Archive for January 15th, 2011

I rose on the fourth day, after facing the very jaws of some tedious winter bug which limited my enthusiasm for all but the most essential of matters, to be returned to rude health and the hope that those who go to public places with colds or flu do not attend at places I go to again this winter.

My enthusiasm for the legal profession returned, in fact, mid afternoon on Friday as the rains lashed Battersea Square. It may be a childhood influence, or years of schooling in the desolate glens of Perthshire, but I do seem to work better in wet and stormy weather and my mood is always better when it rains than when the sun shines.  Perversity in this may be a blessing, given our climate.

The legal profession provided me with the opportunity to wheel out Muttley Dastardly LLP a couple of times. The Director of Marketing, Henry Offthewall, sent a memorandum to The Partners with a proposal for a new wills drafting division: Muttley Dastardly LLP Episode 11: Not Dead yet? We have the Will for you! and,  earlier this afternoon,  Matt Muttley sent a memorandum to All Staff on the matter of age after reading an interesting article in Legal Week written by Alex Novarese the editor:Muttley Dastardly LLP Episode 12: Age is not a factor at The Firm.

On the matter of age…. Carl Gardner, author of the Head of legal blog,  has this analysis of this week’s case célèbre (sic): Employment Tribunal ruling: O’Reilly v BBC and Adam Wagner of 1 Crown Office Row, writing on their UK Human Rights blog, stated…Still almost impossible to sue the police in negligence

Desmond v The Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police 2011] EWCA Civ 3 (12 January 2011)- Read judgment

The Court of Appeal has ruled that it is not possible to sue the police in negligence for not filling in an Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate (ECRC). The ruling shows that the courts are still reluctant to allow negligence claims against the police, and provides useful guidance as to the duty of care of public authorities towards the general public.

I am delighted to say Happy Birthday to Obiter J – The Law and Lawyers blog is one year old – hence the little birthday card. And..some good news for readers who think that Britain is going soft on serious crime…Obiter J writes:  A Year On …. Yorkshire Ripper to serve “whole life” … more on the climate change case

In one of those post-ironic twists of fate – after I amused myself satirising Intendance for their survey on top tweeting law firms – some of whom ranked highly without even so much as tweeting [The Lawyer reports: A&O most successful among law firm Twitterati – hahaha! Absurd nonsense] – The Times produced a list of *Top* legal tweeters and I was on that list…..  the cunning part, of course, was that we had to go and subscribe to The Times online,  behind their paywall,  to find out what they said about us…..  It was great to see that many of the individuals who tweet about law were on the same list! The *£* sign in the tweet above indicated, I assumed, that one had to pay to read, rather than a subtle hint at some PRIZE!

To be fair… I have missed Times Law. Although I read the print version of The Times most days, I used to enjoy the online version as well.  Guardian Law is excellent, but I wonder if they would have enjoyed such support and following had Times Law not gone behind the paywall.  This is not to denigrate Guardian law – quite the opposite…it is excellent.  I am now reading Times Law again online… and paying my £8 a month to do so..even though I already pay for my print version. The Times article, if you wish to read it (and if not subscribing, subscribe) ...is here.

The Queensland floods have been both devastating and on an extraordinary scale. I have a very good friend in Brisbane.  She lives on one of the more hilly parts and is fine.  Others were not so lucky.  I am full of admiration for the calm way (at least as far as reports I have seen reveal) Australians have reacted to it. Hopefully loss of life will not increase significantly, or at all.  Fellow blogger and tweeter Peter Black, a university law lecturer in Queensland, tweeted about the floods regularly and provided some astonishing pictures.  Hat tip to Peter. Google has an information page and if you wish to donate to the flood fund, you may do so from here. Other Australians managed to retain their humour saying that Brisvegas has changed to BrisVenice.

And just to lift your spirits a bit… RollonFriday.com reports….

Man in court over defective penis pump

A Canadian man appeared in court last Friday after suing the manufacturers of a penis pump. The claimant, who is wisely remaining anonymous, said that he was an amateur body builder, and “my body grew and I wanted the rest to follow“. So he spent $262 on an X4 Extender Deluxe Edition enlarger, which promised to “increase penis length and girth“…… More?

Well… at least those who teach Contract and Sale of Goods…will have a rather different example to use for illustrating the possible application of express terms and implied terms under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 as amended…should we have any cases involving the membrum virilis over here.

And something to cheer up lawyer bashers…. RollonFriday reports…

Exclusive: Herbert Smith to pay lawyers £10 an hour
Herbert Smith’s new Belfast outpost is rumoured to be paying its lawyers as little as £10 per hour.

The firm is due to open the office in April, where its lawyers will crunch through large numbers of litigation documents on the cheap – last year Herbies said that it would have a significantly lower cost base than London. And it’s clearly much, much lower. Sources tell RollOnFriday that pay for qualified solicitors is pitched at £10-£11 an hour, and “legal assistants” (that’s paralegals to everyone else) will pocket a mere £7.

Mocking politicians is a perfectly acceptable sport for all… particularly in these Coalition government times.  The White Rabbit has an amusing piece…called….

Mocking Politicians……

Dan Hull..from WhatAboutClients?, a US lawyer and polymath, is always worth a visit…. I enjoyed this post… a very different perspective on legal education,  and well worth a read. I’ll give you a taster…

Why Are You Paying New Law Hires? Law Profs Don’t Pay Students To Learn.

He’s saying he didn’t want to be President of the United States so he could stay home and be “Daddy”? Give me a fucking break.

–Billy Bob Thornton’s Carville-like character in Primary Colors

and here is a little bit more…

It is no secret that law professors and law schools are too wimpy/lazy/out-to-lunch/greedy to teach them anything, and loyalty to commercial institutions is at an all time low. If marginal or even very good hires get the greatest benefit in the first 2 to 3 years from the firm-associate relationship–and they almost always do–don’t be chumps. Pay only a few of them; let the rest pay your firm. Law school professors do not pay students to learn. Why should you?


My good friend and fellow blogger, John Bolch of Family Lore, … has a blunt and to the point blog post this week:

Justice for All campaign: Pissing into the wind?

And…. Babybarista…

Car crash barrister

And… a bit of gratuitous politics…. not that it matters until 2015…

The BBC reports: Ed Miliband said he’s pleased many Liberal Democrats see Labour “as the main vehicle for their hopes in the future”

I just wish that more Labour supporters saw Ed Miliband in the same way…. not the choice of members, not the choice of MPs, Miliband holds office by virtue of Union votes. That’s fine….those are the rules.  That’s democracy.  I find him rather dull.  I don’t see him as an inspiring prime minister in waiting…. he would probably make quite a good Maitre D’

Well… there we are….

Best, as always


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Managing Partner, Muttley Dastardly LLP

To:  All staff


1.  The government is planning to abolish the retirement age of 65.  As with many things the government does, this will not affect us.  Partners may retire when they wish.  If they haven’t retired by the time they get to 50, they haven’t been billing hard enough and, in the highly unlikely event that such a faux pas should be made (and it has not happened to date in the glorious history of this firm),  the individual will be invited to visit the library or leave.

2. My attention was drawn to an article in Legal Week by the editor, Alex Novarese:

Locking out older partners? The least-defended minority in the Square Mile

Given the level of debate generated by law firms’ treatment of gays, ethnic minorities and women, a neutral observer wandering into the Square Mile might wonder why there is so little comment on the deal dished out to older lawyers.

After all, many City firms have hardly any partners over 55, law firms are notoriously lax at implementing the employment laws they lecture clients about and the long-hours culture of commercial practice is hardly conducive to career longevity.

Yet it’s hard to see how the status quo is sustainable. The forces pushing for reform are too many and too fundamental. Aging Western populations, longer life-spans, later retirements, tougher employment laws and changing attitudes to age – it’s all pointing in one direction……

3. While it is always of interest to me to read and listen to reports of travail, angst and difficulties at other City firms, we simply do not have an issue at this firm with age. Associates destined to join The Partners are selected most carefully and those who do not make the cut, on closer inspection of their own contract of employment with us – what we call a contrat d’adhesion – will discover, if they were not already aware, that they do not enjoy many rights in the event of termination of the relationship.  If they did not realise the one sided nature of the contract, this merely serves as evidence of their unfitness to continue as a member of the firm.   For particularly recidivistic associates who have managed to find a copy of a book on employment law, they will face the arcane and complex and obscure world of ‘restructuring’ will stand in their path for a successful prosecution of a claim.

4.  As this memorandum raises issues of age and termination of the employment relationship, I would like to take this opportunity of reminding associates about Clause 482 (1) (b) (x1) The Faustian Pact.. the contents of which, were inspired by a note I found on Faustian pacts on Wikipedia

You undertake, by this pact,  to kill children or consecrate them to the Devil at the moment of birth ,  take part in Sabbaths, have sexual relations with demons, and sometimes engender children from a succubus, or incubus in the case of women. The pact can be oral or written. An oral pact is made by means of invocations, conjurations, or rituals to attract the demon; once the conjurer thinks the demon is present, he/she asks for the wanted favour and offers his/her soul in exchange, and no evidence is left of the pact; but according to some witch trials and inquisitions that were performed, even the oral pact left evidence, namely the diabolical mark, an indelible mark where the marked person had been touched by the devil to seal the pact. The mark will be used as a proof to determine that the pact was made. “

5. Clearly, we do not believe in any form of superstition here. There is no question of the devil, or indeed ourselves sui generis,  exacting enforcement, should same even be possible in an English Court of Law.  I cannot speak for some courts in other countries, but our contracts are governed by English Law.

6.  Just see how successful you are at getting a job in The City, if you try and sue us and we make it known to potential employers that you signed a contract which included clauses, inter alia,  whereby you promised “to kill children or consecrate them to the Devil at the moment of birth ,  take part in Sabbaths, have sexual relations with demons, and sometimes engender children from a succubus, or incubus in the case of women.” I rather suspect that this takes care of any age related discussions?

7.  That is all

Matt Muttley
Managing Partner, Muttley Dastardly LLP

Strength & Profits


With thanks to Inksters Solicitors, Cellmark, OnlineWill.co.uk, BPP University College, David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Wildy & Sons, Camps Solicitors accident claims, Just Go Direct

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You may be interested in this analysis by Richard Moorhead….. a rather more sensible analysis than the above…. probably…..

Too many lawyers – does the profession’s growth ‘defy gravity’?

Professor Moorhead writes….

“The number of practising solicitors in England and Wales has risen sharply to more than 120,000, with their ranks growing at an accelerated rate despite the economic pressures faced by the profession, the latest figures have shown.

“One leading industry commentator claimed that the rise ‘defies gravity’.

“Figures from the Solicitors Regulation Authority revealed that there were 120,847 solicitors with practising certificates on 31 December, up 7% on the end of 2009. This represents a faster rate of expansion than in previous years, with the profession having grown by only 2% in 2009 and 2008, and 3% in 2007…….

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