Archive for April, 2007

The Attorney-General goes to Israel – at the expense of the Israel, British and Commonwealth Association. Unfortunately – Lord Levy is a committee member of that association and, before you know it, the A-G is under fire from a Lib-Dem MP who takes the view that Law Officers should not accept hospitality of any sort – to remain independent and ‘be seen to be independent.’ (The Independent 28th April) Inevitably, this also gives further ammunition to those who take the view that the A-G should not be involved in any decision to prosecute in the cash for honours fiasco.

Legal Beagle goes to Birmingham voluntarily … to listen to a speech by the A-G. Unfortunately, the A-G droned and was less than inspiring in her view: speech delivered in a ‘dry, tediously soporific monotone.’ Robust views on solicitor-advocates and failed barristers who work for the CPS.

Villainy and opprobrium ended my week… with the extraordinary news of an abuse of process (covered below) in a mooting competition at a leading law school ‘somewhere in England.’

Sunday is the beginning of my week, a cunning management technique to avoid ‘Monday blues’, and is, of course, the day when The News of The World (NOTW) reveals information to improve my life.

First up from NOTW: “TORIES IN MUD HUTS”
David WebCameron is ‘forcing his Shadow Cabinet to fork out more than £1000 each on an aid trip to Africa.’ Excellent news.

George Osborne, William Hague and others who sign up will go and help WebCameron with his new found DIY skills and help rebuild villages destroyed by the war in Rwanda. Noble stuff, of course – but curious timing. Won’t the Labour party be embroiled in the coronation of The Highwayman as our next Prime Minister and First Lord of The Treasury in July? Would that not be a good time to press home political points? The Old Etonians in the ‘Team WebCameron’ tour party will have no difficulty whatsoever in surviving a period living in mud huts with few amenities. Having attended a public school in Scotland (Coincidentally, with our present Lord Chancellor) it always amuses me when I hear public school types claiming that ‘after a public school education’ they can survive harsh conditions. In my experience, this assertion has one fatal flaw; taking it into the category of ‘bollocks.’ The leading public schools have better amenities than many good hotels, with comforts to match! First reader to spot a member of the Team WebCameron tour party using that line in connection with their upcoming tour to Rwanda – wins a bottle of Rioja from my latest crate of the stuff.

Fraser Nelson (‘Your insider in the corridors of power’) writes in NOTW: “Two Libyans banged up on terror charges will walk our streets next week because Mr Justice Ousely says it isn’t safe for them to be deported. Judges like him put us all at risk.” Presumably The Home Office will have a bit more time to keep an eye on these and other resident or visiting terrorists after 1st May when many current burdens of The Home Office are shunted off to the new Minister of Justice, Lord Falconer?

And… the NOTW editorial usually throws up some good stuff. Today is no exception. Today, NOTW salutes Prince Harry for his bravery in going to Iraq, but can’t resist having a quick side swipe at the Royals; reminding us that but two weeks ago Prince William went to London club Mahiki, yelling: “Let’s drink the menu!”

Two weeks ago NOTW was having a Wales of a time lampooning Harry for falling out clubs at three in the morning and giving paparazzi a hard time. Today… “He is a fine young man. We wish him a safe tour of duty.”

One of the reasons I do like NOTW is that when they crusade they do it well.

“Chalk about over the Top” screamed the feature headline. This is a story about two 16 year old girls who were given an £80 fixed penalty fine for drawing lovehearts on a pavement with chalk. The charge was “Criminal Damage”. The chalk washed away with the first rain. These, clearly underworked, Plods work for The North Wales Constabulary headed by Robocop, Richard Brunstrom. Richard Brunstrom caused yet further controversy this week by using grim pictures of a motorcycle accident to publicise the Force’s already strong attitude to speeding. Without the permission of the relatives (who did not know the grim details of how their boy died – they do now) the North Wales Police force is reported to have used pictures of a decapitated biker in one of their ant-speeding publicity campaigns. The torso of the biker was embedded in the car after the 90 mph smash. His head, eyes still open and visible through the helmet visor, lay on the ground. This is appalling and, frankly, I agree with those who call for Brunstrom to ‘consider his position over the weekend.’ Insensitivity on this scale is not acceptable. He is not fit to lead a Police force after this latest outrage. Will Brunstrom resign? I hope so, but, I suspect, he will not do so. Thoroughly unpleasant business.

And so to “beating, bondage and biting.” Sunday would just not be the same without a bit of salacious titillation from The News of The World. Apparently, as reported in NOTW, “boozy Brits winner”, Amy Whitehouse, likes to beat/slap and bite her lovers. If her music sales decline in future years, she may like to consider a career at The Bar.

Mind you… getting a wig onto the top of her beehive may be a challenge too far – if she takes up criminal work; where wigs, we are told, will continue to be worn. It is, of course, doubtful that her interest in this field of sexual activity would be of any interest to the current crop of judges, Heads of Chambers or frolicking Silks. After recent revelations about a senior judge getting arrested for indecent exposure, members of the legal profession are being highly disciplined about their private lives and seem, in any event, to prefer being tied up with work.

See… I’ve been infected. I’m turning into a tabloid hack…. and enjoying every moment of it as I type furiously, Silk Cut hanging out of my mouth, glass of Rioja to hand!

Anyway… that is quite enough. Now, for my own sanity, and yours, if you are reading this, I must start reading The Observer.

In the light of the foregoing, at least I have tried to do something sensible on my blog this week with four excellent contributions from my guests on four podcasts: Nigel Savage, CEO, College of Law on Legal Education and Diversity | John Bolch of Family Lore on Family Law | Nick Jarrett-Kerr on Coping with setbacks | Nearly Legal on obtaining as training contract and Housing Law.


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Today I talk to Nearly Legal about his career change to law (after an academic career), his experience of the LPC, gaining a training contract as a mature student and his Housing Law passion . I also discover that he enjoys SCUBA diving

Podcast 19: Nearly Legal on Housing Law and other matters.

Nearly Legal Blog

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If you go down to the moots today

The blogs are alive… with the sound of mutiny…

The music to Teddy Bears Picnic and, curiously, The Sound of Music came into my mind as I settled down to write… and, I was pleased to note, that…. Josephine Bloggs added….

“…’cause that’s the way the Pre-sid-ent has his piiiiiiiiicnic!”
Comment by Josephine Bloggs on Accidental law Student



I write from my Staterooms in West London… of villainy, outrage, and ambition….

“O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!”

Hamlet (I, v, 106)

At a Law School… ’somewhere in England’ – a Mooting Competition has caught the imagination of law bloggers, students and… Charon.

The facts, from the many reports I have read, are as follows:

1. A mooting competition was held at a Law School in England. The President of the Mooting Society (’El Presidente’) was eliminated from the moot competiton at the quarter-final stage (’his first internal moot’ See: Blog Reports [2007] )

2. While there is some evidence that ‘The society’s usual course of action was not to replace mooters who dropped out but to continue with however many participants remained’, El Presidente re-entered himself into the semi-final of the competition to replace people who had dropped out, went on to win the semi-final and, subsequently, The Final. El President, thereby, won the ‘entire competition’ and, I quote from the report: ‘having participated in a mere three out of five moots of which only two were successful, and the first of which had disqualified him from the competition altogether.’ (I am grateful to Accidental Law Student for his precise raportage)

3. El Presidente : ‘immodestly drank a champagne toast to his own ‘victory’ from the silver winner’s trophy of this year’s internal mooting competition.” per Josephine Bloggs


I spent a most enjoyable hour last night reading the various accounts of this extraordinary event.

For my part, the bloggers who are objecting to the behaviour of El Presidente have a point. It is ridiculous that a competitor, eliminated from a quarter-final, should re-appear in the semi-final and then go on to win the Final. (Mind you… it has to be said, if the England Cricket Team had been able to pull a similar stunt off in the cricket World Cup… it is likely that I would overlook such a solecism !)

Fellow blogger, Corporate Blawg UK, weighs in with a comment: “Yeah – he sounds like a weasily cheating b*star*d who deserves to be properly screwed (but without the full facts it is hard to tell for certain). The professional caveat in brackets is noted by Charon!) See: Comment

Josephine Bloggs took a robust view: “Seems to be rather lot of jiggery pokery altogether”

London Law student goes straight to the point: “Not for the first time, the internal mooting competition has thrown up a distinctly bad smell.”

Follow the links I have given above and you will find out even more. (BTW: If the facts are as represented in the various source blogs there is no defamation.)

Was it the fact that El Presidente won the Final after pulling a quite astonishing stunt, drank champagne out of the ‘Winner’s Trophy’ or just broke the rules? … who knows… ?

Excellent stuff… I have only this to add… a message to El Presidente:

“Ad eundum quo nemo ante iitTo boldly go where no mooter has gone before”
Have a good weekend… one and all… and I just happen to have a bottle of vino rosso to drink!

(Vinum bellum iucunumque est, sed animo corporeque caretIt’s a nice little wine, but it lacks character and depth)

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Law / Management: Coping with setbacks

Today I interview Nick Jarrett-Kerr of Kerma Partners about the techniques which may be used to cope with setbacks.

Nick was managing partner at Bevan Ashford and is now a consultant and management guru. We cover a lot of ground in the talk – and there are some notes below from Nick which we hope will be useful

Podcast 18: Coping with setbacks

Download 10 tips for coping with setbacks document (Word)

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Today I talk to John Bolch of Family Lore about Family Law.

John talks about Reform of Divorce – Cohabitee rights – Child support – Children disputes and Legal Aid.

John also reveals that he is a microlight pilot and tips the Aussies to win the Cricket World Cup

Podcast 17: John Bolch, Family Lore on Family Law

Podcasts coming up in the next 7-10 days:

Chris McLaughlin, Editor, Tribune Magazine: On the political firmament

Nearly Legal: Legal Aid – Legal Education – Housing Law – Art and copyright…and just maybe, a bit of Housing Law

Phil Knott, Director, Nottingham Law School: Legal Education at Nottingham Law School

Nick Jarrett-Kerr: Management issues: Ten Practical Tips for Coping with Setbacks

Putting together a weekly webradio programme – have a few takers – anyone like to do a podcast or be part of a weekly webradio prog? Please indicate in comments section and I’ll get back to you.

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I started to read The Times today….

On Tuesdays I usually read the online Times Law section. I was about to read what a High Court judge felt about diversity… to improve my mind… but I was distracted by an article entitled “Save world one square at a time and annoy Bush’s brain”. Mind you.. it was a close run thing with another article linked on the same page “Catapult boy is eaten after taunting crocodile in pen.”

According to The Times…“The singer Sheryl Crow opened a new front in the fight on global warming yesterday with a call for people to use only one sheet of toilet paper after each visit.”

Apparently, Ms Crow has just toured the US in a biodiesel powered bus (whatever that is) and made the suggestion on her blog.

Ms Crow is reported as saying : “I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don’t want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required.”

I don’t know why, but it made me want to go to a football match and chuck at least 6 bog rolls onto the pitch – and I do not follow football.

Anyway…. moving on: I read Mrs Justice Dobbs article on diversity in the judiciary – all solid, reasoned stuff, and I remembered that Professor Griffiths was writing about this nearly thirty years ago when I was reading Law. [ Politics of the Judiciary(?) ]

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Today I talk to Nigel Savage, CEO, The College of Law about legal education at the academic and professional stage and diversity.

Nigel Savage has had a long career in legal education and has overseen some remarkable developments and changes at the College of Law in the past ten years. In this podcast he gives us an insight into those changes and, characteristically, has robust views on diversity, the GDL, the LPC and the BVC .

Podcast 16: Nigel Savage on legal education

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Today I talk to Michael Mallinson who has worked on some well known television productions as First Assistant Director. Sharpe, Inspector Morse, Lewis, Bravo Two Zero, Robin Hood, Kavanagh QC and Rosemary & Thyme are just a few of the films he has worked on.

Michael gives us a glimpse into the world of television and film production; providing an over view on how films are made, what the Producer, Director, Director of Photography and others do and talks about some of the actors he has worked with.

Of course, we also talk about wine. Michael lives in Portugal when he is not filming and after a brief chat about Portuguese wines, we adjourn to The Swan to drink some Rioja.

Podcast 15: Michael Mallinson talks about the television and film business.

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I took this photograph tonight, on my mobile phone, in Chiswick. The pyramidal construction in the background is not a new office complex or buy to let apartment block by Lord Rogers or any other British architect of note. It is part of my finger – but… I can tell you… tonight… it was hot; the dust was appalling…sand dunes were forming on the pavements and I did see a man on a donkey, leading two camels down Chiswick High Road.

I had to break away from my meeting, at a pavement cafe, to speak to the man on the donkey. He told me that he was a barrister in a small Common Law set and that work was a bit slow. He said that he had been following the global warming coverage in The Independent and had noted the rising tax and congestion charges for 4 x 4s in London. I asked him why he was leading two camels down Chiswick High Road.

“I have nearly two hundred camels now” he told me. “I have been buying camels from Egypt for nearly six months and have already had quite a few orders from people in Chiswick, Kew and Ealing… and, I can’t name him” he said, his eyes darting from side to side… “but one City associate, 5 years PQE, has bought two – one for weekdays, and the other, a racing camel, for weekends. The congestion charge does not apply to camels and they are cheap to run.”

I was astonished and, I have to say, a touch sceptical. I asked him which set he belonged to. I know the Head of Chambers by reputation and I have no doubt at all that the man I spoke to knew his law. He was not at all phased when I asked him about the Law Reform (Frustrated Contracts) Act 1943 and the fact that it does not apply to cases of frustration under s.7 of The Sale of Goods Act 1979 as amended.

The man asked me if I had a car. I told him that I had a car but I preferred a motorbike and lent my car to friends.

It is probably not the most sensible acquisition I have made, but I bought one of the camels the barrister was leading down the street. It is in my back garden now, eating some dates I happened to have in my fridge  Quite how the camel found them, troubles me not. Seems quite relaxed. I am looking forward to riding him (the camel) tomorrow morning when I go for coffee.

Anyway… be that as it may… carbon footprint…. global warming… we all have a duty to conserve energy…. save the world…. And: I note, tonight, that The Bar Council blog has a piece on the very topic which I am concerned with tonight… which is serendipitous.

Tim Kevan, who did a podcast with me only the other day, writing on the Bar Council Blog tells us that Yvon Chouinard, author of Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman (2005), takes the view “There is no business to be done on a dead planet.”

Tim goes on, in his post, to talk about ethical law firms, businesses making donations, facilitating their employees to be more environmentally friendly, law firms changing to a green provider, organising car sharing schemes and considers the possibility that law firms will go ‘paperless’. All good stuff….. of course… and good to see that The Bar Council blog is reporting on such matters.

I am doing my bit to be carbon footprint conscious. I now have a camel and it is so hot in West London now, because of global warming or some other unexplained scientific phenomenon, that I won’t need to get on an EasyJet flight or use my ageing Jaguar again. I shall holiday in Britain (probably in West London) and ride my camel – free from worry about congestion charges, in the knowledge that I am in the vanguard of a new green society. WebCameron may even want to interview me for his WebCameron blog.

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Today I talk to Liam Pike, solicitor with PJHLaw and one of the authors of their excellent Employment Law blog.

The topics: The “No Smoking” laws due to come into force at 6.00 am on 1st July 2007 and the Employment Law implications for bloggers who are employed. Liam took time out of a busy day to provide detailed answers to my questions. I now know where I stand on the No Smoking laws… perhaps I may have to jack it in… and the advice for bloggers who are employed is most useful!

Podcast 14: Liam Pike, PJH Solicitors: No Smoking Laws / Employment Law implications for bloggers

UPDATE: Amused by the description of ‘Charon’ on the PJH Law blog…

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cricket, contronyms and rioja…

England’s cricketers laughing at their inept, lamentable, pathetic and truly appalling performance in the Cricket World Cup against South Africa ? (SA played good cricket).

I have lost the will to live… but I can’t keep killing myself off. I don’t care how overpaid footballers perform… I am no longer interested in the procession which Formula 1 has become, nor do I care, overmuch, about the chatterers chattering about house prices and bank rates. BUT I do care about cricket… and have been disowned by my clan in ‘Soon to be Independent Scotland’ (Ridiculous) because (a) I live in England and (b) because I support England when they play cricket. I listened to England v South Africa this afternoon while I worked. I saw the interval highlights on TV at 6.00… Jesus H…. what were the England batsmen doing out there? I can’t bear to watch England bowl… South Africa are only chasing 155. Shouldn’t take them long… but… who knows? … our bowlers may save the day? I just have a feeling they won’t. Why is most English sport based on struggling? Why can’t we just go out and shaft the opposition for a change?

I made the mistake of looking at the BBC cricket website…..

4th over: SA 37-0
Watching Saj in action is enough to make grown men cry – and so let my tears fall onto the keyboard to type the following words: 14 off the over, including two smashers of fours from AB.

Freddie has just bowled a fast ball. Batsman missed…unfortunately, so did our wicket keeper – four more runs for SA as the ball sped to the boundary… excellent!

I had to have one more peek…

6th over: SA 54-0
Vaughan turns to Flintoff like a drowning man grasping desperately at a passing pedalo. Smith licks his lips and drives him straight down the ground for four, before both AB and Badger Nixon miss a vicious in-cutter. Four byes, and Flintoff stares skywards. At the same stage, England had scored seven.

I am going to order a bottle of Rioja and drink it now… I am giving you this little bit of wisdom – found on the net:

A synonym is a word that means the same as another. An antonym is a word that means the opposite of another. A contronym is a word that, by some freak of language evolution, are their own antonyms.

Three examples:

  • cleave – separate, adhere / clip – fasten, detach / consult – ask for advice, give advice.

Yes… I’ll be shoehorning this knowledge into the conversation when my guest arrives…

Now… for something completely different. You have probably not heard a group of 60 – 100 year olds (“The Zimmers’) singing The Who classic ‘My Generation’…well, neither had I until this dark night … but I have now seen this excellent video on You Tube!

Yes… excellent Rioja this… I shall continue… undaunted.

Yes… things are improving. I have just damned myself to the eternal fires of hell for ‘infernal blogging’.

Visit www.youaredamned.com if you wish to damn someone… improved my mood… I was going to put the England Cricket Team up for damnation. I feel sure the tabloids will do this for us tomorrow. You will find me down there… if you search. Takes a bit of working out. Try carriage return after inserting data!

And finally…for this post. If you need a better job… you may find this Job Recruitment site ‘enlightening.’

I leave you with this final quote from the BBC cricket website… because I really have to get on now with this Rioja.

14th over: SA 115-1

“South Africa in desperate trouble – almost 50 runs still needed, and just 37 overs in which to get them. Lose another wicket now and they’re toast.”

Update 2300 Hrs – yes… we lost…(Spectacularly: as our French friends across La Manche might say… a ‘tour de farce’) but… I had a most enjoyable evening…. I am pleased to report that I was not bowled, stumped, run out or even caught….. Charon is ‘not out’.

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Money, money money….

Solicitors who reaped millions from dealing with the miner compensation claims may have to return some of it. Mrs Justice Swift has ruled that lawyers were paid too much. The Times

Unless there is a successful appeal, it looks as if Jim Beresford, senior partner of Beresfords, who paid himself £16.7 million last year, may well be breaking into the piggy bank and be writing a cheque to the government.

As The Times reports: Mrs Justice Swift noted in her judgment that a detailed study of the time spent by solicitors on each coal claim “gives rise to the strong inference that the work has been significantly less onerous than had originally been anticipated”.

The former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, has told MPs that the government cannot simply spend their way out of the prison overcrowding problem by building more prisons.

Lord Woolf said: “I think judges should know how much the sentence he imposes is going to cost…that is a very relevant matter, and if there is a suitable cheaper option, they should choose that option.”

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Today I talk to Tim Kevan, Barrister, 1 Temple Gardens about the new Bar Council blog, blog etiquette and the dangers of leaving footprints on the net.

I did the interview over the telephone and, for some bizarre reason, the sound quality in parts is not as good as it usually is. Maybe it is the heat? But… never mind the quality… feel the width – Tim imparts some useful advice.

I am putting together a short weekly webradio programme – about 45 minutes weekly, if it can be done. Interested in having a few ‘guests’ on the ‘programme’ – any takers? (Can do your contribution over the phone – pretty relaxed about content – but would like to shoehorn a bit of law in if possible! )

If so, please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. Put your email down (it will not be seen by others).

Podcast 13: Footprints on the net with Tim Kevan

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Bank on it?….

Sign at a Bank: “We can loan you enough money to get you completely out of debt”

Tom Brennan, a barrister, is taking on the banks. If he wins the case against NatWest the banks will have to reduce their penalty fees for unauthorised overdrafts and returned items. Thousands of bank customers will benefit. If he loses, he risks bankruptcy and his career. Full Story: The Independent

Tom Brennan gets my vote. The banks are tending to settle individual cases and have closed customer accounts when sued. If you want to know more – see Marc Gander’s Consumer Action Group website / blog

Comment from Martin: have a look at this report where “a  businessman from Norfolk has recovered a record £35,987.94 from NatWest after accusing it of charging him unlawful overdraft fees. ”  BBC story

And…since we are talking money…

Alex Novarese, writing on the Legal Week Editor’s Blog, has an interesting analysis on City law firm pay rates and argues that City firms get the associates they deserve – but are the associates grateful or loyal? RollonFriday weighs in with a short report on the Clifford Chance associate pay rises.

By contrast – the position of potential pupils at the Bar is fairly stark and while Lord Neuberger’s interim report indicates that action is being planned – the present position is that there are only 550 pupillages available for the 1800 who pass the BVC each year. One idea being mooted is that The Bar Council should regulate the number of BVC places available at BVC provider institutions. This will not go down well with providers. The irony, of course, is that by reducing the number of BVC places, diversity will be reduced! It seems to me that if a BVC student is aware of the maths, has been properly advised by tutors at the academic stage and by the BVC provider at the application stage, and wishes to take a chance – competition will ensure the continuing high quality of entrants to the bar irrespective of background. Perhaps it is time to stipulate a minimum 2.1 – the reality is, I suspect, that those with a 2.2 do not really have much of a chance of getting a pupillage.

Is it really a Bar problem – or is it an acccess to legal education problem? The key is to ensure that those from less privileged backgrounds get the opportunity to study law at the first, academic, stage (and afford to see it through to LPC or BVC stage) – after that, they, like everyone else, properly informed, should make their decisions accordingly. I have read Lord Neuberger’s interim report carefully. It is a start and the consultation process is open until 31st May. I am not entirely convinced that a proposal requiring Chambers to make pupillage offers to students before they commit to a BVC is a great idea.

Other proposals – which I am more familiar with, having discussed these ideas some years ago with senior members of the Bar – to allow part of the BVC to be done by open or distance learning are interesting. This would reduce the course fee element, allow the students to work while they study (reducing overall debt) and provide access to those who do have to borrow the £20,000 needed to do the BVC year at present. But, again, we have the course provider attitude to consider. Would they just not raise the fees to mitigate loss of income – or pull out altogether?

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Review… Monday 16th April…

The blog world has been fairly quiet over the Easter Break so the review will be fairly brief:

The Bar Council launches a new website and the Chairman of the Bar, Geoffrey Vos QC, has become a blogger

BabyBarista migrates to Times and reaches a global audience. Pupilblogger considers a change of tack in blogging. Binary Law continues to focus on practice issues: 13th April – Lawyers are a necessary shock.

Barrister Blog may have a minor gremlin: When I clicked the link to the Bar Council blog on Tim Kevan’s blog – this message came up:


403 Forbidden

Please stop referer spam.

We have identified that you have been refered here by a known or supposed spammer.

If you feel this is an error, please bypass this message and leave us a comment about the error. We are sorry for the inconvenience.


Mildly ironic, given that Tim Kevan is one of the contributors to the Bar Council Blog. The link worked fine on my own blog – possibly because I am not, yet, a ‘known or supposed spammer’. Gremlins!

Nearly Legal has some useful RSS advice. Family Lore reflects, thoughtfully, on the death of young soliders in Iraq and Afghanistan – as he says: powerful stuff.

My friend, Kate Monro, who did a podcast with me recently on The Loss of Virginity – was interviewed yesterday in The Sunday Times by Cosmo Landesman. Her Virginity Project, pleasingly, is going from strength to strength.

Dan Hull, What About Clients?, asks : What about “Ease of Use” awards for lawyers?

Geeklawyer has been busy and is now searching for a new tenancy. Ruthie gets out her motorbike and, of course, her pink leathers.

A Law Student finds out that lawyers are not held in the highest esteem

And what is Charon thinking of doing?

I plan to continue writing about whatever comes into my mind – but I am planning to develop the podcasts to a regular weekly slot and have plans for a weekly webradio review… possibly!

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A signal from the Navy….

I received a ‘signal’ (email to the rest of us) this morning at 0800 Hrs from my uncle, Admiral Charonblower RN (Retd). It is worth repeating the text in full.

“I see that you are still wasting your life posting nonsense on your blog but, it is… at least, one of your less anti-social vices, and I can tell you, your Aunt, my wife, Major Charonblower (Royal Engineers, Retd), still has not forgiven you for going into the Law instead of joining up when you had the chance to do so. … but, be that as it may… that is not why I am contacting you.

The Major and I were having a pink gin on the quarterdeck at HMS Fearnought the other evening when I came across an article in The Telegraph about this ridiculous business involving one of our gunboats straying into Iranian waters. No idea what ‘Long John Silver’, Second Sea Lord, thought he was doing sanctioning the publication, to the Press, of accounts by ratings of their time in captivity. I know the Service is short of funds and we are about to have our surface fleet halved, but it is quite inconceivable that a man of flag rank could have sanctioned this outrage to raise a bit of cash. Next thing we will see is the Royal Navy following in the footsteps of the RAF and selling chinos, rugger shirts and bikinis…or in our case, bell bottoms, duffle coats and rubber gear….

Anyway…that is by the by… The Major has a problem. Well if truth be told… she has a number of problems. It happened last Sunday…Easter Sunday. As you know… I am not a god-botherer..but the Major likes a bit of C of E and men in Mitres.

Overdid the hospitality afterwards at the Rectory and got picked up by the local Police for speeding. She was breathalysed. Over the limit, apparently. But that isn’t the main issue. The Major, as you know, as a young woman, was an explosives expert – I found this very appealing and, it has to be said, I was attracted to her and we were married… and she is now your Aunt.

The problem is this: The Police found five ‘thunderflashes’ and a couple of hand grenades in the glove compartment of the Bentley… I have no idea why they were there… but there we are. I should also explain that, in addition, the Police found, in the boot : a samurai sword, bolt cutters, a black balaclava and 2000 quid in cash which I asked her to draw from our bankers on the Saturday. She is at Paddington Green in West London and there is talk about the Proceeds of Crime Act, money laundering, firearms offences, a couple of charges under anti-terrorism legislation and assaulting a police officer. I miss her. What do you think we should do about this? Our local solicitor is pretty good on farming law, probate and conveyancing but is a bit out of his depth on this one.

Anyway. Trust you had a good Easter. Do give me a call. No immediate rush… but it would be useful to have the Major back before the Chelsea Flower Show.

Admiral Charonblower
HMS Fearnought
Drake Avenue


PS… The balaclava is mine. Lodge stuff.. you know the sort of thing… and the Major is, as you know, a keen cook and this may explain the sword??”

PPS… Please do not come to Henley this year wearing a Leander tie. In fact… please don’t come to Henley again. Your conduct last year, when you and that other Bar Johnny… can’t remember his name… the chap with Tourettes…. was not impressive. If you wish to water ski…. go on a Mark Warner holiday. The Henley Regatta is not the place to do it.

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paraskavedekatriaphobia ….

I don’t suppose that many of you know that paraskavedekatriaphobia is fear of Friday 13th. I certainly didn’t… until I was told this by a most unusual man in a cloak, carrying a scythe, who decided to sit at the next table this morning when I was reading my Tabloid of choice, sipping espressos and smoking Silk Cut. I am grateful to him for this information. It has improved my day, so much so, in fact, that I plan to write without mentioning the law once….. well… possibly…

and it is coming soon…. but, first, I must take lunch… not that I am overly superstitious… or suspicious, as one of my friends said to me this morning on the telephone.


UPDATE… got sidetracked when I finished work… I survived Friday 13th… and returned unscythed, from The Swan,  to find a post by Corporate Blawg UK on “irachibutyphillia”. (See Comments section)…  which has given me hope.

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Back to work…back to Law…

The Bar Council has a new website and blog.

The new Bar Council website is an improvement. I am not entirely sure what the chosen image (left) is trying to portray in terms of message or metaphor. To my eye it seems that the barrister is running late and is, therefore, disorganised. It also reminded me of a candidate in The Apprentice running to bungle yet another task – but…. I am easily amused. (And when did you last see a barrister running in the Temple? Barristers glide.) Be that as it may, to use a phrase beloved of members of the legal profession, change is afoot.

Visitors to the website can now meet the Chairman of the Bar. Geoffrey Vos QC, in a short film, states that ‘the one defining feature of the Bar is our pursuit of excellence’. Meet The Chairman of the Bar.

Geoffrey Vos QC, qua Chairman, has a blog.
After welcoming people to the blog, Mr Vos hopes “you will be pleased and excited by it” and invites you to express views and ‘hopefully to spark off some stimulating and useful debate.’

There is a link ‘to leave a comment’ which I clicked. It seemed to refresh the page. I could see no mechanism whereby I could leave a message. I did see a ‘register’ link on the right and clicked it. I didn’t think the Bar blog would necessarily benefit by having a figment of my imagination commenting. For my part? I think the blog is a good idea if it does foster debate and discussion. I’ll be back.

UPDATE 14th April:  Bar Council blog now fixed to allow comments…should you be so inclined.

All change in the Courts: Wigs to be phased out and new colour coded zip up robes for judges: Story – The Times


Views on the Bar Council Blog from other bloggers:

Binary Law


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It was time for lunch…

A Bar & Dining Room
Somewhere in London
Meal for two with wine: £90
Nil points

“Have you booked?” asked the black silk shirted Maitre D’ guarding the entrance. The abruptness of the greeting took me by surprise.

“I have not booked. Do you have a table?” Blackshirt’s eyes narrowed as he flicked open the diary. The page had one entry. Blackshirt looked up, eyes darting. “How many of you are there?” It may seem to the casual observer that I suffer from dissociative identity disorder, but I was alone. I heard Sir Alec Guinness in the recess of my mind: “Charon” he said, “Use the Force….”

“I am one.”

The Maitre D’ surveyed the dining room. It was that sort of place… Not a restaurant, but a Bar and Dining Room. It was 12.30. Only two tables were occupied. “Do you smoke?” Blackshirt snapped.

“For England.” I replied.

I was escorted to a table in the corner of the room – a table for two. An East European border guard, dressed as a waitress, appeared with a menu. I selected a bottle of Claret and asked for two espressos and a glass of tap water, no ice. “You want espresso?” the waitress asked, unsmiling. “Now?”

“Yes please.” I watched her walk towards the bar. Well it was more of a march… more Red Square than Sandhurst. I was not invited to taste the wine when it arrived.

The menu was fairly typical of many gastros – a mix of “Confu**tion cooking” with a bit of thai/vietnamese nonsense thrown in. I enjoy reading Anthony Bourdain… but his books, do on occasion, get into the wrong hands… and so it was, today. Couscous and polenta featured heavily. One day I am sure that I will find a gastro pub with a dish called “Irish tagine”.

A couple were seated at a table nearby – both late twenties, both City professionals. I know this because they managed to tell me, indirectly, by relating events to each other of their successes during the week. They talked at each other; he admiring himself repeatedly in the mirrors lining the walls on our side of the restaurant. They obviously knew each other well – at least one assumes so, because, later, declining the offer of pudding, they started eating each other.

I have no idea why nutters on trains, tubes, buses and restaurants gravitate towards me – but it happend again today. The East European border guard escorted another customer to the adjacent table – a man in his early sixties, blazered, highly polished Oxford shoes, grey trousers, Turnbull & Asser shirt, silk tie and a traditional ‘British’ haircut. One could almost smell the George Trumper cologne.

“Good day to you.”

“And to you.” I replied.

“Writer?” the man asked, pointing at my laptop. I learned long ago not to answer that question.

“Just doing a bit of surfing.”

“Surfing Eh?…. yes… I used to surf when I was a junior partner with X&Y in Hong Kong…. on trips to Australia…. tied up a few M&A deals, I can tell you… out there…. those were the days…”

God in heaven. I know I drank a bottle of cider in Church once when I was at Prep school… but I had no idea, then, that I would continue to be punished for that sin nearly 40 odd years later on Easter Sunday 2007… in the form of a retired City lawyer, from the days of Tai Pan, sitting at the next table.

“Really…? good stuff.. ” I replied, affably, but with what I hoped was the correct tone to indicate that I wished ‘to be alone’. It was too late to pretend I was Bulgarian and could not speak English.

So there I was… a couple of young professionals, but a few tables away, talking at each other and Mr Drone, to my right.

“Been to Church?”

I was looking intently at my laptop screen. The words appeared to come from above. I looked at the ceiling. I looked at my bottle of Claret. I had only had one glass.

“The Vicar had a few of us back for a glass of sherry after the service”


“Yes… quite a few actually. Have to splice the mainbrace after sitting through all that without being able to charge fees at the end of it! ” a statement which provoked so much laughter from the speaker that I was concerned I may have to do a Heimlich manoeuvre on him.

“Oh Yes… Vicar did us a good sermon today…”

Mr Drone told me at length that he would have been in New York to advise on a merger but the US firm had ‘cocked up’ on timing… adding that he liked to take on important cases on a consultancy basis from time to time…


I drained my glass, re-filled and lit a cigarette.

“Smoker Eh?…yes… used to smoke until the Doc said to me ‘My dear chap, unless you pack in the gaspers now you won’t be able to get it up when you are 65’.” Another burst of self satisfied laughter, gave me the opportunity to wave at the waitress and explain to the gentleman seated at the next table that I needed to concentrate on my work. He made a curious signal, tapping his finger against his nose and said “Got it…Roger… mustn’t stop a chap from his work ”

“You are ready with your orders?”

I smiled at the waitress, trying not to look as if I had something to declare, and ordered a main course. I justified my lack of a first course, when questioned, by explaining that I may have a pudding. She seemed satisfied with my explanation and marched off.

It takes a rare talent to cook roast lamb badly, but only inhalation of super strength cannabis would suggest beetroot risotto and chilli jam is a sensible, or even suitable, accompaniment to lamb. The waitress looked at my plate, barely touched. The lemon meringue pie had the merit of being bought in. The wine was more than drinkable and, after negotiating my release without the aid of the Foreign Office, I returned to familiar surroundings.

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Scala caeli…ladder of heaven

And it came to pass, that BabyBarista went to a greater place… scala caeli… a ladder of heaven to The Times. Good stuff…. Congratulations.
See BabyBarista at The Times Online

[Only one criticism with the move to The Times – if one makes a comment…there is no link back to the blogger who comments – as with most blogs! I don’t imagine The Times is too keen on people click to other bloggers.]

Meanwhile… in downtown blawgville... we are also re-born, invigorated by Easter and console ourselves with the knowledge gained from The Telegraph this morning – “A lawyer at the forefront of a £7.5 billion Government compensation scheme for sick miners has been unveiled as the highest-earning solicitor in Britain. Jim Beresford, 59, took home £16.75 million last year.” The Telegraph reports that miners received less than £1000 each and many banked less.

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