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Archive for October, 2011

David Allen Green writes in The Lawyer: “Why should you bother with legal blogging?  Why not just stick with the trade journals, case reports, Westlaw updates, free promotional emails, and any legal news in the newspapers?  Why add to the burden of reading?  Surely there is enough legal information?…”

As always with DAG – a good read

 

I am delighted that The Lawyer and Legal Week are taking an interest in law blogging – bringing blogs to the attention of a wider (and professional) audience.

I have enjoyed doing a review of law blogs this week. Good to see so many blogs on law in an excellent state of health… long may it continue.

Part 1 and Part 2 | Part 3

I’ll be  having a look at law blogs each week in *Eyes Only* – but not at the same scale as this week’s ‘monsters’.

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The Law Society Gazette: Private equity buys into QualitySolicitors

“QualitySolicitors has agreed a funding deal which marks the first major investment by private equity in the high street legal market, the Gazette can reveal.

Pan-European private equity house Palamon Capital Partners has invested a ‘significant’ sum in QS. The agreement will see it gain a majority shareholding in the company, though it will not have a stake in the law firms which are franchise members….”

Read more…

Dr Erasmus Strangelove, senior partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP,  was much taken by the news today that private investors are buying into Quality Solicitors;  so much so – not one to miss an opportunity to add to the prosperity of The Partners – he will launch a new ‘Brand’ on Monday:  The SS – SeriousSolicitors.

And so… back to the world of the law blogs.

First up a new blog by Paul Bernal Lecturer in Information Technology, Intellectual Property and Media Law at the University of East Anglia: The Symbiotic Web blog – a blog specialising in privacy, autonomy human rights and the web. I am not anonymous.  I may be pseudonymous.. but Paul Bernal draws attention to important issues in his latest blog post – Privacy is personal…

With my surreal plan to tour the UK next year in a van and live in a tent, I won’t have too much need to consider the finer points of housing law – but for those who do, Nearly Legal – a specialist Housing Law blog – is a very useful resource: Turning up is usually the best idea.

Not housing law, but Landlord & Tenant law, long time blogger, solicitor Tessa Shepperton, provides insight into an issue which may well come to be a problem for many landlords as the financial gloom continues: How can I evict my non paying tenants?

OF LAW AND LIBERTY

“Every law is an infraction of liberty.”
Jeremy Bentham

It always struck me as ironic when I was teaching Jurisprudence some years ago that Jeremy Bentham – Exhibit A and stuffed in a glass case at University College London – English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer, enjoyed a sideline in prison design.

Wikipedia informs: “The Panopticon is a type of building designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late eighteenth century. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without them being able to tell whether or not they are being watched.”

And with that… a smooth segue to The Panopticon blog: A blog about Information Law, maintained by 11 KBW’s  Information Law Practice Group, led Timothy Pitt-Payne QC and Anya Proops.  I like the style of using a ‘ripping header’ to attract attention.  The Panopticon blog does just that with this post and admits to the ‘wheeze’ : THE IDENTITY OF JACK THE RIPPER

And since I am a segue kind of a guy…. over to Inforrm’s blog – a very useful port of call on media law  – where they consider this week: News: “Press Regulation” – the Lord Chief Justice steps into the debate and Judgment: Trafigura v Guardian News and Media

Former practising barrister Amanda Bancroft insists that she is not a law blogger.  Could have fooled me – because her Beneath The Wig blog does a pretty good job of dissecting some of the more troublesome legal issues.  I’ll provide an example to support my case: It’s not just ‘them’, it’s you and me too. I’m delighted that Amanda will be a regular on our Without Prejudice podcasts.

Continuing obliquely with the information theme, solicitor Michael Scutt has an employment law blog (Jobsworth)  – but he is also the founder of UK Blawg Roundup – a quarterly review of UK law blogs.

Nothing Like The Sun is a new law blog by Francis FitzGibbon QC of Doughty Street Chambers.  It is good to see more practising lawyers taking up law blogging.  This can only add to the richness and variety of FREE analytical material for lawyers and non-lawyers available on the web.   In the light of recent riots, I enjoyed reading his blog post: The Scarman Report – 30 Years On

Alex Aldridge, a journalist specialising in law and education, has his own blog and, pleasingly, has taken up podcasting – Round my kitchen table: Tesco law – stacking shelves by night, giving legal advice by day?
David Allen Green, a practising solicitor, blogger and a journalist who writes for The New Statesman and The Lawyer on a weekly basis is particularly analytical when it comes of dissecting troublesome legal issues.  An  amusing example of the genre from his Jack of Kent blog :Breaking the law alone in a room

INDEPENDENCE

A spirit, breathing the language of independence, is natural to Englishmen, few of whom are disposed to brook compulsion, or submit to the dictates of others, when not softened by reason, or tempered with kindness.
Joseph Lancaster

One of the advantages of law blogging is speed.  Bloggers can often get onto a topic more quickly than traditional media.  We can also provide an independent perspective, particularly bloggers writing in a private capacity.  We are not constrained by the dictates of a law firm’s ethos or a newspaper’s political inclination.

As to the quotation above – being a Scot, I do not regard ‘the language of independence’ as the sole prerogative of ‘The Englishman’: Nor, indeed, would Alec Salmond.

So with that said… time to look at a few blogs from the land where the Romans did not dare go… for long.

ALBA: Alba is the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland.

While the blue and white saltire is the first flag of Scotland  – “There is a second flag which is associated with Scotland, the “Rampant Lion”, or Royal Flag of Scotland. Although based on an older Scottish flag than the St. Andrew’s Cross, it should, strictly speaking, now only be used by the monarch in relation to her capacity as Queen in Scotland¹. However, it is widely used as a second national flag.”

I like both flags.. and, in fact, have a Saltire to hand at the Staterooms should I have the need to wave it at any ‘Englishmen‘  who get ‘above their station’ with me!

A few (more to come in future weekly editions of Eyes Only) blogs from Scotland…

SCOTS LAW NEWS is a very good starting point to be kept abreast of law issues and topical matters… from Edinburgh University.

Ian Hamilton QC  – ‘a drunk man looks at the thistle’ is always worth a read even if you know nothing about law…. Typical of the genre: LAZARUS COLLEGE OXON

And if you really want to get to grips with The Lockerbie case…and it may be a good idea for US Senators to do so… then you can’t do much better than this… blog by Robert Black QC FRSE who became Professor of Scots Law in the University of Edinburgh in 1981 having previously been in practice at the Scots Bar.

And from a previous Blawg Review I did.. these blogs from Scotland are also of interest…

Technollama has this warning! The Internet is dangerous

The Firm (Scots law magazine) focuses on topical issues and news.  For another useful resource on topical law matters: Absolvitor (Scots law magazine)

Jennie Law (by a self-styled “Library Monkey” from a law firm in Edinburgh) provides a sometimes acerbic view…

You! Yes, you! So you know a librarian? And you like stereotypes? And you want to buy them something for Christmas that fits in nicely to that stereotype?*

Well, let me help…

WardBlawgG has a look at law studies with: How to study law using mindmaps.

Scots Law Student (life and trials of learning law in Scotland) Life of a Scots Law Student (at Stirling)

Legaleaglemhm’s Blog Does what it says on the tin…. “Recording history as it happens – A paradigm shift in communications a new world of Law – help me to document it.”

Alan Tench Public Law and Devolution: The constitutional provisions of the Scotland bill

Legal History blog: Scottish Chief Justice of Jamaica (18th Century) and his Court Reports

Eric Clive’s European Private Law News: Response by Federation of Small Businesses on European contract law

Edinburgh Commercial Law blog: Elf and Safety? A Christmas Data Protection Thought

General updating on Scots Law: Casecheck

I mentioned Lallands Peat Worrier in Part 1 – but that does not mean I cannot mention his enjoyable blog again!

And.. if you need to know everything about SNOW and the correct pronunciation of SCONE… there is, frankly, not better place than LoveandGarbage.

BREAKING: Snow White fails to name all of dwarves

And.. on that high note… I shall end Part 3… which gives me a chance tomorrow morning to do Part 4…

Fear not if I have not mentioned your blog.  I am doing a weekly Eyes Only and I will, ineluctably, cover your blog in time.  If you think that i am not aware of your blog – please do not hesitate to contact me by email

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Part 1 and Part 2 of Eyes Only – What the law blogs are up to this week…

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“It would help if government ministers did not cheer when they agreed with a judicial decision or boo when they disagreed with it. That I think is damaging.”

Lord Judge, Lord Chief Justice
The Guardian 19th October 2012

It has always struck me as rather odd when  politicians, frequently Home Secretaries, say they are ‘disappointed’ with a judgment.   More of this later.

In the meantime… Dr Erasmus Strangelove, senior partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP, has written to me asking if he may express a few thoughts on this second part of my review of UK law blogs.  It would be most inelegant to refuse his request, particularly as the handwritten note was accompanied by a rather pleasing case of Rioja.  Unlike Mr Djanogly  (See Part 1 Eyes Only below), I make full disclosure on this blog….when I remember to.

STATEMENT FROM DR ERASMUS STRANGELOVE
SENIOR PARTNER MUTTLEY DASTARDLY LLP

1.  Following the tragic death of Matt Muttley  in July when he demonstrated to some high net worth clients how tough the glass was in his fifth floor office by crashing through it to his death, I take great pleasure in being able to address the law bloggers of the British Isles.

2.  The legal profession is going through a period of great change.  The high streets are soon to be overrun by  lawyers wearing McDonalds style branded uniforms seeking legal work.  People will marvel at how easy it is to sue their fellow man when they can nip into the Co-op, pick up their tins of beans at one end of the shop and find a lawyer by the checkout holding an iPad and asking “Would you like to try one of our wills?  Perhaps, a quick divorce would suit you, Sir? Fancy a bit of whiplash action… No Fee, No Win?”

3.  We at Muttley Dastardly LLP will continue to offer our bespoke service, blending the elegance expected of City lawyers with an opacity in relation to fees which many marvel at. There may well be many opportunities under the Legal Services Act that will appeal to many; especially those commentators, pundits, mavens and gurus who get off on ‘commoditisation of legal services’, ‘engaging on social media’ but secretly hoping that twitter followers will suffer some unfortunate tragedy requiring their services and the few who spend their nights dreaming of ‘procurecos and ABS opportunities’. We shall not be joining them

4. I am pleased to announce that I spent two months learning Mandarin so that I will be able to lead Muttley Dastardly LLP into partnership with our new best friends in China.  Frankly, the Yanks have become a bit of a liability with their whackjob Tea Party nonsense and Europe is rapidly turning into a basket case.  As we say in our Corporate division – ‘Beware of Greeks bearing IOUs’. All our new trainees are required to be fluent in Mandarin, or even better, actually be Mandarins. Our presence in China will give our friends in the Middle Kingdom an opportunity to blend their own cunning with ours to the advantage of both parties.

I propose a toast to our new opportunities in Cathay and to the health of our prosperous new clients out there… in Mandarin…  yĭn drink + shèng victory, success.. and for our other new best friends in Hong Kong… we haven’t forgotten you… in Cantonese 饮 胜
Dr Erasmus Strangelove
Senior Partner, Muttley Dastardly
London – Beijing

Strength & Profits

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I fear that it would be inelegant to include any law bloggers with Dr Erasmus Strangelove’s contribution lest they feel slighted – so I shall publish it as a stand alone contribution to the world of law blogging

Back on the morrow with Part 3 of EYES Only – What the law blogs are up to this week…

(See Part 1 Eyes Only below)

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I thought I would start with something for all the Apple fanbois out there. 

I am grateful to John Bolch at Family Lore for bringing this excellent nonsense to my attention.    Siri – where can I find a blow job

As this is supposed to be a review of law blogs in the UK and Ireland, it is probably a good idea for me to shoehorn some prefatory law into the blog post, if only to set the context.

Many of us have been entertained in recent weeks by the Tory shield munchers (or beserkers as I now refer to them) who rule over us.  Theresa  May’s #Catflapgate earned the derision of Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke who described her example of the Human Rights Act in operation – and she was not making it up – as ‘laughable and childlike’.  We have just seen GOD – or Gus O’Donnell as he is sometimes known, having to remind government ministers that there are rules about conflict of interest which have to be followed and the departure of Liam Fox.   A damoclean sword hangs over Chris Huhne as he awaits the result of an inquiry into his alleged  ‘speeding offence’ antics.

And just when I thought that the next stunt  our revered Prime Minister Camcorderdirect would pull out of the hat  would be raising Chris ‘Kill a Burglar’ Grayling from the political dead to amuse those of us in the stalls  …along comes Mr Djanogly, Minister of Justice responsible for failing to understand the rules:

Justice minister stripped of powers

The Guardian reports: Ken Clarke to take charge after Djanogly failed to declare family interest in claims management companies

Taxi for Mr Djanogly?: Not content with this… it now appears that Mr Djanogly has lost his memory.  The Guardian reported yesterday:  “Minister failed to register brother-in-law’s firm under his jurisdiction.  Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly criticised for not declaring relative’s company which supplied staff to industry he regulates…

So with this legal context in mind… I present a Hogarthian romp through the law blogs… 

HUMAN RIGHTS

The UK Human Rights blog notes:  Court of Appeal upholds 7 of 10 riot sentencing appeals, including Facebook cases – Obiter J

Obiter J, who has his own blog Law and Lawyers, states : “The Lord Chief Justice (LCJ) said that the courts had an overwhelming obligation to protect the public and sentencing could not ignore the context in which the offending occurred. Context can both mitigate and aggravate offending. The offenders dealt with in these appeals knew what they were doing – they were not children or mentally ill….”

Est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres?
Admiral Byng
was taken out and shot many years ago.  The Facebook Two had their sentences of four years upheld.

Matthew Taylor also considers the riots appeals: Riot sentencing – Appeal Judgement

Bystander JP of The Magistrates’s Blog writes about  sense of relief on the riot cases appeal: Decision From The Top

Carl Gardner over at Head of Legal is always a good read.  Without Prejudice special on my Arctic Break.  I had the pleasure of doing a podcast with him last week to hear about his trip to “Nowhere Island”.  Fascinating.  The podcast is worth a listen.

The UK Supreme Court blog is a good resource for all. A recent post asks –  Roger Masterman and Jo Murkens: What Kind of a Court is the UK Supreme Court?

It cannot be conceived as the ‘ultimate guardian of the constitution’, but it clearly discharges a range of constitutional functions which are in many ways approximate to those carried out by top courts elsewhere.

I’m  not a family lawyer – but Natasha Phillips is and her Researching Reform blog often ‘Questions it’ and provides insight into the rights and wrongs of our family justice system.

Conflict of Laws is a complex subject – a specialist subject.  There is, fortunately, a very comprehensive blog on the subject called, unsurprisingly, Conflict of Laws.net.  This week: United States Supreme Court to Again Consider the Alien Tort Statute

And… if you fancy an insight from Ireland – there is Cearta.ie – the irish for rights. This week, I enjoyed reading Philosophical questions about fascism and free speech

And from Scotland… Lallands Peat Worrier states: “Immanuel Kant should be banned…” Lallands Peat Worrier often hits the nail on the head and I am a regular reader –  often late at night with a glass of the vino rosso to hand and a woodbine in my mouth.

Perhaps not human rights law… in fact… not a lot of law… but The White Rabbit is a very good read…..  This week: spooky huh? will give you a good flavour of the insights from the White Rabbit – and his invention Hiram J Whackjob may give you nightmares.

A spot of Family Law…human rights….

Lucy Reed at Pink Tape considers a problem which can only get worse: Courts Hit By Disillusioned Litigants?
John Bolch, whose Family Lore blog is more often than not practical and serious, does find time to hunt down the more surreal posts.  Not being a family lawyer, the surreal posts are the ones I read.  I enjoyed this: The website for Divorced Women who got EVEN!
The more serious analysis from John Bolch : A few more thoughts on litigants in person “As litigants in person seems to be the subject of the moment, I thought I would return briefly to S v AG, the case I reported yesterday, to point out a couple of things mentioned by Mr Justice Mostyn, typical of cases where parties are not professionally represented.”

THE WORLD OF LEGAL PRACTICE (1)

Tom Kilroy, a GC – General Counsel or, as they used to be known – in-house lawyer,  writes: It’s criminal on the 07:43 from Woking.  Tom Kilroy writes “To operate effectively as a lawyer, you need to be unimpeachable when it comes to keeping secrets.”

It is not a good idea, therefore, for lawyers to work on confidential matters on a train where others can see.  You never know.  You could be sitting next to me – and I can read  papers even if they are  upside down.

Tom states: If you think that a secret is something you tell one person at a time, you’re in the wrong job. If you’ve got work life problems, resolve them. If you’re on the train working on my file on your laptop, you’re a criminal and you’re fired.

He’s right!

And how hip is this? : Barristers instructed online through groundbreaking motoring offence website

Neil Rose’s blog Legal Futures is a ‘go to’  blog for the latest on developments in our legal system – or, more specifically, for news and analysis of developments in legal practice and the opportunities under the Legal Services Act.

No review of law blogs involving legal practice could be comprehensive without referring to the world of Babybarista who, this week, writes of Truths and half-truths

or… for that matter…. Anonymous Assistant: The Attractiveness Scale

Or Venal & Grabbit: Refer-A-Friend

Now.. back to the serious stuff from Clerkingwell.co.uk : The Legal Services Act – what now for Chambers ?

@legalbizzle on his blog writes:The Angry Pencil: a pathology of customer complaints

“There are people who can’t let a bandwagon go unjumped on. I imagine them sitting in front of the TV, laptop and printer at the ready, waiting for the merest hint of a legal loophole or compensation-worthy scandal to be broadcast.”

Indeed.

I am unburdened by the responsibilities of a big salary or, for that matter, BIG Law… but Tim Bratton, GC of the FT, considers:  Big Law Salaries – can we have a pep talk?

Professor Richard Moorhead from Cardiff University covers a wide range of matters on his blog Lawyer Watch.  In this section : Millionaire Lawyers: Are they worth it? is worth a look!

ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE

#twitteratigate dominated a small section of my twitter timeline recently. Brian Inkster at The Time Blawg had the edge : The Lawyer excludes Scotland and top Twegals from UK Legal Twitter list! #Twitteratigate2. 15-Love to Brian Inkster methinks.

But.. back to the nitty gritty world of real law.

The keys rattled and the big blue door swung open as @crimsolicitor was let into the custody block for what was the fifth time that day.   The smell always caught him as he came round the corner.  Every custody block has its own special blend of a very familiar smell; unwashed people, smelly shoes, microwave curries and the cheap air freshener they use to hide all the smells.

Crimsolicitor writes: The Abandonment and Abduction of Hansel & Gretel – Part 2

AND… if you wish to be kept up to date with daily legal news – The Inner Temple Current Awareness blog is the place to go – very comprehensive.

Professor John Flood at RATs gave this salutory warning in: Lawyers on Tap or Lawyers’ Water Torture

It is a truth seldom told to students, but the legal profession is facing its most profound changes. As the recent UCL debate on legal education showed, legal academics are frightened by the future. So much so, they refuse to acknowledge it. Life will continue the same.

It won’t.

Although October 6 was meant to be Legal Big Bang it turned out to be Unheard Whimper. This is frequently allied to the steady drip. All so subtle, it is virtually unnoticed.

Read more…

The BPP Legal Awareness blog picked up on the same conference: #UCLLawDebate: Do lawyers need to be scholars? Panel discussion on 11 October 2011

On the subject of education..

Pupillage advice is at hand from Justin Time at the Pupillage blog: A question of pupillage – a cautionary tale  and from Simon Myerson QC at Pupillage and How To Get It – an essential read for prospective barristers.

Professor Richard Moorehead on Lawyer Watch often has comment and analysis on legal education.

I find that one can never have too much education.. and when it comes to bribery – Barrister James Vine’s TheBungBlog is a fine resource! : THE BRIBERY ACT. RICHARD ALDERMAN GOES WEST

THE WORLD OF LEGAL PRACTICE (2)

Ms TS provides an insight into the world of the trainee solicitor: A bit of a rant: how not to be a good trainee

“Now, the new trainees have only been in the office for 6 weeks. so I wasn’t expecting miracles. I handed over the easier bits that needed doing – a bit of client research, article ideas – the type of marketing that trainees usually get involved with. Unfortunately I didn’t get the quality level I was expecting….”

WardblawgG considers the vexed question: Ranking Law Firms on Twitter by Klout: When will it end?

I’ll pop back tomorrow and have a look at some more blogs.  I’m not the only one having a look at UK law blogs.  Vic Moffat did a very comprehensive review at the end of September: UK Blawg Roundup #8 – Change! and David Allen Green plans to do a review of blogs each Friday in The Lawyer

The good news is that law blogging in the UK seems to be alive and kicking….

Back on the morrow with more.

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Is law blogging an art?  No, I don’t think so. Most of the law bloggers I read – seem to blog for pleasure and they do it well… with many varied styles.

Even if I had a dog… I would not take it to Crufts.  The pleasure in the dog is the dog. The pleasure in the blog is the blog?  I am not a judge… so I shall not judge.  There will be no ‘doyening’… there will be no ranking… no metrics…there will be no critique from me… nor faint or other praise – just interesting blog posts I have found each week.  You  will decide if you think a blog is worth looking at.  I shall just do my best to hunt down some interesting law  blogs each week and there is NO need to send me a blog post for inclusion.

I shall resist to my last breath – I am still winning the daily tennis match with The Grim Reaper thus far – any attempt to categorise, classify or even metrically assess  law blogging.

Be you ever so high…. law blogging is above you… as a famous judge once did not say… I shall do this every Thursday and see how it goes…

 

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Update to the “Van Rouge” UK Tour.

Just a quick post to update on my plan to tour the UK in a ‘van’ and talk law.

Concept:  To tour the UK and Northern Ireland in a van – well, an old landrover or other off road vehicle  and live in a tent –  and talk to lawyers and non-lawyers, including politicians, about our legal system.  I will also visit a number of law schools en route and talk to the academics and the students.

I plan to do detailed audio podcasts with the lawyers and short televised  vox pops with non-lawyers to hear their views. I also plan to write regular bulletins each week to  provide structure and context for the podcasts and consider a number of legal themes.  I will, also, write from ‘left field’ about my experiences on the road – the countryside, the caffs, and anything else which takes my fancy at the time.  Photographs, film clips and maybe even the odd water colour or acrylics painting will provide a bit of graphical interest.

Planning continues – but it is beginning to develop into a ‘Legal Domesday Book’!

Timing:  January – October 2012

To do this properly, I estimate that it will take at least nine months, possibly more, if I am to cover the country from Land’s End to John O’Groats and nip over to Ireland.

Why a ‘van’?:  This one is easy to answer.  I’ve spent far too many nights in hotels in my younger life and I thought by adding an element of ‘Road Trip’ it would be more amusing to live in a tent. I am becoming an expert in winter camping and campsites.  To train for this, I may pitch a tent in my spare bedroom, turn the heating off and open the windows wide!

Sponsorship:  While I can afford through work I can do on the road to cover many of the costs, I won’t be able to do other work in London or other points close, so I am approaching sponsors.  Thus far, I have been delighted by the response of some ‘serious players’ in the legal world (and corporates) who want to be involved. Obviously, a fairly ambitious plan of this nature can only become a reality if I can cover all the costs.


Interested in taking part as a podcastee?:  If you are interested in taking part by being interviewed for a podcast – please let me know. Please contact me by email AND mark your email Van Rouge Tour in the subject line to ensure I keep track of all emails.

 

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UPDATE

I am delighted to report that @BrianInkster of Scots law firm Inksters has offered by way of sponsorship  to ship me from Aberdeen to The Shetland Islands  (and back!)  – a kind offer which I have ‘jumped at!’.  Brian tells me that there are many interesting people to interview – including a man from Bromley who has set up an independent Crown dependency on Forvik!

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