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Archive for January 19th, 2011

While the judges are permitting  people to tweet from court – the Deputy Speaker today announced that tweeting was not permitted in the Chamber of The House of Commons…

For the life of me, I can’t see why MPs should not be permitted to tweet.  We can watch the proceedings on television.  It is our Parliament. The MPs serve our interests and the national interest – possibly.  I follow quite a few MPs on twitter and enjoy their tweets.  What harm can possibly arise?  The decision is daft.

No Twitter for MPs in Commons, says Deputy Speaker

BBC: MPs have been told they should not use Twitter while sitting in the the House of Commons.

Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said they ought not to “be tweeting from the chamber to let the outside world know what is going on”.

Not let the outside world know what is going on?!  Bizarre…. truly bizarre. I thought the whole idea of televising Parliament was so we would know what is going on?   I suspect that Deputy Speaker Hoyle may find that advancement is not for him?  More than 100 MPs use Twitter to communicate with their constituents and other followers.

Hat Tip to @Pam_nAshes for alerting me to this. I like Tom Harris MP and his humour and directness on Twitter.  Pity he gave up blogging.  His blog was good.  I had the very real pleasure of doing a podcast with Tom last year before the election.  I enjoyed the podcast.  If you didn’t listen – well worth a listen.

AND… just when I didn’t think the day could not get more surreal… this…..

Tory MP sorry after novelty tie breaks into speech

BBC: A Conservative MP has apologised after inadvertently turning on his musical tie while making a speech in the House of Commons.

Nadhim Zahawi’s red neckpiece – worn as part of an anti-cancer campaign – started playing a tinny tune during a debate on education funding.

Deputy Speaker Dawn Primarolo urged him to be “more selective” in future in his choice of ties.

Mr Zahawi agreed to abide by her “words of wisdom” from now on.

TWITTER can be a force for good and pleasure… I love it.  Hat Tip to @Loveandgarbage for alerting me to this…. as @loveandgarbage said to me in a tweet… beyond parody!

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BREAKING NEWS!  Hat Tip to@zevans23

British MPs told they can use Twitter after temporary ban imposed

British MPs had been told earlier this afternoon that they should not be using Twitter while they sit in the House of Commons. But that decision has been retracted.
The Deputy Speaker of the house, Lindsay Hoyle, warned MPs they cannot tweet from the chamber allowing the world outside knowledge of what was going on. However, in the last few hours, this decision appears to be reversed, reports in the Press Association say, with a reprieve handed to the members allowing them to carry on tweeting.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/302731#ixzz1BWXynEyB

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AND  a bit of law… one for the Constitutional Law specialists…

Statements and speeches made in the Chamber of The House of Commons are privileged.  No defamation suit may follow unless privilege is waived.  What about Tweets from the Chamber? 🙂

LATEST!…. From The Telegraph…

Commons Twitter ban was ‘just a joke’

MPs have been given the green light to post messages on Twitter from the Commons chamber after an apparent ban on tweeting during debates.

Tom Watson, the Labour MP, and another prolific tweeter, went straight to Mr Hoyle for clarification and was told the remarks were tongue-in-cheek.

He then tweeted: “The Deputy Speaker cracked a gag, fair play to him for trying, at least.

“He’s told me he didn’t ban Twitter.”

Read….

Ah well….. it was amusing while it lasted….

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In my thirty years of teaching law, I have taught Contract, Sale, International Trade, Tort, Equity, Roman Law and……. Jurisprudence, now a subject (sadly) not often to be found on the syllabus in the modern law schools.

It was, therefore, with some interest that I read James Dean’s excellent short piece in The Law Society Gazette on the the case of the devout Christian hoteliers who have to pay damages to a gay couple for discriminating against them. James Dean extracts the wonderful opening of Judge Andrew Rutherford’s judgment…. I extract, but a small part.  It is worth reading in full.

In 1882 Her Majesty Queen Victoria opened a new court building. It is in the Strand just at the entrance to the City of London. It was built to house the superior courts of this land with the exception of the House of Lords. No one who enters can fail to be struck by the similarity of the great hall with the interior of those gothic cathedrals with which this kingdom is so richly endowed. But if, before entering, you gaze upon the façade of the building you will notice four statues……

James Dean asks the question: Are the law’s Judaeo-Christian roots withering?

Given that Britain leans ever more to secularism, given that the Church of England and,  is no longer at the very heart of many families’  lives  and given that we are an eclectic peoples of many faiths, for those who do believe, I rather suspect our Judaeo-Christian legal roots (if indeed our laws were actually based on a deep understanding of those mores – a complex issue)  are withering in favour of the positivist norm of law – a human construct – beset with all the frailties of the human condition, yet one, I would argue, more rational than the social engineering and control of religion used by the rulers and the state in our lands in days long gone, but still convenient to the rulers and law makers of other lands.

Judge Rutherford did make the point that modern laws do cut across religious beliefs. Times have changed.  The  laws have to address many interests and, of course, are the product of the values and agenda of those who hold power in governments of the day.

It is an interesting issue. I won’t, however, launch upon a lengthy exposition or disquisition on the legalo-philosophic base of our laws in the 21st century.  I shall leave that to my rather dull brother, Professor RD Charon (pictured right), an embittered academic who wrote many books and articles which few read.  I recall that he gave me a signed copy of his magnum opus…. The moralo-ethical construct – in praise of natural law and rebuttal of Hart’s Concept of Law. It is no longer in print – mercifully. He could only afford to self publish ten copies.

Anyway… back to Judge Andrew Rutherford.  Good to see a judge doing a bit of writing in judgments. Lord Denning MR  was rather good at it, of course and often leavened rather dry judgments on commercial and contract matters with a bit of colourful prose and observation of the human condition.

I particularly liked this quote…. rather appropriate in these dark days…

The House of Commons starts its proceedings with a prayer. The chaplain looks at the assembled members with their varied intelligence and then prays for the country. 

Lord Denning

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Afua Hirsch… editor of Guardian Law… is speechless! Hat Tip @loveandgarbage

Libel reform closer after Campbell ruling

Greenslade blog Guardian: The European Court of Human Rights has dealt a mighty blow to no-win, no-fee arrangements (CFAs) with the ruling on the Naomi Campbell case in favour of Mirror Group Newspapers. It is sure to bolster those bodies pushing for libel law reform, but as I argue in my London Evening Standard column today, conditional fee arrangements should not be eliminated altogether. It is the way they operate that requires attention.”

The UK HUman Rights blog considers this issue in detail: Analysis: Costs Regime in Peril after Strasbourg Naomi Campbell Ruling and  “Blackmail” costs system violated Daily Mirror’s freedom of expression rights in Naomi Campbell case

And finally… Richard Craig writes in to the blog:

What a pity that the Telegraph chose to report the findings of a recent  meeting of Transport Select Committee in such a one-sided manner, not even pausing to perhaps let anyone who isn’t a spokesperson for the insurance industry get a word in edgeways.

Advertising: the insurance companies are aggrieved by the ‘aggressive television marketing campaigns’ run by claims specialists. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of the last time I saw a PI company advert on television, whereas you can’t move for meerkats, Iggy Pop or that blasted opera singer (thank the Lord his most recent advert takes the form of a silent movie). A well-placed source whispers in my ear that the insurance industry spent £285m on advertising last year. Bit of a case of the insurers’ pot calling the lawyers’ kettle black. Lord Young, who was appointed by the government to see what all the ‘compensation culture’ fuss was about last year, upon publishing his findings then admitted he had no problem with the nature of PI advertising at all.

Costs: Insurers complain that costs incurred contesting car crash claims and other PI cases have driven up consumers’ premiums by about 30% in the last year. But somebody’s being diddled because legal costs for RTA personal injury cases where the compensation award is below £10,000 have been fixed since October 2003. Such cases make up well over two-thirds of all vehicle-related PI cases. Never mind the adoption of the RTA portal last year, which served to lower costs yet again. These savings are not being passed on to the consumer.

Fraud control: Esure have obviously had their spirit broken by employing Michael Winner all those years ago. They say that, in a certain area of Birmingham, they are now paying out compensation to three times more ‘injury claimants’ than they were a year ago, and yet mysteriously the number of accident damage cases has remained the same. Is it too simple to suggest that maybe some people are being a little teensy bit dishonest? And maybe Esure should improve their fraud detection instead of blaming personal injury companies? It’s not our fault there are criminals out there.

Incentives: The PI industry was then lambasted for offering incentives for claimants to tell their friends and colleagues about their company. It is to be assumed that insurance companies have never offered anything similar in their lives. Insurance companies and PI firms are both businesses that make money from either peoples’ legal obligations or their use of a legal service. For one industry to accuse the other of below-the-belt behaviour when it is arguably more flagrantly extravagant in the same areas is nothing short of ridiculous.

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