with: Getting a Pupillage Contract At Slaughter & CILEX: Report Reveals That Young People Are Ill-Informed About Careers

“Young people are overconfident slackers who don’t have a clue about the real world, new research has revealed….Want to find out if your knowledge about legal careers beats your average moron teen? Take the Legal Cheek test.

RollonFriday.com has a bonza of a post for you…

Defendant launches into potty-mouthed courtroom tirade

The Supreme Court of Queensland was subjected to an expletive filled rant from a disgruntled defendant last week, who used the word “f*ck” 77 times during a hearing.

The defendant did little to endear himself to the judge during the short hearing. Effing and blinding from the outset, he opened by telling the judge: “look – listen here, mate, you don’t know what you’re f*cking  talking about“. He added that the judge was a “lard arse“, telling him to “stick your trial up your f*cking arse” and, enigmatically, complaining that the judge was “talking but not in the lingo language“. And when the judge made an order he responded, with rapier wit, “Order me a f*ckin’ pizza while you’re at it“. Boom.

And finally…

Legal education news sponsored by BPP Law School

Legal Week Student Q&A in association with BPP Law School. In this Q&A, Legal Week editor-in-chief John Malpas discusses the hot topics in legal education with Peter Crisp, dean of BPP Law School. Crisp gives his take on the pressure to improve diversity in the legal profession, the 2020 Review of legal education and how candidates can stand out from the crowd when applying for a coveted training contract.

You need to register to watch the webcast

Guest post: 5 steps to keep in mind while making a personal injury claim

5 steps to keep in mind while making a personal injury claim
Ken Adams

“Personal injury” has a broad definition. It could be an injury sustained at your job that leaves you unable to work, a road accident, health problems resulting from the consumption of a faulty product, health issues made worse by medical negligence, or you becoming injured from a safety hazard on public property. Considering the prevalence of personal injury causes, it is smart to know exactly what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation.

Here are some other things to keep in mind if you have to make a personal injury claim.
1. Take the steps necessary to mitigate the injury, even before you make a claim. When you are experiencing personal injury, the most important factor is to make sure that you can get well as soon as possible. This means that before you begin the claims process, you should visit the doctor, even if your injury seems very trivial. Sometimes, small injuries can grow into more serious problems when left untreated, which leaves you vulnerable to claims of negligence for your own health. You should also contact your insurance company to make sure that they are aware of the situation.

2. Contact the police. If you are dealing with an incident like a car accident or an incident that involves not only personal injury but damage to property, you should contact the police to file a report. A police report can give you evidence to rely on when you make your claim, and it also introduces an official, third-party account–something that will become important in a case of “your word against mine”.

3. Keep your own file of evidence. Even after filing a police report, you should gather your own information about the incident. This may include taking photos from several different angles (especially in the case of a road accident or an injury that resulted from a safety hazard in a public place), getting the contact information of witnesses in case you need their testimony later, and writing down the sequence of events while you still remember them accurately (especially in the case of hospital negligence).

4. Be aware that the results of your claim may not be in your favour. Filing a personal injury claim is often a lengthy process that doesn’t result in the compensation that you are seeking. In fact, sometimes, no compensation is awarded at all. It is important to prepare yourself for the fact that you may not win in your complaint before you decide to commit time (and possibly money) to it.

5. Weigh the pros and cons of choosing a claims assessor and a claims solicitor. However, if you move forward with your personal injury claim, there are two types of help you can use. Claims assessors, which are usually seen as more affordable, usually advertise their services on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. However, assessors don’t always have the same abilities as solicitors to reap the compensation you win in court. Assessors may also ask for a percentage of your compensation if you win, which could result in you paying a large sum of money if you win big.

In the moment, it may be difficult to know what to do to make a successful claim for your personal injury. However, if you commit these steps to memory beforehand, you can be prepared and turn a bad situation into a favourable outcome. Getting experienced legal counsel, such as Irwin Mitchell, can also help quell some of your concerns about what to do if you are injured.

The right to sign our own ‘death sentence’. The right to die and to refuse medical treatment or intervention.

“I do believe that it is a person’s first human right to be able to determine when, where and how to end his own life. All this talk about a person’s life being ‘a gift from god and only he can decide when a person’s life can end’ is utter rubbish.

“I don’t really care if you believe in god, Santa or the tooth fairy; it is okay up to a point but when believers insist that their way is the only way I get angry. What if you believe in a different faith or no faith? I object to being told what I can and cannot do by a faith I don’t believe in (for the record I am an atheist). I feel that I am denied my most basic human right; I object to society telling me that I must live until I die of natural causes and I will do all I can to restore those rights.”

Mr Tony Nicklinson in The Independent: Tony Nicklinson: ‘Perhaps I’ll say goodbye on Twitter’

The Independent reports: “A severely disabled man with locked-in syndrome will this week endeavour to change euthanasia laws by convincing three High Court judges that any doctor who helps him to die should not face criminal charges.

In a landmark case Tony Nicklinson is asking the court to extend the common law of ‘necessity’ to assisted suicide and murder so that he can be medically helped to die without the doctor risking prosecution.

Can it be right, in a civilised society, that an individual be denied the right to determine the mode and time of death, ask for the assistance of a compassionate third person without the risk of that third person being prosecuted or be denied the right to refuse medical treatment when life is so unbearable that life becomes a burden?

This a complex moralo-ethical issue beset with difficult legal issues – not by any means clear in law: statute or caselaw.

1.  The Suicide Act 1961 states that it is no longer a criminal offence to take one’s own life.  Unfortunately, without medical assistance, suicide is often grim, bloody and painful.

2.  The law on assisted suicide is rather more complex and is regulated, in the United Kingdom,  guidelines published by the Director of Pubic Prosecutions,

3.  The legal presumption in favour of life: Mr Justice Peter Jackson in A Local Authority v E [2012] (Infra) at para. 120 states: “All human life is of value and our law contains the strong presumption that all steps will be taken to preserve it, unless the circumstances are exceptional.  This principle is reflected in Article 2 EHCR, which provides that everyone’s life shall be protected by law.  It is the most fundamental of the Convention rights.”

  4. Set against Article 2 ECHR is Article 8 ECHR: ” The ability to lead one’s life as one chooses is the cornerstone of individual liberty.  Article 8 ECHR guarantees  the right to respect for a person’s private life.  This right belongs to “everyone” and the fact that a person lacks mental capacity does not deprive them of its protection. “  Peter Jackson J, A Local Authority v E [2012]  (Infra) at para. 125

Later this week, Mr Nicklinson will ask the court to extend the common law of ‘necessity’ to assisted suicide and murder so that he can be medically helped to die without the doctor risking prosecution.  The problem for Tony Nicklinson – he cannot take his own life or fall within DPP guidelines. He needs someone else to kill him – which is murder as presently defined -  a step too far? Parliament will not sanction euthanasia for the present or, in all likelihood, the long term future.  The judges are likely to say that this is a matter for Parliament?

5. The right to refuse medical treatment and medical intervention:

In A Local Authority v E [2012]., on the right to refuse medical treatment or intervention,  Mr Justice Peter Jackson had to balance the sanctity of human life with the individual rights enshrined in Article 8 ECHR.  The judgment is clearly written and well worth careful reading.

Peter Jackson J set out the law on capacity (paras 7-11):

The law

7. People with capacity are entitled to make decisions for themselves, including about what they will and will not eat, even if their decision brings about their death.  The state, here in the form of the Court of Protection, is only entitled to interfere where a person does not have the capacity to decide for herself.

8. By contrast, where a person lacks capacity, there is a duty to make the decision that is in her best interests.

9. The first question therefore is whether the person has capacity.  The second, which can only arise if she does not, is what decision is in her best interests.

10. A valid advance decision made at a time when a person has capacity will be effective if the decision has to be made after capacity has been lost.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005

11. These principles appear and are amplified in the statutory framework of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (‘the MCA’), the relevant provisions being ss. 1-4 and 24-26.

1    The principles
(1)    The following principles apply for the purposes of this Act.
(2)    A person must be assumed to have capacity unless it is established that he lacks capacity.
(3)    A person is not to be treated as unable to make a decision unless all practicable steps to help him to do so have been taken without success.
(4)    A person is not to be treated as unable to make a decision merely because he makes an unwise decision.
(5)    An act done, or decision made, under this Act for or on behalf of a person who lacks capacity must be done, or made, in his best interests.
(6)    Before the act is done, or the decision is made, regard must be had to whether the purpose for which it is needed can be as effectively achieved in a way that is less restrictive of the person’s rights and freedom of action.

Obiter J considers the complex case of A Local Authority v E [2012] Court of Protection ~ Anorexic patient ~ Capacity to refuse treatment

“We only live once – we are born once and we die once – and the difference between life and death is the biggest difference we know” – Peter Jackson J  

In the Court of Protection, Peter Jackson J has given judgment in A Local Authority v E [2012] EWHC 1639 (COP).  See The Guardian 15th June 2012 – “Anorexic woman should be fed against her wishes, judge rules” – and listen to Dr Tony Calland of the British Medical Association Ethics Committee.

Read Obiter J’s analysis and summary…

Obiter J notes:

Decisions on three issues were required (para 46) and it was necessary to take them in the following order.
(1) Did E have the mental capacity to make decisions about her treatment?  The judge answered NO – paras. 47-53.

(2) Did E have mental capacity when she made an advance decision in October 2011.  Again, NO – paras. 54-70.  Interestingly, it may have been the case that E had acted inconsistently with her purported advance decision but the judge did not have to decide this point since he had held that the advance decision was invalid for lack of capacity.

(3) Was it in E’s best interests to receive life-sustaining treatment in the form of forcible feeding with all necessary associated measures.  The answer was YES and this is addressed from para. 71 onwards.

Making the decision as to the best interests of a person was not a mechanistic exercise but was an intuitive process with weighty factors on each side of the scales (para. 129).  At para. 114 the judge summed up the factors involved in the “best interests” decision.  On the facts of this case, the legal presumption in favour of saving life was not displaced.  There was a possibility that the treatment now available (and for which funding was now available) would succeed.  The judge seems to have been influenced by the commitment of the health authority to a treatment plan.  In the final paragraph of his judgment, the judge indicated that the authorities were now honour-bound to see through the provision of resources in the short, medium and long term.  “Had the authorities not made that commitment, I would not have reached the conclusion that I have.”

In relation to the law, Peter Jackson J had the benefit of Baker J’s comprehensive survey of the law relating to withdrawal or withholding of life-sustaining treatment in W v M and others [2011] EWHC 2443 (COP).  Nevertheless, Peter Jackson J set out, in a straightforward manner, the relevant law at paragraphs 7 to 15 of his judgment and he stated that – “the court has to approach its task in a highly individualised way, focusing on the situation of the individual concerned” (para 12). European Convention rights engaged were Articles 2, 3 and 8.  On these see the judgment at paras. 119-123 (Art 2); 126 (Art 3) and 124 (Art 8)

Validity of advance decision
Mr Justice Peter Jackson stated at para 54: Where there is a genuine doubt or disagreement about the validity of an advance decision, the Court of Protection can make a decision: MCA Code of Practice at 9.67.  If ever there was a case where this route might have been taken, this was it.

para 55: I consider that for an advance decision relating to life-sustaining treatment to be valid and applicable, there should be clear evidence establishing on the balance of probability that the maker had capacity at the relevant time.  Where the evidence of capacity is doubtful or equivocal it is not appropriate to uphold the decision. 

Mr Justice Peter Jackson:

The right to life

120. All human life is of value and our law contains the strong presumption that all steps will be taken to preserve it, unless the circumstances are exceptional.  This principle is reflected in Article 2 EHCR, which provides that everyone’s life shall be protected by law.  It is the most fundamental of the Convention rights.

121. However, the principle is not absolute and may yield to other considerations: Airedale NHS Trust v Bland [1993] AC 789.

122. Likewise, the MCA might have given absolute priority to the preservation of life, but it does not.  The approach taken by the Act is accurately reflected in the MCA Code of Practice at 5.31:

“All reasonable steps which are in the person’s best interests should be taken to prolong their life.  There will be a limited number of cases where treatment is futile, overly burdensome to the patient or where there is no prospect of recovery.”

123. E’s life is precious, whatever her own view of it now is.  She is still a young woman, with the possibility of years of life before her.  The prospects of her making a reasonable recovery are highly uncertain, but it cannot be said that treatment efforts are doomed to fail or that treatment would inevitably be futile.

124. As to the quality of E’s life if she were treated, it is possible, but not probable that she could achieve a state of being that would be acceptable to her.  It is more likely that the underlying difficulties would remain and that her life would continue at best to be a struggle.  It would in part depend upon the quality of support and professional services that would be available and whether they would be different to what has been available in the past.

Respect for personal independence

125. The ability to lead one’s life as one chooses is the cornerstone of individual liberty.  Article 8 ECHR guarantees  the right to respect for a person’s private life.  This right belongs to “everyone” and the fact that a person lacks mental capacity does not deprive them of its protection.

126. The treatment that is proposed for E amounts to a very severe interference with her private life and personal autonomy.  It could only be justified on the basis that it was necessary, in accordance with the law and proportionate to a legitimate aim, namely the preservation of life.

127. Likewise, forcible feeding would be an assault upon E and a violation of her rights under Article 3 ECHR, which prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment, unless it was shown to be in her best interests on the basis of therapeutic necessity that has been convincingly shown to exist: Herczegfalvy v Austria [1993] 15 EHRR 437.

Doughty Street Chambers summarises the complexity of the judgment as follows: “The Judge concluded that ‘The competing factors are, in my judgment, almost exactly in equilibrium, but having considered them as carefully as I am able, I find that the balance tips slowly but unmistakably in the direction of life-preserving treatment. In the end, the presumption in favour of the preservation of life is not displaced’.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson stated:
138. Against them, I place E’s life in the other scale.  We only live once – we are born once and we die once – and the difference between life and death is the biggest difference we know.  E is a special person, whose life is of value.  She does not see it that way now, but she may in future.

139. I would not overrule her wishes if further treatment was futile, but it is not.  Although extremely burdensome to E, there is a possibility that it will succeed.  Services and funding will now be provided that were not available before, and it would not be right to turn down the final chance of helping this very vulnerable young woman.

The final paragraph of Mr Justice Peter Jackson’s judgment is instructive: “I record that the state, having instigated this plan of action for E in the way that it has, is now honour-bound to see it through by the provision of resources in the short, medium and long term.  Had the authorities not made that commitment, I would not have reached the conclusion that I have. “

The case illustrates the complexity of the issues faced by the court while stressing the importance of the rights of an individual to lead one’s life as one chooses – a cornerstone of individual liberty under Article 8 ECHR.

Is it reasonable, in the light of this and other judgments (Baker J in W v M & Ors [2011] EWHC 2443 (COP) ),  to conclude that certainty over one’s life choices and rights under Article 8 ECHR will only be assured if there is very clear evidence of (a) capacity to make a decision or an ‘advance decision’; and (b) there are no inconsistencies which reveal ambiguity as to intention?

If this is the case – what would amount to “clear evidence establishing on the balance of probability that the maker had capacity at the relevant time“?

Mr Justice Peter Jackson was careful to point out “ I consider that for an advance decision relating to life-sustaining treatment to be valid and applicable, there should be clear evidence establishing on the balance of probability that the maker had capacity at the relevant time. 

Perhaps the law needs to be clarified on this issue so that those faced with making ‘advance decisions’ can face the rest of their lives safe in the knowledge that their free will and  choice(s) will be respected by the authorities and the Court of Protection?

Do we have the right to sign our own ‘death sentence’?

Mr Justice Peter Jackson stated (Supra): “People with capacity are entitled to make decisions for themselves, including about what they will and will not eat, even if their decision brings about their death.  The state, here in the form of the Court of Protection, is only entitled to interfere where a person does not have the capacity to decide for herself. “

Is the clear statement above determinative?

Claiming no specialist expertise  (I write to highlight the issue) – and welcoming advice and comment from practitioners in this difficult field – is it reasonable to suggest that while The Mental Capacity Act provides that a  person of full capacity may make a decision, even if it brings about their own death – there is still room for the judges of the Court of Protection to override an individual’s wishes by examining the capacity issue and finding that there was insufficiently ‘clear evidence’?

W (by her litigation friend, B) v M (by her litigation friend, the Official Solicitor) and others [2011] – admits for the possibility of a legally valid advance decision expressing a wish to forego life-sustaining treatment: What is a life worth living? Further analysis of “M” – Daniel Sokol

It must be a very difficult question for a trial judge faced with a ‘life or death’ situation  to resolve and one accepts that they will do all they can to preserve the sanctity of life unless there is very clear evidence to respect the wishes of the individual.

Should we ask a judge to make such a decision?  Parliament will not sanction ‘assisted suicide’.  Is it likely that Parliament will provide clarity in cases of medical treatment and intervention – or will they abrogate responsibility to an ‘unelected judge’?

I would be very interested to hear from practitioners in this field – for I do not claim any expertise in this complex issue – and welcome comment.

***
I found an article written by Daniel Sokol,  a pupil barrister at 1 Crown Office Row and an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Medical Ethics at Imperial College London, was most helpful: Are lawyers in right-to-die cases breaking the law?
as were these posts from The UK Human Rights blog:

Birthday Honours: Who is the odd one out?

Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera lives on with the announcement today that Prince Charles is to be made Field Marshall, Admiral of the Fleet and Marshall of The Royal Airforce – the highest military ranks.

The luvvies are doing their best to see who can be the most self-deprecating about their ‘Honours’… the BBC reports

The British Empire Medal makes a come back.  But no ‘Empire Comeback’ – Ingerland beating Sweden at the footer is good, but not quite in the same league.

Honours & Awards – harmless enough I suppose – an opiate for some, desired by the self important – I prefer the style of the many who turn them down.  They don’t need awards… I don’t quite see why anyone needs one.

Anyway.. to my question:

Question: In the two pictures above – who is the odd one out?

Answer:  Trick question.  There is no odd one out.  They all have honours they have given themselves or been given for being ‘Royal’…. and why would I be against such a thing?  Haha.. I’m not.. I regularly award myself geegaws and baubles.

Fancy being a Lord or Lady?  No problem… just make yourself a duke or buy ‘nobility’ from the internet

Lawcast #208: Natasha Phillips of Researching Reform on topical family law issues

Lawcast #208: Natasha Phillips of Researching Reform on topical family law issues

Today I am talking to Natasha Phillips, a non-practising barrister and author of the Researching Reform blog – an excellent and  thoughtfully constructed resource for practitioners and others interested in the field of family law.

Natasha describes her blog in the following terms…”Researching Reform is a working project and an online platform dedicated towards simplifying the family justice system and finding solutions to the current problems faced by families and practitioners alike.  Researching Reform produces events, podcasts and articles all relating to the practical realities of divorce as experienced in the family justice system and beyond. We are dedicated to the welfare of the child and this central theme runs through every project we work on.

Listen to the podcast

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Useful links

As Natasha says… “DadsHouse and Researching Reform wanted to explain why we felt a nationwide tour highlighting the need to support loving single fathers was so important, so we decided to put together this policy document, explaining just that. It’s not at all boring as far as policy documents go. In fact, we think it’s quite zingy…… and if you thought we decided to launch a nationwide tour so that we could have oodles of fun and giggle a lot, you would be wrong. So wrong.
Have a look…

News articles referred to in the podcast:

Telegraph: Gay marriage raises prospect of disestablishment, says Church of England

HuffPo: Gay Marriage Branded ‘Deviant’ By Ulster Unionist Peer

Independent: IoS exclusive: Problem families told – ‘Stop blaming others’
Eric Pickles tells IoS he will pay councils to end the ‘it’s not my fault’ culture by targeting truants and jobless

Guardian: No-fault divorces ‘should be standard’
England and Wales’s most senior family law judge says couples should be granted a quick legal separation without shame

Forced marriage to become a criminal offence

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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, BPP Law School and Cellmark for sponsoring the  the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.

In association with The Lawyer

With thanks to the Law Society for sponsoring the  Law Review Weekly (starting this week) and my Lawcasts

The day started well enough….Clegg at #Leveson, PMQs and Jezza Hunt MP defending Labour motion.

Rising at 5.00 to a pale sunny dawn which turned into a glorious summer morning, I drank tea and looked over the river from my desk in the bay window overlooking the Thames.

A few ducks had gathered – no doubt to consider and reflect upon today’s bread and circuses:  Clegg at Leveson, PMQs on BBC Daily Politics and the ‘spectacle’ of Mr Jeremy Hunt MP  rebutting the Labour motion to send him to MinisterialCode Man with..“I haz dun nuffink wrong…Evar!  Louise Unmenschionable MP has exonerated me and Dave said I was innocent within minutes of my ‘strong’ performance at Leveson.”

Carl Gardner argues, rightly in my view -  Hunt’s handling of the NewsCorp-BSkyB deal was unlawful

Ah well… after my dental visit this morning and injections which left me sounding like the Elephant Man… I need a day of panem et circenses.  Could be amusing?

And finally… A duck has texted me..“If PM Cameron can forget his child at pub… just imagine how much he can forget for appearance at #Leveson.”

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But the day ended rather badly…

Ah well.. predictably the beserkers rushed into the house – not bothering to actually listen to the debate – to vote for their chum Hunt.  Winning a motion does not, of course, mean that Hunt did not break the ministerial code. If 57 Lib-dems had grown some… Hunt would have lost the motion.

Invertebrate (n): political or animal species that does not develop a vertebral column.
Synonym: Liberal-Democrat

There is no excuse for perjury – never, never, never. There is truth, and the truth demands respect.

There is no excuse for perjury – never, never, never. There is truth, and the truth demands respect.
Kenneth Starr

Gordon Brown and Rupert Murdoch both believe they told the truth at Leveson.  Unfortunately, their evidence is contradictory.  One of them lied?  Which one?

Perjury is a serious offence.  Will one of them be done for perjury?  Holding my breath?

***

Matthew Norman (Independent) : The brooding, tortured soul of Gordon Brown

Quentin Letts (Daily Mail): His lip curled like one of Ali Baba’s slippers

Law Review Weekly #1: 4th – 10th June 2012

“When freedom does not have a purpose, when it does not wish to know anything about the rule of law engraved in the hearts of men and women, when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, it turns against humanity and society.” 

Pope John Paul II

After The Home Secretary’s extraordinary performance on Andrew Marr this morning where she set out her cunning plan to bring out guidelines for the judges in relation to the interpretation of Article 8 of The European Convention – enshrined in our law by The Human Rights Act – the sardonic side of my temperament would like to substitute the word ‘government’ in the quote above for ‘freedom’.  I shall, however, resist the urge to do so.

Apart from suggesting that a corporate lawyer, with no experience of policing, let alone the more difficult and complex aspects of frontline operational policing,  take over the top job at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) – Ms May MP is on a roll with her latest stunt on providing guidelines to the judges.

The Guardian sums it up rather nicely: Theresa May cannot dictate to judges on human rights cases, lawyers warn

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, told the Guardian that article 8 had always been qualified and allowed the government considerable latitude over immigration control. “The home secretary is far better reviewing immigration rules than bashing the Human Rights Act or the judiciary,” she said.

Law Review Weekly

After doing a trial run some months ago, I will be producing a Law Review Weekly highlighting interesting legal news from the press and the profession, links to important judgments handed down in the previous week, commentary and analysis from the law blogs, a link to my recent Lawcasts (and podcasts done by other lawyers, where available) and a section on the human condition to look at the more surreal and bizarre happenings in law.

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Recent Lawcasts with members of the profession and from the Without Prejudice panel.

Lawcast 207: Adam Shutkever and Jeremy Hopkins of Riverview Chambers on new legal services delivery

Today I am talking to Adam Shutkever, COO of LawVest, which launched Riverview Law in February  – Riverview Law is the trading name of LawVest Limited – and  Jeremy Hopkins, late of 3 Verulam Buildings where he was a clerk. Jeremy Hopkins has joined Riverview Law as Director of Operations – he also blogs, enthusiastically and amusingly, at Clerkingwell

#WithoutPrejudice 26: Spectator contempt – Hunt / Warsi and The Ministerial Code – The Case for ‘Code’

Lawcast 206: Solicitor Nicky Richmond on Property and the Insurance sector, the changing legal landscape and food.

Lawcast 205: Kim Evans – from the Flying squad to the police station as a police station representative

LawCast 204: Diane Burleigh, CEO of CILEx, on an alternative way to qualify as a lawyer

#WithoutPrejudice 25 podcast: Assange judgment – Twitterjoketrial update / Diversity – Monarch

#WithoutPrejudice ‘Special #Twitterjoketrial result podcast with David Allen Green

From Northpodlaw: Series 4 Episode 5 – Speeches and Statements

From Legal Cheek: How To Go From Corporate Law Into Human Rights Academia

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In a week which ended with four days of Jubilee celebrations, Carl Gardner had a thoughtful  and strongly argued blog post on June 2nd: The case for constitutional monarchy

Former Tory Mp and criminal barrister, Jerry Hayes declared: Why For The First Time In My Life I Might Go On Strike – a very critical piece about the government’s attitude to criminal barristers, their failure to pay fees in a timely fashion and for good measure, Jerry takes a pop at Ken Clarke and the Bar Council

And what about our great trade union the Bar Council, to whom we have to pay exorbitant fees to prop up a mismanaged pension fund? Well, just don’t mention that body in any robing room. The consensus, perhaps not always fair,  is that they are a collection of greasers and chancers who are more interested in preferment than the poor bloody infantry. A few years ago when there was such dissatisfaction there was talk of setting up an alternative. So they persuaded the government to make it a criminal offence not to join by a little ruse of making you pay a fee for your practising certificate. Any barrister who does not pay up is fined or suspended. There is a very long queue of those waiting to be punished.

Jerry Hayes is always worth reading on Dale & Co – and invariably amusing.

From the UK Human Rights blog – three posts which caught my eye and worth a read:

Adam Wagner -  Criticisms remain as dust settles on secret trials bill

Rachit Buch: UK passes ‘human rights exam’, but with room to improve

Assange kills off Pupino, but ambiguity remains – Alex Tinsley

Francis Fitzgibbon QC on his Nothing Like The Sun blog considers the matter of COURT DRESS. Although written in March, it is an interesting read.

And..in a bit of a jump.. Obiter J considers the issue of Treason

Barrister Lucy Read at Pink Tape covers the In Dad’s Shoes photography exhibition

“Researching Reform and DadsHouse are launching a photography exhibition and it’s going on tour. The photos are a collection of photos of single dads and their kids. It sounds as if it’s going to be pretty organic in its development, and may gather material en route.”

Natasha Phillips of Researching Reform writes: Government wants to end Blame Culture – By Blaming Others

11 KBW in Panopticon: Important new privacy judgment: police retention of protestor’s data not an Article 8 infringement

The Admin Court (Gross LJ and Irwin J) has handed down judgment this week in Catt v Association of Chief Police Officers and Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2012] EWHC 1471 (Admin). It is an extremely important judgment on Article 8 ECHR in the context of personal information retained for policing purposes. It is also notable for its analysis of protest as an inherently public activity…..

Read more…

John Bolch at Family Lore writes: It’s not ALL nonsense around here…  – surveying the many and varied services he provides free for practitioners and students.

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The Guardian

Facebook forced into revealing identities of cyberbullies

No-fuss sacking payouts included in employment law overhaul

The Tory folly of cutting back the Equality Act

Criminalisation of forced marriage ‘will push issue underground’

The Telegraph: Man jailed after bragging “I think I got away with it” on Facebook

The Law Society Gazette: Watchdog calls for Ombudsman to be opened up to third parties

The Independent: Oxford don’s legal fight over price rise signals trouble for phone giant. A law lecturer claims the small print in Three’s contracts may allow millions of its mobile customers to avoid higher bills.

Legal Week: Outsourcing in focus as RBS prepares to cut back legal roster
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has kicked off a much-anticipated review of its legal panel, with tender documents sent out to law firms late last month.

Legal Week: International interest in UK mergers grows as City retains pulling power
The number of international law firms in London open to a UK merger has almost doubled over the past year

The Lawyer: Employment judge first to fall foul of new misconduct rules
An employment judge has become the first to be publicly censured under new rules that will see all judges and magistrates who are disciplined for misconduct have their cases publicised by the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC).

The Lawyer: Libel star Benaim quits Schillings

BBC: Facebook to release ID of users who abused woman online

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Sponsored by the Law Society

PII support: get ready for renewal

PII buyers’ guide

We have launched a new PII buyers’ guide to help you make an informed decision when buying professional indemnity insurance (PII) for the 2012-13 indemnity year.
Download the guide (PDF)
Read an open letter from Nigel Day, Law Society PII committee chair (PDF)

Brokers’ commission: call for transparency

We encourage you to ask your broker what they will receive in commission from insurers. You have a right to request this information and to help you we have prepared a template letter to send to your broker.
Download the template letter (Word)

Retainer letter

You should discuss your service expectations with brokers. Our template retainer letter embodies some service standards that you may wish to request from your broker.
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Society warns over patents court decision

The Law Society has warned the government that the UK could lose up to £3bn a year if a new patents court is not based in London. The warning follows a report which highlighted the potential cost to the UK’s intellectual property industry if the court was based elsewhere in Europe.
Read more

Consumer survey: solicitors offering value for money

The Legal Services Board Consumer Panel has this week published consumer satisfaction research, which suggests that an increasing proportion of consumers consider they are getting good value for money from legal services, and that 84 per cent are content with the outcome of their legal work.
Read more
Read the research (PDF)

Full Law Society professional Update page

Sponsored by CILEx

Chartered Legal Executives will help create a more diverse judiciary

Baroness Neuberger has spoken of how Chartered Legal Executives will continue to play a significant part in the future of a diverse judiciary in England and Wales.

At our Annual Presidential Luncheon yesterday, 31 May 2012, The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) awarded its Pro Bono Medal 2011 to a member who has been described as ‘one of the best human rights lawyers in England and Wales’.

Bar Council news

Ministry of Justice call for contributions to the Red Tape Challenge

Update for the profession: the Ministry of Justice has invited interested parties to respond to the legal services section of the Government’s “Red Tape Challenge” consultation, identifying which regulations they believe should be improved, retained or scrapped.

Data Protection Act 1998: Procuring Disclosure of Personal Data

Financial and accounting news sponsored by Cassons for Counsel

Which expenses can I claim against tax?

Will my pupillage awards be taxed?

Legal education news sponsored by BPP Law School

Launch of Bespoke MA (Legal Practice Course with Business)

Airmail from The Staterooms – Oversupply of law students edition…
I considered the issue of oversupply of law students, particularly in relation to the Bar, after reading Michael Todd QC’s statements about there being too many law students enrolling on the Bar professional Training Course.

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Recent case summaries from ICLR

4 Breams Buildings plan to publish a monthly digest of cases.

Supreme Court decisions from The UKSC blog

Case Preview: SerVaas Inc v Rafidain Bank & Ors [2011] EWCA Civ 1256

The case concerns debts owing from a foreign sovereign state and whether assets subject to a Third Party Debt Order (“TPDO”) in the UK are immune to execution by virtue of the State Immunity Act 1978.

Supreme Court refuses Ryanair permission to appeal Aer Lingus ruling

The Supreme Court has refused Ryanair permission to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision of 22 May. The Court of Appeal upheld the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s decision that the OFT was entitled to refer the issue of Ryanair’s minority shareholding in Aer Lingus to the Competition Commission after the EC Merger Regulation process had concluded.

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AND finally… a look at the surreal and possibly bizarre side of the legal world…

I enjoy reading the more bizarre stuff Legal Cheek manages to find each week – always worth the hike over to their website.

This is an astonishing story… ‘He Daubed The Word “Bitch” On Wall In My Garden, Which Doesn’t Seem Like Something The DPP Would Do’

Inevitably..with examinations.. there is an opportunity for the top vocational law schools to demonstrate their competency in a very public way.  At this time, each year – the examination season – it is only a matter of time before some law school ‘cocks up’.

Rollonfriday.com notes: Exclusive: Students twiddle thumbs for 90 mins after BPP exam cock-up

There was embarrassment at BPP this week when LPC exams were delayed by an hour and a half because, err, there weren’t enough desks.

Students turned up to take their exams on Wednesday at Royal Mint Court, but found that some of them didn’t have anywhere to sit. Those lucky enough to have a chair sat patiently while the invigilators tried to sort things out. Eventually some extra desks were tracked down and the exams finally started an hour and a half late. As one weak-bladdered student said, the exams were three hours long and “four and a half hours is a long time to sit still“.

But it is not only the law schools.  Here we have an example of ‘judicial misfeasance’  – again from RollonFriday…

Judge in Breivik case caught playing on computer during evidence

And.. not to be outdone… Thieving lawyers face jail in UK, Ireland and US: “More lawyers around the world are facing jail this week after pleading guilty to various charges of thievery.”

And the villains are not letting us down…

Burglar tries to break in Judge Lillian Sing’s car
Judge Lillian Sing got a taste of judicial medicine the other day when a convicted car burglar she was trying to help walked out of her San Francisco courtroom and, within minutes, was busted for allegedly breaking into her car.

Marvellous stuff and on that note, I will leave you with an observation from Charles Pugsley Fincher

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My thanks to all the sponsors above and to Riverview Law

Lawcast 207: Adam Shutkever and Jeremy Hopkins of Riverview Chambers on new legal services delivery

Lawcast 207:  Adam Shutkever and Jeremy Hopkins of Riverview Chambers on the style of new legal services delivery

Today I am talking to Adam Shutkever, COO of LawVest, which launched Riverview Law in February  – Riverview Law is the trading name of LawVest Limited – and  Jeremy Hopkins, late of 3 Verulam Buildings where he was a clerk. Jeremy Hopkins has joined Riverview Law as Director of Operations – he also blogs, enthusiastically and amusingly, at Clerkingwell

To set the context – let me quote from the home page of the Lawvest website…

“LawVest believes that attractive opportunities are being created by the structural, regulatory and commercial changes occurring in the legal market. To access these opportunities LawVest is deploying a market disrupting brand, pricing, and service delivery model both organically and, where appropriate, by acquisition.”

LawVest is owned by AdviserPlus Business Solutions, DLA Piper and a number of individuals. Karl Chapman is Chief Executive of LawVest and Adam Shutkever is Chief Operating Officer. Sir Nigel Knowles is Non-Executive Chairman.  Sir Nigel Knowles is also joint CEO and managing partner of DLA Piper

The legal advice provided to Riverview Law customers is delivered through Riverview Solicitors and Riverview Chambers.

Does Riverview Chambers herald the death of the ‘billable hour’ ?  Adam Shutkever believes that fixed pricing is the death of the billable hour.

Listen to the podcast

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With thanks to the Law Society for sponsoring the weekly Law Reviews (starting this week) and my Lawcasts

And…thank you to Cassons For Counsel David Phillips & Partners Solicitors , Contact Law UK Solicitors for sponsoring the podcasts and the free student materials on Insite Law.

Airmail from The Staterooms – Oversupply of law students edition…

Dear Reader,

It seems appropriate this weekend to begin with Groucho Marx’s aphorism…“Before I speak, I have something important to say”….

For many years now, I have been warning of the oversupply of law students – caveat emptor…let the buyer of the ‘products’ from purveyors of legal education – for that is what they are – beware.  I am not a fan of restrictive practices and barriers to a future career, but the reality is, certainly at the Bar, that the chance of getting a tenancy now is  believed to be roughly 1 in 10. Tough odds.

RollonFriday.com is on the money with a story  headed… Shock as Bar Council chair notices lots of BPTC grads don’t get jobs

There was much learned worrying this week when a big cheese at the Bar noticed the huge number of students paying expensive law schools fees with precious little chance of getting a job.

Michael Todd QC, chairman of the Bar Council, claimed on Wednesday that over-recruitment of students wasn’t doing the profession, the students or social mobility any favours. Todd said it was a “great concern” that law schools were pumping out a hefty oversupply of grads with “no realistic prospect of pupillage“. And he worried about those chucking £16,000 at a qualification which, for those who fail to obtain pupillage, adds little to employability. He also acknowledged that social mobility is being restricted (no matter what the OFT might say) as it is the more affluent students who are better able to risk the cash.

Cue the powerful PR machinery of the major purveyors of the BPTC and LPC.  RollonFriday noted – “The College of Law was quick to jump to the defence. Susan Hutchinson, a member of the CoL’s management board, shot back that Todd’s statement was “scaremongering”. No doubt Montagu Private Equity is relying on plenty of bums on seats to see a return on their £200 million investment.”

Curiously, and going very much against the US oriented corporatespeak of his  ‘masters’ (I would have thought) – a US company Apollo and a venture capital company -  Peter Crisp, CEO of BPP Law School, is reported as saying that he would not advise any student in the present economic climate to go to the Criminal Bar.

Legal Cheek ran with the story: BPP Law School CEO Says Avoid Criminal Bar; Bar Council Chief Voices ‘Great Concern’ At Number Of Barrister Wannabes – Yet Still Students Keep Flocking To The BPTC

I was drinking a cuppa when I read this story and an image of Peter Crisp, who I know and like,  thumbing a lift on the Road to Damascus came into my mind.

Legal Cheek gets it broadly right… and I quote from their report:  “As head of a professional body like the Bar Council, Todd has a lot of people to keep sweet and has to couch his language in diplomatic terms so as not to offend. Reading between the lines, what he is really saying is “WHY THE FUCK HAS NOBODY BOTHERED LIMITING ENTRY TO THE BPTC?!”

I haven’t got much sympathy for The Bar Council or Bar Standards Board on this issue.  Perhaps not enough forward thinking was done – if they find now that they cannot unravel the ‘monster’ they have created?   They have the power to accredit law schools to run the BPTC, to fix maximum numbers for each accredited course and, frankly, what the lord giveth, the lord can or should be able to taketh away.  Or can they? Their response to that, of course, would be that competition law may not permit them to restrict numbers, that law schools have invested heavily in infrastructure… reasonable expectation of certainty  etc etc etc.  To that latter, I put a blunt point:  The vocational law schools are commercial organisations (even the public sector ones) and should factor in downturn and potential regulatory restriction into their financial projections going forward. Was there no ‘sunset’ clause on reduction in numbers accredited if market conditions required it in the original accreditation agreement?   The very high fees charged for the BPTC are, arguably, higher than necessary to turn a reasonable profit?

Having spent much of my professional life doing budgets for professional courses, I still have a fair idea of what the real margins are, where and how law schools ‘bury the bodies’ from the prying eyes of regulators -  god forbid that law schools should think of doing, let alone do, such a thing? -  where law schools make their ‘bunce’ and how the managing boards think and plan.  It is, of course, much easier for a regulator to get a crony in to advise them badly than actually take advice from the many who are knowledgeable in this sector to tell it ‘as it is’. You get what you pay for, chaps.

While some public sector universities are prepared to run courses at a loss to provide a ‘full service’ – generally speaking, those who own law schools don’t really approve of business plans which contain loss making activities – save where it is in their interests to run a loss maker to crush commercial competition – as may well be behind the thinking of the commercial providers to offer very ‘competitively priced’ law degrees, which compete against high quality law degrees from major public sector universities?  Please note the use of a question mark at the end of that last sentence.  BPP and Kaplan are owned by US companies and The College of Law has sold to  venture capital.

Michael Todd QC is right, however, in his statement that diversity will be affected – ironic, given the great efforts made by the profession to increase diversity – when he says that only those who come from a wealthy middle class background will be able to take the risk and afford the high fees charged by the providers of the BPTC with students facing a 1 in 10 chance of getting a tenancy.

So.. that is a cheery start to my ‘Airmail from the Staterooms’… on to twitter…

I received an unsolicited tweet from twitter to let me know that I had been on twitter for 4 years.  I have also managed to rack up over 100,000 tweets – proving nothing, save for the fact that I have, arguably, wasted industrial amounts of time.

In the same week, twitter announced terms and conditions for use of their logo - without having the hassle of going through their lawyers.  It is perfectly reasonable for twitter to protect their brand and direct  how their logo and intellectual property is used.  I fear I may be in breach of these T&Cs with my parodic use of a twitter ‘icon’ to mock the lawyers on twitter who put great energy into broadcasting their brilliance to other lawyers and a largely uninterested general public. I am hopeful that twitter is ‘big enough’ to allow latitude to users who use the logo benignly in terms of their attitude to twitter. (Note to law firms – good law firms and lawyers engage and get involved in discussion.  They provide good information and analysis for free – and deserve their higher profile and side benefit of public awareness, if any, as a result of their time on twitter.  They do not Broadcast.)

I am a fan of twitter.  I have met and talked with many interesting lawyers and non-lawyers who have an enthusiastic and intelligent interest in our law.  The trolls are tedious – but easily blocked from the timeline. Exonerators like Louise Unmenschionable MP who push their agenda can be amusing – and are only doing their job to get the job they really want .

Many of those I tweet with have stopped tweeting, which is a pity. Unfortunately an increasing number of lawyers and non lawyers are using twitter to celebrate their own self importance, their brilliance and promote their careers.  This category of user seems to suffer from Selfaggrandisementitis – a terminal condition which allows enhancement of vainglorious self esteem – usually well beyond their actual ability – but these, too, are easily removed from one’s timeline  at the click of the ‘Block’ button.

I shall continue to enjoy tweeting with those I like – including the apparently semi-insane ranters who can be very amusing and provide a needed laugh during the working day.

Well there we are… time for a walk in the wind… a hot black ‘Americano’ coffee at t’caff and watch the world go by.  Back later… or tomorrow

Best, as always

Charon

#WithoutPrejudice 26: Spectator contempt – Hunt / Warsi and The Ministerial Code – The Case for ‘Code’

Welcome to Without Prejudice

On the panel tonight – Kim Evans, commissioning editor of The Justice Gap and ex government lawyer Carl Gardner, author of the Head of Legal blog.

Tonight’s topics are varied and raise important issues for the law.

The Spectator contempt case

Hunt, Warsi, the ministerial code and the  meaning of quasi-judicial

Richard Moorhead’s “Case for code”

Listen to the podcast

I referred to Sir Edward Chalmers as draftsman of The Sale of Gods Act 1893 – it was, in fact, Sir Mackenzie Chalmers who drafted the Act.  I must have had Jedward on my mind – lord knows why. Mea culpa.

 

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Useful links

The Guardian: Spectator to pay out £5,625 over Rod Liddle’s Stephen Lawrence article

Liddle was wrong to write Lawrence trial article, and the Spectator was wrong to publish it

DPP launches public consultation on cases affecting the media 18/04/2012
Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), has today published interim guidelines on the approach prosecutors should take when assessing the public interest in cases affecting the media.

Professor Richard Moorhead in The Guardian: The case for code
The common law leads to complexity. Is that always a good thing?

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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  the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.

In association with The Lawyer

Lawcast 206: Solicitor Nicky Richmond on Property and the Insurance sector, the changing legal landscape and food.

Lawcast 206:  Solicitor Nicky Richmond on Property and the Insurance sector, the changing legal landscape and food.

Today I am talking to Nicky Richmond, managing partner of Brecher, who specialises in property law.  We talk about the role of the insurance sector in the field of property, particularly when restrictive covenants are involved, Nicky’s view of the changing legal landscape and her thoughts on food – beautifully written up on her blog Saying it Straight

Listen to the podcast

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With thanks to the Law Society for sponsoring the weekly Law Reviews (starting this week) and my Lawcasts

And…thank you to Cassons For Counsel David Phillips & Partners Solicitors , Contact Law UK Solicitors for sponsoring the podcasts and the free student materials on Insite Law.