Archive for December, 2011

AND… if you fancy a wine with your “Square Fried Eggs aux Charon”... Here is my “Drinking Forecast” from Dogging Bank…. which I recorded some time ago… while mildly over refreshed…




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Impaired life annuities and pension sharing in divorce
BY Stephens Scown LLP’s family solicitors in Exeter, Truro and St Austell –  who are ranked as the best in Devon and Cornwall by independent legal guides Chambers and Legal 500, look at impaired life annuities and pension sharing in divorce.

For most people divorce is bad enough without the added complications of ill health. If however both these events coincide it is vital for detailed legal and financial advice to be taken in relation to pensions.

In divorce settlements the basic approach that pensions acquired during the marriage are likely to be equally divisible by pension sharing between the couple – i.e. the general objective will be to share the pension income equally between the couple. What if, however, one of the couple has a long term serious medical condition such as type 1 Diabetes? In that situation, subject to medical evidence, that person would be likely to be able to purchase a higher pension/annuity for the same cash, than their healthy spouse. This is often called an “impaired life annuity”, or an “enhanced annuity”.

If the legal advisers are not alive to this issue within a divorce the healthy spouse could find themselves considerably worse off in income terms than their spouse with a health issue if the pension fund value itself is divided equally.

Impaired life annuities within divorce settlements can present a partial solution to the common problem of there being not enough pension to go round by maximising the pension income for the less healthy spouse whilst allowing an increased fund for the healthy spouse.

Pension sharing is a complex area in which the best quality advice must be sought. We work closely with pension actuaries and IFAs to ensure that the best possible solutions are fully explored for our clients.

Liz Allen is a partner and divorce solicitor in Exeter, specialising in financial and business divorce settlements.  She is regularly identified as a leader in her area of law by independent guides to the legal profession, the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners, as well as being named on the 2010 Citywealth Leaders List, an international guide to the most highly regarded figures in private wealth management.


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The French Flag – a study in White (2011)
Acrylics on Board

In the wake of the truly absurd Frenchie comments about our absurd economy and government… I was inspired to do a study of the Frenchie flag.  It is, I have to admit, the fastest painting I have ever done in acrylics – 42 seconds.  Sorted!

Another addition to my series on F*ckArt and here are some more recent ones

As it happens… I am a fan of the French…always enjoy visiting France… but their politicos are just as dull as ours.

BUT… I did manage to shoehorn in a thought this morning…at dawn… and it was this…

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Accuracy is not an aspiration for journalists and law bloggers.  It is a requirement when reporting or commenting on serious issues.

It was surprising, therefore, to read Alex Aldridge’s post in Legal Cheek  where he again singled out Ashley Connick for scrutiny in a post about training contracts…

Aldridge writes: “To date, the only example I know of a student landing a job through their blog is Ashley Connick, a GDL student who, after failing in previous application rounds, built a re-vamped CV around his online writing activities – and netted a TC at a magic circle law firm. Surely, though, at a time when law firms are anxious to improve their engagement with blogging and tweeting – and bring in recruits with expertise in this area – there’ll be more Connick-style successes in the future.”

Quite apart from the fact that is unlikely a magic circle firm would offer a training contract on the basis of blogging or tweeting, Alex Aldridge appears to have got his facts wrong – and despite requests from several tweeters, including me, he has not adjusted his blog post in the light of Ashley Connick’s robust denial of this on his own blog: Getting a Training Contract by Blogging: Mission Impossible.

Ashley Connick makes the point forcibly: “And as for the journalist in question: stop writing this nonsense. You have been told countless times by numerous people, and I am telling you again. Your words are false. Your ‘spin’ is incorrect. You clearly do not understand trainee recruitment. I am flattered that you think that my blog is worthy of a training contract, but you are the only one who believes this to be the case. I am not even the best exponent of this particular medium. When you write ridiculous paragraphs like this one (the one I quote above)…”

Alex Aldridge is a journalist.  He writes for The Guardian and others.  A recent piece confirms this ‘status’: Barrister fees spiral ever up as the economy trundles ever down.

I covered the initial singling out of Ashley Connick in September with a blog post:  Postcard from The Staterooms: #Aldridgegate edition….Have you been *Aldridged*? and some other b*ll*cks and was fairly critical of Aldridge’s beheaviour.  I even found a suitable quotation:

Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.

“Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot” by Alexander Pope (1688–1744)

My question, this time, is straightforward – and addressed to Alex Aldridge – points put to Aldridge in a tweet yesterday, to which I have not had a reply:  Are you contesting the accuracy of Ashley Connick’s recollection of his discussions with you and his robust denial?  A second question: If not, then would it not be fair to adjust your post to reflect Connick’s denial?

It is, of course, unlikely that Ashley Connick will follow up with a “Chilling letter from Schillings”

And.. on the subject of accuracy – The Lord Chief Justice has told us that we may tweet away to our hearts content in court.  Well… not quite.  Journalists are allowed to tweet – but others must ask permission of the judge, an application which may be made through the court staff.

The Lord Chief Justice states in his guidance : “It is presumed that a representative of the media or a legal commentator using live, text-based communications from court does not pose a danger of interference to the proper administration of justice in the individual case. This is because the most obvious purpose of permitting the use of live, text-based communications would be to enable the media to produce fair and accurate reports of the proceedings. As such, a representative of the media or a legal commentator who wishes to use live, text-based communications from court may do so without making an application to the court.”

‘Legal commentators’ are included. Would this cover experienced lawbloggers – many of whom are practising lawyers?  On a reasonable construction this would seem to be the case.  The rationale behind the Lord Chief Justice ‘guidance’ is sensible as Joshua Rozenberg pointed out in The Guardian today – that journalists and legal commentators are more likely to know the rules for contempt of court and get their tweeting right.

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O Come All Ye Lawyers
Joyful and litigious
O come ye, O come ye to Chancery Lane
Come and behold Him,
Born the Best of Clients;
O come, let us bill Him,
O come, let us bill Him,
O come, let us bill Him,
Profits are the Lord.

And on that note… a Christmas box of blogging and other delights before I lose the plot and comment on some law…

First up – a wonderful Christmas Contract from The Bizzle.  A work of great precision… well worth a read!

And to get us all into the correct mindset for the Christmas festivities to come – this analysis from Gerard McDermott QC : A perfect storm brews at the bar

McDermott begins his rather gloomy Christmas story with this introduction…

I am writing this on a Sunday morning in my flat in The Temple. The Temple is a great place at weekend – quiet and serene, a lovely place to be. But the bar is far from quiet and serene. Many are fearful of whether they have a secure future and whether they will be able to afford to live, particularly if they work in areas such as Crime or those in the area of Family Law which are publicly funded.

….and ends with: “Both for ourselves and for the barristers of the future it’s up to us all to do all that we can to make sure the  future is weatherproofed”

And this initiative from Eversheds is, undoubtedly, a sign of things to come in these deficit cutting austere days: Eversheds to offer condensed LPC and training contract. The Lawyer reports: “For the unique scheme to run the SRA has had to waive two key policies for the first time. It will allow ­Eversheds to run a training contract in conjunction with part-time study over two years instead of the normal three and will also let trainees undertake the Professional Skills Course before full completion of the LPC.”

It will be interesting to see (a) how this impacts on the profits of the law schools and the firm and (b) the quality of legal education and training provided.  If it does the business, as far as the law firm is concerned – assuming that the firm will impose their usual quality standards – this could well be a part of the future of legal education. Will other big law firms follow suit? It makes sense to combine study with practice.  The accountancy firms have been doing this for years.

I rather liked this pic put up on twitter by a fellow tweeter.  I regret, now, I cannot remember which tweeter. Mea culpa. A christmas present for the toper on the go.

I suspect that many are Europed out after the extensive coverage in recent days following prime minister Camcorderdirect’s fateful trip to park us on ‘the hard shoulder’ of the European motorway last Friday.  But this analysis from Obiter J is well worth a read. Europe: a interesting question.

I Crown Office Row in their UK Human Rights blog considers: Strasbourg’s ruling on hearsay evidence could change its relationship with UK – Joshua Rozenberg

And finally.. for the first of these Christmas Law boxes – a good friend of mine told me on twitter that she thought of me when she saw this wonderful Peter Cook film.  I take it as a compliment.  Watch the short film

AND.. for a good review of blogs by David Allen Green in The Lawyer here it is…

And… if you would like to win a signed copy of Babybarista’s two novels… get cracking on his competition. I have read both – most enjoyable!


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I shall return to blogging on the morrow … but with more emphasis on the absurd, egomaniac, self aggrandising   and surreal aspects of law during the festive season… I am on an extended Christmas break – I haven’t had a holiday for just over five years… time to amuse myself… and if it amuses readers of the blog… that will be fine by me.  I am also Painting some new F*ckArt.

Enjoy your Christmas break..


PS… the Rule of Law schtikery  in my header and tweet… I believe it to be a fair representation of what statute law is about.  After all.. we live in an imperfect democracy and are governed, ineluctably, by imperfectly formed minds… that is not to suggest that all the perfect minds are to be found punting, bloviating, self aggrandising  or judging on Dragons’ Den, Strictly Come Drinking.. or even in our  (‘Best in The World’ –  Copyright D Cameron 2011)  revered Parliament –  or smug blogs.  I would venture to suggest… at the risk of immediate public opprobium and excommunication from the world of law blogging (not that it would trouble me) that this is far from the case 🙂

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