Archive for March, 2007

Saturday review…and a few bits…

No-one I know in the obituaries today… so I turn my mind to other matters.


A quick round up of the blogs… to start: BabyBarista worries about his identity being revealed and dares the anonymous emailer to ‘name that blogger’. Geeklawyer is off the juice and is doing some running. Ruthie will, no doubt, welcome the appearance  of a bit of Law and sensible analysis – although there is some classic stuff from him in the comments. I am doing my best, in his comments section, to provide a counterpoint to this ‘renaissense’ (sic) – although, as you will discover, he is f*****g pissed off. Dan Hull over at What about clients? asks why lawyers are so shy about punting for work and reminds us that monarchy did not suit America. Justin Patten, Human Law keeps his focus on mediation and alternative dispute resolution – interesting. Nearly Legal has been running an intersting review of the Unified Contract. Corporate Blawg begins a journey of self improvement. Zen can wait. He starts with his teeth and goes to the dentist. Clearly, he is sensible and does not practise self-dentistry. (I saw an item in my search terms area: Crowns superglue discuss’ – and there was my blawg… up there with a whole lot of dentists! There was also an article on ‘NOT using superglue’ which I read with interest.)

Legal Scribbles makes a case for why students should study Conflict of Laws. I agree – an important and useful subject. I am planning a podcast with Legal Scribbles which we hope will be of use to students facing the examiners this summer. Family Lore considers the transparency of the Family Courts. Exlex of Outside The Law writes that the establishment of a Ministry of Justice is long overdue – but does not go far enough. Useful analysis. Barrister Blog runs a story about the Da Vinci Code judgment.

The Master of the Rolls, Sir Anthony Clarke, has said that active case management is the best way to avoid expensive, drawn-out disputes such as the BCCI collapse. Just the thing you need to hear on a sunny Sunday morning if you happen to be reading this entry. . Legal Week story.

RollonFriday has a classic story this week…quoted directly from RoF

Solicitor shamed by own press release: “David Corker, one of the country’s leading criminal solicitors, sent the following biography to the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association.

“David Corker is a solicitor at Corker Binning and a regular lecturer for the LCCSA. The 2004 Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession described him having a “pedigree which stands out by itself”. The 2005 edition as “tremendously bright”, the 2006 edition as “a business crime legend” and the 2007 edition as “having made a massive academic contribution due to his involvement on the lecture circuit”. Colleagues have described him as ‘a complete wanker’.”

The LCCSA included this gem in a pamphlet that was sent to 1,000 lawyers to publicise a seminar, and it was on its website for two days. Clearly Corker’s planet sized brain can’t be bothered with anything as mundane as proof reading…” Story

And finally…. How Napoleon lost his penis. The Independent today revealed that Abbott Ange Vignali, who administered extreme unction and officiated at Napoleon’s funeral, took a number of souvenirs – forks, knives a silver cup and a small part of the body. The Vignali collection and the part fell into private hands after a sale in 1977. There is some doubt as to what the “shrivelled object” about an inch long and looking like a shrivelled eel, is. “Not tonight, Josephine” was the headline of one red top when Christie’s failed to make a sale in 1969.


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I happened to find myself at the Bollo tonight – to meet a friend. We departed early to talk of many things. I returned to my Staterooms in West London at 10.00 hours… without straying into Iranian waters… to find that one of my posts (Hard core) had attracted an extraordinary number of hits and 10 comments – the post with the pic of the US litigator whose picture appears to have disappeared from the US law firm’s website in the last 24 hours. (I am pretty sure that his pic was picked up by other non-law mega blogs)

I read the comments… replied… and then went ‘on a foray of my own’ to Geeklawyer’s blog where I like to hang out if I find myself inspired on a Friday night. Geeklawyer was posting about Equity…. I quote, first, his post… and then… my less than helpful reply…

Geeklawyer’s request for information about Equity and Charity Law

“Geeklawyer was wondering if anyone knew of charity or trust law blogs? His first stop, naturally, was Binary law who has found nothing.

I suppose a decent news site would do but most of those seem to be sales pitches: “We at Muttley Dastardly LLP know most of what there is to know about trust law, we can help you with …”. Fine and good, but I want gossip baby, or at least interesting commentary.”

My less than helpful response…

“Good evening… Geeklawyer. I have returned from a money laundering trip to The Bollo….

As it happens… I taught Equity & Trusts for many years…. Snell was my inspiration (The P. V. Baker QC version, naturally) I think of Vandervell No 2 and Re Gulbenkian on a regular basis…. I even did a conference on them some years ago… until I started to get excited about ‘Romalpa’ clauses… Christ… I was unstoppable then. …

Romalpa…Andrabell… Clough Mill v Martin [1984] CA… etc etc… Agency evasions…. Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) drafting structures to avoid the problem… I had to get therapy eventually… Checked into a ‘lawyering out’ clinic in Chancery Lane…. the wine helped… I was cured. Stopped worrying about whether s.49 SOGA 1979 (Action for the price – see also: s17, 18 SOGA 1979) could apply if a valid Romalpa clause was in place… and then I became a big game hunter on the Isle of Wight… the rest is history.

Thank you for your kind words about Muttley Dastardly LLP….

I have been to my own blog this evening. The curious picture of Dr Lecter has… disappeared…. Area 51? As it happens… I had liver and mash tonight… with some Chianti. (Villa Antinori) .. and it was…… delicious.

I am now going to have a good look around and see what is happening.

I was going to be brief… but I am over refreshed… Salute!”

If anyone is able to assist Geeklawyer in his search for websites on Equity and Charity Law – please assist by visiting his blog.

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Hard core…

Michael K. Brandow is an experienced trial lawyer with more than 16 years experience in Illinois Workers’ Compensation and employer liability matters.

He sure scares me… Website

UPDATE:  It appears that the photograph has been removed from the website as at 10.00 am BST this morning.

And this is also a bit worrying…

“A Swiss man was jailed for 10 years Thursday for insulting Thailand’s revered king by vandalising his portraits during a drunken spree. Oliver Jufer, 57, had pleaded guilty to five counts of lese majeste – the crime of offending the dignity of a sovereign for defacing several portraits of King Bhumibol Adulyadej with spray paint in the northern city of Chiang Mai. He had faced up to 75 years in prison, but the court sentenced him to 20 years and then halved the term because Jufer had confessed.” Story

Let us be thankful our own Monarch is more tolerant and the family diffuses civil unrest by entertaining their subjects….

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Work until you bleed…

“I’m not interested in where you come from, whether your father is a QC or a senior partner at another law firm…
if, however your parents are connected with a leading PLC or multi-national, we would like to know that. I’m not interested in where you did your LPC because that course is not particularly demanding or intellectually rigorous. You are here today because we have looked at your CV and have checked you out. We have ignored the lavish praise heaped on you by your academic referees and your LPC course directors (the prospect of being sued by a disgruntled former student has to be considered ) so we have made our own decision on the basis of the preliminary interviews and assault course results which 25 candidates completed last week. You have been selected to do a four week interview from hell – to borrow a phrase from Sir Alan and his reality game show. Like ‘The Apprentice’, one of you will get a job as a trainee at the end of it and, if you survive your training contract, you will work directly with me in Commercial. The rest of you will have to pursue your legal careers elsewhere – perhaps even consider a career as a community service officer. All seven of you are here because we think you have the potential to become a trainee at Muttley Dastardly LLP. “

Matt Muttley, Managing Partner, Muttley Dastardly LLP

Well… I did not have Sir Alan Sugar or The Apprentice in mind when I created Muttley Dastardly LLP as a section of my blog. But The Apprentice is back on our screens in full ‘technicolor’ (sic). I find it almost repellently compelling viewing. The Dragon’s Den is tedious – but The Apprentice has drama, perfidy, pathos, venality, and schadenfreude. It also has a cast of ‘wannabees’: The hapless (or hopeless), public school types, a couple of wonderfully shifty ones on the make and, of course, the real stars – “The Board” – Sir Alan, Margaret Mountford and Nick Hewer. I am a bit puzzled, however, as to what the other 9984 applicants were like if this is the pick of the bunch.

I’ll be watching. Last night, a charming man called Andy, who called the women ‘sweetheart’, told everyone they should ‘work until they bleed’, had no discernible leadership skills and no real understanding of the task. He f****d up (to use the language of business) and got ‘fired’. It is early days but I have my eye on ‘Tre’ as my pantomime villain. I feel equally sure that Matt Muttley is about to institute a similar style of interview process for his next “Trainee’.

Several years ago, in my other life, I went into a venture with a well known company which proved to be most enjoyable and successful. In the final stages of the negotiations – and it sold it for me – the Chairman of the PLC we were dealing with said: “I’ve got my cock on the table on this one”. It was 8.00 am. Anyone who can be so enthusiastic at that time in the morning is worth doing business with – and so it proved to be.

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Search terms: You have made it when….

You know when you have made it as a blogger when two people in the same day search Google with the following:

“what train shall i get from ealing broadway”


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Are you feeling lucky…punk?

Judge Merrett at a hearing in Jackson, Florida whipped out a handgun in court to protect himself after a fight broke out in his courtroom. (Source: The Mirror 28 March)
Apparently, US judges are allowed to take handguns into court. He handed his gun to court staff after bailiffs contained the fight.

However… it is not just US judges who do unusual things.
The Independent has an interesting article today written by Robert Verkaik : “Racism, drink-driving and improper conduct… the case against judges”

I quote from the opening paragraphs: “There has been a record number of complaints against judges, magistrates and other judicial office holders in the past year.

The Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC) said it looked into 1,434 cases in the first 10 months since its creation, including allegations of racism, drink-driving and other improper conduct. Eight judges and magistrates were removed from the Bench and a further 10 reprimanded. Nearly 400 of the original complaints are still being investigated or are yet to be considered.” Full story

Verkaik reminds us of the two Immigration judges and the Brazilian cleaner episode and the case being brought against Richards LJ for alleged flashing

Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips is supporting the establishment of a 24 hour helpline to help judges cope with the stress of judicial office.

And something for the drinking classes…

I came across an amusing post entitled ‘Anonymous Alcoholic”  on ” Outside The Law / Legal Outsider” by ExLex.  You will enjoy it – and it is only a click away.  (I do not post it here – simply because I’d like you to have a look at his blog – which is only fair!)

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This afternoon I thought I would try something different. I interviewed Ashley, the manager of The Bollo, an excellent gastropub in Chiswick, West London.

We didn’t talk about Law – we talked about the food and wine served at this pub, moved on to discuss the cricket at the ICC World Cup and I ended by asking if ‘Quiz nite’ would be continuing over the summer.

I wrote about The Ashes tour in the summer of 2005, when England won the Ashes. You may enjoy reading about “Ashley’s Ashes”

The Bollo website – if you care to come across to West London! I may even be at Table 21 – which, I accept, may be a good reason for you not coming!

Podcast No 8: Interview with Ashley, Manager at The Bollo

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I am no longer able to go to The Bollo on Sundays for lunch because the owners have decided they wish to encourage the well heeled young children of Chiswick to bring their hyperventilating parents to the pub to have a ‘Sunday Roast’ – and have, accordingly, banned smoking until the evening. This does not trouble me at all. Sitting in a pub with children, adoringly encouraged by yummy-mummy and stressed out banker-daddy, to scream, shout and run about, has little appeal. I simply went up the road to The Swan where the few children, who accompany parents for lunch, do not seem to have consumed quite the same number of E-numbers and appear, to my non-tutored eye, to be relatively normal.

I was fascinated by a report in The Sunday Times describing a new device, called a ‘Mosquito.’ The Mosquito gives out a piercing (and very unpleasant) noise, audible only to young people in their teens and early twenties and is being ‘deployed’ by some Police forces to disperse gangs of hoodies and yobs from ‘hanging out’ on street corners etc etc. [Some Chief Constables are holding back on deployment for fear of human rights issues.]  These devices cost £500.

I then turned to a short article, written by Ariele Leve, describing the pain she experienced, after having a filling replaced, when her gold lower filling came into contact with a silver upper filling. The different metals created an electric current. This reminded me of my own recent ‘self dental surgery.’

A couple of weeks ago, a crown on one of my front teeth came out when I bit into a piece of toast, at breakfast, at my café of choice in Chiswick. It was a simple matter to repair. I simply bought some superglue from the newsagent up the road and stuck it back into position – a delicate operation which I made a complete hash off. Superglue is powerful stuff. My tongue stuck to the crown – but, thankfully, I was able to prise it off. Although the crown was now at a slightly different angle, I decided that a visit to the dentist could wait. Three weeks later, the crown came out again. This time, I had to drill out old superglue from the crown with a needle to get the crown back onto the post at an even vaguely sensible position. After pulling my thumb and forefinger apart, I checked the result in the bathroom mirror. It was ludicrous. I looked like a crocodile and had to telephone a local ‘Non-NHS’ dentist to arrange an appointment. The receptionist was a bit baffled when I explained the nature of the problem. She expressed the view that sticking crowns back into my mouth with superglue was not a good idea.

The dentist, a charming woman, rolled her eyes when I explained to her what I had been up to. I sat down in the chair, reclined, and was given a pair of bright yellow safety glasses to put on. A young dental nurse, standing nearby, could barely contain her laughter as I decided to assist by pulling the crown off myself while the dentist looked at a rack of temporary crowns. I like being involved.

I was not given any opportunity to choose my own replacement crown – which was, in the circumstances, probably wise. Fifteen minutes later I had a perfectly fitted replacement crown. The dentist smiled, told me that it would be best if I left dental surgery to her in future and wished me well.

I turned my attention to another article: “Dons say classes of 100 now common”. It may have been the restorative effects of the Tempranillo… but, given that universities are now charging £3000 fees, I just had to laugh when I read :

“One Vice-Chancellor conceded that some universities ( were creaming…sorry, my interpolation…) cramming..students into a lecture theatre for some subjects.”

The article stated… “You can make a profit if you teach in large lecture groups and do nothing much

The article noted: ‘First year law students experience some of the biggest classes.”

“There is only one hall that will take 400. Law students are often in the medical faculty” said one academic. “The students who can’t get into the main room have to listen to the lecture relayed into an adjoining room.”

I’ve been involved in legal education for twenty-five years. I know exactly what the universities and private sector organisations are doing… they are ‘maximising assets.’

Frankly…this is a disgrace. Law is one of the cheapest subjects to teach. No laboratories, no expensive engineering equipment, no practical exercises which require major expenditure to run, no ‘patients’. Law academics are not well paid. Law libraries are relatively cheap to stock with books – especially in this era of electronic resources. . Vice-Chancellors rub their hands in glee at the prospect of running law courses.

See The Times Online story

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Quiz nite…and Saturday thoughts…

I am at The Bollo. The England v Kenya cricket game is about to begin. I have a glass of Rioja to my right, Silk Cut to my left and I have just eaten a fiery Penne Arrabiata. All is, thus, good with my simple world today. Although I am not a woman, I can multi-task … OK … multi may be taking it too far… but I can drink Rioja, watch the cricket, smoke and blog at the same time.

Last Wednesday I attended a ‘Quiz Nite’ at The Bollo. Our team has racked up two wins, two second places, won five free drinks and two bottles of champagne. It may not be riches beyond the dreams of a City law partner or a coughing Major – but it is a way of ‘monetising a bit of leisure time’!

We were one down – a composer who is particularly useful on music and films. Our team usually has six members. I knew we were doomed when my friend Codebreaker walked in. Well…he launched himself in…announced that he had been ‘ginned’ and crashed down into the seat. Codebreaker is a stout fellow in many senses of the word – at 6′ 3″ and 22 stone he is a force to be reckoned with. He had been to watch his nephew play rugby for University College Hospital. I won’t bore you with the solecism he committed but, he had to pay a forfeit and drink 8 measures of gin in one go. Medical students are renowned for their drinking. Codebreaker had already consumed 6 pints of beer. Pretending to be sober on the way back to West London (his sober wife, Derry, driving) he was dropped off at The Bollo. Derry arrived on foot, after parking their car, about ten minutes later. Codebreaker was seriously over refreshed, blurted out the answers loud enough for competing teams to hear, ignored the increasingly ‘dark looks’ from his wife as he went from Defcon 1 to Defcon 5, drank several more beers and amused me greatly. I refused to let him see our answer sheet eventually – because when I did, he repeated the answer in a loud voice – to the delight of competing teams who amended their answer sheets accordingly. A command performance. He had a hangover the next day. I have no information on any other injuries, self inflicted or otherwise, which may have arisen on the way home – nor do I have any information on the views expressed by his wife on his one man show at The Bollo that evening. Codebreaker will not be appearing at The London Palladium. I do hope, however, that he will reprise his show soon. Rating: 4/5


The mania for apologising. While I can understand the need for people to apologise for their behaviour – I got caught up in a conversation, last night, about The Abolition of Slavery anniversary. The range of views expressed on the breast beaters, tree huggers, politicians on the make and sundry others who have been apologising for Britain’s involvement in the slave trade 200 years ago was, to say the least, broad based and robust.

I’m sorry – but… I have come to the view that I cannot be held responsible for the acts of others or the government of my country before I was born. I do not hold young Germans responsible for the acts of their fuhrerfathers. Do we ask the Normans to apologise for invading our country in 1066?

(My ancestor, Ricard de Charon, was one such knight who got on the cross- La Manche ferry all those years ago, and is pictured in the Bayeux Tapestry, on horseback, with a glass of wine in his right hand, a duck in his left hand – and… frankly, a good thing he did… the locals were descending into anarchy; wearing wode, driving far too fast in chariots, bringing untaxed wines and beers over from the continent in absurd quantities, not repairing the central heating put in by the Romans (as required by covenants of repair and maintenance in their residential leases) AND… they had no idea where all those tax returns were …Christ… one of their Kings couldn’t even bake a cake properly… Yes… the Normans were a good influence.)

Nor will I apologise for Julius Charon, who invaded Britain in 40 AD, after misunderstanding Caligula’s instructions, and spent many happy months smoking spliffs in Brighton, with his mate Cameronius of the Etonii, before trying to drill the locals and losing their ‘hearts and minds’. Nor will I apologise for the appalling quality of his Latin in his book “Absit invidia – no offence intended”. I have written about this before.

What I will do is this: remember history and hope that we don’t make the same mistakes, or engage in unlawful and oppressive acts, in this country or overseas, in the future. Interesting that Blair finds it easy to apologise for Britain’s acts 200 years ago – but does not seem able to apologise for … [fill in’act’ to suit your political or emotional persuasion]

Unfortunately… rain has delayed play in the England v Kenya match. Australia are 84-o against South Africa. I am going to have another glass of Rioja…


UPDATE 15.30 hrs… GMT. Kenya won the toss and elected to Bat. Puzzling….. given the rain on the ground. I see a glass of Rioja coming towards me as I type…. excellent.

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Le Blog… critique et revue…

“The thing that’s wrong with the French is that they don’t have a word for entrepreneur”
George W. Bush, President of The United States.

UPDATE… I am grateful to Raymond P Ward, a US lawyer and well known blogger, for pointing out that President Bush did not actually say this… See here – the origin of the story is interesting!

Today, I begin my review of the week with two amusing posts by fellow law bloggers.

First… in the United States corner – we have Dan Hull of What About Clients? writing about the French: Link for story and quotation

“The French are designed by God to seem as provokingly dissimilar from the British as possible. Catholic, Cartesian, Mediterranean; Machiavellian in politics, Jesuitical in argument, Casanovan in sex; relaxed about pleasure, and treating the arts as central to life, rather than some add-on, like a set of alloy wheels.”

Cutting through the French line… in the finest traditions of Admiral Lord Nelson at Trafalgar…we have Corporate Blawg responding to Dan Hull’s original post.

“The British are designed by Darwin to seem as provokingly dissimilar from the French as possible. Protestant, Practical, Productive; cynical in politics, Aristotelian in argument, experimental in sex; intense about hedonism, and treating the arts as peripheral to life, being more focussed on science, global responsibility and the issues that make humanity prosper rather than celebrating being part of a catatonic clique of inward-looking patriots.”

Good stuff, gentlemen. Salut! As I am a Scot with republican tendencies (but waiting for the return of a Jacobite King…?)- “To the King across the water.”

I have been busy podcasting in the last week or so: Podcast 5: Dan Hull on US Lawyers and the work life balance, Podcast 6: Toby Davey, Barrister 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square on being a barrister, his work as an Immigration judge, wine and fireworks and Podcast 7: Dr John Birchall on Writing good English for law, business and other professionals.

It has been a strange week: We learned that Pakistan cricket coach, Bob Woolmer was murdered, The Great Train Robber, Gordon Brown, cut 2p off the rate of income tax (The Tories wailed as Gordon trampled over their wicket), It snowed / sleeted in London, The Lords rejected proposals to abolish juries in fraud trials, A council took a local farmer to court over accusations that his pigs scratching their backsides caused damage to protected trees… and finally… teenagers who skip school or college face a £50 fine and a possible criminal record under plans to increase the education leaving age to 18

So to the world of blogs….what are they up to?

Tim Kevan, Barrister Blog has an interesting post on the difficulties of telephone hearings, Batgirl is pondering about the difficulties of finding time to blog and anonymity, Justin Patten, Human Law has an interesting comment about conflict resolution in the UK, John Bolch, Family Lore has a wry dig at the DCA (Rightly, in my view) about their response to the legal aid protest by lawyers last Monday, Geeklawyer’s blog has been restored to health (with a new look) and he returns to form with pre-occupations about Ruthie’s birthday – but he was also gracious enough to ‘pimp my podcasts’, Lawyer 2 Be wrote a very interesting piece on diversity at the Bar, Legal Beagle is back and writes about ‘Turbulent Times’ at the Criminal Bar, Legal Scribbles has given his last Land Law Tutorial until October and has some useful advice for students who are about to face the examiner.

Lo-Fi Librarian continues to provide useful material and sees the lighter side as well with the information that “Juries are more likely to find less attractive defendents guilty than they are the prettier ones.”

Pupil Blogger reflects on Kids in court, sitting in the front row, reserved for Silks. Nearly Legal has a very useful piece on ‘the Age Bar’ -a useful read for all mature students contemplating a career in the law, Legal Spy is thinking about getting an even bigger BMW to irritate the senior partner! and Binary Law has a very useful post “Does IT matter?”

Finally… a blog I always read – despite the fact that I know little about criminal law – simply because Bystander JP always has interesting material about the human condition – as he sees it, daily, in the Magistrates Court. This week, he sentences a young man to his first prison sentence. I quote: “This chap was a young man who had been given every possible non-custodial disposal and had failed them all. You name it, he’s got it – drugs, drink, family problems, illiteracy, the lot. As he was taken down he called out “I’ll get worse”. He could have a point.The Magistrate’s Blog

UPDATE 15.30 hrs: … I am now at the Bollo watching the cricket…. rain delayed play – so viewing Australia and blogging, as may be apparent from the above. All I wish to add, for Dan Hull, who was kind enough to comment on this post: ….is Cry God, for Harry, St George and England for today we march against the French… again!

Bon chance…

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Right to roam…

The ‘sneering’* face of George ‘Don’t call me Gideon’ Osborne filled the television screen. He looked over at the Labour benches. There weren’t many Labour MPs in Parliament. The Great Train Robber / The Highwayman / Stalin, whatever you care to call him, wasn’t there… *(A Press report used the term ‘sneering’)

It must be pretty depressing for a Shadow Chancellor to find 13 of Labour’s finest doing their best to fill the government benches and the Chancellor doing something more interesting than listen to Osborne’s response in The Budget Debate. “Yes, well,” said Mr Osborne “I suppose you’ve got some people here but not really the quality.”

Moving on…because Mr Osborne has not said anything so far during his time as Shadow Chancellor of the slightest interest to me. To other matters. The Lord Chief Justice has faced the press for the first time. He repeated his view, made in a lecture recently, that there was little point in detaining geriatric lifers in prison at £40k a go and then turned his attention to the increasing use of on the spot fines by Police officers for a range of offences, including theft and assault. Lord Phillips tok the view that this ‘ diversion’ was not appropriate in cases of assualt where the matter should be looked at by the courts to ensure that measures were taken to stop re-offending. On the spot fines? A rather unpleasant slippery slope in my view. I am not at all comfortable with Police having power to issue on the spot fines for crimes involving theft or assault. Also… there is the question of work for criminal lawyers.

An interesting article in The Times today by Alice Miles: We are celebrating the 200th Anniversary of The Abolition of the The Slave Trade. Alice Miles makes several points: (1) Isn’t it a bit early to pat ourselves on the back? (2) What about sex slave human trafficking and child slavery in other parts of the world (3) The abolition of slavery was also an early anti-racist measure (4) only 15 non-white MPs (13 Labour) in Parliament against 8 per cent as proportion of UK population (5) Black boys don’t do as well as black girls, who do as well as white boys, but not white girls (6) Have you ever seen the Prime Minister or The Queen with black advisers?

Yes… we’re getting there!

Reminded me of a cartoon I saw in a paper picturing Shilpa “Big Brother” Shetty meeting the Queen and asking “Is there any racism here?” The Queen replied “No, Prince Phillip is away.”

I left Chiswick the other evening in a mini-cab enroute to an obscure part of London called Camden. Obscure, that is, to the Afghan driver who asked me for the postcode of the house I was going to. I told him I had absolutely no idea of the postcode. He typed the name of the road into his Sat-Nav device and we headed off in the wrong direction. I was reminded of the story of the woman who drove her £96000 Mercedes into a ford, obeying her Sat-Nav, and a host of other stories involving idiotic Sat-Nav users. Recently, some goon drove a party of children in a coach to Hampton Court in Islington, a grotty cul de sac, instead of the famous Hampton Court Palace – farcical. A year ago, an ambulance crew picking up an ill person near Ilford, Essex, for a local hospital; followed Sat-Nav for 400 miles and turned back only when they were on the outskirts of Manchester.

I told the driver that we were heading towards the North Circular. He confirmed that we were. I told him that I had no desire, at any time, let alone a Friday night, to go on the North Circular and that we would be better off going on the West Way down the Marylebone Road and heading towards Camden when we saw the signs. I had to be fairly blunt about my wishes before he agreed to turn the Sat-Nav off and, eventually I had to direct him much of the way after he started to veer south off the Marylebone Road instead of North. I was tempted to tell him to type in a postcode I know in Edinburgh to help him find his way back to West London. Instead I drew him a map to get him back to Camden High Street. I am fairly sure his Sat-Nav device was switched on fairly quickly!

As a biker I agree with plans to stop the use of Sat-Nav screens while on the move in cars. I have to watch the road on my motorbike – to stay alive. I feel it only fair that drivers should not be using mobiles or Sat-Navs while on the move. Here endeth the rant…

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Podcast No 7 and the plan for future podcasts…

The quote by E L Doctorow in the title amused me. I aslo have some empathy with this one: ” You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” ~Ray Bradbury

Yesterday, I interviewed Dr John Birchall. John came to law as a ‘mature student’ in his late thirties. As it happens, I taught him – and it does not appear to have done him any great harm. John does many things: a writer on litigation, etymologist with the Oxford English Dictionary, opera fan, wine drinker and he lives on a boat. He is currently involved in producing a DVD on ‘Good English writing for lawyers and other professionals’ . I interviewed him about his DVD project of course, but also asked him why he had such a passion for law that he sold his house to read for the Bar as a mature student. His answers were most interesting. His views on why it is important to write (and read) good English are worth listening to.

Here is Podcast No 7: Interview with Dr John Birchall.
My plans for future podcasts

Clearly, I can’t just interview people about why they blog – although I have a few more interviews lined up on this topic. I am planning to do a podcast a couple of times a week – if I can organise this – and want to talk to lawyers and judges about practice, current legal issues, the future of law. I will also, as occasion arises, interview non-lawyers about their interests if I feel this would be of interest to readers of this blog.

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Lawyer-2-be: Diversity at the Bar

You may be interested in Lawyer-2-be’s interesting post on diversity at the Bar – particularly in relation to mature students.  Worth a read.

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Today I interviewed Toby Davey, Barrister at 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square, Immigration judge, wine expert and firework maestro –  about practice at the Bar,  his work as an Immigration Judge and his extra-curricular interests.

Toby gave an interesting insight into the realities faced by intending barristers and , after considering what he most enjoyed about practice as a barrister and judge, talked about his fascination with fireworks. Unfortunately, I was not able to buy him a glass of Chateau Lafitte 1965 at a couple of grand a bottle.

Podcast No 6: Toby Davey on Law, wine and fireworks

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What a piece of work is man!…

“ We’ll know we’ve made it when there are mediocre women in senior positions, as God knows there are enough mediocre men there.”

Mrs Justice Dobbs speaking at the Association of Women Solicitors conference

I enjoyed reading this speech… robust and to the point. I quote: “I am but .6 or.8% of the senior judiciary, I can’t even manage a whole percentage point. As senior judge for diversity, that is an issue, which is high on my agenda and to which I will return.”

John Malpas, Editor, Legal Week suggests that diversity is as elusive as ever. I quote from his blog: “A senior female QC confided to me the other day that she did not believe she could have achieved the equivalent status she now enjoyed – as well as having a family – if she had been a solicitor.” Read the rest

Kaplan LPC marketing blitz sidelines Nottingham
An article in Legal Week seems to suggest that Kaplan are sidelining Nottingham Law School in their marketing. This came as a bit of a surprise to the Editors of Consilio. Kaplan has just started advertising Nottingham-Kaplan on the Consilio website and, having spoken to both David Napier (Kaplan) and Phill Knott (Nottingham Law School) in recent weeks – they both seemed very enthusiastic about the joint venture.

In defence of BPP; the article suggests that Nottingham have been down this route before with BPP splitting off some years ago. This was always part of the arrangement between BPP and Nottingham – from my recollection of events.

I was having lunch, blogging on Wifi at The Bollo as I took a lunch break, when I received an email from Sean Hocking of PracticeSource.com and Tablawoid.

Dear Charon

Why is charon gone ? I was just about to email you last week and
congratulate you on the great podcasts.. Which sound better poduced than
radio 4

We’re sad

Best Sean

I was able to reply that I am ‘resurrected’, very much alive and blogging… and will be doing more podcasts tomorrow – one with The Bollo Manager, the other with a barrister friend of mine who also sits as an Immigration Judge.

Clearly, I shall have to be more careful if I decide to have another ‘conceptual revision’ and die again.

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It was cold sitting outside the cafe in Chiswick this morning with my espresso, as winter made a quick return, but at least I did not have a dead body sitting at the next table unlike BA First Class passenger “Paul Trinder, 54, who woke at 30,000ft to discover cabin crew strapping the body of a woman, who died after the plane took off, into the seat across the aisle. He watched in horror as the corpse repeatedly slid beneath the seatbelt on to the cabin floor of the Boeing 747.”

Paul Trinder did not, at first, realise the woman was dead. The Mirror reports: “I went to the galley and said, ‘She doesn’t look too well.’  Cabin crew explained that the woman was dead and unless he had any better ideas, they did not have anywhere else to put the body. A bit difficult to stow a body in an overhead locker. Trinder was told “To get over it.”

Interesting story in The Guardian today: Criminal courts throughout England and Wales face widespread disruption this week as legal aid defence solicitors stage a new wave of protests against proposed changes to the way their services are paid for. More than 1,000 are expected to take part in a mass lobby of parliament this afternoon as a prelude to three days of working to rule in magistrates courts around the country.

Blog around the clock… what the law bloggers are up to:

Tim Kevan, at Barrister Blog, provides a link to the PM being ‘bovvered.”

Justin Patten, Human Law, has reviewed my Podcasting and suggests some ways to develop them. Geeklawyer’s blog was trashed by his ISP last week. Ever resourceful, Geeklawyer is back in business – as sharp as ever.
Baby Barista
considers ‘the Honey Trap’ and Binary Law writes, interestingly, about how Google wants to ‘trap honey.’

Corporate Blawg is changing his style – I like it. This week… “Since Corporate Blawg must obtain f**k-loads of cash in order to be knighted these days, Corporate Blawg goal is cash alone. “

A new blog I have come across – a BVC student, Lawyer-2-be writes interestingly and I have asked L2B to do a podcast. Lo-Fi Liabrarian, as always, has some useful tools and points. Legal Scribbles has been looking at his blog stats for ‘search terms’ – and suggests that Geeklawyer gets a new look. UKLawstudent gets a double rejection and considers what to do about a Masters. Legal Spy has an interesting post about the rush of East European litigation – wry and amusing. I quote: “Tell you what though – there really is gold in them thar eastern European hills.” And Dan Hull, What About Clients? is in Austria en route for Paris.

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The sad death of Bob Woolmer, Pakistan Cricket Coach at the weekend cast a pall over the extraordinary achievement of Ireland, who won against Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup, and pushed Freddie Flintoff’s bender and drinking antics, which resulted in him being sacked as England Vice-captain, down the list of press priorities.

I am a keen fan of Test Cricket and have come, recently, to enjoy watching One Day cricket. Bob Woolmer will be missed. Obituary

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A hard day…a foreboding of doom?

I had a frustrating day today – So… I am at The Bollo with my laptop, Rioja at hand, to blog about nothing of any importance whatsoever. It is, of course, The Ides of March – and Caesar was assassinated on that day in 44 BC.

You may have heard the ASDA telephone call prank. You may not find it funny – but, in my present mood, I found it absurdly funny: Listen

“ButchCameron” moves to the left

It is pleasing to read political analysis in the tabloids. Today’s big story was about Cameron’s move to the left. The Mirror reports: “DAVID Cameron has switched decisively to the left as leader of the Tory parting. Yesterday he sported a new hairstyle in a desperate bid to appear a cut above the rest – going from a “feminine” right parting to a more “masculine” left parting. But it is more likely going to be his parting shot.”

Dear god… no wonder hardly anyone votes in this country if this is the level of coverage by a political commentator. Mind you, WebCameron does look a bit more ‘butch’… it has to be said. A touch of ‘Reservoir Dogs’? Quiffless and, of course, these days… spliffless.

So… Blue Peter caught faking a phone-in competition. Who would have thought it? My childhood memories, destroyed with one callous deceit. Quite fancied Val Singleton when I was 10, which didn’t impress my Mother one bit…. “stick to building absurd crap with bits of sticky back plastic, Charon. See if you can make something with our empties and take that absurd horsehair wig off your head. It will make you go bald.” she used to shout from her poker game, hosted in her own private Manhattan style cocktail bar off the main drawing room.

Surprise surprise… Olympic budget has quadrupled Tessa Jowell has told MPs. I’m not a fan of watching people sprinting 100 metres in tight lycra – although it is more interesting if they have taken performance enhancing substances. (I would watch some drug enhanced monster jump 30ft into the air in the high jump or do 100 metres in 4 seconds.) Nor do I care that much about rowing these days. Motorboats are far more practical. I accept that I am biased, but I don’t see why we should burden taxpayers to fund the Olympics or reduce the amounts given to more worthy causes because the Olympics are going to drain £1 in £5 from lottery receipts. I would rather see money spent on developing team games – perhaps even to develop young British talent for football? – or, just a thought, to equip our armed forces properly, so they can do the job properly without having to buy decent kit off Ebay.. . BBC story

I’ve decided to do podcasts on a fairly regular basis and develop the concept by interviewing lawyers, academics, politicians and…who knows… even a few people who know absolutely nothing about law. All ideas for themes, potential interviewees etc, gratefully accepted. I am also planning to put together a half hour podradio programme… a mix of comment, interviews, guests, music (subject to PRS costs) … perhaps? I may even do a phone-in (No prizes though!) What about a round table discussion… recorded as it happens – bit of wine, late night jazz music…and weird conversation? It is a thought. What do you think?

POSTSCRIPT… The Ides of March are often referred to as a foreboding of doom. Today, Geeklawyer’s website went down. I cannot believe that The Chinese finally found his blog? Geeklawyer has a temporary blog which will disappear when… and I quote his own words…“he stops arsing around.”

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Today I met Dan Hull, a practising US lawyer, partner at Hull McGuire PC, Attorneys and author of the What About Clients? blog. I interviewed him for Podcast No 5.

Dan’s blog is a mine of information about legal practice in the States, service issues and an eclectic mix of thoughts and ideas. I asked him about why he blogs, the difference between the approach taken by US and UK law blogs, and what makes a good lawyer. Inevitably, I also had to ask about his interest in ‘hats’ as raised, late at night, on Geeklawyer’s blog.

It was an enjoyable trip for me out of West London and, as I left, Dan presented me with a bottle of Rioja!

Podcast Number 5: Dan Hull, US Lawyer and author of the What about Clients? blog

POSTSCRIPT:  Justin Patten, Human Law,  was kind enough to do a quick review of the podcasts.

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Just a few things and thoughts…

An amusing story from The Water Cooler in The Times today about a reception held at Inner Temple to mark the 45 year old career of Sir Ivan Lawrence QC. A judge remarking of his career as a Recorder: “Justice had not only to be done and seen to be done — in Sir Ivan’s court it had to be seen to be believed.”

Another…the rather better known story: I quote from the piece in The Water Cooler:

“Sir Ivan also recalled Judge Maude sentencing two homosexuals for an act of gross indecency. “It is not so much the enormity of the crime itself that appals one,” he said, “it is the fact that you chose to do it under one of London’s most beautiful bridges.”

Attitudes and times have changed…

Francis Gibb reports in The Times: “Women subjected to sexual humiliation or harassment by the public in course of their jobs won the right to claim against their employers in a massive extension of the law yesterday.”

And now, having dealt with ‘things’ to deal with ‘thoughts’…

After experimenting, conceptually, with my own existence (I am, of course, a figment of imagination) I found a website dealing with the 30 Strangest deaths in history.

As I read through the website I became more interested. Worth a read – if only to provide content for your next outing to a Law Society or Bar Council function when the conversation runs dry. Rasputin had to be shot, then shot again three more times, then clubbed and, finally, thrown in the icy Neva River.

The one I enjoyed most…

Death by Embracing the Reflection of the Moon

Chinese poet Li Po (701-706) is regarded as one of the two greatest poets in China’s literary history. He was well known for his love of liquor and often spouted his greatest poems while drunk. One night, Li Po fell from his boat and drowned in the Yangtze River while trying to embrace the reflection of the moon in the water.

I have never felt the need to embrace the reflection of the moon while over-refreshed. But…rather better a way to go than many, I suspect.

Something useful?
Useful webtools from Lo-fi Librarian

Well.. that has taken care of lunch…. back to the day job.

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