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Archive for February, 2012

I lay in t’pit watching Leveson yesterday and marvelled as “Sue Akers, the deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, told the Leveson inquiry into press standards there had been “multiple payments” by the Sun to public officials of thousands of pounds….”

The Guardian has the story.  David Allen Green asked if Tom Watson MP had gone too far some months ago by using the ‘Mafia’ metaphor in relation to News International when he questioned James Murdoch.

 

The Yanks are none too impressed either, it would seem: New York Times — A Fresh Blot on Murdoch’s Sun

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Local Law Society Journals

 

 


Derby & District Law Society Journal
Norfolk Law Society Journal
Herts Law Society Journal

Worcestershire Law Society The Pears

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Keep buggering on……

Law Review  will be out  on Monday… writing it now…. been indisposed for a while… after meds.

Been seeing a man about a dog this week…..not literally… but back to blogging now…

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Welcome to Without Prejudice.  On the panel tonight are regulars, Carl Gardner and David Allen Green and our guests Cat Griffiths, Editor of The Lawyer and Nichola Higgins, a practising barrister and former Chair of The Young Barristers Committee.

We have five main topics for discussion –

ABS and disruptives
Oaths in court
Judicial Advocacy assessment
Sun arrests
Francis FitzGibbon QC statement to Leveson and the value of legal blogging

Listen to the podcast

Useful reading:

Francis FitzGibbon QC : Witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry on blogging and ethics

The Guardian: Lord Justice Moses and the 161 criteria

“Judges know the new ratings scheme for advocates is misconceived and over-elaborate. But they don’t want anyone else doing it.”

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In association with The Lawyer

I’d like to thank Lawtel, WestlawCassons For Counsel, City University Law School David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Inksters SolicitorsIken, LBC Wise Counsel, Carrs Solicitors,  JMW Solicitors – Manchester, Pannone and Cellmark for sponsoring the podcast  – and the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.

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Law Review (#1): 2 / 16th February 2012

“The House of Commons starts its proceedings with a prayer. The chaplain looks at the assembled members with their varied intelligence and then prays for the country.”
Lord Denning

WEEKLY LAW REVIEW PART II

With ‘militant secularism’ in the news (whatever ‘militant secularism’ means), unelected  Bishops being difficult in the Lords, rebellion from some Christians to the idea of women bishops (ironic, given that The Queen is head of The Church of England and Defender of The Faith) and judges declaring prayers at Council meetings unlawful –  an atheist may wonder, possibly even marvel, that religion plays, still, so important a role in the governance of our country; be it explicit, ritualistic, atavistic or subtle.

Add to this the many other gods supported by the peoples of our country and the complications, conflicts  and prejudices inherent in balancing the many faith agendas and interests;  we have a cauldron of chaos ahead, arguably, if we do not separate religions from State, from governance and The Rule of Law?

I simply pose the question, while still thinking about the answer… and on that note…. to Part II of my weekly law review this week.  [Part I is here and below]

Obiter J considers: Prayers at Council meetings …

RollonFriday.com and Legal Cheek picked up on the ‘spit roasting’ attitudes  of a Shearman trainee whose email went viral. 

RollonFriday reports:

A trainee at Shearman & Sterling is cringing under his desk after an email he sent from his work address ended up in the Sun, the Mirror, the Daily Mail and the Telegraph. Ouch.

The trainee’s email described his plans for a forthcoming rugby tour. Which included chanting about how rich he is and photographing “spit-roasts”. He sent the email to a friend at another law firm and, predictably, it then winged its way around the City. It reached RollOnFriday by Wednesday, and by Thursday morning the story was all over the national newspapers.

Legal Cheek considered the matter in their weekly podcast – and Alex Aldridge, irritated no doubt by me calling him out for his shoddy treatment of law student Ashley Connick [Accuracy is not an aspiration for journalists and law bloggers. It is a requirement when reporting or commenting on serious issues.], took the opportunity to practice his proto-germanic linguistic skills to describe me.

I am untroubled by Aldridge’s view of me. I am a firm believer in free speech and….  after all,  a contributor  to The Grauniad  (Aldridge no longer describes himself as a Guardian ‘columnist’ on his twitter bio after The Guardian asked him not to)  has to establish a reputation for ‘cred’ somehow.

And… so to…

Lawyer and journalist David Allen Green, on his Jack of Kent blog,  picks up on the current mood with an interesting post: Thoughts on the present discontents.

Every so often the balance of power within a polity changes.

In the United Kingdom the ultimate power supposedly lies with the Crown-in-Parliament.

But in history, the strongest power has shifted: at times it has been the established church, or the landed gentry, or the trade unions.

More recently it has been the popular media.

A good read and very topical.

The UK Human Rights blog from 1 Crown Office Row has, rightly, established a ‘must read status’ for all interested in human rights. A post which caught my eye – Sound of tumbleweed greets secret civil trials proposals – by Adam Wagner,  considers the Justice and Security Green Paper consultation  which proposes introducing “Closed Material procedures” – secret trials – into civil courts.  Another good read.

And let’s go for a hat trick of good reads (not that the blog posts which I refer to below are not good reads… they are… but Carl Gardner, on his Head of Legal blog, writes: Supreme Court judgment: Sugar v BBC

The Supreme Court has today given judgment in this case, about the extent to which the Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to information the BBC holds for journalistic purposes….

A bit of  light relief…The White Rabbit gets into the St Valentine mood….

ANDso does John Bolch at Family Lore……with a card  from Venal & Grabbit, Solicitors

Meanwhile…. Francis FitzGibbon QC considers Professor Dawkins’s Jury Delusion

Having seen off God, Professor Dawkins turns his attention to another object of veneration, the jury, in the The New Statesman. He thinks that the requirement, as he sees it, of proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ for guilty verdicts, is at odds with what juries actually do when deliberating. The high standard of proof should leave no room for discussion, or for the forceful intervention of unusually persuasive jury members. Cases should speak for themselves…..

Professor John Flood says in a post – The Way of the World….  “I want to take several disconnected events to show that the legal services world is really undergoing volcanic eruptions.”

The changing legal landscape is fascinating.  “ABS and disruptives” are on the agenda for the Without Prejudice podcast tonight. Cat Griffiths, Editor of The Lawyer, will be shedding some light on this.

Matt Wardman, writing on the always readable Anna Raccoon blogCapitalism is Fixing It. Slowly.– says ”

“We’re in the middle of a small orgy of kneejerk (or jerk-kneeing, if you prefer) bashing of bankers with self-inflated banker-bonkers, and not a few people trying to keep the ball rolling because it is convenient for their politics. But it seems to me that some of the basic indicators on the Economy are beginning to return from extreme values to something a little closer to ‘normal’. I’m not saying it’s all fixed, but the Gordonion Knot starting to loosen itself?”

Continuing with the economy theme… City Unslicker has an interesting post: UK Inflation – A stopped clock is right twice a day

“Now for years, the Bank of England has been telling us that we are in a deflationary period where we need low interest rates and ultra easy monetary policy. This has been the case since at least 2008 – so getting on for four full years now….”

Alpha Male Lawyer

AND.. if you want to be an Alpha Lawyer.. eventually.. Legal Aware has some advice: The training contract interview itself

Or.. perhaps an Alpha barrister? The Pupillage blog also has advice: The Roll of the Pupillage Dice

Or.. perhaps you fancy making an FOI request via twitter  to The Supreme Court?  The UK Supreme Court blog has this review: FOI requests via Twitter – a Supreme problem

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PODCAST WITH A PRACTITIONER

I am starting my ‘Podcast With A Practitioner’ series as part of the weekly review next week to see what lawyers at the coal face think of the legal landscape.  As Prime Minister Camcorderdirect has got into ‘binge drinking’ for  his latest ‘Big Society’ intervention in our lives… I thought it was appropriate to dredge up my “DRINKING FORECAST” from 2010…. complete with Sailing By and North Utsire…

Listen to the podcast if you wish to

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The maxim res ipsa loquitur comes to mind here – so in this section I simply draw attention to a few interesting articles from the mainstream legal  press  I enjoyed reading  – without comment.

The Guardian: How secret renditions shed light on MI6’s licence to kill and torture

The Guardian: Lord Justice Moses and the 161 criteria

The Guardian: Why is Abu Qatada not on trial?

The Guardian:  Where are the judges fit for the internet age?

The Guardian: Human rights abuses could be covered up under new justice bill proposals

Legal Week: All aboard – war stories from the select band of GCs to have taken exec roles

Legal Week: Law firms and investors – a match made in heaven or a hasty marriage?

The Lawyer: Brand new bromantics – Two big beasts, a whole bunch of questions. When The Lawyer broke the story of Tony Angel joining DLA Piper last year, one question everyone asked was how he would get on with Nigel Knowles.

The Law Society Gazette: Survey: in-house woe for magic circle

The Law Society Gazette: Lawyers and Leveson – how are they doing?

The Times (£): The case for and against judging advocates

The Times (£): Why there is no whiplash epidemic

The Telegraph: Autistic woman banned from having sex in latest Court of Protection case

The Independent: Pub landlords face jail in new Sky crackdown on TV football

Taxation and Finance articles and news provided by Cassons for Counsel

AND finally…
The weekly review will develop and in weeks to come will include news on the latest law books, comment on important cases and a section on the human condition.  But… I have to see a man about a dog and prepare for the Without Prejudice podcast tonight – so that’s it for this week.
BUT… really finally… I cannot resist this from The Independent..

MP faces charges over Nazi stag night

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Law Review (#1): 1 / 14th February 2012

“I sent the club a wire stating, PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION.  I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT ME AS A MEMBER.
Groucho Marx

In the seven or so years I have been blogging, since July 2006 on WordPress, I have read many law blogs from this country, the United States, Canada, Australia and elsewhere.  Some have disappeared, others have survived. Twitter has come along in the last few years, transferring comment on topical issues to some extent from the blogs to the short form 140 character medium of twitter. Some blog for pleasure, others to provide a detailed resource on specialist areas of law, some to analyse and dissect a broader range of legal issues , some to market their firm or practice and a few to rant or take the piss.  Legal blogging is a broad church with many aims.  (Scots solicitor Brian Inkster, writing on The Time Blawg, considered The Elephant in the #LawBlogs Room and generated 76 comments, some rather terse and blunt.)

Before I continue with this first of my weekly reviews, I urge you to watch a short film where US lawyers Kevin O’Keefe and Scott Greenfield discuss blogging, twitter and social media and the potential for the dark side to prevail. (On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog)

Sadly, Scott Greenfield, a criminal defense lawyer in New York and author of the excellent Simple Justice blog, has hung up his keyboard.

And with that, just one final comment: I suspect that Leveson LJ will find it difficult to formulate regulation for  bloggers should he be minded to recommend a state based regulatory system for the press and other media. As we discussed in last week’s Without Prejudice podcast – the existing law may well be sufficient to regulate bloggers?

Professional update from The Law Society

Advocacy section launch event
Why is good quality advocacy in the courts so important and what training and support is available? Hear the views of the lord chief justice, the chief operating officer of the Crown Prosecution Service and the chair of the Solicitors’ Association of Higher Court Advocates.
Listen to the launch event podcast – you’ll need to register at our CPD centre website
Advocacy Section application details

Applications invited for specialist regulatory advocates
The Health and Safety Executive, Environment Agency and Office of Rail Regulation are looking to appoint a list of advocates to conduct their higher court prosecution work and other regulatory advocacy.
Application details – deadline: 12 March

Fusion of professions
What are the implications of barristers and solicitors practising together in partnership under the new regulatory regime?
Fusion or fission – watch a video interview
Solicitor advocates and barristers should mergeGuardian article

Recent new from the Bar Council

Bar Council and FLBA Urge Care on Family Justice Reforms

Bar Council – Private Legal Advice Must be Protected

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John Hyde, in The Law Society Gazette, writes: County court shake-up plans dubbed a ‘missed opportunity’ “The government has come under fire from all sides of the civil litigation spectrum over its plans to reform the county court system…..”

Friederike Heine, in Legal Week, has an interesting article on the plight of lawyers in their fifties under pressure to retire early…and what to do post-retirement.

“After 27 years in legal practice, I’m finding it difficult to find new opportunities to explore and I miss the camaraderie of the office. My social life, which used to be inextricably linked to my practice, is practically non-existent. For an energetic 54-year-old, the prospect of spending your retirement at home is difficult to imagine.”

If you don’t already read Neil Rose’s Legal Futures site, you will find it a most useful resource –  thorough analysis and comment on professional practice:  Prospect of MDPs “catching the imagination” of large law firms, survey finds

This section is sponsored by BPP Law School

“Legal education is not the handmaiden of the profession but there is a great deal to be gained from a more mature relationship with it.”
Professor Richard Moorhead

In a changing legal landscape where law firms are facing competition and opportunities from the corporate sector,  there are concerns that law schools will come under pressure to reduce the length of degree programmes and focus more on the needs of legal practice.  Professor Richard Moorhead asks: Do Lawyers Need Scholars?.

I share the concern of some in legal education that there is a danger of law degree programmes being dumbed down, perhaps even shortened from three to two years with a concomitant reduction in content and thinking time. Professor Moorhead’s article provides food for thought.

University student fee rises in the public sector an issue?  BPP launches a May start degree course in law for £3225

BPP University College has  announced that it is offering places at its centres across the UK to start a degree in May 2012 on its accountancy, business and law programmes. The fees are set at £3,225 per year – whether studying in two or three years – enabling more students to study professional, career focused degrees before the September 2012 fee increases.

Carl Lygo, Chief Executive of BPP University College, said:

“One of the reasons we are offering May start degrees is to provide a service for a neglected section of the education and training space – the adult worker. The recent UCAS application figures showed the number of mature students appears to be falling in the wake of the 2012 fee hikes. Hopefully, our May start programmes will show there are alternatives for those looking to switch careers and get a degree before they’re financially out of reach. Mature students typically prefer to live at home and commute rather than moving into halls in far flung campuses, so by offering our degrees out of city centre locations we can make it easier for them to access and fit study around any part-time work commitments.”

BPP enjoys a good reputation in the market for vocational accountancy and law courses and while it will take them time to build a reputation to compete with the Russell Group universities on law degree level programmes, this initiative will start them on the road to doing so.  As with The College of Law and Kaplan, also run on private sector lines,  BPP is very well resourced with a strong business management ethic. It will not take any of the private providers long at degree level to match the quality of provision of the established universities in law – and, it would not surprise me if they overtake many universities in terms of the quality of teaching and resources.  Research, of course, is another matter – but in time?

The very aggressive competition on fees – £3225 against a possible £9000 per annum for top public sector law courses – provides a very attractive option for students concerned about the rising costs of legal education. If BPP can sustain the fee differential at the present ratio and develop reputation in the legal market for their degrees – it will put traditional universities under considerable pressure in the future.

PART II FOLLOWS TOMORROW

I think it best, given the length of the reviews,  to split my weekly law review into two sections each week for ease of reading and digestion – Part I on Wednesdays and Part II on Thursdays.

In Part II – Commentary on new cases – Law Blogs Roundup  –  Podcast with a practitioner – Finance and Taxation news for lawyers – Arts and… The Human Condition.

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1. The Leveson Inquiry

2. Twitter Joke Trial appeal

On the panel tonight –  Carl Gardner, David Allen Green, Dr Evan Harris and Charon QC

Listen to the podcast

Useful reading:

David Allen Green:  Twitter Joke Trial: the case stated by Doncaster Crown Court

Carl Gardner: Today’s “Twitter joke” appeal hearing

Francis FitzGibbon QC : Witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry on blogging and ethics

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In association with The Lawyer

I’d like to thank Lawtel, WestlawCassons For Counsel, City University Law School David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Inksters SolicitorsIken, LBC Wise Counsel, Carrs Solicitors,  JMW Solicitors – Manchester, Pannone and Cellmark for sponsoring the podcast  – and the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.

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