Archive for January, 2007

Something for the weekend?…

It is Friday…the day is done… and here, in remembrance of a brief snowfall in London this week, is a film which demonstrates how not to drive in the snow. Crazy!

If you fancy your own business card and can’t be bothered to sit down and design it in Photoshop – let this tool do it for you. The red for Rioja, the bubbles for ephemera… a minimlalist approach.

Air Traffic control

Tower: “TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 degrees.”
TWA 2341: “Center, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?”
Tower: “Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?”

Delighted to learn from RollonFriday that injurylawyers4U have won an award.

“InjuryLawyers4U has been awarded the dubious honour of foisting the “Most Irritating Advert of 2006” on an unsuspecting public last year.

The award is decided each year by the media trade mag Marketing. The InjuryLawyers4U ad featured a cross examination in court with both witnesses and lawyers earnestly mentioning “InjuryLawyers4U” as many times as they could. With a whopping 57% of the vote the ad saw off strong competition from the likes of Cillit Bang and Kerry Katona’s efforts for Iceland.

Certainly irritated the hell out of me – but those other adverts featuring people falling over and then cutting to a cheque are equally irritating. Mind you, with my recent personal injury experience, I may apply to feature in their next advert.

Paxo interviews Tony Blair – ‘University Challenge’ style.

I enjoyed this clever short film.

And while you are at it, I think you will enjoy this very clever pastiche with Blair and the song “Should I stay or should I go?”

And finally… If you would like to practice rolling lavatory paper (which, of course you are able to do in the privacy of your own bathroom or even at work) – you may now do it online. Have a good one.

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From The BBC website: “A man who downloaded child pornography to his computer has avoided jail after the home secretary asked judges to limit prison terms due to overcrowding. Judge John Rogers QC gave Derek Williams, 46, of Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, a suspended sentence. The judge at Mold Crown Court said he was “bearing in mind” the home secretary’s advice to only jail dangerous and persistent offenders.”

The full story has been reported in the press. The BBC reports: “The Sentencing Guidelines Council recommends a custodial sentence should be the “starting point” for possession of child pornography.” Details of the specific facts of the case are a bit thin in press reports, but it seems that the judge did “bear in mind” the home secretary’s advice to only jail dangerous and persistent offenders” in handing down a suspended sentence.

The shadow home secretary, David Davis, has contributed to the debate by saying, and I quote from press reports : “We now have a situation where sentences are being dictated by the prison capacity and not the severity of the crime.”

What next for the Home Office? Perhaps we could contact our EU neighbours to see if we can hire space in their prisons? Perhaps the United States has a secret facility somewhere in Europe which could be used? Extraordinary rendition…

I would like to help…but I don’t think my spare room would be suitable. Perhaps Channel 4 could help and gain PR points with the government and the public by making the Big Brother house available?

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Winner January caption competition…

Winner of January Caption Competition There were quite a few entries…

“Nice job of cleaning up the Stockwell Tube Carriage Sir Ian. Now, about this politically damaging ‘Independent’ Police Complaints Investigation ‘Lord’ Blair!

Comment by James Lawson — Friday, January 5, 2007

James… if you contact me and let me know which set of lectures you would like…

Charon writes for Personal Injury Law Journal

Tim Kevan asked me, shortly before Christmas, if I would be prepared to write a short monthly piece for the PI Brief Update and the published Journal. I was delighted to be asked, particularly because I was not required to write about the law. As you will discover from my first piece for the journal – I am absurdly qualified to write for this journal! [Flattered although I am by Tim’s effusive introduction – not even after too much Rioja would I compare myself to Rumpole! ]

We shall see if his readers have a taste for more…. I shall keep you posted.

The PI Brief Update is a very useful resource for students and lawyers interested in personal injury litigation – there are excellent articles and analyses by practising lawyers: Have a look (It is free to view online)

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The Carbolic Smokeball Company has generously agreed to provide the prize for my latest caption competition. If you win, you will be given the barrister figurine pictured, a tasteful addition to any desk or bookshelf.

Have a look at The Carbolic Smokeball Company website – a surprising amount of ‘legalabilia’.

Consilio will also provide a prize – a CD on Advocacy in Modern Legal Practice by Jonathan Goldberg QC – an excellent series of films on advocacy by a leading Silk (CPD 3 Hours – if you are a practitioner)

Here is the picture for the latest competition which will run for about 10-14 days.

A picture of John Reid – quite a challenging picture for the caption competition this month…

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Cue: The Great Escape theme tune….music fades

Charon: Good morning, Home Secretary. Thank you for spending time out of your eighteen f******g hour a day schedule to do this interview.

An aide comes into the room at this point with the latest statistics on escaped prisoners. Reid glances at the paper quickly and snaps “Heads will roll”. Aide leaves room.

Home Secretary: No problem. Before you start, let me state that I have written to the judges today to ask them to jail only the most dangerous and persistent criminals.

Charon: Yes… I saw the BBC website report on this. Presumably you have a few places to play with due to prisoners, some erstwhile murderers, escaping?

Home Secretary (Smiling grimly): Yes… but unfortunately…sorry, fortunately, not enough places are being made available in this way. I am on the case. We have plans to build 8000 more places, house them in police cells, army camps, old prison wings which are ‘not fit for purpose’ and anywhere else we can find. We are even thinking about housing prisoners on naval warships which we don’t need at the moment. I gather there is a spare aircraft carrier somewhere on the south coast… Portsmouth?

Charon: Well, Home Secretary, that is fascinating, if a little inconsistent with your statement today on jailing only serious and persistent offenders – but, presumably, we can go back to jailing others when the new prisons are built. But I am not here to ask you about your plans for prisons in the future. I just wanted to ask you a few questions about why people are managing to escape from our prisons and then question you about a far more important issue – your contendership for the leadership and to be the next Prime Minister. I suspect that you will tell me that escaping prisoners and those under control orders is not a particularly big problem, that even the murderers are safe – for, presumably, they wouldn’t have been put in an open prison to end their sentences, so if you prefer, please feel free to tell me your plans to be the next Prime Minister.

Home Secretary (a taciturn expression passes over his face): I think it is clear that there are many in the party who believe that there should be a leadership contest, both for the party and the future of democracy in this country, but it is also clear that Gordon has been answering a lot of questions about Big Brother and other matters not related to the economy to position himself as the next PM when our revered leader retires in June…sorry… July….

Charon: Home Secretary – I appreciate that you have a lot on your plate, and seem to get little sleep and I don’t suppose counting prisoners jumping over prison walls is a particularly restful way to get to sleep – but my question was fairly straightforward. Let me make it more so. Do you want to be Prime Minister?

Home Secretary (looking grave): “It is probably the ambition of every serious politican. I am no different….”

At this moment an aide enters the room and discreetly whispers into The Home Secretary’s ear :“The Chief Justice wants a quiet word, Home Secretary. He has just read your letter.”

Home Secretary (smiling warmly): “Look… Mr Charabanc… I’m sorry about this…matters of state…. these things happen, but I’m going to have to end this interview. Happy to talk another time…. would August this year suit you? I should have more time then and be rested after my trip to the Bee Gees mansion in The West Indies. Thanks for coming. My minder will see you out.”

In my mind, I am led out into the street with a feeling that I have been in the presence of genius.

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Student round up….

I thought it was time for me to post info which may be useful to law students

From Legal Week: The College of Law’s Legal Practice Course (LPC) has been given the Law Society’s top grade in all five of its centres around the UK. The College’s centres in Birmingham, Chester, Guildford, London and York each received a ‘commendable’ practice grade for all six assessed areas of the LPC. The ranking follows a series of three-day visits by the Law Society, which have taken place over the last three months.

From Consilio: The popular revision course from Consilio is being run in April and May: Details 

From The Bar Council: Warning on E-Mail scams: “It has come to our attention that barristers’ names are being used to front email scams and other scams. This is being done without the barristers’ consent or knowledge. If you receive an e-mail of this sort purporting to come in the name of a barrister with whom you have had no dealings, or with whom you are not expecting to have dealings, you are probably best advised to ignore it or to check directly with that barrister’s chambers. The Bar Council can take no responsibility for such matters. The fact that barristers’ names are being used in this way has been reported to the police.”

I’m afraid quite a few reputable organisations and individuals are being used in this way.  I am tired of getting emails puporting to be me from spammers who use my email address as a front! Welcome to the net.

It might be a good idea to keep an eye out on Consilio for the next week.  The Lobster is returning with prizes  and I will shortly be announcing the wnner of the january caption Competition – and posting the February competition.

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Custody in domestic violence cases?…

I have a number of Australian friends – who are thoroughly enjoying the comic opera one day cricket which follows on from The Ashes.

This is the latest bit of ‘sledging’ from my Aussie ‘mates’ : It has the merit of bringing in a legal theme!

“Federal Court Ruling from the Melbourne Age, Australia (AP) – A seven
year old boy was at the centre of a courtroom drama yesterday. When he
challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him. The boy
has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge initially
awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with the child custody law and
regulations requiring that family unity be maintained to the degree
possible. The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt
beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with
her. When the judge suggested that he live with his grandparents, the
boy cried out that they also beat him. After considering the remainder
of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was
apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented
step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.
After two recesses to check legal references and confer with child
welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the English
Cricket Team, whom the boy firmly believes are “not capable of beating

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