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Archive for March 18th, 2010

Picture from the New Statesman – but modified, obviously.

The New Statesman reports: “So after the Tories attempted to divert attention away from the Ashcroft affair through a crude assault on the trade union movement, today they find themselves back under the spotlight.Papers leaked to the BBC show that William Hague was consistently kept informed about the negotiations of Ashcroft’s tax status and that he was “satisfied” with the final outcome in July 2000. All of which seems rather at odds with the shadow foreign secretary’s earlier claim that he only discovered Ashcroft’s non-dom status a “few months” ago.

Hague’s rather lame defence on the Today programme this morning was that he was not a “tax accountant” and that as leader of the opposition he had “a thousand and one problems at a time”.

Inevitably… Lib-Dems popped up with the line that hague was not fit for office…. perhaps the Tories could borrow from Brown and say it is a matter of ‘lessons to be learned’ ?  The New Statesman says that Hague must resign… he won’t, of course…. who is dumb enough in politics these days to resign?… they don’t even resign when they get hauled before the Westminster Magistrates… or, in the case of Baroness Uddin… when they escape from prosecution… but everyone thinks she is up to the elbow in ‘merde’.  Maybe Hague will get the elbow?

More…..

It just gets better…and the election hasn’t even been called yet…

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I just could not resist…. after reading this leader from The Times this morning…

Ding-dong. Doorbell rings. Man opens front door.

Man: Hello. Come for this week’s rent, have you?

Tory candidate: Ha-ha-ha! No, I’ve . . .

Man: Why do you keep staring at your BlackBerry? You’re not here to flog me a mobile tariff, are you?

Tory candidate: No, the Conservative Party has gone paperless! I’m your candidate and this phone is my manifesto information hotline to Tory HQ [see page 11]. Can I count on your vote on May 6?…..

Do read the rest of The Times leader if you have time – not often a Times leader makes me laugh… well…they don’t often write amusing leaders…leaders are for ‘serious matters’ !

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Eversheds report looks at how ‘perfect storm’ will affect the legal profession

Edward Fennell, in an interesting article in The Times, asks: Is the recession just a blip for law firms and can we expect to return to business as usual once the Government has sorted out the public finances? Or are we on the verge of epochal change? The stimulating report just out from Eversheds — Law Firm of the 21st Century: the Clients’ Revolution — which I refer to in my In the City diary column this week, suggests that it is very much the latter.

For UK lawyers there is the much discussed perfect storm of the conflux of four drivers of systemic change — the Legal Services Act, globalisation, technology and the increasing power of in-house general counsel (GC), which will affect the profession whether working in the high street or on Cheapside. The Eversheds report attempts to analyse which of the four factors will be the most significant and, based on opinion surveys of law firm partners and GCs, suggests that globalisation (closely followed by the increasing status of GCs ) will be most influential…..

The increasing power of General Counsel – a lawyer known formerly by the far less glamorous term ‘In-house lawyer – has been driven, to a great extent, by the credit-crunch with large corporates seeking more ‘bang for their buck’ and is closely related to the issue of value billing or the more traditional form of hourly billing. Fennel notes “The reason that in–house lawyers are gaining higher status is because the most senior executives have realised just how important legal issues have become to the successful management of businesses. They are no longer hygiene issues but, as the growth in the importance of intellectual property demonstrates, they are now fundamental to business performance”

I touched on some of these issues when I interviewed a well known General Counsel, Tom Kilroy – Misys plc, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Company Secretary – for my series of Inside Track podcasts with the College of Law. You may find it interesting to listen to the podcast? Tom gives a fascinating insight into the role of the GC.

If you haven’t listened to it before, you may also find my podcast With Richard Susskind of interest in terms of the future of the legal profession. Professor Richard Susskind paints a vivid picture of the way the legal profession is likely to develop, based on his research and his best-selling book The End of Lawyers? Listen to the podcast.

Sian Williams’s naked plea fails to convince taxman

The BBC presenter Sian Williams loves her job so much that she would do it naked. Or so she told the taxman. It was all to no avail, however. She claimed that because clothing was required by BBC bosses, who also asked for regular wardrobe rotation, it should be deductible from her tax bill. It was rejected – The Times

Sian William’s argument seemed to hone in on the possibility that she would be sacked by the BBC is she wore the same clothes too often.  The taxman did not buy into this and repeated the rule that expenses can only be deducted for tax if they are “wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of employment duties”.

Inevitably, it would not bother me at all if the newsreaders started reading the news in the nude and, indeed, some people are so enthusaistic about the idea they have started a Facebook group to encourage this. “Let Sian Williams read the TV News NAKED!”

Privacy law: is Max Mosley right?

David Allen Green, author of the Jack of Kent blog writes in The Lawyer: For those whose privacy is invaded, the phrase “Freedom of the Press” is no more compelling than “Freedom of the State”.

Both the Press and the State are capable of doing great good; the effective functioning of both is fundamental to a modern democratic society.  However, the Press and the State are both also capable of intruding needlessly into the lives, communications, and personal space of private individuals.But to take privacy seriously means not starting with the rights of the Press or the State, nor with the interests of the nosey neighbour, the presumptuous council official, or the tabloid reader.  It means starting with the private individual, and working outwards to engage with those who wish to intrude into that individual’s private life….

An interesting article and worth a read. A complex issue with a fair number of factors to balance.  I am still thinking about the issue of a ‘developing law of privacy’ and while it is always interesting to see how others spend time on their hobbies and lives, I am not convinced that it really was in the public interest for us to know that Max Mosley enjoys strutting about shouting in German, having his head examined for lice and then enjoy a cup of tea after a good old British / German thrashing.  The difficulty lies where celebrities, public figures or corporates use super-injunctions and the nascent law of privacy and human rights to prevent revelations which are in the public interest, given the  impact of their activities on the ‘public interest’. Do we have a right to know what Max Mosley gets up to in a Chelsea basement ‘dungeon’ in his own time? No, I don’t think we do.  Do we have a right to know if a Chief Justice ejaculates into his trousers when passing a death sentence as Lord Goddard was reputed to do? yes, we do – for it impacts on his ability and competence to serve in a very important public role. Wikipedia notes: “It has been claimed that Goddard had a particular personal reaction to sentencing people to death. According to his valet, Goddard would have an orgasm during sentencing and his trousers had to be sent off to be cleaned as a result.Another version suggests Goddard reacted in this way when sentencing young men to be birched.”

This may or may not be true – but Lord Bingham is reported as  stating that Goddard was “one of the outstanding criminal judges of the century”, and underlined the change in social standards between 1953 and 1998.  On the plus side – no memorial service was held for him when he died in 1971…Goddard said he did not want one as they were “exercises in hypocrisy”.  I could not agree more…. I  will, however, be making a DVD in readiness for my own departure from Gate Number One….  ...”Charon from Beyond the Grave”.

The Lawyer Focus: 4 New square, Bar Wars

“Despite 4 New Square defeating accusations of racist behaviour in the Employment Tribunal, the case has not done the image of the set – or indeed the bar as a whole – any favours…”

The court battle between 4 New Square (4NS) and London barrister Aisha Bijlani, which ended earlier this month (3 March), was not just a high-profile row between lawyers. The potentially catastrophic (for the set) case has forced the bar to deal with some uncomfortable home truths….

I’d get the popcorn out for this one and settle back – an extraordinary tale from The Lawyer!

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