Partial retirement

I am 64 and while I will continue to blog and cover legal issues of the day, I plan to do more non-law writing, painting, walking, touring Scotland using my FREE bus pass for older gits and photography.

I’ve enjoyed my time in legal teaching – although running a law school I founded was not to my taste.  Others went on to run  it better.

Ars longa, vita brevis as they say down at The Auld Hoose pub in Perth.  I’ll be back to blogging on Friday.


Checkpoints to consider when making commercial agreements

Checkpoints to consider when making commercial agreements


We work and connect with people, but very often business formalities require a binding agreement between individuals and parties, to ensure that each side is safe and protected. No matter what your equation is with another person, it is always to safeguard  your firm, by ensuring commercial agreements are in place. Steinepreis Paganin ( is an independent law firm offering clients specialised and comprehensive advice on a range of equity capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, corporate and commercial, energy and resources and financial services matters. They seek to understand a clients’ objectives and deliver service in an innovative, professional and constructive manner. Since service, quality and value for money are paramount, the highly qualified staff are focused on understanding the needs of a clients and working with them to achieve their corporate and commercial objectives.


When setting out agreements it is a good idea to review the agreement instead of just a glance over a contract and don’t just sign it without really knowing what it obligates you or the other party to do. Here are a few basic guidelines you can check when reviewing a contract:


  • Use the complete name of the business and correctly identify the parties. Understand the rights and responsibilities of both sides. These are normally distributed all over the contract, so make sure you understand these well.


  • Leave no blanks so there is no scope of it being filled by someone later. If there are any deletions or changes, then make sure these are initialed.


  • Look out for automatic renewals. Be clear about dates. Don’t default on any of the dates mentioned in a contract. What is the notice period required for a non- renewal? If notice is not followed, is there a penalty clause in the agreement? Does a renewal incur a price increase? If yes then how much?


  • Check if there is a separate clause on defaulting. What acts are considered as defaulting. They must be mentioned in the agreement. Also determine the worst case that can happen if you default. What are the remedial provisions? Can you limit your liability? what about the remedial action from your side incase the other party defaults? What type of remedies do you need in place, if this happens.


  • These take just a bit of your time but if you take the time to review the contract thoroughly, you can negotiate on many things, which in the longer run, works for you.


A 20 mile walk on the morrow…if it does not rain too hard

Planning a 20 mile walk for the morrow….provided it does not rain too hard.  I have a Barbour rain hat and two cameras and a fine walking stick and a book on Perthshire walks. I enjoy walking10-20 miles a day  and meet up with other old gits in Perth who smoke and laugh…there are some fine older gentlemen in Perth who enjoy smoking and having a laugh and a fine pub The Half a Tanner – where the Guinness is poured expertly as I fall in the door at opening time at 11.00.  I take my Guinness with a small Cafe Creme cigar wearing a Tartan Glengarry hat with many unusual  feathers in it.- and other clothes, of course, including trousers and heavy duty professional walking boots.

Have a good weekend…

Bridge over troubled legal water? Legal issues of the Brexit transition period

Professor Steve Peers
Website / Blog 

Compared to famous Florentines, Theresa May’s recent speech on the UK’s Brexit plans inevitably owed more to Machiavelli than Leonardo da Vinci. Nevertheless, it gave a rough indication of the basic legal architecture that the UK government would like to govern its relationship with the EU for a transition period after Brexit Day. I have previously summarised and commented upon the main points of the Florence speech, but there is more to say on this legal framework – and also on the rules which would apply to EU27 citizens in the UK during the transition period.

Legal framework

First of all, is a transition period after Brexit Day even legally possible? If so, what provision of EU law would apply?

Article 50 TEU, which sets out the basic rules on Member States’ withdrawal from EU membership, is silent on the issue of any transitional period after the withdrawal date. However, it might be noted that Article 49 TEU, governing accession, is equally silent on transitional periods after joining the EU; nevertheless such periods are an established feature of the accession process.

In its negotiating guidelines on Brexit, the European Council (EU27 States’ leaders) stated that:

To the extent necessary and legally possible, the negotiations may also seek to determine transitional arrangements which are in the interest of the Union and, as appropriate, to provide for bridges towards the foreseeable framework for the future relationship in the light of the progress made. Any such transitional arrangements must be clearly defined, limited in time, and subject to effective enforcement mechanisms. Should a time-limited prolongation of Union acquis be considered, this would require existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures to apply.

These principles are set out again in the negotiation directives handed down to the European Commission by the Council (EU27 States’ ministers) at paragraph 19. Those negotiation directives go into no further detail on the transition period issue for now; instead, there will be further negotiation directives in future, once the EU27 side has decided that there has been ‘sufficient progress’ on its priority issues (EU27 and UK citizens’ rights, financial issues, Northern Ireland) during the Brexit talks.

For the UK’s part, the Florence speech states that on Brexit Day, the UK will cease to participate in the EU political institutions. The period must be ‘strictly time limited’, suggesting ‘around two years’;  but the two sides ‘could also agree to bring forward’ aspects, such as a new dispute settlement system. The latter point implies that the ECJ will apply until that point.

Substantively, during the transitional period, ‘access to one another’s markets should continue on current terms’; the UK will ‘continue to take part in existing security measures’; and the ‘framework’ will be ‘the existing structure of EU rules and regulations’.  There would be no change to other Member States’ payments and contributions during the current funding cycle (ending in 2020), implying that EU laws on funding and spending continue without amendment until then.

EU citizens can still come to live and work during this period, but they will be registered; but as I noted in the previous blog post, such registration is allowed under the EU citizens’ Directive. (More on that below). Finally, the speech referred to one substantive difference in law: the UK would hold its own trade negotiations, and would ‘no longer directly benefit’ from the EU’s trade negotiations.

Moreover, the speech made comments on another aspect of the withdrawal agreement – maintaining EU27 citizens’ rights – that may be relevant by analogy to transition issues. The Prime Minister said that the UK would ‘incorporate our agreement [on citizens’ rights] fully into UK law and make sure the UK courts can refer directly to it’; and that UK courts must be ‘able to take into account’ relevant ECJ case law.

Comparing the UK to the EU27 position on the transitional period, there are lots of similarities. Both sides are willing to contemplate such a period (the EU27’s ‘legally possible’ caveat is considered below). Both sides want it to be for a limited time. The Florence speech states that the transitional rules would be linked with the future permanent UK/EU relationship (‘a bridge from where we are now to where we want to be’), matching the EU27 position. (Note there’s no need to define the future relationship in detail in the withdrawal deal: Article 50 refers only to defining a ‘framework’ for that relationship, and the EU negotiation position refers only to bridges towards the foreseeable future framework).

The greatest difficulties may come with the issues of post-Brexit EU legislation, and the legal effect of EU law. At present the European Communities Act provides for the adoption of new EU law into the UK’s legal order. It gives that law direct effect and supremacy, and gives effect to ECJ rulings in domestic law. However, the proposed EU Withdrawal Bill would remove all these provisions, instead retaining pre-Brexit EU rules and ECJ judgments in force pending potential amendment by government or Parliament. Pre-Brexit ECJ judgments would retain their force subject to such amendments or overruling by the UK Supreme Court, and UK courts would have an option to take post-Brexit ECJ case law into account. The Bill would also remove the principle of damages liability for breach of EU law, and would not keep the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as part of retained EU law in the UK (on the latter point, see discussion here).

Technically, anything which the UK agrees to in the Withdrawal Agreement can be incorporated into UK law easily enough, since clause 9 of the Withdrawal Bill would give the UK government unlimited power to amend any UK laws to give effect to that Agreement. (Note, however, that the Bill could be amended in Parliament as regards any of these points before it becomes an Act of Parliament). So the issue is not the capability of the UK government to give effect to the Withdrawal Agreement, but its willingness to negotiate on these issues.

After her speech, the Prime Minister deliberately avoided answering a question about whether the UK would apply post-Brexit EU law during the transition period, saying it was a matter for negotiation. In fact, there is some flexibility on this, since the EU27 negotiation position does not take any view on that point. (Remember that the EU27 negotiation position on transitional issues will be enlarged later). In the meantime, UK cabinet members have tried to rule this prospect out. (Note that the speech refers to keeping ‘existing’ and ‘current’ EU law in force).

There is less flexibility as regards the legal effect of EU law, where – to recall – the EU27 position is that ‘existing EU regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures’ should apply. The combined reference to ‘judiciary’ and ‘enforcement’ structures suggest that the ECJ’s current jurisdiction, and the current legal effect of EU law in the UK, should apply. While the Prime Minister obliquely referred to the ECJ, she hoped that its role could be terminated early as regards the UK; and the UK government’s position on the legal status of EU27 citizens (no ECJ role; option to take account of ECJ rulings; incorporation of Withdrawal Agreement into UK law but no special status), if extended to the transitional rules in the Withdrawal Agreement, would fall short of the EU27 position. Equally, while it is not expressly mentioned in the current negotiation position, the EU27 might, when amending that position, argue that the EU Charter should still apply to the UK during the transitional period. (Note that the Charter does not apply to all actions of Member States, but only applies to Member States when they implement EU law).

Three further points. First, what happens to the position of non-EU countries as regards the UK? They are parties to some treaties with the EU alone, and to some treaties with the EU together with its Member States. The legal issues arising in this respect during the transitional period will have to be addressed.

Secondly, what happens after the end of the transitional period? In particular, what if it is deemed desirable on both sides to continue the arrangement, in whole or part? In that case, the special decision-making rule applying to Article 50 (see next point) will have expired, and so the normal decision-making rules of EU law will apply. Depending on the content of what is carried forward then, this may require some unanimous voting and even ratification by all Member States, although it should be recalled that the EU side can decide to apply treaties provisionally pending national ratification.

That brings us to the most fundamental legal issue: can the EU27 side include a transitional deal within the scope of Article 50 in the first place? The words ‘[t]o the extent…legally possible’ hint at some doubt on this point, presumably because of an argument that Article 50 cannot extend to the regulation of legal relationships that are created after Brexit Day, but only to the regulation and/or termination of those created before that date. However, while little is certain now about how the ECJ might interpret Article 50, in my view that interpretation is too narrow, given that Article 50 refers to taking account of the framework for future relations with the withdrawing state, and Article 8 TEU refers to maintaining strong relationships with neighbouring non-EU countries. If this is correct, it follows that as long as the transitional deal is limited in time and linked to the future framework for relations – as both the EU27 and UK side intend – there should not be a legal problem. (On the other hand, there is nothing in Article 50 to require that anything in the withdrawal agreement must be subject to ECJ jurisdiction, besides the usual rule that only the ECJ can rule definitively on how to interpret EU law for EU Member States).

The importance of this is that the Article 50 agreement needs only a qualified majority vote to be approved by the EU27, without national ratification by Member States (as confirmed in the negotiation directives). But the EU27 and UK should prepare a ‘Plan B’ in the event that some Eurosceptic devoted to a ‘WTO-only’ and/or ‘no deal’ relationship between the UK and EU brings a legal challenge. If such a challenge were successful, the ECJ might anyway maintain the problematic parts of the treaty in force temporarily due to legal certainty; and the UK and EU should aim to agree the impugned parts of the Withdrawal Agreement on the correct legal basis as soon as possible, applying that new treaty provisionally.

Extension of the Article 50 period

Some have suggested extending the negotiation period for the Brexit talks instead – as Article 50 expressly allows for – arguing that a transition phase is no different from extending the negotiation period anyway.  It’s true that legally the extension of the negotiation period would be simple: it requires only a unanimous vote of the EU27 Member States (with no national ratification) required, plus the UK government, with no role for the European Parliament. As a matter of domestic UK law, arguably an Act of Parliament would be required to this end (note that the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act, which gave the government power to invoke Article 50 pursuant to the Miller judgment, does not mention the issue of extension).

But an extension to the negotiation period would be politically difficult. It’s not known whether the EU27 would give their unanimous consent, particularly given the awkward consequence that the UK would then end up participating in the 2019 European Parliament elections. And within the UK, announcing an intention to delay Brexit would likely mean that Theresa May would immediately be the centrepiece of a modern version of Da Vinci’s Last Supper – followed swiftly by the political resurrection of Nigel Farage.

Furthermore, it’s false to say that there is really no difference between a negotiation extension and a transition period. First of all, during a negotiation extension the UK would still participate in the EU’s political institutions. Secondly, it’s certain that there would be no change in the legal effect of EU law in the UK or the substance of EU laws in the UK, and that new EU laws and new ECJ judgments would continue to apply, in the event of a negotiation extension – whereas those issues may, as discussed above and below, be addressed differently during a transition period.

Thirdly, in the event of a change of mind in the UK on Brexit, remaining within the EU on the basis of a negotiation extension may be different from rejoining the EU after having left. This depends (a) on the resolution of some legal issues concerning Article 50 (Can the withdrawal notice be rescinded? If so, must the EU consent? If so, can the EU attach conditions? Or can the Article 50 period simply be extended indefinitely, with no further negotiation taking place?) and (b) on the extent to which the UK could rejoin on the same terms (Would the EU have already removed the UK’s opt-outs from the Treaties? Would the UK rebate on the EU budget have been rescinded yet?).

EU27 citizens

As noted already, the UK government’s intention to require EU citizens to register if they come to the UK during the transitional period is consistent with the EU citizens’ Directive, which allows registration for stays longer than three months. Indeed, the Commission has reported that almost all EU states register citizens from other EU Member States. But a failure to register can only be punished by proportionate penalties, not expulsion or detention (see the ECJ ruling in Watson and Bellman, concerning a prior version of this law). According to the ECJ ruling in Huber, Member States may include information on EU citizens in a database, but this can only be used for the purpose of administering EU free movement law; if they put information on EU citizens in a criminal database, they must be treated equally with nationals of that Member State.

The Directive goes on to say that Member States cannot insist that registration certificates must be the sole method of checking entitlement to reside or any other right, since other forms of proving identity are possible; and that Member States can only penalise EU citizens for not carrying their registration certificates if they penalise their own citizens the same way for not carrying ID cards (see also the ECJ judgment in Oulane). It follows that as long as the UK doesn’t have an ID card system, it could not penalise EU citizens for not carrying registration certificates.

So while registration of EU citizens is permissible, the limits set out in the legislation and case law put the more general questions about ‘transition law’ raised in this blog post in a particular context. It would not be credible for the EU27 to insist that the UK not register EU citizens at all, particularly given that most of them do the same thing themselves. But will the important limits on registration apply? It’s an important question given the tendency of the UK Home Office to create a ‘hostile environment’ for EU and non-EU citizens alike, and the risk that absent the application of EU case law and legislation to this issue, there could be fines, detention, expulsion or other refusals of rights for EU citizens who didn’t register, lost their registration certificate or forgot to carry it. (All the same issues arise if the UK extends – as it could – the registration obligation to EU citizens who were present before Brexit Day).

If the EU27 and UK agree that the existing EU law still applies and the pre-Brexit ECJ case law remains binding, in principle the issue is resolved, at least during the transitional period. But what if the UK breaches this agreement, or if there is some question about how the UK applies the requirement, or if there is some new relevant ECJ case law? Then the important questions will be whether the existing EU law remedies (direct effect, supremacy, damages) are still available; whether UK courts can still ask the ECJ questions; and whether the UK courts are obliged to follow post-Brexit ECJ case law.

This issue, important as it would be for many EU citizens resident in the UK, is only a microcosm of the legal issues raised by the transition period – and which the UK and EU27 will hopefully have time to consider properly.

Barnard & Peers: chapter 27

Photo credit: Thousand Wonders

Buying a fast Motorbike

hindablackbirdI’ve decided to go back to biking and buy myself a second hand Honda Blackbird.  I have had 21 motorbikes in my life – mostly Honda Fireblades 900cc and Honda Blackbirds 1100cc.  Top speed is 198mph.  I also bought a Ducati 916 which was fun. Got stopped in Spain by Guardia Civil bike cop at 6.00 am on a motorway near Mojacca – empty road – doing 194 mph.  I was on a Honda Blackbird. Speed limit was 80 mph..  The cop fired a red flare into the air and the red smoke was very visible as was his light wand to wave me in!  He just laughed.  We smoked cigars and sat on each others bikes and chatted.  He did suggest that I only drove at 30 mph above speed limit near the big towns and cities on my way back as Motorway car cops were not so amusing or relaxed.  It was good advice.

I am going to get back on a bike – I am on a ‘Mission’. The bike pictured above was one of my Blackbirds.  A good second hand Blackbird is not expensive.  Few bikers want such a fast bike these days in Britain and prefer the slightly smaller 900 cc bikes like Fireblades etc.

The best money I spent was not on a bike but on an Advanced Riding course with a Metropolitan Police bike copper who was also a bike instructor.  a 2 day course 6 hours riding each day – in the cold pouring rain.  The instructor was brilliant.  We could talk to each other through microphones fitted in our helmets.  I was cornering at speeds of 70 mph by the end of the course – in the rain.  Before the course I would have taken those corners at 40 mph!

And the latest news on President Trump

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers September/October 2017

The latest issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is now published.

In this issue

  • Data protection – Eduardo Ustaran of Hogan Lovells helps you focus your efforts in preparing for the GDPR
  • Security – Robert Casalis de Pury of UniRom Systems explains what https is and why you should implement it
  • Justice system – Paul Magrath considers the efficacy of the ongoing developments in HMCTS’ Reform program
  • Websites – Delia Venables and guests consider why solicitors might want to provide free legal content online
  • Resources – Lisa Davies of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies describes the many resources IALS hosts
  • Security – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words explains what encryption is, the pros and cons and related legislation
  • Publishers – Several online publishers describe recent developments in their services for lawyers

Access the Newsletter online

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Our courses courses guide you, via online articles and exercises, through the legal resources and tools available, help you understand the internet and the legal issues it raises and assist you in the practical application of internet services to your legal practice.

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Guest Post : Merchant Taylors’ School: A Different Kind of Sixth Form

Merchant Taylors’ School: A Different Kind of Sixth Form

Jon Rippier | Director of Communications & Teacher of Modern Languages

Across the country, time spent in the Sixth Form is increasingly seen as a waiting room for university. When I joined Merchant Taylors’ in 2016 I was delighted to find that it is a school where this is very far from the case. Yes, we ensure that boys are well prepared for the process of university application (we send large numbers to Oxbridge and Imperial each year, as well as to Russell Group universities and to the US) –  but we also create an environment where boys can fully flourish. This might be in small classes (often just 8-10 boys) which facilitate more receptive learning, or in sports teams which achieve boarding-school levels of achievement (our U17 cricket team are the new national champions) or in a memorable concert or play. Beyond that we also encourage boys to give back through charities like Phab, where Merchant Taylors’ boys and St Helen’s girls work together to look after severely disabled children for a week, or in outreach to local primary schools.

Of course, in what is a fiercely competitive job market, we also endeavour to guide boys in their early career planning. We do this by giving every boy an individual career plan, through our Careers Department. They can also tap into our network of alumni and parents to gain vital work experience and advice; for example, this year we placed boys in work at range of different places, from consulting firm Deloitte, to Oncopole, a world-leading cancer research facility in Toulouse. Our Scholars gain the additional benefit of specialist mentors, Oxbridge-style tutorials and a workshop with a leading academic – last year’s cohort benefiting from a session with Lord Mervyn King and a talk on monetary policy. Parents are rightly concerned that their sons are ready for the real world but intense study complemented by little else is no such preparation. We look to help boys realise their varied talents and build their characters as well as learn the importance of academic rigour. To illustrate the point, our newly refurbished Sixth Form centre has a large area for social interaction, as well as space for collaborative study and the latest IT facilities. The ideas for Young Enterprise companies, plans for House drama and allocation of Prefect responsibilities are all forged  in this productive space. We are convinced that the Sixth Form should be the best two years of their school careers. The 250 recent leavers who returned for drinks in the Head Master’s garden at the start of term hopefully shows we are striking the right balance.

I have retired from Law blogging

freedomI am 64 and I have just had enough of Law in my life.  It has been interesting – but far less interesting than history, art, photography, politics and all books I read which interest and educate me far more than law ever did.


I regret now, looking back, ever reading Law.  That was a foolish decision – although I did enjoy quite a bit of my time teaching law – rather more than founding law schools and having the tedious hassle of actually running them.  64 current practising QCs taught at my law schools in their early days in practice.  They were excellent men and women and proved their excellence in later life in practice.  I enjoyed working with them.

I will cover the occasional law story, particularly Human Rights and matters judicial and professional  – but the blog is going to be much more varied….and eclectic, a better word for what I plan for the blog.  I will also cover what my fellow Law Bloggers are writing about.

I hope you will continue to visit from time to time.

Bon Voyage, Folks  CRY FREEEEDOM \o/


(I suspect that I will get bored of retiring from law blogging by Saturday evening and un-retire!)

Saturday night update:  Can’t possibly retire from Law blogging!


Time for a Bit of Jerry Hayes – ex Tory MP and barrister


Jerry Hayes, Barrister


“If the Number 10 operation resembles Fawlty Towers on a bad day the upcoming party conference will be a bit like Titus Andronicus without the jokes.

There are four stages in the downfall of a Prime Minister. Arrogance, incompetence, ridicule and pity. Madame has the gift of being able to portray all four simultaneously. It is quite an art and must have taken years of practice. Her trip to Japan has been a masterclass of how not to behave in front of the Japanese. She was surprised that she was served sushi rather than steak. After all you don’t go to Japan to eat their bloody foreign food do you? And then she told the press that she doesn’t go too much on Karaoke either and has NEVER performed. That’s almost as bad as telling Mr. Abe that she has never dated a Japanese man because she was of the belief that they had small penises. But traveller beware. Penises are a particularly no go topic of conversation in Japan. A friend once went into a gay bar in Tokyo, sat next to a thong of pretty boys and raised his glass in salute in anticipation of a night of unbridled debauchery. “Chin, chin,” he leered. Well, the reaction was not one that he expected. The crowd went mad and beat the crap out of him. You see, chin chin means small cock in Japanese. I do hope someone has warned Madame. On the other hand it will be fun if they haven’t. It reminds me of Thatcher’s disastrous trip to Turkey where her speech writers had put in a couple of lines from Bryon where he said how much he loved the Turks. The poor scribbler hadn’t read the rest of the poem which went onto explain why Byron loved the Turks, which was basically that the boys were a great shag. This didn’t go down at all well and Thatcher’s bid to build the new Bosporus bridge went to Japan.

Anyhow, Madame braved her sushi and ate an urchin. No doubt this was a subtle signal to the carpet biting wing of the Conservative party that she was launching a new, radical, child poverty initiative. Eating an urchin cleverly solves two problems. It culls those awful chavs that those delightful people in Activate seem to despise and will provide a vital source of food after we have left the EU and the starving roam the streets. Splendid. A stroke of genius….

Read the rest here

Mike Briercliffe at – a useful resource

Mike Briercliffe writes..“One of the key aspects of my work is “Content in Context” curation – this site is a “one stop” showcase for much of the content streams and digests that I preside upon.

I hope you find it interesting and pay regular visits to catch up with what I’m seeing that I think is relevant and read-worthy.

As you will see, I sometimes carry “sponsored” links. My policy is simple: if I like it AND it’s relevant – I’ll maybe tell you about it.

I won’t carry links to anything I don’t consider worthy. Sometimes I get paid for these links.

If you’d like your company to be featured here – drop me a line and we’ll make an arrangement. Painless.”

Link to 

Dr Death told me 5 years ago that I had 3 days to live… he was wrong….thankfully

I am still blogging…and I have absolutely no trust in medical doctors (Nor Doctors of Law)  now.,..none at all.


I will die, in time, like we all do  (I am 64) – but I do hope that there is no Doctor at my bedside or at the pub where I am taking a picture and  pint of Guinness. in Perth.  (Four Tanners opposite a church where people pray to a god that does exist…Fine by me.)

The greatest game on earth? Cricket…here are some cakes!

I enjoy cricket… I try to watch or listen to every first class test cricket match.  I played cricket reasonably well as a youngster.  I was a wicket keeper – I enjoyed stumping and shouting “Agggghhhhht” at the umpires.

I also bowled rather badly.  I remember practising my bowling in Crete on a holiday many years ago by bowling pebbles from the beach into the sea.  I may have had too much of the local hooligan juice – Retsina.


As for batting… Mixed fortunes – I did score 110 in one innings in Africa.  I was 21.


Cricket is a fantastic game – subtle, tactical and far more dangerous to players than Rugby and American football.   The commentators on test Match Special – are world class.  I miss Jonners and the cakes.  And as for his immortal commentary England v West Indies:  “The Batman’s Holding, the bowler’s Willie”…one can only laugh.

Law is tedious. Far better things to study and do in life

I read Geology at University before law after working in Zambia as a geologist after school.  I really regret both studying law at university and running two law schools.  I look upon it now as a wasted life.  History would have been far more interesting to study. So would English literature and Art.

For those contemplating law as a career:   Don’t read law at University.  You won’t learn much of value to you in later life.  Law teaching in universities can be patchy and certainly, in many instances I suspect,  would not survive a rigorous inspection by serious education inspectors. Study something else at university and do a Diploma in law and then qualify as a solicitor / barrister in the usual way by doing their fair but  unchallenging examinations.

Nothing wrong with a career in law – be you a fair minded individual who cares about society and practices in those fields or one who simply wants to make loads of dosh.


I wish all those who do law and work in law well.  I am not going to be covering as much law – apart from Human Rights and instances of Injustice in the English Legal System – on my blog from now on.  There is no shortage of injustice in English law to write about.   Google throws up many instances of it. I don’t blame the lawyers or the judges.  They merely have to follow Government produced ‘Laws’. That is their job.

Rive Gauche: The Shipping and Drinking Forecast

panamahatphone16I often go to sleep listening to the Shipping Forecast and wake to it at 5.20.  I keep my Radio on BBC Radio 4  on all night.

I amused myself one evening by doing my own version of the Shipping Forecast – The Drinking Forecast.

I often phone friends on my iLobsterphone 7.0

Have a good weekend…


Here is “The Drinking Forecast” in the style of The Shipping Forecast, if you would like to listen to it….


Postcard from the Scone Staterooms in Scone, Perthshire

After 52 days of rain without a break – the sun has been released from Guantanamo Bay by the absurd President Trump  of “America needs to heel’  (sic) fame.  and appears once again over the pleasant lands of Perth & Kinross where I live in a village called ‘Scone’ – pronounced ‘Scoon’. A wonderful place with a duckpond and a swan and five cygnets.  The male swan, sadly, was killed by a thug with a catapult.

I have several cameras and a book from a good friend “40 Town and Country Walks in Perthshire”.  I plan, over time, to complete all 40 walks in the book with my deerstalker hat, walking stick, camera, cigars and hip flask.  I tend to try and walk 10 miles every day and 25 on Sundays.  It is excellent exercise and I stop to natter with kindred souls en route – many of who smoke.  Two also carry hip flasks with the water of the Gods (Whisky) in it.


Unusually, the sun is shining.  52 days of rain in last 53 days.  So good to see the sun as we head towards Autumn and Winter. Winter is my favourite season. I also enjoy rain – bracing


It is good to be back home in Scotland, particularly Perthshire which I know
well from my schooldays at Trinity College Glenalmond (Now Glenalmond College) , a well known school in Scotland – now co-educational.  In my day the only women we saw were in the newspapers, the Geology teacher and the kitchen staff and a wonderful lady who ran the ‘Tuck Shop’.



A great day…

I have had a great day out with my friend and former Co-director Nicole Rollo in my law school running days. Nicole travelled from Newbury, Berkshire, to see me. Her husband, Major-General Rollo (now dead, sadly) was also a good friend and designed the electronic database for my law school while he was out in the Gulf fighting a war.  A very good man.  I am not surprised he rose to the rank of Major-General.  He was a very popular man, I am told, with his men and  in many circles.



Rive Gauche: The Rain Gods gather like a clan of Tartan Wearers over Scone, Perth & Kinross

I was told by a friend in Perth this afternoon – a fellow cigar smoker – that I must be the only person in Scotland who actually enjoys RAIN.  I do.  After years of living in and working in Hot, sunny, countries – my favourite season is Winter.  I like rain, snow, dark skies and brooding, mildly pissed, calls for Scots Independence! Cry Freedom…. !



Time for some comment from ex-Tory MP and barrister Jerry Hayes

jerryhayes5“I know this is the silly season and I enjoy the manufactured stories about skate boarding ferrets, trampolining squirrels and Diane Abbott having a functioning brain rather than a bowl of custard as much as anybody. The Amish Wing of the Tories nowadays avoid the grouse moors and prefer bespoke baby seal clubbing holidays in Nova Scotia. Corbynistas are in a bit of a dilemma though. Normally they would be off to the socialist paradise of Venezuela, but sadly this gloriously successful country has been systematically undermined by Imperialist American running dogs, forcing its benign government to arrest the traitors, spies and saboteurs that make up the press, judiciary and any political opposition.

So apart from the Trump administration making May’s government look strong and stable and the prospect of a world war triggered by two madman with bad hair there isn’t a lot to write about. Yet there is something bizarre occupying tiny Tory minds. The phenomenon that has become Jacob Rees Mogg. The peculiar case of the Mogg in the night. Now Moggy is a decent old cove and a genuine, rather than manufactured eccentric, unlike Despicable Me impersonator Bozo. Mind you, if someone was brave enough to crack open their sperm banks in 50 years time they would be disappointed. The the tanks would have run dry. These guys don’t come fecund best. Moggy in the sanctity of a catholic marriage and Bozo like an alley cat on viagra. If the the Tory bible, Conservative Home, is to be believed (it’s more Old Testament than New filled with lots of old smite) the Bozo joke is wearing thin and they seem to prefer the cut of young Moggy’s jib. Most sentient folk would scream with hysterical laughter at the thought of a Mogg premiership, but remember we are talking about the Conservative Party many of whom don’t always take their medication and once, when in a floridly Psychotic state, actively considered making Andrea Loathesome their leader.

I haven’t a clue who will be the next Tory leader. But it will be sooner rather than later. This is the most incompetent government I have ever had the misfortune to witness. At a time when we should be in concessionary mode with the EU, Madame is sending edicts from the top of some Swiss mountain about hardening our position. They just haven’t got a clue. And the right wing press cheer her on by calling any of us who commit the heresy of not saying that Brexit will bring us a glorious future traitors. Someone pray for us.

I’m probably wrong but I suspect that Madame will be dissuaded from soldiering on until Armageddon in 2019 by her husband Philip. It will then be too late as we would have been cast into the seventh circle of hell by Barnier and his gang of cheese eating surrender monkeys.

The Tory party conference will be a jittery affair. No great cheers for Madame who will be treated with the respect one gives to a family pet which will have to be put down but nobody has the courage to decide precisely when. It will be dominated by the leadership hopefuls beauty parade. A bit like Love Island for old people. Where everyone gets fucked”

Jerry Hayes Blog 

(Jerry is a good friend.  I’m still not convinced that he is a real Tory – a ‘Secret Liberal’ ?  But a good lawyer and a good friend to me over many years. Helped me greatly some time ago when I needed help.  Did not hesitate for a moment to help.)

Rive Gauche: Trump removing statues?

I will, of course, return to detailed analysis of the laws of our realm when August comes to an end and we move towards an even more ‘dystopian world’ under the Tories and President Trump.

Until then… I shall smoke a few cigars, drink some whisky, enjoy some small Cafe Creme cigars and marvel.   I shall also walk 15 miles a day until the end of the year…rain or shine. I have many rain hats.

Guest Post: What Do You Need to Become a Private Investigator in New Jersey?

What Do You Need to Become a Private Investigator in New Jersey?
Clark Palmer


There aren’t as many careers that can be as fulfilling and exciting as being a private investigator. If you are the type of person who has a sense of adventure, a knack for getting hunches right, and a keen eye for details, then this job may just be for you.


Most importantly, this kind of service is in high demand in many places all over the country, and being a private investigator in New Jersey is one of the most lucrative assignments you can ever have. As a highly populated and diverse state, New Jersey residents have growing needs for domestic investigations such as those involving spousal infidelity, child custody, and the like.


Top pay

According to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are close to 300 licensed private investigators working in New Jersey as of 2012, and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development projects is anticipating this number to grow by a rate of 8% annually up to the year 2020.


It might interest you to know as well that, as of 2012, the annual median salary of private detectives in the state was pegged at $54,370, with the average salary for those in the top tenth percentile reaching as high as $90,980.


Getting licensed

If you are thinking of getting into this line of work, do know that it is a highly regulated and licensed profession. This is justifiably so since it involves handling sensitive information, taking undercover action and interacting with other individuals. Here are the steps that you need to take to become a full-fledged, legally practicing private investigator in New Jersey:


Meet the minimum age and residency requirements. You should be a resident of the United States and at least 25 years of age to become eligible for licensing as a private investigator in New Jersey.  

Attain relevant education and career experience. For you to become a licensed private detective in the state, you must prove that you have had at least 5 years of experience as a police officer with a local or state department, or an investigator within a country, city, state or federal organization. Strictly speaking, there is no requirement for a particular college course or degree in order to become a private investigator. However, having a degree in criminal justice or similar related fields is an advantage because you gain relevant knowledge in the criminal justice system.

Submit to electronic fingerprinting. You need to submit to electronic fingerprinting process before applying for a license. Contact the New Jersey State Police–Private Detective Unit at (609) 633-9835 to request for a temporary agent license number, which will be needed in the Universal Fingerprint Form. You will then need this to set an appointment on where you can also find accredited MorphoTrak sites that you can visit where the fingerprinting will be carried out. Note that this process will cost you a fee of $67.50.

Apply for the license. After meeting these initial requirements, you may now proceed to actually applying for a license to become a private investigator in New Jersey. Accomplish the form (available online at: and submit it to the New Jersey State Police together with the following:

  • $250 application fee (for individuals)
  • Passport-size photo
  • At least 5 professional references on your competency as a licensed private investigator
  • Accomplished and notarized Authorization for Release of Information form (included in the general application form)
  • A Detective Agency License Surety Bond of at least $3,000 (for individuals)

You may mail the submission to the New Jersey State Police: Private Detective Unit, P.O. Box 7068, West Trenton, NJ 08628.

Don’t forget to renew your license every two years, where you must also make sure that your surety bond is updated. You will have to re-submit your fingerprints again through the same online process.

Get affiliated. Once that you have received your license, congratulations! You can now get to work or enjoy gainful employment as a private detective in New Jersey. To enhance your practice and gain credibility, consider joining professional organizations in the state or national level. These memberships can help a lot in terms of networking and continuing training and education through conferences and seminars.

A rewarding career

Embarking on a career as a licensed professional private detective may take some effort, but these are all worth it in ensuring that you present your best, trustworthy self to clients. You may choose to strike it out on your own and build your own detective agency, or you can find rewarding employ for law firms, insurance companies, the local or state government, and even private individuals.


Rive Gauche: The definition of Law

This is not to say that I have not enjoyed my time reading and teaching law.  I have. I have also met and taught some very interesting men and women.  But, frankly, there are better things to study and do in one’s life than be involved in a primitive construct because human beings have not worked out how to behave decently to each other in business, families and life generally.

I studied law at Leicester University for my first degree – turning a place down at Cambridge University in favour of Leicester – a good faculty.  Largely a waste of time.  I went to seven lectures and about twenty tutorials in my three years there.   I found reading the law books far more interesting than attending boring law lectures and tutorials were merely an opportunity for the tutor to prove how clever he / she was and how ‘thick or lazy’ the students were.

I also found that a few of the law lecturers were rather pompous. Most were good men and women, particularly Professor Edward Griew.  I did not find any pompous lecturers when I attended Geology, philosophy or art lectures in other faculties.  I regret reading law now, as I look back.  I would have had a more enjoyable life in another field of study! But there we are.

Would I recommend Law to a young person today? Absolutely not.

But there we are.  I am 64…And one only lives once – although I shall devote some time to trying to work out how to live again…possibly, if a dull hour comes up!

Thought du Jour…

The Great Three Dongle Saga and life in Perth this week

The Great Three Dongle Saga and life in Perth this week

It has been a strange week.  I have had no net access because the mast based in Scone where I live has been down – save for five minutes when a guy with a screwdriver managed to ‘fix’ it for five minutes.  I was able to send one email and publish a blog post.  On my hourly visits to the excellent Three shop in Perth High Street I was given various explanations from the ‘mast is down’, to the the truly fantastic excuse given to me on Monday evening that the farmer won’t allow the man with the screwdriver onto his land where the mast is situated because he is about to harvest some god forsaken cash crop.  The staff at the Three Shop in Perth High St are amusing young people and even they could barely keep a straight face when I burst out laughing.

But there we are – not the end of the world save for the fact that no-one has paid me through Bank transfer, but money was waiting for me in Paypal.  I was able to eat some biscuits which I found in a cupboard and dined last night on Weetabiix (four of the totally tasteless items) soaked in powdered Chocolate drink which was the only item in my ‘larder’.  It was surprisingly good.  Fortunately, I had sufficient in the way of smoking materials –  but no wine or whisky.

A man who begs for money in Perth High Street refused to pay back the £40 I lent him 10 days ago and then tried to assault me when I had the temerity to ask for it back.  He ran up to me and threatened to punch me. That would have been foolish.  I still retain a Black belt in Wado-Ryu Karate and he would have been easy to get on the ground with my boot on his head while I called the Police. I have been attacked twice in my life – once, breaking up a fight in student lodgings at Leicester University.  A housemate was being kicked on the ground in the kitchen of the house I shared with others.  I stopped three people continuing their assault by using my Karate skills but turned when a man behind me from Cambridge University called out and then smashed an empty milk bottle into my face which broke.  I lost most of my teeth, my nose was broken and all the skin on the front of my face below the eyes fell down my face.  I was lucky that the assault did not blind or kill me.  I was with a High Court judge’s daughter at the time.  She was brilliant and got a taxi to take me to hospital where I was  stitched up.  I refused their kind offer to stay in hospital overnight. 

The next morning I was visited by the Vice Chancellor of the University, Sir Fraser Noble and a very senior Police officer from Leicester Police.  While the Chief Superintendent was interviewing me, one of the thugs from Cambridge University of the night before  burst into my room and threatened me with more violence if I gave evidence in Court.  He was promptly arrested by the Detective Chief Superintendent.   My assailant got off with a fine of £50.  He was charged with common assault – a Police error which Leicester Police apologised for – an administrative error. The father of my female friend who was with me on the night of the attack was a siting High Court judge and was  appalled. He should have charged with GBH S18 OAPA 1861 and would probably have been given 6-10 years by an English Red Judge.  A bone splinter from the assault is 1/4 of an inch from my brain but was deemed by the surgeon too dangerous to attempt to remove.  I have lived with it for 40 years.  The surgeon wryly advised me not to fall forwards onto my face!  The QC who heard my application for a grant from The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board was excellent.  He was shocked by the case and awarded me the maximum award then of £1600 which I received by cheque within days. I spent some of it most wisely on fags and cheap wine.  It helped by recovery greatly!

The man on the Sex Offenders Reigister in Perth High St who refused to repay the £40 I lent him backed off and went back to his ‘Begging Pitch’ in Perth High Street when he realised that I was serious about my preparedness to use my Karate skills on him if he tried to assault me. ( I found out from a resident in Perth that he is on the Sex Offenders  Register.)  I did not know this when I lent him £40.. I have a photograph of him conning people in the Street for money and I have no qualms about publishing it.  The local newspaper are interested in the story.

Perth City Council were ‘Useless on an Industrial Scale’ when I told them of the incidents I have related above.  There was a bit of amateur  dramatics hand wringing but they said it was a Police matter. They did not seem to mind that a registered sex offender who begs illegally on their High Street  tried to assault me  in their ‘Fair City on the main High Street in broad daylight.  Pathetic, really.  Park on a street in Perth illegally and they will happily issue a ‘juicy Parking Fine’. through their ‘Army of Uniformed Assault Troop’ traffic wardens.  The City is crawling with traffic Wardens.  One Sunday morning at 7.00 am, I was the only person in Perth High Street – apart from three keen Traffic Wardens armed to to the teeth with electronic ticketing machines. No shops open until 11.00 on Perth High Street – apart from supermarkets and a coffee shop.  No cars to ‘ticket’ though so we had a natter.   I told one of them that I might hire a car so I could drive onto Perth High Street and park illegally early on a Sunday morning to ‘taunt  him’ and drive off when he approached eager to ‘ticket’.  He laughed!  I like the traffic wardens I talk to – friendly blokes.

I gather that ‘local Rozzers’  in the form of Police Scotland lifted him (I am a fan of Police officers generally, and Police Scotland have been particularly helpful to me) – but the registered sex offender  was back conning people out of money in Perth High St within an hour.  His name is Eddie Lines and here is a picture of him in military camouflage gear.

It was suggested to me that I consult a lawyer in Perth and sue the registered sex offender, drug user and trainee psychopath.  I told the kindly resident of Perth  that I knew more than enough law to deal with that myself – having run a large law school for many years and taught law for nearly 40 years. I would win, of course, but I don’t think I could be bothered to wait years to get the damages.  The law moves very slowly in damages cases in Scotland, I am told.

If you are reading this – it means that the Three mast in Scone has been fixed by the man with the screwdriver and I can get back to the very serious matter of commenting sensibly and acerbically (on occasion) on the laws of our fair and wonderfully badly governed  United Kingdom.  I will also be able to access Paypal and buy some food. The Salvation Army in Perth very kindly gave me some food and I did have some Weetabix (4) for dinner. 

RIP Andrew Keogh, Barrister, law blogger and friend

I am very sorry to learn of the death of another very good friend of mine in recent weeks.  Andrew Keogh helped me greatly when I was very ill some time ago and was a very amusing and kind man.  He was also a fine lawyer.

The Guardian Obituary in full
Andrew Milner

“My friend Andrew Keogh, who has died of lung cancer aged 66, was a barrister, blogger, writer and political activist.

He was called to the bar in 1978 and, starting out in law in London in the 1980s, was committed to the legal aid system and to resisting the then often transparent racism of the Brixton police. A friend recalls being astonished at how elegant Andrew looked in pinstripe suit, wig and gown. Andrew explained that “if you’re a poor, black kid being fitted up by the Brixton nick, that’s how you want your brief to look”.

He joined No5 chambers, and became a widely respected jury advocate, known for his integrity and his willingness to devote time to helping younger members of his profession. He was also a writer, author of the longstanding White Rabbit blog, of two published novels, twentytwelve (2006), and The Killing Room (2013), and of the unfinished Diary of a Jobbing Barrister.

Andrew was born in Leeds, son of Austin, a headteacher, and Hilda, a district nurse. He was brought up a Roman Catholic, and was educated at St Michael’s college, a Catholic grammar school, but later converted to Anglicanism. He went on to the London School of Economics, where he studied political science and then law, and to the Inns of Court.

Despite living and working in London, he thought of himself as a Yorkshireman, and was a loyal supporter of Leeds United and Yorkshire county cricket club. Probably cricket mattered the most to him: his parents had lived within easy walking distance of Headingley cricket ground and he regularly went with his father to watch both Yorkshire and England. He inherited a magnificent collection of Wisden from his father, which has now been bequeathed to his sons.

YUU is backing better backs with the launch of their new ergonomic school bag

YUU is backing better backs with the launch of their new ergonomic school bag

With the summer holidays in full swing it won’t be long before parents start thinking about kitting out their child ready for the new school year.  The spotlight has been firmly on school bags in recent years with vast research urging parents to think carefully about their child’s school bag and posture in relation to back health.  In response to this, the leading children’s backpack brand YUU are launching their new ergonomically-designed school backpack, YUUschool, along with their ‘backing better backs’ campaign to encourage parents to reassess their child’s backpack and posture to avoid any unnecessary backpain in the future.

Worryingly, according to research carried out by the British Chiropractic Association

, a third of parents have reported that their child has suffered from some form of back or neck pain in the past.  Whilst backpain can be caused by a number of factors, unsuitable school bags are widely accepted as a common cause.   Studies have shown that up to 4 million children in the UK are walking with school bags that are too heavy for them and could potentially be harming their spines.  Experts have stated that a child should be able to carry up to 10% of their own bodyweight without causing any damage but a survey by charity BackCare UK

highlighted that this is often exceeded, with 11-12 year olds being the highest risk group found to be carrying on average 13% of their body weight (in some cases children were carrying up to 60%!).         

Rachael Withe, marketing manager of YUU comments “Any parent would be alarmed to learn of the unseen damage their child’s backpack could be causing.  Going to school brings with it a need to carry certain items and although we don’t always have control over the weight of those items, we do have control over the way in which that weight is carried.  This is exactly why we have designed the new YUUschool according to ergonomic principals so that weight is distributed evenly and symmetrically over the child’s body.”   

Paediatric Osteopath Annie Khenian adds “Children’s spines grow and develop rapidly, especially in adolescence, and it’s imperative that correct posture is maintained and care is taken in these formative years to avoid problems later in life.  Many children carry substantial weight to, from and around school on a daily basis. Often the weight of the rucksack pulls children backwards which in turn prompts them to lean forward or arch their backs to keep the weight centred.  Over time this position can compress the spine causing pain and discomfort.  We would always advise parents to invest in a supportive backpack”

The new YUUschool backpack is packed full of scientific ergonomic features, including vertical compartmentalisation of the pockets so weight is kept higher up and closer to the spine.  The s-shaped padded straps are sewn close together not just for additional comfort but also to centralise weight to the body.  The deep pockets combined with the secure straps have been thoughtfully designed and positioned to avoid weight falling down into the middle of the bag which causes weight to be unevenly distributed and concentrated in one area causing unnecessary pressure and pain.  The full extent of the YUUschool’s ergonomic design and the benefits this brings can be found at

Kellie Forbes, co-founder of YUU adds “For most parents this time of year is usually a race against the clock to get all the usual supplies of uniform, stationary and books fully stocked.  However, this is also the perfect time to re-assess your child’s backpack and make sure it offers suitable protection for the busy year ahead.  Our 10-step Backing Better Backs checklist offers a simple risk-assessment that parents can follow to help prevent painful back problems in the future.”

The YUUschool is available to buy from for £40.  There is currently a promotion for a “back to school bundle” which includes the YUUschool backpack, a gym bag, a waterbottle, stationary set and notebook for £49.50 (a saving of 25%).   The website also offers advice and support for back care, including a 10-step backing better backs checklist. 


Rive Gauche: Pensioner stuffs £10 into Solicitor’s mouth

The full story is here…

A pensioner stuffed a £10 note into a solicitor’s mouth after he was confronted for repeatedly sneaking into first class.

Barrister Dr Peter Ellis became irritated by a 69-year-old passenger who repeatedly came into the first class section of the carriage to help himself to pretzel snacks and wine.

On the fifth occasion Dr Ellis felt compelled to speak to pensioner Leslie Gilmer. A court heard this led Gilmer to return to the carriage and stuff a £10 note into the mouth of the former hospital doctor and personal injury lawyer.

The bizarre events on the rail journey to Exeter one November evening were told to Exeter magistrates court.

Prosecutor Sonia Croft said Gilmer was acting in a ‘rather obnoxious manner’ as he helped himself to snacks on a food and drinks trolley which were complimentary goods just for first class passengers.

When Dr Ellis challenged Gilmer, the Dublin born defendant retorted:”I’m hungry. I will see you in court.”

But the magistrates heard Gilmer then returned to the carriage and forcefully rammed the £10 note into Dr Ellis’ mouth.

Retired engineer Gilmer was spoken to by police at Exeter St David’s railway station and he admitted throwing the tenner but claimed any physical contact was accidental.

Miss Croft said the court had to decide whether the incident was a ‘pure accident or a deliberate or reckless assault’.

Dr Ellis gave evidence and told the JPs that Gilmer was involved in a disturbance with train staff over the state of the toilets when they embarked on the trip saying they were a ‘f***ing disgrace’ and were not working.

He said Gilmer was also involved ‘in a discussion about whether he could have some alcohol and snacks from the first class trolley’ – even though he had bought £47.50p tickets for standard or second class.



For my part…I have some sympathy for the pensioner.  Lawyers can be rather tedious at times. There does seem to be some confusion in the story above about whether the recipient of the £10 note was a solicitor or barrister…but there we are.


Ex MP and Barrister Jerry Hayes writes as no other… Marvellous!



Politics has become a Spectator sport. A balmy summer’s evening with barmy politicians hoovering up large quantities of acceptable bubbly, spitting venom and bile. There was enough malice aforethought to make it a murder scene. Except that in politics you can die a thousand deaths. What doesn’t kill you makes you stranger.

At this stage I would usually write, ‘if only I was a fly on the wall….’ But I didn’t need to be. Every wonderful, excruciating and joyously embarrassing detail has been lovingly salacioused into the press. Of course, there were cameos from the arachnidian Priti Patel (God, that woman scares me) and other minor players like Loathesome, Moggy and a few Westminster Disneyland delusionists who honestly believe that one day they will be Prime Minister. Even Madame, like Banquo’s ghost, briefly ectoplasmed an appearance. But the poor thing has a horror of meeting people who are not police and fireman and a suffers from a crippling phobia of journalists. I am told that she was devastated and shed a tear. But only a small one. Not to worry though, she is off on a walking holiday with Philip. What could possibly go wrong?

But all eyes were on the two feuding families the Johnsons and the Davis mob. It would have been like watching that menacing part of Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet when the Capulets and the Montagues strut their stuff. But that’s probably too dignified. More like the rival street gangs the Sharks and the Jets.

My old chum David Davis is the master of the wind up and exudes a genuine charm that Johnson merely fabricates. He know just the right scab to pick and the put down that will send Bozo into a frenzied sulk. Firstly, Davis charmed and kissed sister Rachel. Boasting that he is wooing her back into the Conservative fold. Then he taunts that our Foreign Secretary is a failure. Bozo’s mob then threaten to ‘kick him in the bollocks’. It was all wonderfully grown up. Herogram for Tim Shipman for reporting it all.

Yet it has been a weird week. Not unlike those balloon debates we used to have at school. You had to give a reasoned debate about whom you will chuck out. May has gone but is still clinging onto the the basket with her finger tips. But at the moment it is Hammond whooshing through the air. There has been a concerted and successful effort to smear him. Firstly, the cabinet leak, from more than one source, about his ‘sexist’ remark that driving a train is so easy even women could do it. This shows a terrible lack of judgement. Would you feel comfortable with Patel, Loathesome or Greening driving a packed commuter train? I’d feel safer if Richard Hammond were at the controls.

And then there is the ‘let’s end austerity and make ourselves popular with public sector workers by chucking them some dosh,’ brigade which is apparently let by my cousin (I doubt whether she realises it) Justin Greening. This is quite bonkers. Have they all forgotten the wage inflation of the sixties and seventies that made us the Sick Man of Europe? Apparently so. And they do so at their peril. So now it is Hammond who is the dead man walking. He is the one oozing common sense. Bizarre.

But the Bozo star appears to be on the wane. Judging by Fraser Nelson’s last piece, the Speccie (or rather the splendid Andrew Neil who has an attic full of Johnsonian broken promises) has taken against him. The gist was that the shagathon that has added to the gaity of political life could become a serious turn off for voters. I am inclined to agree.

Many years ago when I was writing for Punch we had a front page predicting that Davis would one day lead the Conservative party. We were about twenty years out of date. Oh, and have you noticed his uncanny resemblance between Davis and Martin Shaw of the Professionals and Judge Deed?

May is now at her most vulnerable. MP’s are away. Mobiles will be throbbing. She has created a government of all the talons.


Always a pleasure to publish Jerry’s writing on my blog.  A good friend to me of quite a few years now – and helped me greatly when I needed assistance. .

Law Review: The end of an era, the beginning of a new era.


“The UK Supreme Court have published Lord Neuberger’s and Lord Clarke’s valedictory remarks.

Lady Hale, Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Sir David Steel, James Eadie QC, Karon Monoghan QC, Robert Bourns (Law Society) and Andrew Langdon QC all give valedictory remarks on the occasion of Lord Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court, and Lord Clarke’s final sitting in the UK Supreme Court.

Lord Neuberger was made a QC in 1987 and appointed Lord Justice of Appeal in 2004. On 1 October 2009 he became Master of the Rolls before being appointed President of the Supreme Court in 2012. Lord Clarke spent 27 years at the bar specialising in maritime and commercial law and was appointed Master of the Rolls and Head of Civil Justice in 2005….”

Rive Gauche: A restaurant review done several years ago

Some years ago I did a few restaurant reviews for an excellent website,  Here is  a ‘review’ I wrote some years back in the good old days when one could smoke as one ate and drank vino rosso. 

A Bar & Dining Room
Somewhere in London

Meal for two with wine: £90
Nil points

Charon goes to a restaurant run by East European border guards?

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

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

“I am one.”

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

“For England.” I replied.

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

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

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

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

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

“Good day to you.”

“And to you.” I replied.

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

“Just doing a bit of surfing.”

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

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

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

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

“Been to Church?”

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

“You are ready with your orders?”

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

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

Postscript:  What is wrong in the picture of the food and wine glass?

Several things:  1.  The wine glass is absurdly empty. 2.  The Chef may have been smoking the garden again believing that a piece of lamb needs to have grass sprouting out of the bone  3.  The plate is almost empty of sustaining food, although I did detect some mash and a brussell sprout hiding in plain sight with a carrot.

Rive Gauche: Law firm boss suspended for shouting F**k Off at Mediation

RollonFriday story here:

“A solicitor has been suspended for three months and fined £20,000 for a string of professional disgraces.

Michael Horne attracted the complaints while running his Hereford-based firm Kidwells which he set up in 2008 after qualifying as a solicitor in 2006. Horne, whose previous career was as a ‘businessman’, has previously attracted positive press attention for flying around in a helicopter and talking up a gym and massage centre he planned to build alongside his firm’s offices. He is less keen to address allegations that in the 1990s he was convicted of benefit fraud and served time for stealing motor boats, failing to respond to requests for comment from RollOnFriday.

In one incident considered by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, a solicitor named as ‘Ms FS’ resigned as a consultant for Kidwells to work for a rival firm and claimed £341 from Horne in unpaid fees. Horne sued her for £15,000 which he accused her of losing the firm by mishandling matters……”