The truly honourable who turn down absurd British honours…

The truly honourable who turn down absurd British honours…

I am not a fan of the British Honours system.  I can see no reason at all to call someone ‘Sir Basil” or “Dame Edna”… let alone the absurdity of ‘Lord / lady’.

Fortunately, I don’t need to – and won’t.

Also time to get rid of titles for all judges – gives the impression that they are not independent?  Some think so – as is their right…still… in Britain.  Why do we need a ‘Lord’ Chief Justice?  Chief Justice has far more impact.

I can’t imagine that judges need a title to do a decent job.  Ipso facto, why bother with the title?

But I do have some sensible advice for those contemplating a career in the law…

Postcard from the Staterooms: Iolanthe – Nightmare Song by The Lord Chancellor edition

Words are not needed for what follows…

sinister (comparative more sinistersuperlative most sinister)

  1. Inauspicious, ominous, unlucky, illegitimate (as in ‘political barsteward’).
  2. Evil or seemingly evil; indicating lurking danger or harm.
    sinister influences
    the sinister atmosphere of the crypt

I have to say that Mr Osbore does seem a bit sinister in that photograph.  ‘Something of the night’ about him?

I recall Ann Widdecombe’s famous statement about another Tory wannabe… Michael Howard:  “There is something of the night about him”. The remark was considered to be extremely damaging to Howard.

I can only assume that this trait is a requirement for high office in the Tory party… or a talent for Gilbert & Sullivanesque comedy, in the case of our present ‘Lord Chancellor’, Chris Grayling, who I very much hope will raid the dressing up box again soon to reincarnate as an Archbishop.

Before I turn to other sinistral matters – a most interesting piece from Paul Gilbert..

Innovation – of course, it’s what we all do, isn’t it?

It won’t be long and once again our thoughts will turn to what will be new in the next twelve months; what innovation will we see, what new gadgets and ideas will come forward, who will make a break-through with something that will astonish us all?

In legal services we have had a decade or more of predictions about innovation (or Armageddon depending on your personal glass half full/empty barometer). We may be rather unsure about what the future will bring, but we are certain that we must all be innovative, we must all be ready for change and we must all be revolutionaries.

Yet, what has actually changed so far?

The rest of this article is well worth a read…

I find it difficult to leave the topic of Lord Chancellor Grayling – here he is again, divesting himself of his wisdom on the  European Court of Human Rights:

Grayling says European court of human rights has lost legitimacy

Justice secretary finalising plans to curtail Strasbourg court after 2015 to ‘ensure UK court judgments are final’
And here he is again singing a bit of Gilbert & Sullivan – which he does rather well – Iolanthe – Nightmare Song by The Lord Chancellor
That’s quite enough for now…back later when I have taken of supper…

Personal Statement from Dr Erasmus Strangelove, Senior Partner, Muttley Dastardly LLP

By popular demand – the return of our very successful Banking course – 2 years CPD

A Personal Christmas Statement to clients from Dr Erasmus Strangelove

I was pleased to see, while casually reviewing CCTV footage of our associates workfloor on Christmas Day, that good legal work was being done.  It was pleasing to note that the security provided by G5S was impeccable. Not one associate escaped during the 12 hour day.

I am able to report that profits accruing to The Partners this year exceeded expectation, despite the best endeavours of the present government which is doing all it can to dissuade people from going to law or, indeed, from going into the law.

The Partners had lunch on Christmas Eve, the cullinary details of which do not need to be revealed on grounds of decorum. We discussed, inter alia, the remarkable appointment of Chris ‘Kill a Burglar’ Grayling as Lord Chancellor.  We marvelled. One of our number marvelled too much and, sadly, had to be given a Heimlich maneuver (sic) to cure unstoppable laughter.  Unfortunately, the procedure failed.  We were, however, able to schedule the funeral immediately as he had no family and he will now rest in pieces rest in peace buried in our new roof garden. As he was not a god botherer there was no need for any religious element to the tasteful funeral we held.  It was a brief ceremony – 2.38 minutes of billable time. He would have been pleased that we were able to charge this as a disbursement to his favourite client as ‘perusal’.

We were able this year, at modest  cost to the client, to wish our clients a Happy Christmas and  a VERY prosperous New Year.  This fee item will show on your personal account as “Christmas Advice”.

If you would like any of your friends in need of legal services to be wished a Happy Christmas by any member of Muttley Dastardly LLP – please log into your personal MDLLP screen.   Christmas messages are very reasonably priced this year.  Your chosen message from us will be billed in the usual way.

I will write again in the New Year, quite possibly on New Year’s day, to see if we are able to assist you with legal issues or, indeed, suggest some.

Dr Erasmus Strangelove
Senior Partner

“Strength & Profits”




Postcard from The Staterooms: ‘Elucidator’ edition

I will, no doubt, return to commentary and analysis of matters legal at some point in the early new year – should I suddenly be seized of the mood to do so. Fortunately, there are others… elucidators…  who take on the burden of elucidation on matters legal.

 “Fox hunting is the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible.” –Oscar Wilde


The last six months of 2013 was wiped out for me in terms of touring and sustained writing due to an unpleasant spinal injury – sustained while shaving when I tripped on a bathmat and fell backwards into the bath.  The doctor cheerfully told me that I was lucky.  It could have been far worse.  The dark side of my mind could not resist asking him if ‘worse’ meant ‘a bit of mortal coil shuffling’. The doctor was a fine man of medicine, but I don’t think he was used to ‘gallows humour’ from patients, so I left him to do the doctor bit.

It would seem that Barbasol recommend shaving while wearing ice skates.  I shall give it a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

And so to other matters… resisting the urge to comment on the development of our laws with some ease.

David Allen Green, taking time off from the Financial Times to write for Legal Cheek – considers the interpretation of the Something Must be Done Act 2014

“Let’s start with Section 1:

“The Crown shall have the power to do anything, and nothing a Minister of the Crown does will be ultra vires.”

That should shut up the High Court for a while with their judicial review decisions.

But adding a second section to the Act will make sure that Ministers will act in the interests of all of us. So for the avoidance of doubt, Section 2 provides:

“The power given by Section 1 of this Act shall include the banning of things by any Minister of the Crown.”

 The remaining provisions of the Act are considered in depth here

I am reassured by this statement from the Boys in Blue… ?

On the topic of  ‘elucidation’ it seems appropriate to dig up that old chestnut from F.E. Smith (Later Lord Birkenhead).

“Judge: I’ve listened to you for an hour and I’m none wiser.
Smith: None the wiser, perhaps, my lord but certainly better informed.”

And a couple more for you… why not?

“It would be possible to say without exaggeration that the miners’ leaders were the stupidest men in England if we had not frequent occasion to meet the owners.”

And a particular favourite… I suspect there may be a few judges who could be rewarded with such wonderful eloquence today…

“Judge: What do you suppose I am on the bench for?
Smith: It is not for me, Your Honour, to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence.”

And on that note, I take your leave to refresh myself…back later…perhaps.

Postcard from The Staterooms: What wine do you bring up with the fish edition?

Not a lot of law about to comment on and, if there is, it can wait until the new year.

Sitting at my desk looking at the back of a packet of Marlboro.  The picture on the back is a festive one of a dead body lying on a slab in a morgue –  a tasteful, atmospheric headshot. Still…on the bright side…smokers pay a lot in tax and some die younger, reducing the costs burden to our increasingly dystopian state?  A felicific calculus Bentham would be proud of. Our present Lord Chancellor may not be aware of the great legal writers of jurisprudence.  I am almost tempted to send him a copy of ‘Law Made Simple’ – although I would not wish to encourage him;  he might try to push such heresy through and where would we be then?

Mr Bentham’s remains in a case at The University of London

On a more festive note…. I see that The College of Law, now a university after a ‘Whovian’ transmogrification into a University  –  has managed to lose the contract to teach GDL and LPC students for Allen & Overy (See below also). Working on the reasonable principle that the University of Law would be unlikely to comment on this matter – I went to a reliable source – RollonFriday – to see if there was any ‘gen’ on why the University of Law lost the Allen & Overy contract.

Mr or Ms Anonymous User commented pithily: “Single-subject “university” that has been cutting and cutting on a knee-jerk basis now finds itself unable to compete. There’s no story here save for the years of business inadequacy not of it course but of its management.”

Another Mr or Ms Anonymous was able to shed further light on this matter with precision and astute observation…“Yeah: just the result of the previous management hacking through the staff, no business acumen any of them, therefore not surprising they cannot teach it.”

Well..there we are. Perhaps the University of Law needs assistance from my brother, Professor R.D. Charon?  I know he is free and I know he will be able to trot out the usual education ‘evidence based’ guff.  He also takes Amex.

Professor R.D. Charon was not available for comment – but his PR agent was able to respond to my email ” I am fairly confident that the vulture capitalists who now own the University of Law will do Britain proud.  Please settle the fee for this comment in the usual way by return cash.”

The University of Law has recorded a net profit of over £14m in its latest financial results, just a year after being purchased by private equity house Montagu Private Equity for £177m. Source: Legal Business

Curiously, apropos the loss by The University of Law (UoL)  of the Allen & Overy students to BPP which I noted above – “The UoL turned to longstanding adviser Allen & Overy (A&O) for legal advice during the sale, led by global corporate chair Richard Cranfield.”

You may like to read this incisive article from Professor Richard Moorhead in Legal Business.  A good read: Guest Post: Legal education review – why everyone is happy and no one is smiling

Given that it is still the festive season – this snippet from The Magistrates’ Blog amused me – on the ways of those who buy wine for investment. ‘Bottoms up’… seems, inappropriate, however.  I did enjoy a comment on this blogpost by Anonymous – who is, clearly, a very busy person, popping up on blogs all over the place – “I’ve never understood why we have concurrent sentences for consecutive crimes.”

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

2015 is coming soon and the current government will have to see what can be done with the electorate.  I am not a spin doctor, but given the increasing rise of the Kippers, David Cameron may like to reach out to some of them and the Storm Trooper Wing of his own party?

This may inspire the Tory Grandees?:  Springtime for Hitler for their version of The Producers ?

And…a curious story about Ian Duncan-Smith being less than open in recent years.  The BBC covered it in 2002: Newsnight reveals inaccuracies in Iain Duncan Smith’s CV

Back soon… and something rather more law based and sensible when the lawyers get back to work.

A bit of the old ‘Rive-Gauche’…

I was in a cafe in Kennington over lunch talking with my real brother (as opposed to Professor R.D. Charon) and saw the poster above on the wall.  I rather liked it. I have had the pleasure of meeting people who do daft things after a good shot of coffee. Mind you the stuff they put up their noses after taking a sip of coffee  probably didn’t help the clarity of their thinking…. but they were certainly ‘animated’….veritable Duracell bunnies they were.

And now, to kick off proceedings…. The death of the blog : Long live the law blog

Silence is not always golden

I came across an interesting article on The In-House Lawyer from MacFarlanes LLP – Silence is not always golden:

In PGF II SA v OMFS Company 1 Ltd [2013], the Court of Appeal considered, for the first time, whether a failure by a party to respond to an invitation to mediate should be treated as an unreasonable refusal to mediate – previous cases having focused on situations where there had been an express refusal to do so.

The Court of Appeal held that silence in the face of an offer to mediate is of itself unreasonable – even if circumstances exist which would justify an express refusal to mediate.

I may have overdone the ‘Law’ content (above) for the festive season… so… onwards with little in the way of ‘The law’ getting in the way…

Beaubodor is a very talented artist and humourist who has a good record of ‘hitting the nail on the head’.  I always enjoy his pictures.  Visit the Beaubodor website 

One website where I can be certain of avoiding ‘the Law’ – but still about ‘Law’  – is Legal Cheek, a website I particularly enjoy. 

Here – the 10 most-read Legal Cheek Stories of 2013 : From Ward LJ “This case involves a number of – and here I must not fall into Dr Spooner’s error – warring bankers.”

Never in the field of human conflict has so little been done by so few for so many….?

It would appear that the Prime Minister may well have been mildly ‘over-refreshed’. Did he come up with the ‘bright idea’ of appointing Chris Grayling as Lord Chancellor after his evening out?

John Bolch over at Family Lore has an amusing Review of the Year…


I am a fan of Clare Rodway’s The Conversation bloghere she interviews Jo Warby

Jo Worby is one of those rare people in business who is more interested in talking about other people’s success. She is also rare in being a female managing partner. She has developed ambitious plans for her law firm, Maidstone-based Brachers, since taking on the role and a lot of them are focussed on engaging the people in her business…..

I am also a fan of Charles Pugsley Fincher and his art…

Carl Gardner is a ‘precision law blogger’ and a good friend and accomplice in our Without Prejudice podcasts – which will return soon. This recent blog post is well worth a read:  Alan Turing: a strain’d quality of irrational and arbitrary mercy

I must not overdo the ‘legal thinking’ or ‘thinking legal’ … back on the morrow with more.

Postcard from the Staterooms – Prime Minister Cnut edition

Dear Reader,

Christmas passed pleasantly in the company of good friends –  but then I had the misfortune to stumble across an article in The New Statesman about the prime minister’s attempt to control the internet:  Cameron’s internet filter goes far beyond porn – and that was always the plan. 


But…on the bright side…RollonFriday is doing in depth research into law firms and the attitudes of those who work at law firms.

This extract will give you a taste…

Allen & Overy has got very posh with a “jazzy new in-house shop” which sells everything from “delectable pick’n’mix and cakes to champagne“. And Tiffany jewellery. And flour, “for all those who have the time to bake their own bread.” However there’s disagreement as to the quality of colleague. One trainee says there are “very few arseholes” in the firm, but a senior associate disagrees: “speedy lifts, wall-to-wall tossers“.

Thankfully, there are many fine lawyers out there – many working for very modest remuneration compared to the commercial velociraptors in ‘The City’ – chacun à son goût.

a più tardi….

Happy Christmas…

This Christmas many will listen to the Queen and her annual message.

I thought some years ago that it would be amusing if the Duke of Edinburgh had a go at the annual Christmas message… perhaps along these lines…?

It seems only appropriate, given the Duke’s ability to come out with astonishing statements, to quote my favourite of his observations on our friends in other lands…

When asked if he would like to visit the Soviet Union

“The bastards murdered half my family”

Have a good Christmas – however you spend it…

Lord Chancellor Grayling has shamed our nation – it revolts me

I quote at length from a remarkable blog post from the Prison Reform Trust…

For the first time this Christmas, people in prison will not be able to receive parcels from their loved ones under petty and mean new rules introduced by the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

The new rules, which forbid prisoners from receiving any items in the post unless there are exceptional circumstances, were introduced in November as part of the government’s changes to the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme.

Under the rules, families are prevented from sending in basic items of stationery such as cards, paper or pens to help people in prison keep in touch with their friends and families and wish them a happy Christmas. They are also prevented from sending books and magazines or additional warm clothes and underwear to the prison. Instead people in prison are now forced to pay for these items out of their meagre prison wages to private companies who make a profit from selling goods to prisoners.

Read the rest of the article…

This is grotesque government – a policy introduced by a politician with no experience of the law or the ‘Justice’ system.

And they say that Britain is a 1st World Nation…with a reputation for ‘humanity’.

Postcard from The Staterooms

Dear Reader

As Chris Grayling raids the dressing up box, it warms the heart to see that he has finally been apprehended…

If I was inclined to rudeness – which I am not, I might be tempted to suggest that Mr Grayling would serve his country better by returning to the fold of back bench psychopaths on the Tory benches.  But as I am not rude, I won’t.  Tuberville v Savage [1669] EWHC KB J25

Having managed to fall backwards into a bath, slipping on a bathmat while shaving some months back – cracking my spine, I take an interest in The Darwin Awards.

The winner this year…

Yes, it’s that magical time of year again when the Darwin Awards are bestowed, honoring the least evolved among us.
Here Is The Glorious Winner:
1. When his .38 caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California would-be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.
I shall return later in the day, possibly, with another Postcard.  I leave you with good seasonal  news from RollonFriday “Allen & Overy has replaced the University of Law as its LPC and GDL provider with BPP University.”

A bit of the ‘Rive Gauche’ for you…..

The resemblance is, indeed, remarkable. The stuff of nightmares?

The Spectator has the story: Exclusive: David Cameron IS related to Catherine the Great

But to inject a bit of the festive season – please do have a look at Cassons for Counsel –  excellent Christmas video.

Perhaps not quite so festive – but certainly very useful from Cassons – East Lancs tax expert’s social media warning

It will take a fair amount of ‘bloviating’ from Alex Salmond and his plans for Independence and ‘Independent Scotland’ starting life as a part of the EU  to get around this ruling from the EU:

Herman Van Rompuy deals EU blow to Alex Salmond’s independence plans

And so we move on to the events in Chancery Lane at The Law Society : Law Society leadership in chaos as solicitors pass no-confidence vote

And from there to news: 

Eddie Izzard on going into politics: ‘Why shouldn’t I be mayor of London?’

I am a fan, as many are, of Eddie Izzard and have had the pleasure of seeing him perform live several times.  I think it would be rather fun to have Mr Izzard as London Mayor…  Ou est Le Boris?  Le Boris est dans l’arbre ? 

The Guardian has the story


Simon Myerson QC writes: The Risk We Run

“On 6th January the Criminal Bar is going on strike. Or, more accurately, they aren’t going to turn up for work in the morning. On 6th January I start a civil trial. I will be working on that day because the Court has listed the matter and my client is paying me to be there. I make this declaration because I want to talk about what is going to happen. I should also be spending this evening doing the Opening for that trial and I very much fear that I will pay for this post with a 3am finish some time soon. Still, it’s important.

As you would expect the Bar Standards Board has published guidance about the 6th January. It says that not attending Court is a disciplinary offence.”

Read the full post here

No rational basis for denying all prisoners the vote, concludes joint Parliamentary Committee : UK Human Rights blog

But it is the festive season – so time for a bit more of the bizarre…

Burglar trapped hanging over toilet says “please help. call the police”

The Police were called.  Apparently, this burglar isn’t very good at crime.

I am often surprised by Mr Grant Shapps MP.  Apart from his double identity life of the past – I find it remarkable (a) That he is Chairman of The Tory Party and (b) That his constituents elected him.  But, be that as it may.

His latest antics are covered in this remarkable story from The Guardian: “Grant Shapps tried to prevent housing plan for airfield where he keeps plane. Local council wants to build 700 homes on Panshanger airfield where Shapps keeps his £100,000 Piper Saratoga aircraft”




Guest Post: More Transparency Expected from Personal Injury Claims Management Companies

More Transparency Expected from Personal Injury Claims Management Companies

According to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, it is a “civil and legal right” to make an accident claim, yet 69 percent of people do not do this [1]. There are many reasons for this, just some of which include not having the right knowledge, or not having the funds available to submit and support a claim. Yet it is possible that these problems can be rectified by doing some research online and looking into suitable options; perhaps the industry still has some work to do in order to make information clearer.

This is something that the Ministry of Justice is also keen to do; they are currently preparing to follow up their consultation on introducing more stringent rules for claims management companies with a third inquiry into fines early next year. The idea is that they can clamp down on poor industry practices to make decisions much easier and safer for consumers.

Personal injury claims management companies (CMCs) are already down 38 percent (as of the end of September) compared to the same period in 2012, following the MoJ’s Conduct Rules which were introduced in July. The new consultation on proposed fines for CMCs accused of poor practices will go hand-in-hand with the consultation to tighten the MoJ’s Conduct Rules.

The changes wanted by the MoJ in this area include:

●     Ensuring investigations are carried out to establish the merits of a claim,

●     Ensuring data received from introducers has been legally obtained / is compliant with rules,

●     Not making claims recklessly, falsely or in any way intended to mislead.

These proposed amendments are expected to be introduced after the new year, and should help to promote transparency when it comes to claims management companies. It is not expected to increase the burden on CMCs who are already compliant with the regulations.

The MoJ released a report which makes for interesting reading for consumers and industry professionals alike. It speaks of the 38 percent personal injury claims management company shrinkage, as well as the implementation of the Conduct Rules. They say: “Most of the CMCs that have exited the market were small businesses, which had either ceased trading altogether or were focusing on the credit hire/bent metal aspects of accident management.” [2]

“This is almost wholly as a result of the civil justice and related reforms to this sector introduced in April 2013. We anticipate that the personal injury claims market will continue to contract in 2013 and beyond as CMCs who are unable to adapt their business model to comply with the referral fee ban, exit the market.”

The report also explained that many personal injury focussed CMCs had been successful in adapting to the referral fee ban through the shift in business practices. This includes the amendment of models in order to make them compliant with the ban; popular solutions involve marketing schemes and service agreements. At the end of September 2013, there were 1485 authorised firms out of a total of 2350.

CMCs will need to closely monitor changes to regulations to ensure they are providing consumers with the correct information, but it will lead to much more transparency that could even lead to more people following their civil and legal right to make a claim.



[1] First Personal Injury,

[2] Post Online,

Guest Post: How to deal with car accidents involving families

How to deal with car accidents involving families
By Croftons Injury Claims

Car accidents involving relatives are stressful, especially if it turns out they were to blame for the incident. A solicitor can explain how to deal with this.

Being involved in a car accident is stressful enough at the best of times, but it becomes even more so when family members are involved.

While your immediate concern will obviously be caring for anyone who has been injured in the collision, it is also important to consider your legal reaction to any incident. As we will see, this largely depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident.

Scenario A: Your family car is hit by another vehicle

Manchester-based Croftons Solicitors are experienced in dealing with challenging car accident claims traffic accident claims centre around a crash involving two parties, with the claimant seeking to prove that the blame for the incident lies with the other driver.

However, if your family is in the car with you and they also suffer injuries, it is important that you all know how to most effectively pursue compensation from the negligent driver

Any adult family member would have the same rights as you. That is, they have up to three years to make a claim before they become ineligible for compensation.

If a child is hurt in the accident, you may make a claim on their behalf at the same time as pursuing compensation for yourself. If you do not, they will have the option to do so for three years from the date of their 18th birthday.

Victims of accidents involving an uninsured driver or ‘hit and run’ incidents may be concerned that they will not receive any compensation if there is no one to claim against. The Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) ensures this does not happen, but it is likely that your case will take longer to reach a conclusion if you have to go down this route.

Scenario B: A family member is responsible for the collision

A slightly less conventional car accident claim may occur if you are involved in an accident that was the fault of a family member.

This clearly puts the claimant in a rather awkward position. On the one hand, they are injured and need to be compensated for all the usual reasons such as medical costs and loss of earnings. On the other, the prospect of claiming against a family member is evidently more than a little awkward.

In this situation, many people are understandably nervous about causing tension within their family if they go ahead with a claim, and may be concerned that it will be seen as ‘blaming’ their relative or getting them into trouble. They might also be under the impression that any compensation they are awarded will come out of their relative’s pocket.

In fact, compensation in these cases will come from the at-fault driver’s insurer or the MIB, not from the driver directly. If explained in this way, it could reassure the claimant that they are not entering into direct opposition against a family member, which in turn will hopefully prevent a row from developing.

Incentive to act quickly

In both scenarios, the benefits of addressing the situation as soon as possible are clear. Quite apart from the fact that you will receive compensation quicker and be able to return to normality, the legal three-year time limit means failure to act promptly could see you miss out on compensation altogether.

Additionally, if we consider Scenario B, leaving the situation to fester could allow a family dispute to develop unnecessarily, as relatives enter into an argument without being in possession of all the facts.

It really is in your best interests to secure the help of an experienced road traffic accident solicitor as soon as possible, so don’t leave it too late to get the legal guidance you need.

Postcard from The Bunker (2)….

After several months of not being able to blog because of a spine injury, I have returned to the sport of having a look at the human condition through a not always serious lens.

First up… the vexed question as to how to maximise idiocy and folly on twitter… 

How to tweet without ending up in prison

An ill-judged tweet can land you in a whole lot of legal bother, as Peaches Geldof and Sally Bercow know only too well. So the attorney general’s new guidelines are essential reading

I have managed to do 115,950 tweets.  It is unlikely that I have advanced the cause of knowledge by doing this many tweets – but it has kept me off the streets causing alarm to the populace with my recent ‘dress sense’ (I wear red trousers occasionally these days)….

For those of you who have a hidden desire to wear red trousers…. I commend to you

On a more serious note – I am delighted that a judge has had an opportunity to deal with this issue:

Muslim vigilantes jailed for ‘sharia law’ attacks in London

“Passing sentence on Friday, Judge Rebecca Poulet QC told them that while Islam was a peaceful religion, their conduct was “unfortunately anything but”.

“One of the many good things about living in Great Britain is the tolerance and respect members of the public generally show to one another’s religious beliefs, his dress or his chosen way of life.”

“When, on occasions, a person shows their intolerance of another individual, whether by aggression or violence and in such a way as to cause real fear to the individual, then the law can be invoked to protect that individual.”

And now to a most interesting post from thelegalbratblawg : Time to re-set the legal profession?

As one GC recently put it to me, “the re-set button has been pressed on the legal profession”. Whilst the button has certainly been pressed, the machine has not yet rebooted….

And on the subject of intolerance..

Oxbridge speaks out against Oldfield deportation proceedings


As staff, students, and alumni of Cambridge and Oxford Universities, we are calling on the Home Secretary to stop deportation proceedings against Trenton Oldfield for disrupting the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in April 2012.

We neither believe that this action constituted an infraction serious enough to warrant such a heavy penalty, nor accept that it establishes that Mr Oldfield is ‘undesirable, has unacceptable associations and could be considered a threat to national security’.

The Boat Race is a game; its disruption should not result in any individual’s deportation. Certainly its disruption should not be cause to separate an individual from his family, which includes a recently-born child.


Lucy Reed at her Pink Tape blog writes with precision and clarity about the Essex C-Section case in the following blog posts.




Lucy Reed practices from St John’s Chambers

It is always interesting to get some views on the hot law firms.  RollonFriday has the gen on this…

Firm of the Year: Linklaters “brutal”, Irwin Mitchell “confiscates mobiles”

RollonFriday story

Human rights for lawyers at these firms….  anyone?

I shall be back later…possibly.  Need to eat a toasted chicken sandwich with hot Mango chutney from Patak’s (Three chillies mark on the label) …. haven’t had one since breakfast.


Postcard from The Bunker…. (1)

Finally recovering from a daft injury sustained when I tripped on a bathmat while shaving and fell backwards into the bath, cracking my spine.,  I can, at last, type with some accuracy and no pain.  Whether this advance will do anything to the cause of informing and commenting on the laws of our country is not for me to consider.

Nor is it for me or anyone else to consider calling for the abolition of The Monarchy – or even thinking about it?  For the avoidance of doubt, Mr Grayling, I am not and  never have been a member of the communist party, nor have I ever had the temerity to think in private or in public about the abolition of The Monarchy  etc etc. It is possible that my brain may have toyed with such thoughts when I was asleep – but I can hardly be responsible –  or have any of that old mens rea schtik –  while I am asleep.

The Ministry of Justice appears to be right up to the mark with ‘efficiency undreamed of in a modern state’  by managing to get ‘confused’ as to what laws in relation to the above are or are not still in force.

The Guardian makes the point: “A 165-year-old law that threatens anyone calling for the abolition of the monarchy with life imprisonment is technically still in force – after the Ministry of Justice admitted wrongly announcing that it had been repealed.”

It would appear that the Lord Chancellor has some competition when it comes to giving advice on the law: Helston pub affray conviction ‘unsafe’ as court bailiff slammed

Still…I suppose it must be difficult for the Lord Chancellor – not being a lawyer himself – to keep a grip on all this ‘law stuff’.

But the good news…demonstrating beyond doubt that the Lord Chancellor is concerned with law reform: “Among 327 offences that have recently been purged from the statute book was that of “being an incorrigible rogue”, under the Vagrancy Act 1824.”

But, be that as it may.  On to other matters….

First up is a question which has been on my mind, unanswered,  for many years – now solved by this helpful article: What does the Queen’s ‘warden of the swans’ actually do? (Phone hacking has had some benefits.)

I enjoyed this blog post: 

A simply appalling scheme

 Lloyds Banking Group has been fined £28m by the Financial Conduct Authority for simply awful management of staff.

To ensure that Britain continues to lead the way when it comes to matters of criminal Law, Legal Futures notesEntrepreneur-backed Defence Hub promises to “revolutionise” criminal defence market

I shall sleep easy in my bed this night knowing that all is well in matters of criminal defence and ‘hubs’.

And what about this – just to make us feel ‘Christmassy’? 

The Lawmakers riding roughshod over democracy .  It would appear Lord Sumption is right: legal activism devalues the demos.

But hey… while I am on what I am pleased to call ‘a roll’  – what about this from Legal Cheek?Frontman of company seeking to ‘revolutionise’ criminal law makes grammatically incorrect bestiality slur against bemused barrister

Back later.  I have to replenish supplies from the high street.

Guest Post: New Citizenship Rules May Affect US ESTA Visa Waiver Programme

New Citizenship Rules May Affect US ESTA Visa Waiver Programme

In accordance with US governmental regulations, Malta’s participation in the Visa Waiver Programme will be subject to scrutiny next year. Every country participating in the Visa Waiver Programme is reviewed every two years by the Department of Homeland Security in order to determine the effect their participation in the Visa Waiver Programme has on US immigration, security and law enforcement but new citizenship laws may affect the outcome.

Although the review of Malta’s participation in the Visa Waiver Programme is in accordance with the standard regime, rather than being specifically requested, the introduction of the Individual Investor Programme has left some people wondering what the outcome of the review will be and whether Malta will be able to continue as a participant of the Visa Waiver Programme.

Many have asked whether people granted Maltese citizenship under the Individual Investor Programme could be eligible to take part in the Programme but the US Department of Homeland Security were quick to confirm that applicants can be granted access to the United States providing they meet the requirements, regardless of how the acquired their citizenship.

It seems, therefore, that obtaining Maltese citizenship via the Individual Investor Programme will not be a barrier to taking part in the ESTA Programme.

Although, it’s theoretically possible that a Maltese citizen who gained citizenship via the Individual Investor Programme will be able to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme, the Department of Homeland Security have also pointed out that the ESTA Programme cannot guarantee entry to the country and that every individual will also be subject to the decisions made by the US Customs and Border Protection Officers at all US ports of entry.

Although some have criticised the decision to allow people who have gained citizenship under the Individual Investor Programme to take part in the Visa Waiver Programme, the strict requirements of the Visa Waiver Programme itself mean that many people see no problem with allowing those who gained citizenship under the Individual Investor Programme to use it. In addition to having a biometric passport, applicants of the Visa Waiver Programme must also travel on an approved carrier and be free of any previous violations.

Although the US Department of Homeland Security has clarified some issues surrounding the effect of the Individual Investor Programme on Malta’s participation in the Visa Waiver Programme, it still remains a controversial issue.

US Ambassador to Malta, Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, has yet to comment on the Maltese government’s decision to remove the controversial confidentiality clause from agreements made under the Individual Investor Programme whilst the UK, French and German embassies have thus far failed to comment on the impact the Individual Investor Programme may have.

Whilst the US Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that Maltese citizens, including those granted citizenship under the Individual Investor Programme, can theoretically be eligible to enter the US under the Visa Waiver Programme, it remains to be seen whether the introduction of the Individual Investor Programme will affect Malta’s participation in the Waiver Programme following the comprehensive review next year.

Guest Post: Cold weather is on its way – don’t bury your head in the snow

Cold weather is on its way – don’t bury your head in the snow
By Simon Quantrill

With winter bad weather especially snow come problems for employees getting to work – however they travel – as well as dealing with child care as nurseries and schools close their doors.

We answer some key questions people managers will be asking themselves as the weather takes a turn for the worst.

Can I discipline an employee who does not come to work because of bad weather?

It depends.  If an employee cannot come in because they have to look after his or her children because the school or nursery is closed taking disciplinary action against them would be risky.  The employee is probably exercising their statutory right to take time off to deal with a ‘family emergency’ and should not be subjected to a ‘detriment’ (or dismissed) because of it.

Sadly, however, there will always be employees who use snow (or other bad weather) as an excuse not to go to work and have a ‘snow day’.  If an employee does not come to work and he could have this raised as a potential disciplinary issue.  It may also be appropriate to discipline an employee if they do not get in touch and report his or her absence.  You mustn’t jump to conclusions though.  You will need to carry out an investigation.

Do I have to pay an employee who does not come to work?

Again, it depends.  If an employee is off work because they need to care for children, and they are exercising the right to time off to deal with a ‘family emergency’ they are not entitled to be paid because this right is to unpaid time off.

In other circumstances the starting point is that an employee is only entitled to be paid if they are at work.  Pay could be withheld if an employee has deliberately not to come to work when they could have but you must check the contract of employment. Many employers, but by no means all, will pay employees who were simply unable to make it to work.  Others may pay those who could not make it but did what they could from home.

If you decide to pay those who could not get in because their car was trapped or the trains weren’t running then you should not treat those who could not come in because of child care problems any differently. They should be paid as well.  Not doing so could give rise to grievances at best and at worst claims of discrimination and less favourable treatment.

Can I ask the employee to use holiday?

This can be done by agreement. After all the employee is likely to prefer taking holiday than not getting paid at all.

Depending on how long any cold snap lasts, you do have the option of requiring your employee to take holiday.  If you have not agreed any other notice provisions, under the Working Time Regulations, you can require an employee to take, for example, one day’s holiday by giving two days’ notice.  If you want an employee to take two days’ holiday you must give them four days’ notice and so on.

What about health and safety?

In most cases you are not responsible for an employee’s safety while travelling to and from the work.  This is not always going to be the case. Take an employee working at a place other than their usual place of work or travelling between branches or offices. In this case you are likely to be liable for the health and safety of the employee and should carry out a risk assessment. This may result in the employee being sent home or at least not travelling.

Whether you are legally liable or not do you really want your employees travelling in treacherous and dangerous conditions?

Any other tips?


Be a good communicator! In all cases your employees will welcome clear guidance and details of your expectations when the weather turns nasty.  Stay in touch and keep conditions under review. Do not assume employees know what they should be doing. Some of our clients use Twitter, Facebook and the like to keep employees updated, post bad weather arrangements on their website or set up a telephone message to let staff know what is happening.

Be practical, reasonable and flexible.  Employees will welcome working from home or at a location nearer their home if that is possible, especially if they live some distance away or in a remote location. Being flexible is no doubt the best option.

The Great British weather does have a tendency to throw some curve balls at us.  Put in place a policy that sets out your expectations and deals with some or all of the questions above.  If you are asking them you can be sure your employees are as well.

Simon Quantrill has an enviable legal knowledge and depth of practical experience obtained from over 22 years of being a dedicated employment law and HR solicitor. He enjoys the challenges and job satisfaction of managing and handling a diverse range of the more difficult and high value employment law cases. In March 2001, when Simon set up Quantrills as a niche firm of employment law solicitors he wanted to provide clients with trusted and reliable specialist advice and representation at a reasonable cost with the best possible client care. Simon is suitably proud that the firm’s reputation today reflects these original goals that remain as important as ever.

Guest Post: Samsung vs Apple: The Great Tech Lawsuit

Samsung vs Apple: The Great Tech Lawsuit

As most smart-phone owners will have come to realize, there are some general similarities and areas of overlap in the design and appearance of all smart-phones on the market today. Whether it be the rough physical design of a phone, or even the way that applications appear on a menu, there are definite likenesses in all smart-phones, and especially so in the case of Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxies.

But where does similarity end and copying begin? Read on to find out about claims of copying made by the two giants against each other and find out who ultimately won out!

The Court Case

Throughout 2012 legal warfare raged between the two companies Apple and Samsung, over allegations made by Apple that Samsung had infringed a number of Apple patents relating to the aesthetic and functional features of its 2007 iPhone by bringing out its Samsung Galaxy series. Samsung, for its part, has alleged that Apple copied elements of Samsung’s 3G technology and utility functions such as emailing and multitasking. There has since been a retrial, and it is expected that many more related legal battles could flow on from the current dispute.

Aside from compensatory damages being sought for supposed theft, both sides have been fighting hard to have their respective patents recognized so that they can charge licensing fees for companies wanting to use those products. With all these potential profits at stake, competition has been and will likely continue to be fierce. Read below to see just what accusations are being made.

Apple’s Case

Apple’s original intention was to seek around $2.5 billion in damages from Samsung in anticipation of lost profits and market share. In 2012 proceedings, they claimed that Samsung had copied the physical aesthetic of its phones with its Galaxy series and that they had copied zoom in scrolling and screen-bouncing features from the Apple visual display. All in all, Apple was claiming that Samsung had copied six of its patents, and that it was accordingly entitled to damages. And true enough, the court held in Apple’s favour at first instance in 2012, awarding the American giant over $1 billion in damages for five patent violations and dismissing Samsung’s counterclaims.

Fast forward to 2013 and Apple seems to be having a little trouble cementing its earlier gains in court. In the most recent developments in the retrial (which Samsung argued for), four of the five patent claims relied on by Apple for the court Judge has dismissed its loss-of-profits arguments. So too has the amount of damages decreased, now to only a fraction of what was originally awarded. It will be interesting to see what moves Apple makes next as the legal battle continues.

Samsung’s Case

When taken to court in 2012 by Apple, Samsung’s initial argument was that it had not copied any of Apple’s payments and that, in fact, Apple had copied Samsung patents relating to 3G technology and email and multitasking technologies. Apple of course denied the allegations, and the jury at close of trial found that Apple was correct in its denial, although it couldn’t confirm that Samsung’s patents were not unique to or owned by Samsung. Samsung hit back at the initial judgment by arguing for a retrial, which ultimately was granted and has been going throughout 2013. At present, Samsung has managed to disprove that it had copied four of the five patents claimed to be Apple’s, and is arguing to have damages reduced further.

It’s clear therefore that by way of the retrial, Samsung’s losses have been substantially reduced and many of its actions were not deemed to be improper or unethical.

The Future

Aside from the issue of damages – the amount of which Apple would want to restore to first-trial levels – the matter of who is recognized to own what patent is extremely important to both sides in the dispute. This is because of the fact that other companies must pay an oftentimes-expensive licensing fee to the inventor-company to use their patent. Therefore, it’s fair to say that who has patented the specific technology gains a stronger foothold in the smart-phone market place.

So, here’s hoping that whoever prevails in this nasty legal spat between techno-giants, the sour taste of loss or the giddy heights of victory don’t pass down tough constraints on us smart-phone buyers!

This post is done in partnership with Flexirent, who offers laptop rentals and phone rentals for business and personal use.

And a little bit more of the ‘Rive Gauche’ for the weekend….

One really does not need to comment further on the above photograph….

And so as we head towards the ‘festive’ season, the  three week holiday (for some), I may buy myself a desk top singing or dancing Christmas Tree  to inject a bit of festive cheer and to amuse me while I ‘Keep buggering on’ (Churchill).

It would appear that our revered Chief Secretary to The Treasury, doppelgänger to Beaker from Sesame Street , is already getting into the festive mood by visiting food banks for the poor in Britain.

Before I get carried off into the realms of further nonsense – a taste of sobriety and sense from Obiter J with this most interesting blogpost: Thoughts on the Hamlyn Lecture by Lord Justice Laws

One can, of course, have way too much sense at the weekend – and this is a ‘Rive Gauche’ post after all, so onwards and downwards……

A sardonic observation from Em Malley, noted ‘observationist’ (sic) on twitter and a good bloke…

And on a rather more important and serious note…. Jerry Hayes explains…


“The former Lord Chief Justice, Igor Judge, has proved to be a remarkably formidable and skilled tactician. In one speech he has given the government a lifeline and Chris Grayling a death threat. The trouble is that our esteemed Lord Chancellor is so dim that he can only identify the lifeline and hasn’t yet noticed the bullet that is travelling in the direction of his head.”

Do, please, read the rest.  It is a good piece. 

And while I am on a roll of  ‘sense and sensibility’ – an excellent piece from Carl Gardner,  fellow blogger and a regular podcaster with me:   Booker, Hemming and the “forced caesarian” case: a masterclass in Flat Earth news

I’ll be back soon with my Postcard from The Bunker…

Guest Post: Avoid the Pitfalls of Unfair Dismissal

Avoid the Pitfalls of Unfair Dismissal

When you feel you’ve been unfairly dismissed, you have to be clever about it. Knowing your rights and the law is half the battle. Over the last few years, the government has amended legislation to be more corporation, rather than employee, friendly. So, if you want the justice you deserve for being unfairly dismissed, consider the following landmines:

How Long Have You Been An Employee?

As of April 6 2012, you will need to have worked at your current place of employment for more than 2 years, before you can take your employer to the employment tribunal. Before this landmark, you have scant rights, as an employee. Find out how much credence your claim will be given online.

The exception to this rule, however, is if you have been unfairly dismissed during maternity, paternity, or adoption leave. In this case, there is no time limit and your employer must provide you with a written statement containing the reasons for your dismissal.

How Long Have You Been Dismissed For?

It’s always best to act promptly on legal matters. However, if you don’t claim unfair dismissal within 3 months of being fired, you don’t have a case. So get legal advice quickly and set the wheels into motion.

Consistent Behaviour?

It’s important to spot inconsistencies. For example, were you fired for an offence that your colleague got away with (with just a warning)? If you can prove you’ve been unfairly and illegally singled out, you could have a strong case.

Do You Have Any Evidence?

You don’t have a case if you don’t have proof. For example, if you’re claiming you were bullied by your colleagues and your employer did nothing about it, you need evidence of this taking place, whether that’s through recordings, emails, or letters, keep everything and build yourself up a convincing case.

Have You Made Use Of All Resources?

It’s well worth becoming a member of your trade union. They can become an invaluable representative at disciplinary hearings and can provide you with the legal support you need to make a case of unfair dismissal. You can be sure that your company will have contacted their employment lawyers, so you should do the same. Don’t just go into an unfair dismissal case blind.

How Sure Are You That Your Dismissal Was Unfair?

Usually, you have a case, if you’ve been dismissed for the following reasons:

  • You have applied for/are on maternity, paternity, or adoption leave
  • Discrimination
  • You refused to give up your right for rest breaks or you asked for flexible hours
  • You joined a trade union
  • You whistleblew
  • You were forced to go into retirement (unless your employer has a very good reason for this)
  • Your pay was docked or you were demoted for no reason and you left the company
  • You were forced to do unreasonable shifts that aren’t in your contract and you left the company
  • Your employers allowed colleagues to harass or bully you and did nothing about it


Guest Post: Choose Your Conveyancer Wisely

Choose Your Conveyancer Wisely
Denver Burke

Buying or selling a home can certainly be difficult, and enlisting the help of a conveyancer can be quite a nerve-racking experience. Solicitors are all qualified to transfer ownership titles, but it’s always best to enlist the help of a specialist. High standard conveyancers carry a kitemark logo and are authorised by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

What Do Conveyancers Do?

A conveyancer’s job is to undertake important research on the property, to ensure that the local authorities have no existing plans for your property and that there are no liabilities, such as sewers running close to the home.

Conveyancers should also advise you about the myriad costs involved in property purchasing and selling. They should also ensure that your mortgage lender has all the relevant information and oversee any necessary payments. Contracts will be checked by your conveyance – and where necessary – drafted up, when the property has been purchased.

And, of course, register you with the Land Registry.

How Do You Choose A Conveyancer?

You should always have a conveyancer on board before you decide to sell. It may help to employ your solicitor alongside your mortgage lender – it could work out cheaper and some lenders only work with trusted solicitors anyway, so it simplifies the process for everyone (blame the credit crunch). If you choose a good mortgage lender, you can be sure the solicitors will be of high quality also, and have been tried and tested.

Of course, you can always use a solicitor of your choice, but you may be charged by your lender for this, or asked to go elsewhere!

Alternatively, you can use an online conveyance. He or she should be a conduit and will let you check your progress online through emails and texts. Of course, you will need to be technologically savvy to make the most of this service.

The Money

Only go with conveyancers that will disclose their charges from the very beginning, so you get no nasty surprises down the line. Expect to be charged for time, telephone/internet charges, indemnity fees, letters, and contingency fees. Plus, anything legal like Land Registry and council fees.

The price of the property transfer usually depends on how expensive your home is; even if no more effort goes into processing a £100,000 property or a £1,000,000 one, you still have to pay more. According to, the average cost of conveyancing is £850, so factor this into your home-moving budget.

Due to the competitive market, there are now fixed-rate deals available. Some also offer no-completion, no-fee deals, if the selling and buying process collapses. Most cost-effective options come from national chains, so make sure you start there, if you’re looking for a deal on conveyancing solicitors. The downside of going this way, however, is limited personal interaction.

It’s inadvisable, although possible, to conduct your own conveyancing. You will save yourself a lot of time and stress by hiring a professional.

Guest Post: Involved in an Accident at Work? Steps to Consider

Involved in an Accident at Work? Steps to Consider

As human beings, we’re prone to making mistakes, but it’s not unusual for employees to suffer from an accident at work that wasn’t their fault. However, many workers are uncomfortable with taking action, after such an incident occurs; perhaps they are afraid of career ramifications or they just don’t want to get the company in trouble.

Yet, failing to follow the correct personal injury protocol can lead to other employees suffering the same fate. So, not only is it important that you do this for yourself, but it’s crucial for your co-workers’ safety too.

Here’s what you should do, following an accident.

Step One

Report the incident to your line manager or supervisor. Your side of events should be recorded in the Accident Book. Specify clearly what happened and who you believe to be at fault. Your business is required by law to have an Accident Book on the premises, so request it when you’re able.

Before you sign the Accident Report, ensure that you believe it’s entirely factually correct. Don’t let your employer pressurise you into signing. If you think the incident hasn’t been accurately documented, ask for amendments to be made. Once you sign, you are legally agreeing to the content.

Step Two

Write a journal and track any injuries you have sustained. It’s particularly important to record your side of the story, so you can remember crucial details, later down the line – do this soon after the accident, while the facts are fresh in your mind.

Keep any evidence that proves your version of events is correct. For example, witness contact details and photographs.

Step Three

Seek medical attention as soon as you possibly can and get a professional diagnosis. Even if you think your injuries are minor, it’s crucial that you do the right thing and put your health first.

If you plan to make a claim, you need to have your medical condition on record, after the incident. There must be a link in the doctor’s notes with the accident at work, to show ‘causation.’

Your notes should also include your diagnosis and any treatments or medication you’ve been given. Follow the doctor’s orders to the t.

Step Four

You must do what you can to keep your losses low. This means going back to work when you’re able and seeking all the treatment you possibly can; even if that means it’s being paid for by you. Normally, that expenditure will be recoverable.

Step Five

Making a claim can be a big decision, so you should seek out legal advice – a lot of accident at work solicitors will offer up the first consultation at no charge. You do have three years to settle your claim, but it’s best to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.

Different rules do apply to minors (those under 18 years-old) – they have a three year time limit, which begins after their 18th birthday.

A bit of the ‘Rive Gauche’ for a wintry afternoon…

Lawyers and bankers get a bit of stick in the press, sometimes deservedly – and in this case, deservedly.  I take the view, perhaps unreasonably, that MPs should devote the greater part of their working time to the work of an MP.  MPs enjoy a reasonable salary  with expenses (I am, of course referring to legitimate expense claims here) – some would say they are well paid.

Arrogant Stephen ‘He’s Raking it in’  Phillips’…MP and barrister,  probably deserves the vilification The Mirror.

Well..there we are.  On to other surreal tweets and stories...

If you have got this far, you may have come to the conclusion that I am not really in the mood for serious analysis of matters legal today.  You are right.  I’ve had to do a fair bit of that in a long teaching career – and having delivered ‘tablets of stone’ for nigh on 35++ years –  on very rare occasions to students who resembled hungover stones in tutorials –  I don’t really feel the need to deliver any more.  This explains, in part,  my predilection for the bizarre and amusing on twitter and the net.

I rather like the word predilection – although I also enjoy the synonyms.  A small selection:  ‘appetite’ , ‘penchant’, ‘propensity’.  The definition provides hints at more… ‘A partiality or disposition in favor of something’.  Note the American spelling.  I am not an American, but I do understand their ‘modifications’ of English.  Is their spelling more efficient?  The French prédilection, taken from the Medieval Latin praedīlect(us) – hints at the more esoteric tastes. would appear from the tweet below that Les Anglais may also have unusual prédilections…(sic)

And finally…

Peaches Geldof and Ian Watkins: is social media the end of contempt of court?

Geldof tweeting the names of victims’ relatives shows how hard it is to enforce reporting restrictions in the digital age.

New Statesman

I shall return later this evening, hopefully.  I have to go and eat a curry now.

Guest Post: The History of Patent Wars

The History of Patent Wars 

With technology companies such as Apple and Samsung currently engaged in high-profile disputes over patents, it’s easy to think that patent wars are solely a modern phenomenon.

However, while the “smartphone wars”, as they’re now known, are certainly some of the most costly patent wars in history, they’re far from the only examples of leading companies battling each other over the rights to technology.

When compared to some of history’s patent wars, today’s struggles over technology are, by contrast, fairly mild. While the technology in question is more advanced and the sums far greater, the legal aspects of today’s cases share a lot in common with those of the 19th and 20th century.

As the vast majority of patent litigation occurs in the United States, it’s a great place to begin our look at patent wars. In 1790, the introduction of patent laws occurred in the United States. Despite this, it wasn’t until the industrial revolution that patent disputes began to occur in any meaningful quantity.

One of the first technological innovations to be protected against competitors was the sewing machine. In 1846, Elias Hunt had patented his version of the invention, but rival Isaac Singer was also pursuing a claim as early as 1850. As with many of today’s patent disputes, the patent war between Hunt and Singer revolved around overlapping patents covering products that were remarkably similar.

Litigation was high profile, particularly within legal circles, and cases were costly for both parties. Much like today, companies commercially exploited their patents in the form of patent selling and trading, as well as partnerships between companies that licensed patents and those that manufactured the products.


As with many of today’s patent disputes, the fight over the rights to the technology used in the sewing machine was not resolved quickly. An agreement was reached between all of the patent owners in which the technology would belong to a patent pool known as “the Sewing Machine Combination.”

Many of the 19th century’s other technological developments ended up in a form of patent warfare deadlock, including the telephone, the airplane, and barbed wire. In the case of the telephone, which was patented in 1876, there were only five hours between the filing of patents by Alexander Bell and Elisha Gray’s companies.

In the two years the followed, the rival companies engaged in over five hundred separate lawsuits – a litigation battle that, in many ways, mirrors those of today’s top smartphone manufacturers.

Many critics of today’s patent laws take aim at what they perceive as an “explosion in patent litigation”. They may be surprised to learn that the patent litigation rate of today is just 1.5%, compared to an astounding 3.6% litigation rate for the decade beginning in 1840.

During the 20th century, the patent disputes over technology that had defined the previous 100 years turned into disputes over pharmaceutical licensing. While the subject was different, the disputes were much the same – a marrying of technology and science.

What’s interesting about these cases, and those of today, is the cost. Companies such as Apple and Google have spent an estimated $20 billion fighting patent lawsuits – a sum that, by all measures, exceeds the amount that they spend on the research and development of new technologies.

This article was written by our friends over at Vannin Capital. Find out more about them at

Kray Nouvelle… Britain

The Tory Kray Brothers (Left) will probably do more damage to Britain than the dead geezers on the right hand side of the pic.   I marvel that we ended up with Cameron and Gidiot Osbore running the country – with Boris vying keenly to continue the nonsense.