Enjoyed Royal Wedding… I don’t really need to comment…..
AND… inevitably….. a Royal Wedding picture doing the rounds on twitter HT @Christianuncut
It must be difficult being a celebrity…..
While I am more than happy for those who believe in what they believe to continue to do so without fear of harassment – I am not too keen on the idea that any religion should be a foundation or principle of consideration – in the promulgation or application of our law.
I read an article in the Law Society Gazette by Andrea Minichiello Williams this morning.
Ms Williams states… “I believe Christians are seeing the beginnings of persecution in the UK because, as a nation, we have forgotten our history, our heritage and our Christian foundations. For hundreds of years most of the great advances in public life, in health care, education and social provision, came as a result of Christian conviction that cares for the good of all. Social trends have come and gone, but the Christian foundations of our country are what have maintained true tolerance within our society, the dignity of every human being and great public service.”
While she makes good points about discrimination, these are, surely, already addressed by legislation? I can see no justification, in a largely secular state, for any religion, to be given specific protection and I certainly do not feel comfortable with suggestions that sharia or jewish (or any other religious) codes be permitted to stand alongside or, worse, above our own common and parliamentary enacted law.
I am not prepared to accept at face value Ms Williams’ bald assertion…“The secular movement is a variant of the man-made philosophies that failed in the last Century – humanism, fascism, communism.” I am not at all convinced that most atheists or secularists, for want of a better word, have been influenced by any ‘movement’, or wish to join such a ‘movement’.
Laws should be enacted for the benefit of society as a whole. I would hope that our law makers and judges put aside their specific religious beliefs – which are not followed by the majority in this country – when enacting or applying our laws?
The UK Human Rights blog has an interesting post on Facebook and contempt of court….
Heresy Corner – a blog well worth reading, particularly if you are a lawyer, has an extraordinary piece today…
The news that Alfie Meadows, the student who suffered a near-fatal brain injury during last December’s central London protest, is to be charged (along with several others) with the serious crime of “violent disorder”, has been greeted with predictable outrage on Twitter and elsewhere. It was my reaction, too, late last night….
To strike a topically Orwellian note, this chilling prosecution (it seemed to me) summons up a future of a boot stamping repeatedly on a human face – and then putting the face on trial for boot-obstruction.
Premier Grand Cru blogging from Carl Gardner on John Hemming MP and breaking of superinjunctions
Hemming is, in my opinion, wholly unfit to hold public office and his actions yesterday stand as a flagrant and unacceptable abuse of parliamentary privilege.
I am with Carl Gardner on this one. I would prefer Mr Hemming to focus his attention on breaking superinjunctions where there is (a) a legitimate public interest, and (b) where there is no risk of ‘sensitive’ issues of family law being compromised?
Lord Neuberger MR is soon to publish a paper on the use of superinjunctions. I doubt if the recommendations will include ‘abolition’, but we shall see soon enough. The issues of privacy law and libel reform (sometimes conflated by the press and others) both need parliamentary attention.
Joshua Rozenberg, writing in The Law Society Gazette, has a thoughtful piece and sums up the point with the title of his article: Privacy law, not injunctions, should be on press’s agenda
It is not the injunctions that the press should be attacking, nor the judges who are bound to grant them.
It is the law of privacy, developed by the courts with parliament’s acquiescence.
Lord Irvine, the lord chancellor, alerted parliament when he introduced what became the Human Rights Act, requiring our judges to take account of European court rulings on the human rights convention.
Irvine told the Lords on 24 November 1997 that ‘the judges are pen-poised, regardless of incorporation of the convention, to develop a right to privacy’.
Irvine stressed that the judges were free to develop the common law in this direction.
The issue as ever, perhaps an issue which cannot be reconciled easily, is the balancing of freedom of the press and a right to privacy when conduct is not ‘a matter of public interest’.
Cameron claimed that his use of the phrase *Calm Down Dear* at PMQs today to calm down an excited Labour MP…..was based on the old Esure advert by Michael Winner…. so I am fairly sure…..
Today I am talking to Jeremy Hopkins, a practice manager at 3 Verulam Buildings, the Chambers of Ali Malek QC – a leading and well known commercial set. Given the recent TV programme Silk (and the arguably better version of Peter Moffat’s writing, North Square – both series featuring extremely cunning clerks at the very centre of the action… I thought it would be interesting to get an inside track on this world from Jeremy…. but first……. I would like to get a view on the real world of practice managers / clerks, the state of the legal profession today and his thoughts on the changes to the legal landscape coming in the wake of the the coming into force of The Legal Services Act this autumn.
While I am happy to support (any) government against the absurd posturing of the tabloids on law, the rule of law and their agenda to control…['UNELECTED JUDGE' FOUND ON THE MOON yada yada blah] I do wonder, sometimes…. if our modern politicians (who make the laws)… actually know any law / much about law or Constitutional history.
Our prime minister, David Camerondirect (TM), has come up with a few *stunts* in recent months which reveal, to my jaded eye, that law was not an option he took at Oxford or… frankly… which he has been over concerned with in his subsequent quest to lead our
Scepter’d Tory-led Coalition fudg’d up isle. I refer ‘members to a blog post I made a few moments days ago’…. on privacy, prisoner votes… do I really need to mention any more examples?
Anyway.. there we are… if you want to listen to Professor Vernon Bogdanor on BBC iPlayer talking about his new book…. The Coalition and the Constitution… without punting relentlessly, like @Lord_Sugar on strong coffee, (Bogdanor didn’t appear to punt his book at all) … but talking some real…realpolitik…. sense.. try this short 15 minute programme. You may not agree (and I didn’t agree with all the points) .. but… it was a pleasure to watch and listen to.
Amusingly… Professor Bogdanor’s Wikipedia entry reports (I cannot verify the veracity of any Wikipedia entry – but, more often than not/ fairly often, they are fairly accurate?)
Professor Bogdanor has, however, expressed reservations about certain policies of Cameron’s, notably his proposal for a British “Bill of Rights”, about which Bogdanor said, “I believe it’s ill thought-out and confused…. He [Cameron] may have forgotten some of the things I’ve taught him. I’d be happy to give him a few more tutorials on civil liberties.”
Bogdanor taught Cameron at Oxford.
John Bolch, over at Family Lore takes up the issue…. with this pithy view: Perhaps not the best decision…
I have absolutely no idea if complex family matters can or cannot be dealt with by telephone and email. But The Mail on Sunday does report.. “Lawyer Mark Stephens, who has been involved in many injunction cases, said: ‘If you are going for an injunction over the Easter Holiday you will be going for one which is very important and can’t wait for someone to fly back from Tenerife to hear the case.”
BUT!…. Mark Stephens is reported as saying that he does find it remarkable that a judge can go away at this time. Being blunt.. I am more surprised by the choice of destination. Magaluf next? Ibiza? I don’t think we need to fear the imminent collapse of the family legal system. The President of The Family Division, who is not in Ibiza or any other Club 18-30 party island resort… is available to deal with matters which require a judicial presence. I will add, that practitioner friends of mine in family and other fields do not see this as an issue and gave the view that the judge could easily deal with most matters by email and telephone, should the need have arisen. So… another non-story from the Tory press, putting the boot into the legal system? Mostyn J was a very experienced and successful family silk (QC). I hope he will go on to be an equally successful judge. I am more than happy to parody The Daily Mail for this nonsense.
In the meantime….. I rather like to imagine His Lordship enjoying his break and singing… ( I fear… it unlikely, however)
Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, shake the tree,
Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, grind coffee,
To the left, to the right, jump up and down and to the knees,
Come and dance every night, sing with the hula melody.
I had an interesting and friendly exchange of tweets with Mark Stephens. Mark Stephens is stating the norm for duty judges in the Daily Mail piece. Mark made the point that The Daily Mail did not explain to him, during his interview, that Sir Nicholas Wall had agreed to cover. Mark tweeted to me that he had even ‘(ventured) that other judges could cover’. This puts a very different complexion on the use of a quote from a well known lawyer.
While Mark stated in a tweet to me that I did not need to put an addendum to my post because his ‘shoulders were broad enough’ – which I have no difficulty in accepting – the point I am making is that it is important, I believe, for newspapers with reach (and The Daily Mail certainly has a long reach with a large readership) to get the story right.
If Mostyn J could handle most matters from Tenerife by email – and the President of The Family Division was able (and prepared) to give cover in person, should the need arise - what is the problem? (May I make clear that I like Tenerife. The reference is to the party island style – hence the disco graphic!)
Being an atheist, I tend to find myself at a bit of a loose end on these extended Easter weekends… and…as I well know.. the devil makes work for idle hands. I did, however, have an amusing Good Friday morning. I decided that I would get into the spirit of things by having a breakfast of Rioja and hot cross buns. I only do this on high days and holy days…and it certainly made my Good Friday morning more amusing than it might otherwise have been. After all… I had not, previously, thought it would be a good idea at my age (or, indeed, at any younger age) to learn to be a tap dancer.
Google threw up some wonderful stuff. After watching an ‘introductory film on the basic steps’, I rather lost patience. I am a bloke. I don’t read instruction books. Google then threw up some excellent videos of Gene Kelly tap dancing on roller skates, and, of course… the classic ‘Drinkin’ In the Rain’. It was but moments before I graduated, assisted by another large glass, to “Puttin On the Ritz’.
And now… I am a tap dancer. Not a lap dancer… as a friend of mine on twitter first read my tweets on the matter.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement on Thursday last on privacy law – described by David Allen Green in our Without Prejudice podcast as ‘legally illiterate’ (rightly) – continues to arouse ridicule, hyperventilation by those who support him, and sane critical legal analysis by people who do actually know what they are talking about.
This informed piece by INFORRM – is a good one to read…. Case Law: OPQ v BJM – a privacy injunction “contra mundum”
And, as always, The UK Human Rights blog has a considered and accurate view. Adam Wagner politely puts the boot in and reminds the prime minister that the ‘unelected judges’ (Do we really want ‘elected’ judges in this country – gawd help us?) are not actually running amok making new laws on a whim. They are, in fact, applying the Human Rights Act according to the law and will of Parliament. But why let a mere detail get in the way of grand standing at election time when the ravening horde at the tabloids need feeding with a bit of raw meat?
For my part, I don’t have any interest in knowing the name of the footballer or the actor involved in the latest superinjunctions. Lawyers have suggested that Eady J and others ‘may be over reaching themselves’. Certainly ‘contra mundum’ – against all the world – is more of a legal fiction than a practical reality. Whether judges like it or not, there is no practical way of enforcing breach if publication is in a foreign country – even if the writ of the English trial judge ran throughout the world. It doesn’t. It is, they say, fairly straightforward to discover identities of *The Superinjunctioneers* by using the net.
David Allen Green, Carl Gardner and our guest, former Lib-Dem MP Dr Evan Harris, considered the vexed issue of privacy law and the balancing of interests in our latest Without Prejudice podcast. You may care to listen?
While The Bar may well have an oversubscription problem for the time being… the law schools are hyperventilating with this revelation by Alex Aldridge…
The Guardian: Since the Law Society’s 2009 warning that the profession was oversubscribed student numbers have fallen, possibly too far.
I shall do some serious thinking on this. I am planning a podcast with Professor Richard Moorhead of Cardiff Law School. Nigel Savage, CEO of The College of Law, has expressed enthusiasm for a podcast.. but I think it may be time to ask Des Hudson, Chief Executive at The Law Society, if he would like to do his third podcast with me to get a balanced view. I’m on the case.
Meanwhile… in VocationalWorldLand… – a magic place reached via a bank manager’s office - this… from RollonFriday.com
Exclusive: College of Law cancels JD course as no-one turns up
“The College of Law’s much-vaunted Juris Doctor (that’s the US legal qualification) course is not going to be running this year, allegedly due to low student take-up. Sources have told RollOnFriday that the course – meant to be running for the first time in June this year – has been dropped and that students who had signed up were told that this was due to “low enrolment“.
This story was drawn to my attention the other evening by fellow tweeter @davemsund
Inside Housing reports: “Homeless ex-offenders in Nottinghamshire are being issued with tents by the region’s probation service.
The service confirmed it gave tents to five people last year when hostel accommodation could not be found.
Peter Anthony, accommodation, benefits and advice officer with Nottinghamshire Probation Service, said it would prefer stable accommodation for ex-offenders. But he added: ‘When there simply is no other option we will, if it is appropriate, provide a tent and sleeping bag.
‘If you send someone away from the office into the night and they have literally got nowhere to go, the chances are that they will commit offences.’ Mr Anthony added that bed spaces in the region were reducing due to the closure of a number of hostels. ‘This year we expect it [the use of tents] to increase exponentially,’ he added.
I am no expert in sentencing, probation, rehabilitation of offenders et al… but…surely.. we can, as a vaguely civilised nation.. do a bit better than this? This is a disgrace. Funding is a problem… but do we really want to see ex-prisoners pitching tents in parks and then try to get jobs in the hope they can maintain themselves – somehow – to avoid re-offending. I mention this latter because I am (obviously) under the mistaken belief that The Ministry of Justice wants to reduce costs, reduce re-offending and bring ex-prisoners into the Big Society as useful tax paying members of the community.
I haven’t really got the enthusiasm to even vote on #No2Av / #Yes2AV (but I shall vote NO…. I like FPTP) – but bringing buffoons like Nick Griffin into the debate is just daft.
Well…. that’s about it for my postcard. I may write another one tomorrow…… I wish you all a good Easter… and.. if you are on twitter... do please remember…. look on the bright side of life…
Best, as always,
I’ll leave you with this… which I knocked up some time back…..
#WithoutPrejudice Podcast 4: Twitter Joke Trial – Privacy Law – Freedom of Speech – Judicial Review – Referendums and the Law – Law of Royal Succession
Judicial Review: The British Telecom case decided Thursday 21st April 2011 on the Digital Economy Act 2010
I’d like to thank Lawtel, Westlaw, Cassons For Counsel, City University Law School, David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Inksters Solicitors, Iken, LBC Wise Counsel, Carrs Solicitors, JMW Solicitors – Manchester, Pannone and Cellmark for sponsoring the podcast – and the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.
Lawcast 183: Nichola Higgins, Chairman of The Young Barristers Committee on the new CPS panel – Career at the Criminal Bar - Legal aid issues
Today I am talking to Nichola Higgins, Chairman of the Young Barristers Committee. On the 30th March of this year, the CPS announced:
“The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is today (30/3/2011) launching a new scheme for the delivery of prosecution services in court. All advocates undertaking prosecution work in the Crown Court (and Higher Courts) from October must be members of new, quality-controlled CPS Advocate Panels. The panels will be open to all barristers and solicitor advocates, and panel members will complement and work alongside CPS in-house advocates. Although the overall number of advocates on the panels will be reduced compared to the current lists, selected advocates will have more opportunity to undertake prosecution work. All current counsel lists will be abandoned when the panels commence on 1 October.”
We also looked at the broader health of the Criminal Bar, the impact of legal aid and the prospects for students contemplating a career at the Criminal Bar.
for sponsoring the podcast and the free student materials on Insite Law
The Daily Telegraph reports… with appropriate solemnity….
Daily Telegraph: David Cameron is to wear a morning suit – and not a lounge suit – to the royal wedding, it was disclosed today.
The issue of the Prime Minister’s attire had become one of the most hotly-debated subjects in the build-up to the big day after Downing Street said he would be wearing a work-style suit.
He was said to be sensitive to opponents trying to portray him as “a toff”, following the publication of pictures of him wearing a white tie and tails when he was a member of the Bullingdon Club dining society at Oxford.
But after criticism on radio phone-in shows and in newspapers of his decision to dress down, The Telegraph has learnt that he will now wear a morning suit after all.
Insiders claim Mr Cameron was not consulted about what he would be wearing and that his advisers made the decision for him – a decision they have now come to regret.
A source close to Mr Cameron said: “Of course he’s got to wear tails. He knows that. He’s the Prime Minister, it’s the Royal family, there will be foreign dignitaries present and it is only proper that he dresses for the importance of the occasion.”
I shall, of course, be wearing tails… I’m making several now for the happy day…. one will look like a donkey’s tail… the other? Any ideas?
On another note… this amused me.. from The Shropshire Star!
You have to admire their impertinence. Almost three years after a council vehicle tapped a lorry belonging to S&S Scaffolding Ltd, its three occupants took the local authority to court to request compensation for whiplash injuries they claimed that they had received in the incident.
Frank Zappa had a point when he said…“If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library. “
I’m in the midst of a series of podcasts and blog posts about the future of legal education.
Two weeks ago I talked to Baroness Deech, Chair of The Bar Standards Board. In the course of our podcast conversation, we touched on the reform of legal education being undertaken by the profession. I asked her what she thought about the agenda of the big vocational law schools and the role of the profession in the academic stage of legal education provided by the universities at degree level.
I believe I summarise her view fairly by saying – that while it is acceptable for the profession to lay down minimum requirements for a law degree which the profession will accept as a ‘qualifying law degree’ for the vocational stage, she did not feel it appropriate for the profession to interfere with the curriculum or teaching of law in the universities at the degree stage.
I agree with her and have some concerns at the attempts by the vocational law schools to set the agenda for the future of legal education to their world view; a world view which, is, inevitably, geared to their growth, profit and development. I have no problem with them making profit – but I advance an argument that they should stick to their own ‘vocational / practice course’ sector or, if they wish to advance (in) to the academic stage of legal education, they do so on the same basis as our major law universities - with the same ethos and resources and ethic of research.
Of course, with the current fiasco on university fees – with the majority of universities rushing to charge £9000 or, subtly, just below £9000 - one could argue that all legal (and other university education) is becoming ‘commercial’. It would not surprise me if universities start to drop ‘unprofitable courses’ (Here is one example) – and, therein, lies poverty of the spirit of our future culture, arts, history, philososophy et al? That issue, I will have to address at another time. My focus here is on legal education and, I fear, I may be wasting yet more time by charging at a windmill on a horse with a wooden lance.
Nigel Savage, CEO of the College of Law, wrote in November of last year on his new College of Law blog: “The problem with lawyers is that when they are confronted with a problem, their training and instincts are to look for a precedent from the past rather than to confront and embrace new ideas and thinking. To borrow a quote from Henry Ford that Richard Susskind recently used in a report for The College of Law, ‘if I asked my customers what they wanted – they would have said faster horses!’.”
He then went on to say, remarkably...“Maybe we need more radical solutions? Let’s take the undergraduate LL.B law degree. What does it really prepare students for? It is taught largely by individuals who have never practised law and who increasingly have PhDs in a wide range of areas that bear no resemblance to the practice of law.”
Nigel Savage does not take into account in this statement the fact that nearly 50% of students who read law at university do so with no intention of practising law. They have other motives – some of which may even be for ‘liberal education’, philosophy’, interest, history and the like. I doubt they would find a ‘fast track’, possibly ‘dumbed down’ practice oriented fois gras stuffing exercise at degree level, an attractive item to spend £9000 on at a Russell Group university – (More at BPP, College, Cardiff, etc etc – the vocational law schools?). In any event….why would a A*A*A* candidate want to do a law degree at the ‘new universities / new colleges with degree awarding powers’ – when they can take their pick from the top 20 UK universities?
For my part, we need to ensure that the big vocational law schools are confined to their own ‘quarters’; providing vocational education geared to the basic needs of their City, commercial and high street clientele and that they, and the professional bodies, keep to the minimum input and advice on the content of law degrees as they have for some time – with some success.
If law firms really want their trainees to be ‘fast tracked’ through law studies – and, I suspect, that many will not – because they want to ensure that their future lawyers are well educated – then, so be it. Reap as ye sow. Anecdotal evidence is always dangerous. I recognise that – but I do recall talking with Melvyn Hughes, then managing partner at Slaughter & May, over ten years ago when I did a report on the Legal Practice Course for the *Magic Circle* firms (which they commissioned). He told me that it was imperative that their trainees were well educated at university (and not just law graduates), had good research skills, and, if they did read law, knew some good ‘black letter law’ – because law is a cerebral activity, founded upon intellect and reasoning. He expressed the view that the firms were best placed to teach trainees the skills of practice as their lawyers progressed through their careers. Other experienced educators in the Magic Circle told me that the LPC is but the second rung on the ladder. One, told me the LPC was a basic foundation of ‘practice oriented’ skills and basic knowledge of practice. The firms will do the specialist training. Despite the ‘puffery’ of the vocational law schools in their prospectuses: I suspect, for many practitioners, the knowledge they learned on the LPC (or BPTC for barristers) is of little use to them when they actually start to practice law and the reality is that they learn on their training contracts and pupillages – and throughout their careers – what legal practice is actually like? ? I am advised, anecdotally, that this is a widely held view by younger lawyers and older, more experienced, lawyers.
Why, therefore, would or should we allow the vocational law schools – or the professional bodies for that matter – to interfere in the study of law at the degree or academic stage? We could end up with a seriously diminished and damaged academic resource. I wonder, even, how much knowledge the vocational law schools and professional bodies actually have of legal research and the teaching of law as a liberal study’? Perhaps they can tell me?
And then, of course, there are other ‘difficulties’?
“US government probes Apollo Group, owner of BPP University College, over admissions and financial aid practices”
Carl Lygo, CEO of BPP and Principal of BPP University, has stated that BPP is UK run and UK managed. I have absolutely no doubt that he is correct on that. Unfortunately, his US parent company, Apollo, has had a few problems – widely reported in the press.
Did the Tory-led Coalition rush into education change here by giving BPP the honour and benefits of university status within weeks of not winning an election outright? – and having to promulgate policy with the benefit of the Lib-Dems – a party not exactly venerated throughout our sceptred isle for going back on the pre-election ‘Pledge’ on student fees. The Government appears to have done so on the public sector university fees issue with the majority of universities – even some at the ‘lower end’ of the league table – wanting to join the party and charge the maximum £9000 or close to it? Unintended consequences? We see this fiasco played out on national television and in the press daily at the moment. It would be amusing… if it was not so important. We shall see, soon enough.
For the avoidance of doubt – I do think that the vocational law schools at LPC and BPTC level do a pretty good job covering their remit as prescribed by the professional bodies. The fees are pacy (£15k+ for the BPTC in some cases) – but that is a different issue. Students may not always agree – or, even, enjoy the experience. There are many student discussion boards which paint a slightly different picture from the glossy law school prospectuses… inevitably?
I don’t have all the answers. I merely put forward some direct observations – and I may well be ‘past my sell by date’. I am happy, as always, to be advised and for contrary comment to be put. I still have enthusiasm to learn and reflect and, even, change my mind if the evidence and argument is persuasive.
The Guardian reports…
Kim Catcheside talks to Carl Lygo principle (sic: The Grauniad really does the biz on typos) of BPP University College and the chief exec of BPP Holdings PLC about his visions for the future
Twitter Joke Trial update
BY David Allen Green, solicitor, New Statesman blogger and author of The Jack of Kent blog
In May 2010, Paul Chambers was convicted at Doncaster Magistrates’ Court of a single offence under section 127(1) of the Communications Act 2003 in respect of sending over a public electronic communications network a message of a menacing character. He was fined £385 plus £15 “victim fee” and £500 prosecution costs. He lost an appeal to Doncaster Crown Court in November 2010.
This “Twitter Joke Trial” case is now infamous. The supposedly menacing message was in fact an exasperated jest. Paul did not want an airport to be menaced. He certainly did not want it closed, as he wanted to fly from there so as to stay with a new girlfriend. He did not send the communication to the airport or use its formal Twitter name. He sent it only to those of his few hundred followers who happened to have been reading his tweets at the time. He didn’t give it another thought until, one fine day, a number of Doncaster police attended his workplace to arrest him.
The next step in the case is to appeal to the High Court using the rare procedure known as “appeal by case stated”. This is essentially an appeal on points of law. Paul’s appeal will be on the basis that the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts misdirected themselves as to the correct tests for “actus reus” (the culpable facts) and “mens rea” (the guilty intention) as well as misapplying Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The High Court appeal should be heard later this year. Thanks to the Twitter Joke Trial Fund and a fund-raising and celebrity-studded concert held on Friday, Paul is now in a good position for this appeal. Ben Emmerson QC and other barristers have been able to put together a strong 32 page “skeleton argument” – a benefit which most criminal appellants do not have, let alone one who has not incurred a custodial sentence.
Why does all this matter? This case is an outrage because it shows the casual way the British state can impose criminal liability (and Paul has now lost two jobs because of his conviction and may never be able to work as an accountant again); because it shows that the law enforcement agencies do not understand social media and also do not have senses of humour or of proportion; and because it shows that a good and decent person can, with the help of others, make a stand and say to those who wish to use the coercive power of law that such an abuse of legal power is wrong. Paul, like the libel defendant Simon Singh, is a person caught up in the absurdity of how the English legal system deals with what should be a matter of simple free expression. And like Simon he intends to use the English legal system to put things right, when previously the system has got things horribly wrong.
David Allen Green has now posted on his own blog… this important update…
We shall, I hope, discuss events briefly in our Without Prejudice podcast this week.
It only took me a year to post it (mea culpa)…and the British postal service took four weeks to deliver it from Battersea to New York... but I am delighted that my *Social Media Maven Pronounces 2010* F**kArt finally reached my fellow law blogger Scott Greenfield – a New York defense lawyer (sic) and author of the Simple Justice blog.
We share a taste for parody / questioning law social meedja mavens?
Friday has arrived rather more quickly than I anticipated, but that being so… it must be time for a view from ‘Rive Gauche’.
It has been an interesting week. The Daily Mail was able to publish a judge friendly story with this nonsense…
Needless to say, the judge was not impressed. The Daily Mail reports: “Now a judge has thrown out the action after hearing from two expert witnesses. One, an independent engineer, said that the damage sustained by the lorry would have cost no more than £300 to repair.”
Alex Aldridge writes in The Guardian: “A handful of criminal barristers still make big money, but the rest may have to diversify if they want to eat”
As it happens, I am doing a podcast with Nichola Higgins, Chair of The Young Barristers, on Wednesday about the new CPS plans and the pleasures and difficulties of a career for young barristers at the Criminal Bar. I am looking forward to it.
I hadn’t started on my London Marathon final preparations, by opening a bottle to breathe, when I read this wonderful stuff from solicitor and fellow blogger David Allen Green in the New Statesman…
Should Oxbridge be abolished for undergraduates?
The Friday Question: why not turn Oxford and Cambridge into postgraduate universities?
I shall have to ask David for the telephone number of his vintner when we next meet to do a Without Prejudice podcast.
And just when one thought that social meedja could not get any more bizarre…. this…
“Social media is to marketing what email is to business communication.” This bold analogy on the importance of building an online network of relationships underscored the discussion of co-presenters Robert Ambrogi and Reid Trautz at ABA Techshow on Monday on ways to use social media to boost your overall reputation and marketing scheme.
With the proliferation of websites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Avvo, Facebook or any of the hundreds of other online communities, today’s lawyers can no longer rely on static websites to generate business and enhance reputations. The duo’s No. 1 bit of advice? Start a legal blog…
I think it is a great idea to start a blog. It isn’t easy to keep a blog going, as some have found.. The danger, of course, arises when the blog becomes a vehicle for law firm or personal practice puffery and little else. The Twlawyer knows all about Linked-In, Tweeting all night using a buffer app and knows how to do the biz and really make a pig’s ear of it.
A rather more sophisticated (and interesting) analysis of the value of social meedja et al to lawyers came from the blogger Legal Brat, GC to the FT.
The Guardian: “High court rules way in which police kettled up to 5,000 demonstrators at G20 protests in April 2009 was illegal. Thousands of people found by the high court to have been illegally detained for hours by police at a central London protest may sue Scotland Yard for false imprisonment. The high court has ruled that the Metropolitan police had broken the law in the way it kettled up to 5,000 demonstrators at the G20 protests in April 2009.”
While the decision is specific to the G20, I suspect the met Police may well find difficulties arise in future over the use of this tactic?
Ever reliable for bizarre news of goings on in the legal profession, RollonFriday. com has this today…
A firm in south west London is looking to recruit a property lawyer who can perform magic tricks whilst pitching to clients.
RollOnFriday was alerted to the unorthodox position when a job ad by a recruitment consultant was posted on the web this week. Jonathan Fagan, the recruiter, said that a mindreading criminal solicitor from Kings Lynn had already expressed an interest. Apparently he earns more from his act than his day job.
As Royal Wedding fever approaches shark feeding frenzy time in the tabloids, it is good to see a law firm taking advantage of the Nation’s interest in holy and other matrimony with this…from The Law Society Gazette
Law firm develops divorce app
A North London family solicitor has launched an app designed to help divorcing or separating couples in England and Wales to save money on their legal fees. Peter Martin, head of family law at Finchley firm OGR Stock Denton, has devised the ‘Divorce?’ app to provide people with easy-to-understand, practical information about the divorce process. It covers topics including legal costs, the practical implications of separation, individual rights and entitlements, long-term financial impact and expectations, and issues around handling any children involved…
Obiter in The Law Society Gazette can’t resist the Royal Wedding fever either, it would seem…
As the Royal nuptials hove into view, lawyers at London’s Lloyd Platt have come up with some helpful suggestions for any solicitors out there who may or may not be drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement for the happy couple.
Well.. there we are…
I am enjoying Tim Kevan’s new Babybarista book “Law & Peace” ( I have an advance copy!) – published in early May. I shall write a review shortly…. in the meantime, I did enjoy this from Babybarista..
And finally… I really did enjoy watching this short film..
“Someone Czech his pockets! Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus is embroiled in an embarrassing blunder as he his caught on camera pocketing a pen on a state visit to Chile.”
Hat Tip @loveandgarbage for alerting me to it.
The Twlawyer really needs an *app* to stop him sleeping…
Lawcast 182: Emily Allbon, Law Librarian at City Law School on research skills, law resources and social media
Today I am talking to Emily Allbon, law Librarian at City University and the editor of the excellent Lawbore resource website. Research skills lie at the root of all legal work, whether in academe or practice, so we are going to look at the skills needed and resources available to law students and lawyers in the modern era. We may even have time to look at the value of legal blogging and social media for younger lawyers and not so young lawyers.
On May 17th 2010 4,500 lawyers and associates walked in the 2010 London Legal sponsored walk raising over £400,000 for legal advice charities in London and the South East. The walk was led by a host of legal stars including the Lord Chief Justice, The Master of the Rolls, The Attorney General, The Solicitor General, The Director of Public Prosecutions, The Official Solicitor, The Treasury Solicitor, the Presidents of the Law Society and ILEX and the Chair of the Bar as well as the President of the Family Division, the Chair of the Solicitors Regulatory Authority, The Recorder of London, The London Chief Prosecutor and many more.
If you fancy discovering: How can a penguin help to solve a cold case? I hear you ask….well…..
And… I am delighted to accept a contribution to the legal education debate with this ‘guest post’ from Dr Shibley Rahman….
Law schools need to manage great expectations
“Now, I return to this young fellow. And the communication I have got to make is, that he has great expectations.”
Mr Jaggers about Pip, Chapter 18.
The reason that I am writing this guest blog post is because of a recent podcast (by Charon QC) entitled, “Lawcast 181: Baroness Deech, Chair of The Bar Standards Board on legal education and the regulation of the profession”
I really enjoyed this thought-provoking and interesting podcast, which I think is highly relevant to my arm of the profession too: the solicitors. I am one of hundreds of thousands bombarding the corporate law firms with my training contract application. Without a training contract, I can’t actually be admitted to the Roll of Solicitors. This obviously concerns me. The bottom line: there are thousands of students who won’t get Pupillages either, as the market is so intensively competitive.
That is why I applaud Baroness Deech so much for raising awareness of issues which are extremely important to me as a student. I am yet to do my LPC, which I will do at BPP (Waterloo) between January and September 2012, although I have completed my LLM at the College of Law (2008-2010) and GDL at BPP (2006-2008). My first five degrees were in medicine and natural sciences at Cambridge; as I obtained the second highest First there and my PhD following AAAA11 at A level, I can put myself firmly into the ‘academic’ camp. However, given my interests in research, I wish very much to find innovative solutions one day as a legal practitioner. The specific aspect to my application, which I tend not to reveal, is my strong research output in frontotemporal dementia, for reasons I’ll explain later. I decided to study law late in my life, as I became strongly interested in aspects of the law by accident (e.g. constitutional issues, regulation of financial services, access to justice) and I wished to pursue a formal qualification in it. I have no reservations about pursuing corporate law either. There are many eminent lawyers who have come from a non-legal route. Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, the current Master of the Rolls, studied chemistry at Christ Church, Oxford.
I only passed my GDL, but I spent 50% of it in a wheelchair doing it by distance learning because of a two month coma due to meningitis which left me disabled. I am aware of the arguments that law course providers “mass-produce graduates” akin to a sausage factory, but in my case BPP were extraordinarily flexible and compassionate about completion of my GDL. I have loved my time there, not only because of the actual course, but because of the people that I’ve met. Many of the well-known corporate firms have told me that, whilst their official criterion is AAB at A level and a II.1, the vast majority of their good candidates have considerably better qualifications, but they can only invite a small proportion to interview. Some law firms have an intake of even 5-10 per session. My GDL pass is ‘tolerated’, only given my extenuating circumstances, I feel. I happen to believe that 20 problem questions across 7 topics in the GDL, compared to 12 difficult essays in my Finals, does not reveal much about how one can analyse different sides of an argument critically, in the first place, but my views on this are utterly irrelevant. They must surely be testing different things, and I hope that the Joint Academic Stage Board are able to make sense of this. My LLM commendation “looks better”, but one firm indeed wanted a Distinction.
There are other questions on the application form for training contracts which raise eyebrows with me. One is the “Why law?” question, but there are people who have genuinely questioned my commitment to being a legal practitioner given my academic publications record. I run myself a student society to raise awareness of how commercial and legal worlds interact (http://legal-aware.org), but I often find students reluctant to take part unless there’s something in it for them (like, for example, a training contract application mention). I feel strongly now that law schools now need to offer quality careers advice in careers other than law, such as teaching, the financial services or charity work (e.g. in human rights). Notwithstanding that, I feel sorry for the fact that law firms have to ask this question at the point before offering a training contract, when one feels that this should have been addressed prior to assumption of a GDL/LPC/BPTC place.
The next obvious way to tackle the “Why law?” question might be therefore to cite legal experience. Whilst firms have told me officially that it doesn’t matter whether this work experience is legal or not, invariably at interview partners have asked me about my relative lack of work experience. The “social mobility” component to this is that I am now prepared to take out a loan for this – as it happens, I believe that chambers should not have to pay their interns to offer them at all. I am far too old for most solicitor vac schemes. I am now thankfully doing pro bono work at a London law centre in employment and discrimination law, and it’s great as I really want to do it as I am myself disabled, but some firms apparently wish to see ‘corporate work-experience’. This is particularly pertinent in the “Why does the culture of our firm suit you?” question. Perhaps, it’s hard to justify applying to Gordon Ramsay when all you have worked for is Burger King.
I happen to think that any education is worthwhile, as you never know when you’ll need to use it. A Professor in Law at the University of London once told me this. I am currently doing a MBA, and when I told a Legal Graduate Recruitment Advisor that I am not trying really hard to get a distinction in it but that I was doing it because I really loved how businesses operate, she sounded much less than pleased. So should it matter if you come from a ‘non-legal route’ or ‘legal route’? I argue that it shouldn’t, in the face of all those law firms who have ignored my undergraduate and doctoral studies. Should it matter I’m not a great linguist? I am learning five languages, albeit at basic level. And so we could go on.
This all is leading to my conclusion that Law Schools need to take ‘expectation management’ more seriously than they ever used to. BPP Law School prides itself as being one of the leading providers of vocational education. The School is now able to award degrees following approval from the Privy Council. The Bar Standards Board has required BPP to appoint an independent statistician to review all available admissions data for the previous 5 years and clarify that in his/her professional opinion the number of offers that BPP wishes to make should not lead to over-recruitment.
However, critically, I do not believe that BPP is unilaterally responsible for this overload in the job market.
So, finally, I should like to thank Baroness Deech enormously for making me think about such issues. These are matters which, in my world, the corporates, the law and business schools, and the students must face together in the new challenging world of legal services.
Dr Shibley Rahman
The actor Hugh Grant has pulled off a great story on #Metgate, #Phonehacking et al. In the wake of recent admissions by The News of the World that their journos (and others?) appear to have been taking too great an interest in mobile phone messages….and ‘modern surveillance technology and techniques’, Hugh Grant has a great story in the The New Statesman. Hugh Grant writes about his encounter with a former NOTW journo….and turns the tables by recording the conversation… wonderful stuff.
I won’t spoil your pleasure in reading it.. but I was astonished to read that Dave Cameron dressed up as The Stig!…… ’nuff said….
A quick taster… in the finest traditions of The Screws…..
Cameron gets dressed up as the Stig to go to Clarkson’s 50th birthday party [NB: it was actually to record a video message for the party]. Is that demeaning for a prime minister? It should be the other way round, shouldn’t it? So basically, Cameron is very much in debt to Rebekah Wade for helping him not quite win the election . . . So that was my submission to parliament – that Cameron’s either a liar or an idiot.
This new series by Obiter J on English legal history is a good read: Our legal heritage – No.1 – Early times and the Anglo-Saxon period
On a slightly more modern note, I was a bit baffled by this rather discouraging research in The Guardian: Judges are more lenient after taking a break, study finds
“The adage that justice depends on what the judge ate for breakfast may not be far from the truth, according to a study of more than a thousand court decisions.
The research, which examined judicial rulings by Israeli judges who presided over parole hearings in criminal cases, found that judges gave more lenient decisions at the start of the day and immediately after a scheduled break in court proceedings such as lunch. Jonathan Levav, associate professor of business at Columbia University, who co-authored the paper, said: “You are anywhere between two and six times as likely to be released if you’re one of the first three prisoners considered versus the last three prisoners considered.”
Research is research, but, nevertheless, a rather worrying finding?
This post from Informm’s Blog is rather more interesting, given that we are soon to be able to read Lord Neuberger’s report into superinjunctions et al: Anonymised “privacy injunction” hearings – January to March 2011
Catherine Heard, writing in The Guardian: As the Commission now acknowledges, the warrant is only for major crimes and is being misused.
The European Arrest warrant came into public view recently in connection with the extradition request by Sweden in relation to allegations made about Julian Assange. If there is one thing almost guaranteed to let the tabloid press and many others ‘kick off’ it is the activities / antics (Choose to suit your taste) of The European Court of Human Rights, The European Court of Justice, Europe generally, and now the European Arrest warrant.
Catherine Heard writes: “How is the EU going to stop the European arrest warrant, its fast-track extradition system, from being misused to prosecute bike thefts? At Fair Trials International we have been campaigning for years for a fairer European arrest warrant system, with a proportionality test to weed out trivial cases, as well as basic fair trial safeguards for people facing extradition….
And this wonderful extract…. “Take, for example, the case of a retired schoolteacher and grandfather facing extradition to Poland for going over his overdraft limit more than 10 years ago. The entire debt was repaid to the bank but he is still being sought to face trial for “theft”, although he has suffered three strokes and is in fragile health.”
and then this…“Time will tell whether this (building a proportionality test into the system) is enough to stop the excessive use of this tick-box system by some countries (most notably Poland, which in 2009 issued 4,844 warrants compared to the UK’s 220).”
I’m with those who argue that the EAW should only be used for the more serious crimes. It is not acceptable for people to be extradited for minor administrative crimes like speeding, parking offences, or even minor criminal offences and, arguably, should not be used for matters which are not crimes in the country where the arrestee is resident at the time? .
Regular visits to the UK Human Rights blog are (a) good for the soul or, depending on your political viewpoint, (b) Good to get the blood running: The sovereignty of parliament and property: this week’s human rights roundup
The UK Blawg Review is very much a new kid on the block. We have a fair way to go to catch up on Blawg Review - a US centric blog, but generous in inviting law bloggers from many other jurisdictions – which celebrates six years this week of weekly reviews. I have enjoyed participating in this original carnival of the law blogs six times so far and I very much hope it will continue.
Erin Gill, writing in The Guardian, argues: Drivers and cyclists need to know dangerous behaviour will get them pulled to the kerb, but this proposed law won’t help
I don’t agree with Erin Gill. I ride a motorbike. I have to obey the Highway Code and all other road traffic laws. I am subject to the full rigour of the law if I injure someone through careless riding. I can see absolutely no reason why an aggressive cyclist (and they are legion on the road and, sometimes, on the pavements), who injures or kills someone, should not be subject to the specific offence of injuring or killing by dangerous cycling. We would, of course, need to have registration plates for identification – and enforcement.
I suspect there would be few cases of death by dangerous cycling, but that should not preclude bringing law into play. I would quite like to see cyclists being prosecuted for riding on pavements. But I can’t imagine it will be easy to stop them in ‘full flight’ , and identifying cyclists may be a very real problem without licence plates.
East Park Communications has been a sponsor of my free student materials on Insite Law for some time, so I am more than happy to draw your attention to a series of four District Law Society journals. I enjoy reading them and students will also find it useful to have a look at the issues which arise in practice outside the metropolis!
AND finally… a bit of Muttley Dastardly LLP on The Banking reforms…. Hugo de Vertback writes…. below…….
PRESS RELEASE (EMBARGOED UNTIL YOUR FEE PAYMENT CLEARS FOR VALUE)
Hugo de Vertback, Partner and Head of Capital and Private Wealth, Muttley Dastardly LLP – The Vickers Report for Reform of the Banking Sector
In the early morning of Monday 11th April, a group of hitherto unknown men and women – unknown outside City circles – filed into a room for a press conference and released a document which could, in time, be as subversive to the interests of bankers and City lawyers as Gallileo Gallilei’s championing of Cupronickelism: when a large majority of philosophers, noble statesmen and assorted money launderers still subscribed (rightly in the view of the Partners at Muttley Dastardly LLP) to the Citycentric view that lawyers and bankers are at the centre of the universe.
Students of law, philosophy and fundamentalist capitalism will recall that when Gallileo Gallilei later defended his views in his most famous work, Dialogue Concerning the Two World Banking Systems, published in 1632, he was tried by the Inquisition, found (pleasingly) “vehemently suspect of heresy”, forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.
It is a matter of some regret that his thought descendants, among them one Sir John Vickers, will not be subject to a similar fate for this latest report into reform of our revered and world class banking system.
I read the article in Legal Week with mounting dismay, which turned to anger when I looked at some of the ‘extraordinary comments’ appended to this ‘article’.
“City lawyers have reacted critically to the Vickers report’s proposals for reform of the UK banking sector, highlighting the potentially damaging impact on the City’s status as a global banking hub.
Key proposals contained within the interim report from the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) include the suggestion that UK banks should ring-fence their retail divisions from their investment banking arms and that there should be increased capital requirements for “systemically important banks”.
The report also concludes that a higher level of competition is required in retail banking, and in particular urges Lloyds to sell off further branches.
The report’s proposals are designed to reduce risk in the banking sector, mitigate moral hazards, decrease the likelihood of future bank failures and promote competition in retail and investment banking….”
While a competitor (and ordinarily I would not, of course, do anything in public to advance the cause of a fellow lawyer), I find myself almost in full agreement with Nabarro corporate partner Alasdair Steele who said: “The ICB acknowledges that implementing its reforms will cost the banks. Shareholders and investors are unlikely to bear the full brunt of these changes so, if they are followed through, we can all expect to pay more for our banking through higher costs and fees and lower returns on our savings.”
These are dark days for bankers and City lawyers. While bankers can f**k off to other countries to ply their profession; global mobility isn’t quite as easy for City lawyers, despite the best endeavours of our empire building forbears. For one thing, the Chinese have cottoned on to how easy it is to train lawyers and are producing millions of them. India already has several million lawyers and appears none too keen to import any from London or even let us in as ‘tourists’.
As to the preposterous suggestion by Robert Van Persie in the comments section in the Legal Week report where he wrote: “I think that City lawyers are the last people who should be moaning about this since they were partly responsible for causing the financial crisis and have never been punished for it. The law is not just something for partners to make money out of – it was designed as a system to govern and protect society. That includes lawyers involved in corporate and banking law.”
“The law is not just something for partners to make money out of” – Good grief. Does Mr Van Persie think that City lawyers studied so hard at university and later on the LPC to NOT make money out of law?
Some will be attracted by Mr Van Persie’s apparently sensible analysis. This is why such thinking is so subversive. There can only be one response to this. Lawyers are merely the instrument of the client’s desire – so long as such action is within the code of ethics, best practice and, of course, we should not forget, ‘the law’. To suggest that we lawyers were in any way responsible for the collapse of the Western banking system and be held accountable along with bankers is, quite probably and possibly, actionable. I have asked my fellow Partner – Dr Erasmsus Strangelove, our Director of Education, Strategy and Psyops - to log onto Lexis-Nexis or Westlaw and refine his thinking on defamation.
As for the totally absurd idea, advanced by Mr Van Persie, that we City lawyers would buy a holiday home in Cyprus on the back of our billings to our revered banking clients – Cyprus? Ludicrous. Cyprus is for holiday makers. City partners do not buy villas in Cyprus. We might try to buy Cyprus – but we would not be interested in the modest returns a villa would bring.
I rest my case. We were only following orders. We have not been punished – ergo, we are not guilty of anything at all. Editors of national newspapers and the legal press should be most careful in publishing any subversive material which suggests that we are in any way complicit in anything. That is all.
Note to Editors:
Hugo de VertBack was educated at Eton, and Oxford. He took a First in law and would have taken more, had he developed the skills for taking more in those early days of his career. Muttley Dastardly LLP is a niche boutique City firm. WE are known as ‘the Silent service’ because our clients know that we say nothing about anything at any time in public about them and regard it as failure to end up litigating commercial contracts or banking documentation in court.
If you would like a picture of Hugo de Vertback – please contact Eva Brown, PA to Matt Muttley, Managing Partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP. We shall do our best to accommodate your request to have a non-exclusive temporary lease of the photographic rights. We take Amex.
With thanks to the following for sponsoring the free materials for students on Insite Law magazine: Inksters Solicitors, Cellmark, OnlineWill.co.uk, BPP University College, David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Wildy & Sons, Camps Solicitors accident claims
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