Another day at the coal face: Dr Wolfgang Becker, Rechtsanwalt, solicitor and a partner in Muttley Dastardly LLP

Dr Wolfgang Becker,  Rechtsanwalt, solicitor and a partner in Muttley Dastardly LLP, was originally admitted to The Partnership to leverage the value of marriage failure among the seriously rich business and celebrity sectors. In but two months he  has billed ‘comfortably into seven figures’.  For reasons of taste, discretion and taxation, The Partners of Muttley Dastardly LPP never reveal financial information to the Press.

Today, I met with Dr Wolffgang Becker in his well appointed office on the fifth floor. I was surprised by the design of the office which  comprises of two staircases leading down to a central hall.  Two high backed Chippendale chairs were placed opposite each other by the wall facing a vase of flowers.  There was no sign of any office paraphernalia, no computers, nothing to give the impression that I was in a leading family lawyer’s office.

Dr Becker appeared from the left hand staircase, dressed in a black linen Nehru suit and a pair of  tassled black suede loafers.  He wore yellow socks.  Clipped and precise, he shook my hand, asked for my Amex card and then remembered that I was not a client, but was visiting for the purpose of an interview to gain an insight into the mind of a man who was at the very forefront of the world of family law in the new era of the Legal Services Act.

“Old habits die hard” he said laconically as he invited me to take the chair opposite.  “Would you like some champagne or coffee?  Tea perhaps?  We have many types of tea here.  It is not a drink I care for myself, but many of our clients are English and they often find  solace in taking tea while they brief me on their ideas for divorce and, more importantly for them and ourselves, the financial arrangements.”

I accepted his offer of a glass of champagne. Within ten seconds a butler arrived with two glasses of champagne. He seemed to appear from nowhere, but in fact entered through the door at the end of the central hall beyond the flowers.

“I’m impressed” I said. “You didn’t appear to give any instructions.”

Dr Becker smiled and waved his hand dismissively. “Everything is recorded here.  My staff are listening in.  It is so much easier to have a precise record on digital file, wouldn’t you agree?

“Your record with high value clients is impressive Dr Becker”  I said, rising to the occasion by not referring to any of the notes I had made earlier. “But tell me, why is Muttley Dastardly LLP entering the mass divorce market at a time when family lawyers are feeling the pinch, when legal aid is being cut, when family law barristers say they can no longer afford to take on cases?”

“You have answered your own question Herr Professor Doctor Charon.” Dr Becker replied, clearly mistaking me for my rather tedious brother, Professor RD Charon PHD, FRSA “It is precisely because the general practitioner in this country is abandoning this sector that we feel we can …. shall we say….. hoover it all up and by using the internet, call centres in India and cheap but highly effective lawyers in India,  who are becoming more and more expert in English Law….maximise the profit.”

“Do you have a brand name for this new divorce service?” I asked, draining my glass.  Within seconds the butler appeared with a second glass of champagne on a silver tray.  I took it without demurring and thanked the butler for his attentiveness.

“Ja!  Of course. Megaladon is the vehicle we use for all our mass market law operations, personal injury, negligence, conveyancing….  I wanted to call it Megaladon with your wife or husband?, but Matt Muttley, our CEO, thought the humour was just too black even for us.  He was probably right.”

I managed to suppress the hysteria rising from the very core of my being, drained the second glass in one and asked “And how do you make your money?”

“We accept a range of credit cards Herr Professor.  Do you have any other questions?”
Before I could reply, the butler appeared with a bill for £52 + 12.5% service.  He handed me the portable credit card machine and smiled.  There is no need to leave a gratuity, Sir.  Service is included.”

Dr Becker smiled “Good champagne, Ja….? I’m sure you will be able to get it back on expenses.   There are no free lunches in life, Herr Professor Dr Charon,  and certainly there aren’t at Muttley Dastardly LLP. As there is not an opportunity to bill for your time with me today, we have to cover the costs.  £52 for three and a half minutes is well below what I would ordinarily charge, of course – but it has been a pleasure to meet you.  Give my regards to your brother Charon QC… Tell him that I was so fascinated with his new iCharonphone.  Most useful.  It will be most useful for our work here and, quite possibly for personal use also.  It has been a pleasure to meet you.”

With that, Dr Becker was gone.  He seemed to glide, rather than walk.  I smiled as he went up the staircase on the right and thought to myself… “How marvellously  Germanic… one staircase for down, one for up.”  The £52 I paid for the champagne was worth every penny.  I should be able to recover this ‘disbursement’  from Matt Muttley when we meet as Ascot later this week.  I, too, have one of those portable credit card reading devices. I shall be taking it with me to Ascot.  One must, after all, be prepared.

A visit some time ago to the historic dockyard at Chatham

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the historic dockyard in 2009 with John Bolch (Family Lore) back in the day – fascinating. I took my camera with me…wisely.

And so I woke this morning, the eve of the last Bank holiday until Christmas, and said… “Today I feel naval.  I shall go to the historic dockyard at Chatham and see a submarine.” And I made it so… as Captain Picard of another type of ship used to say… endlessly on Star Trek. At eight bells…armed with my Samsung Jet phone and a camera that works first time, I made sail for Chatham.

“Chatham Dockyard, located on the River Medway and of which two-thirds is in Gillingham and one third in Chatham, Kent,  came into existence at the time when, following the Reformation, relations with the Catholic countries of Europe had worsened, leading to a requirement for additional defences. For 414 years Chatham Dockyard provided over 500 ships for the Royal Navy.” Wikipedia

Among many other vessels built in this Dockyard and which still exist are HMSVictory, launched in 1765 – now preserved at Portsmouth Naval Base

William Camden (1551-1623) described Chatham dockyard as

stored for the finest fleet the sun ever beheld, and ready at a minute’s warning, built lately by our most gracious sovereign Elizabeth at great expense for the security of her subjects and the terror of her enemies, with a fort on the shore for its defence

I am pictured above on the open bridge of HMS Cavalier, in a rather epic rainstorm which gave added atmosphere and a very mild taste of what the Captain and his officers would have experienced in storm lashed seas of the Arctic convoys.  (There was no canopy in WW II.)

I went with John Bolch of Family Lore, who lives near the docks… and who’s excellent book “Do your own Divorce” is published today. In fact, we started our trip with a tour around the spy submarine HMS Ocelot.  I resisted thetemptation to buy a small scale model ofHMS Victory, a pirate flag, a White Ensign and endless other gift items in the Museum shop.

A submarine is no place for members of the Fatbastard Club.  It is extremely cramped down below and those of a claustrophobic disposition would not enjoy it.  I particularly enjoyed lugging my 56 year old  old git frame through the tiny circular openings in the bulkeads to get from one section to the other. I did it in the naval manner; grabbing a rail, swinging legs through the circular hole, slide through and grap a rail above the hole on the other side – t’was fun! It was not quite Das Boot in terms of slickness but Hans, my mate –  the Kapitan of a U-Boat that still sails the high seas – would have been proud of me. ( He used to visit me occasionally when I lived on a boat in Chelsea last summer.) It was fascinating to see a British submarine from our fairly recent past. Everything was crammed in. The crew of 70 slept in very small cots, only washed hands face and cleaned teeth (water in short supply on a three month voyage) and were reputed to have the best food in the Royal Navy. The Captain’s cabin is very small.  Naturally, I enjoyed looking through the attack periscope which gave a chillingly clear picture of a ship moored nearby.  The young lad from France enjoyed looking through the periscope as well.  His mother looked a bit tense and asked if it was OK.  I did not want to mention Sir Winston Churchill ordering the sinking of the French  fleet during WWII,  assured her that it would be fine,  that I’d be having a go after him and may even make  the sound of a torpedo being fired.  She looked at me, smiled, shook her head as if to say “Mon dieu… Les Anglais” This seemed to settle her.

I found the trip fascinating.  The tour guide was excellent and I am pleased that money has been found to preserve these important warships from our past and that they are so accessible to all.  The entry fee of £14 for a trip around the dock lasts for a year… and in three hours you will only scratch the surface of what this wonderful dockyard has to offer.

It was time to move to HMS Cavalier – the last surviving destroyer from WWII.  HMS Belfast, a battleship, is very much bigger and is based on theThames in London. This was a very different kettle of fish.  It seemed so spacious after the submarine.  The Captain’s cabin was luxurious, as was his day cabin and the wardroom even had a fireplace.  It is painted in ‘Arctic Blue’ a blue-green-grey mix – no doubt to confuse the Turpitz or Scharnhorst or U-Boat commanders on the Arctic convoys.

I felt like Jack Hawkins in The Cruel Sea as I stood on the bridge.  A storm had risen quickly, as it can in these parts, and rain and wind lashed the open bridge as I gazed out over the two 4.5 inch guns to the bow and imagined myself scanning the seas for U-boats.  I felt quite at home.  Regular readers will know that I  live near water and spend much of my time, at my post, preserving peace for our country by scanning for U-Boats.  It is testament to my efforts that there have been no U-boat attacks in London since I started doing this!

I felt like a tourist – on his hols.  As I stood on the bridge of HMS Cavalier… I noticed the voice pipe through which the Captain would communicate with those below and thought to myself… that worked…. my Samsung Jet took me endless hours of faffing about to get it to work (or, more accurately… to understand how it works) , more hours trying to get it to download pics to my PC (the software did not work) and eventually I fooled it into thinking it was using Bluetooth by hitting it with a hammer. Sorted.

I’m orf to splice the mainbrace, eat a square meal, drink a bit of rum and I may even do a hornpipe or buy a pirate flag on ebay later.  As Churchill once observed… the Royal Navy… rum, sodomy and the lash…. I am a bit busy to try the last two options. Have a good Bank holiday.

Sorry… didn’t manage to shoehorn any law in this week… perhaps something for the weekend? .. as barbers used to say after cutting one’s hair.

Best, as ever



I thought it might help to give you a picture of Hans…The U-Boat Kapitan..

I have, of course, been at my post by the sea side (or at least the estuary) but there has been no sign of Hans,  my mate the U-boat Kapitan.  I do miss our late night chats.  When I was on Das House Boot in Chelsea by Battersea Bridge last summer, Hans would surface at about 9.30 pm, moor the U-boat by the jetty and we would have Schnapps and he would ask if I needed any nylons.  Inevitably, the answer was always the same.  I told him that I did not need any nylons for personal use, as I am not a bank robber,  and none of the women I knew wore them.  He would shrug, then twitch slightly, down his Schnapps and the U-boat would dive and he would be gone… I know not where… for another week.


I really must do some writing about law…etc etc… soon…

I am not anonymous – I am pseudonymous, although if I wrote under my own name and called the blog after myself I would then be eponymous.  So as not to be synonymous, for who would want that?, I may start calling myself Hieronymous and just be done with it…


Guest Post: Health and Safety is a burden? Not if you are a worker in Qatar…

Health and Safety is a burden?  Not if you are a worker in Qatar…
By Andrew Murdy

Let me get a couple of things out there.  I’m not a lawyer (although I know a few) and I’m not really a writer (although I can string a sentence together.

I’m a health and safety consultant who loves football and meeting people and likes to laugh and smile.  An unusual mixture some would say – and who am I to disagree?  Well, disagreeing is one of the things I do best, although I like to think I argue in a banterous way.  Not always, of course – sometimes I get angry and swear – but I do like a good argument.

The post-election period has been interesting.  I’m not a Tory, never have been and almost certainly never will be, so seeing a blue government didn’t fill me with any joy.  But that’s democracy so we move on.  I listen to the radio as background noise for large parts of my day.  Being a health and safety consultant always needs some light relief after all.  And that’s where my problem started.  There was a business man on the radio talking about ‘red tape’ and ‘cutting the burden on business’, both of which are admirable intentions.

Then he did it.

He mentioned that the Government had made ‘some’ improvements in health and safety but still ‘had more to do’.

So I swore.

Because health and safety legislation isn’t a burden.  The legislation tends to be well consulted, well considered and backed up with appropriate, accessible and comprehensive guidance.  The availability of Approved Codes of Practice made things pretty straightforward for many – do what the book asks for and that will satisfy the regulator.  The HSE do a pretty admirable job unless you are a business that doesn’t try or care, and that surely is the place for the law to step in and see justice done?

The burden, in the UK, comes from businesses scaremongering directors and managers into spending vast sums of money that aren’t necessary on risk-averse management systems, or from overzealous health and safety staff encouraged or allowed to make work burdensome for the sake of ‘compliance’.  These burdens are, essentially, in the gift of the business owner or director to resolve: in the first case sign a contract with the right provider for the service you need; and in the second employ competent people who understand your business and the best way to make it successful.

Health and safety isn’t a burden.  People getting killed is.  Legislation isn’t a burden – implementation is.

And if you want to see what happens when health and safety isn’t effectively managed, have a look at this article from the Washington Post…

And then tell me that effective health and safety legislation, regulation and implementation is a burden…

Rive Gauche: We must remember that Lord Chancellor / Justice Secretary Gove has ‘Form’…

Holman J rules Gove’s BSF decision was ‘unlawful’

February 2011

The Lawyer reports…. “Mr Justice Holman has ordered the Government to review its plans to scrap the Building Schools for Future programme. The decision, handed down this morning, gives victory to six local authorities that brought the judicial review proceedings. In his judgment Holman J held that the  decision taken by the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove MP to halt investment in refurbishing every school in the country was taken without consultation.

This of itself is extraordinary enough… but the good news is the truly fantastic number of lawyers kept busy and employed by this litigation…..the report in The Lawyer reveals the extent of the army of lawyers involved.  Libertarians, sundry ranters and others who want to have a pop at the legal profession and government in one hit,  are invited to take medical advice before reading this…..  SIX QCs involved (and many other lawyers)…. report is here.


If you feel that you just can’t get enough of Lord Chancellor Govehere he is on Wikipedia


And another look at the past…those ‘good old days’…

David Cameron welcomes Egypt’s ‘precious moment’ after Hosni Mubarak’s exit

Metro reports…where else?: David Cameron has welcomed President Hosni Mubarak’s decision to step down and told Egypt that the UK is ready to help its transition to democracy.  (Pic photoshopped by me…. Cameron would never flick a V sign at the people of Britain)

And on this momentous day for Egypt… Lord Sugar tweets away…. you..really…could not make it up…

I haven’t even got the will to use Lord Sugar’s catchphrase in a post mubarka-ironic way….


Thankfully…I can shoehorn in a bit of law from Adam Wagner: What Is The Human Rights Act And Why Does It Matter?

A bit of Rive Gauche and other matters from the past…


I remember being only too happy to oblige when I did the pic above back on 2010.  I would imagine that it is only a matter of time before some Tory MP will say something daft to keep the ‘Big Society’ amused?

And I do remember doing this pic…


And do you remember this?

Delighted to see that the Spacehijackers, who painted their armoured car in Police colours to attend the G20 protests last year, are not going to face charges. The CPS appears to have used the common sense test… “

A theatre group charged with impersonating police officers at the G20 protests are planning to sue the Metropolitan Police after the Crown Prosecution Service dropped all charges.

Eleven protesters, billing themselves as the Space Hijackers and portraying themselves as the “laughing cavaliers of capitalism”, were arrested after they jumped out of an armoured vehicle at the Bishopsgate offices of the Royal Bank of Scotland during the demonstrations in London’s Square Mile on 1 April last year. They were charged with impersonating police but the case was dropped after four hearings after the CPS said it had received new information and no longer believed there was a realistic chance of a conviction.”

And then there was this…

And those were the days…?

And..lest we forget…?

And I just had to include this blast from the past…

Howard Flight rapped by PM over ‘breeding’ gaffe

BBC: David Cameron has called on a new Conservative peer to apologise for saying welfare changes will encourage “breeding” among benefit claimants.Labour called Howard Flight’s comments “shameful” and said they showed the Tories were out of touch with people. Mr Cameron said he did not agree with Mr Flight’s words, adding: “I am sure he will want to apologise for them”. Mr Flight, a former Conservative deputy chairman, was named last week as one of more than 20 new Tory peers.

He told the London Evening Standard: “We’re going to have a system where the middle classes are discouraged from breeding because it’s jolly expensive.

“But for those on benefits, there is every incentive. Well, that’s not very sensible.”

So…another Tory makes a nasty remark.  They appear to have form…. and now this buffoon gets to sit the in The House of Lords…. astonishing.

May even be able to shoehorn some law in soon…


Guest Post: The importance of prioritising the consumer

The importance of prioritising the consumer

The nature of all industries have changed drastically over the last decade or so as consumer power has increased in line with the online revolution. The legal sector has not been immune to this change, as angry clients often feel inclined to share their frustration with the world online and particularly through social media. Many aspects of the legal sector have adapted and work to utilise new online tools to assist their clients. However, the conveyancing industry has been lagging behind the revolution in terms of providing modern tools to aid their clients with many firmly holding on to the their legal traditions. This negative approach has meant that conveyancers have fallen behind their estate agent cousins who have embraced online advances to enhance their agencies and improve client satisfaction.

For a long time, the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla along with other online property portals, have provided home-buyers and sellers with a much greater consumer experience. These portals have kept up with the online revolution, and have greatly improved the lives of both the consumers and estate agents they serve. However, as we all know the process of buying a new property does not end with an accepted offer. There is the large conveyancing process that must be gone through properly and accurately, but unfortunately this stage has not kept up to date with the move online like its sibling estate agents. For despite the great contrast in what they do, conveyancers and estate agents are intrinsically linked, and the former is at the stage where it should take a leaf out of the latter’s book.

With the first national survey of its kind published at the beginning of 2015 it has become abundantly clear that change is needed in the industry, and a key part of that change must be an improvement in transparency, communication, and overall consumer understanding. Just under a third of people in the survey reported feeling out of touch during the conveyancing process and first time buyers in particular ranked better communication second, behind only a faster process, when it comes to improvements to the service. Perhaps more concerning for conveyancers is that they are not one of the first sources of information for home-movers, who would much prefer talking to estate agents. Especially considering almost 1/3 of home-movers subsequently felt out of touch with the conveyancing process.

There are clearly a lot of challenges that face the conveyancing industry, loss of repeat business for example is an evident challenge with almost half of people saying they are unlikely or unsure whether they would re-use the same conveyancer, but there can be a solution and it does not have to require radical change.

Through the use of online property portals, estate agents are able to provide clear and concise information regarding all of their properties which consumers can digest at a time and place of their choosing. Conveyancers have the same opportunity. By providing an environment by which consumers are presented with clear information regarding the conveyancing process; allowing them to understand what is going on at any given time, and without the challenges of following up with different parties consumer satisfaction will improve. The added bonus to this being that conveyancer’s roles will be improved by a reduction in the need to discuss matters with concerned, or confused home-buyers looking for answer. Embracing this change, and placing consumers at the forefront of operations will also help tackle some of the concerning stats regarding brand loyalty and consumer happiness that have been made evident through the conveyancing report.

The online revolution is carrying on at an ever increasing pace, and soon it will not be a choice of whether to adapt, it will become a necessity. 

Guest Post: Why getting a divorce doesn’t necessarily mean going to court

Why getting a divorce doesn’t necessarily mean going to court

Divorce tends to be seen as a combative process that often involves hostile exchanges in court. However, the reality is generally very different to this. If you’re in the process of separating from your spouse and you don’t want to have to make your case in the courtroom, it’s important to be aware that there is another approach.

The alternative route

As it states on, most divorces are concluded without either partner having to attend court. As long as both you and your ex-partner agree to the divorce and are prepared to negotiate, you will have the option of coming to an understanding with each other over issues like your home, money and children through the process of mediation instead. Even if you do decide to contest your case formally, the judge will want to know that you have at least found out about and preferably attempted mediation first.

The process is coordinated by a trained mediator who will not take sides but will instead listen to you both and try to help you come to an arrangement that you can both agree on. You can attend the meetings with your mediator either with your ex or separately, depending on your preferences. At the end of the talks, the mediator will write up the proposed arrangement and check that both you and your former partner understand all the implications.

You might want to get legal advice from a solicitor at this stage, especially if you want the agreement to be legally binding.

The benefits of mediation

There are a whole range of reasons why it may make sense for you to adopt this collaborative approach rather than battling your ex in the courts. For example, it can help to give you both a greater say in what happens and it removes much of the tension and conflict often associated with divorce. It can also be much quicker and cheaper than court action. This route is also less traumatic for any children who are involved.

Separating from your spouse will never be easy and there are bound to be aspects of the process that you find difficult to cope with. However, by choosing to go down the much less confrontational path of mediation rather than arguing your case in the courts, you can eliminate much of the stress and expense from your divorce. If you’re not sure which option is best for you, you might benefit from seeking advice from legal experts.

‘Important artwork for sale’ – A major find?

Barristerman with Lucozade, expired debit card and cheque from client in ‘payment for services rendered’ which was not ‘met’…
Charon 2015

Perhaps not the pinnacle of artistic achievement – or even definable within a ‘school of art’ –  but some would describe this as an attempt by Charon to keep himself amused on a quiet day and quite possibly, also, as nonsense.

I am selling this ‘work’ for £15 – or £16 if you would like me to throw in a Union Jack flag on a plastic flagstick which I brought some time back to wave at a Royal ‘event’. The cheque was from a ‘client’ which was not met by them…but these things happen… (I’ll pay the postage or give it to you in person if you live near a tube station in London)



Former MP and Barrister Jerry Hayes is always worth reading…


A short extract…” I was just scrolling though the Mail online to get my daily fix of my chum the splendid Quentin Letts, when I noticed my bewigged face staring back at me. It was when I went on strike last year. Never adverse to see my picture in the newspapers I thought it would be a good idea to read the piece written by Max Hastings. I really wish I hadn’t as it is a depressing rant about how the police, the judiciary, the church and lawyers are all dinosaurs and holding this great nation back.

I had always thought that Max was rather a good journalist. But clearly standards are abandoned when it comes to cash payment for column. I can imagine one of Dacre’s flunkeys ringing the old boy up and offering a couple of grand for a thousand words slagging off the usual suspects. Since Leveson, Dacre has had an obsession with the greed and wickedness of my tribe so I wasn’t expecting to be thrown a bouquet. But (now this sounds rather naive), it would be nice if Max had done a little research rather than reaching for the nearest MOJ press release….”

Do please read the rest.  I am confident that you will enjoy it – whether you are a lawyer or not. I’ve done a few podcasts with Jerry.  It must be time, soon, for another podcast with him.

Try as I did to find some…not much law about tonight…

While I continue to amuse myself painting, walking about Kingsbury and reading bits of law that appeal to me – there are some very good lawyers who blog regularly – so here is a selection of  recent posts…

David Allen Green on his Jack of Kent blog:  The hurdles for Human Rights Act repeal now seem higher than before – “The new Conservative government’s plan to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and enact a replacement, apparently within one hundred days of the general election, was never going to be easy.

Nonetheless the government still intends to make some announcement in this Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech.

This brief update post sets out some of the more recent developments……”

Carl Gardner on his Head of Legal blog: :RightsInfo is a new website devoted to information about and advocacy for human rights. It’s the brainchild of Adam Wagner, the barrister and founder the the UK Human Rights Blog; and has a considerable team behind it.

It tells us what human rights do for us, and tackles the 14 worst human rights myths. Over the next few weeks it’s revealing 50 human rights cases everyone should know about, in the form of human stories anyone can relate to. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s what to do on your first visit.

Read the full post

John Bolch on his Family Lore blog: Supreme Court decision on habitual residence in Scottish case

Nearly Legal Housing Law and Legal Comment: Housing and immigration. Bombshells and bombast
” In a speech timed to hide the release of the latest figures on net migration, the Prime Minister made an assortment of announcements on forthcoming policies.

The part that concern us here, went as follows:

There are other ways we can identify those who shouldn’t be here, for example through housing. For the first time we’ve had landlords checking whether their tenants are here legally. The Liberal Democrats only wanted us to run a pilot on that one. But now we’ve got a majority, we will roll it out nationwide, and we’ll change the rules so landlords can evict illegal immigrants more quickly.

We’ll also crack down on the unscrupulous landlords who cram houses full of illegal migrants, by introducing a new mandatory licensing regime. And, a bit like ending jobs when visas expire, we’ll consult on cancelling tenancies automatically at the same point.

The unsurprising part is the commitment to roll out the ‘right to rent’ nationally from theWest Midlands pilot (even though no evaluation of the pilot has yet taken place). We originally called this legislation ‘odious and badly thought out‘. Now it is to be a national, odious and badly thought out scheme.

The rest, however, contains some bombshells and some incredibly stupid ideas…..”

Must not overdo the law….back later…after a spot of painting..

But I thought we should have a bit of Gove Action

I had the pleasure, some years ago, of drinking with King Arthur….

Druid leader King Arthur loses legal fight over Stonehenge remains

The Guardian reports: High court refuses judicial review of decision to remove 5,000-year-old ‘royal’ remains from Stonehenge for analysis

I had the pleasure, some years ago, of drinking with King Arthur.  There aren’t too  many lawyers or law bloggers who can claim that.  I also read his excellent book.  He has led an extraordinary life as a peaceful activist – and I very much enjoyed our various evenings together.  He drank cider.  I drank Rioja.

And I found this on a very old blog post. Amused me at the time…still does.

G4S sacks pair who tagged offender’s false leg

BBC: “Private security firm G4S has sacked two members of staff who tagged a man’s false leg allowing him to remove it and break a court-imposed curfew. The pair were fooled by Christopher Lowcock, 29, who wrapped the prosthetic limb in a bandage when G4S set up the system at his Rochdale home. He was then able to remove the limb and break a curfew imposed for offences involving drugs, driving and a weapon.”

Muttley Dastardly LLP: This game’s in the refrigerator! The door’s closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard and the Jell-O is jiggling …

Muttley Dastardly LLP: This game’s in the refrigerator! The door’s closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard and the Jell-O is jiggling …

Matt Muttley, managing partner of Muttley Dastardly, has returned from from a two week business trip to America.  In the partner’s boardroom at their City offices are ten partners and 25 senior associates.  The partners are seated at the boardroom table on a raised dais. Muttley sits in the only chair with arm rests, an affectation he designed into the furniture after being shown The Cabinet Room when Tony Blair was prime minister. This chair is in the centre of the  black polished ebony boardroom table.  The associates stand by the wall facing the partners. Muttley’s PA, Eva Braun stands behind Muttley dressed in a black skirt suit, white silk camisole and five inch heels, her expression impassive.

“Listen up. This game’s in the refrigerator! The door’s closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard and the Jell-O is jiggling … I’m pleased to report that the partners have had a good year. In fact we have managed the quite remarkable feat of increasing our profit per partner by 28.5% despite a downturn in revenue of 18.2%.  This is, in part, due to the great cull of last Summer and in part to increasing your billable hours requirement.  Two of you have failed to meet those targets and your desks are being cleared by security now. Levison and Edmondson, I’d be grateful if you would make your way to reception… the game is over for you.”

Muttley paused while the two shocked associates left the boardroom. No-one spoke.

“We’ve had a change of government and the new clowns have already lost one guy who couldn’t read the rules, or chose not to, or chose to give the rules a different spin to others. This is what happens when people don’t check with lawyers about rules. The new clowns are going to slash budgets, slash spending and in all likelihood there will be strikes ahead.  We’re beefing the Employment division.  There will be some fairly spectacular business failures as well… football clubs and airlines are worth a look and don’t be surprised if BP litigation comes our way.  I’ve been Stateside and I can tell you… it is going to be a turkey shoot.  Big Law are alternately wetting and crapping themselves. One CEO…. their ‘word’ for managing partner, I spoke to was calling for oxygen at one point so excited was he at the prospect of work when he took a call from The White House while I was there.”

Muttley sipped some Perrier from a glass to his right, put his hands together and continued.

Let’s take a look at the markets.  I’ve been doing some key reading, a guy called Paul B. Farrell of MarketWatch.  Let me summarise, using his rather colourful language.   Are we heading for the bear or is the bull going to run? I quote...“…you decide: As you stare from high up in the nose-bleed bleachers watching the game, staring at a Dow that not long ago was above 11,000 and heading for 12,000. Now the Dow’s sitting on the bench, ready for the showers, weak after a couple air balls around 10,000. No more timeouts. “This game’s in the refrigerator……

Main Street lost 20% last decade … yet like sheep keep going back. Yes, if you’re channeling Chick, here’s your “mixed metaphor” cue card: “This game’s in the refrigerator … Wall Street won (proof, Goldman’s $100-million-profit trading days and Blankfein’s $68 million bonus) … Main Street’s headed for another losing streak … Congress’ lights are out … the refrigerator door’s closing on financial reforms … the lobbyists are laying some rotten eggs, poisoning capitalism … the Tea Party-of-No-No ideologies are hardening … the bull’s Jell-O is jiggling to a flat line … and this market’s going into hibernation, with the bears … run, don’t walk, to the exits, folks.”But will Main Street exit? Will we ever learn? No……

Economist Gary Shilling said price-to-earnings ratios are at a “nosebleed 22.5 level.” The Dow was around 11,000. Money manager Jeremy Grantham recently said the market’s overvalued 40%. That could mean a collapse to 6,600. Last week in Reuters’ “Markets Could Be Derailed Again,” George Soros echoed a “game over” warning with a “stark warning … that the financial world is on the wrong track and that we may be hurtling towards an even bigger boom and bust than in the credit crisis.”

Now Dow Theory’s Richard Russell is warning the public of an imminent crash: “Sell … get liquid … by the end of this year they won’t recognize the country.”

So… are you feeling confident that Danny Alexander, a man who has absolutely no experience apart from sending PR bull out about somewhere in Scotland For fuck’s sake and negotiating a coalition with a group of grasping, desperate, politicians who would short-sell their mothers if they hadn’t already done it while in opposition?!  Cable is simmering like a tin of beans on the back burner with about as much effect.  We know nothing about Osborne.  The good news is that they are going to cut legal aid budgets to buggery, slash spending on the courts, and encourage Tesco and the Coop to package and commoditise legal services.  It’ll be a car crash… we’re probably looking at the equivalent of Emmerdale Farm or Pot Noodle… an emollient but hardly exciting.

Muttley paused to look at the sleek iPad beside him.  He looked up and spoke in lowered tones, forcing the associates to lean forward slightly, expectant.

“What does this mean for us..and when I say us, I mean of course the partners of this firm? We gear up on insolvency and taxation – the clowns are going to ‘simplify’ the system.  When governments say that there is always work for lawyers.   We talk to a few senior barristers and get them into our version of a Procureco. Where there’s money there’s barristers as my father used to say.

We’re going to look at buying a few small regional firms, or rather, turn them into an alternate business structure and go for the very lucrative personal injury market.  We’ll use our Megaladon Direct brand for that.   The good news is the idea of banning referral fees has been kicked into touch.  This will give us an edge. This will also irritate the hell out of The Law Society and The Bar Council who have both been pressing for abolition.  This could keep both these august bodies frothing for months. Again, good for us because their eyes will not be on point on other reforms to ‘suggest’ to government.  Our black psyops unit is putting out articles on blogs and in the legal media about  the future of the legal profession…. lawyers love this stuff and it is always good to get our competitors a little worked up and frothing.  I’m pleased to report that our Twitter presence will soon sow dissent in the profession so we may reap the rewards of keeping lawyers busy responding to our nonsense.  It is amazing how lawyers like to engage on twitter when they should be at the coal face digging coal for their partners. We won’t need to trouble any of you with this.  Eva Braun has found five or six people to put the word out and stir things up a bit.

Finally… let’s put the squeeze on the law schools. We are hiring 125 trainees next year.  50 will make the cut, 20 may even survive the first year PQE.  We are paying far too much for our LPC training.  The law schools are getting greedy.  This is fine for law firms, but most inelegant in the public consciousness when it comes to legal education.  We’ll place some psyops about the fact that we’re looking to partner with a law school for our LPC training.  The water should froth a bit at that and then we’ll send in a team to have a look at the facilities, the staff, do a bit of teeth sucking and promise a three year deal on our terms.  As you know, we are specialists in shark repellent, exactitude and ‘zone of uncertainty’ clauses which will deter any law school from suing if we want out.  I would hope for at least a 40% discount against their published rate per head on the LPC.  This saving will, of course, go towards the partner bonuses.

You know what you have to do.  Same time next week. Oh… and remember…. “Sell … get liquid … by the end of this year the clowns won’t recognize the country. That is all.

Matt Muttley
Managing Partner