Archive for March 1st, 2009

Lawcast 111: US lawyer Dan Harris on China

Today I’m talking to Dan Harris, a US lawyer, a co-founder of law firm Harris & Moure in Seattle, Washington and co-author with law firm partner Steve Dickinson  of the China Law Blog Dan gives a snapshot of law practice in China and talks about the need for businesses to have good advice if they plan to do business in China.  We talk also about Intellectual Property laws and The Great Firewall of China.

Listen to Dan Harris | podcast version for iTunes

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Dear Reader,

I write to you tonight from the good ship Liberty (pictured above) … I managed to swim ashore… and after a reviving glass of Rioja,  I was able to settle down to write to you.

Well… it is all go on the civil liberties front. Our government continues to listen but not to hear and yesterday saw the first ever Convention on Modern Liberty.  Unfortunately, I was not able to attend but I put the time to good use by exercising one of our most cherished liberties.. the freedom to drink and congregate with others.

Podcast 110: A report from the Convention on Modern Liberty
I did, however, have a friend who was fortunate in getting a ticket Oedipus Lex – a fellow blogger who is also on Twitter.  I have just done a short podcast with Oedipus Lex: A report from the Convention on Modern Liberty –   Listen to the Podcast

The rule of law is alive and well?
The government continues to ride ruffshod over the rule of law with the latest nonsense cooked up by Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman QC, MP.  Sky News reports: “”Sir Fred should not be counting on being £650,000 a year better off as a result of this because it is not going to happen,” she said. “The Prime Minister has said it is not acceptable and therefore it will not be accepted.”

The half baked plan, designed no doubt to appeal to Middle Britain, is to strip Sir Fred The Shred Goodwin, former CEO of RBS of his £650,000 annual pension.  Hapless Harriet is reported as stating “It might be enforceable in a court of law this contract, but it’s not enforceable in the court of public opinion and that’s where the Government steps in.”

So.. here we have a trained lawyer, a QC no less, saying that the contract may well turn out to be enforceable in a court of law (But she had government lawyers ‘crawling all over it” to find weaknesses or possible cause for termination?) saying that because some unspecified people do not find this acceptable she is going to change the law.  The question is (a) Is she going to change the Law of Contract to render enforceable contracts unenforceable ex post facto if the public don’t like them or (b)  is she going to come up with yet more fudge and leave such contracts liable to being declared ‘illegal at common law’ if the public interest is not served by their being enforced and held to be valid?” God knows?  There is some suggestion of the *Special Act of Parliament* being wheeled out. If the government proceeds with this *Special Act*… will they stop there?  Why not have a general power to strike down laws, contracts, and behaviour,  ‘unacceptable to the court of public opinion’ – but subject, naturally, to the *safeguard* that it must be certified by a *responsible government minister*  as unenforceable in the court of public opinion.

I give up… this is preposterous nonsense. Whatever one may feel about Sir Fred Goodwin and his bounty, the law should not be changed willy nilly because of an amorphous, intangible feeling that the Court of People who bray, have six fingers and carry flaming torches may find it “Unacceptable”.

Fortunately there are many sensible people in this country – and I believe some of these sensible people are also in parliament – so perhaps this half baked pavlova of legalo-political fuckery will not be followed up.

Talking of sensible people – I have been talking to quite a few of them in my series of podcasts on Civil liberties. You may care to listen to them if you haven’t already done so:

Carl Gardner – Lawcast 109: The Jack Straw veto on FOI disclosure of Cabinet Minutes relating to the decision to go to war with Iraq

Lawcast 108 –  Michael Burdett: Unbalancing the Scales of Justice

Lawcast 106: Roger Smith, Director of Justice: On civil liberties and human rights.

Lawcast 104: With Ian Parker-Joseph, Leader of The UK Libertarian Party

Lawcast 103: Carl Gardner on the Lords judgment in Qatada

Lawcast 101: Charon reports on the Geert Wilders affair – Freedom of Speech

Coming up this week:  Podcasts with James Welch, Head of Legal for LIBERTY and Steve Hynes, Director of The Legal Action Group on access to justice and civil legal aid (or the lack of it).

That’s all for now… I am off to continue exercising my cherished freedom to drink and enjoy my life before the government cooks up another pavlova of nonsense.

best as always


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