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Archive for October, 2006

Friday miscellany….

From the Desk of The Vice Chancellor
I learned from the Independent (Thursday 26 October) that Professor Tony Downes, Vice Chancellor of Reading University, has written a personal letter to all the Bar and Club owners in Reading asking them not to offer cut price drinks to his students.

The professor was concerned about students not turning up to lectures because they had been out binge drinking. No doubt the landlords of Reading will oblige the Prof. Cheers.

And here is an email from another Professor… a bizarre variation on the Nigerian 419 scam…

FROM THE DESK OF PROFESSOR. CHARLES. C. SOLUDO
THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF CENTRAL BANK (CBN)
HEAD OFFICE ABUJA NIGERIA!

Dear Contractor,

IMMEDIATE CONTRACT PAYMENT. CONTRACT:
MAV/NNPC/FGN/MIN/009

We apologies, for the delay of your payment and all the inconveniences and inflict that we might have indulge you through. However, we were having some minor problems with our payment system, which is inexplicable, and have held us stranded and indolent, not having the aspiration to devote our 100% assiduity in accrediting foreign contract Payments. We apologies once again.

From the records of outstanding contractors due for payment with the federal government of Nigeria, your name! and Company was discovered as next on the list of the Outstanding contractors who have not yet received their payments.

I wish to inform you now that the square peg is now in square whole and can be voguish for that your payment has been processed and ready to be deliver to your door step as soon as you respond to this letter. Also note that from my record in my file your outstanding contract payment is us $5,700,000.00 (Ten Million Seven Hundred Thousand United States dollars).

I look forward to receiving payment. Should pay for a few glasses of Rioja… may even make a donation to the Reading Student’s Union… Mind you… I think Professo Charles C. Soludo may have been drinking in every bar and club in Reading judging by his prose and his inability to read numerals…
Not entirely sure why a woman needs 200 pairs of shoes…

Another snippet from The Independent. Apparently, the average woman over 40 owns an average of 19 pairs of shoes but.. and I quote… “It is not uncommon to have more than 100.”

I went to my wardrobe last night to see how many pairs of shoes I had. I found five pairs of black brogues, one pair of brown suede brogues, three pairs of casual docksider style shoes, a pair of chelsea boots (Yes… I was a bit puzzled to find those lurking in the wardrobe) a pair of heavy duty walking boots (even more suprising) and four pairs of motorbike boots. Clearly.. I am a mere amateur in the footwear stakes when compared to the women (the Independent reports) who have over 200 pairs of shoes and boots in their wardrobes.

I also found a pair of very beaten up shoes which I recall rescuing from the dustbin when a former Mrs C decided, some years ago, that they needed to go. It must be a male thing to rescue shoes from the bin?

And finally…. which City firm woos it’s LPC students with booze… over to RollonFriday to find out. 

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Robust stuff from Family Lore…

I don’t often consider Family Law matters – my days of running up the aisles are over (But…never say never, again ?)

An excellent piece from John Bolch on his Family Lore blog. I quote to give you a flavour:

“….. Firstly, celebrity lawyer Raymond Tooth is quoted as saying: “A rich man in my view should not marry a poor woman. If he does, then he must have a pre-nuptial agreement”. Fair enough, advise a client to enter into a pre-nuptial, but did he really say a rich man should not marry a poor woman? Is he really so materialistic that he considers that wealth, or lack of it, should determine whether two parties marry? I find such a concept as abhorrent as the nonsense that someone from one religious or ethnic background should not marry anyone from a different background. “

Here is the full story – well worth a read even if you have no interest in Family Law.

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17,074 complaints against solicitors….

I read with some interest a story in the Guardian today about the staggering number of complaints against solicitors – 17,074 according to the story. The author of the piece in The Guardian, Alan Wilson, offered the statistic that this is “equivalent to one for every six solicitors practising in England and Wales.”

Alan Wilson went on to say that a Which magazine survey said that one in three people were not happy with the service from their solicitor. Complaints included rudeness, arrogance, no witten quotes, delays, bills being ‘steeper’ than anticipated and incompetence. The article goes on to explain how to make a complaint. Statistics are always interesting – but it would be far more interesting to know how serious these complaints are. I think, in fairness, I will ring the Customer Complaints Service at the Law Society and see what they say.

EDIT: Follow up

I rang The Law Society – and after wading through their automated phone system, I spoke to a very charming young woman who told me that the Press Officer would call me back. I did make it clear that I wanted to find out the nature of these complaints to see how serious the complaints were – on the premise that (surely) not all of the 17074 complaints were ‘very serious’ matters and that I wished to provide a bit more information to readers than was available in Alan Wilson’s article. I will let you know how I got on.

On an entirely different note – but one related to customer service. I went into the Notting Hill branch of Royal Bank of Scotland today to draw some cash. The bank had been refurbished – very glossy, very slick. I waited to be called by the cashier. A very smart female member of the bank staff came over to ask me how I was, to ask me what service I was seeking and to ask if I would like a coffee! This so took me by surprise that I passed on the opportunity to get a freebie from a bank. It was all a bit unexpected – not really a “British Banking” experience. It was even more surreal when I got to the cashier. I noted that a woman was seated in the background with a clip board. She was from Quality Control).

The cashier was excellent – asked me how I was today, whether I would like a coffee while I waited and asked me what service I would like. I told him that I wanted to draw cash, that I did not bank with this branch (but they did have my signature on file, because, very occasionally, I do draw cash from this branch – rather than go into The City.) I produced my passport for ID/Money Laundering purposes and within a few moments had the cash in my wallet. I was, as it happens, most impressed. It was fascinating to watch the reaction of other customers, accosted by smart woman from reception, respond to her enquiries about their health and their needs that day. Everyone seemed a bit embarrassed to be asked – in a very ‘British’ way. Maybe we are so used to indifferent service that we feel awkward when faced with an organisation which is trying to raise the game?

I am going up to RBS Notting Hill again tomorrow to have some free coffee. It will be worth it. I may even hang out there for a while, read a newspaper on their very comfortable chairs and see if they could arrange for some Rioja to be brought in for me. Maybe they have Rioja in the cupboard… just in case?

I must award a Silver Lobster to RBS for this – it made me smile on a morning otherwise bereft of smiles. Good stuff.

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Useful IP rant from Geeklawyer on trademarks

“Geeklawyer despairs that yet another case on the infringement of trademarks by importing goods from outside the EU has been won by the rights holder. While the rest of the world gets goods largely identical to those given to us, but at half the price charged in the EU, within the EU those rightholders, mostly non-EU paradoxically, get the right to partition us off from the rest of the commercial universe so that they can screw us.”

Read the rest…

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Impersonating a solicitor….

Amused by David Pannick QC’s article in The Times on 24th October where he referred to a letter sent in to the paper by Barry Pamplin.  Mr Pamplin offered the information that it is a criminal offence under s.21 of the Solicitors Act 1974 to impersonate a solicitor. I am grateful to Ian Goldie, a friend of mine – a former partner with a leading magic circle firm, for drawing my attention to this prior to our cracking open a bottle of Rioja.

You may recall that The Lord Chief Justice sentenced himself to a day of community service recently – and his cover story was that he was a ’shipping solicitor convicted of driving with excess alcohol and sentenced to 150 hours unpaid work and 18 months disqualification.’

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Well… you will have to click the link to see

It has been a good day apart from the appalling result in the Cricket

The view I take will be quite different from the view taken by many commentators in the English Press on Sunday. For my part, I believe, that today’s one day cricket match against Australia was part of a very cunning plan to give Australia a false sense of superiority and security – deceiving them ‘Trojan Horse’ style, into believing that yet another England ‘collapse’ in the cricket is indicative of how we will play when the Ashes series starts in a few weeks time.

I have, of course – for medicinal reasons, had to take of the Rioja – and it may be – that my analysis of today’s performance by England in the one day ICC Champions series is skewed thereby.

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Attorneyman?…. surely we can do better?…

RollonFriday has a story about a new comic superhero for lawyers. Here is the Attorneyman website

Apparently Attorneyman is a lawyer by day and superhero by night. According to the website “AttorneyMan and Liselaw exemplify the hero lurking in all of us. Searching for truth, career satisfaction and the best in client relationships, lawyers need a boost. A good idea can take you far. Give that idea superpowers and there’s no telling where you’ll end up. We took Cha Chingi Changa LLP one step closer to Wonderland. Where will you go?”

Clearly a Christmas present opportunity for the senior partner in your life?

Of course, this inspired me to imagine how I might look in a Batman suit. Quite good, really? I then had to think of a ‘foe’. Surprisingly easy. I thought of John Reid as “The Joker” or Charlie Falconer as “The Penguin” – but there ‘could only be one’… The greatest of them all.. “The Riddler.” Clare Short didn’t really make the cut on Catwoman – although Theresa May MP, with her predilection for leopard and other animal print high heeled shoes,  may well have fitted the bill.

Now all I have to do is think about a plot…. but it is Friday afternoon, not Friday evening and it is far too early to crack open the Rioja

So… I have come up with an idea… INVITE the readers to suggest plot lines…perhaps even invite readers to write a short paragraph or two of narrative..string them together and … we have a story! Please feel free to comment, write a bit of narrative, suggest a plot line etc etc… Have a good weekend

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