Professor R.D. Charon wishes to convey a few thoughts

I often marvel that my academic brother – R.D. – continues to have thoughts.  He ran riot some years ago – so I now have to spend valuable time – which I charge for, naturally –  checking his posts before I post them.

‘Approved Post’ from Professor R.D. Charon

It is some time since I marvelled at the ability of law students to come to terms with the principles of law and, indeed, our legal system.  Before the appointment of a non-lawyer to the role of Lord Chancellor, we had a fighting chance of ensuring that our legal system, our law, would act in the interests of our people.

Unfortunately, because of cuts to the legal aid budget, it may be that those who need access to good legal representation won’t get it.   I have no doubt that many lawyers will do what they can to help,  but we don’t expect bankers to work for free – or, indeed, in the national interest – so why should Mr Grayling expect lawyers to do so?

I have no other thoughts to share with you this day – so I will leave you to get on with watching the opiate of UK television.  Pity that Strictly Come Dancing has ended…. kept many of us occupied and amused and not causing riot and affray on the streets of our fine nation.

Goodnight…

 

Professor R.D. Charon covers for his brother who fell backwards into a bath

My brother, Charon QC, incapacitated by falling backwards into a bath while shaving at the sink some months back – sustaining spinal injuries in a manner almost worthy of a Darwin Award – has asked me to write a blog post.

I don’t like to disappoint my brother, but I am otherwise engaged –  watching the dancing in Blackpool on Strictly Come Dancing in the hope of securing a position as a judge.  I am unlikely to secure a position as a judge in the law.  We do not feel the need to trouble academics with the burdens of judicial office in the England & Wales jurisdiction.

As it is highly unlikely that my brother actually read my last post on his blog – he may do so this time – I thought I would dig up my previous post…

And here it is…. a vignette from the history of our sceptred and, at times, bizarre island nation… 

Taking an evidence sourced approach  to blogging -  the new ‘fashion’:

This is  what happened only last night when I nearly died laughing.

Unfortunately, the issue is not as simple as I assert with that proposition.

I had not considered the possibility of ambulance chasers in my vicinity at the time of laughing at tweets.  Unfortunately, this Wikipedia entry, unedited by the new Tory Party co-Chairman Grant Shapps MP, is not that helpful in defining ‘tweet’.

I was laughing privately and not in a manner likely to worry the Director of Public Prosecutions (Even on a bad day at the office). No menacing laughter justifying a prosecution near Doncaster under s. 127 per theTwitter Joke Trial. Not even the hint of affray, riot, treason, or even  failing to kettle myself when asked to do so, in a group of two, by a police officer.   (See the CPS guidelines for public order offences – whether you intend to amuse yourself by committing same or not, as may be the case).

I was laughing alone.  I did not feel the need to seek asylum at the Ecuador Embassy in London.

Events got a bit out of hand…. the following extracts from official documents provided to The Home Office and other relevant bodies serve as a narrative.

STATEMENT:  FROM THE DECEASED – Professor R D Charon

1. I died. I am not, in fact, dead – as will be clear even to judges seeking an appearance in The Daily Mail  (Here and here)  -  cf: despite the death certificate issued by Dr X who has not yet been struck off. (Infra)

2. However – in support of my claim for PPI, whiplash injury, loss of consortium with myself and all other losses, as yet unquantifiable,  but which will almost certainly become clear by the time we get to court, I claim that I suffered nervous shock (without even a hint of novus actus interveniens in between)  after reading the death certificate (infra) which Dr X handed to me after clinically processing  my Centurion AMEX card on his portable electronic wealth modifying device (WMD).

3.  The doctor attended at my rooms in Bloomsbury, accompanied by a solicitor.  They happened to be passing – driving a Toyota Priapic hybrid car en route to a car crash nearby, when they heard my laughter and broke in on the off chance that I may need assistance.

EXHIBIT A
MEDICAL CERTIFICATE

Attended at a flat in Bloomsbury. The law professor was sitting in a chair at a desk. I was able to deduce that he was a law professor by his mode of dress.  He was wearing full academic regalia, including mortar board and red doctoral gown. The professor’s iMac computer indicated that his name was “@ProfRDCharon”.  This was apparent even without an on site autopsy. I was able to form this view by looking at his twitter history (infra)  – The professor’s  browser  revealed that he was, and certainly had been when alive, on twitter. Professor Charon was a ‘goner’.  Dead.   Died Laughing.  Definitely dead.  A solicitor who attended with me also took the view that the professor was dead after consulting an accident claims website to gain a ‘value priced’ billable view.

Signed
Dr X

[A] .  I observed Professor Charon at 9.58 pm.  He had been laughing. He was in his chair at his desk.  He wasn’t moving that much after I had to break in. He had not responded to a ‘Direct Message’ on twitter for four minutes before, save to type “hahaha….”
I concluded he was dead.
People can die of laughter. He died laughing.

[B]  In support of this I am able to certify  that the cause of death was laughing

As an after thought to the extraordinary evening I had last night when a doctor and a solicitor broke into my rooms in Bloomsbury, unasked, to  declare  me dead -  I was able to resume my life and took the opportunity to ‘google death by laughing’

I read this on a website“In the third century BC, Greek philosopher Chrysippus died of out-of-control laughter after he gave his donkey some wine, and then observed it pigging out on figs… Pietro Aretino (below), writer, raconteur, and the founder of “literary pornography,” is said to have died in 1556 of suffocation from laughing too much…

Read more on death by laughter on Wikiepedia…why not? – death by laughter is a bit over rated and didn’t work for me…..

AND… from the website, aforeto mentioned:

“More recently… On March 24th of 1975, Alex Mitchell, a 50-year-old bricklayer in Norfolk, England, kicked his bucket while howling with laughter over the “Kung Fu Capers” episode of his favorite TV show, “The Goodies.” The episode featured a kilt-clad Scotsman attacking a vicious-looking blood pudding with his bagpipes, and roundly trouncing it. After laughing uncontrollably for twenty-five minutes, Mitchell finally succumbed to heart failure on his sofa. His bereaved widow reportedly sent a letter to the producers of “The Goodies” in which she thanked them for making Mitchell’s final moments so enjoyable!”

While I am, of course, sympathetic to the last unfortunate demise – it is pleasing to see that The Goodies amused someone. I am still recovering from the trauma in childhood of watching same on television.

A most puzzling evening.  I continue, however, to live and I am grateful to my brother Charon QC for this opportunity to inform on this pleasing event in his blog.

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, 2009

Professor R D Charon nearly died laughing… strange… but true? Evidence based blogging….

Taking an evidence sourced approach  to blogging -  the new ‘fashion’:

This is  what happened only last night when I nearly died laughing.

Unfortunately, the issue is not as simple as I assert with that proposition.

I had not considered the possibility of ambulance chasers in my vicinity at the time of laughing at tweets.  Unfortunately, this Wikipedia entry, unedited by the new Tory Party co-Chairman Grant Shapps MP, is not that helpful in defining ‘tweet’.

I was laughing privately and not in a manner likely to worry the Director of Public Prosecutions (Even on a bad day at the office). No menacing laughter justifying a prosecution near Doncaster under s. 127 per the Twitter Joke Trial. Not even the hint of affray, riot, treason, or even  failing to kettle myself when asked to do so, in a group of two, by a police officer.   (See the CPS guidelines for public order offences – whether you intend to amuse yourself by committing same or not, as may be the case).

I was laughing alone.  I did not feel the need to seek asylum at the Ecuador Embassy in London.

Events got a bit out of hand…. the following extracts from official documents provided to The Home Office and other relevant bodies serve as a narrative.

STATEMENT:  FROM THE DECEASED – Professor R D Charon

1. I died. I am not, in fact, dead – as will be clear even to judges seeking an appearance in The Daily Mail  (Here and here)  -  cf: despite the death certificate issued by Dr X who has not yet been struck off. (Infra)

2. However – in support of my claim for PPI, whiplash injury, loss of consortium with myself and all other losses, as yet unquantifiable,  but which will almost certainly become clear by the time we get to court, I claim that I suffered nervous shock (without even a hint of novus actus interveniens in between)  after reading the death certificate (infra) which Dr X handed to me after clinically processing  my Centurion AMEX card on his portable electronic wealth modifying device (WMD).

3.  The doctor attended at my rooms in Bloomsbury, accompanied by a solicitor.  They happened to be passing – driving a Toyota Priapic hybrid car en route to a car crash nearby, when they heard my laughter and broke in on the off chance that I may need assistance.

EXHIBIT A
MEDICAL CERTIFICATE

Attended at a flat in Bloomsbury. The law professor was sitting in a chair at a desk. I was able to deduce that he was a law professor by his mode of dress.  He was wearing full academic regalia, including mortar board and red doctoral gown. The professor’s iMac computer indicated that his name was “@ProfRDCharon”.  This was apparent even without an on site autopsy. I was able to form this view by looking at his twitter history (infra)  – The professor’s  browser  revealed that he was, and certainly had been when alive, on twitter. Professor Charon was a ‘goner’.  Dead.   Died Laughing.  Definitely dead.  A solicitor who attended with me also took the view that the professor was dead after consulting an accident claims website to gain a ‘value priced’ billable view.

Signed
Dr X

[A] .  I observed Professor Charon at 9.58 pm.  He had been laughing. He was in his chair at his desk.  He wasn’t moving that much after I had to break in. He had not responded to a ‘Direct Message’ on twitter for four minutes before, save to type “hahaha….”
I concluded he was dead.
People can die of laughter. He died laughing.

[B]  In support of this I am able to certify  that the cause of death was laughing

As an after thought to the extraordinary evening I had last night when a doctor and a solicitor broke into my rooms in Bloomsbury, unasked, to  declare  me dead -  I was able to resume my life and took the opportunity to ‘google death by laughing’

I read this on a website: “In the third century BC, Greek philosopher Chrysippus died of out-of-control laughter after he gave his donkey some wine, and then observed it pigging out on figs… Pietro Aretino (below), writer, raconteur, and the founder of “literary pornography,” is said to have died in 1556 of suffocation from laughing too much…

Read more on death by laughter on Wikiepedia…why not? – death by laughter is a bit over rated and didn’t work for me…..

AND… from the website, aforeto mentioned:

“More recently… On March 24th of 1975, Alex Mitchell, a 50-year-old bricklayer in Norfolk, England, kicked his bucket while howling with laughter over the “Kung Fu Capers” episode of his favorite TV show, “The Goodies.” The episode featured a kilt-clad Scotsman attacking a vicious-looking blood pudding with his bagpipes, and roundly trouncing it. After laughing uncontrollably for twenty-five minutes, Mitchell finally succumbed to heart failure on his sofa. His bereaved widow reportedly sent a letter to the producers of “The Goodies” in which she thanked them for making Mitchell’s final moments so enjoyable!”

While I am, of course, sympathetic to the last unfortunate demise – it is pleasing to see that The Goodies amused someone. I am still recovering from the trauma in childhood of watching same on television.

A most puzzling evening.  I continue, however, to live and I am grateful to my brother Charon QC for this opportunity to inform on this pleasing event in his blog.

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, 2009

Professor RD Charon opines on the Bar Student Aptitude Test from the éminence grises of The BSB

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, 2009

While I marvel at the ability of regulatory committees to achieve anything of value, The Bar Standards Board, enthused, possibly, by that great festival of corporatism The Olympic games, have gone for Gold with their proposals to introduce a Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT).
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.

I have no idea how The Bar Standards Board cooked up their idea of a Bar Course Aptitude test – but it amuses me to think that it may not have been far from the imagined description above – judging by the plans in place thus far.

A number of points  come to mind.  I address these seriatim:

1. There is no room at the Inn.  There are too many Bar students pushing at the door and frightening the existing members worried about being handed a SAGA holiday brochure by the senior clerk in their early fifties if the thrusting young are not held at bay.

“And Lo”… the éminence grises of The BSB  pronounced the creation of the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT).

2. Competition Law, unintended consequences or even fairly straightforward out of the box thinking not being on the  agenda, presumably: The BSB has gone for an aptitude test which has, Neil Rose of Legal Futures reports, been “set at a level that aims to weed out the bottom 10% of candidates.   The Damoclean sword has been replaced by a bacon slicer.

3. It would appear that a law degree is not a sufficient test of ‘aptitude’ to be a barrister.  Curiously, The BSB  has decided, in its wisdom, not to test English as part of this aptitude for the time being.  One can only surmise that they are rather keen to ensure that the many students from overseas (who return to their own countries and are not a burden to our sceptred isle or the angst of the practising Bar worried about the horde at the gates) continue to come from overseas, pay the fees to them, the Inns and law schools, and then return to their own countries?  I would not wish it to be thought that I suffer from gout to come to such a surmise.

The alternative, possibly rather too radical, proposition of making the Bar Professional Training Course  more difficult to pass – which would probably  achieve the same reduction of numbers objective, give all students a fair chance to take the exam and  benefit the general public onto which the thrusting young barrister is unleashed  – does not appear to have survived the bacon slicer thinking behind the BCAT creation process.

Interestingly, The Bar Standards Board appears to have invented a good old fashioned bogeyman to head criticism off at the pass with this statement – taken from Neil Rose’s report:

Some 64% pass all modules of the BPTC at the first attempt. The application says that as well as showing that “students are admitted who are not capable of passing the course after the one year of academic study for which it is designed”, their presence “immensely diminishes the quality of the learning experience for the class as a whole”.

At the risk of being burned at the stake for apostasy by the éminence grises of The BSB – I would imagine that students with poor English skills being allowed onto the course, may well have a more ‘diminishing the quality of the learning experience for the good guys effect’?  But be that as it may.  Aptitude in English is not a required aptitude for practice at The Bar for the purposes of the bacon slicing designed to repel boarders at the gates of heaven.

I fear that Chris Kenny may have been reading too many editions of Private Eye with this wonderful piece of BBC Burtspeak taken from the Legal Futures article. I sympathise.

LSB chief executive Chris Kenny said the very fact that the test has not operated in practice, other than in limited pilots, means it is “impossible to verify in absolute terms” what impact the test will have on issues such as diversity, and the number or competence of barristers.

“This uncertainly has a material impact on our ability to reach definitive conclusions, both about the impact in relation to individual regulatory objectives and better regulation duties, and our assessment of the broader impact on the overall public interest,” he said.

But it isn’t all bad news: Neil Rose reports BSB chair Baroness Deech saying that far from breaking new ground, the BSB was late to the idea of aptitude testing. “Medics have been doing this for years without any adverse impact on race and class,” she said. Overseas legal bodies also used it, she added.”  So to borrow from the BBC’s excellent Twenty Twelve …”That’s all good”.

And…and at least fee income is being considered – a priority in these dark days..

The BCAT will be in place from this September ahead of applications for the 2013 Bar professional training course opening in November. The application fee for the test will be about £67. All students will be told their scores, but the information will not be passed to course providers.

I am, it has to be said, a bit baffled by the kafkaesque last sentence – “All students will be told their scores, but the information will not be passed to course providers.”  I can only assume that those who failed will be ‘disappeared’ or be given the keys to the library where a revolver and a whisky await, provided at no extra charge. ?

Perhaps I shall telephone the BSB to find out how cunning that latter part of the plan is and what the sentence means in practice.

On that note – given that it is unlikely my colleagues from the world of academe and practice will be able to pull any more stunts over the Long Vacation requiring my analysis, I bid you leave.

If you are short of material to read over the Long Vacation – may I suggest, without irony, my greatest work (infra)  which my brother Charon QC describes thus “If you thought that Shades of Grey was amazing…this mind  ripper will alter your mindset forever.”

I am not quite sure what he meant.  When I first asked him to review my book he replied with the famous aphorism of Sir Maurice Bowra when asked to review a book – “Be sure, I shall lose no time in doing so.”

Professor R.D. Charon LLB (Cantab), BCL, Ph.d,  FRSA
 Author: “Legal Nihilism: Taking Rights Seriously, seriously”, Maninahat Press, 2009

***

Note by Charon QC

My brother has ‘issues’ with the legal establishment.  I have found it better to humour him than engage with him in reasoned rational argument – for therein lies the sort of ‘mania’ experienced by some legal commentators on twitter when they engage the libertarians, trolls and shield munchers.

Guest post: Professor R.D. Charon on the vicissitudes of a career in Law

From time to time I allow my brother, Professor R.D. Charon, to express his more strident views on legal academe by inviting him to do a guest post. Well to the right of Mr Genghis Khan and embittered by an almost invisible career in the back rooms of a university – the worthy professor has advice in plenty for the aspirant law student.  I accept no liability whatsoever for any injury to mind or body (or at all) which may be sustained by the reader who is minded to take Professor Charon’s advice.  Caveat emptor… as we say down at The Old Duck and Dog.

The Vicissitude of a career in Law

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, 2009

I can do no better than reprise my annual address to the new intake of vestal virgins who present themselves at my university each October, their burden of wealth lightened by the accounts department, eager to begin their ‘journey of discovery’ in the Law.

Gentlemen and Ladies, Good morning.

Professor RD Charon plays the opening song   from Cabaret to the audience

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!
Fremde, etranger, stranger.
Gluklich zu sehen, je suis enchante,
Happy to see you, bleibe, reste, stay.

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome
Im Cabaret, au Cabaret, to Cabaret

Meine Damen und Herren, Mesdames et Messieurs,
Ladies and Gentlemen! Guden Abend, bon soir,
We geht’s? Comment ca va? Do you feel good?
I bet you do!
Ich bin euer Confrecier; je suis votre compere…
I am your host!

Well.. there we are… you few, you happy few, you band of brothers who, despite the endeavours of Mr Michael Gove, a political Colossus who strides the empire of his own vanity, have arrived at our university to begin your studies in the Laws of England & Wales with a soupçon of European law woven pervasively through the syllabus to equip you to deal with Johnny Foreigner’s issues across The Channel, should you have the misfortune to be involved in same.

A few words to encourage you. Approximately two percent of you gathered here today will defeat the examiners – and make no mistake, at this university, we are out to get you – you will secure First Class Honours.  Given the reputation of our university, such an award, maxima cum laude, will provide a most satisfactory start to your career. Fifteen per cent of you will secure honours at Upper Second, giving you a sporting chance with the leading firms and chambers, and 40 per cent will have to do what you can in the legal world with a Lower Second.  For the gentlemen and gentleladies among you who regard your lives as a crime in progress, as Hunter S. Thompson would say, and secure a Third – this is a Certificate of Incompetence and it may be best that you leave your alma mater and head off , post haste, to the Police Community Support Officer’s recruitment centre – the address to which is helpfully provided by us in your ‘Welcome Pack’.  The Law will not be for you.

The exigencies of modern life, with universities cast into the cauldron of commerce by Two Brains Willett’s and left to fund for themselves, have forced us against the very fabric of our collective wills, to levy a fee for your education well north of the £9000 per annum charged by lesser institutions.  On the upside – you will not be required to sit through a battery hen two year ‘new style’ law degree favoured by some parvenu institutions where black letter law is regarded as an inconvenience and the syllabus is brimming with the practice skills of stapling, creating PDFs, bundling et al and a fair bit of financial mumbo-jumbery cobbled together from the vaults of a US inspired MBA program (sic). Nor will you be taught by sundry gurus, prognosticators and modern day legal profession Messiahs. You will be taught by distinguished men and women who have devoted their lives to the study of law in their field and who, through benefit of reflection, are able to shape the laws of our country by sharing their opinions through learned journals.  Indeed, my own magnum opus, “Legal Nihilism: Taking Rights Seriously, seriously”, Maninahat Press, 2009 was, I am advised, quoted with approval by a High Court judge only yesterday in a complex matter.

As to your future.  From this university a career at the commerical bar or a leading City law firm awaits those who reach the top of the mountain first.  You will be able to writhe with pleasure in the cess pit of mammon for about thirty years before the inevitable decline at the age of 50 and you are de-equitised by your partners at the firm of your choosing or, in the alternative, the senior clerk of your Chambers asks if he may have a ‘quiet word’ and hands you a copy of the latest Saga holiday brochure.

Gentlemen and ladies – the future is bright… the future is in your hands.  Tomorrow belongs to you.  I wish you well.

Professor Charon nods to the students and plays Tomorrow Belongs To Me from Cabaret to inspire the students.

Podcast version – with music

Guest Post: Professor R.D. Charon – The conceits of the ‘Johnny Come Latelies’ in legal education

The conceits of the “Johnny Come Latelies”

BY Professor R.D. Charon LLB (Cantab), BCL, Ph.d,  FRSA
Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence, University of The Rive Gauche, London Faculty, London
Author of the world class bestseller: “Legal Nihilism: A Random Theory of Law”, Maninahat Press, 2009

It is always a pleasure to be invited to ‘Guest’ by my brother Charon QC, whose interest in matters legalo-philosophical and the rigours of academe is, to be generous, probably well past its sell by date; an end hastened, ineluctably,  by his taste for the grape, gin & mango juice and Marlboro cigarettes – hijacking his mind and  his interests to the absurdities of the tabloids and the antics of academics and practitioners in what practitioners are still pleased to call the ‘legal profession’.  I overlook, with some distaste, his use of a noun as a verb in his badly typed email of 2.45 am this morning. I am a guest.  I do not ‘guest’.

But, be that as it may.  I have forgiven him for sending in a review of my best-selling Legal Nihilism: A Random Theory of Law to The Law Quarterly Review -  which comprised of three brief sentences: “I wept with laughter from start to well into the third page. What was the commissioning editor drinking, because I’d like to  speak to his vintner?  Has this book been legalled for compliance under academic terrorism legislation?

To the matter in hand: The issue of the two year law degrees being rushed to market by the providers of vocational stage courses.

It is fair to observe that purveyors of courses leading to qualification as a solicitor or barrister in England & Wales have done rather well out of their ventures;  in one case, attracting the interest of venture capitalists and extremely wealthy american entrepreneurs. It would be churlish not to admit that these same providers have added to the architectural splendours of legal London with their well equipped luxurious buildings and, while some may call for a judicial inquiry into why we have so many students chasing so few jobs, they have provided some good courses. Some students may not agree with this assessment and RollonFriday, an online publication of interest to people like my brother Charon QC, enjoys reminding its readers of the bulging bank accounts of one CEO and his cabal of co-conspirators.

“A spokeswoman for the CoL told RollOnFriday that the eye-watering cost hadn’t yet been finalised, but would be “up to £9,000 per year“. She justified this on the basis that students would get 11 hours a week of “face to face teaching” (and definitely not the need to pay its Chief Exec the thick end of half a million quid a year).  More….

By way of digression; my attention was caught by an article in a newspaper I happened to find on the train:

OXFORD GRADUATE EXAM-FLOP STUDENT SUING FOR £100,000

One could argue that the new universities (and, I have to say with some regret, even Russell Group universities) have only themselves to blame for admitting students who really aren’t up to the mark in some cases.  I do admit to a certain frisson of morning schadenfreude when I read that a law student is suing OXILP for failing to prepare her adequately in examination technique.  There will, of course, with the rise in fees coming, be a great deal more of this.  I am boning up on my Education Law and I would recommend any practitioner who isn’t getting nearly enough conveyancing or personal injury work, to do the same.  My advice is to focus on the Tort of Negligence and to do some serious research into terms of the contract, breach and damages; paying particular attention to ‘remoteness of damage’ in both contract and tort.

From reading the article in The Express, but without having access to the file, it would not be reasonable for me to comment further, save to observe that issues of causation and remoteness could well be a ‘problem’.  We shall see.  The lawyers, after all, have access to the facts.  The journalists, I suspect, are observing that fine tradition of the English amateur and writing without possession of the full facts but giving it some ‘wellie’ for the ‘delectation and delight’ of their readers.

Ah… yes… where was I? I do tend to digress, a habit born of having to do most of the talking in tutorials when my students turned up with hangovers or, in the case of the more adventurous ones, still drunk and still stupid.

I was much taken with a blog post written by Professor Richard Moorhead who is head of department at a ‘real university’, a Russell Group university,  and not one of these more modern creations of increasingly desperate Education ministers from governments Tory and Labour.

Two Years or Not Two years: That’s Not the Question

The article was both informative and subtle in its oblique undertones. I particularly savoured this rather fine passage:

A large part of the College’s claim to be different is built on a parody of ‘traditional’ law schools.

In just those few words, pregnant with meaning, Professor Moorhead hints at dark deeds, lack of intellectual rigour in the PR pronouncements of the new law schools and,  with the skill of a master of the rapier, delivers the coup de gras, the killing insult, that their thinking is ‘built on a parody of ‘traditional’ law schools’. One can almost see the new providers eating their popcorn in the middle of a  planning and strategy meeting  while watching The Paper Chase and the antics of Professor Kingsfield and then ‘brainstorming’ with their wretched flip charts.

It has been a pleasure to ‘Guest’.  I may do it again.  Unfortunately, I do not get a fee for writing these guest posts and there is rarely a drop left to drink when I turn up in Charon QC’s office. I would add, however, that Charon is not a selfish man, far from it.  He just drinks quickly when he hears me coming. This was his explanation last time I made a visit.  I am, however, used to that.

Review: Professor R.D. Charon’s seminal work ‘Modern Real Politik under the Conservative-Liberal-Democrat Axis’

Contexts of coalition ‘real politik’
Professor Theodosius Farrago

If one examines coalitionism, one is faced with a choice: either reject dialectic theory or conclude that the collective is part of the absurdity of sexuality. The subject is interpolated into an objectivism that includes consciousness as a whole. However, in ‘Modern Real Politik under the Conservative-Liberal-democrat Axis’, Professor RD Charon analyses dialectic theory; in The Post-Ironic Crash, however, he denies coalitionism and develops his theory of ‘crass amateurism’ exemplified by career politicians, with little experience of the reality of the world, let alone, the dynamics of economics, taking over a country, “advertising same on Facebook and then trashing the place”. (A borrowing from a rather amusing article Charon saw in the Indie the other day) .

Hegal uses the term ‘dialectic theory’ to denote the role of the artist as observer. Thus, a number of constructions concerning precultural desublimation may be discovered when one looks at the attritional dialectic being pursued by the present coalition government in their pursuit of deficit reduction.

La Fournier states that we have to choose between objectivism and Cameronardist hyperreality. Therefore, the main theme of the works of Professor R.D. Charon is a mythopoetical totality. The failure of objectivism prevalent in Charon’s ‘Modern Real Politik under the Conservative-Liberal-democrat Axis’ is also evident in The Post-Ironic Crash, although in a more capitalist sense. In a sense, the characteristic theme of Hanfkopf’s  analysis of precultural desublimation is the absurdity, and hence the failure, of cultural coalitionism.

The primary theme of the works of Professor R.D. Charon is a self-referential paradox. Many narratives concerning the difference between society and sexual identity exist. It could be said that objectivism implies that narrativity is capable of truth….

All of the above is, of course, complete and utter bollocks. I got it off a random essay generator (and modified it) which someone on twitter tweeted about earlier today.

The trouble is…I have spent much of my life reading law articles which read like the above - particularly in the field of Jurisprudence or ‘legal philosophy’. Some of the stuff is spectacularly opaque.  It reminds me of the story of a student coming out of a lecture given by a ‘great law professor’ and saying “He was brilliant… I couldn’t understand a single word he said.”

As the link to the  ‘Generator’ reveals… there is a  wonderful story about a Professor of Physics who wrote a lot of fantastic bollocks and got it  published !  I quote from the Generator article I found….. ” If you enjoy this, you might also enjoy reading about the Social Text Affair, where NYU Physics Professor Alan Sokal’s brilliant(ly meaningless) hoax article was accepted by a cultural criticism publication”

I do like a bit of hubris in the morning…and schadenfreude with my glass of wine later in the day!

Professor RD Charon puts CLEGGALOMANIA under the spotlight….

I am delighted to be invited by my brother Charon QC to put a few points about the absurd and mildly bewildering rise of Nick Clegg as a mainstream political force. Charon QC is busying himself surfing the internet for interesting places to live on the West Coast of Scotland and is not at all convinced by Clegg and cannot be bothered to spend time on the Lib-Dem surge  doing anything other than ridiculing Mr Clegg’s claims to be the only Northerner standing for PM.

I have both the time and the inclination.

CLEGGALOMANIAC

Main Entry: Clegg·al·o·maniac

Pronunciation: kleg-ˈal-oh-mayneea
Function: noun

Etymology: Latin, Cleggus – a politician with ambition and ideas above his station

1 : a person who suffers from a  misguided sense of his or her own importance in election campaigns: cleggalomaniac
2 : national hysteria suffered by a group during elections, often associated with belief that what they say is important: cleggalomania
3:
a state of advanced dementia where an individual diagnosed as suffering from cleggalomania becomes unhappy when subjected to objective critical scrutiny: cleggalomaniacal

I do find it somewhat astonishing that a political party stating as one of their aims a ‘clean up in politics’ should be financing their campaign upon the proceeds of crime – but there we are. Eric Pickles, hyperventilating  spinmeister in chief for the Tories came up with a wonderful tweet this morning….

RT @mazza1230: @EricPickles #libdems. Weak on Crime. Weak on returning the Proceeds of Crime.

I am grateful, also, to Eric Pickles for pointing out that the Lib-Dems, after putting out photos with fake nurses, have now taken to impersonating police officers. Mr Pickles asked on Twitter only a few hours ago if the Lib-Dems actually know anyone in uniform.  Given their desire to strip our country of a nuclear deterrent (or in the alternative find a way of stuffing cruise missiles into a submarine) I rather suspect they don’t.

Moving on: The Lib-Dems, silent on the issue as to whether 16 year olds should get the vote, are, seemingly, quite happy for 16 year olds to star in porno films and, indeed, watch them.  Curious – prompting Outraged of Mumsnet to be… well, outraged.

I never thought I would ever write or utter these words…. but to coin a phrase… I agree with Kavanagh in The Sun.

Clegg recently suggested that we are far too obsessed with our past glories, winning the World Cup in 1966 and behaving  like a group of lager louts – unlike the French who had ‘ineffable style’.  Kavanagh reminds us, quite rightly, that the French surrendered to the Germans in WWII despite having more troops, built the Arc de Triomphe to celebrate a few battles they won in wars they lost and are probably the most perfidious people in Europe.  Clegg suggested that we need to be put back in our place.  Well, Mr Clegg, you may well be put back in your place,  but I would not want you at the helm of our armed forces if you have these sentiments about our country being put back in its place.  (I find it quite extraordinary, after reading The Sun for only 30 minutes this morning, that I am turning into a ranting nutter and speaking out in support of Mr Kavanagh…. and well done, The Sun, for coming up with CLEGGALOMANIA as a screaming headline!)

Right… let us reflect on the other policies being put forward by Mr Clegg and his happy band of cardigan wearing tree huggers. Mr Clegg wants to give an amnesty for 1 million illegal immigrants and allow immigration to parts of Britain that can absorb more immigrants. Not even the refugee agencies agree with him on this idea.  Mr Clegg did admit that his plans would not, of course, stop immigrants moving once they had been deployed to the remote regions of our nation and that he did not have any plans to put checkpoints along Hadrian’s Wall.

I do not, of course, need to turn my attention to the economy because St Vince has already been revealed as a carpetbagger by Andrew Neil who asked him… “Isn’t the biggest myth about the election your reputation?”

On that note, I am off to a meeting of like minded people and press the ‘Post’ button while my brother, Charon QC, is otherwise engaged  buying a new kilt so he doesn’t feel out of place when he deports himself back to Scotland.

Anyway… Mr Clegg… as you would say up North… ya tarkin sh*te, man!

EDITORIAL NOTE

My brother has extreme views.  This is why he is orf to a meeting with his Tory mates.  I am, of course, ‘liberal’ with a small ‘l’ and I shall, therefore, in this spirit, not remove his preposterous rantings above

Charon QC

The academic approach…

A question of criminal law…

My brother, Charon QC, has little taste for writing on matters of law. This is not the case with me.  I have devoted a large part of my life to writing law books, articles and monographs designed to make the law as obscure as possible to student and practitioner alike.  I believe that I have been quite successful in so doing.

Recently, Ruthie posted a question on Criminal Law on the Geeklawyer website.  It was a post headed ‘Back to School’ 

The question posed 

“As its back to school time Ruthie thought she should pose a mock exam question for budding criminal lawyers.

Ruthie reads today about a woman who has allegedly given white “mints” containing animal sedative to five ponies belonging to her son’s competitors in a show jumping contest in Jersey. The woman was seen by a witness to kick one of the “mints” into the dirt after it fell from a pony’s mouth. One of the “doped” ponies smelt of hay, had slurred speech and was unsteady on its feet. The event was cancelled before any of the ponies ran.

The prize for winning was a mere twenty pounds, but the event was apparently prestigious to win.

So, what if any criminal offence has potentially been committed here? For the purposes of the question assume that English, rather than Jersey law applies, although no doubt some smart arse will give me an answer in Jersey law. Remember to show your reasoning.”

I rarely write for free these days – but, for this question, I make an exception.

Here is my opinion 

At the request of my brother, Charon QC, I am pleased to be able to comment on the question and, perhaps, lower the tone of reasoning and debate.

For thirty years I have taken the view that students should be put to the sword from the very first day in law school. I recall a film, ‘The Paper Chase’, I think it was, where the professor asked a student in his class a question. The student was not able to provide a satisfactory answer. The professor took a dime out of his pocket, held it up and said “here is a dime. Go telephone your mother and tell her you aren’t going to be a lawyer.”

I must enter a caveat to the effect that I know absolutely nothing about the criminal laws of this country. My brother Charon QC does – because he has been up before The Beak several times on speeding charges. He rides a motorcycle, which, frankly, is absurd for a man of his age. It is not so much the riding of the motorcycle which offends my eye. It is the mirrored sunglasses and bright yellow helmet which is an affront to good taste. And as for those bright yellow racing boots, black leathers and bright yellow jacket with a black panther on the back – ridiculous! Mutton dressed as lamb.

I recall Professor Griew many years ago – an excellent role model for any aspiring Professor of Law. (Criminal Lawyers may well be familiar with his book on The Theft Act.). This recollection is not, of course, relevant – but I always think about my tutorials with Edward Griew when I think about Criminal Law. He used to smoke No 6 cigarettes. Older readers will recall that No 6 were cheap and very much smaller than normal King Size cigarettes. He kept them furtively in a metal filing cabinet and would take one out of the packet and smoke it in the tutorial. Sometimes he had two cigarettes during the course of the one hour tutorial. In those days I did smoke cigarettes. It was always a pleasure to smoke in Griew’s tutorials. I am pretty sure all six of us the room smoked then – so it was quite smoky by the end of the hour. I digress. Allow me to return to the point in issue.

Clearly, a number of offences have been committed. The relevant law is contained in The Subversion of Horse Racing Act 2006 which came into force only this morning to cover events such as those postulated in the question. I pride myself on keeping up to date, even in subjects which I know absolutely nothing about and read the Act this morning with my coffee. I do not share my brother’s desire to drink espresso – an affectation which he believes gives him a certain ‘je ne sais crois.’ Nor do I smoke. I take snuff, straight up the barrels of both nostrils. One may do this even in a No Smoking area.

Unusually, The SHRA 2006 has retrospective effect – a new idea put forward by John Reid, the current Home Secretary, to ensure that any blunders by the government can be cleared up after the event.

s23, 24 and 28 are the relevant provisions. S.23 provides that it shall be unlawful to administer any veterinary medicine, drug or preparation likely to enhance the performance of horses, ponies, camels, greyhounds or any other mammal, insect, arachnid, reptile, bird or fish involved in racing or other sporting competitions.

S. 23, therefore, covers the first point raised: The administration of the ‘doped mints.’

S24 makes it an offence to attempt to hide evidence which may be useful in relation to the proving of an offence under S.23. Kicking the mint into the dirt would, therefore, come within this provision.

S.28 makes it a criminal offence to be in possession, ownership or charge of a horse, pony, camel, greyhound or any other mammal, insect, arachnid, reptile, bird or fish involved in racing or other sporting competitions.

The woman who administered the doped mints would be classed a person ‘in charge of a doped pony’ and would, therefore, be liable to prosecution under this section.

The penalties are set out in Schedule 5 of the Act. Persons convicted under SS23, 24 and 28 SHRA 2006 are liable upon conviction to imprisonment for up to 10 years or be detained, at the discretion of The Home Secretary, without trial, at a suitably secure location in Eastern Europe provided there is room and the Americans agree to fly the convicted person out in one of their ‘extraordinary rendition’ flights which leave routinely fom all UK airports, including Luton.

I suspect that I may have missed a few of the more subtle, subtextual twists which examiners always insert into exam questions to ensure that no student can achieve a mark higher than 72%. It would, to say the least,  be a shock for an examiner to realise that one of his or her own students was actually more clever. Our marking system in the UK, mercifully, is designed to avoid such a possibility.

Professor RD Charon Ph.D, D.Litt CBE

Examinations…marking of…

I have just seen my brother’s reference to marking examination scripts. Yes, it is true. He did this for some time. In my view he should be tried as a war criminal. He was far too lenient.

In but a few days or weeks, the hapless (or should that be hopeless?) and lazy will be appealing to the examinations board, producing spurious medical certificates or, taking it on the chin, and settling down for a bit of work before the September re-sits. Bar the odd genius who gets a First class answer on the first two questions out of four and then fails to submit answers to the remaining two (Fail usually) and genuine illness – there are usually two reaons why students fail examinations. They either do not know enough law – through laziness or lack of ability or, secondly, they fail to address the questions set. In the latter case, the student rarely fails – but the mark gained does not reflect his or her ability. Examinations are not the best way of testing ability, but what is the alternative? Coursework, in the age of the internet where students can plagiarise or, worse, pay a cheat site to do the coursework for them, is no longer viable.

So… the misery of the exam hall continues. I was always a bit baffled by some of my colleagues in academe who did not seem to be prepared to help students by showing them how to approach essay or problem questions. They regarded my efforts with flow diagrams and specimen answers with disdain. How can one bowl like Monty Panesar without knowledge and practice? I have seen some truly horrific exam scripts – garbage is easy to identify and despatch (dispatch may be used in the alternative). So too, the B52 bomber who spatters law all over the page in the vain hope that some of it will be relevant to the question posed. Others just give up and doodle for a while before leaving. I can’t quite see how a law student, who does a reasonable amount of work, who is not actually ill or distracted by personal problems, who has been shown how to approach exam questions, can actually ‘fail to satisfy the examiners’.You have to be reasonably bright to get into law school these days. Getting a First or a decent 2.1 does require hard work and ability – but that is the way of the world and there are plenty of good lawyers out there with not particularly brilliant degrees. (The difficulty is – these days, they would probably find it difficult to even get into the firms in which they are now partners! or secure even a pupillage in chambers)
What, however, really irritates me is the tendency in some law schools to teach law to a formula. I shall be returning to this theme another time. I have been talking to two students recently who have been taught in this way. They did not find it a satisfying experience. Anyway..enough… I have to read Atiyah, Sale of Goods and see if I still agree with some of the more interesting ideas still contained in the book!

i was asked to review a book once.  It was not a particularly good book on law…in fact, it was terrible.  I borrowed the aphorism of Sir Maurice Bowra (Oxford) and wrote back to the Publisher – “Thank you for sending me this book – “I shall lose no time at all in reviewing it”   I was not asked to review any further books – thankfully.
R D Charon

A start by “RD”

While my younger brother grapples with the technical aspects of wordpress and works out how to give me posting rights under my own ‘moniker’ I shall post with my avatar.

I began my academic career at a good university, but one, unfortunately placed geographically, far too distant from where I wished to be, so I did not spend much time there. I did make occasional journeys to the university town, with the intention of visiting the law school, but often found myself waylaid by the attractions of a fine pub situated about half a mile from the Law School and was not always able to make it to the school. I do, however, remember the Dean giving all the new students an address. The Dean was a solemn man, newly elevated to professorial rank, a man whose knowledge of criminal and other law stupefied the judges when he was at the Bar, to a point where it was felt that his talents might be better used in academe – which, indeed, they were.

He looked straight at us all. His eyes flickered and darted from side to side. He spoke quickly as he told us that of the 100 in the theatre only two would get a First, twelve, possibly, fifteen, would get an Upper Second, the herd would get Lower Seconds (and find solace practising law in modest firms), a few would get Thirds (and find little pleasure in a life in the law) and, sadly, – looking menacingly around the theatre: “Five to six of you will get pass degrees – a certificate of incompetence.”

I’m afraid, possibly though mild intoxication, that I found this absurdly funny and burst out laughing.

“Mr Charon” the Dean asked “Perhaps you find that amusing? Why so?”

I cannot, of course, remember the exact words which I used to reply (It always amazes me how people who write biographies can remember almost every word they spoke in their lives) but I will give the gist (and in future posts, should I need to resort to dialogue, I will ask you to imagine that I can remember every single word.)

“Well it is rather amusing, Professor ‘X’. How can anyone spend three years of their lives studying something and end up with a certificate of incompetence? Better to cut the losses after the first year and run.” The Dean merely smiled and passed on to other matters. I could, however, see a few anxious looks on the faces of my fellow students. There were eight women on the course. This was most disappointing. Things have changed – a theme to which I shall return when I next post.

R D Charon