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Archive for May, 2011

Sophocles had a point… yet this week we have a number of examples of judicial and political misbehaviour.  The Sun reported “A JUDGE’S career was in tatters tonight – after being found guilty of battering his wife because she was late with his tea. Deputy High court judge, James Allen QC AND his wife a deputy county coroner were also shamed after both were accused of LYING under oath in court to try to get him off.”

District Judge Daphne Wickham decided neither had told the truth and she found Allen guilty of assault.  She was, clearly, not convinced about Mr Allen QC’s defence that his wife had punched herself several times in the face.  James Allen QC will be sentenced at a later date.

Chambers described Mr Allen thus:  James Allen QC is ‘a formidable negotiator of huge intellect’.  On the assumption, not unreasonably given my researches on the Bar Council website for James Allen QC, that this refers to the above, it is a pity he didn’t use his considerable powers of negotiation and huge intellect to make his own ‘tea’?

AND then… there is a lawmaker… Lord Hanningfield… a lawmaker who wasn’t really sure about the laws relating to expenses.  The Independent reports: Expenses peer Lord Hanningfield is found guilty – on day disgraced MP is freed early

A former Tory frontbencher faces jail after being found guilty yesterday on six counts of fiddling his parliamentary expenses. Lord Hanningfield, who had been a Conservative transport spokesman as well as leader of Essex County Council, was convicted for false claims for overnight stays, mileage and train fares.

He had denied dishonestly claiming expenses totalling almost £14,000, but was found guilty by a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court. The vast bulk of the fraudulent claims – £13,379 – were for £174-a-day overnight allowances for London when he was often returning in a chauffeur-driven car provided by the council to his home in Essex.

On one occasion the peer, who was a pig farmer before he embarked on a political career, was actually on a flight to India. He also wrongfully claimed £382 in train fares, as well as £147 in mileage by doubling the seven-mile distance from his house to the station.

Lord Hanningfield, who will be sentenced in three weeks’ time, said as he left court: “I am devastated, but I have no regrets. I did nothing wrong.”

A quick trip to RollonFriday.com reveals some more unusual ‘goings on’…

Exclusive: Slaughter and May in offensive job ad shocker

There were red faces at recruitment firm First Counsel, chosen by Slaughter and May to advertise its vacancies, after it posted a pompous and apparently xenophobic job advertisement.

The advert was aimed at associates to join Slaughters’ competition team, and claimed that “perhaps counter-intuitively, the firm is not as exacting in terms of its requirements as one might expect and will happily consider lawyers from Australia, New Zealand and Brussels”. The generosity! To consider convicts, sheep stealers and mussel munchers!

Graham White, Slaughters’ Executive Partner, told RollOnFriday that the firm was entirely unaware of the advert, did not approve its wording, considered it to be clearly offensive and had demanded it be taken down.

Here’s the ad in all its glory…

And the legal profession…just keeps giving! : “Exclusive: saucy Senior Partner scandal hits top City firm” – “RollOnFriday can reveal that a Senior Partner of a top City firm has been rumbled by his own staff after engaging in an extra-marital romp with another partner at a firm event. The antics – allegedly spotted by numerous fellow lawyers and even bragged about by the Senior Partner himself – took place at a UK resort. RollOnFriday’s sources at the firm said that, following a dinner, the philandering partner “hook[ed] up with a younger, buxom [partner]” , and “went to her room on the first night” before spending more time together the next day…..

Read….

But if you have time and the inclination for something sensible  and for  a spirited discussion on privacy, superinjunctions, the antics of another lawmaker – Mr John Hemming MP – and want to find out what GCs do… then may I recommend the #WithoutPrejudice 6 podcast which I thoroughly enjoyed doing with our guest, Tim Bratton, GC of The Financial Times and regulars David Allen Green  and Carl Gardner.  Hit the link above or scroll down.

I’ll leave it there for the moment…. I may have some more nonsense for you in my ‘Postcard from The Staterooms’ later today… or tomorrow…

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Listen to the podcast

Tim Bratton blogs in a personal capacity – and his latest post: One for the students: so, you want to work at Big Law? is a good one for law students, particularly.

David Allen Green, solicitor,  is the author of the Jack of Kent blog and is the legal correspondent  at The New Statesman.  Carl Gardner is an ex-government lawyer and is the author of the Head of Legal blog

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I’d like to thank Lawtel, WestlawCassons For Counsel, City University Law School David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Inksters SolicitorsIken, LBC Wise Counsel, Carrs Solicitors,  JMW Solicitors – Manchester, Pannone and Cellmark for sponsoring the podcast  – and the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.

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The press is running riot with stories about Schillings and their ‘reputation management’ skills after the injunction fiasco and the cunning plan to ‘sue twitter’.

The Guardian….

Injunction publicity backfires on celebrity law firm

“After Ryan Giggs’ lawyers tried to sue Twitter for the initial internet leaks, thousands more tweets followed in retaliation”

Predictably… The Daily Mail put the boot in rather more brutally…

The Injunction King, a cabal of grasping lawyers and a £2000 assault on free speech.

I’ll leave you the pleasure of reading this latter piece of journalism.  Quite remarkable.  The usual tin foil hat wearers appear to ridicule law firms, law, lawyers and anything else that they fancy commenting on from their bunkers.   This was not a victory for free speech.  Serious matters, hidden from public gaze by injunctions – Trafigura et al – deserve public scrutiny (and MPs raising the matter in Parliament if injuncted).  Footballers and their dongles?

As the injunction has not been lifted, and I am a fan of the rule of law, I shall join other lawyers in not naming the footballer who everyone now knows through twitter and the antics of  Mr Hemming MP in Parliament the other day.   I have added a ‘black mask’ to the pic circulating widely on the net.

I don’t know much about Schillings, or Mr Schilling.  I admire the way he is reported as having worked his way up from a very modest background to run and head a successful law firm.  Lawyers do what lawyers do.  His reputation as ‘The Silencer’ will not appeal to many – but it clearly did to those who sought privacy.  I am a pragmatist when it comes to the business of law.  If there is a law, lawyers are going to use their skills to evade it or enforce it for the benefit of clients.  Criminal lawyers are used to public opprobium when they defend rapists, killers, paedophiles and other undesirables.  It goes with the territory – but everyone is entitled to be defended in criminal matters and, it must be the case and right, in civil matters as well. If we don’t like a law – we have a long standing tradition of law making in Parliament and we can lobby to change the law.   While Mr Schilling may well be reflecting on the PR disaster that is “CTB” – I doubt very much whether it will trouble him or his firm for long.  Win some, Lose some?  – But always get the fee?.  Nor should it.   Not all law is cuddly and fluffy – and neither are the clients who instruct the law firms.   The Bar has the long tradition of the cab rank principle – where all, no matter how unsavoury, are entitled to good legal representation.   Solicitors can be more choosy about their work and their clients. I have no problem at all with law firms representing those who want particular laws enforced.  We have courts to decide on the interpretation and application of the law – and an appeals mechanism if the first instance decisions are plainly wrong (as they are, inevitably, from time to time). Perhaps, in some cases, clients claim their rights now at their own peril.  Caveat Twitter? 

I add this from…

@Charonqc Can I just politely point out that it was Gideon Benaim (partner at Schillings) on for CTB, NOT Keith http://bit.ly/iEb0eL


There are, of course, many good media law firms out there opposing injunctions and ‘injunctioneers’ and act for the other side.  I suspect they may be laughing.  I know that Dr Erasmus Strangelove of Muttley Dastardly, allowed a flicker of a smile to cross his lips as he devoured the Daily Mail story.

AND talking about Twitter…I marvelled as I read some world class nonsense from a PR in The Guardian – twitter is running riot with this story…rightly.  I read the story in Comment is Free in The Guardian and mused…. had Mr Hillgrove got a tin foil hat on under his hat?

Twitter cannot be allowed to operate outside the law

The Guardian: “The Ryan Giggs case shows social media sites need to grow up and ensure content adheres to the same rules as everyone else.”

Astonishingly, Mr Hillgrove runs a PR company – who’d have thought that he doesn’t have an agenda?   Clearly, The Guardian may not have realised they were publishing a PR piece?  Who knows?  The Guardian is very busy these days…… very.  (Hat Tip to @ashleyconnick for drawing my attention to this website – Mr Hilgrove’s PR business.)

Anyway.. back to the man who may have a tin foil hat under his hat.  I quote from his own piece in The Guardian….

“Clearly, they  (twitter)are going to have to introduce a delay mechanism so that content can be checked before it goes up. There will have to be a completely different structure, which will be difficult when the whole thing about Twitter is its spontaneity.”

Wonderful nonsense…. how will that work?  Human being, algorithm?  I think Mr Hillgrove needs to go back to his bunker and put this idea back in the oven.

AND Finally.. this wonderful piece from @loveandgarbage... who is ruining his excellent reputation for blogging about scones and snow by doing a lot of serious and good law blogging…!

Are you a celebrity? Have you a secret? Consider your choice of lawyer carefully.

Well… there we are.. another day… another legal marvel….

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“Should the court buckle every time one of its orders meets widespread disobedience or defiance? In a democratic society, if a law is deemed to be unenforceable or unpopular, it is for the legislature to make such changes as it decides are appropriate.”

Mr Justice Eady

Well…..after 75,000 unpaid ‘reportertweeters’ for The Sun et al.. managed to effectively break an injunction on Twitter and, thereby, commit technical contempts of court, John Hemming MP took what he clearly believes to be a principled stand, by naming the footballer.

This battle between the Press, Parliament and the judiciary will now move, inevitably, to a close focus with Parliament setting up a new committee.  Eady J was right.  If a law is unpopular or unenforceable, it is up to Parliament to act – for without the rule of law, we may as well have mob rule on twitter.  I return to an old theme….. 50 million flies enjoy eating shit and believe it to be right to do so.  As it happens, I am not that keen on shit…. so, hopefully, Parliament will now act to clarify (a) the balance between privacy and freedom of speech through ‘guidelines’ or (b) draft a clear law of privacy (c) examine whether injunctions of any sort are an appropriate remedy and (d) re-establish credibility and acceptability in this field (and the separate field of libel) for the law.

A few articles for you to read… if you are not ‘superinjuncted / injuncted out’:

LoveandGarbage: What should CTB have done to protect his position in Scotland?

Lallands Peat Worrier: “If such be the law of England…” #superinjunction

UK Human Rights blog: MP has “revealed” footballer’s name, but is it safe to repeat it?

David Allen Green: The weekend Twitter mocked the English Courts

Carl Gardner at Head of Legal: Hemming does his worst

The Panopticon Blog from 11 KBW: SOME REFLECTIONS ON SUPER-INJUNCTIONS AND PARALLEL UNIVERSES

I gather that Mr Justice Eady did not reconvene the court.  I asked on twitter.. the font of all wisdom… and was told that Mr Justice Eady was on a train.  I can’t say I blame him!

Meanwhile…NOT KEENLY reported in The Sun (or any other Murdoch meedja outlets as yet?)….. this great news…

Phonehacking: Prescott stuns Westminster by winning judicial review

Politics.co.uk: John Prescott stunned the political world today by winning a judicial review into the police investigation into phone hacking.

The decision means that the Met’s handling of the investigation will now come firmly under the spotlight.

Lord Prescott, Labour MP Chris Bryant, former deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick and journalist Brendan Montague argued that the Met had failed to properly brief them on the evidence in their possession concerning what had happened to their phones.

A high court judge said they had “an arguable case for seeking the relief claimed by way of judicial review”.

Perhaps this issue will be more difficult for The News of The World and sister meedja outlets to ignore and sweep under the table.  Superinjunction anyone?

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The death of blogging? Not for #lawblogs

Siobhain Butterworth in The Guardian:  A recent panel event shows legal blogging is growing to fill the gap left by newspapers…

Good article and great to see coverage for law bloggers in a leading newspaper.  I thought my mention in the blogroll was ‘very accurate reporting’ as to rioja quaffing / chain smoking…. at any event.

AND… I JUST HAVE TO… let you see this excellent blog post from John Bolch….. *Be Careful*… It contains Hemmings

STOP PRESS: NEW PART 37 FPR 2010.

I shall end the day with this tweet…… it has been.. truly astonishing… and lawyers (and, hopefully, many others) know why?

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Dear Reader,

While the publication of Lord Neuberger’s report gave us an insight into current judicial thinking on the use of injunctions and ‘superinjunctions’ – and prompted this (lawful) tweet…. from @DavidJonesMP : “Unimpressed by sight of Ld Chief Justice & Master of Rolls sitting under banner “Judiciary of England & Wales”. Bit like Match of the Day.” – and inspired Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, to say that the use of modern technology was out of control – and it is certainly, for the moment, out of his control as far as overseas jurisdictions are concerned… the show on twitter goes on….

The latest twist in the tale from lawyers representing the footballer we cannot name in England & Wales  (but who appears now to be known urbi et orbi despite the best endeavours of judges ruling contra mundum etc ) is.. CTB -v- Twitter, Inc. and Persons Unknown (Case No. HQ11XO1814) – well covered by the Charles Russell CRITique blog. See also: Footballer CTB is suing Twitter

I am, because I read a lot of tweets, aware of another twist in the tale… this time from Scotland. But… I can’t tell you what it is about. (Although the BBC is happy that you should know about these events)

And you will find this post by @loveandgarbage of value in terms of protecting a position in Scotland? : Don’t say I didn’t tell you so – superinjunctions, anonymised injunctions and Scotland

Twitter and WikiLeaks have made a mockery of the courts

One of the best analyses I have seen was in The Observer this morning “A showdown between the law and common sense is brewing as a footballer takes legal action over Twitter’s injunction breach”

Most people know – or should by now – that in the absence of any ‘privacy law’,  the judges have to balance the rights of privacy and freedom of speech in The European Convention, enshrined in our law by The Human Rights Act.

Some may well argue that the private sex lives of footballers and others is ‘private’.  Others argue that these celebrities make a great deal of money through sponsorship, they are role models and if their hobbies or extra-curricular activities are inconsistent with the image they ‘sell’, the press should report on such matters.  Others have argued that it should not just be left to the judges to balance these interests of privacy and freedom of speech.  A debate in parliament, they say, is to be held soon – not before time.  I have a feeling that whether you mock the ‘apparent right of tweeters to know everything’ or not, that injunctions may well not feature as a practical remedy in future.  The cat is out of the bag – and The Spycatcher affair of many years ago is a lesson that would be well worth learning.

Meanwhile… contempt proceedings may be considered by the Attorney-General if this report in The Mail on Sunday is accurateone assumes that it is.  Robert Verkaik writes: “TV star is first to face jail over tweets after England footballer claims they breach injunction: Judge reports top journalist to Attorney-General.”

The other saga of the week… among many… must be The Ken Clarke Affair.  I don’t propose to cover this again, but I would like to draw your attention to a very good, considered, piece by Suzanne Moore in The Guardian…

Like many women, I’ve been raped, but I still agree with Ken Clarke

Rape is not a party-political issue and I am disgusted that it has been treated that way this week

I’ll be back later with another ‘postcard’ if I have time later.

Best, as always

Charon

PS…. and I really enjoyed this…. Lord Neuberger – Superinjunctions and other orders from Obiter J 



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After a surreal week of dentals, serious meds and a birthday – and reeling from the Court of Twitter on Ken Clarke – I read with mounting astonishment some world class nonsense in The Telegraph which restored a degree of sanity to my fevered brow…

David Cameron’s uncle says voters want to be led by an aristocrat

The Telegraph: “David Cameron’s uncle Sir William Dugdale says the working classes prefer to be led by an aristocrat and the Prime Minister should not be ashamed of his background. While David Cameron has often gone to embarrassing lengths to show that he is prolier-than-thou, his uncle Sir William Dugdale has no such inhibitions…….”

Sir William Dugdale is reported as saying…

“You can’t just turn up to things in an open-necked shirt,” he says. “So many of the clubs in Oxford required you to wear white tie. You have to have a bath before you go to things and not just turn up in your bovver boots.”

If you thought that *British* lawyers could get up to weird things… this astonishing saga of a US lawyer suing some 74 leading US lawyer law bloggers (and one Canadian blogger) is incredible…

Here… Antonin Pribetic of The Trial Warrior blog,  takes up the latest episode of the saga…

This… is WORTH… a read… I shall return… later……

This comment is well worth extracting to the main  body of the post…

Colin Samuels

A minor clarification of a couple of points regarding the “Rakofskylypse”:

While the initial complaint named 74 defendants, these are not all legal bloggers. The “Rakofsky 74″ included two newspapers, together with their parent companies and three reporters, the American Bar Association and its website, and (I believe) at least a couple of folks who were commenters on others’ posts.

The original Rakofsky 74 are now joined, in a no-less-frivolous amended complaint, by another half-dozen-plus defendants, making for a grand total somewhere north of 80 (I’m too lazy to count it up right now).

In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I am one of these latter defendants. My employer is as well, though it’s plain to anyone visiting my site that they have no connection with my personal blogging (in 6+ years, I’ve only generally alluded to my position and have never mentioned my company by name). Rakofsky and his lawyer have drafted quite the scattershot complaint.

It’s great to see some interest from our legal brethren across the pond. I hope you’ll all stay tuned to enjoy the show as we return fire against this crapweasel in the very near future.

AND finally… all I have to say on the tweets on Twitter tonight about someone suing Twitter for something…

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