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Archive for April 18th, 2008

The people’s prime minister….

Gordon Brown spent nearly ten years waiting in the wings after a dodgy kebab moment at an Islington restaurant and watched his friend Tony sweep all before him. Then the moment came. Gordon came out from the darkness of the temple of mammon to assume the mantle of the greatest office of state in the land.

He didn’t part the Red Sea, but in his first weeks in office he walked through floods. Unlike his predecessor, he has not yet converted to a different faith so has not been able to think about the possibility of walking on floods. Gordon calmed the peoples of our sceptred land, he gave us comfort when terrorists at Glasgow airport were on fire, he told us that things would be very different…that there would be no more spin.

Unfortunately…. the ‘Events, dear boy, events’ phenomenon came… all too soon. Northern Rock, sleaze, Mrs Speaker collecting groceries in a taxi on the taxpayer, dodgy donations, credit-crunch, and losses in football and other sporting events on a scale that left this great obese binge drinking, but sporting, nation reeling – to the point that he was advised not to turn up to any more sporting events in case we lost. Not even ‘unassailable’ Cleggover, with his rather adolsescent admission that he couldn’t even manage to shag more than 30 women and a 15 year old boy sneezing and wiping snot on David Cameron’s suited back while Cameron was being interviewed on TV, could divert attention.

Only yesterday, as Gordon fell asleep during one of his own speeches in the USA (apparently – judging by the pics flashed across our screens), Lord Desai (I like to imagine) put on his toga, designed by new fashion design house ‘Et tu Brute’ (Notting Hill – Beijing – Wolverhampton), and announced in what is soon to be called ‘The Senate’ : “Gordon Brown was put on earth to remind people how good Tony Blair was”, that his style was “porridge, or maybe haggis” and explained to BBC News 24 that he wasn’t stabbing the Prime Minister in the back.

I have absolutely no idea who Lord Desai is… my life is draining away and I have to be selective these days, but the BBC helpfully informed me that “Lord Desai is an eminent economist, but by no means a rebel and also perhaps not politically savvy enough to have realised the impact his words would have.” Enough said… but…’not politically savvy?’ What is Lord Desai doing in the unelected House of Lords if he can’t even be ‘politically savvy’? Are there more like him… in terms of ‘political savviness’ in the House of Lords? Tell me that it is not so…

I spend hours watching the Parliament Channel on BBC in the early hours of the darkness – BUT… I have to say that I have absolutely no idea why those old people spend so much time indoors in a tastelessly furnished historical building in London when they could be taking SagaLout tours to Prague and other European destinations and represent our country properly by showing our European cousins that Europeans may make the best wines and beer in the world… but we know how to drink it.

I am fond of a bit of Shakespeare. In fact, Richard III is a particular favourite. But with my grave digging background… I always enjoy that ‘Alas, poor Gordon, I knew him well’ bit in Hamitup.

Anyway… here is a pic I found on the internet of Gordon, in happier days, when he and George were rehearsing for their cameo moment on Britain’s Got Talent by doing a cover of The Village People hit “In the Navy”

In the navy
Yes, you can sail the seven seas
In the navy
Yes, you can put your mind at ease
In the navy
Come on now, people, make a stand
In the navy, in the navy
Can’t you see we need a hand
In the navy
Come on, protect the motherland
In the navy
Come on and join your fellow man
In the navy
Come on people, and make a stand
In the navy, in the navy, in the navy (in the navy)

They want you, they want you
They want you as a new recruit

***

I am off to watch the Parliament Channel – I really do need to be kept up to date with what the Lords are doing.

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From: Matt Muttley, Managing Partner
To: All fee earning staff

RE: FEES

My attention was drawn to a piece in the Financial Times today about the level of fees being charged at Allen & Overy:

“A High Court judge has blasted a top City of London law firm for charging nine years’ worth of man hours on a five-day trial over BlackBerry patents, in a judgment that will fuel the growing controversy over lawyers’ billing practices. Lawyers from Allen & Overy racked up nearly £5.2m in costs representing Research in Motion, the maker of the popular BlackBerry device, in a dispute with Visto, a US-based wireless technology company.”

The fee of £5.2m is not, of itself, eye watering – but there were, clearly, presentation issues. Please note the words of the judge in the case on this matter: “The picture summoned up by this bill of costs is one which is totally unfamiliar to anyone who has been involved in economically conducted patent litigation,” the judge said. In refusing to award Research in Motion its full costs, he said he was bound to prevent a party from recovering “unnecessary and unreasonable’’ expenses.”

Apparently, Mr Justice Floyd said he would expect the firm’s associates to be able to recite “all the documents in the case by heart” given the amount of time they claimed to have spent on the dispute. Eva Braun told me that The Evening Standard were also referring to A&O charging 9 man years of time for the five day case. It is important that we ‘leave no stone unturned in litigation.’

There are far too many people interfering now in the matter of solicitors’ fees. £600 per hour? Amateurs! Even Tim Dutton QC, Chairman of The Bar, has weighed in telling the FT that this should be read as a “warning sign” to solicitors about their billing practices. One expects clients to raise their eyebrows occasionally upon receipt of a fee note, but it really is the end when lawyers start talking to the hacks about matters like this.

At least no-one here has managed to bill 28 hours in a single day, as apparently happened across the pond. Have they / you?

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Daily news: Friday 18th April

The daily news podcast and links to press stories is now up on the newswire.

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