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Archive for November, 2010

Today I am talking to Professor Richard Moorhead  deputy head of the law school  at Cardiff University about legal education – the first in a series of between five and seven podcasts on this topical and important issue.
We focus on the following themes:

1. Where are the problems in legal education and training?
2. Is the law degree fit for purpose?
3. Should the professions intervene to improve the law degree?

4. The importance of research-based teaching.  Why should practitioners care about that?

Listen to the podcast

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Richard Moorhead’s blog Lawyer Watch

Richard Moorhead’s blog post: Legal Education Review: Where does the knowledge come from?

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There are 7 podcasts in this series on legal education.

The second podcast in the series:

Lawcast 171: Nigel Savage, CEO of The College of Law on the need to reform legal education

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SECRET (NO FOREIGNERS)

From: Matt Muttley, Managing Partner

To: The Partners

RE: BRIBERY AND HOW TO GET AWAY WITH IT

Gentlemen, I write on a matter of some importance to those of our clients who have interests in the aerospace and arms industry and a side interest in what I shall loosely define as ‘football related activities’.

1.  You will, of course, be fully familiar with the provisions of the new Bribery Act and all corporate partners should now have downloaded a new ‘app’ for your Muttley Dastardly iPhone giving you a fool proof guide to these provisions should you need to give advice quickly to clients who are unable to resist the urge to bribe an overseas government or, a member of FIFA or indeed,  if recent Wikileaks revelations about Prince Andrew are to be believed, you are acting in France and Kyrgistan.

2.  I draw your attention to a most excellent briefing in OUT-Law ( so useful to have competitor firms provide briefing papers of value to us in these dark days of cuts and profit maximisation).  I quote the salient passages…

“The Law Society has responded to a consultation on (the government guidelines) and has called for more detail.

The Law Society considered that the guidance is helpful. However, there were specific areas where more detail and clarification would be helpful,” said the Law Society’s response (4-page / 45KB PDF). “The Law Society recognises the importance of prosecutorial discretion in legislation such as this. However, this does mean that there will be a lack of certainty in the early days of implementation and this is a concern for many of our Members and their clients. Clear and swift guidance from the prosecuting authorities would, in our view, help to allay fears and assist firms to ensure compliance with the new Act.”

The Law Society said the approach taken by the Ministry of Justice’s guidance is too vague.

3.  Having examined The Law Society response, a short and pithy paper, I note their concern….“The Law Society also said that the guidance should advise on how companies can deal with bribery that is ongoing, and how they can deal with bribery that occurs in the UK.

“[The guidance’s practical examples] are overly complex; they only consider overseas bribery, which may cause firms to overlook the fact that bribery can occur in the UK,” said the Law Society response.”

4.  The Ministry of Justice appears to be reluctant to explain how the legislation may work in any more detail for fear of restricting the discretion of the prosecuting authorities – in this case, the Serious Fraud Office – thus upholding a fine tradition of obfuscation in our laws to allow ‘wiggle room’ should any future prime minister or attorney-general wish to step in at the last moment and stop investigations on grounds of ‘national security’.  Not that one could ever imagine such a thing happening in the United Kingdom.
I think we can safely assume that none of our clients would engage in activities coming within the Bribery Act, as currently understood and implemented by the prosecuting authorities and, I understand, there was much banging of tables and cheering down at the old “Dog and Very Rich Duck’ last night at a meeting of tax avoiders, hedgies, bankers and entrepreneurs and a general feeling that business may proceed as usual and that the new legislation will deter the faint hearted but not unduly restrict those of a more, shall we say, bold disposition who don’t approve of the SFO,  [Expletive] journalists and sundry other traitors sticking their noses into business which is of no concern to them.

It may be wise to download The Law Society response for ‘best practice’ compliance purposes. Law Society’s response (4-page / 45KB PDF) You may even be able to claim some CPD points if you read it.

We meet this Friday to consider our weekly business.

Matt Muttley

Strength & Profits

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It is impossible to parody this latest nonsense from Prince Andrew… he has beaten me to it himself…. classic stuff from Wikileaks…

WikiLeaks cables: ‘Rude’ Prince Andrew shocks US ambassador

Guardian: Duke railed against France, British anti-corruption investigations into BAE and American ignorance, leaked dispatches reveal

During the two-hour engagement in 2008 at a hotel in the capital, Bishkek, Andrew, who travels the globe as a special UK trade representative, attacked Britain’s corruption investigators in the Serious Fraud Office for what he called “idiocy”.

He went on to denounce Guardian reporters investigating bribery as “those [expletive] journalists … who poke their noses everywhere”.

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It is all very well doing parodies with Muttley Dastardly LLP to make a point on topical  legal issues ( and there are quite a few more MD LLP episodes coming ) but I feel the time has come, having watched from the sidelines for a couple of years, to shine a very bright light onto legal education in England & Wales.
I shall be starting with a podcast tomorrow with Professor Richard Moorehead of Cardiff University.  I plan to do five podcasts with leading figures in legal education. They will be direct and to the point – hopefully.

We shall be discussing, inter alia:

1. Where are the problems in legal education and training?

2. Is the law degree fit for purpose?

3. Should the professions intervene to improve the law degree? [this will be about the Brown review’s effects]

4. The importance of research-based teaching.  Why should practitioners care about that?

In the meantime…this from RollonFriday….

BPP parent company in $200m write-off shock

Apollo Group Inc., owners of BPP University College, have published their annual results. And they won’t be easy reading for lead balloon BPP, which faces an enormous balance sheet write-off.

The educational conglomerate’s 4th quarter and end year results include $176 million of “goodwill and intangible impairment charges“. The Lawyer reports that Apollo CFO Brian Schwartz told investors that BPP’s business had been “significantly and adversely impacted by the deep recession in the UK“. Of course that hasn’t stopped the esteemed law school opening up another three much-needed factory farms university campuses. Sounds like the fees need to go up.

A spokesman for Apollo told RollOnFriday that “BPP has been and will continue to be a critical centerpiece of Apollo Global’s expansion strategy. We continue to believe that it has significant potential both now and into the future“…..

Read more…

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Wikileaks release of embassy cables reveals US concerns

BBC

The Guardian coverage

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After 63 days as Labour leader, following an astonishingly long selection process, the Labour Party got the leader they didn’t really want – at least the MPs and Members did not want.  Ed M has been in power – whatever that means these days in Labour circles,  for 63 days.  Deduct 12 or so days for paternity leave… and it would seem he hasn’t achieved much.

The Sun pilloried him this morning for his *Beyond New Labour* idea… and now Ed wants to wrest the idea of BIG Society off David Cameron and set Labour up as The People’s Party… whatever that means these days… and represent  a squeezed middle, whatever that is……

I may have to take up drinking Vodka and take Cossack dancing lessons….

No wonder Toby Young @Toadmeister tweeted this morning that The Coalition could be in power for 1000 years….

The BBC has the story on Ed Miliband’s People’s party plan……

I nicked the excellent rendition of ED as Buzz lightweight from The Sun… I do hope they won’t object.  I thought the rendition…. not a popular word in the Miliband family, I suspect….. was good!

And here is ED….

In a final rallying call, he added:

“Join us on this journey which makes us once again the people’s party, the party of people’s hopes and aspirations, back on people’s side, back in power making for the fairer, the more equal, the more just country we believe in.”

Jeez..another farkin journey…. so last Century!

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A quick post with some interesting articles on legal issues I have read in the press and in some of the law blogs…

Police kettling stirs the pot of student unrest

This series of letters in the Guardian makes interesting reading on this controversial issue on the kettling and use of police horses at the student demonstration last week.  Professor Lewis Elton – who I had the pleasure of doing a conference with nearly 25 years ago –  makes an interesting point or two…

I also found Laurie Penny’s article in The New Statesman interesting – and thought provoking…Inside the Whitehall kettle

Why Lord Justice Moses should watch 12 Angry Men

Louise Christian in The Guardian: The judge’s proposals on criminal trials are a dangerous attack on the jury system. I hope he won’t prevail

Here is the opening of Moses LJ’s lecture – which I found interesting…

I shall speak to you at length; I cannot even say how long I will be. There will be few intervals; about once every 1½ hours if you are lucky, or 2 hours. I cannot say how long this will last, certainly more than a day, so please do not believe you can make any sensible arrangements for the rest of the week. You will not be able to take a proper note; even if you had pen and paper, your neighbour will be pressing hard upon your writing arm. You cannot interrupt or ask questions while I am speaking. To those of you who are not lawyers, or practise only in the commercial court, if that is not tautology, I shall be speaking in a language entirely foreign to you. There will be few visual aids; I shall expect throughout to capture your attention with the power of my voice, speaking faster during those parts of the process which I do not really understand and more slowly when it is really important. Before I finish my lecture it would be as well if you did not discuss it amongst yourselves because you will not, until I finish, have learnt all I wish to teach nor had the opportunity to appreciate my objective. Please, if I haven’t finished today do not discuss it with anyone else when you get home tonight. When I have finished I shall set you an exam. It is not the sort of exam with which you will be familiar. You must all agree the answer. You will receive the same mark and you will never know if you have reached the right
answer.

Most criminal practitioners I have spoken to over the years have expressed support for the jury system.  One does wonder, though, how jurors cope with the complexity of law and fact in a long complex trial.

Adam Wagner of the UK Human Rights blog adds a bit of light…. Jury summings-up should be binned, says judge

Ken Clarke plans tough changes to community service – run privately

Continuing with the plan to ‘improve British justice’ The Guardian notes: “Facing big budget cuts, Kenneth Clarke, the justice secretary, will publish a green paper on sentencing in the next fortnight which will introduce new private agencies, as opposed to probation services, to enforce tougher community orders. Clarke is eager to reduce the number of people serving short sentences, and Downing Street is determined that the alternative of community sentences should be seen to be tougher.”

Keen as I am to see improvements in the ‘corrections’ (We appear to be giving up on rehabilitation etc as an underlying rationale?)  part of the of the justice system,  I can’t be alone in having reservations and expressing a view that  placing prison control and community service into the hands of private for profit companies is necessarily a good thing.  I welcome comment from readers who have knowledge and experience of this issue.

The EU Bill in the European Scrutiny Committee

Carl Gardner in his Head of Legal blog writes: “Bill Cash’s European Scrutiny Committee of the Commons is looking at the EU Bill, and in particular is considering very closely clause 18, William Hague’s “national sovereignty clause”, which I’ve written about before. If you’re as interested as I am in this clause and the relationship between EU law and our own constitution, you’ll want to read or perhaps watch the evidence given on Monday by Professors Paul Craig of Oxford University and Trevor Hartley of LSE, and today by Professors Anthony Bradley of Oxford, Trevor Allan of Cambridge and Adam Tomkins of Glasgow.

You can see the videos here and here. The Professors’ written evidence is here, and a transcript of the evidence of Professors Craig and Hartley is here.”

Justice with Michael Sandel

Hat Tip to Natasha Phillips of Researching Reform for drawing my attention to this fascinating website. “What’s the right thing to do?”

Is torture ever justified? Would you steal a drug that your child needs to survive? Is it sometimes wrong to tell the truth? How much is one human life worth?  What do you think and why?  Take a frontrow seat at the first course Harvard has ever made available to everyone, online and on the air.

I think I am going to enjoy this from what I have seen so far…

And from Advanced Legal Studies @ Westminster

Representing Judges

This is an interesting post on the media representation of judges – well worth a look.

Garrow’s Law: Legal History

Obiter J, on his Law and Lawyers blog writes… “English law has a long and fascinating history.  As a subject, it is largely ignored in modern legal education.  This is a pity since there are many lessons to be learned.

The BBC Television series “Garrow’s Law” is proving to be very popular.  It is based on criminal trials which took place at The Old Bailey in the 18th century and highlights both the harshness of the system and the unfairness of the trial processes of the day.  The Old Bailey Online website makes available a fully searchable, digitised collection of all surviving editions of the Old Bailey Proceedings from 1674 to 1913, and of the Ordinary of Newgate’s Accounts between 1676 and 1772. It allows access to over 197,000 trials and biographical details of approximately 2,500 men and women executed at Tyburn, free of charge for non-commercial use……. ”

And finally… from Bitcher & Prickman…. always worth looking at!

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