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Archive for September 16th, 2011

Friday and the weekend provides me with an opportunity to look at some of the more surreal or even bizarre events in the legal world as well as covering a few law blogs. It seems appropriate to start with the theme of “Piss ups in breweries”.

As ever, RollonFriday.com does the business with: Exclusive: Irwin Mitchell offers training contract by mistake

There are red faces all round at Irwin Mitchell, after at least one applicant for a training contract was offered a job by mistake  – and then had the offer retracted. The student was phoned up and told that he’d been lucky enough to secure a training contract. And he then got another call the next day (presumably while he was shaking off the celebratory hangover) from an embarrassed HR manager, who said that it was all down to an “admin error” and the offer would need to be retracted. Nice….

I marvel that a well known law firm can make elementary errors of this nature and recommend my own online text on the Law of Contract and a series of free lectures.  The topic of Offer and Acceptance may be a good place to start?  If, of course, the offer had not been accepted – then communication of withdrawal of offer rules would apply.   Or… by some arcane regulation are training contracts and law firms exempt from the the Law of Contract?  I’d be delighted to know what rules and regulations govern this situation if the common Law of Contract does not? I’m a bit hazy these days on the regulations governing training contracts.  Perhaps a reader could enlighten me?  [Law student readers starting university this year – or studying Contract – may find my free materials on Contract of some use?]

Rather more serious than a piss up in a brewery is Clause 12

Anger at Coalition’s plan to limit right to legal aid

The Independent: “The Government plans to remove the “fundamental right” to free legal advice for people held in police custody – 27 years after it was introduced to stop miscarriages of justice.

Coalition MPs have voted through one of the most controversial sections of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill which would restrict access to legal advice for criminal suspects. Clause 12 paves the way for secondary legislation to introduce means testing for legal advice for those held in a police station. It would also see the director of legal aid, a post which does not yet exist, decide which detainees deserve legal aid in the “interest of justice” without any right to appeal.

It is part of sweeping changes which aim to cut the legal aid bill by a fifth. Legal campaigners argue clause 12 encroaches on civil liberties and will tarnish the reputation of Britain’s justice system. The right to free legal advice was enshrined in the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act after a swathe of miscarriages of justice involving the fabrication of confessions and intimidation of suspects by police in the 70s and early 80s….

This is a very serious matter.  Many are surprised that Lib-Dem MPs nodded it through.  The right to legally aided advice at a police station on arrest was brought in to curb Police abuses of due process and ensure that persons arrested were given clear advice on their rights. The Criminal Bar Association plans to go above the heads of government, according to a tweet by John Cooper QC earlier today,  and publicise this shocking piece of law reform.  I plan to do a podcast with John Cooper QC on the topic early next week.  I rather suspect that many Police officers are not that enthusiastic about the prospect that some of their ‘customers’ won’t be legally represented at the police station and, no doubt, criminal defence lawyers will focus closely on any abuse of process at trial?

This excellent piece by CrimSolicitor is worth reading… September 15, 2011 New Just one reason why telephone advice is not good enough…

But.. let’s get back to “Piss Up in a Brewery” territory. 

Hacking: Met use Official Secrets Act to demand Guardian reveals sources

The Guardian: Unprecedented move sees Scotland Yard use the Official Secrets Act to demand the paper hands over information

This excellent piece by David Allen Green, writing on his Jack of Kent blog, is marvellous stuff… Today’s Met Statement “This is the Met statement just released regarding the production order they are seeking against the Guardian. The last two paragraphs are the stuff of parody…”

Again… RollonFriday.com provides a bit of light relief in this case from a US lawyer relieving his customers by over charging to the tune of $100,000… Greenberg Traurig partner gets six years hard labour for overbilling

After all this nonsense… a bit of sensible review from the law blogs and recent developments.

Obiter J, as ever, provides good analysis with his latest post: Legal Roundup – mid September

The Ministry of Justice reports: Kenneth Clarke: UK should be lawyer and adviser to the world

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has reaffirmed his commitment to promoting the UK’s legal services to a worldwide audience, during a speech to legal and business leaders in London.

‘Law as an industry has sometimes felt itself to be overlooked in its treatment by government – certainly relative to financial services. So I want to make it clear that for this Government, the City of London is a legal centre – not just a financial one.

‘The rule of law is one of our greatest exports but there is more that we can do to help UK legal services thrive.

‘I am prepared to wear out much shoe leather promoting the UK as lawyer and adviser to the world, particularly in areas where protectionist regulations remain an impediment.’

All very laudable – and great for the legal elite in the City – but it is somewhat ironic that we are exporting our “Rule of Law’ ideals to a grateful world while our own legal system is being run into the ground by a Tory led Coalition hell bent on cutting costs and cutting access to justice by degrading the ideals of Legal Aid.

Mind you… there aren’t many cuts to be had in the prison service.  Quite the opposite in fact, now that politicians have taken up the sport of interfering with an independent judiciary in the wake of the recent riots.  The Guardian reports: English city riots involved ‘hardcore’ of repeat offenders, first analysis shows

There is, however, some good news.  The UK Human Rights blog reports: Lord Justice Jackson: legal aid should remain for clinical negligence

Joshua Rozenberg, in The Guardian, notes: Ken Clarke is right – the European court of human rights needs reform

AND FINALLY… a bit of dark humour… from John Bolch over at Family LoreVenal & Grabbit, Solicitors launch new client satisfaction survey…

1. Did we deal with your matter promptly?

Yes, very promptly

2. Were our charges reasonable?

Yes – you should charge more

AND… good to see former practising solicitor John Bolch adding to his repertoire on his excellent Famly Law blog by doing commentaries on the profession in a new series “In Practice” –  In Practice: Latest developments in the profession

Have a good weekend.. back with a Postcard from The Staterooms tomorrow or Sunday.

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