Archive for February, 2007

From the Desk of Matt Muttley, Managing Partner

It has been drawn to my attention that Nabarro Nathanson, formerly known as ‘Nabarros’, has done a re-branding; shortening their name to ‘Nabarro’ with a strapline ‘Clarity Matters’.

Their new logo was a bit difficult to decipher at first…. looked like tree rings to me, or one of those optical illusions…but Eva Braun, my PA, was able to decipher it as a letter ‘N’ by squinting at it for a while and using what appeared to be a Vicks inhaler to clear her sinuses. Good stuff…. and, inspired by this, let us remember that clarity (and speed) of billing is the watchword… well, perhaps not too much clarity of billing unless the client asks.

When our revered senior partner finally resigns…(Eva…sorry…can you type ‘retires’ instead) the firm will re-brand as Muttley….

Dictated in his absence on business in Davos.



Good to see that RollonFriday covers the story.  They have a poll allowing you to vote on the new logo.


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Blown it….

Thick and brick, paired, is most appropriate in the case of a new motorist, a brickie, who got a drink driving ban 38 HOURS after passing his test. Apparently the born-again pedestrian, as he know is, went out to celebrate passing his test, got pissed on six pints, went to bed, got up a few hours later and drove. The Sun reports “The cops stopped him for driving without lights.” Yes… not really surprising at night.

Police Inspector Eric Robinson expressed the view “It’s possibly the shortest time anyone has held a licence.”

I am gladdened by the news, again reported in The Sun, that thousands of children think that cows lay eggs. Apparently, many of these children also believe that bacon comes from sheep. The children were eight years of age. At that age I was about to qualify as a Master of Wine…. OK… I may be exaggerating…

Prince Charles, on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, has managed to irritate a lot of people by calling for a ban on McDonalds. Excellent. Glad to see he is keeping busy.

Jesus’ bones found: The news that Titanic film director, James Cameron, and his co-director on the Lost Tomb of Jesus (Discovery Channel) have found the lost tomb of Jesus has irritated priests, god-botherers and archaeologists who did not make the discovery themselves. He appears to have also found the tombs of the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene and Joseph – so a full house then. An american news reporter (Video) tells us that this story comes from the Da Vinci Code meets Indiana Jones school of archaeology. Not good news for the Resurrection theme in christianity? A bit irritating for agnostics as well.

POSTSCRIPT: Thursday 1 March – just after midnight on the 28th February…

Chris Rosebrough who took the time to comment on my short note on the Tomb of Jesus story has a fascinating rebuttal here – well worth a read.  I have just re-read Chris Rosebrough’s analysis – it is excellent – but do remember, please,  that I am not qualified to judge, being a believer in the old Roman Gods.

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Barrister ‘A’: Ego nolo caesar esse…

The Diary of Barrister A: Tuesday 27th February 07

I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die.
Richard III, 5. 4

I have made my position clear. I do not want to be Caesar and – in so asserting; at once, I relieve the minds and emotions of others who might seek to thwart my ambition.

I read in The Sun today a comment by Jon Gaunt ” PERMA-TANNED Peter Hain accused Rory Bremner of “breeding cyncicism” in politics and of politicians and says he has kept to his principles and is proud of what he has done.” This quotation allowed Gaunt to dig deep into his political knowledge… I quote: “Oh yeah, Peter you and your miserable shower are really principled aren’t you? There’s Prescott humping anything with a pulse. Michael Meacher the real socialist with EIGHT houses. The dodgy dossier, need I say more?”

I ring Danielle to ask if we have EIGHT houses. We don’t.

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Sari… so is Jade…

I groaned when I saw The Sun this morning. I have no need to cover the story of Jade’s journey of apology to India when Geeklawyer handles it so eloquently. Geeklawyer is on the slopes skiing – but still manages to blog. I expressed the view in his comments section that I was pleased to note he had found the keys to the drinks cabinet.

I am, however, not at all ‘sari’ about the increase in penalties for drivers who use mobile phones while driving – having had a near death experience with one such driver ‘who didn’t see me” – despite the fact that I was wearing a bright yellow jacket and a yellow helmet and my motorbike is a big one. The BBC has the story: “The maximum fixed penalty fine has doubled to £60, and three points can be added to offenders’ licences.” From today!

And… the government is looking into the possibility of checking mobile phone records after routine accidents. At present mobile records may only be checked in ‘Fatals’ or on the orders of a senior officer: The Telegraph

The BBC website has some interesting pictures of The Old Bailey to celebrate the centenary. Pics

Is a glass or two of wine a day good for you?
I started to read this – and lost the will to live.

David Pannick QC covers the reform of the Office of The Attorney-General. Pretty straightforward issue really? Independence is a many splendoured thing.

Stress in The City: Edward Fennel has a most interesting article on stress in The Times. Worth a read if you are contemplating a career in a City law firm – or are stressed.

Enjoyed Dan Hull’s description of my Podcast interview with Justin Patten: “a sane, to-the-point and articulate discussion” In the time honoured tradition of theatre reviews I’ll extract the bit I like and put it ‘up in lights’! [Is Dan suggesting that my blog may not be entirely sane?]

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Forgive the “Here’s Johnny’ intro – but today I interviewed Justin Patten of Human Law on his thoughts about blogging, where he thinks blogging by lawyers might go and other matters. I also shoehorn a bit of law into the podcast; discussing a return to the bad old days of recruitment to the Bar and end with a reminder about the caption competition.

We did lunch at The Bollo – a glass of Rioja, of course, was offered and accepted. I had to join him for a glass – to do otherwise would have been unthinkable.

So… here is Podcast No 2

“a sane, to-the-point and articulate discussion”
Dan Hull. What About Clients?

I just could not resist this review.

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Secrets of law and practice…

Secrets to law 101: This YouTube video repays watching. It is short and to the point.

This short extract from Jonathan Goldberg QC’s excellent 2 CD training film on Advocacy in Modern legal Practice will, however, teach you a great deal more. The CD is available from The Legal Practitioner for £29.95 – it carries 3 CPD hours – but is most useful for student and practitioner alike. The CD is full TV quality – the extract is compressed for slow web connections.

PS.  Don’t forget to have a go at the Caption Competition – a bottle of decent Vino to the winner… courtesy of Corney & Barrow who sponsor the caption competition! Click here (or scroll down)

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Growing old disgracefully?…

Sir John Mortimer QC, lawyer, author, creator of ‘Rumpole’ and raconteur – may well be 83, but as far as I could see yesterday afternoon at The King’s Head in Islington he still has an eye for the ladies, and put on a great Show. He was assisted in his task yesterday by two good actors – Geraldine James and Celia Imrie.

I quote from The Telegraph review – which goes straight to the point: “His common sense, liberal values and delight in mischief are a lesson to us all in a drab, increasingly conformist Britain in which our freedoms seem to be constantly eroded”

John Mortimer was kind enough, some years ago, to visit my law school each year for about five years to talk to the students – he asked for nothing but a bottle of champagne to drink while he spoke. It was good to listen to him again – if anything, he was sharper and funnier. It was a pleasure to spend an afternoon watching this show, a glass of Rioja to hand (my hand), and just enjoy laughing and being entertained. Geraldine James and Celia Imrie were both excellent and seemed to enjoy doing their bit!

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Barrister ‘A’: Ad alta

The Diary of Barrister A: Saturday 24th February 07

I am not in the giving vein to-day.
Richard III. 4. 2

The hangover this morning could have been worse. Danielle took me to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate my selection as a candidate for the northern constituency. I share only one ‘policy’ with WebCameron: My private life is my private life until I do, or get caught doing, something really daft – if and when I am elected to Parliament.

I spent the morning trying to understand New/Old Labour policies. Hazel Blears was not available. Probably putting in her papers for an outsider shot at the Deputy PM role which will fall due soon.

So… Google seemed as good a starting point as any: This was my first search:


Blair has but a few months to go. He is running about trying to re-create the early days of his premiership/presidency by littering the place with initiatives. He may as well, now, go to a Church of England church, stand in the pulpit and address the depleted congregation. He will reach a wider audience.

I am relieved, given that ‘the original coalition of USA/UK’ appears, now, not to have had any (or immediately effective)  plans to administer Iraq after invading it, that we are not planning to invade yet another country. But… just because information on UK politics (at the present time) is on Google, it does not mean that it is necessarily reliable. As far as I am able to recall – we went into the present Iraq war because we were 45 minutes from attack by weapons of mass destruction owned by Iraq – supplied, developed or sourced, originally, allegedly, by the US and, possibly, the UK. I had no political aspirations back in those days – so I may be a bit hazy on the detail. Did we ever find those weapons? I shall ask ‘R’, my research assistant.

To the summit… ‘ad alta’ is, of course, the quest..the journey, of all aspiring politicans. I accept, should Labour voters in the North fear/despise/ be indifferent to the Tory more than Labour (To be quite honest – I approve of hereditary voting. The last thing we need in the Labour party is voters who have always voted Labour, for family reasons, voting elsewhere) that I will find myself in The House of Commons. I am unlikely to find the time to take high office, let alone any office. I will make it clear to my constituents that I shall be available to THEM, for I seek no other reward.

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Saturday brings respite…

There is absolutely no truth in the rumour that I have been approached to advise HRH Prince Airmiles (aka: ‘The Junket of York) on his public image – that is a distinction which must go to Sir Digby Jones, former head honcho at the Confederation of British Industry (fee, reportedly: £1000 a month for one day each month) – as reported in The Independent today.

The reason it is unlikely that I will be approached to advise Airmiles is because I feel quite strongly that if he spent less time working from 7.00 am – 11.00 pm in Davos and got out on the piste and, thereafter, went on the ‘piste’, Britain plc would be perceived in a warmer light by our foreign neighbours. I feel quite strongly, given that Harry is off to Iraq, Wills has to behave himself and the future King George VII* is just not a crowd puller, ‘The Firm’ has a duty to deploy at least one senior royal to ‘party’ from dusk to dawn, divert RAF jets from centres of business to the playgrounds of the World, and demonstrate that Britain plc is not all about warmongering, cosying up to Bush, financial markets, Hovis, chip butties and Dick Van Dyke portraying a cockney in Mary Poppins. I want It’s a Royal Knockout back on TV.

* (Charles III is unlikely – a Stuart name, not Hanoverian)

The Independent is ‘cooking’ today! There is a shortage of sperm donors in the UK. Apparently British couples are prepared to pay up to $525 (£275) for a US donor with a Ph.D ($445 without) and may choose hair colour, and physique. In these days of legal aid cut backs, less litigation and competition from claims farmers….. ?

Good news for smokers! It is an abuse of a smoker’s human rights to prohibit him / her from smoking in prison. Get nicked for smoking in a public place, get banged up for not paying the fine and smoke away! Wonderful nonsense – amusingly dealt with by Deborah Orr in her column (The Independent)

Happy Birthday Old Bailey : “Defend the Children of the Poor & Punish the Wrongdoer.” The Old Bailey is 100 : Independent story

Ban alcohol adverts: Dr Beaujolais, a leading expert on fractures and author of “You break ’em, I mend ’em”, speaking from Harry’s Bar in Venice yesterday, called on the UK government to ban all alcohol advertising in the UK. “People are drinking themselves to death” said Dr Amaretto Beaujolais (52), as he lit a havana cigar and downed a shot of grappa. “It is thoroughly irresponsible of supermarkets to sell alcopops to under aged boys and girls. It is a disgrace that people can get absolutely roaring for £1.49 on a bottle of cheap cider” He said, signalling frantically to a passing waiter for a re-fill. Full story

“A spokeswoman for the Department for Culture Media and Sport said ministers had “no plans” to ban alcohol adverts or alcohol firms sponsoring events.Does this indicate or signal the end of the nanny state? Is The Highwayman going to let us lead good lives when he becomes PM?

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Around the world in 80….

It has been some years since I was last at The Reform Club in Pall Mall. From memory, I am pretty sure I was over refreshed after an extended lunch with a CEO of a leading law school. Be that as it may – the memory of it came into my mind and prompted me to think of balloons and journeys.

Geeklawyer is off piste skiing in Europe. Justin Patten of Human Law is coming over for lunch on Monday to be interviewed for my second podcast. I plan to ask him perfectly sensible questions and then throw in a curve ball at the end. Anonymous Lawyer departs from his usual villainy to reflect, sensibly, on the tragic death of the Freshfields associate, Matthew Courtney. BabyBarista seems to have discovered that another barrister is running a sweatshop; using the services of pupils and underemployed barristers to do his work. Excellent.

Martin (Editor of Conflict of Laws) also has his own blog – Legal Scribbles et al. He also teaches Land Law at Birmingham. May god have mercy upon his soul. This week he considers property rights in space. I have seen this phenomenon with other land lawyers. They become addicted and property rights on earth cannot assuage their needs. I suspect it will not be long before F*xtons estate agents are on the Moon – hopefully not in my lifetime. It is bad enough seeing their badly driven Minis in West London. Chop-chop. I have a long memory. Here is Whistleblower again – on F*xtons.

Pupilblogger is not well. This does not trouble ‘The Master’ who still phones him to talk at length. NearlyLegal reflects on the uses of vanity and expresses some admiration for the stealth campaign mounted by BabyBarista in promoting his blog by posting comments on other people’s blogs. – excellent stuff. Might have to try this technique myself! (Nearly Legal: Agree…hate/amused by the term ‘blawg’ – which is why I use it. Post ironic?…neo-ironic…or just bollocks?)

Which brings me to the question: are any lawyers actually blogging about LAW?

Surprisingly – yes. John Bolch over at Family Lore informs us that marriage as an institution is on the decline – 10% reduction. Who cares? I have troubled the Superintendent of Births, Deaths and Marriages too many times. I have imposed an ASBO on myself. There will only be one further visit – to record my passing to Hades… a member of my family will ferry me across the Styx. Corporate BlawgUK considers ‘Pseudo-modernism, financial markets and Shariah Law.’ With the aid of a glass of Rioja – I enjoyed the post. Dan Hull, from the States, has a blog I visit and enjoy for the more serious stuff. This week he informs us about: “The Sacred, Immovable, No-Excuses Weekly Phone Call.” Legal Beagle asks their Lorships to give her a moment and Bystander JP at The Magistrate’s Blog, as ever, provides an entertaining insight into the world of criminal law: This week dealing with a proerty issues in criminal cases. Tim Kevan, at Barrister Blog, has an interesting piece on Fraud.

So…what is Charon up to?

Today I’ll be watching the rugby with a good friend of mine. He is Irish. Although I am a Scot – I support England (except when Scotland are playing). History will be made at Croke Park this afternoon. Wikipedia has a detailed view of the events of Bloody Sunday 21 November 1920 in Dublin. I suspect that I’ll be up for a few posts later… perhaps on other blogs?

I have introduced ‘Barrister A’ as a vehicle for my interest in the more bizarre activities of politicians. It may continue… but, it may not. Tomorrow I am at the King’s Head in Islington with a young money laundering lawyer to watch a show involving Sir John Mortimer QC. It will be strange to return to Islington. I lived there many years ago (1982) – shared a flat with a friend who is now an eminent Family Silk – good days. It did not look like Blackpool then. Inevitably, I spent far too much time at the King’s Head. Became very friendly with Bob and Charlie (Ex Roy Wood, Wizard – pianist and drummer – who always filled the place when they were playing.)

We shall meet again…on the field of battle. Cry God for Harry, St George and England…etc …

PS… have a go at my latest caption competiton (Infra – or scroll down if you don’t like a bit of latin in your life.) You could win a bottle of Vino – courtesy of Corney & Barrow.

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Barrister ‘A’: Vi et armis

The Diary of Barrister A: Friday 23 February 07
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With old odd ends stolen out of holy writ,
And seem a saint when most I play the devil.
Richard III. 1. 3

The day began with drizzle and was not improved by the arrival of a letter to inform me that I had not been selected to represent a group of Northerners in Parliament. Pity… I rather liked the nightclubs in the town; the girls in short skirts, stilettos and midriff revealing tops – almost a uniform up there – even in winter. I began to wonder how ‘Old Labour/New Labour’ I needed to be. It is all in the balance – a resurgent Tory party under WebCameron, with a fair prospect of seizing marginal labour seats, balanced against the rising menace of Gordon Brown  [No blog / no personal website – ? I did find ‘Gordon Brown roofing’] and support returning to Labour when Blair finally goes.

More senior members of the Bar are attracting a fair bit of Press attention for their extra-curricular affairs. The antics of the barrister ‘gigolaw’ seems to have given the fourth estate a taste for scrutinising the, shall we say, ‘social life’ of members of the Bar. Circumspection and discretion must be the way forward.

All to play for. The work streams in at an acceptable rate. The clerks at RedLex Chambers do the business but I need to plan. I send an email to my research assistant, ‘R’, who used to work for a well known tabloid; asking her to find out if there are any seriously ill or old MPs who may not make the next two years. I suggest a few names. As an afterthought I asked her to see if anything was ‘known’ about MPs in marginal seats.

I received an email back within minutes with three names. Name 1: “Believed to enjoy dogging – surprisingly” Name 2: “Having affair with his Ukrainian cleaner – visa issues?” and Name 3: “Clean living but dim and rarely turns up for constituency surgeries.” Not that interesting. No serious scandals and not a ‘rent boy’ scandal or public school spliffing episode even hinted at. Christ… how have we been in power for nearly ten years?

Phone Danielle to tell her about constituency rejection. She laughs, which improves my mood. Jim rings up to ask if I would ‘care to attend a Chambers Committee meeting about the new logo’. Easy decision: No.

Lunch with J/Groucho

An hour later, I receive a call from Dick Matlock, constituency party chairman, to tell me that a mistake had been made – the letters sent out yesterday went to the wrong people (the other candidate has the same first name) and that I had, in fact, been selected. Dick is a man of few words, fortunately. No apology – just the raw information. That is the way he likes it and it suits me just fine.

I am on my way.

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About Charon QC

See ‘The About’ page if you wish to… those of a nervous disposition etc etc. I may well add to the bio as I grow older and wiser…

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Friday… caption competition time…

The Sun has the story – but Tim Kevan of Barrister Blog has the video: “Judge Larry Seidlin wept THREE times as he gave custody of the beauty’s body to Richard Milstein.”

What do you think? Could this catch on? What about the opposite extreme of emotion? Will we be seeing judges laughing, perhaps setting off fire crackers and playing a bugle or trumpet as they sentence someone to life (or in the US – death) for a particularly horrific crime? Hardly….

Moving on…. to why Richard Madely is f*****g furious

Quite a few people ring in every day to The Richard and Judy show in the hope of being selected to answer relatively straightforward questions and pocket £5-7000. The hosts even help them on ocassion. The problem is that quite a few people ring in when there is absolutely no chance of them being selected as the contestant because the quiz operator, apparently, selects the contestant fairly early on in the programme. People ring throughout the programme because they are encouraged to do so by the hosts. Channel 4 and Cactus TV (Production company) share the profits from the phonecall revenue. The hosts have apologised. They were not aware that this practice was going on. Richard Madeley said: “I feel f***ing furious about this and so does Judy. We’re livid about it. But I think it’s a cock up, not a conspiracy. Everybody who has been affected will get their money back.” The Sun

The Independent also reports: C4 facing huge phone bill (£448,000)

So…on that note it is time for a carbon footprint certified, Birdflu free, safe, honourable Caption Competition

The picture (Left!) for this caption competition comes from the leader in The Sun today. The link to the story did not work – so I am linking to The Sun

The Prize? A bottle of Vino from the caption competition sponsor Corney & Barrow – who have been very sporting about my wish for this blog to be supported by a wine merchant!

Rules are straightforward: Write a caption in the comments section. 2. If I decide that your caption is the best, you win! 3. There is no appeal. 4. Relatives of Charon may not enter – Charon is also excluded. 5. Absolutely no phonecalls.

The winner of the last caption competition sponsored by The Carbolic Smokeball is….

“It’s OK, John, you don’t look Brazilian”

Comment by Rob Falconer — Thursday, February 8, 2007

Rob… I have emailed you – please let me have details of address etc. You will soon be the proud owner of…..this wonderful statue donated by The Carbolic SmokeBall Company

Honourable mention

“Listen Jimmy, ah dinna care whit yoo say aboot asylum and immigration,prison overcrowding and dangerous ‘head the balls’ being let oot o Jail too early! I’m telling yoo that when I was Defence Secretary, these SA 80 Assault Rifles were the bloody ‘Bees Knees’ now bugger off and talk to Des Brown before I give ye a Glasgow Kiss ya Bastard!”

Comment by James Lawson

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The PI Brief Update February edition is published online today. I am pleased to say that I am still a contributor… in the marginal sense of writing peripherally on topic. The journal has a great deal of content – articles on personal injury, clinical negligence, medico-legal issues and coronial law. You may read the online journal here. If you wish to see my contribution it is here.

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I write from my staterooms in West London

Tonight, I attended a quiz nite. I was not able to assist the quizmasters in their enquiries into the cash for honours farrago. I told them this and they seemed quite happy with my answers. I was able to tell them that I was doing my best not to have an affair or ‘liaison dangereuse’ with a lawyer or other person(s) outside the confines of the legal world. The chief quizmaster (who reminded me of Inspector Morse) smiled wryly and gave a view that it was quite an extraordinary co-incidence that the private lives of senior law officers should feature so prominently in the news at this particular time. He did ask me if the word ‘Granita‘ meant anything to me. I must have looked a bit baffled. It was too morse for me.

The quizmaster smiled.…and asked ” You weren’t educated in Scotland, by any chance?” I said that I did not have the good fortune to go to Fettes – but was able to tell him that I had seen a future Lord Chancellor wandering about the place, during ‘recreation’ when I was serving out an early ASBO at Glenalmond. I explained that I wasn’t in the same House so was not able to give any background on whether Falconer showed the makings of a good Lord Chancellor from an early age or not. Falconer’s legacy will be written in time – but, I suspect, that he will survive the Gordon Brown succession – particularly if he sticks to John Reid and enlarges the DCA with oversight of all the things  John Reid wants to offload. The chief quizmaster nodded, looked at his watch – a thoughtful expression on his face – and thanked me.


“Mind how you go, Mr Charon.” It reminded me of my childhood and Dixon of Dock Green.

It may interest you to know that I did have to visit Chiswick Police Station some time ago – to report the theft of my motorbike. It was good to see a picture of Dixon of Dock Green hanging in the reception area. Who says the Police can’t do irony? … seems to me that they are rather good at it.

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Lunchtime brief…

Verdict on The Verdict: As it happens, I quite enjoyed watching the verdict. Unfortunately, I missed a bit of footage because I was detaining myself at my own pleasure at The Bollo – but, The Times Online comes to my rescue. I tend to agree with the comment made by John Cooper ” What this programme showed was that if the public were allowed to watch a trial their faith in the process would be considerably enhanced. What better argument for allowing cameras into the real courts?”

Not having served on a Jury, I have no idea whether the film represented the style of discussion. Portillo exercised majesty, Archer prevaricated, a footballer talked far too much and an actress did not, as far I could glean, contribute much of real value. I missed the bit where Alex James of Blur pointed out that many young girls these days are trying anal sex to avoid pregnancy. I’m not particularly sorry that I did.

I do miss not eating Liver and Mash: I am at The Bollo eating their ‘Lunch special’ – braised beef, today. They have removed Liver and Mash from the menu. It is surprisingly relaxing to do a bit of blogging, catch up on legal news, answer emails – all from the comfort of a pub, which has Wi-fi, over lunch. Makes a change from my office where I spend far too much time in splendid isolation

The old LPC chestnut (tailored firm specific course versus open to all course) gets another outing – this time from Phil Knott of Nottingham Law School. Makes sense but could be a bit limiting. Contrast this with the article on Legal Week which suggests that students are being turned off by firm specific courses.

I am not having an orgy of TimesOnline posts… but it is Tuesday..and as we all know. Tuesday means Law in The Times – and here is Anonymous Assistant talking about the tribulations of practice in a City Law firm.

I appear to have overdone the Law – so, to change the pace – You may now buy Britney Spears’ hair (she chopped it all off) here – should you be so minded. (And the can of Red Bull, a lighter…..)

Well…there we are – lunch over. Back to the office.

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The legal system…

In but a few short weeks we have heard that the legal system is in ‘crisis’, various law officers and senior members of the profession are having affairs,  the prisons are full and barristers are briefless.

However all is not, by any means, doom and gloom. Lawyers are blogging and I’d like to draw your attention to a blog which I have been reading recently: BabyBarista

While it may be a fictional account of life as a pupil (There is much for the student and intending barrister) it has nuggets of information in pretty well every post.

I particularly enjoyed this piece… and I quote:

“Reminded me of the apocryphal story of a recruiter for an investment bank who randomly picked up half of the application forms and threw them in the bin. “Well”, he answered, “we don’t want the unlucky ones.”

One wonders how recruitment departments at the big law firms sift through the mountain of applications for traineeships every year. Matt Muttley would certainly approve. Meanwhile Geeklawyer has been reflecting on the common sense of the biker who filmed himself doing 100 mph on his motorbike in a 30 mph zone, posted the video to YouTube and then wondered why he was prosecuted by the police.

I was minded to comment on Geeklawyer’s comments section for that post : “Thankfully – no-one has been stupid enough to post a video on YouTube about getting a peerage in return for cash / loans etc etc … that would have been most inconvenient.”

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Spring is in the air…

Judging by the number of press reports about the extra-curricular affairs involving senior law officers (Another one reported in the News of The World today – but his wife knows all about it and it is in the past) and other senior lawyers, I am beginning to wonder if global warming is having, hitherto, unreported effects – increasing the libido of ageing lawyers. A tablet of El Nino anyone?


But…as I have said before, I will make no direct comment and move on to other matters…

One of the pleasures of blogging (at least in the field of law) is coming across an eclectic mix of thinking, writing, views, opinions, humour and subversion. Here I am, at The Bollo [free Wi-fi] on a Sunday, a glass of Rioja to my right, an espresso and Silk Cut to my left… on my laptop – looking at the blogs on my blogroll.

I quote a passage from Dan Hull’s What About Clients? which I enjoyed : “The study of law is one of the great intellectual adventures of our time. True, there are many who mire it in the rote, the mundane and the simple-minded. Yet for those who look past the shallows, the depths of law offer excitement and wisdom. Those who learn these nuances gain a particular authority in modern culture. They become effective citizens in the modern state.”

Yes… I was inspired… much as I am when listening to ‘Jerusalem’ when England play cricket… but… then I asked myself the question: What is an effective citizen in the modern state? Lawyers rank below estate agents (save for Foxtons. See: BBC ‘Whistleblower’ coverage) and journalists in the BBC Radio 4 surveys most years – we are seen as part of the ‘Holborn Massive’ and not even David Cameron wants to hug us.

Thankfully… the staff at The Bollo are still prepared to bring me a glass of Rioja. Cheers…

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From: Matt Mattley, Managing Partner

Re: Inappropriate behaviour

1. On or about Wednesday 14th February I received a Valentine’s Day card from a person(s) unknown.

2. The envelope, addressed to me personally, had been franked, using the firm’s franking machine. There is no record in the new electronic fees system of this postage cost being attributed to a client of the firm.

3. The card was inscribed with the message “Hi bigboy…. we know you like to give the opposition a hard time. Would you like to give me a hard time 2nite?”

4. The card was accompanied by a bunch of roses and foliage of varied types.

My response to this is as follows:

We have spent a great deal of (otherwise chargeable) time and money positioning ourselves in the market with marketing and what some of our competitors are now referring to as ‘piracy’. As you know, it is my practice to read The Lawyer to see who is acting for whom and then pop over to ‘whom’ and do a bit of negotiation on fees. We have also invested heavily in our innovative and highly popular ‘Trainee Blog’ – which, I am bound to say, while not meeting with universal approval, is very appealing to prospective applicants to our firm and, therefore, ensures that our firm is able to compete with the other leading firms and recruit suitably educated trainees who will contribute to the wealth of the partners. Please bear this in mind. We have to set an example. I would not wish to get up on a Friday morning and find our firm being mocked on RollonFriday.

As to point 2 of my memo: The cost of the postage of the card, while modest, has not been ‘attributed or allocated’ to a client. The cost is, therefore, a drain on the wealth of the partners. This is an important principle. It is also theft under s.1 Theft Act 1968. There is a difference between a ‘toppy bill’ and downright dishonesty in appropriating property belonging to the partners with the dishonest intention of permanently depriving the partners of that property.

As to point 3 of my memo: While I take no personal exception to the statement recorded in the card and may well follow up on the invitation when our internal security unit find the originator of the card, it is important to bear in mind the free advice provided by competitor firm Peninsula in their illuminating Valentine’s Day briefing (we are always grateful when rival firms provide us with knowledge which we can then re-sell. ) Peninsula point out that such a remark could well be construed, to those of a sensitive disposition, as ‘an unwanted sexual advance from a colleague.’ and amount to harrassment – which can be very costly these days – quite rightly. You will, through our excellent CPD programme, be familiar with the right of Employment Tribunals to make ‘uncapped awards’. I also quote Mr Mooney’s comments from the Pensinsula briefing – which sent a shiver down my spine: “And the cost of losing a High Court case for harassment can sometimes run into the millions.”

As to point 4 of my memo: The sending of any product likely to result in physical or psychological injury could well lead to personal injury litigation. I quote from the Peninsula briefing: “In the most extreme example, bosses can even get into trouble if one worker is sent a large bouquet of flowers on Valentine’s Day.

The leaflet says: “If you have one employee who has bad hayfever, or a similar allergy, sat next to a member of staff who receives a lot of flowers, the employer could be in breach of their duty to provide an amenable working environment.”

I hope that I have made my point? If you have not seen the Peninsula Employment Law briefing, you may view it here


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What a ‘spliffing time’…

With the continuing Press interest in David Cameron’s ‘spliffing time’ at Eton as a boy, I just could not resist this excellent popart poster ( I have ordered one for my office).

I was smoking Silk Cut and drinking espresso at a pavement cafe in the only non-middle class area left in ‘Haute-Chiswick’ this morning, when I came across a story in Private Eye (No 1178). William Hague, it was reported, came to the aid of his beleaguered (and increasingly less popular) leader by saying that “we all did things that we regret.” The Eye went on to state that Hague told a story that ‘when he was a lad’ he had a holiday job as a driver’s mate delivering beer. Apparently, it was the driver and Hague’s practice to have a pint at every delivery stop. With ten stops a day, I am surprised the driver had not come to the attention of traffic police. Journos, keen to probe the veracity of Hague’s story (picked up in 2000 by GQ magazine), Eye reports, contacted Tory Central Office to be told by ‘indignant staff’…and I quote:

“We can get you firm evidence he drank 14 pints. He used to regularly come home completely plastered.”


Rather more interesting – Private Eye had a story about the Visa Waiver Scheme rules in the United States. Convicted ‘felons’ are refused entry to the USA. One assumes they have enough of their own and do not need any more. These rules also exclude anyone who “has been arrrested, however briefly, for any reason whatsover, even if no further police action followed.” Eye makes the point, obliquely, that it would be most inconvenient for Tony Blair’s future on the lucrative US gravy train if he was arrested in the cash for honours scandal – even if no police action followed. Getting a visa to sup from that trough would, in the event of arrest, be rather difficult. The US Embassy website warns potential arrestees and felons: “such visa applications are subject to a greater degree of scrutiny than in the past.”

I just happened to allow my mind to wander at this point to a ‘What if scenario”. This is how my mind went – What if, I thought, Tony Blair was arrested, but no further police action followed? Blair would be subject to the close scrutiny of the US Visa authorities if he wished to gain entry to the USA. US authorities would look into his past and find that he may have started an illegal war in Iraq. The Americans don’t like people who engage in unlawful military activity or acts of terrorism. Game over. Yes – preposterous analysis. We know that the war in Iraq is lawful. The Attorney-General has told us that it is. So no point in further idle speculation.

And finally, for this post…

A sculpture of hands feeling The Queen’s breasts has provoked outrage among royal watchers and experts. The Sun’s royal photographer Arthur Edwards said: “This is quite obviously the work of a lunatic. I don’t see this as anything more than a cheap stunt.” [Curiously, despite the reservations expressed by the photographer (who, presumably travelled all the way to Madrid to be outraged), The Sun has got a picture of the sculpture which you may view here – if you wish to do so. Those of a nervous disposition may wish to avert their gaze.]

Even more curious – as the Sun reported: Spain’s King Juan Carlos did not seem to have a problem with it — he opened the show.

It is not known whether King Juan Carlos drinks more Rioja than I do.

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