Archive for April 1st, 2011

On All Fools Day, two April Fools caught my eye… both involving lawyers. The BBC did a very cleverly constructed piece involving Julian Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens, and David Allen Green, on his Jack of Kent blog, wound up some skeptics.  I particularly enjoyed the comment ‘attributed’ to the  Mumsnet founder on the BBC piece: “Fathers have always been welcome on Mumsnet, I even keep one in my own house. I find it very useful for the spiders.”

David Allen Green wrote:

Why “skepticism” is now just another cult

Anyone adopting an “evidence-based” approach must reluctantly concede that the so-called “skeptic” movement has now just become another cult.

This is unfortunate.

However, the evidence is overwhelming…

(The comments are amusing – do have a look)

I will add a third amusing April Fool... from the files of RollonFriday.com an email from James Holder, Managing Partner, Charles Russell

Departing from April Fools… but, arguably in a similar vein, we have to consider the new Bribery Act which, I suspect, will cause some alarm in the business world and keep lawyers busy for some time.

Revamped Bribery Act is giving firms the jitters

Alex Bailin of Matrix Chambers in The Guardian: “Businesses are gearing up for compliance as facilitation payments and hospitality are set to come under closer scrutiny. After widespread criticism of the lack of clarity in the original draft guidance to the Bribery Act 2010, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has rewritten it and the act will come into force on 1 July.”

I enjoyed this… “The justice secretary, Ken Clarke, has now made it clear that “no one is going to try to stop businesses getting to know their clients by taking them to events like Wimbledon, Twickenham or the grand prix”.

Well… that must come as a relief.  It will be interesting to see in the new ‘business driven economy’, where our High Commissions and Embassies around the world are being turned into temples of mammon, how our businesses will cope in countries where bribes are a matter of business routine and are not seen as ‘criminal’.

Troops on standby after Kenneth Clarke privatises Birmingham prison

The Guardian: “The justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, said soldiers had been put on standby and told MPs: “If people are so unwise as to take industrial action in prisons, the situation can rapidly become far worse than in a normal strike because we start getting disorder among the prisoners.”

Not being involved in criminal law as a practitioner or academic, I can only express a lay opinion.  My first reaction is that to involve British troops in prisons, should there be industrial action, is to risk the high regard most have for our forces.  I may well be wrong.  While we already have private prisons, is privatisation of the prison system a good thing?  My gut reaction leads me to the the view that the state should be responsible for prisons.  I was told on twitter last night,  by a practising barrister who sits as a Recorder, that the private sector have been effective and are more focused to rehabilitation because of the way the contract rewards are drawn.  If that is proven, and we can reduce recidivism, then that can only be a good thing.   I would be more than happy for my initial ‘gut’ feelings to be replaced by opinion based on good evidence.  We shall see.

The Orwell Prize: While I was invited to enter my blog by a good friend and fellow blogger and lawyer – it is not my ‘thing’… so I didn’t. I prefer to faff along in my own way, randomly at times,  and see what happens.  I am, however, delighted to see that my friend and fellow blogger, Carl Gardner of The Head of Legal blog, is on the long list.  Adam Wagner of the UK Human Rights blog has also made the long list. Both, deservedly.

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.
George Orwell

I did enjoy this from RollonFriday.com: Birmingham Law Soc President awards Firm of the Year – to his own firm

At a glittering awards ceremony last Thursday, the Birmingham Law Society handed out gongs to the cream of the Midlands legal community. Including a Firm of the Year award for the President’s firm. In the fractured West Midlands market, there are multiple awards for Law Firm of the Year. Top billing – for firms with 16 or more partners – went to Higgs & Sons, in a contest described as “fierce“.  However Dean Parnell, the President of the Birmingham Law Society – and a partner in the dispute resolution team at Sydney Mitchell Solicitors – presented the “Law Firm of the Year (five to fifteen partners)” award to, errrrrr, Sydney Mitchell Solicitors….

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