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Archive for May 8th, 2012

I don’t usually do interviews or put myself forward in my real name or under my pseudonym.  Tim Kevan, author of Babybarista, is a good friend.  He asked me a number of questions in his new ‘Person of The Week series’.  I answered them. A bit dark….

Here it is.. after a few days on Tim’s blog….

 

Name: Charon QC
1. Briefly describe what your job involves.
I used to have a real job for thirty odd years. I taught law, founded a law school with others and then went into the online world for law courses, multi-media et al: Unfortunately before its time. Early adopters do not a summer or business make. While I invented ‘Charon QC’ back in 2002 to comment sardonically on the legal issues of the day, it was 2006 before I started the blog to chuck metaphorical bog rolls onto the legal pitch with commentary, analysis, parody and podcasts. In the early 1990s, at a conference, a respected law professor described me as the ‘most dangerous man in legal education’. This was not an ad hominem attack. It was an observation that the private sector would soon invade into the ivory towered world of the traditional universities and compete. He was right. We did. Now I don’t have a real job. I live a simple, non-material, mildly reclusive life with few personal possessions to clutter what is left of my mind. Blogging keeps me vaguely sane or insane depending on the perspective of the reader who reads my blog.
2. What do you like about your work?
I don’t regard it as work, of course, but I enjoy assessing critically the development of our laws across many fields and observing on the legal human condition. I particularly enjoy doing podcasts with lawyers. If I wish to be particularly acerbic, I use my fictional character Dr Erasmus Strangelove (pronounced Strangle ov) who is now senior partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP after the tragi-comedic death of former managing partner Matt Muttley who plunged to his death from his fifth floor control centre while demonstrating how tough the glass walls were to a group of Triple A rated bankers.
3. What would be your dream job?
An artist. Artists create. Artists observe closely and see – they do not merely look. ( A trait useful, of course, to lawyers). The headmaster at the detention centre I went to in Scotland (The headmaster was called ‘Warden’) told me there was no money in art when I expressed an interest in art as a career. How wrong he was. Good old Damien Hirst cracked it. I was then trained for a career at the Foreign & Commonwealth office or its murky subsidiary – the role of many public schools in the last days of empire to provide fodder for fading colonial governance, the military or agriculture? Fortunately, I escaped and went into law teaching.
4. What are your favourite things beyond work?
Talking with, not to or at, people. I enjoy an increasingly wide range of interests as I get older: Art, Italian opera, politics, documentaries, gardens (even though I do not have a garden), ducks who text or send tweets to me and chess. Google is most useful. I hope that I will find more things to be interested in as I head towards the River Styx and ferry myself across. I won’t need to pay the ferryman – so there are some consolations in death! I enjoy painting and creating nonsense with my F*ckArt and parodic writing (Well….you did ask!)
5. What are your favourite books and films?
I have no interest whatsoever in ‘Top 10 lists’, ‘Favourites’ or prizes – hence my critical observations about The Orwell Prize et al where people self-submit. It is, for me, invidious to make comparisons or have favourites with those who create the substance of art, literature and music which enrich our lives. I have eclectic tastes. I am happy, however, to say that my favourite film is The Godfather. One of my wives, unbeknown to me, had arranged for the band to play The Godfather theme when I walked to the microphone to deliver my groom’s speech at our wedding. We are still good friends to this day, despite divorce. I can reveal that my favourite season is Winter. I delight in grey rainy, windy, stormy days by the sea or river.
6. What changes would you like to see in the law?
Easy – the thoughtful, considered, properly funded, development of our Human Rights laws to create a better society. That covers most legal development. There is more to law than practice in The City – thankfully.
7. What advice would you give to aspiring lawyers?   
The Rule of Law is a fascinating and vital part of our society. We live by laws and lawyers play an important part in the application of the Rule of law. You donʼt need to have the beautiful mind of a Nobel prize winning scientist to be a good lawyer – academic or practitioner. Laws are man made. Some are flawed, others not. What is needed is a reasonable intellect, hard work, attention to detail, the desire to work on behalf of and represent others and the ability to think things through logically. A career in the law, with all the variety on offer, will be rewarding. As a student, provided you are fully aware of the statistical and practical aspects of getting a job in the present market – if you want to do something valuable as part of our society – go for it. I retain to this day a deep interest in the law. I shall keep buggering on, as Churchill advised, ever optimistic that many lawyers, academics and practitioners, will make a modest contribution to a decent society. And… on that note…I continue to have fun from the law….and Iʼm orf……
PS. I donʼt blog anonymously. I am pseudonymous…and sometimes it pleases me to be Hieronymus. Iʼm not interested in ʻmeʼ or who I am. I havenʼt been for most of my life. That is why I donʼt refer to or promote myself under my own name. Tim Kevan is a good friend of mine. I enjoy his books and Babybarista blog. I donʼt usually do interviews – but pleased to do so for Tim.

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Should ‘No-Fault Divorces’ Be a Standard to Aspire to in Family Law?
BY Denver

Sir Nicholas Wall, president of the family division at the High Court, has recommended that no-fault divorces should be standard for all separating couples in England and Wales. The family law judge believes that removing the element of blame in divorce proceedings would speed up the process for all those concerned. This ought to make life easier for litigants, while reducing their legal costs. Not everybody is convinced, however.

Blame

Few divorces are amicable. Though many couples are in agreement when the decision to file for divorce is raised, others have mixed opinions. Sometimes the decision is unilateral. Sometimes it is made for different reasons. Married couples facing divorce are likely to disagree over fault, partly because they are upset about the dissolution, but also because they want to improve their prospects of receiving a favourable settlement.

Fault can in practice swing judicial proceedings that really ought to be administrative in nature. As most family law solicitors will testify, divorce can be extremely draining – both emotionally and financially – for all concerned. Culpability resides at the heart of most divorces, so it is perhaps only right that action can be pursued against those responsible for breaching the contract of marriage. Removing the element of blame from divorce proceedings could be likened to the removal of mens rea from criminal cases: without it an equitable verdict might not be reached.

Administration

The alternative view is that divorces appear judicial but are in fact administrative. Settlements ought not to be contingent on fault. Establishing the cause of a divorce could be described as a trivial matter in one respect, largely because settlements should not be based on whether one person was guilty of adultery, domestic violence, financial irresponsibility or whatever else. Judges calculate settlements on a number of variables, including the duration of a marriage, employment circumstances, personal assets, pensions, distribution of wealth, children, living arrangements and so on. Maintenance payments may require subjective analysis, but divorces are already administrative.

Society

The former Labour government was opposed to implementing changes that would make no-fault divorces standard. Officials believed that removing the element of blame would make it far too easy for people to divorce. Instead, couples should work on resolving their differences through mediation or therapy. If a dispute cannot be resolved, the family courts should be called on to make a decision. That decision requires an element of guilt or wrongdoing to establish divorce. Blame can be shared, but it cannot be non-existent. Sir Wall wants to change this archaic process.

The country’s most senior family law judge believes there is no credible argument against no-fault divorces. He stresses that no partner should be viewed as guilty or innocent. Marriages should be capable of being brought to end without issues of fault arising. Society has moved on, he argues and the law needs to catch up.

In times of excessive litigation, reduced legal aid and rising cases of divorce, the most sensible way forward is clearly to remove the hurdle of blame from divorce proceedings. It matters not whether Harry met Sally, who then met Tom; ascribing blame to domestic issues in divorce cases merely increases the financial and emotional burden on both parties.

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