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Archive for March 21st, 2010

The Times reports: ” THE government is trying to change the law to protect the Prince of Wales from scrutiny when he intervenes in public affairs. Jack Straw, the justice secretary, has tabled an amendment to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill to impose a blanket ban on anyone disclosing information about Prince Charles, the Queen and Prince William. The move comes after a freedom of information (FoI) application revealed how Charles scuppered a £3 billion redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks. The property developers Christian and Nick  Candy discovered that his aide met planning officials to discuss scrapping the scheme….”

Interestingly, the Times states: “Critics of Straw’s amendment say it would seriously undermine freedom of information laws. More than 60 MPs have signed an early day motion calling for it to be dropped. Clarence House said Charles had not lobbied for the changes.”

It is not unreasonable that the Monarch and  monarchs  in the queue, so to speak, should be able to talk in confidence – but I can see no good reason for exemption when, for example, Prince Charles explores wider issues which are wider than the strict and secret national interest. Surely the present exemptions are sufficient?  Arise Sir Lord Jack?

The weekend brought news that Stephen Byers and other Labour ministers were fooled by a cash for info sting – to be screened on Channel 4 Dispatches on Monday night.  Douglas Carswell MP raises a more important issue…

Who’s for hire in SW1?

“It’s not only soon-to-be ex-MPs who allegedly pass through the revolving door from government to business. The spotlight needs to be shone on unelected officials moving from Whitehall to the private sector. Given how enfeebled MPs and ministers have become, it’s technocrats and civil servants that are now seen as real high-value hires by lobbyists.Big corporate vested interests often prefer to have a former quangocrat, who took real decisions, on their payroll, rather than their ex-mouthpiece of a minister. Do unelected officials trade in their contact book? You bet….”

Magic circle tag redundant, Eversheds research finds

It is unusual for me to comment on a story in The Lawyer and Legal Week simply because they tend to focus on the business of lawyers making money as lawyers rather than on the law – which is fair enough. I cannot, however, resist an article where Eversheds commissions a report to confirm that its non-membership of the Magic Circle is just not a problem because ‘half of all clients think that the magic circle designation is redundant, with 94 per cent of them arguing that the profession should reclassify its peer groups.”‘

The usual blunderbuss statistics are chucked about – did the writers of the report really talk to ‘half of all clients’ (or even ALL law firm clients in the world so they could come up with ‘half of all clients’)… or just Evershed clients? Setting aside that those who go to McDonalds for a burger out of necessity may not be happy admitting they can’t afford  to go to a Michelin star restaurant (and this is not to be taken as suggesting that non Magic Circle firms are the McDonalds of the legal world in case some under worked City lawyer is wondering whether to bone up on libel law) … but does it really matter?  The market will decide.  Eversheds is a huge and successful law firm  – probably providing a wider range of legal services than those in the Magic Circle.

BUT.. of course it matters.. to those in the Magic Circle and some who practise law outside . Witness these quotes and comments… “Linklaters corporate partner Charles Jacobs argued that the magic circle firms will still continue to dominate strategic… “The crisis has shown us that the magic circle peer group still gets the lion’s share of the key deals,” he said. “Clients move down market in boom markets not in times of crisis for key transactions and advice. Would HM Treasury have gone to a non-magic circle firm for the Government bailout?”Just loved the words ‘clients move down market’. Then of course…the usual anonymous commentator – who knows… it may even be a ‘plant’..we can’t tell because they are ‘anonymous’….

Anonymous | 18-Mar-2010 2:57 pm

Is this “research commissioned by Eversheds” the most self-serving, steaming pile of bulls**t ever? Certainly sounds that way.

And then another ‘anonymous… but one, possibly with a good reason as   he/she is  ex Magic Circle…

Anonymous | 18-Mar-2010 4:13 pm

I see the lawyers at the Magic Circle have nothing better to do than comment on The Lawyer website. I wonder which client they’ve been charging for their time?
Here, here I say. As an ex Magic Circle lawyer that has spent time in-house, I couldn’t agree more with the findings. It’s about time people realised just how arrogant and exploitative the Magic Circle firms really are.

We British, sadly, are conditioned from birth to be feudally hierarchical, to make subtle distinctions of class, intelligence, tribe etc etc etc… we have State School v Public School, Oxbridge v Red Brick…. Magic Circle v ‘Lesser’ Firms…. will it ever change?  I doubt it… Does it really matter?  probably.. if the Magic Circle can still ull of the trick of charging more for their advice than others and general Counsel buy into the dream…

Surprised? I’m surprised if you are surprised. In the meantime, if law firms wish to keep ‘researchers’ busy by commissioning self wish fulfilment and vanity reports to keep themselves (and others) amused… why not?

How is i that Magic Circle lawyers can get away with charging more for giving advice on exactly the same law as every other lawyer has access to? They may argue that they employ the very best minds and bring ‘added value’.  I’m not so sure… there are some pretty bright lawyers out there in non Magic Circle law firms… unless, if you are from a Magic Circle law firm, you can prove otherwise?  Maybe the game is up and General Counsel have rumbled ’em and savings can be made, without a drop in quality, by going to a cheaper non Magic Circle law firm? – which, of course, is exactly (some say)  what is happening and the big non MC firms may well take an even bigger slice of the pie in the brave new world coming.

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Dear Reader,

3.50 am is, perhaps, a bit early to get up on a Sunday morning;  presenting that awkward dilemma… is it too early or late for a glass of Rioja?  Fortunately, unlike Mr Cameron – but six weeks or so away from having to cancel   the removals van booking, I don’t have bigger issues to decide…such as finding a new Foreign Secretary, whether Ken Clarke might have been a better choice of Chancellor, whether there could be any good ideas out there on the internet to use as policies…. so I poured myself a glass and settled down to read the News of The Screws and other newspapers online.

The NOTW informed me that Jade Goody’s mother went on a ‘coke binge to mark the anniversary of her daughter’s death’, ‘Venables goes ‘crazy’ in clink’ (quite possibly from reading all the tabloid ‘exclusives’ on him), ‘Paedo on Facebook snared me in web of lies’ (Not ‘me’ being ensnared obviously) – and declined to accept an invitation from the NOTW to meet Mr Miaow Miaow online. I always try to be fair  but searched in vain for anything on NOTW online which could be classed as news or of relevance to anyone that lives on Earth.

So.. it was over to The Sunday Times….online….

Not being one of the new graduates from The Laurel & Hardy Institute of Humanity Studies, I do not believe that ‘people should not ever be allowed to strike…. EVAR! ‘ (which seems to be a popular view among those wretched souls kept in a London ‘Lock up’ so they can be polled from time to time on the issues of the day… I soon got bored with the coverage in various newspapers claiming victory for one side or the other in the British Airways-Unite strike.   I knew I had to read Clarkson on the matter…

Captain to striking cabin crew: boy, are you in for a shock

Clarkson does the business… and summarises the matter in his inimitable way…

“I like Virgin. And I flew Singapore Airlines recently, which was out of this world. But there is nothing quite so joyous as leaving the hustle and bustle of a superheated Third World hellhole and being greeted on the big BA jumbo by a homosexual with a cold flannel and a refreshing glass of champagne. Take that away from us and we may as well all be Belgian.”

I then turned to an interesting article in The Sunday Times…. SAS veterans join new war on poachers:Conservation Wildlife charities are using military kit and know-how in bloody battles to save species at risk

And… just in case you thought that the corruption by MPs was all done and dusted now they have (almost) all paid back what they were not entitled to by way of expenses…the Sunday Times comes up with….

Revealed: Labour’s cash for influence scandal

The Sunday Times reports: A FORMER Labour cabinet minister has boasted about how he used his government contacts to change policies in favour of businesses. Stephen Byers, former trade and transport secretary, was secretly recorded offering himself “like a sort of cab for hire” for up £5,000 a day. He also suggested bringing Tony Blair to meet clients. He was among several politicians recorded by an undercover reporter posing as a company executive looking to hire MPs for lobbying work.

“The others included…” – well… it is only fair that you read the Sunday Times story….. they did the work…it is an interesting list!

And then this… from The Observer…

Treasury calls in Vince Cable for talks on implications of a hung parliament

The Observer reports: “Vince Cable has held unprecedented and detailed talks with the top official at the Treasury about the Liberal Democrats’ economic policies – and declared himself willing to serve as chancellor after the next election. As Whitehall gears up for a possible hung parliament, Cable told the Observer that he had been questioned by Nicholas Macpherson, the Treasury’s permanent secretary, about what the Lib Dems’ demands would be in a coalition with Labour or the Tories….”

The Observer noted…“Cable was unaware of such meetings having taken place with Lib Dem shadow chancellors before previous general elections. The talks were a sign that the Treasury was “taking seriously” the prospect of his party playing a leading role in economic policy in what could be the first hung parliament since 1974.”

On the other hand… as nothing would surprise me in politics these days… it could just be some guy at The Treasury who gets up at 3.30 am, cracks open a bottle of Rioja,  and decides it might be fun to phone Vince Cable….and see what happens ?

I watched Eddie Izzard on television last night – doing his 43 marathons for Sports relief... I like Eddie Izzard (How can one not?) … that was a very fine effort… and because Le Singe is, obviously, still in his tree… I am more than prepared to make a donation to Sport Relief – ordinarily, I don’t like to be told by celebrities to make donations… … but Eddie Izzard doesn’t tell… he suggests…invites… and anyone who can eat a Big Mac while doing a Marathon deserves support!

It is now 5.30 am and I am in an excellent mood… unfortunately… the cafes are not open yet… so I may have another

Best, as always


Charon

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