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Archive for August, 2011

I had hoped that today would mark a return to more serious matters.  It would appear, despite the global economageddon, that much of Britain appears to holiday on.  I have never had so many *Out of Office* email promises to ignore my emails when the recipient finally gets backs to work at some point this week.

So…. it was pleasing to hear, on Twitter,  of the #MouseGate (A mouse sighted near / or in the restaurant)  at Hallyrude… the seat of all things political for  Scots in their ‘Pairlament’  (see Postcard 2 below). Apparently one such ‘beastie’ was sighted.  I have no evidence whatsoever  to support this grave calumny, indiscretion and solecism on the part of the aforementioned mouse – save for a tweet which has long since disappeared into the diaspora of twitter irrelevance.

Meanwhile, it occurred to me that those who wish to find Col Gaddafi may do well to pop down to The Strand in London and see if he is hiding at The London School of Economics.  It must… surely.. be worth looking… on the basis of  past LSE *Form*  with ‘Brother Leader’?

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First a bit of genius… HT to @Johnthelutheran .. this is wonderful stuff from Dudley Moore: Dudley Moore plays Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.33, the “Colonel Bogey”.

A couple of new law blogs:  The Bungablog  on The Bribery Act 2010 by barrister James Vine …..and This Much I Know – Alison Graham-Welles, Barrister.

The Bribery Act 2010 is fairly complex.  This blog post from James Vine will give you an insight into the workings of the Act: Official. Government declares Bribery is NOT an Offence!

HT to @loveandgarbage for alerting me to a leaflet in ‘Scots’ to explain to ‘Scots’ speakers how Pairlament warks.  Real money was spent on this marvellous document.  My father… pronounced… ‘faethar’…. (Mother is pronounced… Mither) was frae Glasgae and amused himself when over refreshed by being a ‘Professional Scot’ and speaking ‘Scots’ … largely by making it up as he went along. His grasp of Scots history varied according to the amoont o whiskae he hod drank.  Here is the ‘Garrin the Scottish Pairlament wark for ye’ pdf.  Good stuff. I like ‘Scots’ – I shall have to brush up on it. Here is a video of The Scottish First Minister talking wistfully about ‘Scots’…

And.. if you thought that was a bit weird…. what about a grown man who dresses up as a Ninja and patrols the streets of Yeovil?  This video is worth a look.

But… not to be outdone when it comes to weird shit…. Presidential hopeful, Michell Bachmann, from The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in the States…. has pronounced that….Hurricane Irene was a punishment from God.

I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.

And.. from the same New Statesman article…”Evangelical preacher Pat Robertson, a former Republican presidential candidate, linked Hurricane Katrina to abortion or, in his words, “the wholesale slaughter of unborn children”

But…. we have our own home grown politicians who are more than capable of getting in on a bit of batshit crazy stuff.  Tory MP Nadine Dorries has got in on the action on the abortion debate, attracting the ire of the liberal establishment.  I don’t happen to agree with her views – which is my right and, of course, the right of those who do to follow her – but liberal and never misconceived lawyer David Allen Green did an analysis of the ‘Works of Nadine Dorries MP’ in The News Statesman earlier in the year which is worth reading if you want to see how some of our Tory *Beserkers* are influencing government policy.

In his own words…here is a tweet from @David Allen Green: Here is my November 2010 @NewStatesman expose of Nadine Dorries dishonesty and abuse in using her blog bit.ly/9RWaWF.

I suppose… this being a law blog… that I should get back to a bit of law.  Here we go…

G4S sacks pair who tagged offender’s false leg

BBC: “Private security firm G4S has sacked two members of staff who tagged a man’s false leg allowing him to remove it and break a court-imposed curfew. The pair were fooled by Christopher Lowcock, 29, who wrapped the prosthetic limb in a bandage when G4S set up the system at his Rochdale home. He was then able to remove the limb and break a curfew imposed for offences involving drugs, driving and a weapon.”

Magistrates have responded angrily to prison governors’ accusations they have indulged in a sentencing “feeding frenzy” after the riots in England.

BBC: Prison Governors Association president Eoin McLennan Murray said sentences had appealed to a populist mentality. But Magistrates Association chairman John Thornhill said sentencing had followed guidelines and he was “angry and concerned” by the comments.

Indeed yes…. There are going to be a fair few appeals..and a few ‘quiet words’ and ‘taps on the shoulder’ to those magistrates (in the main, professional, legally qualified, district judges?) who have overdone the sentencing egg?  We shall see.

And finally… and not surprisingly… a wonderful mocking piece from The New York Times on PM Camcorderdirect’s knee-jerking response in the wake of the riots to close down twitter and other social media…. a ludicrous idea which the government appears to have backed away from as I noted in my Postcard the other day.

A couple of quotes to whet your appetite.  The article is worth a read in full.

“…Iran, criticized by the West for restricting the Internet and curbing free speech, seemed to savor the moment and offered in the immediate aftermath of the riots to “send a human rights delegation to Britain to study human rights violations in the country,”

Some of the nations that have been criticized by the West for their own draconian crackdowns on inconvenient freedoms of speech have watched Britain’s recent struggles with barely disguised glee. In China, The Global Times, a government-controlled newspaper, praised Mr. Cameron’s comments, writing that “the open discussion of containment of the Internet in Britain has given rise to a new opportunity for the whole world.”

Good effort.  With a single leap, our hapless prime minister has put Britain into a “League of Rather Unsavoury Nations” when it comes to human rights and is building on the repressive ‘crackdown’ on civil liberties meted out by the last Labour government.

Well.. there we are.  Back to real life tomorrow and back to vaguely sensible commentary on the laws and ways of our sceptred isle.

Best, as always

Charon.

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Dear Reader,

It being the bank holiday weekend, a festival to mark the end of the British summer and a transition from torpor back to realities of work, I thought I would have a wander about the online law magazines , a few law blogs and the press to find out what is happening.  I don’t, of course, need to cover or comment on Libya.

Did you know, in office slang, that Adhocracy – is a department with little to no process or organisational ability? Perhaps you are unfortunate enough to work in an office with Agenda Benders – a co-worker who is easily side-tracked in meetings.? Perhaps you are prone to a bit of Cybernating – snoozing at your computer? Or… perhaps you suffer from Flashturbation – self-congratulatory and excessive use of animation in Powerpoint?

I came across a most amusing website where office slang terms have been collated. Well worth a look. – if you are to avoid attending a Goat Rodeo… an embarrassing meeting.

Oooops:  The Lawyer has been called out by RollonFriday: Excitement as The Lawyer magazine offers law firm “Kite Mark” (for £495)

RollonFriday reports…” The legal profession fell over itself in its hurry to get its chequebook out this week, after being offered the chance to purchase a “Kite Mark” from The Lawyer magazine. For a bargain £495 plus VAT. PR departments of law firms across the country received an email from the Lawyer magazine about its “eagerly awaited UK200 supplement”. And, it revealed, each firm which makes the list (and that’s 200 of ’em – the clue’s in the name) would be offered the chance to purchase a finely crafted Kite Mark which will, apparently, be “regarded as the industry stamp of approval”. So if they all sign up that’s, err, £99,000 for a little graphic.?

RollonFriday are now offering their own award (Pictured)

The BBC reports: Thousands ‘ripped off’ by unregulated will-writers: “Thousands of people are being ripped off by companies providing unregulated services such as will writing, claims the first Legal Ombudsman. In his first report, Chief Ombudsman for England and Wales Adam Sampson said the most complaints he saw concerned conveyancing, family law and wills. He called for action to be taken to ensure consumers were not left vulnerable by unregulated services.”

Meanwhile, over at The Law Society:  Chief Executive Des Hudson stoked the flames…“The gap in regulation which allows unregulated cowboys to operate in areas like will writing does not just cause unfair competition to solicitors, who provide a regulated, professional service.”

Interestingly, The Law Society Gazette is getting in on the action with this report about a wills fraudster: Will-writing fraudster jailed

I had the pleasure of lunching last Sunday with the White Rabbit.  He told me that he was hopping orf to t’cricket on the Monday.  Here is his report.

And a little bit of analysis from Babybarista to assist you with your client care: Keep the client in his place

And this little bit of No Sh*t Sherlockery from Sir Alan Beith MP, late of the Institute of the Bleedin’ Obvious…

Peter Glover writes in The Law Society Gazette: More litigants in person will threaten the county courts with additional delays

“The House of Commons’ justice committee, chaired by Sir Alan Beith MP, predicts an increasing number of litigants in person by reason of the government’s curtailment of legal aid. We are told courts must make ‘adjustments’ to cope with this influx ‘in what are often emotionally charged cases’.

Wisely, the parliamentarians offer no suggestions as to the nature of the adjustments. It is possible some of them are sufficiently well informed to recognise that, in the context of the county court, this is just wishful thinking. To a far greater extent – and for far longer – than any other judges, district judges in the county courts have been ‘adjusting’ the management and conduct of cases to accommodate litigants in person.

Nobody has more experience in dealing with them than we do and, if we are nearing the limits of our capacity and inventiveness, there is no hope that the county court can survive the withdrawal of publicly funded legal assistance without significant increases in delay for other court users. If you agree that justice delayed is often justice denied, the county court and its users face a bleak future….”

A good article and worth a read.  Peter Glover has been a district judge at Dartford County Court since 1995.

There are big problems ahead for access to justice with the present government’s policy on legal aid and closure of courts.  It was, however, good to See Deputy Prime Minister Clegg warning about weakening our Human Rights – a view not shared by some of the Beserkers  in the Tory party. Cynics say that Clegg can say these things safely, knowing that it will not be a coalition-buster if PM Camcorderdirect continues with his rants about the Human Rights Act and comes up with / makes a hash of his much vaunted British Bill of Rights.

Obiter J continues to analyse and reflect with this excellent post: (1) The August Disorder – more sentencing …. (2) A seriously disturbing family case

“Sentencing remarks by His Honour Judge Milmo QC for the case of R v Ahmed Pelle at the Crown Court Nottingham are now available.  Pelle pleaded guilty to incitement of violent disorder.  Amongst other things he put on Facebook the remark – “Kill one black youth; we’ll kill a million Fedz: riot until we own the cities.”  Judge Milmo’s remarks are a concise model of a sentencing announcement which meets the various legal requirements – please see earlier Law and Lawyers post “Recent Disorder: Bail and Sentencing.”  Allowing for his guilty plea, Pelle was sentenced to 2 years and 9 months imprisonment….”

And this from The Guardian is worth reading…

Naming young offenders should remain a rarity

The Guardian: Revealing identity of 16-year-old who admitted inciting rioting will achieve nothing but a short-lived burst of media exaltation

If you haven’t listened to my podcast on the riots and the law applied to riot cases with John Cooper QCthe podcast is here.  John does a very thorough job of analysing the law and his comments are well worth listening to.

I think that is enough for this edition… I may do another Postcard on Sunday.  I shall leave you with this good news…

Government backs away from plan to close social media sites during riots

The Independent: “Threats to close down Twitter and other social media during civil disturbances, raised in the heat of this month’s riots, have been abandoned. The subject was not even discussed during an hour-long meeting between senior ministers, the police, and representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry yesterday.

The Government has executed a rapid climbdown after being alerted to the pitfalls of a policy put forward “in the heat of the moment”. Whitehall sources privately admitted they were not now seeking any new powers to censor the internet….”

Have a good bank holiday weekend.  I shall be at my post…

best, as always

Charon

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The final bank holiday of the year until Christmas is upon us.  Next week I shall return to detailed commentary on the law, but for now a few items from ‘left field’.

First up… the news that Rocket Lawyer is coming to town to take advantage of the brave new world of law under the Legal Services Act.

To infinity and beyond: Google Law prepares for blast off

Louise Restell writes: “Several years ago, when I was campaigning to bring about the Legal Services Act, some bright spark at Which? suggested to me it wasn’t Tesco law that would bring about a revolution in legal services, but Google Law.  I wouldn’t say I dismissed his prediction out of hand, but at the time it was quite a big leap to see how you could buy legal services in Tesco, never mind from Google.  Well, last week this colleague’s prediction turned out to be right as the Google-backed Rocket Lawyer announced its intention to launch in the UK in 2012.  It’s a measure of how far we’ve come that the news caused merely a ripple, rather than the tsunami we would have surely had in the past.”

And if that doesn’t worry you, what about this?: A US law circus is coming to town…

Exclusive: “Biggest legal brand in US” eyes UK market entry in 2012

Legal Futures reveals: “Pioneering US legal services business LegalZoom is planning to launch in the UK next year, Legal Futures can reveal.

Co-founder Eddie Hartman, who is also president of attorney services, told Legal Futures that the company is “deep into the planning stages” of its UK entry, with the hope of bringing them to fruition in the next six to 12 months.

However, he emphasised that LegalZoom was taking its time to understand the UK’s legal culture. “We have to pay close attention to what the UK customer wants – we are still working out what that is,” he said.

I have no idea how these two initiatives will impact on the legal services market yet.  I am, however, doing a podcast with Professor Gary Slapper on Monday.  Gary Slapper has written a detailed text on the English Legal System, so we should be able to ‘shed some light’ on this in the podcast.   We should be thankful that Mr Hartman of Legal Zoom is going to be doing some ‘deep planning and thinking’ – a fairly useful thing to do when launching a new product?

Meanwhile Mr John Hemming MP is facing calls to resign over his antics using parliamentary privilege to break super-injunctions This article from the influential Inforrm blog makes it very clear that Mr Hemming’s conduct was unacceptable.

“This case seems a particularly clear example of the dangers of a politician – who knows only part of a story – second guessing a judge who has heard all the evidence.   An injunction which was designed to protect the interest of a child was repeatedly breached by the losing party in litigation, encouraged and assisted by a number of websites and by Mr Hemming’s abuse of parliamentary privilege.”

Adam Wagner and the UK Human Rights blog has this news: President of Family Division’s press release on paedophile allegations case

With thanks to the Judicial Press Office, below is the full press release from the President of the Family Division in a case involving a “super injunction”, John Hemming MP, false allegations of pedophilia and some poor press reporting.

I will blog about this once the full rulings are released, but in the meantime see Lucy Reed: Bared Teeth – Grrrrr! | Pink Tape; Inforrm; News: Hemming MP’s “super injunction victim” named as sex abuse fabricator « Inforrm’s Blog, and the Fighting Monsters blog: Hemming and Haigh – The Journey of an Injunction.

David Allen Green continues to investigate #hackgate: The Story of Hackgate, Part 1 – A blog post well worth your time.

And then, of course, we have our political masters not learning the lessons of history from King Canute.  King Canute, you will recall, to prove to his “followers” that he was not omnipotent,  demonstrated that he could not hold back the waves.  Following the riots, Prime Minister Camcorderdirect, currently enjoying his fifth holiday of the year in Cornwall, and Home Secretary Theresa May, appear to be under the delusion that they can hold back the waves of social media.

Facebook and Twitter to oppose calls for social media blocks during riots

The Guardian reports: “Facebook and Twitter are preparing to face down government ministers over calls to ban people from social networks or shut their websites down in times of civil unrest The major social networks are expected to offer no concessions when they meet the home secretary, Theresa May, at a Home Office summit on Thursday lunchtime….”

As I write, I do not know the outcome of the meeting with May. But I can tell you that the BBC is reporting that Deputy Prime Minister Clegg was pelted with blue paint.  I’m not a fan of pie throwing or paint chucking as a means of protest.  Mr Clegg had the right attitude in shrugging it off… “These things happen. It’s not a big deal.”

The GCSE results were out today and trending on twitter… A’s, B’s C’s.  The incorrect use of the apostrophe is endemic in this country – prompting me to observe (lightly)  this morning..

Update: Mary Wombat (@little_mavis)

I thought the same about the apostrophe & was discussing this with someone on Twitter today. Then I found this http://oxforddictionaries.com/page/punctuationapostrophe Right at the bottom. Apparently for single letters & numbers it is acceptable to use an apostrophe to indicate a plural

I was taught at school by a stickler for the apostrophe.  It would appear that I have erred!  I have always used the convention of simply adding an ‘s’ to indicate the plural. One learns every day!

A fascinating issue on university fees has escalated into law…

Does Scotland’s university fees system breach human rights laws?

The Guardian: If claims of discrimination against non-Scottish UK students are proved, Westminster may be forced to interfere in domestic matters devolved to Scotland

I am not a fan of the increase in fees to £9000 next year.  Iwasn’t a fan of the Labour government’s plan to charge fees at all.  My generation were fortunate.  We did not pay fees.  The government says we have run out of money.  Universities must stand on their on feet.  The future of our country in terms of workforce and wealth creators must now pay for their own education – borrowing the money but paying it back over a lifetime. I don’t know the answer to this problem, but I suspect, if we pulled back from entering unwise wars which we can’t actually win, we may have more money to invest in the future of our country and the high quality of education which we do provide at university level.  This, of course, may be far too naive and simplistic a view and is unlikely to find favour with our political masters.  I would like to see this case won.  I don’t see why an English or Welsh student who wishes to attend a university in Scotland should pay a higher fee than a Scots student or other student domiciled in Scotland pays – another view unlikely to find favour with  political masters. – in this case Scotland’s.

I’ll leave you to enjoy your bank holiday weekend with this from Professor Gary Slapper…

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Lawcast 193:  Sundeep Bhatia, Law Society Council member on diversity in the profession

Today I am talking to solicitor Sundeep Bhatia, a Law Society Council member and is a former Chair of the Society of Asian Lawyers. Sundeep is the proprietor of Beaumonde Law Practice in Middlesex and specialises in employment law.

Listen to the podcast

***

And…thank you to Cassons For CounselJustgodirect.co.uk and  David Phillips & Partners Solicitors and

Contact Law UK Solicitors for sponsoring the podcast and the free student materials on Insite Law.

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Druid leader King Arthur loses legal fight over Stonehenge remains

The Guardian reports: High court refuses judicial review of decision to remove 5,000-year-old ‘royal’ remains from Stonehenge for analysis

I had the pleasure, some years ago, of drinking with King Arthur.  There aren’t too  many lawyers or law bloggers who can claim that.  I also read his excellent book.  He has led an extraordinary life as a peaceful activist – and I very much enjoyed our various evenings together.  He drank cider.  I drank, as always, Rioja.

A trip back to 1974 – harmless banter or offensive prejudice?

Legal Bizzle writes in Legal Week – about a meeting with two senior lawyers and his discomfort at their mild racism and midget jokes. It is a good piece and worth a read.

Women in the Law…equality?

I had the pleasure of doing a podcast with Felicity Gerry last week on Women in The Law

Felicity Gerry tweeted me yesterday:

@Charonqc my concern that women crim barristers have 2 fight 4 big work borne out by equality assessment on CPS website. 72.2% of fees to men!..and in a follow up tweet referring me to a CPS document on the Advocate Panels application scheme:  Click on equality impact assessment. F.
You may also be interested in a podcast I did with Nichola Higgins, Chair of The Young Barristers Committee on the issue of the Advocate Panels Scheme. I am doing a second podcast with Nichola Higgins on this and other issue facing young barristers in early September. It would seem that some are more equal than others… still.
College of Law becomes first private sector body in UK to have degree awarding powers renewed…
In 2006 The College of Law became the first private-sector education institution in England and Wales to be granted degree awarding powers. It has now become the first private provider to have those powers renewed following a successful audit visit by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

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Back later in the day.. when I recover from the natural  nitrous oxide provided by our ‘political masters’…

Libya: Saif al-Islam and Mohammed Gaddafi, the dictator’s sons, escape capture

Telegraph: Saif al-Islam, Colonel Gaddafi’s heir apparent, emerged defiant at his father’s Tripoli compound hours after reports of his arrest by rebel forces.

As the old saying goes.. you could not make it up.  And… what was a prosecutor at the ICC doing CONFIRMING reports of Saif al-Islam’s arrest?

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