Archive for September, 2006

Time to toss your wigs away?….

Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the Lord Chief Justice, has begun a consultation exercise with the judiciary that is expected to see the traditional horsehair headgear scrapped in civil, commercial cases and family cases — although kept in the criminal courts. Times.

One of the advantages of any form of uniform is ‘uniformity’. We saw what happened when schools adopted a more liberal approach. The chidren started competing with each other to see who could turn up with the best designer gear – or the anarchic simply looked as if they had dressed in the dark.

Are we to see members of the Bar eschewing Ede & Ravenscroft for more sophisticated business clothing? Are we going to see members of the judiciary in Armani?

I have a close friend whose wig is astonishingly battered and yellow – I am sure I saw it writhe on its own in the oval tin box whih he keeps it in one particularly hot day in July.


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RollonFriday picked this up and, intrigued, I went and had a look for myself. Rollonfriday news is always worth having a look at…you may look at the WFW Blog story here

The concept is a reasonable one. Arrange for new trainees to write something about their experience in the firm to provide prospective applicants for a training contract with an insight into what they can expect. WFW is a well known law firm. Indeed, many years ago I knew one of their more senior partners and had the pleasure of meeting two of the ‘name’ partners. I also had a very good lunch.

However… being the person I am on my blawg, I could not help thinking as I read all the ‘posts’ to the WFW trainee blog posted to date, that it is not so much a blog (It does not use recognised blog software) but is a series of articles in PDF format, written by trainees, obviously scrutinised and cleared by a partner before publication. I have no quarrel at all with that. As I said, above, it is a perfectly reasonable idea. I just wander how many students, reading the ‘reflections’ of the new intake of trainees, will think of dubious Soviet era communications designed to appear open, but pregnant with the control apparatus of the state in the background, and wonder how accurate the ‘insight’ really is. It could backfire.

I will give you a taste and let you judge for yourselves.

Here is Rebecca with her first impressions…

“After being coached in positive first impressions, career development and what not to wear if you want to get to the top, I wonder how many of us were planning a lunch time dash to the shops? We were also given an insight into the intricacies of time recording; I now understand why law schools try to prepare the ground by dividing timetables in to ten minute slots.

There seems to be a refreshingly down to earth and approachable atmosphere, which makes for a welcome contrast to
the tales of trainee baiting and mysterious errands to the post room in some of the larger city firms. Another perk
comes in the form of a first rate restaurant, where food is lovingly served up by a smiling Frenchman. I hear his home
made truffles make the perfect accompaniment to morning coffee. ”

Rebecca, I wish you luck with your truffle eating. Gulp the coffee and consume the truffle quickly. Time is money and…remember that 10 minute time recording slot – rounded up or rounded down? Shopping at lunch time? As McEnroe used to say….”You cannot be serious”.

To give a bit of balance – and have the view of a male trainee – here is Charles…

“There were quite a lot of computers, phones and photocopiers this week. Obviously the management are a little bit
scared that we are going to start undoing the office so the IT trainer and one of the secretaries guided us through all of
the office ‘technology’. This was well taught and well received. “

It is, of course, very important that a lawyer knows how to use a photocopier and a phone system.
And here is a bit from Phillipa…

“Towards the end of the week we were given a talk on ‘Ten pointers for a successful Training Contract’. It may seem like
common sense, but apparently there have, in the past been instances at some firms of trainees being sent home for
drunkenly flirting with clients, and a host of other delights which of course none of the exemplary WFW trainees of
2006 will ever encounter. “

I seem to recall a story in the lawyer many years ago when a Freshfields trainee got drunk at a client event and fell off the boat into The Thames. Perhaps this was an urban myth. Flirting drunkenly with clients? Whatever next. I tend to the view that flirting drunkenly is an occupation which occasionally may bear fruit.

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I don’t really know where to start on this one…

It is not often that The Times headlines scream like a tabloid.. but I suppose this story from the world of horsehair wigs and gowns made it almost irresistable to the Times. I have chosen The Times version of events for you to read for the full story – because I enjoyed their treatment of it and their headline which I quote below.

it is not often that I get the opportunity to combine bizarre stuff with our profession.

Briefly….if you cannot be bothered to read The Times report for the full story (It is, actually, worth doing so) …

There are two judges involved (Asylum and Immigration Tribinal, lest anyone think that we might be dealing with the High Court/Puisne/Red variety of judge) – Judge ‘I” (Male) and Judge”J” (Female). We do not know their names because of an anonymity direction made by the presiding judge at The Old Bailey (Source: Ruthie: Geeklawyer blog).

Judge “I” started an affair with his Brazilian cleaner (Ms Driza/”Ms Chili Hot”.) Brazilian cleaner was introduced to Judge “I” by his former lover, Judge “J” – one assumes for a cleaning position. Unfortunately Judge “I” decided that the Brazilian cleaner’s cleaning skills were so good that he decided to start an affair with her. (Come on Baby, ‘wipe’ my fire?)

It is difficult to follow the story as told in The Times report – but it appears that when the female judge (“J) decided to dispense with the Brazilian cleaner’s services, Judge “I” thought it ‘prudent’ to end end Ms Driza’s employment with him as well.

I have not, of course, seen the papers and rely on the precision of The Times newshound for my info on this.

Brazilian cleaner then pops over to see Male judge “I”. It is clear, from the Times report, that their relationship of Employer/Employee, at least, had ended when this meeting occurred. The meeting was, according to The Times, ‘amicable and friendly’. Touchingly, male Judge “I” and Brazilian cleaner made a coffee and then cleaner left saying ‘see you again’.

I have to resort to a quote from The Times to keep myself, let alone you, the reader, clear on the timeline.

“A week or two later she came round again. “It became clear she wanted to pursue (Judge) J for what she claimed to be compensation for unfair dismissal. I started seeing her socially,” said Judge I.

Asked by David Markham, QC, whether socially became “intimately as well?” the judge replied: “Yes it did. She stayed at my place. I did not tell J about the relationship at that stage.”
So, it appears that… Judge “I”, who had been Judge”J’s” lover, on hearing that Brazilian cleaner was about to sue his former lover for unfair dismissal, decides to see the cleaner socially and have ‘intimate relations’ with her.

The story continues…

Female judge “J” decides to call on her former lover (Judge “I”). Presumably, as she was being sued by her cleaner for unfair dismissal, and assumed that Judge “I” had dispensed with the Brazilian cleaner’s cleaning services as well, she did not expect to find her former cleaner at Judge “I’s” residency, let alone to find her sitting on Judge “I’s” lap.

Not surprisngly when Judge “I” saw Judge “J” the next day (The Times reports) Judge “I” said: “she was pretty appalled that I had lied to her. Although we were not living together we were still good friends. The defendant continued to live with me for some time, but eventually I persuaded her to leave the flat. J and I were really good friends and I did not want to jeopardise that.”

Judge “I” is then reported to have taken the view that it was time to give Brazilian cleaner the ‘heave-ho’ and ask her to leave. She did – reluctantly. Judge “I” then changed the locks!

But then… the cleaner returned. There was a knock at the door. Judge “I” lets her in. Judge “I” lets her sleep in the spare room, expecting her to go the next day.

We then learn that the cleaner stayed ‘for months against his wishes’.

Judge “I” makes it clear to the cleaner that he does not want her to be there. Brazilian cleaner responds...”She would not go and if he tried to do anything she would tell the Lord Chancellor that she had been illegally employed by J and himself”

One can imagine that this information would be a bit difficult for Judge “I” who, one must remember, is an Immigration judge. The cleaner also mentioned that “she had been to the House of Commons and posted letters to the Prime Minister, Home Secretary and others and that she had a contract with a newspaper prepared to pay her £20,000 for her story.”

The Brazilian cleaner, Judge “I” is reported as saying ” was living rent free.’ The judge was doing most of the shopping. So.. we have a Brazilian cleaner shacked up in the spare room of a judge’s residency – against his will, and he is doing ‘most’ of the shopping. One assumes he is doing all the cleaning as well – unless he has employed another cleaner to do it. It is difficult to see why Brazilian cleaner, living rent free, doing a spot of alleged blackmail, should suddenly decide to get the cleaning kit out and do a bit of hoovering.

Then we learn… that Judge “I” goes off on holiday to Canada with Judge “J” – leaving Brazilian cleaner at the residency in the spare room and returns from canad to find her still lurking in the spare room.
Unfortunately Judge “I” learns that the Brazilian cleaner has found videos of him having sex with other women. Unfortunately one of the videos showed Judge “I” and Judge “J” having ‘intimate relations’ and Judge “J” snorting cocaine in Thailand. See Times Report.

You may read the full reports in The Times – so I will simply end this post with a final quotation…

“(The relationship between Judge “I” and the Brazilian cleaner) continued until Miss Driza was arrested, at his house. In e-mails to Miss Driza, the court heard yesterday, that Mr I described her as “real chilli-hot stuff” and “a lovely shag”.

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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

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Is English so difficult to learn?…

I am a bit pressed for time today but hope to write on Saturday.  As it happens I may even manage to write about law… but in the meantime, let me share something which I found on the net.  You may have seen it.

Why english is a pain to learn

The bandage was wound around the wound.

The farm was used to produce produce.

The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

They were too close to the door to close it.

After a number of injections my jaw got number.

Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

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Ars sine scienta nihil est

Ars sine scienta nihil est… or.. ‘art without science is nothing.’ A most apposite latin maxim. Tonight I went to the ‘Quiz Nite’ at The Bollo in Chiswick/Acton. It was most enjoyable. Mr and Mrs Codebreaker attended, as did two of my neighbours. We did our best in the face of the adversity of bottles of Rioja which appeared miraculously on our table (I have no intention of offending any Christians with this statement) to cope with the questions – and we managed to acquit ourselves with a degree of resolution and dignity which was surprising.

A full report will/may/but probably will not follow – but, lest I forget, I mention only one question which troubled me – despite my long experience in teaching. The question was: “What is the word for the ‘ the art and science of teaching’. Having taught law for many years it was humbling not to get the correct answer. ‘Didactics’ was the answer – which, I suspect, came as a surprise to pretty well everyone at the Quiz Nite. Ironically – I know the word well…and use it in a perjorative sense with my brother, Professor R.D. Charon. It was galling to find that I failed to answer the question correctly – a much more subtle way of saying that I was wrong.

There is, however, pleasure, in discovering that one is not ‘infallible’. I suspect, however, that The Pope, in the light of his recent remarks about Islam, may well be more concerned with his speech making skills than I am at having failed to answer a question in a quiz. Is he going to give a speech about Buddhists now, in the wake of the recent coup d’etat in Thailand?

However, I am pleased to report that I did manage to be able to contribute the information that Ringo Starr was one, of two, Beatles, who is left handed – and on that note… I feel that I can return for another Quiz Nite. It was a strangely relaxing and enjoyable experience. The questions were well put together – the organisation impeccable – and, it was enjoyable. The Quiz Master was excellent – even though he was without his usual microphone. One of our number, a female friend of mine, was particularly interested in him.

I am sure that our team will win the free champagne and the £100 prize one day; on the premise that Quinon proficit deficit – He who does not advance, goes backwards.

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Going to a Quiz ‘nite’?….

I cannot quite believe I agreed to go to a Quiz ‘Nite’.. but I did. Before I get onto that topic, I thought you might like to test your knowledge of geography with a new timewaster from Google. This website is from Mindpicnic. The test is far more difficult than I anticipated. You are shown a satellite picture and have to guess where it is. Difficult – when the picture is of a stretch of sea! I missed one by 5614 miles! Got close with a couple and then decided I really had to stop and do something more useful. Have a go?

There I was, having a quiet glass of wine last night at The Swan in Chiswick with Codebreaker (who occasionally writes on my blawg). We were into our second glass when someone mentioned a Quiz nite at The Bollo (a rival pub nearby) and asked if we would like to go. I started laughing and said that it was probably not my thing – but Codebreaker and Mrs Codebreaker thought it would be enjoyable. I agreed to go. I will report back on my findings tomorrow. I worry sometimes that I am losing the plot in my social life.

Quiz ‘nite’!…. not quite like Domus night at Lincoln’s – an event to which I have been invited by Ruthie / Geeklawyer… fellow bloggers and practising lawyers.

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