Archive for July 27th, 2011

It has been a while since I wrote a ‘Postcard’… so this evening, sitting at my post overlooking The Thames at Battersea, I thought a non-structured and, possibly random, review of law, oddities and musings would be appropriate as the silly season begins.

Keep marches away from the Ritz, says QC  (The Independent i newspaper)

“Left-wing” marches should be banned from taking place in parts of central London which contain upmarket buildings, a leading barrister has said.  John Beveridge QC was criticised after it emerged that he had written to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, demanding that such a ban should be introduced…… according to West End Extra, he said the marches attracted ‘ragtag’ protesters who “become violent and urinate all over the place.”

It seems that Mr Beveridge was happy for these ‘ragtags’ to go and urinate all over the place attacking Safeway and Costcutter  but observed…“There’s no fun for them in attacking Safeway or Costcutter, but they love beating up the Ritz” He is reported as adding.. “(I) couldn’t care less if such a ban infringed rights”

Given that Mr Beveridge is a trustee of the St James Conservation Trust, one is not entirely surprised by his rather trenchant views about ‘ragtags’. The St James Conservation Trust website reports that he is a retired QC.

But… it isn’t just the Bar side of our profession giving us a good name…. The Lawyer reports….

SJ Berwin was ‘wrong’ to ask summer student to do an all-nighter

SJ Berwin has admitted that the firm “got it wrong” when a summer vacation scheme student was asked to work until the early hours of the morning. A female student is understood to have worked until five in the morning after being asked to help another female colleague on a document for an international arbitration.

Worthy of Dr Erasmus Strangelove – the new Senior partner and CEO of Muttley Dastardly LLP

And… if you are a student… it is not all doom and gloom.  RollonFriday.com reports:  “Nabarro has come top of this week’s announcements of trainee retention figures, with 19 of its 20 trainees set to qualify with the firm in September. But other firms have not done so well. In fact Nabarro made offers to all 20, with one trainee choosing to escape under the barbed wire for pastures new. BLP is at the top of the list as well, also retaining all but one of its 20 trainees. A super result for the firm which just goes to show that giving your future joiners a good bollocking when they’re on the LPC can work wonders.”

Tonight, I shall be ‘prepping’ for our Without Prejudice podcast tomorrow evening.  Sadly, Carl Gardner is away in Holland, but David Allen Green will be at the table, together with our guest Joshua Rozenberg, a leading legal commentator and presenter of the BBC’s Law in Action series, and Amanda Bancroft, a former practising barrister and author of the Beneath The Wig blog.

We plan to look at the possible controversy about the appointment of Leveson LJ to head the #Hackgate Inquiry – given his recently disclosed links to the Murdochs, The Supreme Court ‘Star Wars’ judgment, Legal journalism and blogging, Clare’s law, Secret evidence, Press contempt of court, and, if we have time, the continuing saga of the Solicitors from hell website. I am looking forward to asking Joshua Rozenberg questions.  It may be a novel experience for him to be on the receiving end of questions?   Lucy Reed, barrister and author of The Pink Tape blog, has a thoughtful piece on Clare’s law in the Guardian this week: Why Clare’s Law won’t prevent domestic violence

Making law accessible to the public

Adam Wagner, I Crown Office Row and editor of the excellent UK Human Rights blog has a good piece in The Guardian this week: As legal aid reforms threaten access to lawyers, there are three relatively inexpensive ways to improve public access to law.  

On the theme of legal aid cuts, Professor Richard Moorhead points out: Lawyers are their own worst advocates

The government’s legal aid reforms will shortly become law, even though they are premised on a number of un- and half-truths.

We are not, for instance, a country gripped by a litigation culture, yet this is a problem that the Ministry of Justice is perpetually trying to solve. Litigants in person will cause the courts significant problems, even if the secretary of state is right that many will also give up on their cases rather than litigate them (apparently seeing this as a good thing).

It occured to me on twitter last night, as I marvelled at the usual stream of information and surreality with a glass of Montepulciano, that Michael Gove’s many reported meetings with News International (He used to work for NI, apparently) were almost certainly not about BSkyB, but were more likely to be about education.  This was confirmed by Gove this morning.  Given that it has been reported that UK Murdoch’s ‘loss making’ flagship newspapers,  The Times and Sunday Times, were subsidised by The News of The Screws (Now defunct) and The Sun, and the fact that education is VERY big business in the USA, Murdoch may well be thinking about getting into the soon to be ‘de-regulated’ UK education market.

Apollo, a large US company owns BPP University College (BPP Law School) and The Washington Post owns, inter alia, Kaplan – a keen entrant to the highly profitable GDL, LPC and BPTC market.   On that premise – it would make sense for News Corporation to muscle their way in to the education market in the UK generally.

During the CMS Select Committee hearings a week ago, sitting behind Murdoch, was a man who  sat impassively throughout.  “That man’s name is Joel Klein, the chancellor of New York city’s public schools, the same man who is now heading the internal News International investigation in the UK, he is Executive Vice President overseeing investments in digital learning companies with a News Corp education division and a $2 million salary.”

I am, obviously, not alone in having these thoughts and I draw your attention to an excellent piece of blogging by @Colmmu: Murdoch – The Last Frontier or The Next Frontier? where Jon Harman, director of The College of Law Multi-media division analyses the position in some detail. I intend to speak to Jon and follow up.

Given that there are doubts about News Corporation’s ‘ fitness and properness’ to even hold onto their current BSKYB holding, it may be that David “Two Brains” Willetts MP, Minister for Universities, will not be too keen to have any meetings with News Corporation on the matter of a Murdoch onslaught into education in the UK – at least for the present and medium term future?

Well… there we are… still a lot happening in the legal world….

Best, as ever


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