Archive for October, 2006

Something for practitioners….

Defamation: Reynolds privilege – protection of journalists.
Jameel v Wall Street Journal [2006] UKHL 44
Dr John Birchall, Barrister

You may find this article by a friend of mine who writes for Consilio useful.

And…this article by Peter Rouse, Solicitor

Integration, not compartmentalisation, is the key to work-life balance 

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From the Desk of Matt Muttley, Managing Partner

I received a news clipping from one of our more enterprising trainees this morning covering the story that Clifford Chance are outsourcing some of their IT and administrative functions to India. This struck me as a good idea. The vultures from the law school who came to see me last week to discuss a tailored LPC, came up with a proposal which caused several of my partners to faint at our weekly meeting.

Do you have any idea how much these law schools charge for an LPC? Outrageous!. How much can it possibly cost to run a fairly straightforward law course – students crammed into a lecture theatre, seminars at a staff student ratio of 1:30 and modest library facilities? Their Course Director even told me that students only had to read their course manuals and did not have to look at law reports.

I came up with a plan. We, at MD, are going to outsource our LPC to India…in fact, we may even outsource all our routine legal work to India and, given that we can probably employ five good Indian trainees for the price of one UK trainee, we should be able to gear up our profitability most suitably. I shall let you know how this plan develops in due course.

In the meantime…here is Jonty…one of our trainees with his weekly blog.

I write to you from Mumbai, India. It was a bit of a surprise to be told last Thursday that I was being re-located to India at short notice on a ‘testing exercise’. It’s great. I am living in a small house in the garden, at the back of the main residence of the local MD resident partner. I receive instructions direct from our London office, so I still feel in touch. They come in by email and fax. I work a slightly longer day – about five hours longer, to take into account the time difference between London and Mumbai. Each evening I have a de-brief with the local resident partner. The food is quite different from London. I was a bit puzzled when the waiter at one local restaurant had no idea what I was talking about when I asked for a Chicken vindaloo. I received an email from Matt Muttley today asking if I would be interested in a little ‘sideline’ – just a couple of hours of extra evening work at night – phoning people in England about conservatories or telephony products. Sounds fun and will improve my communication skills.

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The Bar to look at diversity….

Legal Week reports that The Bar Council has set up a working party led by Lord Justice Neuberger to devise a blueprint for improving access to the profession.

I commented on the pupillage problem a few weeks ago. Just as important as the pupillage issue – and certainly very encouraging, Lord Justice Neuberger said: “It is equally essential that the legal profession, and that the Bar in particular, should have access to the best talent among aspiring barristers, regardless of background.”

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Too simple for words?…

I read Simon Hoggart’s Sketch in The Guardian (Saturday 28 October) about the dumbing down of Shakespeare by teachers so school children can understand it. I liked the point he made – (paraphrased) Shakespeare plots are pretty simple – it is the words, the language, which inspires, which delights.

A reminder?…

“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Macbeth (Act V, Scene V).

“See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand! O that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek!” Romeo and Juliet Quote (Act II, Sc. II).

“This above all: to thine own self be true” Hamlet quote (Act I, Sc. III).

“Can one desire too much of a good thing?”. As You Like It ( Quote Act IV, Sc. I).

Mind you, as Hoggart pointed out in his piece… some of the most famous quotes were never actually said: “Play it again, Sam.”

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It is fascinating that a very small trophy… of no ‘objective’ commercial worth in an antique sale of pottery (but beyond price to cricketers) should be transported to Australia encased in padding, a metal case and with it’s own seat on the plane…

A great game of one day cricket today. England won the match with The West Indies – Pietersen did the business with the bat and it made an otherwise quiet Saturday afternoon a pleasure.

I have taken a bet – merely a bottle of wine – with a friend of mine that England will retain the Ashes. The view at The Swan, among those interested in Cricket, is that we won’t. Vide et credere – See and believe!  The Ashes | The Ashes Tour

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The Great ‘Firewall’?…

Clifford Coonan, writing from Beijing for The Independent, (Friday 27 October) highlights the very worrying trend of large organisations like Microsoft, Yahoo and Google to bow down to the god of Chinese Government censorship.

Coonan notes that China – “the world’s leading jailer of journalists” has recruited 40,000 web watchdogs to keep an eye on the capital’s internet cafes and internet service providers. It must be very pleasing for the shareholders in these companies to know that their directors are prepared to kowtow to a repressive Chinese government and not accede to the wishes of human rights groups to stop acting as censors. I am gratified to find that Charon QC..the blawg is still available on Google China – not that this will be of any great value to the millions of Chinese who have to live under strict censorship. I may have to report myself to the Chinese Government… in fact, I may well do so…to save one of their watchers the trouble.
and so…to an entirely different topic: Responsibility of the State in high profile Family cases.

I feel a sense of liberation, knowing absolutely nothing about Family Law and, therefore, feel I can ask a fairly stupid question without any embarrassment. My question is this: in these days of ‘no-fault divorce’ would it not be a more humane way of proceeding for legislation to be brought in to stop the rather unpleasant mud-slinging which we are seeing in the Macca divorce (Who is sending the material to the Press in ‘Macca’?..that is quite an interesting question) – and prevent either party from making public statements to the press until the divorce is over? (When I suspect there will be little need for parties to mud sling to gear up their negotiating positions.) I suspect I am being naive – so I will return to write about things which I do know something about. I do, however, find the coverage in the Press about the Macca divorce rather unpleasant – what is their child going to think in later years when she is old enough to read and understand the clippings – whoever is behind the info getting to the Press?

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All work?….

Well.. here I am… enjoying a Silk Cut, a glass of Rioja and wondering what to write about…

First, I think a little bit of comment on the law. You may recall, yesterday, that I wrote about the 17074 complaints against solicitors. I was contacted by Law Society Press Officer, Bob Walker. He was most helpful. Briefly… he told me that in the past the Customer Complaints Service was fairly low profile and ‘none too pro-active’ – the members, who paid for the service, not surprisingly, being none to’ keen about ‘paying the staff of ‘their’ service to investigate themselves. Now, of course, the soon to be re-named service is / is going Independent following recent reform legislation The Complaints service is now very much more pro-active. This and the Miner’s claim accounts for a rise in complaints. The Service placed an advert asking people to write in about difficulties in connection with Miner’s compensation. Bob has agreed to follow up on my call with some detailed statistics about the type and seriousness of the complaints as these stats are readily available. I was impressed with his preparedness to assist with this. I do think it only fair and reasonable that if statistics are to be bandied about in the Press, that the authors of such pieces should provide more detail. As soon as I receive the info from Bob – I will pass it on.

“Hit the young with alco-pop tax – Minister “ The Guardian
Worries about teenage binge drinkers prompt Hewitt to write to Treasury. Hewitt is worried about the binge drinking by young people and has asked The Chancellor to ‘ratchet up’ the tax. The Treasury don’t seem to be that keen – because it would mean taxing all spirits – which may not be a popular move.

It does seem illogical to put the tax up on alco-pops, but leave other spirits unaffacted. Young people might be getting addled brains from juicing too much on Fridays, Saturdays..and possibly a few other nights… but they aren’t stupid. They will soon work out that it may be cheaper to go straight for the hard stuff if alco-pops are taxed.

For my part… I shall, hopefully, continue drinking Rioja, in measured amounts ( a glass at a time) without feeling the need to park pavement pizzas, fall over, or make a nuisance of myself in the High Street at chucking out time… Is it really a new problem?

I see some pretty bizarre things on the web…but here is a hairy email service for the friend in your life who has everything… try it?

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