A bit of New Year’s Eve Rive Gauche for you…

And so we arrive at New Year’s Eve and 2014, thankfully, will soon be consigned to the past.  For my part, it was not a great year.

And many will drink and enjoy themselves..

And here is an observation I made this time last year…

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 as I ‘resolve’ to actually write about some LAW in 2015…here is a bit of utilitarian felicific calculus….

I wish you a good New Year’s Eve and a fine 2015…

Mea culpa… I just could resist digging up a Justice Secretary Lord Chancellor Grayling bit of nonsense…

A good new year to you… my last post of 2014…

 

RD Charon: “Legal Nihilism: Taking Rights Seriously, seriously”, Maninahat Press, 2014

The Creation

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, 2014

While I marvel at the ability of regulatory committees to achieve anything of value in my book,   I consider the value of The Bar Standards Board to the man on the Clapham Omnibus.

Prologue

1. In the beginning Mammon created the law and the Bar

2. And  The Bar was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of mammon moved upon the face of the waters.

3. And Mammon said, Let there be a Bar Standards Board to regulate all the barristers: and there was  The Bar Standards Board.

4. And Mammon saw the light, that it was good: and Mammon divided the light from the darkness.

5. And Mammon called the light barristers, and the darkness he called those wishing to be barristers. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

6. And Mammon said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

7. And Mammon made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament with a Bar Course Aptitude test: and it was so.

 

***

Note from Charon QC – Please don’t buy his book.  It will only encourage him to write more of them.

Rive Gauche: A look back at some nonsense I wrote back in the day…

It may be that you have not seen Mr Vince Cable and me in the same room.  I hope that this state of affairs continues.

While Christmas has passed, I cannot resist posting this from Catherine Tate which I put up on the blog seven years ago….  I still like it. Roll on 2015 when I can get back to being a ‘proper law blogger’….

THE CHAV NATIVITY:

There’s this bird called Mary, yeah? She’s a virgin (wossat then?) She’s not married or nuffink, but she’s got this boyfriend, Joe, innit? He does joinery an’ that. Mary lives with him in a crib dahn Nazaref. One day Mary meets this bloke Gabriel. She’s like ‘Oo ya lookin at?’ Gabriel just goes ‘You got one up the duff, you have.’ Mary’s totally gobsmacked. She gives it to him large ‘Stop dissin’ me yeah? I ain’t no Kappa-slapper. I never bin wiv no one!’

So Mary goes and sees her cousin Liz, who’s six months gone herself. Liz is largin’ it. She’s filled with spirits, Barcardi Breezers an’ that. She’s like ‘Orright, Mary, I can feel me bay-bee in me tummy and I reckon I’m well blessed. Think of all the extra benefits an’ that we are gonna get.’ Mary goes ‘Yeah, s’pose you’re right’
Mary an’ Joe ain’t got no money so they have to ponse a donkey, an’ go dahn Bethlehem on that. They get to this pub an’ Mary wants to stop, yeah? To have her bay-bee an’ that.
But there ain’t no room at the inn, innit? So Mary an’ Joe break an’ enter into this garridge, only it’s filled wiv animals. Cahs an’ sheep an’ that.

Then these three geezers turn up, looking proper bling, wiv crowns on their heads. They’re like ‘Respect, bay-bee Jesus’, an’ say they’re wise men from the East End.
Joe goes: ‘If you’re so wise, wotchoo doin’ wiv this Frankenstein an’ myrrh?
Why dincha just bring gold, Adidas and Burberry?’

It’s all about to kick off when Gabriel turns up again an’ sez he’s got another message from this Lord geezer. He’s like ‘The police is comin an’ they’re killin all the bay-bees. You better nash off to Egypt.’ Joe goes ‘You must be monged if you think I’m goin’ dahn Egypt on a minging donkey’. Gabriel sez ‘Suit yerself, pal. But it’s your look out if you stay.’

So they go dahn Egypt till they’ve stopped killin the first-born an’ it’s safe an’that.
Then Joe and Mary and Jesus go back to Nazaref, an’ Jesus turns water into Stella.

I accept that I am being a bit lazy in the dying embers of 2014 by digging up old posts from the blog – but a few events of our past continue to amuse me…

And finally…another post from the past which I enjoyed writing at the time (2007)

 

A Bar & Dining Room
Somewhere in London
Meal for two with wine: £90
Nil points

 

“Have you booked?” asked the black silk shirted Maitre D’ guarding the entrance. The abruptness of the greeting took me by surprise.

“I have not booked. Do you have a table?” Blackshirt’s eyes narrowed as he flicked open the diary. The page had one entry. Blackshirt looked up, eyes darting. “How many of you are there?” It may seem to the casual observer that I suffer from dissociative identity disorder, but I was alone. I heard Sir Alec Guinness in the recess of my mind: “Charon” he said, “Use the Force….”

“I am one.”

The Maitre D’ surveyed the dining room. It was that sort of place… Not a restaurant, but a Bar and Dining Room. It was 12.30. Only two tables were occupied. “Do you smoke?” Blackshirt snapped.

“For England.” I replied.

I was escorted to a table in the corner of the room – a table for two. An East European border guard, dressed as a waitress, appeared with a menu. I selected a bottle of Claret and asked for two espressos and a glass of tap water, no ice. “You want espresso?” the waitress asked, unsmiling. “Now?”

“Yes please.” I watched her walk towards the bar. Well it was more of a march… more Red Square than Sandhurst. I was not invited to taste the wine when it arrived.

The menu was fairly typical of many gastros – a mix of “Confu**tion cooking” with a bit of thai/vietnamese nonsense thrown in. I enjoy reading Anthony Bourdain… but his books, do on occasion, get into the wrong hands… and so it was, today. Couscous and polenta featured heavily. One day I am sure that I will find a gastro pub with a dish called “Irish tagine”.

A couple were seated at a table nearby – both late twenties, both City professionals. I know this because they managed to tell me, indirectly, by relating events to each other of their successes during the week. They talked at each other; he admiring himself repeatedly in the mirrors lining the walls on our side of the restaurant. They obviously knew each other well – at least one assumes so, because, later, declining the offer of pudding, they started eating each other.

I have no idea why nutters on trains, tubes, buses and restaurants gravitate towards me – but it happend again today. The East European border guard escorted another customer to the adjacent table – a man in his early sixties, blazered, highly polished Oxford shoes, grey trousers, Turnbull & Asser shirt, silk tie and a traditional ‘British’ haircut. One could almost smell the George Trumper cologne.

“Good day to you.”

“And to you.” I replied.

“Writer?” the man asked, pointing at my laptop. I learned long ago not to answer that question.

“Just doing a bit of surfing.”

“Surfing Eh?…. yes… I used to surf when I was a junior partner with X&Y in Hong Kong…. on trips to Australia…. tied up a few M&A deals, I can tell you… out there…. those were the days…”

God in heaven. I know I drank a bottle of cider in Church once when I was at Prep school… but I had no idea, then, that I would continue to be punished for that sin nearly 40 odd years later on Easter Sunday 2007… in the form of a retired City lawyer, from the days of Tai Pan, sitting at the next table.

“Really…? good stuff.. ” I replied, affably, but with what I hoped was the correct tone to indicate that I wished ‘to be alone’. It was too late to pretend I was Bulgarian and could not speak English.

So there I was… a couple of young professionals, but a few tables away, talking at each other and Mr Drone, to my right.

“Been to Church?”

I was looking intently at my laptop screen. The words appeared to come from above. I looked at the ceiling. I looked at my bottle of Claret. I had only had one glass.

“The Vicar had a few of us back for a glass of sherry after the service”

“Really…?”

“Yes… quite a few actually. Have to splice the mainbrace after sitting through all that without being able to charge fees at the end of it! ” a statement which provoked so much laughter from the speaker that I was concerned I may have to do a Heimlich manoeuvre on him.

“Oh Yes… Vicar did us a good sermon today…”

Mr Drone told me at length that he would have been in New York to advise on a merger but the US firm had ‘cocked up’ on timing… adding that he liked to take on important cases on a consultancy basis from time to time…

“Ah….”

I drained my glass, re-filled and lit a cigarette.

“Smoker Eh?…yes… used to smoke until the Doc said to me ‘My dear chap, unless you pack in the gaspers now you won’t be able to get it up when you are 65′.” Another burst of self satisfied laughter, gave me the opportunity to wave at the waitress and explain to the gentleman seated at the next table that I needed to concentrate on my work. He made a curious signal, tapping his finger against his nose and said “Got it…Roger… mustn’t stop a chap from his work “

“You are ready with your orders?”

I smiled at the waitress, trying not to look as if I had something to declare, and ordered a main course. I justified my lack of a first course, when questioned, by explaining that I may have a pudding. She seemed satisfied with my explanation and marched off.

It takes a rare talent to cook roast lamb badly, but only inhalation of super strength cannabis would suggest beetroot risotto and chilli jam is a sensible, or even suitable, accompaniment to lamb. The waitress looked at my plate, barely touched. The lemon meringue pie had the merit of being bought in. The wine was more than drinkable and, after negotiating my release without the aid of the Foreign Office, I returned to familiar surroundings.

 

***

I will be back before new year and should be able to write something ….new

Adios for now.

A SALE of ‘paintings’…true story…

Two ‘paintings’ by Charonasso have come into the showroom today to be flogged off at 2014 prices…

Barristerman with mixed media and an out of date bank card
2014
Charonasso

 

Vaping Fags and fag packets
2014
Charonasso

Each of these ‘artworks’ are generously priced at £20.
Add to or even start your collection?  I’ll even sign them…or you can sign them yourself!

Email me if you fancy either or both. Email (click left) or on the blog top right or DM on Twitter (https://twitter.com/Charonqc)   If not – they’ll go back on my wall and I’ll just have to contact Sotheby’s…again!

I am selling to make room for the 2015 ‘collection’

Statement from The Bunker – Ignorance of the law excuses no man from impersonating a Lord Chancellor

 

I have seen the original sculpture in situ and I am not sure that my ‘modification’ adds much to the sum of human achievement…but be that as it may.  It is the period between Christmas and the new year and there is not a lot of law about…. being that I continue to pass myself off as a ‘law blogger’. I will get back to LAW in the new year. There will be much to write about and our revered Lord Chancellor KillaBurglar Grayling will, inevitably, provide some humour for me to write about.  He is unlikely to advance the cause of ‘Justice’, however you define it, forward.  Hopefully, it being election year next year, he will be returned to the back benches…in opposition.

Ignorance of the law excuses no man — from practicing it. Adison Mizner – to which may be added…’Or impersonating a Lord Chancellor in Britain’.

 

Well…there we are.  Back on the morrow…

 

A Statement from The Bunker…

Christmas…the pagan season for gift receivers worrying if the gift they gave in return for the gift received was ‘sufficient’ (middle class ‘angst’?)  is over.  Hallelujah!

Very pleased with the yellow frames for my specs that good friends gave me as a present.  The only problem is that I have to trust an optician to get the lens right.  Experience has taught me that the cheap Reader glasses available at all good pharmacists are far better than the prescription lenses dispensed by opticians I have been to in the past.

 

I am not a doctor of medicine – but here is some advice I found some years ago which you may find helpful in time of need over the holiday period…

One too many drinks left you dizzy?Put your hand on something stable. The part of your ear responsible for balance — the cupula — floats in a fluid of the same density as blood. “As alcohol dilutes blood in the cupula, the cupula becomes less dense and rises,” says Dr. Schaffer. This confuses your brain. The tactile input from a stable object gives the brain a second opinion, and you feel more in balance. Because the nerves in the hand are so sensitive, this works better than the conventional foot-on-the-floor wisdom.

I found this advice on the internet – so it may well be a load of seasonal nonsense. (No liability accepted etc etc…. in fact, I will exempt myself for everything)

I am not bereft of inspiration.  I just happened to be looking through December  blog posts from years gone by (2006).  I came across this in one of my blog posts…

I put to you this postulate: If a ‘person in need of legal advice’ briefed a famous Silk and then found that ‘famous Silk’ had told his ‘sous-barrister’ to handle it… would that be fair? One cannot imagine such a situation ever arising in our ‘beautiful Game’ – yet Chefs get away with it all the time.

I went to High Road Brasserie in Chiswick this morning. I was wearing motorbike leathers – simply because I was riding a motorbike and my usual breakfast establishments were closed. The fact that my usual establishments were closed was not the reason I decided to put my leathers on. I simply felt that I should look the part…in case I bumped into King Herod, ruining Christmas for the children of West London, or handing out tax returns, or Good King Wenceslas – and…anything is possible in Chiswick since  ‘High Road House’ opened on the high street.

I looked at the breakfast menu at High Road Brasserie: Good value, I am sure… but…when I saw the people sitting in there, at 9.15 this morning, and the ‘faux Parisien’ staff in their black and white outfits, with aprons, I thought… ‘Sod it’… I might not see another White Christmas (Apparently most Brits only see eight of these in a lifetime) and I really do not need to have breakfast in a trendy Chiswick brasserie simply because I was hungry. The truth is… I was worried about committing a solecism by actually wanting to eat something… and… I had the feeling that entering this hallowed establishment with those thoughts in mind, this morning, was not appropriate. [The Heinz tomato sauce and HP sauce bottles on each table – looked like a ‘homage’ to Damien Hurst but may have had a utility beyond the ken of some diners, unused to smearing sauce over their Oeufs Benedict]

Of course, I accept that many people who go to this establishment do actually eat… but… having been interested in Law for nearly 30 years… I always like to think about the mens rea and actus reus. I felt that I did not have either this morning.

I went, in the end, to Cafe Rouge and poured so much pepper on my scrambled eggs that I made the dish inedible. ‘C’est la vie’… but, having been to a detention centre in Perthshire (13 – 18 years old) which provided excellent teaching, the odd Scotland Rugby Captain, and other luminaries – and truly appalling food (things may well have changed) – I coped.

Dumbass story: “A robbery at a Git-N-Go Convenience Store on the south side of Des Moines on Thursday morning was called off for lack of convincing theatrics.

“Well, I could tell he didn’t have a gun,” said Terry Cook, a clerk at the store at 2140 S.E. Park Ave. “I knew it was his finger. I could see his thumb sticking out of his coat pocket.”

The would-be robber, who acted tough and even inserted a harsh expletive in his demand for cash, wanted to argue. It is a gun, he told Cook. No it isn’t, Cook said.”

 

I received this from a friend…I enjoyed it, so repeat it here:

Dear Charon,

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially cohesive, trans-national, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, exercised according to accepted best practice traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all and a fiscally successful, financially prudent, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society are helping build a fully inclusive and socially democratic European Union (not to imply that the European Union is necessarily more inclusive or socially democratic than any other place, country or region of choice), and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, or sexual orientation of the wishee or wishees.

This wish is limited to the customary and usual good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first. ‘Holiday’ is not intended to, nor shall it be considered, limited to the usual Judeo-Christian celebrations or observances, or to such activities of any organized or ad hoc religious community, group, individual or belief (or lack thereof).

Note: By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all. This greeting is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. This greeting implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for the wishee her/himself or others, or responsibility for the consequences which may arise from the implementation or non-implementation of same. This greeting is void where prohibited by law.

Not only that, Merry Christmas……
Mark

I leave you with this…

Back later…the Chrimbo television on the revered BBC is barely watchable – even the news programme is dull…so I may write to keep myself occupied.

Adios for now…

The Social Media Maven pronounces … a painting from my past…

The Social Media Maven pronounces (2010)
Oil on Canvas
Charon

In the Collection of @ScottGreenfield

And it came to pass, when the Maven came down from the mount with the two tables of twitter rules  in Maven’s hand, when he came down from the mount, that Maven wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when@stephenfry and all the children of twitter saw the Maven, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

And the Maven said… I have been a stranger in a strange land…. and I say unto you…whatever you tweet…happens…

Rive Gauche: A few paintings wot I did in the past….Happy Chrimbo etc etc…

I did paint ‘reasonably’ sensibly while at School well back into the last Century.  I am going to start painting again in the New Year.  It is unlikely that I will paint sensibly…. more of this sort of thing, I suspect:

But I may also do a few in this ‘style’….

Or even…this style…

I’ll Passmore on this (2009)
Oil on Canvas
Charon

Geometry was a bit of a mystery to the young Charon – but over time, and through necessity,  he came to understand the principles.  Now geometry fascinates Charon more in the shape than the practical application and for the possibilities of optical illusion. If one looks at the two circles in the middle of the painting;  soon one sees a cylinder, for the brain fills in the lines to connect the circles…and then the cylinders appear to change direction.  I put this to Charon.  He told me:  “See what you like, mate…. When I look into the circle at the bottom left, I am looking down into a wine bottle and it has wine in it… this is good.  When I look at the circle on the right, I am looking down into the bottle and there is no wine in it and I can even see the bar code.  This is not good.  When I look at the circle top right… it is the morning after and things, sometimes, are a bit bright.  I have no idea who did the circles and geometry in the middle… it is possible that I may have been burgled during the night.”

Au revoir for now... I am certain that I shall post on the morrow…I am not a great fan of Chrimbo…

Rive Gauche: On the eve of Christmas Eve and other matters…

Going to trial with a lawyer who considers your whole life-style a Crime in Progress is not a happy prospect.

Hunter S. Thompson

I often listen to The Shipping Forecast on Radio 4 before heading for sleep.  Here is my Drinking Forecast, complete with ‘Drinking By’

Listen (3-4 mins)

And…if you are struggling to keep yourself amused on Christmas morning…why not try a bit of cooking with Chef Charon…?

 

I consider the middle painting my finest artwork…a study in efficient time management etc etc…

And a bit of carol singing for you? 

O Come All Ye Lawyers
Joyful and litigious
O come ye, O come ye to Chancery Lane
Come and behold Him,
Born the Best of Clients;
O come, let us bill Him,
O come, let us bill Him,
O come, let us bill Him,
Profits are the Lord.

And I shall end this post with…

“Law is an imperfect profession in which success can rarely be achieved without some sacrifice of principle. Thus all practicing lawyers — and most others in the profession — will necessarily be imperfect, especially in the eyes of young idealists. There is no perfect justice, just as there is no absolute in ethics. But there is perfect injustice, and we know it when we see it.”

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, Letters to a Young Lawyer

 

Rive Gauche: UKippers are really changing the electoral map…true story! (?)

I often marvel… but I marvel most when the strange world of Kippers is examined…

And here is  another marvel….

And another…and why not?

And..one more..

Ukip candidate: ‘Gay donkey tried to rape my horse’

Story here

Happy Kippermas… OK…OK…I’ll get my coat..again…

 

Just one more...

Nigel Farage condemns schoolchildren for making ‘risible’ anti-Ukip app

UKIP leader Nigel Farage says the game in which players kick immigrants as far as possible to gain the highest ‘racism’ rating is ‘pathetic’

The Telegraph

 

And here is a UKik game from Nigel Fromage…

Play up, play up…play the game!

Sorry…just had to include this UKipper…having, of all things, a kip…

 

And…it would appear that the Kippers are not quite finished before Christmas… 

UKIP REMOVES GENERAL SECRETARY FOLLOWING SEXUAL HARRASSMENT ALLEGATIONS

Here we go…with the link

 

3.30 pm BBC now reporting that no evidence – but he is leaving UKIP anyway….

 

Christmas Shopping tips…

We all do it, some of us even enjoy it – but, when we go Christmas present shopping, some of us get scammed.  In the seasonal spirit of goodwill, here’s a Sprout tip list to keep you safe whilst you browse:

Matt Torrens
www.sproutit.co.uk

1. Updates and Anti-Virus

OK this is boring, I know!  But don’t underestimate the value of a well patched computer, running up to date Anti-Virus.  Patch your operating system (Windows/Mac) and, crucially, don’t forget the third party applications such as Java and Adobe – it’s these apps that are increasingly the target, for the bad guys.

2. HTTPS/SSL

Only purchase from websites that have https in the site address.  You can check the validity of the site’s SSL Certificate by clicking on the padlock icon shown in your browser.  NEVER given personal/payment details to a site that is not SSL encrypted.

3. Passwords

Passwords are for life, not just for Christmas!  Always use complex passwords, keeping them unique for each online account you have.  For most of us that will be a lot to remember, so why not use a password manager tool such as LastPass.

4. Watch out for pop-ups and temporary apps

It’s a common trick to use the season of goodwill to encourage you to open/click/install adverts and applications that you would normally ignore.  If you see an offer that is too good to be true, then it probably is – and it’s probably going to do something nasty to your computer.

5. Use a credit card

It’s always best to use a credit card, rather than a debit card (this is not financial advice!).  Apart from the additional insurance, liability cover and fraud checks that a credit card will carry, it is not normally attached to your Current Account – so any breach, will not give direct access to your hard earned savings.

6. Phishing

Phishing (emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers) is still the favourite and most successful item in the bad guy’s toolkit.  You know the rules – don’t click on or respond to any email that you are not expecting or are suspicious of.

7. Don’t save personal details

Most sites will encourage you to ‘sign-up’ and save your address, telephone, email and payment details.  Apart from being hounded for the next 12 months about their latest special offer, because you forgot to tick/untick/stand on your head, it also means that if (when) that site is compromised, so are your personal details.

8. Stay in front of the fire

Rive Gauche: Keeping myself amused on a quiet day….

 

 

As you can see – not a great deal of LAW about at the moment… so I content myself with this sort of thing and what follows….

I find it difficult to leave the topic of Lord Chancellor Grayling – here he is in 2013, 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
And a judge is embarrassed about lack of lunch.  Justice in the 21st century courtesy of Lord Chancellor Grayling?

 

Rive Gauche: A little to do about nothing

Matters legal are a bit light on the ground at present – but this may be because I have tired of law for now (I will revive an interest in the new year) so thought I would look back and put up a few pics and ‘matters’ which caught my eye over the last year…

First up: entirely appropriate…and almost certainly true?

And, as we still have the misfortune to be governed by the Tories…how about a little bit of ‘Springtime for Hitler’?

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

And then, of course, was this fine picture of our Prime Minister…first among equals ? Pissed inter pares? 

And..I appear to have come up with the idea last Christmas Eve of the ‘Square Fried Egg… Oui, Chef.. another ‘star’

But it was good to see that the senior judiciary was able to apprehend a Lord Chancellor Impersonator…

And, of course, it would not be Christmas without adding the lawyer’s touch.  A Christmas card drafted by a lawyer…

And finally…just in case you hit the juice a bit too hard and think it would be a great idea to do some ‘pissed tweeting’…

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

Back later…or, more probably, on the morrow…

It’s only IT: 10 friendly IT tips

By Robert Baxter-Kaneen (2nd/3rd Line Server Engineer)

Written with a bias to Sprout IT values.

10. It’s only IT.

Sorry but you’re wrong. It’s at the core of your business and everyone depends on it working well to achieve success! Our business is to make sure your business doesn’t worry about IT being a failure. You lose, we lose!

9. Backups are expensive and a waste of our budget.

Look at backups as your business life insurance. If your core systems are beyond repair, due to a mistake, an attack or something that is out of your control, what do you want to be left with? Nothing or an insurance policy that pays out. We all have liability insurance, so don’t ignore your IT insurance! Back up your data.

8. We don’t need support all the time.

Maybe not, but who wants to be caught out because they can’t receive email at 10pm or find that important document!

7. IT companies are just a load of kids playing “business”.

The field of IT is so new that the world’s experts are younger than you think. I have 10 years professional experience, been to university, hold many industry recognised certifications and am a senior technical specialist. I’m 29.

6. We won’t get hacked!

Yes, actually you might. Poor IT companies pretend you’re 100% safe. The good ones give you the very best security and prepare you for that small, but realistic, chance of the worst happening. Don’t bury you head in the sand, be realistic and be prepared.

5. Cloud storage is all the same!

Not true, international law and liability of data changes from country to country. We only provide dedicated, independent cloud storage that you own and you control, hosted on servers accountable to UK law. Did you know that if you use Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive you sign over exclusive rights to these corporations? Well, to us, that’s just an unacceptable risk.

4. Passwords are enough

My passwords are 22 characters long, letters, numbers, symbols and upper and lower case. I still don’t think it’s enough! Two factor authentication is a must in the modern world. That’s why we use it here at Sprout and think those in the Legal sector should too.

3. Who keeps email for 10 years, that’s silly!

Not when you need it 8 years later. I’m a level 2 Mimecast Professional. I never lose an email and you shouldn’t either. You cannot know what you might need to hand 10 years ahead so keep it all and minimise risk!

2. We don’t need an audit, we know what’s going on.

You need to know the truth and exactly what’s going on with your network! We perform internal audits twice yearly to highlight your problems and fix them before they become REAL issues. It’s about being the best, not a witch hunt! Audits are necessary to keep at the top of your game. 

1. I want it cheap!

Yes who doesn’t want a bargain, but if you want a level of IT service you can depend on 365 days a year, data that is protected and backed up and systems that are maintained, patched and supported every day of the year, then you have to be prepared to invest appropriately.

Guest Post: How to Reduce the Impact of Inheritance Tax

How to Reduce the Impact of Inheritance Tax
JMD Law

Believe it or not, there are actually plenty of strategies out there for reducing the amount you have to pay from inherited money in the UK. Here are a few strategies you can use to reduce the impact that the inheritance tax has on the rightful inheritance that you received from a loved one.

Charity

One way to reduce the impact of the tax is to give money to a charity of your choice. This only works if your estate is worth more than £325,000, and they have to set it up before they pass. But if you’re loved one leaves 10 percent of their estate to a charity, then the rate on the tax goes down from 40 percent to 36 percent.

Get a Gift

Gifting is a way to reduce the taxes on an inheritance that applies to people who have a civil or married partner. It’s legal to give anything that belongs to you to your partner, which means that if you give them your inheritance – assuming you trust them enough to do so – they won’t have to pay inheritance tax on it at all. This is something else that the person who has the estate – i.e. the loved one – would have to do before they pass. Gifts can also be made to family members before a death as well, and this will be a way to get past any unnecessary taxation.

Check for War Injuries

Another way to reduce inheritance tax is to check to see if the loved one’s death occurred in part because of injuries sustained during a war. It’s possible that this would make that person’s estate tax-free. So if your family member was in Iraq or Afghanistan, or some other government military action, and sustained injuries, they may actually fall under this exemption. It’s a long shot, and naturally it only applies to those who have served for their country, but it’s certainly worth knowing about should you be left in this position.

Houses

Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to get the wealth tied up in a house in order to avoid inheritance tax, especially if it’s done early enough in the proceedings. There are some rules that allow for sheltering a family home from the tax as long as you continue to live in it, so it is one approach to consider should your situation fit this particular bill.

Farming Options

There are a lot of extra rules that govern business and farming property and it’s important to check carefully to make sure you don’t get in trouble for trying to do something that you shouldn’t in this capacity. But, it is true that many agricultural land rules allow for tax-free exemptions from inheriting tax.  The rules can vary from two to seven years after you own the land depending on whether you’re farming it or not.

Overall, it’s important to look through all of the exemptions to see if any of them apply to you for reducing inheritance tax as the savings can be quite substantial for many.

Guest Post: The Cybercriminal’s choice, but how can you protect yourself?

The Cybercriminal’s choice, but how can you protect yourself?
SproutIT 

Picture this: It’s a Sunday afternoon, you’ve just had lunch and you decide to get a little work done for a court case starting tomorrow morning. You turn on your computer and logon, a strange new window pop’s up saying “Your personal files are encrypted!” – A little panic set’s in so you go to open the document you need to work on… It won’t open! You check out your favourite snaps in your pictures folder and they won’t open either. You reboot the computer and this time you look a little closer at the pop up message – it explains that your files have been encrypted and you need to pay a fee to have your files decrypted…

What’s probably happened here is you’ve been infected with the ‘Cryptolocker’ ransomware variant which infected around 600,000 computers in 2014.

So what is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malicious software (malware) which infects your computer usually by you visiting a compromised website or if you’ve opened an unsafe email attachment. It then goes and encrypts your personal files such as documents, pictures and music files. Finally, it then prompts you to pay up or you’ll lose your files forever.

Why should I care?

Ransomware is becoming big business for the modern criminal, Cryptolocker has known to have generated some £16 million alone. Security vendors are already noticing an upward trend in ransomware in the wild.

Your personal and business data is at risk; precious family photos could be lost or your reputation could be tarnished for not being able to complete your documents for court in time.

How do I protect myself? – 3 ways

  1. Update, update, update :
    • Turn on Windows Updates to automatically download and install updates for Windows – remember to reboot when it asks you to!
    • Make sure you have an Antivirus product installed (a free one will do!) and make sure it updates itself automatically.
    • Install updates to any third party software as and when it’s needed (Java and Adobe Flash player are good examples, almost all their updates are security related).
  2. Backup your computer and files regularly:
    • Windows has backup software built-in, all you need is an external hard drive to back up your computer to. There is also loads of third party products on the market.

Note: Cloud backups can be great, but be careful; you may inadvertently replace your good files in the cloud with the encrypted copies if you set your cloud backup software to sync automatically.

      1. Be careful:
        • Be mindful when opening email attachments or clicking on suspicious link’s on websites.
        • Don’t open attachments in emails from companies or individuals you do not recognise. A bank would never ask you to reset your password by email, for example.  
        • Only visit websites you know to be reputable.

      And if I do happen to get ransomware?

      Don’t pay. There’s no guarantee you’ll get your files back. Hopefully you have a recent backup that you can restore to or, in the case of Cryptolocker there is thankfully now tools available online to help you decrypt your files (the link is here: https://www.decryptcryptolocker.com). Otherwise, speak to an IT Professional about your options.

      About SproutIT

      Based in Temple, SproutIT provide high quality IT support, consultancy and strategy to the legal sector.

    • https://www.sproutit.co.uk/

Guest Post: What is the most powerful audio and visual aid in the world – if used properly? You!

Lee Bennet, CEO of Potent Communications, writes:

Our experts provide tailor-made Communication solutions, working with you to ensure you become an effective communicator who will:

• speak fluently and eloquently with little preparation and no notes;

• think on your feet with confidence and authority;

• think and communicate clearly when under pressure;

• think quickly and analytically;

• apply an ambitious and determined approach to solving problems and presenting solutions;

• think logically and coherently;

• appreciate the virtues of style;

• conduct yourself as a credible leader.

Lee Bennett, CEO of Potent Communications Ltd says: “If you want to truly be the best you can be, whether dealing with a live question and answer session, giving a speech to shareholders, speaking at a conference, speaking with the public, dealing with a PR crisis, or delivering that all important pitch, we are here to ensure that you deliver on the day.”

Our image consultants can also give you an edge both in life and in the competitive marketplace by ensuring that every detail of your image suits you, makes you feel confident yet comfortable, and effectively conveys an appropriate message.

Personal style and image consultant, Nuk Phanurat heads our team of image experts. Having previously founded his own fashion label in New York that sold his handmade high-end garments to over 450 fashion retailers worldwide, Nuk uses his business acumen and fashion savoir faire to his clients’ best advantage.

Nuk is Vice-President of the family business Modern Lady House in Asia, a company that has been operating for almost 40 years and has a sales force of some 3,000 people across Thailand. Nuk has previously founded a multimedia production house, producing and hosting a weekly television show in Asia. He was also involved in producing advertisements for television and radio, marketing and event management, and acting as a professional MC at high-end functions across the world for various corporations and high-net-worth individuals.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. We are here to help ensure you get it right first time.

For more information about how we may assist you please contact us

Guest Post: How a Virtual PA can benefit you.

How a Virtual PA can benefit you.

As a law firm of any size employing someone may not be the most economically beneficial way to carry out your admin tasks. Instead it can be easier to hire a virtual assistant to take care of admin work for you rather than employing someone. You can save money from the outset as you cut the time used to interview the candidates and you can save a lot of money on recruitment fees as some agency charge a considerable fee. By using a virtual assistant you will not have to pay out for a computer and software for them which could cost upwards of £1000. With using a virtual assistant you wouldn’t need to make any room for them in an office and they can get to work right away rather than waiting weeks or months for a new employee to start.


Virtual pa’s are just ask skilled as a normal office assistant if not more so and they can offer skills in admin, call handling, Bookkeeping, planning events and creating documents. All of these skills can be of great use to a small firm that may not have the resources to handle them all internally. Virtual pa’s will not hinder a firm’s ability to grow and will help growth just as much if not more so than a new employee.

Call handling may be a desirable feature that you need to incorporate into your business. Virtual PA’s will be diverted your call and answer the call however you request them too. Sometime in a small office and people are busy this could mean you miss a lot of call and could lose potential clients. Having someone answer you phone and transfer the call could also give a good impression to people calling.

Another of the ways a virtual secretary can benefit you is by managing your diary and even schedule your meetings. This can be invaluable to any business as it cuts down on the time spent for you organising meetings and managing your own time. Your virtual assistant can even organise your travel arrangement for you making it as simple as possible for you.

Your virtual assistant will also be able to help you with the laborious tasks of research and transcribing. Both of these tasks can be very time consuming to you especially when your time is valuable and could be better used elsewhere. A bonus of using a virtual pa service is that they will be skilled in these tasks so will be able to complete them quickly and efficiently

A virtual assistant could be an incredible asset to you and your team and is defiantly work considering. There are plenty of virtual pa services out there like Smart PA who can handle all of your secretarial and admin tasks. So maybe before you consider employing a new secretary or office admin staff member you might want to consider the option of using a virtual assistant.