“Legal Nihilism: Taking Rights Seriously” seriously – Professor R.D.Charon LLB (Cantab), BCL, Ph.d, FRSA

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.  I also wonder if the judge who coined the phrase The Man on The Clapham Omnibus had ever been on a bus.  Perhaps he had a butler who went on these buses? 

How to ‘Ace a Skype Interview’ By Dr Strangle-Ove of Muttley Dastardly LLP

How to ace ze Skype Interviews by Dr Erasmus Strangle-Ove of Muttley Dastardly LLP

Normally I would ask the rather tedious training director, Professor R.D. Charon etc etc etc, to write zis articles for ze Charon blogs – but I am ‘overrefreshed’ after learning that our profits have gone through ze roofers of our Pallazzo in ze City of London.  I appear, though zis overrefreshments to have taken on ze comic opera German style of ze writings.  I will stop this soon, be sure. Mein Gott! Meine Großmutter war vom Blitz getroffen

I read on ze Charon QC blogs about how to Ace Ze Skype interviews…. and ..OK… I can write in ze English again… and it is most useful to know that we can do our interviews on Skype.  This has two benefits: 1. That we don’t actually have to meet the prospective employee and pay travel expenses and 2. No need to call security to ask them to leave the interview when we reject their application.

Quite often when we interview prospective trainees, we like them to wear a brown paper bag over their heads – it is mildly disorienting for them, which is better than water-boarding them, I suppose, but it also has the benefit – as we tell them – that we are only judging them on their intellectual abilities and not on their looks, good or otherwise.

My first question to prospective trainee solicitors:  I always like to begin an interview with the question “How many hours will you be prepared to work daily to ensure that the partners of this firm are well remunerated for taking you on?” If the candidate responds by eagerly telling me that he or she will work 24/7, the interview continues.  If the answer is below 18 hours daily, I have to tell the candidate that the interview is over and “With regret, my firm is not for you and you are not for us. Security will ensure that you leave the building. You may, of course, keep the paper bag”
The only downside I can about conducting interviews over Skype is the fact that the prospective candidate may not have a camera on his or her computer so we can’t be sure that he or she is actually wearing the brown paper bag we thoughtfully provided for them, after receiving £5 from them for the bag  through our Paypal account.

Well, there we are.  I do hope the advice I have given you about interviews with law firms has been of use. If we do not invite you to attend for interview, there are many law firms out there. If you have found this advice useful – do, please, not hesitate to send a ‘Thank you Paypal gift’ to our offshore Paypal account.

Dr E Strangle-Ove
Managing Partner

Muttley Dastardly LLP
Strength & Profits

How to ace a Skype Interview….

A client has asked me to write an article on How To Ace a Skype Interview.  I am happy to do so to help them and students.

How to Ace A Skype Interview

Being interviewed for any position is a fairly daunting prospect for many – particularly if the person doing the interviewing is a good, experienced, interviewer – as many in the legal field are.

A useful starting point is to ensure that the Skype connection is working efficiently. I have done many podcasts on Skype and if the connection is slow or worse, intermittent, problems can arise. It may seem an obvious point – but it is an important one.

If it is a Skype video interview – dress appropriately and professionally.

Do your research on the firm, take soundings from others on the firm and use Google to see how the firm is rated by others.  Above all, read their website and any written information the firm, particularly their prospectus, provides for you, carefully.  This is particularly important.

Be precise in your answers to questions posed by the interviewer. In other words, answer the question posed, not the answer you want to give.  More often than not, you will have an opportunity to put your other good points at the end of the interview.  Speak clearly and not too quickly.  Bear in mind that the interviewer may well be taking notes.

By all means, have some notes in front of you – but if you are fully prepared you will only have to check occasionally. Do not look down too often and read your ‘answers’ from any pre-prepared script you may have made.

If the interviewer has a conversational style – and many do – engage on that basis but remember, it is an interview and you are being judged on your ability to present yourself and the qualities the firm is seeking and will value if they take you on.

Be confident, measured and calm.  You may well be at a very early stage in your legal career but the skilled interviewer is looking for confident, intelligent and articulate future members of the firm who are able to work within their firm’s ethos. Many are nervous in interviews.  The interviewer will know this and put you at your ease.

Don’t answer the question you think the interviewer asked. Answer the question asked.  It shows care and precision. If you do not understand the question or misheard it – say so.  The interviewer will not mind and be happy to repeat it.

Be yourself – above all, be yourself.  The firm wants to employ people who will fit in.

If you are given an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview – and many good interviewers offer this – don’t ask questions which are answered in the firm’s prospectus.  And, please, don’t be over effusive and drift off point.

Above all, be yourself and be completely honest in your answers.

A skilled interviewer – and he or she may be an experienced lawyer as well as the recruitment director of the firm – will want you to present yourself well and enjoy the interview – even if they do not take you on.

Good luck – although, as I said to my students when wishing them ‘all the best in their examinations’ on my last lecture to them – it isn’t about luck, so much as good preparation and confidence. But ‘good luck’ anyway.

 

It is a hot day… so time for The Panama Hat and make calls with LOBSTERFONE 10.2

It is clear to me – that it is hot and the sun may have got to me as I look for Law outside while I am smoking my woodbines.  However, as always, I am fully prepared for all eventualities… I have my Panama Hat

I particularly enjoy talking to some good clients with my Lobsterphone 10.2 – it makes the call more interesting and surreal for me.  The client, of course, has no idea that I am talking to them on my phone strapped to a lobster until they have a look at my blog.

I am 62, and while I am not senile – I do find that taking a more relaxed approach to law, blogging and life generally…improves the mind and mood.

Peanuts are for eating.  I don’t work for rich clients for ‘peanuts’. Just had a ‘difficult’ exchange of emails with a ‘new client’ who wanted me to do some specific writing for them for £20.  I am always happy to help people I know and fellow tweeters – but I do object to being ‘instructed’ to write a specialist post on MY blog by a client who only wanted to pay £20.  I had to tell her, politely, that I eat  peanuts and enjoy doing so – but ‘do not work for peanuts’.  She seemed surprised.  I shall put her surprise down to ‘yoof’ rather than rudeness.   Fellow tweeters – I am always happy to assist with cheap deals because we both get amusement from doing so.  I have met some most amusing people on twitter.  Some of them are ‘over refreshed’ late at night on twitter and can, as a result, be most amusing.  My days of being ‘over refreshed’ on twitter are long gone.  I don’t drink these days.

 

Charon Telecommunications ‘PLC’ offers….LOBSTERPHONE 10.2

It may be that I have taken too many summer cold pills… but I reckon I have an Apple iPhone beater here for you with LOBSTERPHONE 10.2… – all you need is a plastic lobster, which I happen to be selling, and a cheap mobile…job done.

The lobster can also be placed in your shower – but best that you remove any phone you may have attached with a rubber band as your phone may not be waterproof? 

If you would like this unusual item for a Tenner +pp do please email me or DM on Twitter. 

And… you can have a free advert on my blog for a year if you buy the Lobster…. OK…I’ll get my coat….

A Charon Sale II – ‘Art’ , a ‘Butler Tray’ and a Plastic Lobster

As I prepare my trip North to The West Coast of Scotland to ‘retire’ (not that I ever will actually retire)  – I am selling a few items – paintings and unusual items of furniture.

 

Charon Painting with spray gun and hands
Let There Be Greed
£15 + pp

 

***

 

Breakfast in Bed Butler Tray
£30 + pp.

A most useful item for those who like to serve themselves breakfast in bed or, indeed, amuse themselves in other ways in bed where a butler tray would be a useful item for that amusement. The Lobster is available as a companion – doesn’t say much, which is useful for those who like to contemplate in silence without being interrupted by a lobster – for £10

Of course – the Butler Tray could be most useful for the workaholic or laptop fiend – you can now work in bed as well!

If you buy any of the items you may have a FREE advert on the blog for a year.  I can assist with artwork for the ad

Guest Post: 45% of law firms have suffered a security incident in the last 12 months and even more worrying, 5% experience them on a weekly basis

By Ellie Hurst
Advent IM

According to PwC (and I am not going to argue with them) 45% of law firms have suffered a security incident in the last 12 months and even more worrying, 5% experience them on a weekly basis1. I found this quite staggering but them remembered a presentation I had seen from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that said outside of the public sector, the legal sector is the one that keeps it busiest.  I went and had a look at some of their data just to make sure this was the case as it felt a little harsh but unfortunately the picture wasn’t pretty.  In the combined last four quarters vs previous year, breach in this sector has grown at 32% double the rate of total breach and streets ahead of the Private Sector at 7%. At one point (Q3) breach from the legal sector accounted for more than a quarter of Private Sector breach. The ICO has issued clear warnings to the legal sector (15 Aug 2014) and reminded them it can serve monetary penalties of up to £500k. This is enough to keep a Chief Information Security Officer awake at night, so what is going on and more importantly what can be done?

Looking behind the headlines, it really isn’t shocking that law firms of all sizes might find themselves targets for cyber criminals or good old fashioned spying. Very often there are highly sensitive and frequently valuable information pickings to be had; be that Intellectual Property, details of mergers or sensitive financial data.  It has been noted by a variety of security experts that attackers are moving away from direct attacks on old favourites like Technology firms and looking either for other ways in to them, such as their supply chain, or are looking further afield for new vulnerabilities and sectors to exploit. Add to that a fast-changing security landscape and a dazzling array of software and tech vendors queuing up to offer their product and it’s easy to see how a kind of inertia could creep in as a result of this ‘perfect storm’ for security vulnerability.

Even taking all of that into consideration though, the fact that 18% of respondents to PwC said they experienced loss of sensitive data on a monthly basis, is frankly terrifying and if the ICO (and the EU Data Protection Commission) gets its way and mandatory breach notification is adopted in the UK, this could spell disaster, especially for some smaller firms, if hit with the maximum current penalty of £500k for a serious breach. Not to mention the erosion of trust in the profession of course, upon which there is no price.

The good news however is that some of the issues, certainly some of the most common ones can be addressed without massive capital outlay. For instance, the PwC report reveals that infections by malware or malicious software formed a large part of some of the security incidents that respondents referred to. We know that the vast majority of these are self-installed by unwitting staff members but this is hardly surprising as a conservative estimate by researchers he Ponemon Institute suggests that 1 in four UK employees has no idea what phishing is. (For anyone scratching their head here, phishing is the primary malware delivery vehicle and posing either as an email or a legitimate webpage, delivers a toxic payload when clicked. You are one of the one in four and there aren’t any congratulations for that, sorry). One of the other biggest incident categories highlighted in the report was other behaviour staff and respondents admitted to weekly and monthly incidents of this occurring (5% and 10% respectively). The overwhelming proportion (65%) said ‘a few times’ which frankly covers a multitude of sins. So back to the reason why this is good news…it sounds like part of the issue is culture and staff training. So some of the biggest threats to security could potentially be overcome by a security-thinking paradigm shift that needn’t require vast sums of money or the need for gun turrets on the server room.

Start with your staff then, they could be your biggest threat or your most valuable tool in the frontline defence against security incidents. This would also be good advice for clients too as in our experience, people are often forgotten in the rush to technology but sadly, you can’t firewall them. You can consider a certification or compliance to something like ISO27001 and build an Information Security Management System that will cover all information assets, regardless of their format. Or there is the Cyber Essentials scheme

You can always ask us for help. We are completely product neutral and have extensive experience of working with the legal sector on a variety of security certifications, training and projects. We handle ISO27001 and Cyber Essentials in a flexible, mentoring way that means you gain greater independence and gain knowledge of how to handle re-certification when required.

1PwC Law Firms Survey 2014 Further reading: http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/ico-probes-173-law-firms-over-data-protection-breaches/5048260.fullarticle http://www.advent-im.co.uk/user/files/Advent_news_PDFs/Tomorrows_FM_Insider_Threat_Aug_2012.pdf

Barristers; getting IT right

Barristers; getting IT right
Matt Torrens, SproutIT

Matt-TorrensBiography.pdf

In short, they’re not.  Most Barristers, and their Chambers, fall woefully short of any reasonable level of IT and data security, let alone the levels that a casual observer would presume they meet, given the type of client data they deal with on a daily basis.

From an outsider’s viewpoint, many consider the UK Legal market in the same stature as financial and healthcare verticals.  It follows that all three will share a similarly high regard to data security then, doesn’t it?  No, quite the opposite actually.  Healthcare and Financial markets are more heavily regulated and policed and are now several years ahead of Legal, who have dragged their heels and paid scant attention to this critical issue.

Let’s pause, for a moment, to reflect on the topic of conversation here – this isn’t a geeky desire to impose unduly prescriptive rules but a duty to protect precious and sensitive client data.  Consider case types such as Child Abuse, Female Genital Mutilation, Terrorism, Human Rights and Organised crime – yup, I’d like to think someone was taking really good care of that data.

Let’s look, briefly, at two regulatory bodies:

Bar Council

The General Council of the Bar, known as the Bar Council, is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales.  Surely, any sensible IT requirements would be driven and regulated by them?  To help you make up your mind, let’s review two:

  • How to dispose of your hard drive securely

o    …removing the hard drive from the computer and hitting it repeatedly with a heavy hammer

  • Passwords

o    facial recognition software is an acceptable alternative

That is serious, published advice to Barristers from one of their main regulatory bodies from their ‘Guidelines on Information Security’ (which also helpfully contains several dead links to external websites).

ICO 

The Information Commissioner’s Office covers various pieces of legislation including the Data Protection Act, handles complaints and concerns regarding information rights issues and has the power to serve monetary penalties of up to £500,000.  Much of the advice and guidance on the website is useful and practicable.

However, take a quick look through their published monetary penalties, decision notices and undertakings and you will quickly see that the Legal marketplace is virtually absent.  Local and central government offices along with NHS trusts form the majority of their published enforcements.  Is there an apparent selectivity or bias as to what kinds of entities the ICO pursues?

How do Chambers work?

  • 80% of barristers are self-employed and belong to a Chambers where they share central resources such as their building, the Clerks/staff, utilities and computer systems
  • Barristers have been individually purchasing and managing their PC’s, smartphones etc, long before anyone coined ‘BYOD’
  • Members of Chambers are Data Controllers within the meaning of the Data Protection Act 1998 and have statutory duties in respect of any Personal Data and Sensitive Personal Data that they hold. Pursuant to the seventh data protection principle, members of Chambers must ensure that they protect data to which the Act applies using an appropriate level of security given the nature of the data and the harm that might result from unauthorised processing or loss.

Real world examples, of self-prescribed Legal IT ‘security’:

–       Every barrister and staff member with non-expiring passwords

–       Everyone with the same password

–       Everyone being a Domain Administrator

–       Firewalls with any>any in and out

–       PPTP vpn

–       Continued use of Windows XP, Server 2000 etc

–       No backups

–       No desktop anti-virus

–       No gateway anti-virus

–       No patching or updates

–       No IPS/IDS

–       No firewall at all!

–       Regular transfer of data outside EEA

–       Inadvertent man-in-the-middle DHCP ‘attacks’

–       Sharing Dropbox data with the wrong parties

–       Personal, unsecured WiFi devices bridging to the corporate network

–       Unencrypted laptops, PC’s and USB devices

–       Shared/Home PC’s regularly used to store sensitive data

–       Single factor authentication

–       No authentication

–       Authentication sharing

–       Data synchronisation without limit to device, location or platform

–       Client data on personal email platforms

–       No PIN or encryption on mobile email devices

–       No IT training

–       Unprotected and internet facing financial and client data

–       3389 over the wire, without credential requirement

 

Chambers struggle to ‘enforce’ data security policies or make sensible practice a requirement of tenancy, because of the organisational hierarchy.  So, surely, effective regulatory compliance is the best way to ensure that client data is secured – at least to a reasonable level?  Immediate and minimum requirements, might include:

–       Password complexity and expiration

–       Multi-Factor Authentication

–       Full disk, centrally managed, encryption to FIPS 140-2

–       Disallowed use of non FIPS 140-2 encrypted USB devices

–       Annual training/awareness on data security

–       Enforced TLS email encryption, between counsel

–       Secure WiFi – e.g. 802.1x, perhaps with RADIUS

 

The list of technologies that might be used is long.  The real question is what ‘standards’ must be met and how they will be enforced and maintained.  This quick list may help the ICO and Bar Council attract the right kind of attention:

–       Publish and enforce minimum ‘requirements’, not ‘guidelines’

–       Unannounced audits and pen testing

–       Allow IT staff on to panels, to give quality and credence

–       Remove unhelpful and poor advice

–       Utilise existing standards and schemes such as ISO 27001, Cyber Essentials and Axelos

It is time that the Legal sector stopped pretending that IT security responsibilities do not apply to them – they hold, control and process some of their client’s most critical and sensitive data and are now seen as the least defended path to that information.  It’s time that the regulating authorities stood firm, stopped dithering and started fining.  Published minimum requirements, enforcing authorities and financial penalties work – we can see that in other markets; so why not in Legal?  Let’s begin to build a culture where barristers care for client data and respect the requirements set by their authorities.  In an age where chambers are suddenly realising that they do have a shared identity and that market reputation is key, how long will it be before they also realise that good, solid IT security can be a differentiator and an opportunity to win more business?

Gartner reports that 10% of legal services are in the Cloud today, but that 90% will be cloud based, by 2018.  Incoming EU General Data Protection laws will see increasing fines of up to 5% of global turnover.  ManagingPartner’s recent market research found that ‘the most successful law firms of the future will have lawyers who embrace new technologies’.  These are all reasons to start getting this right, right now.

Chambers do not function as a regular ‘business’, barristers are self-employed and often not subject to any centralised IT policy, regulatory compliance is commonly seen as optional and yet we expect barristers to use an ‘appropriate level of security’.  That’s not fair and it won’t ever work.  It doesn’t work, now.  A largely non-technical workforce cannot reasonably be expected to attain the right levels, or make the right choices, consistently and on an individual basis.  Governing bodies must help Chambers to manage this issue, with the prescription of sensible and proportionate policies and requirements.  It’s not complicated but it’s the very least that the precious data deserves.

 

 

Rive Gauche: Lord Madcow rides again…ish…

Many years ago, when I was reading Law at university, I had to break up a very nasty fight in the student house I was staying in. Six  Cambridge students – I cannot recall, now, if they were law students, were kicking one of my housemates who was on the floor and bleeding. I was with a High Court judge’s daughter at the time, a good friend. We had had an enjoyable evening out watching a film. I think it may have been “A Touch of Class”. (Ironic in the light of events which followed – my assailants showed no ‘class’ at all)  I told her to go into my room and lock herself in. I went into the communal kitchen, shouted at the Cambridge students to stop and ‘warned them’ that I was reasonably skilled in karate. I managed to ‘dissuade two students – one by kicking his upper arm and another, seeing that, backed off.  Unfortunately, a third student, very drunk, shouted.  I turned and he smashed a large empty milk bottle into my face. My nose nearly fell off, so hard was the blow and I lost most of my teeth. There was blood everywhere. I remained fully conscious, bleeding badly. At this point, the Cambridge students ran for it.  Police and Ambulance service arrived quickly and I was taken to a nearby hospital and patched up by a surgeon.  I refused to stay in hospital and, against the advice of the doctor, I went back to my room at the University.

 

Friends stayed with me all night.  I couldn’t sleep and they would not leave. The next morning a Detective Inspector from the Police arrived to check on me and take a statement.  He told me that my assailant had been arrested and was in court on the Monday morning.  As the Police officer was talking, one of the students from the night before barged into my room.  He didn’t even knock and warned me not to give evidence about the night before.  At which point, the Police officer, a detective officer, revealed his identity as a Police officer. The student looked shocked and ran for it.  I laughed as best I could – difficult with most of my teeth missing – although I had some semblance of a nose thanks to the skill of the surgeon the night before.

Unfortunately, the student who had assaulted me was charged with ‘common assault’ – a mistake, which the Police apologised to me for.  He got a very heavy fine.  I was told later that all six Cambridge students were ‘sacked’ from the University…”Sent down’ is, I believe, the phrase for this.

I then had a visit from a very charming man, the Vice Chancellor of The University, Sir Fraser Noble, who asked if he could help in any way.  The Head of the Law department, Professor Edward Griew (of The Theft Act books fame) and the lecturers I knew, were all very kind. I had the chance to go to Cambridge to read law myself and turned it down.  I stuck with Leicester University, then a fine law school and it continues to be a very good law school to this day.  I lost a year, but I survived that and went on to do reasonably well. I didn’t go into practice at the Bar – which I regret in some ways – but went into teaching and running law schools – BPP Law School, which I helped found with Charles Prior, then Chief Executive of and a founder of BPP Holdings PLC twenty-five years ago and had a most enjoyable career.  I enjoyed teaching very much. You win some and lose some in life.  I am lunching tomorrow with Peter Crisp, who has helped me greatly in recent years and one of my best appointments when I ran the law school, now Dean at BPP Law School.

And on that note…some smoking outside, a walk, and then I shall start on a new painting – a vaguely sensible painting. On the other hand, after smoking some menthol fags, I may do some Smokedo and run ‘amok’ with some more F*ckArt…who knows

Have a good evening.

PS.  the reference to ‘Madcow’  in the picture above – a nickname given to me by very good friends when I was very ill years ago and nearly died from swelling in the brain – partly caused by the injuries sustained that November evening at Leicester University. Never content with just a ‘nickname’ not only did I promote myself to Lord Madcow…it became Lord Madcow XIV… a Hat Tip to a French King.  (Madcow disease was a problem at the time in Britain)

 

The motorbike is a particular passion. So the picture from twitter is most appropriate. I have had 21 Motorbikes in my life: Many Honda FireBlades, Five Honda Blackbirds (Top speed 195 mph), one Ducati 916. I miss the bikes.  Only one accident – when a woman ran into the back of me in her car when I was stopped waiting to turn right.  Fortunately the bike was OK, landing on top if me as I slid down the road.  I had a lot of stitches, done by a friend nearby – a nurse.  I refused to go to hospital.  I hobbled back to the pub, had a couple of glasses of Rioja with the nurse and her husband and walked the motorbike back to my flat. I have some pleasing scars on the right leg!

Well…there we are.. life goes on.  there is Smokedo to be done….paintings to be painted and I shall use my ‘best endeavours’ to find some Law when I am outside smoking.  I may even have an Egg and Cress sandwich and an ice cream cone for dinner.  I live to live the ‘High Life”…and be a ‘gourmande’ etc!

Have a good Sunday evening!

Laters…perhaps..

Law of Contract Lesson 1: Don’t stop a cheque to a man who has taught Contract Law for forty years.

Recently, a law publishing company, publishers of law reports used by many UK lawyers, bought an advert on my blog for £50 for the year – a very modest amount.   I put the advert up and wrote up their service on my blog. Unusually – my clients are always very helpful and make very quick payment – I had to chase and chase for payment.  The publisher sent me a cheque.  I was rather ill and could not get to a bank and, as life can be difficult at times, I really needed some money for food and other basics in life. I told the managing director that I did all my banking online and offered Paypal or direct transfer to the bank as an option.  He ignored all my emails and would not take a call.  I eventually managed to bank the cheque and the firm ‘Stopped’ it.

Here is the ‘Artwork’ I created.  I am selling this ‘work’ for £10 – but you have to be vaguely interested in law (a) to want it and (b) to buy it! 

My remedy is twofold : (1) to sue in the appropriate court on the ‘friendly ‘pro bono’ advice of a friend of mine who is a QC (which I will do and as an exercise in litigation and write it up for the blog and (2) To stick the cheque one  one of my nonsense F*ckArt paintings and have a larf. I have found, in my early 60s that having a laugh is good for the soul.

You may be surprised when you find out who the ‘villainous law publisher’ is if you buy my ‘artwork’ ! 

If you would like to buy this ‘work of art’ for £10 + pp – do, please email me or send a DM on twitter. I can provide on-shore banking details and Paypal details!  I am not keen on getting a ‘bouncing cheque’ – even though that would be rather funny!

SOLD  to a very amusing man who I have tweeted with for years.  He won’t bounce anything… apart from a few laughs over lunch!

 

Rive Gauche: I am easily amused these days! – Cannabis emblem on a lighter

I have just been out to the High Street in Kingsbury, North London, to get essential supplies.  One of these ‘essential supplies’ was a lighter.  I am easily amused in any event – but to buy a lighter with a Cannabis emblem on it has made my day.  The newsagent, a good bloke, had no idea it was a cannabis leaf emblem!

This has inspired me to trawl the law blogs to catch up on, and post about, some LAW.

Have an amusing Sunday!

 

Law Review: A moment that changed me – seeing a man executed by Clive Stafford Smith

One of the most interesting writers on Twitter is Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve
Like many, I am against the death penalty – but it would seem to be ‘alive and well’ , unlike those put to death, in the United States and several others countries around the world.

A moment that changed me – seeing a man executed by  

On a visit to Malaysia many years ago, a country I knew well and lived in as a child, and later when I was running a Law School with many Malaysian law students,  I had a drink with a Malaysian High Court judge who told me, wearily, that he had sentenced four young Malaysians to death for drug offences that afternoon. I cannot remember his precise words – but they were roughly as follows: “I find it difficult that our civilised society has problems with drugs, but I find it even more difficult that a developed civilised country like Malaysia imposes the barbaric death penalty. It is not the right way to deal with this problem.  There is no shortage of young men prepared to take the risk of dealing in drugs and for so long as we continue with the death penalty, more will be hanged.”  His tone was sombre and he apologised to me for lowering the mood and he asked if he could talk of lighter matters. I understood his wish to do so.

Countries that use the death penalty today: Amnesty

And I walked into – and deserved this excellent tweet …punctuation is ALL, even on Twitter!

 

Legal Bizzle is right – here is my tweet and post title! I shall be more careful in future! 

To lighten the post, without minimising the seriousness of the issue above – my attention was caught tonight by an altogether different type of criminal behaviour.  The story is quite remarkable.

Woman dismantles ATM with her bare hands to retrieve ‘swallowed card’

The Mirror covers the story

Law Review Sponsored by Mike Briercliffe / @mikejulietbravo

Law Review sponsored by Law Absolute: Here is an interesting article on ‘How to Ace a Skype Interview’

Guest Post: Hypnotherapy for the legal profession and their clients

  • Legal Stress?
  • Need more detailed recall?
  • Need to reduce anxiety and panic?

The understanding of hypnosis has come a long way since the mid-nineties. It was then that MRI and PET scanning enabled us to finally lay to rest the claim that there is no such things as a hypnotic trance. As is typical with good evidence though it meant we had to re-assess exactly what we mean by the terms trance and hypnosis.

The same science showed that the changes in brain activity that take place in trance happen when we are in REM sleep. Now our understanding of the function of REM sleep has also developed so this has important implications for understanding trance.

It now seems very likely that REM sleep (about 20% of our sleep time) has the function of clearing out stress and anxiety from experiences during the day. It ‘defuses’ them as it were and transfers them for storage in the higher brain.

I should add here how very common trance is. If you have ever got home and not remembered driving, daydreamed or not heard someone speaking to you when you are deep in thought you have been in trance. In fact it appears we jump in and out of REM states quite frequently, something which has been verified by the same technology as that mentioned above. Though of course brain scans have not been carried out on people driving home.

Intriguingly it has also been shown that REM states use up more energy than doing a maths exam for example. Einstein’s school report said ‘appears to spend most of his time daydreaming’. It’s probably safe to assume that quite a lot is going on in this state.

When we wake up tired and already feeling down we may well have exceeded our REM quota and still not have been able to clear our accumulated stress. This means that further incidents have much more power to affect us negatively adding to the stress we already have. It’s not hard to see how this can become a vicious circle.

Research by the US military has shown that the ability of people suffering from stress (which drives reactions by the instinctive ‘limbic’ brain) results in a catastrophic collapse of decision making capabilities. These all reside in the higher cortex, a huge engine the capabilities of which we may not very often fully employ.

Trance states allow us to access that engine and more. They also allow us to help focus on defusing our accumulated stress AND developing techniques for both negating stress ourselves as well as accessing more of the higher brain functions.

Because of the ability of the trance state to access the subconscious it is also possible to focus on detailed recall in a psychological space which is safe for the person and can be beneficial in allowing potentially traumatic experiences to be defused of their emotional intensity.

The legal profession is one where what kind of mental state the legal professional, jury, witnesses, judge and defendants are in is the fundamental key to outcomes very often. In this setting hypnotherapy carefully used can help to produce more detailed recall and better considered reasoning.

Perhaps though the greatest benefits are for the legal professional themselves to cope with the inevitable stress produced by the work and to help those having to go through the often traumatic experience of legal complications (work, divorce, accusations).

Indeed judicious use of hypnotherapy could make the difference between an already fragile person being able to withstand the rigours of legal proceedings or not.

Not to mention the fact that once the legal aspect of the matter is dealt with the associated stress and trauma may continue for years unless dealt with.

In closing, let me stress that these techniques employ our own natural inherent ability to reprogram those things we may wish to by inducing a state of consciousness similar to REM sleep. In fact all of us will tend to drift in and out of trance many times during the average day. So while the practice focusses and utilises this state for the client’s benefit there is nothing Rasputin-like about it at all.

Mike Parker

For more information go to www.highendhypnotherapy.com

Guest Post: Bringing connectivity to conveyancing

 

Bringing connectivity to conveyancing
Veyo

Connectivity in business has become essential in the modern world, and all industries have reached a point in time when they need to recognise this need to adapt and change in order to remain effective and successful. One area in particular that is certainly not immune to this changing environment is the conveyancing industry, and its current limitations and desire to adhere to outdated traditions have left it with a desperate need to modernise.

Business is driven by consumers, and what the consumer wants. This fact is no different for organisations in the legal sector that still need to be run just like businesses, and work for the consumer in a modern and efficient way. More and more in the modern world what consumers want is connectivity, and this is something that is particularly evident in the estate agency side of the property sector. Through the use of property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla, home-movers feel more knowledgeable and more connected to the initial process of buying and selling a property. They have access to swathes of data and information about properties, and they are handed the power to make informed decisions about the steps they can take.

However it has become clear, from a consumer perspective that this power is seemingly taken away once the initial stage of having an offer on a property accepted passes. The point at which conveyancing takes over. Obviously unlike the relatively “simple” stage of choosing a house to purchase, the conveyancing process can be extremely complex and the common house-buyer should not expect to understand all the events that are occurring throughout the process. This reality has been demonstrated through the results of the latest conveyancing report commissioned by Veyo at the beginning of January. This report shows that 53% of first time buyers have limited or no knowledge of the conveyancing process. In fact it is only “serial buyers/sellers” (those who have bought/sold five or more properties) who have a good understanding of the process, with over 60% stating they are “knowledgeable” or “expert” in the process.

This lack of understanding would clearly correlate with the stress people experience during the buying/selling process. In fact, 1 in 10 described it as more stressful than redundancy or having their first child. Therefore the two problems seemingly have the same solution in some respects.

While the solution is not for all potential home-movers to learn the conveyancing process from cover to cover. It is to say that, with modern technology, the tools can and will be developed that would allow home-movers to increase their understanding of the process. Giving them a view to each stage, and an understanding of what and why delays occur would be a first extremely helpful step in improving the consumer experience.

With regards to placing the consumer first, Elliot Vigar, CEO of Veyo, commented that; “understandably home buying is incredibly stressful – there is a huge sum of money at stake… An average conveyancing time of three months in our digital era is simply not good enough for homebuyers and they have made it clear what they wish for to improve their home buying experience… The widespread adoption of a comprehensive online conveyancing service for the entire industry is inevitable.”

Rive Gauche: I have no immediate plans to die… I told a cold caller…

 

I was rung up some time ago, an unsolicited call, to ask if I had made any burial plans.  As I had no immediate plans to die, I asked the caller if he knew something from ‘above’ that I was not aware of.  My question puzzled him and he asked me what I meant.  I told him that I wanted to know if he had been in touch with the ‘Great Architect’ or other ‘God type figure’ to get a Heads Up on my death date.

I also like this design  <—–

This puzzled the caller.  I told him that I had no immediate plans to die unless he was keen that I should do so to earn some commission., in which case I told him that I would give it some thought and try to die before the end of the month so that he would get commission this month..

This ‘freaked’ the salesman out.  The line went dead…to coin a phrase… RESULT!

And talking of graves…I recall at University when doing the Observer Moot with a friend, now a well known Family Law Silk.  He opened with the words…I kid you not..“My Lord…murder is a grave offence.”.  Rex Tedd, a well known barrister who was judging the moot, burst out laughing and said…”Indeed, Mr X…indeed.”  The packed lecture theatre erupted with laughter.  I seem to recall that we lost that moot!

In 1976, when I was at university teaching myself some Law (I didn’t attend many lectures or seminars – about three of each or so in three years, I paid for it by working as a gravedigger – working with a very amusing Irish digger who always wore a top hat as he pushed the spade into the first divot of earth! We got on well… and would read our newspaper on the hot days sitting about five foot down in the grave.  Occasionally we would get a ‘visitor, often an elderly person asking ‘Who was going in?’.  We always found that quite amusing. I can see myself doing that ‘nearer the time’.

 

I really must try and shoehorn some law into my blog posts…this being a ‘Law’ blog…

 

Law Review: Lord Goddard LCJ – judicial serial killer?

I quote from Wikipedia: Rayner Goddard, Baron Goddard (10 April 1877 – 29 May 1971) was Lord Chief Justice of England from 1946 to 1958 and known for his strict sentencing and conservative views, despite being the first Lord Chief Justice to be appointed by a Labour government, as well as the first to possess a law degree. He was nicknamed the ‘Tiger’ and “Justice-in-a-jiffy” for his no-nonsense manner. He once dismissed six appeals in one hour in 1957…

In December 1952 Goddard presided over the trial of Christopher Craig and Derek Bentley, accused of the murder of PC Sidney Miles at a Croydon warehouse on 2 November 1952. 16-year-old Craig had shot and killed PC Miles whilst resisting arrest on the roof of a factory he intended to break into. Bentley, who was 19 but of limited intelligence, had gone with him and was accused of urging Craig to shoot, having called out to him, “let him have it, Chris”, when a policeman, Sergeant Frederick Fairfax, asked Craig for the gun. Fairfax was wounded by Craig.

Lord Goddard directed the jury at the trial that, in law, Bentley was as guilty of firing the shot as Craig, even though there was contradictory evidence as to whether Bentley was aware that Craig was carrying a gun. During the trial, Goddard made no reference to Bentley’s mental state, apart from when Christmas Humphreys asked Bentley to read a statement he had allegedly made to Police Officers after his arrest. Goddard told Humphreys that Bentley couldn’t read.

After 75 minutes of deliberations, the jury returned a guilty verdict in respect of both defendants. Craig was too young for a death sentence, but Bentley was not. Nevertheless, the jury had exceptionally returned a plea of mercy in favour of Bentley along with the guilty verdict. The decision passed to the Home Secretary, David Maxwell Fyfe, to decide whether clemency should be granted. After reading Home Office psychiatric reports and a petition signed by 200 MPs, he rejected the request and Bentley was hanged by Albert Pierrepoint on 28 January 1953. Craig was sent to prison and released in 1963 after serving ten-and-a-half years. Derek Bentley had his conviction quashed in July 1998 with the appeal trial judge, Lord Bingham, noting that Lord Goddard had denied the defendant “the fair trial which is the birthright of every British citizen.”

Wikipedia continues: “On 30 July 1998, the Court of Appeal granted a posthumous acquittal to Derek Bentley on the basis of Goddard’s misdirection to the jury which, according to Lord Bingham, “must […] have driven the jury to conclude that they had little choice but to convict.” He added that the summing-up of the case was “such as to deny the appellant [Bentley] the fair trial which is the birthright of every British citizen”.[12]

Lord Bingham also, however, acknowledged that Goddard was “one of the outstanding criminal judges of the century”, and underlined the change in social standards between 1953 and 1998.

After Goddard’s death, he was attacked in the columns of The Times by Bernard Levin, who described him as “a calamity” and accused him of vindictiveness and of being a malign influence on penal reform. Levin had also attacked Goddard when he retired as Lord Chief Justice thirteen years earlier in a Spectator article, saying he walked hand in hand with ignorance on one side of him and barbarism on the other. In The Times on 8 June 1971, Levin wrote (referring to Goddard’s assertion in 1970 that he had been “very unhappy” about Bentley being hanged) that “if Goddard did indeed claim this, it was a breathtaking piece of hypocrisy, in view of his conduct of the case”.[13] Afterwards Levin was blackballed by the Garrick Club, a favourite resort of both lawyers and journalists, when his application for membership came up.

Marcel Berlins, writing in The Independent in August 1998

“THE JURY didn’t want Derek Bentley to hang. They had listened to the cocky, almost boastful evidence of 16-year-old Christopher Craig in the witness-box, casually admitting to owning 40 guns and frankly accepting that he had been the instigator of the criminal enterprise that had resulted in his killing PC Sidney Miles. They had contrasted that with the 19-year-old Bentley’s pathetic, child-like performance, showing in nearly every answer his lack of comprehension, his low IQ, his mental dullness. The jury knew that Craig could not hang because of his age; and for Bentley, they recommended that he be shown mercy. Unfortunately, Bentley had the bad luck to be tried and sentenced by one of the last of the hanging judges, Rayner Goddard, the Lord Chief Justice.

We don’t have hanging judges today. There are, to be sure, judges who support the death penalty and would be prepared to impose it. But the concept of the hanging judge implied more than mere support for capital punishment. It meant an unwavering belief in “an eye for an eye”, a refusal to accept that the act of killing could have any mitigating circumstances, an enthusiasm for putting on the black cap before announcing an imminent execution, and an element of sadistic pleasure in ordering a fellow human being’s death.

Lord Goddard fitted all the criteria. A brilliant lawyer, he was also a domineering bully with viciously punitive views on all aspects of criminal justice policy. His idea of fun, after a legal dinner, was to take part in a “boat race”, in which two groups of lawyers and judges would arrange themselves on the dining-hall floor in the formation of a rowing eight, and shuffle on their bottoms towards a finishing line. More sinister and perverted was his habit, according to his clerk, of ejaculating when passing a death sentence, so that a fresh pair of trousers had to be brought to court on those occasions.

Such was his influence that few in the legal profession dared criticise him. In 1953 the barrister John Parris – who had represented Craig at the trial – attacked Goddard’s campaign in the House of Lords to bring back flogging; and suggested that legal opinion was not unanimous in regarding him as a model of courtesy, fairness and impartiality. Parris was suspended from practising as a barrister for four months.

A commentator who submitted an anti-Goddard article to a legal journal was told by its editor that, good as it was, it could not be published, for fear of reprisals from the legal establishment. When Bernard Levin wrote a critical piece in 1958, the Attorney General of the day seriously considered prosecuting him for criminal libel – punishable with imprisonment. In 1971, on Goddard’s death (at 94), Levin wrote a column in the Times denouncing his behaviour in the Bentley trial as unjudicial, vindictive and crudely emotional, and his reign as chief justice as calamitous. Violent abuse and complaint poured in from the judiciary, still defending their former chief; the Times was boycotted, and Levin blackballed from membership of the lawyer-heavy Garrick Club.

With a different trial judge, Bentley would have had a chance: perhaps of being convicted only of manslaughter or possibly acquitted altogether. Another judge would at least have put Bentley’s defence to the jury, especially the ambiguity of the words he was alleged to have shouted (and probably didn’t say at all): “Let him have it, Chris”.

But Lord Goddard bullied the jury into finding Bentley guilty by misrepresenting the law and distorting the facts. He didn’t need to bully the appeal court judges into rejecting Bentley’s appeal – there was no chance, anyway, that they would have dared rule that the Lord Chief Justice had been wrong. He stiffened the Home Secretary’s resolve to refuse clemency by making it firmly known that he saw no mitigating circumstances, in spite of the jury’s plea for mercy.

It is some small consolation that no judge these days – not even the Lord Chief Justice – can exercise the kind of malevolent power that Goddard did in his day. It is doubtful that a modern-day Derek Bentley would be prosecuted at all, in today’s legal framework. His mental backwardness would almost certainly make him unfit to stand trial. But even if he was ruled capable of being tried, the evidence against him would be different, and far less damaging. Interviews with him would be tape-recorded – and be in the presence of his lawyer.

There would be no possibility of the police writing out his “confession” in police language and having it admitted in evidence. The law of “joint enterprise” has been changed so that, if Bentley was unaware that Craig was carrying a loaded gun, he couldn’t be charged jointly with the murder. The trial judge would not be able to get away with the highly biased and legally incorrect summing-up to the jury that Goddard gave. An appeal would not be so rushed and cursory.

One of the most astonishing aspects of the Craig and Bentley process was its sheer speed. PC Miles died on 2 November 1952. The trial started on 9 December, and lasted just three days. Bentley was hanged on 28 January 1953 – less than three months from the murder. Is it too complacent to shrug away the whole Bentley horror by saying that it was the fault of one old and powerful maverick judge, the like of whom we shall never see again; or to say that our criminal justice system is now immeasurably better than 46 years ago – in the sense of providing safeguards for a defendant?

Of course miscarriages of justice will never disappear, but miscarriages of the Bentley kind – even without capital punishment – are highly unlikely. More disturbing than the scandal of Derek Bentley’s trial, polluted by a judge whose savage emotions overcame his sense of justice, has been the disgrace of successive Home Office manoeuvrings designed never to admit that a gross mistake had been made.

Everything that had gone wrong in the Bentley case was apparent from the available documents, including Lord Goddard’s grossly defective summing- up to the jury. Yet at no stage did the scrutiny of the Home Office’s C3 branch, given the job of sniffing out injustices, or of several home secretaries (some of them lawyers), conclude that anything was amiss. Only the grudging admission that Bentley shouldn’t have been executed emerged from Kenneth Clarke, barrister.

Happily, in place of the comatose C3, we now have the independent and energetic Criminal Cases Review Commission to look into alleged miscarriages. It was the commission that sent Bentley’s case to the appeal court (and which a few months ago, accompanied by little publicity, was instrumental in getting the court to quash the conviction of another man wrongly convicted and executed, Muhammed Mattan). If there is one practical step the Government can take to try to atone and apologise for Bentley and many other miscarriages of justice, some as yet undiscovered, it is to fund the commission properly so that it has the money and the people to do its job.”

English judges rarely conceal improperly gained evidence, but their rule was largely invented by the sexually depraved Rayner Goddard (1877-1971). Goddard was a criminal court (King’s Bench) judge 1932-38, on the Court of Appeal 1938-44, a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary (law lord) 1944-46, and Lord Chief Justice 1946-58. He resigned aged 81 because he was going blind. The Concise Dictionary of National Biography notes that he “tried a number of notable murder cases including the Craig-Bentley trial”, and that he was a “strong supporter of corporal and capital punishment”.

***

A rather unpleasant sidenote of Lord Goddard  

EVAN WHITTON: The Cartel Lawyers and Their Nine Magic Tricks

28 – The Sexually Depraved Lord Goddard’s Rule – England

… the court is not concerned with how the evidence was obtained.

– Lord Goddard, 1955

English judges rarely conceal improperly gained evidence, but their rule was largely invented by the sexually depraved Rayner Goddard (1877-1971). Goddard was a criminal court (King’s Bench) judge 1932-38, on the Court of Appeal 1938-44, a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary (law lord) 1944-46, and Lord Chief Justice 1946-58. He resigned aged 81 because he was going blind. The Concise Dictionary of National Biography notes that he “tried a number of notable murder cases including the Craig-Bentley trial”, and that he was a “strong supporter of corporal and capital punishment”.

Kuruma. In Kuruma v R (1955), Lord Goddard wrote: “… the test to be applied in considering whether evidence is admissible is whether it is relevant to the matters in issue. If it is, it is admissible and the court is not concerned with how the evidence was obtained.

If the Clark rule tends to corrupt judges, the Goddard rule tends to corrupt police: it virtually encourages them to gain evidence improperly; elements of the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad lived up to their name in the 1970s; their crimes included torture to obtain false confessions from the Birmingham Six. The squad was disbanded in 1989 and outside police were called in to review 97 of their cases.

A Secret Agenda? There is also the question of whether Lord Goddard had a secret agenda. Oliver Cyriax notes that his clerk, Arthur Harris, had “to take a spare pair of the standard striped trousers to court on sentencing days. When condemning a youth to be flogged or hanged, Goddard always ejaculated”. This leads to frightening speculation as to whether the Lord Chief Justice may have become a sort of judicial serial killer.”

The rest of Evan Whitton’s article is fascinating on other cases.

 

Shark in the sea with Diamonds By Charon in his ‘Lost the plot’ period.

Shark in the sea with Diamonds
By Charon in his ‘Lost the plot’ period.

This ‘Homage’ to Damien Hurst – a famous artist who amused the world by pickling sharks in tanks and encrusted a skull with Diamonds is now available at a much more modest price than Mr Hurst would sell for…. a bargain at £10 + pp – and, so you get some additional benefit for your professional work  – you may have a free advert on the blog for a year.

Do email me if you would like to buy it.  Can deliver in London and you can even sign the painting yourself or I can… or, indeed, we both can sign it.

 

Rive Gauche: ‘The art of being thick.’ The Americans have a good word for it – ‘Dumbass’.

I thought it worth re-publishing this post from my blog back in November 2006

“The theme to start this Saturday is ‘The art of being thick.’ The Americans have a good word for it – ‘Dumbass’.

Sheffield United manager, Neil Warnock, claimed this week that some footballers are thick (The Independent)

I quote: “Two of my players have been in the news this week for the wrong reasons. Alan Quinn was fined after admitting being involved in a fight in a Sheffield pub used by Wednesdayites and Paddy Kenny had his eyebrow bitten off after a late-night dust-up in a Halifax takeaway.

These things happen for managers, but I’d prefer they didn’t and I hope the players learn. They’ve been a bit thick. Quinn’s an ex-Wednesday player, he goes into a Wednesday pub, has problems, and wonders why!”

This stimulated Brian Reade in my Saturday tabloid of choice, The Mirror, to bring up his own examples of dumbass behaviour by footballers…

Jason McAteer (nicknamed Trigger) being asked at a take-away if he wanted his pizza cut into eight slices or four, and answering “Four. I’m not that hungry.”

Or when he locked himself out of his Porsche, his mate told him to get a coat-hanger so he could pick the lock and he came back with a wooden one.

Paulo di Canio’s defence against being a nasty bigot: “I’m a fascist, not a racist.”

Everton’s Neil Adams breezing, towel in hand, into the reception of a Madrid hotel asking for directions to the beach.

And there I was…sipping an espresso…smoking a Silk Cut and wondering whether I could find any stories about Lawyers behaving oddly. Of course –RollonFriday came to mind and, sure enough, an excellent story about a memo to staff on ‘toilet etiquette’ written by Stephen Ryan, managing partner at St Alban’s firm SA Law

Source: RollonFriday

On the premise that this memo is not a spoof – I started to think how Mr Ryan could know about the the activities of the bogey flicker(s) referred to in Paragraph 2. Is it part of a managing partner’s remit to inspect the lavatories? Or did he notice the wall peppered with curious objects? Or did he, in fact, have information about the perpetrator(s) of this unusual comedy routine. And then I started to wonder if the perpetrators kept the door open so they could flick it onto the ‘opposite wall’ of the entire washroom or did ‘opposite wall’ mean the door of the lavatory? As you can see, I have way too much time on my hands when I sit at Cafes with my laptop and take advantage of the cafe wifi and write my blawg. The mind boggles – is this a common routine at SA Law?

I suspect that Matt Muttley of Muttley Dastardly LLP would applaud Mr Ryan for his directness, candour and humour.

 

Memo to all Staff from Matt Muttley, Managing Partner on the wearing of religious symbols at work

Memo to all Staff from Matt Muttley, Managing Partner

It came to my notice the other day, when I made a rare appearance in the open plan work area, that quite a few associates and administrative staff have taken to wearing burqas, skull caps, silver crosses, orange turbans, white druidic robes and various other symbols of faith. I find this pleasing. As I have no desire to see Muttley Dastardly LLP subjected to vilification by bearded Bishops a la British Airways – our official policy on the wearing of religious symbols at work is that you may do as you please and, it has to be said, I would not wish brownsuedeshoesthis firm to be ‘boycotted’ by the bearded Bishops. The only caveat I enter is that you are happy in your work and do the hours and that you think about the wealth of our firm and your future part in that wealth. Muttley Dastardly LLP is an equal opportunity employer with a structured and hierarchical approach to the distribution of rewards. The restriction on wearing brown suede shoes with a pinstripe suit, or indeed any suit, continues in place – although senior associates may wear shooting tweeds and Plus Fours on Fridays if they so choose, in which case the appropriate footwear is a good pair of Church’s brogues. That is all.

Matt Muttley, 
Managing Partner, Muttley Dastardly LLP

Strength & Profits

Rive Gauche: Summer Solstice edition – 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.

Apropos of nothing in particular – I have meet three Monarchs in my time, apart from King Arthur.  H M The Queen when the law school I was then with was given a Queen’s Award for Exports, The Kabaka of Buganda, Ronnie Mutebi – who I taught when he was studying law and Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Yussuf Izzuddin Shah Ghafarullahu-lah, of Perak and The 9th King of Malaysia.  I taught two of his children back in the day.   Azlan Shah, a lawyer and Lord President of The Malaysian Federal Court was a charming man and it was a great pleasure, given my childhood and law teaching associations with Malaysia, to attend his coronation.

Rive Gauche: Policing on the cheap? A post from 2007

Policing on the cheap: a post from 2007 on my blog

I was having an espresso and smoking a Silk Cut when I saw two proper uniformed coppers patrolling Chiswick High Street. They did not have much to do. The burglars were elsewhere in London, the banks were not being robbed and, as far as I could see, all was well in Chiswick. It was, however, good to see them – a rare sighting these days. I said “Good morning” to them as they walked by. They responded in a like manner. It was like the good old days of Dixon of Dock Green – quite unlike the tenor of the story which I picked up on Geeklawyers blog about bomber jacketed thugs acting as private police.

The last thing we need in Britain is untrained, unaccountable, individuals being given police style powers of arrest. I’m not even sure about Community Support Officers being given more power. I am sure there are some decent and honest people who join as CS officers – but the ones I have seen loitering around in West London don’t appear to me to be fit enough to run after pensioners, let alone tackle hoodies and other ASBO collectors.

***

PS – In the light of the events since January 2007 it would seem that bankers did the robbing?

Clare Rodway, always interesting on her “The Conversation” blog, interviews Alex Aldridge of Legal Cheek and others.

Clare Rodway talks to Catherine Wolfenden 

When a female lawyer who is officially recognised as the “Best Regulatory Lawyer” of the year tells you that the odds of being a partner in a law firm are still in favour of men, you know you need to sit up and take notice.

I had the pleasure of sitting next to Catherine Wolfenden at the Legal Business Awards, being a guest of her firm Osborne Clarke on the night they won top prize as Law Firm of the Year.  The conversation and company around the table was already sparkling – we were dining with one of the profession’s most famous managing/senior partner combos, Ray Berg and Simon Beswick, also with comms supremo Simon Marshall, among others – but once their award win was announced the mood became positively effervescent. ….

And Alex Aldridge of Legal Cheek

I knew I was assured of meeting interesting people at LegalCheek‘s Summer Party and I wasn’t disappointed. The select gathering at The Proud Archivist (so über-trendy a venue it’s “beyond” Shoreditch, on the canal between Dalston and De Beauvoir Town) provided a welcome opportunity to catch up with some of the profession’s best tweeters and bloggers.  Among others: @judgejohnhack @leonglenister author of the Law Think blog, @legalhackette and @wigapedia.  And of course if was good to catch up with the great man himself, the brains behind Legal Cheek @alexaldridge, who proudly talked about the latest rebrand and this cheeky blog’s coming of age. This made us worry: is he now part of the legal establishment?  But if this week’s headlines are anything to go by, our concerns were unfounded.

One particularly interesting person I met was lawyer, Apprentice star and entrepreneur Lauren Riley, who has launched an App designed to “revolutionise how law firms communicate with their clients”.

The English language and my interview with ASBOman at a secret location..

The pleasures of our language…

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day.
“In English,” he said, “A double negative forms a positive.
In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative
is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a
double positive can form a negative.”

A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”

***

One for drafting ‘enthusiasts’
Notice the effect of the following Dear John love letter with different punctuation:

Dear John
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful.
People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever
when we’re apart. I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours?

Gloria

Dear John
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful
people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever.
When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?

yours,
Gloria

***

And I remember this interview some years ago – at a secret location – with ASBOman, as I addressed him during the interview.

It is important that all sectors of the community, interested in the English legal system, are given an opportunity to respond to the current crisis on prison capacity.

Tonight I was able to talk to the secretary-general of the newly formed ASBO Holders Association (AHA) who invited me to a secret location in London.

With his consent I recorded the interview. His lawyer and three council members of AHA, who were not engaged on official AHA business or activity on the streets of London tonight, have approved this report. I would like to stress that ‘Hamish’ (Not his real name) has not been paid for this interview nor has any donation, loan, gift or benefit in kind been given to Hamish or AHA.

This is what Hamish told me tonight….

“It is clearly not a satisfactory state of affairs when the home secretary is placed in a position where he has to write to the the Chief Justice of this country to advise that judges may have to consider alternative sentences to prison for those who practice criminality because of a shortage of prison places. AHA takes the view that the government of this country owes a duty of care to criminals – and those likely to be given ASBOS – to provide appropriate accommodation in a prison or other secure unit. Our members expect, when they go about their business, to do so in the knowledge, that if they do a job well, that their efforts will be rewarded and recognised with a prison sentence.

We believe that the Home Office, in failing to provide sufficient prison places, is ‘not fit for purpose’ and we shall be taking this up at the highest levels. On Monday we will be talking to senior officials at The Commission in Brussels to see if the United Kingdom is in breach of any European Union directives and, further, we will be bringing a claim in the European Court of Justice to the effect that the human rights of our members are being breached by the United Kingdom government’s failure to provide proper prison accommodation.

While I can understand Lord Phillip’s stating today… and I quote from The BBC news website:“The home secretary has not sought to instruct judges to stop imposing sentences of imprisonment.” It is simply not good enough. Interestingly, Lord Phillips is reported as saying “There is well and long established authority of the Court of Appeal that in such circumstances it is appropriate for the judge to have regard to prison overcrowding.”

Interestingly, a retired judge, Keith Matthewman (who does not share the view or opinion epressed by the Chief Justice) supports our view that the judiciary should have absolutely no regard to the administrative incompetence of the Home Office when considering sentences – and we approve his sentiments as reported today by the BBC – which I quote: “I don’t know any judge in this country who’s ever heard of this being said, that this is something that you take into consideration when you pass sentence,” he said. “You can’t take it into consideration. You’ve got to pass sentence on the crime.”

Our members need to know, when they engage in activity likely to result in a custodial sentence, if they are caught, that the full rigour of the law will be applied. It is simply not acceptable to us to be told by a judge that we cannot be imprisoned because there are no places left in British prisons. There is little point in our members engaging in criminal conduct if we are to be told that there is no risk. We may as well stay at home and watch Strictly Come Dancing or, in the case of our unemployed members, get jobs. Where would we be then?

No… we support the views of those judges who intend to disregard the advice given by the home secretary and we shall certainly be doing our best to find out where these more robust judges sit to ensure that our members are able to engage in criminality in a proper way; knowing that there are still parts of the country where it is worth doing so. I mean…. look at what happened with the looters of that ship which went aground in Devon. It was pathetic. No risk at all…. what pleasure is there in riding a BMW bike looted off a beach when the police wave you through. And as for those hoodies knicking nappies…. they should be ashamed of themselves. Only two AHA members were spotted on that beach and both have been expelled from the Association. ”

It was a surreal meeting and quite unexpected. I left Hamish – who took a call from a counterpart in France to arrange a trip to France next week so that English AHA members could test their skills against the French Police and Judicial system. Hamish told me ‘At least in France they have plenty of space in their prisons and their CRS boys really know how to give us a run for our money.”

***

Good to see that ASBOs are still in use… this report, but three hours old as I type… I’m only surprised that they weren’t deported for playing ‘Roy Orbison’…but there we are.

Plymouth couple, 68, handed ASBO warning for playing Roy Orbison too loud

If you don’t currently have an ASBO this government website gives some good advice on how to get one

 

F**kArt: I thought it was time for a few Twitter Commandments and…“There’s a plot…let’s go and lose it!”

The Ten Twitter Commandments
Charon 2009

Back later…quite possibly with some LAW even… etc etc… a fine sunny evening…perfect weather for some Smokedo

I unashamedly modify my friend The Fat Bigot Opines’ “There’s a goat, let’s scape it”.. for the title of my latest post.  It seems that I may be losing the plot.

This was my view some years ago when I first wrote this post…I am ‘cured’ now…I think?

Many years ago, until I was about 35, I was fairly fit.  A couple of years ago I had an unpleasant illness which I survived and,  fed up with the advice of doctors and pills,  I decided three weeks ago to dispense with both and  that loads of fruit, vegetables and a lot of strength training was needed.  So… I developed a taste for doing press ups while taking a cigarette outside on the top floor of a building.  This graduated to push ups, squats, calf lifts, abs and with a 5Kg dumbell purchased a week ago,  the repertoire increased to all the things one can do smokedo18jun7with a dumbell.  There are dangers with Smokedo.  The picture to the left demonstrates that excessive use of weights while smoking can cause the outer skin to fall off. A Doctor of Law friend of mine told me that he was very concerned about this – so gave up weight training while smoking.  My muscles grew, the fat started to burn off and now… I have two 20kg dumbells…delivered this very morning by Mr Amazon who was not happy about lugging 100lbs worth of weights up several flights of stairs.   He muttered about lifts when he arrived at my door.  I smiled and said that the lack of a lift (or elevator for my american friends) was a bore, thanked him and waved goodbye.  He looked a bit pale.

I am a 30aday Dan…  so each time I smoke, alternating days for upper body and lower body, I do  sets of eight to ten  exercises with reps varying from 20-50 depending on the exercise.

I noticed that my stomach was getting bigger.  The thought dawned on me that I should burn off the fat on the waist before doing abdominal crunches! So that is what I shall do.

Unfortunately, gentlemen drinkers will know that men put weight on around their gut and it is the last fat to get burned off.  Gentlemen drinkers will only know this, of course, if they have a taste for exercise.  Not all do. I do not exclude women, of course, but I am advised by a very fit woman friend of mine that with women the thighs and the bum is the most difficult to keep under control.  This conjured up images in my mind which I shall not dwell on in this serious law blog.

I have also noticed that I appear to have started walking like an australopithicene.  I am told that when the muscles get used to the assault I am putting them through I shall start to walk normally again provided I don’t overdo the thigh exercises. I won’t.

I have a rowing machine arriving – a cheap one – to get a bit of cardio done and I’m toying with the idea of getting a bike so that I can exercise and smoke as I go to interesting places on the bike… or even to collect my supplies of cigarettes.  As I  am now a wine reviewer,  and I am receiving a fair number of bottles to review,  I am in excellent spirits… so… I am going for the burn… possibly, literally…
I no longer drink.  I continue to do Smokedo

Could This Be The End of Employment Tribunal Fees?

Could This Be The End of Employment Tribunal Fees?

Since July 2013 UK employees have been expected to pay fees for employment tribunal cases, with costs dependent upon the complexity of each case.

This policy was introduced because of an influx of claims that had little hope of winning. It was believed that many of these cases involved exaggerated or completely false claims that were initiated without regard for the tribunal costs they would incur, largely due to   employees not having to worry about paying the amount themselves.

Sure enough, after the fee system was established two years ago the number of claims taking place at the London central employment tribunal experienced a clear drop. But while this change certainly filtered out many spurious cases, legal experts have argued that it has also caused employees with genuine grievances not to seek justice for the treatment they’ve suffered due to concern over the payment of fees.

Former business secretary Vince Cable promised a review of the system last year, which has now finally been undertaken. Such an assessment will examine the volume of cases over the past two years and whether workers have been negatively affected by the fees.

This review will also explore whether changes to employment law has had an effect on the volume of claims, as well as assessing if social change and economic improvement has affected tribunal actions.

Challenges from Unison

The system of tribunal fees has long been criticised by legal organisations, with none more vocal than Unison, which in February 2014 proposed the new legislation be reviewed. The High Court rejected this challenge on the grounds that insufficient time had passed during the seven months the fees had been in place, thereby rendering a fair review not possible.

Unison made a second effort at challenging the fees system in December 2014, and this  time the organisation provided statistical data showing how vulnerable groups are being discouraged from taking legal action against employers. The High Court again ruled against Unsion who then took their case to the Court of Appeal. A second hearing will be heard later this month.

Earlier this year it was claimed that there had been a 70% drop in employment tribunal cases since the introduction of fees in 2013. Such a dramatic drop suggests it very likely that authentic cases are getting discouraged by fees that are just too high, even if such charges filter out a number of falsified claims.

Will the fees be overturned at the second hearing later this month?

Incognito on Twitter? Now you can be incognito when you walk down the high street

If you are ‘incognito’ on twitter – and even if you aren’t – now you can be as you walk down the street – here is a finely crafted Venetian Carnival mask made by a famous geezer whose name I have now forgotten.  The shop told me when I bought it 25+ years ago.  Works for me as I wander and wonder down the high street…no-one has a clue that it is me behind the mask.  True story…(?)

I have two.  I can sell one or two at £25 each+ postage  Email me or DM on Twitter if you would like it.

Barristerman high on Lucozade with stopped cheque from law publisher in payment for advert

Barristerman high on Lucozade with stopped cheque from law publisher in payment for advert
£10

The cheque is from a legal publisher who stopped the cheque after agreeing to place an advert – a most unusual breach of contract?  Amused me, though – so I thought I would stick it on a painting along with an expired bank card and a Lucozade bottle and sell it….

If you would like to buy  please email me 

Rive Gauche: A great cartoon from 2008 on human rights, six glasses of water and other matters…

As ever…cartoonist Peter Brookes sums it up nicely…

And this…

And then there was this…

And Lord Shagger always had a view back in the day…

“After my decision to resign my seat in the Lords, following an entirely misguided change in the law (no doubt introduced by sundry tree huggers and hand wringers in the Lib-Dem part of the new government) I am no longer able to play my part, nay divine right, in governing unless if I pay United Kingdom taxes.  Democracy is a curious concept enabling a large number of people who have absolutely no idea what is going on – many do not even read newspapers, let alone party manifestos – to have a say in who governs this country at general elections.  I suspect that AV or worse, PR, will make the situation worse.  Many people in the far reaches of the United Kingdom have only just mastered the idea that one puts an ‘X’ in the box adjacent to the candidate of choice to cast one’s vote.  How these people will manage with anything more complex is anyone’s guess. But there you are.  I digress.

Charon has been kind enough to make space on his blawg from time to time to allow me to report on my views as to the The State of the Nation.For this I am grateful.    Let me say at once that I am preparing an action under the Human Rights Act claiming that  exiling those of us who wish to spend more time with our money is a ‘cruel and unusual punishment’. Not  mentioning names, of course, but some of my fellow British tax avoiders out here really are beyond the pale and some look as if they would be more comfortable being fugitives from justice in Marbella or some other chavved up part of sunny Spain.  But, noblesse oblige:  I bear my trials, vicissitudes and tribulations in the manner of a stoic.

Governance is a very serious matter so it gives me great pleasure to readA Kent MP has apologised for being drunk in the House of Commons and missing a vote on the Budget”. Mark Reckless said he did not feel it was appropriate to take part in the vote in the early hours of Wednesday because of the amount he had drunk, according to the BBC.  For the life of me I just cannot see why inebriation, be it Reckless’s,  reckless or intentional, extreme or mild, should be a bar to exercising one’s vision and wisdom as a decision in a vote.   ”

And this…

It is entirely possible that I will find some law to write about later in the day… until then…have a good one…

And if you would like to advertise on the blog – my rates are not expensive – please email me or send a DM on twitter

Clare Rodway’s ‘The Conversation’

Clare Rodway, of Kysen PR,  writes an excellent blog where she engages in conversation with those in the legal world and writes the conversations up.

Here is a taste…
Many firms like to say they “do things differently” but how many are as brave as Keystone Law? I recently had the pleasure of lunch with Kristina Oliver. We hadn’t caught up properly since working together at Cripps over 10 years ago, (apart from brief chats bumping in to one another at legal awards ceremonies over the years). What a delight!

Back in 2003, Kristina was in her first legal marketing role, but already you could see she was going places. 10+ years on and her pedigree is impressive. Keystone Law is her fourth law firm role and the list of her awards nominations and wins is outstanding (Legal Marketing Team of the Year, Best Use of Thought Leadership, Marketing Campaign of the Year… it goes on and on…) And she hasn’t been putting her feet up outside of work either: in her spare time (yes – this woman wins awards in her day job and still has spare time!) she set up and ran her own business, organising events in Ibiza for the dedicated clubbing community and putting out dance CDs that topped the clubbing charts. Hard Dance Ibiza was so successful, particularly in its deft use of social media to promote its events and products, that a major tour operator (Thomas Cook, no less) hired her to bring their own social media marketing up to scratch. I told you she was impressive.
Now, you wouldn’t think these two very different strands of professional services and extreme clubbing would be that complementary would you?….

Rive Gauche: A look back in time – a few points on my blog from October 2008

There was an interesting leader in the Times this morning suggesting that Russian oligarchs need to raise $120 billion to enable them to meet margin calls.  Putin, in all but name president of Russia, The Times suggests, is waiting in the wings to offer aid and, thereby, bring back under state control assets sold off in the early days of Russian capitalism.

Interesting…. and I haven’t seen quite as many Russians wandering about as usual.  Mind you, it used to be easy to recognise them…  but since they have given up dressing in the dark it has become more difficult to spot them.

It is the old story… you wait for a story about an oligarch and then they come in in threes…. George Osborne is in the news.  The Times ran the headline “The Tories, the oligarch and a £50,000 question.”

Guido Fawkes writes:Mandelson’s ability to get Nathan Rothschild, a Tory donor, to counter-attack Osborne over the “pouring poison” line is widely seen as a tribute to his powers of persuasion.”

Osborne at Bay…The Guardian – we shall see what happens when The Times reports tomorrow?

An interesting post from The Spy Blog….“Home Secretary Jacqui Smith – EU G6 plus USA Ministers discussing “remote searches of computer hard drives.”

Spyblogs states:“This United Kingdom based blog attempts to draw public attention to, and comments on, some of the current trends in ever cheaper and more widespread surveillance technology being deployed to satisfy the rapacious demand by state and corporate bureaucracies and criminals for your private details, and the technological ignorance of our politicians and civil servants who frame our legal systems.”

You may also be interested in Spy Blog’s Freedom of Information website – interesting reading.

I have just read Mervyn King’s assessment for Britain as we head into recession. He talks of a Long March which, inevitably, conjured up in my febrile mind at least, images of the The Great Protector leading us…. I may have overdone the juice for a Tuesday night. The Times reports:“Mervyn King admitted for the first time that “it now seems likely that the economy is entering a recession”. He steeled struggling families and firms for a protracted stretch of tough times.

“We now face a long, slow haul to restore lending to the real economy, and hence growth of our economy, to more normal conditions,” he said.

He warned that a harsh squeeze on take-home pay, soaring living costs, and scarce access to loans for consumers, “poses the risk of a sharp and prolonged slowdown…”

And then there was this…

The Times: Dinghy sailors and canoeists to be subject to shipping laws….

I shall not be taking a holiday this year (I wrote in 2008).  This is not unusual.  I have not had a holiday for five years – and it suits me.  Drinking a hot black coffee with my toast and marmalade at 5.30 this morning,  as the gulls flew in, I wondered where the middle classes would be holidaying this year and, in particular how Her Majesty’s judges do holidays.  I cannot for one moment picture a High Court judge dancing in a foam filled nightclub dance floor  in Ibiza or running amok in Magaluf – so where do they go?  I shall return to this shortly.

In these credit-crunched times the middle classes are developing a taste for ‘Staycations’.  So instead of pouring into Tuscany en masse in their linen jackets and Panama hats, they are staying at home.  Those with young lager lout offspring may well piss off to Cornwall so that Harry from Stowe, Jack from Eton and Thomasina from St Paul’s can take recreational drugs and ‘hang out’.  Others may head for Wales, The Lake District or Scotland for something more spartan and ‘uplifting’.

I have this image in my mind of a High Court judge on holiday with his wife. He is used to presiding,  so I imagine him sitting in splendid isolation on his side of the table – in the centre; his wife positioned opposite like counsel. The waiter has just delivered the skeleton argument containing details of the meal.  The judge asks his wife to put her submissions on what points she is likely to take in terms of the food set out in the schedule. The judge listens patiently, nodding approvingly when his wife makes a particularly interesting selection, calls the waiter as an expert witness to clarify some particularly troublesome evidence in French,  and satisfied with the veracity of the evidence,  places his papers on the table, turns to the waiter and gives judgment. The judge speaks slowly to ensure that the order is reported accurately to Chef in the kitchens.

I haven’t had swine flu yet despite the fact the pandemic is currently sweeping across Britain,  causing further problems for British holiday makers who are being touched up and screened by French Immigration and Health officials (apparently).  It is curious how the French over react to everything and then make a complete hash of things – but they do do making a hash of things with style and elegance… Trafalgar, Waterloo, Maginot Line etc…

And then…

And here is that wonderful song from Cabaret!…just to get you in ze mood.

And here are some lyrics…slightly adapted…natch!

Tomorrow belongs to me

The sun on the meadow is summery warm
The stag in the forest runs free
But gathered together to greet the storm
Tomorrow belongs to me

The logo for the Tories is leafy and green
Ashcroft gives his gold to the party
But somewhere a Tory awaits unseen
Tomorrow belongs to me

Now Fatherland, Fatherland, show us the sign
Your faithful have waited to see
The election will come
When the world is mine
Tomorrow belongs to me
Tomorrow belongs to me
Tomorrow belongs to me
Tomorrow belongs to me

***

Paul Mendelle QC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said today in The Times that there are not too many barristers, there are too many laws and that Jack Straw’s plan to cut legal aid by 18% would lead to members of the Criminal bar earning less than a car mechanic. He went on to say that unless barristers are paid more we are going to end up with a second tier service and injustice – which will cost a lot more in the long term. His letter, as one would expect from an advocate, is tightly drawn and makes a number of ‘politically persuasive’ points.  It is worth reading.

***

And, to end this look back in time… I remember sitting in a Bar near Chancery Lane reading a newspaper and enjoying a glass of Rioja.  Two noisy over-refreshed male barristers were drinking together at the table nearby.  They were looking at an attractive young woman.  One remarked – “I’ve got the mens rea..and now I need to see if I can do the actus reus with her. They both laughed at their brilliance.

 

 

Rive Gauche: Back in October 2008 I went up to The King’s Road in Chelsea for a coffee

Like many, I have met some amusing and interesting people on my time .  These meetings can often be quite ‘random’ to use a modern term.  Below I illustrate the ‘genre of meeting randoms’.

On a day back in October 2008 when Nat Rothschild told Osborne not to mess with him any further, on a day when all seems to have gone mysteriously quiet on the Osborne story – The Guardian has a great story about George Osborne’s boorish behaviour on holiday this summer in Greece.  It is worth a read for a viewpoint on how the educated, apparently well mannered, Englishman with aspirations to high office behaves.  Candida Jones has the story (My thanks to Ro for tipping me off.)

Maybe it is the end of the story – we shall see.  Certainly, I think the prime minister needs to brush up on his constitutional and administrative law if he is to suggest any more *investigations*.

Anyway… moving on to another episode from 2008…..

I went up to The King’s Road for a coffee after a meeting this afternoon.  I sat outside the cafe so that I could smoke and read my newspaper in peace without the usual background chatter of builders and scaffolders shouting at each other…”Hey, Dave… bleeding hell… have you seen this effing…” etc etc.

The coffee arrived… black and piping hot…. all was good.  I had The Independent open in front of me. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a chap, mid to late fifties, suited and wearing a hat, staggering slightly towards me.

“Good afternoon… fine day is it not?”

I looked up and replied “It is a fine day… good to see the sun out.”

“What!”

“I said it is good to see the sun out.”

“You read The Sun?”

“No… I said”… pointing to the sky.. “It is good to see the sun is out… shining… in the sky.”

The gentleman looked up and then looked back at me.  By this stage he was standing right opposite my table.  He was mildly over refreshed.

“I’ve had a bit of a lunch. May have overdone it.  Don’t tell the wife.”

I sat back in my chair. Always good to see a gentleman mid-afternoon exercising his liver. He was tapping his nose.

“You don’t know my wife do you?”

“I don’t know your wife, No.” I replied.  It was true and seemed to be a sensible thing to say.  The gentleman smiled in the mysterious way seriously pissed people do when they are  having conversations with themselves.

“Ah… you are reading a newspaper…. bit late for a morning paper isn’t it?”

I tried to explain that I had read two newspapers earlier in the day but… to no avail.

“Always like to get my reading of newspapers out of the way before 9.00.  Sets me up for the rest of the day.”

I smiled.  I had decided that this particular gentlemen did not need to be encouraged.

“Do they serve gin and tonic here?”

“They serve alcohol, but you have to eat?”

“I have to eat? Why do I have to eat?  I’m not hungry.  I just want a G&T.”

“This is a licensed cafe…. it is policy…. you have to have a meal with alcohol.”

“Bloody ridiculous… I shall find somewhere more sensible.  Good to talk…”

The man shuffled off….  I have no doubt at all that he found a Gin and tonic.  I made a mental note to myself to avoid making eye contact with suited gentlemen wearing hats mid-afternoon.

 

Rive Gauche: You wouldn’t want him at your wedding, would you? Fights would break out

Many things make me laugh – and some out loud to a point where people start staring at me wondering if I am a nutter… This excellent post by Hugo Rifkind in The Times in 2008… gets my “Piece of the week award”…

Hugo Rifkind, The Times – 24th October 2008

He’s Back

“Remarkable how British politics has changed in the few short weeks since Peter Mandelson crawled back out from under his Euro-rock.  You wouldn’t want him at your wedding, would you?  Fights would break out. The marquee would fall down and the bride would punch you in the mouth.  Mandelson would just sit there, radiating evil and cologne, placidly showing you his teeth.  He’s the opposite of King Midas.  Everything he touches turns to dirt.

I doubt that he can be blamed for whatever George Osborne may or may not have done in Corfu, and it probably sounds a bit odd to blame him for us all knowing about it.  But the tone of everything has suddenly changed.  It’s him, all him, all him. The man is like sugar in an engine.  His influence is so malign.  I wish that he’d stayed away.”

Excellent…. as it happens, I find politics all the more interesting for Mandelson being back.  Just waiting to see, as others are, what he will be resigning for next time….

I rather liked this device: a necklace to attach a wine glass to – keeping it close at hand while one does other things with the hands.  I may have to get one….for my lucozade as I have retired from ‘toping’

On that note… I shall return to my real work….

 

I have been driven to write about law and the profession…or, There’s a plot, let’s go and lose it

Colourful language…

Reading the Legal Week Editor’s blog back in 2007 ago I came across a story about the election of the new Slaughter & May managing partner. For those interested in such matters – see the Legal Week story in full – this quote gives the flavour:

“As numerous law firm elections have shown, there’s always something to be said for being an unknown quantity. Less time to make enemies, less time to get on the wrong side of corporate and less baggage – that most dangerous accessory for any prospective managing partner.”

I was more interested in this pithy comment:

“Or as one Slaughter and May partner colourfully puts it: “Hidden away in Asia, no-one would know if you’re a shit or not.”

I quite enjoy looking at what caught my attention back in the day.  This from 2007 did catch my attention

Giant penis etched into school garden with weedkiller can be seen from space. Sky has the story: “The unnamed pair of Year 11 pupils from Bellemoor School for Boys in Southampton, Hampshire, burnt the 20ft phallus into the grass as an end of term joke two years ago.”

Eye on the ball…

A Police officer, who was supposed to be guarding a wall damaged in the recent storms, was photographed by a passer-by. The officer was sitting in his vehicle playing a football game on a play station. The Metropolitan Police said: “The use of the games console was inappropriate and unprofessional. Senior officers are dealing with the matter.” The Sun has the story and a pic.

And this…

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day.
“In English,” he said, “A double negative forms a positive.
In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative
is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a
double positive can form a negative.”

A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”

One for drafting ‘aficionados’…Punctuation is useful
Notice the effect of the following Dear John love letter with different punctuation:

Dear John
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful.
People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever
when we’re apart. I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours?

Gloria

Dear John
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful
people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever.
When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?

yours,
Gloria

And then there was this from 28th January 2007

I was amused to find that a blog linking to mine has a description of my blog. When the cursor rolls over the Charon QC link in the blogroll – up pops the tab: “Think Rumpole on crack.” 

***

Allow me to introduce you to Mr Justice X.  He has retired, of course – but he is still thinking, still watching and still has JUDGMENT.

I met Mr Justice X some time ago in the most curious circumstances.  I happened to be having a drink down at El Vino’s in Fleet Street, sitting at the back.  The “Ties Mandatory” rule had gone, and ladies, of course, had been allowed through the hallowed portal.  As it happens, I was wearing a tie…  a drinking society tie… rather exclusive.  I was reading The Times Law section, naturally, when they did a proper law section on Tuesdays.

“Anyone sitting there?”  I heard this deep sonorous voice.  The voice appeared to come from above.  I turned to find the craggy features of a gentleman wearing a pinstripe suit, stiff collar, silk tie.  His black Church’s brogues were over thirty years old but were highly polished.  He had a white handkerchief folded in his top pocket.  A distinguished gentleman.

“No… please do sit down”  I replied.

“What are you drinking?” the gentleman asked.

“A Rioja.”

“What?”

“A Rioja.”

“Good grief… Bourbon wine… very well.”

He got up, walked over to the bar and returned with a bottle of Rioja and two glasses.  I was both delighted and baffled when he poured both glasses.  I enjoy a drink, but I tend not to set one up in advance as a spare.

The gentleman pushed the glass towards me…  “To the King of bloody Spain!” and drained half the glass.  It was then I realised that the second glass was for me.  I picked my glass up, made a circular motion with the glass, and said “To the King across the water… Jacobus.”

The gentleman laughed “You’re a Scot.  Don’t sound like one.  Sound like a bloody news reader… are you a news reader?”

“No, I am not a news reader… I am a blogger… Charon QC.”

“You are a QC?”

“No.. I’m a blogger.  I gave myself silk when The Lord Chancellor stopped dishing them out a few years ago.”

“Excellent… good idea.” the gentleman said, laughing and draining the remainder of the wine from his glass.  “Drink up… we have much to talk about and, I notice from your tie, that you are a Toper.”  With that my drinking companion, as I now viewed him, poured the rest of the bottle into my glass and then his.

“I was a judge many years ago… Henry is the name I use now.  High Court.  Too stupid and too difficult and too often appealed to get any further.  I keep up of course by reading the odd bit of gossip… been looking at all this talk of wigs and gowns… ridiculous, really…. but as my old friend Lord Donaldson said years ago… ” I cannot see the point now of discarding something which has been out of date for at least a century.”

And that is how I met Mr Justice X  … Henry, as he likes to be known, is going to be an occasional columnist.  I have absolutely no idea what he is going to write about.  He promises to write only after a few glasses but may shoehorn in a bit of law. A kindred spirit.

 

Muttley Dastardly LLP: Credit-crunch is for wimps….2007

Matt Dastardly, managing partner of leading City boutique law firm Muttley Dastardly LLP, is working late in his office in the City. His PA, Eva Braun, has chosen an elegant pair of Charles Jourdan high heeled shoes for the meeting this evening and is, as always, dressed in a well cut black skirt suit.

***

“So… I see from The Lawyer that yet more law firms are re-structuring, declaring redundancies and ditching cost centre oriented associates and partners and that there is the usual journo guff about law firm mergers.?”

Eva Braun looked at her notepad and said briskly “Yeah…. Clarke Willmott Chief executive David Sedgwick said in The Lawyer today“These steps are being taken in direct response to lower demand for legal services being felt by all firms at the moment and we don’t take them lightly.” Apparently they are juicing 40 fee earners and support earners.”

“Usual commercial prop or is it wider?” Muttley asked, his eyes flicking between three computer screens on his desk and the bank of CCTV monitors on the wall to his right.

“Wider.” Eva Braun replied “Although the CEO went on to say ‘The numbers of people affected by this programme represent a very small proportion of the firm, and our priority must be to safeguard the long-term interests of Clarke Willmott.’

Matt Muttley sat back in his chair, laughed and said “Hey… at least the guy understands the need to protect the firm.  How many associates are we saying “Ciao” to this week?”

“Two who didn’t make the cut at last review and one guy you felt was not made of the ‘right stuff’ because he was critical of The Bullingdon Club.”

“Ah… yeah… I listened in on one of his calls to a client…. for training purposes, of course, and heard him say that he thought that the guys in the Osborne Bullingdon Clubphoto were all tossers.  Well I’m sorry, Eva…. six of the eight senior partners on our special executive board are members, as indeed was I, so….. if we’re not good enough for him… he can bugger off and work elsewhere. I’ve half a mind to trash his room with Dastardly later.”

“Yet another of your good ideas, Matt….. save it for your next trip to Corfu…. we don’t need the publicity”

Muttley laughed, lit a cuban cigar, downed a shot of ice cold Absolut vodka and said “Cameron was a member of the club you know. No idea whether he did the drugs.  He never comments on his  post Eton spliffing days…. but, in any event, The Bullingdon didn’t really approve of cannabis and other happy drugs… interfered with the desire of the chaps to trash restaurants….. so not ‘de rigeur’.”

“So… Matt.. how do you think we are shaping up with the credit-crunch?”

“Good, Eva…. good.  We’re picking up CDS stuff, good quality Lehman fallout, a high level of good quality insolvency work, our banking partners are working their associates into the ground….. and we got out of property and low end private client work some time ago.  Need to build up litigation for a few years… but some good lateral hires coming out of New York… so no problem.”

Matt tapped the keyboard for the computer screen on the right, read intently and said “Eva…. this is is great…. Law Schools are being flooded with bankers… and finance people re-qualifying.  Didn’t Dr Strangelove tell us that law schools could be in trouble in the next few years… doesn’t look like it from this.”

“The crazy Dr did say that and he’s right…. this is just the GDL, Matt… the BVC is a different matter altogether… and there is no way the profession can sustain present levels of recruitment in the short to medium term…. so  young lawyers are going to be flipping burgers again soon.”

“Excellent” Muttley shouted…. “Bloody marvellous….. maybe we should look at setting up a law school  ourselves? Some law schools are raking it in.”

“No, Matt… that is another of your not so good ideas…. I’ve already called several law schools to look at their pricing structures.  They seem a bit high to me….. buyer’s market now…. we pay the piper, so they can play our tune… and our tune is “Birdie, birdie, Cheap cheap.”

“Jesus… Eva… you are right.  We should make you a partner.”

“I am a partner, Matt. I do banking work here and that includes our banking. I know every detail of the finances here, as do you.”

” Eva…. only joking…”

“We understand one another, then…” Eva said with an amused smile

“We do.  Fancy dinner in The City…somewhere exuding style, sophistication and dribblingly delicious concoctions?  See if anyone is jumping tonight?”

Enough for this post…back later…ineluctably…

PSDon’t hesitate to disturb me…if you would like to have an advert on my blog for £10 for the year…. I enjoy being disturbed in this way. Send a DM on Twitter or email me if you would like an advert slot, surreal or sensible, as you wish . (I can help with artwork if you need it)

Guest Post: Where has my data gone?

Where has my data gone?
By Danny Killeen, Founder of SproutIT
DannyKilleen.pdf

e are many challenges in keeping track of data for barristers.  Firstly, you are free (quite rightly) to manage your electronic content in the way that you see fit.  Secondly, you often store personal content – files, personal email, pictures, music – on the same portable or desktop device that you use for day to day running of your practice.  In data security we assign content to a category and appropriately protect those categories that are of the highest risk to the business in terms of reputation, compliance and confidentiality.  All data is important, but we must take additional measures to protect the data most precious to us.

This is easier to achieve in an environment which has controls in place to limit the distribution of specific categories of data through mechanisms such as DLP (Data Leakage Prevention) and ADRMS (Active Directory Rights Management Service). In a “Bring Your Own Device” environment, what is the best way to track data and indeed, is it at all possible to do so in a cost effective, hassle free way?  Remember, it is not always the bad guys that take our data, often the biggest risks are internal.  Consider the multitude of ways that data can leave a typical organisation – USB stick, email, personal email, mobile phone, online file sharing, printing.  Believe me, the list goes on.  We can and do address all of these risks.

As we are thinking about risk, I thought I will use myself as an example to highlight some of the potential problems.  Like you, I routinely access content from devices which I both own myself, are owned by the business and less frequently, that I do not own nor have any control over.  So, where has my data gone and should I be concerned?

I have a home laptop which I share with my wife, two unencrypted USB sticks, and the content of a hard disk drive that I removed from an old home PC before it was disposed of.  I have an old iPhone, an online backup of our laptop and my personal email account.  I expect you will all have as many storage devices as I do, even if you can’t quite recall where they are.

I would like to say that I only found personal content in these various locations, but the fact is I did find two tender proposals dating back several years.  The iPhone had already been wiped (or if it was not, would have wiped itself had I entered the incorrect PIN 8 times, you can do the same).  The USB sticks only stored copies of a paper my wife is writing and the online backup replicates only our laptop, not the old PC drive where I found the proposals.

Is it really surprising that the “IT guy” keeps most of his business content separate to his personal?  Even though I do, where on earth is that personal content (think cameras, SD data cards, basic old Nokia phone, backup USB drives, iCloud Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox and the like).

Personal data can be just as significant a risk to our reputation or indeed privacy as would be a compromise of professional data that is not in the public domain.  Naked children enjoying a splash about in the paddling pool on a hot day, or a late night out with friends might both result in pictures that hold certain value to a proportion of our society, however small that proportion may be. If that content is immediately replicated to multiple locations via a backup or a data replication service, where does it now reside, how is it secured and who has access to it?  More worryingly, what if your professional data resides alongside it.

At this point, I expect most of you who use Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud and similar services will shrug your shoulders and admit that you don’t know where the replicated content resides.  Such is the simplicity of cloud services it matters little, until, of course, it all goes horribly wrong.

Imagine this scenario.  Remote access to Chambers X is painfully slow and often disconnects.  Barrister X therefore saves his documents to his laptop and has set up the automatic forwarding of chambers email to his Hotmail.  Some of his peers are using Dropbox (a great product by the way, not for barristers though!) so he has installed it on his laptop, home PC, iPad (though this usually sits on the coffee table at home) and on his Android phone.  Sometimes, if he is in a rush, he will save whatever he needs on a USB stick as a failsafe.  Immediately, we have significant risk as although his chambers laptop and Android phone are encrypted, the iPad, home PC and USB stick are not.  Furthermore, the iPad and home PC, being shared devices, don’t even have a password.  Forget the fact that all the Dropbox content is replicated to the United States. His Hotmail password is “password123”, his friend’s computer that he used to access his chambers webmail was infected with a keylogger virus that by virtue of having no two factor authentication in place for chambers’ remote access means, that the miscreant who installed it, now has the username and password required to access his chambers email, files, diary and shared drives.

It all snowballs rather quickly and there is a strong case for not using USB sticks and drives for storage of client data.  In fact, aside from the two I found at home, I don’t have a use for portable storage as my business data remains in a central location that I access securely using two-factor authentication.  The content that I do want to take with me is synchronised (and encrypted) using a secure file replication service and those devices that contain replicated content can be remotely wiped as they are centrally managed.

I agree that all this technology sounds rather tedious.  All you really want to do is get on with your day job, work from wherever you chose and be safe.  What do you have to do to achieve this?  1) Give up some of your freedom; I know this is not an attractive suggestion, we work daily with barristers and know this is a lot to ask. 2) Standardise the set of products that you and your peers use to share and access data. 3) Work to a common security policy. 4) Most importantly, allow your staff and perhaps even yourselves to be educated about the security risks that exist at almost every turn in your digital day.

Oh, and another thing, Barrister X just had his Twitter feed hijacked as a password reset request was sent to his compromised Hotmail account.

Cloud data storage and file sharing services are now common place.  Their evolution and that of other cloud services are changing the IT landscape, I believe, on a whole, for the better.  However, we must all be careful that any selected service meets all of our requirements.  For barristers, that most often means data not leaving the EU, and for those that use CJSM, not leaving the UK.  Dropbox is not the solution as the content is stored in the United States.  Same can be said for Microsoft OneDrive and iCloud.

In the Bar Council guide “Guidelines on Information Security”, 16.1, they recommend, “Passwords used to access computers or encrypted data should be sufficiently memorable that you can avoid writing them down, but not obvious or easily guessed. Optimally, they should be at least 9 characters long and contain three out of the four types of keyboard character (upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols – by way of example only – bArr!sTer)”.  We have occasionally met with resistance from a minority of members (less than 1%) to this recommendation and that of changing passwords every 90 days (as the CJSM contract sets out).  The reason for updating passwords is to limit the time of exposure brought about by a compromised password.  The password length is more important than you may realise, the longer the better – this is what defeats the password crackers.

Remember, if it was not thought prudent to do so, IT companies and support staff would not recommend password changes as it generates calls to the Service Desk, especially after holidays.  That headache can be managed in a number of ways, including a self-service portal for members and staff.

To summarise, this is not the end of your professional freedom, being dictated to by an IT company.  Simply an acknowledgement, and a warning, that many of your files and other digital content might have a value to someone other than yourself.  With careful planning, the right technology, a chambers security policy and IT security awareness training you will enjoy simplified mobile and remote working, safe in the knowledge that your precious data is appropriately protected.

***

Danny Killeen, a Legal IT expert, provides secure, innovative and outsourced IT services to the Legal profession.   He is the founder of SproutIT, a specialist in the legal industry and now the leading supplier of IT strategy and service to Barristers’ Chambers.

Rive gauche: Smokedo – Smoke yourself fit with Charon

As I clearly have far too much time on my hands this morning – no clients responding to emails yet, being a Monday – I thought I would share with you a method I employed some years ago to get fit – “Smokedo” – The Way of The Smoker.  I smoked while I exercised. It worked.  I put on a lot of solid muscle and did get fit.  I also managed to cut down on my smoking.  It isn’t easy to do these exercises while smoking.  It requires concentration and perseverance.

The Press Up is relatively straightforward.  As one develops skill and expertise, more complex Smokedo exercises may be practised.  Practice does make perfect.

You will note that the model has developed skill to such a level of expertise that he is able to smoke, cling onto a pole and read a newspaper. This exercise is perfect for firm thighs.

While you are probably getting he idea about this exercise programme now – I thought it helpful to include a couple more illustrations to ensure that you do the exercises properly.  We don’t want to trouble our local doctor or Ambulance Service needlessly..or at all?

Advanced practitioners of Smokedo may wish to attempt this complex routine pictured to the right.  If you do need to obtain extra supplies of cigarettes, your local newsagent ought to be able to assist – and there is always Amazon for quick delivery.  I’m not sure if it is possible to buy smoking materials on Ebay.

This final illustration shows how a popular exercise on a rowing machine may be done with elegance and elan.

 

Good luck.  I look forward to welcoming you to the Fellowship of Smokedo – or, in extremis, to visiting you at your local hospital.  I will bring you some grapes.

As they say in some circles…have a good day….. although Dirty Harry used to say “Go on…make my day” did he not?

I shall now take a trip to the High Street for suitable smoking materials and to take the air and sunny ambience.  I shall take a camera with me. If I am really lucky..I may even find some law to write about or laws being broken to photograph for evidential purposes.  One must do what one can to assist the Polis..as we say in Glasgow A piu tarde

Oh..and if you fancy advertising on my blog (1 million + page views) – I’ll be happy to give you an image + link slot for £10 for a year so that I can continue to keep myself supplied with an adequate stock of smoking materials.  I would not wish to lose my 3rd Dan Smokedo ranking. Do, please, email me if you would like an advert for the year for a tenner.

Rive Gauche: Doing a painting… with a geezer wearing a panama hat on a bicycle

Geezer on bike with Panama hat
Acrylic (2015)

Will finish this on the morrow, I hope. Not quite a self portrait  – I rode motorbikes – but painting a Honda Fireblade or Honda Blackbird (my favourite motorbikes – had many) was a bit beyond my skill this weekend and would take waaaay too much time to do.  I did have a blonde wife who enjoyed riding motorbikes back in the day and do wear Panama hats when the mood takes me. Not much more to go and I will resist ‘improving’ it by slashing some paint on with a palette knife! One of my nicknames, when I was a young man who painted, was ‘Risotto’ – painting ready in twenty minutes.

Rive Gauche: A bit of this and even a bit of law about turnip ghosts…

Carl Gardner on his Head of Legal blog: Psychoactive substances: Labour’s February 2015 amendment to the Serious Crime Bill

“Anyone following the progress of the Psychoactive Substances Bill (the general principle of which which be debated on Second Reading in the House of Lords tomorrow) may be interested in this amendment tabled by Labour’s Home Affairs team (as “NC21″) at Report Stage on the Serious Crime Bill earlier this year…..”

John Bolch on Family Lore: It has been an amusing week for me on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, with one of my posts in particular causing quite a stir

The transparency delusion – Why the devotees of transparency are knocking their heads against a brick wall.

The guardian of standards – I.e., the court, as demonstrated in Medway Council v A & Ors (Learning Disability; Foster Placement).

What is the point of the fraud and contempt warnings on Form E? – A question raised in the light of the Sharland and Gohil appeals, being heard by the Supreme Court this week.

Criminal consequences – The remarkable case of Kaur v Randhawa.

 

barrister314june15UK Human Rights Blog: Britain Can Lead the World In Online Privacy – Dr Cian Murphy
“British legal history has long inspired the common law world. The Magna Carta, an 800-year-old agreement between a King and his barons, remains an icon of liberty, seen around the world as the foundation stone of the rule of law. In contrast, British law on online surveillance and privacy has been arcane and obscure – a field that is for reluctant experts if it is for anyone at all.

The law has largely been developed in reaction to external pressure. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 was the result of a series of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 was rushed into law after an EU Court of Justice ruling. This piecemeal approach provides a poor basis for investigatory powers and a worse one for privacy rights.

Momentum towards change has been building……”

***

And David Allen Green on his Jack of Kent blog considers: How do you defeat a Turnip-Ghost?

“The ‘debate’ over human rights law in the United Kingdom can bring to mind two quotes well-known to history students.

The first quote is from the essayist William Hazlitt (though it seems the original comment from Daniel Defoe cannot be traced):

“Defoe says, that there were a hundred thousand stout country-fellows in his time ready to fight to the death against popery, without knowing whether popery was a man or a horse”.

And in the present day, there are a hundred thousand stout country-fellows who are against human rights law, regardless of it being a means of enforcing fundamental rights and freedoms, or a horse.

The second quote, which I have used over in a post at the Financial Times, is from the great historian A.J.P. Taylor:

“Probably Bismarck genuinely believed in the turnip-ghost which he conjured up”.

Here Taylor is describing Bismarck’s response to the small social democratic movement of the 1880s in Germany.  But what hits the spot is that the description conveys both Bismarck’s exaggerated reaction and the sincerity of his fear. Bismarck was not being (consciously) dishonest: he believed there was something of which to be scared.

Those opposed to human rights law, either in general or in its particular manifestation in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Human Rights Act (HRA), have many different motives and attitudes.  That is the same of any issue of political controversy.

But what can be detected in some of the opposition are, first, the “stout country-fellows” who are against the notion of human rights law, whatever it may be, and those who see human rights law as a Turnip-Ghost, something they are actually worried about.

There is nothing which can be usefully done with the “stout country-fellows” but what about those who are honestly unhappy with how human rights law works in practice?  How do you defeat a Turnip-Ghost?….”
Download or read the Leicestershire Law Society magazine here

TV historian David Starkey has sparked outrage after comparing the Scottish National Party to the Nazis.

The Independent: TV historian David Starkey has sparked outrage after comparing the Scottish National Party to the Nazis.

In comments made during an interview with The Sunday Times(£), the 70-year-old claimed the Saltire was like the swastika, and likened the SNP’s view of the English to Adolf Hitler’s hatred of Jewish people.

He said that those who sympathise with the SNP, especially in England, were “incapable of recognising that this is national socialism”, and also noted that Scots who “bare their knees” in kilts recalled the traditional dress of Germany.

SNP MP Kirsten Oswald said David Starkey’s comments were “irresponsible” and “deeply offensive to the Jewish community, the half of the Scottish electorate who voted SNP last month and 60 per cent who currently intend to vote SNP next year”.

“He has become little more than a serial utterer of bile and bilge,” she added.

***

@Thomas pride on Twitter makes a rather important point

It may be that Starkey’s appearances on television have gone to his head?  I am surprised that a man of Starkey’s intelligence and  rigour in his academic work could make such an offensive comment.  Ridiculous posturing.  Fortunately, and I speak as a Scot, we are more than capable of ignoring this idiocy of Starkey’s….for idiocy it is.

Rive Gauche: Over-refreshed groom tries to eat bride’s leg

The Huffington Post reports: “No one will ever begrudge a groom for having a couple of drinks at his own wedding but there’s a limit. Unfortunately no-one told this chap.

He is absolutely bladdered. And his bride is absolutely raging.

Not content with giving a horrifically toe-curling lap dance in full view of everyone in front of his new bride he then sets about trying to eat her leg. Bravo…”

***

It might be best to follow that story with something just as surreal?

Diamond Shark
Charon

I met Damien Hurst many years ago at The Groucho Club in London with an old friend – who was masquerading as a television ‘celeb’ chef at the time.. We were mildly over refreshed.  It was a Saturday night as far as I can recall now. Hurst also studded a skull with diamonds.  It was but a short leap of ‘F*ckart‘ for me to combine the two concepts in one of my ‘paintings’ (Above).  Not surprisingly, I never sold my ‘work’ and still have it!  But there we are. I could be ‘persuaded’ to sell my shark for a tenner.  If you fancy it – send me an email. 

 

A Charon painting for sale – “Let There be Greed” + AGE!

Let There Be Greed (December 2007)
Charon
Oil on canvas. 

If you would like to buy it – £20 + Post. I will also give you a free advert on the blog for a year if you would like one.   Please send me an email and we can take it from there for  delivery

And here is another smaller painting

Age
SOLD

If you would like the Greed painting above for a Send me an email if you are interested or a DM on twitter

Top Tips for First Time Buyers

When buying your first home, you can’t take any chances with the decisions you make, which can make the process seem somewhat daunting. But if you get the right advice from qualified professionals, it needn’t be as stressful as you may have originally anticipated.

To help you get a foot on the property ladder, our team of property experts at Gorvins Solicitors have gathered a few helpful tips that are often overlooked, to make sure you know all of the facts when it comes to buying your first home.

Work out a Reasonable Budget

First things first, look at your finances and work out exactly how much you can afford to invest into a new property. Don’t forget to factor in the added costs of monthly bills and the overall expense of fully furnishing a new house. If it is an older building, there may also be other work that needs to be completed such as redecorating, installing a new boiler or even fixing the roof. One of the most overlooked expenses by first time buyers are stamp duty and conveyancing fees. These can sometimes reach thousands of pounds – but you can work out how much you are likely to pay by using this stamp duty calculator.

Safety in Numbers

No doubt you will look at a few houses before making a decision on which one to buy, but when you do, make sure you take another person with you. It is always helpful to get the opinion of an experienced homebuyer or property investor, such as a parent or colleague. They can stop the experience from becoming too overwhelming and help you to look out for additional factors that you may not have previously considered.  

Bills, Bills, Bills

Once you have worked out your monthly mortgage payments, you need to ensure this ties in with your other outgoings. This includes council tax, utilities, TV license, boiler servicing and if you are in a leasehold property, monthly land maintenance fees. If you are unsure about how much this could add up to, feel free to talk to neighbours with properties of the same size and find out how much they are paying.

Calculate Your New Commute

Sometimes, even moving a few blocks down can dramatically increase your travel costs. Different area codes can mean a difference of hundreds of pounds in car insurance, so check this before you make a decision.

Never underestimate the importance of planning out your new journeys to work, your local supermarket, or even schools. Although the roads may be clear when you’re going to viewings in the week, or on weekends, rush hour traffic could more than double your commute.

The knock on effect of this could not only be additional time, but an additional expense. Where possible, it may work out more cost effective to use public transport and maybe even get you there in half the time.

Check local amenities

Take a stroll around your new neighbourhood and find out where your local amenities are before you make your final decision. Although it may seem like a minor issue, you may regret moving into a home where your local shop is a 45 minute drive away.

Choose the right Conveyancing Solicitor

If you decide to put in an offer and it gets accepted, you then need to start thinking about the conveyancing process, and nominate an experienced solicitor to handle all of the legalities. Conveyancing is the area of law that concerns the process of preparing all of the legal documents that allow you to transfer the home into your name. This is arguably one of the most important parts of moving house; so don’t leave any stone unturned that may jeopardise your big move.

Once these steps have been completed, you’ll be arranging moving vans in no time!

About Gorvins Solicitors

Gorvins Solicitors have been established in the North West for over 150 years. They have helped thousands of clients take their first steps onto the property ladder and would be happy to assist you to do the same. Alongside their other specialities, they have a dedicated property team, who are expertly trained to help you at every stage of the process, offering you friendly and knowledgeable advice. If you would like to find out more information, then please visit www.gorvins.com where you will find a number of helpful resources, including an interactive first time buyers guide.

Obtaining British Citizenship

Obtaining British Citizenship

Since the Conservatives obtained a majority government, everyone is wondering about the upcoming referendum of 2017 on membership of the European Union.

For those EU citizens living here, the prospect of a referendum is unnerving and many are considering their options. If the UK were to leave the EU, what will this mean for EU nationals currently residing in the UK and British expats abroad?

First, let us acknowledge that even David Cameron, the Conservative party leader himself does not think Britain should leave the European Union. The Conservative’s plan is to give British people the chance to make up their own minds about whether to stay or leave. Most people recognise the wealth of economic opportunities available to the UK as a result of being part of the European Union, but there are many others who believe the UK would be better off on its own.

If the UK opted out of the EU, it is quite possible that all EU migrants currently here may have to apply for a visa under the Immigration Rules, or under whatever new provisions the government would put in place to ease the transition out of the EU.

It will be interesting to see what these provisions might be. It could result in huge problems for those working in “low skilled” jobs, those who are married to other EU migrants, and EU nationals as a whole that live in the UK. What visa option would be available to them? Certainly a Spouse or Tier 2 visa would not work.

But what about the other way round? A EU exit could mean needing a visa simply to cross over to France. Let’s face it, applying for visas before travel is not something British citizens find themselves having to do on a regular basis. The UK passport is considered as the most powerful in the world allowing visa-free travel to 173 countries.

Applying for Permanent Residence

As a European citizen, you are deemed to automatically acquire Permanent Residence after completing 5 lawful years in the UK under the European Regulations; the pre-requisite to applying for British Citizenship.

In the past there has been no real need for EU citizens to make an application for Permanent Residence but that could all change. So, what should you do now and what does the process of applying for British Citizenship entail?

Making an application to certify Permanent Residence can be complex and the number of documents required tends to deter people from submitting an application. Yet this could be the only option for some EU migrants to ensure security with regards to their status in the UK. This is more likely to apply to EU migrants who have recently entered the UK and are closer to clocking up 5 years as opposed to 6 years, but it applies to all EU citizens who have lived here for a very long time with the passport of their country of origin, provided they meet the rules and requirements.

A British citizenship application for Permanent Residence is akin to Indefinite Leave to Remain and costs only £65.

This means that there are no restrictions attached to your leave in the UK and you are free to exit and enter as you wish, provided you are not out of the country for more than 2 years at which point Permanent Residence is lost.

Permanent Residence also gives organisations peace of mind when employing European nationals. A document proving you are free from immigration control is far more comforting than a passport without an endorsement. That’s not to say that a document certifying Permanent Residence is mandatory – it isn’t, but it might be the only option in the future.

Naturalising as a British Citizen

Of course, many EU citizens are now asking how to get British Citizenship to obtain the highest level of security and are willing to pay the Home Office fee of £1,005 for the benefit.

Applications for Naturalisation are governed by the British Nationality Act 1981; as such, there are no separate rules for EU and non-EU citizens as regards applying to naturalise as a British citizen.

All applicants have to meet the same requirements regardless of their nationality. The Immigration Rules and European Regulations have no bearing on these applications.

If you are an EU citizen and have been living in the UK for 6 or more years you could be eligible to make an application to be naturalised and acquire British Citizenship.

The application for British citizenship is much the same as for non-EU migrants, but in short:

  • You must have been in the UK for 6 or more years;
  • During your time in the UK, you must have been exercising Treaty Rights e.g. working, self-employed, or a student,for example;
  • You must meet the residence requirements which include an assessment of your absences from the UK and where you intend to live after making the application;
  • You will need to pass the Life in the UK Test;
  • You also need to pass an approved English Language Test – or have an approved degree from /be a national of a majority English speaking country;
  • You must meet the “Good Character” guidance, for example no recent or serious criminal convictions, you must not be bankrupt, or associated with those considered to have “bad character”

All of this also applies to family members of European Union nationals. The very essence of their legal entitlement to stay in the UK depends on their EU family member exercising their rights under the European Regulations. You will need to pass the Life in the UK Test, which can only be booked online at least 7 days in advance. It costs £50 and there are around 60 tests centers in the UK. You don’t have to take the test if you are over 65.

Once you’ve met all the requirements for Naturalisation and obtained your naturalisation certificate, you will then be able to make an application for a British passport. You will no longer find yourself having to prove your residence in the UK on a regular basis to the Home Office – a weight off your shoulder at the very least. Dual citizenship (also known as dual nationality) is allowed in the UK. This means you can be a British citizen and also a citizen of other countries. However, many countries don’t accept dual nationality, so you are encouraged to check the law in your country of origin before you apply.

The truth is we don’t know what will happen after the referendum. All the speculation being generated is focused on an outcome of voting “out” of the EU. It’s not impossible that the British public could vote to stay in the European Union which would mean the panic dies down and EU citizens’ status in the UK will no longer be under threat.

But until then, the one thing we can safely say is that certifying your Permanent Residence or obtaining British citizenship is now something to seriously consider if you hope to continue living in the UK.

DavidsonMorris is a modern legal services provider specialising in immigration law. We support a range of private and commercial clients with expertise in the financial services, petrochemical and education sectors, advising major multi-nationals, FTSE 100 and Global 2000 companies, to help them meet their global mobility needs. We also support private entrepreneurs with Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas.

Prince Philip has overcome health scares and acute embarrassment to make it to the grand age of 94.

The Independent reports:

Prince Philip has overcome health scares and acute embarrassment to make it to the grand age of 94.

On a 2002 visit to Australia, he asked a group of aborigines: “Do you still throw spears at each other?”

Talking to a Scottish driving instructor: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?”

To a British student in China: “If you stay here much longer, you’ll go home with slitty eyes.”

On travelling, said to the Aircraft Research Association: “If you travel as much as we do you appreciate the improvements in aircraft design of less noise and more comfort – provided you don’t travel in something called economy class, which sounds ghastly.”

While inspecting a fuse box: “It looks as though it was put in by an Indian.” He later clarified his comment: “I meant to say cowboys. I just got my cowboys and Indians mixed up.”

Talking to Jeremy Paxman about his role in the Royal family: “Any bloody fool can lay a wreath at the thingamy.”

To Elton John, about his Watford FC-themed Aston Martin: “Oh, it’s you that owns that ghastly car is it? We often see it when driving to Windsor Castle.”

To a wheelchair-bound Susan Edwards, and her guide dog Natalie in 2002: “Do you know they have eating dogs for the anorexic now?”

While officiating at a Hertfordshire University ceremony, 2003: “During the Blitz, a lot of shops had their windows blown in and put up notices saying: ‘More open than usual’. I now declare this place more open than usual.”

To someone who’d just got back from travelling across Papua New Guinea: “You managed not to get eaten then?”

To Simon Kelner, former editor of The Independent, at Windsor Castle: “What are you doing here?” “I was invited, sir.” Philip: “Well, you didn’t have to come.”

 

Good stuff… I rather like the eccentricity and work of the Duke…

Barristerman high on Lucozade with stopped cheque from law publisher in payment for advert

Barristerman high on Lucozade with stopped cheque from law publisher in payment for advert
£10

The cheque is from a legal publisher who stopped the cheque after agreeing to place an advert – a most unusual breach of contract?  Amused me, though – so I thought I would stick it on a painting along with an expired bank card and a Lucozade bottle and sell it….

If you would like to buy  please email me 

 

A Charon SALE special…

I am returning to my homeland, Scotland, soon.  Before I go, I am selling a few items – paintings, furniture and even a Venetian flag on a bamboo pole.

The items for sale are pictured below. (And if you do buy any item you may have a graphic ad+ link on my blog for a year for free!)  Please get in touch by email if you would like to buy.  I am open to offers.

sunflowers

Sun Flowers by MR Langley
£50

 

Venice flag on bamboo pole
SOLD


Antique wooden papers holder
£50

Pottery Barrister

£20

Unfortunately, there is a small chip in the base – hence the very low price – but it is, nevertheless, a fine piece

Venetian Carnival masks
£40 the pair

Roman General etching
£25

Early 20th Century?
Music Chest
£50

And even a rather unusual Charon Painting

 

Barristerman high on Lucozade with stopped cheque from law publisher in payment for advert
£10

The cheque is from a legal publisher who stopped the cheque after agreeing to place an advert – a most unusual breach of contract?  Amused me, though – so I thought I would stick it on a painting along with an expired bank card and a Lucozade bottle and sell it….

I am open to offers –  If you would like to buy any of these items please email me 

 

A rare event.. I am doing a sensible painting…and motorbikes!

I have a fair bit to go… but won’t take long…. I paint quickly… not always sensibly, but definitely quickly! I was called ‘Risotto’ by some in my early life – ‘ready in 20 minutes’…

I don’t cycle – but I do have a Panama hat – which goes well with my yellow glasses.  I rode motorbikes for many many years. I  was stopped by a very amusing Spanish traffic bike cop on a deserted dual carriageway road at 6.00 am one morning.  He said I was doing 150+ mph – but he was smoking and was not interested in giving me a ticket.  We smoked a few cigs together – sat on each other’s bike, managed to communicate in Franglais (I don’t speak Spanish) and I went on my way – with the advice to ‘cool my speed’ near the bigger towns as his colleagues in traffic cars ‘were not quite so amusing about speed’  (Honda Blackbird (many), Ducati 916 (1) and Honda Fireblade (Many). Only one accident – a lady driver drove straight into the back of me when I was at stop waiting to turn right in Chiswick, West London.  Surprised me.  184 stitches in my right leg. Refused to go to hospital – a local friend, a nurse, stitched me up nicely and we went for a glass of vino at the pub.  Walked the bike back to my home nearby.  Thankfully, the motorbike wasn’t damaged as it fell on my leg as I slid down the road!  Priorities are important!

Law Review: Scotland Yard’s Black Museum

Death masks of hanged criminals and weapons

I’ve come to the attention of senior police officers – not through random acts of criminality on my part – but through the teaching of Law.  I have had the pleasure of teaching a fair few senior officers at the sharp and more unpleasant end of criminality.  One, Detective Superintendent Norman Briers, who dealt with the Dennis Nilsen case, invited me to lunch at Scotland Yard and after lunch gave me a tour of The Black Museum. Another, John Stevens, who went on to be the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, did a law degree with the college where I was Director of Studies in my pre-BPP Law School days, and turned up to a fancy dress party I organised at home dressed in the theme of ‘Out of Africa’. Detective Chief Superintendent Ken John was involved in dealing with the famous Brinksmat robbery, if memory serves me right. All the police officers I had the pleasure of teaching did well in their law degrees and I very much enjoyed meeting them.

The Black Museum was fascinating.  As we went into the museum – through a plain door – the room was dark.  A light went on and a noose hung down from the ceiling.  The disembodied voice of the person running the museum told me in a deep voice that it was the rope used to hang Ruth Ellis. The Police pictures of the Nilsen case were very strong and I need not describe them here.  It did, however, bring home to me that the Police and others do have to deal with some extremely unpleasant work.

Law Review posts are sponsored by @realpengy and Bar Marketing

and EastPark Communications and Chrissie Lightfoot ‘The Naked Lawyer’ 

 

 

Mediation is an opportunity to be wrong and get it right.

The Third Party
Mediation is an opportunity to be wrong and get it right.
Amanda Bucklow FCIArb, FRSA

One of the most welcomed developments over the 25 years has been the development of mediation. The law focuses on what is wrong and offers a remedy. Mediation focuses on what is possible and builds a solution according to what people need.

Both have a place but one is infinitely more positive than the other.

Most people think that mediation is a legal process but it is a human process designed to resolve conflict which has become a dispute. Conflict is part of our nature and it is the fuel for creativity and innovation. Both are essential to our well being.

The feelings we have about “the experience” or dispute come from our interpretation and a very particular way of perceiving the experience. Our own.

If we can accept that everyone believes that their actions are reasonable, we are half way there. If we can go one step further and take the risk of saying “tell me why do you feel that way?” Then we might learn something that will change our point of view. We might not like the answer; we don’t have to agree with the answer but we should listen to the story.

It’s human nature to state our position over and over again. We want our side of the story to be heard in order to feel our experience validated. Very often, that is all we need. Until that story is heard it will go around and around getting stronger and angrier with each revolution.  Until something changes there can be no resolution.

Change brings conflict and change is what resolves it. Change is inevitable and most of the time it will come about unannounced, unexpectedly. Other times, we can sense its approach, smoke signalling the end of a commitment, the arrival of an overdue finale. We ignore the signs in the hope that we are mistaken. Eventually our disappointment overshadows memories of all the good feelings we had when we engaged and committed to a contract or relationship. They are forgotten and replaced by new, less comfortable feelings of anger, fear and mistrust. If they remain unacknowledged, eventually they become an unremitting cycle of complexity and confusion. It’s simple, there is no conflict without emotion and emotions are messy.

One effective way to stop the pain and confusion is to hand the decision to a judge. An imposed decision is one way out but it can leave people feeling neither winner nor loser.

In mediation, however, negotiation includes both parties telling their stories. Each has the opportunity to be heard, to express their valid and personal view. By narrating their experience creativity flows and the anger, fear and mistrust are slowly replaced with acceptance and willingness to find agreement. People need help to complete the process and they need to know that the mediator has no agenda of her own. It is my job to steer the parties towards agreement. The outcome is that both parties can win.

I am the Third Party. The conduit for understanding that brings acceptance and creates new reasoning which people can buy into. At its best, mediation is an opportunity to be entirely human, productive and efficient through innate creativity. Creativity means change. Change means some are no longer completely right. To be human is therefore to be wrong sometimes. Being wrong is creativity and creativity is the best of human nature.

Amanda Bucklow FCIArb, FRSA
Independent Commercial Mediator

http://amandabucklow.co.uk

http://facilit8.com
http://learning.facilit8.com

***

And two wonderful pieces of art from Amanda Bucklow – who is also an artist.

Parliament

Doors to the Royal Courts of Justice

Replica Samurai Katana for sale!

There won’t be many legal people selling Japanese swords this weekend, or at all – but I am at my post, doing what I can to keep the Red flag flying high by selling a replica Japanese Samurai sword (A katana) which I have had for 40 years.  I bought it because I was then interested in Kendo 剣道, kendō, lit. “sword way” and Karate – which I enjoyed doing to a reasonable level (2nd Dan)  in my twenties and can still do some of the moves etc – breaking tiles was fun – punching an old broken door – going through it – was not quite so amusing!   I don’t do these things now – being an old geezer.

The Katana has seen ‘active service’ – not in the warfare sense, but at a dinner party when I asked a friend to throw a pineapple into the air and I cut the pineapple in half.  It was a bit messy.  The blade , the sword being a replica, did not cut the pineapple cleanly.  BUT…the pineapple was cut in half with juice all over the wall.  My wife was not amused.  She was even less amused when a lawyer friend of mine, a barrister turned solicitor, who was ‘attending’ for dinner pro bono, pulled a gun out of a concealed shoulder holster, pointed the gun upwards and fired it.  It was a blank – the wadding from the ‘bullet’ hit the ceiling and  a decent amount of plaster fell on to the table.  I found it amusing.  My wife did not find it amusing.  She ran off to the bedroom.  I followed to ‘console’. Half crying, half laughing, she asked me why my friends felt that it was necessary to be ‘armed’ when they came to dinner with us.  I didn’t really have an answer to hand.

The sword is SOLD

You can contact me by email or through twitter

Rive Gauche: The Freedom of Fornication Act

And back in March 2007 – a ‘Have it away day….’

What – with The Attorney-General, the DPP and sundry other QCs and senior lawyers exercising their rights under The Freedom of Fornication Act (nicked from Private Eye – could not resist it) to have ‘have it away days’; we have now got the surreal and, frankly, absurd situation of a Court of Appeal judge being charged with flashing at women on a train on two separate occasions – a charge which he denied when first questioned about this some months ago. Guardian

Dan Bell
Top judge charged with indecent exposure
Saturday March 3, 2007
The Guardian
One of Britain’s most senior judges was yesterday charged with indecently exposing himself to women on trains in south-west London. Lord Justice Richards, a court of appeal judge, was arrested by British Transport police in January when a commuter complained he exposed himself to her…
Remarkable…

Rive Gauche: A quick look back…

An amusing story from The Water Cooler in The Times on the 13th March 2007 about a reception held at Inner Temple to mark the 45 year old career of Sir Ivan Lawrence QC. A judge remarking of his career as a Recorder: “Justice had not only to be done and seen to be done — in Sir Ivan’s court it had to be seen to be believed.”

Another…the rather better known story: I quote from the piece in The Water Cooler:

“Sir Ivan also recalled Judge Maude sentencing two homosexuals for an act of gross indecency. “It is not so much the enormity of the crime itself that appals one,” he said, “it is the fact that you chose to do it under one of London’s most beautiful bridges.”

Attitudes and times have changed…

The Modern Attorney-General?

“I am the very model of a modern Attorney-General,
I’ve information political, immoral, and analytical,
I know the judges of England, and I quote the laws historical
From Domesday to Archibold, in order categorical;
I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters apolitical,
I understand donations, both the simple and problematical,
About restraining injuctions, I’m teeming with a lot o’ news,
With many cheerful facts about who is going to lose.”

With sincere apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan.

Human Law Ezine – June 2015

I’ve known solicitor Justin Patten for some time through blogging.  We met at a UK Law blogs event back in the day.

This, from Justin Patten’s newsletter, will give you a steer of what you will receive if you subscribe to his ezine.

Human Law Ezine – June 2015

Welcome to this month’s edition of the Human Law Ezine, please take a look at my latest blog posts:

  • Probate Wars – If Your Executors Do Not Get On The Main Beneficiary of Your Estate Will Be Lawyers

    Recently I have been involved in advising a number of individuals in probate disputes; what I have found as a theme is that often it is a dispute between warring executors. Typically (but not always) it will be siblings who just do not get on….
    Read full post here
  • Leading Judge Points Way On Increased Use Of Mediation But Problems Remain

    Recently, the leading judge, the president of the Supreme Court has made some interesting comments on use of mediation.Lord Neuberger, in a speech entitled ‘a view from on high’, praised mediation for being quicker, cheaper, less stressful and less time-consuming than litigation. He also said potential outcomes were more flexible and more likely to leave both parties emerging as ‘winners’….
    Read full post here

Please browse the following white papers – essential reading for anyone wondering how mediation works in practice:

For information or advice please contact Justin Patten here

Rive Gauche: The Duke of Edinburgh – A dentopodologist?

A quick trip around Google brought up a few choice remarks from the Duke… a well known dontopedologist (*):

“It looks as if it was put in by an Indian.” (in 1999, referring to an old-fashioned fuse box in a factory near Edinburgh)

“Deaf? If you are near there, no wonder you are deaf.” (in 1999, to young deaf people in Cardiff, referring to a school’s steel band)

“You managed not to get eaten, then?” (in 1998, to a student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea)

He also asked a driving instructor in Oban, Scotland: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?” 

and finally… “If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, which he could do very easily, I mean, are you going to ban cricket bats?” (in 1996, amid calls to ban firearms after the Dunblane shooting) 

(*) “Dontopedology is the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it”

@The Photopian has lent me a fine camera – he takes great photographs.

has lent me an excellent Olympus SLR Camera – which is extremely kind.  He’s a good photographer and the camera has inspired me to get out and about again.  I used to take a lot of photographs and I will do so again.

Here is one of many photographs taken by @ThePhotopian I like – Have a look at his full range so far

And if you want to buy some of his photographslook here

Some years ago – A sculpture of hands feeling The Queen’s breasts provoked outrage among royal watchers and experts.

Some years ago – A sculpture of hands feeling The Queen’s breasts provoked outrage among royal watchers and experts. The Sun’s royal photographer Arthur Edwards said:“This is quite obviously the work of a lunatic. I don’t see this as anything more than a cheap stunt.” [Curiously, despite the reservations expressed by the photographer (who, presumably travelled all the way to Madrid to be outraged), The Sun had a picture of the sculpture which no-one really needs to see]

Even more curious – as The Sun reported: Spain’s King Juan Carlos did not seem to have a problem with it — he opened the show.

It is not known whether King Juan Carlos drinks a lot of  Rioja.

Wandering about Google I came across this old comment by Times Online about my blog – amused me

“More than an occupational blog, Charon QC shows admirable distaste for writing about the workaday nuts and bolts of life as a lawyer. This rioja-loving “blawger” provides crisply commentary and dry wit about life and pressing news in general. Whether declaiming on liver and mash, Asbos or David Cameron, he is never less than compelling.”

Many thanks… TimesOnline.

I used to eat a great deal of liver and mash – ‘industrial quantities of the stuff’ monthly if one eats it every lunch for several months! 

Memo to all staff from Matt Muttley

MEMO TO ALL STAFF

From: Matt Mattley, Managing Partner

Re: Inappropriate behaviour

1. On or about Wednesday 14th February I received a Valentine’s Day card from a person(s) unknown.

2. The envelope, addressed to me personally, had been franked, using the firm’s franking machine. There is no record in the new electronic fees system of this postage cost being attributed to a client of the firm.

3. The card was inscribed with the message “Hi bigboy…. we know you like to give the opposition a hard time. Would you like to give me a hard time 2nite?”

4. The card was accompanied by a bunch of roses and foliage of varied types.

My response to this is as follows:

We have spent a great deal of (otherwise chargeable) time and money positioning ourselves in the market with marketing and what some of our competitors are now referring to as ‘piracy’. As you know, it is my practice to read The Lawyer to see who is acting for whom and then pop over to ‘whom’ and do a bit of negotiation on fees. We have also invested heavily in our innovative and highly popular ‘Trainee Blog’ – which, I am bound to say, while not meeting with universal approval, is very appealing to prospective applicants to our firm and, therefore, ensures that our firm is able to compete with the other leading firms and recruit suitably educated trainees who will contribute to the wealth of the partners. Please bear this in mind. We have to set an example. I would not wish to get up on a Friday morning and find our firm being mocked on RollonFriday.

As to point 2 of my memo: The cost of the postage of the card, while modest, has not been ‘attributed or allocated’ to a client. The cost is, therefore, a drain on the wealth of the partners. This is an important principle. It is also theft under s.1 Theft Act 1968. There is a difference between a ‘toppy bill’ and downright dishonesty in appropriating property belonging to the partners with the dishonest intention of permanently depriving the partners of that property.

As to point 3 of my memo: While I take no personal exception to the statement recorded in the card and may well follow up on the invitation when our internal security unit find the originator of the card, it is important to bear in mind the free advice provided by competitor firm Peninsula in their illuminating Valentine’s Day briefing (we are always grateful when rival firms provide us with knowledge which we can then re-sell. ) Peninsula point out that such a remark could well be construed, to those of a sensitive disposition, as ‘an unwanted sexual advance from a colleague.’ and amount to harrassment – which can be very costly these days – quite rightly. You will, through our excellent CPD programme, be familiar with the right of Employment Tribunals to make ‘uncapped awards’. I also quote Mr Mooney’s comments from the Pensinsula briefing – which sent a shiver down my spine: “And the cost of losing a High Court case for harassment can sometimes run into the millions.”

As to point 4 of my memo: The sending of any product likely to result in physical or psychological injury could well lead to personal injury litigation. I quote from the Peninsula briefing: “In the most extreme example, bosses can even get into trouble if one worker is sent a large bouquet of flowers on Valentine’s Day.

The leaflet says: “If you have one employee who has bad hayfever, or a similar allergy, sat next to a member of staff who receives a lot of flowers, the employer could be in breach of their duty to provide an amenable working environment.”

I hope that I have made my point? If you have not seen the Peninsula Employment Law briefing, you may view it here

Having lost two Magic Circle clients, University of Law sold to GUS less than three years after purchase

Having lost two Magic Circle clients (Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy), University of Law sold to GUS less than three years after purchase

Europe’s largest law school The University of Law (ULaw) has been sold by Montagu Private Equity to Global University Systems (GUS), less than three years after the private equity house acquired it and after losing two Magic Circle clients to rival BPP last year….

Read

Charonasso ‘Artwork’ for sale! A rare opportunity for a connoisseur – £20

Barristerman with bankcard, lucozade and cheque from law publisher
Charonasso 2015

An opportunity has arisen for you to acquire a Charon ‘painting’ in mixed media.  This work will almost certainly be a talking point at dinner parties should you wish to hang it in your dining room – particularly if your guests are ‘over refreshed’ with the fine wines you provide for them.

A particularly strong part of this mixed media ‘work’ is a cheque from a Law Publisher who cancelled it without any justification whatsoever – in my view…. but there we are, be that as it may…

If you wish to purchase this ‘work’, I will undertake not to produce a replica and will be more than happy to sign it or, indeed, leave you to sign it yourself, as you wish.  If you live in London I can deliver to you and we can have a coffee.  I will spare you any conversation about my ‘art’ etc etc etc…or, indeed, law of any kind.

If you fancy it – send me an email or DM on Twitter. £20 suit you? O.N.O – you may also have a free ad on my blog for a year – which probably makes more sense anyway?   I can also post it to you for whatever our fine postal services charge to either deliver the item or lose it en route

I have no idea who the old git with the tache is…he turns up like a porter at an auction to hold items up in front of the camera on my Mac computer…it seems to keep him amused and it assists me greatly because I can nip out for a fag while he does this important photographic work.

 

Rive Gauche: Ban alcohol adverts and not much changes…

Ban alcohol adverts: Dr Beaujolais, a leading expert on fractures and author of “You break ‘em, I mend ‘em”, speaking from Harry’s Bar in Venice yesterday, called on the UK government to ban all alcohol advertising in the UK. “People are drinking themselves to death” said Dr Amaretto Beaujolais (52), as he lit a havana cigar and downed a shot of grappa. “It is thoroughly irresponsible of supermarkets to sell alcopops to under aged boys and girls. It is a disgrace that people can get absolutely roaring for £1.49 on a bottle of cheap cider” He said, signalling frantically to a passing waiter for a re-fill.

And on that note I have always enjoyed this, from Mr Shakespeare…

And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With old odd ends stolen out of holy writ,
And seem a saint when most I play the devil.
Richard III. 1. 3

Apropos of absolutely nothing in particular, it may interest you to know that I did have to visit Chiswick Police Station some years ago – to report the theft of my motorbike. It was good to see a picture of Dixon of Dock Green hanging in the reception area. Who says the Police can’t do irony? … seems to me that they are rather good at it. The Desk Sgt even said ‘Mind how you go” as I turned to leave…

And this from way back in 2007…not much changes…

In but a few short weeks we have heard that the legal system is in ‘crisis’, various law officers and senior members of the profession are having affairs,  the prisons are full and barristers are briefless.

However all is not, by any means, doom and gloom. Lawyers are blogging and I’d like to draw your attention to a blog which I have been reading recently: BabyBarista

While it may be a fictional account of life as a pupil (There is much for the student and intending barrister) it has nuggets of information in pretty well every post.

I particularly enjoyed this piece… and I quote:

“Reminded me of the apocryphal story of a recruiter for an investment bank who randomly picked up half of the application forms and threw them in the bin. “Well”, he answered, “we don’t want the unlucky ones.”

One wonders how recruitment departments at the big law firms sift through the mountain of applications for traineeships every year. Matt Muttley would certainly approve.
I’ll pop back later this evening…

Charles Kennedy 1959-2015

Charles Kennedy – a fine political man, and, I am told, an excellent constituency MP.  One of my favourite of his quotes sums up his humour rather well.

“Paddy Ashdown is the only party leader who’s a trained killer. Although, to be fair, Mrs Thatcher was self-taught.”

 

While ‘Master’ criminals may well be blessed with brains and a high IQ…

While ‘Master’ criminals may well be blessed with brains and a high IQ: others at the bottom of the criminal food chain are not so blessed. This from The Mirror some years ago…

“TWO suspected burglars were caught – after police tracked their footprints in a fresh fall of snow. Officers arrived promptly when a couple found their home being burgled and followed the footprints leading to a nearby house in Chippenham, Wilts. The prints became two cycle tracks which the police trailed until they found one of the bikes dumped – and two men hiding.”

I do enjoy the variety in the ‘human condition’

A BRITISH man is to crawl on his hands and knees round New York wearing a George Bush mask and a sign saying “kick my ass” on his bottom. Mark McGowan is protesting against the US president and wants Americans to kick him. Apparently he will have a pillow stuffed down his trousers. [He has also pushed a monkey nut to Downing Street with his nose and has eaten a roasted swan.]